Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Facebook offers a free VR audio tool thanks to a buyout

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/05/23/facebook-offers-free-vr-audio-tool/

Facebook isn't merely content to make a virtual reality camera rig and call it a day. The company has revealed that it acquired Two Big Ears, the creator of the VR audio app Spatial Workstation, and has set the software loose. As of now, Spatial Workstation is free -- anyone with a Mac (Windows support is coming) can produce immersive sound for their 360-degree videos. Support for the company's existing Pro and gaming products will phase out over 12 months, but you'll eventually see the gaming tech merged into the Facebook-owned software.

This isn't lightweight software -- don't go in expecting GarageBand for VR. However, it's bound to be a big help for anyone serious about VR video, including Facebook. The more professional-sounding videos are out there, the more reasons you have to buy a Facebook-backed headset like the Oculus Rift or Gear VR.

Via: VentureBeat

Source: Facebook, Two Big Ears


Polaroid's first smart TVs pack 4K and Google Cast

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/05/23/polaroid-smart-tv-with-google-cast/

When Google unveiled a wider range of TVs with Google Cast support, you might have done a double-take when you saw Polaroid's name -- what, the reborn camera maker? Yes, it's true... and you may have a good reason to take notice. Polaroid has unveiled its first-ever smart TVs, and it's clear that they offer some bang for the buck. Every model in the LED-lit range packs a 4K display, a 120Hz refresh rate, native HEVC decoding and Google Cast streaming, so you won't have trouble either watching Ultra HD video or sharing a YouTube clip from your phone.

The big deal, as you might guess, is the cost. The initial lineup will launch at sizes between 43 and 65 inches at respective prices between $499 to $999, while a 75-incher due in the fall will still be semi-affordable at $1,899. We wouldn't expect stellar image quality for the money, but these may well be more than enough if you're just looking to stay current without crippling your bank account.

Source: Polaroid


Vizio's cheaper tablet-controlled 4K TVs start rolling out

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/05/24/vizios-cheaper-tablet-controlled-4k-tvs-start-rolling-out/

If you want Vizio's 4K TV with SmartCast 6-inch Android remote, Ultra HD with Dolby Vision HDR and Google Cast receiving but you're not ready to pony up for a high-end P-Series set, a cheaper version is now available. Vizio announced the refreshed-for-2016 M-Series line in April and now they're going on sale, first via Vizio.com and eventually through other retailers. CTO and head of marketing Matthew McRae says that larger 70- and 80-inch versions are still on the way, but currently the $850 50-inch is the easiest one to get.


  • VIZIO SmartCast™ 50" M-Series™ Ultra HD HDR Home Theater Display™ (M50-D1) MSRP $849.99
  • VIZIO SmartCast™ 55" M-Series™ Ultra HD HDR Home Theater Display™ (M55-D0) MSRP $999.99
  • VIZIO SmartCast™ 60" M-Series™ Ultra HD HDR Home Theater Display™ (M60-D1) MSRP $1,249.99
  • VIZIO SmartCast™ 65" M-Series™ Ultra HD HDR Home Theater Display™ (M65-D0) MSRP $1,499.99
  • VIZIO SmartCast™ 70" M-Series™ Ultra HD HDR Home Theater Display™ (M70-D3) MSRP $1,999.99
  • VIZIO SmartCast™ 80" M-Series™ Ultra HD HDR Home Theater Display™ (M80-D3) MSRP $3,999.99

Source: Vizio Blog


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Malware for Virtual Skimming Is Getting Scarier

Source: http://gizmodo.com/malware-for-virtual-skimming-is-getting-scarier-1778067986

In 2009, malware called “Skimer” surfaced and security firms took notice. Skimer is essentially malware that gives hackers full access to an ATM without needing to install any physical hardware, like a card skimmer . According to a new investigation by Kaspersky Lab, the malware is not only seems in use, but it’s also become more powerful.



Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Google built a processor just for AI

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/05/18/google-ai-processor/

Google is no stranger to building hardware for its data centers, but it's now going so far as to design its own processors. The internet giant has revealed the Tensor Processing Unit, a custom chip built expressly for machine learning. As Google doesn't need high precision for artificial intelligence tasks, the TPU is focused more on raw operations per second than anything else -- it's an "order of magnitude" faster in AI than conventional processors at similar energy levels. It's space-efficient, too, fitting into the hard drive bays in data center racks.

The fun part? You've already seen what TPUs can do. Google has been quietly using them for over a year, and they've handled everything from improving map quality to securing AlphaGo's victory over the human Go champion. The AI could both move faster and predict further ahead thanks to the chip, Google says. You won't get to buy the chip yourself, alas, but you might just notice its impact as AI becomes an ever more important part of Google's services.

Source: Google Cloud Platform Blog


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Windows phones will finally let you log-in with a fingerprint

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/05/13/windows-10-mobile-fingerprint-scanner/

We've know for a while now that Windows 10 would support for alternative log-in options like fingerprint, facial and iris recognition. Thanks to Windows Hello, unlocking a phone with facial recognition is possible, but using a finger to access your device hasn't been an option. Well, that's about to change. At the WinHEC conference this week, Microsoft announced that support for fingerprint scanners will be part of a Windows 10 Mobile update this summer.

Of course, that software feature will need hardware to support it. HP's Elite X3, a phone that doubles as a laptop, has a fingerprint scanner but we'll have to wait and see if other device makers adopt the Windows Hello tool. Microsoft says while some OEMs have experience with fingerprint components from FPC and Synaptics, using scanners from other companies may take a bit more effort to work alongside Windows 10. The Anniversary Update that will deliver the feature is in testing now, and it should arrive in July for both desktop and mobile.

Via: MSPoweruser, The Verge

Source: WinHEC Presentation (PDF)


Thursday, May 12, 2016

A Major Mystery About Earth's Magnetic Field Has Just Been Solved

Source: http://gizmodo.com/a-major-mystery-about-earths-magnetic-field-has-just-be-1776291902

For the first time, physicists have observed a mysterious process called magnetic reconnection—wherein opposing magnetic field lines join up, releasing a tremendous burst of energy. The discovery, published today in Science, may help us unlock the secrets of space weather and learn about some of the weirdest, most magnetic objects in the universe.



LG's GoPro rival can stream direct to YouTube

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/05/12/lg-action-cam-lte-gopro-rival/

LG has made an action camera that can live stream to YouTube (or anywhere else) without a phone or WiFi. The LG Action CAM LTE (clearly, hours spent on the name) has onboard 4G to beam video direct to the web. The camera itself looks like an elongated GoPro Hero4 Session (the frame it's hanging from in the picture looks almost identical). Unlike GoPro cameras, though, LG's Action CAM has built-in GPS and motion sensors -- much like the Garmin, or TomTom action cameras. This means you'll be able to record where your footage was taken, gather metrics or easily find video highlights later.

The Action CAM's 12-megapixel sensor shoots 4K/UHD at 30 frames per second (fps), 1080p at 60fps and for extra slo-mo, there's a 120 fps option at 720p. If you're hoping to make use of the cellular livestreaming, then you're limited to 720p at 30 fps. That cell connection isn't the only way to get video out of the camera though. The Action CAM supports memory cards up to 2TB, and there's built in WiFi and Bluetooth too (plus good old USB of course).

LG says the Action CAM is part of its "Friend" line of accessories, which it launched in Barcelona earlier this year with the LG G5, although there are no specifics about how it actually fits in with the rest of the line (especially as it doesn't need to borrow the phone's data connection). It's likely that you'll be able to use a handset as a viewfinder though. The Action CAM is also waterproof to one meter for 30 minutes without a case, so you'll definitely not want your phone with it then (we also imagine this hinders livestreaming).

On paper, the Action CAM seems to offer more features than most of its rivals. GoPro cameras don't have motion sensors, and there are very few with livestreaming built in right now. GoPro gets around this by native support for Periscope, but that still requires you have your phone within WiFi reach. We can't tell you if this makes LG's camera a worthy rival just yet, as we have no idea about price, data costs and even where it'll be available beyond South Korea next month, followed by the US and Europe later.

Source: LG


Vuze camera offers 3D VR video for less than $800

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/05/12/vuze-vr-camera-pre-orders/

HumanEyes swore up and down that its Vuze virtual reality camera would undercut the price of professional cams by thousands of dollars, and it clearly wasn't kidding around. The company has started taking pre-orders for its 3D 360-degree camera at a relatively modest $799. That's significantly less than the under-$1,000 target it set back in January, and a sliver of the cost of high-end alternatives -- even GoPro's upcoming Omni rig is likely to be much more expensive, and only shoots in 2D. You'll have to wait until the fall to get your unit, though, so don't count on using the Vuze for a VR vacation documentary.

This isn't the cheapest or most portable VR camera you can get. Ricoh, Samsung and others are already making smaller 360-degree cameras that cost under $400, and Nikon's upcoming KeyMission 360 may be similarly affordable, but all these options only shoot in 2D. Vuze's system packs eight cameras versus two to four on most of these competitors, which is what allows to record in 3D (or 2D at higher resolution). Another advantage of the extra optics, is it doesn't have to rely on fisheye lenses (and thus compensate for serious distortion) to create its wrap-around 4K picture. As such, this might be the best way to capture VR video on an enthusiast's budget. You're theoretically getting the quality of the pro option without the bank-busting cost.

Source: Vuze


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Leaked Canon Lens Has Some Bright Ideas Built in

Source: http://gizmodo.com/leaked-canon-lens-has-some-bright-ideas-built-in-1775812012

Leaked Canon Lens Has Some Bright Ideas Built in

Properly lighting a tiny subject when doing macro photography is tricky since your camera ends up so close to it. A ring light surrounding the lens is one solution to the problem, and it looks like Canon might soon be releasing a macro lens featuring an LED ring light built right in.



Thursday, May 05, 2016

Mankind Doesn't Stand a Chance Now That Robotic Cockroaches Have Started Cooperating

Source: http://gizmodo.com/mankind-doesnt-stand-a-chance-now-that-robotic-cockroac-1774920929

The scourge of puppies, babies, and robotic vacuums is no longer a problem for robotic cockroaches. Researchers at UC Berkeley have taught this pair of VelociRoACHes to cooperate and help each other tackle stairs using a tiny magnetic winch and old-fashioned teamwork.



This New 'Skinterface' Could Make Smartwatches Suck Less

Source: http://gizmodo.com/this-new-skinterface-could-make-smartwatches-suck-less-1774926857

This New 'Skinterface' Could Make Smartwatches Suck Less

If smartwatches are going to create a gadget future beyond smartphones, they’ll have to up their game . Researchers from Carnegie Mellon may have just the thing with a new smartwatch interface that uses that fleshy bezel right next to the typically tiny displays: your arm.



A Robot's Stitched Up a Pig Gut All By Itself

Source: http://gizmodo.com/a-robots-performed-the-first-ever-autonomous-suturing-o-1774855279

Robot-assisted surgery is increasingly common in hospitals, but it’s always under the control of a human surgeon. Now, a robot’s sewn up incisions in a live pig’s gut, all by itself.



Netflix adds data-saving quality controls to mobile apps

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/05/05/netflix-data-saving-quality-controls/

Back in March, Netflix revealed that it was working on a "data saver" feature for its mobile apps. Keeping its word, the streaming service announced today that the cellular data tool that allows users to adjust video quality to save data is available in its iOS and Android apps. In fact, we're seeing the new feature in both Netflix apps here at Engadget HQ. By default, the software adjusts video quality to allow for about 3 hours of streaming per gigabyte of data. The company says that tests showed this to be the best balance of data use and quality when streaming over a cellular connection.

In addition to the default setting, there are options for low, medium and high quality streaming that allow for four hours, two hours and one hour of watching with 1GB of data. There's also a setting for those with unlimited data plans, and if you don't want to use any of that monthly allotment, you can opt to only stream movies and TV shows on WiFi. Netflix also offered the reminder that even if you choose higher quality in the app, your mobile service provider may place its own limits on bandwidth. Regardless of networks fiddling with quality, these new quality settings should help folks who enjoy an episode of House of Cards on the go, but regularly exceed their data caps.


Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Simple exploits use images to attack websites

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/05/04/imagemagick-web-exploits/

Would-be hackers don't always have to jump through hoops to bring down a website. Researchers have discovered relatively simple exploits in ImageMagick, a common package for processing pictures on the web, that let attackers run any code they like on a targeted server. If someone uploads a maliciously coded image and ImageMagick handles it, they could theoretically compromise both the site and anyone who visits it. That's particularly dangerous for forums and social networks, where user uploads are par for the course -- a vengeful member could wreck the site for everyone.

Thankfully, there are fixes. The ImageMagick team is closing the security holes within the next few days, and it's possible to thwart at least some attacks by either verifying the integrity of images or using a policy file to disable the susceptible features. The concerns are that these safeguards won't cover everything, or that website owners won't rush to shore up their defenses. It could be a while before you can assume that your favorite social sites are protected.

Via: Ars Technica

Source: ImageTragick, ImageMagick