Radar podcast: the Internet of Things, PRISM, and defense technology that goes civilian

A strange ad from a defense contractor leads us to talk about technology transfer, and Edward Snowden chooses an unnecessarily inflammatory refuge.

On this week’s podcast, Jim Stogdill, Roger Magoulas and I talk about things that have been on our minds lately: the NSA’s surveillance programs, what defense contractors will do with their technology as defense budgets dry up, and a Californian who isn’t doing what you think he’s doing with hydroponics.

The odd ad in The Economist that caught Jon's attention, from Dassault Systemes.

The odd ad in The Economist that caught Jon’s attention, from Dassault Systemes. Does this suggest that contractors, contemplating years of American and European austerity, are looking for ways to market defense technologies to the civilian world?

Because we’re friendly Web stewards, we provide links to the more obscure things that we talk about in our podcasts. Here they are.

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  • rodneydp

    I really liked the reasoned and careful discussion of the NSA surveillance controversies in this podcast. Excellent work.

    • Jim S

      Thanks Rodney. People are inflamed enough on this topic. We saw no need to add more fuel!

  • Gary Mintchell

    Regarding industrial control conversation–not all controllers are large PLC systems. Many companies offer smaller control platforms, since not all industrial control projects are large machines. Research for example Opto 22, National Instruments, Advantech Automation, AutomationDirect, Sixnet. There is even a Linux PLC project on SourceForge and Sixnet among others offer a platform for it.

    I don’t think that as many engineers as in the 80s and 90s are bringing in other platforms like we did when we first brought PCs into the factory. But they still play with Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

    (Note: I founded Automation World magazine and now am working on the launch of Manufacturing Connection where I’ve covered the intersection of technology and process control and manufacturing.)

    • Jon Bruner

      Interesting! Thanks, Gary. I think it’s in precisely these smaller, less-integrated settings that startups might gain a foothold.

  • rjh

    There has been a long back and forth between industry and experimenters before the arduino. Back in the 80′s I was using 850x and 680x chips for all sorts of little controller purposes. Some used low cost developer kits, and some were integrated into various production level circuit boards. These were much less expensive than a PLC and much more expensive than the Arduino. Over the years, the capabilities of the system on a chip products steadily increased, and the costs decreased.

    Things shifted somewhat in the 90′s as low volume programmable logic arrays (PLAs) became cost effective, but we still had a mix of chips and PLAs throughout products. The affordable field programable logic array (FPLA) followed shortly thereafter.

    When the first Arduino came out my impression was that it was a another step forward but not a radical innovation. It was a little cheaper and a little easier to use than the current developer kits. Experimenters and small system designers took advantage of the improvements. The big change was it was across the line into consumer affordable.