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IBM

Research news from IBM 29

Ryan Amos wrote in to let us know that IBM has announced succesful research into plastic transistors. These transistors, if used, will require less power and be less fragile then current ones-but I'm sure they're still years out as the researcher interviewed declined to comment on how soon they will enter the market. In other IBM news, the company announced an initiative to build a talking web browser for the blind. Projects like that give me some modicum of hope for civilization.
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Research news from IBM

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  • They released it either earlier his month or late
    last.
  • electrical conducting materials.

    As one of the respondents already pointed out, transistors are based on semi-conducting materials. Moreover, on silicon chips I was under the impression they were etched to allow electrical conductors to be deposited, e.g. Aluminum (and IBM is planning to use Copper).

    Plastics are a vernacular term, probably meant to connote that many are made by quick processing that goes from a melt to a solid state rapidly, which along with the long chain lengths and protruding chemical structures results in a glassy physical state (i.e. non-crystalline). A glassy state material is not a rigid as a crystal and near its glass transition point may be deformed, or stretched. Indeed, these properties are use in safety helmets. Historically plastics were based on hydrocarbon chains (viewed only as an industrial product), which are classed as non-conductors. More recent research in light weight batteries, have shifted the focus to unsaturated bonding in polymer chains where at least some electrons are not as tightly held and able to allow electron jumping or some level of electrical conductivity.

    There is more to these stories, but I may have already told you than you really wished to know!
  • by sterwill ( 972 )
    But Emacs can be a web browser (and a reasonable one at that).
  • Electrical insulators are just semiconductors with high energy gaps. Just like semiconductors are insulators with low energy gaps.


    Andrew Gardner
  • ...without the means to make them into plastic integrated circuits. Somehow I suspect lithography and ion deposition isn't going to quite cut it. (Of course, the link broke for me so I could be completely wrong...)
  • two products I read about for Unix/emacs.
    OK so they are not Web browsers... but AsTeR
    reads LaTeX in a structured way. The idea is not
    new... of course the implementation may well be.
  • IIRC Philips are making this stuff already ("throw-away circuitry")

  • Hope they include an option to turn images off.

    Hmm, aside from telling the user what was a link and what wasnt..(I guess it could read off the hypertext when highlighted, say if using a variant of Lynx.., which would then give the user an idea..)
    ..Couple years ago I helped a guy setup software that read everything on the screen..he was blind, and this was for Win95.. allowed him to navigate completely thru the OS...wait a sec! Just realised here..he used the internet.. So I assume this already exists, or it would have been pretty boring for him. Wish I remembered more about the particulars.. Hmm. Lemme go read the article now.

    C
  • Doh..wow, copy and paste hell. Anyways, here's a working link if anyone really wants it. Sigh. "WebSpeak PLUS is available for Windows 3.1 and Windows 95, 98 and NT. It includes a software speech synthesizer, called SoftVoice, and the Windows 95, 98 and NT versions will include the E-Mail package when that software is made generally available." www.prodworks.com [prodworks.com] C
  • by pen ( 7191 )
    How the !#% are they supposed to conduct electricity?

    (first?)

    ---
  • The way I read the announcement, they're not just
    announcing an initiative to build one, they're
    announcing its availability *now*... Right?
  • Back in the old days (pre '97 heeheehee), when the Web was predominantly single-page, low-graphics, Lynx and similar aids for the Blind worked well. Now, with all the snazzy things going on in UI design, the blind are screwed. This mimics problems the blind are having in modern WIMP-based jobs. Under the old C-L OSes (DOS, UNIX, OS/370, VMS, etc), a blind person could be a very good worker, and compete on a level ground with sighted people. Nowdays, with heavy emphasis on GUI-based RAD tools, the blind person is left out in the cold. It's a real social problem. I'm totally interested in seeing what IBM has come out with - anything to aid the blind in keeping up with the "progress" of the Web is excellent.

    And to the person above who rambles about "output independence" - CLUE! CLUE! CLUE! Information should be divided between two areas: raw information, and presentation of that information. Back 4 years ago, this was the way things were, with HTML being essentially raw data, and the Browser being the Presentation tool that interpreted that data to the user, in whatever form was appropriate. That's why Lynx for the blind worked well. Unfortunately, it seems that the HTML designers (along with other people designing Web pages) want to embed lots of formatting (ie PRESENTATION) information in the data stream. This makes is hard (if not impossible) for the client to display it's information in any way other than that dictated by the data stream. BAD. BAD. BAD.

    WEB DESIGNERS: you should ALWAYS have a non-graphic, non-framed, text-based alternative to your site.

    -Erik

  • may mean that I no longer have to make sure my pages pass the lynx test, something anyone who writes web pages ought to do. That will give me a little more design leeway. (I'm not using style sheets yet.) The $149 price tag may mean that more blind people and institutions will be able to afford the reader. Screen readers and the pwWebSpeak program have been pretty expensive, I think. I'm looking forward to trying the program.

    Seth

But it does move! -- Galileo Galilei

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