Category Archives: Gadgets

Handheld Black Hornet Nano Drones Issued To UK Soldiers

Drones have become a valuable asset for any military force in recent years for both combat and surveillance. But while scanning a warzone from miles away is great from a tactical standpoint, unmanned aircraft can be just as useful in the hands of troops on the ground. That’s why British soldiers in Afghanistan have been issued several Black Hornet Nanos, a palm-sized UAV that can scout around corners and obstacles for hidden dangers. Each UAV measures just 4 x 1 inches (10 x 2.5cm) and weighs a mere 0.6 ounces (16 grams), making it easy for troops to carry along with the rest of their gear. A built-in camera transmits live video and still images to a handheld control unit at a range of up to half a mile (800 meters).

More information on Gizmag and on BBC

The drones can fly around corners and obstacles to identify potential hidden dangers, the Ministry of Defence said. The Norwegian-designed Black Hornet Nano features a tiny camera and relays video and still images to a handheld control terminal. It measures about 10cm by 2.5cm (4in by 1in) and weighs 16g (0.6oz).

The MoD, which also operates more than 300 larger-sized unmanned air vehicles in Afghanistan, said the Black Hornet is carried easily on patrol and works in harsh environments and windy conditions. They have been in use in Afghanistan since 2012, a spokeswoman confirmed.

Surrey-based Marlborough Communications has a £20m contract with the military to supply and maintain 160 of the drones, which were originally developed by Prox Dynamics for search and rescue operations. Mini drones can be piloted directly or programmed to follow co-ordinates using GPS. Powered by battery, the Black Hornet is reported to have a range of about half a mile (800m), a top speed of 22mph (35kph) and can fly for up to 30 minutes.

They can help soldiers on the ground pinpoint hidden Taliban fighters and explosives. Sgt Christopher Petherbridge, of the Brigade Reconnaissance Force in Afghanistan, said: “We used it to look for insurgent firing points and check out exposed areas of the ground before crossing, which is a real asset. “It is very easy to operate and offers amazing capability to the guys on the ground.”

Digital Pen Vibrates To Indicate Bad Spelling, Grammar and Penmanship

Use digital technology long enough and you start to become dependent upon it for such mundane tasks as spell checking. That means when you pick up a garden variety ballpoint pen you’re back in dictionary and ‘I before E except after C’ territory. The creators of the Lernstiftdigital pen hope to bring handwriting into the 21st century by having the pen vibrate to indicate when the writer makes spelling and grammatical errors or exhibits poor penmanship.”

Like LiveScribe, the creators of the Lernstift digital pen hope to bring handwriting into the 21st century by having the pen vibrate to indicate when the writer makes spelling and grammatical errors or exhibits poor penmanship. Currently under development, the Lernstift (German for “learning pen”) is powered by Linux and contains €50 to €80 (US$68 to US$109) worth of smartphone electronics in a thermoplastic or aluminum body. It uses motion sensors to trace movements and detect errors. If a mistake is found, the pen vibrates to alert the writer.

The Lernstift pen operates in two modes. In Calligraphy Mode, it warns of mistakes in penmanship, while in Orthography Mode it detects spelling and grammatical errors – vibrating once for the former and twice for the latter. The sensors allow the pen to recognize writing even in the air so it can be used to write text messages without a writing surface. But for the less adventurous, it has a standard ballpoint pen inside.

The Lernstift is in two generations of development. The first generation, which is due for a release mid-2013, the pen will be equipped with motion sensors and a word recognition system. Meanwhile, the second generation, which is slated for early 2014, will have a pressure sensor added. Its function is to help children understand the proper way to hold and press a pen. Press too hard and the pen vibrates. Another area of development is a network module that will allow the pen to connect to Wi-Fi to allow it to share data.

The company is currently seeking investors and says that the Lernstift will be available in August of this year.

Lernstift digital pen vibrates to indicate bad spelling, grammar and penmanship

Parcel Sensor Knows When Your Delivery Has Been Dropped

If you’re tired of finding that your stuff has been smashed during shipping after opening your package, this device is for you. Called DropTag, the gadget combines a battery, a low-energy Bluetooth transmitter, an accelerometer and a memory chip.

Stuck on a parcel as it leaves an e-commerce warehouse, it logs any g-forces above a set risky shock level that it experiences. The idea is that when the courier puts it in your hands, you turn on Bluetooth on a smartphone running a DropTag app and scan it before you sign for it.

Was it dead out of the factory gate? Or had the parcel suffered some physical abuse in transit? Now a British invention company called Cambridge Consultants has developed a sticky radio tag that will spill the beans on dodgy delivery firms.

Called DropTag, the gadget combines a battery, a low-energy Bluetooth transmitter, an accelerometer and a memory chip. Stuck on a parcel as it leaves an e-commerce warehouse, it logs any g-forces above a set risky shock level that it experiences. The idea is that when the courier puts it in your hands, you turn on Bluetooth on a smartphone running a DropTag app and scan it before you sign for it.

A readout then shows what’s happened to the parcel in transit, with the option of a graph that shows you if the box has been mistreated – and when. If it has clearly been beaten up, you don’t sign and refuse delivery. The $2 tag will run on a coin battery for “many weeks”, the inventors say, and there may be incentives for the parcel deliverer to reuse it after scanning. DropTag comes from Cambridge Consultants’ wireless group, which last year unveiled a Bluetooth-powered automatic gear changer for a bike.

At the moment DropTag is a solution in search of a user. British patents are already filed, but Cambridge Consultants hopes a major delivery chain or e-commerce firm will buy into the tech at the massive Hannover Messe tech fair in Germany in April.

Read more here