Lost Packets Issue 10

Adidas develops “Smart Shoe”

Sport gear maker Adidas has launched a new intelligent running shoe that automatically adapts its cushioning level to a runner’s size and stride. Called the Adidas 1, the shoe comes with a built-in microprocessor located near the arch. The chip operates a small screw and cable system that changes the heel cushioning according to signals from an electronic sensor and a magnet. The product of a three-year, top-secret innovation project, the Adidas 1 runs on a battery and conserves power by changing cushion levels while the shoe is in the air during a stride and can endure wear and tear in several conditions, including hard pavement, dirt trails, and dry and wet ground. The shoe is destined for store shelves this December and will carry a price tag of US$250.

A new meaning for finger food

A school district in Ohio has tossed out its old meal ticket system and replaced it with new biometric technology to identify students in lunch lineups. The Akron School District implemented the US$700,000 iMeal fingerprint scanning technology in four middle schools. The technology verifies students and allows them to obtain meals from pre-paid accounts. However, some parents have opted not to have their children fingerprinted. Those students are given a PIN number to pay as they go through lunch lines. The district hopes to have the technology — including new touch-screen registers, software and fingerprint imaging scanners — in place by the end of the school year in June.

Just in time for summer: Self-chilling beer cans

A Florida-based science and technology firm has developed a self-cooling beer can that could make it to a beer store near you this summer. According to scientists from Tempra Technology, the temperature of the beer chills to three degrees Celsius in three minutes and will stay cold for up to one hour. The “Instant Cool” technology uses a watery gel on the inside of the can that drains off once the bottom of the can is twisted, forming a vacuum that absorbs heat at the bottom of the can. According to the firm, self-cooling cans will drive beer prices up at first, but cost will likely fall as demand grows.

Coming to a cell phone near you: Mobile karaoke

Have you ever had the urge to belt out a tune but, alas, there were no karaoke bars in sight? In what may be classified as American Idol judge Simon Cowell’s worst nightmare, Sharp Corp. and Toshiba Corp. have co-developed a new mobile handset that moonlights as a portable karaoke machine. The phones, which will go on sale in Japan this summer, are karaoke-enabled through a new service from Vodafone K.K. called V-kara. Through the service, users can download Karaoke files. The phones can also connect to television sets to create a more “home karaoke machine” experience. Pricing has not been released, however users can expect to pay roughly US$0.35 per downloaded song. Quirky fact: In 2002 there were approximately 477,000 licensed karaoke machines in bars, hotels and karaoke rooms across Japan, which attracted an estimated 48 million customers.

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