If you ask for a light, be careful!

agosto 10, 2010 Technology No Commenti

The smoking habit is already connected with so many risks and dangers, that we will not be the ones to remind you how unhealthy it is. But for those who, along with the habit of cigarettes, also have something to hide, this could turn into a much bigger problem if they happen to run into someone who offers them a light with a video recorder lighter, thus recording their movements while pretending to help.

Of course, Light Cam is not a normal cigarette lighter, although it actually works like one to avoid unnecessary suspicions. On the inside, though, it conceals a miniature viewer and an equally tiny microphone, and thanks to them it is capable of recording video and audio tracks, as well as taking high definition image stills.

To start recording, it will be enough to press the button as you would do when lighting up, and by doing this, with an absolutely natural gesture, you will start putting the people around you on video without them being aware of it.
The recorded movies and photos are then stored on a Micro SD memory card, with a maximum capacity of up to 8 Gb. Once the recording job is over, just remove the cover to expose a comfortable USB plug, which can be easily connected to your computer to download its contents within seconds.

Possibilities of use are basically unlimited, as any moment of our day could potentially give us the opportunity of recording events without being noticed: from a meeting at work, to an argument with an annoying neighbor, all the way to a professional use for detectives or police forces who might use this kind of devices to gather evidence of marital infidelity cases, of corporate espionage and so on.

A first step towards electric helicopters for Sikorsky

agosto 10, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Sikorsky, manufacturer of several choppers among the most popular with armed forces worldwide, have just introduced their Project Firefly, aimed at developing electrically powered helicopters.

Currently, the visible part of the Firefly Project is a demonstrator, which has been showcased at the AirVenture 2010 fair, based on a S-300C light helicopter, with an electric engine in place of the traditional one, capable of generating a 190-horse power thanks to a series of Li-ion battery packs placed on the flanks.

Firefly is the first step towards an age of electric choppers, and apart from the innovation in its power supply method, it features significant changes in on-board electronics with a new generation of pilot display, while the mechanical part is basically unchanged.

The electric engine, designed by the California based U.S. Hybrid, is an evolution of a model studied for cars, with adjustments which make it suitable for being mounted on an helicopter, for example an additional 40-horse if compared to the original version.

According to a comparison by Sikorsky, efficiency of its main rotor would increase threefold (from 25% to 76%) with an electric engine instead of a traditional one, while the loss of heat is limited to a mere 15% from 73% with the previous version.

Speed and loading capacity are basically unchanged from the original version, but the real weakness, for this electric prototype, at least in the early stages, is range, which dropped from an initial three hours and 40 minutes to a measly 15 minutes. The problem should be tackled by adopting Lithium-air batteries, much lighter and with efficiency nine times higher.

Looks like electric manned helicopters are moving their first steps, but once the range issue has been solved, the future seems to be in their hands!

Google is purchasing a drone. What do they have in mind?

agosto 10, 2010 Technology No Commenti

According to some German newspapers, Google recently went shopping in Germany, to be more precise in the small town of Buchen, siege of Microdrones GmbH, a factory which, as the name may suggest, produces drones, or more specifically, miniature quadricopters.

Microdrones’ quadricopters are devices which, in spite of their small size, have a $60K price tag, and that can host an array of equipment for photography, video, geographical or scientific measurements, for a range of possible application which can go from aerial video surveillance, to scientific missions and terrain monitoring.

The purchase of one of these drones by a giant like Google, according to unconfirmed rumors, seems to be a move in this exact direction, and although the Mountain View multinational has not released any official comment (or any comment whatsoever) about it, the Microdrones president has declared that this could mark the beginning of a fruitful cooperation between the two parties.

According to some in the know, Google is studying the release of a “live” version of Google Earth, which would allow its users to see what is going on in specific corners of the Earth, and to see it in real time.

For aerial surveillance enthusiasts this looks like great news, but it might as well be great news for criminals and terrorists; on the contrary, fighters for the right to privacy at all costs might see it as one more step towards that Big Brother which from the pages of George Orwell’s book, is slowly but steadily making its way into everyone’s everyday life.

In any case, it’s only rumors so far, the only sure thing is that Google purchased a drone, to know how thy will actually use it, all we have to do is wait!

A necklace or a hidden video camera?

agosto 10, 2010 Technology No Commenti

As men, we know how our women love to be always well dressed and accurate up to the smallest detail of their style, and how everything must be in harmony, from shoes to hairstyle, from shirt to necklace.

What we might not know, instead, is that what apparently looks like a simple and normal necklace, just another feminine detail, is actually concealing a miniature camera capable of recording movements and sounds around it thanks to its needle viewer, without having anyone notice what is really going on.

The trinket hanging from this camera necklace works just like a real hidden camera, and its quick audio and video recording function can be started by simply pressing a button, with a simple and apparently casual gesture like twirling the necklace between fingers.

At that point, recording is started with a 640×480 pixel resolution for videos, and 1280×960 for photo stills, a viewing angle of 65 degrees and normal operation even in low lighting condition with a sensitivity of 1 Lux.

This camera hidden inside a necklace can shoot up to 8 Gb of footage, which is stored on a replaceable Micro SD card housed inside the pendant. Once the recording is over, downloading it on your computer is a matter of a few seconds, thanks to the embedded USB connection plug, with no need to install any driver or management software.

As we know, women’s seduction weapons never fail, but those who have something to hide may have to be a little extra careful when dealing with other weapons supplied by technology!

For more information on operation and prices of hidden cameras, we suggest that you visit the Endoacustica website.

Eyes of a bee for flying robots

agosto 10, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Bees, as Mother Nature gave them a very small brain, have to place a great deal of trust in their visual abilities in order to survive and get oriented in ever-changing environments. To better understand how these little insects’ sight works, and how it affects their lives, a group of scientists from the German University of Bielefeld has created an artificial eye, which in its creators’ hoes might reveal the secret behind their orientation and processing of flight information.

The final aim is to use the acquired knowledge, applying it to technologies such as miniature planes (MAV, Micro Aerial Vehicles) whose potential can be greatly improved. The artificial bee eye is made up by the combination of a lens and a mirror, teamed up to form some sort of dome which reflects images towards the inside, where a single video camera is placed, which is so able to gather these images with a 280 degree visual angle.

Those images are then digitally merged in order to obtain a perfect focus even with such a wide viewing angle. Any attempts tried before had not been able to achieve such results under the point of view of image accuracy and detail, and such a result could only be achieved by using two cameras, which would have been too heavy on a MAV.

Of course, everything is still being improved and fine-tuned, for example studying the possibility of displaying ultraviolet light, which bees can see naturally and which would make the whole system even closer to the insects’ eye, hoping that it finally leads to a better understanding of how their eyes process images and send the relevant neural stimulations to the brain.

Low-cost underwater cameras from Japan

agosto 10, 2010 Technology No Commenti

The Rising Sun country has always been synonymous with technological innovation and quality, which often go together with a relatively low price. In this case, most of the attention was aimed at keeping a low level in terms of price, with the final result of a product that is totally average in terms of quality, but with an interesting 150-dollar price tag.

We are talking about DV5000UW, an underwater camera, manufactured by Exemode, equipped with a 5.17 megapixel CMOS sensor, and capable of shooting video footage with a 720p resolution, or taking still images with a 3 megapixel resolution, even underwater with a maximum depth of approximately 10 meters.

Thanks to its 2.7” LCD display, the images being captured are shown in real time and in pretty good quality. To better appreciate them and see them in a larger format, DV5000UW can also be connected to a high definition TV set thanks to its HDMI output.

As we said, we are talking about a product with a quite low target, and the low-cost philosophy can be spotted in its built-in memory standard configuration, limited to a mere 32 Mb. Therefore, should you decide to fork out those 150 dollars, you should also include a little extra expense to add a few more memory cards to guarantee a longer duration of your videos. Space is limited here as well though, as DV5000UW only supports up to 16 Gb memory cards, unlike more expensive models which can easily handle a 64 Gb card.

In short, it is a product without big ambitions, which could be OK as a present to be used for amateur videos without any big expectation. For a professional use, there are bigger names (and significantly higher prices) one should look to.

A dental camera for modern dentists

Miniature video technology and video surveillance are our specialties, but this does not necessarily mean that the two things must always be walking hand in hand. The increasing miniaturization of video systems has possible applications in a plethora of other possible occasions, not only thanks to hidden cameras which record footage secretly, but also thanks to miniature cameras which, when teamed up with instruments of a completely different kind, improve their efficiency.

For example, this is the case with Dental Cam, that is, an intraoral camera, suitable for being used in a dentist’s studio for a better documentation of their patients’ health conditions, especially in hidden corners of their oral cavity. The same procedure can also be carried out by anyone who wants to check first hand that their teeth are in good conditions.

Thanks to its small size, it can be used not only to explore the oral cavity, but also for several other uses, at home, scientific or professional, for example to take a closer look at printed electronic circuits, or to study small animals or insects in a laboratory, and much more than this, all with a 1.3 megapixel resolution and a sensitivity level which makes it suitable for being used also in low lighting conditions.

Its ease of use is further enhanced by the presence of an USB cable, which along with powering it, allows you to connect the Dental Cam directly to your computer, to view its videos in real time, and conveniently save them for later viewing, for example for a general check-up of the patient’s conditions.

For more details about operation and prices of the intraoral camera, we suggest that you visit the Endoacustica website and contact our experts, who are at your full disposal for any clarification you may need.

Now even gliders can take off from the ground

agosto 10, 2010 Technology No Commenti

As gliding lovers know very well, flying a glider can be lots of fun, as well as being environmentally friendly, and it puts a pilot’s ability to the test, in having to find the right winds to make their flight longer or reaching higher altitudes. All this, though, has its inconveniences, namely during takeoff.

In fact, as they do not have an engine, gliders must be “hooked” to another plane, from which they are launched once in the air. This makes operations slightly more complicated, while limiting also their flexibility.

All this might soon be a thing of the past, though, thanks to the concept of motorized glider, designed by the New Mexico-based Desert Aerospace. Before hardcore gliders among you start yelling, let’s clarify the fact that the definition of a glider with an engine is not a contradiction in terms.

In fact, it uses a retractable jet engine, which is used only during takeoff to provide the necessary boost to lift our glider from the Earth, just like a conventional aircraft would do. It can also be useful in the air in case of emergency, or to gain altitude in case of need.

The necessary boost is supplied by an engine that weighs no more than 20 kilos, and which provides a 110-kilo thrust. Currently Desert Aerospace is waiting for its glider to be approved by the FAA. According to the designers’ words, the glider was inspired by… a cartoon! In fact, the inspiration for creating this vehicle comes from Wile E. Coyote’s countless (and unsuccessful) attempts at catching Beep Beep the roadrunner. Of course, Desert Aerospace has all our most sincere wishes of a better luck!

Autonomous quadricopters, your eyes can fly

agosto 10, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Approximately a week ago, we posted an article about a miniature quadricopter which can be controlled remotely thanks to an iPhone application, and that can be used for perimeter video surveillance, around parks or buildings, or even indoors thanks to the hulled rotors.

Now we just heard that aerial surveillance in small spaces has moved one more step forward, thanks to the creation of an autonomous quadricopter, that is, a flying object capable of carrying out its mission automatically, for example by taking off by itself when its motion detection sensors notice a movement within its surveillance range.

Designed by the GRASP (General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception) laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, this miniature helicopter, a spinoff of what was initially a military project, can be used, for example, as an addition to anti theft systems, for example inside a storage warehouse, where using fixed cameras and live patrolling personnel may not be enough.

To provide a better viewpoint, the Quadrotor is equipped with spikes that allow it to perch on surfaces like walls or trees to better explore the area around it from a static point of view, search for suspicious movements and zoom on points of interest.

In case of difficult landing or perching, like on the branches of a tree, Quadrotor is programmed to try perching again until it finds a satisfactorily stable position.

Recently, we are pleasantly surprised in noticing how technology originally designed for the military is making its way towards civilian and commercial applications. This shift is certainly something to be appreciated, because security and protection are not an exclusive trademark of the military, but are a goal and a right for each and every citizen.

BlackBerry resumed operation in Saudi Arabia

agosto 10, 2010 Technology No Commenti

As you will certainly know, not only through us but also from newspapers all over the world, the government of Saudi Arabia, following a similar decision by the UAE, had recently ruled that all BlackBerry phones be suspended from service, since according to an official statement, they were not compliant with some not specified parameters in terms of phone calls security.

This ban was supposed to be effective as of today, August 6. Apparently though, the BlackBerry suspension from service lasted just a few hours, and phones resumed working in the afternoon, although apparently the ban has not been officially lifted yet, nor there has been an official confirmation of rumors according to which Research In Motion (RIM), which produces those smartphones, has found a solution to the problem.

According to authorities in Arabia and the Emirates, the BlackBerry system is not compliant to local standards since it is using an encryption which can not be originally decoded, therefore any calls placed via that platform are not subject to eavesdropping by police or government agencies.

The fact that the ban was not completely put into effect arises, if possible, even more questions. If service has been resumed because RIM has granted the Saudi government a privileged access to its security codes, other countries which have placed or are considering the idea of placing a ban on BlackBerry, such as India, Algeria and Indonesia along with the UAE, might soon claim the same kind of rights.

On the other hand, though, RIM maintains that no matter who is requesting it, a third party would never be able to obtain a copy of any encryption key, as these keys are not set by RIM itself, but by each individual user, and the network provider does not have a copy.

In a few words, what looks like a spy story about mobile phone privacy seems to get bigger every day, and all we have to do is wait for the next move.


agosto: 2010
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Newsletter Endoacustica Europe - ENGLISH


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