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Communications

Space

NASA's OPALS will use lasers to improve comms with the ISS

In internet engineering, there’s a problem called the “last half mile," which looks at how to connect users to high-speed fiber optic networks without going through old-fashioned copper wires that can slow data down to a crawl. NASA has more of a “last 250 miles” problem in making data connections with the International Space Station (ISS). The upcoming Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) project is an optical technology demonstration for using lasers to improve communications with the ISS and other spacecraft in hopes of boosting connection speeds by a factor of 10 to 100.Read More

Ford brings other cars' brake lights onto your dashboard

The Ford Motor Company recently tested its experimental “Electronic Brake Light” system, as part of the 4-year Safe Intelligent Mobility - Testfield Germany (simTD) joint industry research project. The technology causes a dashboard light to illuminate in your car, when a vehicle in front of you applies its brakes. Read More

Space

PayPal Galactic – don't leave Earth without it

PayPal has teamed with the SETI Institute and the Space Tourism Society to start preparations for the coming upheavals of Solar System commerce. Having whetted their teeth on global commerce, PayPal is looking forward to the challenge of figuring out how to let John or Jill check their balance when they are living on Mars or visiting the Orbital Technologies commercial space station. It's answer is PayPal Galactic.Read More

Automotive

Mercedes to launch car-to-car communications this year

Vehicle-to-vehicle communications are a fundamental pillar of autonomous, self-driving cars. Once vehicles can exchange data with each other and the greater driving infrastructure, they'll be able to "see" and adapt to driving obstacles more completely, preventing accidents and delivering more efficient driving. Mercedes plans to be the first automaker to bring a Car-to-X vehicle-to-vehicle communications system to market.Read More

Science

Conversation coach software works like a social simulator

Whether it’s a job interview or a hot date, there are certain interpersonal situations where we really want to be at our best. In some cases, we may even run through possible conversational scenarios in our heads beforehand, in order to “train” for the big event. The problem is, those imaginary interactions can’t provide us with unbiased feedback on what we could stand to improve. MIT’s new MACH (My Automated Conversation coacH) software, however, does exactly that. Read More

Military

DARPA developing digital airstrikes

The popular image of modern warfare is the digital battlefield where cyber soldiers have Terminator-like video displays and can call in an airstrike with the shine of a laser beam. While information technologies are revolutionizing the military, when it comes to calling in Close Air Support (CAS), it’s still World War One – where a misread or misheard grid reference can end up with soldiers being hit by their own artillery. DARPA’s Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) program hopes to improve this.Read More

Automotive

Intelligent Transport System to improve safety of railway crossings

In the quest for smarter and safer transportation networks, automakers have been working on communication systems that use wireless technologies to share information between vehicles and infrastructure, such as traffic lights, road works, intersections and stop signs. The potential applications of these vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) systems are constantly being expanded, and while GM has been working to bring cyclists and pedestrians into the mix, a team from La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, is looking to improve safety at railway crossings by developing a system that enables communication between trains and road vehicles.Read More

Outdoors

SPOT reveals satellite phone for wilderness emergencies

Emergency rescue beacons from SPOT have been slowly but surely moving toward a satellite device that provides seamless real-time communication around the world – in other words, a satellite phone. The company has moved from pre-written messaging to custom type-and-send messaging, and with the new SPOT Global Phone, it now adds capabilities for real-time voice. The phone keeps you connected with friends, family and rescue agents even when you're standing in the middle of a roadless, fly-in wilderness in Alaska. Read More

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