Business

  • Biometric vending machines come to the U.S.

    Trials are underway for next generation vending machines; users would be able to link their thumbprint to a credit card, so all they would have to do to buy a bag of chips would be their thumbprint on the reader, then off they go

  • High-altitude surveillance UAV completes maiden voyage

    The first flight of a stratospheric unmanned aircraft — the Global Observer — designed to provide uninterrupted surveillance over any point on the globe was completed successfully; the company’s CEO says that in the 20th century, conventional airplanes opened the lower atmosphere to practical use and satellites did the same for space — “Global Observer soon will establish the stratosphere as a valuable and practical area of operation”

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  • Indian government: Google, Skype will follow BlackBerry in being forced to open networks

    The Indian government, in a meeting last month with representatives of network operators and Internet service providers, said that after RIM was forced to open BlackBerry-based communication to government eavesdropping, Google and Skype would be asked to do the same — or face bans on some of their services in India; It is unlikely that the Indian government is interested in Google’s search business, but about twenty million Indians are active on Google’s social networking service, Orkut, which encourages them to communicate with each other over Google Talk

  • U.S., too, uneasy with encrypted communication

    The U.S. said it hoped RIM and foreign governments would find a compromise over BlackBerry encryption, but successive U.S. administrations tried to limit the export of encrypted technologies so U.S. spy agencies would have unfettered access to government and private communications abroad; until 1996 encryption at the level commonly in use today was classified by U.S. export regulations as “munitions”

  • 3D, interactive X-ray to offer dramatic improvement in security scans

    The latest X-ray scanners can glean information about the atomic or molecular weight of a substance, and so help distinguish between materials, but the results are crude; the best they can manage is to show metal objects in one color, organic materials in another, and everything else in a third color; a new technique — called kinetic depth effect X-ray imaging, or KDEX — builds up a 3D image of the object which can be rotated and viewed from a wide range of angles

  • Obama panel recommends active U.S. backing for clean coal

    A panel appointed by President Obama calls for an active U.S. government role in promoting carbon capture and storage, or CCS, a largely undeveloped technology that aims to prevent carbon emissions blamed for global warming from entering the atmosphere; panel recommends government’s consideration of accepting liability over carbon storage sites for thousands of years to come

  • New baggage screening system from Morpho Detection evaluated

    Unlike most baggage-screening systems that create two-dimensional images of objects inside luggage, the CTX 9800 DSi scanners from Morpho Detection create three-dimensional images that can be digitally manipulated by personnel when a bag is deemed to be suspicious; the machines also use advanced software to detect suspicious items; Mineta San Jose International Airport once used 28 machines to process 1,800 bags an hour, but the new system will be able to process the same number of bags using eight machines and require fewer employees to supervise the process; the technology reduces reliance on human observation and interaction with the bags; for the majority of bags, employee contact is only required when a piece of luggage is placed on or taken off the conveyor belt

  • 100 percent air-cargo screening is going smoothly -- so far

    On 1 August a law mandating 100 percent screening of cargo transported on passenger aircraft took effect; the shipping industry says that, so far, are off to a good start; experts point out that August is relatively slow shipping month, and that the real test will come in mid-September, when the busy air cargo shipping season begins

  • How to move forward on nationwide wireless emergency-response network

    One of the lessons of 9/11 and Katrina was that there was a need for a nationwide wireless public safety and emergency-response network; trouble is, politics, arguments about spectrum allocation, business competition, and technology have all contributed to holding things up; one observer says that the way forward is for government to make a national emergency response network a wireless priority and devote dedicated, unencumbered spectrum to it

  • Autogyro airborne surveillance vehicle for law enforcement, military unveiled

    The two-seater Scorpion S3 autogyro has been designed for the law enforcement and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) markets; the Scorpion S3 uses an unpowered rotor in autorotation to develop lift, and a gas turbine Alison B17 engine-powered propeller to provide thrust; the design will reduce costs for fleet operators by 75 percent while also reducing their carbon footprint by up to 80 percent compared to a conventional medium-sized gas turbine helicopter

  • LaserCard to supply additional optical security cards for Italy's Carta d'Identita Elettronica

    The optical security media cards from Mountain View, California-based LaserCard are already used in the U.S. Green Card, the Saudi Arabian and Angolan National ID Cards, the Costa Rica Foreign Resident Card, the Hungarian Professional Driver License, and vehicle registration programs for three state authorities in India; Italy used them in its Carta d’Identita Elettronica, and it orders more of them

  • DHS seeking unattended sensors technology for border surveillance

    DHS is seeking information from companies who can build unattended ground sensors that can detect and locate people, boats, or vehicles moving along rivers, roads, and paths in dense forests; DHS says it needs this capability for border surveillance to monitor those entering the United States illegally in rough terrain

  • VoiceKeyID from Porticus

    Relative to other biometric technologies, the pace of adoption of voice biometrics has been rather slow; this may now change owing to an innovative solution from a Massachusetts-based company; Porticus offers a voice biometric authentication application which is not only robust and inexpensive, but which is uniquely suitable to an economy - and society - in which reliance on mobile devices is growing; there are some twelve vendors — none of them American — who offer voice identification software; Porticus, however, is the only company that has developed voice identification software that resides in the device itself rather than on the network; the solution also has intriguing military and intelligence applications

  • Surge in counterfeit items in Pentagon's supplies

    The U.S. Defense Department’s supply chain is vulnerable to the infiltration of counterfeit parts, potentially jeopardizing the lives of American soldiers; government investigators examined 387 companies and organizations which supply the U.S. Department of Defense, and found 39 percent of these companies and organizations encountered counterfeit electronics during the four-year period 2005-8; the number of counterfeit incidents grew from 3,868 in 2005 to 9,356 in 2008

  • Brite-Strike's LED-technology gloves saving officers' lives

    The Massachusetts company’s new product aims to help save officers’ lives: it is a pair of tactical, fingerless gloves that have a translucent, reflective, plastic octagonal stop sign on the palm, into which Brite-Strike puts a high-power LED that flashes with a range of up to a quarter of a mile; on the back of the glove are reflective translucent green strips, with two LEDs