Tag: infrared

Canon cam can film in the dark

Canon cameraImaging company Canon said it has introduced a video camera which can see in the dark, just about.

The ME20F-SH is aimed at specialist applications including capturing wildlife at night, deep sea exploration, astronomy and surveillance.

The camera can be installed in a semi-permanent location and be controlled remotely. But because it’s a specialist unit, it will only be available to certain of Canon’s partners.

The camera allows you to capture colour full HD video without the need for infrared illumination.

The machine has a 2.26 megapixel CMOS sensor and a DIGIC DV4 processor – it includes Wide DR settings and Canon Log.

Canon did not say how much the lightweight device will cost.

Harvard finds new renewable energy source

Boffins at Harvard have worked out a way of using all that energy that the earth just chucks out into space on a daily basis.

At the moment, the Earth leaks 100 million gigawatts of energy into space where it does not even power a mobile phone.

Now researcher Professor Federico Capasso has worked out a way that you can generate power by emitting, not by absorbing light.

Dubbed an “emissive energy harvester” (EEH) it looks like a solar panel, except instead of catching incoming light, the cell releases infrared radiation to generate energy.

On paper the Harvard team has come up with two kinds of emissive energy harvesters.

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the first harvester, a thermal EEH device, consists of a “hot” plate at the temperature of the Earth, with a “cold” plate placed on top.

The cold plate is made of special material that can cool very efficiently by radiating heat to the sky. The heat differences between the plates can generate an average of 2.7 watts per square metr- or roughly .25 watts per square foot. This is extremely low for large-scale power generation.

The other idea which is more promising uses microscopic “rectenna”. The antenna emits the Earth’s infrared radiation toward the sky. This cools the electrons in the surrounding part of the circuit, forcing a current to flow to the antenna from the warmer diode. This hot/cool flow makes the antenna act as a resistor and produces a voltage.  This imbalance allows the creation of DC power.



The next stage is to develop new types of electronic components that can better generate power at low voltages or boost the overall voltage. However, it could be that this is going to save the world.

German VIP planes to get infrared countermeasures

US defence contractor Northrop Grumman has landed a rather interesting contract to equip a couple of civilian Airbus A319CJ aircraft with a top of the line infrared countermeasures system.

The $26 million contract should be finalised by March 2016 and then the specially modified “head of state” will enter German service, reports Motley Fool. Although Germany doesn’t exactly top the list of potential terrorist targets, it might be a good idea to have some countermeasures on board when Angela Merkel visits Athens and asks for her money back.

Northrop Grumman already won similar contracts to equip Boeings used by the leaders of Oman and Qatar, which should also come in quite handy when the people of these Gulf nations ask for their countries back. 

The AN/AAQ-24(V) is Northrop Grumman’s latest directional infrared countermeasures system. The company claims it can defeat any IR missile out there, although it is clear the threat comes from MANPADs in the wrong hands. It is capable of detecting and simultaneously jamming missiles in high clutter environments and it covers all current IR threat bands.

It is also available in laser based configurations, with added coolness.

TSA's wet dream to hit streets of New York

A mobile scanning device being trialled by the New York Police Department has come under fire from a leading privacy watchdog over concerns it could trample all over existing search laws.

The NYPD announced recently that it has been working on a scanner which uses infrared rays to detect for firearms hidden in their clothes from a safe distance.

There are worries that, because of the power of the van-mounted device, a lot of innocent bystanders will be subject to unwarranted spying from authorities.

The device – developed along with the Department of Defense – is currently only capable of detecting weapons from a distance of a few feet, but the plan is to increase this by up to 25 metres.

This means that a mobile unit could easily scan whole streets at a time.  Inevitably, this would also mean taking a peek under the clothes of any bystanders caught in the machine’s firing line.

US authorities have a history of using technology to spy on the public, with airport staff getting a chance to gawp at frequent flyers with the TSA’s own scanning kit. Aside from potential pervy applications this presents a real problem legally, essentially allowing police to perform a ‘virtual frisk’ without a suspect even being aware.

In the UK, which has a habit of following US trends, stop and search rules have historically been highly divisive, with many claiming that it is used to target those from ethnic minorities. With a powerful mobile scanner, police would be able to point at whoever they liked without having to confront them at all.

Privacy International spokesperson Emma Draper believes that the use of such technology has worrying implications.

“The NYPD’s plans to extend the range of the technology to 25 metres strongly suggests that this technology is ultimately intended for scanning entire streets, rather than targeting specific individuals,” she told TechEye.

“This would render the whole idea of ‘probable cause’ irrelevant – you would be subject to a virtual stop-and-search simply because you happened to walk past a scanner, without even knowing that your privacy had been infringed.” 
As with the introduction of any surveillance technology, the arguable pluses would need to be weighed up against the intrusion into personal privacy and liberties.

“Police departments need to think carefully before implementing new technologies,” Draper continued, “balancing the legitimate needs of law enforcement against the privacy rights of innocent citizens.

“At the moment, the vast majority of physical stop-and-searches performed by the NYPD find nothing incriminating.”

With the UK, and London in particular, seeing some of the highest densities of CCTV, it wouldn’t be a surprise if such monitoring equipment appeals to police departments here, too. 

She continued: “Police departments around the world are increasingly keen to adopt new technologies, and the British police are no exception.

“Yet there is very little transparency about the sort of equipment the police are buying and how they are using it, and it is still largely unclear whether the use of these new methods of surveillance by police officers is actually legal under existing communications interception legislation.”

RF, universal and customised 3D glasses, Toshiba 3D TV sets

3D has grown phenomenally since Avatar’s release in 2009 and if what we’ve seen from the Consumer Electronics Show is anything to go by 2011 will be another big year for 3D.

Freescale Semiconductor announced a partnership with RealD to develop new active 3D glasses technology that uses over-the-air synchronisation and advanced lens switching and filtering to overcome problems and high costs involved with standard infrared systems.

RealD is also attempting to develop 3D eyewear technology that can work universally for a multitude of TV systems, addressing a major flaw that has affected the 3D TV industry throughout 2010.

RealD developed a multi-protocol ASIC that allows 3D glasses to work via infrared or radio frequency (RF), including Bluetooth and RF4CE, the protocol being employed by Freescale. This will incorporate a programmable front end that can sync with a wide variety of branded 3D TVs, cutting out the need to by specialised proprietary glasses for each specific brand.

RealD said it is working closely with Freescale and Broadcom to bring in RF connectivity support and expects the new system to go into production in the second quarter, with developer kits being made available in the first quarter.

Xpand announced new high-definition 3D glasses of its own called Youinversal, which it claims are customised to the individual user and the environment they’re in. They make use of smartphone app, available initially for the iPhone and Android, which allows users to customise and optimise the glasses for their own eyes and the room they’re in. They’re expected to be available in April.

Rightware Oy announced Kanzi UI Solution, a 3D user interface technology that is is opening up for licensing. The product includes Kanzi Studio and Kanzi Engine, software that allow companies to design a user interface for their 3D content and systems.

DTS showed off a multi-platform 3D entertainment system that uses FiOS TV, the DTS Neo:X 11.1 surround sound system, an industry first, and a number of other platforms, including the Freebox from Lenovo and Free, Fujisu PCs, flat panel TVs from Skyworth, and mobile phones from Huawei and LG. DTS is promising that seeing and hearing 3D will never be the same again.

Of course, you’ll need  a new 3D TV for all of this 3D goodness, so Toshiba unveiled its 2011 lineup of high-definition 3Ds, led by a number of 3D models. Its 3D range will include the TL515 Series and UL610 Series.

The TL515 Series features full 1080p high-definition, LED panels with local dimming, 240Hz ClearScan technology and NetTV with Yahoo Widgets and built-in Wi-Fi. They’ll also make use of passive 3D glasses which don’t require power to operate. Sizes will include 32-inches, 42-inches, 47-inches, 55-inches and 65-inches, measuring diagonally. They’re expected to be available in March for a reasonable price, but exactly what that is was not revealed.

The UL610 Cinema Series is aimed at the higher end of the market, featuring full 1080p high-definition, a Quantum Black Panel with Fine Local Dimming, 480Hz ClearScan, NetTV with Yahoo Widgets, built-in Wi-Fi, Dynamic 3D, and a built-in sub-woofer. They also tout a Metal Blade design with an Illusion stand. Sizes will include 46-iunches, 55-inches and 65-inches, based on diagonal measurements. They’ll be available in April, most likely for a pretty penny.

Toshiba is also planning a number of non-3D TVs for 2011, including five LED-backlit series and three CCFL-backlit series, many of which will come with smart TV features. The company is also planning a glasses-free 3D TV for later in 2011, but it’s keeping the details on that tightly sealed.


Scientists use Wiimote to measure evaporation

While the recently released Kinect may be making gamers reconsider their loyalty to Nintendo’s Wii, there’s still some use left in swinging a motion controller around. Scientists are using the Wiimote to successfully measure evaporation.

The unusual approach was detailed in a paper in the Water Resources Research journal, where the inexpensive Wiimote replaced a costly pressure transducer. In the current economic climate such savings could prove significant for the meteorological industry, either that or it’s a sneaky way to edge Mario Kart into your day job.

The technique involved requires the Wiimote to track four floating infrared reflectors that are placed in water, in a similar way to how the controller tracks the hidden LEDs on the infrared sensor bar gamers stick on their TV.

Normally the pressure transducer would note rises or drops in water level, but with the IR reflectors moving up and down, the Wiimote can just as easily detect these changes, which in turn help the scientists measure the rate of evaporation.

When putting this method to trial in a body of water natural waves can impact on the results but the researchers found that using the Wiimote technique allowed for accurate measurement of the water level to within a single millimetre, a largely negligible difference.

Evaporation measurement is an important area of research particularly for making weather forecasts and for flood prevention.

Mozilla unveils Open Web mobile concept

Mozilla, developer of the Firefox web browser, has launched a concept for an Open Web mobile phone called the Seabird, which includes a chic design and some very exciting features.

First, let’s look at the design. The Seabird looks great, with curved edges, a glass-like frame, and a unique shape that matches the contours of the hand. It has a white case at the back and a light blue trim around the sides – it exudes elegance.

From the outset this is no normal smartphone and the reason for this is how you interact with it. It features a multi-purpose Bluetooth/Infrared dongle made into the back which can be removed and waved about to control movements on the screen. 

This is motion sensitive, closer to a Wiimote than a stylus, as you don’t need to touch the screen with it at all. It also has Haptic clicking, which makes it an effective mouse rather than just a pointer. The dongle is not just a controller either, as it also acts as a headset for Bluetooth calls.

It also features an 8 megapixel camera on the back and two pico projectors on the sides which are capable of a brightness of 45 lumens at a resolution of 960×600 pixels. 

These projectors are the second big shift in technology for this phone, as they allow a keyboard to be projected onto a flat surfaced and then interacted with as if the device was a laptop, effectively solving the problem of the tiny keyboards we currently have on smartphones.

This concept was designed by Billy May, who started working on it in 2009 as part of Mozilla Labs Concept Series. He sought community feedback for the device, which ultimately led to the amazing potential of the Seabird, even if it may never materialise as a real world phone.

Mozilla has no current plans to make mobiles phones, but this concept may be taken up by others and could contribute to developments for the next generation of smartphones. If the concept can even be remotely copied we are in for a treat in the future.