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Backpack-sized mini-mapper captures intel in tight spots

March 27, 2013 7:44 am | News | Comments

Engineers have recently developed a portable mapping system—carried in a backpack—that can be used to automatically create annotated physical maps of locations where GPS is not available, such as in underground areas and on ships. The system improves upon algorithms once developed for robots—which are not practical for all environments—and has a built-in allowance for normal human movement, like walking.

Magnetic nano-droplet discovery presents telecom opportunity

March 20, 2013 5:06 pm | News | Comments

A team that includes researchers from Sweden has successfully created a magnetic soliton, a spin torque-generated nano-droplet that could lead to technological innovation in such areas as mobile telecommunications. This construct was first theorized 35 years ago and scientists have long believed that they exist in magnetic environments, but until now they had never been observed

Project aims to manage traffic in California using data

March 19, 2013 10:56 am | by Gordy Slack, CITRIS | News | Comments

Two California urban areas have the dubious distinction of being tied for second-worst traffic in the country. Commuters spend 61 hours per year being stuck in traffic in the Bay Area and in Los Angeles. A new project called Connected Corridors, led by University of California, Berkeley, is developing new technologies that will help Caltrans gather and analyze traffic data to make real-time whole-system traffic management recommendations

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NASA’s first laser communication system ready for launch

March 15, 2013 10:33 am | by Dewayne Washington, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

The space terminal for the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD), NASA's first high-data-rate laser communication system, was recently integrated onto the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. LLCD will demonstrate laser communications from lunar orbit to Earth at six times the rate of the best modern-day advanced radio communication systems.

Researchers find German-made spyware across globe

March 13, 2013 5:28 pm | by Raphael Satter, Associated Press | News | Comments

A Canadian research center said Wednesday that it had identified 25 different countries that host servers linked to FinFisher, a Trojan horse program which can dodge anti-virus protections to steal data, log keystrokes, eavesdrop on Skype calls, and turn microphones and webcams into live surveillance devices. This finding doesn't necessarily mean those countries' governments are using FinFisher, but it is an indication of the spyware's reach.

Steganography is no laughing matter

March 12, 2013 3:47 pm | News | Comments

Encrypting a message with a strong code is the only safe way to keep your communications secret, but it will be obvious to anyone seeing such a message that the sender is hiding something. Steganography, on the other hand, can hide a secret message in plain sight, using binary numbers, for example. Researchers, however, now suggest that instead of using a humdrum text document and modifying it in a codified way to embed a secret message, correspondents could use a joke to hide their true meaning.

New NIST time code to boost reception for radio-controlled clocks

March 8, 2013 3:31 pm | News | Comments

NIST is changing the way it broadcasts time signals that synchronize radio-controlled "atomic" clocks and watches to official U.S. time. This new time broadcast protocol will not only improve the performance of new radio-controlled clocks and watches, but will encourage the development of new timekeeping products that were not practical with the old broadcast system because of local interference.

Computer scientists use music to lure students to STEM majors

March 8, 2013 10:27 am | News | Comments

In effort to show students the opportunities available in science-based career paths, Jennifer Burg and her colleagues at Wake Forest University decided to use music projects to help students in lower-level classes latch onto highly technical concepts in digital media. Making music is the main objective, but Burg’s ultimate goal is to get them to understand how the underlying technology works—and to love it so much they decide on a STEM career.

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Curiosity sleeps as solar blast races toward Mars

March 7, 2013 9:47 am | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

NASA’s Martian rover hunkered down Wednesday after the sun unleashed a blast that raced toward Mars. While Curiosity was designed to withstand punishing space weather, its handlers decided to power it down as a precaution since it suffered a recent computer problem. While the hardy rover slept, the Opportunity rover and two NASA spacecraft circling overhead carried on with normal activities.

White House: Cell phone unlocking should be legal

March 5, 2013 10:07 am | News | Comments

An Obama administration adviser says the White House believes smartphone and tablet users should be allowed to unlock their phones and use the devices on the network of their choosing. The administration's opinion on the matter also goes for tablets, since they are becoming similar to smartphones.

Smart “stickers” let you find things by phone

March 1, 2013 10:43 am | by Peter Svensson, AP Technology Writer | News | Comments

Jimmy Buchheim's Davie, Fla.-based company, Stick-N-Find Technologies, wants to give people a way to find things, whether it's keys, wallets, TV remotes, or cat collars. There's no real trick to sending out a radio signal and having a phone pick it up. That's been done before. What makes Buchheim’s Stick-N-Find practical is a new radio technology known as Bluetooth Low Energy, which drastically reduces the battery power needed to send out a signal.

Companies struggle to popularize mobile money

March 1, 2013 10:25 am | by Peter Svensson, AP Technology Writer | News | Comments

At the world's largest cellphone trade show in Barcelona this week, the 70,000 attendees are encouraged to use their cellphones—instead their keycards—to get past the turnstiles at the door. But very few people took the chance to do that. The process of setting up the phone to act as a keycard proved too much of a hassle. It's a poor omen for an industry that's eager to have the cellphone replace both tickets and credit cards.

Connecting the quantum dots

February 26, 2013 12:51 pm | News | Comments

Recent research offers a new spin on using nanoscale semiconductor structures to build faster computers and electronics. Literally. Researchers have revealed a new method that better preserves the units necessary to power lightning-fast electronics, known as qubits. Hole spins, rather than electron spins, can keep quantum bits in the same physical state up to 10 times longer than before, the report finds.

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College tests fingerprint purchasing technology

February 22, 2013 10:28 am | by Amber Hunt, Associated Press | News | Comments

Futurists have long proclaimed the coming of a cashless society, where dollar bills and plastic cards are replaced by fingerprint and retina scanners. What they probably didn't see coming was its debut not in Silicon Valley but at a small state college in remote western South Dakota. Two shops on the campus are performing one of the world's first experiments in “biocryptology”, a mix of biometrics—using physical traits for identification—and cryptology—the study of encoding private information.

CDC app lets you solve disease outbreaks at home

February 19, 2013 2:34 pm | by MIKE STOBBE - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

You may not be a disease detective, but now you can play one at home. The nation's public health agency has released a free app for the iPad called "Solve the Outbreak." It allows users to run through fictional outbreaks and make decisions: Do you quarantine the village? Talk to people who are sick?

Professor brings access to previously untapped higher frequency bandwidth

February 19, 2013 8:26 am | News | Comments

Society's increasing technology use and data consumption is causing an information bottleneck, congesting airwave frequencies and sending engineers searching for access to higher capacity bandwidths. Until now, no technology has existed to tap into and successfully use these frequencies, which span 30 to 100 GHz.

Quantum cryptography put to work for electric grid security

February 15, 2013 11:25 am | News | Comments

Recently, a Los Alamos National Laboratory quantum cryptography (QC) team successfully completed the first-ever demonstration of securing control data for electric grids using quantum cryptography. The project, says experts, shows that quantum cryptography is compatible with electric-grid control communications, providing strong security assurances rooted in the laws of physics, without introducing excessive delays in data delivery.

Engineers show feasibility of superfast materials

February 13, 2013 1:44 pm | News | Comments

University of Utah engineers demonstrated it is feasible to build the first organic materials that conduct electricity on their edges, but act as an insulator inside. These materials, called organic topological insulators, could shuttle information at the speed of light in quantum computers and other high-speed electronic devices.

Metamaterials provide active control of slow-light devices

February 13, 2013 10:49 am | News | Comments

Wireless communications and optical computing could soon get a significant boost in speed, thanks to “slow light” and specialized metamaterials through which it travels. Researchers have made the first demonstration of rapidly switching on and off “slow light” in specially designed materials at room temperature. This work opens the possibility to design novel, chip-scale, ultrafast devices for applications in terahertz wireless communications and all-optical computing.

Creating new quantum building blocks

February 8, 2013 8:00 am | News | Comments

Scientists have long dreamed of creating a quantum computer—a device rooted in the bizarre phenomena that transpire at the level of the very small, where quantum mechanics rules the scene. It is believed that such new computers could process currently unsolvable problems in seconds. Researchers have tried using various quantum systems, such as atoms or ions, as the basic, transistor-like units in simple quantum computation devices. Now Caltech researchers are laying the groundwork for an on-chip optical quantum network.

For superionic material, smaller is better

February 7, 2013 10:07 am | News | Comments

A material that could enable faster memory chips and more efficient batteries can switch between high and low ionic conductivity states much faster than previously thought, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University researchers have determined. The key is to use extremely small chunks of it.

Corrosive behavior? There's an app for that

February 4, 2013 7:53 am | News | Comments

It may not be as popular as Angry Birds, but the Corrosion iPhone app developed by University of Toronto engineering student Jason Tam is finding a grateful audience among professional engineers and engineering students.

U.S. satellite lost in failed launch from Pacific

February 1, 2013 4:44 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Sea Launch AG says a U.S. communications satellite was lost after a booster rocket carrying it into space failed shortly after its launch from a floating platform in the Pacific. The company said in a statement Friday the Intelsat 27 satellite was lost 40 seconds after the launch due to the failure of the Zenit-3SL rocket.

New device electrically steers and focuses terahertz waves

January 29, 2013 7:53 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Japan and Germany have recently demonstrated a device that can focus and steer terahertz beams electrically. Based on an array of metal cantilevers which can be micromechanically actuated by electrostatic forces, the device can create tunable gratings that may be crucial in future terahertz wavelength communication systems.

Report: Cuba using undersea fiber-optic cable

January 21, 2013 2:15 pm | by PETER ORSI - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Cuba apparently has finally switched on the first undersea fiber-optic cable linking it to the outside world nearly two years after its arrival, according to analysis by a company that monitors global Internet use. In a report posted Sunday on the website of Renesys, author Doug Madory wrote that Cuba began using the ALBA-1 cable on Jan. 14.

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