Hydrogen cars got a boost with the $1.2 billion Hydrogen Fuel Initiative in 2003, leading to a flurry of research. The appeal of hydrogen lies in its only emission being water vapor. While hydrogen still relies on natural gas for production, there are possible alternatives, such as coaxing it from bacteria and sunlight. But forget theory for a minute. The Honda FCX Clarity is one of the few real-world hydrogen cars and only 18 states have any hydrogen refueling stations, with California the only state to have in excess of 10. Meanwhile, hybrid cars have been hitting the road for 14 years, with the Toyota Prius pulling ahead with over two million vehicles sold since its introduction in 1997. First-mover advantage isn't the only reason for the hybrid's domination over hydrogen, though. The 2010 Obama administration budget request bet against the technology, favoring and funding hybrids and attempting to cut the amount going to the Department of Energy's hydrogen fuel-cell program. While Congress restored the majority of the funding, the proposed 2012 budget is looking once again to slash financial support for the program.
Microsoft Zune(to compete with ipod)The Microsoft Zune proved the maxim that looks are everything. Coming across more like an iPod prototype than a sleek, fully realized product, the Zune 30 arrived in 2006 in black, white, and brown. Its Microsoft software was widely praised, but with two notable missteps: it wasn't Mac-compatible and couldn't sync with iTunes (something even Palm managed). Consumers were already five years and several models in to the iPod and their iTunes libraries. A more attractive package could certainly have helped, and Microsoft did gussy up the Zune in its subsequent incarnations but to no avail. The last Zune was produced in April 2010. Microsoft says that it's the final standalone unit, with the technology being merged into Windows Phone 7 devices.
MeeGo's name foretold its own exit. The Nokia and Intel-developed mobile OS was killed by Stephen Elop, the company's president and CEO, just as the first and only phone to use it was announced. Elop dropped MeeGo to make way for Windows Phone 7-based devices. Yet the Nokia N9, the first and now only phone on the platform, garnered rave reviews for features such as NFC, an 8-megapixel camera, and a swipe gesture to replace the home key. But that wasn't enough for a stay of execution. MeeGo's downfall had nothing to do with it but rather it's because it came too late for the company. Nokia is struggling to regain its former prominence, and partnering with Microsoft on a dozen-plus forthcoming phones is the path it has chosen to take. Intel thinks MeeGo is down and not out and plans to try to revive it in the tablet space.
The latest USB standard—with its SuperSpeed bus that has a fourth transfer mode at 5 Gbps—arrived at the beginning of 2010 with a certified consumer product rollout. However, that rollout has been limited, partly because Intel has been dragging its feet on supporting the standard. The answer why arrived with a thunderclap, or a Thunderbolt, rather. Intel brought its own Thunderbolt technology to market with Apple. Thunderbolt has twice the transfer speed, supports daisy-chaining, and benefits from Intel and Apple's backing. The writing seems to be on the wall with this one.
Bluetooth 4.0The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) said on Wednesday that version 4.0 of the wireless specification may be incorporated into devices by the end of the year. The new spec will bring Bluetooth to a whole new set of gadgets including watches, pedometers, and all other low-power devices that run on coin-cell batteries.
This is a huge step considering that Bluetooth only resided in devices that used triple-A or larger capacity batteries. Michael Foley, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG, said that 4.0 combines both the high-speed data transfer capabilities provided by Bluetooth 3.0 with the new ability to transmit small bursts of data over short ranges.