“Tatort” technology scouting

Tatort” is a well-known German/Austrian/Swiss crime TV series. Different sets of Tatort episodes are based in different cities.  The episode last Sunday (14 Sept 2014) was set in Munich.  The episode involved illegal arms deals with “radar based controllers of computer tomographs”.  According to the Tatort episode, these controllers can be used for medical purposes  but also for controlling military flying objects.

At mergeflow, we are software engineers, not computer tomography experts.  So we cannot really judge whether this story makes any sense (i.e. whether this dual use scenario is technologically plausible).  Above all, we were wondering whether (medical) computer tomographs really use radar in any form (like I mentioned, we are laypeople in this).

So we did a quick technology search on mergeflow, using the query “tomograph* AND medic* AND radar*”.  One of the things we found was a technology offering from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory — an “intracranial hematoma detector”:


According to the description, the technology uses “Micropower Impulse Radar” (MIR).  So, at least to us, the Tatort story may not be so far fetched after all.  Of course, due to our lack of expertise in this field we cannot judge how or whether MIR can also be used to control e.g. cruise missiles.  However, LLNL apparently has other, non-medical, use cases for MIR in mind as well.  One of those use cases seems to be “nondestructive evaluation of bridges” (we found this in mergeflow by searching for “micropower impulse radar” OR “micropower-impulse radar”):


Via mergeflow we also found a company working on MIR — ElectroSonics Medical (http://www.elecsonmed.com/).  One project they had in 2007 was an SBIR project, developing a “noninvasive pneumothorax detector”, using MIR: