A balloon, floating in the stratosphere, 24,000 metres above the earth, has been tested for the first time to provide faster data downlink in disaster zones or low-cost Internet access. This untethered, 12,000-cubic-metre helium balloon can send data to the ground at 1.25 gigabits per second ' thousands of times the capacity of a home broadband Internet connection. The stratospheric craft was equipped with two communication systems: a high-power radio antenna developed at the University of York, UK, and an ultra-high-speed optical communications system built by the German Aerospace Centre. According to the scientists of the University of York, stratospheric communications balloons can provide wireless alternatives to the Internet infrastructure.
National Federation for the Blind in Des Moines, US, has introduced the world’s first pocket-sized portable electronic Braille display. It consists of a sheet of tiny plastic paddles which can be rolled up like paper in response to a voltage. With a size of a phone book weighing about 500 grams, it can be connected to a cellphone or laptop. Existing systems use an array of pins that pop up with the help of motors. In the new display they are set on a fibreglass board.