Why WiMax

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  T H E F O R E F R O N T O F E M E R G I N G T E C H N O L O G Y, R & D , A N D M A R K E T T R E N D S

                                                                                                          at speeds similar to Wi-Fi’s—but over

Why WiMax?                                                                                                distances of up to 50 kilometers from a
                                                                                                          central tower.
                                                                                                              “Metropolitan area” wireless net-
                                                                                                          working at broadband speeds isn’t new,
                                                                                                          but the specialized equipment that re-
A new metropolitan-area wireless standard will change                                                     ceives the broadband signals has typi-
the economics of Internet access—again. BY WADE ROUSH                                                     cally been too expensive for everyone

                                                                                                          but large businesses. Now that U.S. com-
           t’s hard to buy a laptop                         wired connection to the Internet, such as     puting and communications firms are
           computer today that doesn’t                      a DSL, cable, or T1 line—can broadcast to     gradually reaching consensus on the
           come with a Wi-Fi chip: a                        multiple users across distances as great as   details of the WiMax standard, however,
           built-in radio that lets users                   100 meters indoors and 400 meters out-        those prices could come down signifi-
           surf the Web wirelessly from                     doors. But there’s a new technology stan-     cantly. Industry agreement on details
           the boardroom, the bedroom,                      dard on the way that will make Wi-Fi look     such as how to encrypt WiMax signals,
                                                                                                                                                                         JOHN RITTER

or the coffee bar. People love Wi-Fi be-                    feeble. It’s called WiMax, and it provides    which frequencies to use, and how to
cause a single base station—a box with a                    wireless broadband Internet connections       provide multiple users with access to

20   T E C H N O LO G Y R E V I E W N ove m b e r 2 0 0 4                                                                 w w w. t e c h n o l o g y r e v i e w. co m
                                               16                               24
                                                                                18                                   20
IN THIS                                        This is a working gain a is a
                                               At NASA, robots teaser           Ultrasound exams go up
                                                                                This is a working teaser is a        Coming working teaser is a
                                                                                                                     This is a soon to an amuse-

SECTION                                        working teaser. This is a
                                               finer sense of movement
                                               and learn how is improvise.
                                               working teaser to a teaser.
                                                                                working teaser. This is a
                                                                                against mammograms for
                                                                                breast cancer screening.
                                                                                working teaser is a teaser.
                                                                                                                     working teaser. This is a
                                                                                                                     ment park near you: RFID
                                                                                                                     workingyour kids. teaser.
                                                                                                                     tags for teaser is a

those frequencies will finally allow com-                     It was Intel’s announcement of a          provider of extrafast DSL connections
panies like Intel to manufacture mass                     major push into WiMax technology in           to hard-core online gamers and technical
quantities of WiMax-enabled chips for                     January 2004 that helped the standard         professionals who work at home. But
use in broadband wireless equipment.                      emerge into the spotlight. The company’s      because DSL works over phone lines, it
And that’s expected to eventually bring                   Centrino initiative had already put Wi-Fi     has an inherent limitation: about 30 per-
WiMax receivers into the $50 to $100                      chips into millions of laptops. “After we     cent of residences in the cities Speakeasy
price range of today’s DSL and cable                      did that, we began looking at whether you     serves are too far away from phone net-
modems, meaning that millions of users                    can cover full cities with Wi-Fi,” explains   work central offices to get a usable signal.
could eventually drop their current Inter-                Scott Richardson, manager of Intel’s          “That’s a lot of people to turn away,” says
net service providers—often local phone                   broadband wireless group. While it would      Speakeasy CEO Bruce Chatterley. “That’s
or cable companies—and simply access                      be relatively simple to blanket an entire     why we started to look for alternatives,
                                                                                                        and that’s why WiMax is so strategic to
                                                                                                        our business.” Speakeasy will begin tech-
      Millions of home broadband users could                                                            nical trials of WiMax equipment using
                                                                                                        Intel’s chips by the end of this year and
       drop their DSL or cable providers and                                                            hopes to offer broadband wireless con-
      simply access the Internet by antenna.                                                            nections to business and residential cus-
                                                                                                        tomers by the middle of 2005.
                                                                                                             But while the emergence of WiMax
the Internet over rooftop antennas at the                 city with Wi-Fi hot spots, the company        will give consumers, businesses, and
other end of town.                                        decided, such a patchwork would be dif-       people in hard-to-reach areas a powerful
      WiMax’s first appearance, however,                  ficult to administer and would operate        new way to connect to the Internet, it
will take place in more public venues.                    over too narrow a frequency range to          won’t happen overnight. For one thing, it
Equipment meeting the standard will                       deliver sufficient amounts of data for        could take manufacturers some time to
allow a new wave of small and medium-                     future needs. “We came to the conclusion      reach the economies of scale that would
sized businesses to go wireless, aban-                    that Wi-Fi needed to evolve into more of      enable consumer-priced WiMax equip-
doning the expensive T1 lines they                        a ‘carrier’ technology, deployed by a ser-    ment. Then there’s the cost of building a
currently rent from local or regional                     vice provider, and needed to exploit a        network of transmitters. “People tend to
phone companies. New Wi-Fi base sta-                      lot more spectrum options,” says Richard-     think that you can put one WiMax tower
tions designed to connect to the Internet                 son. WiMax, which operates at greater         on a hillside and beam around the entire
via WiMax could also create mobile-                       distances and over a greater range of fre-    city, and that’s certainly not the case,” says
computing hot spots in places without                     quencies, turned out to be ideal.             Intel’s Richardson. “When you fill up a
phone lines—think the Great Lawn in                            The company began designing com-         cell, you use up the capacity”—meaning
Central Park. And WiMax networks could                    munications processors to exploit these       that providers will still have to add tow-
extend broadband Internet access to poor                  frequencies—from roughly two to 11            ers as demand grows, just as they do in
regions that currently have none.                         gigahertz, a range used mainly by Wi-Fi,      traditional cell-phone networks.
      WiMax—an acronym for Worldwide                      microwave ovens, and certain types of              But TowerStream, a Waltham, MA,
Interoperability for Microwave Access—                    radar—and had delivered the first sample      company that plans to add WiMax to its
is little more than a long list of technical              chips to manufacturers by September.          existing broadband wireless services,
specifications intended to ensure that                    Meanwhile, it began promoting an indus-       thinks it has that problem licked: it’s
wireless equipment from different ven-                    try association called the WiMax Forum        already tied up what chief operating offi-
dors can interoperate at high speeds. Also                to certify equipment from vendors as          cer Jeff Thompson calls “beachfront prop-
known as 802.16, the specifications have                  WiMax compliant. And through Intel            erty” atop many of the tallest buildings in
been under development since the 1990s                    Capital, the company’s venture wing, it       Boston, New York City, Chicago, and
as an alternative to technologies such as                 has begun to make strategic investments       other cities, and it will simply install the
Ethernet and Wi-Fi. A single WiMax                        in a few companies that plan to demon-        new WiMax-certified gear alongside its
transmitter will transmit voice, video,                   strate how WiMax can be put to prof-          existing transmitters. “When WiMax
and data signals across distances of up to                itable use.                                   comes out,” Thompson says, “our speed of
50 kilometers (assuming an unobstructed                        Seattle-based Speakeasy is one of        deployment will be very quick. We’ll have
line of sight) at rates as high as 70 mega-               those companies—and a prime example           a wireless backbone in the sky.” Which
bits per second—enough to support                         of the economics driving WiMax’s roll-        sounds great—as long as it really does
about 60 businesses at T1 speeds, or hun-                 out. Founded in 1994 as an Internet café,     cost less to use than our earthbound
dreds of homes at DSL speeds.                             Speakeasy has evolved into the leading        skein of wires, fibers, and cables. ◊

w w w. t e c h n o l o g y r e v i e w. co m                                                               T E C H N O LO G Y R E V I E W N ove m b e r 2 0 0 4   21

 Engineers are giving
 Robonaut a keener sense
 of its own movements.

                                                                                                           Modular Drugs
                                                                                                                      ver the past decade, biotech com-
                                                                                                                      panies have introduced a string of
                                                                                                                      protein-based antibody drugs,
                                                                                                           which mimic the action of the body’s own
                                                                                                           immune system to combat conditions like
                                                                                                           cancer and arthritis. Antibody drugs can
                                                                                                           zero in precisely on misbehaving cells and
                                                                                                           often enlist the aid of our own antibodies to
                                                                                                           force a disease into retreat. But there’s a
                                                                                                           price for their effectiveness. Antibody drugs
                                                                                                           are based on large molecules, so they have
                                                                                                           a hard time getting into the bloodstream
                                                                                                           and into cells.
                                                                                                                Over the past year, however, researchers
                                                                                                           have begun to test a new class of genetically
                                                                                                           engineered protein drugs that act like anti-
                                                                                                           body drugs but are more easily absorbed
                                                                                                           into the body.They’re called small modular
                                                                                                           immunopharmaceuticals, or SMIPs, and their

Adroit Droids                                                                                              main proponent is Seattle-based Trubion
                                                                                                           Pharmaceuticals.“The basic idea was,‘How

                                                                                                           do we make these molecules smaller’”with-
          fter 50 years of research,                         each of several possible situations, the      out diminishing their effects? says Daniel
          scientists have yet to build a                     robot showed it could recover if a tool       Burge, Trubion’s senior vice president of
          robot that can learn to manipu-                    slipped from its grasp or was moved           clinical development.
late new objects as proficiently as a one-                   around—and that it was flexible enough             The drugs Trubion’s researchers even-
year-old child. Robots don’t react well to                   in its routine to tighten the bolts in any    tually devised are one-third to two-thirds
new situations; most of their movements                      order requested. “Now, within limits,         the size of conventional antibody drugs.
must be programmed in advance. Some                          the robot can adjust to changes in its        They can also be adapted to the needs of
use sensors to fine-tune their movements                     environment,” says Vanderbilt University      specific patients: sections of the molecules
in real time, but they generally don’t                       electrical-engineering professor Alan         can be added or removed to hit offending
retain and interpret the sensor data. So                     Peters, one of the project leaders.           cells with larger or smaller payloads, de-
while they might navigate a room with-                            The key advance: a new framework         pending on the treatment required.
out bumping into things, they can’t stop                     for robot learning. Peters’s software gives        Trubion’s most advanced drug, which
to help rearrange the furniture.                             the NASA robot, called Robonaut, a            will enter safety trials in humans early in
     But now advances in sensors, soft-                      short-term memory that lets it keep track     2005, attacks white blood cells called B
ware, and computer architecture are                          of where it is and what it’s doing. By cor-   cells, which can cause diseases like lym-
beginning to give robots a sense of their                    relating actions like reaching for and        phoma and leukemia when they become
“bodies” and of what sorts of actions are                    grasping a tool with information from its     malignant. One end of the drug molecule
safe and useful in their environments.                       250 sensors—visual, tactile, auditory—        binds specifically to B cells, while the other
The results could eventually include more                    the robot gets a feel for which move-         end carries a module that invites other
effective robotic assistants for the elderly                 ments achieve what kinds of goals. It can     immune cells to attack the B cells. Nancy
and autonomous bots for exploring bat-                       then apply that information to the acqui-     Haigwood, viral-vaccines program director
tlefields and space.                                         sition of new skills, such as using a dif-    at the Seattle Biomedical Research Insti-
     This summer, one of the world’s                         ferent tool. Maja Mataric, codirector of      tute, says that based on the data she has
                                                                                                                                                                              COURTESY OF NASA JOHNSON SPACE CENTER

most advanced robots passed an impor-                        the University of Southern California’s       seen on Trubion’s drugs,“It’s possible that
tant test at NASA’s Johnson Space Cen-                       Robotics Research Lab, calls Peters’s work    for particular applications they might even
ter in Houston, TX. The dexterous                            “important for bringing together research     replace [current antibody drugs] because
humanoid robot learned to use tools to                       on sensory-motor learning and applying        they are smaller, nimbler, and better at get-
tighten bolts on a wheel. Rather than                        it to real-world, highly complex robots.”     ting to the cells. It looks like it has terrific
having to be separately programmed for                       Gregory T. Huang                              potential.” Karen Epper Hoffman

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Deeper Vision
          esearchers are making big                          els had previously made
          strides toward low-cost systems                    stereo machine vision impractical
          that mimic human vision to                         for most situations.
give machines three-dimensional infor-                            Tyzx computer vision experts Gaile
mation about their environments. By                          Gordon and John Woodfill invented an
building hardware that analyzes corre-                       algorithm to speed the process. Rather
sponding chunks of paired live images in                     than trying to find pixels with the same
parallel—as the human brain is thought                       color and brightness, the algorithm seeks
to do—Tyzx, a startup in Menlo Park, CA,                     out left-right pairs where there is a similar
is making computerized depth perception                      contrast in intensity between one pixel
fast enough that surveillance devices and                    and its surrounding pixels. The researchers
robotic vehicles can incorporate it.                         then built an integrated circuit that can
     Creatures with two forward-facing                       search many groups of pixels simulta-
eyes can perceive depth because their left                   neously. They gave this chip a pair of
and right eyes see from slightly different                   “eyes,” and now “the image capture and the
perspectives, in which the displacement of                   stereo computation all happen inside one
nearby objects is greater than that of dis-                  relatively inexpensive, self-contained plat-
tant objects. Using this apparent differ-                    form,” says Tyzx CEO Ron Buck.
ence, called parallax, the brain swiftly                          Among the company’s early customers
determines the distance to an object.                        are federal security agencies—Buck says he
While a machine equipped with a pair of                      can’t reveal which ones—that are using the
cameras can also use parallax to see in                      technology to track suspicious individuals
                                                                                                                               The Tyzx camera’s left and right
three dimensions, the amount of com-                         as they move against changing back-                                “eyes” feed images to a special
putation required to find matching pix-                      grounds such as crowds. Wade Roush                               processor that computes depth.


Screening with Sound                                                                                                In past studies involving thousands of
                                                                                                               women, ultrasound did detect dozens of
                                                                                                               dangerous cancers missed by mammo-

           here’s a well-established medical                 ferent types of tissue reflect sound waves dif-    grams. But the studies didn’t adequately
           technology that many physicians                   ferently, says Wendie Berg, the leader of the     measure the reverse: the number of can-
           believe could help catch undiag-                  trial and an independent breast-imaging           cers detected by mammograms but missed
nosed breast tumors in one-third to one-half                 consultant in Lutherville, MD.“Ultrasound is      by ultrasound.
of women—yet it’s not being used rou-                        widely available and relatively inexpensive,”          The new trial will assess 2,808 women
tinely. It’s ultrasound imaging, a longtime                  she says. “It’s reasonable to consider it for     at 20 different U.S. and Canadian locations
fixture of obstetricians’offices. Some doctors                 routine screening.”                               over three years and is designed to count
use ultrasound along with traditional                                                                                “false negatives” accurately. All par-
x-ray mammography in breast exams,                                                               Ultrasound can      ticipants will get ultrasound exams
                                                                                                  reveal tumors
but the majority have been waiting                                                                    missed by      in addition to their annual mammo-
for clearer evidence of its benefits. And                                                         mammograms.         grams. A final verdict on the two tech-
that’s exactly what a key clinical trial                                                                             nologies’ effectiveness isn’t expected
                                                                                                                                                                                 COURTESY OF CMSP (SCREENING); COURTESY OF TYZX (VISION)

now under way in the United States                                                                                   until 2008.
could provide.                                                                                                            Oncologists say ultrasound would
     At least half of women under 50                                                                                 only be a supplement, not a replace-
and about a third of older women have                                                                                ment, for x-ray mammography, since
naturally dense breast tissue, making it                                                                             both methods sometimes miss tumors
harder to distinguish between healthy                                                                                and misidentify healthy tissues as can-
tissue and questionable masses in                                                                                    cerous. But the two together, says Berg,
mammograms. Ultrasound can get                                                                                       could catch more cancers than mam-
around that problem because the dif-                                                                                 mography alone. Corie Lok

24    T E C H N O LO G Y R E V I E W N ove m b e r 2 0 0 4                                                                        w w w. t e c h n o l o g y r e v i e w. co m
                                                                                                                                                                                                              At Paramount’s Great America,
                                                                                                                                                                                                           a network of receivers tracks kids
                                                                                                                                                                                                           wearing radio frequency ID tags.

                                                                                                       very day, an estimated 3,000 to
                                                                                                       6,000 people worldwide die from
                                                                                                       diseases caused by contaminated
                                                                                            water. Filtration can reduce the risks, but
                                                                                            traditional bacterial and viral filters trap
                                                                                            pathogens inside granular carbon or porous
                                                                                            ceramic or polymer materials, many of
                                                                                            which are difficult to clean and must be
                                                                                            changed frequently.
                                                                                                 Now scientists are turning to carbon
                                                                                            nanotubes. A team from Rensselaer Poly-
                                                                                            technic Institute in Troy, NY, and the Banaras
                                                                                            Hindu University in Varanasi, India, has de-
                                                                                            vised a way to get millions of the large car-
                                                                                            bon molecules to collect on the inside
                                                                                            surface of a quartz tube about a centimeter
                                                                                            across.The resulting tube-inside-a-tube con-
                                                                                            sists of radially oriented nanotubes, packed
                                                                                            as tightly as a fistful of spaghetti and bonded
                                                                                            together; this structure can be detached         Wrist Radio Tags
                                                                                            from the quartz and extracted whole. With
                                                                                            one of its ends capped and water pumped in                 onsumers are getting used            Health Care Network. Sidlow hopes to
                                                                                            through the other, such a cylinder acts as a               to the idea that nearly all prod-    install the RFID system in Jacobi’s new
                                                                                            filter. Water molecules can squeeze out                    ucts, packages, or pallets of mer-   500-bed building, opening later this year.
                                                                                            through nanometer-sized gaps in the walls,       chandise will soon bear radio frequency             RFID has also found a place in
                                                                                            but bacteria like E. coli and viruses like the   ID tags to help manufacturers and retail-      amusement parks. At Paramount’s Great
                                                                                            25-nanometer-wide poliovirus get stuck.          ers manage inventory. But sooner than          America in Santa Clara, CA, $5 will get a
                                                                                                 The structures are heat resistant and       most people realize, they may be wearing       parkgoer an RFID bracelet encoded with
                                                                                            strong enough that they can be cleaned           such tags themselves: a few amusement          his or her first name. One of 65 antennas
                                                                                            repeatedly using autoclaves or ultrasound        parks, hospitals, and even schools are         scattered throughout the park—which-
                                                                                            devices like those at medical clinics and        pressing ahead with projects to put RFID       ever is closest to the person at any given
                                                                                            hospitals, making them reusable many             tags into wristbands to keep track of          moment—reads the bracelet informa-
                                                                                            times, says Pulickel M. Ajayan, the professor    patrons, patients, and students.               tion and sends it to the park’s central
                                                                                            of materials engineering at Rensselaer who            The technology makes medical care         servers. Parents who lose their children
                                                                                            led the work. David Cotriss                      safer and more efficient. Staff at the 30-     can go to any of several kiosks, wave
                                                                                                                                             bed general surgery unit at the Jacobi         their own bracelets in front of the kiosks’

                                                                                                                                             Medical Center in New York, NY, for            readers, and bring up maps showing their
                                                                                                                                             instance, are outfitting patients with RFID    kids’ locations.
                                                                                                                                             wristbands that record their names, gen-            Not everyone is amused by such appli-
                                                                                                                                             ders, dates of birth, and chart numbers—       cations. While tracking and identifying
                                                                                                                                             the codes for their electronic medical         people has obvious benefits, slapping
                                                                                                                                             records. Doctors and nurses use tablet         RFID tags on people could infringe on
                                                                                                                                             PCs equipped with RFID readers to              their privacy if the technology is misused,
                                                                                                                                             upload this data from a patient’s wrist-       warns Kenneth Farrall of the Electronic
                                                                                                                                             band, and the computers then retrieve the      Privacy Information Center in Washing-
                                                                                                                                             patient’s record wirelessly from the hos-      ton, DC. Though Farrall admits that the
                                                                                                                                             pital database. “We’re hoping we will          early applications of RFID tagging seem
                                                                                                                                             eliminate the potential danger of giving       to do more good than harm, he cautions
                                                                                                1mm                                          the wrong medication to the wrong              that as the technology grows more sophis-
                                                                                                                                             patient,” says Robert Sidlow, associate        ticated, “it could become more difficult to
                                                                                            Tightly packed nanotubes form a cylinder.        medical director for the North Bronx           control the data.” Corie Lok

                                                                                            w w w. t e c h n o l o g y r e v i e w. co m                                                       T E C H N O LO G Y R E V I E W N ove m b e r 2 0 0 4   25
                          I N N OVAT I O N N E W S                                         Briefings from the world of biotech

                                                                                     The European Commission has given the green light for farmers
                                                                            throughout the European Union to buy and plant 17 varieties of genetically
                                                                               modified corn—the first time biotech crops have received such EU-wide
                                                                                    authorization. All food made with the corn varieties, which St. Louis
                                                                                  agricultural-products company Monsanto engineered to resist a pest                                   ipo
                                                                                           called the corn borer, will be labeled as genetically modified.          Seattle’s Corus Pharma
                                                                                                                                                                        has filed preliminary

                                                                                                                                                                        papers with the U.S.
                                                                                                                                                                   Securities and Exchange
                                                                                                                                                                  Commission for an initial
                                                                                                                                                                  public offering. Backed in
                                                                                                                                                                    part by Cascade Invest-
                                                                                                                                                                   ment, Bill Gates’s private
                                                                                                                                                                       fund, Corus is testing
                                                                                                                                                                     inhaled treatments for
                                                                                                                                                                          asthma and cystic
                                                                                                                                                                         fibrosis in humans.

                                                                                                 Danvers, MA–based Abiomed has sought approval from the U.S. Food and Drug

                        acquisition                                                              Administration to market its AbioCor artificial heart under a humanitarian-device
                                                                                                 exemption. Such an exemption would allow doctors to implant the heart, which
                        Palo Alto, CA’s Agilent Technologies announced an                        has been tested on just 14 people so far, in not more that 4,000 patients suffering
                        agreement to acquire software firm Silicon Genetics                       from end-stage heart failure.
                        of Redwood City, CA. The acquisition reflects an
                        effort by Agilent—a leading maker of life-sciences
                        and chemical-research equipment—to strengthen
                        its position in bioinformatics.

                        advance ethics
                        Researchers at King’s                        As genetics researchers
                        College London                               continue to home in
                        have created human                           on genes that affect
                        embryonic stem cells                         behavior and contribute
                        that carry a mutation                        to neurological condi-
                        that causes cystic                           tions such as schizophre-
                        fibrosis. The cells could                     nia and autism, Stanford
                        offer new opportunities                      University is launching
                        for scientists to study                      a center to study the
                        the devastating genetic                      ethical consequences
                        disorder and develop                         of such research. One
                        new treatments for it.                       project planned for the
                                                                     new Center for Inte-
                                                                     gration of Research
                                                                     on Genetics and Ethics:
                                                                     a Web-based ethics
                                                                     consultation service
                                                                     for geneticists.

                      w w w. t e c h n o l o g y r e v i e w. co m                                                                           T E C H N O LO G Y R E V I E W N ove m b e r 2 0 0 4   31
                                                                                        I N N OVAT I O N N E W S                                             Briefings from the world of information technology

                                                                                      Insects such as water striders can walk on water—and now robots can too. Metin
                                                                                      Sitti, an engineering professor who heads Carnegie Mellon University’s Nano-
                                                                                      Robotics Lab, has built an eight-legged mechanical creature that’s so light—about
                                                                                      one gram—that it can stand on water and propel itself forward without breaking
                                                                                      the water’s surface. Equipped with tiny sensors, Sitti says, future water-striding
                                                                                      robots could be used to monitor water quality or snoop on enemies.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Traditional cell phones have so few keys that typing
                                                                                                                                                                                                    text messages is a hassle, but PDAs with full Qwerty
                                                                                                                                                                                                     keyboards have so many keys that each one is tiny.
                                                                                                                                                                                                         The latest smart phone from Waterloo, Ontario,
                                                                                                                                                                                                      handheld manufacturer Research in Motion, the
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Blackberry 7100t, splits the difference with a 20-key
                                                                                                                                                                                                        keyboard. Most of the keys have two letters, and
                                                                                                                                                                                                       the phone’s software guesses which one the user
                                                                                                                                                                                                    intends by reading previous letters and searching a
                                                                                                                                                                                                      30,000-word internal dictionary. The software uses
                                                                                                                                                                                                     corrections, word frequency, and the user’s address
                                                                                      Longhorn, Microsoft’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                              book to improve its predictions over time.

                                                                                      successor to its three-
                                                                                      year-old Windows XP
                                                                                      operating system, won’t
                                                                                      be ready for launch until
                                                                                      2006, the company said
                                                                                      in August. That’s more
                                                                                      than a year later than
                                                                                      originally projected, and
                                                                                      it means rival operating
                                                                                      systems such as Linux
                                                                                      will have more time to
                                                                                      get footholds before
                                                                                      Microsoft upgrades its
                                                                                      flagship product. At the
                                                                                      same time, Microsoft
                                                                                      said one much vaunted
                                                                                      feature of Longhorn—a
                                                                                      storage system called
                                                                                                                                   Most Wi-Fi hot spots
                                                                                                                                                                   Qualcomm, the San Diego–based maker of communications chips for cell phones,
                                                                                      WinFS that will let pro-                     are no larger than your         has agreed to pay $170 million to acquire Iridigm, a San Francisco company devel-
                                                                                      grams such as Outlook,                       neighborhood Starbucks.         oping microelectromechanical displays for mobile devices that work on the same
                                                                                      Word, and Excel share                        But in the state of Wash-       principle as the iridescence of a butterfly’s wing. Qualcomm says it hopes to speed
                                                                                      data more easily—won’t                       ington, Columbia Energy,        up commercialization of Iridigm’s displays, which should cost less to manufacture
                                                                                      be included in the                           a subsidiary of one of the      than the conventional liquid-crystal displays found in most cell phones and PDAs.
                                                                                      operating system’s first                      state’s oldest rural electric
                                                                                      release after all.                           cooperatives, is using the
                                                                                                                                   wireless technology to
                                                                                                                                   bring high-speed Internet                                                  ■ BILLIONS OF PRINTS
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        FROM FILM
                                                                                                                                   service to underserved                                                     ■ BILLIONS OF PRINTS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      FROM DIGITAL
                                                                                                                                   rural areas. It’s creating      25
                                                                                                                                   what could be the world’s                                                                             With a digital camera,
                                                                                                                                   largest area with continu-                                                                            you don’t have to get
                                                                                                                                   ous Wi-Fi coverage: a                                                                                 film developed to see
                                                                                                                                   9,600-square-kilometer                                                                                how your pictures came
                                                                                                                                   area spreading across           15                                                                    out. Nonetheless, a
                                                                                                                                   parts of Walla Walla,                                                                                 growing number of U.S.
                                                                                                                                   Columbia, and Umatilla                                                                                amateur photographers
                                                                                                                                   Counties.                       10
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         are ordering prints of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         their digital photos—
                                                                                                                                                                    5                                                                    meaning steady busi-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         ness for photofinishers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         despite a big drop-off in
                                                                                                                                                                    0                                                                    sales of traditional film.
                                                                                                                                                                        2000   2001   2002   2003     2004*     2005*      2006*

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                                                                       I N N OVAT I O N N E W S                                         Briefings from the world of nanotech

                                                                     follow-                                                                                                                                   advance
                                                                     Recent breakthroughs
                                                                                                                                                                                                               IBM scientists have
                                                                                                                                                                                                               measured the energy
                                                                     in materials science have                                                                                                                 it takes to “flip” the
                                                                     sparked considerable                                                                                                                      magnetic orientation of
                                                                     excitement about the                                                                                                                      a single atom. This mea-
                                                                     commercial feasibility                                                                                                                    surement of one of the
                                                                     of polymer-based solar                                                                                                                    fundamental magnetic
                                                                     cells that would be                                                                                                                       properties of materials
                                                                     cheap and easy to make                                                                                                                    is a significant step in
                                                                     (see “Solar-Cell Rollout,”
                                                                     TR July/August 2004).
                                                                     In a move that will com-
                                                                                                                  Scientists at the University of Louisville in Kentucky have developed a novel
                                                                                                                                                                                                               developing nanometer-
                                                                                                                                                                                                               scale magnetic structures
                                                                                                                                                                                                               for ultradense data
                                                                     bine two of the leading                      technique that could make it possible to more easily and directly form 3-D                   storage, quantum
                                                                     research groups in                           networks of nanostructures. The researchers use tiny tips to suspend fibers                   computing, and other
                                                                     the field, Konarka                            on micro- and nanostructures, providing a potential fabrication tool for                     advanced applications.
                                                                     Technologies, a Lowell,                      microfluidic and microoptical devices.
                                                                     MA-based startup, has
                                                                     acquired Siemens’s                                                                                                    80
                                                                     organic-photovoltaics                                                                                                                              TRANSISTOR GATE SIZE,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             IN NANOMETERS
                                                                     business; Siemens’s
                                                                     solar-cell researchers
                                                                     will also join Konarka.
                                                                                                                                   Intel says that, in its effort to uphold Moore’s Law,

                                                                     Last year, Siemens’s                               it has made a fully functional memory chip with more than
                                                                     scientists reported mak-                         a half-billion transistors, each measuring only 35 nanometers
                                                                     ing polymer solar cells                         across. Intel expects to begin shipping commercial versions of        40
                                                                     with record-setting effi-                         the chip next year. Intel predicts it will be able to continue to
                                                                     ciencies in converting                             shrink its chip technology through at least 2009 (see chart).      30
                                                                     sunlight to electricity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2001       2003      2005       2007      2009

                                                                   Nano                                                                                                                                           funding    The National
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cancer Institute has
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     announced a $144.3
                                                                                                                                                                                                                   million, five-year initia-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 tive in nanotechnology.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     The research project
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    will look to use recent
                                                                                                                                                                                                                advances in nanotech to

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   improve the diagnosis
                                                                                                                                                                                                                and treatment of cancer.

                                                                                                 One of the most intriguing properties of carbon nanotubes, large molecules that could prove a
                                                                                              basic building block for nanotech, is their potential to form superstrong materials. Fibers made of
                                                                                                nanotubes are potentially 10 times stronger than the strongest existing commercial fibers. Now
                                                                                               researchers at Rice University say they have improved methods for manufacturing fibers made
                                                                                                   of single-walled carbon nanotubes. The improved manufacturing methods could potentially
                                                                                                                     make large-scale production of the superstrong fibers commercially viable.

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