Space-based laser communications are moving out of the testing phase and into orbit as the first satellite in the European DAta Relay System (EDRS), or SpaceDataHighway, prepares for launch at the end of January. Likened to having a fiber optic cable in space, the 1.8 Gigabit per second system is a joint public–private partnership between Airbus Defence and Space and ESA that will act as a relay system between ground stations, satellites, and aircraft.
Military airborne communications can be tricky. Not only do they need to overcome attempted disruption from hostiles, but also tackle the difficulties in getting different systems to work together. DARPA is looking to improve things, soliciting proposals to get both manned and unmanned systems communicating faster, more securely and in spite of enemy jamming attempts.
Laser-based communications has the ability to beam enormous amounts of data at high speed, but the use of this technology in space is still in its infancy. To help push things along, ESA’s proposed Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM) will carry out a record-setting demonstration of space laser communications across a distance of 75 million kilometers while orbiting a binary asteroid.
Even with all today's gadgets, it can still be tricky to get in touch with family that's
abroad, or even just upstairs. A new device called the Nucleus is aimed
at making it quick and simple to speak with family members wherever they
are. Surprisingly, it's inspired by the trusty old intercom.
Warships are only as effective as far as they can see, so DARPA's Towed Airborne Lift Of Naval Systems (TALONS) research effort is aiming to extend their horizons by giving them a crow's nest 1,500 ft (457 m) tall by way of a towed parafoil. A TALONS prototype recently completed sea trials off the US East Coast as part of a project to provide ships of every size with better long-distance communications and situational awareness.
A new record distance has been set for the quantum teleportation of information over optical fibers. Researchers working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) claim to have transmitted the quantum information carried in light particles over 100 km, four times farther than previously achieved.
BAE Systems is in the
process of developing bone conduction technology for use by soldiers
on the battlefield. The helmet-based system will leverage the same
basic technology as that found in commercial bone amplifying
headphones, and should have the effect of allowing soldiers to hear
comms over the loudest battlefield noises.
We've seen a number of technologies that speak on behalf of paralyzed
people who are unable to do so. While some of these utilize cues as
subtle as eye movements,
the fact is that many severely paralyzed patients are unable to manage
even those. That's why researchers at Britain's Loughborough University
have created a system that speaks words based on the user's breathing.
Like many people who try (not) to use a mobile phone while mobile in an
auto, I have sound- and device-management issues. That's why I welcomed
the chance to try out the Parrot MINIKIT Neo 2 HD, a sleek hands-free
calling and speaker system that uses either Bluetooth or NFC to connect
up to two mobile devices at a time. Useable with or without its app and
either iOS or Android devices, it's a good choice for those who can't
afford a complicated stereo overhaul for their car and need to support
multiple phone operating systems.
Wi-Fi technology has helped bring a world of information to our fingertips via mobile devices, but a new certification program from the Wi-Fi Alliance aims to make the technology a bit more local. The Wi-Fi Aware protocol is designed to extend Wi-Fi's capabilities to improve on current proximity-based functions without the need for cellular, Wi-Fi hotspot or GPS connections.