Soon to be adopted by your favorite U.S. airline? The U.S. Navy has patented a two-part device that uses a detector and a jammer to protect aircraft from attack by infrared homing missiles. As described in U.S. Patent No. 6873893, the device has a rotating housing and detects and tracks the incoming missile with a camera. A high-power infrared laser beamed through a fiber-optic cable to the rotating housing sends a highly energetic signal to confuse the missile.
Microprocessors overheat more easily at lower environmental pressures. Since peripatetic laptoppers spend a lot of time on airplanes, this possibility is worth worrying about. BenQ Corp., in Taoyuan, Taiwan, has received U.S. Patent No. 6873929 for a smarter cooling system that features a fan and two thermal sensors to keep your laptop from overheating. One sensor measures the temperature of incoming air, while the other measures the temperature of air after it has passed over the microprocessor. The signals from both sensors are monitored by a microprocessor that revs up the fan if a safe temperature differential between the inlet and the outlet is not maintained, a situation that can happen as pressure drops. The concept is also intended for video projectors and other "hot" hardware.
How safe is your data? If you use a redundant array of independent disks, or RAID, system for smarter, safer storage of information, you'd probably say, "Very." Digi-Data Corp., in Columbia, Md., doesn't agree. In U.S. Patent No. 6874100, Digi-Data carefully explains why and how RAIDs can fail--and offers a solution. RAID hardware can still let us down, the company argues, and Digi-Data proposes a yet more redundant system with at least two separate controllers, each independent of the other and having its own cabling and cooling system.