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The future of hi-tech with the 5 senses

gennaio 3, 2013 Biotechnology No Commenti

If we aren’t yet accustomed to the fingerprint locks and to the access control based on biometric recognition, hardly we’ll be able to accept the five fundamental changes that will be operated over the next 5 years in the field of technology.
5In5, the project of IBM with starring the five senses. PCs, smartphones and tablets in a few years will be equipped with the possibility to analyze reality through complex cognitive digital systems. In their turn, users will expand the capabilities of their physical senses interacting with these systems easy to use.

In about 100 years, the PC has raided in the company, in our homes and in our private. With the device can do almost anything: see air travel, talk with friends, spy on your partner, chat, cook, observe the stars and so on. To further enhance the capabilities of electronic devices comes the implementation of the 5 senses. The computers will be able to see, hear, smell and also have a digital palate and touch. These features will allow to emulate the activities that occur on the right side of the human brain.

But we see the senses in particular. Regarding the touch, that sense has entered fully into the touchscreen technology for smartphone and for PC supporting Windows 8. The new challenge involves the perception at 360°, perhaps to feel the texture of the fabrics or the softness of the wool.
As regards the view, we can easily refer to the facial recognition systems. In the future this technology can be used to perceive imperceptible things to the naked eye as a disease for example.
The hearing will be based on existing speech recognition systems, developing beyond the threshold of human and picking up inaudible sounds will be able predict disasters like the collapse of a bridge or a building.
Entirely new will be the development of the digital palate that will allow the elaboration of customized recipes that will link nutritional needs with the personal taste.
Even the smell can be perceived by hi-tech devices, because the slight volatile molecules in fragrances can be picked up by powerful systems. This sense will haven’t only superficial developments, but may perceive before men the characteristic odor of the indicators of infection or other diseases, or reports harmful hygienic conditions.
As you can imagine, therefore, the development of the 5 senses will not be a digital accessory for fanatics of biotechnology, but, if implemented, could have important implications in daily life.

The electronics could be biodegradable?

There is who thinks to save data for millions of years, who instead want to get rid of them as soon as possible.

To be precise, they’re hi-tech components very durable and completely biodegradable. The research conducted by the American University of Illinois and published in “Science” aims to solve the problem of disposing of electronic devices. The raw material of the project is the silk. This ancient material, completely revised in a technological key and made very strong, would be to cover the traditional electronics devices, however, composed of silicon and magnesium. The researchers would be able to precisely control the structure of the casing of silk that covers them so calculating the expiration date of the components.

This new mix also promises great performance, preserving the environment. The advantages of “transient electronics”, so named by the researchers, would be many, in addition to the disposal of many components, we can think to the mobile phones, it could have important applications in the biomedical field, would be feasible for example prosthesis perfectly absorbed by the body without having to be surgically removed. The life may vary from a few minutes to several years and they simply dissolve in water or organic liquids.

In the market there are already “hard drive destoyer” such as the secure deletion of data on electronic devices. HD-Eraser for example, is a device that uses the technique of demagnetization to ensure the protection of privacy with regard to private, public or financial institutions. Once this is done, it would be best to dispose of the equipment.

Thinking about the environment and the huge amount of electronic waste abandoned in landfills for years, the benefits that electronic biodegradable could make would be very important: products may dissolve themselves with no damage, once they have completed their work.

The biometric scanners arrive at school

ottobre 12, 2012 Biotechnology No Commenti

Access control systems that use the biometry are becoming more and more part of institutions and companies because they allow a high degree of safety and the reduction of physical control procedures.

From some days, no badge or card for teachers and staff of the high school “Plinio Seniore” in Rome. The school principal has imposed on the employees the use of biometric scanners to signal the entry to and exit from the building. The trade unions together with the interested have been moving to contest the use of these tools because they cast doubt on the effective functioning of the same and, first of all, they criticize the lack of an official informative that authorizes the school princypal to use their fingerprints, appealing to the Privacy Act. Very questionable visions.

In England are the same students to be recipients of these new technologies. The protagonists are the children of a school in Berkshire that, since the beginning of the year, enter and leave the school using fingertips. In fact, was introduced a biometric system of identification through fingerprints. At the beginning and in the end of lessons, each student places his thumb on a sensor, installed at the entrance of the institute, to allows his identification. The school principal was reached much consensus by parents of children given the increase of security that this entails. The teachers had no hesitation, thanks to this system they save valuable time required by the roll call in classroom. For now, the project is an experiment, it lasts one year.

In Pennsylvania, instead, for some years now is in use a system that allows to the students to pay the cost of meals at the school, simply using fingerprints and accumulating a debt paid periodically by the families.

Elsewhere, for example in the schools of the New Jersey, are in function more complex biometric systems that involve the iris scan to allow access to the institute, only to authorized personnel and to members.

The biometric control is a good example of how technology is combined with safety.

One second to identify a person: the new FBI system

settembre 24, 2012 Biotechnology No Commenti

Its name is NGI, Next Generation Identification, the ultra-fast program that will allows to the FBI to identify in a very short time the americans offenders. How i twill do? It will do by connecting to a database containing photographs, iris scans, fingerprints, voice samples, DNA samples and much more. At the base, an efficient system for facial identifying. The recognition will start, in most cases, by a simple surveillance camera that captures images transferring them to the database.

FBI agents will be able to identify a wanted in the crowd through surveillance cameras or recognize him by the voice sound captured by a microrecorder or a phone with a spy software. But even with identifying marks such as scars, tattoos or skin blemishes. The reliability of the new system assumes a margin of error of 8% in the case in which NGI comparisons in approximately 1.2 seconds an image captured from any source, as surveillance cameras, with the database containing millions of criminals; while the reliability becomes 100% in the case in which the image to be compared comes from defined sources as in the case of mug shots.

The protection of privacy is the only obstacle to the project. Infact there is a high possibility that the image of an uncensured enters in the FBI system because it appears in the background of a criminal photo. It would also seem that the investigative agency intends to connect its database to the government sources.
This perspective has also aroused the interest of Anonymous who has already announced protests on 20 October. Of course, the group of protesters who are sensitive to issues of privacy, will catch the attention of many people.

The system, able to use new technologies for rapid feedback comparing the biometric data, about the press, is already in test phase in several U.S. states and it comes into operation in the summer of 2014. The cost seems to be around a billion dollars.

From Spain a system to fool biometric scanners.

luglio 31, 2012 Biotechnology No Commenti

Researchers at the Universidad Autónoma of Madrid and West Virginia University have discovered a way to mislead iris biometric scanners used for access control in certain places.

When security systems based on iris scan create an imprint of the iris itself, they do not store the image to compare it in future with the real iris each time a person try to enter the place put under control. They, in fact, transform the image into a code consisting of about 5000 bits of data. This code is usually based on approximately 240 points of the image and is unique. Each person has his owm and when someone stands in front of the scanner, the code given by his iris is compared with those in the database. If the system finds a correspondence, the door opens.

And what about if a hacker were to gain access to this database, could he somehow reconstruct through the code a sort of artificial iris able to fool the security system? Until recently, this was pure science fiction. Today, as shown by researchers of Madrid and West Virginia University, this is really possible, thanks to a genetic algorithm which allows to reconstruct, after about 200 attempts, the image of an iris very similar to the original one and able to enter in his place.

What was considered one of the safest security systems in the world, based on the uniqueness of each individual, today, thanks to this research, begins to show its weaknesses. And what about if these studies applied to the locks based on fingerprint scanners? Nevertheless, these biometric systems are still the most inaccessible…

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A “smart suit” which increases soldiers’ physical endurance.

luglio 27, 2012 Biotechnology No Commenti
smart suit

We are accustomed to different instruments used by law enforcement and military for self-defense purposes and to strengthen human capacity. Man is transformed, thanks to technology, in a veritable superman, combining intelligence, human natural strength and robotics.

They range from simple dresses with rubber bumpers, which provide effective protection against impact, protecting the wearer’s body, to more complex instruments, real armours that allow, among other things, to raise weights that otherwise only a man could not carry. The only limits of the armour are the weight , the inflexibility and the fact that sooner or later the device run out of batteries, becoming not only totally useless but also a burden to those who, instead, should have greater skills on the battlefield, in police or rescue operations.

For this reason the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has hired the Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, to create a military uniform that includes a new HULC, a Human Universal Load Carrier, that is a tool that would help soldiers to lift weights that otherwise one man could not endure. The new device, according to researchers is more lightweight and flexible than its predecessors, although there is still the problem of poor battery life that, however, according to the Institute, might be solved by the use of fuel cells.

The new device, comfortably worn under a regular uniform, is going also to have a sensor that detects the fatigue of the wearer and, by practicing him a real massage with vibration, allows to increase the resistance for certain physical efforts.

An investment of $ 2.6 million, which is leading to the implementation of a tool that will reveal its usefulness not only in the military but also in the civil. Think about the use of the “smart suit” in rescue operations or in the assistance to people with disabilities!

Endoacustica Europe

From Japan, the camera that turns your fingers into an objective without lenses.

luglio 11, 2012 Biotechnology No Commenti

Think of how many times you have used your fingers as a viewfinder to frame an object, a person or a landscape to which you want to take a photo. In Japan they have patented a device that will do exactly that: to transform the rectangle formed by your fingers into a camera objective without lenses.

It’s called Ubi-camera and it is equipped with an infrared system that uses the face of the person who clicks to determine the angle of the photo. So, you just need to move your hands closer to or further from your face in order to determine the view: when your face is close to the camera, you get a wide-angle shot; if you move it away you will get a zoom on the object to be photographed. To take the picture, simply press a button on the small device with your thumb.

With this type of camera, you will not need a viewfinder or a display: what you see between your fingers is a good approximation of what you will see in the picture. The small camera is still under testing and it does not have yet the precision and clarity of images of normal cameras, but the developers are working to improve more and more its features.

The prototype, developed at the Institute for Advanced Media Arts and Sciences in Japan, is connected by wires to a pc, but its developers are already thinking about a standalone device that can work without the computer support. They are also trying to make the device increasingly small.

Think about the possible scenarios that a camera worn as a ring would open up. It would be a useful item for everyday life and even more for those involved in espionage operations, who usually need to take pictures discreetly and without too many things in the way that might arouse suspicion. We wonder if Japanese developers are already planning for the integration of the device with a system for video recording or a mini audio recorder!

Scanning of the unconscious, a system that allows soldiers to recognize threats.

luglio 10, 2012 Biotechnology No Commenti
brain-scanning binoculars

The soldiers who scan the battlefield for threats, besides equipment that allows them to see at night, like the technological night vision goggles, may soon rely on a new instrument: a device consisting of a series of binoculars able to scan the brain, recognizing soldier’s unconscious and bringing it to his conscious attention.

It’s just one of many tools that DARPA and other military research groups are trying to produce, in order to melt the minds of soldiers with these devices. As demonstrated by some reports by the BBC, the mind control of the men on the battlefield is around the corner.

The specific binocular device that DARPA is developing is known as Sentinel (which stands for System for Notification of Threats Neurally Inspired by Enabled Learning), and essentially uses the power of the human brain to capture and filter images in real time, collecting both what the soldier consciously recognizes and what he perceives with the unconscious. Through an electroencephalogram (EEG), the device picks up a signal from the brain, known as P300, indicating an unconscious recognition of something visual.

In certain situations, like when a convoy is heading onto an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), noticing it in time really means saving lives: in these dire circumstances, Sentinel recognizes the P300 signal sent by the unconscious perception of the threat and alerts the soldier, putting him on the alert even before he does himself.

This is not the first instrument used in the military for the control of the mind, but it’s one of the first to actually be working well in practice, in the laboratory at least, although there’s still a lot of work to do, especially as for the weight, which is considered too high to be brought to the battlefield.

It is, however, an important step in the transformation of soldiers themselves into real efficient machines, a tool to stretch the attention span of a human operator and to sharpen his decision-making skills, allowing him to beat the danger to the draw.

USA, haptic belts guide soldiers on battlefield

giugno 27, 2012 Biotechnology No Commenti
US Army

Soldiers have already a lot of technology to help them navigate the battlefields at night, such as night vision goggles and GPS systems. From today on, however, a new tool will allow them to move in the dark without feeling awkward and somewhat limited in their movements.

The researchers of the American Army Research Office have developed a vibrating belt with eight mini actuators, called “tactors”, each of which corresponds to a cardinal point to indicate the direction. The belt is connected to a GPS navigation system, a digital compass and an accelerometer, so that the system can detect where the soldier is directed even if it is lying on its side or back.

The tactors vibrate at 250 hertz, which is equivalent to a slight nudge around the waist. Researchers have developed a sort of tactile Morse code to point out direction, helping the soldier to determine which way to go, says New Scientist. A buzz of the front, side and back tactors, for example, means “halt”, while a pulsating movement from back to front means “move”, and so on.

The researchers, led by Elmar Schmeisser and Linda Elliott, tested the belts for the Army personnel during training exercises, both night and day. The subjects had to respond to requests for information and search for targets while moving. The system, according to scholars, was really appreciated by the soldiers, because it allows them to go in the right direction without distraction to handle traditional GPS devices.

The same researchers now are also working with a company that is producing a tactile glove, allowing the platoon commanders to communicate with the normal military gestures of the hand, sending a nonverbal message to belts, connected wirelessly to the system, running even from miles away.

Brazilian police to use sunglasses that can scan faces to find criminals

giugno 19, 2012 Biotechnology No Commenti
brazilian cops

They will probably look like Robocop, the Brazilian cops, who in 2014 might use special sunglasses, able to scan 400 known criminals per second from up to 12 miles away (even though they are optimized for about 150 feet). These glasses are wirelessly connected to a huge computer database that can compare the scanned faces with those of 13,000 people in the db.

Moreover, this device has also a screen which allows the officer to get instructions about the behaviour he should have with found out criminals. Maybe this type of sunglasses are going to be used during the 2014 Football World Cup, that surely requires advanced and strong surveillance systems. Nevertheless, if implemented in policemen’s daily activities, it could help to prevent crimes and increase the arrest of already known criminals.

In few words, these sunglasses have nothing to do with the already on the market glasses with camera, as they are designed not only to record facial profiles, but also to identify suspected people. They scans 46,000 biometric points on a person’s face and compares it against a very big criminal database and when they find a supposedly bad guy, a red light pops up inside the glasses and alerts the officer on what to do.

Military Police officials from Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, which will both host key games in the World Cup, have already been given demonstrations of device usage. “It’s something discreet because you do not question the person or ask for documents. The computer does it. To the naked eye two people may appear identical but with 46,000 points compared, the data will not be beaten,” said Leandro Pavani Agostini, Major of Sao Paulo’s Military Police. Moreover, “the device will be useful to police trying to monitor many different locations and events, ranging from airports and bus terminals to concerts and football matches”.

In short, these particular glasses are changing video surveillance in wide places and events, giving the police officers the opportunity to avoid a preliminary physical contact with the suspected.


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