Teams picked for rush hour robot race

Culver City (CA) - The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has picked the first eleven teams for next year's Urban Challenge race. In the race, robotic cars from each team will have to complete an urban, obstacle filled 60-mile course in less than six hours. In return for giving up some technology rights, each team will receive up to $1 million in funding before the race.

Hackers invited to break the security on $100 laptops

Cheap computers for the world's poor could mean big security headaches. The $100 One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project is inviting hackers to break test out and even break the security on the upcoming computers.

Quad-core and a 6000W heatsink: Impressions from the IDF showfloor

San Francisco (CA) - The recently completed IDF had a lot of news about new processors and computers, but the event also exhibits a fair share of other gadgets. Several dozen companies showed off their wares and we are showing some of the most interesting. They run the gamut from a Core 2 Duo overclocked to 4.0 GHz to a heat plate that can dissipate 6000 watts.

Driver's licenses become smart cards

Digimarc, a company that specializes in providing driver's licenses, today announced the completion of a project that would integrate a silicon chip into driver's licenses. The card would meet new Federal requirements for proof of citizenship when crossing U.S. borders.

Inexpensive podcast studios are no excuse for low-quality audio says podcast expert

Ontario (California) - Hobbyists and professionals from all walks of life are trying their hand at making podcasts and it doesn't take thousands of dollars to get started. Speaking at the Podcast and Portable Media Expo in Ontario California, Paul Figgiani, a Senior Production Engineer at GigaVox, told attendees that basic podcasting rigs can be bought for less than $100. But while the entry costs may be low, Figgiani warned that listeners today are much less forgiving of poor audio quality.

Microsoft and Hughes to roll out 5000 satellite-based Internet kiosks in India

Microsoft and Hughes India have partnered up to roll out thousands of satellite-based Internet kiosks in India. Around 5000 Information and Communications Technology (ICT) kiosks will be built in 200 small towns and rural regions across the country. In addition to Internet access, the kiosks will have international voice calling and business to business services.

Casual games market belongs to middle-aged women

Video games, which have become intensely closely related to teenage and twenty-something males, are not as gender specific as the societal norm makes them out to be, according to studies from two game publishers. RealNetworks, Inc, and PopCap Games, who specialize in the growing market of "casual games", said that their target audience, casual gamers, is dominated by women. According to them, 70 percent of casual gamers are females over the age of 40.

Now this is an upgrade, Virgin Atlantic frequent flyer converts miles into a space trip

A north Londoner will be getting the ultimate upgrade with his Virgin Atlantic frequent flier miles. Alan Watts, a former electrician, has amassed more than 2 million miles and has converted them into a space trip on the newly formed Virgin Galactic. He will be one of the first 1,000 people scheduled to fly to 75 miles above Earth.

VW Cyber-Passat surfs web, plays video at freeway speeds (Picture Gallery)

San Francisco (CA) - Ultra mobile PCs or UMPCs have been heavily touted by Intel, but so far there hasn't been any "killer app" to catch any significant attention. Intel is partnering up with Volkswagen to change that by developing UMPC-enhanced cars capable of surfing the web and playing video at freeway speeds. At the Intel Developer's Forum, attendees gawked at a prototype 2006 Passat that could playback music, videos and podcasts. It could even stream two different videos to the backseat monitors.

MySpace leads in U.S. video streaming

According to Comscore Media Metrix, a consulting firm that measures the use of digital media, MySpace is currently the top video streaming site in the U.S., at least in terms of the total number of streams initiated. The network of Yahoo sites tops the list on an international scale.

Second generation UMPC to debut in H1 2007

San Francisco (CA) - Forget about the first, relatively bulky UMPCs - which have sparked quite some controversy at their launch back in march of this year. The second generation is being prepped - with case designs and the functionality that was expected to be available for the initial wave of devices.

Intel touts direct DC power supplies for power savings

San Francisco (CA) - It should come as no surprise that server computers use a lot of electricity, but Intel's CTO Justin Rattner says much of that power is wasted and of course he has a solution. Speaking at the Intel Developer's Forum, Rattner said direct current power supply units (PSUs), the ones that don't need AC power, could save an extra 14% over existing high-efficiency PSUs. Rattner even demonstrated a prototype DC PSU and proclaimed that it had an efficiency of greater than 90%.

Intel proposes new power efficiency focused CPU benchmark

San Francisco (CA) - Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's digital enterprise group, formally launched the Xeon 5300 quad-core series as well as the Xeon 5300 series during his keynote at IDF. Gelsinger also mentioned that Intel is working on a new benchmark that will focus on the power efficiency of a processor.

Intel's race for the cores

San Francisco (CA) - CPUs are accelerating their gain of processing power and, in the near future, Intel believes that a single chip could perform a trillion instructions per second and replace dozens of servers. At the IDF, the firm gave a sneak peek of an upcoming 80-core processor for the "mega data-center."

Intel CEO announces Core 2 Quad

San Francisco (CA) - It wasn't much of a surprise anymore, but at least its official now: Intel will ship the first quad-core enthusiast processors as well as 2-way quad-core processors in November. The first mainstream quad-core will be introduced in Q1 of next year under the "Core 2 Quad" brand.

Multi-core processors may replace physics cards, says Intel

San Francisco (CA) - In what promises to be one of the main themes of the Intel Developer Forum, Intel touted the virtues of quad-core gaming to members of the press, during a pre-show, "extreme multi-threaded" benchmarking session. Despite current programming challenges, quad-core CPUs will accelerate games and even enable physics effects without the need of an add-in card, Intel promises.

Cyber attacks getting more serious for home users

Home users have become the main target of blended security threats. According to report released by Symantec, the first six months of 2006 brought more than 2200 individual threats that increasingly show financial motivation and aim to extract personal and financial data, while using more elaborate techniques to evade detection.

McDonald's launches online content service

McDonald's, along with the digital content company Akoo, today announced that its flagship store in Schaumburg's Woodfield Mall has rolled out "M-Venue," a wireless service that allows customers to stream music and videos while eating a Big Mac.

Cambridge researchers developing rollable displays

Culver City (CA) - Univeristy of Cambridge researchers are developing new structures that can roll up without hinges or locks. The morphing structures could be used in future laptop screens, keyboards or even for reusable packaging. According to Dr. Keith Seffen of Cambridge's Department of Engineering, the structures will not require any advanced manufacturing processes or special materials.

Caterpillar envisions robotic bulldozers

Robotic bulldozers and other construction equipment could autonomously mine for precious metals or help build future houses. Caterpillar, the famous maker of heavy construction equipment, is developing robotic and remotely-controlled construction vehicles that take advantage of GPS navigation.