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NOVEMBER 24, 2000 VOL. 26 NO. 46 | SEARCH ASIAWEEK

Cutting Edge

FLASH: Beam That Funky Music
Try this for information-age irony. MP3 music is extremely portable as long as you are willing to stuff it into a pocket-sized MP3 player and listen to it through cheap headphones. Why is it so difficult, then, to move your music from the computer in the bedroom to that expensive sound system in the living room? A U.S. company, Akoo, is breaking down the walls with a home wireless transmission system that can beam digital signals between devices located up to 1,000 feet apart. Connect the transmitter of the Kima to your computer's sound card, jack the matching receiver into your stereo, and party on, Garth. The company sells the $150 Kima at www.akoo.com.

FABRICATIONS: My, That's a Stunning Frock You're Wearing

Electric Blue. Shocking pink. No longer are they the colors of your shirt, they describe the fabric it's made out of, too. Two British industrial designers have created electricity conducting cloth they hope will lead to wash-and-wear appliances. The fabric, called Elektex, contains conductive fibers woven into conventional cloth. The pair have already used it to build a car seat that automatically adjusts to the, um, contours of the passenger, as well as a necktie with a built-in cellphone keypad. A microprocessor and software detect changes in conductivity when the cloth is depressed, making it possible to stitch together a sofa with a push-button TV remote or, we suppose, button-fly jeans where the buttons do e-mail duty too. Just don't plan on wearing Elektex duds during a thunderstorm.

INTERNET: No Keeping Up With the Kims

South Koreans are the heaviest electronic stock traders in the world, and the country has one of the highest per-capita broadband connection rates. No surprise that South Koreans are the most addicted to the Internet. The findings of a September survey by Paris-based research firm NetValue revealed South Koreans spend more time online — 15 hours a month on average — than citizens in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and China. Other survey findings: Singaporeans use e-mail and online chat more than other Asians, while the region lags behind the U.S. in online shopping.

NAME GAME: URLs With Character

The Net is no longer an English-only club. On Nov. 10, Asian-language Internet addresses went up for sale for the first time, marking an end to a technology-related restriction that URLs use only the Roman alphabet. VeriSign Global Registry Services, a company that assigns Net addresses, now handles website names in Chinese, Japanese and Korean character sets, but the system has teething pains. Native-speakers will still be required to append ".com," in English, as an address suffix. When registration began, a rush to secure prime addresses clogged the sites of some two dozen companies licensed to help sell the names at about $20 per URL.

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