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Communications

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

Motorola's new Bluetooth earpiece designed for secure communications

Motorola has launched three new "mission critical" communications devices aimed at law enforcement and first responder applications. The MVX1000 in-car digital video system and APX P25 two-way radio series are joined by the company's first encrypted Bluetooth earpiece designed for secure communications.  Read More

Telenoid R1 mirrors the movements of a remote user

It’s been suggested that one of the main reasons video calling hasn’t taken off is because a lot of the time people want to be heard and not seen. A new robot would allow callers to remain unseen, while creating a physical presence of the caller for the receiver of the call. Developed at Osaka University in collaboration with the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR), – the creators of Robovie II – Telenoid R1 is a portable robot that is designed to relay a remote user’s presence during long distance communications by mirroring their movements.  Read More

Online surveillance is now easier than ever (Image: VoxEfx via Flickr)

If it hasn't become apparent to you yet, you are living in an age when your every online step is being monitored. The notion of communications privacy has been steamrolled in the interests of security, and the occasional tiny chance we get to peek back at the people who make it their business to watch us is truly frightening. Two new stories from America this week give a rare glimpse behind the curtain at just how closely you're being watched, and by whom.  Read More

The QUIETPRO   Intelligent Hearing System protects users from loud noises, while allowing ...

It’s a problem as old as the protective earplug itself - if you block out the loud, harmful noises, you also block out the quieter sounds, such as peoples’ voices... that is, unless you’ve got a QUIETPRO+ Intelligent Hearing System stuck in your ears. The setup consists of a pair of fairly regular-looking in-ear plugs, wired iPod-style to a small electronic control unit. When the system detects a dangerously-loud noise, it automatically sends noise-canceling sound waves to the headset. When things are quiet, it amplifies sounds like human voices, so the user is actually able to hear better than they would without it.  Read More

Experimental setup for THz-pump and optical-probe measurements used by the researchers

It’s a sign of the times when the speed of electrons moving through wires is seen as pedestrian, but that’s increasingly the case as technology moves towards the new world of optical communication and computing. Optical communication systems that use the speed of light as the signal are still controlled and limited by electrical signaling at the end. But physicists have now discovered a way to use a gallium arsenide nanodevice as a signal processor at “terahertz” speeds that could help end the bottleneck.  Read More

Cathay Pacific to offer broadband on flights by 2012

Passengers boarding either a Cathay Pacific Airways or Dragonair jet in 2012 will be able to make use of broadband connectivity. This week, the airline confirmed an agreement with Panasonic Avionics Corporation to provide broadband access across its entire fleet with download speeds of up to 50Mbps (to the aircraft – not individual passengers), as well as call and data access for cell phones.  Read More

Faster, faster ... engineers are hoping to convert the wireless link between a cell phone ...

Electrical engineers from University of California San Diego (UCSD) are building the foundations for wireless networks of the future. Hoping to bring mass access to the the kind of high capacity, extremely low power wireless networks found only in expensive defense and satellite applications, the researchers are merging silicon chip technologies with sophisticated wireless communications tools in the millimeter and microwave range. This work, according to UCSD, could result in personal wireless networks that make current high-speed wireless connections feel slower than the dial-up connections from the early 1990s.  Read More

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