Weekly Tech Roundup | Jun 28, 2019

Weekly tech roundup: communications technology edition

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This week’s roundup highlights six communications technologies that are worth a second glance.

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Dynamic RFID tag with optical controller

Navy scientists and engineers have recently improved on the security of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags to maintain data transfer privacy.

RFID technology is now a standard method of tracking objects and has infiltrated industry and military sectors. Growth of RFID signals in the airwaves has given rise to nefarious ways of intercepting the data carried and the potentially illegal use of the data.

Dynamic RFID tags promise to make friend or foe identification more reliable and secure.

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Crowdsensing app that locates lost persons

The Air Force has invented a way to locate lost persons who are not carrying mobile phones, like children or the cognitively disabled, through a crowdsensing app.

Known as the opportunistic crowd sensing (OCS) system, this technology enhances the effectiveness of detecting a tagged object or person by using an innovative wireless communication mechanism and minimizing the potential inconvenience or complexity of the crowd sensing participation. The system utilizes the cellular infrastructure and does not use GPS, making it energy efficient and functional indoors.

The automated sensing application also addresses the issue of energy efficiency and ensures the privacy and security of the participants.

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Improved security monitoring and defenses for wireless personal area networks

Low-rate wireless personal area networks (WPANs) are utilized in health care networks, indoor localization, and critical process controls.

Air Force scientists are beefing up security around WPANs through precise manipulation of the physical layer preamble (or header) – the initial signal used in network communications to synchronize the transmission timing between systems.

When soliciting acknowledgments from wireless devices with this approach, a response pattern identifies the true transceiver class of the device under test. Preamble manipulation enables wireless multi-factor authentication, intrusion detection, and transceiver type fingerprinting.

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Improved 3D radio wave field modeling

Because of their unique interaction with the ionosphere, high-frequency radio waves–3 to 30 MHz–can propagate around the globe.

Given the complexity of the interaction between HF radio waves and the ionosphere, RF engineers require sophisticated modeling tools in order to design HF radio systems. To date, such tools have been missing.

Now, scientists from the Navy have developed a wave field estimation method with the ability to estimate properties of transverse electromagnetic waves in 3D, including complex polarization, vector intensity, phase- and group-path lengths, angles of arrival, and hop count. The method can compute these quantities, even in cases where propagation is such that incident rays are sparse.

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Networked buoy connects diver’s mobile device while underwater

Underwater work can include welding, archeology, pipeline maintenance, cable repair, and many more sectors. Each of these has their land-based equivalent but one glaring difference is how workers communicate in these two environments. If a worker on land needs a tool, they quickly fetch it themselves or call for it. This doesn't work underwater.

Navy scientists have developed a better solution for communicating between diver and surface.

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High-efficiency, high-power patch antenna

Scientists from the Army have developed a C-Band, probe-fed, half-wavelength, two-patch antenna array. The array is low profile in construction but maintains the ability to transmit high-power RF efficiently. The antenna is supported in free space by metallic posts (forming an air dielectric) rather than by a dielectric material.

Commercial uses include high power microwave (HPM) systems to couple energy into electronics, potential uses in mobile phones, internet routers, and internet repeaters for extending the range of a wireless network. It can also be used for Wi-fi communication systems and devices.

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Headshot Image of Austin Leach, PhD, CLP

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