Bits & Bytes
NOW, YOU CAN DIAL UP YOUR OFFICE E-MAIL
IT'S A PERPETUAL DILEMMA for executives on the road: You want to see E-mail from your office, but you don't want to lug around a laptop. As of Nov. 1, Atlanta-based TWS Inc. is offering a solution. It's a new service, called bulletIN, that lets you get your corporate E-mail on a digital wireless phone.
Here's how it works: TWS's proprietary communications software is installed at a wireless operator's gateway, which is the entrance to the wireless network. Once given the location of your corporate server, the software can pick up copies of E-mail sent to you in the office and forward them to your phone. You can read the first 20 words or so of the message on the phone's small screen. If you like, you can forward the E-mail over the wireless network to any nearby fax machine and print out the entire message. "It's designed to make life on the road for executives simpler," says David Lasier, president and CEO of TWS. BellSouth is charging wireless customers $4.95 a month for the service. The price may vary as TWS signs up other wireless phone companies.
The service doesn't require users to get a new phone. You do, however, need the new digital wireless service called personal communications services (PCS), and not the older analog cellular service.EDITED BY PETER ELSTROMReturn to top
HIT THE GAS--AND THE INTERNET
NOW HERE'S A VEHICLE even the Jetsons would envy: A Chevrolet Blazer that lets you browse the World Wide Web, retrieve E-mail messages, pick up restaurant recommendations, and get directions to your next destination. You don't even need a mouse or keyboard to use it. Just your voice.
On Nov. 17, four technology heavyweights--IBM, Delco Electronics, Netscape Communications, and Sun Microsystems--teamed up to introduce the "network vehicle" prototype at the annual Comdex convention in Las Vegas. The beefed-up Blazer has a satellite dish embedded in the roof that allows connections to the Web of 400 kilobits per second, which is seven times faster than the 56-kbps modems that now top the market. Voice-recognition capabilities mean you can scoop up information from the Web and never take your hands off the wheel. The info is displayed on the driver's windshield, just like a fighter pilot's target map.
A fully loaded version of the vehicle won't come to market anytime soon--the extras cost several thousand dollars. But pieces of the technology are likely to be commercialized in the next year or so. Most promising is the windshield display that can be integrated with a pager or a wireless phone. That way, Web pages or E-mail messages can be displayed on the windshield for easy viewing.EDITED BY PETER ELSTROM Roger O. CrockettReturn to top
HOW TO GET SOME FACE TIME WITH YOUR PC
NEVER MIND RETINA SCANS, fingererprint analysis, or voice recognition. What's the latest in security systems for personal computers? Your face. Thanks to Intel Corp.'s powerful Pentium chips and falling prices of digital cameras, Visionics Corp. of Jersey City, N.J., has developed PC FaceIt, a consumer version of the image-recognition systems it sells to the Justice Dept. and the National Security Agency.
How does PC FaceIt work? With a camera attached to your PC, the program records a picture of your face. When you turn on your desktop computer, the camera's image-recognition software sends the picture to the PC, where a pixel-by-pixel comparison is done. If your mug is recognized, the PC allows you access to your computer. Have to leave your desk? If the camera doesn't see you, it locks down the machine until you return. PC FaceIt costs $149.95 and works on any PC with a 166-Mhz Pentium and 16 megabytes of memory. A digital camera, about $200, is not included. Smile--your PC may be watching.EDITED BY PETER ELSTROM Ira SagerReturn to top