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DECEMBER 8 , 2000 VOL. 26 NO. 46 | SEARCH ASIAWEEK


Asiaweek Pictures.
Cutting Edge

FLASH: the smallest PDA of them all
The humble shirt pocket has suffered a lifetime of technology-inspired fashion indignities. First it was the slide rule and the pocket protector — the classic geek giveaways. Now, it's the unshapely hand-held computer. But the battle of the pocket-PC bulge is over, at least for now. U.S.-based Xircom will begin selling what it claims is the world's smallest full-function personal digital assistant in mid-December. The REX 6000 MicroPDA is about the size of a credit card and is thinner than a matchbox (actual size shown here). Weighing in at 40 grams, it's also lighter than a candy bar. There is a bit of a trade-off with memory. The REX 6000's 2MB of storage is skimpier than that of other hand-helds. But it is still large enough to hold thousands of addresses, to-do lists and calendar entries. The device fits directly into the PC Card slot of a notebook computer for data synching, or you can use a USB cradle. A website — www.rex.net — is also being developed to provide downloadable content like news, stock quotes, sports and weather reports. And at $145, even the device's price tag is pocket-friendly.

3D TECHNOLOGY: Princess Leia's Holograph Gets a Real-Life Update

Three-dimensional projections have come a long way since Princess Leia. When the princess's grainy holographic image pleaded for help against Darth Vader in the original Star Wars film, audiences everywhere were captivated. Today, the evil empire wouldn't stand a chance. Dimensional Media, a New York-based company, has developed a technology that projects realistic volumetric images into thin air. Using mirrors and lenses, the light from an object is projected to the space above the pedestal where it sits. The 3D images are now popping up as advertising displays in shopping malls and airports around the globe. Dimensional Media plans to start testing the first 3D computer monitors next year, for use by the military and medical professionals. The proposed images will be the first to give viewers a 360-degree view of the object in question. Now that's using the Force.

MICROCHIPS: How Does 'Plastic Valley' Sound?

Microchips appear to be headed back to the plastic age. A U.K. company called Plastic Logic says it is on the verge of creating a plastic chip that could be useful in all kinds of everyday items. Most semiconductors today are based on silicon, which, while relatively cheap, requires pricier production methods than the average model car kit. Plastic Logic says it will squirt tiny dots of carbon-based material on a base to form the micro-circuits of a lowcost alternative. The cheap chips could be put in luggage tags to help track the bags. Or chip-laden grocery items could radio their price to scanners while still in the cart.

VIRUS: Lawyer e-Bashing In Singapore

Did you hear the one about the virus and the lawyer? Seriously. The profession that has been snickeringly compared to assorted plagues, now seems to be the target of one. Some 20 members of the Law Society of Singapore have complained of receiving e-mails with the suitably legalistic subject line, "Filing Your Practising Certificate (PC) Applications (Manually and Electronically)." The messages carried an attachment called Navidad.exe, which, when launched, attacks dormant PC applications and can disable computers. The mailing list indicates it was aimed specifically at the society's 3,400 members. Police have been called in to investigate. If caught, the culprit could find a good legal defense team scarce.

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