Motorola completes £700 million acquisition of UK emergency comms provider Airwave

Motorola has completed its acquisition of Airwave, the former provider of the mobile communications network for UK emergency services.

The acquisition was completed on a debt-free basis with a net cash payment of around £700 million, with a deferred cash payment of £64 million to be made in November 2018.

Motorola expects the acquisition to immediately contribute to non-GAAP earnings and free cash flow.

Airwave is headquartered in Berkshire, England, and employs roughly 600 people. It is owned by a fund of Australia’s Macquarie Group.

In late 2015, Airwave filed a legal challenge to the Home Office after EE became the preferred supplier to provide a 4G network to the UK emergency services. Motorola is the preferred bidder for user services to the emergency services.

Airwave complained about the procurement process and the inability of the cellular network to handle the traffic. Currently these services are provided through Airwave’s own terrestrial trunked radio, or Tetra network, which will cease to be a component of police radios.

The decision to move from Tetra has been criticised by some, including members of the Tetra + Critical Communications Association.

Advocates of moving to 4G cite alleged failures of the network during the 2011 riots.

“The acquisition of Airwave enables us to significantly grow our managed and support services business and reflects our commitment to the public safety users in Great Britain,” said Greg Brown, chairman and CEO of Motorola Solutions.

“The combination of our years of experience as a trusted global leader in mission-critical communications and Airwave’s proven service delivery platform will provide Great Britain with innovative emergency services technology that enhances public safety today and into the future.”

This has been in the news for a while and it is a really smart move by Motorola, they have purchased the company that run all the communications for all the UK’s emergency services (tetra network) and manage all of the infrastructure along with that, so with the up-coming contract renewal and many of the phone companies sniffing around looking to capitalise, Motorola have shored up their position with this acquisition. We found this article here, where you can find a lot more on the story throughout the site.

2 way radios that can be submersed to 1m, that will be the IC-F1000

Icom two way radios are well known in the marine and coastal industries. Why are these so well known in these industries? That is because the F1000 and F2000, along with the F1000D and the F2000D are all waterproof, being able to be submersed to a depth of 1 meter for a maximum of 30 minutes, that means that these radios can be used confidently on a boat, ship or other water fairing vessel and be splashed around before it starts smoking and sparking everywhere! The IP67 waterproof casing means that it is made for total protection against dust and dirt and can withstand immersion between 15cm and 1m.

When we talk about sound, we expect the highest quality of two way radios to have the best speakers producing the best output possible, but the icom website explains it like this “The large 36mm speaker of the transceiver provides clear commanded 800 mW audio. The built-in BTL amplifier doubles the audio output power and delivers loud and intelligible voice to a radio operator working in noisy environments” which basically means it produces some of the best sound out one of the smallest speakers on the market.

So let’s go over the radios themselves, something that isn’t so obvious is that they have split the frequency bands of the radios, the F1000’s is VHF only and the F2000’s is UHF. This is a brilliant idea from the guys at Icom, users often find it difficult to wade through a lot of the jargon of two way radios, so separating out the radio types into their respective bands goes a long way to remove the confusion.

You may have noticed that there are 2 choices for each F radio, the F1000 and the F1000 D the D relates to the radios being digital compatible, meaning it can be programmed to be used on current digital systems as well used as a normal two-way radio. Analogue and Digital capable so that it can do both jobs or be ready for when you expand and move to a digital system.

Over the years Icom have been consistent with their accessory connectors, a large range of their radios use the 2 pin connector, the only exception was the small multi connector that they introduced a few years ago. But these new F1000 & F2000 radios have been given their very own connector, very similar to the first generation but will not work with those radios, the new connector includes 2 holding screws. The range of F1000 radio earpieces is huge , with plenty to choose from, you will find any type of radio earpiece for these F1000 and F2000 radios.

If you are looking for a waterproof radio used by many in the marine industry then the F1000 or F2000, depending on your frequency allocation, would be a great choice. It can be dropped to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes, so if you worry about splashes on your radio or it sitting in a pool of water on your boat, then you can be assured that it won’t damage this radio. With the latest technology and digital capabilities these are as modern as many counter-parts in the digital two way radio market.

What are the different types of a Hytera earpiece

Split by a middle screw, the Hytera PD700 series is capable of connecting all Hytera radios from the same series. This includes the PD715, the PD755, the PD705, the PD785 and the PD795 radios. All of these radios bring something different to the table, in addition to Hyteras trademark solutions. These include an ergonomic design and generally good battery life. The PD715 is probably the most reliable of the bunch. It works really well even in a hazardous environment. It also meets all the ATEX and IEC standards.

The PD755 comes with an increased battery life and a partial keypad, as well as voice call capabilities. Compared to the PD755, the PD705 is a slightly less sophisticated design but it comes with a GPS and supports both analog and digital radios. The PD785 meets all DMR standards and has probably the most ergonomic design out of these models. The PD795 comes with all ETSI and DMR standards.

The Hytera PD500 series connects its radios with a 2 pin connector. The dimensions of the two pins are 3.5mm and 2.5mm. There is a securing screw at the back. This connector can link any combination of the Hytera PD500 series radios together. When I say any, I mean the two radios in that series, since the PD500 series only has two designs, the PD505 and the PD565. The PD505 is very light and somewhat surprisingly, it still has excellent range. Its compact housing results in an improved sound quality. Compared to the PD505, the PD565 has more functions and supports both analogue and digital radios.

PD400 and PD600 series

PD400 and PD600 series radios are connected with a 13 pin connector (which connects to another plastic adapter). This particular connector connects to devices both from the PD400 and PD600 series. The list includes the PD605, PD665, PD685, X1P, X1E, PD405 and the PD415 radios. The PD605 comes with a lightweight design and probably one of the best radios of Hytera when it comes to the prize to value ratio. It has a compact housing and like most of the company’€™s designs, supports both analogue and digital radios.

The PD665 is another high quality handheld device. It has a lightweight metal casing and a full keypad. The programmable keys and the LCD display are surely welcomed additions as well. The PD685 brings very similar traits to the table, the lightweight design and the full keypad can all be found in the PD665. The X1P is different, it’s a lot thinner and its main advantage that it will work even in very hazardous conditions.

The X1E meets all ETSI and DMR standards and probably the smallest design Hytera has. Those who want an entry level radio for a more than affordable price, will probably have to look at the PD405. This radio can go for about 16 hours in digital mode. The PD415 has an integrated RFID reader and is generally recommended for patrolling personnel. Just like the PD405, it can last up to 16 hours.

ETRI presents a blueprint of the 5G Future

We will see a huge change in the way we access the the internet in the future when 5G is here, at speeds that only big businesses and high level internet companies see at the moment, we will have this to hand on our smart phones and tablets. When 5G is hundreds of times faster than any of the UK’s broadbands, households will be looking to the mobile phone companies to supply their home broadband.

A 5G future is no longer a distant one, but an upcoming reality. High quality videos of more than 10Mbps can be served simultaneously to 100 users even in a train running at up to 500km/h. People can experience data rates that are 100 times faster than currently available technologies.

The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) of Korea will hold a “5G technology demonstration” on the 18th December, 2015. It will demonstrate future SNS (social network service) and several 5G core technologies such as “millimeter wave”, “Mobile Hot-spot Network”, “in-band full duplex” and so on.

5G is the next generation wireless technology that would provide even faster data rates, even lower delays, and even more devices connected than 4G. Accordingly, distinct and differentiated applications are expected in 5G.

ETRI’s “future SNS” is a kind of trial service model to apply 5G technologies that provides dynamic user-centric connection to neighboring people, things and spaces. It is characterized by instant content-sharing between users, communication with neighboring things, and Giga-bps(Gbps)-grade video applications in vehicles.

5G core technologies demonstrated by ETRI include the following:

— MHN (Mobile Hot-spot Network) is a mobile backhaul technology that provides high-speed Internet access of Gbps in vehicles at speeds of up to 500 km/h (e.g. KTX in Korea). Almost 100 passengers can watch videos of high quality simultaneously.

— ZING is a near-field communication technology that enables mass data to be transmitted with 3.5 Gbps data rate between neighboring devices within the radius of 10cm.

— Single-RF-Chain compact MIMO technology enables a single antenna to simulate the effect of multiple antenna. It can reduce antenna volume and cancel inter-antenna interference in a multi-antenna system.

— Millimeter wave (mmWave) beam switching technology provides fast switching of radio beams to mobile users, and therefore allows seamless Gbps-grade service in mobile environments.

— Mobile Edge Platform (MEP) is a mobile edge cloud server on vehicles that enables passengers to enjoy customized Gbps-grade content and connects them with neighbors, things and spaces. It provides user-centric services.

— In-band Full Duplex technology can transmit and receive signals simultaneously over the same frequency band. It can increase spectral efficiency by up to two times.

— Small cell SW technology is designed for AP(Access Point)-sized small cell base stations that can reduce communication dead zones and improve data rates per user in a hot-spot area.

“With this demonstration event, we are officially introducing our R&D results on 5G. We will continue to lead the development of 5G technologies. Also, we are trying to develop commercialization technologies needed by businesses, and to construct a 5G ecosystem.” said Dr. Hyun Kyu Chung, vice president of ETRI Communication & Internet Lab.

In January, 2016, ETRI will demonstrate Giga internet service and future SNS in a Seoul subway train installed with MHN and ZING kiosks. ETRI will also introduce hand-over technology on a millimeter wave mobile communication system and 5G radio access technology that satisfies 1 millisecond radio latency.

About ETRI

Established in 1976, ETRI is a non-profit Korean government-funded research organization that has been at the forefront of technological excellence for about 40 years. In the 1980s, ETRI developed TDX (Time Division Exchange) and 4M DRAM. In the 1990s, ETRI commercialized CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) for the first time in the world. In the 2000s, ETRI developed Terrestrial DMB, WiBro, and LTE-A, which became the foundation of mobile communications.

Recently, as a global ICT leader, ETRI has been advancing communication and convergence by developing Ship Area Network technology, Genie Talk (world class portable automatic interpretation; Korean-English/Japanese/Chinese), and automated valet parking technology. As of 2015, ETRI has about 2,000 employees where about 1,800 of them are researchers.

Teleprompters and earpieces are changing theatre, and not necessarily for the better

This article was originally posted on thestage.co.uk and they highlight that the use of earpieces for prompting actors is increasing, this very simple technology used in this way makes people uncomfortable. But why? Earpieces these days are so small that people standing really close to the wearer would have literally be standing on top of them to see it, let alone be 15m away. Maybe it’s the thought that the actor should be able to remember their lines? or that bringing undue technology into the theatre would decrease the value of it?

Car crash theatre. That’s how a colleague described Al Pacino’s return to the Broadway stage in David Mamet’s new play, China Doll.

For those who may not have been following the story, Pacino’s return to Broadway has been blighted with problems – most notably, reports that he cannot remember his lines. Teleprompters have been installed around the stage and Pacino wears an earpiece, even after the production’s opening was delayed.

Pacino is not the only star on Broadway this season getting help with his lines. If reports are to be believed, Bruce Willis in Misery is also being given a helpful prompt or two through an earpiece, as are Cicely Tyson and James Earl Jones in The Gin Game.

However, Pacino seems to be the main focus of press criticism and a large part of me feels sorry for him. Undoubtedly, he is under intense pressure – despite past success on Broadway, he is in danger of being remembered best, if not most fondly, for China Doll.

The sign outside the Schoenfeld Theater quotes a line from Pacino’s character in the play: “Can you just tell me what’s happening?” In the circumstances, it seems both ironic and ill-judged. Meanwhile, around the corner at the St James Theatre, the comedy musical Something Rotten has put up a cheeky, if somewhat venomous, sign on its canopy, saying: “All actors promise to memorize most of their lines”.

For any actor, it is terrifying to think that one day, no longer being able to remember your lines, you may not be able to work. The interesting point about this situation is that the media have been far more forgiving of other actors: Tyson and Jones have been treated as beloved national treasures. At 90 and 84 years old respectively, they have a few years on 75-year-old Pacino and therefore it’s may be understandable that they require prompts. A similar response greeted Angela Lansbury who, in Blithe Spirit on Broadway and in the West End, wore a cleverly designed hat which incorporated ear pieces.

Despite criticism of Pacino’s use of prompting devices, China Doll has not seen a slump at the box office. Audiences seem to be happy to pay top-dollar ticket prices to see their favourite stars on stage whether they know their lines or not. Does this mean we accept that teleprompters and earpieces will become inevitable in theatres? Has a precedent now been set for Hollywood actors to slip into a play during a gap in their moviemaking schedules believing they don’t need to spend time learning lines? Will audiences continue to tolerate this because of that star’s status and the opportunity to see them live?

I hope not: knowing lines is a fundamental skill in the craft of acting. I want to see star actors on stage but I also want to see and remember them at their best. And the reporting of apparent production problems does nothing to help a theatre industry already faced with an audience which may expect or hope for a disaster on stage to tweet about; the resulting social media noise overshadows anything else to do with the play itself.

China Doll is – on paper – a hit show, with its headline star bringing in high weekly grosses that will likely see the play recoup. But in the long term that should not be the only way to judge the success of a production.Teleprompters and earpieces are changing theatre, and not necessarily for the better

The Best Styles of Bluetooth Earpieces

Bluetooth technology has been designed for many different purposes and situations. Consequently, when people want to buy a bluetooth ear piece for a specific situation, there are some things that they will need to consider. Specifically, based on their specific situation and circumstances, they will need to review the best style of bluetooth earpiece that is available on the market today. Since there are different styles that have been made for for one or more reasons, it’s important for each individual to do their research to see which style can accommodate their needs. It is also important to note that the kind the person purchases must be comfortable so that they can wear them for an extended period of time and they fit the devices that they will be used for. Listed below are three of the bluetooth styles that’s currently offered by manufactures all over the United States and abroad.

Bluetooth ear pieces for Mobile Phones

Most people take their mobile phones wherever they go. To work, school, church, parties and all kinds of other events that they may attend. Because these phones have become commonplace in many environments, people have a need to handle them and talk to others when their hands are free. This is also a great reason for individuals who work in certain settings to make sure that they are buying the right style that will best fit their needs.

One specific style that some people may choose is the ear cradle style of headphone. In fact, this kind of bluetooth earpiece is idea for people who want to spend their time working out and performing all kinds of other extracurricular activities. People are also encouraged to buy this kind of style because they may be driving when they receive a telephone call from a family member. Or, they may be working at the job typing a memo or walking around taking care of wide hosts of other kinds of activities that are not conducive to holding a mobile phone by hand to the ear. Whatever the situation, this style of bluetooth earpiece technology is great for many different situations and purposes.

Bluetooth ear pieces and Headsets for Music Lovers

In addition to the cradle style for mobile phones, people should also review other styles as well. One specific style that is also functional in many different settings is the DJ over the head headphones. This style has been designed for the serious music lovers, especially those who can appreciate making distinctions in sounds and beats that come from specific musical instruments like the bass, violin, trumpet and other popular instruments. For those who like and prefer this kind, they will also find that this is one of the best styles for keeping out outside noises that normally interfere with a person’s overall entertainment experience. Also, because they are wireless, they are great for people who like to stay mobile during the day instead of remaining in a sedentary position.

Bluetooth Ear Pieces for IPODs

In some situations, people may want to use bluetooth technology with their IPODs. Therefore, they should consider buying an additional popular style bluetooth earpiece technology. This style is known to be very popular, specifically because it is similar to an actual earbud. An ear bud is also another excellent choice for people who want to remain both active and hassle free. Though this is a great choice for people who like to remain mobile in a wide variety of different situations, one of its main draw backs is that they tend to fall out of the individuals ear. Which means, they can also be lost since it lacks additional support to keep them stabilized inside the ear.

The 19th Century plug that’s still being used

The BBC are on of the most trusted news sources on the planet,  so when stories fly around about the next iphone dropping it’s 3.5mm jack plug and moving to using their own lightning port or bluetooth. We think this is one of the usual stories that flies around before they release any new apple product, but when the BBC picks it up we take note! and this brilliant article shows that the common 3.5mm jack plug has a more of a history than we knew.

After rumours that Apple was going to get rid of the headphone jack in its imminent iPhone 7, more than 200,000 people have signed a petition asking them to reconsider. This humble plug is a rare example of technology that has stood the test of time, writes Chris Stokel-Walker.

For what remains an unconfirmed rumour, a lot of people are upset about the new iPhone. It’s alleged that Apple will be scrapping the 3.5mm socket, instead leaving headphones to be plugged into the “Lightning” port – the company’s own design of socket.

Cynics have pointed out that while this might enable iPhones to be slightly thinner, it will render many headphones useless and force manufacturers to pay Apple a fee to use their Lightning plugs on products.

The petition says Apple’s purported move would “singlehandedly create mountains of electronic waste”.

Two stereo audio jacksImage copyrightiStock

It will also be a blow for a piece of technology that has been remarkably resilient. The 3.5mm headphone jack is essentially a 19th Century bit of kit – it is a miniaturised version of the classic quarter-inch jack (6.35mm), which is said to go back as far as 1878.

Both sizes of plug have a nubbin of metal that nips in before flaring out just before the tip. “It needed to be something that could be inserted and removed very easily, but still make a secure connection,” says Charlie Slee, a member of the Audio Engineering Society.

Initially the quarter-inch jack was used by operators in old-fashioned telephone switchboards, plugging and unplugging connections. “The standard has always been quarter-inch jacks,” says Dr Simon Hall, head of music technology at Birmingham City University.

1st November 1919: Switchboard operators at the telephone switchboard oft the House of Commons, London.Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption1919: Switchboard operators at the telephone switchboard of the House of Commons, London

“Professional headphones in studios, guitar leads – they all run off quarter-inch jacks.”

Of course, as miniaturisation changed audio equipment, so the plug had to have a smaller alternative.

The 3.5mm version quickly became popular, spread by the use of personal headsets on transistor radios in the middle of the 20th Century.

The jack is known as a tip, ring, sleeve – or TRS – connection. The “tip” transfers audio into the left-hand earplug of a stereo headphone set, and the “ring” the right. The “sleeve” is the ground or “shield”. This set-up is stereo – the original mono plugs had only tip and sleeve. Certain modern plugs have a second ring to allow control of a headset microphone or volume.

Annotated photograph showing sleeve, ring and tip of TRS jackImage copyrightiStock/BBC

“Technically speaking, it’s not a bad design,” Slee says of the utilitarian, adaptable design. “If the parts are made cheaply they can break and lose contact, but ultimately it does the job it was designed to do.”

And yet, if the rumours – which Apple is not commenting on – are true, it bodes ill for the 3.5mm jack.

Apple has a track record of being early to abolish things which then start to disappear from rival products too. It killed the 3.5 inch floppy disk early. It also was among the first to remove optical drives.

But those signing the petition on the Sum of Us site and social media users have suggested that Apple’s motive is greed.

Apple lightning cableImage copyrightAlamy

The potential grief in a switch to Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector is obvious.

“It feels painful because you’ve got hundreds of millions of devices out there that are using the old standard,” says Horace Dediu, a technology analyst with in-depth knowledge of Apple.

If you’re using £1,000 headphones with your iPhone at the moment, you’re going to be slightly cross.

And Charlie Slee thinks consumers are also concerned about ceding control to Apple. “People are mainly upset because they like to think they’re in control of their technology,” he says.

But this sense of the consumer in control is misplaced, Slee says. “Actually, the contrary is true: The big technology companies have always been in control of how you listen to music and watch videos.”

The headphones in history

Thomas Alva Edison (1847 - 1931) American scientist, inventor and industrialist, after spending 5 continuous days and nights perfecting the phonograph, listening through a primitive headphone.Image copyrightGetty Images
Image captionScientist Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931) listens to his phonograph through a primitive headphone

The “primitive headphones” (as above) used for listening to early phonographs were simple acoustic tubes.

Headphones are really just ordinary telephone receivers adapted to fit a headset, says John Liffen, Curator of Communications at the Science Museum. The headset usually had just one receiver for a single ear.

The first headsets with a receiver for each ear were just called “telephones”. The name was supplanted by “headphones” by the beginning of the 1920s when they were being widely used to listen to broadcasting via crystal sets.

For many years headphone receivers were the simple “Bell” type with permanent magnet, coil and diaphragm. Today’s high-end ‘phones are considerably more sophisticated, similar to miniature loudspeakers.

Source: John Liffen, The Science Museum


“I think it’s a storm in a teacup,” adds Simon Hall. His reasoning? Having a standardised headphone jack on mobile phones and MP3 players is only a relatively recent luxury.

“If you look at the previous generation of phones, things like Nokia phones, you had to have an adapter,” he reasons. “If you want to connect headphones to professional equipment, you also need a professional adapter.”

As recently as 2010, Samsung phones came equipped with a proprietary headphone port not dissimilar to Apple’s rumoured replacement for the 3.5mm socket, the “Lightning” port.

This isn’t the first time Apple has aroused ire. Way back in 2007, with the first iPhone, it received complaints that the headphone jack was sunk into the casing.

One technology wag called it “a great business plan – break an important device function, and sell the solution for fun and profit.” The problem was fixed when Apple released its second iPhone model in 2008.

But Apple is known for evolving technology: “They got rid of DVDs, they got rid of the floppy disk drive; they got rid of parallel ports, they’re eventually getting rid of USB. This is how they move,” says Dediu, the Apple-watcher. He reckons the switch to Apple’s proprietary connection augurs a planned move to headphones that are akin to the Apple Watch.

Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones in a London recording studio in 1968Image copyrightGetty Images
Image captionMick Jagger of The Rolling Stones in a London recording studio in 1968

Owners of “old” headphones may find themselves having to buy adapters.

Dediu forecasts a rapid change. “What Apple does is catalyse transitions,” he says. “It would have happened anyway, but if it wasn’t for Apple it’d have taken 10-15 years, but now it’ll happen in 5-7 years.”

That the time may have come for the 3.5mm jack to be replaced shouldn’t come as such a shock, believes Dediu. “Studying Moore’s Law and the history of technology, it’s clear we’re not going to stick around with something analogue for long,” he says. “It’s almost puzzling that it’s taken so long.”

Radio spectrum allocated for global flight tracking

This very simple, very easily executable solution to a problem that is growing. The Frequencies are already allocated to the airline industry and a simple piece of equipment (non expensive) can be installed. You can find the full article here.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has allocated radio spectrum for global flight tracking for passenger aircraft using satellite-based systems.

The move follows developments spurred by the so far unexplained disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March last year, which prompted the aviation community to look into possibilities of constant monitoring of passenger planes in flight.

The frequency band of 1087.7-1092.3MHz has been allocated, which is already being used for data transmissions between planes and terrestrial stations that are within the line of sight.

Extending the system to cover also communications between planes and satellites and satellites and terrestrial stations will enable creating a complex system capable of tracking passenger planes throughout the flight even over oceans and remote areas.

The ITU agreed on the allocation at its 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference following a call by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Performance criteria for satellite reception of the signals will be established by ICAO.

“In reaching this agreement at WRC-15, ITU has responded in record time to the expectations of the global community on the major issue concerning global flight tracking,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “ITU will continue to make every effort to improve flight tracking for civil aviation.”

ITU has been working on standards to facilitate the transmission of flight data in real time since early after the MH370 disaster.

Already in April 2014, less than a month after the aircraft’s disappearance, Malaysian Minister for Communications and Multimedia called upon ITU to address the issue.

“The allocation of frequencies for reception of ADS-B signals from aircraft by space stations will enable real-time tracking of aircraft anywhere in the world,” said François Rancy, Director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau. “We will continue to work with ICAO and other international organizations to enhance safety in the skies.”

In October 2014, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference meeting in Busan, Republic of Korea, instructed WRC-15 to consider global flight tracking in its agenda.

 

Computer Helps Paralyzed Man to Walk Again

Cutting edge technology has enabled a paralyzed man to move his legs again.

According to the Journal Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation, the subject, a male suffering from total paralysis of the legs for five years, was able to walk just under four metres with support.

The system used in this breakthrough was developed in the US by researchers from The University of California, Irvine. The test subject had suffered a severe spinal cord injury, which disrupts the link between the brain and the leg muscles. Essentially, this means that the brain can still generate signals to the legs and that the legs are still fully capable of receiving them, but the spinal cord is incapable of relaying the messages between the two.

What the researchers were able to do was use an electroencephalogram cap to read the activity in the man’s brain; a computer then interpreted his brainwaves and electrodes, placed at strategic points along the man’s legs, were then used to stimulate the leg muscles whenever he thought about walking.

It took a lot of gruelling training on the part of the patient, who effectively had to re-learn how to use his legs. He was trained, in part, via the use of virtual reality avatars and video game characters.

The results speak for themselves, although a full cure for paralysis is still a long way off, you have to feel that it just got a little bit closer to becoming a reality.

One of the researchers, Dr. An Do, told BBC News, “We showed that you can restore intuitive, brain-controlled walking after a complete spinal cord injury. (…) This non-invasive system for leg muscle stimulation is a promising method and is an advance of our current brain-controlled systems that use virtual reality or a robotic exoskeleton.”

Although the results of this test are highly encouraging, experts have been quick to point out that there are many hurdles yet to overcome, among them the issue of balance, which has yet to be addressed. The patient was strapped into a harness for the experiment, something that would not be possible anywhere other than a home or hospital environment.

Nevertheless, this is still a hugely encouraging step and the success of this test will hopefully serve as a ray of hope for many people suffering paralysis.

I’ve Heard of Cats Getting Stuck up Trees…But This is Ridiculous:Panic as Dalek is Found in Tree at Historic Estate

This is Northington Grange, quiet, peaceful, serene. That is, until Burt Racoon wakes up and shoves a Dalek up a tree. Probably. Quite frankly, it’s as good an explanation as any as to how an extraterrestrial pepper pot killing machine turned up on an exquisitely crafted 18th century landscape…

Eyewitnesses were confused and amused by the presence of one of Doctor Whos most popular despots just sitting there, taking in the scenery. Perhaps he was fleeing to escape the explosive climax to series 9’s barnstorming opening arc, which began earlier in the month on BBC1?

Quick! Go to iPlayer and see if there are any of the metal menaces banging on about “emergency temporal shifts” before vanishing into thin air…

Or maybe his vision was impaired? Who knows?

…Actually, all nerd-jokes aside, I can clear up this little mystery for you right now.

In reality, the incongruous garden decoration was neither a publicity stunt, nor an attempt on the part of a disgruntled gardener to keep the naughtier gnomes in check. The Dalek was actually a prop left over from an old production that had been held at the Grange.

Mike Baring, one of Northington Grange’s principal landowners, explained everything to The Southampton Daily Echo, “The Dalek comes from earlier production at the Grange – I think it might be Bluebeard – and someone decided to put it up to amuse the [opera] festival goers which I rather liked, even if it does look a bit out of place in an 18th century landscape.”

Nice one, Mikey! Always good to see a bit of humour in our historic venues. Besides, what could be more quintessentially British than a lone Dalek politely surveying an immaculately kept Victorian garden? I, for one, can’t think of anything.

No, wait, I can. How’s this; the Queen noisily eating a crumpet whilst watching Monty Pythons Flying Circus reruns, pausing occasionally to inquire as to who parked that yellow three-wheeled van outside the palace?

Anyway, the rest of the Daleks were last seen in Doctor Whos two-part series opener The Magicians Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar’, which saw Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor teaming up with Missi (the female incarnation of his old enemy The Master) in order to defeat Davros and his maniacal metal creations. It was a hoot!

The Grange estate is perhaps best known for hosting The Grange Park Opera Festival and has no official plans to take over the universe (as far as I know).

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