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Saturday, 24 March, 2001, 20:29 GMT 21:29 UK
CeBIT shows higher tech future
Replica robotic dog BBC
Sit boy! A giant replica robotic dog guards the CeBIT show
The BBC News Online's Andrew Godleman takes a look at some of the more weird and wonderful items on show at the CeBIT Business Fair in Hanover.

From giant replica robotic dogs to fat 'digital' pens, the CeBIT business fair has many surprising applications of new technology.

Digital pen BBC
The fat digital pen writes graphical messages
The elegantly named Speedy Tomato company was demonstrating the use of an Anoto digital pen to write a graphical message.

The message is passed on to a phone using Bluetooth technology and sent as a graphical SMS message.

Users in the UK who cannot wait for that technology can send SMS messages typed at a qwerty keyboard, by signing up for company's internet service.

What's cooking on the web

Even mainstream firms like Ericsson are able to surprise, with a demonstration video in which two children from single-parent families plot a romance for their parents.

They are ably assisted by fridges with built-in touch-screen terminals and access to both grown-ups' e-calendars.

Some real thought had gone into making the touch-screen terminal make sense in the kitchen, with features including:

  • cooking recipe videos on demand, linked to shopping lists which you can view on your phone when you are out;
  • video post-it notes made using the fridge's in-built camera;
  • a kitchen calendar which synchronises with its handheld and office counterparts.
Where it may not be so successful is in hoping that local phone operators will be ready to deliver the service.

Some phone companies are having difficulty delivering broadband services, so they may not be ready for the challenge of understanding family behaviour.

The web takes off

Boeing are not known for hosting multimedia portal sites.

Mock plane BBC
Sky surfers log onto the internet in a mock plane
But with their experience of running an intranet supporting 200,000 employees, together with a carefully positioned satellite or two, they will be able to offer airlines the chance to provide web access through a local network on the plane.

You simply plug your laptop's ethernet connection into a socket at your seat.

People on the ground will be able to see your plane's progress on the net (a service that is already available to passengers on long-haul flights). Passengers can even start re-arranging their next flight if they are delayed.

The system should be available in the US in 2002, Europe in 2003 and globally in 2005. Thirty airlines are already in discussion with the firm.

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See also:

22 Mar 01 | Business
e-Business as usual at CeBIT
13 Feb 01 | Business
Hewlett-Packard re-invents itself
21 Mar 01 | Business
Nintendo launches new GameBoy
19 Mar 01 | Business
Palm hangs hopes on new products
12 Mar 01 | Business
IBM wins Playstation 3 contract
01 Mar 01 | Business
Troubled times for Psion
12 Mar 01 | Business
Ericsson rings the alarm
30 Jan 01 | Business
Nokia results send shares into spin
31 Jan 01 | Business
Alcatel, Siemens warn of slower 2001
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