PDAs and other powerful 'toys'

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Richard H. Wiggins, III, MD, University of Utah School of Medicine provided on Friday a lighthearted and interesting overview of handheld computing technologies in PDAs and Other Personal Technologies. He subtitled the presentation: "favorite geek toys."
   
PDAs (personal digital assistants) are personal technologies that began fairly simply (20 years ago) but now have become very powerful tools that grant instantaneous access to data such as images, audio files, text and other information all through the use of wireless connections.

Wiggins ran through a series of PDA products and their key features. Starting with the huge line of PALM PDAs, he then drilled through a large assortment of alternatives including Mobile Windows PDAs, Psion PDAs, Linux, and finally the Blackberry which was highlighted for its ability to grant instant access to email around the clock. All of this information came with the warning that some of these devices are as expensive as full PCs.

Wiggins then dispensed with PDAs and offered an exuberant glance at a number of personal technologies such as the interesting (though scary) wi-fi sniffer -- which allow a user to snoop around within unsecured wireless environments, iPods, USB drives, remove mouse pointers, and an assortment of others.
   
The development of these personal technologies has led to PANs (personal area networks), computer networks for connecting a series of devices within a small space so that they can communicate either through a wired or wireless environment. Bluetooth technology, which uses radio waves and can transmit data at a very slow rate between different devices, can be used to connect a PAN, which is then called a Piconet, said Wiggins.
   
One highlighted future technological development was the use of the electronic conductivity of your body to transfer data between different wireless technologies. This is a technology that is currently being developed by MIT, Wiggins added.