Digital micro recorders, for secret agents and not only

settembre 26, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Until a few years ago, the common man could rightly think that miniature recorders were tools that could only be used by secret agents and spies, who were using them to collect evidence against their enemies or criminals; alternatively, they could be seen in the hands of journalists during an interview.

The increasing development of digital technology, the ever-smaller technological devices of the twenty-first century (from mobile phones to MP3 players,that have taken the place of the old Walkman, or to digital cameras and so on), and their increasingly accessible cost, are factors that have contributed heavily to large-scale deployment of tools that until a few years ago seemed to be only exclusive to an elite audience, or at least to those who had a certain financial reserve.

Nowadays, however, for a few hundred dollars or less, anyone can put their hands a technological device that would make James Bond envious, and gadgets that the main character of Ian Fleming novels boasted in his old movies. For example, the digital micro recorders are no longer to be seen only on the big screen, but they are now a common part of every day life, in many different situations that, until a few years ago, even the fervent imagination of a spy story writer could hardly have imagined.

There are various types, which may for example be hidden in everyday objects. So what at a casual first glance might look just like a normal key ring, a fountain pen, or a USB stick, could actually hide a tiny recording device with a sensitive microphone that can pick up hours and hours of conversations around it and record them in an equally small memory card, through which they can easily be downloaded to a computer via the USB port.

Thanks to its small size and extreme ease of use, modern day miniature recorders have become increasingly popular, and not only among private detectives or secret agents, but also with the general public, and with people who use them in different ways. For example, during an important meeting, if you take notes you may lose some detail along the way, while using a micro digital recorder you can comfortably listen to the content of the speech at a later stage, making sure that you do not miss even the slightest nuance.

Similarly, a student during a lesson could record his teachers and review the lesson at home, or someone who is stuck in the traffic, and must prepare a speech or presentation, can take audio notes on the go, then work on it easily after reaching the office.

Depending on your needs and intended use, there are digital micro recorders for all tastes and budgets, with different characteristics and looks, to be used secretly or visibly, with different capabilities that allow recording from a minimum of 3 hours to a maximum of 1200 hours of conversations, eavesdropping, notes and more.
Everyone can find the miniature recorder which allows them to use it according to their needs, and all this, why not, at a cost compatible with their budget.

For more information on various models of microrecorders available and their characteristics, as well as a series of articles for collection of information in a discreet way, we recommend that you visit the Endoacustica website, where you can contact our experts and receive advice on the best model to suit your needs.

New images of the Titanic wreck via an underwater robot

settembre 26, 2010 Technology No Commenti

A few days ago, a new photographic expedition has been completed on the site of the Titanic’s sinking. The expedition has resulted in a series of high-resolution pictures and three-dimensional image, better than any other available so far from the sunken ship.

To achieve this, the exploration group took advantage of several technological devices of the latest generation, such as a series of digital sonar scanning equipment mounted on an underwater robot, the Remora ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) manufactured by Phoenix International.

The data gathered by this sonar are combined with high-resolution optical images to create a three-dimensional image of the wreck. This image was then combined with the seabed profile, collected from a series of AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles), that is, underwater drones that are able to move around in the water without human intervention, while collecting data collect data thanks to their detection equipment and acoustic transponders that keep them in touch with one another.

The imaging expedition, temporarily on hold due to hurricane Igor approaching, will resume as soon as possible to continue to collect data and information on the Titanic, in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the sinking, which will occur in 2012.

About the sinking, it is worth mentioning a new theory, according to which what caused the impact with the iceberg was the misinterpretation of a command to turn, to be performed with the rudder rather than the tiller. In fact, to perform the same maneuver using one of two systems, you must turn the wheel to the right, while with the other you must turn to the left.

Usage of a different system would therefore turn the Titanic in the wrong direction, straight against the iceberg that caused the sinking. Most likely the truth about that night will never be known, but in the meantime we can enjoy these new images.

Organic batteries for an unlimited power supply

settembre 26, 2010 Technology No Commenti

For those of us who would like to see the battery of their mobile phone last longer, especially if we are talking about smartphone owners, who know that this type of handset is known for the relatively short duration of a single charge of its battery, a solution might be coming from Texas.

In fact, a group of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin is working on a project to develop a series of organic batteries.
The project is currently only in its early stages, but the idea is to exploit a sort of artificial photosynthesis that could be the basis of an exchange of energy that can be basically unlimited.
According to an article published on the Science journal, researchers from Texas have found a way to artificially create an exchange of electrons at molecular level, which takes place in both directions between two molecules, and that, if exploited properly, could pave the way for historical innovations in the field of batteries, a field that historically has not seen many changes in the past decades.

Once the process is correctly developed and stabilized, the challenge will be to make it happen in a condensed environment, in a real organic battery that could become the power supply of the future, not just for phones, but also for a range of miniature electronic devices which could certainly benefit from it.

For example, even in the field of security and surveillance, the duration of information collection operations carried out by eavesdropping, could be be significantly extended using miniature recorders or bugs that can work for months in a row, without interruption.

This technology, however, could take years before being available on the market, so we will just have to wait and hope for new developments.

A CCTV system that works like the human eye

settembre 26, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Security operators are well aware that, when using closed circuit camera systems to monitor an environment with a high density of population, such as a stadium full of fans, it can be very difficult to identify suspicious movements that might endanger the safety of other viewers, such as the first signs of a fight or even a potential terrorist attack.

In order to improve efficiency in such situations, the German researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute are working on a system to be applied on CCTV cameras. This research project is part of a European program, called SEARISE (Smart Eyes: Attending and Recognizing Instances of Salient Events), aimed at maintaining security in such situations.

Smart Eyes is made up of a fixed camera, two mobile stereo cameras, and most of all, of a software based on visual analysis capabilities of the human brain. The system analyzes the average scope of movement for each pixel in the image taken by the fixed camera, and adds this analysis to a database that is used to establish typical patterns of movement, which also includes the waving of flags in a stadium.

At this point, Smart Eyes is able to notice any unusual movements of the pixels, and the system is notified when something out of the ordinary pattern is happening. Thus, the mobile cameras are immediately used to zoom in on the area of interest, and operators can determine whether or not to intervene.

The superiority of Smart Eyes towards the human eye lies in the fact that this system is able to monitor a wider area than we could possibly do, and of course, that the software is not subject to fatigue, distractions or temporary blinding caused by floodlights or sun.

A radio controlled jeep to lighten the soldiers’ load

settembre 26, 2010 Technology No Commenti

The news that DARPA, in collaboration with Virginia Tech University, is working on a radio-controlled vehicle capable of carrying heavy loads in areas with rough terrain is not new and dates back to a few months ago. The vehicle GUSS (Manned Ground Support Surrogate) is basically a small radio controlled jeep.

This jeep is equipped with a GPS positioning system, video cameras and several sensors that allow it to function both under human supervision via a remote control that resembles a video game console, and in a completely independent way: once you enter the destination and the path, GUSS activates its GPS navigator and its onboard sensors, and detects any obstacles on its path, thus avoiding them, and managing to bring its cargo of artillery or heavy equipment to the planned destination.

Now, however, the project seems to be at a temporary standstill, as GUSS has quite a few defects and drawbacks. For example, just raising a cloud of dust in front of his camera would result in it standing motionless, as GUSS does not seem to be able to tell the could from a wall, and tends to stop as if the road was blocked.

In places like Afghanistan, where not dusty roads are a very rare exception, this can be a serious problem for the efficiency of this vehicle. In any case, the problem occurs only when GUSS is operating in fully autonomous mode, while when controlled remotely by an operator, the human ability to analyze comes to the rescue and solves the problem immediately.

Researchers are still working to make GUSS tackle these occurrences also when working independently, to increase its reliability and efficiency.

Encrypted phones, the solution for your privacy

settembre 26, 2010 Technology No Commenti

In recent years, the profile of telephone communications has changed dramatically. Until 20 years ago, it was possible to be reached only if you were near a landline phone, while during a journey or when away from home, one could not be able to communicate with the outside world, except if he was using a now almost defunct payphone.

When mobile phones came into the picture, the ubiquity of telephone communications has increased exponentially, so that now it has become impossible to live without being reachable anywhere, at any moment of our day.

While the constant accessibility is an advantage for our work and personal relationships, on the other side, “being reachable” can be translated as “being traceable” or even “intercepted”.
The very nature of cellular communication, in fact, implies that the phone constantly sends its location to the network operator, so that the details of our position are always recorded.

Similarly, our communications are potentially at risk of interception, either by the telephone operators or the police, or from unauthorized listeners who, if equipped with the appropriate technology, can listen to our private or business conversations, with devices that allow them to intrude encrypted networks and crack the encryption keys, thus freely listening to any conversations without being noticed.

To protect us from this risk, it is certainly useful to add a further level of security, by using devices such as an encrypted phone. Encrypted mobile phones are ordinary smartphones on which a software is installed that can encrypt conversations, email and text messages sent over the phone, through algorithms which are currently considered the gold standard in terms of security: AES and Twofish.

Thanks to a 256-bit encryption key, the encrypted communications via the telephone are virtually unassailable. To maintain their conversations 100% secure, the user should simply send the encryption key to their partner, who in turn will install it on his mobile phone.

At this point, communication between the two phones is safe. In fact, any attempt at eavesdropping will still be able to intercept the call, but all that they will be able to listen to is an unintelligible noise, which may be turned to regular voice only by those in possession of the relevant encryption key.
Of course, those who buy a phone of this kind may be wondering if the equipment does not contain any secrets or backdoors, and if his phone calls are really safe from intrusions, even by those who sold him the equipment.

To dispel such doubts, GSM Crypto comes with an “open source” code, which any developer or programmer can analyze independently, to be reassured about its complete safety and reliability.
In this way, those purchasing a GSM Crypto can make sure not only that the phone works as required, but that no one else apart from those who are on the phone will be able to listen to their conversations.

By using an encoded cellphone, therefore, your interests and your personal life will be completely safe from any external access that can pose a threat.
For more details and information on how encrypted phones work, you may visit the Endoacustica website, where not only you can contact our experts for an advice tailored to your needs, but also find a series of articles for protection of your privacy and personal safety.

Solar power for soldiers in war zones

settembre 26, 2010 Technology No Commenti

When talking about the cost to wage a war, one thinks of weapons, planes, tanks and ammunition, but we often underestimate the impact on this cost represented by fuel used to move heavy and light vehicles, or to run the power generators that provide electricity to areas where soldiers are quartered.

In addition, the costs incurred to get the fuel to the war zones can be astronomical: it was calculated that every single American soldier in Afghanistan uses an average of 22 gallons of fuel per day, at a cost (including transport), which varies between 300 and 400 dollars per gallon. Try to multiply this by the number of soldiers and the duration of the war, and you have a vague idea of how much money is being spent.

To save on this cost, U.S. forces are conducting an experiment on a battalion that will soon be deployed to Afghanistan with a range of equipment powered entirely by solar energy, allowing fuel savings of up to 50 percent.

The system that provides this energy was christened GREENS (Ground Expeditionary Renewable Energy System) and is equipped with solar panels that collect the energy needed to run generators that provide an output of approximately 300 watts.

Another significant cost is represented by the transport of purified drinking water. So far, all attempts to purify water on site, thus saving on transportation, have failed. The department that deals with the research on solar panels is trying to find a way to use that power to purify the water available locally, thus being able to cut costs further.

Saudi Arabia: A license for bloggers

settembre 26, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Those who read the pages of this blog know our views about laws designed not only to impose limits on investigative activities of law enforcement , but also to freedom of information and expression, as was the case recently in Italy.

Now the news from Saudi Arabia makes it clear that, in many countries, blogs are perceived by governments as a real threat, and if a (theoretically) democratic country such as Italy is to develop measures against Internet-based circulation of information, it is not surprising that much more drastic measures are applied in a country that was the first to try to control, for example, the use of BlackBerry phones, by demanding access to its encrypted files.

In fact, according to a note from the Ministry of Culture of the Saudi kingdom, all the online media, such as online versions of newspapers, news sites, or simple blogs, will need to be registered officially with the government in order to undertake or continue their publishing activity.

According to an official statement of the Ministry spokesman, it is not a restriction on freedom of expression, but rather a useful measure to reduce cases of online libel and slander. Whether true or not, the move certainly is not surprising in a country like Saudi Arabia, where media are under strict government scrutiny, and where a journalist can be jailed if he publishes unauthorized news.

Even in the recent past there have been cases of bloggers being arrested or Twitter pages shut down or blocked, but this is the first attempt by the government to regulate (obviously in a restrictive manner) the entire landscape of online media. Of course, the Arab world of blogs is in turmoil and has certainly not taken the news lightheartedly.


settembre: 2010
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