This ‘Smart’ Earplug Can Be Your Language Translator In Real Time

We have all watched star trek or ‘Allo ‘Allo! (bare with us) and wondered how we can understand all the different languages. Well it is all down to the tardis! It translates the persons speech from their mouth to your ear so you can understand in perfect English. But now you don’t need to keep a Tardis about with you, as they have designed a earpiece that can translate different languages, just pop it into your ear and talk to some foreigners. You can find the original article here.

How many times did you give up on befriending a foreign national due to language problem? Even if you have befriended the person who doesn’t speak your language, it becomes difficult to converse with him or her. You always feel  the need to have a translator, whether it is a face-to-face conversation or a telephonic interaction.

Technology has the solution for any or every kind of problem in this world. It is advancing day-by-day so language barrier can no longer make you behave like an alien. Communicating with a foreign national in real time is no longer a pain as a company has come up with the Pilot earphones that let two people who speak different languages communicate smoothly with each other.

So there won’t be any awkward pause the next time you speak with your friend who doesn’t know your language. Also, there is no need to consult either a dictionary or search online the next time you want to talk to your French or Spanish friend.

In fact, Wavery Labs, a New York-based company that launched the wireless earphones, will add more languages as soon as possible. Currently the earphone translates only three languages – English, French and Spanish. The company will soon add Italian to its list.

You must be wondering about its functions. It works when you connect the earphones to two different people, speaking different languages and translates what they say in the ear.

Waverly Labs calls it the first ‘smart earpiece’. But it hasn’t disclosed much detail about how it works. According to the company, the earphone uses “translation technology” embedded in an app. The Pilot will cost $129 (around Rs. 8,646) and will be available for pre-order on their website.

Introducing Ursa Straps – the Perfect Addition to the Radio Microphone Box

Now it’s not the usual field that we cover, but it hit our radar. How many times have you seen an enthusiastic presenter or an excited contestant on TV drop their radio mic and crawl around on the floor, trying to pick it up! Well when a costume designer and a sound man get together then things get designed, and why this hasn’t be invented before is beyond us, but it looks like an idea that could take off. Read the full article here.

Sound recordist Simon Bysshe and costumier Laura Smith have combined their knowledge and expertise to create URSA Straps, a unique range of low profile body worn straps designed to conceal radio microphone transmitters.

Introducing Ursa Straps – the Perfect Addition to the Radio Microphone Box

Officially launched this month and now available in the UK and Europe, URSA Straps are made from a specially developed bonded fabric that is ultra-slim and provides excellent stretch, comfort and breathability. Each strap incorporates a pouch to keep the transmitter locked in place and a cable pocket for managing excess microphone cable. URSA Straps are available in black, beige and brown skin tone colours and can be worn around the ankle, thigh or waist.

Bysshe and Smith developed URSA Straps after listening to numerous artists express discomfort while wearing radio mic straps. Traditional thick neoprene or elastic straps can irritate the skin, become soaked in sweat and are often impossible to disguise under figure hugging costumes.

“It was obvious that a better way of discreetly securing transmitters was required,” Simon Bysshe explains. “As a boom operator I had worked with many artists who disliked wearing transmitter packs because their associated straps could restrict movement and become uncomfortable. In some cases they had simply refused to wear them.”

Laura Smith’s knowledge of costume making proved invaluable as she was able to construct prototypes and identify the exact fabrics required to suit the needs of costume, artists and sound departments.

“After many months of research we decided to create our own unique hybrid fabric by fusing two stretch fabrics together,” Bysshe explains. “This resulting fabric is just 1mm thick and much lighter and softer than any other fabric of its kind. Crucially we incorporated a hook Velcro compatible outer surface that allows the straps to be securely attached to themselves at any point.”

Introducing Ursa Straps – the Perfect Addition to the Radio Microphone Box

Bysshe tested the new straps while working on the second series of Sky Atlantic’s The Tunnel. Lead actress Clémence Poésy was an immediate convert and provided valuable feedback to help develop the product. Bysshe has subsequently used URSA Straps on the third series of Peaky Blinders. The USRA Thigh straps were particularly popular with the cast members who found them secure, light and comfortable. The fact they can be worn around the thigh as opposed to the waist made them invaluable for use with the period costumes.

“With URSA Straps we have created such a comfortable low-profile solution that artists often forget that they are wearing them. Now we have to make sure that actors remember to take them off before they leave!” Bysshe adds. “The straps can be washed and re-used every day for many months. Our Thigh straps are particularly popular as they are designed to not slip down the leg. We achieved this by bonding on a strips of Polyurethane gripper to the inside of the straps.”

Outside film and television, URSA Straps are also proving popular with dancers who need to receive audio cues during a live performance. Using waist or thigh straps the sound team can easily conceal a receiver pack on their bodies without restricting movement or compromising the look of their costumes. URSA Straps have also developed a Double-Pack strap allowing artists to wear two packs on one strap.

Oscar-winning production sound mixer Simon Hayes was an early adopter of URSA Straps and describes them as a total game changer for his team.

“URSA Straps allow us to rig radio mics on costumes previously thought to be unmicable. Tight dresses, sportswear, stunt harnesses – they can all be easily miked using low profile URSA Straps. These straps are so popular with the actresses I work with that many have asked to keep theirs at the end of the production.”

URSA Straps are suitable for a variety of wireless transmitters including Lectrosonics, Zaxcom, Wisycom MTP40 and Sennheiser 5212. Two different pouch sizes are available to ensure optimum fit. Three different waist sizes are available: small, medium and large.

“Initially Laura and I were making the straps by hand in our garage,” Bysshe says. “When we realised their potential we scaled up production by taking on two experienced manufacturing firms in Leicester. Our launch has been a huge success with orders coming in from all around the world! We are now on our third large production run and expanding our market into Theatre, Concerts and Outside Broadcasts.”

Scientists Astounded as Four Legged Fossil Snake Turns up In Museum

A unique species of early cretaceous snake – unique in that it apparently had four functioning limbs – has been discovered in the Bürgermeister Müller Museum in Solnhofen, Germany this month.

The discovery was made by Dr. David Martill of the University of Portsmouth, who was showing a group of students through the museum’s collection when he noticed the specimen’s remarkable attributes.

The snake, which measured about 15 centimetres from nose to tail, is thought to have been a carnivore (a fact borne out by the bones of smaller animals preserved in its stomach) and probably hunted via constriction, like many of today’s snakes. Experts believe that it may even have used its limbs to aid in the process.

Built for burrowing (an activity which likely would not have included its limbs in any significant way), this new discovery lends credence to the scientists who argue for snake evolution occurring on land, as opposed to in the sea.

Fossil snakes with stunted hind limbs are known to palaeontologists – and even today’s boas and pythons have a small pair of spurs where their hind limbs are thought to have once been. However, no snake, extinct or extant, has ever been discovered with four limbs.

Appropriately enough, Dr. Martill named the creature Tetrapodophis, meaning ‘four-legged snake’.

However, some experts are not convinced. In our vibrant, ecologically diverse world, there are a great many species of legless lizards that are not true snakes. European slow worms, for example, are snake-like in aspect, but they are lizards, not snakes. Another example would be the Mexican Bipedidae family, which are serpentine in appearance, but which retain a pair of fully functioning forelimbs.

“Is it even a snake? I honestly don’t think so,” said the University of Alberta’s Dr. Michael Caldwell, an expert in snake evolution, to National Geographic.com’s Ed Yong. According to Caldwell and a growing number of other critics, Tetrapodophis lacks certain distinctive features in the spine and the skull that would label it a snake. The fact that this is the only known specimen in the world and that the skull is only partially preserved will probably see the debate continue until such time as a complete specimen is unearthed.

But Dr. Martill is insistent that his discovery is a snake. Speaking to National Geographic, he pointed out the specimen’s backwards-pointing teeth, single row of belly scales, the connections between the vertebrae and the shortness of the animal’s tail after the hip – all of which suggest snake to the educated observer. Of course, many legless lizards also feature these traits, but none has all of them. This means that even if the animal has been mis-identified, it is still totally unique to science.

Even more mysterious are the origins of the fossil itself, which contains the rather distinctive characteristics indicative of the Crato formation in Brazil. Discounting for a second that this is quite possibly the earliest fossil snake known to have emerged from South America, question marks have been raised regarding how the specimen could have made it to Germany when the trade of such artefacts is illegal under Brazilian law.

Since 1942, it has been illegal for any unlicensed person to dig for fossils in Brazil without first gaining permission from the Brazilian National Department of Mineral Production (DNPM). Last year, a number of people were prosecuted (where they faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison) for the illegal export of Brazilian fossils to museums in Germany and Great Britain. Odds are that Brazilian authorities, as well as the scientific community in general, will be looking into the origins of such an important find with great interest.

How you can communicate over a 2-Way Radio

It is a wise idea to consider learning how to use a two-way radio in communications. By so doing, one is able to improve their experience in using a radio in communication. Over the years, a number of rules have been put in place to ensure that radio communications proceed more efficiently. These rules can be generalized as the etiquette for using two-way radios. Here are a few radio etiquette that should be considered when using a two-way radio:

Radio Etiquette Rules

It is important to bear in mind that English is the internationally recognized radio language. Users should ensure that they speak English when www.2wayradionline.co.uk . However, there are exceptional cases where a user might be licensed to use other languages in radio communications.

It is not good etiquette to speak and listen to the person on the receiving end without allowing them time to finish what they are saying. This means that it is important to take turns when communicating with a radio. This is unlike the normal phone communication.

It is not good to interrupt someone. Rather, it is important to listen without interrupting other people. However, the only exception where one is allowed to interrupt is when they have some emergency information they would like to convey.

It is advisable not to respond to calls that one is not sure about. In such situations, it is wise to wait for call signs that confirm whose call it is before making any response.

It is wise not to ever transmit military, confidential, sensitive or financial information via a radio call. This is because radio communications can be tapped and be heard by the wrong recipients. Unless one is sure that their conversation is properly secured with high level encryption software, sensitive information should never be transmitted via a radio.

One should always perform checks on their radio to confirm that they are working properly. One should ensure that their radio battery is fully charged and its power is on. The volumes should at all time high. This will allow one to follow the conversation without strain. Additionally, one should ensure that they are within a range that can receive radio signals.

It is prudent to remember and memorize call locations and signs of radio stations and persons that one regularly communicates with. This is because name calling is discouraged in radio communications. People use call signs that are unique to everybody.

One should at all time think before speaking. This implies that one should not just say anything that comes in their mind but should carefully decide what to say. Communications should always be kept clear and precise. Additionally, one should not use complex sentences. Similarly, one should consider dividing long messages into shorter, separate messages for easy understanding. Abbreviations should at all times be avoided unless the receiving end understands the message.

Conclusion

When using a radio in communication, one should ensure that the voice is clear. It is wise to speak slowly and avoid shouting for clarity purposes. Radio messages should be kept simple, precise, and to the point. This allows brevity and simplicity in the entire conversation. As stated earlier, it is advisable to avoid radio transmission of confidential information for security purposes.

Which Person Developed The Radio Headset

Have you ever stopped to think where headsets really came from? Well, they first headset was used in the 20th century; however, the technology has significantly improved over the decades. Shockingly it did not occur to anyone that headsets could be used to listening music on devices. Read more about the invention of radio headset in this article.

Everyone Uses Headsets

Headsets are an important accessory and it is very clear that they have indeed managed to save an argument over the years. Headsets enable you to listen to audio/music without having to get in the way of anyone else. In this time and age, we use all types of headsets from tiny earplugs with a wireless Bluetooth technology for listening to music in the streets, to big leather-padded cans to listen to music at home. Gaming headsets are increasingly becoming popular as many of them today come outfitted with a microphone, hence allowing the users to speak with other relatives, gamers and friends.

Headsets can give the user a great sound quality, there isn’t any sort of interruption between the ear and the sound, external sound is blocked out and there is absolutely nowhere for it to dissipate, more so if you invest in a pair of high quality headsets which are plentifully available nowadays. As a matter of fact, if you take a walk back to the early 20th century right before amplifiers had been invented; sensitive headsets were the only means that was could be used to listen to music/audio.

What Year Was The First Radio Headset Invented?

Accurately speaking, the very first headset dates back to the telephone early adoption and by 1920 radio headsets were being commercially manufactured. These were mainly used by professionals and not by the public. There exists an argument over who was first person behind the idea to dwindle down loudspeakers and move on to attach them on our heads but the earliest living example dates back to around 1911. This was far from the headsets we use presently with no padding for comfort and a very low sound quality. They were used by telephone exchanges and radio operators.

Who Invented The Radio Headset?

Headsets were the only way to listen to audio files before the development of amplifiers. Headsets were invented in 1910 by Nathaniel Baldwin, an American born to a Canadian father and an American mother. Baldwin developed the first, truly successful set in 1910 by hand in his kitchen and later sold them to US Navy.

Baldwin’s headsets made use of moving iron drivers that came with either balanced or single ended armatures. The requirement for high-sensitivity meant damping could not be used, and hence they had a crude sound quality. These early models did not have padding, and oftentimes ended up producing excessive clamping force on the heads of persons wearing them.

In 1944, John C. Koss a jazz musician and an audiophile from Milwaukee, US, designed the first stereo headset. Previously, headsets were used only by radio and telephone operators, as well as persons in related industries. The 3.5-mm phone connector and radio headset, which is commonly used in portable applications today, has been in use since the Sony EFM117J radio that was released in 1965.

Public Safety Radio Network encounters Capacity Challenges during Brussels Bombings – See more at: http://www.tetra-applications.com/32377/news/public-safety-radio-network-encounters-capacity-challenges-during-brussels-bombings#sthash.cekBZicn.E8LGoeNh.dpuf

This article is from the well trusted tetra-applications.com website This story is about the Belgian tetra system, called ASTRID, running close to full capacity during one of the biggest disaster events that Belgium has seen. The system had a few stuttering moments, but with the unpredictable surge in traffic after the event, this is to be expected. To learn more read below and see what they are planning to do…..

During last week bombings, ASTRID, the Belgian Public Safety TETRA network encountered a huge increase of traffic which resulted in a temporarily capacity problem.

ASTRID, the TETRA radio communications network in Belgium, used by the security forces, has not functioned as desired, after the attacks of last week Tuesday, several media announced. Also the GSM network was down and therefore in some cases WhatsApp had to be used by the security forces.

Commissioner General Catherine De Bolle has requested an investigation. Several media mentioned that for many hours the system would not have worked. Therefore, the rescue operations of the police at the airport were much more difficult and more chaotic than it should be. Spokesman Peter Dewaele of the federal police admits that some things did not run as planned.

Astrid responds

“After analyzing the situation, Astrid requested all user organizations to sit around the table in order to examine the communication after the attacks of 22 March. Meanwhile, concrete action and specific recommendations were specified,”

According to ASTRID, the exceptional nature of the emergency caused that some masts of the radio network could not be reached for a short period of time, because of the enormous increased traffic. Therefore communication was not possible, Astrid announced.

“From across the country emergency and security services were asked to provide assistance, which led to an extraordinary radio traffic. On specific requests of many of these organizations Astrid registered hundreds of extra radios to the network. Also the failure commercial mobile phone networks has led to a significant increase in radio traffic.”

“Not flat, or capacity”

Astrid points out that the control rooms/emergency centers were particularly busy in Brussels and Flemish Brabant, but they continue to function properly. Also the alarm system for calling the volunteer fire brigade received extra traffic, but the system worked without any problem. Astrid also installed a mobile-transmission tower in order to strengthen the radio network in the Brussels area.

On a nationwide level, the radio network was still operational, but especially in the Brussels region there were severe capacity challenges,” Astrid notes. “Shortly after the attacks the nearby Astrid masts reached their maximum output, which resulted in difficult communication during some crucial hours. Some users had no access to their talk groups.”

“On Friday March 25th we discussed the situation with the End User Advisory Committee. Concrete action points and recommendations for the use of the radio network and training were determined,” concludes Astrid.

The Best Styles of Bluetooth Earpieces

Bluetooth technology has been designed for many different purposes and situations. Consequently, when people want to buy a bluetooth ear piece for a specific situation, there are some things that they will need to consider. Specifically, based on their specific situation and circumstances, they will need to review the best style of bluetooth earpiece that is available on the market today. Since there are different styles that have been made for for one or more reasons, it’s important for each individual to do their research to see which style can accommodate their needs. It is also important to note that the kind the person purchases must be comfortable so that they can wear them for an extended period of time and they fit the devices that they will be used for. Listed below are three of the bluetooth styles that’s currently offered by manufactures all over the United States and abroad.

Bluetooth ear pieces for Mobile Phones

Most people take their mobile phones wherever they go. To work, school, church, parties and all kinds of other events that they may attend. Because these phones have become commonplace in many environments, people have a need to handle them and talk to others when their hands are free. This is also a great reason for individuals who work in certain settings to make sure that they are buying the right style that will best fit their needs.

One specific style that some people may choose is the ear cradle style of headphone. In fact, this kind of bluetooth earpiece is idea for people who want to spend their time working out and performing all kinds of other extracurricular activities. People are also encouraged to buy this kind of style because they may be driving when they receive a telephone call from a family member. Or, they may be working at the job typing a memo or walking around taking care of wide hosts of other kinds of activities that are not conducive to holding a mobile phone by hand to the ear. Whatever the situation, this style of bluetooth earpiece technology is great for many different situations and purposes.

Bluetooth ear pieces and Headsets for Music Lovers

In addition to the cradle style for mobile phones, people should also review other styles as well. One specific style that is also functional in many different settings is the DJ over the head headphones. This style has been designed for the serious music lovers, especially those who can appreciate making distinctions in sounds and beats that come from specific musical instruments like the bass, violin, trumpet and other popular instruments. For those who like and prefer this kind, they will also find that this is one of the best styles for keeping out outside noises that normally interfere with a person’s overall entertainment experience. Also, because they are wireless, they are great for people who like to stay mobile during the day instead of remaining in a sedentary position.

Bluetooth Ear Pieces for IPODs

In some situations, people may want to use bluetooth technology with their IPODs. Therefore, they should consider buying an additional popular style bluetooth earpiece technology. This style is known to be very popular, specifically because it is similar to an actual earbud. An ear bud is also another excellent choice for people who want to remain both active and hassle free. Though this is a great choice for people who like to remain mobile in a wide variety of different situations, one of its main draw backs is that they tend to fall out of the individuals ear. Which means, they can also be lost since it lacks additional support to keep them stabilized inside the ear.

Faulty communications along U.S.-Mexico border are America’s blind spot

We all know that mission critical communications are vital 24 hours a day and as this article shows that even a tiny lapse in communications can lead to chaos. Even the U.S government can’t keep their radio communications up-to-date on one of the most watched borders in the world, as we can see from the article below.

Put yourself in the shoes of a U.S. Border Patrol Agent. You are patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border, driving through desolate terrain, and in the distance, you spot movement. You head toward a deep ravine and step out of your vehicle when a shot rings out and you hear the zip of a bullet speeding past your head. With training and instinct, you dive for cover and draw your weapon, reaching for your handheld radio.

And the radio doesn’t work.

There’s no one to call, because you are in one of the many areas of the southern U.S. border that has no radio coverage. Out there in the ravine is a drug cartel “rip crew,” heavily armed and firing on your position, bullets punching into your vehicle until smoke is rising from the hood. If they come closer, you are outnumbered. If they flee, your vehicle is disabled, and they will disappear into the vast emptiness along the southern border, where they will likely fire on one of your fellow agents, should they encounter them.

That is the state of communications along many of the areas on the U.S.-Mexico border. When the U.S. Border Patrol needs it the most, they cannot communicate with anyone. With rising threats and political propositions, U.S. border security has again risen to the top of the public consciousness. There are calls for more border patrol officers and stronger fencing, for aerial and ground based vehicles and other technology. But the lifeblood of the border security apparatus is communication, and in some areas, communication is not possible.

“If there is one thing in securing America’s borders that hasn’t changed since September 11, 2001, it’s the inability to resolve the communications lapses and gaps along the border,” said Ron Colburn, the former National Deputy Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol. “Here we are almost 15 years into this, and we still have not addressed this problem.”

One reason 343 New York City firefighters died when the World Trade Center buildings collapsed was that their radios could not communicate with the emergency responders outside the buildings, who were warning the structures were about to come down. The recommendations of the 9/11 Commission cited the need to create interoperable tools that allow first responders and law enforcement to communicate in the most unforgiving of environments.

And there are few environments less forgiving than the nearly 2000-miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Recognizing this, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launched a massive project to improve the communications capacity of officers along the U.S. border. It failed. In March last year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that $945 million in taxpayer funding used to build radio towers and upgrade radio equipment has yielded little benefit and in some cases does not work as well as what Border Patrol agents were using before. The effort cost too much and was taking too long.

Colburn said that the state of communications today means U.S. Border Patrol cannot call for support in some areas. They cannot feed information from the field into the intelligence food chain, and they cannot receive images from manned or unmanned vehicles to know whether they are walking into an ambush or encountering a group of friendly forces.

Likewise, Border Patrol agents cannot communicate easily with other law enforcement agencies (like a local Sheriff’s office), nor can those law enforcement agencies run on-site biometric checks (e.g., fingerprints) of individuals they suspect may have recently crossed into the United States illegally.

“I see it in the eyes and hear it in the voices of the men and women of the Border Patrol,” said Colburn. “They understand the mission and they want to accomplish it, but they feel like they have been abandoned.”

Answering the Unanswered Question

Most Americans own a smartphone, which is a powerful piece of technology. Experts say it’s hard to understand how, in this age of technological innovation and advancement, the United States is not arming its frontline officers with the very basic capacity to talk to one another.

Part of the challenge is that we have not brought new solutions to this long-standing problem.

To advance the effort, the Border Commerce and Security Council (of which I am Chairman and CEO) helped bring multiple stakeholders to the table in December last year in Cochise County, Arizona, to see if an innovative application of several integrated technologies could solve these communications challenges. It was a Proof of Concept test that included the U.S. Border Patrol, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office and a group of businesses with tools that can address a range of communications and intelligence challenges. What was tested is called the Field Information Support Tool (FIST).

FIST started in 2006 as basic research at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). NPS Information Sciences Research Associate James Ehlert said in 2010 that the goal was to create “an easy-to-use, inexpensive hand-held solution to achieving communications interoperability and a common physical and human terrain operating picture for both on-the-ground field collectors and tactical decision makers.”

The research question was, how can we use modern technology to allow officers in the field to talk to one another and to their superiors while also collecting and then acting on real-time intelligence?

“The intelligence aspect is that the local and federal law enforcement officers need to look at things from a risk-management perspective,” said Brian Conroy, Business Strategy and Strategic Development Manager at NOVA Corporation, which works with Kestrel Technology Group, the company that has produced the FIST system. “They need to find the high-risk areas [along the border], and if you have a tool that collects data and runs algorithms against it, you can conduct risk assessment and trend analyses. Human intelligence contributes to a holistic common operating picture.”

This is what the FIST system achieves, and it’s what was seen during the proof of concept test. In general terms, FIST uses off-the-shelf communications tools (like an Android device) to gather intelligence from officers on the front lines. With these tools, officers feed information into a larger database compiled from a variety of sources (including other officers) that informs strategic and tactical decision making. This is then passed back to the people working along the border.

The need for this kind of tool is obvious, but it has only been recently that the right technologies and software were put together in a way that makes it possible.

Moving to the Market

Over the last year, there has been a push to transition FIST into the marketplace. Research transition is tough, as DHS has found in many cases over the years. Unlike other agencies and components, such as the military branches, the homeland security and law enforcement marketplace is heavily fragmented and with limited resources. It makes it difficult to take good, workable ideas from prototype to production. As big of a challenge as creating an innovative piece of technology is finding a way to produce it in line with operational and funding realities. A local Sheriff’s office, for example, does not have an endless amount of funding and time to bring in expensive technologies and then train deputies to use them. For that matter, neither does the U.S. Border Patrol.

What’s needed is a simpler, cheaper solution, and based on the proof of concept testing, FIST appears to be that solution.

“It’s ideal for smaller law enforcement agencies because it can unify operations and reporting and scale capability, creating a force multiplier,” said Ivan Cardenas, technical director of the Kestrel Technology Group, which is helping to bring FIST to market. “It is a sophisticated system, but it is easier to use than the complexity suggests.”

There are a few moving parts here. There are applications that allow off-the-shelf technologies to record and report intelligence, such as the location of a breach in the border fence or evidence of people moving through the rugged terrain. There are existing law enforcement and Border Patrol network capabilities (or cloud-based tools) that store that information. The secret sauce, however, is the complex digital architecture that allows real-time control and fusion of multiple information sources in a way that supports the mission. This is the one thing that has been missing from the border communications and intelligence efforts, and it’s why DHS has struggled to address the challenges to this point. The innovation is in the complexity, and FIST makes it simple.

Of course, that complex innovation is for naught if the agents in the field cannot transmit and receive intelligence. Enter SiRRAN Communications, another stakeholder at the proof of concept test in Arizona.

“We often forget that without network access, we’re blind,” said SiRRAN’s Director of Sales Mark Briggs. “Our technology brings that cell network to anywhere that it is needed.”

Briggs describes this technology as a portable, battery powered cell network—a network in a box. It creates a local, closed network that any agent within range can access to communicate and record intelligence. The unit provides local communication in areas where there is no coverage, and if there is no way to access the communications grid, it captures intelligence and transmits it to the larger repository as soon as it finds a signal.

The lesson here is not just that FIST is a workable system to satisfy the mission needs of America’s border security and law enforcement professionals. It’s also that the answer to the communications challenges along the border will not come in the form of $1 billion worth of cell towers built under DHS management. If it were, we would have solved this problem by now. The fact that we have not reveals that the ultimate solution is necessarily complex and multifaceted while also being easy to use and in-line with realistic operating budgets.

Perhaps the most important lesson, however, is that there are real tools that our Border Patrol and law enforcement officers could be using. Right now there are thousands of men and women on the border, and until we give them the tools they need to do their job, it will make border security and the safety of our frontline heroes difficult to sustain.

The obituary of Batgirl actress Yvonne Craig

Yvonne Craig, the actress best known for her role as Batgirl in the 1960s Batman TV series, has died aged 78.

Appearing in the third and final series of the iconic, multicoloured adventure spoof, Craig’s portrayal of Batgirl was every bit as charming, self effacing and fun to watch as her on-screen co-stars Adam West and Burt Ward.

The creation of Craig’s iconic role was a rare example of synergy between the disparate words of television and comic book fiction. In the comics, a character called Bat-Girl (Betty Kane), who was designed as a love interest for Robin, had appeared at the beginning of the decade, but been abandoned by the series creators just a few years later. However, the new version of the character (this time with the civilian identity of Barbara Gordon), created by DC staffers Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino (at the request of editor Julius Schwartz and Batman producer William Dozier), was fresh, funky and fun, as well as an instant hit with the fanbase. The new Batgirl debuted in the comic books in January of 1967 and then in the TV show later that year.

Although the series was cancelled after season 3, Batgirl became an icon of 60’s television, as well as an integral part of the comic books, her four colour character formed, at least in part, by the spirited performance of Yvonne Craig.

The role came to define Craig and, in later years, she would admit to being surprised by the show’s enduring popularity.

“I really didn’t think we were making Gone With the Wind,” she once said. “Just an episodic TV series that would be over when it was over and then it would never rerun again”.

Instead, millions of people around the world enjoyed Craig’s performance, especially young girls, many of whom saw the character as a brave, empowering figure in an era typified by submissive female roles in film and television.

Craig was comfortable, if slightly demure, about being a role model. When asked about the subject later in her life, she simply said, “I meet women today who tell me that they grew up viewing Batgirl as an important role model. If they choose to know me in that context, well, I’ll take it.”

Initially trained as a ballet dancer, Craig worked at The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and used her skills as a dancer to perform most, if not all, of her own stunts as Batgirl.

Away from Gotham City, Craig also acted alongside Elvis Presley in two of the singer’s movies, It Happened At The Worlds Fair (1963) and Kissin Cousins (1964). She appeared in the third season of Star Trek as Marta, the Orion Slave Girl from Series 3’s Whom Gods Destroy and portrayed a ballerina in Austin Powers favorite movie In Like Flint (1967).

A prolific TV actress, Craig also appeared in episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E, The Wild Wild West, My Favorite Martian, Wagon Train, It Takes A Thief, Kojak, The Six Million Dollar Man and Starsky & Hutch, amongst (many) others.

In later life, Craig worked as an estate agent and then made a living in the prepaid phone card business, however she didn’t give up acting entirely and is perhaps best known by younger fans for lending her vocal talents to the Nickelodeon cartoon series Olivia.

In a heartfelt statement to Yvonnes many fans, Craigs family praised her resilience, sense of humour, business acumen and charity work. She will be missed.

SwiftKey launches symbol-based communication app for people who are non-verbal

Any technology that can improve peoples lives is always a technology that will be championed by us here, and if it is helping people with learning or speech difficulties then that is more incentive for us to bring it to our readers. This is current available on the google store for android devices and we are stating now that this should be on apple devices as soon as possible, the original article can be found on the verge website.

SwiftKey, the predictive smartphone keyboard company, wants to help people who are non-verbal communicate with others. The company launched an experimental symbol-based assistive app today called SwiftKey Symbol, which it says can be used to build sentences using images. SwiftKey staff who have family members with autism spectrum disorder came up with the idea for the tool, according to the company’s blog.

The app, which is free and available on Android, makes use of SwiftKey’s predictive technology to suggest symbols that might be used to finish a sentence. Outside factors like the time of day or the day of the week will influence these predictions, the company says. Users can also add their own images and use audio playback to read out to sentence to others.

Symbol-based communication apps like this aren’t new. Apps like Proloqui2Go and TouchChat also rely on pictograms to build sentences. But these tools can be expensive, and SwitKey says that its own take on the assistive app will be able to form sentences faster than the competition. “A lot of the current communication tools on the market are often too slow to select a particular image a child might choose,” the company wrote on its blog. “We realized that SwiftKey’s core prediction and personalization technology — which learns from each individual as they use it — would be a natural fit for people on the autistic spectrum who respond particularly well to routine-based activity.”

In the US, about two in 100 children have an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. People with autism have varied needs, so it’s possible that this app could enhance communication for some people. We haven’t tried the app yet — but we’re eager to see what it can do.