August 11/18, 2004   

   Projector lights radio tags
Radio tags promise a revolution in inventory control, even as they threaten to diminish privacy. Add a photosensor to each tag and they could also enable augmented reality -- a melding of everyday items and digital information. The key to this low-cost system is a combination projector and radio tag reader.
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Cell phone melds video and data
Augmented reality, which overlays digital information on real world objects, has been largely limited to research prototypes and military aircraft cockpits. A research team aims to bring the technology to the masses with a system that works on ordinary cell phones. The trick is keeping the system lightweight enough for cell phones' low-end cameras and computer chips.

Sound system lets listeners move
Audio engineers are able to capture and reproduce the way sounds occur in specific places, creating the illusion that a sound source is moving through the listener's space. These effects usually require you to hold your head in one position, however. Headtracking headphones and accompanying software offer a more liberating experience.

Chips measure electron spin
Several of the wide variety of proposed quantum computer architectures call for circuitry that is fairly similar to today's computer chips, an advantage in the race toward practical quantum computers. These architectures, which use the orientations of individual electrons to store information, have received a boost with a pair of experiments that show it is possible to electronically detect the orientation of a single electron.

Twisted fiber filters light... Shifty tiles bring walking to VR... Speck trios make secret codes... Single gold atoms altered... Pen writes micro wires... Design eases nano locomotion.

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