A late, live post from roving tech reporter Gus, out and about on a Thursday night to keep you informed:

You, too, may one day own a paper shredder or a security tape dispenser designed by the National Security Agency -- our super-secret government agency known more for its ability to spy than to design office products.


Every year, I learned tonight at the Greater Baltimore Technology Council's TechNite , the NSA's super-smart folks are constantly taking out patents on the new things they create. Sometimes, these new things involve highly classified technology that never sees the light of day in the consumer market. Other times, the NSA folks are willing to share their unclassified patented creations with the public.

Luckily for us, their shredder and security tape dispenser may one day be a part of our lives.

William T. Newbill, who works with the NSA's Domestic Technology Transfer Program, explained to me tonight that the agency will keep classified certain patents that affect national security. But government's are required to make available any patents for licensing. So, if there's a company looking to build a shredder for consumers that's used by a major world spy agency, they might want to look at the NSA's "Shredder Residue Dispersion System."

To quote from the program's brochure: "To...ensure that no adversary could obtain a complete document at one time, the dispersion system is coupled with a procedure of disposing the collection bags on a rotating basis. SRDS does not require the operator to do any additional work and has no moving parts."

This clearly ain't your office-supply store shredder.

The NSA's Automated Security Tape Dispenser (or "AISTD" -- these government agencies sure love their acronyms) is perfect for people who must be absolutely sure their boxes have not been tampered with. This thing is so complicated-sounding that I'm struggling to find an easy way to describe it for you. Apparently, you can pick pre-programmed lengths for the tape by typing on a keypad. (ed note: ok, Gus, that made me chuckle a little. -- DD)

According to the NSA, their tape dispenser solves the problem of cutting the security tape to "a variable length while keeping the adhesive side from sticking to anything." I'd love to see this thing in action.

P.S. Thanks to Mario Armstrong for dragging Consuming Interests here!