Recently, the residents of West Palm Beach, Fla., encountered a flying saucer. But this was no alien ship. It was Cypher - a small, rotary-wing, unmanned flying vehicle designed for conducting surveillance and monitoring operations.

Cypher can fly through streets, hover and peek into windows, land on building roofs and transport small payloads.

Cypher uses a global positioning system to navigate and operates with a centralized computer (vehicle mission processor), navigational computation and air vehicle communications. The entire mission can be planned, executed and monitored from a single display system.

Commands are relayed to Cypher via a digital telemetry uplink. Aircraft status, mission data, test data and payload video are merged into a single data downlink signal that is transmitted to a mobile control van.

Cypher cruises at about 90 mph, climbs to 8,000 feet and navigates for about three hours.

For additional information, contact Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., 6900 Main Street, Stratford, #CT 06497. Call William Tuttle at 203/386-3829. E-mail:


HazMat Hot Rod

Massachusetts has deployed 15 Hazardous Materials Response Vehicles (HMRV) -- the most sophisticated in the nation -- to local fire departments. HMRVs consist of six new Technical Operation Modules (TOM) and nine new Operational Resource Units (ORU). "The strategic placement of these cutting-edge units will make these resources available anywhere in the commonwealth within an hour or less," said Massachusetts Secretary of Public Safety Kathleen O'Toole.

TOM units carry communications and scientific equipment including computer systems, fax machines, printers, radio, audio and video technology, mapping capability for Massachusetts and surrounding states, a computerized weather station, and data on more than 162,000 chemicals. TOMs also feature a plume dispersion modeling tool which can assist in determining the direction and speed of a toxic vapor plume. A remote-controlled video camera atop a 34-foot mast helps personnel view the scene. ORUs are designed primarily for equipment storage.

For additional information, contact The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Public Safety, One Ashburton Place, Boston, MA 02108. Call Charles McDonald at 617/727-7775 x507.


Let Their Fingers Do the Talking

raPID provides mobile fingerprint identification for officers in the field. Matching is either performed against an internal database, or information can be sent via mobile frequencies, cellular communication, etc., to a central automated fingerprint identification system.

raPID features less than 10-second fingerprint capture and extraction time, a live-scan capture area of 19mmx19mm, scan resolution of 500 DPI, LCD display with backlighting, 10-digit keypad, demographic entry via touchscreen, customized forms-based input and PC card interface. Options include: 1:1 fingerprint matching, integrated card reader and digital radio communication.

The unit weighs 2 pounds and its rechargeable battery lasts about 10 hours. raPID is currently being field tested by the San Francisco Police Department.

For additional information, contact NEC Technologies, 1201 New York Avenue, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20005. Call Christopher Warn at 202/408-4762.


Electronic Voting

ELEX Voting Terminals allow visually impaired adults to vote. For those with moderate visual impairment, the terminals employ large text, appropriate layouts and colors on the screen.

For those with serious visual impairment, "Audio-Touch," provides audio prompts in response to the voter's touch input. The terminals can be customized to match local election processes and models.

According to the company, terminals are simple to use and have multi-language capability, integration capability, integration of absentee voting and encryption.

For additional information, contact Computing Devices International, 1020 68th Avenue N.E., Calgary, Alberta Canada. T2E 8P2. Call Trevor Jones at 403/295-6711. E-mail: .


Make Your Point Stick

During the O.J. Simpson trial, a Pointmaker video marker allowed attorneys to draw and point on video and computer images