Akron

Swipe my finger

Here’s some cool tech that’s become an every day thing for some students:

Fingerprint technology that allows students to pay for lunch with just a touch is showing up in school districts across the state.

Schools in the central Ohio town of Circleville are joining Akron, Huron, Rocky River and at least five other Ohio school districts in implementing the service.

Administrators say swiping fingers increases speed in lunch lines and helps schools keep a more accurate count of how many students are served meals.

That’s from the AP via WFMJ. The ACLU is against it.

Are strippers progressive?

Interesting and thoughtful post on the SB 16 stripper brouhaha over at Pho’s Akron Pages:

Can I Be Pro-Free Expression Without Being Pro-Lap Dance?

I understand opposing anything CCV is for. My knee jerks in that direction as well. But lap dances are not a progressive cause. Strip clubs are not a good to be protected, they are part of the price we pay to live in a free society. When people are granted freedoms, some will use those freedoms unwisely, and the rest of us have to put up with a certain amount of crap as a result. Strip clubs are included among that crap. Progressives shouldn’t be defending a business based on the commodification of women.

Nonetheless, many of the posts against the bill have gone beyond the expected arguments about freedom of expression or home rule. In addition to all that, they’ve taken on the cause of the strip club industry as an economic development issue. Yes, strip joints provide jobs. So do meth labs.

There’s more.

Nanotech City

From the blog of the Porter Wright Morris & Arthur nanotechnology law firm:

The Ohio Department of Development recently announced a significant financial incentive that it awarded to Zyvex Performance Materials, Inc., a “leading nano-technology company providing tools and instrumentation to the semi-conductor and research and education markets.” The incentive, a 60%, 5-year tax cut on real property improvements, allows Zyvex to relocate its headquarters to Columbus along the new State Route 315 Technology Corridor. The move is expected to generate approximately 100 jobs in Central Ohio.

In addition to its semi-conductor work, Zyvex “was the first to provide carbon nanotube (CNT) powered products to the marketplace,” and “Zyvex’s performance materials serve customers in the aerospace, defense, automotive, and energy markets while its patent technology has been incorporated with customers who are sporting goods manufacturers.”

This is potentially very important for Columbus. Making the city the Silicon Valley of nanotech might be a long shot, but the Zyvex move certainly moves us further along.

Here’s a link to the 315 Research + Technology Corridor, which is playing a significant role in making that happen, with the help of OSU, the all-important Battelle and others. OSU has a lab devoted to nanotech, the Nanotech West Laboratory. The two-day Ohio Nanotechnology Summit 2007 is happening today and tomorrow in Akron.

If you have no clue what nanotech is, a good place to start is The Foresight Nanotech Institute. Last week Russia announced that it will be investing $1 billion in nanotech, so if you don’t know about nanotech, well now’s the time.

More digital signs coming to Columbus, Akron

The Digital Signage Journal (yes, of course such a thing exists) is reporting that Clear Channel Outdoor is putting up 6 of the things in Columbus and 6 in Akron, in addition to two other cities. There’s already at least one digital sign in Columbus, on Rome-Hilliard Road just north of 70.

Clear Channel Outdoor’s digital networks plans to display around 1,250 ads a day, with a rotation every eight seconds. Memphis will carry five 14 by 48 foot digital billboards, while Akron will have six of the same size. And Wichita and Columbus will put up six each of the 12 by 24 foot poster-sized digital displays….

[Paul Meyer, global president of Clear Channel Outdoor] added that digital billboards’ utility for emergency public messaging, such as weather advisories and “Amber Alerts” for missing children, provides “an invaluable emergency messaging system to the communities in which we do business.”

So far, around 400 electronic billboards have been deployed in the U.S., averaging at $500,000 for each unit.

These things are a bit controversial however. Some say they distract drivers. The New York Times had an article on digital signs in January.

While the billboard industry says the digital signs are not dangerous, driving safety researchers say there has not been enough research to know for sure. Most driving studies have focused on cellphone use. Still, researchers said the digital signs may tax drivers’ awareness more than old-fashioned static signs.

“In my opinion, they’re definitely distracting,” said Deanna Singhal, research associate at the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, a driving safety group in Ottawa. “It’s going to not only keep their eyes away from the road more, but it’s also more cognitively demanding.”

A study commissioned by the Federal Highway Administration is recommending further research into whether the signs present risks to drivers, said Dale Keyes, who oversaw the research. The study, by the Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution, a federal agency in Tucson, will be released in a few weeks. The federal government has also allotted $150,000 for a future study of digital signs.

Digital signs are banned in a few states already. At least one digital sign, operated by a company called Lamar in Birmingham, Alabama, was ordered turned off:

The board’s still images changed every six seconds and showed different ads in a continuous loop, [Lamar lawyer Robert] Baugh said.

There is no animation on the sign, but many members of the board said they felt like the fast-change feature made it look like the sign’s images and lights were moving - something not allowed under the sign ordinance.

Lamar got a sign building permit from the city before it spent $190,000 converting the existing billboard to digital. But board chairman George Pierce said the investment and revenue loss is not enough of a hardship for the city to grant the variance.

“Our biggest concern is public safety in that area,” Pierce said.

I think these things are potentially very distracting when they’re directly in front of a driver, for example when there’s a curve in the road ahead and there’s a sign right there. But off to the side, they’ll be just one more distraction among many, which we’ll learn to tune out.

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