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Self-propelled trousers mean a bright future

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WEBWATCH

There is this vision of the screenless, mouse-less office. This new architectural studio is more like one of those automated warehouses with the pallets replaced by vibro-bunks and prone office fodder fluttering their hands, muttering phrases at apparent random and occasionally stabbing in the air, their brows wrapped in fullimmersion VR eye-sets, intravenous tubes feeding latte, camomile tea and salad. I used to think that was a long way from reality.

The advent of voice recognition programmes and high-definition eyesets have been Real Soon Now for at least a decade. The prospect of them ever being useable seemed zilch.

But listen to this lot: mind control of computers from NY State University; self-replicating robots (elaborate rapid prototypers from Bath University and generative cubes from Cornell University); auto-guided personal transport, including self-propelled trousers, from Toyota; data exchange via handshakes known as Human Area Networking from Nippon Telegraph.

These are just the tip of the iceberg and relegate the screen-less, mouse-less office to a dusty top shelf.

This new architectural studio is a vast vat of amniotic fluid. The gently bobbing hand-in-hand office fodder have metallic skullcaps wirelessly connected to on-site rapid prototypers gobbing out universal beams with selfreplicating D-Line machines doing their thing, while droves of self-propelled trousers speed between the Clerkenwell vats and local deli counters. . . nirvana.

The contractor bypassed at last.

Deluded extrapolations on preliminary research? Last week Wired News reported that researchers at the Mixed Reality Lab at National University of Singapore at http: //155.69.54.110/ had developed a 'cybernetic system to allow physical interaction over the internet [which] allows touching and feeling of animals or humans in real time'. Early research is with chickens. Don't ask.

sutherland. lyall@btinternet. com

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