Drive from California to New York, Leave the Driver Home

Carl Weinschenk

At certain points, it makes sense to just stand back and think about what technology has brought about. This is one such time: Delphi, an auto parts supplier, is sending an Audi SUV packed with six engineers, but no driver, from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to New York City.

From other interesting news items and insightful analysis this week, here are some highlights:

Skype Alternatives

The number one IP-based communications platform is Skype. The number of options is growing, however.

Datamation’s Matt Hartley offered a refresher in what Skype offers and then looked at some of the competitors. He said that the “best hope for a Skype-killer” is Jitsi. He writes that it is still in development and likely will become a player with which to be reckoned in two to four years. That’s a long way away for such excitement. Hartley explains why he nonetheless has it at the top of his list:

What makes Jitsi nice is that it supports a multitude of protocols. This in itself isn't really new. After all, there are a number of protocols available out of the box. But what makes Jitsi so cool is that it offers some advanced VoIP features. The functionality that struck me is the HD video quality during my calls, and the security with encryption, by default. Bundle this with call transferring and call recording, it's easy to see why I'm so excited about the idea behind Jitsi in the long term.


Audi Drives Coast to Coast – With No Driver

IT World reports that Delphi, a supplier of automotive components, is sending an “autonomous” – self-driving – Audi SUV from San Francisco to New York City. Six Audi engineers will accompany the SQ5 SUV, which is scheduled to leave from the Golden Gate Bridge on Sunday. The story says that it will use Delphi’s advanced driving assistance system (ADAS), described as “vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure wireless communications and automated driving software.”

It is, according to the story, the first cross-country autonomous trip and probably the longest ever undertaken. An Audi A7 drove 560 miles from Los Angeles to Las Vegas two months ago, the story said.

Going After Business

T-Mobile is going after business aggressively. WirelessWeek reports that the carrier has introduced a service called Un-Carrier for Business. Lines are priced beginning at $16 each for 10 to 19 lines, $15 each for 20 or more lines, and $10 each for more than 1,000 lines. The service offers unlimited talk and text and 1 GB of data.

The story describes extended data plans on a per-line or shared bucket basis. T-Mobile also will provide domains and related site design services from GoDaddy.

Smartphone

Securing Voice

eWeek begins its story on two companies that are offering ways to secure and encrypted voice communications with a bit of background. This type of security has been available to the government and military users for some time. The news is that now the general population has a couple of choices.

SecuSmart, which has offered encrypted and secure communications for BlackBerry, now offers a product for iOS and Android. The story is a bit unclear on whether the BlackBerry offering was for government users only or for the general population. The SecuSmart encryption app is available through Vodafone in the United Kingdom and is coming to the states soon, the story says.

The other offering is the CryptoPhone from GSMK. Three versions of the phone are available in Europe and the United States: one for Android, one for feature phones and one for desktops. It differs from the SecuSmart approach in that it modifies the firmware instead of adding a chip.

Faster 3D Printing

And, finally, comes a story about speeding up a futuristic technology. The terms are complicated, but the idea is easy to understand. Carbon3D claims that it has found a way to increase the speed of 3D printing by 25 to 100 times. The company’s technique is called Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP).

A common approach to 3D printing is called stereolithography (SLA), in which ultraviolet light is projected under a light sensitive resin pool, the story says. The platform moves upward and methodically forms the object. CLIP is similar to SLA, but faster. Instead of a light being projected across the pool, an entire cross section of the object being printed is projected.

No date for availability has yet been set.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.



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