Pmilo Previous

Teddy Is Watching

At Microsoft's recent TechFest in Redmond, WA, company researchers displayed a prototype of a teddy bear with smarts. The teddy bear was one of more than a hundred projects on display at the event that is open only to Microsoft employees and a few invited guests. The two-day fest gives the company's product developers a peek at what the researchers have been dreaming up in their labs. It is hoped that some of the projects might turn into marketable products for the company.

Obviously, this is no ordinary bear. Blending in with the other toys in your kid's room, this teddy bear is constantly monitoring the activities of your son or daughter. It tracks the movements of your child, whether playing on the floor or sleeping in bed. Using face recognition software along with audio pickups, the bear can keep tabs on the child and alert the parents, if necessary, using wireless communications. A built-in camera and speaker in the bear allow the parents to see and talk with the child.

Leaving the kid's room and teddy bear but still looking at how technology is increasingly impacting our daily lives, consider the following results from a recent survey conducted by NetDay, a national education technology nonprofit group. As noted on their website, the mission of NetDay is to connect every child to a brighter future by helping educators meet educational goals through the effective use of technology. In 1995, the group prompted a volunteer effort to wire the nation's K 12 classrooms with Internet access. Over the next six years, more than 500,000 volunteers wired 75,000 classrooms in 40 states.

In the 2nd annual event, Speak Up Day for Students 2004, more than 167,000 students voiced their opinions in an online survey on technology and the Internet. Results of the survey said that for students in grades six to 12, 58% have cell phones, and 68% of those students take the phones to school. Of the phones taken to school, a little more than 20% have text and photo capabilities. As for instant messaging, three-quarters of the students have at least one screen name, and a whooping 81% of the students have at least one e-mail account. These kids are really connected.

Not surprising, 62% tap into the Internet first when starting a writing assignment. With the vast amount of information available on the Internet, plagiarism is a growing problem. More than a third of the survey participants knew someone who has broken this rule even though 66% of the students say their teachers have cautioned them about it.

I just read in MIT's Technology Review that next year cell phones will be able to scan documents and send them as high-quality faxes, and in Asia, phones will sport 6-megapixel cameras. With our ever-vigilant teddy bears and do-it-all phones, our kids most assuredly will be well protected and definitely connected.

Paul Milo
Editorial Director
[email protected]

Sponsored Recommendations


To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Electronic Design, create an account today!