Here's a date
to mark in your calendar: December 23, 2003. That's when theBeagle 2, the lander of the European Space Agency's Mars Express Mission, willseparate from Mars Express, parachute through the thin atmosphere, and touchdown on the Red Planet. Expected to be launched in May, the 34-kg lander willcarry a highly integrated package of environmental sensors, cameras,microphones, spectrometers, sample collection systems and communicationsgear. The key instruments will analyze soil samples, rock and the atmosphere toseek signs of past or present life. To ensure the success of the mission, theseextremely sensitive instruments will have to reach their target — an area in thenorthern hemisphere — with only a gentle impact. To accomplish this, the landermust deploy gas-filled bags at exactly the right altitude to cushion its contact withthe surface. The gas bags, which will wrap themselves around the lander, will befired by a device called a Radar Altimeter Trigger developed by Roke ManorResearch (RMR), a UK-based business owned by Siemens. This 400-gram sensorcan measure distances to within less than 13 centimeters at an altitude of up to100 meters above the surface. What’s more, it functions even under the planet’smost adverseatmospheric conditions. RMR’s radar sensor was selected for thismission by the European Space Agency (ESA) because of the Siemensresearchers’ expertise and experience in the field of sensor technology.
At CeBIT 2003
, Siemens engineerspresented a cell phone that doubles as avirtual mouse. A camera built into theback of the phone tracks the motions ofa stylus held behind the phone,interpreting the image of the stylus tipas a mouse pointer, which appears as ared dot on the phone’s large-formatcolor display. The red dot movessynchronously with any movement ofthe stylus. The pointer can be used toselect numbers or to input graphic sym-bols. The virtual mouse can also be usedto play games that could not be imple-mented on cell phones until now.
factories, univer-sities. Our society is full of huge groupsof buildings that can seem almost ascomplicated to sort out as the mythicalLabyrinth at Cnossus. Yet quicklyfinding your way through modernmazes may soon become child's playthanks to a system called ”Enterprise onAir” now being tested at Siemens. Like apersonal guide, the system directs usersequipped with a wireless, mobileWindows CE terminal such as a PDA,smart phone, or webpad to a desireddestination. It accomplishes this feat byusing broadband technologies such as
have invented aspace-saving roll-up display for cellularphones. The display is about 0.3 mmthin and contains electrochromaticmolecules that can change fromcolorless to blue when a voltage isapplied. At CeBIT 2003 in Hanover,Germany, researchers also demon-strated a screen that can display severalpictures in a sequence.
Landing on Marswith a Gentle Bounce
Cell Phone Is a Virtual Mouse Your OwnPersonal GuideReady to Roll
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2003
Pictures of the Future | Spring 2003
PICTURES OF THE FUTURE
Experts at Siemens’
Automation and Drives Group have developed a miniaturelaboratory that continuously monitors fluid processes. Potential beneficiariesinclude brewers, who, until now, have had to withdraw samples manually in orderto monitor the status of fermentation. Furthermore, sample analysis has relied onthe use of expensive equipment in a laboratory setting. By providing continuous-ly updated information every few minutes, the new "lab on a chip” will vastlysimplify process control. At the heart of the mini lab is a process based on capillaryelectrophoresis in which liquidsare decomposed into their component parts inelectric fields. This process takes place in a system of minute tubules that analyzeonly a few billionths of a liter. The entire system is small enough to fit on a creditcard.
wireless LAN or Bluetooth. GPS is usedfor positioning outside buildings,whereas infrared signals are usedinside. Unlike GPRS/UMTS services, theemphasis here is on access to the localbroadband network, combined withmuch greater precision in positioningthan is possible in mobile phonenetworks. Regardless of whether theuser is a maintenance engineer tryingto track down a defective pump or avisitor searching for an out-of-the-wayconference room, users share the samespontaneous access to locally availabledata.
In a few years,
your car may be able toactually show you how to get to whereyou want to go. A navigation conceptdeveloped by researchers at SiemensVDOAutomotive uses augmentedreality — the fusion of real andcomputer-generated pictures — to takethe guesswork out of driving. Thesystem uses a tiny video camera locatedbehind the rear view-mirror to con-tinuously monitor the view ahead. Thecamera's output, which appears on anavigation monitor, is augmented by agraphic processor that uses dataregarding the vehicle's position androute to highlight the section of road
Cars that ShowWhere to GoLabon a Chip
the vehicle will need to follow. Thedisplay could also incorporate featuressuch as three-dimensional arrows.Naturally, it will be supported bycorresponding audio instructions.Impractical map representations will bea thing of the past. Researchers caution,however, that, because of the hugenumber of calculations required tosuperimpose real-time directions onvideo images, as well as the need todevelop a flawless man-machineinterface, a great deal of additionalwork will be needed before augmentedreality can hit the road.
Demonstration of a flexibledisplay. Electrochromaticmolecules change color whenvoltage is applied.
An augmented reality image of where thecar needs to go is superimposed onimages of the vehicle’s actual location.
A built-in camera converts a mov-ing stylus behind the cell phoneinto a pointer on the display.
The European Space Agency’sBeagle 2 is expected to touch downon the Red Planet on December 23.“Enterprise on Air” uses wirelesstechnologies to guide visitors to theirdestinations.
A few billionths of a liter isall it takes to analyze thecontents of a liquid such as beer.