Amazingly, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is actually not located in the UK, but we wouldn't doubt if the latest development to emerge from its confines somehow ends up across the pond. Nevertheless, scientists at the lab have developed a Laser-Based Item Monitoring System that "addresses surveillance requirements in places where video would be unacceptable because of the presence of proprietary information or other privacy concerns." Essentially, this optical monitoring system uses low-cost reflective tags placed on objects, and then maps the precise location of high-value items to sense tampering. The laser can purportedly detect minute changes (movements of less than a centimeter) by utilizing "a high-resolution two-axis laser scanner capable of looking at a 60-degree field of view in 0.0005-degree increments," meaning that it can divide its field of view into more than 10 billion individual pointing locations. The crew also noted that this system was generally superior to bar code and RFID alternatives as the LBIMS would not be susceptible to jamming or interception, but there's no word just yet on when the Department of Energy (or anyone else) will be putting this stuff to good use.

[Via Smartmobs, photo courtesy of Primidi]