Word Lens “Stunning” But Not That Useful

iphone3Word lens is an app for iPhone which is meant to translate words immediately as you scan your iPhone over the problematic word or words. The app uses the iPhone’s camera to read the word, and while the app itself is free, the translation features at the moment only include Spanish to English and vice versa, and each translated set will cost you $4.99.

The app comes with a demo to show you how it works. The demo takes English words, and immediately reverses them, accurately and fast. The translation mode however is equally fast, but its accuracy was hard to measure because of the tendency of the app to jump between possible translations of the words as it struggled to read the text.

Google Pulls the Plug on Launch of TV Sets

Google-TVGoogle is on the verge of introducing internet surfing directly from television sets, only not just yet. Google Inc. has requested that some manufacturers delay the planned launch of these TV sets which are based on their company’s software, until they do some tweaking on said software.

The Wall Street Journal reported the delay, quoting people who are knowledgeable about Google’s plans. According to the report, Google sent out word to a portion, but not all, of the hardware manufacturers not to announce the release of any new products yet, allowing them to make some necessary improvements in the software.

Despite this announcement Samsung Electronics Co Ltd will not be delaying release of their version of the Google TV at the Consumer Electronics Trade Show scheduled for early January in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Yahoo Planning Lots of Layoffs

In response to slower than expected growth, Yahoo Incorporated is planning on firing between 600-700 workers this holiday season. The official announcement is expected soon, and the first layoffs could come as soon as this week, according to a person who wishes to remain anonymous.

The layoffs represent about 5% of the total workforce of 14,100 employees, and will be the fourth large layoff event in the past three years.

The two most recent shake-ups occurred under the watch of Yahoo’s current CEO Carol Bartz. Ms. Bartz is a veteran of the Silicon Valley world who has been onboard at Yahoo for the past two years.

The newest trimming of the workforce is most probably going to be concentrated in the U.S. products group. This group has already been having tune-up ever since Bartz hired Blake Irving, a former exec at Microsoft, to run the division about half a year ago.

Planetariums Reach for the Stars with New Technologies

Planetariums are a beloved tradition for family outings which are not only highly educational, but usually a lot of fun as well. But considering the incredible progress society has made in the technology of communications in the past 50 years or so, it seems strange that the technology almost every planetarium uses to display the heavens to observers has not changed in any significant ways since its first introduction in 1923, and that is the ‘star ball.’

Now there is a way of supplementing star balls with digital projectors and software, bringing the beauty of the entire universe into the dome shaped screen, the main even at the planetarium in a new and wonderful way.

The inexpensive change, estimated to cost about $38,000, would create a ‘rich and truly interactive experience’ to visitors. The technology is a team project of the University of Washington and Microsoft, and will bring to planetariums all over the U.S. a WorldWide Telescope, foru Sharp XV-Z15000 digital light processing projectors (DLP); a Navitar Screenstar conversion lens; an Nvidia GTX275 video card; and all the cables, switches and seven computers all running Windows 7 with 1TB hard drives and 6GB RAM.

“Planetariums with image resolution of a few million pixels typically cost several hundred thousand dollars,” said Andrew Connolly, team member and University of Washington associate professor of astronomy.

“Our system is about 8 million pixels, but at a fraction of the cost,” he said.

“Their cost is much less than most commercially available systems,” Mark Sonntag, director of the

Angelo State University (ASU) Planetarium.

New 911 Call Center Services Suggested

Arlington locals may soon be able to text 911 in order to receive emergency help. Yesterday, public safety leaders held a press conference with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to discuss possible changes in 911 services.

Genachowski pointed out that 70% of 911 calls now come from mobile phones, and explained that “the current 911 system is efficient and reliable…but it doesn’t support tomorrows communications tools. With today’s advances in commercial mobile broadband technologies, consumers are texting and sending pictures more through their phones. But right now, you can’t text 911. It’s time to bring 911 into the digital age.” He used the shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007 as an example of why this is a good idea. He explained that frantic students and witnesses has attempted to text 911 during the emergency, but their messages never went through. Genachowski added that the systems can help in other situations as well. He explained that new-generation 911 options would enable a witness to send a photo of a car leaving after an armed robbery, or allow a deaf person to communicate with an emergency call center without difficulty. Automatic equipment like highway cameras or personal medical devices would be programmed to text 911 during emergencies.

Currently, no countries are implementing these ideas. The development and utilization of the system will demand a lot of effort and cooperation. The new system will also require an increase in staff at emergency call centers.