Published: Wednesday 31 August 1994

The US-based Carrier Corporation has come up with what it claims is the world's first chlorine-free, non-ozone-depleting airconditioner. Carrier says that the new unit, Weathermaker 134a, uses hydrofluorocarbon 134a and is 50 per cent more energy efficient than traditional airconditioners using chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). With CFCs due to be phased out within the next 2 years, manufacturers are desperately looking for acceptable alternatives. Well, Carrier seems to have carried the day.

People with motor or visual disabilities need no longer shy away from computers or hunt for specially designed ones. They can now use standard computer systems -- with a different, friendly keyboard. HM Systems and KCS, 2 UK-based companies, have introduced a computer-and-keyboard package, priced at L1,500, that may make it easier for handicapped people to use computers. The keyboard consists of a touch-sensitive flat pad which can be overlaid by customised keysets, which are programmed so that one keystroke can perform a series of functions. The overlays can be designed using different colours and sizes to help the visually-impaired.

Smartcards, used extensively by banks as debit and credit cards, have to be re-issued often to frequent users because a memory capacity hasn't yet been made that can accommodate all the splurging tendencies of cardholders. Now, Schlumberger of France and the US-based Texas Instruments promise to change all that. They have devised smartcards with re-programmable memory cells that allow the chip to store about 160 transactions in a sequential file. Once this level is reached, the card automatically creates more capacity by deleting the oldest records.

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