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Networked Rocks Could Let the Military Keep an Ear on the Ground

These rocks can not only spy on you, they can communicate with each other and report back to base

Lockheed Martin’s networked spy rocks. Photo: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin’s pet rock is cooler than yours.

At at meeting for the Association of the United States Army last week, says Wired, defense company Lockheed Martin showed off how— thanks to ever smaller, more advanced computers—they could deploy a network of sneaky rocks that not only spy on you, but communicate with each other and report back to base.

Once deployed, says Wired, the rocks form a “‘covert, perpetually self-powered wireless sensor network’ that can provide ‘unobtrusive, continuous surveillance’ in units so small they can fit in a rock.”

The idea of spying rocks isn’t new—last year, says the BBC, the U.K. finally admitted that its agents had been using sneaky rocks to spy on Russia. The U.K.’s rock housed a little computer with a wireless transmitter, says the Telegraph, which field agents and Russian informants could use to exchange information—“a 21st-century version of what is known as a ‘dead-letter drop’.”

But where the British spy rock was as computer in a rock, Lockheed’s networked rocks are something more—a system of covert sensors with the ability to take action. Combined with drones or other automated military equipment, the ability to lock down an area without people in the loop becomes increasingly possible.

More from Smithsonian.com:

The Pentagon’s Newest Medal Rewards Excellence in Drone Combat
Dronestagram’ Shares Photos of Drone-Strike Targets Online

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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