July 2004, Issue 67

Published by Sonaris Consulting, Felix Bopp, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
[formerly Music for New Media Newsletter]

You can find the online version at: http://www.sonaris.info


Scientific findings: Seeing with sound
Recommended book: Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution
For disabled
: Kyoyo-Hin Foundation, The Development of Information and Communication Technology Systems to Include People with a Visual Impairment
Vision 20/20: Future Scenarios for the Australian Communications Industry
Club of Amsterdam
Citizen-financed Media Revolution
Next-Generation Communications Environments
Conferences & events
Subscription & feedback

: Scientific findings

Seeing with sound
Acoustic microscopy advances beyond failure analysis
by Jennifer Ouellette
In acoustic microscopy, the familiar optical lens is replaced by an acoustic lens, which serves the same function but redirects sound waves rather than light. A sound wave is sent through a piece of quartz or glass coated with a thin layer of piezoelectric material that resonates at a specific frequency—for example, 1 GHz. The bottom of the glass lens is hollowed into a bowlshape to form an inverted, or concave, lens. The sound waves are reflected to the edge of the lens, and then they pass through a film of water on a glass slide, which focuses them for scanning over a sample’s surface. The waves are then reflected back up through the lens and piezoelectric crystal, which serve as a detector and amplifier. The sound waves are recorded electronically and then translated into an image on a video monitor.
The full article is available at: http://www.aip.org/tip/INPHFA/vol-10/iss-3/p14.pdf


: Recommended book

Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution
by Howard Rheingold
The title of this book is a mild pun. People are using smart "mobs" (rhymes with "robes") to become smart "mobs" (rhymes with "robs"), meaning, sophisticated mobile Internet access is allowing people who don't know each other to act in concert. In this timely if at times overenthusiastic survey of wireless communication devices, Rheingold (The Virtual Community) conveys how cell phones, pagers and PDAs are shaping modern culture. He interviewed dozens of people around the world who work and play with these technologies to see how this revolution is manifesting, and his findings are stirring. The concept has caught on among young Japanese, where cliques of teenagers hang out together all day, despite being in different places, by sending and receiving hundreds of iconic text transmissions on their iMode telephones. And demonstrators in Seattle and Manila relied on wireless telephones to coordinate their actions and evade barricades. In major cities, Rheingold says, techno-hipsters can congregate in "WiFi" areas that interact with their wireless devices to let them participate in a virtual social scene. In one amusing example, he tells of upscale prostitutes who can enter their services and prices into their mobile phones, allowing customers to discreetly determine if anyone nearby is selling what they want to buy (a Japanese company, Lovegety, has already adapted this idea to dating). This study of the potential of mobile, always on, fast Internet access nicely serves as a travelogue to the future, showing the possibilities and dangers of communications innovation.


: For disabled

Kyoyo-Hin Foundation
Our mission is to promote the development of Kyoyo-Hin products or services that can be used by as many people as possible including the elderly and persons with disabilities. At the same time, we enlighten the public in a constructive manner that such an approach will being great improvements to the quality of products and services for all of us. We believe this movement greatly contributes to our quality of the life and to Japan’s economy.

Conduct surveys on the difficulties experienced by persons with disabilities and the elderly
Basic study on how to address the needs of persons with disabilities and older persons in designing products and services
Study on the standardization work for Kyoyo-Hin
Monitor and evaluate Kyoyo-Hin
Promote of Kyoyo-Hin through symposiums, exhibitions or publications, etc.
Construct the Kyoyo-Hin database
Train and educate people and society to promote Kyoyo-Hin
Publish information for Kyoyo-Hin
Conduct surveys on related subjects as commissioned from other organizations

The concept of Kyoyo-Hin and Kyoyo services embraces the three concepts of universal design (providing for use by all right from the design stage), barrier- free design (aimed at removal of barriers to use of general products by the aged and disabled through tactile marking, etc.), and welfare-type goods and services for general use that are based on proprietary versions exclusively for the disabled/aged.

The Development of Information and Communication Technology Systems to Include People with a Visual Impairment
by J M Gill
Increasingly people with a visual impairment need to be able to use equipment designed for the general public; this includes ticket selling machines at unmanned railway stations, cash dispensers, and public telephones. In the foreseeable future, inability to use such systems is likely to increase the divide between the visually impaired and fully sighted population; these systems could include next generation mobile phones, interactive television and electronic purses.

Therefore it is essential that equipment for use by the general public is designed to be accessible by as many people as is reasonably possible. With the increasing ageing population, this must include people with presbyopia as well as people with a combination of different impairments.

Inclusive design
Inclusive design is the design of mainstream products and/or services that are accessible to, and usable by, as many people as reasonably possible on a global basis, in a wide variety of situations and to the greatest extent possible without the need for special adaptation or specialized design. As yet, this 'inclusive design' message has had limited practical impact upon the area of information and communication systems and services.

In the case of cash dispensers, the companies manufacturing the equipment see their customers as the banks purchasing their equipment. Even though they may have incorporated inclusive design features in their range of terminals, it is to no avail if the bank is not interested in offering it to their customers. Within the bank it may be a technical department which is responsible for selecting equipment for the bank, but it will be the local branches who have direct contact with disabled customers and who may provide a modicum of training in the use of the cash dispenser. Unfortunately local branch staff are unlikely to be aware of the technological possibilities for improving the accessibility of the equipment.

At the policy level it may be sufficient to specify that the equipment and services must be accessible to as many people as is reasonably possible. However this leaves open many questions including what does 'accessible' mean? Also what is 'reasonable'? Also it does not cover the often crucial question as to who pays for any additional costs such as training.

The development of guidelines for inclusive design of systems and services in the area of information and communication technologies is seriously hampered by the sparcity of sound scientific data about the needs of people with disabilities. What data exists is all too often based on inadequate sample sizes or inappropriate methodology. This is an area which is perceived to be low on academic content. Industry wants guidelines to be pan-disability, but this will require greater collaboration between all the relevant organisations representing the different disability groups.

With new equipment and services which are only in the early stages of specification, such as third generation mobile communications, it is difficult to be precise. However if the influencing is left to the stage when it is clear what features will be incorporated, it is often too late to get anything significant changed.

Information for product designers may be detailed design guidelines (eg the maximum height and angle of a display so that it can be read by a wheelchair user). However this approach is only possible for established technology for which detailed design guidelines exist. In other cases it will be necessary to provide generic guidelines backed up by recommendations on how to test prototypes with a cross-section of potential users. For telecommunication designers the problems are shortage of time and lack of an established system for evaluating with disabled users. This is an area where user organisations could take a more active role in providing speedy evaluation of prototype systems and services.
Full article at: http://www.tiresias.org/reports/vir.htm


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: Vision 20/20: Future Scenarios for the Australian Communications Industry

Implications for Regulation

Vision 20/20 is an ACA foresight project looking at the future form of communications regulation. Foresight processes involve high levels of research and consultation – they are not designed to predict the future, instead they provide an opportunity to look far enough ahead that current assumptions, practices and technologies are tested.

The Vision 20/20 project team will use various foresight tools to facilitate the development of a number of plausible scenarios for the communications industry in 2020. From there, the team will define strategic options for the future form of regulation. The scenarios will emphasise the long-term interests of end users in addition to efficiency and international competitiveness of the Australian communications industry.

The project has four key activities:

Scan (read the strategic environment).
Anticipate (understand the possibilities you face).
Influence (shape or create the future ‘rules of the game’ to the extent possible given organisational constraints).
Act strategically (identify and implement options).

A preliminary report will be released for public consultation in late July 2004 and presented at an industry forum in August 2004.

: Club of Amsterdam


: Citizen-financed Media Revolution

Media Venture Collective

a grass-roots, 501(c)3, public-benefit venture fund and media democracy brain trust;
initiated and guided by a super-group in independent media, eco-social activism, and Silicon Valley technology venture expertise;
focused on leveraging citizen donations into strategic investments that promote media democracy, as the fulcrum for social change;
a fund of the Rudolf Steiner Foundation, jointly administered by Calvert Social Investment Foundation.

Our mission is media democracy. The game rules of today's media environment are both a threat to democracy and a gale force headwind against any real social change. Changing that is not only our duty as citizens, but a great business opportunity.

We germinate and fertilize enterprises that can be to monopoly media what Linux is to Microsoft: open, participatory, collaboratively-built, democratically accessible public utilities that work better than media driven solely by the profit motive. We're here to find and fund mammals that eat dinosaur eggs.

Our means to that end is to exploit rapidly evolving media and communications technology that:
promote open and egalitarian access to trusted media, and to the mechanisms of publishing;
reclaim public control over public airwaves;
help quality media and the audiences for it find each other efficiently;
create economic ecosystems that naturally reinforce such connections


: Next-Generation Communications Environments

Next-Generation Communications Environments: Guiding Principles for Legacy Replacement

1. Industry Trends

Communications applications have traditionally been standalone and based on proprietary technologies. Such systems are inflexible, and are expensive to purchase, maintain, and upgrade. However, all this is changing.

Communications Web Services
The industry has realized the value of the Web's modular architecture and has begun applying this architecture to voice applications. The emergence of speech markup languages such as VoiceXML and SALT has aided this process. These languages are used to develop a voice user interface in the same way that HTML provides a graphical user interface. This convergence of voice and Web technology is referred as Communications Web Services.

Disaggregation of the Network
The combination of industry disaggregation (a "horizontal" restructuring in what has traditionally been a vertical market), proliferation of IP in emerging and established networks, and industry consolidation around standards is changing existing paradigms. IP networks are becoming the preferred vehicle for sending converged voice and data. The result is a change in the industry model from a few vendors who supplied end-to-end proprietary networks to many specialized standards driven suppliers who now provide specific pieces of the network.

Horizontal Restructuring
New and developing standards are also pushing the industry to restructure horizontally, making the business case for vendors to move toward modular architectures. This modular architecture moves vendors away from proprietary "big iron" systems with proprietary hardware (custom Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs), etc.) and software that is not easily upgradeable nor interoperable, towards open systems founded on modular, interoperable building blocks that leverage flexibility, choice and a new community of independent application developers.

Disruptive and emerging technologies introduced over the past few years, coupled with the most challenging market dynamics in the history of telecom, have shaken the industry and changed it forever.

The full report is available at:

: Conferences & events

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