-- "This is your captain sleeping..." Automatic computer voice analysis may soon prevent pilots from dozing off at the controls. Kakuichi Shiomi, a senior researcher at the Electronic Navigation Research Institute in western Tokyo, uses fractal analysis to recognize subtle changes in the voices of fatigued people. Three years in development, the system can detect tiredness up to 20 minutes before the subjects themselves notice it. Now being tested on car drivers, Shiomi next plans to try it out on air traffic controllers and pilots. If all goes well, he says, the system will go on sale this year.
-- The city of Mississauga, Ont., is trying out a new way to lay fiber-optic cable in the pipes under city streets: a spelunking robot. The radio-controlled explorer, made by Germany's Robotics Cabling Co., is lowered through a manhole cover. Once inside the pipe, it creeps along, pulling a cable behind it. No excavation is required and the robot needs no rest. So the unit can lay up to 800 meters of cable a day--eight times more than if by traditional means.