Tag Archives: gadgets and tools

Car Thieves Using Device to Automatically Open and Start Push-Button Ignition Cars

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has gotten its hands on a device, called a Relay Attack, that can allow a car thief to open and start a vehicle that uses a keyless entry system (think push-button to start).   It appears to be more sophisticated and ideally suited to a car thief’s purposes than even the RKE jammers we have posted about before.  These Relay Attack devices have been thought to exist and have been used by car thieves for at least the last several years, but it’s apparently the first time someone legitimate has been able to get their hands on one to confirm their capabilities.  NICB purchased one from a European vendor it did not specifically identify by name.  The device was apparently developed by engineers as a way to test the anti-theft capabilities of push-button cars, but increasing numbers of car thieves are suspected of having gotten their hands on it.

In a series of unscientific tests at different locations over a two-week period, 35 different makes and models of cars, SUVs, minivans and a pickup truck were tested. We partnered with NICB member company CarMax, because they are the nation’s largest used car retailer and have nearly every make and model in their inventory. Tests were also done at a new car dealership, an independent used car dealer, at an auto auction and on NICB employee vehicles and ones owned by private individuals.

The vehicles were tested to see if the device could:

  • open the door
  • start the vehicle
  • drive it away
  • turn off and restart the engine without the original fob present

The NICB was able to open 19 (54 percent) of the vehicles and start and drive away 18 (51 percent) of them. Of the 18 that were started, after driving them away and turning off the ignition, the device was used to restart 12 (34 percent) of the vehicles.

Unscientific or not, these results are depressing.  Hit the jump for an honestly fascinating video by NICB summarizing their findings on the device.

Continue reading Car Thieves Using Device to Automatically Open and Start Push-Button Ignition Cars

Dubai Firefighters Adding Water Jet Packs to Arsenal


Dubai firefighters have started using a firefighting system that includes a jet ski and a water-powered jetpack. The above footage shows a firefighter gliding over a bridge before dousing a pick-up which is made to look like it is on fire.  The system is meant to be used in hard-to-access areas, such as when heavy traffic prevents an obstacle to accessing the target and would allow firefighters to spray water from angles/perspectives previously not possible.

Dubai firefighters aided by water jetpacks – video [via The Guardian]

Portable Heads-Up Display for Texting and Driving

A new head-up display (HUD) device by Navdy is available which sits on the car’s dash and projects transparent maps, and texts six feet out onto the road.  It can also be automatically controlled by your body – for example, it’ll automatically read an incoming text message if you wave your hand to the left. Although the device manufacturer, Navdy, sold 20,000 units two years ago in a pre-sale for $300 apiece, the company is now shipping the gadget with an $800 price tag.

Review: Is There a Safe Way to Text While Driving? [via The Wall Street Journal]

Drones Being Used to Smuggle Drugs and Phones to UK Prisons

As yet another creative use of the remote-controlled flying devices, drones have been discovered apparently being used to smuggle drugs and cell phones to inmates in the United Kingdom.  The operators apparently attempt to fly the drones up to the cell window of inmates where their payload can be removed by the prisoner.

Cops seize 2 drones stashed with drugs and phones near prison [via The Daily Star] and ‘Like ordering a pizza’ Drones delivering legal highs to lags behind bars [via The Daily Star]

Lie Detecting Machines Being Tested at Canadian Airports

Imagine stepping off on an international flight, and as part of the normal disembarkation process, speaking to a computer-generated avatar who asks you questions about your travel.  This is no simple automated process, however, but a lie-detecting artificially intelligent system that  uses eye scanners, motion and pressure sensors to detect the tell-tale physical signs of lying.  This exact scenario is playing out at a few Canadian airports as part of pilot testing with the Canadian Border Services Agency.  The system, called  Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessment in Real Time, or AVATAR, asks passengers a series of questions, ranging from “Do you have fruits or vegetables in your luggage?” to “Are you carrying any weapons with you?” Rather than just simply recording yes or no answers, the system can detect changes in physiology and behavior during the interview to determine which travelers are more likely to be lying.  Those flagged as such are then referred to secondary screening by a live person.

The future of airport security? Lie-detecting robots being tested to help secure borders from terrorists, criminals and smugglers [via The Mirror]

New Gadget Claims To Measure Blood Alcohol Content Through Your Skin

A new accessory, not yet available for purchase but apparently coming soon, claims it can measure your blood alcohol content (BAC) through your skin and can give you an immediate readout of your current level of inebriation. BACtrack Skyn is expected to be sold in both stand-alone and Apple watch accessory versions. The product bills itself as being able to give you a notification when your blood alcohol level reaches a certain pre-set point to remind you to slow down or stop drinking. No need to blow into a portable breathalyzer, which appears to be the company’s bread and butter based on their website’s list of currently available products. Hit the jump for a video of the CEO explaining the history of his company and what their new product is all about.

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Canadian Police Use Cameras with Telephoto Lens to Catch Distracted Drivers

Canadian police have taken to using cameras with a telephoto lens to catch distracted drivers, from as far as 1.2 kilometers (0.7 miles) away. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have said they use the cameras all around British Columbia at strategic locations.  The reason for using the cameras is so police can observe from a safe distance and at the same time remain covert to catch drivers in the act of not paying attention to their driving (e.g. as a result of texting on their phone, putting on their make-up, etc.).

Getting ticketed in B.C. for distracted driving is no joke – fines went up last year to $543 for a first offense and $888 for a second one.

RCMP scoping out distracted drivers this long weekend — from 1.2 kilometers away [via CBC News]

Grappler Police Bumper Fires Lasso to End Vehicle Pursuits

This is an interesting concept tool to help bring police vehicle pursuits to a quick end. (It might have been helpful to end the longest police pursuit ever, clocking in at over 600 miles of driving).  It’s a grappler police bumper that fires out a lasso that ties up one of the pursued vehicle’s back tires.  An alternative for when the PIT maneuver is not possible or there isn’t enough time to lay down spikes on the road ahead.  It’s also possible to release the lasso – but still leaving it tied to the tire – when it’s smarter for the two vehicles to not remain connected, such as in high speeds.  An interesting concept and alternative option but it’s not clear from the Peoria, AZ company’s website if it’s available for immediate purchase or still a prototype.  Hit the jump for a promotional video.

Continue reading Grappler Police Bumper Fires Lasso to End Vehicle Pursuits

Tokyo Police Use Drones with Nets to Capture Other Drones

Tokyo riot police have developed specialized drones complete with nets to capture suspicious drones that fly or hover too close to sensitive locations, such as Government buildings.

Riot police will control the camera-equipped interceptor drones to chase after private drones they feel may be spying on buildings, including the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe‘s office, and ensnare them in large nets before returning to the ground. Those controlling the force drone will first warn the suspicious drone’s operator to cease the flight, before pursuing them.

Hit the jump for video of one of them in action.

Continue reading Tokyo Police Use Drones with Nets to Capture Other Drones