World Tech Update, March 15, 2012

Thanks for joining us here on World Tech Update. I'm Nick Barber

Yahoo accused Facebook of copying a range of technologies that Yahoo invented and has filed a lawsuit. The suit describes several Facebook features that Yahoo alleges use its technology. Facebook's News Feed infringes Yahoo's customization patents, according to Yahoo. The way Facebook handles privacy infringes on Yahoo patents related to privacy, it said. The format of many ads, such as Facebook's Premium Video Comment Ads, are based on Yahoo inventions, according to Yahoo. And the way Facebook displays and arranges ads and combats click fraud using the pay-per-click model infringe Yahoo patents, it said. Facebook said it was surprised by the move and will defend themselves vigorously against what they call puzzling actions.

The one year anniversary of Japan's deadly earthquake and tsunami was this week and while most of the debris is gone near a Sony factory in Tah Gah Joe, repairs continue. Today at the factory workers enter as repairs continue, they walk by dump trucks and large cranes on their way in, and park across the street from a lot piled high with stacks of smashed vehicles. Sony declined interviews and requests for access to the factory. The factory is Sony's main production base for high-end video tapes, blank Blu-ray Discs, and other media products. Sony is facing $3 billion in losses during the current fiscal year that runs through this month, weighed down by one-off costs like the earthquake and flooding in Thailand, but also because it’s struggling in a tough economy where consumers have plenty of options from foreign competitors.  Incoming CEO Kazuo Hirai hasn’t ruled out more job cuts. All along Japan's coast, a similar dynamic is unfolding. For residents that banded together in the days and months after the disaster, the adrenaline of surviving the first year is fading, and they are again faced with the reality of a stagnant economy.

Sony's newest smartphone the Xperia Sola lets users interact with it without touching the screen. The Sola's capacitive touch screen lets the device register a user's finger up to 20 millimeters from the screen. At first, the technology will be integrated with the phone's built-in Web browser. Users can move their fingers over browser links to highlight them. But to open them, users still have to click on the screen. Sony calls it floating touch and hopes the technology will evolve to include new users functionality and applications. The phone has a 3.7-inch screen, NFC, a 5 megapixel camera and 8 gigs of internal storage. It'll ship in the 2nd quarter, but pricing wasn't announced.

We have a couple of items for you in our news in brief this week.

After 244 years Encyclopedia Britannica will stop publishing its flagship books and concentrate on its digital offerings. The print edition accounted for less than 1 percent of the company’s revenue. The online subscription costs 2 dollars a month.

Twitter has acquired blogging company Posterous for an undisclosed amount. Poserterous started in San Francicso in 2008 and Twitter indicated that it acquired the company with an eye on its staff. The company’s founder and CEO will become a product manager at Twitter.

A service called Givit is working with Cisco to archive all Flip videos on FliShare, which will shutdown late next year. Givit also lets users forward private videos by email, which can't be forwarded again without permission from the creator. The Android and iOS apps are free and available now.

President Barack Obama has appointed Todd Park as the new CTO for the US government. Park served as CTO at the US Department of health and human servies, before which he was a management consultant. He replaces Aneesh Chopra who stepped down last month.

General Motors and NASA used technology from their space-bound Robonaut 2 to create robotic gloves for humans that the companies hope can reduce repetitive stress injuries. The K-glove could assist assembly line workers, astronauts and others who need to grip and release objects repeatedly. Where a worker might need to apply 15-20 pounds of force to hold a tool, the robo-glove could reduce that to just 5-10 pounds. The two companies said that continuously gripping a tool could cause fatigue in hand muscles within a few minutes. GM and NASA developed the glove from Robonaut 2, or R2, a robot that resides on the International Space Station and is designed to help astronauts with repetitive or dangerous tasks. It flew into space in late 2011.

Fraunhofer Institute showed off a robot at the Cebit IT fair in Germany last week that could sketch showgoers. The bot would first capture an image of its subject with a camera. Then software would break the image down into the most important lines of which the robot would draw. It drew on a dry erase board and when it was done, proudly showed the crowd. The robot wasn’t made by Fraunhofer, only programmed by the research group. It wasn’t the centerpiece of the group’s booth either, rather an attraction to gather a crowd…which it accomplished. At tech trade shows where thousands of vendors are vying for the attention of showgoers, having some eye candy like this robot is a good way to attract attention.

Well that's our show for this week thanks for joining us here on World Tech Update. To find out what's coming up on this week's show be sure to follow us on Facebook and twitter. As we head out we'll leave you with some shots of Nintendo's launch event for Mario Party 9 for the Wii. I'm Nick Barber and for all of us here at the IDG News Service thanks for watching and we hope to see you next week.