Buying a bug transmitter on Amazon without knowing where it is from? Actually it is not a good idea!

“You know what? I bought this spy bug on Amazon, but now I am not able to make it work!” This is a typical comment submitted on Amazon or Ebay after having recklessly purchased the product in question. Actually we have been saying that for long time: before buying any …

KA-101: a full audio monitoring kit fitted with spy bug, receiver and micro recorder

Are you on the fence about the audio monitoring device to be used in your investigation? Well, KA-101 is just the device you need! Not only because it makes a combined use of bug transmitter, RF receiver and mini recorder, but also because it is more affordable than other devices …

Which video bugs are better to use in investigation?

Do you think audio bugs are the only surveillance devices to be used for monitoring rooms or any other environment? If so you’re barking up the wrong tree, because over time investigative technology has increasingly developed UMTS or WiFI video bugs, proved to be very effective in undercovered or remote …

Economic dependence and cheating: a study reveals a possible correlation

A few years ago, on the site of ASA (American Sociological Association) was written up an article concerning a possible correlation between economic dependence on one’s partner and a large number of cheating cases. In the article, the US sociologist Christin L. Munsch, a researcher who spent a long time …

Microregistratori digitali

A robotic fish that makes friends

luglio 4, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Robotic fish can be used for a wide range of applications, ranging from gathering underwater images for scientific usage, monitoring of the waters’ health conditions to fight pollution, or even underwater surveillance.

But if there is one thing they can not really do, it is being recognized by other fish as one of them. The often unnatural motion, as well as size and color, may end up scaring away other fish and cause them to turn their electronic cousin into an outcast.

All this seems to be in the past now, thanks to a research project that scientists from the University of Leeds are working on. The British researchers have created a robot fish which looks like a common stickleback fish.

This robot, aptly named Robofish, is connected to a stand through a small rigid tube, and below the stand is a small magnet. By placing another magnet on the outside of the glass and moving it, the stand that keeps the fish in place will move, and our friend Robofish will seem to be freely swimming in its tank.

Once placed in a tank with real fish, it has been programmed to move according to a preset route, at a speed slightly higher than other fish of this species. The live fish immediately followed him, first one by one and then in groups, as for them, speed is considered as a sign of strength and self-assurance, which causes them to see their robotic friend as a leader, especially if they are in a new environment. In fact, once they are accustomed to their new tank, they tend to follow it much less.

The experiment might lead to interesting developments not only for monitoring conditions of water, but also to study the fishes’ migratory routes and the effect that human intervention might have on these routes.

Thermal cameras, for clear images even in the dark of night

luglio 4, 2010 Technology No Commenti

When you are out on the open sea, surrounded by total darkness, it is very difficult to notice and be aware of an impending danger, especially if this danger is represented by other boats approaching your with lights off and with not exactly friendly intentions.

For boats that are not equipped with expensive state-of-the-art radar technology, a solution comes from the usage of a thermal camera. Thermal cameras are capable of recording sharp images even in the darkest night, detecting a possible approaching danger or enemy thanks to their thermal image.

Thanks to their special sensors, thermal cameras can see not only in the dark, but also beyond a thick layer of dark smoke. This makes them very useful not only to protect security and safety on board of a boat out at sea, but also, for example, as a trustworthy tool for firefighters during a rescue operation after a city fire; this tool can literally save lives, by detecting the presence of persons trapped behind the smoke, allowing for a prompt rescue intervention by firemen.

Furthermore, thanks to their small size and light weight, they are suitable for being used in motion, for example during police operations of search and capture of criminals; these operations must take place in the dark to ensure success, without arising unnecessary suspicion and attention.

The resolution provided by this kind of camera is 240 x 180 pixels, with a 24-degree view field, which allows for an optimal situation awareness and immediate action in case of danger.
For more information about operation and cost of thermal cameras, you can visit the Endoacustica website and request a tailored advice.

A marathon for low-emission ultralight aircraft

luglio 4, 2010 Technology No Commenti

For research purposes, for showcasing the latest novelties or for pure and simple fun, from the 9th to the 11th of July, the Charmeil aerodrome, near Vichy (France) will host the first ecologic marathon for motorized ultralight aircraft.

The winner of this contest will be the one who covers the longest distance with a small amount of fuel, while producing the lower amount of polluting emissions. The contest is divided in two sections: one is open to students and research institutes, while the other is for manufacturers and producers of ultra light aircraft and solutions for this field.

The first category, generally, is the one that features new or innovative ideas and solutions which might in the future be applied to mass production, while the second represents the next step, that is, the application of these (or similar) solutions on more conventional models present on the mass market.

Aircraft must be built according to the French regulations for motorized ultralight aircraft (ULM), and must as well be equipped with radio and GPS devices. Along with the fuel and electricity consumption, the level of acoustic and environmental pollution will also be measured, and in the end, the winner will be declared by using several factors which include not only the distance covered, but also the lower impact in terms of environmental footprint.

Along with the marathon, there will also be an exhibition which demonstrates usage of sources of renewable energy on automatic vehicles, both in the air and on the ground.

The main goal of this event is to develop new ideas for energy saving, by applying alternative energy sources on ultralight aircraft. These solutions might one day find application also in commercial avionics, to build more energy-conscious aircraft, which will pollute the air even less.

Spy DVR Glasses

luglio 1, 2010 Technology No Commenti

How many times did we wish that we could record the images passing before our eyes, either for leisure (like an evening out with friends) or for work 8for example on a confidential meeting) and that we could do it while the people around us are unaware? Certainly most of us would have wanted to do this a million times, but this is not always possible, for practical reasons, and also because of the cost.

Now, thanks to the increasing miniaturization (and decreasing prices) of video technology, this is possible thanks to spy glasses. These spy glasses are nothing else than a normal pair of glasses, with a slightly 60’s feel to their frame; inside the frame, they conceal a miniature camera with microphone, and an equally small video recording system.

Thanks to the camera viewer placed right between the eyes, you will be able to record exactly what you are seeing in real time, and save it all (up to a maximum capacity of 4 Gb) on a micro SD memory card.
Its usage is very simple, the applications are virtually unlimited, be it hidden recordings or normal video shooting.

For example, you can start recording during a motorcycle ride to shoot POV videos; or you can use it to play trick on your friends and shoot candid camera videos.

Of course, along with a leisurely use, it also has a professional side. In fact, thanks to the fact that the camera is concealed inside a pair of glasses, this recording system can be used to take discreet footage of evidence or compromising events, by law enforcement agents against criminals, or by private detectives in cases of corporate espionage, infidelity suspicions and a lot more.

For more information on how the spy glasses work, along with an extensive catalogue of devices for discreet audio and video recording, you can visit the Endoacustica website.

From golf courses to war zones, without a driver

luglio 1, 2010 Technology No Commenti

At a first glance, it may look more or less like a golf cart that one would use to move from one hole to the next on the course, just a bit sturdier. Actually, it is an autonomous vehicle capable of carrying heavy material (up to 400 kgs), helping troops in war zones to carry material with all weather conditions.

The vehicle, called GUSS (Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate) is the result of a cooperation between Virginia Tech University and TORC, a factory specialized in unmanned ground vehicles; the vehicle moves at the speed of a walking soldier, in fact it can reach only 5 km per hour, but its usefulness lies not in its speed, rather in its ability of moving without a pilot, providing support to ground troops during their journeys on foot, thus making their operating conditions a tad better.

GUSS is controlled via a small handheld computer, which can be used to either guide it manually or to set up a route that it will automatically follow without any further human intervention needed. This vehicle is an evolution of a previous model of remotely controlled unmanned car, which Virginia Tech had showcased at the 2007 edition of DARPA Urban Challenge, a competition among research institutes presenting automated vehicles capable of freely moving in the city traffic in a completely autonomous way.

On top of the initial project, researchers added a customized version of the AutoNav automatic navigation system manufactured by TORC, designed for offroad use, along with improved sensors and algorithms, which allow GUSS to navigate smoothly even in conditions much harder than the ones that a “normal” navigation system would encounter on paved roads.

Micro helicopters can perch on walls just like insects

luglio 1, 2010 Technology No Commenti

The latest novelty in the MAV (Micro Aerial Vehicles) field is coming from the heart of old Europe, and more precisely from Switzerland, where a student from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale in Lausanne is at work on the development of a swarm of flying micro transmitters, capable of flying towards a specific point of interest, such as a crime scene or the scene of a natural disaster, and to perch on top of trees or walls, in a position from where they can easily gather information, images and data, and transmit them.

This result is achieved thanks to a couple of prongs, mounted on the front side of the flying robot. These stings are part of a small module, weighing approximately 4 grams, which can be applied on basically all vehicles of this kind currently available on the market.

Once the micro aerial vehicle reaches its target, these prongs would stick into the surface, keeping it in place and allowing it to start its work, gather images and intelligence, and transmit it.

In an experimental phase, this module is being mounted on a small glider, but in the future it should be possible to use it also on battery-powered flying robots. The stings can easily penetrate any wooden surface, but they are resistant enough to make holes also on a concrete surface, making them very useful for reconnaissance and data collection, for example during a city fire, to reach areas where firemen are unable to go.

Once the mission is completed, a small remotely controlled motor would withdraw the prongs from the wall, allowing the MAV to come back to its launch base, ready to be used again for a new reconnaissance or imaging assignment.

Freedom of expression is at risk, to provide more security

giugno 29, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Just like it is happening (or at least, some are trying to make it happen) in Italy, where the Berlusconi government is trying to have a bill approved which would dramatically limit freedom of expression, thus placing a gag also on blogs which are regarded as the last real free means of expression on the Net, it looks like the US as well are somehow trying to gag the Web.

In Italy, an amendment to what has been nicknamed “gag bill” gives bloggers the obligation to rectify their posts within 48 hours of a possible request received by anyone who might get offended; in case of non-compliance they would be subject to a fine of 12500 Euros, thus forcing them to choose: if for example they want to go out on a weekend or a short holiday, they should always be near a computer… or alternatively (and this is what this bill seems to be obviously designed for) they should not publish their posts at all, giving them the possibility to go on holiday even for a full month, not forgetting to put their freedom of expression in their bag as well…

In the US instead, the Senate is discussing a bill named “Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act”, which would allow the President to control the Web by giving him the power to order, in case of potential threats to national security coming through the Web, to abide by some unspecified “emergency measures” which might go as far as shutting down websites or search engines. Try to imagine for a moment that Obama (or one of his successors) might for example shut down Facebook or Twitter if their pages are used to carry messages seen as a threat to national security.

According to this bill, an Office of Cyberspace Policy would be created, which in cooperation with another newly-created Internet security center should identify any key infrastructures which, in case of collapse, might generate a series of disastrous events; furthermore, these offices would set up the emergency measures to protect the infrastructures, which are then ordered by the President. The only limit to the Office’s power would be a preemptive notice to the Congress before putting these restrictive measures (which can be renewed or prolonged by Presidential decree) into effect.

The bill has been presented by Sen. Joe Lieberman (Democrat, Connecticut) who already a couple of years ago had an attempt at trying to add into the Terrorism Prevention Act the possibility for the Government to control the Internet infrastructures and ultimately the power to shut down, by President’s order, any site whose existence may be defined as dangerous for security of the United States.

These measures might potentially give a single man absolute control powers over the net, or at least, a discretional power that would allow him to control a large part of freedom of expression, guiding it into a certain (limited) range of possibilities. Obviously, the technical feasibility of this idea is not that easy to implement (the Web 2.0 users are always a tad faster than their controllers).
But what is bothering is that not only the Internet privacy, but the freedom of thought on the Net must be the object of lawmaking, and that the policy of too many governments, liberal only by name, is slowly but inevitably switching towards a dangerous authoritarianism, aimed at controlling free thought and its expression as if it were the most dangerous of foes.

The first supersonic jet with vertical takeoff and landing

giugno 28, 2010 Technology No Commenti

For the first time in history of military aviation, a jet fighter capable of taking off and landing vertically, and also equipped with Stealth capabilities to escape enemy radars, has been able to flay beyond the wall of sound.

This achievement was reached by an F-35 series jet fighter, called F-35B, which a few months ago had already completed its first test run for vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and last week reached the supersonic speed of mach 1.07, a first step towards a final target speed of Mach 1.6.

The Joint Strike Fighter program, which includes development of this kind of aircraft, had already reached the not-to-be-proud-of achievement of being the most expensive weapon program in the history of the United States (and the world, of course), but thanks to these results, the money spent is finally paying off.

The program stems from the idea of building jet fighter planes with different characteristics and capabilities, but all based on using common parts for at least 70%, which makes maintenance a lot easier, as well as providing a high level of flexibility and interchangeability of the different systems on board of an aircraft, with the final aim to replace fighters currently in service and using a common standard.

For example, the F-35 jet, both conventional and with vertical takeoff, should in the long run replace F-16s and A-10s used by most of the NATO countries, and should sport two interchangeable engines manufactured by Pratt & Whitney and Rolls Royce.
All this, in 2009 only, cost a whopping 650 billion dollars, that is, around 43% of the entire Department of defense budget for the year.

A wall is not enough to stop a radar camera

giugno 28, 2010 Technology No Commenti

In Japan, researchers from the public broadcasting company NHK are working on the development of a new kind of camera called “millimeter wave”, which works with a principle similar to radars, and is capable of visualizing images of objects and people thanks to the usage of radio waves instead of visible light, even if the people or objects in question are hidden behind a thick cloud of smoke or fog, or even behind a wooden wall.

This is made possible because the camera itself can emit radio waves at a frequency of approximately 60 GHz. Once these waves detect a person or an object, they basically bounce on it, and they are then picked up by a receiver. What the receiver does is measure the time that the wave uses to travel to the object and come back to the camera, thus being able to produce an image by using these response times.

The images generated by using this radar camera, at the present stage, are blurred and at a very low quality, but at least, they can be used to detect the presence of a person or an object behind the obstacle that blocks our view.

Due to the low resolution of these images (which is a point that researchers are working on) it would not be possible to use this technology for real TV footage to be sent on air, but this kind of technology can be very useful not only in the video surveillance field, for example to detect the presence of a group of people in an area under control.

Alternatively, it could be a life saver if used by firefighters during rescue operations in a place where fire broke out, allowing them to detect the presence of moving people on the other side of a thick cloud of black smoke, allowing firemen to promptly intervene and possibly save lives in danger.

A high definition Action Cam for your adventures

giugno 28, 2010 Technology No Commenti

To take video footage of extreme sports or parachute jumps, or of a simple bicycle trip with your friends, to mount them on your helmet while riding your bike or to keep them in your backpack during a picnic, the so called Action Cams are becoming more and more common.
Thanks to their sturdiness and ease of use, they can be used not only in situations like the ones above, but also as you would do with your ordinary camcorder.

The latest addition in this field is HD170 manufactured by Drift Innovation. What makes this action cam particular is that it is the first one of its kind to sport a LCD display to play back the footage being shot, thus being able to optimize the quality of your videos; it is also equipped with a small infrared remote control.

Thanks to its display you will be, for example, able to mount it on the bar of your bicycle and see at any time what you are shooting, while you can start or stop recording with the remote control, which can conveniently be strapped on one of the handles.

Furthermore, while in photo mode, HD170 can shoot images continuously at preset intervals, for example every few seconds; to reduce the noise level it is also equipped with an external microphone, which you will be able to place inside your helmet or in your car, so that your videos can have a real soundtrack or live commentary instead of just wind noise.

Of course, all this comes in high definition, with a 1720×1080 resolution and a wide-angle 170 degrees lens (hence the name), and with a price tag of 330 dollars.

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