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back to article Tricorder/Aliens-motion-tracker handscanner kit gets $6m

Roguish Pentagon kill-nerds have decided to spend more than $6m on a miraculous handheld scanner along the lines of a Star Trek Tricorder or Aliens Colonial Marine motion-tracker. The through-walls people detector will work in the same way as the mysterious brain-slime electrofield senses of sharks and manta rays. The motion …

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Go

Software Problem?

Isn't it all just a software problem? Build a gizmo with high sensitivity to electric fields, and some decent directionality. Add in very good motion sensing, so that it can tell which changes in its input are due to its own motion and orientation changes. Have lots of RAM to remember the full sensor values at high frequency for the last couple of minutes. Invent lots of computer algorithms to weed out unwanted signatures (power lines, signature of operator, signature of the device itself and other devices known to be nearby, etc.). More algorithms to dig out the patterns resulting from all sizes of targets. Display the targets discovered by this. Simple. :-) You might have to wait a bit until Intel/AMD/IBM can provide a Teraflop or two in the gizmo.

Hmm. With smart enough software, it likely doesn't need the motion sensing. It can display its results relative to itself, just like the Sci Fi ones do.

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Joke

"ampullae of Lorenzini"

And there I was, thinking that these were what the Italian permier was so interested in!

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Flame

Boom... Bzzzzzzzzt

That was the sound of your tracker electronics frying after I shot that power socket nearby.

While theoretically possible, the practical examples of sharks attacking electric cables in Australia show how difficult this may be to implement in practice.

By the way - you missed Stargate Atlantis which also had a similar gadget.

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Bronze badge
Boffin

Micro changes in air density

That's what you want to key off. None of this weak electric field nonsense!

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Pint

I was thinking towards...

...Mimicing the ray's, or a bat's neural system's, changes in air density are, basically, sound, and plenty of data exists as to neural networking of the choclea of the bat into the visual areas of the brain.

...MIT already designed the chip:

http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/bio-electronics-0603.html

i found it will looking at another DARPA request. heres elREG story http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/02/16/darpa_echelon_request/

Im more or less with you on the weak electric field approach, but would love to spend money duplicating the function mapping the neural outputs of the ampullae of Lorenzini. I bet God^H^H^Hnature wired it to the visual areas, then used the same trick for the bats.

Of course DARPA could solve the electromagnetic signal to noise issue by ordering all TV and Radio stations (Etc.) off the air while a search is in progress.

The signal to noise in an air pressure environment presents the same challenge as Eschelon, and massively parallel resonant receptors sould solve it in the same way. Not sure your frequencies of interest, there may be challenges to building resonant receptors at very low frequencies.

The ultimate handheld, would have sensors in three media, electromagnetic, air pressure, and visual. Hence the name... Tricorder.

Beer because it helps me stop thinking of...

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Alien

May I be the 29th person to

Welcome our new motion detecting overlords.

And the obligatory Aliens quote

"they're coming out the walls man"

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Joke

Just throwing an idea out there.

Maybe for version one they could make a hand-held shark that would do the same job as this new-fangled electronic gizmo. Later versions could also add lasers to the shark as well, making a truly awesome scanner/ weapon combo.

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It's not a software problem

The software probably isn't that hard - MIT already pretty much did it with their electric bongos - but the detector *is*.

You need very high sensitivity and extremely accurate assembly - this is probably a job for MEMS.

For long-range sensing, you're sensing everything near you - and you're interested in stuff that's far away. Rather like detecting the moon by falling out of bed, you'll spot the Earth much quicker when you hit the floor.

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Joke

Forget Star Trek...

...Tom Clancy had this very same thing working for Rainbow Six and his boys! And that was after the Sydney Olympics 10 years ago!

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Pirate

I just want to know

How you know that elasmobranches find flatfish tasty? I mean, maybe it's all they can catch, and it's either eat the nasty flatfish or go hungry!

I'm sure there's a research project in there somewhere...

<<<---- mind the sunken treasure ship!

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Coat

Bio are in currents water, not air

Friction noise in air is not hard to detect. Hair, shoes, clothing, plastics, and sometimes stresses on the floor create significant amounts of electricity with every motion. This makes a portable device not so crazy to design after all. The real question is how many naked and hairless test operators can be hired with that $6m of development cash.

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Black Helicopters

And you fools thought I was mad!

You'd best stop laughing at my tinfoil hat right now! Inside my Faraday caged shop I'm hard at work on the next generation tinfoil/spandex Ninja suit.

Claude Rains was a tyro. I'll be the first *digitally* invisible man! Bwahahahahahaha!

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Boffin

df83g£G)

Seems you don't need to worry about trying to detect low frequency emissions - I would imagine they would be easy enough to derive by Fourier-transforming the higher frequencies and using harmonic principles to derive the lower spectrum.

Mind you, I don't think I ever created an electronic device that actually worked, and hard drives fizzle when I come within twenty paces, so don't rely on me for expertise...

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FAIL

And after that display of utter stupidity...

I've changed my password.

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Pint

Ummm

Didn't the fact that the password was appearing in cleartext as you were typing it ring any alarm bells mate? I usually realise such a mistake when I see that, I'm used to asterisks or dots appearing when I type passwords...

Have another beer, then get some sleep! :)

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Joke

Kerr Effect

If the tricorder also uses visual sensors as suggested by Disco-Legend-Zeke, it may be more accurate to describe it as a sensor for the Kerr effect due to the combined sensing of electromagnetic and optical signals. A name change may then be appropriate: Kerr Field Detector, or K-FED...

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$6,425,207

Approximately.......

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Pint

And 37...

...cents.

We learned in statistics class to always express fuzzy estimates out to four decimal places.

beer because it makes all data fuzzier.

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Headmaster

Cloudy reasoning

Maybe the $6 million would be better spent on ECT, if the best they can come up with is "high spatial resolution" for "at a distance". On a happier note, perhaps the sludge of US officialdom's prose will make their contractors come up with something useful instead of military hardware.

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@ cosmogoblin

That looked like a strong password. Hope you don't use it elsewhere.

Bet you were up late last night with some frantic typing.

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It's all good

Nah, I learned the hard way not to reuse passwords.

The head of IT at my work takes the piss out of me because, apparently, a password should be a passWORD. Mind you the company's policy is for us to store all our passwords on a plaintext database in Lotus Notes "in case we need to get into your system when you're not there"...

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Grenade

Why waste the money?

They should just take off and nuke the site from orbit, it's the only way to be sure!

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Go

3D, eh?

So it means that this version of the Aliens tracker will actually tell them they're coming from *above*, and not through the door?

Nice!

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