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Look Ma, No-Hands Fasteners! 200

theodp writes "Inspired by a daughter who suffered a serious infection from an IV feeding apparatus, the Trib reports an Australian architect has developed high-tech bolts and latches, which can be operated remotely without being touched. The first commercial applications are intended for aircraft, allowing crews to quickly reshape interiors to maximize payload space. BTW, smart fasteners hit Slashdot's radar almost two years ago."
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Look Ma, No-Hands Fasteners!

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  • Hacker's Delight (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Captain Chad ( 102831 ) * on Monday April 03, 2006 @02:44AM (#15048462) Homepage
    I can't wait until some enterprising hacker duplicates the signal to release the fasteners, and does it in mid-flight. Talk about chaos...
  • Easily Hacked (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ResQuad ( 243184 ) * <slashdot&konsoletek,com> on Monday April 03, 2006 @02:47AM (#15048469) Homepage
    Now, I think this is really nifty, but... its easily hacked. Why? Because anything transmitted over open air can be hi-jacked. They claim otherwise, but I find it hard to belive that a unit thats small and simple enough to replace standered fixing devices (like bolts) would be smart enough to handle and nearly unbreakable encryption scheme.

    Oh well, time will tell.
    • One time keys, [] I would guess.

      I wouldn't think that it would be too hard to key them with, say, 1,000 keys, 128 bits per key. That's 16,000 bytes, and 3.4 * 10^38 odds against you per guess. (I'll wager I don't need quite so many bits per key.)

      The procedure is this: (1) Listen for my address to be spoken. (2) Listen for fasten/unfasten command. (3) Listen for password.

      If you give it a good key, it follows the command, and throws away that key.

      If you give it a bad key, it locks up for, say, an hour, ten minut
      • by Anonymous Coward
        "If you give it a bad key, it locks up for, say, an hour, ten minutes, whatever, ignoring all input."

        That right there is a DoS :)
      • If you give it a bad key, it locks up for, say, an hour, ten minutes, whatever, ignoring all input.
        How would you attack this?

        Send a bad key once a minute. One useless bolt.
        • Sure, but you actually have to have a device that can't be detected, that's emitting the radio frequency.

          The scenario is that these mechanics are working on these aircraft in a controlled physical environment. So your attack makes no sense: If someone's using one of these devices to attack your bolts, you just look for the device. It's a freakin' lighthouse, and shouldn't be hard to locate.
          • Since when was a used airplane a controlled environment? All I have to do is leave my attacking device (hell, 10 of them) stuffed down the side of various seats, in the backs of luggage compartments, wherever. I'm sending a code once a minute. Sending the code takes me maybe a millisecond. So 99.998% of the time, my transmitter's silent. How are you planning on locating it?

            For that matter, what prevents me from sitting at the airport perimeter with a significantly stronger transmitter and disabling you
            • Un-hunh.

              You're obviously not paying attention. You've got 20 minutes between single attempts, regardless of how many of these you have. In a day, you can try 72 codes. You get to try 26,280 codes in a freaking YEAR. With just 2 bytes, I've got 65,536. Oh, look, I just added another bit: Now I have 131,072 codes you're up against. Oh, look, each key is 16 full bytes, meaning you are up against... 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,45 6 possibilities.

              Good luck, with your 26,280 per year.

              You're go
        1. magnet holding a case under the wheelwell/bumber trying all combos for several days.
        2. Long flight from NYC to India.

        I am guessing that one of the commands will be the equivilant of a ping. That is, the fastener will simply acknowledge that it is talking. Keep ind mind, that some items will require multiple fasteners to operate at the same time.

        These are just a few ways to get long term exposures to quietly try to crack the code. If you can get access to something, it can be cracked.

        • Keep ind mind, that some items will require multiple fasteners to operate at the same time. Exactly, you might get one unfastend but if there is some sort of "I am unfasted" signal produced, you wouldn't be able to hack all the fasteners before you are discovered.
        • 1. magnet holding a case under the wheelwell/bumber trying all combos for several days.
          2. Long flight from NYC to India.

          Several days won't be long enough. If it is, just add 10 more bits, and it takes 1,024x as many days. Your attack is uneconomical: You'd be better served dispatching robots.

          The case will be found on airplane inspection.

          Of course everything can be cracked. The thing is, you can make it so much insanely more complicated, that the opponent is better served attacking y
    • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @04:26AM (#15048654) Homepage Journal
      Because anything transmitted over open air can be hi-jacked. They claim otherwise

      Don't worry they will design a nice obscure protocol for it.

    • but... it's easily hacked. Why? enough to handle a nearly unbreakable encryption scheme...

      Well, not that I don't agree with your point, but I just want to point out;
      Since the real world isn't binary with two extremes only, 'not nearly unbreakable does' not imply 'easily hackable'.

  • by cbiffle ( 211614 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @02:49AM (#15048475)
    Call me paranoid, but they mention the fasteners being secured against access by unauthorized parties.

    Why do I have a sneaking suspicion this will include the user, and/or third-party techs?

    I can hear the coins rolling in now.
    • Yup, that's exactly where this will go. You thought the retarded screws that companies like Nintendo use are annoying, wait till you try to "tamper" with your brand new ultra hd-dvd:

      Oh, you didn't use the right code to open the case? We're gonna brick it now.

      This is the future, where you will need the manufacturer's permission to do anything to an item that you supposedly own.
      • by IgnoramusMaximus ( 692000 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:27AM (#15048775)
        This is the future, where you will need the manufacturer's permission to do anything to an item that you supposedly own.

        Capitalism is an equal opportunity for wealth.

        You seem not to realise that the quote above is the direct outcome of the one below. The ultimate purpose of Capitalism, from a perspective of a powerful participant, such as a multi-national corporation, is to enslave everybody who can be enslaved by making them dependant on your products and destroy or marginalize the rest, by any means one can get away with. An ability to deprive the consumers of control of the things they supposedly own, or ensuring that such things have built-in obsolesence and are as disposable as possible, to be replaced with even less controllable and more disposable "goods", are perfectly valid strategies from a purely capitalist perspective, where greed and bottom line are the only overriding concerns and where definitions of the nature of "private property" are simply naive holdovers from earlier, simpler times and easily circumvented by technological chickanery.

  • AHA! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rhinobird ( 151521 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @02:51AM (#15048478) Homepage
    So THAT'S what a self sealing stem bolt is for...
  • Remotely controlled bolts... that will certainly give a new meaning to "disassembler hacking".
  • by William Robinson ( 875390 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @02:58AM (#15048493)
    Giving intelligence to bolts and latches wouldn't occur to most people

    Most people are less intelligent than bolts and latches:)


  • Umm, batteries? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Spy Hunter ( 317220 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @03:00AM (#15048501) Journal
    Don't these require batteries which will eventually go dead, rendering them unable to be released remotely, and possibly difficult to remove at all? Also, if anyone believes these things are truly hack-proof, they must be pretty gullible.
    • RFID don't need battery and can be "secure" but there is no indication that this one is. thues/jwesthues.pdf []
    • I'd say that they'll probably have a physical backup, unless the people who make it are really stupid. I wouldn't mind being able to unscrew all the screws on something with a command from a PDA, but I'm not going to use 'em if I can't still take them out with a screwdriver.
    • Don't these require batteries which will eventually go dead, rendering them unable to be released remotely, and possibly difficult to remove at all?

      Nah, they've got a safety feature -- when the battery dies they fly apart, letting you know it's time to replace the batteries.

      Oh, were you using that wall?
  • I'll take it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @03:04AM (#15048509) Journal
    Cost doesn't seem to be an issue here, especially if it'll save man-hours. Labor is usually the most expensive part of a business, especially when Unions are involved (like the airline industry) or when you take your car into the dealer.

    So, if this mechanism means that bolts won't back out due to vibration, I'll take it. As long as it means I don't have to dick around with loctite threadlocker anymore. I mean, what genius decided to put the red loctite in a blue tube and the blue in a red tube?
    • Not to mention steak in a tube :o)
    • I'm sorry, but I cry BS on this technology. No fucking way will these things replace your standard fair of nuts and bolts in cars. Why you might ask? It's simple. It's called torque ratings. Also, if I'm still having to use a breaker bar when working under the hood, what makes anyone think these remote controlled "fasteners" will work themselves loose?
    • Have you ever considered safety wiring [] for those bolts you really, really don't want to work loose? On a helicopter there's a nut called the Jesus nut. I bet you can tell, just from that name, what its function is. It's safety-wired. So are the bolts that hold an airplane's propellor on (and, actually, just about every other nut, bolt, or threaded fastener/adjuster on the vehicle except for sheet metal screws.) It's easy to learn and it works quite well. It costs less than smart fasteners. I use safe
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2006 @03:06AM (#15048514)
    Perrine, who left Microsoft Corp. to join Telezygology, said intelligent fasteners will cut the costs of designing, building and maintaining products that use them, and this is just the first step in a new direction.

    When Balmer heard about this he threw a chair into a wall. Luckily the wall was constructed with intelligent-fasteners and with a push of a button, the wall was back to new.
  • Right... (Score:3, Funny)

    by vmcto ( 833771 ) * on Monday April 03, 2006 @03:09AM (#15048520) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:

      "I wondered what's to prevent some nut using a garage door opener from pushing the right buttons to make your airplane fall apart," said Harrison. "But everything is locked down with codes, and the radio signals are scrambled, so this is fully secured against hackers."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2006 @03:20AM (#15048539)
    Everyone knows the proper term for a remote control screw is teledildonics.
  • by kickedfortrolling ( 952486 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @03:23AM (#15048546)
    that game where you try to unfasten girls bras without them noticing.. only instead of bras, its cars.

    Its a cool idea, but i'm a bit sceptical about these 'codes'

    it Would be cool if, say, in a car accident, firemen could spontaneously deconstruct a car involved, to get at the victim inside, but i doubt that screws have a lot to do with that. Its probably just going to make it easier for people to steal your radio
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Johnny 5 is alive!
  • by mianne ( 965568 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @04:23AM (#15048646)
    Teams are locked into cages secured by these bolts. Each with a PDA and an RF scanner. First team out wins and losers PWN'd?
  • by Trogre ( 513942 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @04:25AM (#15048652) Homepage
    Look ma, no hands!
    Look ma, no feet! ...
    Look ma, no teeth!
  • By equipping intelligent fasteners with sensors [...], inanimate objects will obtain the sort of self-awareness...

    Terminator 3 was on dutch TV yesterday. There must be a link in there somewhere.
  • Well. This is great news. Intelligent fasteners. You know great if would be if the cockpit could be filled with airbag with all the seats getting loose including pilots seat. And with proper timing for such manouver could result lots of crushed meat. Think of it, all the airplane seats with people sitting in them falling freely until there is stop to free fall...
  • by EMIce ( 30092 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:09AM (#15048747) Homepage
    From the article:
    "What Rudduck developed are fasteners analogous to locks in doors, only in this case messages are sent electronically to engage the parts to lock or unlock. A quick electrical charge triggered remotely by a device or computer may move the part to lock, while another jolt disengages the unit.

    Instead of nuts and bolts to hold two things together, these fasteners use hooks, latches and so-called smart materials that can change shape on command."

    This sounds like nothing more than radio controlled solenoids, similar to what we see in remotely controlled apartment building entrance doors and in automobile power locks. A solenoid is just a coil that is electro-magnetized on demand to push or pull a metal bar through it's center. This bar usually moves something attached to it or touches a contact to close a high current circuit loop, like in a car starter motor. My guess is that the solenoid in a "smart fastener" would push open a latch or release some hooks.

    So why all the talk about "smart materials", "intelligent bolts", and materials that "change shape on demand"? It sounds like a bunch of pie in the sky market speak to me, not unlike what is heard in articles written by corporate PR agencys. Such articles are often given to lazy, disinterested journalists as neat & easy pre-packaged stories.

    This story has no substance - buzzwords are rampant and technical detail is non-existant. Yet the slashdot editors are proudly proclaiming they broke the story 2 years ago. Even worst, the story is being pitched as using exotic technology that allows self-threading bolts of some kind. The same false pitch was used last time as well. I bet this sort of "mistake" generates lots of $$$^H^H^H click thoughs though.
    • There are plenty of electromechanical devices other than electromagnetic solenoids and motors out there, capable of exerting physical force controlled by an electrical impulse (in this case from an RF receiver). Examples: piezo buzzers and liquid crystals. I'm not aware of anything other than solenoids or motors that could exert the kind of force necessary to release a latch of reasonable size, but even if it is just a solenoid and the 'smart materials' stuff is PR hype, it doesn't detract from the usefulne

    • Theres nothing of substance that I didn't see in the building security/access control industry over 20 years ago. The pictures show nothing new. The electronics is too big/costly to fit in a traditional bolt or such.

      My hunch is that this is just one of the few similar recent releases that might kick off another dot.bomb venture captical cycle.

  • A question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jsse ( 254124 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:18AM (#15048760) Homepage Journal
    "It gives designers a free hand," he said. "With intelligent fasteners, they no longer have to worry about providing a tool path when they design a product."

    But we might need to design a new path to replace the batteries. :)

    (well, I haven't read the spec., may be they doesn't require battery replacement or self-charging something....)
    • Re:A question (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Ever noticed a minature watch battery goes flat if you leave it in a really hot car, or flat with a realy cold snap. A bolt would be metal, which conducts heat...

      An aeroplane sitting on a hot middle-east tarmac, or freezing loose while flying over cold North Dakota.
      Depressurisation and repressurisation will cause moisture and salt to get in and attack the battery, or a lightning strike , or static electricity zap make the device kaput.

      Minature solenoids suffer from vibration, and fatigue breakages. If using
  • by bxbaser ( 252102 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:30AM (#15048780)
    If your data center doesnt use Bolt 2.0 in its racks you are just gonna lose in online ecommerce.

    BOLT 2.0 is future of internet hosting.

    Call my company now to find out how not to get left behind.

  • Of course his "solution" does nothing for the original problem of IV tube handling.

    NASA has been doing this for years, or did he think that someone went along every unmanned satellite to undo the bolts holding it together. NASA tends to prefer the one-time use explosive bolt because it is extremely reliable, but sometimes they have things like docking module fasteners that can be remotely operated.

    As an aside, if you want to move something from here to there exactly once, the explosive bolt is the mos
  • "I wondered what's to prevent some nut using a garage door opener from pushing the right buttons to make your airplane fall apart," said Harrison. "But everything is locked down with codes, and the radio signals are scrambled, so this is fully secured against hackers."

    Well, my garage door opener [] also says it has secure codes:

    For greater security, our screw drive openers include Security+® rolling code technology. Each time the remote is activated, Security+ automatically rolls the code over to
    • Tumbling to the back of the airplane may result in some broken bones among the passengers, but it'll also move the aircraft's C/G aft, possibly too far for the pilot to retain control.

      No, the real pain will come when you all tumble to the front of the airplane as it's augering into the ground like a lawn dart!

  • All right, where can I get my Back To The Future brand self-adjusting sneakers?


  • Will I be violating DCMA If I take apart my car and replace this with a 'dumb' bolt? I'm not against these so much as the political BS that could pile up around them. How long until the government starts regulating that the black boxes that are becoming common in cars are bolted in with coded bolts, such that removing it is a violation?
  • Voiding the Warranty (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Millard Fillmore ( 197731 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:11AM (#15050207) Homepage Journal
    When I read the article, I was concerned not with the ease with which a third party could hack the radio signals, but with the problems this technology could cause for regular users who want to take apart their consumer products. If, as the article predicts, these RF fasteners make visible screws and bolts a thing of the past, to be replaced by internal, remote-controlled fasteners, the main result will not be opening up new avenues for design, but limiting users' ability to take apart their devices. In this dystopian future, only qualified service representatives might be authorized to use the coded signals to open up the case on a PC or a phone, for example. Or the fasteners could be rigged to electronically keep track of "tampering" or "unauthorized access." I would prefer to at least have the option to void the warranty without having to smash open the case with a rock!
  • When the only tool in your box is a blackberry, every problem looks like an intelligent fastener!
  • by bill_kress ( 99356 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:39PM (#15051154)
    I'd be seriously tempted to earn my millions...

    1) Wait for full deplyoment.

    2) Design a tiny transmitter, they seemed to be saying these things could be "Daisy Chained" so you would only need to be near one bolt--that means a good transmitter taped to a watch battery could be as small as a quarter. You worked at the company, so figureing out the codes should be a no-brainer, they are probably as easy to hack as RFID.

    3) Place the transmitter somewhere under/in a chair (maybe slit the fabric somewhere or bubble-gum attach it underneath on a few dozen planes.

    4) It mid-flight, five flights later one goes of and unlatches all the seats, then starts sending an invalid signal every 5 minutes so they cannot be re-latched for landing.

    5) send a letter to the airlines saying there are more set to go off in the future, but you'd be glad to sell them the locations

    6) profit.

    Yeah, I guess that sucks--probably why I'm not a theif.
    • Yeah, I guess that sucks--probably why I'm not a theif.

      Thief? That's not stealing, dude, that's stuff like:
      -recklessly endangering human life
      -hacking, dmca violations etc
      -probably murder/manslaughter (you'd likely kill all/most people on board that plane. As others have stated, balance of the airplane would be thrown off... that's bad)

      In fact I wouldn't be too surprised if the government convicted you as a terrorist.

      You really haven't thought this one through, dude ;)

  • Oh great. Now when I tell someone to get screwed, they can do it by remote control.

  • I can see it now:

    POPUP: I'm sorry Dave, you shouldn't have opened my case.
  • Gives an exciting new meaning to the term, "hash collision". (-duck-)

    Actually these things are pretty cool. But I don't want my airline seats to be attached with these things. I want them real solid so it takes guys hours to replace them. I don't want to worry about a lightning strike or embedded vulnerability disabling them or something!

Air is water with holes in it.