Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category
What if you could digitally interact with everything?
The future of augmented reality — think cerebral implants and digital contact lenses — was imagined last year in a short film by graduate students Eran May-raz and Daniel Lazo.
We highly recommend watching the eight-minute film, “Sight” — and also checking out our annotated walk-through.
Sight is an awesome product, but it’s also disturbing in its creation of a world with no off switch, where privacy can be hacked like never before.
With technology like Google Glass set to debut this year and other wearable gadgets on the way, Sight isn’t so implausible.
Deep in the heart of Assam, a remote northeastern province of India, a group of 150 guards watch for poachers in Kaziranga National Park, home to three-quarters of the world’s one-horned rhinoceroses.
But with an area of 330 square miles (855 sq km) to cover, the guards can’t be everywhere. Last year poachers killed 22 rhinos. And another 13 have already been killed this year.
The Indian federal government is granting $7 million in additional aid to help protect the rhinos, reports the Wall Street Journal (paywall). The state government has sent in another 500 special guards.
And it will soon deploy drones.
Drones are not a common sight in India’s skies. But as rhino sanctuaries go, Kaziranga is not unique—reserve administrators around the world are increasingly turning to unmanned aerial vehicles to help guard their beleaguered rhinos. In January, a reserve in Kenya used crowdsourcing site Indiegogo to raise half of the $70,000 it needed to buy a drone. The World Wildlife Fund, a conservation group, is also planning to deploy a drone somewhere in either Africa or Asia this year, followed by another one next year, backed by money from a Google grant.
The internet around the world has been slowed down in what security experts are describing as the biggest cyber-attack of its kind in history.
A row between a spam-fighting group and hosting firm has sparked retaliation attacks affecting the wider internet.
It is having an impact on popular services like Netflix – and experts worry it could escalate to affect banking and email systems.
Five national cyber-police-forces are investigating the attacks.
Spamhaus, a group based in both London and Geneva, is a non-profit organisation which aims to help email providers filter out spam and other unwanted content.
To do this, the group maintains a number of blocklists – a database of servers known to be being used for malicious purposes.
Recently, Spamhaus blocked servers maintained by Cyberbunker, a Dutch web host which states it will host anything with the exception of child pornography or terrorism-related material.
Users of the web giant’s free Gmail email service have been attacked by hackers believed to be working for the Chinese government, although Beijing angrily denied involvement. Those targeted included democracy activists, the personal email accounts of American and South Korean officials and military personnel.Now Google will warn such vulnerable users and encourage them to tighten their security settings.“We are constantly on the lookout for malicious activity on our systems, in particular attempts by third parties to log into users’ accounts unauthorised,” said Eric Grosse, Google’s vice president of security engineering.“When we have specific intelligence – either directly from users or from our own monitoring efforts – we show clear warning signs and put in place extra roadblocks to thwart these bad actors.”A new red warning bar will appear at the top of threatened users’ Google accounts.
BlackBerry delivered one of the world’s most mysterious press releases a short time ago when it revealed that it had sold a cool 1 million BB10 devices to an unnamed partner, but now it looks like some sleuthing has turned up the real client. AllThingsD and Detwiler Fenton both report that the likely source of the order was Brightstar, an international distribution company that counts Verizon, along with carriers around the world as its partners.
Brightstar is an established BlackBerry customer, and distributes handsets from the Waterloo manufacturer in some of its strongest markets, including in countries like Malaysia where BlackBerry retains very high popularity. Brightstar’s order (if indeed this is the client in question) would indeed be the largest ever single order of BlackBerry devices, but it’s also potentially a way for companies like Verizon to make a sizable bet on the company’s brand new OS and hardware, without taking on all the risk for such an order itself.
Detwiler Fenton says that the move indicates “Verizon doesn’t believe this well be a strong seller since it normally tries to allocate hot product on its own,” and that using Brightstar means it will spread out some of the responsibility and potential reward that comes with placing inventory in big-box retail locations like Best Buy, in exchange for the security of not being left solely on the hook should things go south. The U.S. launch of BlackBerry 10 happened last Friday, and while not all the cards are on the table, there’s still some early reason to believe things didn’t go amazingly well.
HTC Will Start Being More Vocal About Its Brilliance, Confirms Camera Supply Is Behind HTC One Delay | TechCrunch
HTC has revealed that it will finally drop the frankly stupid “Quietly Brilliant” tagline it has been using for the past few years, the WSJ reports, with company marketing chief Benjamin Ho saying they “haven’t been loud enough” with marketing to date. The first fruits of that change in strategy are already apparent, with HTC handing out snacks at the Galaxy S4 launch event in NYC, and the use of the hashtag #theNextBigFlop to directly take down the S4 on Twitter.
Ho also explained in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that supply shortage, specifically involving camera components (which are unique to the HTC One and use a new “Ultrapixel” layered sensor technology), is what’s behind the continued delay in launching the HTC One in the U.S. That’s acting as a choke point preventing the speedy ramp up of production, Ho told the WSJ.
While HTC is being more vocal in terms of both being aggressive with the competition and its products, and with informing the public about the real reason behind its slow global rollout of the flagship HTC One device, it has a lot of ground to make up. Q4 sales were down 41 percent year over year, and recently, HTC CEO Peter Chou said recently he’ll resign if the One fails to succeed with consumers.
The Taiwanese company will also be dumping funds into marketing, meaning that this change from the “Quiet” company of old isn’t just about optics. Ho said in the WSJ interview that it will be increasing its digital marketing spend by 250 percent this year compared with last, and that print and traditional media ads will get a 100 percent budget bump in 2013.
The Indian police department got approval to purchase the robot in April of 2008 but “it was not before the Jaipur serial blasts [in May] that the police really started the process of buying it.” The purchase of the “US-made robot” (iRobot?) will clearly reduce the risk to the police who defuse discovered bombs.
Researchers at the CRNS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory, are working on ways to control robots via thought alone.
From the video: “Basically we would like to create devices which would allow people to feel embodied, in the body of a humanoid robot. To do so we are trying to develop techniques from Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI) so that we can read the peoples thoughts and then try to see how far we can go from interpreting brain waves signals, to transform them into actions to be done by the robot.”
Last week I went to a lecture by the inventor and futurist author Ray Kurzweil, who was visiting Dartmouth College for a couple of days. Kurzweil became famous for his music synthesizers and his text-to-speech software, which are of great help to those who can’t read or are blind. Stevie Wonder was one of his first customers. His main take, that the exponential advance in information and computer technology will deeply transform society and the meaning of being human, resonates with many people and scares a bunch more.
You may have listened to all of your favorite songs to death — admit it, that Repeat button is looking a little worn — but the Infinite Jukebox will make you listen to them in a whole new way. A result of a small weekend hack by Paul Lamere, the webapp breaks down songs into individual beats while matching up patterns in the rhythm, then creating different pathways for the song to take. Once the song starts playing, the app intelligently compares beats and attempts to seamlessly branch out to a different point in the tune. The accompanying visualization helps listeners see the individual paths too, with visual cues dictating where the next jump could go.
For the most part, the Infinite Jukebox works extremely well, particularly with simpler songs or those with repetitive hooks. It’s not perfect, though: the engine seems to stumble on beats with trailing vocals, a particular problem in songs like Radiohead’s Karma Police. Still, we doubt you’ll be complaining once you fire up Superstition by Stevie Wonder and get a better sense of exactly what the Infinite Jukebox can do.