[EAS]Some Watch, Some Forget

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Wed Oct 16 00:35:53 EDT 2002

Subject:   Some Watch, Some Forget

Two items from NewsScan Daily, 15 October 2002)

The government of the U.K. is funding secret radar technology
research that  uses mobile phone masts to enable security officials
to watch vehicles and  people in real time almost anywhere in
Britain. The Celldar technology,  which works wherever there is cell
phone coverage, "sees" the shapes made  when radio waves emitted by
the towers meet an obstruction. Signals bounced  back by immobile
objects, such as buildings and trees, are filtered out by  the
receiver, and what's left on the screen are images of anything that 
moves. When combined with technology that allows individuals to be 
identified by their mobile phone handsets, the Celldar system would
enable  security officials to locate and track a specific person
from hundreds of  miles away. An individual using one type of
receiver, a portable unit a  little bigger than a laptop, could even
create a "personal radar space"  around his or her location for
security purposes. Researchers are also  working on an "X-ray
vision" feature that would enable the devices to "see"  through
walls and look into people's homes. UK Ministry of Defence 
officials are hoping to introduce the system as soon as resources
allow,  but civil liberties advocates have been quick to complain:
"It's an  appalling idea. The government is just capitalizing on
current public fears  over security to introduce new systems that
are neither desirable nor  necessary," says Simon Davies, director
of Privacy International. (The  Observer 13 Oct 2002)
With its fairly long-standing use of surveillance acameras in urban
settings, combined with face recognition software, Britain has not
been in the vanguard of privacy concerns. This rather fanciful new
idea adds to those concerns.  --PJK

A stream of new products is hitting the shelves, aimed at solving
one of  life's daily annoyances: locating everyday objects such as
keys or glasses  that always seem to go missing just when you're in
a hurry to leave. The  products range from a FINDIT keychain that
beeps after the user claps three  times to the Sharper Image's "Now
You Can Find It!" -- a collection of  plastic tags that can be
attached to potentially elusive items, and then  beep when users hit
a button on the central device (of course, for it to  work, users
must make sure not to misplace the central device). The device  and
tags communicate with each other via radio frequency waves, and
require  that the user be within several meters of the hidden
object's location. A  handful of companies are also marketing
GPS-enabled "kid finder" watches  and pagers, and plans are underway
to put homing devices on everything from  luggage to pacifiers. Most
ambitious of all, perhaps is the DIPO device,  made by a French
company of the same name, that not only finds an object  but
notifies the owner if it is about to be left behind. The central
device  -- the size of a small cell phone -- checks every few
seconds to ensure  that all tagged objects are within a certain
radius -- say, five meters. If  it notices that the tag on the Palm
Pilot, for instance, has moved outside  the radius, it will beep or
vibrate to remind the user to take it along.  DIPO started out as
the brainchild of the company's absent-minded CEO,  Bruno Enea, who
says, "I kept losing my credit card. I always forgot my  passport. I
realized I had to do something about this problem." (Wall  Street
Journal 15 Oct 2002)
http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB1034187143599802356.djm,00.html (sub req'd)
It's amazing what a little more sleep and less multitasking can do
for one's memory. But once again mine is the retrograde attitude,
entirely unhelpful to economic recovery.  --PJK

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