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A video camera to see discreetly at night

agosto 19, 2010 Technology No Commenti

When you find yourselves in absolute darkness, and at the same time in need of providing documentation of whatever happens around you, for example during a police operation, using a normal video system or an ordinary digital video camera, no matter how advanced and professional, might not provide the desired results.

In situations of this kind, video surveillance technology can provide a solution thanks to thermal cameras, which are capable of generating images with no need for additional lighting such as a flashlight or so, which would certainly not allow for a discreet recording.

On the contrary, as the name might suggest, these cameras can do their job by working on the thermal image of objects or people within their range, thus being able to deliver a clear image even in the darkest night and in less illuminated areas, such as for example on open seas, when in conditions of total darkness it may not be possible to notice a potential incoming threat.

On the contrary, thanks to the usage of a thermal camera, it is also possible to protect yourselves from this kind of threat, while attacking pirates would not be aware of the fact that they are being observed even while approaching with their lights off. And when they try to attack, they will be the ones to be actually caught by surprise!

Images recorded with a thermal video camera can easily be downloaded on your PC thanks to an USB cable, and they can prove very useful especially for police operations, to be used as evidence before a court of law. Their rugged design makes them suitable to be used I the middle of the action, on the outside or in harsh weather conditions.

For more information about features, operation and price of night vision cameras, we recommend that you visit the Endoacustica website and contact our specialized consultants.

NASA bidding for a night-operating lunar rover

agosto 19, 2010 Technology No Commenti

As we all know, on the Moon temperatures can change dramatically between day and night, and they may go as low as 200 degrees below zero. Extremely low temperatures have therefore contributed, at least so far, to making a complete exploration of our satellite in all conditions more difficult. To be able to explore it better even during the night, NASA is now searching for a solar powered lunar vehicle, which should be capable of storing energy during the day, and then using it during the night to provide juice to its electric engine and to the technology on board.

To do so, they have placed a bid on their official site, inviting anyone capable of supplying such a vehicle to formulate their proposals.
Currently, space rovers in use at NASA are able to carry out their tasks only during the day, which does not allow them to completely use their full potential; on the contrary, NASA has to choose vehicles according to operating range, thus losing something in terms of amount of instruments available for each rover, with an effect on analyses and discoveries that these vehicles can perform.

The bidding devices will be tested at the NASA simulator, where temperature and terrain conditions similar to the ones that the rovers would find on the moon are available. The winner will be the one that covers the longest possible distance during a series of day/night cycles, while improving significantly the performances of already existing vehicles.
Obviously, since the weight of anything that is flown to the Moon must be trimmed up to the gram for cost reasons, adding up battery packs would not be considered as a cost-efficient manner to reach the target, but an energy-saving method would do the job instead.

Whoever wants to give it a try might be lured in also by the 1.500.000-dollar prize.

A motor boat, a submarine or…. a shark?

agosto 19, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Underwater surveillance is generally performed with the most advanced and diverse technological tools, from remotely controlled micro submersibles to others driven by a human, with or without sonar, GPS receivers and so on. Instead, in the personal submersibles field, the latest novelty comes from Innespace, and it is called Seabreacher X.

It si a vehicle which, in fact, looks much more leisure-oriented than suitable for a professional use, but that could have its advantages in this field as well, to scare away any possible offender. In fact, Seabreacher’s shape closely reminds of that of a shark, including a transparent panel beneath the pilot’s feet resembling an open mouth, and if looks are not enough, it can even jump out of water!

Thanks to its 250 horsepower engine, in fact, this submarine, approximately 3.60 meter long, can reach a top speed of 80 km per hour on the water, and 40 while submerged. Its high underwater speed allows it to jump out of it, just like a predator of the seas. If a bad guy is silently creeping in on his boat and suddenly finds this sort of monster jumping out of water right before him, the deterrent effect would be 100% guaranteed!

As easy to maneuver as a jet ski, it is also equipped with the requisite technology pack, including a GPS locator, a video camera on the top fin and an on board stereo, as well as the requisite leather seats which make it look more like a luxury toy than a vehicle for professional use, also because of the not exactly cheap price tag: its 10 exemplars, in fact, will be sold at 85000 dollars each.

Is your home totally protected during holidays?

agosto 18, 2010 Technology No Commenti

We are in the middle of the holiday season, when most of us have their mind completely focused on sea for some, mountains for others, countryside or monuments to visit, but certainly, not on office, work or on their home. But still, there are some people who certainly are very interested in homes of those who are carelessly going on holiday, and this thought does not certainly have a friendly intention.

We are obviously talking about burglars, for whom summer season is a real godsend, and unlike most normal and legal businesses, it is also the most profitable time of the year. Experts in taking advantage of a window not properly sealed, a scaffolding left standing waiting for September, an anti theft system switched off or, worse, not present at all, thieves are holidaymakers’ biggest fear, capable of spoiling the memories of a nice holiday with a bitter surprise when coming back home.

To be able to sleep tight and enjoy holidays without having to constantly think about security conditions at home, the best advice is certainly to provide yourselves with an anti theft system, which keeps the bad guys at bay or catches them red handed allowing police to capture them.

To achieve this result, technology comes to the rescue with a set of security devices, which not only can give a loud alarm with the good old siren, but are also capable of detecting movements inside the area to protect, and function actively, with a phone call or by recording video footage of what is happening around them.

For example, DVR Sensor is a device for home surveillance which, thanks to an infrared sensor, can detect any movement within its coverage area. On the inside, it contains also a miniature video recorder, therefore, as soon as the sensor picks up something wrong, the video recorder would start working and tape everything that happens, while an external alarm may set the siren off, thus causing burglars to leave the place, with your belongings untouched and unharmed.

Another interesting option is for example a real spy telephone to be used at home, which apparently looks just like your ordinary landline home phone. Actually, just like the DVR Sensor, this phone contains a motion sensor with adjustable sensitivity levels, which can pick up any movement within a 10-meter area.

Thanks to this sensor, as soon as something suspicious is detected, the telephone would immediately be activated, and it would automatically start a phone emergency call towards a preset telephone number, which may for example be your mobile number, or the number of the local police station.

At that point, it will be possible to listen in real time to what is happening, and try to identify the source of any noises and sounds around the phone, and in case of need, police forces will be able to intervene. The phone call would be started in a completely invisible way, so that any burglars would not realize that they are being monitored, and will be caught completely by surprise in case the police decide to pay a visit.

These are just a few examples of the several options that modern technology gives us when it comes to protecting our home during our absence, be it short or long, for work reasons or to enjoy a well deserved holiday.

For more information about audio or video surveillance systems for our home or office, we recommend that you visit the Endoacustica website, and contact our specialists for a tailored advice.

A robot sentry for active defense. Maybe too active?

agosto 18, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Just while we are talking about domestic surveillance, for those who think that using an electronic protection system, advanced and efficient, but still a passive defense, may not always be enough, there are also active protection systems capable of attacking and being the ones who give the first blow to any potential offenders, making them harmless, without having to use closed circuit television, without having to call the police or wake up the neighbors with a loud siren.

For example, this is the case with SentryBot which, as the name goes, is a robotic sentry, that is, some sort of micro helicopter which can monitor your house and protect it against any unwanted attacks or intrusion.

As soon as it detects the presence of uninvited guests within its range, SentryBot would activate its rotors and start floating in the air, approaching the potential threat and observing it with its camera. At this point, its Intruder Recognition software can determine whether the person in question is a real threat, or maybe it is just the old lady living next door, back from the market after shopping.

In this latter case nothing would happen, but instead, if SentryBot detects a real threat, it would activate its weapon equipped with Solid-Plasma ammunition, capable of rendering the intruder harmless, of course without causing permanent damage, in order to chase him away and make sure that, next time that he wakes up with the insane idea of visiting someone’s home without being invited, he thinks at least twice.

Certainly, it makes you wonder if it’s REALLY the case of delegating defense of our assets to an electronic device which, software or not, has a finger on the trigger. Maybe good old cops can still play their part in such cases.

Want free WiFi? Use a drone!

agosto 18, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Seeing people, toting their laptop computers or smartphones, and walking or driving around while looking for a free wireless Internet connection has become a common sight in our cities (and your humble blogger has to admit to having done it more than once with his mobile phone…). For those who do not want to waste too much time looking for the right airwaves, two American hackers have created WASP.

WASP stands for Wi-Fi Aerial Surveillance Platform, and is nothing else than an UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), no longer in use with the US Army and that our friends have rigged to turn it into a Wi-Fi detector. On the inside, it features am Arduino motherboard, connected with a WiFi card pointed downward, which turns it into a flying hotspot capable of coverina approximately 100 square meters from a height of 120 meters.

Basicall, from that height WASP can pick up several wireless network signals, process them and send them to the ground with its hotspot, providing free coverage within its range, This is achieved by mounting on the drone, along with a WiFi card, also a 3G phone and a camera, in order to see any interesting spot and guide WASP towards is thanks to the phone’s GPS receiver programmed remotely from the ground.

Alternatively, this drone can float in the air above a certain area as soon as it picks up a wireless network, happily “sucking” connections from those who have inadvertently left it open or without security protection.
The only question that might come to mind is: how long would a trick like this last before it catches attention either from nosy neighbors or, worse, from suspicious air traffic control authorities?

Global Observer completed its maiden flight

agosto 17, 2010 Technology No Commenti

A few days ago we had the chance to report about Global Observer, the UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) developed by AeroVironment in cooperation with NASA, and about how its wing load test, last step before finally taking the air, was successfully passed.

The first test flight has been successfully completed just a few days later, and Global Observer has taken off from the Edwards Base in California, which has seen several landings of space vehicles such as Space Shuttle. After approximately one hour of flight in the California skies, including a sequence of basic maneuvers, and after reaching a maximum altitude of approximately 1300 meters, the vehicle has smoothly landed in the same place where he had taken off.

During the test, Global Observer was controlled from the ground by a real Air Force pilot, thanks to the remote controlling module called LRE (Launch and Recovery Element). This first flight is obviously a simple stem towards a series of tests which will get increasingly difficult, aimed at demonstrating its endurance characteristics, and reaching its maximum flying time.

As already explained, Global Observer is capable of flying at altitudes between 17000 and 2000 meters, above the heights reached by conventional commercial airliners, and above any disturbance caused by weather. Thanks to its high altitude flight capabilities, it can cover a surface of 280 thousand square kilometers, and by alternating two such aircrafts in continuous flights, it is possible to cover any point on the Earth once a week.

Once its video, communication and surveillance systems are integrated, and flight tests at longer ranges are completed, Global Observer will finally be able to live up to its name and monitor our planet from above.

Take your doctor with you: wear it!

agosto 17, 2010 Technology No Commenti

For health fanatics, who would like to know their conditions at any time during the day, but also for patients in need of a constant and continuous monitoring, for example after going through a surgery, but would like to try and live a normal life without having to spend their days waiting outside the doctor’s door, a solution might come from Germany, where designer Olga Epikhina has created HealthPals.

HealthPals is a monitoring system that you can take with you by wearing it. It is made up of a few wearable devices, in the form of a bracelet, a cool-looking collar or some sort of headphone. These small devices contain a small energy generator, which would harness body heat and use it to power itself thanks to a thermoelectric generator.

On the inside, they are equipped with microscopic sensors, which would gather data such as respiratory frequency, heartbeat rate, any relevant variations in body temperature and so on. Via a Bluetooth connection, the data is sent to a portable computer or to a smartphone, such as for example an iPhone, which in turn would transmit it via WiFi or Internet directly towards a processing center, where it can be viewed and analyzed by medical personnel.

At that point, doctors will be able to decide whether or not it is the case to call up the patient for a checkup, or determine that the post-surgery process is satisfactory, and the patient can keep living normally, taking his daily activities, seeing friends and so on.

For now, HealthPals is just a concept, but a potentially great aid for doctors and patients alike, who could see their life greatly improved.

Monitoring BlackBerry: What to do and what not

agosto 17, 2010 Technology No Commenti

As we all know, RIM, producers of BlackBerry phones, is in the middle of a struggle against several government willing to have the opportunity to monitor communications taking place on its platform. This battle, in some cases, saw RIM having to settle for a compromise in order to be able to continue its operations on certain markets.

In order to avoid more future cases of this kind, and most of all to clarify what is possible and what is not for countries willing to put their hands (and their ears) on their citizens’ conversations via the BlackBerry platform, RIM has published a series of guidelines, which specify what one is authorized to do when monitoring BlackBerry traffic and services.

In short, those who want to monitor conversations on a BlackBerry will only be able to do it for national security reasons, and monitoring will have to be “carrier neutral”; this means that the telephone network providers in a specific country will have to grant the local authorities an access to the BlackBerry net which is not higher than that to other networks.

Furthermore, and this is the most important part, Rim will not change the security architecture of its servers. Therefore, security keys will still be individually set and owned by single users, and RIM will still not be able to have a copy, which of course they would not be able to give out to anyone; no exceptions of any kind, for any country, are foreseen to this security standard.

The statement issued by RIM is a response to those rumors according to which the BlackBerry manufacturers had “opened the doors” of its sensitive data to the Saudi, Indian and United Arab Emirates governments, against which the struggle is going on between privacy and control advocates.

Biological sensors to detect chemical threats

agosto 15, 2010 Technology No Commenti

General Electric has just announced that it has been awarded a funding from DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the agency from the US Department of Defense which carries out researches for new technologies to be used in the military field.

This research project is aimed at developing biosensors which would be manufactured by GE Research and are derived from a nanostructure in the wings of a particular type of butterflies.

Inside their wings, in fact, are contained what could be described as microscopic sensor capable of detecting any threats in the air which may damage the butterflies’ delicate balance.
The color of their wings, in fact, is also due to the very structure of their wings, whose sensitivity to light is used to give these fragile animals some survival tools.

By analyzing their characteristics, within 3 years of work the General Electric researchers have come to the result of a platform of sensors with similar characteristics, which can work either with visible light or near infrared.
Thanks to them it will be possible to monitor, for example, the quality of air near power plants, as well as the quality of water, in order to make sure that the water flowing inside pipes that run all the way to our homes is clean enough.

Furthermore, by analyzing quality of the air it will also be possible to perform a quick check-up via a patient’s breath, to detect any particles that reveal a serious condition. Of course though, what interests the Department of Defense is detection of any possible chemical threats in the air near a possible terrorist target in our cities, or providing armed forces in war zones with such sensors, in order to use Mother nature’s knowledge to provide security to both citizens and soldiers.

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