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  • Industry-Wide Smartphone "Kill Switch" Closer To Reality

    mpicpp (3454017) writes "The 'kill switch,' a system for remotely disabling smartphones and wiping their data, will become standard in 2015, according to a pledge backed by most of the mobile world's major players. Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft, along with the five biggest cellular carriers in the United States, are among those that have signed on to a voluntary program announced Tuesday by the industry's largest trade group. All smartphones manufactured for sale in the United States after July 2015 must have the technology, according to the program from CTIA. Advocates say the feature would deter thieves from taking mobile devices by rendering phones useless while allowing people to protect personal information if their phone is lost or stolen. Its proponents include law enforcement officials concerned about the rising problem of smartphone theft."

    132 comments | 2 days ago

  • Anyone Can Buy Google Glass April 15

    An anonymous reader writes "Starting at 9 a.m. ET on April 15 anyone in the US will be able to buy Google Glass for one day. From the article: 'This is the first time the device has been available to the general public. So far, the face-mounted computers have been sold only to Google "Explorers," the company's name for early adopters. At first only developers could buy Glass, but Google slowly expanded the program to include regular people. Some were hand-picked, others applied to be Explorers through Google contests by sharing what cool projects they would do if they had Glass.'"

    167 comments | 5 days ago

  • The Connected Home's Battle of the Bulbs

    redletterdave writes: "The current leader in smart lights is Philips Hue Wi-Fi-enabled bulbs. But the competition just heated up last week, with both LG and Samsung unveiling new smart bulbs. Not that Philips is sitting idly by—the boss of intelligent bulbs also unveiled two new products: the Hue Lux LED bulb, a cheaper, stripped-down version of its pricey original, and the Philips Hue Tap, an add-on that lets you trigger lights by touch. But which company will win the battle to illuminate the connected home?"

    176 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Facebook Buying Oculus VR For $2 Billion

    Several readers sent word that Facebook will acquire Oculus VR for $2 billion. Mark Zuckerberg says the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is the beginning of something big: "This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures." The obvious question is: why Facebook would buy a company focused on VR gaming? The Oculus team says, "But when you consider it more carefully, we're culturally aligned with a focus on innovating and hiring the best and brightest; we believe communication drives new platforms; we want to contribute to a more open, connected world; and we both see virtual reality as the next step. ... It opens doors to new opportunities and partnerships, reduces risk on the manufacturing and work capital side, allows us to publish more made-for-VR content, and lets us focus on what we do best: solving hard engineering challenges and delivering the future of VR." Put more simply: money and connections.

    535 comments | about three weeks ago

  • JavaScript Inventor Brendan Eich Named New CEO of Mozilla

    darthcamaro (735685) writes "Mozilla today announcedthat Brendan Eich would be its new CEO . Eich had been serving as Mozilla's CTO and has been with Mozilla since day one — literally day one. Eich was a Netscape engineer when AOL decided to create the open-source Mozilla project in 1998. The choice of Eich as CEO seems obvious to some, after a string of recent short-tenured CEOs at Mozilla's helm."

    112 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Firefox 29 Beta Arrives With UI Overhaul And CSS3 Variables

    An anonymous reader writes "Following the release of Firefox 28 just two days ago, Mozilla today updated its Firefox Beta channel to version 29 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. This is a massive release: Firefox Sync has been revamped and is now powered by Firefox Accounts, there's a new customization mode, and the major user interface overhaul Australis has finally arrived. Release notes are here: Desktop and Android." Of interest to developers: Firefox 29 will feature the first implementation of CSS3 variables. Yes, variables for CSS (15 years later).

    256 comments | about a month ago

  • Google Unveils Android Wear

    mrspoonsi tips news that Google has announced 'Android Wear,' their effort to bring the Android mobile operating system to wearable devices. Android Wear provides an interface to control other devices through a smartwatch, adds support for Google Now's voice commands, and lets wearables integrate with various apps. Google has made a developer preview available for download immediately. Google's Motorola division concurrently announced a smartwatch that's powered by Android Wear called the Moto 360. LG announced one as well.

    103 comments | about 1 month ago

  • Algorithm Reveals Objects Hidden Behind Other Things In Camera Phone Images

    KentuckyFC writes "Imaging is undergoing a quiet revolution at the moment thanks to various new techniques for extracting data from images. Now physicists have worked out how to create an image of an object hidden behind a translucent material using little more than an ordinary smartphone and some clever data processing. The team placed objects behind materials that scatter light such as onion skin, frosted glass and chicken breast tissue. They photographed them using a Nokia Lumina 1020 smartphone, with a 41 megapixel sensor. To the naked eye, the resulting images look like random speckle. But by treating the data from each pixel separately and looking for correlations between pixels, the team was able to produce images of the hidden objects. They even photographed light scattered off a white wall and recovered an image of the reflected scene--a technique that effectively looks round corners. The new technique has applications in areas such as surveillance and medical imaging."

    85 comments | about a month ago

  • Sony & Panasonic Next-Gen Optical Discs Moving Forward

    jones_supa writes "From last summer you might remember the Sony & Panasonic plans to bring next generation optical discs with recording capacity of at least 300GB. Various next-gen optical discs from different companies have been proposed, but this joint effort seems to be still moving forward. The disc is called simply Archival Disc and, roadmap and key specifications are out. First-wave ADs are slated to launch in summer of 2015 and will be able to hold up to 300GB of data. Archival Discs will be double-sided, so this works out to 150GB of data per side. Future versions of the technology will improve storage density, increasing to 500GB (or 250GB per side) and 1TB (500GB per side) as the standard matures."

    250 comments | about a month ago

  • Facebook To Pay City $200K-a-Year For a Neighborhood Cop

    theodp writes "Valleywag reports that Facebook just bought itself a police officer and questions what kind of mechanism will be in place to make sure the officer — whose position Facebook has agreed to fund to the tune of $200K-a-year for 3 years — doesn't provide preferential protection for the social network giant and its employees. It's probably a fair question, considering that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made the City of New Orleans enter into a federal consent decree designed to address the 'divided loyalties' of the city's moonlighting police officers. But for now, everything's hunky-dory in Menlo Park, where Police Chief Robert Jonsen called the deal a 'benchmark in private-public partnerships.' No doubt it is, as was last week's Google-City of San Francisco deal to fund free bus passes for low- and middle-income kids. But is giving earmarked funding to facilitate self-serving city expenditures a good or bad development?"

    235 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Comcast Turning Chicago Homes Into Xfinity Hotspots

    BUL2294 writes "The Chicago Tribune is reporting that, over the next few months in Chicago, Comcast is turning on a feature that turns customer networks into public Wi-Fi hotspots. After a firmware upgrade is installed, 'visitors will use their own Xfinity credentials to sign on, and will not need the homeowner's permission or password to tap into their Wi-Fi signal. The homegrown network will also be available to non-subscribers free for several hours each month, or on a pay-per-use basis. Any outside usage should not affect the speed or security of the home subscriber's private network. [...] Home internet subscribers will automatically participate in the network's growing infrastructure, although a small number have chosen to opt out in other test markets.' The article specifically mentions that this capability is opt-out, so Comcast is relying on home users' property, electricity, and lack of tech-savvy to increase their network footprint." Comcast tried this in the Twin Cities area, and was apparently satisfied with the results, though subscribers are starting to notice.

    253 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • The Next Keurig Will Make Your Coffee With a Dash of "DRM"

    FuzzNugget writes "Apparently seeking to lock competitors out of the burgeoning single-serve coffee market, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, maker of the popular Keurig coffee machines, will make their new machines work with licensed pods only. GMCR's CEO confirmed this in a statement: 'The much-anticipated ‘Keurig 2.0’ single-cup brewing system with ‘interactive readability’ (that doesn’t work with unlicensed/copycat pods) will offer such “game-changing functionality” that consumers - and unlicensed players - will want to switch.'"

    769 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Apple To Unveil Its 'iOS In the Car' Project Next Week

    An anonymous reader tips news that Apple's efforts to bring iOS to cars will be shown at the Geneva Motor Show next week. 'Drivers will be able to use Apple Maps as in-car navigation, as well as listen to music and watch films. Calls can be made through the system, which will tie into the Siri voice recognition platform so that messages can be read to the driver who can respond by dictating a reply.' Apple's partners in the automotive industry will be Volvo, Ferrari, and Mercedes Benz to start. Apple first said they were working on this system at last year's WWDC.

    198 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • California Bill Proposes Mandatory Kill-Switch On Phones and Tablets

    alphadogg writes "Politicians and law enforcement officials in California will introduce a bill on Friday that requires all smartphones and tablet PCs sold in the state be equipped with a digital 'kill-switch' that would make the devices useless if stolen. The bill is a response to a rise in thefts of portable electronics devices, often at knife or gunpoint, being seen across the state. Already half of all robberies in San Francisco and 75 percent of those in Oakland involve a mobile device and the number is rising in Los Angeles, according to police figures. The trend is the same in major cities across the U.S. and the California bill, if it passes, could usher in kill-switch technology nationwide if phone makers choose not to produce custom devices for California. California Senate bill 962 says all smartphones and tablet PCs sold from Jan. 1, 2015, should have 'a technological solution that can render the essential features of the device inoperable when the device is not in possession of the rightful owner.'"

    341 comments | about 2 months ago

  • NYPD Is Beta-Testing Google Glass

    Presto Vivace writes "The New York City Police Department is trying to determine how useful Google Glass would be for law enforcement. From the article: 'The New York City Police Department's massive and controversial intelligence and analytics unit is evaluating whether Google Glass is a decent fit for investigating terrorists and helping cops lock up bad guys, VentureBeat has learned. The department recently received several pairs of the modernist-looking specs to test out. "We signed up, got a few pairs of the Google glasses, and we're trying them out, seeing if they have any value in investigations, mostly for patrol purposes," a ranking New York City law enforcement official told VentureBeat.'"

    158 comments | about 2 months ago

  • First New Generic Top Level Domains Opening

    umdenken points out that the first batch of generic Top Level Domains will go live within the next several days, including .bike, .guru, .clothing, .holdings, .singles, .plumbing, and .ventures. (Early access began Jan. 29th.) ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade says there is currently huge demand for ICANN to reopen their program to let companies run their own gTLD. He said, "Many, many brands and many, many communities didn't know about the GTLD program. I get significant amounts of questions about when can we open the next round, because certainly there is a bit of angst that if Canon [who applied for the .canon gTLD] uses this to do an incredible mass customization campaign to win users to their product, I'm sure the brand next to them will say "Why aren't we doing this?" So I do believe this will snowball. But many will find a .com or whatever they have now will be good enough, and I believe that one excludes the other." He also said the $185,000 price tag to do so is likely to drop.

    198 comments | about 3 months ago

  • Using Nanotechnology To Build Thinner, Stronger Condoms

    Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Discovery Magazine reports that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has granted $100,000 to Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC) to develop a nanoparticle coating for condoms that will make them more comfortable and stronger while simultaneously keeping them thin to preserve – and increase – sensation in order to make them more appealing to use. According to the Gates Foundation, in the time that condoms have been in use, not much has changed: '[Condoms] have undergone very little technological improvement in the past 50 years. The primary improvement has been the use of latex as the primary material and quality-control measures, which allow for quality testing of each individual condom. Material science and our understanding of neurobiology has undergone revolutionary transformation in the last decade, yet that knowledge has not been applied to improve the product attributes of one of the most ubiquitous and potentially underutilized products on earth.' The nanotechnology that the Boston doctors intend to use for their improved condoms will be superhydrophillic nanoparticles that coat the condom and trap water to make them more resilient and easier to use. 'We believe that by altering the mechanical forces experienced by the condom, we may ultimately be able to make a thinner condom which reduces friction, thereby reducing discomfort associated with friction increases pleasure, thereby increasing condom use and decreases rates of unwanted pregnancy and infection transmission.'"

    253 comments | about 3 months ago

  • Windows 9 Already? Apparently, Yes.

    Nerval's Lobster writes "A little over a year after Microsoft released Windows 8, and a mere three months after it pushed out a major update with Windows 8.1, rumors abound that Windows 9 is already on its way. According to Paul Thurrott's Supersite for Windows, Microsoft will begin discussing the next version of Windows (codenamed 'Threshold,' at least for the moment) at April's BUILD conference. 'Threshold is more important than any specific updates, he wrote. 'Windows 8 is tanking harder than Microsoft is comfortable discussing in public, and the latest release, Windows 8.1, which is a substantial and free upgrade with major improvements over the original release, is in use on less than 25 million PCs at the moment.' Microsoft intends Threshold to clean up at least a portion of Windows 8's mess. Development on the latest operating system will supposedly begin in late April, which means developers who attend BUILD won't have access to an early alpha release—in fact, it could be quite some time before Microsoft locks down any new features, although it might double down on Windows 8's controversial 'Modern' (previously known as 'Metro') design interface. Yet if Thurrott's reporting proves correct, Microsoft isn't abandoning the new Windows interface that earned such a lackluster response—it's betting that the format, once tweaked, will somehow revive the operating system's fortunes. With Ballmer leaving the company and a major reorganization underway, it'll be the next Microsoft CEO's task to make sure that Windows 9 is a hit; in fact, considering that rumored 2015 release date, shepherding the OS could become that executive's first major test."

    1009 comments | about 3 months ago

  • Google Begins To Merge Google+, Gmail Contacts

    An anonymous reader writes "Google today announced new integration between Gmail and Google+ that sees your social connections show up in auto-complete when you're composing an email. Google says the feature is rolling out "over the next couple of days" to everyone that uses Gmail and Google+."

    339 comments | about 3 months ago

  • Researchers Develop "Narrative Authentication" System

    hypnosec writes "Researchers have developed a 'narrative authentication' system that could put an end to the need of remembering complex passwords to logging onto computer systems. The new system has been developed by Carson Brown and his colleagues over at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. The main idea behind the system is to log a user's activities on the system or any other device that he/she may be using and then ask questions about them when they login next time. Users can interact with the logging software and add their own events in the real world like wedding dates, holidays, travel dates, etc."

    117 comments | about 3 months ago

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