smokeless autos: Two low-emission cars recently rolled out of Honda Motor Co of Japan. The emission levels of the two models - Civic Ferio LEV and the Partner 1.6 LEV - are only one-tenth of those specified by current regulations in Japan. The Civic Ferio is priced at around US $10,451 and the Partner will cost around US $9,647. The company has also developed a vehicle that has almost no exhaust emission. Called Civic GX, it will be powered by compressed natural gas and will soon be tested on public roads.

fresh drops: Water-starved regions in India will soon benefit from the country's first radiation technology-based sewage disinfection plant developed by Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. It would be utilised for recycling used water. The company's pollution control research institute has opened a plant based on this technology at Jagtitpur, Uttar Pradesh.The disinfection of treated sewage water by ultra-violet rays does not produce any harmful effluents or residue, the company says.

green wood: Natura Coir Ply, an eco-friendly wood substitute, is all set to give timber products tough competition. Launched recently by the Coir Board in Kochi, Kerala, the product has been made by using renewable natural hard fibres such as coir and jute, treated with phenolic resin. According to Coir Board chairperson George Joseph, if 20 tonnes of brown coir fibre are used every day, India can save more than eight hectares of tropical forests from destruction. Besides, Coir Ply is cheaper than wood products.

soothing eyes: Spending long hours in front of computer screens need no longer be discomforting for eyes. Hikari Kogyo Co of Japan has developed a display filter that reduces screen flicker, ultra-violet rays and reflection from fluorescent lamps. It also blocks out electromagnetic waves, which are believed to be hazardous to health, the company says. The filter, which costs around US $221, features a high level of light permeability and is designed to improve colour visibility.

smart business: Banking would never be the same again with the launch of a device that turns a personal computer (PC) into an automated teller machine. Developed by Fischer International Systems of the US, the device enables a computer to dispense card-based electronic cash. Priced at US $60, the device links a PC to banks and retail outlets via Internet. It can be inserted into the floppy disk drive of any PC, allowing it to read 'smart cards', which are plastic credit cards that can perform electronic cash transactions and store bank account balances. The cards can store more than four million bytes of computer data.

multilingual net: Publishing on the Internet will now be easier for people conversant in regional Indian languages. Sonata Software Ltd (SSL) of Delhi has developed a publishing tool called WebPrak, which enables regional language publishing over Internet as well as Intranet. The software allows Internet surfers to browse through regional language websites without having language-specific fonts on the desktops. WebPrak will enable Internet to reach out to the masses, says B Ramaswamy, managing director of SSL.

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