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Monday, May 20, 2002
Latest in IT world

No strings attached

A California-based musician has invented a violin-like instrument without strings to add more emotion to the sound of computerised music, a science magazine said. Instruments played into a computer often sound dull after the data has been recorded and played back because the computer cannot pick up their complex qualities. So Charles Nichols, a violinist at Stanford University, California, decided to give the computer some help. "Nichols developed a device that tells a computer everything about a bow's motion, allowing it to generate a more realistic, emotional sound," according to New Scientist. "His virtual bow lets the composer use a violin-like contraption that has no strings." The device looks like a normal violin, but without strings, and has a moveable bow, sitting above where the strings would be on an ordinary instrument. Cables then attach the bow to motors with sensors to trace its movement. The height and angle of the bow indicates which strings would be played on a real violin and the friction of the bow across them.


Colour photos

The service that lets mobile-phone users send colour photos as well as text messages is finally here, albeit in trial form, The Straits Times says. And although the trial is free, customers used to sending free text-based messages can expect the multimedia message service (MMS) to come at a price, once Singapore's four telcos roll out their full services, starting later this year. In the meantime, M1 is offering an unlimited MMS at no charge to the first 200 customers who sign up with Sony Ericsson's MMS phone, the T68i. When quizzed, all of the telcos except StarHub were tight-lipped about how the new service might be charged. Subscription fees and price changes might come in later, once volume grows. M1's free trial runs until June 15.

Hotel reservation

Marriott International, Inc. announced that it set a single-day company record in bookings on its Website, Marriott.com, generating more than 10,000 reservations. Ranked as one of the industry's best lodging Websites, Marriott.com enables customers to easily make reservations at any of the company's 2,600 hotels worldwide. More than three-quarters of Marriott’s total Internet bookings are generated through Marriott.com, which booked more than five million room nights last year, as per a company's press release. In customer satisfaction, The Wall Street Journal reported that Marriott International received the highest score in The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), a customer survey conducted by the University of Michigan Business School.

VOIP technology

TAPI (Telephony Application Program Interface) an application developed by Microsoft and Intel jointly is converging both traditional telephony and computers, Deccan Herald reports. This emerging technology enables voice, data, audio and video collaboration over existing medium. TAPI can operate on Windows operating systems, it provides simple methods for making connections between two or more computers and accessing any communication medium throughout the world. The growth of the Internet and the World Wide Web as well as advances in speech recognition and text-to-speech technologies will enable a whole set of new telephony scenarios and new solutions to old problems. One scenario involves the use of a voice specific markup language, such as the Windows Telephony Engine (WTE), which allows Web pages to have voice interaction specific tags. Another technology - IVR (Interactive Voice Recognition) system is being used to collect and provide information to a caller through an automated procedure.