Archive August 2008
What is this virtual world coming too?
Anyone need a lift to their polling booth?
With the advent of online shopping, millions of Americans have forsaken the all-too-real check-out lines and hassles and have opted for the ease of virtual purchasing.
And as more and more Americans are accessing the Internet with cell phones, some retailers are adjusting.
“Currently only about 3 percent of Americans have made a purchase on [a cell phone],” Worley told “GMA.” “But clothing outfitter Ralph Lauren is taking a big step to make your phone a shopping centre on the go.”
Ralph Lauren, known for its preppy clothing lines, will feature ads in its catalogues this month that can be scanned by many cell phones’ cameras, allowing the items to be purchased on the spot.
“Shopping is about instant gratification, whether you’re flipping through a magazine or newspaper, watching something on TV or going to a store window,” David Lauren, son of Ralph Lauren, told “GMA.” “Now if you can get something that’s a luxury and get it right away, that’s the ultimate combination.”
According to Worley, in Japan the practice is already wildly popular and has expanded so that the bar codelike symbols are featured on billboards and cars, even temporary tattoos and gravestones.
Another brand-new technology application, introduced by the Manhattan interactive design firm Icon Nicholson, is the Magic Mirror, a device that can turn any solo shopping trip into “social retailing.”
In Icon Nicholson’s future, after a shopper has picked out some clothing, they hop into a dressing room equipped with the Magic Mirror and begin live streaming to the Internet as they try on each outfit.
Next, friends and family can check out the shopper’s selections and comment, without ever being in the store. The mirror may be able to bridge the gap between fashion and the popular realm of social networking.
“Someone walks in the store and they interact with the mirror. That’s part of our social retailing system,” said Joseph Olewitz of Icon Nicholson. “They tell it to ‘Invite my friends.’ The system invites their friends, and their friends participate remotely via live real-time video.”
Films From Silk Could Detect Deadly Poisons
Silk from the humble silkworm has been used by humans for thousands of years, mostly to create textiles, but it appears that this remarkable material is on the verge of entering a dramatic new role. It may some day save your life.
Researchers at Tufts University and elsewhere are using silk to create sophisticated optics that may eventually warn that the spinach you were about to eat is contaminated with E. coli bacteria. Or the river you were about to plunge into is highly toxic. Or the glucose level in your blood is dangerously high.
There is a wide range of potential applications for this technology, if it can be scaled up to industrial production, and no one is more surprised than the scientists and engineers who are developing it.
“It was serendipitous,” said Fiorenzo Omenetto, associate professor of biomedical engineering and physics at Tufts. “We didn’t really set out with this in mind, to make
Omenetto is an expert on more traditional optics, but when he arrived at Tufts he found himself in the company of David Kaplan, chairman of the biomedical engineering department, who is an expert on silk, among other things. The two have already created optical components, like lenses and sensors, out of protein from the silk that can be reformed into incredibly clear films.
The end product has unique properties, lending itself to surface texturing on the nano scale. It is compatible with biological materials and is so benign it can be programmed to self-destruct after its mission is completed, or just tossed on the ground “like giving the silkworm back to the grass,” Omenetto said in a telephone interview.
And by the way, if that bag of spinach isn’t contaminated, you can eat it, along with the sensor, with no problem. The researchers are calling it “edible optics.”
“At a low cost, we could potentially put a bioactive silk film in every bag of spinach, and it could give the consumer a readout of whether or not E. coli bacteria were in the bag before the food was consumed,” Kaplan said in announcing the research.