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Metaflex, the invisibility cloak really exists

novembre 4, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Since ancient times, the most desired piece of clothing for men and women alike has always been an item … that does not exist: the invisibility cloak.
Metaphor for unattainable wishes, such an impossible cloth was the prerogative of characters from fantasy stories, and often ended up causing more harm than good to those who used it.

Now, according to a research by scientists at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, this dream could finally become a reality. In fact, the team of researchers is developing a new metamaterial (that is, an artificial material with properties not available in nature), capable of “bending” electromagnetic waves.

This material, called Metaflex has a “negative refraction index” which allows it to bend not only electromagnetic waves but also rays of visible light, in a way which, at least in theory, would make any object coated with this material invisible to human eyes.

The properties of this material could be used to make ships or submarines invisible to sonar waves, but being able to make it usable with visible light and with its shorter length waves, and on flexible objects such as a piece of clothing, is a very difficult challenge.

The Metaflex addresses this challenge by using meta-atoms that are stacked together. Previously, meta-atoms, which as the name suggests are the ones that make up meta materials, were used on hard and flat surfaces, such as the outer shell of a submarine. Manipulating their structure, it will be possible, according to researchers, to create a flexible metamaterial with which to manipulate the behavior of visible light, creating not only the legendary invisibility cloak, but also super-lenses to be used for artificial eyes, certainly less fascinating but more useful for visually impaired people.

Marital infidelity, the Net is the new frontier

novembre 3, 2010 Technology No Commenti

According to statistics, cases of marital infidelity worldwide are on the rise. In fact, according to a research from the Italian Association of Matrimonial Lawyers, at least 55% of husbands and 45% of wives have cheated on their spouse at least once.

A large chunk of this increase is certainly due to the widespread presence of social networks, which allow people to start more easily a correspondence with people of the opposite sex, thus creating the conditions for an extramarital fling.
Thanks to Facebook, a bored or unsatisfied husband or wife can find an old boyfriend or girlfriend from school days, and the correspondence can eventually lead to meeting for a coffee or perhaps something else.

The possibilities offered by the virtual world allow even the shyest ones to overcome insecurities due to a not always perfect physical appearance, leaving aside their fears, and freely express their hidden or repressed true personality. From this to a secret meeting, the road is not too long, and in no time the statistics of marital infidelity could have one more case.

In Italy, for example, there is a specialized website for finding short-term partners (no, we are not giving you the address…), a perfect example of “technologically assisted adultery” where everyone can find a casual partner compatible with their tastes and privacy needs. This site already has over 90,000 members, most of which are of course men, especially over forty years of age.

On the one hand, however, if technology is a great help for those who are in search of adventure, on the other side it can also become their worst enemy; in fact, many cases of adultery are discovered by wives or husbands, who notice a suspicious or stealthy attitude in their loved one, and spy a mobile phone in search of compromising signs such as a message or phone call.

A good half of infidelity cases, in fact, are exposed by snooping on cell phones, while the remaining half is split more or less equally between hiring a private detective, checking spouses’ email correspondence or taking an active technological stance, by using a spy phone, which lets you listen to its user’s calls, in real time and invisibly, and also gives you access to all messages, incoming and outgoing, while the user is completely unaware.

In short, while technology provides unexpected opportunities for cheating spouses, on the other, the cheated husband or wife can use it take a nice revenge …

Car, plane, helicopter and speedboat, all in one

novembre 3, 2010 Technology No Commenti

We have seen more than once cars that, by pressing a button or so, can turn into small planes, two-seat helicopters or small speedboats, but we have not yet seen one that could be able to transform into all three.

The idea was developed by British designer Philip Pauley, who has given birth to his Halo Intersceptor, a concept hybrid vehicle which, in normal conditions, is a normal (albeit sporty) car.
The interior of this car is essentially unchanged in each of the four configurations. What changes are the different accessories that must be strapped on the car depending on whether you want to use this vehicle to fly like a plane or a helicopter, or ride the waves on a boat.

The car itself is already very powerful, as it would be able to reach, in its designer’s intentions, a top speed of 500 kilometers per hour.
By strapping on it a couple of triangular wings and two Pratt & Whitney engines, Halo would become an aircraft capable of reaching a top speed of Mach 2, flying at over 20 thousand meters of altitude.

As a helicopter, it would have a range of 450 nautical miles and a top speed of 185 knots at an altitude of about 4500 meters.
Finally, for those who want to use it in water, Halo would be able to turn into a speedboat capable of a range of 1200 nautical miles and a cruising speed of 38 knots, with a maximum of around 60 knots.

This high-profile performance in each of the four configurations, suggests that Halo Intersceptor would probably never see the light, and if it should ever hit the markets, it is certainly not a vehicle that could be affordable for those who would love turn their cars into helicopters to escape the city traffic on a Monday morning.

Bugs power supply, for long lasting wiretaps

novembre 2, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Although the Berlusconi government in Italy, while stumbling from a sex scandal to the next, is trying to put a cap on wiretapping operations, by imposing a time limit, fortunately this investigative tool is still in use without too many restrictions that would only do a favor to criminals and crooks.

When a judge orders a wiretapping operation, either environmental or over the phone, what is known is when it will start, but not when it will end. This poses a problem too many times underestimated, when it comes to the duration of the interception, that is, the problem of how to ensure that bugs are correctly functioning.

Generally, eavesdropping devices are battery powered and communicate either by radio, or over the telephone network if the bug in use is a GSM bug with a SIM card just like the one of an ordinary mobile phone. Transmission via telephone is very demanding in terms of battery power.
Therefore, where possible it is recommended to use a bug has a power supply, to be connected directly to the mains from the electricity network, from which with very limited power consumption it will be possible to provide juice for your bugs, continuously for months and months.

Thanks to its tiny size, concealing it is not a problem, as it can be hidden inside an electrical box or a switch. In this way, hidden microphones connected to the power supply will ensure a continuous listening, perfect for long-term surveillance operations, during which it is important to ensure continuous coverage of the environment to control.

For full details on listening devices, bugs power supply and a wide range of equipment for room and phone eavesdropping, we suggest that you visit the Endoacustica website and contact our experts for advice tailored on your needs.

Manned-Unmanned demo for U.S. Army UAV

novembre 2, 2010 Technology No Commenti

According to officials from the Department of Defense of the United States, the U.S. military is preparing a large-scale demonstration to be held in September next year in the Utah desert.

The object of this demo, dubbed MUSIC (Manned Unmanned Systems Integration Concept) will be the showcasing of possibilities of interaction between unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and air and ground systems controlled by human personnel.

This demonstration is aimed at analyzing in detail the progress being made in cooperation and interaction between automated technologies and those that, in order to work perfectly, still need a human mind and eyes to control them and manage their operation.

For example, a demonstrations will be made of how the pilot of an Apache helicopter will be able to control, from the cockpit of his chopper, also an unmanned drone that flies nearby, to display on its screen also the images picked up by the UAV’s video systems, and even to launch any weapons that are mounted on the unmanned vehicle.

In this way, the pilot of a helicopter or small plane will actually be able to control two vehicles, with the UAV acting as a support, not only for aerial reconnaissance, but also in real attack missions.
The demonstrations will involve different types of helicopters, such as Shadow, Raven, Hunter, Grey Eagle, and of course the Apache AH-64 Block III.

While the Apache takes control of the drone next to it, other helicopters in the squadron will be able to view real-time feeds captured by the on-board systems of both vehicles, with an effective information exchange, coordinated by the ground control center, which provides a significant advantage over an enemy.

Laser microphones, and long distance listening becomes reality

novembre 1, 2010 Technology No Commenti

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When a group of dangerous criminals, or a mafia “cupola”, meets in secret to make decisions on their illegal business, they usually take a number of precautions to ensure that the police can not catch them.

In such situations, any operation of wiretapping of phone lines or planting of bugs is almost impossible, unless the lives of agents are put in grave danger, also risking the failure of the entire chase.

Therefore, to gather intelligence, the police may use tools to listen to conversations from a distance, in order to gather the information in the safest possible way. For example, this is the case with laser microphones, which give their users the opportunity to capture the conversations that take place inside a closed room, thanks to the use of a laser beam.

The laser, appropriately pointed at the window glass, in fact, is able to read the small vibrations of the glass caused by sounds, noises and voices inside the room. By pointing the beam on the glass at the correct angle, and retrieving the reflected beam with a receiver, you can read these vibrations, and turn them into sound and voice, enabling you to successfully carry out a remote listening operation without running any risk.

In fact, the laser microphone is able to secretly pick up conversations at a maximum distance of approximately a mile, allowing the monitoring agents to work without excessive stress, and to quickly take shelter in case something goes wrong.

Not only for law enforcement, but also for private detectives who are following a case of industrial espionage or marital infidelity, the laser microphones can prove very useful; if you wish to learn more about them, you can visit the Endoacustica website.

BlackBerry, ban in India has been lifted

novembre 1, 2010 Technology No Commenti

It seems that a happy ending has finally come, for the long story which went on between RIM, manufacturer of BlackBerry phones, and a number of Asian governments that would like to impose stricter measures on use of the RIM platform, in order to ensure themselves the right to listen to phone calls in case of threat to the national security.

Specifically, in India the government has officially confirmed that the negotiations with RIM have led to an agreement under which the BlackBerry Messenger services will continue, and the government can legally intercept the relevant content.

In addition, RIM has promised to find a permanent solution by January 31, 2011, in order to provide Indian government agencies with a continuous access to their encrypted data. The details of the agreement were not disclosed, but surely it is a significant step forward since the beginning of the story, when the Indian government had threatened to close all BlackBerry services at the end of last August.

As that date came closer, the government had instead granted an extension of 60 days to find a solution and this solution seems to have been finally found, as testified by today’s announcement, which follows a similar compromise that RIM had found with the Government of the United Arab Emirates, another one of the countries (along with Indonesia and Saudi Arabia) which had requested access to encrypted data on the BlackBerry platform.

Indeed, the services provided by RIM in the UAE have now been declared legal and compliant with the rules in force in that country. RIM also stated that they are following a similar approach to continue to operate in those countries, respecting local laws and regulations compatibly with its characteristics and principles.

At war just like in video games, thanks to an iPad

ottobre 29, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Recently we have seen how iPhone applications are increasingly being used also in the military, to control micro-helicopters used for reconnaissance or to perform simulations that help soldiers familiarize with anti-missile systems.
Therefore, it is natural that the new addition in the Apple family, the iPad, has generated the same attention from military authorities, who have already started several research projects to develop applications that can make life less dangerous for U.S. troops at the front.

An interesting application was developed by Textron, which can be used can keep under control the movements of troops, displaying them on the iPad screen as if they were part of a videogame. The application, called Soldier Eyes, uses augmented reality to detect, in collaboration with the soldiers directly involved in the area, the location of enemy and friendly forces, sending the relevant information back to a control center, which builds up a map in real time.

This map is then sent directly on the iPad, whose users can communicate in real time with soldiers on the front line, giving them the location of potential enemy threats, displayed directly on their smartphones or PDAs. Soldier Eyes achieves this through simultaneous use of a series of small applications that manage the information coming from the field, to provide an overview of the situation.

Once the picture is clear, one can send out two patrols of soldiers to separately attack an enemy position, simply by send them information directly on their iPad or iPhone, so that they can view the location of their target and converge towards the same point from different directions in order to neutralize it.
In short, this is a way to conduct real operations of real war, but making them look almost like a simple video game.

600 hours in only 4 mm on your microrecorder

ottobre 29, 2010 Technology No Commenti

The occasions when you may need to record conversations, sounds or music, in a discreet way and as invisibly as possible, are countless: a concert, a lesson at school or in college, a meeting in the office or, for law enforcement and private detectives, during a difficult criminal investigation or for a case of marital infidelity.

In such cases, it is important that the hidden recording is done using a tool that can not arise unnecessary attention, which can be easily concealed and, if necessary, can operate autonomously for a long time, by turning on automatically only when absolutely necessary, to avoid wasting time by recording hours of useless background noise.

Therefore, you should use a EM type voice recorder, which is able to achieve all this,in spite of its extremely tiny size. In fact, there are some models that, although sporting a thickness of only 4 mm and a size comparable to that of a credit card, have features such as voice activation sensor and a storage capacity of 4 GB, that is, approximately 600 hours of recording.

With automatic activation, you can record only when necessary, in order to get the most out of your audio surveillance operation or intelligence gathering; this feature guarantees optimization of battery consumption, which is guaranteed to last up to 1 month when in standby mode, or for up to 14 hours of continuous recording.

Thanks to its compact dimensions, it will not be easily visible, and you can retrieve it with ease when no one is watching you. For more details on the operation of digital voice recorders, we recommend that you visit the Endoacustica website, where you will find other miniature models of recorders for all your different needs in this field.

A plane, a helicopter … or both?

ottobre 29, 2010 Technology No Commenti

As those who read this blog may happen to know, we often find ourselves commenting on the new creations of the big brains at DARPA, a branch of the Department of Defense in charge of research for the military, which plays an important role to ensure that United States of America have a significant technological and strategic advantage over their potential enemies.

Therefore, any innovation that comes from DARPA does not surprise us too much. A mention of honour, however, it certainly assigned to DiscRotor, a VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) vehicle which represents a sort of hybrid between an airplane and a helicopter, whose rotor blades are mounted on (as the name goes) some sort of disc. Once the vertical take-off is completes, the blades can disappear within the disc, and DiscRotor can fly like a normal plane, using the disc as an additional wing; upon landing, however, it will be possible to use the rotor blades for vertical landing, especially if the operation is carried out in inaccessible areas where there is not enough space to allow landing of a common plane.

This therefore means that, thanks to DiscRotor, the speed of, for example, an evacuation of troops from a harsh environment, would be significantly increased, due to higher cruise speed of DiscRotor compared to that of a conventional helicopter, when it is in plane configuration.

Currently, the project is still in its initial phase, along with thousands of other high-tech projects that DARPA is constantly working on. I wonder if one day we will be able to see this strange object fly over our heads like a normal plane, then suddenly stop, pull out its rotors and gently land, just like a chopper.

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