Invention: The phantom car

时间:2019-02-28 09:07:02166网络整理admin

By Barry Fox For over 30 years, Barry Fox has trawled the world’s weird and wonderful patent applications each week, digging out the most exciting, intriguing and even terrifying new ideas. His column, Invention, is now available exclusively online. Please send us your feedback. Read previous Invention round-ups: phone-bomb hijacking, shocking airport scans, from old tyres to printer ink, eye-tracking displays, thought-controlled voice synthesizers, dead pixel camouflage and auto-adjusting rifles. Using in-car satellite navigation on unfamiliar roads, in bad weather or in heavy traffic can be a bore. But soon it could be as simple as following the car ahead, if a patent filed recently by Microsoft takes off. Instead of studying an on-screen map or listening to spoken instructions, the system lets a driver pursue a cartoon car projected onto the windscreen in front of them. The navigation system checks a car’s location and calculates a route in the usual way, but the driver follows the ghost car as if it were the leader of a convoy. The on-screen car could also convey traffic and weather information by changing colour or size. And its ghostly cartoon character should make it sufficiently distinguishable from real cars and traffic as seen through the windscreen, the patent says. Read about the ghost-following patent here. Apparently innocuous phone and radio chat could soon carry secret messages. Patents filed by the US Air Force Research Lab in New York, US, reveal plans to burry secret messages in ordinary, unprotected communications by adding tones that can be deciphered at the other end of the line. A normal speech channel would be chopped into 60 packets per second, and each packet analysed for overall sound level. A pair of steady tones, too faint for a human to hear, could then be added to each packet. Modulating these tones according to a pre-arranged cipher would transmit the secret message. Although the tones are inaudible, they could be electronically detected by filters finely tuned to the exact frequencies. To detect and decode a secret message, a hacker would first need to know which innocent phone call or broadcast to analyse, and precisely what tones to focus on. If these were changed regularly, it would things even more difficult for an eavesdropper. Read the calling code patent here. A clever way to make computers boot up and start programs more swiftly has been patented by SanDisk of California, US. In today’s PCs, volatile Random Access Memory (RAM) provides a temporary buffer for data stored permanently on a magnetic hard disc. But information not held in RAM takes much longer for the computer to retrieve. The SanDisk system uses flash memory, which works in microseconds but has limited storage capacity, as an intermediary memory bank between RAM and the hard drive, increasing the speed at which a computer starts a program or opens a file. Data is sent to the flash memory component for rapid access. As this fills up, most of it is moved to the hard disc at slower retrieval. But particularly relevant bits of information, such the description of a file and its location on the hard drive, may be held in flash for longer. When the computer boots up or launches a program, it gets the initial data from flash while the hard disc searches out the next batch of information. Overall, access time should be reduced substantially,