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The S-Book is a joint project between Bell Labs, Cambridge University Press and Abilene Christian University in Texas.
The idea is to combine social networking with e-books. As shown in this shot of an S-Book on an iPad, students would be able to see who of their classmates is reading the same page and who has annotated certain paragraphs. They could then join in a virtual discussion about the meaning of certain extracts.
Bell Labs is working on several projects related to the 'internet of things', where everyday objects are imbued with connectivity.
In one demonstration, researcher Benoit Christophe showed how an elderly woman's lamp and telephone could be networked together to overcome her degraded hearing. Using a smartphone app, a relative could make the lamp flash on and off when they call the woman, so she can see as well as hear when the call is incoming.
Tom Marzetta, the leader of Bell Labs' communications and signal processing research group in Murray Hill, New Jersey, is working on the successor to 4G mobile communication.
Although it is in a very early stage — no working prototype has yet been created — his system would see 400 antennae on one base station. This would theoretically allow for 20 times the bandwidth of long-term evolution, the replacement for 3G that is just starting to be deployed now.
"We haven't been able to come up with a catchy name," Marzetta said, adding that 'massive MIMO' and 'large-scale MIMO' are candidates.