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Wi-Fi trousers, edible phones and mobiles for lefties

Those April Fools' stories in full...

The April Fools' Day story is a great tradition, and one that the technology sector has taken to its heart.

With many IT companies releasing fake information to journalists in the run-up to the big day, it can be tricky to spot the genuine developments from the farcical. What's more likely -- UK prisoners being given broadband and Wi-Fi with their porridge or Google launching an email service with a gigabyte of space per user?

While it's never good to deliberately mislead one's reader, some of the latest hoaxes doing the rounds deserve an audience. So here's a short selection:

Is that a Wi-Fi access point in your pocket?
Having got the hang of installing Wi-Fi in typical venues like pubs and hotels, The Cloud is moving into the exciting field of wireless-enabled trousers.

The Cloud, Europe's largest Wi-Fi network, announced a "ground-breaking partnership" with Ukrainian wearable computing start-up, TrouserNet on Thursday.

Under the deal TrouserNet will Cloud-enable its Personal Hotspot garments. In a turn-up for the books, this will turn a standard pair of slacks into a mobile hot spot.

Once a pair of Personal Hotspot trousers have been slipped on, both the wearer and the admiring hordes around them will be able to access the Internet via any one of several service providers by using the integral access points fitted in the garment.

"The Personal Hotspot range is true mobile computing brought to life," claimed Marie Bashkirtseff, head of WLAN garments at TrouserNet.

"By integrating an enterprise-grade, washable hot spot into stylish over-garments, TrouserNet have, for the first time, offered users the ability to carry the convenience of wireless connectivity with them, wherever they go," Bashkirtseff added.

Now that The Cloud has got its teeth into our wardrobes, the company is keen to stick its antennas into everything from shirts to suspender belts.

"This is only the first of a series of wearable device partnerships we intend to sign in the coming months," revealed Lon Chaney, head of device partnerships at The Cloud.

Back in 2002, Levis announced it was developing trousers with a mobile phone pocket made from lining that was claimed to shield the wearer from their mobile's emissions. News of the anti-radiation trousers sent people scurrying to their calendars to make sure it wasn't April 1st.

Say it with chocolate
High street confectioner Thornton has announced the development of a prototype disposable mobile phone.

The Cellchoc, which is billed as the "ultimate recyclable mobile phone", has a case made from 'handling-resistant' chocolate, and contains special consumable circuitry developed by Choctronics, the "edible semiconductor research company".

Thorntons says the device will provide 30 minutes of talktime. Once this is used up, the device can be scoffed.

Some parts, such as the corners of the casing, could be eaten even whilst talk time is still available without effect on performance, although it would make the phone look "dog-eared", explained the company.

Cellchoc users can even download exciting new flavours via GRPS.

"The idea of entirely edible PCs, laptops or even printers and associated telecoms networks is not beyond our joint capabilities," claimed Prof Lolai, chief edible-technology researcher at Choctronics.

"This will prove useful in ensuring that industry is always using up-to-date technology as consumers eat their way through equipment that no longer provides the services that society is demanding."

Campaigners have claimed for years that mobile phones pose a danger to health, a charge that has not been proven. If popular, the Cellchoc could lead to an explosion of obesity among heavy-duty mobile users.

Thorntons has said that it will not make fixed-line phones part of the project. It is concerned that people will simply be annoyed if they need to make an urgent call only to find that the dog got there first.

The sinister case of the left-handed phone
Virgin Mobile claims to have helped create a mobile phone designed for left-handed people.

The company unveiled a new version of the Sony Ericsson LH-Z200 with a unique keypad layout with the number keys positioned from right to left, instead of the standard left to right.

Virgin claims that the gadget will appeal to the seven million left-handed people in Britain who are frustrated by the right-handed bias in the product design of phones.

"This simple but clever design makes dialling, texting and menu navigation quicker and easier for anyone left-handed," claimed Virgin.

Some observers suggest, though, that swapping the numbers around may lead to confusion.

"This sounds like a ruse dreamed up by the mobile operators to make money by getting people to dial wrong numbers," alleged one left-handed IT expert.

Virgin, though, says its product is a winner.

"We have been approached by thousands of left-handed customers who told us they wanted a phone which would work for them. Britain's seven million left-handed people should not be ignored and Virgin Mobile is the first mobile company in the world to offer a solution to this problem working in partnership with Sony Ericsson," said Steven Day, the left-handed Corporate Affairs Director at Virgin Mobile.

Seen a decent tech-related April Fools' story*? Let us know.

*Bill Gates' email to customers saying that "significant progress" has been made in making Microsoft's products more secure doesn't count.