Technicalities

HOLD YOUR BREATH. Scientists in Australia recently came up with yet another reason for paperless offices: Printers could be bad for your health. The BBC reported recently that researchers from the Queensland University of Technology found almost a third of the more than 60 printers they tested emitted toner-like particles that could have a negative effect on humans' respiratory systems, similar to the effects of cigarette smoke. The researchers found that particle levels increased fivefold during working hours, when printers are used.

WRONG TURN. While teams of scientists work on the somewhat dubious goal of getting automated vehicles to drive as well as humans, two white-hat hackers have shown that navigation systems in cars can be tricked into giving drivers a bum steer. Andrea Barisani and Daniele Bianco of the European security company Inverse Path demonstrated at a recent conference how they could feed phony information ' such as reports of accidents, closed bridges or snowfalls ' to onboard navigation systems, which would then instruct drivers to take another route. The researchers hacked satellite systems that use the European Radio Data System.

GOOD BROTHER. We've complained in the past about automakers' newfound affinity for creating overbearing computer-generated accessories. But Nissan is working on a Big Brother-like technology that isn't so bad ' odor sensors that detect alcohol. A sensor in the gearshift can detect alcohol in perspiration and issue a warning. Other sensors in the driver's and passenger's seats can detect alcohol in the air. The company also is testing an onboard breathalyzer that would prevent people from starting the car if they're over the legal limit. We'll raise a glass to that.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is editor of Defense Systems. Follow him on Twitter: @KevinMcCaney.

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