With homeland security constantly on high alert, screening systems to search for
concealed weapons are vital pieces of equipment. But these systems are often
prohibitively expensive, putting them out of reach for large public spaces like
shopping malls, train and bus stations or sports stadiums.
Now Dr. Eran
Socher of Tel Aviv University’s engineering faculty is adapting existing
complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) chips designed for computers and
turning them into high-frequency circuits. The ultimate goal is to produce chips
with radiation capabilities, able to see through packaging and clothing to
produce an image of what may be hidden underneath.
developed through a collaboration between teams at TAU and Frankfurt University,
the chip could be the basis of sophisticated but affordable and portable
detection technology able to meet everyday security needs. The research has been
published in IEEE Microwave and Wireless Components Letters and presented at the
International Conference on Infrared, Millimeter, and Terahertz Waves in
Currently, advanced security technology is massive in size and
comes at a very high price.
Such scanning systems are often developed for
selected airports or used by NASA for space exploration, says Socher. “Our
concept is different. For everyday use, security technology needs to be
both small and cheap,” he explains.
By adding new capabilities to
existing CMOS technology, already mass-produced for computers and other mobile
devices, the researchers are producing new integrated circuits at an affordable
The chip, which measures 0.5 mm. by 0.5 mm., newly integrates antennas,
giving it the ability to receive and transmit millimeter wave or terahertz
radiation. When combined with either mechanical or electronic scanning
technology, the resulting radiation can produce an image.
technology, which penetrates the body, the chip is designed to see only through
objects such as envelopes, clothing, or luggage but stops at the human
Because the chip works with radiation levels that are lower than
those of a cellphone, there are no health concerns, the researchers
say. And the chip can also produce a more accurate depiction of concealed
objects, an advantage over common metal detectors which aren’t very specific or
sensitive, says Socher.
Another application for the chips, which have a
range of only a few meters but operate at high frequencies, is high-speed
communications. The data rate can range from one to 10 gigabytes per
second, explains Socher, so the chip could be used to transfer a file – like an
uncompressed high-definition video from a mobile device to a screen or projector
– wirelessly and within seconds.
Communications and software companies have
already expressed an interest in this technology, he says, and the researchers
have received a grant from the Broadcom Foundation in the US to support and
further their research.
AT YOUR SERVICE
Israeli customer service
personnel are definitely more pleasant and efficient than they used to be, but
many used to be cold, arrogant and even unhelpful. Now a recent Canadian study
has shown not only that positive emotion from sales staff is contagious to a
customer, but that a satisfied customer also improves the salesperson’s mood.
The study, published in the journal Human Relations, was written by Drs. Sandra
Kiffin-Petersen and Geoffrey Soutar of the University of Western Australia and
Steven Murphy of Carlton University.
We often feel emotions in response
to specific events, particularly social interactions. Affective events theory
(AET) suggests that a salesperson’s thoughts about how they rate their
interaction with a customer will then help determine the emotions they feel.
Until now, there have been few studies of how an individual’s positive emotion
appraisals fluctuate in real life. Data from employees’ diary entries on their
daily interactions with customers recorded 874 positive events over a five-day
Helping customers to solve their problem was shown to trigger
positive emotions such as happiness and relaxation. Deal-making events where the
employee felt the outcome was a result of his own intention and goal achievement
elicited excitement and relief.
When employees believed they had the
ability and authority to solve complex and sometimes ambiguous customer service
needs, an initial negative feeling (usually emanating from the customer’s mood,
or complexity of the problem), was shown to potentially lead to relief,
satisfaction and excitement. Emotions were also shown to be contagious – so as
well as a great sales interaction making for a happy customer, it was also
demonstrated that customer happiness can “rub off” on the sales staff serving
“For employees in our sample, taking personal responsibility for
the customer’s problem and using their skills and abilities allowed them to be
more effective problem solvers,” says Kiffin-Peterson. “Solving a customer’s
problem may be a positive experience because it enhances an employee’s sense of
competence and achievement, as well as their self-esteem.”