|SCIENCE TRIBUNE||Thursday, September 27, 2001, Chandigarh, India|
Tracking vehicles by remote control
System to change the world of shopping
from iron ore
Tracking vehicles by remote control
IF you thought tracking a moving vehicle and being able to see inside it was only the fantasy of the James Bond script-writer, think again.
A Bangalore firm, Advanced Micronic Devices, with financial assistance from the Department of Electronics has indigenously, developed a satellite-based vehicle tracking and monitoring system which will be immensely useful to the police department, defence services, hospitals, banks and other organisations with spread-out networks.
Called the Dynamic Platform Tracking and Information System (DPTIS), the gadget weighing not more than 500 grams is mounted on top of a vehicle which can receive and send coded information with the help of various Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) orbiting the earth.
The GPS transmits the required information to computer-based satellite receivers. The data is the de-coded and analysed with the help of the Geographical Information System (GIS) software.
Developed with 50 per cent funding from the Department of Electronics (DOE), the system has come as a boon for a number of strategic organisations. An important utility of the device is that it can be fitted on any moving object on land, sea or air and can send signals wherever required.
The device can easily be attached to the roof of a vehicle. It draws its power from the battery of the vehicle to send the signals to the orbiting satellites. The control station can assess the vehicle’s position after punching its code number.
The system can be operational even at night as it is equipped with a infrared sensor to track positions. Messages can be exchanged between the mobile unit through alphanumeric consoles. Emergency messages from vehicles generate audiovisual alarms at control centres.
Apart from just tracking the moving objects, the control room can even be fitted out minute details like the interiors of the vehicles and how many people are seated in it.
At the control centre there are handy features like zoom-in facilities for close-up view of the vehicle. Similarly, just by zooming out one can get an overall view of the surroundings vis-a-vis the vehicle. Secondly, multiple windows on the computer can provide both an overall view as also a close-up view simultaneously.
If implemented the device will be of immense use in organisations that have widespread business or need constant connectivity. Establishments like hospitals, hotel chains, airport terminals, ambulance services, police departments, defence and security network will be benefited.
To rule out the risk of drivers tampering with the device, all the related data is stored in a computer mainframe for future reference and cross-checks. In any case, it is very difficult to tamper with the device. Since it is connected to satellite drivers cannot prevent the machine from emitting signals.
Giving the high utility of the device for defence establishment and police services, a special code cracker has been installed at every control station so that no one can intercept the message when the signal passes from the surface to satellite.
In conjunction with their concept of making highly useful electronic gadgets, the company has also launched ‘Vehicle City Navigator’ or Micrologic. This gadget is fitted in the dashboards of the cars and the person driving the car can punch in wherever he or she wants to go in the city.The device will navigate the vehicle to the destination.
Micrologic is high-performance, easy to use GPS receiver with its technology built around a powerful 32-bit processor. It comes fitted with a filter to provide accurate positions and speed. The device displays large, four lines alpha-numeric display which is easy to read. Though as of now the coded signals are in English, Advanced Micronic Devices is also developing software in different languages.
It installed in cars it can be programmed on several important routes and for a person coming to a new city driving would become a pleasurable experience as he or she would be guided by the digital display map plotter making the destination easily reachable.
To start with the device is being marketed only in big cities because the map of these cities is computrised. But soon enough there are plans to extend its operation to other cities as well.
Though the price of the device is on the high side, Micrologic is extremely handy for those who are new to the city and also for those who wants to avoid traffic snarls even if it means a little more in terms of petrol consumption.
Already quite popular with defence establishments and police the added features to the device will enhance its utility. "If we can track down our jeeps and trucks at any given time, it could translate into a wealth of information in terms of interlink ages. This device would not just be a very helpful during wars but in peace time as well", says a retired Major-General.
System to change the world of shopping
Researchers have developed a new system —eShop — a portable shopping companion that could radically change the world of shopping.
The system requires typing of the shopping list and other information of products to be purchased into a normal PDA (personal digital assistant).
In the supermaket, one need not waste time hunting for the right items or special offers as digital labels affixed to the shelves — flexible, intelligent transponders — capture the data from the PDA by radio link and send back all the necessary information. This is much more efficient than taking a pencil and notepad to keep track of product and price information and make comparisons.
The system, developed by scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD at Rostock, can however do much more than just record personalised electronic shopping lists, a report in Fraunhofer Gesellschaft said.
Through a link to the in-store server, the user receives information on products in stock and special offers on the device’s mini display. A particularly useful feature is the ability to instantly compare prices with those previously recorded at another store. Later, it may be possible to access the Internet for an even wider source of price comparisons.
Once the day arrives when all items on sale carry an electronic label, the electronic assistant will be able to read the prices of the items that have been chosen, without actually being in physical contact with them. Shoppers can then read on ongoing tally of the total cost of the goods placed in the shopping trolley.
The electronic labels are based on extremely thin, flexible transponders, currently being developed by the Fraunhofer Institutes for Reliability and Microintegration IZM and for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS. PTI
NEW PRODUCTS & DISCOVERIES
"All Aboard" times two
Flying delays are annoying enough, but doesn’t that last-minute bottleneck of passengers on the boarding ramp set your teeth grinding.
To keep you from reducing your molars to powder, Southwest Airlines is testing a dual boarding bridge. The bridge is fully automatic and connects within 60 seconds, says N.E. Anderberg, president of FMT Aircraft Gate Support Systems AB, the Trelleborg, Sweden-based company that makes the bridge.
Southwest has not made a decision to employ the bridge yet. Popular Science
Jurassic turtle from India
When the mighty dinosaurs ruled the Deccan plateau of India about 205 million years ago, tiny turtles inhabited the Pranhita and Godavari rivers and merrily crawled along their banks.
Discovering the first Jurassic turtle fossil in India in the fossil-rich rock formations near Kota village of Maharashtra, four geologists of the Geological Survery of India (GSI) found it having a striking resemblance with the oldest known Jurassic turtle from Arizona.
The team struck upon the fossil embedded in a hard limestone bed, near Kota, within the east and west banks of Godavari and Pranhita rivers, team leader and senior GSI geologist PM Datta told PTI.
The fossil turtle shell found without the skull has striking resemblance with the morphology of the oldest known early Jurassic turtle ‘Kayentachelys’ reported from Arizona in 1987 indicating a possibility that both the species evolved simultaneously from different regions, Datta said.
The remarkable find was made from the rock formations from where geologists earlier reported a variety of fossil fishes, the primitive early Jurassic sauropod dinosaur Barapasaurus tagorei, mammals and freshwater fauna, Datta said. PTI
Salt-tolerant rice variety
In what could be a precursor to growing paddy on the vast virgin seashores of India, a scientist in Kolkata has discovered a gene responsible for salt tolerance of mangroves and mimicked the mechanism to produce a wonder rice variety capable of surviving salinity.
Working on a Department of Biotechnology (DBT) sponsored project, a team led by Prof Arun Lahiri Mazumder of the Centre for Plant Molecular and Cellular Genetics department at the Bose Institute in Kolkata has successfully cloned a gene from a wild rice variety that grows in the Sundarban mangrove delta.
The gene, which the team has already submitted to the international gene bank, is undergoing the process of patenting, DBT secretary Manju Sharma told PTI.
"The gene has number of unique traits besides the salt-tolerant character and could do wonders to boost the foodgrain production of the country," she said.
The salt tolerant gene is
responsible for producing an enzyme that catalyses a reaction to trigger
the production of a compound inositol, one of the several chemicals that
contribute to salt tolerance in the mangrove trees. PTI
Gold from iron ore
India can significantly augment gold production by extracting this precious metal from a type of iron ore bearing rocks called "Banded Iron Formation (BIF) found in abundance in Karnataka, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, say geologists.
Gold is present up to
eight grams per tonne of BIF in Karnataka and can be extracted by open
cast mining, according to RH Sawkar, former executive director of Hatti
Gold Mines Limited and presently Technical Director of Karnataka Ores
Limited in Bangalore. PTI
1. This eminent British naturalist’s father, disgusted with his son’s ways of wasting time in hunting and collecting birds and animals, once remarked: "You care for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family!" Name this scientist who propounded the pioneering theory that man originated from apes. Name also his now world famous book published in 1859 which was rejected by most scientists at that time.
2. A disease of the cotton crop has been in news recently because of the ineffectiveness of the insecticides to control it, resulting in large-scale damage to the cotton crop in Punjab. Which is this disease?
3. This substance is abundantly found in the earth’s crust and initially it was known as "plumbago" or "black lead". What is this substance called now and what is it actually?
4. To solve the mystery of the exact route of the world famous Olive Ridley turtles of the Orissa coast during their departure from the beaches and return to the same place, four such turtles fitted with PTTs were released into the sea last year by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. What is the full name of the sophisticated instrument PTT? Through which type of communication system does it operate?
5. "In a right-angled triangle, the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides." This is the well-established Pythagoras theorem, named after the great Greek philosopher and mathematician. Can you state another simple theorem about a triangle which is also credited to Pythagoras?
6. Some Russian scientists have observed that some time before an earthquake occurs, redistribution of pressure takes place inside as well as near the earth’s surface. As a result, sudden changes take place in the geoelectric fields in these areas. What is this phenomenon called?
7. Continuing on the subject, which characteristic of the reflected light changes due to these disturbances by monitoring which from outer space the occurrence of the earthquake may be predicted?
8. What is the most common use of the trees "kikar", "mahua", "semal", "shisham" and "teak?
9. EXIF in computer technology is a format that is a standard for storing interchange information in digital photography. What does EXIF stand for?
10. The nation observed on September 16 a day to bring awareness about a natural phenomenon being turned hazardous by manmade activities. What is this day called? Which phenomenon are we talking about? Which possible hazards are associated with this phenomenon?
1. Charles Darwin The
Origin of Species