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A remote-controlled mini-helicopter that can see through concrete walls.

luglio 13, 2012 Technology 2 Commenti
Hexacopter to see through walls

The U.S. company TiaLinx Inc had already designed a mini-robot, the Cougar20-H, able, thanks to some special sensors, to detect a person breathing through a concrete wall. However, the robot showed limited mobility, as it was a rolling ground-based device. The manufacturer has however managed to solve the motion problem transforming the mobile robot in a remotely controlled hexacopter, ie a mini helicopter, the Phoenix40-A, capable of perceiving the human breath and movement in the buildings below.

The remote-controlled mini-helicopter can travel long distances, performing a wide variety of aerial surveillance tasks, including video recording, not only during the day but also at night, thanks to its devices for night vision. But what is more interesting is that he can see through walls, thanks to a system based on radio waves.

The Phoenix40-A can land on top of a building and scan it to check for a human presence, or it can do it on the fly. It is, moreover, also capable of generating the layout of a building with several floors and to send the collected information to law enforcement or troops before they break into a structure. The little robot can also help locate landmines, whether enemy or simply UXO from some past conflict.

But even if the U.S. military has contributed to its development, the Phoenix40-A could also be used for civilian purposes, not only for surveillance in the military. A fast and agile hexacopter able to fly for extended periods without touching the ground may, in fact, be a really useful tool during search and rescue operations after disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, etc … The bot, in fact, could travel over vast areas of impassable land to search for signs of life, helping rescuers to locate victims in a fast and accurate way, without wasting time.

From the USA, a scanner that will know everything about you from 164 feet away!

luglio 12, 2012 Technology 1 Commento
laser molecular scanner

It will probably be available in one or two years, tells the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a scanner ever seen before, that will know everything about people scanned: substances in the body and clothes, whether there are traces of drugs, explosives or other hazardous chemicals. And all this without having to stop people, without physical contact and, again, probably without their knowledge.

It is something that goes far beyond the matters already raised for satellite tracking and eavesdropping, as those who will use the device, police and governmental investigative agencies, supposedly in the war on terrorism, are going to know many details of scanned people. Moreover, not only suspected people but everybody might be scanned at places like airports, shopping malls, or even the city streets, where police officers will be equipped with this tool.

The company that invented it, Genia Photonics, said that “the device is able to penetrate clothing and provide spectroscopic information of any substance in the human body or objects brought in with him.” Its inventors have already been hired by the In-Q-Tel, to work with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The In-Q-Tel is a company founded in 1999 by a group of private citizens on the CIA’s request and with the support of Congress. A sort of bridge between the intelligence agency and the companies that deal with new technologies.

Instruments like this scanner have already been designed in Russia and at the George Washington University. The one invented by Genia Photonics is, however, thousands of times faster and more accurate, even at a greater distance.

Even if this new technology could open new scenarios in the field of medical diagnosis, the questions about how it will be used in other circumstances, such as security of the country, remain. Who can use it? Which limits do they have? Who keeps the obtained data? Where and how long? A problem, that of privacy, which is still open.

Drones and hijacking, a new obstacle to safety in the U.S.

luglio 9, 2012 Technology No Commenti

Newspapers and TV are increasingly focusing their attention on UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or drones, that is unmanned aircraft which are used mostly for military purposes and surveillance from above. A major step forward in the technology which, however, raises several questions, not only for privacy, but also for the safety of individuals.

In five or ten years there might be about 30,000 U.S. drones in the skies and this will be a real problem even after the discovery made on 19 June by researchers at the University of Texas, who managed to hijack a drone during a test of the “Department of Homeland Security.”

The research radio navigation laboratories of Austin, in fact, headed by Professor Todd Humphreys, have challenged the U.S. government, showing how, with only $ 1000, you can take control of a UAV and hijack it.

If you think that in the future our skies would be full of these aircraft, you can understand what a danger you could run: not only the collision with usual aircraft, but these vehicles could be used as real missiles from potential terrorists or criminals.

The hijacking of the drones, getting round the GPS system built into these planes, would be, therefore, a serious danger for the whole people. “Last year when the CIA lost a drone in Iran, there have been reports of spoofing, but we cannot say it for sure,” Humphreys revealed.

To avoid the danger, according to researchers, the airspace should not rely on the same in clear GPS signal used for civilian purposes. GPS receivers should be more protected: “The receivers must be able to identify what always happens and see if they are attacked. A solution might be to encourage the production of certified receivers, equipped with detectors of spoofing. Another alternative is the encryption of GPS signals. The military drones use a Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module that decodes the GPS signal” continues Humphreys.

From Switzerland, an antistalking software. Is it really effective?

luglio 6, 2012 Technology 1 Commento
anti-stalking software

A Swiss company has launched a new version of its antivirus product, which now also contains an anti-stalking software. We have already written, on this blog, about a mobile phone able to immobilize attackers through electrical impulses. The software we are talking about in this article, instead, is completely harmless and what it does is just to delete messages and cancel calls from numbers “reported” by the owner.

The messages will be removed without the recipient can read them, to avoid, in this way, hurting its sensitivity. The stalker, on the other hand, however, receives a signal in which it is said that the message he is trying to send has not been delivered. This, according to Mauro Santi, Mobile Platform Manager of the company in Italy, would make him believe “that the number is off and then theoretically, desist from his intention of persecution.”

By extending this software to the everyday life, owners can also choose “not to receive newsletters or unwanted promotional mails, in the case where the deletion at the source has failed or is impossible.”

This software, which also contains an anti-virus and anti-theft system that allows you to lock and delete data on your mobile device by sending a simple message if it is stolen, is available for Windows Mobile, Android, Pocket PC , Symbian (Second and Third Edition).

Although it may be an effective system against viruses and theft, it remains to ask how it can, in fact, deter stalkers, especially if they decide to call in anonymously, as it happens in most cases.
However, it is esasy to find on the market other technological tools which in a sense act as a deterrent against persecutors. Very common are, for example, voice changers for mobile phones, which allow to change up to 8 timbres of voice and can be used with any type of cell. A small device that can make the stalker believe that his/her victim number has changed or that he/she is always accompanied by someone else.

Military vs University, the use of drone technology in the USA.

luglio 4, 2012 Technology No Commenti

The list of the Federal Aviation Administration of certified and licensed operators to fly unmanned planes in the U.S. space reveals that the largest users of drone technology in the United States are not law enforcement agencies, but universities. The academic institutions that have received certificates of authorization (COA) are twenty-five, which constitute almost half of the 60 subjects with a permission to fly unmanned systems.

This could make the proliferation of these aircraft for wireless video surveillance less sinister, but not really. In fact, if universities represent nearly a half of the users (the others are military branches and defense agencies, drone manufacturers, and law enforcement), it turns out that the military is also funding a good part of the research in this field. Thus, while institutions of learning are developing the drone technology of the future, the end user could have anything but benevolent intentions.

This does not mean that all technology will be used for domestic spying or for war purposes. The Kansas State University is working with a contingent of the National Guard of the state on a drone system that will improve the intervention in emergencies. Students at Middle Tennessee State are trying to apply the drone technology in agriculture, assisted by the U.S. Army. And, similarly, other universities, such as that of Michigan, are receiving military support in their research in this field.

Many people wonder if the proliferation of this technology will take us to a huge global Big Brother, not realizing, perhaps, the fact that most of the technological discoveries, for example the computer, were born in the military and for military purposes, but they became widespread in everyday life to improve it.

The invasion of civil liberties with the drone technology is certainly a legitimate concern that must be addressed, but until now even the more skeptical can find solace in the fact that when researchers are buying up drones faster than domestic law enforcement.

New horizons for access control, the door that unlocks with the vibrations sent through the bones

luglio 3, 2012 Technology No Commenti
access control system

In the future there will be no more keys, or better, they will not exist in the way we view them today. In the future, your own hands will be your key ring. We already know systems for access control, which are based on a fingerprint scanner. It has been designed, however, by AT&T Labs, the prototype of a system that transmits vibrations through the bones of a user which, collected by a receiver installed in a door handle, allow to automatically open the door as soon as the specific user touches the handle itself. Using piezoelectric transducers, the system could one day be integrated into smart phones or wristwatches to create doors that automatically unlock when the right person touches them and that remain, instead, tightly shut when someone else tries to enter.

Such a system works on frequencies that humans cannot hear, but tha they could perceive in a very quiet room. These acoustic signals travels from a piezoelectric transducer through human bones almost like the sound waves vibrate through the skull and inner ear to allow our sense of hearing. The vibrations travel through the body straight to the hand, which can send the signal to everything it touches. Putting another piezoelectric transducer in the handle of the door, that would be able to identify the person who touches the handle, letting only authorized persons enter.

Researchers which are developing this system have also found that different skeletons, with different bone density and lengths, would transmit the acoustic signals in different ways. This means that only the right combination of signal and skeleton can open the door. In other words, if someone stole the phone and wanted to use it to open your car or door without your unique skeletal fingerprint added to the signal, he surely would not succeed. Moreover, researcher are also studying a system that would send emails every time someone tries to enter a building without authorization.
All that is truly amazing, especially considering that this technology may not stop to the locks but it could also be used for cars or even computers or any other device that needs access control.

UGSs (Unattended Ground Sensors). How to remotely control an entire nation

luglio 2, 2012 Technology 2 Commenti
UGS, spying device

Even during the Cold War, the involved parties have used covert listening devices to remotely obtain information on what the opposing party was programming, listening to what was happening in rooms, buildings, or in the case of East Berlin, an entire city. But in America’s cooling war in Afghanistan, U.S. forces are now able to take what could be the largest operation of interceptions of all time by installing sensors throughout the nation, that are able to inform the U.S. Military Intelligence from within that country for the next two decades.

New spying devices are, in fact, available fot the American Army. Actually, these palm-sized devices are not hidden listening devices per se, but sensors which can detect all the movements nearby and report them back to an intelligence outpost, letting special operators know when a remote mountain pass or a known smuggling trail is being utilized.
Some of the sensors could be buried, some disguised as rocks or other geological artifacts.

These types of Unattended Ground Sensors (UGSs) have been used previously, particularly in Vietnam. But these new sensors consume a fraction of the power and their batteries are rechargeable by solar energy, allowing them to operate for up to two decades, if estimates are correct. Several companies have already shown their interest in UGSs, and not all in the military.

Moreover, the sensors can be equipped with audio, seismic and radar instruments that would constitute a really effective surveillance system able to cover the entire Afghan territory. As soon as a sensor detects some movements, the device sends the location of the suspect activity to surveillance airships above, spurring them to put more sophisticated electronic eyes on the area.
UGSs like these are already in use around the bases in Afghanistan and elsewhere, including along the border between the U.S. and Mexico, but the extent of eavesdropping on Afghan territory is enormous. This is what happens when certain technologies become ubiquitous and the cost per unit decreases (just $1,000 per device).

New fingerprint scanner recognizes prints twenty feet away

giugno 29, 2012 Technology No Commenti
fingerprint recognition system

Biometrics is making great strides. A Hunsville company (Alabama), called Idair, is developing a new security system for access control. This new system is indeed based on fingerprint recognition, but unlike other similar devices, it needs no physical contact with users, as it recognizes the prints even at a distance of twenty feet.

And this brings many advantages, not only because it would avoid damages that can be caused by contact, but it would also avoid losing time to enter the rooms placed under surveillance.

The new technology works much in the same way satellites process the images of the ground, using a lot of edge detection and image sharpening to turn a fingerprint captured at a distance into an increasingly precise usable and identifiable image.

This technology is currently being used only for military purposes, but the company wants to extend its use to civil contexts. The fingerprint recognition system, in fact, is already in beta testing at a large chain of gyms (no more using your roommate’s gym ID to get in a free workout ) and the manufacturer is already working to find other possible uses. In the near future you will probably enjoy shopping biometrically, using fingerprints and iris identifiers, no credit card numbers or data contained in magnetic cards to swipe or RFID chip (the latter already considered cutting edge), which might be lost or get damaged with wear.

This device, combined with other biometric recognition tools, such as facial recognition, will constitute a much more robust security system. However, there are those who have already started to ask early questions about the privacy of the individuals who will use them, despite the relatively low cost and ease of use make this tool really appealing.

Safe Snapp, an iPhone application that can save lives

giugno 25, 2012 Technology No Commenti
iPhone SafeSnapp

City streets, very crowded during the morning, at night often turn into dangerous places, where walking alone in the dark could be a serious danger. How many of you have at least once in your life found yourselves in such a situation, where fear makes you look around to check that no one is following you and the slightest noise makes you jump? Watching the news from all over the world it easy to notice how it is more and more about missing people, which in many cases are never found. And this does not reassure those who, for different reasons, have the need to travel alone, even in semi-deserted areas at risk.

In this regard a new iPhone application (from 4 onwards) has been developed and its purpose is precisely that of location recording of the user and a potential attacker, sending the collected data via email to the owner address and to an emergency contact . To activate, simply tap the Safe Snapp and point the phone against the aggressor. Within seconds, in addition to the geographical position of the aggressor, it will take up to three photos of the attacker, along with his mobile number,which will be immediately sent to the chosen addresses and stored within a secure (law enforcement accessible) database, so that even if the attacker was to break the phone, it would be too late and your data would be still safe outside the phone itself.

The creator says that even the mere knowledge that such an application exists and is effective would be an excellent deterrent to those who have bad intentions. The same thing has said the U.S. police, already imagining possible future developments for the system that, however, has not been seen in action yet.

We must also consider the fact that many people do not have an iPhone. In this case, however, there are several tools that enable to listen to conversations at a distance and, simultaneously, to detect the location of the person bringing the devices, so that in case of aggression early intervention is possible.

From the USA, a GPS system to find stolen bikes.

giugno 22, 2012 Technology No Commenti
bike with gps tracker

Every day in Italy and all over the world thousands of bicycles are stolen. Although you surely usually lock your bike up, thieves are always wise enough to carry with them specific tools to break chains and open padlocks with ease, even when the bike is tied to a stable and apparently safe support.

According to estimates by the U.S. National Bike Registry each year in the United States alone, bikes are stolen for $ 200 million. From today on, however, regular users of this convenient means of transport will be safer. A new system has been launched on the market to defend against theft: GPS bicycles anti-theft and, as the name suggests, it is a system for the geolocation of your bike once it has been stolen.

Discrete, hardly detectable at first sight, it is hidden inside the trunk of the vehicle, at the top, close to the handlebar. Obviously, although this is an effective tool to find your bike, it’s always good to tie it anyway with a chain.

The device is activated by a supplied electronic key-ring. If the bike is stolen, a vibration sensor will activate the tracking system, which will send you an SMS alert and will start loading the coordinates every 20 seconds until the end of vibration (ie until the bike is being ridden). The unit will then turn back on when the sensor will perceive new moves.

You can track the location of the vehicle through maps via pc or text messages SMS, if necessary, transmit the coordinates to the police. If you forgot to start the unit before the bike was stolen, you can remotely turn it on by sending a text message, even if you don’t bring the key-ring with yourself. So, it will begin to monitor as soos as it detects your message.

The tracking service is free, but users have to equip the the unit with a SIM card, which will be billed for data loading. Actually, the costs, at least in the United Kingdom, are very low.

The GPS bicycles anti-theft uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery that can run for months between charges. When the battery is low, the system sends an SMS alert. The device relies on GPS technologies, functions if the bike is located within a building or anywhere there is not a clear view of the sky. In this case, the unit will switch to GSM mode.


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Never lose things again with the geolocation tools

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Stop mobile phones theft

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Locate a mobile phone with the technique used by bats and dolphins

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Fish-robot will patrol the Thames River

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At the supermarket with the navigator

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Internet of things will revolutionize our daily

10 Dic 2012

Web 3.0 isn’t yet far away. All the big laboratories are working hard to develop new applications concerning the Internet of things. With this neologism has been named the last frontier of online technology. The strength lies in the possibility given to objects to interact with each other by capturing and exchanging information. The alarm clock may sound for example in advance once found, through the Internet, heavy traffic conditions. …

Hop! the suitcase that follows you

13 Nov 2012

Pack your bags is always a problem. Weather conditions, formal and informal dresses, comfortable and casual, but also suited to special occasions that may occur…In short, a grind. And what often we create is a baggage too heavy and almost entirely useless. About 25 years ago, a pilot of the Nortwestern Airlines tried to obviate to the problem of having to lift heavy luggage introducing the trolley as we know …

Even sharks tracked with GPS

22 Ott 2012

Until recently, GPS tracking systems were used for the control of small animals. Now the GPS challenges even the most dangerous animals. Indeed, it is in an experimental phase the scientific mission of the American non profit association, Ocearch, led by Chris Fischer. During the operation, the sharks are caught, mainly in North America, and to them is applied a GPS tracking device, then they come back to the sea. …

Home with the GPS shoes

1 Ott 2012

Dominic Wilcox, british designer, has created a fully functional prototype pair of shoes with a built-in GPS that will guide you home. The name of this extravagant invention is “No Place Like Home” and it’s inspired by the famous novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” in witch the protagonist Dorothy, with her magic shoes, can go everywhere clicking her shoes together three times. For Wilcox’s shoes, with expertly decorated sole, …