Thursday 26 February 2015

xray specs

Most long term readers will be aware that I have an interest in technology and research. This is a hangover from my working life in academia. The climate, environment and electronics are amongst my main interests, though as usual I have been known to go off on a tangent.

Do you remember those spoof advertisements in the comics for 'xray spectacles'. Well, a new bit of research has created the equivalent to xray specs. In a way its very much like the laser pen brought about the other popular item from scifi films on television – the ray gun!

This is a new form of 'X Ray' vision without the need to actually use xrays! Essentially two or more small robots can be deployed. The robots will then communicate with each other. They carefully plot their respective positions on the ground. You might think that there is nothing new in that. However, now the robots have the effective ability to see inside buildings for instance and plot the internal structure. At the same time the signal passing between the robots is used to map the terrain. Is also analysed to detect the tiny variations in the signal. The tiny variations can be used to plot internal structures through other structures such as external walls.

But the robots can also detect internal movement and they can also detect differences between flesh, brick and wood for instance. This technology offers many opportunities for use. Such as searching in buildings that have collapsed in an earth quake. It can also be used for security within buildings and on vehicles passing through our ports.

The technology uses everyday WiFi signals which many of us have access to, through the smartphone we carry in our pockets. The robots can also plot the location of other WiFi sources within the immediate area. Which will help with locating people trapped in buildings.

I now know who to ask next time I can't find where I put my phone! I'm also looking forward to the arrival of the ultimate form of transportation from Startrek the 'particle transporter'. Beam me up Scottie.

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