Lost Packets: Networking news and trivia

Kiss that wallet goodbye

Over the last several years, the cellphone has taken on several new roles. No longer just a phone to talk on, it has become a camera, music player and mini-TV. Its latest role is to become a wallet. The cell phone could soon be your credit card and debit card all contained in one handheld device. Cell phone subscribers in Japan are already using the NTT DoCoMo Inc. Mobile Wallet service to pay for things at 20,000 stores and vending machines. How this works is a short-range radio chip is embedded in the phones and beams credit card information to a terminal at a store register (similar to Esso’s SpeedPass). This new concept has generated a lot of interest and a North American trial may not be far off.

McDonald’s goes McTech

For one McDonald’s restaurant in Oak Brook, Ill. there is going to be more than just fries being served with Happy Meals. The fast food giant launched in late May a new concept in its latest eatery: technology. In addition to Big Macs and quarter pounders, patrons will also have access to digital media kiosks to search over 40,000 songs and burn them onto a CD for US$0.99 per song, download ring tones and print photos. As well, this restaurant is outfitted with a dozen plasma-screen TVs and has Wi-Fi Internet access to surf the Web. However, don’t expect to see this type of McDonald’s in a neighbourhood near you. A spokesperson said other chains across the world may see some elements of the Oak Brook restaurant. With the new concept, McDonald’s hopes to attact more people to the restaurant and entice them to stay longer.

Wireless technology means less breaks

The results of a survey conducted by OfficeTeam and released last month revealed an increase in wireless technology also meant an increase in one’s work hours. Forty-two per cent of executives polled believed employees will work more hours in the next 10 to 15 years as mobile technology has enabled workers to do their job anywhere, anytime. While employees are working longer, most favour time off over a raise. With the proliferation of wireless, vacations are also becoming a time to do work. The survey noted 86 per cent of executives said workers in the future will be more connected to the office while on vacation. OfficeTeam surveyed workers and executives at 1,000 of the largest companies in the U.S. through interviews with workplace and technology experts.

Driverless car enters international race

From KIT in Knight Rider to Herbie the Love Bug, the driverless car may be stuff that science fiction dreams are made of. But for Autonosys, a company in Ottawa, it is now a reality. The firm’s robotic car uses GPS technology to identify where the car is and a laser radar to help it avoid objects. As well, Autonosys is the only Canadian entry to qualify for the semi-finals of a 180 kilometre race for driverless vehicles in the Mojave desert set for this October. So far there are no plans to put this technology in consumer vehicles as engineers need to work on the computer’s ability to make decisions more quickly.

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