GPS Footwear: Program your shoes and start walking?

Perhaps one of the worst travel experiences is being lost and on foot in a city without a decent map or a sense of direction. This is particularly horrendous when one has walked and walked and walked only to discover the same buildings and streets that one saw hours ago. A shoe GPS system might be the answer to such foot torture and travel woes.

This shoe + GPS is an idea that has a design already. If these shoes are ever made, Footwear with GPS will be shoes equipped with a GPS unit and transponder.

After reading the description and looking at the diagram of this shoe at Funny Patents and Inventions, I’m not exactly sure how this system works, but it does seem that even if you don’t know where you’re going, this shoe could be helpful for determining where you are.

I wonder how the system fares in rain? Could you get shocked if you happen to slog through a puddle? Also, I wonder if you could have a bit of fun with someone and program one shoe to point a person in one direction and the other to point the opposite way?

This Footwear with GPS system idea reminds me of the saying, “Wherever you go, there you are.” Perhaps that could be a slogan for an ad campaign.

Anti-wi-fi paint will make it harder to scam free Internet

The days of scamming free wireless Internet may soon be over.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed a paint that blocks wifi signals. So if a room is painted with this stuff, only computers inside the room would be able to pick up a wireless signal originating there. At a projected cost of £10 ($16) a kilo, the paint would be a cheap way of keeping hackers and moochers from using your wireless to download dodgy files.

The paint is infused with an aluminum-iron oxide that blocks all radio signals at 100Ghz, the frequency at which wifi transmits.

As ingenious as this sounds, there are a couple of downsides. First, it won’t protect the user from online threats, and of more importance to travelers, it will stop people from scamming free Internet while on the go. In Madrid I can go to my local park, pop open my laptop, and surf the Internet on somebody else’s euro. I can do this in many other European capitals too. With all the new costs being added to airline tickets, it would be a shame if this travel freebie were to disappear.

Perhaps we should tell the nice folks at the University of Tokyo “thanks but no thanks”? Anybody know how to say that in Japanese?

World’s biggest optical telescope in the making

A 30-meter, $1-billion optical telescope that’s in the making promises to bring our Universe 10-times closer. A dream come true for astronomers, it will allow for the study of earlier galaxies, and maybe even take us into the space beyond our solar system.

Headed by the California Institute of Technology, the telescope is called the Thirty-Meter-Telescope or TMT and word is that it will exceed the capabilities of its rival telescopes: the 24.5 meter giant Magellan Telescope, and the 42-meter Extremely Long Telescope; and it is the biggest news to hit astronomy since the launch of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope in 1990.

Plans are for it to be located in Mexico, Chile or Hawaii; the design is to be finalized in 2009 and its completion is tapped for 2016.

Look how far we have come: Galileo’s handmade telescope in the 17th Century — which was not more than 2-meters in size — to this humongous thing that will further revolutionize our understanding of what has so far been beyond us.

I think the fact that we were able to turn something that was once used to peek into our neighbors backyard, into something that allows you to look beyond your planet, is fascinating and so underrated. The boons of science never fail to leave me in awe.