Security

Push To Hack: Reverse Engineering an IP Camera (contextis.com) 35

New submitter tetraverse writes: For our most recent IoT adventure, we've examined an outdoor cloud security camera [the Motorola Focus 73] which like many devices of its generation a) has an associated mobile app b) is quick to setup and c) presents new security threats to your network. From the article: This blog describes in detail how we were able to exploit the camera without access to the local network, steal secrets including the home networkâ(TM)s Wi-Fi password, obtain full control of the PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) controls and redirect the video feed and movement alerts to our own server; effectively watching the watchers.
Bug

Ask Slashdot: Fixing UVC Camera Issues Under Windows? 147

Khyber writes: I bought some cheap Chinese camera glasses with built-in microphones. These are (supposedly) UVC cameras manufactured in 2015. Under Windows XP, these cameras are seen perfectly fine and work as web cameras; even the microphones work. Under Windows 7, the camera appears to install just fine, however I get the 'This device can perform faster if you connect to USB 2.0' (which it is connected to) and when I try to load it up with any camera viewer such as manycam or any chat program's built-in previewer, I cannot receive any video from the camera. I can get audio from the camera microphones under Windows 7, so I am wondering if the camera device is having problems enumerating as a USB 2.0 device due to some change in Windows 7 (which it doesn't seem to have issues doing under XP,) or if the UVC driver for Windows 7 is missing something in comparison to the one used for Windows XP. Anybody else had issues getting newer UVC cameras to work in newer operating systems?
Input Devices

Low-Cost EEG Head-Sets Promise Virtual Reality Feedback Loops (thestack.com) 35

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from the University of Memphis have found that it's possible to use a low-cost EEG device such as the $300 Emotiv Epoc to understand how a user is feeling — opening up the path to genuine psycho-biological feedback in virtual/augmented reality scenarios. The Epoc has been used, in combination with the Razer Hydra, to give users control over VR/AR environments, but integrating emotional feedback into VR environments heralds many new possibilities in the fields of medical research, gaming — and, of course, marketing research.
Microsoft

Microsoft To Acquire SwiftKey Predictive Keyboard Technology Company For $250M (hothardware.com) 118

MojoKid writes: SwiftKey has been one of the more popular predictive keyboard offerings in the mobile space since it was first released in beta form on the Android market back in 2010. What made SwiftKey so appealing was its intelligent predictive texting technology. SwiftKey isn't a simple keyboard replacement. Rather, the software uses a combination of artificial intelligence technologies that give it the ability to learn usage patterns and predict the next word the user most likely intends to type. SwiftKey refines its predictions, learning over time by analyzing data from SMS, Facebook, and Twitter messages, then offering predictions based on the text being entered at the time. It is estimated that SwiftKey is installed on upwards of 500 million mobile devices. According to reports, Microsoft is apparently buying the UK-based company for a cool $250 Million. What Microsoft intends to do with SwiftKey is not clear just yet, but the company has been purchasing mobile apps at a good clip as of late.
Communications

Jailbreak Turns Cheap Walkie-Talkie Into DMR Police Scanner 82

An anonymous reader writes: Last Shmoocon, famous reverse engineer Travis Goodspeed presented his jailbreak of the Chinese MD380 digital handheld radio. The hack has since been published at GitHub with all needed source code to turn a cheap digital radio into the first hardware scanner for DMR digital mobile radio: a firmware patch for promiscuous mode that puts all talk groups through the speaker including private calling. In the U.S. the competing APCO-25 is a suite of standards for digital radio communications for federal users, but a lot of state/county and local public safety organizations including city police dispatch channels are using the Mototrbo MotorolaDMR digital standard.
Input Devices

France Says AZERTY Keyboards Fail French Typists (arstechnica.com) 315

Ars Technica reports that the AZERTY keyboard layout used in France has a problem: it's not very good for writing French words, many of which require accents that can be accessed only awkwardly. An excerpt from the Ars story: In a statement released this week, the ministry lamented the fact that French keyboards, which use the AZERTY layout rather than the QWERTY layout familiar to English speakers, make it unnecessarily difficult to type common symbols and letters. While the 26 letters of the alphabet as well as common accented letters like é, à, è, and ù are generally represented similarly on an AZERTY keyboard, the ministry said that the @ symbol and the € symbol are inconveniently or inconsistently placed, as are commands to capitalize symbols like "ç". The trouble of finding how to properly capitalize accented letters is a big issue in written French, especially for legal texts and government documents where every letter of the names of people and businesses are capitalized. Often, an accent is the only distinguishing factor between two similarly spelled words.
Security

Cheap Web Cams Can Open Permanent, Difficult-To-Spot Backdoors Into Networks 77

An anonymous reader writes: They might seems small and relatively insignificant, but cheap wireless web cams deployed in houses and offices (and connected to home and office networks) might just be the perfect way in for attackers. Researchers from the Vectra Threat Lab have demonstrated how easy it can be to embed a backdoor into such a web cam, with the goal of proving how IoT devices expand the attack surface of a network. They bought a consumer-grade D-Link WiFi web camera for roughly $30, and cracked it open. After installing a back-door to the Linux system that runs the camera, and then turning off the ability to update the system, they had an innocent seeming but compromised device that could be stealthily added to a network environment.
Cellphones

Lenovo To Build Google's First Project Tango Phone (pcworld.com) 48

Press2ToContinue writes: Google and Lenovo announced plans Thursday night in Las Vegas for the first Project Tango phone to be released this summer for less than $500. Project Tango is Google's vision to bring augmented reality to phones by enabling devices to be able to sense where they are and what is around them. During the announcement, Google's Johnny Lee demonstrated measuring a room using a prototype Project Tango tablet and then shopping at Lowes for furniture that would fit it. Google also announced an app incubator for Project Tango, which they hope will encourage developers to start building apps that make use of the AR technology.
Input Devices

Video Api.ai CEO Ilya Gelfenbeyn Talks About Conversational Voice Interfaces (Video) 32

Api.ai makes an Android voice-controlled utility called Assistant. I have it on my Android phone. It is one of many simiar apps, and I have been trying them a little at a time. Are any of them as good as Siri? Let's just say, "Quality varies."

And Android voice assistants aren't the point of this interview, anyway. It's more about the process of developing interactive, voice-based IO systems. This whole voice/response thing is an area that's going to take off any year now -- and has been in that state for several decades -- but may finally be going somewhere, spurred by intense competition between the many companies working in this field, including Ilya's.
First Person Shooters (Games)

Rail Gun Controller Lets You Pack the Heat of Your Air Soft Gun In Any FPS Game (hothardware.com) 44

MojoKid writes: The cool thing about playing Duck Hunt on the NES back in the day, was that you got to point a plastic gun at the television and shoot directly at fowl or clay discs. It offered a deeper level of immersion than what would have been possible with a standard controller. Such is the pitch for a new Kickstarter project called Rail Gun. Rail Gun is a series of attachments designed to work with your existing Air Soft gun. The pieces attach to any standard Air Soft gun to give you a "truly realistic and immersive experience for FPS games." There are five units that comprise the Rail Gun. The Main Unit houses the power and sensitivity buttons; the Jog Unit has an analog stick, special action button, and a few other components; the Weapon Unit lets you cycle through weapons, walk, drop items, and so forth; the Trigger Unit features the trigger and buttons for jumping, zooming, reloading, and crouching; and the USB Unit is what plugs into your PC or console. The Rail Gun uses fast rotation technology to track your vision based on where you're pointing your Air Soft gun. It also uses an algorithm to enhance aiming by detecting minor hand trembles, and you can adjust the sensitivity of this to your liking.
Graphics

Four Factors That Will Push VR Forward in 2016 (technologyreview.com) 64

At MIT Technology Review, Rachel Metz lists four factors she believes will mean great advancements for virtual reality in the next year. More and better games; wider adoption of specialized cameras for capturing the deep imagery that immersive worlds require; specialized presentation techniques that supplement VR with physical cues like temperature or direction; and availability of better viewing hardware. That better hardware seems poised to take off. According to the article, Facebook-owned Oculus’s first consumer headset, Rift, is slated for release in the first quarter of the year, while the HTC Vive—a headset created by smartphone maker HTC and video-game company Valve—is set to be available to consumers in April. Sony, meanwhile, is building its own headset, called PlayStation VR, which the company says will be released in the first half of the year.
Books

Ask Slashdot: State-of-the-Art In Amateur Book Scanning? 122

An anonymous reader writes: I have a shelf full of books and other book-like things ranging from old to very old that I would like to turn into PDFs (or other similarly portable format), and have been on a slow-burn quest for the right hardware and method to do so on a budget. These are mostly sentimental — things handed down over generations, and they include family bibles, notebooks, and photo albums, as well as some conventional — published, bound — books from the late 19th and early 20th Century. None of them are especially valuable as antiques, as far as I know; my goals in preserving them are a) to make them available to other people in my family who are into genealogy or just nostalgia, and b) so I can read some of those old, interesting books (et cetera) without endangering them any more than it takes to scan them once. I was intrigued by the (funded, but not yet available) scanner mentioned earlier this year on Slashdot; it seems to do a lot of things right, but like any crowdfunded project, the proof is in the pudding, and the pudding hasn't yet arrived. It's also cheap, and that fits my household budget. What methods and hardware are you using to scan old documents? Any tips you have from a similar project, with regard to hardware, treatment of the materials being scanned, light sources, file formats, clean-up and editing tools, file-size-vs-resolution tradeoffs? In the end, I'm likely to err toward high-resolution scans, since they can be knocked down to size later if need be, but I'd be interested in hearing about what tradeoffs you've found to work for you.

One big question that I'd like to have answered: Is there stand-alone Free / Open Source software, or even just cheap software (I am mostly on Linux, by choice, but won't leap onto a sword to keep my Free Software purity) that makes for easy correction of the distortion introduced by camera-based imaging? If I could easily uncurl and keystone-correct pages, then a lot of input methods (even my phone) are suddenly much more attractive. My old Casio camera could do this 10 years ago, but I haven't found a free software desktop utility that lets me turn photos into nicely squared-up pages.
Firefox

Mozilla Document Shows Firefox OS Tablet, TV Stick, Router, Keyboard Computer 78

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this month, Mozilla announced that Firefox OS smartphones would no longer be sold via carriers. Because the company refused to talk about what's next for Firefox OS, aside from saying it will experiment with "connected devices," many were left simply to speculate as to what could be in the pipeline. Today, we have a leaked document, which Mozilla confirmed is legitimate. My favorite of the concepts is a Raspberry Pi-based keyboard.
Input Devices

How Much Is That Click, Clack Worth? (failuremag.com) 69

An anonymous reader writes: Most of us are now drowning in digital media, and the flood of information has robbed [us] of the ability to focus and concentrate—or do much of anything, uninterrupted, for an extended period of time. Perhaps this explains why a small but distinctive minority of people are now embracing decidedly old-fashioned technologies" like vinyl records, 35mm cameras, and the typewriter, the latter a strong "symbol of resistance against the over-digitization of our lives," as it was replaced by the personal computer. Of course, you're still not likely to see people committing public acts of typewriting, but you learn there's a surprising amount of fascinating things happening in the typewriting community if you consult The Typewriter Revolution, a new 'typist's companion' that covers everything from privacy issues (think: intelligence agencies using typewriters) to artistic endeavors (like the Boston Typewriter Orchestra) to the clever ways enthusiasts are bridging the typewritten and digital worlds (the USB Typewriter). In this interview with Richard Polt, the book's author answers the burning question: "Is it a Mad Max-ish world where people are scrounging for every [typewriter] ribbon they can get?
Input Devices

Nokia's $60,000 Virtual Reality Camera Goes On a Drone Test Flight (roadtovr.com) 24

An anonymous reader writes: After selling off its phone business to Microsoft in 2013, Nokia began an internal reboot which would see the company focusing on the upcoming virtual reality market. The company announced its new direction in July with the debut of 'OZO', a virtual reality camera made for professional filmmakers. Now set to launch in Q1 2016, the compact 9.3 pound camera can operate untethered thanks to internal power and capture storage, making it drone-capable. To demonstrate, Nokia took OZO on a closed test-flight just a few days ago using an 'Aerigon' cinema drone.
Medicine

Telemedicine: The State of Telepresence In Healthcare (robohub.org) 34

Hallie Siegel writes: Telemedicine can let doctors and nurses check in on patients who might be recovering at home, or monitor people in remote locations where it's hard to access physician services. This article gives an overview of the different systems that are out there, what are some of the legal obstacles, and how various countries are investing in the technology. From the article: "The Japanese government has allocated about $23M USD to the core technology market in an effort to develop products for its aging population. Toyota, for example, is focusing on home living assistance robots that will allow those with limited mobility the opportunity to live at home. While Japan might have the largest market in the world of 65+ citizens (over 30 million as of 2014), South Korea is estimated to be allocating nearly $6B USD to their own robotics research. The Koreans are taking a different approach, using robots for mundane tasks of delivering food, allowing humans to provide care."
Input Devices

Silent Ear and Tongue-Tracking Tech Can Control Wearables (thestack.com) 10

An anonymous reader writes: Scientists at Georgia Tech are developing silent speech systems that can enable fast and hands-free communication with wearable devices, controlled by the user's tongue and ears. As seen with open source project Eyedrivomatic, the researchers want to apply the technology to provide a device control solution for people who are disabled. They suggest it could also be used by those working in a loud environment in need of a quiet way to communicate with their wearable devices. The prototype involves a combination of tongue control with earphone-like pieces each installed with proximity sensors to map the changing shape of the ear canal. Every word manipulates the canal in a different way, allowing for accurate recognition.
Hardware Hacking

Adding Eye Control To Wheelchairs for Quadriplegics (hackaday.com) 15

szczys writes: The inventor of the Eyedriveomatic has ALS. This prevents him from controlling his electric wheelchair, but it didn't prevent him from teaming up with two other people (one also a quadriplegic) to design a way around the limitation. Eyegaze hardware is what lets people speak through a computer using only their eyes. Eyedrivomatic is an open source project that uses common materials to connect the Eyegaze to the joystick of the wheelchair without altering the chair (which is rented equipment in most cases). A 3D-printed gimbal is strapped over the existing joystick, but does not prevent it from still being used normally by caregivers. The gimbal's servo motors actuate the joystick with commands from the Eyegaze.
Transportation

737 'Tailstrike' Caused By Typo On a Tablet (arstechnica.com) 366

An anonymous reader writes: In August of last year, a Boeing 737 operated by Qantas experienced a tailstrike while taking off — the thrust wasn't great enough for the tail to clear the runway, so it clipped the ground. The investigation into the incident (PDF) has finally been completed, and it found the cause of the accident: the co-pilot accidentally entered the wrong plane weight data into the iPad used to make calculations about the takeoff thrust. "First, when working out the plane's takeoff weight on a notepad, the captain forgot to carry the "1," resulting in an erroneous weight of 66,400kg rather than 76,400kg. Second, the co-pilot made a "transposition error" when carrying out the same calculation on the Qantas on-board performance tool (OPT)—an iPad app for calculating takeoff speed, amongst other things. "Transposition error" is an investigatory euphemism for "he accidentally hit 6 on the keyboard rather than 7." This caused the problem: "For a weight of 76,400kg and temperature of 35C, the engine thrust should've been set at 93.1 percent with a takeoff speed of 157 knots; instead, due to the errors, the thrust was set to 88.4 percent and takeoff speed was 146 knots."
Crime

Police Body Cameras Come With Pre-Installed Malware 100

An anonymous reader writes: The old Conficker worm was found on new police body cameras that were taken out of the box by security researchers from iPower Technologies. The worm is detected by almost all security vendors, but it seems that it is still being used because modern day IoT devices can't yet run security products. This allows the worm to spread, and propagate to computers when connected to an unprotected workstation. One police computer is enough to allow attackers to steal government data. The source of the infection is yet unknown. It is highly unlikely that the manufacturer would do this. Middleman involved in the shipping are probably the cause.

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