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While I enjoyed "The mind-bendingnew world of work" (Cover Story, Apr. 2), it made no mention of reverse avatar (RA) technology.
With RA, instead of projecting an operator image onto a computer-generated figure or into a computer-generated setting, the RA technology projects a semi-transparent 3D image onto the operator.
Imagine, for example, having a reverse avatar of Tiger Woods projected onto a student golfer. As Woods swings or chips or putts, the wearer strives to match his movements exactly. A failed swing is indicated by an alarm and accompanied by instruction from the integrated programming on how to correct the motion. When the swing is executed correctly, the program lets you know it.
Alan Dean Foster
Your article is right on the mark. It accurately describes the way gesture recognition, via video cameras and gyroscopes combined with cost-effective computing power, offers a natural computer interface that empowers and engages our whole bodies in the process.
Your story correctly points out that most of the companies that created the original virtual reality (VR) motion-tracking technologies "crashed and burned," disappearing without fulfilling the early hype. One clear exception, however, is GestureTek, which was founded 20 years ago. Our solutions require no special gloves, helmets, or other props.
We have thousands of customers, including several that were featured in your story (Ford (F
), Intel (INTC
), Microsoft (MSFT
), and Monster Media), and we continue to lead in state-of-the-art gesture-tracking technologies and patents.
Chief Executive GestureTek
Portola Valley, Calif. One systemic, comical problem with Microsoft Corp. (MSFT
) is how it understates its missteps and failures and talks up what it wants to do and where it wants to go.
In "Where is Microsoft search?" (News & Insights, Apr. 2), a spokesperson says: "We could have been a little crisper." Are you kidding me? Split pea soup is crisper than Microsoft's execution. The company needs to understand that vaporware and pulling the wool over people's eyes are relics of a distant Cold War era. These days, honesty and flawless execution are what matters.
The stumbling goliath continues to trip over its past successes, leaving agile companies such as Google Inc. (GOOG
) and Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO
) to run circles around it. The irony is that while Microsoft keeps swinging at the swarming armies, Google and other rivals are barely taking notice.
Microsoft's slow suffocation is less the work of its Spartan-like competitors than the inevitable result of the company's neglect of its customers. To borrow from Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay on compensation: Microsoft's punishment is a fruit that unsuspected ripens within the flower of the pleasure which concealed it.
J. Allan Brown
Pleasanton, Calif. Although I was stunned at the biases and exaggerations rampant in "The unemployment act" (The Welch Way, Mar. 12), I finally recognized it as just another management-side diatribe. (Union leaders are often equally bombastic.)BusinessWeek's follow-up, "Unions: The great divide" (Feedback, Apr. 2), says the Employee Free Choice Act "would change the rules of labor elections by replacing the secret ballot with 'card check.'" In fact, card-check certification has been legal for more than 70 years, along with elections, since the 1935 passage of the National Labor Relations Act. Increasingly, unions are using the card-check method of organizing for a variety of reasons.
Even if the Employee Free Choice Act does not become law, the use of card check will continue to rise. Employers have become so proficient at defeating organizing campaigns ending in elections that unions have moved increasingly to card check.
Joseph C. Ullman
University of South Carolina
Blythewood, S.C. By focusing on characteristics such as school size and location in "The best undergrad B-schools" (Special Report, Mar. 19), BusinessWeek's rankings fail to measure the value added by schools that are smaller and off the beaten path.
Senior faculty here at the University of Tennessee, for example, spend most of their time teaching and mentoring undergraduate students. In academic circles, institutions such as ours are referred to as "teaching schools." Faculty at "research schools," in contrast, spend more of their time working with PhD students and keeping up their own publishing schedules. At many of your ranked schools, faculty-student ratios are supplemented by assigning doctoral candidates and junior lecturers to teach undergraduates.
Also, while your analysis makes some adjustments, the starting salaries reported in your table favor institutions whose graduates work in high-cost-of-living areas. With respect to recruiting, your readers should know that the market for qualified B-school graduates is as strong on Main Street as it is on Wall Street.
SAT and ACT scores measure students' proficiency upon admission, but they do not indicate the educational effectiveness of an institution. In fact, colleges with moderate acceptance scores bring more students further up the curve than schools with more restrictive admission policies.
Next year you might ask the faculties at your top-ranked undergrad B-schools what factors are most important in their own promotion, tenure, and merit processes. You may find their answers to be quite educational.
Thomas H. Payne
University of Tennessee
Martin, Tenn. After reading your review of The Wizard of Menlo Park ("Invention deficit disorder," Books, Apr. 2), I was left feeling that the reviewer doesn't understand the appropriate (and limited) role of an inventor in the business world. As an inventor, I don't buy the attempt to belittle Thomas Edison's achievements.
To conclude that Edison was not all that successful because he died without being "fabulously wealthy" misses the point: Inventors are not due anywhere near all the credit for and profits from their creations. And are we to assume that all attempts in life are failures if the creative person doesn't die wealthy? Even if wealth is the key measure, Edison's estate valuation of "only" $1.5 million was an enormous fortune in the early 1930s.
The reviewer also criticizes Edison for repeatedly refocusing from one invention to another. Would he have had him focus on only his first, trying to wring every dollar out of it and preventing other inventors from standing on his shoulders and improving on his work?
This inventor vs. businessman conflict is an apples-to-bananas comparison. It isn't that they compete, as they both need each other. The inventor provides the idea, and the business enterprise marshals the many aspects needed to extend the idea's reach.
Edison was a genius and a visionary, if not a topflight businessman. So what if he sought and received a lot of publicity? He deserved it.