Google

Cute Or Creepy? Google's Plan For a Sci-Fi Teddy Bear 36

Posted by timothy
from the teddy-ruxpin-pinned-it-on-the-one-armed-man dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Time Magazine reports that Google has designed and patented an "anthropomorphic device" that could take the form of a "doll or toy" and interact both with people as well as tech gadgets echoing the "super toy" teddy bear featured in Stephen Spielberg's 2001 movie AI. This could be one of Google's creepiest patents yet — especially if movies like "Chuckie" still give you nightmares. The patent filing diagrams a stuffed teddy bear and a bunny rabbit outfitted with microphones, speakers, cameras and motors as well as a wireless connection to the internet. If it senses you're looking at it, the fuzzy toy will rotate its head and look back at you. Once it receives and recognizes a voice command prompt, you can then tell it to control media devices in your home (e.g. turn on your music or TV). According to the patent filing: "To express interest, an anthropomorphic device may open its eyes, lift its head, and/or focus its gaze on the user or object of its interest. To express curiosity, an anthropomorphic device may tilt its head, furrow its brow, and/or scratch its head with an arm. To express boredom, an anthropomorphic device may defocus its gaze, direct its gaze in a downward fashion, tap its foot, and/or close its eyes. To express surprise, an anthropomorphic device may make a sudden movement, sit or stand up straight, and/or dilate its pupils."

The patent adds that making the device look "cute" should encourage even the youngest members of a family to interact with it. But Mikhail Avady, from SmartUp, said he thought it belonged in "a horror film", and the campaign group Big Brother Watch has also expressed dismay. "When those devices are aimed specifically at children, then for many this will step over the creepy line," says Avady. "Children should be able to play in private and shouldn't have to fear this sort of passive invasion of their privacy."
Handhelds

Asus ZenFone 2 Performance Sneak Peek With Intel Z3580 Inside 104

Posted by timothy
from the doesn't-work-with-google-fi-though dept.
MojoKid writes: Asus just finally made their ZenFone 2 available for sale in the US. It's an Intel-powered smartphone running Android Lollipop that's compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile, and other cellular networks that utilize GSM technology, like Straight Talk, MetroPCS, and Cricket Wireless among others.The device is packing a quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 (2.3GHz) with PowerVR G6430 graphics and 4GB of RAM, along with Intel 7262 and Intel 2230 modem tech, a 5.5" Full HD screen, a 13MP rear camera, dual-SIM support and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. The high-end model can be had for only $299, unlocked. A $199 version with 2GB of RAM and a slightly slower Intel Atom Z3560 is also available. In the benchmarks, the Zenfone 2 offers competent though middling performance but considering Asus has priced the ZenFone 2 so aggressively, it's sure to grab some attention at retail with consumers looking for a contract-free commitment.
Advertising

European Telecoms May Block Mobile Ads, Spelling Trouble For Google 198

Posted by timothy
from the scrabble-will-still-show-their-ads-to-me-I-bet dept.
Mark Wilson has news that may have a big impact on both advertisers and end-users who use their phones as portals to ad-supported websites. Several European telecom providers are apparently planning to use ad-blocking software at the data-center level, which would mean benefit for users (in the form of less obnoxious advertising, and less data being eaten by it) but quite a pickle for online advertisers, and sites that rely on advertising revenue. From BetaNews's article (based on this Financial Times article, paywalled): Talking to the Financial Times, one wireless carrier said that the software had been installed at its data centers and could be enabled by the end of the year. With the potential to automatically block most ads on web pages and within apps, the repercussion of the ad boycott could be huge as mobile providers try to wrestle control from the likes of Google. I just wish my mobile provider would start testing this out, too.
Power

Wireless Charging Tech Adopted By Ford, Chrysler, and Toyota Goes Open Source 75

Posted by timothy
from the cautious-optimism dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The in-vehicle wireless charging technology adopted by Ford, Chrysler, Dodge, RAM, and Toyota has been released to the public domain without royalties or licenses. This technology that you probably never heard of before is in 12 vehicles; more vehicles than all the other wireless charging standards combined. The open standard web page shows schematics, app notes, and certification information to get companies to make compatible wireless charging products.
Security

Researcher: Drug Infusion Pump Is the "Least Secure IP Device" He's Ever Seen 83

Posted by samzenpus
from the bottom-of-the-barrel dept.
chicksdaddy writes: This is a bad month for the medical equipment maker Hospira. First, security researcher Billy Rios finds a raft of serious and remotely exploitable holes in the company's MedNet software, prompting a vulnerability alert from ICS CERT. Now, one month later, ICS CERT is again warning of a "10 out of 10" critical vulnerability, this time in Hospira's LifeCare PCA drug infusion pump. The problem? According to this report by Security Ledger the main problem was an almost total lack of security controls on the device. According to independent researcher Jeremy Williams, the PCA pump listens on Telnet port 23. Connecting to the device via Telnet, he was brought immediately to a root shell account that gave him total, administrator level access to the pump without authentication. "The only thing I needed to get in was an interest in the pump," he said. Richards found other examples of loose security on the PCA 3: a FTP server that could be accessed without authentication and an embedded web server that runs Common Gateway Interface (CGI). That could allow an attacker to tamper with the pump's operation using fairly simple scripts. Also: The PCA pump stores wireless keys used to connect to the local (medical device) wireless network in plain text on the device. That means anyone with physical access to the Pump (which has an ethernet port) could gain access to the local medical device network and other devices on it. The problems prompted Richards to call the PCA 3 pump "the least secure IP enabled device" he has ever worked with.
The Internet

Rand Paul Moves To Block New "Net Neutrality" Rules 438

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-isps? dept.
SonicSpike writes with news about another bump in the road for net neutrality. U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a Republican presidential hopeful, on Wednesday introduced a resolution to block new regulations on Internet service providers, saying they would 'wrap the Internet in red tape.' The 'net neutrality' rules, which are slated to take effect in June, are backed by the Obama administration and were passed by the Democratic majority of the Federal Communications Commission in February. AT&T Inc and wireless and cable trade associations are challenging them in court. Paul's resolution, if adopted, would allow the Senate to fast-track a vote to establish that Congress disapproves of the FCC's new rules and moves to nullify them.
Bug

RealTek SDK Introduces Vulnerability In Some Routers 35

Posted by Soulskill
from the won't-fix dept.
jones_supa writes: SOHO routers from manufacturers including at least Trendnet and D-Link allow attackers anywhere in the world to execute malicious code on the devices, according to a security advisory issued over the weekend. The remote command-injection vulnerability resides in the "miniigd SOAP service" as implemented by the RealTek SDK. Before someone asks, there is no comprehensive list of manufacturers or models that are affected. Nerds may be able to spot them by using the Metasploit framework to query their router. If the response contains "RealTek/v1.3" or similar, the device is likely vulnerable. For now, the vulnerable routers should be restricted to communicate only with trusted devices. HP's Zero Day Initiative reported the bug confidentially to RealTek in August 2013, but the issue was disclosed 20 months later as no fix has been provided.
Robotics

Researchers Mount Cyberattacks Against Surgery Robot 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the backseat-aortic-bypass dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A group of researchers from University of Washington have tested the security of a teleoperated robotic surgery system created by their colleagues, and have found it severely lacking. "Teleoperated surgical robots will be expected to use a combination of existing publicly available networks and temporary ad-hoc wireless and satellite networks to send video, audio and other sensory information between surgeons and remote robots. It is envisioned these systems will be used to provide immediate medical relief in under-developed rural terrains, areas of natural and human-caused disasters, and in battlefield scenarios," the researchers noted, and asked: "But what if these robotic systems are attacked and compromised?"
Government

FCC Chairman: a Former Cable Lobbyist Who Helped Kill the Comcast Merger 86

Posted by Soulskill
from the judging-books-by-covers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After Friday's news that the Comcast/TWC merger is dead, the Washington Post points out an interesting fact: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who was instrumental in throwing up roadblocks for the deal, used to be a lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry. "Those who predicted Wheeler would favor industry interests 'misunderstood him from the beginning — the notion that because he had represented various industries, he was suddenly in their pocket never made any sense,' said one industry lawyer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he represents clients before the FCC." The "revolving door" between government and industry is often blamed for many of the problems regulating corporations. We were worried about it ourselves when Wheeler was nominated for his current job. I guess this goes to show that it depends more on the person than on their previous job.
Cellphones

Patents Show Google Fi Was Envisioned Before the iPhone Was Released 31

Posted by timothy
from the I-could-show-you-my-notes-from-7th-grade dept.
smaxp writes: Contrary to reports, Google didn't become a mobile carrier with the introduction of Google Fi. Google Fi was launched to prove that a network-of-networks serves smartphone users better than a single mobile carrier's network. Patents related to Google Fi, filed in early 2007, explain Google's vision – smartphones negotiate for and connect to the fastest network available. The patent and Google Fi share a common notion that the smartphone should connect to the fastest network available, not a single carrier's network that may not provide the best performance. It breaks the exclusive relationship between a smartphone and a single carrier. Meanwhile, a story at BostInno points out that Google's not the only one with a network-hopping hybrid approach to phone calls.
Google

Google Launches Project Fi Mobile Phone Service 112

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-carrier-in-town dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Google unveiled today a new cell phone service called Project Fi. It offers the same basic functionality as traditional wireless carriers, such as voice, text and Internet access, but at a lower price than most common plans. From the article: "Google hopes to stand out by changing the way it charges customers. Typically, smartphone owners pay wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon a bulk rate for a certain amount of data. Google says it will let customers pay for only what data they use on their phones, from doing things like making calls, listening to music and using apps, potentially saving them significant amounts of money. For now, the program is invite-only and will only be available on Google's Nexus 6 smartphone."
Science

Old Marconi Patent Inspires Tiny New Gigahertz Antenna 76

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-small dept.
agent elevator writes Gehan Amaratunga and a group of engineers in England noted that the Guglielmo Marconi's famous British patent application from 1900 had an interesting and little noticed detail. It depicted a transmitter linked to an antenna connected to a coil, which had one end dangling while the RF signal was fed to the middle of the coil. That detail inspired them to develop a way to reduce the size of a GHz antenna without significant transmission loss by using dielectrics as the radio wave emitting material instead of conductors.
Input Devices

MIT Researchers Develop Wireless Trackpad For Your Thumbnail 19

Posted by Soulskill
from the adding-purpose-to-twiddling-your-thumbs dept.
itwbennett writes: Called NailO, the prototype trackpad is similar to the stick-on nails sometimes used as a fashion accessory. It attaches to the user's thumb and can be controlled by running a finger over its surface. The processor, battery, sensing chip and Bluetooth radio are included on a circuit board that sits under the capacitive trackpad. The two are connected via a small ribbon cable, which means the trackpad is not quite as thin as a stick-on nail, but reducing the size is one of the aims of the researchers.
Security

Calling Out a GAO Report That Says In-Flight Wi-Fi Lets Hackers Access Avionics 113

Posted by timothy
from the this-postcard-is-just-an-atom-bomb dept.
An anonymous reader writes A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) warns that in-flight W-Fi, including wireless entertainment and internet-based cockpit communications, may allow hackers to gain remote access to avionics systems and take over navigation. At the same time, a cyber expert and pilot called the report "deceiving" and said that "To imply that because IP is used for in-flight WiFi and also on the avionics networks means that you can automatically take over the avionics network makes about as much sense as saying you can take over the jet engines because they breathe air like the passengers and there is no air gap between passengers who touch the plane and the engines which are attached to the plane."
Network

Nokia Networks Demonstrates 5G Mobile Speeds Running At 10Gbps Via 73GHz 55

Posted by timothy
from the that-is-one-packed-headline dept.
Mark.JUK writes The Brooklyn 5G Summit appears to have provided a platform for Nokia Networks to demo a prototype of their future 5G (5th Generation) mobile network technology, which they claim can already deliver data speeds of 10 Gigabits per second using millimeter Wave (mmW) frequency bands of 73GHz. The demo also made use of 2×2 Multiple-Input and Multiple-Output (MIMO) links via single carrier Null Cyclic Prefix modulation and frame size of 100 micro seconds, although crucially no information about the distance of this demo transmission has been released and at 73GHz you'd need quite a dense network in order to overcome the problems of high frequency signal coverage and penetration.
Security

Research Finds Shoddy Security On Connected Home Gateways 88

Posted by timothy
from the junction-box-is-open dept.
chicksdaddy writes Connected home products are the new rage. But how do you connect your Nest thermostat, your DropCam surveillance device and your Chamberlin MyQ 'smart' garage door opener? An IoT hub, of course. But not so fast: a report from the firm Veracode may make you think twice about deploying one of these IoT gateways in your home. As The Security Ledger reports, Veracode researchers found significant security vulnerabilities in each of six IoT gateways they tested, suggesting that manufacturers are giving short shrift to security considerations during design and testing. The flaws discovered ranged from weak authentication schemes (pretty common) to improper validation of TLS and SSL certificates, to gateways that shipped with exposed debugging interfaces that would allow an attacker on the same wireless network as the device to upload and run malicious code. Many of the worst lapses seem to be evidence of insecure design and lax testing of devices before they were released to the public, Brandon Creighton, Veracode's research architect, told The Security Ledger. This isn't the first report to raise alarms about IoT hubs. In October, the firm Xipiter published a blog post describing research into a similar hub by the firm VeraLite. Xipiter discovered that, among other things, the VeraLite device shipped with embedded SSH private keys stored in immutable areas of the firmware used on all devices.
United States

Court Mulls Revealing Secret Government Plan To Cut Cell Phone Service 191

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-don't-want-to-talk-about-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes with the latest in the ongoing legal battle over revealing details of Standing Operating Procedure 303, the government's plan to cut mobile phone service during an emergency. "A federal appeals court is asking the Obama administration to explain why the government should be allowed to keep secret its plan to shutter mobile phone service during 'critical emergencies.' The Department of Homeland Security came up with the plan—known as Standing Operating Procedure 303—after cellular phones were used to detonate explosives targeting a London public transportation system. SOP 303 is a powerful tool in the digital age, and it spells out a 'unified voluntary process for the orderly shut-down and restoration of wireless services during critical emergencies such as the threat of radio-activated improvised explosive devices.'"
AT&T

Court Refuses To Dismiss AT&T Throttling Case 105

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-to-pay-the-piper dept.
Taco Cowboy sends news that a federal judge has shot down AT&T's attempt to dismiss a lawsuit alleging the company deceived customers by throttling their mobile data speeds. The suit was filed by the Federal Trade Commission after it found AT&T was charging customers for "unlimited" data plans, but then throttling their bandwidth once certain thresholds were reached. AT&T tried to have the suit thrown out by saying the FTC was exceeding its authority. Judge Edward Chen disagrees (PDF), saying jurisdiction for their conduct had not yet passed to the Federal Communications Commission when it occurred. The throttling affected "at least 3.5 million customers."
Privacy

Verizon Subscribers Can Now Opt Out of "Supercookies" 82

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-track-me-bro dept.
itwbennett writes Verizon said in January that it would allow subscribers to opt out of having a unique identifier placed on their phones that critics have labelled a "supercookie" because it's almost impossible to remove, but it didn't say when. On Tuesday, Verizon said the identifier won't be inserted for customers who opt out of its mobile advertising program: "Verizon Wireless has updated its systems so that we will stop inserting the UIDH after a customer opts out of the relevant mobile advertising program or activates a line that is ineligible for the advertising program, such as as a government or business line," Verizon said in a change to its policies.
Facebook

Facebook Successfully Tests Laser Internet Drones 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-social-networks-need-laser-drones-for-stuff dept.
rtoz writes: At its F8 conference in San Francisco, Facebook announced the first hardware it plans to use to beam the Internet down to billions of people around the world. Codenamed "Aquila," the solar-powered drone has a wingspan comparable to a Boeing 737, but weighs less than a small car. It will be powered by solar panels on its wings, and it will be able to stay at altitudes of more than 60,000 feet for months at a time. Facebook says it'll begin test flights this summer, with a broader rollout over the next several years. The drones were tested over the UK recently, and everything worked as expected.