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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Wi-Fi Helping To Fight War On Terror

KGO - Cell phones have become a key way for terrorists to detonate bombs remotely. But a Bay Area company has developed a possible solution for the military and for airports to pinpoint them before it's too late.

Bradley Rotter, technology investor: "Our enemies are using our technology against us as a weapon against us."

Cell phones are everywhere, keeping people connected. But they're also being used by terrorists to trigger bombs.

This device, called the Air Patrol, is the first of its kind designed to prevent that.

Cell phones are constantly transmitting a signal to stay in touch with the wireless network.

A string of air station boxes can detect and pinpoint the location of switched-on cell phones in places they shouldn't be, such as a checked bag on its way to the cargo hold of an airliner.

Nicholas Miller, Air Patrol Corporation: "We would literally be able to detect a case, spot a case with a phone in it and literally watch it go down the conveyor belt."

The cell signal sensor works with computer software to triangulate or calculate the location of the cell phone within 10 feet.

Nicholas Miller, Air Patrol Corporation: "The stronger the signal, the shorter the distance. You then do that for multiple locations, and it's really just like three Boy Scouts standing around San Francisco Bay with a rangefinder, a device that can measure how far a boat is away from them."

The technology was originally developed to pinpoint breaches in a wireless computer network and to keep out hackers.

A defense contractor asked the company to see if it could do the same for cell phones.

The first units will be delivered next month.

As with any new technology, there's a risk that terrorists will stop using cell phones as they learn their location can be pinpointed. That's one of the challenges of fighting terrorism -- staying one step ahead of the bad guys.
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