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Communications

The WISPER routers (top left), the WISPER dispenser (middle) and base station modules (bot...

Even though firefighting is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, firefighters still communicate using analog radio signals, that can be blocked by concrete walls. This means that, upon venturing into a burning building, a firefighter might have no way of letting their commander know their present location – a situation that could prove deadly, if they ended up trapped or injured. In order to address the situation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate has created a new three-part system that lets fire crews keep track of the location and well-being of every member of their team, all the time.  Read More

The HomePlug GP standard allows EVs to communicate over the Internet via their charging po...

Electric vehicles (EVs) may be set to charge smarter following an announcement by the HomePlug Powerline Alliance at Computex 2011. The body responsible for the compliance and certification of the HomePlug powerline communications standard said that German automakers Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche and Volkswagen have thrown their support behind the HomePlug GP (Green PHY) standard that will allow electric vehicles to be connected via existing home electrical wiring to a home network or send and receive data over the internet via the vehicles' charging ports. This will not only allow EVs to intelligently take advantage of lower cost, off-peak electricity, but will also allow for remote checks of the vehicle's systems and battery condition.  Read More

Fraunhofer's Marc Gayer, Manfred Lutzky and Markus Schnell (L to R), developed AAC-ELD to ...

Engineers from one of the main players responsible for the development of the MP3 codec, the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS, have taken a similar approach in an effort to provide telephone calls and video conferences with sound quality approaching that of direct communication, while at the same time cutting delay times that often sees both speakers talking over each other. Their solution is a new audio coding technology called Enhanced Low Delay Advanced Audio Coding – or AAC-ELD – that they claim results in long-distance communications that appear almost as if the participants are sitting across from each other.  Read More

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

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