May 14, 2009 | 4
Can cops attach a global positioning system (GPS) device to your car and use the information they gather to charge you with a crime? As long as they get a warrant first, courts across the country are ruling in their favor.
A Wisconsin appeals court last week said (pdf) it was fine for cops to use a GPS device to collect evidence against a man stalking an ex-girlfriend, because the police had a court-issued warrant, the Daily Kenoshan in Wisconsin reports.
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals concluded that, since neither a search nor a seizure occurs when law enforcement officers use a GPS device to track a vehicle while it is visible to the general public and that the technology simply made it easier for the police to do their job. In fact, the court subsequently issued a search warrant for the suspect's apartment based on information gathered using the GPS.
Apr 17, 2009 | 1
Global positioning system (GPS) devices are everywhere these days—in cars, cell phones, dog collars—and now, even in asthma inhalers. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison recently launched a study using GPS devices to monitor where and when patients use their inhalers, a technology they hope will uncover unrecognized triggers of asthma symptoms.
Scientists have long known that environmental factors such as pollen, cigarette smoke, and air pollutants aggravate symptoms of asthma, such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. But the leader of the study David Van Sickle, an epidemiologist at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health says it's likely there are unknown environmental culprits. Figuring out exactly when and where asthma attacks occur can help pinpoint these aggravators, he adds.
Oct 30, 2008
Remember when there were no cell phones? Hint: It was 25 years ago this month that the first commercial mobile call was made from the U.S., ushering in the era of constant communication.
Fittingly enough, Bob Barnett, then-president of Ameritech Mobile Communications, rang up the great-grandson of telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell in Germany. Barnett placed the call on a so-called brick phone (a Motorola DynaTAC 8000X that weighed a hefty two pounds, was 13 inches long, and could only be used for 30 minutes of conversation) from a Chrysler convertible in the parking lot of Chicago's Soldier Field, according to the Wireless Association, the industry's Washington, D.C.-based trade group. It cost nearly $4,000, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
Aug 26, 2008 | 12
The use of microchips to track people (such as those embedded in hospital wristbands) and products (those uncomfortable tags on clothing that have to be cut off prior to wearing) has come under fire from civil rights groups who claim that big corporations are using this technology as a tool for spying. But what about when these tags are embedded in people themselves, rather than the things they wear?
That's what Mexican security firm Xega SA, which sells technology for tracking people, wants to do, particularly in cases when people are held for ransom. For about $3,700, the company will implant a chip the size of a grain of rice (it costs another $1,800 per year for monitoring), reports the Telegraph. Although it is unclear where the chip is likely to be implanted in a person's body its customers carry with them a panic button that can be pressed if a person feels he or she is in danger. A transmitter then sends signals via satellite to pinpoint the location of the person in distress, reports Reuters. (Xega did not respond to requests from ScientificAmerican.com for an interview).
Jul 11, 2008 | 2
The wait is over. Apple's new iPhone 3G goes on sale today, promising to download information twice as fast as its predecessor, featuring a built-in global-positioning system (GPS) and running hundreds of new software programs, including one from the Associated Press that uses the GPS to determine the iPhone owner's location and automatically send him or her local news articles. Other software includes eBay Mobile, which allows iPhone users to shop and to track bids on any items they are selling as well as programs from Facebook, MySpace, Sega and Travelocity specifically designed to work on the device's touch screen. Also, unlike its predecessor, which debuted in June 2007 retailing at $599, the new iPhone will cost a more reasonable $199 for the eight-gigabyte model and $299 for the 16-gigabyte model, if your sign a two-year contract with network provider AT&T (the only phone company licensed to support the iPhone in the U.S.).
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