Thursday, October 05, 2006

Technology For Future-I

Technology Developed in M-Commerce Domain

In Indian telecom history Short Messaging Service (SMS) has become a whole new language, accounting for revenue worth Rs.2300 crore and growing at 30% per annum. And now this mobile handset is all set to replace our wallet and becomes the preferred choice for financial transactions. This means booking airline tickets, movie tickets, making P2P or bill payments on the move-all through SMS- no need for WiFi connectivity. One of the killer applications in this domain is m-cheque. Customers wishing to avail of this facility would need to replace their SIM cards with a high powered memory chips (number remains the same) which can be bought over the counter at service provider’s outlets, while personalization or credit card authentification is done through an SMS to the concerned bank. Once the credit card data resides on the chips, the mobile phone is ready to make transactions. Walk into a merchant establishment that accepts this form of payment and give him your mobile number. The merchant, who has a handset with a similar chip, sends an SMS to a predetermined number with customer’s mobile number. The server that receives this SMS maps the data and sends it to the bank’s payment gateway. In turn, the bank’s server checks the credit limit and sends a message to the customer asking to verify the transaction. Customer’s acceptance is completed through an SMS along with the mobile PIN. This goes to the bank’s server, which sends an SMS to the merchant confirming the payment. Finally, customer receives an SMS, which serves as a proof of purchase. The same mobile handset can be used to draw cash in ATMs replacing the use of plastic cards.

New Technology for Old Transistors

Silicon is the edifice of the electronics revolution. By putting hundreds of thousands of tiny transistors on a single silicon chip, engineers shrank the size of a computer from as big as a room to a pocket sized pc in a matter of four decades. And this reduction in dimension did not affect the performance of computers-in fact, their power grew exponentially. For instance, while an 8088 microprocessor chip had just 6000 transistors, today’s Pentium IV chip carries as many as 50 million transistors. One giant snag: silicon based transistors are not expected to go very far and will soon hit a technology roadblock. The problem with all transistors in current technology and almost all proposed transistors is that they regulate current flow by raising and lowering an energy barrier. Using electricity to raise and lower energy barriers has worked for a century of switches, but that approach is about to hit a wall. Even if it were possible to build an ultra advanced laptop computers with molecule sized transistors using current transistor technology, it would take so much electricity to run the laptop that resultant heat generated would probably vaporize the computer itself.
In order to overcome this technology roadblock, a novel concept is under development that can lead to molecular transistors, which would make the next generation of tiny, powerful computers. Such transistors will be as small as one nanometer. A team of scientists showed for the first time that a single charged atom on a silicon surface can regulate the conductivity of a near by molecule, there by allowing current to pass through. This device is known as Quantum Interference Effect Transistor or QuIET.

The Chicken Came First.

My salute to Vinod Kapur and his farm Kegg (Kapur + egg) that produces the most extraordinary chickens. The birds have helped 7,00,000 rural households in Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Assam and North-Eastern states of India increase their income by Rs.300 crore every year for the last five years. Kegg tinkered around with imported poultry stock from the US to create high yield birds suited to Indian conditions for the urban markets. And the outcome is called Kuroiler (Kegg + Broiler) chickens, which is custom bred for the small farmers, is very different from the local village birds. Unlike desi hen, which produces 40 eggs in its 18 months cycle, a female Kuroiler gives 200 eggs in the same period. Then, they grow quicker. A male Kuroiler reaches the 1 Kg weight in 6-7 weeks, compared to a desi’s 18-20 weeks. Significantly, they are low on maintenance. They don’t need a special diet and can survive on scavenging, foraging and supplementary wastes from kitchen. They fly a little and run quicker, from predators. So they live longer.