Private company Advanced Tactics has been commissioned by he U.S. military to look into developing a remote-controlled vehicle that can take off like a helicopter, land, and then immediately drive off without a driver. The prototype, currently in testing, has eight rotors that fold into the body of the vehicle on land to make it more easy to drive. It has been developed to allow for delivering cargo into areas where traditional aircraft cannot go, plus has the advantage of not needing to send pilots into hazardous situations.Read more
FLIR, an industry leader in thermal imaging devices for security and military uses, is coming out this spring with the FLIR One, a $350 iPhone 5 case that, when used in conjunction with a special app, allows users to see heat vision with their iPhone camera. (This is almost as cool as the radiation detector app we noted weeks ago that turns your first responder iPhone into a Geiger Counter). The case also provides the user with extra battery capacity amounting to a 50 percent extension of battery life. The product website has more details on specs and uses.
Note, however, although the FLIR One’s sensor was originally developed for the military before now being made available for civilian use, the company notes it cannot see through walls, doors, glass, or clothing. Expect that claim to be thoroughly tested.Read more
A very small fraction of the population is born without fingerprints, due to an exceedingly rare genetic condition called adermatoglyphia. The disease is caused by a mutation in a single gene, which was found in 2011, but causes no health problems or issues aside from the lack of fingerprints. (This is different from the case of criminals who purposely try to alter or remove their fingerprints via chemical or surgical means). Dermatologist Peter Itin found the mutation after beginning research on the condition when in 2007 he as contacted by a Swiss woman who was having trouble entering the U.S. as at the time all non-residents entering the country had to be fingerprinted. Itin named the condition “immigration delay disease.”Read more
From Warren Buffett’s bodyguard to a high-tech panic room in a Hollywood mansion and on board a mega yacht in Miami, CNBC goes behind the scenes with the men and women who protect the super-rich. These are nervous times for billionaires around the globe and an entire industry is on call ready to sell the ultra-rich super security.Read more
A really interesting article on the history of the breathalyzer and how it came into being.
The first serious scientific work on mechanizing the determination of whether someone was driving drunk took place in the 1920s. A doctor and researcher in Los Angeles by the name of Dr. Emil Bogen conducted a landmark study in 1927 on how to scientifically determine inebriation. By this time it was fairly well-established that testing blood gave you a solid idea of how drunk a person might be. But by testing urine, blood, and breath, Bogen found that the latter could indeed function as a reliable estimator for blood alcohol content (BAC).
Dr. Bogen’s breath test used a large football bladder that contained sulphuric acid and potassium dichromate. A patient would breathe into it, and as the chemicals in the football bladder changed from yellow to various shades of blue and green, they were compared to tubes of the same chemicals in which different amounts of alcohol had been added. Effective, but not the most practical for a traffic stop.
Drunk Driving and The Pre-History of Breathalyzers [via Gizmodo]Read more
This is such a low-cost yet highly effective strategy to be able to detect if someone has messed with your laptop. Specially designed tamper proof seals and locks for laptops can be easily defeated by someone who knows what he’s doing, and you will never be the wiser. However, by borrowing a trick from astronomers called blink comparison, painting something as simple as glitter nail polish on the seam where your laptop opens can let you tell if someone has used it without your knowledge.
The idea is to create a seal that is impossible to copy. Glitter nail polish, once applied, has what effectively is a random pattern. Once painted over screws or onto stickers placed over ports, it is difficult to replicate once broken. However, reapplication of a similar-looking blob (or paint stripe, or crappy sticker) might be enough to fool the human eye. To be sure, the experts recommend taking a picture of the laptop with the seals applied before leaving it alone, taking another photo upon returning and using a software program to shift rapidly between the two images to compare them. Even very small differences – a screw that is in a very slightly different position, or glitter nail polish that has a very slightly different pattern of sparkle – will be evident. Astronomers use this technique to detect small changes in the night sky.
And with cell phone cameras now ubiquitous, you can quickly and easily take the before and after photos with your mobile device.Read more
This is an interesting Wall Street Journal article that shows how there is an ever-increasing degree of automation in airport security. For example, many airports in Europe, Australia and the U.S. are using biometrics analyzing machines instead of people to identify fliers via their faces, irises, or fingerprints. (About 28 percent of the airports worldwide now use biometric technology, which is up from 18 percent in 2008). Several major European airports have also started using these automated ID checks at security checkpoints and boarding gates, and eventually, they could render the printed boarding pass a relic of the past.
Ultimately, the technology could “get rid of the boarding pass completely,” with fliers’ faces serving as their tickets, said Michael Ibbitson, chief information officer of London Gatwick Airport. Gatwick performed a trial this year in which it processed 3,000 British Airways IAG.MC +1.15% fliers without boarding passes. The fliers scanned their irises when checking in, enabling cameras at security checkpoints and boarding gates to automatically recognize them. “We’re only just starting to see what biometrics can do,” he said.
The biometric technology is also being used with other non-security related purposes in mind. For example, London Gatwick Airport is also using facial-recognition software to calculate line wait times in real time at its checkpoints. The airport takes images of almost all fliers’ faces as they pass through the checkpoints and then cross-references those images to note when each flier leaves the checkpoints. The data provides an accurate estimate of wait-time.
Can Robots Better Spot Terrorists at Airports? [via The Wall Street Journal]Read more
Website WhatsBusy can show you how long you can expect to stand in line at any major airport depending on when you plan to arrive. Plug in what airport you’re flying out of, on what day and when you plan to arrive at the airport, and WhatsBusy will use historical data from the TSA and the airlines to give you an estimate of how long security wait times will be to help plan for the best time to arrive. In addition to the website, there is a free WhatsBusy iPhone app for download.Read more