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Sports gambling technology in the new millenium
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by: Jim P..
The first computer I worked on was a DEC PDP-8M. Although that won't mean much to most people, it was a great little machine. And by little, I mean that it actually fit in a single room.

When I first started to write code on that machine, we had a mammoth 8k of RAM, and a single teletype-style paper based terminal. Only two years later, we upgraded to the multi-user version of the operating system and maxed out the machine with 16k of RAM and two terminals. Since the machine was in high demand, I spent a great deal of my programming time filling out paper cards to be processed in the overnight batch.

Well, times have changed quite a bit since those days. Technology is changing at a faster rate than ever before. Most of us, and especially those reading this article, have come to take for granted the computing power available to us on a daily basis that was unimaginable to me and my colleagues in those days.

Even more unimaginable, however, was the way in which this computing ability has changed the face of communications, through the development of the Internet, mobile computing, cellular and other technologies.

These technologies are now coming together in ways that will broaden the way we interact with one another, and permanently change the way entertainment is delivered. The key element in this change is connectivity. As more and more people find themselves connected to the Internet and other services, through their computers and cellular phones, they have pushed for increased ease of use and speed of communications. This in turn has made these devices more attractive, and the cycle continues.

In the future, we will see more widespread availability of high speed Internet connections, both in business and home environment, as the growth in DSL and cable modems continues.

So today, we are approaching the point of convergence when we will have a single handheld device that will be capable of satisfying many simultaneous needs. Individually, all of the devices in this list exist. In the future, you will see them coexist, and in much better forms than today.

· Wireless Web. Internet-on-the-go will have an enormous number of applications, ranging from stock quotes and email, to hand held gambling and multi player games. Today's wireless web applications are limited to text only, and web pages have to be specially designed to work with it. In the future, expect a friendlier version, which will allow the view to see any web page in its correct graphical form.

· PDAs. Personal Digital Assistants are those little electronic datebook gizmos. Some of these devices have PCs built in, and can run PC software, and almost all can transfer data back and forth with your home PC. Today, most of these devices rely on handwriting as the input device, although there are some that have miniature keyboards. In the future look for voice recognition to be the method of choice for data entry.

· Voice recognition. Although voice recognition has made significant progress in the last several years, we can expect it to continue to increase in quality. Hopefully, within the next 5 years it will reach a point where is it usable for most people.

· Cellular Phones. New cellular technologies will increase the range of places you will be able to use your cellular phone, while decreasing the cost of owning it. There are several major standards in use throughout the world today, making it difficult to purchase a phone that operates correctly, world wide. That problem will be solved in the not too distant future. Also, new speaker and microphone technology will help you be less conspicuous when you make that not-so-important call in that snooty restaurant.

· MP3 Players. The hot new thing in music playback is the MP3 player. These devices hold hours of music, have terrific fidelity, and fit in your shirt pocket. And since they have no moving parts, the battery life is much longer than a Walkman or portable CD player. One of the biggest benefits to these players is the enormous library of music that you can find on the Internet. And if companies such as Napster survive their legal battles, you can expect the availability of music on the Internet to grow even faster.

· MPEG Players. MPEG is the format in which movies are stored on a DVD. It has many advantages over older movie formats, including clarity of pictures and compression ratios. In the future, we can expect to see more and more digital video delivered in MPEG format, and in future formats to be developed. Future handheld devices will have MPEG decoders built in to assist in the playback of MPEG movies.

· Color LCD Screens. Color LCD screens have been around for quite some time now, but recent technological advancements have made them more clear, brighter, and less power hungry. They are beginning to make their way into PDAs as the cost drops.

· Teleconferencing. Still in its infancy, teleconferencing devices are currently big and bulky. They are generally hooked up to a television and are a nightmare to set up. With the addition of a miniature video camera, a handheld computing device can take on the task with ease.

When you start putting these devices together, that's when the fun begins. First of all, for many applications, you can forget about that clunky desktop PC. Most of the functions you need on a daily basis are there. Email can be read easily on a handheld device and message composition is trivial with a good voice recognition system. Combine your favorite map web site with the built in Global Positioning System and you've got a great navigator.

But for me, the exciting part begins when you start using this device for entertainment purposes. For listening to music, combine the MP3 player with the wireless web, to be able to continuously shuffle through you favorite songs, and on demand, add new songs into the mix, all while on the go.

When movie studios bring their content online, watch any movie ever made, at any time, in the palm of your hand, or send the output to your television (or tele-visors!) to share it with friends. You won't have to plug in any wires to connect your movie player to your television since both devices will have wireless communications.

Of course there will be gambling. And lots of it! When people have access to these high quality Internet devices, the online casino providers will rise to the occasion. Since these devices will be built for high-speed communications, you can expect to see a new generation of graphics with increased animation, sound, and live video.

For multiplayer games, such as craps and roulette, use your handheld Internet device's teleconferencing features to chat with your tablemates. Cheer them on, or ask for help in strategies. Now, Internet poker rooms become real as you can watch the expressions on the faces of your opponents.

For sports gambling fans, watch the game in the palm of your hand while overlay screens that let you bet on the outcome of the next play. In real time, you will be able to see how other people are predicting the plays, and chart your success rate.

For horse racing aficionados, you will be able to research your horses, jockeys, and track conditions online right up until post time.

When you win, the casino will electronically transfer your money to your ewallet account stored in your handheld device, and you'll be able to use the money immediately at stores everywhere.

When developers design games specifically for these devices, the results will be amazing. The new functionality will bring gambling and game playing to levels not possible within the constraints of today's computing environment.

Personal communication devices are still in their infancy. In the future, they will replace cellular telephones as the de facto device to carry. As there functionality increases, they will take the place of more and more devices in our daily lives, even replacing the PC for many people. As the price continues to drop, they will provide a mechanism for even more people to become part of the most significant communications medium since the development of the printing press.

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