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Communications

Artist's concept of OPALS in operation (Image: NASA)

While the International Space Station may be mankind’s outpost for the conquest of space, it still leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to a decent YouTube connection. That’s because, for all its sophistication, the station’s communications system is still based on 1960s radio technology and has all the bandwidth of a soda straw. That changed this week as NASA took a step into the video age with the test of its Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) demonstrator, which saw a laser used to beam a video to Earth in seconds instead of the usual minutes.  Read More

The first B-52 with Boeing's CONECT communications system has been rolled out to the US Ai...

The US Air Force has introduced its first B-52 bomber to be equipped with Boeing's Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT) system. Boeing says that the system provides increased situational awareness for B-52 crews. It is hoped that it will contribute towards the B-52's continued use for many years.  Read More

Yaliny is offering inexpensive satellite-based phone calls and data coverage anywhere in t...

Visit an area outside of your cell network, take a vacation in a different country, or play a certain augmented reality game requiring you to have a constant high speed data connection, and congratulations, you’ll have an instant reminder of the current limitations of cellular networks. The Russian company Yaliny ambitiously hopes to help consumers circumvent traditional providers with Yaliny’s own network of satellites and an intermediary device called the Yaliny Point which will work with most smartphones, all for a promised US$150 for the hardware and $10 monthly thereafter.  Read More

SINTEF's jacket displays scrolling text messages on its sleeve

It's important for firefighters or members of disaster response crews to stay in touch with one another during operations, which is of course why they carry two-way radios. Researchers from Norway's SINTEF group, however, are developing a system that could help even more. It allows users to receive and read text messages hands-free, via their jackets.  Read More

The technology could allow antennas to fit seamlessly into the skins of aircraft and other...

Anyone who’s ever needed a pair of thick eyeglasses has a firm idea that lenses are the one thing where form follows function. However, BAE Systems and Queen Mary’s School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science in London have put paid to that idea with a flat lens that works like a conventional curved lens, yet without any reduction in bandwidth performance. Using a combination of composite metamaterials and transformational optics for the first time, they have created a lens that's able to bend electromagnetic waves, yet isn't bound by its shape for its function.  Read More

DARPA plans to re-purpose RQ-7 Shadow UAVs to provide even the most remote US forces with ...

The Defence Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) plans to extend connectivity for forward military units with the use of small Wi-Fi-hosting drones. The aim of the Mobile Hotspots project is to provide a reliable, mobile source of bandwidth to all echelons of the military on a scale unthinkable using current methods.  Read More

OCHO Pad connects objects to people

Wireless technology and mobile gadgets have made it easier for us to track and control our personal belongings. One of the latest technologies being developed for this market connects not only objects, but also the people who use them. OCHO Pad is a wired-up tray that uses NFC or infrared technology not only to identify keys, wallets, or phones, but also to mediate communication between members of a household.  Read More

Globr is an instant messaging app that allows speakers of different languages to chat

The internet has connected and flattened the world in ways previously unimaginable. Coupled with ever more seamless translation tools, it provides the ability to communicate across borders and languages. Now, a new instant messaging tool is looking to make communication for speakers of different languages even easier.  Read More

Real-time data about slippery patches on the road is used to warn nearby vehicles nearby

Volvo has a history of shaping many safety features we take for granted today, regardless of what brand of car we drive. From the first introduction of the safety cage in 1944 and pioneering laminated windshields that same year, Volvo has always prided itself as a safety trailblazer. Now the Swedish automotive company is further developing its cloud-based infotainment system as part of a safety-focused pilot project.  Read More

The Vodafone Foundation has unveiled a portable mobile network contained in an 11 kg (24.3...

Mobile phone networks are a key means of communication when humanitarian efforts need to be coordinated at times of disaster. If infrastructure has been damaged, however, using the existing mobile networks may not be an option. The Vodafone Foundation's Instant Network Mini is a highly portable mobile network in a backpack that can be deployed in just 10 minutes.  Read More

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