Gaining access to your gym or office building could soon be as simple as waving a hand at the front door. A Hunsville, Ala.-based company called IDair is developing a system that can scan and identify a fingerprint from nearly 20 feet away. Coupled with other biometrics, it could soon allow security systems to grant or deny access from a distance, without requiring users to stop and scan a fingerprint, swipe an ID card, or otherwise lose a moment dealing with technology.
The Air Force’s X-37B--its secret robotic space plane that’s been orbiting the Earth on a mission shrouded in mystery for more than a year--landed safely in the wee hours Saturday morning at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Orbital Test Vehicle 2 (OTV-2) is the second X-37B test vehicle to successfully complete an orbital mission and autonomously return to Earth, following sister spacecraft OTV-1’s 225-day mission in 2010.
The latest TOP500 ranking of the world’s fastest supercomputers is out this morning, and America is (finally) back on top. After nearly three years trailing supercomputers abroad--Japan’s K computer reigned supreme for most of last year, with China’s Tianhe-1A close behind--the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has stolen the top spot via Sequoia, a 16.32 petaflops (that’s a quadrillion floating point operations per second) IBM machine built from 96 racks containing 98,304 computing nodes and 1.6 million cores.
During the Cold War, both sides liberally used the "bug"--the remote listening device--to surreptitiously get wind of what the other side was up to by listening in on a room, a building, or, in the case of East Berlin, an entire city. But in America's cooling war in Afghanistan, U.S. forces may undertake what could be the biggest bugging operation of all time, planting sensors all over the entire country that could feed the U.S. military intelligence from inside that country for the next two decades.
If you’re a soldier suspecting an ambush, you probably don’t have much time to spare, and you definitely can’t afford to be carrying any unnecessary weight. That’s why so much military tech involves shrinking whatever’s portable, and why, now, a company has thrown its radar-in-a-backpack into the ring.
Metamaterials research has generally focused on media with strange or unique electromagnetic properties, like the ability to bend light or sound in an unnatural way, but materials scientists at Northwestern University are experimenting with an entirely new kind of material with unique mechanical properties. A team there has designed materials with “negative compressibility” that in theory will compress when they are pulled and expand when they are compressed.
President Obama's nationwide push for innovation in manufacturing reaches across agencies from the National Science Foundation to the Department of Energy, and now it's reaching all the way into the Pentagon where $60 million is being set aside for investment in 3-D printing technologies.
Agents in the war on terror attempt to identify unknown persons each and every day, but technology developed to battle criminality around the globe could soon be identifying persons of questionable identity going back centuries. Facial recognition software designed for various security and law enforcement applications is being adapted by art historians at the University of California to identify unknown faces in portraits.
Salon's interesting takeaway from last week's big reveal of the Federal Aviation Administration's list of certified drone operators cleared to fly unmanned aerial systems in U.S. airspace: the biggest drone users in the U.S. aren't law enforcement agencies, but universities.
Like one of those James Bond villains that just won’t die, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s missile hunting laser weapon is once again battling its way back from the boneyard thanks to the “emerging” missile threat on the Korean peninsula. The House Armed Services Committee’s Strategic Forces panel is asking for roughly $75 million in next year’s Pentagon budget to keep the Airborne Laser program intact just in case North Korea turns out to have an intercontinental ballistic missile that works.