A research team at North Carolina State University has used a building ventilation duct to at least triple the normal distance that radio waves emitted from passive RFID tags can travel over open space, as reported separately by Computerworld and R&D Magazine. The discovery means that a small, inexpensive RFID tag could be used to wirelessly transmit data from any temperature sensor, smoke detector, carbon monoxide monitor or a sensor to detect chemical, biological or radiological agents in a large building, according to Dan Stancil, one of the main researchers and head of the university's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Using the RFID tags with electronic sensors could be “immediately economically viable” because it would mean the wiring and the labor to install the wiring would not be needed to connect a building’s various sensors. The research will be published in the September issue of Proceedings of the IEEE.

And speaking of sensors in everything, in its efforts to develop an unmanned aerial system capable of detecting boosting ballistic missiles, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is focusing on a sensor pod that could fly on existing UAVs, rather than a new, integrated UAV design. General Atomics Reapers, with the Raytheon MTS-B electro-optical/IR/full-motion video sensor, have proven the ability to detect and track a boosting missile from greater than 621 miles with “remarkable resolution,” the commander of the MDA told reporters at the Space and Missile Defense Conference. MDA is doing the groundwork to see what qualities an objective sensor would need and how the data would be integrated into the larger sensor cueing and command and control architecture. The ultimate goal is to link all sensors and shooters into a networked system. A specific ABIR fleet of UAVs is cost prohibitive, so now the focus is on designing the pod, which could be flown on an Air Force system such as Reaper. Global Hawk also could be an option.

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