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UA engineers develop 'invisible,' fiber optic border monitoring system

Joseph L. Flatley
December 15, 2010
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As if the nation's overexcited and misguided border vigilantes didn't have enough ways to trigger alarms and bedevil the U.S. Border Patrol (whose job is hard enough as it is), University of Arizona researchers have developed Helios, a monitoring system that uses an acoustic sensor to detect movement via fiber optic cables buried beneath the US-Mexico border. The system is evidently able to distinguish between vehicles, animals, and humans -- and it can even differentiate between different types of human activity, including walking, running, and digging. But that ain't all! UA is looking to spin the technology out into the private sector, working with a company called Fotech to automate the system, further refine the database of signals, and maybe even integrate this into a comprehensive border security system complete with mobile surveillance vehicles and an animatronic Jan Brewer that is, according to a guy we overheard at the bar, "only slightly more human than the actual Arizona governor."

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