Emerging Technology

Email and productivity… Online fraud rife… Super’s huge future… Home of the Future… The money phone

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How email kills productivity

A recent study by Microsoft and the University of Illinois has confirmed what we all suspected: email reduces productivity.

The New York Times reports that the Microsoft workers studied took an average of 15 minutes to get back to jobs requiring serious mental exertion after receiving an email. They tended to surf the web or reply to other messages before getting back to work.

But it’s all not bad news, the New York Times says. Another study by the Oxford University’s Institute for the Future of the Mind suggests that the older you are, the better able you will be maintaining productivity in the face of distractions.

The study gave two groups – one of 18–21 year olds and the other of 35–39-year-olds – 90 seconds to translate images into numbers using a simple code. The study found that while the younger group were quicker when uninterrupted, when both groups were interrupted by a phone call or text message the older group caught up in speed and accuracy.

“The older people think more slowly, but they have a faster fluid intelligence, so they are better able to block out interruptions and choose what to focus on,” an author of the study said.

Online fraud rife

A UK Government-backed survey has found 12% of adult internet users fell victim to some kind of online fraud during 2006, reports ITWire.

About half of the victims were defrauded while shopping online, and one-third experienced some kind of bank account or credit card fraud. About two in five ran into some other kind of fraud. Some respondents experienced multiple types of fraud.

The average loss reported by the 2441 respondents was £875 ($2134).

The researchers suggested the high levels of fraud may be a result of the fact that slightly less than half of the respondents said they were responsible for their own online safety.

Britons aren’t all taking basic precautions: 17% still have no antivirus software, 22% do not use a firewall; 20% had not updated their antivirus software in the previous month; 23% had opened a file attached to an email from an unknown source;, and more than half used the same password on multiple websites.

Back home, the Commonwealth Bank has developed a new tool in its fight against internet bank fraud, reports the Australian Financial Review. The bank is introducing a free SMS-based service that will deliver single-use codes to secure transactions for 2.3 million internet banking customers.

Customers who register for the SMS NetCode scheme will be issued with security codes they can use for internet banking transactions.

Super industry will keep on booming

Super industry pioneer Garry Weaven predicts the total assets of the industry will quadruple to $4 trillion in 13 years.

He foresees super funds wanting a greater say in corporate governance because they will feel a greater weight of responsibility being in control of so much money.

Microsoft ‘Home of the Future’

Microsoft has unveiled its newest ‘Home of the Future’, one in which mobile phones can control room lighting, temperature, music and television – even the lock on the front door, reports Trendhunter.com .

Established 12 years ago, the Home of the Future, is a series of rooms filled with working prototypes and technology concepts the company considers are just five to 10 years from becoming available to the public. But it is only open to the company’s employees, customers and others to tour by appointment.

So what’s coming? One room has a projection system that provides digital wallpaper, which can be changed according to the occupants’ mood.

In the dining room, the table can turn into a large, touch-sensitive computer screen. The children’s room has a computer that senses when a toy is returned to the proper bin and awards points.

Money phone

Sick of carrying your wallet as well as your phone in bulging pockets?

Soon, you may be able to go shopping just by swiping your mobile over a magnetic reader. Discover, a credit card insurer, and wireless equipment maker Motorola, are testing the money phone in Chicago and Salt Lake City, reports the Australian newspaper.

The phone contains a chip that is usually embedded in a credit card. The magnetic readers extract information from it via radio waves. But before the technology is introduced, consumer fears about security will have to be resolved.

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