IBM Research and Japan's Panasonic are working on a computer modem that will enable cordless connection to a phone jack for PC users. The joint project is regarded as a marriage of pure scientific research to the needs of the marketplace. 'It operates on the same principle as cordless phones,' said Charles Palmer, of IBM. Products to be unveiled next year will offer convenient indoor computer telephony at a low cost for the booming small office and home office market. With an operating distance of up to 30 metres, the cordless modem transmits data between a computer and a small device connected to the phone jack at up to 28.8 kilobits per second. The IBM research team also is working on what it calls paper-like liquid crystal displays for showing photos, detailed maps and printed text on screen with quality comparable to that which appears on paper. The new device supports full-colour and high-resolution display with 157 dots per inch. IBM said the purpose of this new-generation display was to realise the paperless office. It was to change the habit of most computer users, who tended not to read directly from screens due to flicker, screen size and other shortcomings of standard displays. The invention involved new, high-conductivity materials and processes that would lead to higher production costs, but the increase would not be tremendous because both materials and processes were compatible with existing equipment and production lines.