Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bionic eyes: Contact lenses with circuits

Movie characters from the Terminator to the Bionic Woman use bionic eyes to zoom in on far-off scenes, have useful facts pop into their field of view, or create virtual crosshairs. Off the screen, virtual displays have been proposed for more practical purposes -- visual aids to help vision-impaired people, holographic driving control panels and even as a way to surf the Web on the go.

The device to make this happen may be familiar. Engineers at the UW have for the first time used manufacturing techniques at microscopic scales to combine a flexible, biologically safe contact lens with an imprinted electronic circuit and lights.

"Looking through a completed lens, you would see what the display is generating superimposed on the world outside," said Babak Parviz, a UW assistant professor of electrical engineering. "This is a very small step toward that goal, but I think it's extremely promising." The results were presented today at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' international conference on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems by Harvey Ho, a former graduate student of Parviz's now working at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, Calif. Other co-authors are Ehsan Saeedi and Samuel Kim in the UW's electrical engineering department and Tueng Shen in the UW Medical Center's ophthalmology department.

There are many possible uses for virtual displays. Drivers or pilots could see a vehicle's speed projected onto the windshield. Video game companies could use the contact lenses to completely immerse players in a virtual world without restricting their range of motion. And for communications, people on the go could surf the Internet on a midair virtual display screen that only they would be able to see.

"People may find all sorts of applications for it that we have not thought about. Our goal is to demonstrate the basic technology and make sure it works and that it's safe," said Parviz, who heads a multi-disciplinary UW group that is developing electronics for contact lenses.

The prototype device contains an electric circuit as well as red light-emitting diodes for a display, though it does not yet light up. The lenses were tested on rabbits for up to 20 minutes and the animals showed no adverse effects.

Ideally, installing or removing the bionic eye would be as easy as popping a contact lens in or out, and once installed the wearer would barely know the gadget was there, Parviz said. (More)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


For the past 15-plus years Axl Rose has been toying with the emotions of the 12 or so Guns N' Roses fans left in the world by hinting that he might actually release the band's next masterpiece album, Chinese Democracy. Well Dr Pepper has had enough and it's decided to throw down the gauntlet.

Today the company is announcing that it will give a free Dr Pepper to everyone in the U.S. if Axl releases the album before the end of 2008. Now, you might think the company is taking quite the chance here. Let's face it: 300 million cans is a lot of product. And the logistics of the thing would probably be a gargantuan headache.
But for those people who really love getting free stuff and would actually like to see the company try and pull this off, they can visit, which was created by Dr Pepper with the help of its PR agency, Ketchum, and leave notes of encouragement for Axl in the hopes of lighting a fire under his ass to finish the album.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sirius Buyout of Rival XM Approved

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department has approved the $5 billion buyout of XM Satellite Radio by a rival, Sirius Satellite Radio, saying the deal was unlikely to hurt competition or consumers.

The merger was approved without conditions despite opposition from consumer groups and an intense lobbying campaign by the land-based radio industry.

The combination still requires approval from the Federal Communications Commission, which prohibited a merger when it granted satellite radio operating licenses in 1997.

The Justice Department, in a lengthy statement explaining its decision, said the two companies compete not just with each other but also with other forms of radio and entertainment. Customers must buy equipment that is exclusive to either XM or Sirius, and subscribers rarely switch providers. (More)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Long-Distance Wi-Fi

Intel’s researchers have come up with a way to send Wi-Fi signals up to 60 miles (100km), while maintaining a usable throughput of up to 6.5Mbits/s.

According to MIT’s Technology Review, the system is known as the 'rural connectivity platform' (RCP) for the way it can, at relatively low cost, connect towns to out-of-the-way locations otherwise bypassed by new communication technologies.

This is to be more than a lab engineer’s daydream and has been field tested in India, Panama, Vietnam and South Africa.

The technology is innovative on a number of levels. It works using a point-to-point design, which automatically lowers cost to a quoted region of $500-$1,000 (£250-£500) for a single connection – way below rival systems such as cable broadband or satellite.

Once terminated at the remote location, the connectivity it provides could be distributed using off-the-shelf Wi-Fi hardware.

It is also low-power, using around five to six watts for a system with three radios in a link, making it possible to power it during the day from solar power or by battery during the night.

Intel has a video demonstration of the system on the Intel Research Berkeley lab website.

(More From TechWorld)

YouTube Video Awards

And the nominees included: an obsessed Britney Spears fan, the Obama Girl, Chocolate Rain and the "don't tase me, bro" guy.

The event? The second annual YouTube Video Awards. YouTube announced the 12 winners in the video-sharing site's awards today, recognizing the top-user created videos of 2007. There were six nominees for each category: music, sports, comedy, instructional, short film, inspirational, commentary, creative, politics, series, eyewitness and "adorable."

YouTube spokesman Aaron Ferstman said the winners, voted on by users, will score "notoriety" and a trophy he described as "very heavy with a metal base" supporting a "big glass 'play' button."

"The nominees were viewed nearly a quarter-billion times," said Ferstman, who noted the site considered the "watercooler effect" when selecting this year's finalists. (See Them Here)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Karen Dalessandro

Congratulations to Karen Dalessandro and her Moo Crew members, Scott Dolphin, and that NASCAR expert, Radar. Karen and her cohorts were nominated for Major Market Personality of the Year by the Academy of Country Music. This adds to a stellar year. They were also nominated for the same award by the Country Music Association in 2007. Karen has won the CMA award before (2001) and been nominated many times. She's an amazing talent and a terrific person. She's married to my dear friend and old business partner, Doug Burton. He's the lucky one. Her radio station WMIL is also nominated for Major Market Station of the Year by the ACM. It won the CMA award for 2007 back in November.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

'A More Perfect Union'

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Pew News IQ Quiz

Do you think you're well informed?
To test your knowledge of prominent people and major events in the news, we invite you to take The Pew News short quiz. Then see how you did in comparison with 1,003 randomly sampled adults asked the same questions in a recent national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. (CLICK TO TAKE TEST)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tribune Names Lee Abrams Chief Innovation Officer

CHICAGO Mar. 11, 2008 -- The sweeping change underway at Tribune Company today took another giant leap forward as the media giant announced the appointment of music and radio industry icon Lee Abrams as Chief Innovation Officer. Abrams will be responsible for innovation across Tribune’s publishing, broadcasting and interactive divisions, and will assume his duties April 1. He is the first person to hold the position in the company’s 160-year history.

“There is a remarkable opportunity for Tribune to design the future of American media with passion, intellect, and imagination that meets the spirit of the 21st century,” said Abrams. “We have the resources to pioneer a new age of information and entertainment that re-invents and enlightens—and that is exactly what we are going to do!”

Since 1998, Abrams has served as Senior Vice President and Chief Creative Officer at XM Satellite Radio, overseeing the development and programming of more than 100 radio stations. At XM, Abrams developed programming with such diverse artists as Bob Dylan, Snoop Dogg, Quincy Jones, Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis.

“Lee is the most formidable creative thinker in the media business today,” said Randy Michaels, Tribune’s president of broadcasting and interactive. “He invented the modern FM radio format, got satellite radio off the ground when no one gave it a chance, and managed to advise on the redesign of “Rolling Stone” magazine and the launch of TNT Cable Network in his spare time. Lee’s going to pump new life into our content, re-energize our brands, and get people thinking and working together like they never have before.” (MORE)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Robert Plant has turned down an extra £100million fortune to take Led Zeppelin on a world tour.

The rock legend wants to concentrate on his new partnership with US country singer Alison Krauss... spelling the likely end of the famous band.

Led Zep fans had been longing for a tour announcement since last year - when the 1970s superstars reformed for a one-off show at London's O2 Arena.

Surviving members Plant, Robert Page and John Paul Jones were offered a guaranteed £100m each for a tour of North America and Europe after a million fans applied for O2 tickets.

But after extensive talks Led Zep decided against the moneymaking opportunity. (More)


Brett Favre has decided to retire from the NFL after 17 seasons.

FOX Sports first reported Tuesday that the Green Bay Packers quarterback informed the team in the last few days. said that according to Favre's agent the quarterback told coach Mike McCarthy of his decision.

Monday, March 03, 2008


Nine Inch Nails presents Ghosts I - IV, a brand new 36 track instrumental collection available right now. Almost two hours of new music composed and recorded over an intense ten week period last fall, Ghosts I - IV sprawls Nine Inch Nails across a variety of new terrain.

Trent Reznor explains, "I've been considering and wanting to make this kind of record for years, but by its very nature it wouldn't have made sense until this point. This collection of music is the result of working from a very visual perspective - dressing imagined locations and scenarios with sound and texture; a soundtrack for daydreams. I'm very pleased with the result and the ability to present it directly to you without interference. I hope you enjoy the first four volumes of Ghosts."

The First Nine Tracks are available for FREE(HERE) and all 36 Tracks are available for $5.00 (HERE)

Deluxe versions with booklets, vinyl and more are also available at prices ranging from $10.00-$300.oo.