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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.

From the United States, an helicopter drone for surveillance against pirates

giugno 20, 2012 Technology No Commenti
helicopter drone for aerial video surveillance

The land is covered for almost 70% of water, so it makes perfect sense to monitor these huge sea expanses. Nevertheless, it is a very difficult task to be performed, as it would require many human efforts and excessive costs. In addition, the surveillance of these areas would never be effective enough, given the enormous size of the areas to be put under control. Thanks to advanced technologies, however, now-a-days it is possible to control vast sea expanses. The United States Navy, in fact, are using helicopter drones to hunt modern times pirates, a plague that affects different parts of the world, especially the coasts of Africa and Asia.

Today pirates are not very different from their colleagues in 1700, although the technology has forced them to refine their defense techniques. The most affected vessels are stationary ones, because they are easier to attack and, although several boats are today equipped with electrified barbed wire to defend themselves, the pirates are smart enough to find a solution to circumvent these defense techniques, using mattresses and insulating material.

That is why helicopter drones tested by the U.S. Navy are the ideal device for aerial video surveillance against pirate attacks. These aircraft, also known as “Fire Scouts”, are also equipped with “electronic brains”, which are capable of automatically recognizing the small vessels of the pirates thanks to a very precise 3D laser system, which, according to designers, would reduce the risk of false alarms.

But how do these drone helicopter work? Their technology, called LIDAR or LADAR, allows to bounce millions of laser pulses off distant objects in order to create a 3D image of boats on the high seas. Their software, then, is able to compare the 3D images obtained with the profiles of pirate boats already recorded in a database. The question that comes naturally to ask, however, is how they will be able to recognize the pirates if they use common vessels.

According to Ken Heeke, project manager, the problem does not exist, because once you send the 3D images detected by the LADAR, human operators will then verify what kind of boat it actually is. This is, in short, a tool that helps man, but which does not replace him entirely.

Pay attention! The fly buzzing around you could be a spy!

giugno 18, 2012 Technology No Commenti
robot insect for surveillance

Beetles, bees, blowflies, moths … How many of you hate these tiny annoying creatures? People around the world who suffer from entomophobia will surely shudder now that cyborg insects are also made, allowing to reach places where conventional cameras cannot get into, for purposes of surveillance and rescue.

The members of the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) are, in fact, investing a lot of time and money in research and development of robotic insects, capable of carrying GPS trackers and micro cameras on their body.

Think about how they would be useful in the search for missing people in natural disasters like earthquakes. They could easily sneak through the rubble trying to detect signs of life. And think about how they would be useful also in the military to monitor the enemy. He would never think that those flies buzzing in his room are actually miniaturised bugs!

The only remaining problem is how to power something so small. These insects, in fact, would be hardly able to take off if weighed down by batteries. Moreover, the battery life can’t be as long as required for the purpose. For this reason US engineers, instead of creating entirely robotic beings, would rather prefer to “mount” micro equipment for surveillance on real insects, possibly of a certain size, like cockroaches and bumblebees, using the energy generated by the flapping of their wings.

Paradoxically, it seems that it is easier to drive a real hornet than its robotic equivalent. Although a robot can be programmed as desired, real insects do not have the power problems encountered in the development of their mechanical counterparts, and can be easily controlled through small electrodes placed in their nervous system.

The energy generators would be installed in correspondence of the wings and would be able to produce a total of 45 µw for each insect. According to the researchers, the output power will surely be higher by about 10 times by connecting the generators directly to the flight muscles of insects.

A great tool, then, to penetrate and monitor the most remote places, where humans and conventional equipment can not reach, or at least fail to reach on their own.

A new surveillance system for goods raises questions about privacy

giugno 15, 2012 Technology No Commenti
new surveillance system for goods

It’s like having installed a sort of GPS locator on the property rented out.

Actually, this new technology is called RFID, which stands for Radio Frequency Identification. In essence we are talking about washable tags with microchips that can be inserted into clothes and objects of all kinds, to monitor the returns, in case they are rented out.

They are already used in some hotels in Honolulu, Miami and Manhattan to prevent the theft of towels, sheets or other objects of the hotel and are proving very useful for the purpose: the thefts were reduced by 4000 to $ 750 per month in a pool of Honolulu.

They are installed to monitor the status of the uniforms used in some companies. The ID tags of clothing is combined with a personal ID number to show real-time which uniform is being worn by whom. This helps to reduce the risk of loss and theft as the RFID system can accurately determine who was the last to wear that particular uniform.

The system also includes the installation of special scanners at strategic points, to determine the returns and the going out of the items. The object that has a built-in microchip can be read by more than four meters away and this also allows to scan multiple objects simultaneously, without making the manual counting.

The RFID tag is less than 2.5 inches long and completely flexible, weighs only 2 grams (less than 0.1 ounces). It is resistant to high temperatures of ironing and can be washed over 100 times without any adverse effects on its ability to be scanned.

This system has applications for both companies with high volume of uniforms such as hotels and resorts or for clothing rental outlets such as bridal and formal wear retailers On the other side, however, there are those who question a broader application of this technology because it would invade the privacy of individuals. What is most disturbing is the fear of being constantly monitored through objects or clothing that you wear, even after leaving the shop, as if you brought along a gsm bug with gps tracker. And, although manufacturers say that now the problem does not exist, because labels are only used within the business, it would be good even to think about future developments. After all no one wants to be spied upon and recognized by the sweater just bought!

SpyNet Laser Trip protects your works of art. But maybe only if they are false!

giugno 13, 2012 Technology No Commenti
surveillance system

A new really cheap product has been launched on the market. A device that, if you purchased it, would raise the envy of those among your friends which are fans of espionage movies, or MacGyver as well. It’s called SpyNet Laser Trip and what it does is to create a laser network, just like that one you usually see on TV or in the movies when certain valuables have to be protected, such as works of art put at the center of a richly decorated room in a museum.

The system consists of a Class 1 laser transmitter, a receiver and two mirrors. The four pieces can be arranged in virtually any configuration, as long as the laser beam can reflect unimpeded from point to point, ending up at the receiver. The device can also be implemented with other mirrors, depending on the user’s desire. In the case where an obstacle is placed between a point and the other, an alarm will sound.

Do you feel like you are in a spy movie? Do you now feel smarter than the most clever Lupin? Do not get excited! The system does not include the steel casket doors which would presumably close to stop the thief. This device is actually a toy, although it could easily fool the less experts in the “surveillance” matter. Maybe it can be used as a deterrent, but not as a true surveillance system for your valuables, which you had better keep in a safe.

If you really need a device that can detect intruders in your home, you should rely on professional tools suitable for this purpose, as a video bug with no range limits that, with a simple call (for the audio only) or video call (for the video function), allows you to see, and listen to, all that is happening in the environment in which it is installed, in real time.
The ideal device, in short, to monitor your home and your belongings, as it is simple to use, more than the toy laser system, easily concealable and relatively low cost.


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