Vermont Patent of the Month – December 2021

The military and other intelligence agencies do not want their communications to be intercepted, or to be understood if they are intercepted. Securing these communications is normally done using special secured voice communications or by light communication using Morse code. While using a flashing light to spell out a message in Morse code may seem like something you see only on TV, it’s actually a common communication tactic in use by navies around the world. This low-tech system is not limited by having a sufficient signal or connection and cannot be tapped into, making it incredibly secure. However, it’s a slow process and requires both sender and receiver to be proficient in Morse code.

Marsupial Holdings, Inc. has designed a signal lamp that can more efficiently convey Morse coded messages. There are standards in use to ensure Morse code messages are properly deciphered. For instance, a dot and a pause between dots and dashes should each be 92 ms in length. A dash should be held for 270 ms, while a pause between letters should be 276 ms. A pause between words should be 640 ms. With the stringent standards, Marsupial Holdings decided a signal lamp was needed that can be accurately operated even under adverse conditions.

Their system has a set of shutters attached to the lamps which can be used to block the light on command. A traditional signal lamp is manually operated and limited by human error and reaction time. The device can send out different types of light to be better viewed at different times of day. For instance, visual vs infrared light will be viewed differently in low light, night light, and high light conditions. The system can also detect, track, and decode incoming messages. The company designed the lamp to find and track light-based messages, determine the light being used (visual, infrared etc.) and block out other light which might be interfering with the message. The system tracks the message, noting the pauses, dashes, and dots and automatically decodes it for the user. The automation of this system improves both the speed and accuracy of sending coded messages, while maintaining communication security.

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