In the Nepomuk project, scientists from the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence have given computers a humanlike capacity to remember, as was demonstrated at the world’s biggest information and communication technology show, in Hanover, last month.
Some background to the new development: imagine that you hear an interesting lecture by a Mr Muller from company XY in which he talks about the opportunities offered by artificial intelligence. The next time you meet Muller, you can probably still remember his talk well, even if you have, perhaps, forgotten his name. This partial memory is possible, as humans think associatively and intuitively handle relationships between information. The human brain connects individual elements that it perceives at the same time and is, thus, in a position to associate conference proceedings with speakers or dates, for example.
In the Nepomuk project, a procedure has now been developed that uses semantic technology to support personal information management. The knowledge concealed in the folder structure and file contents of the personal computer is first transferred automatically to a ‘personal information model’. For example, emails are linked with contact data and images on the hard disk. Users can adapt this model at any time to suit their personal preferences and ways of thinking. The resulting associations created between information and concepts are used for storage and search operations – for storage, content analysis algorithms make proposals regarding how new documents are to be added to the existing personal folder system. If documents are searched for later on but the image of the contact person is all that is remembered then the semantic network that has been developed can help find the correct documents again.
Master ‘Off’ Switch
Who doesn’t recognise this scenario: as soon as the front door has closed behind you, the doubts begin to creep in – did I turn the iron off? Is the television still on, perhaps? And there must be similar cases in factories and office buildings.
This stress can be put to an end once and for all. At CeBIT 2009, Swiss company digitalSTROM.org presented a new technology that provides greater security and lower energy consumption. A small chip, not even the size of a fingernail, makes it all possible. The chip connects all the electrical devices through the existing electricity network and enables them to be controlled using traditional switches. When leaving the house or the office a master ‘off’ switch, which can be placed on any number of power sockets, makes it possible for the whole house to be placed in standby mode. In theory, each individual electrical device can be equipped with a digitalSTROM chip. The system also measures energy consumption right down to individual appliance level.
Robust Computer for Rugged Work
Rugged cellphones may be completely out of fashion now, but robust computers on building sites, in various types of industries, are definitely in. German company Andres Industries, of Berlin, presented its ‘ruggedised’ personal digital assistant. This device can survive a fall into water or being dropped from a height of 1 m onto concrete. In addition, it has a fingerprint scanner and a seven- inch touch display.
A global positioning system navigation system, the universal mobile telecommunication system, Edge, wireless local area networks and Bluetooth are, of course, also on board. The device is intended for use in land surveying, georesearch and forestry – basically anywhere where work is conducted in tough environments. The device also has serial ports for connecting special measuring instruments.