Friday, May 11, 2007

Virtual Trip: Travel in 'Second Life'

Virtual Trip: Travel in 'Second Life'


NEW YORK - The tour was a whirlwind: dancing at a beachside disco in Spain surrounded by scantily clad women, grabbing a seat at a lively pub in Dublin, flying in a small aircraft above a lush, tropical forest.

Time elapsed? Less than two hours.

With no tickets required, no money spent and no need to leave your seat, touring in the virtual world of "Second Life" holds a certain appeal for travelers willing to delve deep into the Internet to find their escape.

Visitors need only download a free program, then log in. With the help of elaborate 3-D locales designed and built by the world's residents, tourists can watch their online embodiments - known as their avatars - lounge at the beach, dine at a romantic restaurant, or go out dancing at a crowded nightclub.

Like in the real world, it's easy to get lost. Longtime inhabitants of "Second Life" are creating automated tours, opening virtual travel agencies and even publishing travel guidebooks modeled after those seen in the hands of confused tourists.

Of course, there are some glaring differences between your average Frommer's guide and "The Unofficial Tourists' Guide to Second Life," published in April by St. Martin's Press.

"There are sections on how to fly and how to hover," said co-writer Paul Carr. But despite such necessary adjustments, he said, "it's very much like going to a foreign country."

With the ability to fly and even teleport from place to place in "Second Life," which hosted more than 1 million visitors in April, a vacation does not need to be a lengthy affair.

As they travel to virtual Roman neighborhoods and fantastical worlds, visitors can interact with other participants from all over the (real) world - about three-quarters of users are from outside the U.S., mostly from Europe, Brazil, Canada, Japan and Australia.

In "Second Life," even language difficulties are a thing of the past. Visitors can pick up a free translation program and carry on typed conversations with others speaking any of nine languages.

For those looking to get their bearings, one option is the guided tour. Virtual travel agency Synthravels seeks to match up "tourists" and volunteer guides in 27 different online worlds, including "Second Life," "World of Warcraft" and others.

On one recent tour of "Second Life," Synthravels founder Mario Gerosa led the way to a virtual representation of the Spanish island of Ibiza, stopping first at a shop selling traditional flamenco garb, then at a disco surrounded by sand and sea, where with the click of a mouse avatars can dance.

Next stop is Midnight City, where a flight above the skyscrapers shows the moon's light reflected on the ocean's waves. Nearby, a simulation of a solar eclipse allows Gerosa's avatar, Frank Koolhaas, to walk right up to a blazing sun, standing on the fabric of outer space.

Also on the tour: Dublin, a popular hangout among Irish users, and an island called Svarga, where a flying pod carries avatars above what appears to be a rain forest filled with huge trees and giant mushrooms.

Like any guided tour in "Second Life," though, this one carried its own inherent difficulties. With both leader and led under their own power, it was quite easy to get separated. Several times, Gerosa's avatar lost some of its clothes.

Like the Vatican in the height of tourist season, "Second Life" locations tend to get especially crowded when it's evening in the U.S. or Europe, and the resulting computer lag time can make navigating cumbersome.

And finding a guide, in of itself, can be a challenge. The Synthravels Web site has connected guides and tourists more than 200 times, according to Gerosa, but for now it does not charge visitors or pay guides, and finding a tour depends on the sometimes-fickle interest of volunteers.

But with some persistence and a willingness to just walk up to knowledgeable avatars and ask, there are guides to be found, Carr said.

"There are quite a few people in 'Second Life' who will offer a tour in exchange for a few Linden dollars," said the writer, referring to the world's currency, which can be bought and sold for real-world cash.

Those having a hard time securing a personal tour can turn to a number of automated options. Many site creators post vehicles near arrival points and program them to give visitors a tour of the location.

By heading to The Guided Tour Company of Second Life, where automated tour vehicles ranging from hang-gliders to flying carpets are sold, avatars can access a programmed tour of tours.

By clicking on the free guide, users can teleport to Icarus, where a giant dragonfly carries them to a romantic dance floor surrounded by twinkling stars. Clicking again brings them to Venice Island, where a gondola takes them to an old church adorned with Renaissance paintings and an ornate, carved pulpit.

Another click leads to Cocoloco Island Resort, where a white hot-air balloon ferries them around what looks amazingly like a Caribbean resort: beach chairs, thatch cabanas, and a pool that - with a few mouse clicks - allows visitors to float on their backs for hours.

At least for now, few people are charging visitors for such travel services. Even a stay at "aloft," a recently reopened virtual hotel by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., is free. But the many entrepreneurs of "Second Life" may yet find a way to make travel pay, said Jeska Dzwigalski, a community developer with San Francisco-based Linden Research Inc., which runs the virtual world.

She said she has seen the tours and "travel agencies popping up that help people and give them an experience they might not otherwise find. ... As we've grown, that became a potential business for people."

Karen Hemmes has seen the demand firsthand - or at least through the eyes of her avatar, Sierra Sugar.

A Gainesville, Fla., nurse by day - and a DJ at "Second Life" events by night - Hemmes received a virtual hot-air balloon as a gift, and started taking friends for rides. By the end of many of these tours meant for two, her balloon was packed to capacity with passers-by who had asked to join in, she said.

Visitors can even capture a few photos or home videos to remind them of their trip. Screen grabs of a virtual Times Square and videos of avatars surfing are easily found on image-sharing sites around the Web.

For those planning to go, though, Carr suggests visitors don't follow his example.

"If you want to retain friends and not kill yourselves, then you need to take lots of breaks," said Carr, who holed himself up in a London apartment with co-writer Graham Pond in the final days of their research, subsisting on tinned goods and bottled water.

Tips on touring "Second Life":

WHEN TO GO: When "Second Life" gets crowded, your avatar might seem sluggish and there might be a delay before elements of the world pop into full view. So you may want to consider visiting in the "offseason." Creator Linden Research Inc. says that's usually before 4 p.m. EDT and after 7 p.m. EDT.

HOW TO GET THERE: Visit, download the free "Second Life" software and pick a name for your avatar.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED: A graphics card and a computer that meet the software's technical specifications. See

GETTING AROUND: Fly, teleport or catch a ride on a hot-air balloon. Plan on spending some time on an orientation island while you're figuring out how to navigate.

HOOK UP WITH A TOUR GUIDE: Synthravels bills itself as "the first online virtual travel agency":

FIND AN AUTOMATED TOUR: The Guided Tour Company of Second Life offers a free, automated tour of tours:

ACCOMMODATIONS: Until next month, you can find a room at the virtual aloft hotel, a "Second Life" model of Starwood Hotels' new brand, to be launched in the real world next year;

GUIDEBOOKS: "The Unofficial Tourists' Guide to Second Life," published last month by St. Martin's Press ($9.95). Also the Wired travel guide to "Second Life":

AFTER DARK: Like on the Internet, sex is everywhere. Those under 18 should stick to "Teen Second Life," and everyone else should be forewarned: You might run into something you wouldn't see at Disneyland.



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AdMob Takes Coke in Hand for Mobile

AdMob Takes Coke in Hand for Mobile

"Coke side of life" is slightly psychedelic


Source: MarketingVOX


AdMob and Coca-Cola have banded together for a click-to-video mobile campaign targeted to certain handsets, says iMediaConnection.


Leveraging AdMob video-to-handset technology and rich content from Coke's Bottle Films, ads include both graphic and text elements on Web pages tailored for mobile viewing. Each spot leads to a Coca-Cola landing page where users can watch consumer-generated shorts showcasing "the Coke side of life."


Pleased about Coke's decision to take hands, AdMob CEO Omar Hamoui calls the collaboration "a great validation of the AdMob Marketplace and mobile advertising in general."


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80% of Internet Users To Get Second Life

80% of Internet Users To Get Second Life

APRIL 27, 2007

Source: eMarketer

Gartner predicts that 80% of active Internet users and Fortune 500 companies will have an avatar or presence in a virtual environment like Second Life by the end of 2011.

Gartner said that enterprise clients should experiment with virtual environments, but hold off on heavy investments until the environments stabilize and mature.

The predictions were made during "Symposium/ITxpo 2007: Emerging Trends," and were accompanied by five laws to guide enterprises in their virtual ventures.

First Law: Virtual worlds are not games, but neither are they a parallel universe (yet). "How do we exploit this as a sales channel?" is the wrong first question to ask.

Second Law: Behind every avatar is a real person. Enterprise users must consider their corporate reputations when dealing with avatars.

Third Law: Be relevant and add value. "Do not expect to undertake profitable commercial activities inside most virtual worlds in the next three years," said Steve Prentice of Gartner.

Fourth Law: Understand and contain the downside. Ask if virtual-world activities undermine or influence branding in the real world. Adult content is a large part of virtual economies, so appropriate behavior and ethics must be considered.

Fifth Law: This is a long haul. Virtual environments have developed through the convergence of social networking, simulation and online gaming. The stability and scalability of many new entrants are not yet established. 


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LookSmart Launches Its Newest Ad Serving and Optimization Product: Contextual Targeting

LookSmart Launches Its Newest Ad Serving and Optimization Product: Contextual Targeting

Business Wire via NewsEdge Corporation :

Publisher Revenues and Advertiser Opportunities Business Editors SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 8, 2007--LookSmart (NASDAQ: LOOK, ASX: LOK), an online advertising and technology company, today announced the launch of contextual ad serving and optimization, the latest offering in LookSmart's AdCenter. With the addition of contextual, LookSmart is the only company to offer publishers a comprehensive, private-labeled platform from which they can develop and grow direct relationships with advertisers, while maintaining any other ad network relationships.

The platform provides control over the relevance of the matched ads and the presentation of those ads on a publisher's site. The technology behind the contextual capabilities performs a semantic analysis of a page's content to determine the relevant topics for ads. This--combined with the yield-based algorithms inherent in the Ad Center--serves a more relevant ad to the visitor and helps improve ROI for advertisers.

Contextual advertising completes the first phase of LookSmart's comprehensive AdCenter for Publishers, which now includes: search and contextual ad serving; ad "backfill" capabilities; high yield-focused ad serving algorithms; both Advertiser and Publisher APIs, and robust reporting.

"With the addition of contextual, publishers now have a complete ad serving and revenue optimization solution that they totally control," says Dave Hills, president and CEO of LookSmart. "This single platform delivers revenue, scalability and differentiation via its white-labeled deployment and open system. Now publishers can truly take control of their business to best serve themselves, their audience and their advertisers."

LookSmart licenses its AdCenter to top publishers, including and Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier. This hosted advertising sales and service platform allows search engines, media companies, social networking sites, retail sites, directories, ISPs and portals to manage their advertiser relationships and accounts.

In April, LookSmart announced an ad backfill capability which uses ad network feeds from other publishers to help increase revenue and bidding activity.

In addition to its publisher network and ad distribution partners, LookSmart's sponsored search and contextual products are distributed on the Company's 180+ vertical search sites and a segmented, demographically focused audience.

About LookSmart

LookSmart is an online advertising and technology company that provides relevant solutions for advertisers, publishers and consumers. LookSmart offers advertisers targeted, pay-per-click (PPC) search advertising and banners via its consumer Web properties and a monitored ad distribution network; a customizable set of private-label solutions for publishers, and vertical search sites and web tools for consumers. LookSmart is based in San Francisco, California. For more information, visit or call 415-348-7000.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements, such as references to enhancing our products and industry and customer acceptance of our products. These statements, including their underlying assumptions, are subject to risks and uncertainties and are not guarantees of future performance. Results may differ due to various factors such as the possibility that we may be unable to gain or maintain customer acceptance of our publisher solutions products, that existing and potential customers for our publisher solutions products may opt to work with, or favor the products of, others due to more favorable products or pricing terms. In addition, you should read the risk factors detailed in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2006, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The statements presented in this press release speak only as of the date of the release. Also, please note that except as required by applicable law we undertake no obligation to revise or publicly update any forward-looking statements for any reason.

LookSmart is a registered trademark of LookSmart Ltd, Inc.

CONTACT: Lyman Public Relations Carmella Lyman, 707-256-3834


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MTV meets QVC: Publicis, Droga5, Digitas host branded content site

MTV meets QVC: Publicis, Droga5, Digitas host branded content site


Source: ePharm5(tm)
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At Microsoft's recent client summit, Publicis Groupe, Droga5, and Digitas announced their collaborated effort to launch Honeyshed, a new Web site that provides only branded content by combining online ads and entertainment. The site will wrap overt advertising around entertainment, which may include a mix of live programming and character-driven sketch shows. There will be no traditional online advertising on the site--no banners, rollovers, or 30-second spots. Instead, the content is paid for by sponsors who are trying to capture 18- to 35-year-olds. Consumers can view content of their choice as long as they don't mind receiving blatant advertising messages along with it. Honeyshed will also have live chat facilities and social-networking capabilities. One company spokesperson referred to the new site as "MTV meets QVC." It will launch in beta this summer. 

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Nielsen//NetRatings Launches VideoCensus, Combining Panel- and Census-Based Metrics, Delivering the Industry's Most Accurate Online Video Measurement Product

Nielsen//NetRatings Launches VideoCensus, Combining Panel- and Census-Based Metrics, Delivering the Industry's Most Accurate Online Video Measurement Product

Leading Global Media and User-Generated Video Companies Endorse VideoCensus Methodology and Results

NEW YORK - May 7, 2007 - Nielsen//NetRatings (Nasdaq: NTRT), a global leader in Internet media and market research, today announced the availability of VideoCensus, the industry's most accurate online video measurement service. VideoCensus is the first-ever syndicated online video measurement service to combine panel and census research methodologies and provide an end-to-end accounting of audience size, demographic composition, engagement and competitive activity.

"We are excited to bring the VideoCensus product to market and pleased with the enthusiastic client response," said Manish Bhatia, executive vice president of NetRatings. "By harnessing the unique strengths of both panel and Web analytics measurement tools, we have a 'best of breed' service that can be used for planning and post analysis on the Internet - something no other information set offers."

The VideoCensus methodology employs two patented assets, NetRatings' desktop meter and SiteCensus content-tagging technology. To facilitate reporting, online video publishers, technology providers and networks attach a simple piece of NetRatings code to their video delivery platforms. Once enabled, this code allows NetRatings to collect a precise census count of the viewing activity. The NetRatings desktop meter, deployed to hundreds of thousands of panelist PCs worldwide, further dissects and analyzes the video data to provide granular insight into viewer engagement with specific video channels, programs, and clips.

Dave Osborn, director of the Nielsen//NetRatings MegaPanel services, elaborated on the product's evolution: "Our charge was to build a measurement system that provides rich demographics, pinpoint accuracy and the ability to adapt quickly to meet the changing needs of this evolving marketplace. VideoCensus is grounded in media research fundamentals and leverages the technology and accountability afforded by the Internet."

Transparency in Methodology and Scalability in Reporting "We have been impressed with the care that has been applied to the VideoCensus product," said Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer for Turner Broadcasting System. "We believe it is superior to competitive syndicated video measurement products."

Using a technology-agnostic collection system, VideoCensus objectively measures all methods of streaming media delivery regardless of the application, protocol or viewing platform. Through its proprietary combination of technologies, VideoCensus can easily report on viewing of cached content, peer-to-peer programs, and digital rights-managed (DRM) video streams. In this way, VideoCensus will allow for seamless reporting as the industry continues to innovate.

"As an innovator in online video, it's important that our data be presented accurately in the marketplace," said Julie DeTraglia, vice president of Strategic Digital Research at NBC. "We like the transparency of the VideoCensus methodology because we know exactly what is being measured." Unprecedented Accuracy in Video Measurement Given the array of opportunities for distribution and monetization presented by online video, one of the key marketplace requirements is that content be accurately credited.

"VideoEgg is delivering more than 425 million video streams a month, across more than 70 social networking sites. VideoCensus has given us the ability to get accurate counts of activity across our network, along with the panel-based demographic data we need to position our audience," said Troy Young, chief marketing officer of VideoEgg.

Initial VideoCensus reports were released to clients in January and are available monthly. The next-generation release, complete with an online user interface and robust suite of reports, is due in October 2007.

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FDA Launches New Web Page, E-newsletter to Enhance Online Consumer Health Information

FDA Launches New Web Page, E-newsletter to Enhance Online Consumer Health Information

PR Newswire via NewsEdge Corporation :

ROCKVILLE, Md., May 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Keeping up with the latest consumer health information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just got easier. FDA today announced two new initiatives to enhance online communications. A web page, "Consumer Health Information for You and Your Family" (, provides comprehensive and timely consumer information. A free monthly e-newsletter, "FDA Consumer Health Information" (, will alert consumers to content contained on the page.

"The web page and e-newsletter are important new consumer resources that will feature timely stories on pressing FDA topics, provide links to our most requested information, and include interactive content," says Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D., Commissioner of Food and Drugs.

The new consumer web page will present important public health developments clearly and accurately in easy-to-read language. A current article describes FDA's ongoing investigation of the recent recall of more than 100 brands of pet food due to potential contamination. Other current articles discuss the benefits and risks of pain relievers, facts about generic drugs, and what FDA is doing to keep produce safe.

The page also provides links to useful information about the various products that FDA regulates, including food, human and animal drugs, medical devices, and vaccines and other biologics. The page also links to health information available from other U.S. government sources, and provides essential health information in Spanish.

The e-newsletter replaces the agency's print magazine and is expected to reach far more people. Subscribers will receive notice of product approvals, safety warnings, and other health news.

FDA invites feedback on the new Web page and the e-newsletter. Comments and questions may be sent via email to or mailed to FDA Consumer Health Information, Food and Drug Administration, HFI-40, Room 15A-29, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857.

SOURCE U.S. Food and Drug Administration

CONTACT: Jason Brodsky of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, +1-301-827-6251,

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Beam It Down From the Web, Scotty

May 7, 2007

Beam It Down From the Web, Scotty

Source: New York Times


PASADENA, Calif. — Sometimes a particular piece of plastic is just what you need. You have lost the battery cover to your cellphone, perhaps. Or your daughter needs to have the golden princess doll she saw on television. Now.

In a few years, it will be possible to make these items yourself. You will be able to download three-dimensional plans online, then push Print. Hours later, a solid object will be ready to remove from your printer.

It’s not quite the transporter of “Star Trek,” but it is a step closer.

Three-dimensional printers have been seen in industrial design shops for about a decade. They are used to test part designs for cars, airplanes and other products before they are sent to manufacturing. Once well over $100,000 each, such machines can now be had for $15,000. In the next two years, prices are expected to fall further, putting the printers in reach of small offices and even corner copy stores.

The next frontier will be the home. One company that wants to be the first to deliver a 3-D printer for consumers is Desktop Factory, started by IdeaLab, a technology incubator here. The company will start selling its first printer for $4,995 this year.

Bill Gross, chairman of IdeaLab, says the technology it has developed, which uses a halogen light bulb to melt nylon powder, will allow the price of the printers to fall to $1,000 in four years.

“We are Easy-Bake Ovening a 3-D model,” he said. “The really powerful thing about this idea is that the fundamental engineering allows us to make it for $300 in materials.”

Others are working on the same idea.

“In the future, everyone will have a printer like this at home,” said Hod Lipson, a professor at Cornell University, who has led a project that published a design for a 3-D printer that can be made with about $2,000 in parts. “You can imagine printing a toothbrush, a fork, a shoe. Who knows where it will go from here?”

Three-dimensional printers, often called rapid prototypers, assemble objects out of an array of specks of material, just as traditional printers create images out of dots of ink or toner. They build models in a stack of very thin layers, each created by a liquid or powdered plastic that can be hardened in small spots by precisely applied heat, light or chemicals.

3D Systems, a pioneer in the field, plans to introduce a three-dimensional printer later this year that will sell for $9,900.

“We think we can deliver systems for under $2,000 in three to five years,” said Abe Reichental, the company’s chief executive. “That will open a market of people who are not just engineers — collectors, hobbyists, interior decorators.”

Even at today’s prices, uses for 3-D printers are multiplying.

Colleges and high schools are buying them for design classes. Dental labs are using them to shape crowns and bridges. Doctors print models from CT scans to help plan complex surgery. Architects are printing three-dimensional models of their designs. And the Army Corps of Engineers used the technology to build a topographical map of New Orleans to help plan reconstruction.

Entrepreneurs like Fabjectory are beginning to find interest in 3-D printing among aficionados of online games, like Second Life and World of Warcraft, in which players design their own characters. Electronic Arts hopes to offer a similar service to create three-dimensional models of characters in Spore, a game to be introduced later this year.

Eventually, 3-D design software will let people make sculptures and design housewares at home.

But 3-D printers may be useful for people who do not want to learn how to use such sophisticated programs.

IdeaLab hopes companies will sell three-dimensional designs over the Internet. This would allow people to print out replacements for a dishwasher rack at home. And it would open up new opportunities for toys.

“You could go to, download Barbie, scan your Mom’s head, slap the head on Barbie and print it out,” suggests Joe Shenberger, the director of sales for Desktop Factory. “You could have a true custom one-off toy.”

How many people will want such a thing? It is impossible to say for sure, but some who work with the current crop of 3-D printers say they will be very attractive when the price puts them in reach of home users.

“When laser printers cost more than $5,000, nobody knew they needed desktop publishing,” said A. Michael Berman, chief technology officer for the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, which has a half-dozen 3-D printers for its students to use. “The market for 3-D printing isn’t as big as for laser printers, but I do believe it is huge.”

And Desktop Factory’s version is meant to be compact enough for a home office — 25 by 20 by 20 inches — with a weight of less than 90 pounds.

The origin of Desktop Factory was not so much a desire to print Barbies as a frustration with the Internet. After making a lot of money starting Internet companies like CitySearch, IdeaLab lost even more with flops like eToys. With its investors disgruntled, the company shrank, slowed down and turned its attention from the Web to technologies like solar energy and robotics.

“We traded bits for atoms,” Mr. Gross said.

IdeaLab’s new interest in things required it to build a machine shop, and eventually Mr. Gross bought a 3-D printer from Stratasys. IdeaLab engineers kept the machine going around the clock, experimenting with designs.

Mr. Gross even downloaded a model of an octopus to print out for a project on vertebrates in his daughter’s eighth-grade biology class.

This convinced Mr. Gross that there was a market for 3-D printers, especially if the price could be cut.

At first, the prospects looked difficult. The three leading 3-D printer companies all used different technologies, but none seemed simple enough to be modified for inexpensive home devices. Stratasys makes models out of liquid plastic using a very expensive heated print head that resembles a glue gun. 3D Systems uses lasers to harden liquid polymers. And the Z Corporation, a unit of the private equity group EQT, builds models by squirting a sort of glue over layers of sandlike plaster.

In a brainstorming session, Kevin Hickerson, an IdeaLab engineer, proposed the method the company would ultimately choose. First the machine spreads a powdered plastic over a roller, which is heated to just below the plastic’s melting point. Then a sharply focused beam of light melts dots of plastic on the roller. After the unmelted powder is brushed off, the roller deposits the hot plastic onto a platform. This process is repeated until the object is assembled from the bottom up.

It took IdeaLab a year to prove that the basic approach would work and a second year to develop the technology to get the layers to stick to each other properly. (The model is gently squished, as in a sandwich press, after each layer is applied.) And it has taken two more years to write the required software and to create a working design for the first production model.

IdeaLab has made about 10 of the printers so far. It is preparing to begin production at its combination office and factory in an industrial building half a mile from the company’s headquarters. This summer it will start to deliver its initial test machines to the 200 customers who have agreed to buy them.

Desktop Factory says the machines pose no hazard to users because they use a safe nylon-based material.

Some in the 3-D printer industry say Desktop Factory may have cut too many corners. Its first model makes objects with rather jagged edges because it applies layers that are 0.01 inch thick, two to three times thicker than many other machines’. Moreover, it uses a nylon mixed with aluminum and glass that produces gray objects, with a rather sandy finish that many do not find attractive.

Kathy Lewis, the chief executive of Desktop Factory, said the company saw enormous initial demand among small engineering firms that simply cannot afford the larger printers, as well as high schools and colleges that teach computer-aided design.

To appeal to the home market, she said, the company is trying to develop new materials — a smoother plastic and a very soft, bendable substance suitable for toys.

Much of the research in the field is about how to develop materials of various properties that can be applied in tiny digital specs. Cornell’s 3-D printer, called Fab@Home, is particularly suited to those experiments because it moves a syringe in three dimensions that can be filled with any substance. So far, it has built objects out of silicone, plaster, Cheez Whiz and Play-Doh.

Noy Schaal, a high-school freshman in Louisville, modified the design with a heated syringe to extrude a chocolate bar, decorated with the letters KY for Kentucky. (Koba Industries has started selling kits with all the parts needed to make the Fab@Home design for about $3,000.)

Professor Lipson said researchers are developing ways to use the process to build parts with more complex functions. They have preliminary designs for batteries, sensors, and parts that can bend when electricity is applied.

“A milestone for us would be to print a robot that would get up and walk out of the printer,” Professor Lipson said. “Batteries included.”


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Keypad Economics: Why Talk When You Can Type?

May 6, 2007

Keypad Economics: Why Talk When You Can Type?

Source: New York Times


Talking is starting to seem so old school to many cellphone users.

Almost half of all cellphone subscribers are now availing themselves of services other than voice, said a recent report from Forrester Research. That means more typing and less vocalizing. Can a study showing a rise in thumb injuries be far behind?

Prices for voice minutes are falling, so cellphone carriers need new sources of revenue. That is why they have packed their tiny devices with data-driven diversions.

The most popular of them is messaging, followed by the downloading of things like ringtones and games. Eleven percent of cellphone subscribers use the Internet on their phones.

As with almost all new technology, young adults are leading the way. Seventy-eight percent of cellphone subscribers ages 18 to 26 use data services, Forrester says.

The older that cellphone users are, the most likely they are to be flummoxed by all those newfangled features and to stick with their tried-and-true vocal cords. PHYLLIS KORKKI


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Keep User-Generated Content Legal

Keep User-Generated Content Legal

By Terri J. Seligman


A solid Terms of Use policy can sometimes save an advertiser from getting into dangerous legal territory with user-generated content.

Social networking websites like YouTube and MySpace are popular because they allow computer users to participate in an online community by sharing videos they've created (or found) and by commenting on what has been posted to the site.

Advertisers have started incorporating these same features into their own advertising and promotional campaigns. Some advertisers have created websites or web pages where users are encouraged to submit original content, often as part of a contest. And some advertisers have used user-created content in their own advertising campaigns.

This article addresses some of the legal and business issues that arise when advertisers (and their agencies) solicit and use user-created content on their own websites or third-party sites. Other issues in this space relate to advertiser liability when ads are placed on social networking sites that may contain infringing or defamatory content.

Protect the brand's image
Any time an advertiser allows someone to participate in an advertising campaign, they risk losing control of the brand image. Although there are many customers who genuinely love the product being advertised, there are also customers who relish the chance to disparage a product or company. An advertiser with a participatory website may well want to screen all postings to the site and state this policy in the website's Terms of Use.

False advertising concerns
User-created content can blur the distinction between commercial content (i.e., ads) and noncommercial content (i.e., entertainment and commentary). Noncommercial content is afforded more protection from the First Amendment than commercial content, while commercial content is subject to federal and state advertising laws. These laws require, among other things, that claims be substantiated, that the ad not be false or misleading, that certain disclosures be made and that testimonials and endorsements comply with federal rules.

It's not clear whether user-created content would be considered advertising, but it is certainly possible, particularly if the content contains product claims and appears on the advertiser's own website. So an advertiser who intends to post user-created content on its site should review the content as carefully as it reviews its own ads to make sure it complies with advertising laws. This might mean that some user-created content may have to be edited, so the advertiser's right to do such editing should also be spelled out in the Terms of Use. 

Liability for infringement of third-party rights
If an advertiser posts a user-created video, essay or other content on its site, it should try to limit liability for copyright and trademark infringement, defamation and violation of the right to privacy and publicity. The site's Terms of Use should instruct users to only submit material for which they own all the rights (including the music rights) and provide guidelines for use of trademarks, the names and likenesses of other people and copyrighted materials owned by third parties.

The Terms of Use should also include language indemnifying the advertiser if it is sued for content provided by a user. The advertiser should carefully review all submissions and reserve the right to take down any infringing materials or materials that violate the Terms of Use, particularly since an indemnity from an individual content creator may not provide much protection in the event of a claim.

An open question is whether the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Communications Decency Act, two federal laws that provide some protection from liability for copyright infringement and defamation, would apply to an advertiser who solicits user-created content to be posted on its own site or on a third-party site. There is no case law on this subject yet and, as a result, advertisers should be particularly careful about the content they allow to be posted, particularly on their own sites.

License and Terms of Use
An advertiser will want to obtain broad rights to use any user-created content that is submitted. One way to do this is to include in the Terms of Use (that the user must affirmatively accept) language indicating that the user grants to the advertiser the rights to use, copy, edit, publish and distribute the material, in any media, forever, as well as the right to use the user's name, likeness and performance.

Note: Since the law is somewhat unsettled as to whether a complete transfer of the copyright (i.e., a buy-out or exclusive license) can be affected with a click-wrap acceptance, without a physical signature, it is more prudent to get a non-exclusive license to use the materials if obtaining consent online.

Note: Even if the advertiser obtains broad rights to the user-created materials, without any payment obligations, the use of the materials in some media, such as broadcast television commercials, may require payments under talent and other guild collective bargaining agreements.

Finally, advertisers should also bear in mind that since contracts with minors are not enforceable, if they need to obtain significant rights to the materials (for example, to run a user-created video in a commercial) and the creator is a minor, it is important to obtain a parent's consent as well.

Most advertisers or their ad agencies have insurance for advertising-related injuries, which would include a lawsuit brought against the advertiser for infringing material contained in an ad. An important question for advertisers and agencies is whether this insurance would cover any claims stemming from the display or use of user-created content. If not, an advertiser or its agency would have to pay the costs of defending such a case, and, in the event of a settlement or a judgment against the advertiser, would also have to pay the settlement costs, damages and fines.

Encouraging users to submit original content can be a very effective way of attracting customers and promoting a product. In addition, an advertiser might end up with material that can be used for a commercial, which in itself could generate media attention. But advertisers need to think about the potential risks associated with such use and take steps to limit liability and develop Terms of Use that clearly convey to users the parameters of the invitation to submit original content.

Terri Seligman is a partner in the Advertising and Promotions Law Group at Loeb & Loeb LLP. Read full bio.
Jill Westmoreland contributed to this article.


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Yahoo! Study Finds Stage of Illness and Condition Impacts Search Behavior

Yahoo! Study Finds Stage of Illness and Condition Impacts Search Behavior

Sunnyvale CA., May 3, 2007 – Yahoo! Inc., a leading global Internet company, today announced findings from a recent healthcare study examining the intent of consumers searching online for health information across key stages of the lifecycle of an illness. The results show that search behavior differs significantly based on a user’s stage of illness and the condition about which they are searching. Additionally, the study found that consumers become more reliant on search for information about their condition, treatment options, and lifestyle modifications during certain critical stages of their illness.

The study is the second of its kind conducted with Hall and Partners Healthcare to gain insights into the behavior of online healthcare searchers. The first study, “Reach and Engagement,” confirmed that online searchers are more engaged and leverage over 90 percent more information sources than non-searchers, which validated healthcare searchers as a desirable target for marketers. In this new survey, over 12,000 respondents were asked about their search behavior based on their stage in the illness cycle and their specific condition. Among those surveyed, respondents fell into one of five stages of illness within each condition:

  • 27% of respondents were Undiagnosed
  • 11% of respondents were Diagnosed with an illness but not yet taking a prescription medication
  • 24% of respondents were Diagnosed and taking prescription medication with no plans to change
  • 13% of respondents were Diagnosed but considering switching their current medication
  • 25% of respondents were Diagnosed and considering stopping their current medication

Within each stage, consumers were asked about the type of information they were searching for online as well as more information about their condition, lifestyle modifications, treatment options and different medications they were considering. At each stage, the following key findings and implications about search behavior emerged:

  • In the undiagnosed stage, consumers are typically searching because they are experiencing symptoms or are generally concerned about a condition and want to make lifestyle changes. As a result, 38 percent claimed search helped them to make a decision on whether or not to seek medical attention, and 39 percent have seen, or plan to see a doctor. Therefore, marketers have a great opportunity to impact consumer decisions at this critical stage.
  • In the diagnosis stage prior to taking a prescription medication, 50 percent of consumers rely heavily on search to determine if taking a medication is right for them. They are searching for information on prevention and lifestyle modifications to defer the need for medication. Consumers at this stage are also looking for general information and interested in learning about medication side effects. Therefore, marketers should ensure this content is available on their branded and unbranded websites.
  • For consumers who were diagnosed and taking prescription medication with no plans to change, the findings were most interesting. Although these consumers reported being satisfied with their medication, they were still seeking information on competitor products. Fifty-five percent were searching for information on medication side effects, 53 percent for disease prevention and management, and 42 percent for medication effectiveness. These findings suggest that, although consumers may appear content with their medications, they continue to evaluate other treatment options through search.
  • Not surprisingly, consumers who were diagnosed but considering switching medication relied heavily on search, mainly because they think there could be a better medication to suit their needs. Forty percent claimed search played a major role in helping them determine whether or not they should switch medications, and 43 percent were searching for information online as a result of being exposed to an advertisement for another medication. These findings suggest it’s extremely important for marketers to recognize consumers are more likely to be enticed to switch medications in highly advertised categories where they are more likely to see a competitor’s advertisement.
  • Finally, for those that were diagnosed and considering stopping their current medication, 54 percent were seeking information on side effects, while 43 percent were searching for information on prevention and lifestyle management. Consumers in this stage are often unhappy with side effects and want to understand alternative options to medication, so it’s important to focus messaging on a medication’s competitive strengths and benefits.

"Whether a consumer is looking online for information about a specific condition, learning about a certain stage of their illness, researching medication side effects, or findings ways to improve their health overall, search is the starting point of that online conversation," said Bonnie Becker, Senior Director of the Pharmaceutical Category for Yahoo! Search Marketing. "In order to reach these consumers and have maximum impact, marketers must not only include search in their overall marketing mix, but also tailor their messages to address consumers’ specific needs and concerns at critical phases during their search."

Yahoo! Search Marketing Press Contact:
Heather Meeker
(714) 580-7761 Cell  


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