If you think that Christmas shopping is the only thing you can do with a click of your mouse, think again. Cyberspace has revolutionized nearly every inch of the holiday season.

With everything going digital through the Internet, one can’t help but certainly feel the cyber-Christmas spirit. The virtual Santa roaming in websites may just as well be carrying gigabits of gifts to cyber freaks.

Although not yet widely available, online shopping has provided the ease to avoid the holiday rush. According to Andersen Consulting, the rise from conventional to online shopping is expected to increase by 17 per cent this year as 92 % of web orders are projected to be successful. E-tailers (electronic retailers) are thriving and making online shopping easier and safer than ever by doing a better job of managing their expectations. Many e-tailers have imposed deadlines on ordering, as early as December 10 for some, after which they no longer guarantee that the customers will get their goods on time.

A study in the United Kingdom projects that shoppers will buy 23 per cent of their Christmas gifts online this year. This marks a nine percent increase from last year’s figures. Nevertheless, it seems most Thomasians still prefer the conventional way of Christmas shopping. In a random survey conducted by the Varsitarian in UST, only 67 out of 500 respondents from the 14 colleges are thinking of buying gifts online using credit cards.

Non-stop communication

Since the advent of the prepaid era five years ago, almost every person, especially here in the text capital of the world, has at least an access to mobile telecommunications. And the trend continues to grow with the never-ending breakthroughs in mobile telecom technologies.


Before, people used to be satisfied with the delight of seeing messages on their beepers, then to texting quotes through their cellular phones. With the Multimedia Messaging Services (MMS) technology available in selected General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) enabled handsets, picture sending has become the next big wave. What better way to spend Christmas with long-distance friends and relatives than with pictures sent over a mile-high in seconds? After all, Christmas is meant to connect people all over the world. Thanks to digital communications, it is now possible.

Gadgets delight

Of course, Christmas is incomplete without the best part everybody expects – the gift-giving. The Varsitarian has picked this year’s cool new technological inventions that will certainly spice up your communication these holiday season.

Talking dog? If you are wondering what your dog is thinking, a new breakthrough from Japan is designed to get you in touch with your dogs through the “bowlingual.” A radio microphone is attached to the dog’s collar and a handheld receiver translates his barks, snarls, whimpers and whines into phrases such as “I can’t stand it”, “How boring” and “I’m lonely.”

According to the Japanese toymaker Takara, dog noises were collected and interpreted by animal behaviorists. These were then stored in the “doggie database” so that whenever the dog barks, the sound is beamed to the handheld and matched to the database.

Talking teeth? “Phone tooth,” developed by British researchers, can be embedded in the molar and used to receive cellular phone signals. The signals are translated into vibrations that travel from the tooth to the skull through the ear, where only the person with it can hear. Wearing phones on the belt may soon be obsolete.

UST High defers conversion

Talking hand? Actually, it does not, but for the deaf and mute, it can do the talking for them. A device that translates sign language into text, this device in a leather golf glove senses its wearer’s hand movements and transmits them wirelessly into a tiny handheld monitor where they appear as words. This device won the top prize at the Siemens Science and Technology Competition in the United States.

Virtual keyboard? Designed to accompany portable devices like PDAs, tablet PCs and mobile phones, computer keyboards can now literally fit into the pocket. Virtual keyboards use a laser beam that projects a glowing red outline of a keyboard on a desk or any flat surface. The sensors monitor the reflection of an infrared light projected on the same spot and send the information or the stuck key to the prototype being used when the reflection on that key changes.

The digital revolution has not only “upgraded” the celebration of the holidays, it has also transcended physical barriers to bring out the real purpose of Christmas – to connect all people. John Ferdinand T. Buen


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