Being there, even when you’re not

by Esther Ng
05:55 AM Jan 27, 2011

SINGAPORE – Imagine walking into a Starbucks outlet here and being able to chat with customers or a friend at an outlet in Seattle through a wall-sized display, as if you were sitting just across from them.

They appear as three-dimensional as they would be if they were in the Singapore outlet. The only thing you cannot do is shake hands with them.

It may sound like stuff straight out of the movies, except that virtual communication can be commercially available in as soon as five years, according to some scientists. And Singapore will now have a firm role to help make this a reality.

Yesterday, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) announced the setting up of a $23-million research facility here that will develop technology called BeingThere.

This technology gives the illusion that people from afar are in the same common space and creates a feeling of “natural interaction” and being there.

Thirty-two scientists from the three universities will work together at the BeingThere Centre to change the way people communicate – using interactive real-time 3-D communication known as telepresence and telecollaboration – the same way change came with the telephone or email.

There will be four prototypes of telepresence systems.

For instance, if you are too busy to attend a meeting you could send an “autonomous Avatar”. “This virtual human will be able to recognise the real participants in the meeting, register what is being said and report to the absentee after the meeting,” said NTU’s Institute for Media Innovation director Nadia Magnenat-Thalmann.

Besides the “autonomous Avatar” and room-based telepresence systems, the scientists will be working on a roving display that brings a 3-D representation of a person in a distant location to a place that can be controlled by both users.

In other words, like a hologram in a glass panel. The display is semi-transparent and will give the illusion of the other person being present in a room, laboratory or hospital.

The fourth project will, literally, make the film Avatar a reality by seeking to create a mobile robotic mannequin that acts as a remotely located “avatar”, which can freely navigate a distant environment and takes on the appearance and gestures of its far-away human host.

This technology could improve communication, reduce the carbon footprint, circumvent travel delays such as extreme weather conditions that ground aeroplanes and speed up decision-making, said NTU provost Bertil Andersson.

He added that telepresence has “immense potential” for the healthcare sector – for doctors and professionals to respond faster and treat patients accurately from a distance.

Of the four prototypes, roving hologram displays are “closest” to being commercialised, said UNC-Chapel Hill’s Professor Henry Fuchs.

ETH Zurich’s Professor Markus Gross added: “There are optical LEDs, new generations of displays in research labs of large manufacturers like Samsung and Panasonic, and five years down the road, these displays will become ubiquitous.”

In the next 10 years, telepresence is expected to become a multi-billion-dollar market as broadband networks and superfast computer chips are developed to transmit and process intensive streams of digital information.

What is telepresence?
by Esther Ng
Telepresence is a set of interactive technologies that allows real-time 3-D communication, giving users the feeling they are present at another location and creating the effect that they are.

This is done through geometric modelling, high-definition 3-D video and audio capture as well as display technologies and robotics to simulate a face-to-face encounter.

Applications for telepresence include: New avenues for distance teaching and learning; closer communication between family members living in different parts of the world; virtual mobility for the disabled; greater work interactivity in multinational companies with multiple offices; a reduction in business travel; and a smaller carbon footprint.

A Step by Step Logical approach to solving the Sudoku Puzzle

9 by 9 Sudoku Solver

Sudoku Solver by Andrew Stuart

Sudoku Solver: a utility from DeadMan’s Handle

The Science of Sudoku

Sudoku algorithms

The hardest Sudoku

How regular is to generate Sudoku with difficulty 9+-SE?

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Sudoku creator/solver using Php

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Kakuro: The new grid on the block,,1569223,00.html

Kakuro Solver

SAAM’s Kakuro Solver: Java Applet

High-speed railway to boost trade

Extracted from

Updated: 2011-01-18 13:56

By Bao Chang, Huo Yan, and Huang Zhaohua (China Daily)

NANNING – The Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region plans to increase its efforts to build a high-speed railway network providing another link with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which is the region’s biggest trading partner and export market, over the next five years.
Guangxi is China’s main foreign-trade center.
“One of our main tasks during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) is to accelerate the construction of a high-speed railway from Nanning to ASEAN countries such as Singapore to establish an international passage, bolstering Guangxi’s foreign trade,” Ma Biao, chairman of the regional government, said on Monday.

High-speed railway to boost trade

Ma Biao, chairman of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region

The People’s Congress of Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region was held in Nanning, the region’s capital city, on Monday, during which Ma revealed the economic work targets for the next five years. According to the regional government’s development and reform commission, the construction of the railway between Nanning and Pingxiang, a city near China’s border with Vietnam, will start in the second half of this year.
“We will invest 15.6 billion yuan ($2.36 billion) to build the railway linking Nanning and Singapore via Vietnam, which is extremely important for the construction of the Nanning-Singapore Economic Corridor,” Long Li, director at the transportation department of the region’s DRC, told China Daily.
The Nanning-Singapore Economic Corridor, the cross-border economic channel between China and the ASEAN, starts at Nanning and encompasses Hanoi in Vietnam, Vientiane in Laos, Phnom Penh in Cambodia, Bangkok in Thailand, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, and Singapore.
Ma said the Nanning-Singapore Economic Corridor and bonded port areas round the gulf would become new hotspots and growth points within the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA).
Fueled by the founding of CAFTA, the export and import volumes of Guangxi hit a record $17.71 billion in 2010, with a year-on-year growth rate of 24.3 percent.
ASEAN is the largest trading partner of, and export market for, Guangxi. The bilateral trade volume was $6.53 billion, a rise of 31.9 percent year-on-year, and accounted for 37 percent of the region’s total trade volume.
“Guangxi will continue to strengthen its economic cooperation, including the Nanning-Singapore Economic Corridor and the Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Zone, with neighboring countries,” Ma said.
Founded in 2006, the Pan-Beibu Gulf (PBG) Economic Cooperation Zone comprises the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Guangdong and Hainan provinces, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Brunei.
The PBG cooperation zone is a new sub-regional scheme in the China-ASEAN framework.
“To beef up trade with neighboring countries and provide convenience for commercial interaction, we will spend 300 billion yuan on the construction of the railway within the next five years,” Ma said earlier.
Construction of a railway linking Vientiane, the capital of Laos, with the Laos-China border, may begin in 2012 with China’s help, as part of a proposed high-speed rail network linking China and Singapore via Laos, Thailand and Malaysia.

My Asumptions

You can never beat the industries’s best

For example, Dell has the whole world’s market of X dollars,
Unless you really have something special,
You can never beat Dell’s market share,
And your marketshare will be calculated a percentage of x dollars,

How I derive Business Intelligence?

I simply look up at public domain,
Prospectus, forcasts, share price, the market the company is in,
Their market share, the potential of growth, any new developments,
And I will even dig deeper into their books,
Their business processes, their industry, their partners,
Their suppliers, and every info I can get my hands on,
To find out their potential, that “breakthru”,
Sometimes, that “magic” will come,
Thru merger, cooperation or partnership,
As industries merge, government’s planning,
You name it, I have forcasted their potential thru analysis,
Developing an industry wide view,
That is why I am bulls eye right on target,
At other times, I gather general info,
The population, age group, everything and anything,
That will help me get a more accurate projection,
I do not have access to everything,
So I get what I require, from other public info,
Information which I can cut into bits,
And extract what I require.
It is difficult to bang on a product,
Unless that product is able to lead,
To a whole new range of products,
Expanding your market share,
Improving your brand conscience.

Contributed by Oogle.