Sketching in space

Europe in brief At the EuroMold trade show in Frankfurt this week the 12 German Fraunhofer Institutes showed new developments in the area of Rapid Prototyping, which allow physical objects to be built up layer by layer directly from 3D CAD model data.

One highlight is a wireless stylus that enables the free-hand sketching of objects inside a virtual space. When children want to move a cursor towards the top of their computer screen, they typically lift up the computer mouse, notes designer Olaf Barski. So why not develop a cyber-stylus emulates this natural three-dimensional urge?

The 3D cyber-stylus is an odd-looking beast. It has buttons like a computer mouse. The small balls are coated with a material that readily reflects infrared. Two or more infrared cameras determine the 3D coordinates of the stylus’s position by detecting at least three balls in their field of vision. You can see a picture here.

Czech Republic: Czech Telecom broadband ASDL plans 'unfair'

As of 5 January, Czech Telecom will offer cheaper monthly lump-sum plans for its existing broadband Internet ADSL access plans, Prague Business Journal reports. But its main competitor, Czech On Line, isn't too happy. It says the new ADSL offers are unfair.

Czech Telecom made its retail broadband offer just a few hours after officially announcing its wholesale ADSL price to alternative providers. Czech On Line says this behaviour is highly discriminatory and accuses Czech Telecom of abusing its market position.

Switzerland: credit card fraud on the rise

Swiss authorities are worried about the rise of a new type of credit card fraud, according to the Neue Zurcher Zeitung. A card-copying method called skimming leaves credit card holders with little chance of protecting themselves.

By swiping a credit card through a special reader, the data from the card’s magnetic strip is copied on to a new card. Victims do not realise that the card has been stolen, so they don’t cancel the card.

Since 2001 the number of skimming cases has risen noticeably. In recent weeks, cantonal authorities in Basel have arrested a number of people in what they describe as the largest Swiss skimming case to date. In other cases, waiters have been caught carrying card readers in their trousers. To deal with the problem, Swiss financial institutions have begun replacing magnetic strips with a new chip.

Finland: broadband expensive

Broadband connections cost more in Finland than in most other European Union countries, a survey published by the Finnish ministry of transport and communications shows.

ADSL connections carry the cheapest price tag in Belgium and the UK. In Finland, the most inexpensive cable modem connection costs € 32 a month, and the most inexpensive 256 kbit/s connection € 38.

About 17 per cent of Finland's households have a broadband connection. That's 28 per cent of all Internet connections in that country. ADSL in particular is in demand with students and families with children. ®

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