AT&T shows new technologies including a "telesole" for shoes...

AT&T shows of some of its labs projects which might become commercial ventures over the next couple of years...
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor

Yesterday I was at a demonstration of new AT&T technologies and apps at its annual technology showcase in San Francisco.

There were about a dozen demonstrations. They are designed to show off the kind of research At&T is working on in its labs.

I also had a chance to ask John Donovan, chief technology officer at AT&T if Apple's success in attracting more than 100,000 apps had affected the research projects at AT&T and if any apps projects had been cancelled.

He said that there hadn't been any effect on research programs and that the company was working on platform technologies and specialized apps that require tight integration with networks.

He did say that AT&T would soon be releasing some apps of its own such as one that allows users to quickly report any dropped calls and other problems.

These are some of the things I saw: - Air Graffiti, an application that allows you to use your phone to leave digital graffiti at any location. The graffiti can be anything, text, picture, a link. The core of the app is a geo-database platform.

- Medical monitoring technology in the form of a "telesole." This is an insert into a shoe that monitors the quality of each step. It can send an alert if it detects abnormal steps or a fall. Also, an electronic pill box that helps people to track and take the right number of pills.

- A compact laser projector. This uses a three color laser system connected to an iPhone to project very high resolution images onto any surface without the need for any focusing. Applications in medical institutions. Made possible by new green laser semiconductor generating devices.

- A second-life type simulation of home and work/lab environments where turning on a lamp, for example, turns on a real lamp in the home. It maps the virtual world directly into the physical and vice-versa.

- A geo-location technology that allows mobile phones to communicate with each other using their local Wi-Fi capabilities without the need for a network. Could be useful in emergency situations such as earthquakes where rescuers can communicate directly with each other. This relies on the establishment of a geo/comms standard that is accepted by phone makers and network providers. It can also be used for geo-games.

- AT&T speech recognition technology that can understand terms such as "find all Chinese restaurants around here." It shows map location and contact details. This works surprisingly well and is much more useful than AT&T's 411 service, which costs money, while this is a free app. The speech recognition technology is also used for a TV remote control that recognizes show titles and show times.

The apps were interesting but with with very little information on when, or even if, they will be released, it's difficult to assess if the work by AT&T's researchers is useful in anyway.

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