Convenient navigation aids are as follows: Left clicking on:
A Table of Contents entry will bring you to the related article. .
"Source" will bring you to the original article at the website of its initial posting - if it is still there;
"Next" - Will bring you to the next article in sequence.
Contents - Will bring you back to the table of contents.
ODIN technologies, the leader in the physics of RFID testing and deployment, has published its 'RFID Gen 2 Tag Benchmark Report', sponsored by Unisys. The report presents analysis of eleven of the leading EPC compliant Gen 2 RFID tags.
The benchmark was developed to provide end users with objective insight into how well tags actually work in the field and what criteria should be evaluated when making tag selection, placement and orientation decisions. The Benchmark is the first scientific and objective comparison of how Gen 2 RFID tags work with various standard materials such as corrugate packaging, water and metal. boitel44q This article is copyright 2006 UsingRFID.com.
What's in the report?
The benchmark report includes performance testing related to distance, orientation sensitivity, material type, modulation depth and quality. It also provides a framework for selecting an appropriate tag converter and educational insights into the Gen 2 standard and recent market developments.
The report includes details and benchmarks on Gen 2 RFID tags from seven manufacturers (Alien Technology, Avery Dennison, Impinj, Rafsec, RF IDentics, Symbol, and Texas Instruments).
The benchmark measured how well each tag extracts, consumes and
reflects RF power and assesses the quality variance in a random lot of
100 tags. It also includes:
Distance performance analysis, providing a ranking based on tag performance at several distances with different common product materials;
Orientation sensitivity analysis, ranking each tag based on orientation sensitivity with different common materials;
Material dependence of tag performance, evaluating the relative performance of each tag on different material types;
Modulation depth, evaluating the effectiveness of each tag in backscattering power to the reader antenna by employing a real time spectrum analyser
Why the benchmark?
ODIN technologies President and CEO Patrick J. Sweeney II said: "Gen 2 is the foundation for the rapid growth of RFID. ODIN technologies is proud to once again produce a comprehensive, scientific analysis of Gen 2 RFID tags. The RFID Gen 2 Tag Benchmark can save end users time, money and hassle during this important technology transition."
ODIN leveraged its scientific lab combined with the industry's most experienced RFID deployment team to test the products from an end user's perspective. The RFID Gen 2 Tag Benchmark is designed to be an end user's trusted source for comparing the performance of leading RFID tags.
According to Sweeney, "Tag and reader communication is the first point of success or failure in any RFID system. The tag typically represents the weak link in the equation and must be selected with great care. The RFID Gen 2 Tag Benchmark results provide surprising insights that will help end users make better tag selection decisions. The fact is that some tag manufacturers continue to outpace others in tag quality and versatility. This information should be central to an end user's tagging strategy."
Education, education, education
ODIN also wrote RFID for Dummies to help educate the industry and improve the quality of RFID deployments. ODIN technologies continues to produce benchmark testing to break through the marketing clutter and provide sound, factual data to end users and vendors working to improve RFID system performance.
Peter Regen, vice president, Global Visible Commerce for Unisys added: "Gen 2 represents a critical technology transition that can go smoothly or with great difficulty. Unisys recommends its clients leverage RF science combined with a proven process to ensure the right tags, readers and other equipment is selected to create secure business operations. ODIN technologies' RFID Gen 2 Tag Benchmark provides a sound, scientific basis for beginning the tag selection process."
Buying the benchmark report
The benchmark report can be purchased from ODIN technologies (at US$750 for a single user license and US$1,500 for an enterprise license).
It has been several months since the RFID Consortium announced its intent to form a patent pool for the intellectual property required for UHF RFID standards from EPCglobal and ISO. Now the RFID Consortium is charting its structure and creating its licensing rules.
The RFID Consortium publicly announced its intent to form a patent pool in August 2005 and followed with an announcement in September 2005 that it had selected MPEG LA, LLC as the administrator for the RFID patent licensing process. boitel44q This article is copyright 2006 UsingRFID.com.
The RFID Consortium official members are Alien Technology, Applied Wireless Identifications Group (AWID), Avery Dennison, Moore Wallace, Symbol Technologies, ThingMagic, Tyco Fire & Security and Zebra Technologies. The group of eight companies that are official members of the consortium has not grown since the August announcement according to Stan Drobac, vice president of RFID applications at Avery Dennison and spokesperson for the RFID Consortium.
Patent pool structures and consortia royalty sharing models vary. Drobac told RFID Tribe, "We are borrowing elements from multiple business models to construct our model."
RFID Tribe talked with Andrew Updegrove, partner at Gesmer Updegrove LLP and editor of ConsortiumInfo.org. Gesmer Updegrove has advised more than 70 standards-setting and promotional consortia regarding their formation, member classes, dues structure, standards and certification processes, including the Near Field Communication (NFC) Forum and the Mobile Payments Forum.
Updegrove said. "The idea for patent pools is to cap the 'tax' on a device to allow for greater market adoption." The tax in the form of a royalty is set at 'what the market will bear'. The cap is typically either a percent of the device's price or a flat fee per device.
There are several advantages to patent pool consortia. Patent pools enable efficiency when the market can obtain a single capped royalty for a device where equipment providers need only one license and deal with one entity for licensing. Consortium patent pool participants benefit by sharing in the consortium's royalty stream according to a patent pool formula devised by the participating companies. In addition, patent pools level the playing field so that one firm pays the same royalty fee as its competitor for selling a device. Consortia tend to save valuable resources for member companies - they spend less time and less capital defending a lower number of lawsuits.
With much at stake, companies work diligently to set technology standards and to commercialise their intellectual property by pooling their patents with others. "Standards setting is a game of hardball" said Updegrove.
Due to anti-trust issues associated with patent pooling, some consortia in the United States send a letter to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) seeking an opinion. This letter details the consortium's structure, membership model and licensing algorithms and asks the DOJ for an opinion on whether the consortium, as proposed, would violate anti-trust laws. The DOJ issues a non-binding letter back to the consortium rendering an opinion. The DOJ letter is not required, but gives the consortium member companies a signal on whether their consortium will withstand potential legal challenges regarding anti-trust issues.
"Consortia and patent pools are like a poker game" said Updegrove. Anyone can play, anyone can drop out if they don't like the game and any player can challenge another's patents to "call a bluff."
Recipe for success
Successful consortia start with a population of "promoting companies" and grow their efforts to include "adopting companies" which adopt the licensing model. The RFID Consortium "promoting companies" began marketing their efforts with the August 2005 announcement, followed by the September 2005 announcement on selecting MPEG LA as the licensing administrator. As the poker game continues, potential member companies should receive invitations from consortium member companies to join the patent pool, followed by announcements defining the patent pool and regarding licensing enforcement.
According to Updegrove, a typical path for a consortium forming a
patent pool might involve the following activities:
According to Larry Horn, vice president of licensing and business development at MPEG LA, the "most efficient" licensing structure for the RFID industry is a place to obtain a single license for all the patents associated with a given standard. This saves transactional costs associated with negotiating with several firms and paying multiple license fees to use a technology. To achieve that most efficient structure requires that all of the patent holders for the technologies required to implement the RFID UHF standard would be a part of the RFID Consortium. Horn indicated that 100% participation is a goal but is not always possible. He has seldom seen any patent pool obtain all the patents for a given standard.
A recent study published in November 2005 examined licensing rules for 63 patent pools established between 1895 and 2001 ( "The Design of Patent Pools: The Determinants of Licensing Rules" by Josh Lerner, Marcin Strojwas, and Jean Tirole). The study found that pools consisting of complementary patents are more likely to allow members to engage in independent licensing. The study also found the requirement that firms license patents to the pool (grantbacks), should be associated with pools that consist of complementary patents and allow independent licensing.
License fees for the RFID Consortium have not been set. Horn commented that the license fees will be non-exclusive – the market retains the right to negotiate bilaterally with any of the firms in the patent pool for rights to use that firm's technology. But most equipment providers who want to license the applicable RFID technologies will recognise the efficiency of licensing from the RFID Consortium's patent pool.
"The RFID Consortium has not yet selected a structure" said Bill Dolan, of Bell, Boyd and Lloyd, LLC, the law firm advising the RFID Consortium. The consortium may form as a limited liability company (LLC) or it may require members to sign patent pool agreements and create an administrative committee comprised of representatives from its member firms.
The RFID Consortium's current agreement with MPEG LA, its licensing administrator, more closely resembles a memorandum of understanding (MOU) than a contract. RFID Consortium members are to be determined in the consortium's early stages. A more detailed contract may be forthcoming when the consortium membership solidifies and when there is more definition regarding licensing details.
Call for patents soon
There are no patents in the pool at this point. Horn anticipates that the call for patents will come from MPEG LA in the first quarter of 2006.
The RFID Consortium will identify an independent expert to qualify patents as part of the patent pool. Horn says, "The expert is like an umpire in a baseball game calling strikes and balls for each pitch." As patent holders submit patent claims through MPEG LA, the expert will make a call on each patent. The expert evaluates the patent to determine whether the patent is required to implement a given technology standard.
The RFID Consortium may send the DOJ a letter seeking an opinion on the consortium's structure. Horn claims that the MPEG LA licensing model is widely accepted by the DOJ with respect to anti-trust issues and that there may not be a need to seek a DOJ letter of opinion for the RFID Consortium. That decision will be left to RFID Consortium members.
The following agreements are not completed, but are anticipated as the RFID Consortium progresses:
Technology standards, patent pools and efficient licensing
structures are all part of the landscape as RFID technology matures and
gains market acceptance. Eight companies have answered the call to
"ante-up" and join the patent pool, optimistic that the RFID industry
will benefit from a more efficient licensing model.
Kansas is now able to help other states catch crooks easier. The state just jumped on board the FBI National Fingerprint Database. With just a few quick clicks law enforcement in other states can eye a Kansas suspect's rap sheet.
"We'll have names, addresses, employers, alias information regarding dates of birth, social security numbers and arrest information," explained David Sim, Special Agent in Charge of Records Section at the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
Kansas is just the eighth state to join the National Fingerprint File. The state to state link only takes seconds allowing a free flow of instant criminal info.
"It gives them more complete info on a quicker basis than receiving it from the FBI," said Sim.
It's good for states trying to track down criminals, but bad for criminals trying to out run the arm of the law.
"If they say they are one person and we get finger prints in we know they're not," said Tina Ortega of the KBI.
Kansas receives more than 300,000 fingerprint check request a year. Now as a member of the National Fingerprint File that number will likely go up.
The FBI hopes eventually all 50 states will become a part of this file. Though that is expected to take years to complete.=================================
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Laws fall short in safeguarding the public's health and safety when it comes to the blossoming science of nanotechnology, according to report being issued Wednesday.
The new materials made through nanotechnology are finding their way into dozens of everyday products, from toothpaste to trousers, often without gaining the notice of regulators or consumers.
Few will say whether the nano materials, often hundreds of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, are unquestionably safe or dangerous given the lack of definitive research into the matter. But Terry Davies, author of the report, said it's time to start discussing changing laws -- and perhaps drafting new ones -- to identify and protect the public from any risks that may crop up in the future.
''The technology is new but it's not so new that it's not being commercialized,'' said Davies, a senior adviser to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a former Environmental Protection Agency official.
Nanotechnology involves the manufacture and manipulation of materials at the molecular or atomic level -- the smallest things get. At that scale, materials are measured in nanometers or billionths of a meter. Nanoscale materials, including particles used today in stain-resistant pants and suntan lotions, are generally less than 100 nanometers in diameter. A sheet of paper, in comparison, is a whopping 100,000 nanometers thick.
Nano boosters herald the potential for small-scale materials to have enormous effects on much of what we do, including develop drugs and sop up toxic pollution. Nano materials already are used in at least 80 consumer products made by U.S. companies, according to Small Times Magazine, which covers the nanotechnology industry.
U.S. regulatory agencies, including the EPA and Food and Drug Administration, say their regulatory options are adequate to cover nano-engineered materials, said Clayton Teague, director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office. Officials continue to evaluate the field as more studies are done, and updating the rules or adding ones now would be premature, he said.
''Until we have information that there are truly inadequacies in existing regulations, any additional regulations beyond what we already would have would be burdensome to industry and the advancement of the field,'' Teague said.
The sometimes unpredictable behavior of materials at the nanoscale does give some pause. Even seemingly subtle changes in the size of particles can precipitate wildly different changes in the basic properties of those materials, including their toxicity.
Laws like the Clean Water Act or Toxic Substances Control Act lack either the authority or resources -- or both -- to adequately address those sorts of peculiarities inherent to nanotechnology, Davies said.
Others, like the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, are probably adequate when it comes to governing the safety of nano materials in food and drugs, the report said. But that act falls flat when it comes to cosmetics, which remain essentially unregulated by the FDA, Davies and others said.
''It's a list of things they can't do because the list of things they can do is practically nonexistent,'' Davies said.
Davies said he hopes the report will spark discussion, in part to help skirt the pitfalls that have befallen other emerging technologies.
learned with biotech and nuclear power, if there are not adequate
safeguards, the public is going to resist the technology and it won't
meet its potential,'' Davies said.
Technology Group has commenced work on Phase two of a contract it has
with Ravenpack International to implement a demonstration
identification documents system. Phase one was completed last month and
Secugraphics, the division of C.I.T. Technology working on the
contract, will receive US$391,000. Phase Two is worth US$474,000.
develop and implement the new biometric identity card and passport
system within the
"The opening of the
demonstration facility in
After a period of fairly slow growth since 2000, the UK access control market showed signs of picking up in 2004. We estimate that the value of the market increased by 6.8% to GBP 251m in 2004.
The market includes installation and maintenance, as well as the supply of hardware and software, and is segmented into the following product sectors: audio and video entry systems; keypad entry systems; card access systems, such as Wiegand, magnetic stripe and barcode; radio frequency (RF) proximity systems; long-range/hands-free systems; systems to control vehicle access; smart-card systems; dual-function cards; and biometric systems. Some systems include more than one technology for added security.
The high crime level and fears of terrorism continue to be driving forces for all areas of the security market. The new building sector is of particular importance to the access control market and building output trends play a major role in determining market growth. Although the trends in building output in 2003 were fairly good, there was a downturn in the important commercial sector, following several years of growth. However, construction figures for the first half of 2004 show some improvement in this sector, as well as in the depressed industrial sector, and very strong growth in the output of housing and public-sector non-residential buildings.
The enforcement of the final part of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) in October 2004 means that customers must take into account the access needs of disabled people when choosing access control systems. Products adapted for disabled people have been launched by most of the major suppliers in 2004.
Proximity technology systems still account for the largest share of the market, but the need to cater for wheelchair users and people with manual disabilities is tending to favour hands-free systems. At the same time, the market for contactless smart-card technology is beginning to take off as customers `future-proof' their systems in anticipation of needing the extra capabilities offered by smart cards at a later date.
New building output picked up in 2004 and orders for new construction work increased. Economic forecasts at the end of November 2004 were favourable to investment in corporate premises. We forecast that the UK access control market will continue to show real growth between 2005 and 2009.
1. Market Definition
2. Market Size
3. Industry Background
4. Competitor Analysis
5. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
6. Buying Behaviour
7. Current Issues
8. The Global Market
10. Company Profiles
11. Further Sources
-- Abloy Security Ltd
-- ADT Fire & Security PLC
-- Assa Ltd
-- Bell Group Ltd
-- Bell System (Telephones) Ltd
-- Bewator Ltd
-- Blick UK Ltd
-- BPT Security Systems (UK) Ltd
-- Chubb Electronic Security Ltd
-- Controlled Electronic Management Systems Ltd
-- Group 4 Technology Ltd
-- HID Corporation Ltd
-- Initial Electronic Security Systems Ltd
-- Kaba (UK) Ltd
-- Newmark Security Plc
-- PAC International Ltd
-- TDSI Group Ltd
For more information visit http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c30671===============================
Encentuate TCI's support for multiple authentication factors provides secure access to information systems while eliminating the need to remember cumbersome passwords and making security virtually transparent to users. The solution is also unique in that it leverages existing building access badges, such as HID proximity cards, to provide unified physical and logical access. The policies defined and managed by Encentuate TCI govern the use of these authentication factors.
"Each organisation is different, and each situation provides a unique access security challenge," said Peng T. Ong, founder, chairman and CEO of Encentuate. "What sets Encentuate TCI apart from other solutions is our ability to seamlessly integrate with a number of authentication technologies, from RFID to USB tokens. As a result, we can eliminate an organisation's dependence on weak passwords and ensure secure access to computer systems using a variety of authentication factors. The authentication opportunities are practically limitless and we work with each organisation to determine the solution, which is most effective for their requirements."
Encentuate TCI's ability to integrate with a variety of authentication factors provides enterprises a seamless path to strong digital identity without introducing additional complexity, cost or overwhelming deployments. With Encentuate TCI, organisations can efficiently manage risk, achieve regulatory compliance, decrease IT costs and increase user productivity. Encentuate TCI also integrates with existing information, network, and physical access infrastructure without any modifications. As a result, integration time and costs are reduced, allowing organisations to realise a much quicker return on their investment.
"Building access badges allow users to access many things -- facilities, parking, photocopying services, time and attendance technologies are just a few examples. At RF IDeas we enable organisations to extend the use of their physical security badges to all areas that employees are required to identify or authenticate themselves," said Greg Gliniecki, vice president at RF IDeas. "With Encentuate TCI and our RF IDeas reader technology, organisations can integrate access to information systems using their same physical access badge. This allows them to realise the extended value of their current investment in cards and be assured that their information systems are secure from unwanted access."
"By integrating XyLoc active proximity-based authentication technology with Encentuate TCI, the combined technologies allow users convenient information access, walk-away security and managed change of control, which improves access time, productivity and user satisfaction," said David Shook, senior vice president, Ensure Technologies. "This solution is ideal for complex access workflows in fast-paced environments, such as those found in hospital clinics."
"It is critical for organisations today to implement access security solutions," added Ong. "Simple password-based systems are ineffective and inefficient causing a number of bottlenecks within IT departments and at workstations, as well as potentially violating regulatory compliance requirements. Encentuate TCI gives organisations a choice of authentication solutions, each of which greatly improves security. With a simple swipe of an RFID badge or a fingerprint scan organisations can strengthen access to computer systems while allowing the staff to quickly access the information they need to be productive on their jobs."
12. UK Passport Service struggles with facial
recognition - Look straight ahead and don't smile. - Bryan Betts,-
Techworld - Jan 12, 2006
Source Next Contents
The UK Passport Service is suffering high rejection rates with its biometric facial recognition technology, it has admitted.
The agency said recently revised guidelines for passport applicants have reduced the problem, but it is still rejecting one photo in every ten. In December, it was one in seven.
Photos are now scanned to generate a biometric based on key facial features, which is then stored in a chip on the passport. The biometric technology needs a full-face pose, a "neutral expression", and specific features such as the eyes and closed mouth clearly visible.
A UKPS spokesman said facial recognition is already being used to detect fraudulent or multiple applications, but that the ultimate plan is to be able to compare the stored biometric with a live picture taken at a border crossing. "To do that, the photo has to be of sufficient quality," he said.
He added that as well as difficulties with the pose, problems have been encountered with watermarked photo paper confusing the scanning software, and with digital photos printed at home. "We blow up the picture a lot, and a home printer is unlikely to be high enough resolution," he said.
UKPS, which expects to issue seven million passports this year - more than any other country except the US - denied that its biometric technology was at fault.
"We are improving the rejection rate - it's a submission issue, not technology," its spokesman said. He noted that the new passports are in response to US demands and follow standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
However, privacy campaigners have highlighted the unreliability of facial recognition in many trials, with error rates up to 50 percent in one, while unpublished studies suggest that the technology's sensitivity to lighting conditions can give false results in as many as one in 10 scans.
Indeed, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology has
said that facial recognition is
13. Japan plans to finger print all immigrants,
visitors - Work Permit.com - Jan 12, 2006
Stricter checks at immigration, including the compulsory photographing and fingerprinting of foreigners on arrival, are laid down in a revised immigration bill the Justice Ministry will present to parliament in the next few months, Isao Negishi of the ministry's Immigration Bureau said in an interview.
The revised law would allow Japan to deport any arriving foreigner it considers to be a terrorist, Negishi said.
A Japanese newspaper reported last month that a member of a radical Islamist group banned in Pakistan had entered Japan two years ago to try to establish a foothold in the country. A police report also released last month said the country was at risk of attack because of its close links with the United States.
A lawyers' group said on Jan. 11 that the country risks breaching human rights and invading individuals' privacy if it goes through with the plans.
Japan's Federation of Bar Associations said in a statement on its website that the plans should be abandoned because the fingerprinting of foreigners violated a constitutional requirement to treat people with respect.
The use of biometrics -- identifying individuals through techniques such as retinal scanning, face recognition and fingerprinting -- raises questions about privacy and control of personal information, the lawyers' group said.
"The proposal says the information will be used for criminal investigations as well," said Masashi Ichikawa, the deputy head of the committee on human rights for the lawyers' group.
"So the authorities could match footage from CCTV cameras to digitised pictures to work out exactly where an individual had been on a particular day," Ichikawa added. "We don't think that should happen to people just because they are foreign. Japanese people do bad things too."
The lawyers' group also expressed concern over the difficulty of defining "terrorism."
The Immigration Bureau's Negishi defended the constitutionality of the proposed law.
"We are aware that this information must be treated extremely carefully," he said. "But we do not consider the act of taking fingerprints a violation of the constitution in itself."
He added that the issue of whether an individual could be labelled a terrorist would likely be decided by discussion between various government agencies.
Fingerprinting and photographs were introduced at U.S. immigration checkpoints in 2004.
But the issue is a particularly sensitive one in Japan, where local governments were long required to fingerprint all resident foreigners, including "special permanent residents" of Korean and Chinese origin.
Many of these residents are descendants of those brought to Japan as forced labour before and during World War Two.
Local government fingerprinting was halted in 2000 and special
permanent residents are to be excluded from the new rules.
14. Japan fingerprinting plan sparks strong
opposition - People's Daily (China) - Jan 12, 2006
Source Next Contents
TOKYO: Japan plans to fingerprint foreigners arriving at its ports and airports in a move aimed at preventing terrorism, a Justice Ministry official said yesterday, but the move is opposed by a lawyers' group.
Stricter checks at immigration, including the compulsory photographing and fingerprinting of foreigners on arrival, are laid down in a revised immigration bill the Justice Ministry will present to parliament in the next few months, said Isao Negishi of the ministry's Immigration Bureau.
The revised law would allow Japan to deport any arriving foreigner it considers to be a terrorist, Negishi said.
A Japanese newspaper reported last month that a member of a radical Islamist group banned in Pakistan had entered Japan two years ago to try to establish a foothold in the country. A police report also released last month said the country was at risk of attack because of its close links with the United States.
Japan's Federation of Bar Associations said in a statement on its website that the plans should be abandoned because the fingerprinting of foreigners violated a constitutional requirement to treat people with respect.
The use of biometrics "identifying individuals through techniques such as retinal scanning, face recognition and fingerprinting" raises questions about privacy and control of personal information, the lawyers' group said. It also expressed concern over the difficulty of defining "terrorism."
"We are aware that this information must be treated extremely carefully," Negishi said.
Fingerprinting and photographs were introduced at US immigration checkpoints in 2004.
But the issue is a particularly sensitive one in Japan, where local governments were long required to fingerprint all resident foreigners, including "special permanent residents" of Korean and Chinese origin.
Many of these residents are descendants of those brought to Japan as
forced labour before and during World War II.
"The government has been considering who would be an appropriate person to head a review of the national ID card, and there is ongoing discussion on the terms of reference of such a review," a spokeswoman for Attorney General Philip Ruddock said. "This review would be conducted independently of government."
The proposal by the government of Prime Minister John Howard for a national identity card has stirred controversy in the country, with unease being expressed over issues of privacy as well as government priorities in the war on terror.
The Australian newspaper quoted the opposition Labor Party's spokesman on homeland security measures, Arch Beavis, as saying the proposal was a "red herring" to divert attention from government security failures. In addition, he said, it would cost too much money to implement an ID card with biometric data and then obtain machines to read them.
The Howard government, in the wake of last July's London bombings
and terror attacks in Indonesia targeting Australians, has increased
security measures in the country. Raids in the country's two largest
cities late last year netted more than a dozen Islamist militants
suspected of planning terror attacks.
PLANS for a national identity card could receive bipartisan support.
Acting Opposition Leader Jenny Macklin said yesterday Labor would consider supporting the introduction of a national smart card.
"Obviously people have a number of privacy concerns (about the cards) but, if the Government puts forward a serious proposal, we'll have a look at it," she said.
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock is expected to present the findings of a departmental review into the merits of a single identity card to Cabinet by the end of March.
Prime Minister John Howard and Queensland Premier Peter Beattie ignited the debate on a national identity card following the London bombings and Immigration Department bungles.
It is envisaged a national ID card, which would be used for services such as Medicare and Centrelink, would help prevent identity fraud.
Although acknowledging Labor would consider any proposal put forward, Ms Macklin said the party would rather see improved security at airports and ports.
"We've put forward a number of other very important proposals to the Government to improve security in this country," she said.
Embattled Nationals Senate leader Ron Boswell said this week his party would also consider a move towards a national identity card.
Most Queensland Coalition MPs have already voiced support for a new card using biometric technology, such as fingerprinting or facial recognition.
However, privacy advocates poured scorn on the idea, arguing a central identification system would be heavily targeted by organised criminals and actually increase identity fraud.
A similar plan for an Australia Card in 1987 was abandoned by then prime minister Bob Hawke.
17. Review to take sting from ID card -
James Riley - The Australian - Jan 12, 2006
Source Next Contents
A RETIRED judge or senior public servant will review plans for a national identity card as the Howard Government seeks to head off criticism of the proposed scheme.
Attorney General Philip Ruddock is considering a short list of candidates to head a review.
"The Government has been considering who would be an appropriate person to head a review of the national ID card, and there is ongoing discussion on the terms of reference of such a review," a spokeswoman for Mr Ruddock said.
"This review would be conducted independently of government.
"This is the next significant national security measure that will be looked at in the wake of John Howard's announcement that all national security areas would be reviewed after the London bombings."
Even before the review begins, the ID card proposal has become a political lightning rod for debate, just as the Hawke government's Australia Card proposal polarised the nation in 1987.
Senior Nationals this week said they were open to the proposal, but the card has drawn wary responses from Labor and the Democrats.
Labor deputy leader Jenny Macklin said there were more important security issues at ports and airports that needed to be addressed before an ID card was debated.
"Obviously people have a number of privacy concerns, but if the Government puts forward a serious proposal we'll have a look at it," Ms Macklin said.
Labor homeland security spokesman Arch Beavis called the proposal a "red herring" designed to draw attention away from failures in existing security programs.
"The Government can't even operate the Aviation Security Identity card properly, with 384 cards having gone missing," Mr Beavis said.
"How would it cope with a national ID card for almost 16 million Australians aged 16 years and above?
"Labor will consider any proposal the Howard Government puts on the table but until that happens our focus is on practical measures to improve national security, not red herrings about a national ID card."
Mr Beavis said ID cards containing some form of biometric data would cost $1.6 billion to produce. "Add the cost of the machines to read them and a system to maintain them and we are looking at a very expensive piece of plastic."
Democrats legal affairs spokeswoman Natasha Stott Despoja said the card would do little to prevent terrorism and would unnecessarily encroach on the civil liberties of ordinary Australians.
"While I recognise that privacy must be balanced with security, the scales are already seriously weighted against the protection of rights and liberties," she said.
18. Press Release - Sandia researchers aim to
keep points-of-entry safe through systems-level modeling of operations
- Jan 11, 2005
Source Next Contents
Almost as quickly, however, she asserts that Sandia's recent work on border security is well on its way to providing an enormously valuable national asset by providing federal agencies with a reliable and comprehensive simulation capability that lets officials "test drive" various security solutions prior to investing in them.
The focus of the Borders Grand Challenge, funded by a three-year, $6 million laboratory-directed research and development (LDRD) project, was to develop simulation-based systems analyses characterizing the security of the U.S. Border System and the impact of new detection technologies and concepts of operation. The work capitalizes on a range of existing Sandia capabilities, including the Weapons of Mass Destruction Decision Analysis Center (WMD-DAC), the National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC, a joint Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratory program), and even the lab's expertise in robotics. Some 21 Sandia researchers from both its California and New Mexico sites worked on the project with Pura serving as principal investigator and Dan Horschel as project manager.
Models examine flow of people and goods
The interactive analysis that serves as the hallmark of the program has largely focused on the illegal smuggling of radiological/nuclear material but can also be applied to other threats such as explosives or chemical/biological agent attack. The work uses detailed models that capture actual facilities and procedures and examines border operations of all kinds. Of utmost concern is the flow of people and goods through the various border choke points.
"There is a cost-benefit tradeoff associated with any technology that might be used in border security," Horschel explains. With commerce, for example, officials must consider the flow of people and goods crossing the border, any delays that may occur due to security provisions, and the operational costs that emerge as a consequence of the flow and delay. Sandia's unique systems-level methodologies and tools address these complexities and allow homeland security officials to make data-driven decisions.
Economic impact is key
Sandian Mark Ehlen served as the lead for economic modeling. Ehlen points out that a unique feature of the program is its ability to project the economic impact that might be felt if a venue implements certain security options. A typical port whose processing time increases due to a newly configured set of chemical detectors, for example, might expect to increase its on-site inventories and shipments by up to 15 percent, leading to increased business costs and decreased sales figures. In addition, said Ehlen, the firms that ship through the port will be affected by the delays and increased costs and may take their business elsewhere. Such consequences will fluctuate from venue to venue, of course, depending on the security measures and the venue's own operational plan.
Sandia's models, by simulating the effects of detector placement, the use of facial recognition software, or the impact of other technology devices and strategies, can give decision-makers specific and reliable data to help make sound decisions about how and where to invest.
Mid-fidelity vs. High-fidelity modeling
The models themselves come in two primary forms.
"Mid-fidelity" models offer a broader, bigger-picture look at a border location that might give users the ability, for example, to view personally owned vehicle and cargo vehicle flows at an actual facility, using that facility's own procedures. A "higher-fidelity" model, seen on the computer screen when the operator "zooms in" on the activity, might focus on security interrogation and feature detailed sensor modeling. High-fidelity models, because of their visualization features and accurate geometries and motion, provide a sound environment for training and can be quickly reconfigured to address border concepts-of-operation.
Sandia's models have been integrated to include multiple domains, including air, sea, and land. All of the domains have been built with the capability of analyzing the impacts of different types of sensing equipment, from radiation detection to x-ray equipment. Both a land crossing pedestrian model and an airport, for example, examine the movements of people and look at biometrics technology, while a seaport and land cargo port analyze cargo inspection equipment.
"Hot Source" dilemma
One significant issue that security officials are known to face is the problem of "hot sources." These occur when multiple detectors sound alarms simultaneously due to benign radiation sources. Hot sources significantly disrupt port operations by causing large delays while the source is sorted out and determined to be non-threatening.
Sandia's modeling work helps users of the system address the hot source problem by examining various detection scenarios and options to consider. An "in-situ" option, whereby traffic is stopped while threat sources are localized with a portable detector and removed from the primary traffic stream, might be suitable for certain venues, while others might choose to maintain a "self-identification pre-sort" lane of traffic that allows medical patients or known radioactive shipments to sort themselves out of traffic. Sandia-developed simulations help officials identify the best "encounter geometry" within their facilities and the most "throughput-friendly" detector locations.
Though Pura and Horschel say the work represents the most comprehensive modeling work available on border security, the research has the potential to go much further. Ideally, Sandia could extend the capability to all ports of entry across the country, creating a complete national model that is able to examine changing security measures and operations and their impact. "What we have now are high-quality, targeted studies," says Horschel. "The value a national model could offer decision-makers at the highest level could be immeasurable."
Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia
Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of
Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities
in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D
responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental
technologies, and economic competitiveness.
For the five people who still think it's awesome to bring weapons into night clubs, this new "BioBouncer" surveillence device, all pressed-out page-1 Metro New York and elsewhere, might come as a major bummer:
Utilizing facial recognition biometric technology, BioBouncer compares the facial images of club patrons to a database of potentially dangerous persons who have violated club policy in the past. Upon a confirmed match, an alert is sent to club security personnel detailing the identified subject--including location, offenses, and special instructions. The offenses are divided into levels of alert so that more serious offenses (e.g. possession of a weapon) are treated with greater urgency.
This "highly skilled security guard," says JAD Comm prez Jeff Dussich, is hitting Manhattan as early as next month apparently, 10 clubs up for beta testing. Since people get antsy when it comes to privacy, Dussich insists a few things w/r/t his product's unintrusiveness:
Honestly I could care less about the civil liberties stuff--as if privacy violation isn't most clubs' bread+butter (yezzir). And when I really want to get my privacy violated, all I have to do is use the bathroom in my apartment and wait for my roommate to make ghost noises through the door crack like he always does.
What I do care about: Hey, what if I want to bring weapons into a club? What if I'm at Webster Hall for 80s Weapon Night? It seems like it'll be a tad annoying when I try to hang out with my hunting buddies at the Gun Club in the Upper West Side, but possibly can't because of my mild penchant for bringing Asiatic weaponry to indie rock shows. I assume if I just keep my machete in my pants, the BioBouncer won't detect anything--but why be deceitful about this? You gotta be kidding me if you think I don't like to roll up on a club pretending my machete is a really shiny moustache.
And that's another thing--come Halloween time, I feel bad for the
guy who goes to Movida dressed
like Spiderman when the Spiderman at Club Exit
just got thrown out for committing five counts of knife murder a/k/a
spider-dancing. And imagine all the twin brothers out there, or friends
who just sorta look the same, who try to go into two different clubs at
the same time--what will happen to their knives? Hey, human
bouncers are the worst, but at least when they look at your face, you
know where their hands are. They're on your face.
In March, Britain will enhance its reputation as the surveillance capital of the West with a global first: recording the movements of all cars on the road and storing the data for at least two years.
It's a network of thousands of cameras harnessed to software that can read car license plates, check them against a central database, and alert police to suspected criminals or terrorists. Police chiefs are thrilled at the technology, arguing it will provide an unrivaled crime-fighting tool that will also aid anti-terror efforts.
In regional trial runs, the number of arrests per officer shot up from around 10 per year to 100 per year. Convictions also increased.
But civil liberty activists are aghast at yet another move by the authorities to spy on citizens in the name of security and law and order, warning of a growing bank of Orwellian technology.
"The freedom and anonymity of the open road is something that is culturally important here," says Simon Davies, director of Privacy International. "Now like some scene in '1984,' the fact that we will travel and be detected and analyzed changes the whole psyche of the nation."
In their defense, police say they need the best technology available to reduce perennially rising crime rates and face an acute terror threat.
"Criminals use cars, it's as simple as that," says John Dean, a retired officer who is coordinating the rollout of the automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) program.
"It's taken a while to get the police service to realize that this can make a significant difference to crime detection and terrorism."
Same cameras, new cross-checking
Britain's 30 million motorists have long been used to assiduous roadside camera surveillance, be it to deter speeding or monitor London's congestion charge — an £8 ($14) fee charged for driving into central London during business hours.
But the ANPR nationwide system will use the extensive camera network already in place as well as new cameras to capturelicenseplates from as many as 50 million cars a day and store them in a vast databank with date, time, and location stamps.
Within a matter of seconds, the database will signal whether the car may be of interest to police, cross-checking the plate against a list of stolen and suspect vehicles and also verifying for proper insurance, taxation, and roadworthiness. Dedicated ANPR operators will then alert roadside units to the rogue vehicle.
"People who drive stolen cars often steal them as a result of burglary," says Mr. Dean, so you might find property in the back or other material. It's very efficient."
Police say life is about to get tougher for criminals, whether they are involved with drugs, firearms, identity fraud, or property theft.
Or terrorism. At least one vehicle was used to convey the July 7 bombers and their materials part of the way to London last year. Police are not saying that ANPR would automatically have foiled the plot. But Dean says the technology, already in use at a local level in some parts of the country, had brought "benefits to the investigation."
Tracking movements over a long period
Even if an immediate arrest is not possible, the data will help the authorities build up an intelligence picture of the movements of suspicious vehicles and analyze journeys that drivers have made over several years. The intelligence service MI5 will also use the database, according to Frank Whiteley, a senior police officer.
But not everyone thinks that trusting cameras and cops is a good idea.Already in Britain there is a fierce lobby opposed to the proliferation of speed cameras, which many see as a tool of the tax man rather than a road safety enforcer.
Some wonder whether ANPR, which will cost tens of millions of pounds to set up, will be used primarily to drum up fines and revenues from road-tax delinquents.
Nigel Humphries of the Association of British Drivers lobby group worries that "real criminals have cars that can't be traced anyway." He says the system may offer benefits, but "there need to be safeguards."
Parliament should have oversight
Edward Garnier, a Conservative MP and spokesman on home affairs, says that Parliament, not the police, should act as arbiters over the system because of its implications for the criminal justice system and for civil liberties.
"I can understand why the police want to use this technology but they should not be the arbiters," he says.
Privacy and civil liberty champions take a more fundamental opposition to the scheme. Mr. Davies of Privacy International, likens it to "weeding with a bulldozer."
"So long as you believe that every person in government and authority is just and fair and that the machinery of the state never screws up, then it's fine," he says. In fact, the ANPR technology has fallen well short of a 100% score in policing London's congestion fee. Other police databases have similarly proven fallible.
Opponents of surveillance say Britain is rapidly emerging as the biggest of Big Brother societies, a "database state" with an increasing tendency for automated answers to social questions.
The government still plans to use biometric identity cards beginning in 2008, together with a national database. A national DNA database already has samples from 1 in 10 British adults, more than 100,000 of whom have never been charged or even cautioned. And last month, Britain persuaded its European partners to join it in storing data from cellphone records for up to two years as a counter-terrorism tool.
And it may not stop there.
Experts are already working on systems that can automatically recognize human faces and it may not be long before machines can pick out a "suspicious" face in a crowd. Many on both left and right of the political spectrum find the growing use of surveillance disturbing.
"Frankly I don't want to see a society in which
the Big Brother element comes to the fore," says MP Garnier.
The 2005 IT budget cycle has ended, and the 2006 budget cycle has begun. And that means the prognosticators, predictors, soothsayers, and auguries of the IT analyst community, and their counterparts on Wall Street, are all gazing into their crystal balls and trying to figure out what is going to happen in 2006 in terms of IT spending and technology trends. Some of you will follow trends, others will buck them, but none of us will escape their effects.
The primary thing that everyone wants to know first and foremost is what is going on with IT spending in the aggregate. Is it going up or down? This is the basic barometer, for better or worse, for the IT economy. And as I have said in past stories about such IT projections, the relatively modest changes in overall IT spending often mask very large changes underneath those numbers--the shift from mainframes to midrange computers, the advent of X86 servers, the increased volumes of servers but their dramatically lowered prices, and so forth. Still, whether we like it or not, the health and wealth of the IT economy is often judged by that aggregate growth or decline number, and this is the number that sets the tone for the business climate we will all live in during 2006.
The good news is that IT spending looks like it will increase once again in 2006. The bad news is that the growth will be smaller than in 2005, and it may turn out that 2007 sees even lower growth in IT spending than 2006.
Each of the major IT consultancies has its own way of reckoning the elements and size of the IT market, with varying degrees of services and telecom thrown into the hardware and software mix. So you have to take these estimates all with a grain of salt. According to Gartner, worldwide spending on IT by companies and governments will grow by 4.5 percent in 2006 to hit $1.76 trillion. Gartner is throwing a lot more things into the IT market than I would, and I often wonder if they are double- or triple-counting some of that revenue, as we do when calculating the gross domestic product of a country. (What happens when IBM sells a bunch of servers to a system integrator like EDS, which in turn supports telecom applications run by AT&T that sells a hosted service--perhaps e-mail hosting--to companies? How many times do you count the underlying technology sales that went into the ultimate service?) In any event, Gartner predicts that IT spending in the white-hot Asia/Pacific region will grow by 7.5 percent in 2006 to hit a whopping $210 billion.
Gartner has identified six trends that it thinks will be key in 2006 (among others). In early 2006, Gartner intends to flesh out its predictions with 50 reports (which you have to pay for, obviously). Gartner says that because people use their work notebooks and laptops at home and during business hours doing non-business activities (we all do it, come on. . . . ), companies will begin mandating that employees pay for and own the laptop they use. Gartner figures that employees will get a stipend for laptop purchases, much as employees who travel get mileage payments on their own cars. I would go one further and say that a corporate virtualized environment, like VMware's ACE product, fits nicely with such a scheme, since that makes your entire desktop environment portable. You could run your work desktop environment from a VM that you have stored on a CD and never actually load it onto your home PC. This provides a tamper-proof environment that businesses will feel safe deploying, and a non-invasive way to use the home PC to do work. As previously reported in this newsletter, Gartner is also suggesting that by 2010, the number of IT professionals will shrink by 40 percent, with "versatilists" who know different aspects of IT and the business surviving and system admins and other specialists doing about as well as the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Gartner is also projecting that by 2010, 30 percent of U.S. homes will have only cell or VoIP phone access. This is interesting, but what I want to know is if businesses will be ahead or behind consumers on this one. The other four predictions were interesting, but not exactly related to general IT topics. So I am skipping them.
Over at Forrester Research, the merlins of marketing have released a more sophisticated and more specific IT spending projection to the general public--obviously in the hopes of selling even more detailed reports. However, Forrester's data is focused only on the United States. Forrester says that the Internet build-out that started in 2001 among companies (not dot-coms) will peter out in two to three years. Forrester says that IT spending in the United States grew at 7 percent in 2005 and will do the same in 2006, but the company is expecting IT spending to only grow by 2 percent in 2007 because it believes that the growth in U.S. gross domestic product will start to slow in the next two to three years, causing the inevitable decline in IT spending as companies cut IT projects first to save money when the economy tightens. Interest rates, high energy prices, a drop in the housing market are all factors in this projection.
Forrester says that computer makers--PCs, servers, storage, and such--will do relatively well in the U.S., with strong growth in early 2006 but a slip in late 2006 and early 2007, followed by a rebound in 2008 as a new IT spending cycle gets under way. Forrester is projecting an incredible IT spending growth rate of 11 percent in 2009 and 2010, but did not identify what on earth would push that growth. In the software sector, Forrester says that spending will remain steady at 6 percent revenue growth in 2006, with new SOA architectures in 2008 and the Vista operating system at the end of 2006 helping to stimulate software spending. The spending in IT services that commenced in 2005 will die out to a mere 1 percent growth in 2008, according to Forrester, but will rebound to 13 percent growth rates in 2009 and 2010 as companies try to digest SOA and other new technologies and seek help from outside their own walls to do it.
As many people have been projecting, Forrester believes that cheap, virtualized hardware, inexpensive and virtualized software, software implemented as a service, and integrated business intelligence will be the hallmarks of future systems. Forrester also thinks that RFID, telematics, biometrics, and mobile networking will spawn a new phase of application development, and that what it calls "social computing," meaning community development projects, blogs, search engines, and viral marketing, will reshape the way IT products are created, distributed, and marketed.
At IDC, the researchers are projecting IT spending growth of about 5.5 percent in 2006, down a bit from the 6 percent growth it calculates will be seen a few months from now looking back at 2005. IDC expects double-digit growth in IT spending in China, India, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
As with other consultancies, IDC is seeing a shift from selling IT products to selling IT services, and that hardware and software will not be immune from this change. IDC is predicting that SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft will deliver their ERP suites as services in 2006, in fact--something they have to do to compete against each other and new players in the market like Salesforce.com.
IDC is also telling people that proprietary, "go it alone" product development is a thing of the past, but at the same time IDC paradoxically lauds Google, which isn't exactly open about its core technologies and never will be. The fact is, the IT industry fears that Google will somehow use all of its PhDs to try to figure out how to make a large part of the IT industry irrelevant, and Google is not going to try to dispel that fear or the myth that it can take on a Microsoft or IBM and challenge it for supremacy in the IT space. Google is a young, smart company, and it is causing IT vendors to re-examine their strategies, to be sure. But Google is no more invincible than Netscape was, and the premise that people are attaching to Google--that essentially, you use Google as your application suite--is not one that the company has officially sanctioned. Google cannot withstand the full weight of Microsoft, which has 10 times the cash and several monopolies with which to fuel its competitive products. Microsoft is a lot stronger in 2005 than it was in 1995 when it took on Netscape and smashed it to bits. That said, if Google can keep companies like Microsoft honest and be a force for innovation among IT service and software suppliers, then that is wonderful. In effect, you have to wreck and recreate your own business before Google does. In that way, Google is not an explosion, but a catalyst that drives the explosion.
And, by the way, Google is not worth $120 billion (its current market capitalization, and a colossal 90 price/earnings ratio) any more than Sun Microsystems was worth over $200 billion at the height of the dot-com boom. Google had $3.2 billion in sales in 2004, and brought just under $400 million to the bottom line--which means it is a great business. Google has $5.5 billion in cash, and it might break $6 billion in sales for 2005, which is just stunning. But that ain't nothin' compared to Microsoft, which has a market capitalization of just under $400 billion, over $40 billion in cash after distributing $32 billion in cash in the summer of 2004 to shareholders. The company is set to book about $41.5 billion in sales in calendar 2005, and about $18 billion of that will fall right to the bottom line.
Google, say hello to Mind Boggle. A monopoly is a
thing--unless you happen to have one.
30. An Enterprise Wish List
for 2006 - by Robert Rosen - The IT Jungle - Jan
Source Next Contents
The programmers, administrators, and managers at large enterprises have returned from the holiday season and are back at work again. Having made their personal wish lists late last year and received many of their desires during the holidays, enterprise shops now have some professional wants and needs they want to get fulfilled, including advancements in open software technology, identity management, and a portable electronic newspaper, among others.
As president of SHARE, the largest association of enterprises that use IBM technologies to support their applications, I get involved in lots of dialogues with my peers. Over the past year, I have collected a list of the most wanted product and service enhancements my fellow SHARE members are seeking not only from Big Blue, but from all IT vendors. Rather than concentrate on what new features they want in current products, I asked my peers what they needed from IT vendors to address their more painful problems. Here, in no particular order, is the SHARE wish list for 2006:
And finally, here are five non-traditional yearnings from the 2006 wish lists of my fellow SHARE members:
Robert Rosen is president of SHARE. He is also CIO of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. SHARE is an independent, volunteer run association providing more than 2,000 of IBM's top enterprise customers with user focused education, professional networking and industry influence, representing more than 20,000 individual computing specialists.===================================
The monthly reviews were first disclosed in a Justice Department report released Friday. They began 18 months ago, after FBI examiners mistakenly matched a print found near the site of terrorist bombings in Madrid to a lawyer in Portland, Ore., said Joseph DiZinno, the FBI's deputy assistant director for forensic analysis.
The lawyer, Muslim convert Brandon Mayfield, was held as a material witness in the bombings for two weeks. He was released after Spanish police matched the print in Madrid to an Algerian linked to Muslim terrorists. The bombings killed 191 people, most of them on commuter trains.
The episode embarrassed the FBI. It prompted the bureau to focus on fingerprint analyses it had done in death penalty cases, out of concern that an error could lead a wrongful execution. Since the reviews began, the FBI has examined at least 92 death penalty cases and found 10 in which it had analyzed fingerprints, DiZinno said. No error has been found, he said.
The FBI is continuing to examine death row inmates' convictions at least a month before their scheduled executions, DiZinno said. Nine inmates across the USA are scheduled for execution later this month, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington, D.C., group that opposes capital punishment. There are more than 3,000 death-row inmates across the nation, but it's unclear how many of their cases involved fingerprint analysis.
"There is no doubt in our minds about the scientific basis or validity of fingerprint identification," DiZinno said. "We wanted to ensure we didn't make a mistake."
He said the FBI also reviewed analysts' work in about 100 convictions for various crimes in which fingerprints were matched through IAFIS, a computer system that compares prints of potential suspects to crime scene evidence. IAFIS, which the FBI says is the world's largest biometric database, contains prints from 47 million criminals and suspects, plus millions more people, including former military personnel. No errors were found in that review, which dated to the system's launch in 1999, DiZinno said.
Mayfield's prints, held in IAFIS because he had been in the Army, were among 20 sets of prints the system flagged as possible matches to the Madrid site, according to the Justice Department report released Friday.
An FBI examiner compared a Mayfield print to one from the bomb site and declared a match. His erroneous conclusion was confirmed by two other FBI examiners and a consultant. The FBI did not back away from its stance until Spanish police matched the print to the correct suspect, the report said.
The FBI review comes as the death penalty is under increased scrutiny. Virginia Gov. Mark Warner has ordered DNA tests to check whether coal miner Roger Coleman was innocent of the murder for which he was executed in 1992.
It also comes amid increased attention to fingerprint analysis. Fingerprints, long thought to be unique to individuals, have been used in U.S. courts since the early 1900s. But critics such as Simon Cole, a professor of criminology at the University of California-Irvine, say fingerprinting is not backed by sufficient scientific research.
This month, Bruce Budowle, the FBI's chief
scientist, called for more scientific "validation" to improve
fingerprint ID techniques. He wrote in Forensic Science
the bureau's online journal, that there is "overwhelming evidence"
fingerprints can be used to make "reliable identifications."
"The government is seeking information on the capability to provide outsourcing of the infrastructure needed for any or all" components outlined in a recent request for information about creating the system, the General Services Administration wrote in a document posted Monday at FedBizOpps.
GSA last month posted a request for information from companies on the potential of such a system, saying the agency wants the "capability to completely outsource the technical solution." Companies had until Monday to respond, and GSA said the contractor would have until August to design a system that would satisfy a 2004 presidential directive ordering a system by October.
President Bush issued the directive to establish common ID credentials to control access to federal facilities and computers. "This policy is intended to enhance security, increase efficiency, reduce identity fraud and protect personal privacy," GSA said in its request for information.
But the administration's plans for a privately run system could spark the ire of members of Congress and privacy rights advocates who repeatedly have voiced concern with companies controlling homeland security databases that contain personal information.
The department also appears to defy a congressional mandate to more effectively use a transportation security clearinghouse database. The database should be the "central identity management system for the deployment and operation of the ... transportation worker-identification credential program," read the conference report to the fiscal 2006 Homeland Security spending bill.
The database is run by a consortium of airport owners. The worker ID initiative aims to control access to airports by issuing a smart card to employees of the Transportation Security Administration and airports.
The Homeland Security Department would give the private sector responsibility for collecting, storing and maintaining workers' personal information, such as driver's licenses and passports, as well as digital photographs and scanned fingerprints. Companies potentially could secure a lucrative five-year deal, as the system would be used for hundreds of thousands of employees and federal contractors, according to the GSA document.
GSA wants to know if a commercial vendor can issue and distribute a card within 24 hours; notify or suspend a card within 20 minutes; and activate a card within five minutes. GSA said individual agencies would control personnel management systems, background investigations and access-control systems for their own employees.===============================
34. Pay By Touch . . . today announced it
launching its service in all five Hornbacher's grocery stores in Fargo,
N.D. and neighbouring Moorhead, Minn. - FinExtrea - Jan 10, 2006
Source Next Contents
Beginning today, shoppers in Hornbacher's stores will have the option of quickly and securely paying for groceries using a finger scan linked to their financial accounts.
The Hornbacher's launch is part of a companywide implementation led by Hornbacher's parent company, SUPERVALU, Inc. Other SUPERVALU stores throughout the country, including Farm Fresh, Cub Foods, and bigg's have already implemented the Pay By Touch service to provide a safer, faster and more convenient way for shoppers to pay for their groceries. The new system eliminates the need to present cheques, IDs, credit, debit, membership or loyalty cards at checkout. SUPERVALU stores using Pay By Touch are already seeing gains in customer service capabilities and customer loyalty.
Pay By Touch's patented biometric payment products are free to consumers and enable shoppers to quickly and securely pay for purchases using a finger scan linked to their personal identification information, financial accounts and loyalty programmes. Shoppers register once, and then can securely pay with a finger scan anywhere Pay By Touch is installed. Pay By Touch's biometric payment products enjoy the unique protection of more than two-dozen US-issued patents.
Separately, Pay By Touch announced it has launched its service in select Cash Wise grocery stores in Minnesota and North Dakota. Shoppers in these Cash Wise stores will now have another alternative in paying for groceries.===============================
DES MOINES — Southeast Iowa lawmakers aren't wasting any time getting back to work.
Lawmakers from the area either submitted bills before Monday's opening of the session, submitted them on the first day or are close to getting some of their first bills for the session introduced.
State Sen. Tom Courtney, D–Burlington, introduced a bill during Monday's opening session that would allow school districts to use finger–scanning devices they bought for the school lunch program.
The bill provides an exemption to the previously approved child identification and protection act and would allow districts to use biometric technology to scan a child's fingerprint. Last year's bill left some school officials questioning whether the new equipment could be used.
Under the bill, a child's fingerprint can't be stored and the technology can't recreate the fingerprint. Also, it can't be used on a child if that child's parent or guardian submits a written objection to the use of the device.
Courtney, who was recently appointed to the Administrative
Rules Committee, said he's also pleased because it reviews the changes
that are proposed by any state office.
* * *
36. Press Release -
Computer-On-a-Stick(TM) Now Available in Micro Center Stores; USB
Device Offers Complete Pre-Installed Desktop Environment on a Portable
- Jan 10, 2006
In addition to its onboard Operating System, the Computer-On-a-Stick features the Mozilla Firefox browser, an email client, the OpenOffice Suite, integrated PDF creator, Zip compression tools, cross-compatible Instant Messenger, and dozens of other most commonly used applications. "The COS is clearly the future of the USB flash drive," says FingerGear CEO Jon Louis. "Now you can carry not only your data, but also your entire operating system and all essential software applications on a small bootable USB device to use anywhere, on any Windows or Linux PC, without leaving a trace."
Moreover, with its write-protected OS and default 256-bit AES encryption, the COS is among the most secure, virus-proof, portable computing devices in the world. And best of all, startup takes less than 10 seconds and shutdown in 3.
FingerGear is the consumer products division of Bionopoly LLC. Bionopoly is a leader in the field of secure computing devices and fingerprint biometrics. Bionopoly is a privately held company located in Silicon Valley, CA. For more information on FingerGear products, visit http://www.fingergear.com.
About Micro Center
Founded in 1979 in Columbus, Ohio, Micro Center operates 19 stores
major markets nationwide. Micro Center offers more computer and
computer-related items than any other retailer (over 30,000 in stock).
Micro Center also boasts more square footage devoted exclusively to
computers and computer-related items than any other retailer (stores
average 45,000 square feet). The Company's selection, service and sales
staff approach is modeled after Nordstrom and other service-oriented
retailers, thereby offering a more upscale atmosphere than big box
consumer electronics stores.
If you are a licensed health care professional or certified health
employee, you will soon be receiving a letter from the state Office of
the Attorney General informing you that you must undergo a criminal
history background check and have your fingerprints recorded. The
letter says you have 20 days to respond or have your license or
This is shocking to those of us who have spent our whole lives working to help the physically, mentally or emotionally sick, or the disabled. The work is grueling and the hours long. You work weekends, holidays and nights, and you are underpaid for the care provided and the level of education required to perform that care.
The background checks came about because a male nurse committed horrific crimes against humanity. In doing so, he brought disgrace upon a noble profession and severed the respect and trust of our health care system by the public.
What is most unsettling is the fact that the Division of Consumer Affairs has contracted a private company, Sagem Morpho Inc., to do the fingerprint recording. The fee for this service is $78, to be paid directly to this company.
Why are health care professionals and certified health aides being penalized for a despicable individual's crime? Why are the hospitals and agencies, which have turned a "blind eye" for years in the hiring process and would not allow their Human Resources departments to give more than dates of employment (for fear of being sued), not bearing the costs of enforcing this law? Who is this company profiting off the backs of professional nurses and health care workers?
All professional and certified health care personnel should be outraged that they have been made the scapegoats. Don't allow this to happen without voicing your concerns. Start calling, e-mailing or writing your state legislators, organizations, hospitals/agencies and Board of Nursing today.
HARRISBURG - The state troopers' union has misrepresented talks aimed at putting more officers on the road, State Police Commissioner Jeffrey B. Miller said yesterday, and he asked the legislature to intervene.
In a letter to lawmakers, Miller said a Dec. 14 letter from the head of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association was inaccurate and urged the General Assembly to pass legislation to mandate the reassignment of 68 troopers by filling their administrative and forensic jobs with civilians.
"The PSTA leadership is making this about politics instead of public safety," Miller said.
Sgt. Bruce Edwards, the union president, accused Gov. Rendell of political posturing.
The current state budget authorizes money for 180 new positions - 120 troopers and 60 civilians to assume troopers' nonpatrol duties - but half of the money is contingent on the sides' reaching a deal on civilian jobs by the end of June.
No talks have been scheduled since union leadership unanimously opposed the Rendell administration's most recent proposal to use attrition to hire civilians for certain duties.
The proposed deal also would have kept about 45 supervisory corporals on the road. The administration lost an appeal of an unfair labor practice ruling that requires corporals to oversee police dispatching centers. The union recently asked the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board to enforce that ruling.
The administration proposal also would add 15 clerks to police stations around the state to assume paperwork duties currently performed by patrol troopers, settle five health-care benefits grievances, and convene a committee to look into whether the department should change how it handles minor disciplinary infractions.
Edwards, the union president, said existing labor law requires the two sides to negotiate the civilians issue.
"You're dealing with a governor that really doesn't want to hire more troopers. And he was being pressured into a situation where we were being successful and it has become a hot topic issue, and he's trying to blame us," Edwards said.
The administration wants to hire civilians as fingerprint, ballistics and document examiners; liquor control commanders; communications specialists; and procurement and supply officers.
In Edwards' letter to Miller, which also was sent to all members of the General Assembly and Rendell, the union president said converting forensic jobs to civilian status would make the department's criminal investigations less effective.=========================
REDWOOD CITY, Calif., Jan. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Digital Persona, Inc., the leading provider of biometric authentication solutions for enterprise networks and commercial applications, today announced that the company has won the prestigious Product Excellence Award for authentication from the Info Security Products Guide. Selected from more than 700 products and solutions from across the globe, the DigitalPersona(R) Pro 3.2 fingerprint authentication solution also received a 4.5 out of 5 star rating as a result of the review.
The Info Security Products Guide Awards recognize and honor companies' excellence in all areas of information security. Winning products are determined by the guide's editors based on a set of criteria, including most unique feature, benefits for customers, platform/interface support, and target customers served. The guide provides useful information to end-users of information security products by fairly and accurately evaluating today's leading products and vendors. To read Digital Persona's award winning review, please see: http://www.infosecurityproductsguide.com/authentication/DigitalPersonaPro.html
"DigitalPersona Pro is a winner and has earned very high overall evaluation marks," said Rick Justice, Group Editor, Silicon Valley Communications, publishers of the Info Security Products Guide. "The coveted Product Excellence Award from Info Security Products Guide is the highest industry recognition honor for products that have passed stringent evaluation tests with only the highest ratings. The goal of these reviews is to provide useful information to end-users of info security products by fairly and accurately representing products that excel in all areas."
"We are honored to receive such a prestigious and competitive award," said Fabio Righi, CEO, Digital Persona Inc. "It is a testament to our leadership in fingerprint authentication solutions in enterprise environments and demonstrates Digital Persona's continued traction to industry experts as well as current and potential customers."
According to Info Security Product Guide editors, the highlight of Digital Persona's solution is that it does not store any fingerprint images, but rather it identifies data points on your finger and uses these data points to create a digitized stream that is a unique representation of your fingerprint. Fingerprint data is encrypted and cryptographically bound to a user to avoid tampering. The user's data is stored in Active Directory and managed with Active Directory policies. The stored data cannot be reverted to the original user's fingerprint image, which in turn provides a highly secure solution.
About Digital Persona, Inc.
Digital Persona is the leading provider of biometric authentication solutions for enterprise networks and commercial applications. Founded in 1996, Digital Persona designs, manufactures and sells turnkey solutions that improve security and regulatory compliance while resolving password management problems. Its award-winning fingerprint technology is used worldwide by over 25 million people in the most diverse and challenging environments.
Digital Persona has strategic relationships with market-leading manufacturers and resellers including Intel, Dell Inc., Microsoft, GTSI Corp. and Hewlett-Packard. DigitalPersona(R) Pro, the company's flagship turnkey security solution for enterprise authentication, is used by leading organizations such as the U.S. Department of Defense, Cargill, Telefonos de Mexico S.A. de C.V, (TelMex), United Bankers' Bank and Sutter Health/CPMC.
Additional information is available by contacting Digital Persona, Inc. at +1-650-474-4000 or at http://www.digitalpersona.com/.
About Info Security Products Guide Awards
The Info Security Products Guide plays a vital role in keeping
end-users informed of the choices they can make when it comes to
protecting their digital resources. It is written expressly for those
who are adamant about staying informed of security threats and the
preventive measure they can take. Readers will discover a wealth of
information in this guide, including award- winning case studies and
deployment scenarios, people and technologies shaping info security,
and the best selling products. The Info Security Products Guide Awards
recognize and honor excellence in all areas of information security. To
learn more, visit http://www.infosecurityproductsguide.com/
and stay secured.
42. Keynote Remarks by Bill Gates, Chairman and
Chief Software Architect, Microsoft Corporation - 2006 International
Consumer Electronics Show - Las Vegas, Nevada - January 4, 2006
Source Next Contents
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen,
Chairman and Chief Software Architect of the Microsoft Corporation, Mr.
Bill Gates. (Applause.)
BILL GATES: Thank you. My wife and I were certainly thrilled to be named persons of the year for our work with the foundation, and to share it with Bono. The competition, I'm sure, was quite rough, as it always is. Kids probably would have voted for J.K. Rawlings. I'm sure Mother Nature was a choice that almost got it. In fact, probably if there had been one more hurricane, Mother Nature would have been on the cover. For a lot of reasons, I'm glad that didn't happen.
Another past winner was the PC itself; all the way back in 1982, it was recognized that this was something phenomenal, that this would really change the world. And that was when the PC was just at the beginning. Microsoft had MS-DOS, we didn't have graphics interface, and we had just started to build up the software industry around the work that we're doing. And over the last 24 years, it's been quite phenomenal what's grown out of that. And what I want to share tonight is a little bit of glimpse of how that will keep revolutionizing itself, and moving faster than ever before with the magic of software connected to the innovation of our partners.
The Digital Decade
Now, we talk about this as the decade of Digital Lifestyles, the decade of Digital Workstyles. That means that all these tools are becoming mainstream. And it's not just one application that makes it happen. It's not just banking or advertising, or filling out your tax return, or even instant messaging, it's the fact that as you adopt those things they really go together, and it becomes more and more familiar to work in that fashion.
2005 was a very big year. A big year for the personal computer, growth of over 11 percent in Windows PCs, a big year with the introduction of the Xbox 360 that we've been building up to for over five years. But this next year, in some ways, is probably even bigger. This is the year that [Windows] Vista, Office 12 and many other products will come out, and the realization of [Windows] Media Center as a volume mainstream product will really be clear to everyone in the marketplace. Consumers are getting more and more connected. They're getting richer experiences, and software is really at the center of that.
I thought I would start off and show a scenario that we think will be real by the end of the Digital Decade, so within the next four years or so, this will be something we think will actually be realistic. Let's start off, let's say we're at home in the morning. We've got a screen here that shows some of the information that we care about. It comes up and it's kept up to date. We just touch it. We've got some of the kids' drawings here. We can just grab those, move those around, pick different pictures that we want. We see the time of day here. All very simple to work with.
Down here we've got a little bit of a map, and because everyone in the family has decided that they're willing to share their location with the rest of the family, we can see here on the map where mom left early and headed off to that soccer game. We see the family schedule there. So, we're able to track everybody and know what's going on. Here we've got a connection up to our video, and so the latest news information has been categorized. It picks the ones that would be of interest to us, and it actually lets us navigate. So, here I can pick a particular show, news item, that's relevant to the work that I do, and I can see there's been a storm here, it's interrupting the supply chain of a lot of different companies, probably including mine. That could be a real challenge. So, I'll click this button here and say, I would like to track that topic. I would like to continue to watch that video clip, and so as I head in to work that video has now been connected up to my cell phone, and I can watch that as I'm getting into the car and heading off to do my work.
When I arrive there, I've got a nice desktop screen. You can see it's got a lot of area. We think this will be very important. You want to have more information that you can just glance at and work with in a very simple way. The idea of a big screen that uses your full field of vision makes sense to us. Now, of course, instead of using a password, I'll just use my fingerprint here, so I'm authenticated in a more reliable way. I see a lot of different information here, including that news story that I was tracking. I go ahead and set up a little conference call that's going to have a lot of people talking about this problem. And so we can see here our Chief Operating Officer is online, our VP of Operations is only connected up through voice. We're talking through the issue. There is the article there, people are annotating that, seeing how it affects us. I've actually got here on my Tablet PC, that's really logically just part of this screen one PC. I've got a little chart here, and so what I would like to do is go ahead and go in and select that, say, OK, this is a chart that I think is relevant, and I can drag it up here, I can either move it to my desktop, or I can move it into this video conference. So, I'll go ahead and drop it there, and we'll sit and talk about this thing. And say, OK, what's going on with it.
It was actually created, I can see, by Thomas Anderson, and so I'm interested in bringing him into the conversation we have here. So I go off and select him, and say that I want to do instant messaging in a side conversation. We're talking to him, and I indicate, hey, you really ought to come in and give us some advice. I can simply drag him over into the conversation, and so he's there. He's now part of that, so not only do we have his document, but we have his advice, and we figure out pretty quickly what needs to be done.
And actually as we get towards the end of the call, I notice that it's been looking at the traffic in my schedule, and it says there's a traffic jam, so I'm going to have to leave a little bit earlier to get to the airport. I've got a flight today, and actually it puts that right here on my telephone as well, along with the map, suggests an alternate route, so I can grab onto this, and take that with me as I leave work.
Later that day, I find myself in the airport, and all I've got with me on this particular trip is my phone. And yet I'm very interested I figuring out what's the latest, what's going on. And so I can take my phone here, and I just put it down on a table that's here in the airport lounge, and it recognizes it. It's got a little camera here, and a little Bluetooth, nothing very complicated with the magic of software behind it. And it says it wants me to authenticate that this is really me, my phone. So, as soon as I put my fingerprint there, I'm connected up, and I actually get a full-sized desktop. And so now, if I want to read mail, or browse, that's all there. Actually, what I'm going to do is take a business card that somebody handed me while I was on this flight, and just put that down on the table there, and the camera scans that, detects it's there, recognizes it, I'll just flip that over, I've got a little note I made when I was talking with this person about some information they would like to see, and it sees that, gets that text, and then I can take that and say, OK, go ahead and put that into my contacts. So, as I drag it up there, I can see the information being connected up and put down into my phone. So, now I have a reminder of a task, send him that information, and see his picture, his name, his e-mail, it's all been added to my contacts list there.
Well, that's pretty nice, I'll take that off and go ahead and look at whatever mail has come in. In fact, I see that Thomas when we were working there in the office has got a press release and here, because it's very critical they know I'm agreeing with what they've got here, again, I authenticate that this is me, and I make my digital signature available because of the fingerprint there.
Now, that that's sent off, here I am, I'm able to do anything I want, I can see up in the right-hand corner through my calendar it knows the flight I'm taking, so it's showing me exactly how much time I have before I have to leave, so I can work here and get the benefit of the full screen, even though this phone normally just has that small screen. When I'm done, I just pick this up, and of course it's smart enough to recognize now that it's logged me off, and somebody else can come in here and use this and that's just simply available to them.
So, it's a very simple thing to have all these devices working together, and I have that Digital Workstyle, my calendar, the traffic, my contacts, my rich communications done in a very different way.
The phone is very different, the idea of meetings is very different, the way we collaborate, we're able to share across different companies, it's all very different, and that's because we've taken software and put it at the center, the digital approach applied to all of those activities.
Well, we see that in so many areas. I think five or six years ago, if you'd said to people that software would be incredible in terms of making photos better, music better, TV better, phone calls very different, they would have been quite skeptical, they would have thought how can software do that.
Well, now particularly in music, to some degree in TV, they've seen that it makes a huge difference. It allows them to pick the things that they're interested in, it allows them to see it when they want to, to share with friends what they've seen and what they like.
And so this really is the symptom of the great progress we have here in the digital decade.
Software: Make Things Simpler and More Effective
The PC sales growth with Windows PCs exceeding any expectation this year was a great example of that, more relevance, more things that are going on there. Broadband was a luxury only three or four years ago, and now has actually overtaken dial-up, and we're getting over a hundred million broadband users here in the United States and we'll have 80 percent of all online households broadband by the end of the decade. And the U.S. is not even the leading country in that respect, all the developed countries moving very quickly.
So what does it mean? It means that software will come in and make things both simpler and more effective. Picking the music that you want, finding out other things by that artist or similar artists, not having to think about disks and putting them in the case; entertainment, finding the things that are great, seeing them when you'd like to, having a digital jukebox so anywhere in the house you can call up the movies that you own and see those exactly when you want to; photos, organizing not just photos but all the memories of your kids growing up, being able to search those, send them off to relatives, have them appear on various nice screens around the house like that one I had in my kitchen in that scenario I showed; communications, not just with the voice but also with the screens connecting people together, letting them annotate documents, work together in a very rich way: These are scenarios that people can understand, if we make them simple, we make them inexpensive and we drive them through a single interface, everything you learn, the concepts for one activity, whether it's gaming or office productivity get applied across these different activities.
Software for the User
Likewise, these things need to work across all the different devices. So it's not just software for the PC or software for the phone or software for the videogame, it's software for the user. And my preferences, my interests, like how I charge things or the news I care about or who my buddies are, all of those things are reflected on those devices. As I move between devices, the people I've chosen to share my presence with becomes available to them. A friend can see, if I want, what game I'm playing and say they might want to play with me, ask me to join in and do something else; if I'm on my PC working, they can notify me that there's a contest coming up, something that they'd like to engage me in. Even watching TV, the ability to chat with your friends while you're watching the same show or different shows should be something that's very straightforward.
So this cross-device approach is a very, very important approach. In fact, that's complemented by the fact that there will be what we call Live services where a lot of your files, your information will actually be stored out in the Internet, and even if you pick somebody else's device up, once you authenticate, all that information becomes available to you. So moving between different PCs can be a very, very easy thing.
There's a lot of themes there, themes of personalization, themes of empowerment, themes of everything moving to the Internet. What is telephony moving to the Internet? That's voice. What is TV moving to the Internet? That's Internet TV or IPTV. People have to have confidence in these things, automatically backed up, security built-in, very reliable systems that use the cloud storage for those kinds of guarantees, and easy connections, connecting to people, connecting up to devices, a very strong way of driving through all these different scenarios and making them very simple.
In sum, it's very revolutionary, but every year we have big milestones, more adoption, and it only really catches up to us in terms of how it's changed the world of media, changed how the business models work there, changed the way that magazines and newspapers are delivered, changed the way that entertainment gets done, bringing these new interactive elements in; TV, where we've picked the new segments we want, we interact with a learning show, we can find the video that wouldn't have been available in a broadcast system; all of that is becoming very, very mainstream.
Now, a huge component to this is going to be the investments we've made in the Windows platform. The Windows PC is a part of this ecosystem, so it's got to connect up, but a very important part, both as it presents a nearby interface, what we call the two-foot interface, and as it presents a ten-foot interface, the Media Center interface.
The Next Generation: Windows Vista
And so we're going to show you tonight a glimpse of a lot of [Windows] Vista that we've never showed before. We're going to ship this by the end of the year, and so we've got a few months here, we'll continue to refine the user interface, get feedback, make sure we've got this exactly right. But we're very excited to show you where we are, show you some of these new capabilities.
So let me ask Aaron Woodman, the group product manager, to come on out and give you a little look at [Windows] Vista. (Applause.)
AARON WOODMAN: Thank you, Bill.
I'm super excited to be here to get the opportunity to show you Windows Vista. You know, as Bill mentioned, there were really three things our customers wanted from the next generation of Windows PCs. They wanted clarity, a way to cut through that clutter. They wanted an increase confidence while using their PC. And lastly, all of our customers have grown to expect Windows to be a bridge to communication and entertainment experiences. Let's take a look at how Windows Vista really starts to deliver.
The first thing you'll notice is a fresh user interface. All the applications are actually surrounded by glass. It gives you the opportunity to see what's in front, but it also gives you a sense of depth and seeing what's happening behind itself.
We've also improved how you switch between applications. In fact, if I go down to the task bar, I actually get now live previews of the applications, including motion video. We've extended that same live preview concept to do fast application switching of ALT-TAB, meaning that I can now see all of the applications as they're running, find the appropriate one, and continue to see what's happening behind it in the applications in a live mode.
Lastly, in Windows Vista we've created an entirely new way to switch between applications, Flip 3D. Flip 3D moves all of my applications into a 3-D space, allowing me to scroll through them with my arrow keys or quickly with my mouse. And you really get a sense of the graphic capabilities behind Windows Vista.
We've also given you a couple of new ways to actually see information itself. The two that I like are Windows Sidebar and Windows Sideshow. The Sidebar is a space over on the right-hand side of the screen that houses small applications or gadgets that give very specific functionality or information at a glance. There are four in my Sidebar. There's actually a picture window showing some of the pictures that my friends have placed up on MSN Spaces, I have an RSS feed; I even have an egg timer. My favorite though is actually a prototype built by our partner, Fox Sports, and this allows me to see the latest upto-date sports information that I care about. The nice part about this gadget, I can drag it to the desktop and see a little bit more if I care about it. It's a great way to stay on top of the information that's important to you and cut through that clutter.
The next innovation is really the Windows Sideshow. I'm going to hold up this laptop so you can get a sense of what I'm talking about, but essentially it's a small LCD screen built right into the side of the laptop. And essentially it gives me some small applications or gadgets, again providing some specific functionality. My favorite is actually the calendar application, meaning that I can look and see where I need to be, when I need to be there, without having even to have me power the laptop on. That's information at your fingertips, that's what you should expect from the next generation of Windows PCs.
Bill talked a lot about information on the PC, and consumers have been clear, they want great tools to find the information when it's relevant to them, search is important to them. Windows Vista delivers. In fact, if I go to the Start menu, I can now type the application I'm looking for without having to search through lots of folders and immediately find the information that's important. I can go to the Windows Vista library and search for content that I care about. And it's going to search through all of those documents, no matter where they're stored, what they're called, and bring the relevant information to me, providing me that sense of clarity that I look for.
And the last thing, when we think about information it would be hard not to talk about the Internet, and the Web has been critical in bringing the information we care about to consumers.
Let's take a look at our implementation of tabbed browsing but with a twist. I'm going to go up and do a quick MSN search on something that I care about. It's going to bring those up, and I'm going to open up new tabs and they're going to open up right underneath the address bar there. I'm going to go through and decide, yeah, mountain biking zone is interesting, not sure what that one is about, couple others here, and you can see they're all opening up on the right hand side. But that twist I talked about is Quick Tabs. This gives me the opportunity to see all those tabs, the state that they're in, and make quick, fast decisions, really taking the clutter out of the concern in deciding, oh, I don't want that tab, not really that one either, that's the one I was looking for; a great way to give tools that consumers are looking for, give them the information that they expect from the next generation of Windows PCs.
Well, what about confidence? We've made huge investments in Windows Vista in terms of the security, making and hardening the Web experience, including things like the anti-phishing browser. My favorite is parental controls. For the first time ever, the Windows operating system is going to have built-in parental controls. I'm going to go ahead and select my son's account, Toby, and you can see the types of restrictions. As a parent, I now get to decide [what I] implement on my PC: I have Web restrictions, time limits, games. Games is a wonderful example of us working with something that the industry has already rallied around, and that's the game ratings from the ESRB. This means that now when you buy a game, on the packaging you see an emblem, on the game itself, and ahead of time you can decide as a parent whether you're comfortable with that PC and your child playing that game on that PC. That puts parents back in control and it gives them that sense of confidence that they expect with having that PC in their home.
Well, what about experiences? It would be hard to come to the Consumer Electronics Show and just talk about clarity and confidence; well, what about the experiences we expect from Windows? I'm going to talk and show three that I think really move ahead: gaming, memories and music.
Gaming is a wonderful place to start. It's been really paralleled with the PC since we started bringing them into our homes. In fact, there's one application I can think about that has this long rich history working with the PC, Microsoft Flight Simulator. The Microsoft Flight Simulator has been around now for over 20 years. Every time the PC has improved in its performance, its capability, its graphic ability, Microsoft Flight Simulator has really been there to take advantage of those opportunities.
I brought with me actually a sneak preview of the next generation of Microsoft Flight Simulator. It's a really immersive environment that's being led by Windows Vista graphics and the next generation of DirectX.
You can see the realism of the reflection. And I'm actually going to drive or going to try to drive with my Xbox 360 controller plugged directly into my Windows Vista PC. You can really start to see the smoke from the boat, the independent and kind of live life that you see with the waves, with some of the birds and the trees that you'll start to see.
This is the immersive environment that people expect from PC gaming in the next generation of Windows PCs. Windows Vista really starts to deliver.
Off the west coast of Maui, it's not a bad place to be.
So the game developers actually have a little bit more than a year to continue working on the product, so the final product is going to be even better. But one thing is for sure, gaming is going to be awesome on Windows Vista.
All right. Well, what about memories? We all expect memories to be part of Windows, and Windows Vista really delivers an entirely new experience. I'm going to open up the Windows Photo Gallery, which is really the hub of the memories experience within Windows Vista. It gives me an opportunity to see a snapshot view of all the memories I care about, including digital photos and digital video.
I can easily and quickly pace over the images that I'm looking for. We've given you a couple of new tools to find the images. We give you dates so you can quickly find things by date, by tags, by keywords. I can search by keyword. It's a great way to put consumers back in control and easily find the memories that are important to them.
We've also implemented edit functionality right into the operating system. I'm going to actually open up a picture that I want to edit and go to fix. And you can see the types of controls over on the right hand side. I'm going to actually select to crop this image and apply that, and then go on to the next picture. You can imagine how many customers have looked for that type of simplicity.
We also want to continue to provide confidence in the experiences themselves. So what can you imagine would be more frustrating for a consumer than coming back to a picture and feeling like they've lost that original fidelity, because of the number of times they've edited it? They've cropped something a few years ago for a print and come back to the photo and decide, man, I really want the content I cropped out.
In Windows Vista we always save an original, which means years later you can come back to this photo and decide actually I want to see the original fidelity, I want to see the original image. We give you the confidence so that you can do what you want with your memories and never feel lost. It's a great way to put consumers back in control of their PC.
Lastly, I want to show you the experience that we've improved in terms of enjoyment. I'm going to go to some of my favorites and open up the Slideshow. The Slideshow is a wonderful way that people have started to enjoy their photos on the PC. It's a wonderful creative way to gather and get a sense and stay connected to the things that are important.
We've made two good additions in terms of the Windows Slideshow in Windows Vista. The first is the addition of themes. In this case it's the white border moving on a sandy beach and those nice transitions. The second improvement is motion video. That means you no longer have to separate your digital still pictures and your digital video pictures. If you're interested in sharing with them, the Windows Slideshow gives you that opportunity. It's a great way to put consumers again back into control of their PCs and give them what they're looking for.
Well, music. It would be hard to come to the Consumer Electronics Show and not talk about music from Microsoft. In fact, I've brought with me the next generation of Windows Media Player. The first thing you should notice is clean user interface. In fact, when I click on artist, I no longer get this list that scrolls on to infinity, I get this nice, clean user interface. We've really done a great job of integrating the graphics, in this case the visuals or album art. I click songs, I not only just get a list of songs but I get the album art associated with that. In fact, it's actually dynamically there so I can decide how much or how little I actually want to see.
We've improved the management experience within the next generation of Windows Media Player. I go to genre and I get what we call Digital Stacks and that's the ability to visually see how much is in the actual collection. And you see blues has two or three albums, bluegrass only has one. If I scroll down, you can see the Latin collection has a little bit more. It really gives you a sense and an ability to make choices very quickly off of some visual information.
Lastly, we've improved performance. When I select songs, I'm going to scroll through, and this is a 10,000 song library. You can see how quickly I get the album art, I get the title, I get the ratings. That's the performance you should expect from the next generation Windows PC.
And because it's Windows Vista, search, which means I have that 10,000 song library, I can instantly scroll down to the ones I'm interested in. I can do it by artist. That's the type of control that we expect consumers are going to want and we're going to deliver within Windows Vista.
URGE: Microsoft and MTV
I'm actually going to bring Bill and introduce Van Toffler, the president of MTV Networks, the music group, to come back on stage and talk a little bit more about some of the things we're doing within music. (Applause.) Bill, Vance.
VAN TOFFLER: Hi.
So thank you. I'm Van Toffler, and it's a privilege to represent MTV Networks here tonight to announce our new venture, URGE, alongside with Microsoft and Bill Gates. Though I have to tell you I'm personally really excited to give Mr. Gates in person backstage the massive $50 royalty check for being the inspiration for our MTV film "Napoleon Dynamite." (Laughter, applause.) Separated at birth. (Laughter.)
Bill, was that a bad career move to put that photo up? You don't need to answer that, it's too late.
Anyway, I thought I'd kick it old school by bringing some handwritten notes here. Microsoft and Bill Gates are synonymous with innovation and technological breakthroughs, and MTV Networks has been at the forefront of innovation around music and content catered for young adults for 20 plus years.
We were the first to put music on a new platform in the early '80s when we introduced the notion of music television, and you can all personally thank me later for introducing to the world both Milli Vanilli and Vanilla Ice, though I think it was a year apart, so please cut me a break.
And today the pairing of MTV Networks and Microsoft takes us down another path of innovation, the digital expansion and migration of the musical experience. The seeds of many of our cultural revolutions have been born in the world of music, and the digital revolution has proven to be no different. Today, with URGE we're bringing to market a unique approach to digital music, one focused on the emotional connection to music. URGE will offer a customized relationship with music, a sense of musical discovery, along with access to millions of songs from major labs and indies, an opportunity to listen to over a hundred radio stations, a chance to learn about the roots of songs and lyrics, plus interaction with hundreds of artists and access to their playlists of must-haves.
You can also take URGE and make it your own and personalize your own soundtrack and make it for any mood or event.
With URGE we're undertaking a long journey with music fans, and this is just the beginning. Like our TV brand, URGE will be continually reinvented. It will be programmed for music fans by music fans. Subscribers will customize and drive this service, they will tell us what sucks and what they hate about the service, they will customize it, program it, share it, change it and move with it.
In addition, taking advantage of our 25 year plus of experience and relationships with artists, labels and music fanatics, we will engage an army of music professionals, bloggers, musicians, creative gray album producing musical freaks, and experts in all genres of music who will help guide the consumer experience as well, which is definitely unique to URGE.
So please taken note we are trying something new with URGE, like music television was 25 years ago, and that's certainly needed some reinvention along the way. Can you say, "Flock of Seagulls video 30 times a day?" Thank God, times have changed. Yet, today with URGE it is our mission to create a truly immersive, emotional, engaging and entertaining experience around music, which will only get better with time.
So we believe today marks a great day for music, for labels, for artists and also marks the continuation of a wonderful collaboration between Microsoft and MTV Networks.
So maybe, Aaron, we can take a look at URGE?
AARON WOODMAN: Absolutely. We're super excited to be the ones to have the opportunity to give you guys a sneak preview of what the URGE music service is going to look like.
Right below my local library is the URGE music service, and it's really kind of that deep integration into the player, working alongside with MTV and the player team to build a great experience.
The first thing you should know is URGE is going to deliver music across genres. They're going to actually deliver hundreds of hand built playlists, over a hundred CD quality radio stations, and the top music you expect. They're going to do that in an environment that is creative and has great design.
When URGE music service launches, they're going to have over two million tracks available for individual song or album purchase or as part of an all you can eat subscription.
And because it's built exclusively in the Windows Media Player, it's going to have those same great tools that you have on your local library now against this 2 million track library. In fact, when I open up the music service it looks a lot like the above library.
I can search by album or artist. Artist is a pretty good way to start. I've been listening to Green Day, I've been talking to Bill a little bit about it backstage. So if I wanted to find Green Day, instantly the results are brought to me, two million songs to the few that are interesting to me.
I could quickly and easily open up my My Playlist, and I could drag these 15 albums over to make an instant playlist and start listening. That's the type of program you can expect from the MTV relationship.
Besides the albums, they're going to really leverage the strong voices that are behind and are in MTV to provide you really great content. In this case, if I go to rock informer, you get some of the strongest voices in the music industry delivering editorial blogging and editorial context and text. In this case I don't only just get the text, I actually get the songs themselves so it's a great integration between the content you're interested in and the music you can listen to, all in a single place.
They're going to actually do that same type of integration with some of their channels. In fact, the MTV channel hub shows a wonderful integration, showcasing new and upcoming artists, superstars, content from some of their channel programming like TRL, VMA, some of their MTV Unplugged, and they're going to build those same type of channel hubs for both VH1 and CMT.
Lastly, why don't we do one more artist search? What's an artist you've been listening to?
VAN TOFFLER: You know, Aaron, I thought you'd never ask. Justin Timberlake.
AARON WOODMAN: Timberlake, all right.
VAN TOFFLER: I hear he has a new album.
AARON WOODMAN: I can quickly find Justin Timberlake and in this case I can actually open up, and not only do I see the albums that I expect when I open up Justin Timberlake's stack, I now actually get some great programming from MTV. My favorite is the auto play mix. When I select that, I get a custom, dynamic playlist built around Justin Timberlake and artists like him. It's a great way to get fresh music.
In fact, I can actually save the feed, meaning that every time I log into the Urge music service or synchronize my device, I get the latest music, meaning that there's no stale music in my experience.
Lastly, why don't we actually take a listen to one of those tracks? (Music.) (Applause.)
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE: Well, thanks, hi, how are you doing? This is not my usual stage. (Laughter.) But thank you for having me here tonight. I'm here because I'm the type of artist who is always interested, I'm a consumer basically as well, I'm always interested in the newest and coolest things. And from what I've seen, and you guys showed me earlier, I really think URGE is going to be it. I mean, URGE offers artists like myself a new way to specifically reach our music fans with a ton of options to play, interact and buy music.
And I've got a little secret, I want to let the cat out of the bag; when I release my new album this year, which by the way features Mr. Gates's singing debut, we'll be doing a duet - (laughter) - [singing] "Artistry and technology" - no? (Laughter.) Whatever. URGE and I will be doing - the point is URGE and I will be doing some new and creative things together, so I look forward to it and hope you guys look forward to it, and thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be here. (Applause.)
VAN TOFFLER: Thank you.
BILL GATES: Great, thanks.
One of the special things we've been doing with Windows is creating a tablet version. Now, this fits in with the fact that the growth in PCs was not only fantastic but portable machines are making up a higher and higher percentage. And what we want to do is get this capability, the tablet capability down so it's the mainstream of Tablet PC. We've got dozens of partners building great Tablet PCs, they're getting better and better. In fact, there are some new technologies that are going to make that price premium for this tablet capability very, very small.
Gateway is helping us lead the way with this new CS200. It's a great machine at very much a mainstream portable price.
Part of the way that we're getting this premium down is we're using new digitizers that are called passive, and that means that it will be a simple decision to say, yes, I want to get that tablet capability.
Now, we're investing a lot in this in Windows Vista. The investment is our research group, new ideas of how we adjust automatically to your handwriting style, and so as you use it, it will just get better and better.
We're taking this idea of notetaking, annotating, reading to a whole new level, and we'll have a lot of partnerships around Windows Vista where people are bringing digital content down so that consuming it on the screen instead of on paper starts to be more attractive, that the readability is there and all those rich features that you think about can become available. With OneNote we have a new version of that that will drive this forward and let us do a lot better there. So driving that to the mainstream is something we're very committed to.
New Device Partnerships
Another area of investment for us has, of course, been the Windows Mobile area, and we got into that about three years ago. We've seen a great growth in terms of getting down the learning curve, the breadth of the relationships and depth of the relationships we have. And, in fact, we've got more than a hundred Smart Phones out now with 93 mobile operators in 55 countries.
This year we'll ship more than five million devices, which is a 36 percent year over year increase, and we have some really fantastic stuff coming out this year. In fact, probably right at the top of the list I'd put this new device here. This one you probably heard about, we announced it just a few months ago. It's our partnership with Palm, and Palm does a fantastic job on their devices. Here they were able to take our platform and do a number of unique things that had never been done before. They were able to take and build an ability that they would be able to make it all work with a single-click operation.
So here you can see they made it so you can put the photos in, I can just scroll through those photos, anybody I want to call I just select and I can decide which phone number, how I want to connect up with them, and so this phone is amazing for single hand operation, amazing for nice shortcuts that are built-in, based on the experience they've had, they've brought that to the Windows Mobile platform.
This is on sale starting tomorrow. That's actually ahead of schedule, they got it done, got it approved by Verizon, who's the key partner here, because they're connecting this up to their EVDO broadband service. So the responsiveness of this device getting any sorts of attachment, music, images will be fantastic because of the bandwidth of that device. So a lot of new things that come out here and great to see their work.
We will have more variety of devices coming out this year. One will be a device from Motorola called the Q. We'll have a lot, some of which will bring high resolution cameras in, music capability in, a lot of innovation there.
We also are working with people who do wireless phones in the home, and so this is one that happens to be from Phillips. We've also got a partner Uniden doing something very similar.
This operates, has all the capabilities of that classic in the home wireless phone. You pick it up, you can connect up, make normal phone calls. But they've also built in the ability to do messenger voice over IP calls. And so you just push a button here and, in fact, you get your messenger buddy list. It's completely up to date, I can scroll through here, pick anyone, I can see their presence data and so I can also call through the Internet to any one of my buddies. In fact, this uses what we call the Windows Live Call Services that come through our partner MCI.
So this is a phone that is a very inexpensive phone, but bringing that messenger Live Call Services in along with normal phone calling.
Software and TV
Well, let's now talk about TV. As I said, TV is, of course, a big activity and one that we see software really surprising people with what it can do. The best realization of this is when we have software working on your behalf, creating an individualized video feed to you, to the screen that you're watching.
So what does that mean? That means that the ads can be targeted to you based on the things that you're interested in, and so therefore far more relevant, far more impactful, something that you won't want to skip over as much as one that wouldn't mean anything to you. It means that as you get into a new show, the subjects you care a lot about, you can get more in depth information about those, the subjects you're not interested in you can either easily skip over those or actually have it in advance understand that you don't really care about some sports and you care a lot about others. You might have a ski resort you'd like to see the weather of every time you sit down for your nightly news that you're seeing whenever you want and when you're particularly rushed you just say that and it will condense things, just pick the highlights that are the most important there.
This platform will lead to creativity in doing shows of all types: learning shows, game shows, sport shows with extra information, multiple views.
It's important to note that it completely blows open any of the limitations that channels used to create. We talk about tail video, things like a physics lecture or a high school sports game that never would have made it into that broadcast world now can be sourced in and if it's something you're interested in easy for you to navigate and find. And that's one seamless experience, not your normal TV here and your Internet TV over there, taking that remote control and having that just work that way.
So interactivity, choice, personalization are all things that never were possible before we had this platform.
Now, where are we on this? Well, last year was the year that we did trials, very successful trials, and this is the year that the lead customers - AT&T, Verizon - are rolling out in commercial deployment. Over the course of this year these deployments will really scale up into very large numbers, and that's when you'll really start to see the innovation come in, and people recognize that it blows away the previous video platform, and allows for an opportunity to create lots and lots of new things.
Windows Media Center
Now, as that video comes into the home, it will be received on many different devices. You want to be able to see it anywhere, and on those same screens you want to be able to see your own information, your own photos, select music, all those things brought together on every screen in the house.
And that's where Media Center comes in. Media Center is, of course, the other special version of Windows besides what we've done with the tablet. And this was a pretty unbelievable year for Media Center. When I stood here a year ago, we had about a million and a half copies out; now we have 6.5 million. And we're not stopping there but those are big numbers. Most pieces of software don't ship anywhere near that and we're going to drive that up even further for portable devices, devices anywhere you want to get at media, we think Media Center can add a lot of value.
We've got 130 manufacturers doing that, we're in 33 countries, the U.S. is where we're the furthest along, so some of the additions that we make will make us even stronger on a global basis.
Now, there will be special enhancement, a lot of work that gets done with Media Center as we move into this Vista version.
One of the partnerships that's going to be very important for Media Center is our partnership with Intel on this. Of course, we do a lot of things with Intel. We've benefited from their incredible innovation over the years and we've worked to make sure our software takes full advantage of that.
Centrino is a great example of that. We did lots of portable features and they drove those scenarios to the mainstream. Centrino is a great example of each of us doing what we do well.
You're going to see another great example of this with Vive. I got used to saying it right, it rhymes with "five" and "live," so don't make the mistake if anyone from Intel is around, it's Vive. And you're going to see a lot of information about the kind of breakthrough experience that Intel technology enables here, combined with the Windows Media Center, so that's our strengths coming together. This is things like the 7.1 surround sound, which at the chip level they make that very, very straightforward, the dual-core processor helping out on that.
Now, Intel is our key partner here but we have many others that are doing content that exists in the Media Center environment. You can record, of course, it's fantastic at that, and you have special people, over 150 partners who have designed on our online spotlight new capabilities. And this spans all sorts of video experiences, really giving people a glimpse of those new capabilities. And so we're excited that that's a list that keeps on growing, neat new things that go on there.
We're also partnering up with people who provide video connections. One of this, who's very important here in the United States, is DIRECTV. They've been a leader in a lot of things, and the partnership we're announcing that's new today and a very broad multiyear partnership includes the ability to get that DIRECTV video onto the Windows Media Center PC. We'll also connect up to our portable devices, connect up to Xbox 360, and so these Media Centers will let you enjoy the high definition and normal definition DIRECTV content and take that away on a portable media device, so a lot of flexibility there.
Also we're working with BSkyB, who's sort of a sister company of DIRECTV over in the UK, who's done a lot of innovative stuff there and they'll be setting up through our alliance a video on-demand capability, which is one of the things DIRECTV will be doing, and here that video on-demand will be for Media Center customers both to get things on a two-foot experience and on a ten-foot experience. And they've got over 8 million subscribers in the UK who will be able to do those downloads and use those great capabilities.
The best way to understand this I think is to take a look at some samples of how that works, and it's great to have the vice president who's led the Media Center, Joe Belfiore, here to give you a look at that. So let's welcome Joe to the stage. (Applause.)
JOE BELFIORE: Hello. Thank you. Good evening, hello. It's good to be here. I'm going to take you on a quick, hopefully quick 15-minute tour of Windows Media Center and where it is today, where it's going in the future, and how this Windows platform software can tie together content and services and devices in a very compelling way to deliver fantastic entertainment experiences to consumers.
A quick housekeeping note: For those of you interested, last I heard, at the half, Texas 16, USC 10. (Cheers, applause.)
Let's start out and talk about some of the things that are going on with the Media Center today. And I want to talk about some of our terrific partners and some announcements that we have to make at the show. As many of you know, Media Center is a platform and it enables content providers and software developers to create all kinds of compelling application experiences and services that work with a remote control either on your PC, your Media Center PC, or streaming through extender devices like the Xbox 360.
Today, we're announcing five additional online spotlight applications and services, and the one that I want to demo and show is the Comedy Central Motherload. The idea of the Comedy Central Motherload, think of this as an interactive TV channel. I choose the Comedy Central Motherload from my online spotlight guide, and instantly I start getting streamed content like you see here, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."
But it doesn't stop there. Although the experience is programmed, I can use my remote to navigate around and find different types of content that I'm interested in. I might get clips from old Daily Shows if I'm a new fan, I might get previews about what's coming up on the Chapelle Show, I might watch background information about "South Park." I can even dive into the Comedy Central archives and get clips from old shows or get video of new and up and coming comedians. It's a terrific way for content providers like Comedy Central to have a great deep relationship with their viewers and offer a fantastic interactive experience to those viewers in lots of rooms in the house.
With these five additional partners, our total number of online spotlight applications promoted around the world comes to 110 right now, and those are all live and available to anyone in an integrated way in today's Media Center experience.
So that gives you a sense for some of the application experiences. Now, I want to talk a little bit about some hardware innovation. One of the things that's been very interesting about Media Center is the degree to which our OEM PC vendor partners have done cool, interesting hardware, and this year we want to show you a piece of up and coming hardware that we think is cool and interesting. This is a PC from Averatec. It's really small, as you can see, I'll pick it up, pretty lightweight, very quiet, runs Media Center, and in this configuration, of course, you can either set it on your desk like this or it's flexible enough to go into your entertainment system. And this particular model actually has all the remote control capabilities built in and has a tuner.
And Averatec will make these PCs available this spring with a tuner for under a thousand dollars and without a tuner for 499. So we think this is a great example of the continuing innovation that we've seen from PC OEM partners like HP and Sony and Dell and Gateway, building great interesting PC form factors for Media Center.
Of course, the hardware innovation doesn't stop specifically with the PC form factors. Our idea, as Bill said, was to try to create a software experience that a user could enjoy with a remote on their couch or could take with them in a portable form factor.
So I also want to show you another new device that is now becoming available this spring, and it's kind of small so I'm going to walk up here and try to give you a reasonable view of it. This is the Toshiba Gigabeat. There we go, you can kind of see it there.
Now, I actually have small hands, so in my small hands this is a really tiny device. This particular model has a 30 gig hard drive and when playing videos you get about four hours of video playback time on the battery.
And as you can see, it's really little, and one of the cool things about it, of course, as a Media Center guy, if I turn it this way and hit the Windows Start button, you can see that in its up and down mode you get the familiar Media Center user interface, which lets you sync all of your music, all of your pictures, all of your personal videos, broadcast video like my recorded TV shows, and of course videos that I might download or load online from service providers like this one that I have running here.
What this actually is is the movie "Hitch," which we purchased before the show from the newly available, the newly announced Starz Vongo Service. The Starz Vongo Service, and I'm going to take a walk over here while I explain this. The Starz Vongo Service is one of many services that are coming online that let consumers get access to digital content that they can use either on their PC or on a portable device like this Toshiba Gigabeat.
One of the things that's great about it is, it offers a flexible way for users to decide how to pay for their content. They can either buy it, or they can sign up for a subscription for $9.99, and get all the movie downloads that they want. And the Starz Service actually has a lot of movie. Right now it's getting up to about a thousand movie titles, the same great content that you see on the Starz channel through broadcast. So, whether you get your content from broadcast on your Media Center using its tuner and record it, or whether you download it over the Internet, maybe because you don't have a tuner, you still get a great flexible platform that lets you watch it either on a handheld device, or on your big screen. And the devices that we're seeing in terms of the portable devices, are getting more and more interesting and flexible. The Toshiba was compelling because it had such a nice small form factor.
And now I want to show you this one, this is a new LG Electronics Portable Media Center device. The thing that's really cool about this one, of course, is the killer wide screen form factor for watching video. And, again, you see, here I have "The Aviator" from the Vongo service playing back on my LG Portable Media Center device. And, of course, if I push the friendly green button, I get my consistent familiar experience with access to all my personal content, again, whether I've created it myself, downloaded it from the Internet, or recorded it straight from broadcast TV, a huge wealth of available stuff.
So, that gives you a couple of examples of portable devices, and hardware, and how the hardware industry is starting to do some more great things overtime with this Windows platform. And now, I want to change gears a little bit and talk about how services can further make the user experience related to entertainment and discovery of content even better. So, imagine now that I'm at work, or I'm on the road with my laptop, and I'm accessing the Windows Live using my Web browser wherever I am. What we're looking at here is the Live.com, a beta of the Live.com Windows Live home page. And the idea in general is that I can customize this with all kinds of different software services.
And what we've done here is precustomized it with a TV service for Windows Live. So what you see here is, this shows me what's happening on my Media Center PC, the shows that I have scheduled, recordings I've already made. Down here, I can get a program guide of content that's available for me to choose to record. And up here is one of the new things our team is working on, a recommendation service that helps you find shows that you might like to watch.
If I click on that, immediately you see it's a service offering me a bunch of choices that might be things I like simply based on what I've already been watching, and what I've already been recording. Now, if I provide the service with more information, like I don't really like reality shows, and I love medical drama, then the service gets a lot smarter about what it can recommend to me. So, here you see, it gives me a recommendation for "Gray's Anatomy." When I move my mouse over that, the service detects that "Gray's Anatomy" is the name of the TV show, and offers me information about when that show is available in my broadcast lineup, and gives me the opportunity to choose to record it right then and there. So, that gives you a sense of some of the service work we're doing that will come online a little later this year.
What I want to show you to expand your thinking on this is how the service can offer lots of different ways of interacting that fit with the personality and care of the particular user who is using it. So, switching over to the beta, a beta of Windows Live Messenger, you can see I have my buddies in here. One of the buddies that I have is a TV service. So, think of this as me interacting with a smart agent that's part of the TV service that I signed up for. So, here I am, and if I'm like some of the people in my family, addicted to instant messaging, then this is an incredibly comfortable and natural way for me to communicate with the service. So, I'll say hello, and it looks like our service might be offline, the risk of Internet based demos. So, I will close that and give it one more try. Let's see, okay, TV service are you there? Hello. Here we go.
Hi, Joe, would you like some help figuring what to watch. The TV service is inviting me to start a TV service activity. This idea of activities is new to the Windows Live Messenger, and when I click accept you can see over here it presents me with a bunch of interactivity. The service says, these are the shows your friends like. That's kind of an interesting thing. Immediately the idea of community becomes something that's factored in and the service can use to do a better job of helping me find things that I like. It knows who my buddies are because I've signed up with buddies, and as Bill described, if I choose to share information about my preferences, and what I like, then that could be used to make everyone's experiences better. So, these are shows that my buddies like. I can just move over there and choose one of those to record.
That's not what I want to do, how about what's on tonight? So the TV service is finding out what's on tonight, it switches over to a grid based guide, only reminding me that I'm here with you instead of watching the Rose Bowl, that's OK, because that's not actually what I want to be doing. How about showing SciFi. I like SciFi. OK, well, here's what's on in SciFi tonight. It further filters the list to show me that. And even better it says, I have a strong recommendation for you and a trailer to watch, cool. The trailer is for "Battlestar Gallactica," would you like to watch the trailer? Yes. Show me the trailer.
And instantly, the service can find promotional material, trailers, background information on content I might be interested, and it starts streaming it to me directly so that I get better information up. It says, if you like this trailer, would like to record it let me know. OK, record it. It finds my Media Center PC, sets up the recording, and now in the future I'll have this show available to watch when it's convenient for me.
So, you get a sense of how the service, both by having a lot of data on the back end, and knowing things about me, can do a good job of recommending things that I might be interested in watching.
OK, we're going to change gears now a little bit, and I want to talk about some future things that are happening with Media Center in terms of great content, and content experiences that are coming. So, I'm going to move over here, and I'm going to talk for a minute about high-definition DVDs first. High-definition DVD is coming online this year, and the first thing that I want to show related to this, this device right here is a Toshiba HD-DVD player, and this device will actually be available this March for $499 as a device that consumers can get to start watching HD-DVD disks. It's a straight-forward player device, as you would imagine, available really soon. What I want to demo is the HD-DVD playback capabilities as a user might get benefit out of interactivity and compelling content running on a WindowsVista Media Center PC.
So, let's switch over and start taking a look at HD-DVD on a Windows Vista Media Center PC. Now, the first thing that you think about when you think about HD-DVD is incredibly great looking high definition content. Well, we've got that. And as you'll see in this movie from Universal, "The Bourne Supremacy," the video content looks fantastic. And this is a great way for consumers to get access to it.
What I want to spend some time talking about, which I suspect many of you have not seen, is how the interactivity capabilities of HD-DVD can really change the viewing experience for consumers who use HD-DVDs. So, you'll see the movie has started here, and now I'm going to start interacting with it in some ways which I can with standard DVDs, and some ways that are new. And I want you to see how much more fluid and immersive the environment stays while you're watching the movie.
So, the first thing we'll do, we'll jump in, and let's say I want to jump to some other scene. I can choose scenes, and I'm not taken out of the movie experience. I can browse around and see what's available. We'll jump to chapter three, and you can see we've jumped there, and now we're back to watching the movie. And the other thing that happens to me a lot when I watch movies, I'm watching this movie, it's rented, and I see someone in the movie, and I could swear I recognize this actor or actress, but I have no idea who they are or what they've been in. With HD-DVD's interactivity layer I can go to the features area and it immediately shows you recent actors. This is smart enough to show you, in order, the actors that are in the scenes you're watching. So here I'm watching the scene and I see this woman, I think I've seen her before, silly as that, click a button, it's Franka Potente. Done.
I now have the answer to my question, I didn't have to leave the immersive experience of my movie. So I find out more about her, I can click, get her bio, and what I really want to know is what other movies she's in. There we go, I now get the answer to my question, staying in my immersive environment, and if you imagine a family setting, everyone isn't angry at me, because I stopped the movie to figure out what other stuff this person is in. Another great thing about HD-DVD is these players can be aware of the Internet and make sure this content is updated, so you really get a fantastic experience related to this interactivity.
OK. Let's look at another example. Another thing that I like to do, a great feature of today's DVDs is being able to get extras like commentary. Although, today when you get a commentary you get a faceless voice talking to you about what's going on. Well, with the interactivity layer of HD-DVDs you get a much better experience. So here I've asked for producer commentary, and in this case, in our prototype, you can see the producer sitting here talking to me about what they intended to do in the movie. Now imagine the possibilities, imagine if this person could actually be walking around and pointing things out that are happening in the movie, or showing me props, models and things that were used to create the special effects. Suddenly my ability to get extra value through the movie is greatly enhanced by the power of the interactivity capability.
The last thing I want to show here that I'm excited about in HD-DVD, is a feature that is part of every HD-DVD, which is that it enables digitally legal copies to be stored on the hard drive of a device like a PC. In this case I can go to the menu, choose manage copies, there are offers that are available here from Universal, in this case I'm going to choose to copy the high definition movie, rather than the full disk image, and you can see here a user interface has popped up that enables me to complete this, the high definition movie is being copied to my hard drive, and now I can put the shiny disk away somewhere safe, and have complete access to my movie library in a compelling, exciting way, as I get more and more of these high-def HD-DVDs.
So that gives you the sense for some of the things that we're excited about in terms of the consumer experience around this particular type of high definition content. And now what I want to do is switch over and talk to you about a feature that's coming in the Windows Vista Media Center, and give you a quick demo of it, one that I'm very excited about, and that is Media Center's ability to receive digital cable natively.
So what I have here in my hand is a device from Dell. This is a digital cable receiver. And you see here, let me show you how this works, on the back I have a spot where I connect my cable, pretty straightforward, and on the front I have a spot where I slide in the cable card. And this cable card is courtesy of Cox Cable here in Las Vegas. I connect to my PC. In this particular case I could connect it to a laptop or a desktop. We're super excited about this, because the benefits that it will bring to consumers are very compelling. Today, with a Windows Media Center PC, you have an analog connection or you can receive HD over the air. And what that means is that you're missing out on some of the really terrific content that your digital cable, your cable company is offering today.
You can't get high-def simply by plugging a cable in. You can't get great stuff like ESPN HD, or Discovery HD, and you can't get premium, or pay services like Showtime HD, or HBO HD. With Media Center, and it's digital cable ready capabilities all of that will change. A consumer can buy a digital cable-ready PC, attach the cable, slide in the access card, and now they have access really to the most compelling and broadest set of terrific content, from standard definition to high definition, even in its premium form.
So we're thrilled to have worked with the cable industry in the U.S. to have reached an agreement. We're excited to announce that that will be a part of Windows Vista this fall, and I'm going to give you a look at what that actually looks like. So let's switch over to Windows Vista Media Center and take a look.
So here you can see, pretty straightforward, I've used my Windows Vista Media Center to choose the Starz Channel, and I've made a recording of "The Aviator" on Starz, and here we are watching high-definition, premium content that has never left the digital form, it's stored on my PC hard drive, and it's available for me to watch either through my PC itself, or streaming through an extender like the Xbox 360 in another room in the house, also a high definition capable device.
So that's something that we're very excited about. Now, I'm going to wrap up by giving you a look at the newly revised user interface to the Windows Vista Media Center Edition. Here we're pressed the start menu, and you can see I'm still watching my high def movie in the background there. As I move through it should look pretty familiar. We've tried to enhance it so that not only do you have quick access to very common tasks, but we really wanted to take advantage of wide screen, high definition displays in an incredibly compelling way.
So let's take a look at well take my music library as an example. If we go into the music library, what you'll see here, keeping in line with what you saw earlier in Windows Media Player we can handle incredibly large libraries very well, both because of our user interface design, but also because of the performance work we've done. What you're looking at here is a library of over 10,000 songs with a few styles and albums. You can see how quickly and smoothly I can scroll through it, and how much more content I get visible on my wide screen display.
In addition, taking advantage of Windows Vista's deep and powerful capabilities for searching and querying to give you lots of great views on their content. I can look at albums by artist, which is a compelling view, and one that we hear a lot of people asking for is being able to view my albums by year. If I want to go back in my collection to find all that great '80s stuff, I know where to scroll back and look for it. We think that the PC is a terrific device for creating these kinds of views, and don't forget, of course, all of this remotes through the Xbox 360, and can be available in any room of your house through its extender capabilities.
The last thing that I want to show, we'll go down here and take a look at the movie library. This will give you a sense of how this user interface design change applies not just to music, but will also apply to photos, and does to movies, as well, in a compelling way. Here are the movie libraries showing me everything that I have available right now, whether it's because I have a DVD changer hooked up, or in this case, with "The Bourne Supremacy," because I've done a digitally legal copy onto the hard drive on my PC, there is the movie we were watching a minute before, and if I wanted to click it, I could jump right in and be watching it again.
So that gives you a quick look at some of the things that are happening today with Media Center, and some of the places that we're going in terms of trying to really bring together some of the world's best and broadest set of content into the PC, get it delivered on a wide range of really compelling companion devices, and make that experience compelling and great for the user. The one device that I actually haven't spent that much time talking about, although I've spent an awful lot of time using lately, is the Xbox 360. So to pick it up from where I've left off, I'm happy to introduce Peter Moore, who leads out Xbox and gaming for Windows businesses to come out and talk to you a little bit about the Xbox 360 and what's happening with that.
Thanks. Good night.
PETER MOORE: Good evening. So let me get this out of the way: USC 17, Texas 16. (Cheers.)
All right, let's focus on some important things here.
So it's five years ago today right on this very stage that we used CES to unveil Xbox, challenging the conventional wisdom we got in the future of what console gaming was about. Xbox as we all know is now a success story in more than 22 million homes worldwide. We envision with Xbox a community connected through Xbox Live, the first and only unified online gaming service. Xbox Live is now a movement of more than 2 million members that grows and diversifies each day. We believed that Halo would be a great franchise. Well, not only is it a great franchise but Halo 2 recorded the greatest day in retail entertainment history with $125 million in sales in one day.
And we built partnerships to create an incredibly diverse portfolio of high quality games that will number 800 by the end of this year.
In the Xbox generation we were the thought leader.
Let's fast-forward to Xbox 360. We're quickly moving from thought leadership to market leadership. And tonight I'm pleased to announce that Xbox 360 achieved an unprecedented global launch for the world of videogame consoles. In the first 90 days we will have launched Xbox 360 in nearly 30 countries, and Xbox 360 is on track to ship between 4.5 and 5.5 million consoles by the end of June.
Xbox 360 has a stunning attach rate of four games per console, and an accessory level and attach rate of three per console, both of which are nearly double the previous record.
Now, it's no secret to anybody in this room that our biggest challenge has been meeting the high consumer demand for the console. We are working to deliver consoles as quickly as we can manufacture them. To further bolster our capacity for output, I'm happy to announce that next month Selectica will join both Flextronics and Wistron as our third manufacturing partner. We need to meet the consumer demand worldwide and having this ability now to do that with three manufacturing partners helps us do that.
Xbox Live continues to lead the way in defining online entertainment for this global audience that we're delivering. Xbox Live is regarded as the standard by which all over online game services are measured. It's a seamlessly integrated world through the entire Xbox 360, and players are instantly connected to a vibrant online community the moment they power on the system.
Now, on Xbox 10 percent of customers connected their box to the Internet, on Xbox 360 more than 50 percent of all consoles worldwide are now connected to Xbox Live.
And Xbox Live doesn't only connect people around the world via games and entertainment, it also offers access to high definition content. Xbox Live marketplace is a one-stop digital download center where you can access high definition games, music, movie content from our leading industry partners.
Using our free Silver level of service, all Xbox Live players can connect to the Xbox Live marketplace.
As evidence of this, tonight I'm pleased to announce that in just four weeks since the launch of Xbox 360, more than 4 million Xbox Live marketplace downloads have enhanced the games and entertainment experiences of Xbox 360 owners around the world.
With numbers like that, Xbox Live is a proven form of mainstream entertainment. In fact, on a share basis, the 18 to 34 male demographic that we deliver through Xbox Live is comparable to network programs such as "CSI" or "The Office," and that fact and the popularity of Xbox Live has not gone unnoticed. Movie studios and record labels like 20th Century Fox and Epic Records have recently released movie and music video content on Xbox Live marketplace, and just two weeks ago Paramount Pictures chose Xbox 360 to world premiere the "Mission Impossible 3" trailer on Xbox Live marketplace, spotlighted right there on today's Xbox Live marketplace blade.
Now, digital distribution of content isn't limited to just music and video content. Watch out for Xbox Live arcade, where hundreds of thousands of people are downloading and playing casual, classic, puzzle and new action pack games like Joust or Geometry Wars or Hearts.
By March, we'll be proud to announce that more than 20 games will be available through Xbox Live Arcade, games like Streetfighter 2 from Capcom, games like Texas Hold 'Em and Marble Blast Ultra. Texas Hold 'Em will be the first fully sponsored game on Xbox Live Arcade, sponsored by our partners at (River Vail ?).
Xbox Live marketplace and Xbox Live Arcade are proof positive that high definition content delivery via the Internet is real and it's happening right now.
We're on the verge of an explosion in the kinds of high definition content available. Similarly, we're seeing a revolution in the way consumers can access all of that high def content, download it from the Internet, streaming over the whole network and, of course, high def optical disks.
Five years ago, we envisioned the future would include the convergence of high definition movies, things like games and photos, movies and, of course, television. Today, Xbox 360 is delivering on that vision.
Tonight, I'm proud to announce that later this year we will be launching an Xbox 360 external HD DVD drive. Soon millions of Xbox 360 owners can pop in an HD DVD disk and enjoy high definition movie playback.
In fact, Xbox 360 is the killer app for HDTV adoption. It's driving HDTV monitor sales. A recent study concluded that 9 out of 10 Xbox 360 owners have either purchased or intend to purchase an HDTV in the next six months. And 90 percent of them say that it was Xbox 360 that is the primary reason for making that purchase, 90 percent of them say it's about Xbox 360.
But exciting as all of this is, Xbox 360 continues to be about great games. It's my pleasure to announce that by June of this year Xbox 360 will have 50 high definition games from the best names in publishing, including 2K Games, Capcom, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft.
So without further ado, let's get it on by demonstrating the heavyweight power of Xbox 360 games pipeline. The upcoming blockbuster, EA Sports Fight Night Round 3 is the undisputed champion of boxing videogames. Now, for a game of this quality we need some world class fighters. And since we're in Las Vegas, we really need to do this right. So please welcome Al Bernstein, the host of one of the greatest boxing shows on television, both ESPN and Showtime, and a commentator of the World's Greatest Respect for the past 25 years. Please welcome Al Bernstein. (Applause.)
AL BERNSTEIN: Well, thank you very, very much. I am delighted to be here this evening. Ironically, just about two weeks ago, I was in New York shooting a whole sequence of shows that had to do with the Ali-Frasier trilogy and interestingly I'm going to get to participate in that very fight and those very fighters here that EA Sports has provided. And trust me, what I viewed in New York and what you're going to see is just as realistic, that's for sure.
Now, I've announced a lot of fighters in my day, but none exactly like the two that I'm going to talk about right now. First of all, in this corner, playing the role of Mohammed Ali, he floats like an MSN butterfly and he stings like a bee, let's welcome back a true heavyweight, Bill Gates. (Applause.) Can't wait to see your style, Bill.
And they're going to be playing this game.
Now, in this corner, playing the role of Joe Frasier, he's the sultan of security, and he's the prince of productivity, the Motor City hit man, Steve Ballmer. (Applause.)
STEVE BALLMER: Yeah, baby!
AL BERNSTEIN: Oh, wow, we've got some fisticuffs already happening, look out here.
All right, you guys are fired up here, I can feel this, I can feel it.
STEVE BALLMER: You've got it, you've got it. C'mon, Bill, 30 years I've been training for this opportunity. (Laughter.)
BILL GATES: You've got the weight on me, I give you that. (Laughter.)
STEVE BALLMER: Heavyweight division!
AL BERNSTEIN: Can we have a heavyweight against a middleweight, is that possible?
STEVE BALLMER: He could be a lightweight with all this weight he's been losing.
AL BERNSTEIN: Oh, ooh, a lot of trash-talking up here.
All right, trash-talking aside, we've had enough of that, guys. I want a clean fight, I want you to touch your controllers and come out boxing. Here we go.
Mohammed Ali and Joe Frasier, this is the kind of rivalry that you see on EA Sports Fight Night Round 3 and Mohammed Ali starting out very, very quickly in this match, using the jab, and keeping Joe Frasier at bay.
This is exactly the kind of action that is so realistic and makes fight announcers like me feel like I'm calling exactly a real fight. Great hand speed by Mohammed Ali. And this is where you see in this game - oh, Joe is punching with some good left hooks as well.
STEVE BALLMER: Yeah, baby!
AL BERNSTEIN: Joe is getting some hooks in there, but as you see, the power of Mohammed Ali starting to take effect, and in this game you can see Joe Frasier slowing down, one of the great features of this game. And Mohammed Ali taunting, as always. Big power punch by Ali. Frasier is slow but as in real life, even this can't stop Joe Frasier, because even being tired he will come on against Mohammed Ali. And look at him, the man knows left hooks.
Steve, you've got the control, except Mohammed Ali's hand speed makes a big difference.
Just the kind of action that you get here with all these great rivalries. Frasier and some huge trouble from the right hand. Did you say lightweight, and Joe Frasier in all kinds of trouble, now getting pelted by Mohammed Ali. Like real life and down goes Frasier. Didn't somebody say that once before? It could be over. He's throwing in his controller.
Ladies and gentlemen, watch these replays, they are so realistic that it's unreal.
Fight Night Round 3 showing you the realism and great work of this game, and it's so much fun to play.
And the champion, Mr. Bill Gates. (Cheers, applause.)
PETER MOORE: Don't throw your controllers at home, please, thank you. (Laughter.)
STEVE BALLMER: You get the heck beat out of you and you throw your controller.
PETER MOORE: Thank you. Well, the sweet science has never looked so good. Well, thank you, gentlemen.
EA's Fight Night Round 3 coming to Xbox 360 on February the 14th, and following tonight's speech, very important, those of you connected to Xbox Live will be immediately able to download that demo directly from Xbox Live marketplace, a playable demo, free for everyone to download and play.
So Xbox 360, as you see I think, is the future of games and entertainment, a system that enables breakthrough digital entertainment experiences, all fueled by a combination of powerful hardware, innovative software, and groundbreaking global services. The HD era has begun and the Xbox 360 is leading the way.
Thank you very much and thank you to the fighters. (Applause.)
2006: The Digital Lifestyle
BILL GATES: All right, good job.
All right, well, we've seen a lot tonight, and I think what it says is that 2006 is going to be a big year for digital lifestyle. There's a few themes that I think really stand out here. One is high definition, Xbox 360 driving high definition, the content partners, Media Center now going to be easily connected up to the sources of high definition, movies going to be much more available there, the screens really catching on, coming down in price, so that's a very, very big thing.
Second I'd say is partners, partners of all kinds, the partners who build the amazing hardware you saw here tonight, the partners who do traditional content now coming in and seeing the opportunity for interactivity, even people who think about advertising are now partners because this platform will let them do new and different things. The software industry is stepping up and doing software that uses the Internet in new ways, reaches out to users, create communities, works across devices, and us building a platform to make that easy for those people to do.
Another theme is that this all has to work across these devices, whether it's calling people, seeing their presence, knowing what they're interested in, making it easy for them to navigate; it's got to be user centric, and that's a big theme that's going to make these things a lot simpler.
Software is providing power, but software has got to provide simplicity. And that's why our investment levels are going up, investments in the toughest problems: security, privacy, speech recognition, video recognition, and all of those things will fold into this platform. The magic of the work that people like Intel does allows us to be more and more ambitious with that software.
And so even though this year is going to be amazing, you'll see acceleration in the future as the power of these systems, the natural ease of use gets better and better with that software centricity. So we're all going to have a lot of fun, a lot of productivity using these systems.
Thank you. (Applause.)