The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Steal My House

Burglars Trolling Facebook Pages for Targets

1 min read
Steal My House

If you post it to Facebook or to another social networking site, they will read it.

Burglars that is.

There was a story last week on WMUR Channel 9 television news in Manchester, New Hampshire about the arrests of three burglary suspects who are accused of breaking into at least 18 and maybe up to 50 homes in the city of Nashua, New Hampshire in the past few months and got away with - at least temporarily - an estimated $200,000 in stolen property.

The alleged burglars recently got caught because one them set off firecrackers in a garage that matched  a type recently reported stolen.

As a Nashua police spokesperson explained:

"The burglary unit advised all the officers within the department that there was a large amount of fireworks that were stolen, and if they heard any fireworks going off or come across anyone in possession of a large amount of fireworks to be suspicious and investigate."

An off-duty policeman heard the firecrackers and investigated, which eventually led to the three suspects being arrested.

The success of the trio, the police said, was in large part because they hit homes that were known to be empty.

How did they know that?

Because the owners told them so via postings on Facebook and other social networks that the trio allegedly monitored.

In a bit of an understatement, the police spokesperson said, "Be careful of what you post on these social networking sites," as criminals are known to read them.

The police also suspect there are more than just the three they arrested who are involved in the thefts.

A Consumer Unionsurvey earlier year found that more than half of adult users of social networking sites admit to posting information that could be of value to criminals.

The Conversation (0)

Metamaterials Could Solve One of 6G’s Big Problems

There’s plenty of bandwidth available if we use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces

12 min read
An illustration depicting cellphone users at street level in a city, with wireless signals reaching them via reflecting surfaces.

Ground level in a typical urban canyon, shielded by tall buildings, will be inaccessible to some 6G frequencies. Deft placement of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces [yellow] will enable the signals to pervade these areas.

Chris Philpot

For all the tumultuous revolution in wireless technology over the past several decades, there have been a couple of constants. One is the overcrowding of radio bands, and the other is the move to escape that congestion by exploiting higher and higher frequencies. And today, as engineers roll out 5G and plan for 6G wireless, they find themselves at a crossroads: After years of designing superefficient transmitters and receivers, and of compensating for the signal losses at the end points of a radio channel, they’re beginning to realize that they are approaching the practical limits of transmitter and receiver efficiency. From now on, to get high performance as we go to higher frequencies, we will need to engineer the wireless channel itself. But how can we possibly engineer and control a wireless environment, which is determined by a host of factors, many of them random and therefore unpredictable?

Perhaps the most promising solution, right now, is to use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces. These are planar structures typically ranging in size from about 100 square centimeters to about 5 square meters or more, depending on the frequency and other factors. These surfaces use advanced substances called metamaterials to reflect and refract electromagnetic waves. Thin two-dimensional metamaterials, known as metasurfaces, can be designed to sense the local electromagnetic environment and tune the wave’s key properties, such as its amplitude, phase, and polarization, as the wave is reflected or refracted by the surface. So as the waves fall on such a surface, it can alter the incident waves’ direction so as to strengthen the channel. In fact, these metasurfaces can be programmed to make these changes dynamically, reconfiguring the signal in real time in response to changes in the wireless channel. Think of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces as the next evolution of the repeater concept.

Keep Reading ↓Show less