Friday, 28 May 2010

Star Trekkie stuff, or reality?

The IET magazine recently celebrated 50 years of lasers. It says that the military and security services are looking to sensing technology to give them Tricorders for finding telltale chemicals that indicate whether the barrel on the road is just a barrel or something far more deadly.
A while back there were flip-up cell phones that looked like Star Trek communicators. We have Bluetooth earpieces that look like the earpiece that Lieutenant Uhura wore. Could we next gat a real Tricorder?

On the subject of cell phones, I read ages ago about the radio waves next to your head being able to produce an image of what was inside your head. It just took some extra modulation of the phone signal. I have been googling for the article, but have not found it yet.

I also read in one of the BCS magizines (I think) about software radios. As its name suggests, the processing of signals both transmitted and received are handled by software controlling any number of radio Integrated Circuits.
One could combine one of the new laser chips, software radio and mobile phone to make the Tricorder. There is already an Android App to use your phone's real sensors to detect magnetic fields, gravity etc.
The instruction say: Use the buttons on the left to select the mode:

* GRAV: monitor the local gravitational field and acceleration
* MAG: monitor the local magnetic field
* ACO: acoustic analysis; waveform, frequency and sound level analysis of the ambient sound
* GEO: display geographical information (enable GPS for full info)
* EMS: scan the electromagnetic spectrum for radio signals -- currently displays cellular and WiFi signals (you have to enable the WiFi to get the latter)
* SOL: display current solar activity data -- downloads current solar data in the background (may take a while) and displays it along with current images

How close could we be to a read Tricorder?

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