Weekly Tech Roundup | Mar 8, 2019

Weekly tech roundup: International Women’s Day special edition

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Hedy Lamarr in 1940 (Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

In honor of International Women’s Day, this week’s roundup is a tribute to Hedy Lamarr. Lamarr was born in 1914 and went on to become a Hollywood legend.  It wasn’t until after her death in 2000 that she was recognized for her innovative genius and an invention that paved the way for modern, secure wireless communication.

Lamarr’s invention, the “Secret Communication System,” was designed to solve the problem of enemies blocking radio-controlled missile signals during WWI. It used spread spectrum and frequency-hopping technology to prevent enemies from decoding messages, allowing a torpedo to find its intended target.

Although the invention was awarded a patent in 1942, it was technologically difficult to implement, and the U.S. Navy didn’t adopt the technology until the 1960s. It is now acclaimed as an instrumental step towards modern WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth communication systems.

Decades later, scientists and engineers are still working to develop advancements in modern communications technology that benefit both the military and commercial markets. The inventions featured below are some of the hottest opportunities that are available to businesses for licensing.

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Handheld GPS jammer locator

Navy engineers have developed a handheld GPS jammer locator device for determining the strength of an L1 GPS frequency jamming signal and the direction of the jamming signal. The handheld GPS jammer locator has two modes of operation, an amplitude mode for determining signal strength, and a difference mode for determining direction.

The prototype was built within a plastic housing and is powered by a 9-volt battery. Contact TechLink now to find out more about licensing this invention.

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Communications network monitoring using phantom nodes

A recent approach for the management of increasingly complex communications networks is software-defined networking (SDN) in which a programmable controller provides flow level routing instructions to the network forwarding elements. The controller provides switching functions through an open interface standard called OpenFlow.

Air Force scientists have developed a set of flow rules and network management tools for these OpenFlow networks.

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Extended ad-hoc communications network

Navy scientists have developed a system that links an operations command center to a radio access point (RAP), which is connected to any number of field devices. Each of these field devices can communicate to the operations command through the RAP or to each other field device directly. Direct communication between the field devices can greatly extend the range of the system in a daisy chain manner. Location data as well as image, text, and voice data, is communicated.

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Improved security monitoring and defenses for wireless personal area networks

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

With this approach, when soliciting acknowledgments from wireless devices using a small number of packets with modified preambles, 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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Air vehicle GPS backup navigation system

While advanced GPS systems provide highly accurate navigation, they are also susceptible to radio frequency (RF) interference, jamming, and occasional outages. When GPS fails, pilots must rely on one or more backup systems. The FAA is transitioning to its Next Generation (NextGen) Air Transportation System. However, new required equipment upgrades will be very expensive for most general aviation and civil Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) users.

Navy engineers have invented a new technology that could be a game-changer by enabling a more accurate, reliable, cost-effective addition to the use of GPS for some manned and unmanned systems flight testing and their integration into NextGen.

Primarily used for military applications. Possibilities exist for commercial aviation.

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Networked buoy connects diver’s mobile device

Navy scientists have developed a better solution for communicating between underwater workers and the surface. The system includes a surface buoy with a wireless connection to a terrestrial or ship-based network. The buoy supports an ethernet cable extending to the diver. At the end of the cable is a tablet in a waterproof case that allows full functionality of the screen via finger touch or stylus at any depth.

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Headshot Image of Austin Leach, PhD, CLP

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