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(ARA) – Travel has changed quite a bit since our ancestors first picked up and moved from one camp to the next. Back then, travel was for the purpose of commerce, trade and survival. It took explorers to new lands to meet new people and bring back unimaginable riches. The experience of traveling then was clearly very different from our travel today. Now, people are able to travel hundreds, even thousands of miles to see loved ones, for business or to explore a new destination.

More recently, our ability to stay connected while away from home has improved greatly. We create and demand access to information more now than ever before. As we travel, we need to be able to connect with co-workers, chat with friends and family, or even find a great spot to eat. The Internet allows us to do all these things, and more. With the proliferation of smartphones and ultra mobile Internet-enabled laptops and tablets, we want to have access everywhere, not just coffee shops and the office. Now, we can connect when using popular modes of travel.

Connecting on the fly

While Internet kiosks have been a staple in airports for quite some time, many airlines now offer in-flight wireless capabilities. If staying connected is important to you, check with the airline to see what options they provide and at what cost before buying your boarding pass.

If you travel frequently, investing in an easily portable netbook or tablet is a great way to take advantage of these increased connectivity options. If you’re looking for a new mobile computer, machines powered by Intel Atom processors allow for seamless connection to wireless networks and the performance you need in a small package.

Intelligent trains

Wireless connectivity is also becoming a reality on the rails. Amtrak recently launched free wireless service on its Acela high-speed rail line through the major cities in the northeast. In the past decade, a number of stations on the east coast have also added free wireless service. While wireless may eventually make its way to all Amtrak trains, travelers who frequent trains without the service may wish to buy a device with wireless Internet capabilities for increased possibilities of connectivity.

Wireless technology has also played a role in how trains operate. In the U.S. more than 1.3 million railcars are in service, according to the Association of American Railroads. Keeping all those trains rolling is quite an undertaking. The current system, using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology for identifying trains and railcars as they roll past a fixed point, is aging and does not fit the current need for real-time monitoring. New wireless sensor networks powered by the Intel Atom processor and gateway devices provide live, detailed tracking data in railway cars.

On the road

Technology has also changed the way we travel in our automobiles. GPS devices have eliminated the need for cumbersome maps, or scribbling down or printing directions before you leave. Intelligent applications on smartphones also help you identify nearby restaurants and other roadside attractions.

Technology could also change the way we drive. Researchers are working on cars that will capture information about vehicle speed, steering and breaking along with video footage from inside and outside the vehicle to make driving safer. Camera systems can recognize street signs and alert the driver to changing conditions or rules. It could also then take over control of the car if the driver attempts to drive into danger.

“The intelligent vehicle is what we are talking about here. Once a car is connected, more or less on a continuous basis, all sorts of interesting possibilities present themselves,” says Justin Rattner, director of Intel Laboratories and chief technology officer.

To learn more about staying connected on the go and transportation technology, visit

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Author: Andy Quayle

Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
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