The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), responsible for bankrolling the early Internet, is busy developing new technologies that could have a similar impact on the world. The agency’s $3 billion budget is funding research on atomic GPS technology that does not require a satellite to achieve geo-location awareness, terahertz frequency electronics that could lead to significant health-related applications, a virus shield for the Internet of Things, and Rapid Threat Assessment to aid drug discovery.
Because of the high costs of maintaining satellites for the Global Positioning System (GPS), DARPA has been researching other ways to locate a person or device more accurately and without the satellites. Research on atomic physics details how the Earth’s magnetic field acceleration and position is effecting individual atoms, so that GPS systems could use chip-scale combinatorial atomic navigation, C-SCAN, and Quantum Assisted Sensing, QuASAR, to find a person or device’s location on Earth that is 1,000 times more accurate than any current GPS system.
This new atomic GPS technology could make it harder to hack phones since they will no longer have to send signals to a satellite to use location services. Also, phones and other GPS devices will be less expensive because they do not have to rely on expensive satellite infrastructure.
DARPA’s research in terahertz frequency electronics may revolutionize the healthcare industry because unlike X-ray radiation, THz radiation is non-invasive. “Metamaterial smart clothes made with small THz sensors would allow for far faster and more precise detection of chemical changes in the body, which could indicate changes in health states,” reports Defense One.
The Internet of Things, which connects devices and sensors and stores data to allow monitoring and management, may aso benefit from DARPA’s development of the High Assurance Cyber Military Systems (HACMS). This program is aimed at patching security vulnerabilities, which could provide a valuable framework for security protocols for the Internet of Things.
DARPA is also developing a Rapid Threat Assessment (RTA) program to help researchers discover how new diseases work to kill humans. The new program will allow researchers to map the molecular mechanism that an agent my use to alter cellular processes within 30 days, rather than the current process which could take months or years. RTA could help healthcare professionals respond to pandemics earlier and aid in drug discovery.