Sharp showed off this prototype mobile communications and entertainment device called the MI-E1U. Featuring a 32-bit RISC CPU, 16 MB RAM (8 MB Flash and 8 MB SDRAM), 3.5-inch color LCD, integrated slide-keyboard and two CompactFlash card slots, the MI-E1U is a complete PDA that also can play MP3s, MPEG-4 video and games.
The Sharp MI-E1U
Donnelly, long known in the automotive industry for their mirror products, has entered the consumer electronics market with the introduction of VideoMirror Camera Vision System. This system uses tiny CMOS cameras to monitor the lower rear area of a vehicle (ReversAid) or to watch an infant in a child seat (BabyVue). The images are sent via dedicated wiring from the camera to an LCD screen mounted below the rear view mirror. The LCD flips up and out of the way behind the mirror when it is not in use.
Donnelly has several other products in the works that add functionality to the basic rear view mirror. Integrated compasses, thermometers and auto-dimming features are among the highlights.
One of the cameras in the Donnelly system
Telestial Prepaid Cellular
If you've read How Cell Phones Work, then you know that there are a variety of cell phone technologies in the world. In the United States, for example, there are CDMA, TDMA, and iDEN, among others. Different wireless service providers, in different countries, use different technologies for their customers.
One problem with having so many cell phone technologies in use is getting your phone to work when you travel. Different countries use different systems, so there's a chance your phone won't function at all once you leave home. In the early '90s, Conference of European Posts and Telegraphs (CEPT) launched GSM as an international standard to solve this problem. Originally this stood for Groupe Spécial Mobile but now its referred to as Global System for Mobile communications.
GSM is a digital system, with a number of useful features, including:
In most of Europe, Asia and Africa, service providers use the GSM system, operating in the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands. This means you can use the same GSM cell phone as you travel from country to country in these areas. Unfortunately, GSM in the United States and Canada operates in the 1900MHz band, so your GSM phone may not work when you travel abroad. If you live in North America but regularly travel to Europe, Asia or Africa, this can be extremely frustrating. Some U.S. cell phone models do support this system, but you'll probably end up paying hefty
- encryption to make phone calls more secure
- data networking
- group III facsimile services
- Short Message Service (SMS) for text messages and paging
- call forwarding
- caller ID
- call waiting
- multi-party conferencing