Military Tech

We don’t tend to cover military tech very often, but coming back from Memorial Day weekend, I thought I’d teach you all a new acronym. UGS, or Unattended Ground Sensors, is a technology that has evolved over time to become quite useful in monitoring battlefields, unguarded perimeters, and even borders safely, minus the collateral damage of land mines.

In the Vietnam era, sensors were used with mixed results. Many lasted only a few hours or gave off false alarms, or were so large in size they were easy to spot and destroy. Today’s sensors can fit in your palm and are disguised as rocks or buried underground. They sport tiny solar rechargeable batteries and can last as long as 20 years. It’s expected that the U.S. will leave behind scores of these devices in Afghanistan and use the sensors to monitor and learn long after ground troops are gone. There are 7,500 of the sensors in use on the Mexican border. According to Wired magazine, sensors are also cost-effective – they cost about $1,000 each compared to $80K for a single artillery round.

Of course, military technology is often the best catalyst for the next generation of amazing consumer devices. GPS comes to mind, as well as the Internet, and on and on. The data we collect is only going to grow exponentially — and eventually there’ll be a sensor for everything.

How would you use a sensor if you had one? Tell me by posting a comment below.

Comments

  1. BY Federico says:

    I just had an idea. How about using UGS to control and monitor the perimeters of national parks and protected areas to prevent poaching and illegal logging?

  2. BY Steve says:

    I like the comment by Federico about using it to prevent poaching and illegal logging. I would personally like one that would detect when I am about to fall asleep at an inappropriate time, such as a meeting with a client, and give me a poke (or some other stimulation) to bring me back before anybody else notices. My doctors have never been able to establish that I have narcolepsy, and I am sure that I am not the only one who could benefit from such a device.

  3. BY Alex Rounds says:

    I’m amazed at the cost. $1000/device at a time when similar sized and capable PDAs and cellular devices can be had for $50 unsubsidized. Reminds me of the $50K toilet seats and $10K hammers the military itemizes. Seems that economies of scale don’t apply here. I like some of the application ideas posted here.

    • BY Steve says:

      The $50 devices don’t last 20 years and aren’t solar equipped. That level of reliability in an unattended and non-maintenance mode is what drives the price up.

  4. BY Vasile Teodorovici says:

    Hi Alice,

    Discussing about military things, that involves also possibility of war; hence identification of at least an enemy. It could be something rather abstract like global warming too.
    If I would have that kind of toy, I would record data about how the colour of my skin is changing into be more likable to the Canadian elite.
    Thanks for asking,
    Vasile Teodorovici
    Ottawa, Canada

  5. BY jordan says:

    that park one was good but it will be more effective in My opinion for protecting a house or a business. Personally I bet they are better than move detection cameras so I could use one to detect unwanted people at night or while I’m away… 20 years are also way more than a security camera so price wise they’ll be fine.

  6. BY alex bala says:

    More on the poaching aspect, but with a twist. How about tracking animal migration in a national park or private ranch.

  7. BY Tom Leverenz says:

    How about putting some into a carpet with a wifi transmitter to record when the kid REALLY got home.

    • BY Steve says:

      There are very tiny motion actuated cameras that would serve that purpose better than a carpet sensor. In addition, you would know WHO was actually in your house, which would be good if the camera was activated at a time you wouldn’t expecting it to be.

  8. BY TKM says:

    I would put it under the steps of back door at my home. Attach it to a alert program that would dial my mobile. I have other places to put it . . . teenage daughter . . . trust but verify.

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