Published: Monday 28 February 1994

Nicolas Hayek, chairperson of SMH AG, is looking for a partner to introduce the automotive equivalent of the Swatch watch he made famous in the 1980s. Hayek's inexpensive, stylish and "environmentally correct" car is to have low pollution levels, thanks to a hybrid system of battery- and gasoline-powered motors. An aluminium chassis will be topped by a fibreglass body. And, all this won't hurt much, not more than $9,150.

In the fledgling electronic publishing industry, the stage has been set for a battle royal over markets of video compact discs, computer-based books and video games. The CD-ROM format is facing a major challenge from the 3DO format launched by Time Warner Inc, American Telephone & Telegraph Co and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. CD-ROM is invaluable for databases, but its worth in reproducing magazines and art books is hard to prove, according to James Clark, president of a Californian computer company. The 3DO format seeks to set this right. However, Strauss Zelnick, founder of the video game firm Crystal Dynamics, scoffed at the notion of a single, all-purpose system.

Ellipso, a Washington-based satellite company, plans to blanket the globe with an inexpensive mobile phone service. The firm will concentrate mainly on Third World countries, where telecommunication reach is scarce. The network will use satellites in low-earth orbits, which will reduce markedly the persistent echoes characteristic of conversation via satellite. The service will cost the consumer 50 cents a minute plus a fee of $50 a month, compared to $3 a minute and a monthly fee of $75 projected by Motorola.

"Don't let antibiotics play havoc with your body. Switch to herbal medicines," advises Hakim Mohammad Said, a Pakistani expert on Unani medicine and president of the country's leading Unani pharmaceutical company, Hamdard Pakistan. The firm, which has operated in Pakistan for 23 years, has spearheaded a movement to project herbs as the medication of the future. The company had expanded its activities to Bangladesh when it was part of Pakistan. It is now setting up a city of science at Sonargaon on the outskirts of Dhaka. The city will have a modern factory complex and a school of Unani medicine.

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