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Communications Technology

Communicator Clothing 134

coondoggie writes "The crew of the classic science-fiction show's Starship Enterprise wore small devices on their chests that they could tap to communicate instantly with their colleagues. Such communications technology is now closer to reality thanks to a Finnish company which this week demonstrated high-tech clothing that can send and receive messages via satellite. The demonstrator antenna, built by the Patria Aviation Oy company, looks like a simple patch of cloth but is capable of operating in the Iridium and GPS frequency band as part of clothing. The Iridium satellites allow two-way voice and data communication, while GPS provides positional data to the user. Iridium could also relay the position of the user."
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Communicator Clothing

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  • !Classic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2009 @04:10AM (#29602911)

    "The crew of the classic science-fiction show's Starship Enterprise wore small devices on their chests that they could tap to communicate instantly with their colleagues."

    No, that was the crew of the tenth-rate spin-off's Starship Enterprise.

    • This is not uncommon in reporting. See good old TVTropes's Cowboy Bebop At His Computer [] article for other examples. Also, just couldn't pass up the chance to give others the same wiki walk I got -- but if you need the next few hours, don't look.
      • Need new moderation option: Evil.
      • Having never seen Cowboy Bebop I don't know exactly what's wrong with that image (the article doesn't say, but It does get your point across :D), but I'm guessing that a) the character isn't Cowboy Bebop, b) It's a girl and c) it's not their computer

        • Me neither. But I scrolled down.

          First example:

          The picture above shows the archetypal example, whence the trope gets its name. For the unfamiliar: The character is female. She is named Ed. And she is a supporting character at best. Cowboy Bebop is the show's name, where "cowboy" is a slang term for bounty hunter, and Bebop is the name of the main characters' ship. Also, for some reason, they capitalized the second "B" in Bebop. At least she's at a computer.

          * A computer that appea

          • ah, I see it. Noscript prevented the on-page Javascript from loading the extra content. Stupid site.

          • Actually, Edward is one of the main characters, not supporting. 'Radical Edward' is responsible for quite a few of the main events that happen during the entire storyline - including getting Faye Valentine to finally go investigate and come to terms with her past. She may not have as many -action- sequences as the others, but her parts of the plot are definitely integral to the whole, and serve to advance the story in a way that some of the other 'main' characters do not.

            Now, if you ask me, Ein was the real

    • by farrellj ( 563 ) *

      Actually, it's more like Vernor Vinge's novel "Rainbow's End" where the characters are able to interface with computers built into their clothing by how they move and what they wear. This allows for a fairly complex interface to ubiquitous "augmented reality"...much more immersible than just an iPhone or a set of i-glasses and a portable computer.

      Obligatory Wikipedia reference: []

    • by srobert ( 4099 )

      Thanks for pointing that out Comic-Book Guy.

      • Hey, I was thinking the same thing, and I'm sure other people were too. Except the fact that TNG was NOT 10th rate! It beat the crap out of TOS and was the best trek of all time!

        /me points nerd death ray in AC's direction.
  • Allrightium (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2009 @04:10AM (#29602913)

    Cool, but I really dislike anything that makes tracking people any easier.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Communication must be hard for you if you dislike it so much then.

      • by selven ( 1556643 )
        Communicating without revealing anything about yourself is not at all inconceivable.
        • You have to send signals, how can you do that without giving away your position! And for long range communication blanketing an entire country with signals just to you simply isn't something anybody can be arsed to do. While ham operators do it on short/medium range it does not scale well. The best anonymity you can hope for is separation of your number from your name and that the phone companies don't hand this over to just anybody (so if your in the US your fucked)

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by selven ( 1556643 )
            You don't have to send the message directly to your target. You send it through a wire (or over a wireless system with a 1m range) to a node which then sends it to a major node and so on, with 256 bit encryption and dummy messages constantly being sent so a wiretapper wouldn't know when someone was actually sending something. It's conceivable.
            • Short of using something like tor (huge overhead so nobody will bother), they can still backtrack all the hops till they are within range to catch you sending the original signal. Dummy messages just mean that your position (within your cell) is constantly being given away.

              Anybody who wants to send you a message is going to need an address to send the message to, so either you have them send their message everywhere (huge overhead, nobody CBA) or you provide them with you address that limits you to 1 cell.


              • by selven ( 1556643 )
                And if you're not paranoid, you don't care about your position being revealed so the point is moot. If you are paranoid, the overhead doesn't matter - even 100x overhead on 1000 words of plaintext would these days transfer within seconds.
        • You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means. ...
          Hello! My name is ... You ... my ...! Prepare to Die! (fill in the blanks to meet current situation).

    • Why do you hate hiking boots?
    • The summary doesn't mention that Patria builds military ordnance. Those patches are meant for soldiers, not civilians (though civilian models might be forthcoming). Imagine how useful that patch would be on the field. It weights less than GPS/radio units, it's easier to wield etc.

      When people mention that this is akin to Star Trek-military uniforms, they are completely right. This is for the armed forces.
    • Cool, but I really dislike anything that makes tracking people any easier.

      I'm sure you'll regret that when they can't lock the transporters on you when you are stranded on the surface of Tackion V.

  • chests? (Score:5, Informative)

    by martin-boundary ( 547041 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @04:12AM (#29602921)
    I thought the classic crew had to press a button on the wall and talk into the microphone?
    • Re:chests? (Score:5, Informative)

      by CyprusBlue113 ( 1294000 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @04:24AM (#29602985)
      Bad summary, the specific (first instance) show is Star Trek: The Next Generation. The origional series did not have wearable communicators, but instead, handheld devices.
      • Re:chests? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by bickerdyke ( 670000 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @05:11AM (#29603183)

        Oh come on....

        perhaps meanwhile TNG became a classic too?

        • by 1s44c ( 552956 )

          Oh come on....

          perhaps meanwhile TNG became a classic too?

          Star trek - councilors in space. On a five year mission to find new life and solve its emotional problems.

          Voyager or DS9 might become classics but TNG was crippled by political correctness.

          • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

            Voyager or DS9 might become classics

            Are you a betting man?

          • by mdwh2 ( 535323 )

            Episodes of an 80s TV series were cripped by "political correctness" because they had Counseller Troy?

            Blimey, is there anything that doesn't get labelled "political correctness" these days?

          • Political correctness my ass, it's no more crippled by politics than any good sciences fiction, it explores current and/or interesting political/emotional issues using new tech/settings. Star-trek TOS was an interesting action show but most of the episodes were pretty boilerplate (not to say they didn't have some good ones) it wasn't until they did the movies that it became a quality science fiction series. TNG (series not films) was the best series of the star-trek franchise . While i agree the idea of a c

          • Star trek - councilors in space. On a five year mission to find new life and solve its emotional problems.

            "Captain, I sense... millions of horny geeks staring at my cleavage..."

        • When the original post uses a definite article, "THE classic science-fiction show", that implies that there can be only one.

        • No. No it has not. Please turn in your nerd badge at the airlock.

        • Well, to my generation, TOS always was very silly. Weird people in 60/70s clothes and the like, fighting in an incredibly primitive way (eg the two handed fist on the back, or those "grandpa kicks"), lacking anything that could be called believable special effects or aliens, with primitive depth-lacking stories, and a main actor/team who acted like grunting animals half the time with their primitive philosophies. Impossible to take seriously. The only one I liked, was Spock, with his silly concept of pure l

          • I enjoyed most that TNG was like a box of chocolates...

            When watching a new episode, everything was possible. Comedy, crimestory, sometimes even science fiction :-)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by camperdave ( 969942 )
        Come on! Even in Next Generation the communicators were badges that were added to the uniform, not built into it. No Star Trek featured any clothing with built in communicators (at least the Federation never had that tech). If you're going to count stuff like that, well then, we've had wearable electronics since the invention of the digital watch. No, wait! Since the invention of the walkie talkie. []
    • Re:chests? (Score:5, Funny)

      by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @05:11AM (#29603181)

      Captain Kirk would rather walk up to the cute Ensign, tap her chest, and say, "Do you mind if I use your phone?"

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Only when they were in the ship. When they were on a planet they had cell phones. I'm still amazed that most of the "geew whis they'll never have this shit" shit is common now. I expected the STNG communicators by now; my old RAZR could call Mike by my pressing a button and saying his name, and it wasn;t much bigger than the STNG communicators.

      TFS isn't just wrong about the "classic" part, the NG communicators weren't sewn into the uniforms, they were sort of pinless pins that were often removed for dramati

      • So far the problem is power storage. A lot of things have come to pass from science fiction, but pretty much everyone was overly optimistic about energy storage density in the future -- I mean, we are IN the future that a lot of them foresaw, except that the batteries are bigger and the solar panels are shittier. I keep hearing that's about to improve dramatically; I am not holding my breath.

        Otherwise, you can get a similar effect with your RAZR and a bluetooth headset. You hit the button, say "name dial" o

        • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

          The only time I had trouble voice dialing with it was 1) it confused "Mike" with "Mom" and 2) in a noisy environment, like in a bar (where you'd have to go outside to hear anyway) or on the highway (where the voice dialing was the most useful).

          But the battery in the phone I have now is about the size of a STNG comminucator. Take away the screen and the buttons and it would fit.

  • As in (Score:5, Funny)

    by Huzzah! ( 1548443 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @04:13AM (#29602925)
    Pardon me sir, I believe your fly is ringing.
  • Awesome (Score:5, Funny)

    by rossi ( 5437 ) <{skar} {at} {}> on Thursday October 01, 2009 @04:15AM (#29602939)
    Make it sew....
  • Keeps happening (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fridaynightsmoke ( 1589903 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @04:24AM (#29602987) Homepage
    Every now and then a 'designer' unveils a jacket or whatever with some kind of technology built into it (for the past ten years at least), and says that its 'new' and 'amazing' or whatever, and that its going to change the world.
    IT WON'T. People DON'T WANT that stuff built-in to their clothing. It's uneconomic to build that stuff in to clothing. Not only do you have to manufacture the device(s) in question; you have to build them in to garments of differing styles, colours, sizes etc etc, and that utterly destroys any economies of scale.
    Anyway, what happens when you need to wash this jacket? What about if you want to use the tech on a warm day? What if you want to wear a different jacket that day?
    • Re:Keeps happening (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kinky Bass Junk ( 880011 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @04:46AM (#29603095)
      I'd say its uses would be more in line with the emergency services, and the device would either be washable, or removable.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Threni ( 635302 )

      This is a breakthrough though, because for once it's not MIT!!

      You're completely right, though - it's up there with that Captain Android professor twat who likes to get chips inserted just under his skin and pretend he's the first of a new species of android.

    • by Deviant ( 1501 )

      Unless you are in the military - where you always wear the same color/outfit, weight and how much you carry needs to be kept at a minimum as well as there being a great need to commicate and for others to know where you are. This actually goes along with the Star Trek analogy a bit too because they were, arguably, military personnel.

      But there is no money in selling things to the miltary right?

    • I have long thought that a mobile phone could be built into a hat. It could have a drop down heads up display. You could type by looking at the numbers on the screen. It could have two antennas which extend on either side of the head...

      And you could answer the phone by slapping your hat on.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by admiralex ( 1410225 )

      Just as a point of clarification -- not that this poster is inferring anything wrong -- but the TNG communicators were not part of the uniforms, they were attached to the shirt like a broach. If you didn't want to be contacted/tracked, you took the communicator pin off and you couldn't be tracked by that method. Of course that didn't stop ship's sensors from finding you whenever they wanted to, but it's not as if they were implanted.

    • Re:Keeps happening (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 10Ghz ( 453478 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @07:10AM (#29603703)

      Every now and then a 'designer' unveils a jacket or whatever with some kind of technology built into it (for the past ten years at least), and says that its 'new' and 'amazing' or whatever, and that its going to change the world.

      IT WON'T. People DON'T WANT that stuff built-in to their clothing. It's uneconomic to build that stuff in to clothing.

      Patria is a defence and aerospace-company. So you wont be seeing this technology on some average jeans, but you might see it in military flight-vests, uniforms and the like.

  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @04:25AM (#29602993) Homepage

    I've got this amazing thing that is just like something out of Star-Trek, you put it on your ear and it enables you to make and receive calls. I can even TELL IT WHO I WANT TO CALL and it automatically connects me with them.

    Oh wait its a Bluetooth headset and a Nokia 6310i

    2001 called they want the future back.

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      The summary is stupid. We've had Star Trek type communicators, as you point out, since the nineties. This thing isn't anything like a Star Trek communicator because those didn't talk to satellites, they were direct device-to-device.

  • picture (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2009 @04:27AM (#29603005)
    The article shows a poorly sketched picture - the type you'd do on MS Word Art when you were 12.

    Going to the website, a proto example of is here []

  • If it's built right into the clothing, how will you attach it to other objects to get a transporter lock? Rip the sleeve right off? Also, the objectives page [] doesn't even include a status update on the Heisenberg compensators.


  • If I'm reading TFA correctly this is more of an antenna an less of a full communication device. But very interesting none the less.

    It would very nice to have a jacket that your phone could plug into for extended range, for example.

  • If hitting your chest and suddenly talking to whoever you wanted to was practical then cell phones would have done it a long time ago. This has nothing to do with Star Trek. They want to find a way to make satellite phones sexy. Plus the communicator wasn't woven into the fabric. The show has communicators working when detached from the clothing.

  • by Ptur ( 866963 )
    EEEK... I wouldn't want to wear a transmitting antenna *on* my body with the antenna being on the exact same spot the whole time... Sound like this hasn't been thought out very well.
    • by cheros ( 223479 )

      So, where exactly do you wear your mobile phone? Does that location change?

      • by Ptur ( 866963 )
        Actually, I try not to use a mobile phone, and certainly not wear it on me. In any case, the mobile would still be at least 2-3cm away from the body, but when it is in the tissue, we're talking 1cm and less...
        • by cheros ( 223479 )

          Congrats, you're one of the more sensible people.

          On the plus side, the least sensible place to carry a phone happens to also filter out that habit in the future in a sort of Darwinistic fashion (if we indeed have a radiation problem): trouser pocket..

          On that topic, my problem is that pagers do not work internationally, otherwise I would not expect an iPhone to be delivered tomorrow.. :-)

  • I doubt very much whether this device will take off in a big way until they develop a transporter to get you out of your lover's apartment before your spouse's camera crews arrive.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Patria is a company working on defence and aerospace sectors. That should explain why the technology should not rely on mobile networks and why the "wearer" may want to have his/her position known by others.

  • If using the GPS for long periods can have your phone warm up significantly, (was it the iPhone?) then perhaps the antennas should be set in one's gloves, to keep your hands warm*, especially during the winter days.

    In any case, having to keep a certain distance from the body (for safety reasons) pretty much keeps this sort of thing on outerwear only.

    * That's right, I'm Canadian.

  • Actually I would prefer the Dick Tracy concept of a combination wrist watch and communicator
    • Well, maybe some future generation will be genetically engineered to grow an antenna in their skin. Of course with direct link to the speech centers in the brain, to directly communicate through it without actually speaking.

      Well, at least it would be a nice idea for a Science Fiction story.

  • Incorrect (Score:2, Informative)

    by PolarIced ( 119874 )

    The crew of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" used the insignias you could tap on as communicators. The original Star Trek series had flip-open handheld devices which they wore on their belts.

    Sheesh! What is Slashdot coming to these days?

  • ...see the title of this article in their RSS feed and think, "Oh no, some jackass integrated wireless internet into sunglasses and chose Netscape Communicator as the browser!" ???

  • Is anyone else wondering if your underwear will be lead shielded? Seems like the craze these days is all about cell phone radiation. What are they doing to do when the very close you wear are cell capable? ;)
    • Is anyone else wondering if your underwear will be lead shielded?

      I'm a little more worried about my underwear being off-hook sometime after I've consumed a burrito.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      The cell phone -- finally, birth control for men!

  • How do you charge this thingy?
  • So, we can finally abandon the ancient, hoary plot device of the movie bad guys ripping open somebody's shirt to reveal a 1970's Radio Shack bug microphone/transmitter taped to their chest? Since a bug can now be anywhere *inside* the shirt material itself (or pants for that matter), important Mafia business will now be conducted in the nude?

  • ..vibrate mode...Vibrate Mode...OH YES! Call Me! Viiiibraate Moooode!! YES!!..YES!

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