With Scottish unemployment rising to an unprecedented level of 300,000 and traditional trades like heavy engineering experiencing a severe shortage of orders, Scotland is looking more than ever to its inventors and enterprising businessmen to build a diversified economy.
There has been no dramatic breadthrough in new products, but a Glasgow engineering company that is working on laser-beam systems has made a significant contribution with the first camera to operate in the dark without the aid of flashbulbs. The night camera, created by the well-known Scots company Barr & Stroud, is triggered by the heat of distant objects and has already proved its worth in a variety of activities.
Although the Glasgow-based company expects to receive substantial orders from abroad for the "see in the dark camera," it has issued a license to a German company for the manufacture of the new product in West Germany.
(The Israeli Army has been using infrared-equipped binoculars for viewing in night operations, but the Scots-produced camera is believed to be the first of its kind for taking effective pictures of human bodies and solid objects in total darkness.)
Another Scottish invention by a man living in the border town of Dumfries, near the northern shore of the Solway estuary, will enable seafarers and land surveyors to take exact readings by looking through an instrument at two visible features. Mirrors and markers on the fairly large binoculars enable yachtsmen or people surveying landscapes to pinpoint positions accurately.
The Posiline optical instrument sells at $:16 ($38), and the navigation aid is at the top of the list of new Scots inventions advertised by the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) in Edinburgh.
A "world beater" truck for rough-country transportation has been produced by an enterprise in Ayrshire, but the Stonefield Vehicle Company has run into financial trouble. It claims widespread African interesr in the exceptionally strong lorry, and it hopes it can raise enough capital to push ahead with the open-country truck.