Entries in Wi-Fi (6)


Airplane Manufacturer Sees Passengers as Sacks of Potatoes

Matt Hosford/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Passengers sometimes complain of being made to feel like cattle when traveling on various airlines, but sacks of potatoes are actually a more apt description for airplane manufacturer Boeing.

According to a press release, the engineers at the company needed to thoroughly test a revolutionary in-flight WiFi system, though doing so would require filling the plane to capacity and having passengers just sit there while engineers beamed content-streaming signals all over the cabin 24/7 for days on end to test signal strength and iron out technical glitches.

To avoid using people, Boeing scientists called in the SPUDS.  Specifically, Synthetic Personnel Using Dielectric Substitution, or in layman's terms, potatoes -- 20,000 pounds of them -- seated in each airline seat.

"The vegetables' interactions with radio-wave signals mimic those of the human body," a scientist noted in the study.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


LovePalz App: A Sex Toy with Wi-Fi

WINZZ, Inc.(NEW YORK) -- When Oni Chen went off to the London College of Communication where he did his dissertation on apps, he said he missed his girlfriend terribly -- especially their sex life.

So Chen, a 27-year-old marketing major from Taiwan, came up with a novel idea to experience intimacy long distance. He invented LovePalz, a gender-appropriate sex toy that conveniently works with an iPhone or other mobile device. Talk about phone sex.

Chen describes it as a "Wi-Fi-connected love machine that lets both the top and the bottom stimulate some sexy time."

The two gadgets -- Hera, which is designed for women; and Zeus, more for males -- produce sensation and motion "in real time" via an Internet connection, according to the LovePalz website.

"When I was studying abroad, my girlfriend and I were apart and had a long-distance relationship, sex wasn't something we could achieve," he told "So I thought, why can't we have something that can help us spike up our relationship when we are not around each other?"

All it takes, apparently, is a smartphone and $95 for the two devices. The app has a video conference function, too.

"It doesn't really work, if you don't see each other," said Chen. The device is "controlled through your action," and responds to the movement of the lover on the other phone.

"Mobile devices are just a tool to communicate," he said. "The concept is to stimulate virtual sex -- to feel as real as possible."

But Joanne Cantor, a University of Wisconsin psychologist who specializes in the stressful aspects of the digital revolution, said LovePalz could be a poor substitute for the real deal.

"It's probably a novelty thing and you try it once," she said. "I can just visualize the person holding the phone in one hand and the device in the other hand. How sexy does that feel?"

"My thinking is this would be probably not work very well and kind of reflects what's going on in technology," said Cantor, author of the 2009 book Conquer CyberOverload.

Would the app be used, like other online pornography, with a stranger, rather than the spouse? "There is a great general tendency toward moving away from full communication to something less complete," she said.

Cantor hails Skype as a worthy invention that brings families together, but said texting rather than talking, and Facebooking rather than meeting with real friends, can be dehumanizing.

"As our gadgets get smaller and smaller and work everywhere, they can dominate your life," she said. "Unless you are aware and make some decisions, they will control every minute of your life."

Chen readily admits the app has not been approved or even submitted to Apple for its App Store, nor has the device yet been manufactured. His website concedes that Kickstarter, a fundraising site for new ventures, has declined to help. Still, he says his company has already received 2,432 orders from the United States and around the globe.

But, he told, "We are ready. Theoretically and practically it works." Chen continues to ask for "donations" and doesn't require payment until his company can deliver devices by January of 2013

So for now, the LovePalz website enthusiastically describes Chen's vision: a "streamlined" metallic device that will give "long lasting" pleasure.

"Even if your hands sweat, it will not slip away, and it is very easy to wash if it gets dirty," says the site. "The device's fully water proof design allows it to function perfectly in water."

The device boasts "multiple pressure and speed sensors" to transmit his-and-her reactions via an Internet connection.

But is that enough to salvage a long-distance relationship?

"People have lots of opinions," said Chen, defending LovePalz. "But we think it can actually help a lot of couples and maybe even reduce their risk of cheating when they feel lonely or bored."

Chen reports that sadly, his steady girlfriend is no longer around. Maybe the device could have kept the long-distance lovers together?

"Probably, maybe," he said. "But maybe not."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ad Agency Turns Homeless into Wi-Fi Hotspots in Texas

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- South by Southwest, the festival being held in Austin, Texas, this week, has been chock full of marketing stunts.  But perhaps the most daring one -- and possibly the biggest backfire -- has come from the New York-based advertising agency Bartle, Bogle and Hegarty (BBH).

The company turned homeless people on the streets of Austin into wireless hotspots.

Knowing there would be high demand for free Internet at the event, the agency outfitted 13 homeless people from the Front Steps shelter in Austin with 4G MiFi devices, which broadcast Internet signals.  Each participant was given a T-shirt to help advertise: "I'm Melvin, a 4G Hotspot."

Each homeless participant was paid $20 a day and got to keep all the donations.  It was suggested users pay $2 per 15 minutes of Internet time.  Users could pay in cash or donate through PayPal.

"Homeless Hotspots in particular came about when we focused on the environment at the annual SXSW event, at which getting high-speed Internet access can be a challenge," Emma Cookson, chairman of BBH, told ABC News.  "We thought it might be worth trialling, giving the opportunity to homeless people to sell 4G connectivity to the tech-oriented attendees instead of a printed paper."

The reaction to the "experiment" was overwhelmingly negative.  Wired's Tim Carmody described it as distopian and said "the homeless turned not just into walking, talking hotspots, but walking, talking billboards for a program that doesn't care anything at all about them or their future."

But the "homeless hotspots" might not actually have felt that way.

"I would say that these people are trying to help the homeless, and increase awareness," Melvin, one of the 13 homeless people in the program, told Buzzfeed.  "That's a good side of it, too --  we get to talk to people. Maybe give them a different perception of what homeless is like." 

Similarly, another participant, Dusty White, told ABC News that he doesn't feel taken for granted and that he enjoyed talking to people.

BBH said this was simply a pilot program.  Although it has been rumored that they might bring the program to New York City, Cookson told ABC News that it doesn't have any specific future plans yet, in New York or anywhere.

"We are listening hard to this deluge of feedback, trying to learn and respond, and we'll then consider what is appropriate to do next," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Skype Offers Free Wi-Fi to Holiday Travelers

Skype(NEW YORK) -- Skype has a gift for holiday travelers. Starting Wednesday, the company will offer free Wi-Fi in more than 50 airports across the country.

Users will be able to use the Internet for an hour, including making calls on Skype.

The free service is available for a week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


AT&T Adding More Wi-Fi Hot Spots in U.S.

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- AT&T will be expanding its Wi-Fi access for customers in key cities across the U.S.

The wireless service provider is expected to announce Tuesday that it will be adding more Wi-Fi hot spots near New York's Time Square, just in time for the city's upcoming New Year's Eve festivities.

AT&T's Alexa Coffman says the expansion in New York will "include St. Patrick's Cathedral and up toward Rockefeller Center."

Wi-Fi hot spots will also be introduced in San Francisco.  According to Coffman, AT&T hopes the expansion will help customers by taking demand off the company's cell network and allowing smart phone users to switch over to Wi-Fi.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Google to Provide In-Flight Internet for Holiday Air Travel

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Google Chrome, Google’s Web browser team, on Monday announced plans to team up with AirTran, Delta and Virgin America Airlines to provide passengers with a new service for holiday travel called Gogo Inflight Internet.

Gogo will allow flight passengers to access free Wi-Fi service while traveling on domestic flights during the holiday travel season.

Travelers flying on AirTran, Delta or Virgin America will be able to utilize the service between November 20, 2010 and January 2, 2011.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio