The United States is challenging every entrepreneur, engineer, developer and inventor to create the first military robot. The individual or team that creates a humanoid robot capable of walking on two legs and performing various tasks — driving vehicles and using tools — will be awarded $2 million by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The humanoid army isn’t intended for the battlefield, however; the military is interested in using robots for disaster-response scenarios in which robots will be able to assist service members in high-risk situations. “Robots undoubtedly capture the imagination, but that alone does not justify an investment in robotics,” said DARPA Acting Director, Kaigham J. Gabriel. “For robots to be useful to DoD they need to offer gains in either physical protection or productivity. The most successful and useful robots would do both via natural interaction with humans in shared environments.” The Robotics Challenge will begin in October 2012 and run through December 2014. Read on for DARPA’s press release. More →
Singapore-based wireless carrier M1 began offering camera-free iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S handsets on Friday. The Singaporean government does not allow its soldiers to carry phones equipped with cameras, but requires that all men serve two years in the military. M1 no doubt wanted to address those potential customers who wanted iPhones but could not carry one with a camera. The camera-free iPhone 4 starts at $449 while the high-end iPhone 4S is priced at $974. According to CNET Asia, Singtel and StarHub are also planning to offer camera-less iPhones, although it’s unclear when the device will be launched on those carriers. It is unclear if or when camera-free versions of the iPhone will become available outside Singapore. More →
Our friendly FedEx man was kind enough to deliver us the soon-to-be-released Casio G’zOne Commando from Verizon Wireless. Unlike most full-touchscreen smartphones, this Android 2.2.1 device is designed to be abused. The Commando meets military standards 810G for immersion, rain, and shock, dust resistance, vibration, salt fog, humidity, solar radiation, altitude, along with low and high temperature storage. The handset, which is not the lightest full-touchscreen we’ve handled — but certainly not the heaviest at 5.4-ounces— sports a ruggedized composite case which protects a 5 megapixel auto-focus camera with flash, 1460mAh battery, 512MB RAM, 3.6-inch WVGA touchscreen display, and a host of other assets. Want to know what our first impressions are? Good. Have a look at the gallery below and hit the jump to read on.
French digital journalism monitor OWNI published an interview Monday with former right-hand man to Julian Assange, Daniel Domscheit-Berg. Domscheit-Berg shot from anonymity to the spotlight recently when he announced that he was leaving WikiLeaks and launching a new project called OpenLeaks. “In these last months, the organization has not been open any more, it lost its open-source promise,” Domscheit-Berg said of WikiLeaks. He did not elaborate, but OpenLeaks will apparently be focused on achieving WikiLeaks’ initial vision as Domscheit-Berg saw it. The OpenLeaks website is now live (www.openleaks.org), though no content has been published at this point. It will initially be a vehicle for short essays that will serve as a test for the site “without pressure.” This will be the case through early 2011, and then the site will turn to “bigger media.” OpenLeaks is currently a 10-man operation but those numbers will likely rise with haste; Domscheit-Berg said the team is “drowning in applications” from people who want to join the crusade. More →
Today, Sprint announced the availability of the ES400S, a rough, rugged, Windows Mobile 6.5 smartphone from Motorola. The availability of the handset marks the first time that a branded and stocked Motorola enterprise device has been sold through a wireless carrier. Certified for MIL-STD 810G, a 4-foot drop, and IP42 sealing specifications, the ES400S will be available at the end of October to qualifying business customers for $499.99. The ES400S sports a biometric fingerprint reader, VoIP capabilities, Wi-Fi a/b/g, GPS, 3-inch touchscreen display, EV-DO Rev. A, HSPA/GSM for travel, and 256 MB RAM. This thing looks like it could take a licking and keep on ticking, no? More →
Okay, maybe the “not really a bird” thunderbird won’t be taking the place of the Gallic rooster as the avian mascot of France, but as far as the French military is concerned, Thunderbird is number one. Back in 2003 the French military began debating whether it would be wise to continue using a proprietary email client, such as Microsoft’s Outlook, or if it would be of greater benefit to transition to an open source client like Mozilla’s Thunderbird. In 2007 the decision was made, and officials agreed that Thunderbird would help, “seek maximum technological and commercial independence.” Fast forward to today, the French have TrustedBird — the name they’ve given Thunderbird when loaded with their developed extensions — deployed on over 80,000 military machines running a variety of operating systems. Oh, and for those of you wondering, the French are being good open source community members. This week Mozilla released Thunderbird 3, an effort which took nearly two and a half years, and you may (or may not) be happy to know that code located in Thunderbird 3 is a direct result of the TrustedBird project. France’s Col. Bruno Poirier-Coutansais acknowledges that open-source software, “is never completely free,” for large organizations to adopt, however they are quite pleased with the performance, features, and flexibility provided by their Thunderbird iteration. We’re curious, what email client are you using on your desktop/laptop? Viva la Thunderbird! More →
The Galileo navigation satellite project has been in the works for some time now in Europe, spearheaded mainly by the drive to mitigate reliance on U.S. foreign satellite guidance systems. Galileo will, in theory, “offer greater accuracy — down to a meter and less; and greater penetration — in urban centers, inside buildings, and under trees; and a faster fix” when compared to the U.S. run GPS satellites. The new system is set to be offered with a tiered service model, five tiers to be exact, and will also come with an integrity check of sorts, warning users if and when their reported location may not be exactly bang on. Any good news for those of us stateside? Sure is. The U.S. and EU have agreed to make both the GPS and Galileo systems interoperable; newer navigation hardware will be able to position you using either constellation as well as benefit from any future improvements to the United States’ system. Europe started launching Galileo ‘sputniks’ into orbit in December of 2005 and the main constellation is set to go live sometime in 2010. Here’s to hoping that our beloved smartphones are updated with the new technology sooner rather than later.
In an effort to help assist deployed servicemen and women in the United States Military, Google is allowing anyone with a .mil email address to sign up for a Google Voice invite and get pretty much instantaneous access. Google’s reasoning behind this (a pretty good one, though you couldn’t buy PR this good) is that when deployed, it’s incredibly difficult to stay in touch with family and loves ones. Timezone differences, different schedules, and everything else make it hard to communicate and Google’s looking to help change that. Here’s a quote from the Google post:
“For servicemen and women who are constantly on the move, having a single number and an easy way to retrieve messages from loved ones can be invaluable. To help our service members communicate with their loved ones and show our support to those serving our country, Google is launching a new program. Starting today, any active U.S. service member with a .mil email address can sign up for a Google Voice account at http://www.google.com/militaryinvite and start using the free service within a day.”
Tired of your phones cracking right in half? Maybe you should start checking out some military-spec grade devices. AT&T and Samsung are set to launch the a837 in the coming weeks, and we’ve just got a flood of pictures and specifications. Here’s a breakdown of the specs:
- Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, dual-band UMTS/HSDPA (850MHz/1900MHz)
- Video Share
- AT&T Navigator
- 1.3 megapixel camera
- Conference calling with up to 6 participants total
- 4.66 ounces
- 3.95 x 2.05 x .90 inches
At least the military-spec phones are finally getting a much needed hardware bump, right? This thing isn’t exactly a looker, but with pretty limited choices on AT&T, this might be one of your only hopes. We’ve heard this model is set to directly compete with Verizon’s Casio G’zOne phones, and be comparible in terms of pricing. Look for it priced from $99-$150 starting around September 15th, though we’ve heard pre-orders might be starting on the first of the month.