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Jane Wakefield | 14:49 UK time, Wednesday, 16 June 2010

for sale sign

On Tech Brief today: Google goes house-hunting, a robotic companion that is actually quite useful and how digital graffiti is so much easier to clean up than old-fashioned spraypaint.

• Google seems to have bounced back from recent controversies over how much information it is collecting with a new service that snoops around houses.

Ok, I should probably clarify that slightly. In fact the search giant has added a property finding service to Google Maps UK which will allow people to search for houses in any given location and get all the vital statistics on rooms, price and location. It has signed deals with a range of estate agents, including Countrywide and online agents Zoopla and Zoomf

Andrew Foster, product manager at Google told the Guardian what prompted the latest service:

"We want Google Maps to be a map that contains all of the world's information. We know that many UK home buyers are already using Google Maps in their house-hunting, and by adding property listings to the map we're putting everything together for them in one place."

• US telephone company AT&T is not enjoying a great record on user security at the moment. Last week it was revealed that 114,000 iPad users' e-mail addresses, including those of White House staff, had been exposed.

Now Gizmodo is now reporting that customers trying to order a new iPhone 4 are being redirected to other users' accounts, with access to some of the their personal information, including their phone numbers and addresses.

AT&T customer Ethan told Gizmodo:

"I logged in to Att.com in the pre-order frenzy. I was immediately greeted by someone else's personal information. Fearful that I had accidentally registered my iPhone to someone else's name I refreshed the page. This time my account info came in correctly."

An unidentified AT&T insider told Gizmodo the issues were related to a weekend outage:

"Over the weekend there was a major fraud update that went down on all of AT&T's systems, from Saturday overnight to Sunday early morning. All systems were down and agents were unable to use any systems."

• Indeed it seems the whole iPhone pre-ordering system is in chaos with lots of news sites and blogs, including PC World reporting that Apple's online store is struggling to cope with demand for pre-orders.

It also seems those hoping to order a white iPhone 4 could be disappointed with none available on either Apple or AT&T's sites. For those who like to be on Apple's bleeding edge it could be back to the old-fashioned way of buying goods by standing in what promises to be a long queue outside an Apple store on release day, 24 June.

• Robotic companions often tend to look cute (in a geeky, metallic kind of way) but are often of limited practical help. LuminAR reverses that trend. It looks just like a desk lamp - but its simple exterior hides a range of exciting technology, including a pico-projector, camera and wireless computer. All that means it can respond to commands, so a swipe of the hand moves it to one side, but more interestingly, it also creates an interface on any surface or object.

MIT student Natan Linder talks up the project:

"The project radically rethinks the design of traditional lighting objects, and explores how we can endow them with novel augmented-reality interfaces."

Turning on the light has never been so exciting.

• We are in the season of wellies, loud music and fields but winner of most obscure festival goes to what it being billed as the world's first projection art festival, kicking off in Florida this week.

The festival is dedicated to digital graffiti and computer-generated graphics; animation and video will be splashed onto buildings around Alys Beach, without a dirty paintbrush or pair of wellies in sight.

Now in its third year, judge Alan Hunter told CNN what the appeal was:

"It was a difficult concept to understand, even for the developers of the event, but once night fell that first year and you could see the projections on the white canvases of the walls of each of the stunning buildings, we all had a big 'ah-ha' moment."

And, unlike other festivals, no need for a big clean-up. Last person to leave switch the lights off.

If you want to suggest links or stories for Tech Brief, you can send them to @bbctechbrief on Twitter, tag them bbctechbrief on Delicious or e-mail them to techbrief@bbc.co.uk.

Links in full

Mark Sweney | Guardian | Google UK adds house-hunting to Maps
Jesus Diaz | Gizmodo | iPhone order security breach
Naresh Kuman| PSK | Student invents robotic desk lamp
Katherine Dorsett| CNN Town comes to life with digital graffiti|


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