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Black Diamond's MTS: lightweight, ultra-rugged wearable computing and communications kit

Military computer manufacturer Black Diamond Advanced Technology has released its ultra-rugged wearable PC and communications kit as a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) system. Adaptable to a range of specialist missions, the Modular Tactical System (MTS) system is - as the name suggests - not just a pack containing a computer. Components are split-up are and integrated into different parts of the soldier's uniform and equipment so that mobility isn't compromised, and it's designed to make the transition from computer operation to direct combat engagement in seconds.  Read More

Professor Jurg Leuthold led an experiment that achieved a data transmission rate of 26 ter...

With video content consuming ever more bandwidth, the need for faster data transmission rates has never been greater. Now a team of scientists at Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are claiming a world record in data transmission with the successful encoding of data at a rate of 26 terabits per second on a single laser beam and transmitting it over a distance of 50 km (31 miles). The scientists claim this is the largest data volume ever transported on a laser beam and enables the transmission of 700 DVD's worth of content in just one second.  Read More

Soldiers at the recent Fort Bragg exercise, in which they trialled tactical smartphones (P...

U.S. paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division recently took part in a field exercise at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in which they experimented with a tool not normally used by the armed forces – a smartphone. And no, they weren’t playing Farmville. Instead, they were using custom phones running custom apps, to coordinate the swarming of a mock village and the capture of a high-value target. Judging by how the exercise went, smartphones could soon be showing up on battlefields everywhere.  Read More

The Elfoid P1 is a combination mobile phone and mini telepresence robot, designed to give ...

We can’t say we weren’t warned. Last August, Japan’s Eager Co. Ltd. announced that it was planning to begin sales of the Telenoid R1 telepresence robot in October. The toddler-sized ghostly-looking robot is intended to be a physical stand-in for a remote user during internet communications, mirroring that person’s movements via real-time face tracking software on their computer – their voice also comes out of the device. Well, Telenoid now has a little sibling. The Elfoid P1, as it’s called, was unveiled at a press conference yesterday in Japan, and is intended to serve as a combination mobile phone and mini telepresence robot.  Read More

IASUS Concepts' NT3 is a throat mic intended for use when talking on the phone while drivi...

It’s not often that one hears about World War I technology being used with today’s mobile communications devices, yet that’s the case with IASUS Concepts’ new NT3 throat mic headset. Throat microphones were originally developed for use by military pilots and tank drivers, as they picked up vocal vibrations directly from the wearer’s larynx, and were unaffected by extraneous sounds. IASUS still makes throat mics for military use, but the NT3 is designed for use when talking on the phone while driving a convertible ... that said, you could probably also press it into service next time you bring your Sopwith Camel out of the barn.  Read More

An example of the potential of body-to-body networks with live streaming of video at a con...

At a major sporting event I attended recently, it proved impossible to get a connection on a mobile network that was swamped as many of the 100,000 strong crowd attempted to contact friends and family. While the influx of calls was the result of a thrilling draw, it highlighted the weakness of overloaded communications networks that would struggle in the event of a disaster in a heavily populated area. A new system being developed by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast could turn this weakness into a strength by allowing members of the public carrying wearable sensors to form the backbone of new mobile Internet networks.  Read More

Marcel van de Burgwal's multiprocessor microchip

There was a time not so very long ago when people who wanted satellite TV or radio required dishes several feet across. Those have since been replaced by today’s compact dishes, but now it looks like even those might be on the road to obsolescence. A recent PhD graduate from The Netherlands’ University of Twente has designed a microchip that allows for a grid array of almost-flat antennae to receive satellite signals.  Read More

The SMAVNET robot

Swarms of flying robots might sound a bit ominous to those of us anxiously awaiting the inevitable robot uprising that will see humanity drop a notch on the scale of planetary dominance. But swarms of flying robots are just what a project at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland is working to create. However, instead of keeping an eye on prisoners in a robot-run internment camp, the Swarming Micro Air Vehicle Network (SMAVNET) Project aims to develop robot swarms that can be deployed in disaster areas to rapidly create communication networks for rescuers.  Read More

Prof. Ronald Arkin (left) and research engineer Alan Wagner with their hide-and-seek-playi...

Robots can perform an ever-increasing number of human-like actions, but until recently, lying wasn’t one of them. Now, thanks to researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, they can. More accurately, the Deep South robots have been taught “deceptive behavior.” This might sound like the recipe for a Philip K. Dick-esque disaster, but it could have practical uses. Robots on the battlefield, for instance, could use deception to elude captors. In a search and rescue scenario, a robot might have to be deceptive to handle a panicking human. For now, however, the robots are using their new skill to play a mean game of hide-and-seek.  Read More

Hearing-impaired get help for Internet phone calls

According to United Nations’ World Health Organization, there are approximately 278 million people worldwide suffering from moderate to profound hearing loss. It is not surprising that many of those people have particular difficulty with telephone communications and programs through the Internet. When telephone conversations are conducted via computer networks using the Internet Protocol, ambient noise and acoustic echoes often impede the conversation. For the hearing impaired, it is especially problematic - most of the time they need to increase the volume to try and follow the conversation. However, by doing so, the background noises are also intensified and signal frequencies become virtually intolerable. In response to this growing problem, developers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Oldenburg have come up with a digital solution.  Read More

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