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Before buying a Jetpack, you can put it to the test

aprile 13, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Jetpack

The news which reported that the New Zealand manufacturer launched on the market its personal Jetpack has, as one would easily imagine, sent waves all over the world, as well as shivers of excitement among flight enthusiasts, even among those (let’s face it, the large majority of us) who can not afford spending the hefty sum of 86000 dollars to take one home and use it to go to office every day.

For those who want to purchase one but are not sure they can actually ride it, in spite of the producers’ claim that a few minutes of training are more than enough to master it quite safely, an adventure travel agency, which is also based in New Zealand, is offering a complete test flight package, to experience the Jetpack’s characteristics first hand.

This package is not exactly what you would call cheap, as its cost is approximately 10700 dollars, but after all, those who can afford to buy a personal Jetpack should not have problems with cashing out this amount.
The course, open to those above 18 years of age, holding a valid driver license and weighing less than 90 kilograms, takes place at the Martin Aircraft base, in a secure environment which allows Jetpack newbies to appreciate its potential in full safety.

The maximum number of participants is limited to four, allowing each one to learn what is necessary to handle the vehicle correctly; aside from a diploma, participants will receive a video shot during the course, to relive the exciting moments, as well as to play the cool guy with their friends!

A jammer helps you ensure that all mobile phones are switched off

aprile 12, 2010 Technology No Commenti

MJ 2000

There are certain situations in which one must make sure that, within a certain environment, no external interferences are present. For example, during a classical music performance, it is advisable to do the utmost in order to have everyone switch off their mobile phones, in order to avoid inconveniences for musicians and listeners alike.

During a confidential meeting or a conference, someone might have forgotten to switch off their mobile phone or, worse, might use it to leak out some information which is supposed to remain private.

In order to protect privacy, silence and confidentiality of your information, it is therefore advisable to take proper protection measures, by using a defensive system such as a mobile phone jammer. A jammer is a device which, when you are not physically able to lay your hands on each and every cellphone to switch it off, works on the radio waves in the room or hall that you wish to protect.

The cellphone jammer can be as small as a pack of cigarettes, and it transmits disturbance waves, which basically hamper all communication with devices present in the area, be they all type of mobile phones (GSM, UMTS and 3G), WiFi networks and Bluetooth connections, within an operating range of about 15 meters.

The owner of a cellphone within this range will not notice the jammer’s disturbing action, but will only be able to notice that his handset has no reach, and he or she will not be able to do anything to communicate with the world outside.

A secure and crash-proof police van keeps all passengers safe

aprile 12, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Vauxhall

When police forces carry out some operation which involves arresting criminals and carrying them towards the police station or prison, making sure that all passengers of the police van are safe is an absolute priority, either to protect policemen from any reaction that the arrestee might have towards them, or to keep the latter safe from harmful consequences in case of accident or impact.

To meet this need for security, the British car manufacturer Vauxhall has started the production of a particular model of its Vivaro van, which has been fitted with a real prison cell in the back.

A special attention was paid to the security and safety of the unwilling passenger sitting in the back, especially in consideration of the high risk conditions in which police van drivers have to operate, which can represent a potential danger for the security of all passengers. Under this point of view, the Vivaro cell has passed a series of crash tests which proved its sturdiness and resistance to impact, achieved not only by using the right materials, airbags and the like, but also by using a particular seating plan which minimizes the risk of collisions between passengers accommodated in the back of the van.

The Vivaro Prison Cell van, after this testing round, will in the near future be delivered to 54 different police stations across the United Kingdom for a trial period. Once the results of the trial are evaluated, this van might start its service at all stations of Her Majesty’s Police, to carry up to 6 passengers safely and with no risk for their security.

Another underwater vehicle, completely self-powered

aprile 12, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Solo

Just a few posts ago, we were talking about an underwater robot, and once again we are reporting a newcomer in this particular field.
Solo-Trec is an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), capable of autonomously generating the necessary electricity for providing propulsion to the vehicle itself, as well as for powering the systems placed on board, by exploiting fully renewable energies.

In fact, this vehicle is powered by an engine which gets recharged thanks to the differences in temperature that can be found at different depths. What makes this recharging operation possible is the presence of materials called “phase-change”, housed inside some tubes which expand or contract depending on the changes of temperature of the surrounding water.

When tubes expand or contract, the oil contained inside would move, thus generating motion in the hydraulic engine necessary to recharge the batteries, which in turn provide power to the engine used for the vehicle’s motion.

The Solo-Trec vehicle, developed by a NASA research team, in cooperation with University of California, can be equipped with scientific instruments and GPS receiver to determine position and route, and has been tested with more than 300 dives up to a depth of 500 meters, as well as an endurance test, which have been carried out in the waters off the coast of Hawaii.

A system like this, thanks to its endurance characteristics, can be used for scientific purposes, such as a long-term monitoring of the conditions of the sea, by using the correct equipment for this job.
Alternatively, by providing Solo-Trec with video surveillance equipment, it can be used for monitoring operations to ensure security in the waters around particularly sensitive targets or locations. And all this can be achieved while using a clean and unlimited source of energy.

Your girlfriend might be cheating? Try a spy phone

aprile 10, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Nokia

As you might know, your humble blogger is living behind the former Iron Curtain. And you may also happen to know that women from these countries are famous for their beauty, and that due to the financial crisis, the emigration wave is turning into a flood towards the West.

So, it came as no big surprise when I heard that a friend of mine’s girlfriend was moving to Germany. What surprised me a bit was that he asked me to provide him with a spy phone, that he in turn would give her as a present, in order to keep a watchful eye over her.

The spy cellphone, at a first glance, is just your ordinary cellphone, with a small difference. The difference lies in a small piece of software installed in a completely invisible way, which allows a third party listener to know everything that happens to the phone’s user, no matter how far away they are.

In fact, while the owner of the phone uses it normally, making and receiving calls and having text conversations, what he or she does not know is that all messages can be automatically sent in copy towards a pre-programmed number, and that every time that a phone call takes place, an SMS notification is sent to the same number, from where it will be possible to call and listen in real time to the conversation, without being noticed.

It is also possible to listen to the conversations taking place around the phone while it is turned off, using it as a listening bug; and all these functions can be carried out without giving out any sign of activity or history records.

Thanks to all these functions, my friend unfortunately found out that his girlfriend’s job was actually… the world’s oldest job!

Maiden flight for the largest solar panel plane

aprile 10, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Impulse

After a series of tests carried out in the last months of year 2009, the skies over Switzerland have been witnessing, a few days ago, the first flight of the largest solar plane to ever take the air.

Christened Solar Impulse, this aircraft, which is entirely powered by solar panels, has reached a maximum altitude of 1200 meters, during the course of a flight time of approximately 90 minutes. Its wingspan of 63 meters makes it as wide as a medium-sized commercial airliner, while its extremely light weight (its total mass if approximately as much as a medium car) allows it to take off at speeds as low as 60 kilometers per hour.

For now, these are just the first cautious steps in the air, although to be precise, the Solar Impulse had already been flying, albeit for just a few hundred meters and at a whopping 1-metre altitude. The next step will be testing of night flight capabilities, while the final aim of the project is to make the plane ready for a round-the-globe non-stop flight, which in the team’s best intentions should take place by the end of year 2012.

The road ahead is still extremely long, including construction of a second plane to speed up the testing phase and get ready for the round-the world flight. In the intentions of Bertrand Piccard, inventor of Solar Impulse, the project may play a pivotal role in the future development of transport aircraft powered by renewable energies.

Maybe one day our grandchildren’s grandchildren may really travel on long-haul planes powered by sunlight, not polluting and silent. If that day ever comes, the world will definitely be a better place to live.

A robot to see underwater with its sixth sense

aprile 10, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Snookie

The constant progress of robotic technologies is bringing about modern systems which, even in a small size, are equipped with real artificial intelligence features, and that are capable of carrying out their tasks in a completely independent way, reacting according on conditions and changes of the environment around them. In extreme conditions, a good idea comes from the usage of sensors which can constitute some sort of “sixth sense”, capable to generate the correct reaction to inputs from the outside.

Such an array of sensors, which takes inspiration from the so called lateral line, a sensorial organ used by some amphibians to get oriented in murky waters, has been mounted on an underwater robot created by researchers from the Technische Universitaet in Munich, Germany.

Lateral lines are present only on amphibians, who use them to detect movements or changes in the surrounding waters, giving them the possibility to react to these changes or to a potential threat. By equipping these underwater robots with a systems which does the same job, it will be possible to make them fully autonomous in deep waters not reached by light, or during monitoring operations inside sewer pipes or so.

The first prototype, called Snookie, is therefore equipped with an artificial organ which, thanks to several thermal micro sensors placed on the robot’s body, is capable of measuring changes in motion, flow and pressure of the surrounding waters, with extreme precision and an extremely low energy consumption, thus allowing Snookie to detect any obstacles and possible threats at a distance of approximately 20-25 centimeters around it.

Its length of about 80 cm, with a diameter of 30, makes it small enough to be used not only in open waters, but also and especially inside pipes, such as those of an aqueduct, to inspect them in search of any potential damage and repair it before it can cause trouble.

Yamaha to launch its first series of internal earpieces

aprile 10, 2010 Technology No Commenti

EPH

The Japanese giant Yamaha has just announced the commercial launch of its first micro earpieces, to be placed inside the ear, designed for the music players market, but with an eye that looks to the professional market as well.

For Yamaha, it is the first approach towards this kind of market, and the step is taken with three different models of micro earpieces: the basic model EPH-20 has a diameter of approximately 1.1 centimeters, while other models EPH-30 and EPH-50 have a diameter of respectively 9 and 13 millimeters.

Their retail price can range from 20 dollars for EPH-20, up to 100 dollars that you would need to bring home a EPH-50 model, ideal also for a professional use, thanks to its sturdiness and to its 0.25” jack adaptor, which would allow you to use it also on your home stereo set.

Of course, these models cater to a clientele which is mostly using the earphones for leisure or for listening to music on the go. In spite of the good quality, these earpieces could not possible be used in our specific field, as audio surveillance operations or intelligence gathering require that the person carrying them out use a wireless invisible earpiece.

This kind of earphones is placed inside the ear canal, and while being completely invisible to the outside, they are capable of transmitting and receiving sounds at an unlimited distance, thanks to a Bluetooth connection with a GSM Watch kit, that is, a normal watch which on the inside conceals a SIM card just like the one of your mobile phone, which allows for a completely invisible phone connection with a distant listener, who will be able to give real-time instructions, listening to what is happening around the watch and earpiece wearer, without others being aware.

Augmented reality at the service of safety on the road

marzo 23, 2010 Technology No Commenti

AR Windshield

Finding ourselves driving under a heavy rainfall, or in a thick fog, is certainly not what you would call a pleasant experience, and often, using fog headlights would not make the situation much better. In such cases, fortunately, modern technology can lend us a hand, at least according to the latest researches being carried out at General Motors.

The Detroit giant, in fact, is developing a special prototype of windshield which, installed on its cars, would allow for a safer driving experience and an easier orientation in conditions of poor visibility, by using the Augmented Reality (AR) principle.

In practice, the windshield of your car would become a big display, on which you could see data and images, gathered thanks to an array of sensors and cameras, which help reconstruct the image that the driver would see in that moment if the visibility conditions were normal. Along with this, the system can, just like a normal GPS navigator, detect accidents or roadblocks along the way.

The sensors placed on the windshield can also detect the driver’s movements and reactions, helping him to maintain a correct driving style, for example by displaying the sideline of the road, in order to avoid losing control of the car even when fog is so thick that the line can not be seen.

The augmented reality uses infrared night vision equipment, GPS navigation systems and several sensors, along with a phosphorus screen. An interface can be added, which informs the driver about speed limits and road exits, and make safety absolute. At this stage, a commercial launch is not scheduled, but it may not take too long before our cars become much different from the ones we know now.

Spy audio recording devices

marzo 22, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Smallest

The toolkit of the perfect spy has changed over time, sporting the latest development in miniature technology, be it a fountain pen which hides a gun like in James Bond movies, a micro transmitter concealed in the buckle of what looks like a normal belt, or in modern times, an audio digital micro recorder that actually looks like, for example, the key holder of your car.

Secret agents have always been on the cutting edge of technology, because in order to steal secrets, one must be as discreet and invisible as it gets, and miniature audio technology is the perfect companion for this kind of jobs.
In current times, a recording device can be as small as a 2 Euro coin, and can house a memory card up to 32 Gigabytes, which means that, thanks to its miniature size microphone, it can store hours and hours of conversations and sounds without being noticed.

After all, who would think that a pen, a key ring, a fountain pen, a USB drive or a cigarette lighter, while they are perfectly working as such, are also actually concealing a miniature recording equipment, highly sensitive, which is capable of picking up sounds with extreme clarity within a range of up to 10 meters?

The modern secret agent has at his disposal a wide range of tools to record sounds, conversations, to shoot video footage and to take discreet snapshots, as well as optical fiber cables which can be used as hidden cameras, or even mobile phones that secretly transmit their conversations to a third party listener in real time.

All these tools share a common characteristic: they are almost invisible, and their real purpose is not immediately obvious, which makes for a perfect covert operation!

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