National Security Agency's Surveillance Data Could Fill Two States by 2015

Where will the NSA house its secret yottabytes?

We always knew that the National Security Agency collects a lot of surveillance data from satellites and by other means, but we never quite imagined it was this much: the NSA estimates it will have enough data by 2015 to fill a million datacenters spread across the equivalent combined area of Delaware and Rhode Island. The NSA wants to store yottabytes of data, and one yottabyte comes to 1,000,000,000,000,000 GB.

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Deploying Household Wireless Sensors Galore to Monitor Health of Elderly

Researchers have begun using low-cost sensors in homes to monitor the elderly for health risks

Elderly Monitors: They don't make sensors like they used to  Julie Keefe for New York Times
Sensor-studded clothes, carpets, and homes could track the gait of grandma or grandpa and ensure that they're not in danger of falling. The U.S. National Institute on Aging has sponsored initial research into how such wireless monitoring could better monitor the health of a growing geriatric population. The European Union has also devoted $1.5 billion to studying technologies and services for the aged.

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Object-Detection Software to Enable Search Within Videos

Detection algorithms help computers find humans, or anything else, in YouTube videos or surveillance footage

Imagine running a Google search for basketball videos, and having your computer sift through actual footage of online videos rather than just the text of the descriptions. A new type of software could enable computers to run searches inside videos, and pick out humans and objects alike.

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University of Maryland's $500 Maple-Seed UAV Takes To the Skies

Last year, after untold millions of dollars, DARPA failed to renew a Lockheed program to design a UAV based on a maple tree seed. While that program, backed by tons of cash and one of the world's largest aerospace companies, amounted to bupkis, a University of Maryland project to create a maple seed UAV has finally accomplished what DARPA and Lockheed couldn't.

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The Dangers of Rogue Household Robots

Car keys missing? Your friendly metal servant may have swiped them

While the machine uprising may not be upon us just yet, a group of University of Washington researchers has conducted a study on the various threats to security and privacy that household robots currently on the market could introduce to our homes. While their findings found little to fear in the way of an I, Robot-esque revolt, it turns out common household robots can open a home to various security and privacy threats, mostly via web-enabled features that are supposed to make the robots more useful.

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Wi-Fi Signals Can Be Used to See Through Walls

Time for everyone at 113 East 38th Street* to ditch the cameras, because researchers at the University of Utah have found a more subtle way to spy on your neighbors: Wi-Fi. By measuring the resistance to the radio waves that transmit wireless signals, the scientists can monitor whether or not someone is in a room at a given time.

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U.S. Army Plans to Send Giant Spy Blimp to Afghanistan

LEMV: Not Your Father's Blimp:  Lockheed Martin
Next time you're in Afghanistan, make sure to keep an eye out for the U.S. Army's Space and Missile Defense Command's giant blimp-like surveillance airship.

The Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV), as it's called, will be 250 feet long, autonomous, and able to float at up to 20,000 feet for an impressive three weeks at a time. As for its surveillance capabilities, a 40-foot-long stretch behind the cockpit will house a selection of spy gear, including a motion sensor and radar.

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Text Messages from a Microchip on Your Shoulder Remind You to Take Your Pills

Chip-on-a-shoulder sends nagging text messages to patients who fail to follow doctors' orders

A text-messaging microchip planted on the patient's body significantly boosts compliance with doctor's prescriptions, according to pharmaceutical giant Novartis. That's good news for patient health and reining in healthcare costs, but a potentially worrisome development for privacy advocates.

Patients taking a drug for lowering blood pressure also received two additional gifts: tiny microchips within each pill and a shoulder-attached sensor patch.

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Google Explains Street View to Wary Japanese With--What Else?--Adorable Stop-Motion Animation

Google Japan's new video aims to alleviate privacy concerns among Japanese residents

Fret no longer, citizens of Japan, about Google's camera vans exposing the awkward moments of your private lives to millions via Street View. Because here, see? All that's behind its scary secrets is an impossibly adorable anthropomorphic camera truck in a wonderland of children's toys. Dawww, its bobbing camera head just snapped a photo of your car! It's so cute!

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Ant-Sized Microbots Travel in Swarms

I-SWARM Microbot:  Edqvist, et al. via PhysOrg
While Hollywood focuses on robots several times taller than humans, some researchers are building tiny robots that could fit on your fingernail. These microbots would work in swarms to collect data for a variety of applications, such as surveillance, micromanufacturing, and medicine.

The researchers, from institutes in Sweden, Spain, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, use a novel approach to allow robots to be built cheaply and in large quantities. Working on a limited budget, they built an entire robot on a single circuit board.

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Blackout Bomb: Air Force's High-Powered Microwave Weapons Fry Enemy Equipment

An experimental stealth weapon could blind enemy surveillance

Blackout Bomb:  Graham Murdoch
In modern warfare, where missions are sometimes over in minutes, a blind enemy is a defeated enemy. The electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear weapon detonated miles aboveground would zap an army’s surveillance equipment, but not without causing heavy collateral damage. Instead, a new Air Force tool will fry electronics using high-power microwaves emitted by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

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Dread Zeppelin: The Army's New Surveillance Blimp

The LEMV, being tested soon, is designed to stay aloft for weeks at a time

Since the airship glory days of the early part of the century, blimps have certainly lost some of their cachet, relegated to hovering over sporting events and not much else. However, the Army is about to test launch an unmanned hybrid airship to be used for surveillance missions in Afghanistan.

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Inflatable Surveillance Balls for Mars

Round robotic sidekicks scout Martian territory for the next generation of rovers

By next fall, NASA plans to launch its biggest Red Planet rover yet, the $1.8-billion, SUV-size Mars Research Laboratory. Even though the MRL will be able to haul five times as much equipment as the Spirit and Opportunity rovers that are already on Mars, a group of Swedish researchers say that they could accomplish far more if accompanied by a squad of helper ’bots. Fredrik Bruhn, the CEO of Ångström Aerospace Corporation, and his colleagues have designed the small inflatable scouts to assist bigger, less mobile rovers in their hunt for signs of microbial life on Mars.

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Senator Suspects Beijing Bugs

Reports indicate that the Chinese government is planning to spy on its Olympic guests

How do you say "Big Brother" in Chinese? Visitors to the Beijing Olympics need to be careful what they email (and what websites they peruse) according to Senator Sam Brownback, the senior Republican from Kansas. Based on hotel documents, Brownback alleges that the Chinese government has spent millions of dollars installing spy software in major hotel chains to monitor its guests' email and web surfing.

"The Chinese government has put in place a system to spy on and gather information about every guest at hotels where Olympic visitors are staying," said Brownback.

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Big Brother 101

Could your social networks brand you an enemy of the state?

Instant Expert:

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