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GATR-com inflatable satellite ball goes where other satellite dishes can't

Nilay Patel

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The hits just keep coming out of Popular Science's Invention Awards -- we already checked out the ring mouse and "slidingly engaging fastener," but Paul Gierow's GATR-com (which stands for "ground antenna transmit and receive) inflatable satellite ball has got to be the most sci-fi invention of the bunch. Designed to provide communications in otherwise inhospitable environments, the six or eight-foot sphere contains a plastic satellite dish that unfolds when the ball is inflated and can be targeted to within one-tenth of a degree. When collapsed, the GATR-com weighs just 70 pounds and fits into two backpacks. The $50,000 ball has already been tested in disaster areas, helping a Red Cross station secure medicine during Hurricane Katrina, and Gierow says he's been inundated with potential clients. We can see why -- not only does this thing dial up a T1 speed connection, it's perfect for exercising your Wookiees. Peep a vid of the ball setting up after the jump.

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