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Talk to the animals

Now you can make like Dr. Doolittle and talk to the animals with your cellphone. In May, a South Korean mobile phone company began offering dog owners the ability to know what their pets are feeling. Users first have to connect to the Internet with their cellphones and then register information about their dog such as breed and age. The dog’s bark is then recorded by the service, which will text message the owner back on what their pet is feeling such as “I am happy,” or “I am frustrated.” As well, dogs will know what their owners are saying as the service will translate basic messages into dog sounds. The service, which is available now, will cost about $1.25.

The digital library

When students at the University of Texas at Austin return this fall they will notice something missing from their undergraduate library: books. By mid-July, almost all of the library’s 90,000 volumes will be dispersed to other university collections in order to make way for a 24-hour electronic information commons. The new library will include software suites (modules where students can work collaboratively at all hours), an expanded centre for writing instruction, and a centre for computer training, technical assistance and repair. Also, the library will be staffed with Internet-expert librarians, teachers and technicians. However, reference materials such as dictionaries and encyclopedias will remain.

Indy 500 goes wireless

Patrick Carpentier may not have won the Indianapolis 500 earlier this month but his race car was outfitted with the latest wireless technology to help him get to the finish line. In a partnership deal with Cisco Systems Inc., Red Bull Cheever Racing utilized the Cisco Aironet 1100 and 1300 series access points, the Cisco Mobile Access Router and Cisco 7920 Wireless IP phones with VoIP capabilities. All of this technology gave drivers like Carpentier and fellow teammate Alex Barron, their engineers and pit crew, access to real time information and statistics during the race. With the Cisco solutions, the Red Bull Cheever racing team said they were able to get double the coverage other teams got in the transmission of data from car to engineer in a single lap.

Museum goes high tech

Last month, the Museum of Anthropology on the University of British Columbia’s campus in Vancouver unveiled a new multimedia museum guide called VUEguide. The device is a handheld interactive guide running on Microsoft’s Pocket PC operating system and made by Vancouver-based Ubiquity Interactive Inc. The VUEguide responds to infrared signals emitted by 39 location beacons throughout the main galleries and can sense when visitors are passing by specific displays such as one on bentwood boxes. The device then give users the option of learning more about that exhibit now or later. Information includes a narrated video of the making of a bentwood box or historical information on their social significance. As well, these devices offers visitors the opportunity to hear artists talking about their work, browse photos of artifacts in their original settings, study 3-D recreations of historic buildings and view archival film footage. There are 20 VUEguides available for rent at $5 each.

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