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Texting Important Part of Plane-Crash Response
By Colleen Long
January 20, 2009 7:50AM


Soon after US Airways Flight 1549 took off from LaGuardia Airport, Vallie Collins heard a boom and started smelling smoke. When the captain urged passengers to brace for impact, she immediately reached for her phone.
"I thought, 'OK, I'm not going to see my husband and three children again. And I just want them to know at this point, they were the No. 1 thought in my mind,'" she said.

She sent them a text message: "My plane is crashing." There was no time for the final three words she wanted to include: "I love you."

The crash-landing was one of few aviation accidents in which passengers were able to send frantic dispatches to loved ones before their plane went down.

After the plane came to rest in the water, Collins and all 154 others aboard were quickly rescued by ferries and emergency crews.

Larry Snodgrass, of Lake Wylie, S.C., grabbed his cell phone as the plane descended, sending a text message to his wife telling her an engine was on fire and that he loved her with all his heart.

He said his eyes were shut as the plane hit the water, and he opened them in disbelief when he realized he was still alive.

Meanwhile around the city, witnesses were recounting what they heard and saw via text message, on the SMS-blogging service Twitter, and on online photo-sharing Web sites. Janis Krums wrote that there was a plane in the Hudson, and he was on the ferry going to pick up people.

Krums quickly uploaded images of passengers standing on the wings of the plane bobbing in the frigid waters, waiting to be rescued. The images were picked up by The Associated Press and distributed to media outlets around the world. Hundreds of users on the photo-sharing site Flickr posted photos within moments of the splash landing.

A fan club on Facebook quickly formed for the pilot, Chesley B. Sullenberger.

After the passengers were rescued from the sinking plane, they began calling relatives. Passenger Michele Davis, 23, of Olympia, Wash., lost her phone in the crash, so she borrowed one to call her mother, Susan Dunham.

Dunham told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that when she answered her phone she heard, "Mama, mama, mamma. My plane's crashed. I'm on the lifeboat. I'm OK."

Denise Lockie had just slid down the plane's emergency landing chute when she called her older sister, Nancy Kallile of Toledo, Ohio.

"Basically she said, 'We've crashed in the Hudson River. I love you. I'm still alive,'" Kallile said, who was getting fitted for eyeglasses when her sister called.

Snodgrass was one of the last people off the plane. He told The Herald of Rock Hill that he called his wife as he stood in shin-deep water on the wing, waiting to be rescued. She was distraught, watching television and fearing the worst after getting that text message, but all was well.
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Frustrated, Bewildered Air Travelers Can Blame System
By Susan Stellin January 19, 2009 7:40AM

One of the most agonizing aspects of air travel is waiting out a flight delay, desperate for information.
Within the United States, for example, one in four domestic flights runs late, meaning that about 400,000 passengers sit captive at gates or on the tarmac every day .

"They're very poor at getting on the intercom and saying, 'Here's our situation,'" said Jennifer Shirkani, owner of a management consulting business in Manchester, New Hampshire, who flies about 100,000 miles, or 161,000 kilometers, a year. "In some cases, there's not even a crew member at the gate until two minutes before the scheduled boarding time. So we're really on our own to find out what's going on."

If you have ever felt frustrated by the disconnect between what you hear from a gate agent, see on an electronic display, find out when you call the airline or even see out the window -- no aircraft ready to go -- it turns out there is a disconnect. Literally, there is a convoluted flow of information.

Passengers are at the end of a communication chain that involves multiple computer systems, gate agents, pilots, flight dispatchers, air traffic controllers, and other personnel, with updates moving along different paths.

"You can have three or four different systems providing information, one quicker than another at any point in time," said Cindy Bouchard, a former airport customer service supervisor with US Airways.

During a delay, gate agents and the flight crew communicate with the airline along separate channels, and do not necessarily talk to each other. Pilots typically get more updated information because they are in direct contact with the airline's system operations control center -- essentially, the brain that keeps track of every aircraft's schedule.

In the United States, pilots also communicate with tower personnel who are linked to the Federal Aviation Administration's command center in Herndon, Virginia. That is the master system each airline connects with to determine when its planes are allowed to come and go.

But even if members of the flight crew share information with their colleagues at the gate, Bouchard said, "We couldn't make the announcement to the passengers until it was official in the system, because the crew could be wrong."

Gate agents are also reluctant to jump the gun because they dread the onslaught they will face after announcing bad news. "Imagine dealing with a cancellation and 200 passengers standing in front of you -- it's incredible," Bouchard said. "So are you going to announce a cancellation without knowing for sure? I don't think so."
Cutbacks in airline staff have made the problem worse because there are fewer agents left to deal with passengers at the airport.

Of course, in cases of extreme weather, no one can predict when planes will be able to take off.

"Everyone is dealing with information that's not perfect, and it's changing," said Basil Barimo, vice president of operations for the Air Transport Association, which represents the main U.S. airlines. "That's what creates the challenge for the folks out there at the airport."

But he acknowledged that information flowed through separate, and not always equal, channels.

"The crew is connected directly to the operations center so they're getting the latest and greatest information," Barimo said. "The customer service agent is not directly connected, so is getting the information from airport channels."

Depending on the technology available at the gate, that may mean a radio transmission or a phone call. As for the electronic flight displays throughout the terminal, they do not necessarily show the latest data because they get information from sources contracted by the airport.

That is why passengers can often get more timely information about a flight delay by checking the airline's Web site or Flightstats.com. Or, in the United States, they can send a text message to Google with the flight number (AA117, for example), which will send back a text message with the latest departure and arrival information from Flightstats. If there is no plane at the gate, savvy travelers have learned to check the status of the incoming flight, which is often a better way of gauging how soon the plane will turn around.

"You really have to be almost a forensic traveler to know what's going on," said Kate Hanni, founder of the Coalition for an Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights, an advocacy group that has primarily pushed for better treatment of travelers during extended tarmac delays.

Hanni also served on a task force created by the U.S. Department of Transportation to establish guidelines for the airlines when long on-board delays occur on the tarmac. She voted against the group's recommendations, which essentially let the airlines continue with the status quo.

"We got a totally unenforceable document with a number of 'mays' and 'shoulds' and no 'musts' and 'wills,'" she said. "I feel like we as a group totally failed."

The task force recommended that airlines attempt to update passengers every 15 minutes during a tarmac delay, even when there is no new information to share.
While many carriers made similar promises in the customer commitments they adopted to forestall earlier passenger rights proposals, few would claim that they actually do update passengers that often.

"I think every 15 minutes is extremely optimistic," said a pilot for a major carrier, though he agreed that communication could be improved. The pilot agreed to speak anonymously because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

"The left hand isn't always talking to the right hand," he said. "I would say the information isn't flowing in the right order."
 
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Go Online on Board, Just Keep It Quiet
By Micheline Maynard February 10, 2009 7:28AM

For all the annoyance of being crammed into an aluminum tube at 35,000 feet with a bunch of strangers, air travel has offered one benefit: the ability to tell bosses and colleagues, "I'll be on a flight, so you won't be able to reach me."
So much for that excuse.

Wireless Internet service is starting to spread among airlines in the United States: Delta and American have installed it on more than a dozen planes each, and several other carriers are planning to test it.

For the airlines, always desperate for new sources of revenue, offering the service -- about $10 for three hours and more for longer flights -- was an easy call. And many passengers will cheer the development as an end to Web withdrawal.

But this new frill is hardly as benign as a bag of pretzels. It may be a new source of tension between passengers on packed planes. A flight attendants' union has even expressed concern that terrorists could use it to plot attacks.

And there is the inescapable fact that one of the last places on earth to get away from it all can now be turned into a mobile office.

Brent Bigler, a financial planner living in Los Angeles, said he paid the $12.95 fee on a recent American Airlines flight to New York, and spent several hours reading e-mail and searching the Internet. When his plane was delayed, he was able to reach a friend to say he would be late for dinner.

Even so, Bigler said he worried about the downside.

"This could be the same thing as what happened with cell phones and BlackBerrys," he said. "Once it's cheap and ubiquitous, employers might expect employees to participate. I may feel guilty if it were a Monday and I napped or read and didn't use the Internet to do work."

Airline executives said they were aware that the new service had the potential to raise issues beyond the bottom line.

"We want to be respectful of the fact that an airplane is a public place," said Ranjan Goswami, director of product development at Delta. "You're in close intimacy with other passengers and the cabin crew."

Delta has told its flight attendants to treat overly enthusiastic users of Wi-Fi -- who might, say, forget to mute the volume on YouTube videos of skateboarding dogs -- like people who imbibe too much. In other words, cut them off if they start bothering others around them.

"It's just like alcohol," Goswami said. "The flight attendants understand how to interact with that."

But the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents 55,000 employees at 20 airlines, though not Delta, views Wi-Fi as a potential threat to flight attendants' ability to keep order in the cabin, said Corey Caldwell, a union spokeswoman.

"Our duties involve securing the safety of the cabin, not acting as censor police," Caldwell said. "It just adds another layer of duties inside the cabin, which take away from the main requirement that flight attendants are on board for."

Caldwell said the flight attendants' union also feared that terrorists plotting an incident on a plane could use Wi-Fi to communicate with one another on board and with conspirators on the ground.

"Right now, their ability to do that on board is limited," she said. "But we can see an instance in which this becomes a potential threat."

The Federal Aviation Administration currently bans use of cell phones aboard planes because they may interfere with a jet's navigation system. But Wi-Fi, as most technophiles know, offers a way around that ban, since the wireless connections can be used to tap into Skype and other programs that offer telephone service via a computer.

Clarel Thevenot, vice president for sales at Xtellus of Jersey City, New Jersey, said that during a flight from Stockholm he donned a headset with a microphone to call a friend in Paris. "I made the call brief and pretty much said, 'I'm at 35,000 feet and I'm calling you,'" Thevenot said.

Both airlines are using Wi-Fi service provided by Aircell. For now, American is offering its service on 15 Boeing 767 jets, said September Wade, a spokeswoman. If the test is successful, American will consider offering the service on its entire domestic fleet, but it has not decided yet whether to do so.

On Delta, the service is $9.95 for a flight of three hours or less, and $12.95 for a longer flight. U.S. carriers do not yet offer the service on their international flights, although Delta is exploring it.

If all 150 passengers on a typical domestic flight were to buy three hours of time, that would mean an extra $1,500 or so in revenue per trip -- equal to selling several extra seats per flight. Delta said that its service was too new to accurately gauge its popularity, and American would not say how many travelers were using the service.

By offering the service, airlines in the United States are catching up to many foreign carriers, like Lufthansa, which has offered the service for the past several years.

Travelers who have used it say the service works well for video clip sites like YouTube, although it isn't quite fast enough for streaming live events or television programs. They say, however, there is enough bandwidth to download a TV show from iTunes.
 
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American Airlines Will Expand Wi-Fi Access in the Sky
By Patricia Resende March 31, 2009 1:51PM

American Airlines is giving passengers Wi-Fi access in the sky. The airline will expand on its trial flight with Aircell, a provider of airborne communications.

American will move from the trial phase by installing Aircell's Gogo Inflight Internet on 300 domestic aircraft over the next two years, the company said Tuesday.

Thousands of passengers traveling on more than a dozen of American's Boeing 767-200 airplanes have had access to the in-flight Internet service on nonstop flights between New York's JFK and San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami.

"Our trial over the past six months offered customers the choice to remain connected to work, home or elsewhere when flying on American Airlines," said Dan Garton, American's executive vice president of marketing . "And it also gave us the ability to study customers' willingness to take advantage of high-speed, onboard connectivity and to gauge how the service performed technically in a variety of settings over an extended period of time."

"Customer feedback was extremely positive and, as a result, we will be working with American to bring Gogo to domestic MD-80 aircraft and B737 aircraft as quickly as possible," said John Happ, executive vice president of airlines at Aircell. "We are pleased that the results were positive and that we have decided to move forward."

Live Access

Aircell's Gogo service, which uses three antennas installed outside the airplane to connect to Aircell's mobile broadband network, allows passengers to surf the Web, check e-mail, send instant messages, and also gives passengers access to a corporate virtual private network.
Once the plane reaches 10,000 feet, passengers get the okay to turn on Wi-Fi devices, including PDAs, smartphones and laptops. Cell-phone and Voice over Internet Protocol services are not provided.

"In-flight Internet is extremely important to travelers, evidenced by American's decision to expand Gogo service beyond their existing Gogo-equipped aircraft," Happ said.

American will install the Aircell system on its domestic MD-80 and Boeing 737-800 fleets. The service will be introduced on 150 MD-80 planes this year.

Out-of-Pocket Costs

Depending on the length of the flight and what device is used to access the service, passengers will pay from $7.95 to $12.95.

Passengers on flights that are three hours or less will pay $9.95 for the service, while those on flights three hours or longer will pay a fee of $12.95. For customers using a handheld device, the price is $7.95.

It's not clear whether American Airlines will expand the service to its entire fleet of 900 aircraft under the American Eagle and American Connection airlines.

"We want American passengers to continue enjoying in-flight Internet to the fullest and are eager to begin the necessary steps toward the expansion efforts," Happ said.
 
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Nikon Camera Is First To Project Images on Flat Surfaces
By Barry Levine August 5, 2009 9:16AM

You take lots of photos and movies during your vacation trip, and each night in the hotel room you project them on the wall for your family -- from the same camera. That's the scenario that Nikon envisions with its announcement Tuesday of the first compact camera with a built-in projector.

Bedtime Story Companion?

The COOLPIX S1000pj can project photos or videos on any flat surface of up to 40 inches. Photos can be shown one by one, or as a slide show with music and effects. A projector stand and remote control are included.

Among other uses, Nikon suggests that parents use the new camera "to display photos of their own artworks or other images on the ceiling to complement bedtime stories they tell their children."

Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, suggested that there might also be some business uses for this kind of device, such as projecting images for a family or for agents after a day of scouting real estate.

"It's not necessarily a mainstream product," he said, but it could be useful when a monitor is otherwise not available, such as on a camping trip.
Greengart said it's "highly unlikely" that such micro-projectors will show up in many devices, although he noted that he has seen prototypes of similar projectors in camera phones.

"The downside there," he said, "is battery life," especially since draining your phone to project pictures could leave you without your communications device.

Micro-Projectors at CES

Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis for consumer technology at NPD Group, said he saw at the most recent Consumer Electronics Show "a number" of devices that integrated micro-projectors. "It's become a way to move beyond the limitations of finding an LCD monitor," he said.

Cameras are a good device for this add-on, he said, because the picture taker is "continually sharing photos with small groups," but he pointed out that it will add some cost and bulk to the device, at least in the near term.

The COOLPIX S1000pj, available in black or "warm silver," features a 5x zoom NIKKOR lens with 28mm wide-angle coverage and macro shooting as close as 1.2 inches. With its EXPEED digital image processing, Nikon said the camera has an "effective" resolution of 12.1 megapixels.

The camera is packed with the kind of features that can help reduce the embarrassment of others seeing your badly captured face projected on a hotel room wall.

An Electronic VR image stabilization system helps to produce images without blur, and motion detection controls shutter speed and ISO setting automatically to compensate for movement. A Best Shot Selector feature shoots a sequence of frames and saves the one with the sharpest focus.

A "face-priority" feature adjusts focus and exposure for up to a dozen faces, and a "skin softening" function adjusts smoothness. A Smile Timer clicks the shutter automatically when the face smiles, and a Blink Proof function takes two images, but only saves the one where the eyes are their widest open.

In case someone accidentally blinked, Blink Warning will issue an alert, and the in-camera red-eye fix corrects the vampire eyes that a flash can sometimes produce.
 
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Gotcha! 'Big Brother' Camera Dock Takes the Pictures
By Barry Levine August 6, 2009 9:42AM

You and your friends sit down to a dinner party and, while everyone munches and chats, a Sony camera in the corner decides when to take pictures.
That kind of auto-recording of parties is the idea behind the company's new party-shot camera dock, the IPT-DS1. It pans 360 degrees, tilts 24 degrees, detects faces, adjusts composition automatically, and, when it decides a shot is right, takes the photo.

'A New Style of Photography'

The dock is compatible with two of Sony's Cyber-shot digital cameras, the DSC-WX1 and the DSC-TX1. It utilizes each camera's BIONZ image processor, whose features include Face Detection and Smile Shutter. The Smile Shutter, as one might expect, detects when the subjects are smiling.

Shigehiko Nakayama, product manager for Sony Electronics digital-imaging accessories, said the new dock "offers a new style of photography" so "you no longer have to worry about taking photos when you are with your family or friends."

Ron Glaz, an analyst with industry research firm IDC, said camera makers have, to this point, been focusing on making photos as perfect and as easy to take as possible. But with red-eye detection, face detection, and other features becoming commonplace, they have reached a plateau.

"Consumers are beginning to ask why they need 10 megapixels, much less 12," he said. So camera makers are looking for other ways to differentiate their products.

He expects the creativity of adding new features to cameras to continue. "We have phones that are cameras," he pointed out, "but who says we can't have cameras that are phones?" Glaz suggested we might also see larger screens, GPS, geotagging and similar differentiators become more common on cameras.

'Solves a Problem'

Glaz said that while this kind of auto-picture-taking "could make sense for a certain generation" that doesn't mind being constantly photographed at a get-together, it's not necessarily for everyone.

Michael Gartenberg, a vice president at Interpret, said this kind of feature allows Sony to up-sell the dock to owners of the compatible cameras, and it "solves a problem that sometimes happens at parties, where most people want to live in the moment and not take the pictures."

But, he noted, there is a big question whether party guests will mind being photographed "candidly." The accepted mode of picture-taking at parties, he said, is smiling and standing next to others, or at least putting your best face on, rather than "being watched all the time."

"This is a great innovation Sony has made," Glaz said, "but I don't think it's going to conquer the world."

The dock works on most tripods, and can use either two AA batteries for 11 hours of operation or a separately sold AC adapter. It will be available for "about $150" beginning in September.
 
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Virgin America and Google Offer Wi-Fi for the Holidays
By Patricia Resende October 19, 2009 2:28PM

Virgin America and Google are wasting no time in offering recession-stricken passengers a little something for the holidays: The companies are teaming up to give passengers free Wi-Fi.

Since May, Virgin America has offered Wi-Fi access on its fleet of airplanes, but for a fee. "Virgin America was the first airline to offer travelers Wi-Fi on every flight, as well as power outlets at every seat," said Abby Lunardini, corporate communications director at Virgin America.

Now the airline is giving travelers who fly with Virgin from Nov. 10 to Jan. 15 free access to its Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi service. Virgin America executives hope the free offering will generate more business by allowing passengers to have a free run at the service.
Heavily marketing its Wi-Fi service during the holidays is also a way to generate business from new passengers who want to utilize Wi-Fi in the sky.

A recent survey of Virgin America frequent fliers showed that more than half of respondents said the availability of Wi-Fi would influence their choice of airline.

Giving Back
Providing Wi-Fi service is also a way to give back to its passengers during the holiday season by enabling them to keep in touch with family via e-mail and social-networking services, complete online shopping, and use the service for other personal and business needs.

"And as two California companies known for connecting people in new ways, we thought it was a perfect fit to team up with Google to give holiday travelers the gift of staying in touch with family and friends wherever they go -- even at 35,000 feet," Lunardini said.

"As millions of people pass through airports this holiday season in order to celebrate with their families, we wanted to give our users a gift -- one that makes their travel easier and more convenient," said Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience at Google. "The fundamental power of the Internet is in connecting people, and we hope that having a free Wi-Fi connection while en route will make home and family seem that much closer."

Wi-Fi Takes Off
Virgin America said it has seen an overwhelming positive response from travelers since launching the Gogo Wi-Fi service on all its planes.

For Virgin America's long-haul routes, such as Boston to San Francisco, the airline is reporting that up to 20 to 25 percent of guests on a given flight are logging in.

While passengers traveling during the holiday promotional period get free access, users traveling before the promotion begins and after it ends will have to pay fees ranging from $5.95 to $12.95, depending on flight times.
 
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Text-a-Tip Programs Allow Tipsters To Help Police
By Denise Lavoie December 1, 2009 7:46AM

A mother in Boston tells police her 8-year-old boy was shot to death in their apartment by gunmen in hooded sweat shirts during a home invasion.
Officers later receive a text message from an anonymous tipster that leads them to a much different conclusion: the boy's 7-year-old cousin accidentally shot him while the two boys were playing with a loaded 9 mm handgun.

Meanwhile, authorities in Douglas County, Colo., thwarted a threatened Columbine-style attack after an anonymous text about a student's "kill list" led them to weapons in the child's home.

After struggling for years with an anti-snitching culture that made witnesses too afraid to come forward, police across the country are getting help from text-a-tip programs that allow people to send anonymous, text messages from their cell phones.

In Boston, the first city to heavily promote texting for crime tips, police have received more than 1,000 tips since the program began two years ago. Police credit text tips for providing them with key leads in at least four high-profile killings, including: the accidental shooting of Liquarry Jefferson by his cousin; an arson fire that killed two children; the shooting of a Boston teenager on her 18th birthday; and the fatal stabbing of a man during a bar fight.

Officer Michael Charbonnier, who oversees the program, said people who live in high-crime neighborhoods are often afraid that if they talk to police, they could be hurt or even killed by gang members, drug dealers or other criminals.

"It's either call 911 or live with the bad guy. And if you call, there could be repercussions," Charbonnier said.

"So when they have this option of texting us -- knowing no one will know who they are -- well, now, people give us license plate numbers, they give us names," he said.

In the past, people feared retaliation for talking to police, but with the texting programs, police never see the tipster's name or telephone number. The text messages are sent to a separate, third-party server, where identifying information is stripped out and they are assigned an encrypted alias before being sent to police.

Texting programs have caught on across the country. The exact number is hard to pinpoint, but Anderson Software, one of the leading providers of technology for text-a-tip programs, has at least 400 law enforcement agencies as clients, including Tucson, Ariz., Savannah, Ga., Hartford, Conn., San Diego, Seattle and Miami.

Company founder Kevin Anderson said text-a-tip programs are rapidly gaining popularity and could soon become as popular as anonymous Web tip programs, which have been around for about five years.

"You want to provide the means of communication people are most comfortable with, and right now, texting is the more comfortable means of communicating for young people," Anderson.

The system allows a tipster to send a text message of up to 160 characters to police, who are then able to send text messages back to the sender to ask follow-up questions. Charbonnier said that because of the two-way communication, Boston police have been able to get the information they need. He said police, who promise tipsters confidentiality and anonymity, have never tried to get a tipster's identity from the third-party company, either by asking for it or through a subpoena.

"The reality is the protection of the tipster is more important than any one case," he said.

Police would not release transcripts of the actual text messages they receive or give specifics on how the tips have led them to suspects, citing the confidentiality they promise tipsters.

Charbonnier said police use the tips as leads and have to corroborate the information given by tipsters, so the tipsters themselves aren't called to court to testify.

Some police departments have heavily promoted the texting service in schools, leading to a flurry of tips about students having drugs and weapons.
In Douglas County, Colo., the sheriff's office got a text message in May from a high school student who said another student had a "kill list." Authorities never found the list but did find weapons in the student's home.

"We did believe it was a credible threat," said Phyllis Harvey, who administers the Text-A-Tip program for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.
"Did we prevent something? Maybe, maybe not. We don't know if the student was actually going to go through with the threats that he was making, but we would like to hope that we did prevent something."

In Springfield, Mass., the texting program was just days old last month when police received a tip about a crack house. Police raided the house, made eight arrests and shut down the headquarters of a crack distribution ring, said Sgt. John Delaney.

"People don't want to be labeled as a rat," Delaney said. "This is breaking the barriers down."

At the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, campus police have promoted the text-a-tip service as a way to keep rowdy football fans under control during games.

"We get tips like 'three guys who are non-students are being rude and obnoxious behind us,' 'someone is cutting in line at the student gate,'" said Carey Drayton, chief of USC's Department of Public Safety.

"Those are things that could turn into fights. We are trying to stop things before they get too big," he said.

Boston police say the anonymous nature of the text-a-tip service, combined with police foot and bicycle patrols in violent neighborhoods, has helped them build trust with people and put a dent in the anti-snitching attitude that was prevalent for years. Five years ago, some court spectators even wore "Stop Snitchin'" T-shirts to the trial of two men charged in the shooting death of a 10-year-old girl.

"We've made a significant amount of progress in connecting with the community," said Police Commissioner Ed Davis. "That makes a big difference when you're dealing with the whole snitching situation."
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Remote Control: Travelers Can Keep an Eye on Home
By Melissa Kossler Dutton November 17, 2009 7:25AM

This holiday season, many travelers will be able to keep a close eye on home.

Thanks to new security system technology, including live video feed, you can monitor everything from the front door to the sump pump from hundreds of miles away.

"You can see anything that's going on from anywhere in the world," said Jay Park of Park Place Installations in Buffalo, N.Y.

Homeowners can set the new alarm systems to send text messages or e-mails when something goes wrong at home.

Eric Harper, marketing director of the Lexington, Ky.-based Elan Home Systems, said a customer was on vacation recently when he got a message that his front door was open. He confirmed it by going online and pulling up feed from a camera by that door. A neighbor followed up, discovering that the pet sitter had not pulled the door firmly shut and it blew open in a storm.

New York City resident Eli Karp said he uses his cell phone to check his house about 10 times a day. His HomeLogic alarm system offers live video feed from inside the house, and Karp also can disarm the security system by phone to let in workers or delivery people.

"It's a time saver," he said. "It's extra peace of mind."

Homeowners can monitor the weather, as well as heating and cooling units and other household systems while traveling, said Richard Ginsburg, president of Protection One, based in Lawrence, Kan. Cameras show whether it's snowing or raining on the driveway, so you can decide whether to call a plowing service, he said.

Other homeowners set their systems to alert them if the sump pump or furnace stops working, developments that could lead to water damage from flooding or frozen pipes.

Installation costs for the new technology range from $150 to $600 depending on whether the residence has an existing security system. Monthly monitoring fees are between $15 and $40.

Do-it-yourself systems also are available, said Julie Strietelmeier, editor of The-gadgeteer.com, a Web site that reviews high-tech products. Prices vary depending on the number of cameras installed, she said. A startup kit would cost around $330 plus monthly monitoring fees.

Such systems -- professional and DIY -- have a lot of advantages, she said.

"I think it's useful if you're working during the day and you want to see what's going on at your house," said Strietelmeier from her home office in Columbus, Ind. "There's some really hardcore systems. You can do almost anything."

Homeowners with alarm systems usually recoup some of the costs with discounts on their insurance premiums, according to insurance professionals.
During the holidays, many clients use the system to receive packages, Harper said. Homeowners will leave a note asking the delivery person to phone them; when they receive the call, they can use the security cameras to verify that the caller is a delivery person, and remotely open the garage door or unlock the front door.

The security system also can send an alert upon the arrival of a handyman or cleaning person. The homeowner can keep track of what rooms the person enters and how long they are in the home.

Parents can use the system to keep track of the comings and goings of children, and can arrange to be alerted if someone opens the liquor cupboard or medicine cabinet.

The systems also can be programmed to turn on lights when you arrive home, or adjust the home's temperature before your arrival.

Customers who use the systems to control heating, cooling and lights may see savings in their energy bills, said Don Boerema, chief marketing officer of ADT Security Services in West Palm Beach, Fla.
 
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You Want Wi-Fi with That? McDonald's To Make Wi-Fi Free
By Barry Levine , December 16, 2009 10:38AM

Your next business-office-away-from-home could be a McDonald's. The fast-food chain has announced that, beginning in mid-January, it will offer free Wi-Fi Internet access at 11,000 of its 13,000 U.S. restaurants. The service is presented as a partnership with AT&T.

McDonald's already offers free Wi-Fi in some other countries, such as Belgium and Italy. McDonald's currently charges U.S. customers $2.95 for two hours of wireless Internet, although AT&T customers get free Wi-Fi.

No Purchase Required

McDonald's said that, in addition to no hourly charges, no food or drink purchases will be required. In fact, in some cases users don't even have to be in the restaurant. Some customers report that wireless is often accessible in the parking lot of McDonald's restaurants.

In 2003, McDonald's started offering Wi-Fi in its 75 San Francisco Bay Area restaurants, in 10 New York locations, and in 140 locations in Singapore. Originally, there was a $4.95 charge for two hours of service.

Free Wi-Fi has become a kind of loss leader, where companies provide it to attract customers to locations or services and, hopefully, promote goodwill and up-sell to paid offerings.

For instance, in the fall Microsoft started providing free Wi-Fi at thousands of hot spots across the U.S. if a user tried its Bing search engine at least once. Google is offering free Wi-Fi at nearly 50 airports in the U.S. as part of an arrangement with Boingo Wireless.

'An Awful Lot of McDonald's'

This is in addition to Google's free Wi-Fi on all Virgin America flights. The service at the airports and Virgin America, however, only lasts until Jan. 15. Users can donate to specific charities during sign-in, which Google will match up to $250,000. The company noted that about 100 million people will be traveling through airports through January.
And, for one year, Yahoo is giving away free Wi-Fi throughout New York City's Times Square.

Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, noted that the availability of free Wi-Fi at McDonald's could be very useful for business and family travelers, since there are "an awful lot of McDonald's, even more than -- 'gasp' -- Starbucks."

He noted that McDonald's has been steadily expanding its menu to provide more fare around coffee, and even offering a "McCafe" area in some of its locations. The attempt to provide more café-like offerings, Greengart said, in addition to this free Wi-Fi, could induce customers to stay longer than they otherwise might.

Customers could be either business users or family members. "Keep in mind," Greengart pointed out, "that Wi-Fi is not just for laptop computers," but also for many smartphones, the iPod Touch, PSPs, and other devices.

However, even with more free Wi-Fi hot spots, Greengart said business users in particular will still need cellular data plans if they expect to be online regularly while traveling.
http://www.mobile-tech-today.com/story.xhtml?story_id=112003WWJHPC&nl=8
Ford Will Let Car Occupants Access the Web at 70 mph
By Barry Levine December 21, 2009 2:14PM

Starting next year, the latest trend for with-it groups of travelers could be posting on each others' Facebook pages while hurtling down the highway. On Monday, Ford Motor Company announced that cars with its next-generation SYNC system will be able to use a USB broadband modem to turn the entire car into a Wi-Fi hot spot.

The capability, available on selected vehicles, won't require any additional hardware or subscriptions, except for a mobile broadband modem or "air card," which is not supplied by the car maker and connects to a USB port on the car. Wi-Fi will then be available throughout the car wherever the broadband modem has reception.

Driver Controls Network

Mark Fields, president of Ford's Americas division, said that "while you're driving to grandma's house, your spouse can be finishing the holiday shopping and the kids can be chatting with friends and updating their Facebook profiles."

Lest one shudder at the thought that any Wi-Fi-equipped laptop in an adjacent car could tap into the traveling hot spot, Ford said only owner-permitted devices will be able to use the network , and standard Protected Access 2 (WPA2) security protocols will be employed. Users have to enter a randomly chosen password, and any new Wi-Fi device must be specifically allowed to connect by the driver.

Ford said the potential customer base for this feature is more than a third of Americans, who, according to a study by the Consumer Electronics Association, would like to be able to check e-mail and visit web sites in their vehicles.

The USB port to the SYNC system will take any external technology plugged into it, which the company said would allow the system to "ensure 'forward compatibility'" by leveraging a user's current hardware.

SYNC Going Open-Source

The SYNC system, developed by Ford with Microsoft , provides in-car communications and entertainment, and was first shown at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show. It's an integrated, flash-memory-based system that allows such things as drivers making hands-free calls, or the ability to control digital audio through voice commands or steering-wheel-mounted controls. The voice-recognition system can accommodate English, Spanish and Canadian French.

Ford is also reported to have decided to make the platform open source, so third-party developers can create downloadable applications for use in the car, such as traffic reports or news. This would make Ford's SYNC-equipped cars into a new kind of platform, comparable to, say, iPhones.

Bill Ho, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, compared car-based Wi-Fi to the popular MiFi, a personal router that turns a 3G signal into a hot spot. He noted, however, that "there may be some performance issues when you're comparing a static hot spot to a mobile one."

Ho added that "being connected is the way to go," so expect to see more car makers getting their vehicles connected not only through GPS units but to the Internet.
 
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http://www.mobile-tech-today.com/story.xhtml?story_id=0110009U473L&nl=8&full_skip=1
Hybrid Camera, Credit-Card Reader Among CES Gadgets
By Adam Dickter, January 4, 2010 2:16PM

For those looking for some non-Apple or non-Google news from this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, there's more than enough going on is this tech-heavy week.

On Sunday, Samsung unveiled its hybrid, mirror-free NX-10 camera, packed with new features, that will compete with midrange Micro Four Thirds cameras. With all the details about the camera's features -- including a 14.6-megapixel sensor and a system that shakes that sensor up to 60,000 times per second to keep it dust-free -- the only mystery is the price. Similar cameras range from $899 to $1,099, according to analyses published Monday.

At the same time as Samsung's announcement came word of Mophie's entry into point-of-sale card readers, a growing field that will make it easier for individuals and small businesses to accept credit-card payments.

The New York Times reported Monday that CES will also be a key gathering for movie executives and consumer electronics manufacturers to plan the future of digital entertainment with an eye toward developing portable digital movies that can be viewed on multiple platforms. Currently, venues such as iTunes only sell movies that can be viewed with their company's software.

Big Show

Other much-anticipated presentations at CES, the largest tech gathering in the world, will include auto executives talking about increased web access in cars; the touting of 3-D high-definition programming by satellite provider DIRECTV; showcasing of the increasing ability to connect home appliances to the Internet; the emergence of smartbooks, or small computers with cell-phone processors for fast surfing; and the explosion of new tablet and e-reader devices.

While this year's convention features 330 first-time vendors, it's still smaller than last year's show, with 110,000 participants, down from 113,000 in 2008. That year saw a 7.8 percent drop in consumer electronics revenue from the previous year, from $175 billion to $165 billion, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, which runs the convention.

It remains to be seen if all the buzz about the Google Nexus One smartphone and an expected Apple tablet computer, the subject of major announcements this month, will overshadow other products struggling for their share of the limelight.

"I'm sure they'll all get some small buzz by virtue of so many [media] outlets, pro and amateur, covering the event," says Michael Gartenberg, a vice president at Interpret. "But it's clear that without a presence at the show, Apple and Google have already captured much mindshare before CES even starts. Google will likely unveil further plans regarding mobile strategy at their event tomorrow, and Apple, without scheduling a product announcement or even confirming the existence of new products, has already cast a long shadow over CES with the speculation of a new tablet device said to be in production."

Swipe Away

The new device by Mophie, which specializes in add-on accessories for iPods and iPhones (such as the JuicePack external battery), enters a rapidly growing field of point-of-sale mobile-card readers.

Last month, Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey unveiled the Square reader, which plugs into an iPhone's earphone jack and interacts with its own application. The Square is also expected to work with Android phones. The more-boringly-named Credit Card Reader from Mophie is larger but performs essentially the same function.

The devices are a threat to VeriFone, which sells dedicated devices to process credit-card payments. Dorsey has said he will give away his Square device free via the company's web site, which means his company will likely profit from percentages of transactions.

Details about the Credit Card Reader's price and availability have yet to emerge.
http://www.newsfactor.com/story.xhtml?story_id=012000E3RJYO&nl=2&full_skip=1
Companies Seek Alternatives to the Old Desktop PC
By Rachael King , January 6, 2010 7:05AM

Tech executive Parikshit Arora had an unconventional response the morning he discovered that his office computer was no longer working. Rather than fixing it himself or calling in help from the information technology department, he discarded the device. "It wasn't booting up," says Arora, vice-president for technology at iQor, a company that handles call-center work for clients. "I didn't even care to find out why. I threw it away and got another one."

The same goes for most of iQor's 11,000 employees. Why the seemingly cavalier take on computers? Two years ago, New York-based iQor ditched most of its Dell and Hewlett-Packard desktop computers and installed a fleet of cheaper, stripped-down machines that lacked hard drives. Also made by HP and known as thin clients, these smaller, virtually disposable devices leave most processing and storage tasks to a centrally located server. "We refer to thin clients as lollipops," says iQor Chief Executive Vikas Kapoor. "If yours isn't working, just get another one." Now, about 75 percent of iQor's employees use thin clients with files and software stored elsewhere. When a machine dies, staffers get a new one and resume work in minutes.

iQor may be a harbinger of things to come in corporate computing. While traditional laptops and desktops reign supreme in the workplace, accounting for the vast majority of employee computers, companies are increasingly willing to consider alternatives. Some are experimenting with thin clients in a bid to cut costs while many others are betting on netbooks. Employees are spending more work time on smartphones, while Apple's Mac -- once viewed as a machine for artists and educators -- is wending its way into corporations. "We've got the most diverse offerings of PCs that we've ever had," says Richard Shim, research manager for IDC's personal computing program, which is now tracking some 20 different kinds of personal computers, up from 16 in 2008.

No single kind of machine has gained wide workplace acceptance. Yet in aggregate, the alternatives reflect a shift in the way corporations think about computing. For instance, the Mac operating system was installed in about 2.7 percent of corporate computers in July 2008 but the figure had increased to 3.6 percent by March 2009, according to Forrester Research. As of October 2009, about 9 percent of 1,414 business technology professionals surveyed by InformationWeek Analytics said that their organizations made extensive use of netbooks and 19 percent predicted they would make extensive use of them by 2011. About 33 million netbooks were shipped worldwide in 2009.

Eliminating the Help Desk

The worldwide thin client market may grow to 7 million units in 2012, from 2.9 million in 2007, according to IDC. Gartner expects that by 2014, 15 percent of traditional professional desktop PCs will be replaced by so-called virtual desktops, which also leave most computing and storage tasks to a centrally located computer, rather than maintain them at the employee's workstation.

Executives at iQor opted for a nontraditional computing environment in large part to save money. "For every dollar I spent buying a PC, I spent 50 percent to the dollar every year maintaining it," Kapoor says. "There's a lot of technical expertise that's required to do that maintenance." iQor has eliminated its help desk and, before long, expects to cut its IT staff to about a quarter its previous size.
Decisions about what kind of computer to buy will come to a head in 2010 for the multitudes of companies expected to step up hardwarepurchases as the recession ends. In a November survey of 1,752 IT employees by ChangeWave Research, about 22 percent of respondents said they plan to increase IT spending in the first quarter of 2010, up from about 10 percent a year earlier. No longer can chief information officers make a straightforward choice between a desktop or a laptop. Now companies need to assess rising demand for portable computers, smartphones, virtual desktops, and so-called cloud computing, where processing, storage, and other tasks are handled off-site, often by a third-party provider such as Amazon.com.

While many companies are basing IT spending decisions on the state of the economy, several are also taking their cues from the availability of the newest Microsoft computer operating system, Windows 7. The recently released OS is accelerating hardware purchasing decisions for about 19 percent of the respondents in ChangeWave's survey. In many cases, corporate IT departments put off computer upgrades not only because of the economic slump but also from dissatisfaction with Vista, the prior iteration of Windows.

Windows Vista Prompted Doubts, Change

Case in point: Silicon Valley law firm Fenwick & West, which like many companies still uses machines that run Windows XP, the operating system that preceded Vista. In early 2010, Fenwick & West will give its 700 employees new machines, their first computer upgrade in three years. As of March 2009, Windows Vista was installed in about 11.9 percent of corporations, while 86 percent of companies remained on Windows XP, according to a July 2009 Forrester Research report. Windows Vista generally required hardware upgrades, which was one reason more companies didn't adopt it.

Dismay over Vista prompted many companies to contemplate alternatives to PCs, including Macs and machines that run the open-source Linux OS. In an October 2009 survey by InformationWeek Analytics of about 1,400 business technology executives, 13 percent of respondents said Vista's foibles had significantly affected their organizations and that they were actively encouraging the use of non-Windows systems. Another 26 percent said Vista had a minor effect and that their organization was now more open to non-Windows systems.

Windows 7 has been well-received and in some cases may wed companies more closely to a traditional PC environment. Yet because it -- unlike earlier iterations of Windows -- doesn't compel users to change their hardware, Windows 7 is also giving IT execs greater leeway for experimentation. "Windows 7 is the first Windows operating system we've released that didn't require an upgrade to hardware," says Gavriella Schuster, general manager for Windows at Microsoft. "Our goal is to make sure that we capitalize on the latest technology like touch and netbooks." Microsoft has also made enhancements to Windows 7 to better support desktop virtualization.

Transition Left "Lashes on My Back"

This time around, Fenwick & West is upgrading to laptops and desktops, but Matt Kesner, the law firm's chief technology officer, says opting for conventional machines won't always be a given. "It's possible this is the last refresh we will do with traditional computers," Kesner says. The company is considering desktop virtualization, an arrangement that would give the law firm more flexibility in the devices employees use, and meet the company's need for increasing mobility for its workers. "Next time we may be providing keyboards and monitors for something that attaches to your belt," Kesner says.

Weaning employees off customary equipment isn't always easy. "Initially [the thin client) wasn't as fast as our PCs," says iQor's Arora. "It was quite frustrating at the beginning," he says, adding that since the kinks were worked out, everything has functioned as it should. "I feel I have the lashes on my back to show the pain," CEO Kapoor says.

While growing numbers of companies are toying with alternative computing modes such as thin clients, few have committed to putting thousands of users through the transition, says Annette Jump, research director at Gartner. "In times like this, CIOs are going to experiment with a lot of different technology," says Ric Echevarria, a vice-president at chipmaker Intel. He says many CIOs conclude that business PCs provide better performance and security and that they're easier to manage.

No one expects PCs to go away altogether. "Up until now, the center of a corporate user's universe was their PC, but as we go forward the PC is going to be just one of the key tools that workers use," says Al Gillen, an analyst at IDC. "The net result is that we're talking about a PC market that will still grow in size in the future but it won't be the fastest-growing market anymore -- there will be many more options."
 
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http://airlineworld.wordpress.com/2010/02/27/women-only-lavatories-aboard-ana-flights/
Women Only Lavatories Aboard ANA Flights
Published February 27, 2010

All Nippon Airways (ANA) is rolling out a new service targeted for women passengers aboard its international routes: A dedicated, Women Only Lavatory at the back of each airplane.

Beginning Monday, March 1, 2010, ANA Group will begin introducing women-only lavatories on all of its international routes (except those flown with Airbus A320/Boeing 737 aircraft).

According to the company press release, following numerous requests from passengers for this service, one women-only lavatory will be designated in the aft section of the passenger cabin (location may differ depending on aircraft and configuration) and will be available for use by women passengers in all classes of service. Women-only lavatories will be indicated using the signage below.

Lavatories with such signage will only be available for women passengers throughout the flights except for a few special occasions. Depending on flight conditions, the otherwise restricted men passengers may also use the lavatories but will have to check with a cabin attendant after boarding. The special situations may include:
- When required for safety reasons, just prior to the seatbelt sign being turned on during take-off and landing
- When a passenger is not feeling well and a personal emergency requires such use
- When there are very few female passengers on the flight, and the women-only designation has been lifted for the flight – this will be signaled by an in-flight announcement

Wheelchair accessible lavatories on board ANA flights are separate from the Women-Only facilities.

Signage will be installed on current aircraft beginning March 1, with signage scheduled to be completed by the end of April.

Most probably the Japanese member of Star Alliance will also introduce this new “service” on its maiden Boeing 787 Dreamliner, scheduled to start operations at ANA as the launch customer at the end of this year.

by balint01
 
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http://www.mobile-tech-today.com/story.xhtml?story_id=0020002IKYWS&nl=8&full_skip=1
Travelers Demand More Airport Wi-Fi
By Roger Yu March 2, 2010 7:12AM

Travelers love free Wi-Fi at airports. But the amenity is still hard to come by for many U.S. fliers, despite a couple of airports that have recently announced that they're switching to the free model.

Twelve of the top 20 airports that handle nearly 60% of all domestic boardings charge for wireless Internet. Large airports that offer it for free include Denver, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Orlando. Boston Logan and Seattle launched their free service earlier this year. Houston Bush Intercontinental offers free Wi-Fi, but only for 45 minutes.

Travelers' insistence on fast Wi-Fi networks at airports will only grow stronger because they're carrying other devices beyond laptops -- smartphone, iPod Touch, netbook, Wi-Fi camera -- that will take up capacity.

But airports are reluctant to introduce a free system because it's costly to own and operate the equipment and handle customer service, especially in current economic conditions.
Airports that offer free service run ads to make up for the cost, but generally aren't making any money. They see it as another amenity whose cost must be borne by the airport authorities, says Richard Bogen of FreeFi Networks, which operates the free networks at Denver and Oakland.

Dave Hagan, CEO of Wi-Fi network operator Boingo Wireless, predicts most airports will retain paid service because "what may be a relatively small cost center (for the airport) will be enormous" as Wi-Fi networks become more complex. "You'll definitely get more usage in a (free) model," he says, adding that heavy traffic at Denver International -- the largest U.S. airport to offer free Wi-Fi -- has drawn complaints from travelers about their user experience there. Travelers' payments will help airports keep up with demand for greater Wi-Fi network capacity, he says.

Bogen disputes that Denver's service is lacking. "It's not a question of you get what you pay for," he says, adding Denver is not any slower than comparable airports. He says most airports "would love to go free, because so many are getting heat for (having) a paid service," but most are under contracts with network operators that run several years or are mired in local bureaucracy. "There's pressure to go free, but also economic pressure not to."

Several airports are experimenting with Wi-Fi networks to juggle competing interests.
Houston is trying a tiered model, in which travelers can use the network free for 45 minutes after viewing a 30-second commercial or pay to skip ads and have more time.

Philadelphia waives its $7.95-a-day charge on weekends, and college students can access it for free every day.

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky's free wireless Internet at Terminals 2 and 3 is provided by Project Lily Pad, a local volunteer initiative "to create an environment that attracts mobile 'creatives' to the Greater Cincinnati area." Those traveling from Concourses A and B pay for Wi-Fi.

*In the latest sign of airports' financial pressure, Las Vegas McCarran officials are considering a plan to become the first U.S. airport to install a liquor store in the baggage-claim area. Many airports sell liquor at bars and duty-free stores, but the proposal is aiming to capture revenue from arriving passengers who are headed into Sin City.

Clark County commissioners voted to allow the airport to issue "requests for proposals" from vendors that would run the operation. The airport estimates its revenue from the store could range from $400,000 to $600,000 a year. "This is just to do research," airport spokeswoman Elaine Sanchez says.

"Oh, I know it will be a gold mine for some liquor store, but does this mean we'll do anything for money?" Commissioner Steve Sisolak told the Las Vegas Sun. "What's next? Airport strip clubs? Topless bars?"

*Midwest Airlines will launch non-stop service between Kansas City and both Columbus, Ohio, and New Orleans. Flights to Columbus, operated Sunday through Friday, will begin May 3, while daily flights to New Orleans will kick off on May 20.

*Ratings agency Moody's says its outlook for the U.S. airport industry remains "negative," citing downside risks that outweigh growth potential in the next 12 to 18 months. During the last two years of financial difficulty, many U.S. airports exercised financial flexibility by consuming reserves, reducing capital plans and trimming expenses. With "this flexibility gone, many U.S. airports will struggle to maintain their financial position without positive enplanement growth," it says.
 
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http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2010/05/17/342035/interiors-3d-movies-poised-to-take-off.html
DATE:17/05/10
SOURCE:Flight Daily News

INTERIORS: 3D movies poised to take off
By Mary Kirby

As 3D movies capture the imagination of theatre audiences around the world, in-flight entertainment (IFE) manufacturers are working to bring the technology to aircraft cabins, and are confident it will happen in the near term.

"Filmmakers have learned the art of 3D. It's all about depth of field. Passengers will demand that same feeling on the airplane. Panasonic, Thales and everybody else will have solutions to meet those needs," Panasonic director, product line management Marshal Perlman said at the World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) conference on IFE and seats at Airbus' facilities in Hamburg.

Some challenges exist to bringing 3D on board, including concerns related to potential passenger motion sickness. "We're studying that very closely," says Perlman. "Panasonic is currently working on a research white paper called 'user issues with stereo/video in commercial aircraft'. We're using leading scientific groups that work with NASA and the Air Force and other people that are interested in motion and vision."

From a hardware perspective, there is nothing radically different about 3D technology for the IFE head-end, distribution network or most seat equipment. But the monitors are slightly different and need to be built to handle nearly twice as much information and to display 3D images to your eyes.

"3D will also initially change how airlines source content, as airlines may need to source 2D and 3D content separately until the whole aircraft has 3D due to licensing costs and the technology differences between the two displays," says Perlman.

Protocol for supplying 3D glasses also needs to be addressed, he says. "Do you hand out the glasses? Where do you store them? Do the passengers keep them? Do you rent them, and how do you clean them? These questions will need to be answered."

Any obstacles to bringing 3D on board aircraft will be overcome, however. "It will definitely happen on an airplane because it's the next level of experience. It will happen sooner than you think," says Perlman.

"In all likelihood it will initially be directed at premium passengers because the larger the screen the more compelling the 3D experience. That's not to say it won't end up in economy at some point."

A source tells Flightglobal that a carrier has already ordered a Panasonic 3D IFE solution. However, Perlman says he can neither confirm nor deny that information.
 
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http://www.mobile-tech-today.com/story.xhtml?story_id=001000183NKJ&nl=8&full_skip=1
GPS To Be Required for Planes in Commercial Airspace
By Dan Reed May 31, 2010 8:50AM

The so-called NextGen Air Traffic Control system, with global-positioning technology, is supposed to improve safety, reduce air traffic congestion, increase traffic capacity, lower fuel consumption and shorten commercial flight times. As a result, airlines, businesses and individuals are expected to save billions of dollars annually.

Airlines, private jet operators and other aircraft owners are officially on notice: Their planes must be equipped with new global -positioning technology by Jan. 1, 2020.

The equipment, which could cost U.S. airlines as much as $6.2 billion by some estimates to install in all aircrafts' cockpits, is a key element of the so-called NextGen Air Traffic Control system that would replace the 1950s-era ground-based radar control system now in use.

NextGen is supposed to improve safety, reduce air traffic congestion, increase traffic capacity, lower fuel consumption and shorten commercial flight times. As a result, airlines, businesses and individuals are expected to save billions of dollars annually.

The U.S. Transportation Department set the new deadline on Thursday. It applies to airlines and business jet operators. But many individuals who own small single-engine planes also would have to install the new equipment -- at a cost of up to $10,000 a plane -- if they expect to operate at commercial airports or close to congested airspace.

The equipment required under Thursday's order would broadcast a plane's exact position in the sky to both ground controllers and to every other plane in the sky. Eventually, planes will be required to carry equipment that allows them to receive positioning signals from other aircraft, as well as from satellites and ground stations.

Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt said the order gives equipment manufacturers the green light to begin making the equipment "that will allow our air traffic controllers to know where aircraft are with greater precision and reliability."

Not everyone in the aviation community is enthused. The biggest concern: the cost of the equipment.
Many private aircraft owners say they can't afford to install the equipment and don't fly where it's necessary.
The airline industry, which has been critical of the nation's outmoded system and blames it for congestion, is somewhat divided.

Some carriers, including Southwest and American, already have begun ordering equipment for new planes and retrofitting older planes. But others have moved more slowly and now question whether the promised benefits of NextGen justify the costs.

All, however, want the government to help cover the high cost of equipping their planes.
Their argument: Communities, businesses and even individuals who never fly will benefit from the economic efficiencies created by a new, high-tech air traffic control system, and it's not fair to expect the perennially profit-challenged airline industry to cover the full costs.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood suggested Thursday that government might be able provide some financial help to the industry for equipping its planes. But there's little support in Congress for such spending.
 
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http://www.ai2010nyc.com/
The 2010 Airliners International - New York
The World's largest gathering of airline enthusiasts will meet in the greater New York City area, between August 12, 13, 14, 2010 (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) at the newly remodeled Robert Treat Hotel in downtown Newark, New Jersey. You don't need to be a member of WAHS or any particular organization to participate in Airliners International 2010 or attend the trade show - you only need to have an interest in commercial aviation!

Trade Show Hours - Open To The Public
Friday, August 13th 1:00pm to 10:00pm
Saturday, August 14th 9:00am to 5:00pm

One Day Pass- $10 per person
Two Day Pass $15 per person
Children Under 12 Free

Meet fellow airline fanatics from all over the world!

- Exhibition hall for buying, selling and swapping airline memorabilia
- Tours of local aviation facilities and museums
- Special Saturday night banquet and guest speakers. Seminars devoted to the airline enthusiast. Talk to the men and woman who flew for the airlines during the 'Golden Age of Aviation' in the 1950s and 1960s
- Model Contest
- Photography Contest! Slide Contest! Postcard Contest
- And many other surprises to come
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Examples of Memorabilia being Exhibited
* Apparel
* Air Sickness Bags
* Books
* CD’s, DVD and Video
* Color Slides and Photos
* Decals
* Die Cast
* Dining Ware
* Display Models
* Flight Bags
* Glassware
* Labels
* Model Kits
* Military
* OAG’
* Pins
* Playing Cards
* Postcards
* Posters
* Miscellaneous Printed Matter
* Safety Cards
* Special Diorama Displays
* Timetables
* Wings
More info is here: http://www.ai2010nyc.com/
 
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Flying Cars May Be Just Around the Corner

By Joan Lowy July 2, 2010 12:16PM

If cars had wings, they could fly -- and that just might happen, beginning next year. The company Terrafugia, based in Woburn, Mass., says it plans to deliver its car-plane, the Transition, to customers by the end of 2011. It recently cleared a major hurdle when the Federal Aviation Administration granted a special weight limit exemption to the Transition.
"It's the next 'wow' vehicle," said Terrafugia vice president Richard Gersh. "Anybody can buy a Ferrari, but as we say, Ferraris don't fly."

The Transition is a long way from cartoon dad George Jetson's flying car zooming above traffic, or even the magical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

"There is no launch button on the (instrument) panel," Gersh noted.

Rather, the car-plane has wings that unfold for flying -- a process the company says takes one minute -- and fold back up for driving. A runway is still required to takeoff and land.

The Transition is being marketed more as a plane that drives than a car that flies, although it is both. The company has been working with FAA to meet aircraft regulations, and with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to meet vehicle safety regulations.

The company is pitching the Transition to private pilots as a more convenient -- and cheaper -- way to fly. They say it eliminates the hassle trying to find another mode of transportation to get to and from airports: You drive the car to the airport and then you're good to go. When you land, you fold up the wings and hit the road. There are no expensive hangar fees because you don't have to store it at an airport -- you park it in the garage at home.

The plane is designed to fly primarily under 10,000 feet. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 1,430 pounds, including fuel and passengers. Gas mileage on the road is about 30 mpg.

Terrafugia says the Transition reduces the potential for an accident by allowing pilots to drive under bad weather instead of flying into marginal conditions.

The Transition's price tag: $194,000. But there may be additional charges for options like a radio, transponder or GPS. Another option is a full-plane parachute.

"If you get into a very dire situation, it's the ultimate safety option," Gersh said.

So far, the company has more than 70 orders with deposits, he said.

Terrafugia is Latin for "escape from the land." The company was founded in 2006 by five Massachusetts Institute of Technology grad students who were also pilots. They received some seed money from the school.

The concept of a car-plane has been around since at least the 1950s, but it's possible that Terrafugia may become the first company to mass-produce one, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said.

"We're working very closely with them, but there are still some remaining steps," Brown said.
 
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Boeing displays Dreamliner at Farnborough Airshow
Plane makes its first appearance outside the U.S.



FARNBOROUGH, England — Boeing's long-anticipated 787 Dreamliner jet touched down here Sunday, tipping its wings to the crowd and building buzz at the Farnborough International Airshow.

The arrival of the blue-and-white Dreamliner at the aerospace industry's premier event after years of delay underlined hopes that the two-year downturn in the aviation and defense industry is nearing a bottom.

Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney claimed that the Dreamliner would be "the way planes are going to be built for the next 80 years."

The plane is the first passenger jet to be largely built from lightweight and environmentally friendly composite material rather than steel and aluminum.

McNerney acknowledged that delivery of the aircraft — already more than two years overdue because of production problems — could slip into 2011. He blamed administrative delays.

"End of the year is the plan," McNerney said. "There could be some paperwork that pushes it into next year."

Boeing, which entered the air show with orders for 863 of the twin-aisle jets, originally planned to deliver the first of the Dreamliners in 2008.

The plane's appearance at Farnborough comes as Boeing and European rival Airbus seek to rejuvenate commercial aircraft sales in the aftermath of the global recession. But they face new threats from smaller manufacturers, including Canada's Bombardier and Brazil's Embraer.

New orders for commercial aircraft are likely to be restrained and restricted to buyers from strong emerging markets in the Middle East and Asia.

Boeing last week downplayed the likelihood of big deals at Farnborough, stressing it didn't save up orders for international shows — a dig at Airbus' tendency in recent years to reveal a block of attention-grabbing announcements at Farnborough and Le Bourget at the Paris Air Show.

"At the end of the day, what matters is where we are at the end of the year, or over the longer term," said Randy Tinseth, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president for marketing.

Analysts say they're not expecting commercial plane orders anywhere near the record-breaking $88.7 billion worth announced in Farnborough in 2008.

"A lot depends on if the economic recovery continues; if there is a double dip in the recession, then all bets are off," says analyst Raymond Jaworowski of Forecast International. "We should start to see orders accelerate late this year."

The Geneva-based International Air Transport Association has forecast that global industry profits will reach $2.5 billion this year, an upturn from the huge $9.4 billion loss in 2009.

Analysts expect Asia and North America to lead the recovery, with Europe lagging.

Boeing is hoping to retain some of the limelight with the international debut of its fuel-efficient Dreamliner.

The announcement that its first planned delivery of the aircraft — to Japan's ANA — might be delayed by inspections and instrument changes was a setback. But the sight of one of the five test planes landing at Farnborough — the first time one has left U.S. airspace — was a major draw.

TUI Travel, parent company of Thomson Airways, said it would be the first British airline to take delivery of the 787 in January 2012, buying 13 aircraft across the group.

Boeing officials took journalists and U.S. congressmen on a tour of the 787's cabin, where they chatted with pilots and engineers and played with the dimmer switch on the plane's windows.
http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/money/20100719/index.htm
 
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