Battelle: Anti-terror technology keeps evolving

If you've never heard of biomimetric technology, you will. In a forecast released today, experts at Battelle Memorial Institute identified biomimetrics as one of the top 10 innovations to be used in the war on terrorism by 2014.

The Columbus, Ohio-based research and development lab made its report based on input from a panel of military and national security experts, academics and technologists.

"The tools we use to fight the global war on terrorism will undergo great enhancement and refinement over the next decade," said Steve Millett, Battelle researcher and chairman of the panel.

Biomimetrics describes a class of biological and chemical sensors that mimic nature in their ability to detect weapons of mass destruction. For example, companies may develop sensors that incorporate the bomb-sniffing abilities of dogs.

Biomimetrics will be one of many sensor technologies that will improve threat detection, Battelle officials said. "Advances in infrared, sonic, optic and other types of imaging will provide innovative ways of long-range sensing and identification of threats in the air, water, or food supply," said Roger Hyatt, a Battelle sensors research leader.

Other innovations that the Battelle panel identified include:

  • Proactive intelligence technology. By using computer-based data fusion, modeling and simulation technologies, agencies will be able to better anticipate terror attacks and head them off. Advanced language translation software will also help track terrorist communication.

  • Non-invasive imaging. So-called terahertz radiation, or T-rays, will allow anti-terror agencies to examine the contents of shipping containers without opening them or disturbing their contents.

  • Non-lethal direct energy. Technology such as the Vehicle-Mounted Active Denial System, which is in development, will have military and law enforcement applications as a means of repelling people and vehicles using electromagnetic energy that does not cause injury.

  • Space, air, land and sea monitoring. Geospatial intelligence technology will improve to include the earth's seas, which will help improve security by monitoring vessels.

In addition, the Battelle panel cited electronic money tracking and "bomb-proof chemicals" as important innovations in fighting terror. The group also felt compelled to include one non-technology innovation in its top 10: improved communication between Western and Muslim cultures.

With more than $214 million in prime IT contracting revenue, Battelle ranked No. 35 on Washington Technology's 2004 Top 100 list.

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