A new report indicates that the current malware infection rate for mobile devices is 0.68 percent, leading researchers to believe that at least 16 million devices were infected with malware at the …
Friday, February 13, 2015
Google and Mattel are teaming up to put a new spin on the classic "view master" toy, the two companies announced at an event Friday morning.
Starting in the fall, Mattel will sell a view master powered by Google Cardboard technology that will give kids a taste of virtual and augmented reality.
Buy Mattel's headset, pop in an Android phone with the view master app (or any other Google Cardboard app currently in the Google Play Store) downloaded, and you'll be able to explore simulated 3-D worlds.
Mattel will also sell "experience reels" that will offer other exclusive augmented reality content that you can't get on the apps. For example, Mattel will sell a San Francisco-themed reel that will use augmented reality to let kids explore different tourist destinations.
Google introduced Cardboard at its I/O conference last summer as a cheap way to let people become immersed in virtual reality. Mattel's view master will essentially be a kid-friendly version of cardboard.
"We're using Google Cardboard platform to reimagine the view master like kids have never seen before, using the power of virtual reality, augmented reality, and photo-spheric images," Mattel SVP Doug Wadleigh says.
The device will launch this fall and will cost around $30. It will be able to accommodate Android phones of all sizes (with other operating systems likely following).
"Our goal is to make virtual reality accessible for everyone," Google's Mike Jazayeri says. "The more people — like Mattel — making viewers, the better for everyone."
Although Mattel's view master device wasn't ready for us to test, we got to try out its experience reels in the Google Cardboard headset! .
In many ways, it really was similar to a classic view master experience. As you looked around the 3-D world, you could press a button on the side to switch scenes. We got to try out Mattel's space-themed reed, San Francisco reel, and dinosaur reel, the three the company has developed so far.
Here's the front of the device:
And a look at the back:
Posted by Augustine at 10:40 AM
Memex is a different kind of search engine. The open source software indexes Web content Google isn't designed to catch and presents search results graphically to reveal hidden connections among them. It was built by Darpa, the U.S. military's research arm, and runs in a Web browser. It's being u...
Posted by Augustine at 8:14 AM
Hundreds of Miami police officers aren't happy with Waze's police-finding feature, and they're not content with asking Google to remove it. According to NBC Miami, a number of cops in the city are taking matters into their own hands, downloading the app and inundating it with fake police sightings. We're sure a lot of people love the app for that particular feature, as they can use it to make sure they're driving well below the speed limit in the presence of law enforcement. Some American officers told AP last month, though, that the app could pose a threat, as wanne-be cop killers can easily use it to find a target.
Sgt. Javier Ortiz (president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police) for one believes that it "puts [them] at risk, puts the public at risk, because it's going to cause more deadly force encounters between law enforcement and suspects." But not every law enforcement officer out there shares Ortiz's opinion, such as Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel: "If someone is suffering mental illness and they want to commit a heinous crime or hunt a deputy or a police officer; they don't need Waze to do that," he told the news outfit. Despite getting flak from authorities, Waze's developers stand by the feature, telling NBC Miami that police partners support it, because people tend to drive more carefully when they know cops are around.
Posted by Augustine at 7:12 AM
This is no DSLR. It's not even a bridge camera. This is actually Olympus' recently announced Air lens camera, tricked out to a (some would say excessive) degree. While the accessories on show here were only for internal testing, we admit we'd like to do some external testing with it. Alongside the DSLR-esque handle and controls (the Air camera handles any micro four-thirds lens), what you see on top is Olympus' eagle-eye viewfinder that projects a laser bullseye that will hover between you and your long-range target of choice. That also explains the telephoto lens which is attached to what was, originally, a petite camera upgrade for your smartphone. Naturally some extra framework is necessary simply to support all that attached glass. Check its ridiculous backside -- where your smartphone would sit -- right after the break.
Filed under: Cameras
Posted by Augustine at 7:12 AM
Thursday, February 12, 2015
After winning a Best of CES Award last month and then releasing what appears to be everyone's favorite new laptop, Dell is already back in the news: The company today announced not one, but four new products. And they run the gamut too, including a Chromebook, a Windows laptop and a tablet that runs either Android or Win 8. While this might seem like a random assortment, they all have this in common: They're aimed at classrooms, and were designed to take a beating from careless children.
Starting with the new Chromebook 11, it takes the place of last year's model, with a more durable design that includes a 180-degree hinge that can stay intact even if students decide to dangle the laptop by its screen. (They do that sometimes.) Dell also sealed both the keyboard and trackpad, making them immune to the occasional chemistry-class spill. As for the 11.6-inch, 1,366 x 768 display, school districts can configure it with either a touchscreen or an anti-glare panel but either way, it's covered in Gorilla Glass to ward off scratches. On the inside, the Chromebook runs a new Intel Celeron CPU, along with a 10-hour battery and a faster 802.11ac WiFi radio. Nothing revolutionary there; just a spec bump.
If anything, it's the lid that's most interesting. Dell installed a so-called Interactivity Light that glows red, blue or yellow depending on the context. For instance, a student could use an onscreen dashboard to have the light shine red when they have a question, or blue when they want to raise their hand. (Maybe yellow if they want to join in a conversation.) As it happens, Dell already has a kids' laptop with an LED indicator that shows if kids are online, but Dell imagines even more use cases here. Perhaps teachers could split the class into smaller discussion groups by automatically assigning each student a color, or maybe students could use their colors to silently cast votes -- "Which Presidential candidate would you vote for?" and what have you. Surely developers will have some ideas there too.
Lastly, Dell unveiled two 10-inch tablets for classrooms: the Venue 10, which runs Android Lollipop, and the Venue 10 Pro, which uses Windows 8. Both have a plastic shell, available in blue or black, with a reversible keyboard dock that allows you to put the screen in facing away from you. (Think: Something similar to "Stand" mode in Lenovo's Yoga line.) The screen can also be configured with up to full HD resolution, and comes standard with a pressure-sensitive Wacom pen digitizer. That said, you'll need to pay extra for the stylus, which means the tablets are more "pen-ready" than anything else. Finishing our tour, both models have a microSD reader, SIM tray for optional LTE, lock slot, full-sized and micro-USB ports and a network activity light to show teachers when kids are doing something online. Both pack a quad-core Intel Atom processor and are rated for 10 hours of runtime. The only difference: The Android version has NFC to support Google's "Bump" feature.
The Chromebook is on sale today, starting at $249. There will also be a Windows 7/8 version (the Latitude 3160) available in March, which features the same design, except it has an Ethernet jack and is missing an Interactivity Light. That'll be slightly more expensive, at $299-plus. The tablets meanwhile, will go for
$299 $330 regardless of which OS you pick. If you want a keyboard in the box, the price goes up to $349 $380. Look for those in March as well: the 3rd for the Venue 10 Pro, and the end of the month for the Android-based Venue 10.
Posted by Augustine at 1:54 PM
Dish's Sling TV streaming service is expanding quickly: Now it's available on Amazon's Fire TV gadgets, in addition to Roku devices, iOS, and Android. On top of that, Amazon is offering a pretty sweet deal. You can get its $39 Fire TV stick for free when you sign up for three months of Sling's service (which'll cost you $60), or opt for $50 off the Fire TV set-top box. Now that Sling TV is open to everyone, Amazon's deals will likely be tempting to many buyers. And really, having an extra streaming stick on-hand is always useful -- especially if you've got multiple TVs around the house. We had mostly positive things to say about Sling TV in our preview, and it's also adding new channels over the next few weeks, including AMC's portfolio.
Posted by Augustine at 1:52 PM
The SPDY protocol was introduced by Google in 2009, aiming to make web browsing much faster and more secure than sites running hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP). HTTP has been the standard networking protocol that powers the web since it came to be, though it used to be much slower and less secu...
Posted by Augustine at 8:37 AM
Quantified-self enthusiasts – those who are somewhat obsessed with using technology to better understand themselves, their daily habits and personal trends – have been fortunate to have a wide variety of niche apps to choose from for measuring everything from athletic activity, to travel time, an...
Posted by Augustine at 8:21 AM
Krakow-based RoboCore has just launched on Kickstarter and is looking for a mere $50,000 to help you build better robots. The device is essentially a brain for your robotic projects. It is compatible with LEGO MindStorms and allows you to control multiple servos and sensors. You can also stream a...
Posted by Augustine at 8:16 AM
Matt Mullenweg's WordPress content management platform is one of the most influential pieces of software on the Internet, running more than 19 percent of websites (including VentureBeat). But before Automattic, the parent company of WordPress, was on the path to being a billion-dollar company, Mu...
Posted by Augustine at 8:13 AM
I'm not what you would consider a "gamer." I dabble in mobile titles like Monument Valley and occasionally play Super Smash Bros. or Mario Kart with friends, but few games manage to grab my attention for very long. Yet there's a new iPhone game I haven't been able to put down for the past two wee...
Posted by Augustine at 8:06 AM
To build your dream home, you have to live through the nightmare of constructing flat-pack furniture. That is the sad truth now acknowledged by many. But for one group of American students, this was also the realisation that led to a video game that has generated a lot of buzz. Home Improvisation...
Posted by Augustine at 8:05 AM
Police are unlikely to ever have a Minority Report-like ability to get inside would-be criminals' heads, but they may already have the next-best thing. Developers like PredPol are offering "predictive policing" software that tells cops where and when crimes are likely to happen based on the location, the nature of the crime and the time of day. The software knows that there's a good chance that a burglary or gang slaying will lead to similar activity in a given area, or that you'll see drunken fights outside of a dive bar in the early morning. Theoretically, police just have to patrol these areas more often to stop crime before it starts.There are some signs that the strategy may be working; as Forbes notes, early results in cities like Atlanta, Los Angeles and Santa Cruz saw both reduced crime rates and better prediction compared to conventional analysts. However, the jury's still out. Without more extensive studies, it's hard to know whether the drops are directly related to predictive software or can be chalked up to other factors, such as crooks moving to other areas. Also, the tools could tempt police departments into leaning too much on code instead of understanding neighborhoods and tackling deep-seated problems. If the software is both proven effective and used wisely, though, it could cut back on unnecessary tragedies and familiarize rookie cops with known trouble spots.
Posted by Augustine at 12:30 AM
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Virtual reality, drones, 3D printing, robotic telepresence and self-driving cars. A nice selection for tech buzzword bingo, but also just some of the things that Samsung's new product innovation team is already tackling in a bid to come up with the next (big-selling) thing -- its next Galaxy. "Samsung's previous success was mostly due to releasing products that are competitive in pricing. This is an old business formula...": said one official, unsurprisingly not named in the Korea Times report. And while, barring an initial foray into VR, these could all be very new business avenues for Samsung.
It all sounds a little bit Google, in the good kind of way, and at least a more interesting approach than wave after wave of iterative smartphones, tablets... and wearables. The company is looking to make up for the severe dip in smartphone sales it's experienced recently -- another successful product line could pick up that slack, especially if it ties into its profitable component business. While this new innovation team will apparently have no direct links from the corporate beast that is Samsung Electronics, however it'll still be headed up by the company's head of mobile, JK Shin, so read into that what you will.
"The main purpose of the team isn't to develop single devices for any imminent results, but to develop solutions to go with Samsung's manufacturing capabilities," said another Samsung spokesperson, adding that the team would pull technicians, strategists and product managers in from the company.
Source: Korea Times
Posted by Augustine at 10:20 AM
IBM's publicity-loving supercomputer Watson has a new job in Japan for wireless carrier SoftBank doing... something? It's job description there is vague so far, but first it'll need to learn Japanese, no small feat for a machine which has remained mostly occidental so far. Watson is first and foremost a cognitive computer who's job is to parse language and find relationships between huge amounts of data. That means in order to help SoftBank -- which has divisions around the world, including Sprint Nextel in the US -- it'll need to get a better grasp of the language and culture in Japan.
IBM and Softbank will jointly build the Japanese language version of Watson, and SoftBank will resell and distribute the tech in Japan. As for what exactly it plans to do with Watson, the carrier said it will start by tapping local developers to build new features aimed at its home market. For its own purposes, it'll exploit IBM's knack for natural language learning to help consumers and use its predictive talents to make better business decisions.
More concretely, SoftBank could put Watson to use in next-gen robots that would work as teaching assistants or hospital aids, two areas where the supercomputer already has some experience. SoftBank also said Watson would operate in its local data centers. In the US, Watson has won Jeopardy, imitated Dr. House and been a financier. Despite those feats, however, it's been a commercial failure so far, forcing IBM to bolster it recently with a $100 million round of funding.[Image Credit: Getty Images]
Source: IBM (translated)
Posted by Augustine at 10:20 AM
Don't think Sigma's extremely wide dp Quattro cameras are outrageous enough? Don't worry, the company has you covered. The new dp0 Quattro mates a new version of Sigma's high-detail Foveon X3 sensor (billed here as equal to a 39-megapixel conventional sensor) with a fixed 14mm f/4 ultra wide-angle lens. Yes, you read that correctly -- buy a dp0 and your only choice is to capture all-encompassing shots. While the glass corrects for the chromatic aberrations and distortions you sometimes see in wide-angle imagery, you'll need a penchant for shooting landscapes or real estate ads if this is going to make much sense. Sigma isn't talking about prices or ship dates for the dp0 just yet, but the $999 price of both the dp1 and dp2 suggests that you'll be paying a hefty sum to own a compact cam with freaky optics.
Posted by Augustine at 7:02 AM
Think your 4K laptop or 5K iMac is hot stuff? If specification developers have their way, both will soon be old hat. The Video Electronics Standards Association has unveiled Embedded DisplayPort 1.4a, a new format that lets all-in-ones and laptops use 8K screens (7,680 x 4,320, if you want to be exact). The technology uses compression to squeeze more data into the video feed, and it can divide displays into two or four segments to help the pipeline cope with all those extra pixels.
There should be advantages to 1.4a even if you don't crave razor-sharp visuals. Since PC makers won't need as many data paths to drive lower resolutions, they can use thinner and more efficient displays. A laptop that "only" supports 4K could have longer battery life, for instance. The best part is that this is more than a theoretical exercise -- VESA expects systems to ship with the new DisplayPort by 2016. You might not see an 8K computer all that quickly given that this capability hasn't even reached shipping TVs, but the groundwork will at least be in place.
Posted by Augustine at 7:00 AM
Monday, February 09, 2015
In a broad-reaching report by 60 Minutes about DARPA and the Internet of Things, the Department of Defense has shown that it can hack General Motors' OnStar system to remote control a last-gen Chevrolet Impala.
Posted by Augustine at 4:07 PM
Exactly one year ago, DARPA announced a characteristically scifi-inspired mission: to create a search engine that could find things on the deep web that Google's crawlers would miss. The so-called Memex project is now well underway, and for the first time we're getting a look at the crime-fighting search engine in action.
Posted by Augustine at 4:06 PM
Korea's two largest companies are Samsung and LG, and while Samsung has been making a big splash in the VR world, LG has remained conspicuously silent. That's because the company has been working with Google to build a headset for the LG G3 that'll do a similar job to the Gear VR. The charmingly-named VR for G3 is a plastic headset that'll let you slide the phone into the hardware, with special holes cut for the smartphone's rear volume keys.
Rather than building its own virtual reality platform, however, LG has cribbed the design from Google's paper-craft VR headset, Google Cardboard. Like the original, the plastic hardware comes with a neodymium ring magnet on the side that'll pair with the G3's internal gyroscope, enabling you to control your phone without having to touch the display. Of course, by leveraging Google's VR platform, LG can piggyback off the search engine's software background rather than starting yet another rival in the nascent space.
Unfortunately there's no word on how much it'll cost or where you'll be able to snag one. For now, the company is saying that it'll launch in "selected markets" and that a headset will be thrown in for free when you purchase a G3. Naturally, we've pinged the company to find out more, and will let you know what we learn.
Posted by Augustine at 3:55 PM
Google is giving up on its homegrown SPDY protocol, which aimed to deliver a faster web browsing experience in Chrome than tried and true HTTP. Instead, it's adopting HTTP/2 -- an upgraded version of the protocol that's close to being standardized -- in Chrome 40 in the next few weeks. All of that working developing SPDY wasn't for nothing, though. Google says HTTP/2 includes several features that evolved from its protocol, including multiplexing and header compression, both of which allows you to efficiently make multiple page requests at once. Don't expect your web browsing to speed up immediately with HTTP/2 -- it'll take some time for Google, other browser makers, and developers to fully take advantage of its many improvements -- but it lays the groundwork for a faster and safer web over the next few years. As for SPDY, Google says it'll dump support for that entirely in early 2016.[Photo credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images]
Source: Google Chromium Blog
Posted by Augustine at 3:54 PM
Since Google launched Maps ten years ago this week, the service has become completely increasingly ingrained in our lives.
One lesser-known Maps features is that you can download a part of a map to check out even when you don't have mobile data or wi-fi. It's especially handy for travelers, who often don't have cell service.
Here's how you use make it work:
First and foremost, download the Maps app. Then, either search for a location, like "New York City," or zoom into a specific area that you want to save for viewing offline, and click the location box at the bottom of the screen:
In the top right corner, you'll see three vertical dots. Click them, and you'll see a "Save offline app" option:
Google will ask you what you want to call the new offline map:
Then, you can find all your saved maps by swiping right any time on the app and tapping "Your places":
Viola! You'll see your saved maps, and be able to find your way around even without cell service or wi-fi (you'll still be able to see your location as a blue dot):
Posted by Augustine at 3:49 PM
Sunday, February 08, 2015
Remember those murmurs that Google would detach its photo service from its social networking? It just took steps that could make this split a practical reality. The search firm has snapped up the creators of Odysee, a mobile app that can automatically share photos in private as well as send your phone snapshots to your PC at home. The team (Nimbuz) isn't specific about its future plans beyond promises of more "amazing products," but it's joining the Google+ group. That's an unusual move for a developer that specializes in keeping pictures out of the public eye, but it'd make sense if Google wants a photo platform that can stand on its own two feet. Whatever Google's intentions, it's acting quickly. Odysee has already vanished from app stores, and the service shuts down on February 23rd.
Posted by Augustine at 5:34 PM