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Pocket SCiO Spectrometer Sends Chemical Composition of Anything To Smartphones 82

MojoKid writes: Is that a tricorder in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? All joking aside, the handheld SCiO could truly make you feel like a member Bones McCoy's medical team. The SCiO turns science fiction into science fact by shrinking mass spectrometry technology used in traditional lab settings into a device small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. While pricey handheld spectrometers have been available for researchers, the SCiO is the first such device marketed directly at consumers. To get the SCiO down to a reasonable price point, Consumer Physics uses near-IR spectroscopy and optics typically found in smartphones to measure the light reflected from any given object. Held at a distance of 5 to 15 mm from the intended target, SCiO captures reflected spectrum data and uploads it to its own cloud platform. The company's proprietary algorithms then analyze the data and send the information back down to your smartphone (SCiO require a Bluetooth connection). Reportedly, this whole process occurs within 1.5 seconds. The hope is to empower consumers to learn more about the world around them and even about the things that we put in our mouth. You'll be able to ascertain nutritional information about the foods you eat without having to rely on labels, or even determine the ripeness of fruits and vegetables with the push of a button. The Whole Foods crowd will be all over this, one would think.

Ask Slashdot: Should Employers Ban Smartphones? 510

An anonymous reader writes "Due to a concern that smartphones (and other electronic devices) could be infected with malware and used to spy on sensitive information, my employer has recently banned all personal electronic devices from their spaces. The concern comes from articles like this one. My question to slashdot readers: How reasonable is this concern? How can this sort of malware be prevented from showing up on our devices? Is there a way to educate employees about preventing this sort of thing rather than banning the devices altogether? This current reality is that people have started to rely on having their smartphones with them at all times for things such as receiving emergency calls from day cares and schools, making personal calls during normal working hours (i.e. to make doctor's appointments), accessing password managers, and scheduling calendar events."

Advertising May Soon Follow You From One Device To the Next 132

moon_unit2 writes "We're all familiar with ads that seem to follow you around as you go from one website to another. A startup called Drawbridge has developed technology that could let those ads follow you even when you pick up a smartphone or tablet. The company, founded by an ex-Google scientist, employs statistical methods to try to match and identify users on different devices. The idea is that this will preserve privacy while making mobile ads more lucrative, although some experts aren't convinced that the data will be truly anonymous."

Why It's Bad That Smartphones Have Banished Boredom 351

Hugh Pickens writes "Doug Gross writes that thanks to technology, there's been a recent sea change in how people today kill time. 'Those dog-eared magazines in your doctor's office are going unread. Your fellow customers in line at the deli counter are being ignored. And simply gazing around at one's surroundings? Forget about it.' With their games, music, videos, social media and texting, smartphones 'superstimulate,' a desire humans have to play when things get dull, says anthropologist Christopher Lynn and he believes that modern society may be making that desire even stronger. 'When you're habituated to constant stimulation, when you lack it, you sort of don't know what to do with yourself,' says Lynn. 'When we aren't used to having down time, it results in anxiety. 'Oh my god, I should be doing something.' And we reach for the smartphone. It's our omnipresent relief from that.' Researchers say this all makes sense. Fiddling with our phones, they say, addresses a basic human need to cure boredom by any means necessary. But they also fear that by filling almost every second of down time by peering at our phones we are missing out on the creative and potentially rewarding ways we've dealt with boredom in days past. 'Informational overload from all quarters means that there can often be very little time for personal thought, reflection, or even just 'zoning out,'" researchers write. 'With a mobile (phone) that is constantly switched on and a plethora of entertainments available to distract the naked eye, it is understandable that some people find it difficult to actually get bored in that particular fidgety, introspective kind of way.'"

Nokia Claims a Memory Card Slot Would Have "Defiled" New Phone 371

nk497 writes "Nokia unveiled its flagship Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8 handset today, but it doesn't feature an SD card slot. There's a reason why: Nokia's designers didn't want to 'defile' the design. 'We started with the premise that we wanted an uncompromised physical form,' executive vice president Kevin Shields, said. 'To put an SD card slot in it would have defiled it.' He said most people don't use the storage in their phone, although the Nokia Lumia 820, which has only 8GB of storage, does include a micro-SD card slot behind its removable cover, which Shields claims doesn't compromise the design."

Taiwan University Sues Apple Over Siri Patents 138

Rambo Tribble writes "Reuters is reporting that Taiwan's National Cheng Kung University has filed a suit against Apple claiming patent infringement by the Siri voice-recognition software. At issue are two patents dating to 2007 and 2010. From the article: 'The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, on Friday, it said. "We filed that lawsuit in the Texas court because it processes faster and its rulings are usually in favor of patent owners and the compensations are usually higher," said Yama Chen, legal manager of National Cheng Kung, in the southern Taiwan city of Tainan.'"

The Digital Differences In Americans 214

antdude writes "When the Pew Internet Project first studied the role of the internet in American life, there were big differences between those who were using the internet and those who weren't. Today, differences in internet access still exist, especially when it comes to access to high-speed broadband at home. From the article: 'Virtually every U.S. household with an annual income over $75,000 is online, but that’s only true for 63% of adults who live in a household with an annual income under $30,000. The numbers look quite similar for different education levels: 94% of adults with post-graduate degrees are online, but 57% of those without high school diplomas remain offline. Beside the obvious economic barriers to entry, though, the Pew poll also found that half of those who don’t go online do so because they just don’t think “the Internet is relevant to them.” One in five of those who are not online today think that they just don’t know enough about technology to use the Internet on their own.'"

Boeing Preparing an Ultra-Secure Smartphone 101

bobwrit writes in with a story about Boeing's new secure government phones project. "Earlier this week, it was revealed that aerospace firm Boeing was working on a high security mobile device for the various intelligence departments. This device will most likely be released later this year, and at a lower price point than other mobile phones targeted at the same communities. Typically, phones in this range cost about 15,000-20,000 per phone, and use custom hardware and software to get the job done. This phone will most likely use Android as it's main operating system of choice, which lowers the cost per phone, since Boeing's developers don't have to write their own operating system from scratch."

Sprint CEO Defends Company's Decision To Bet It All On the iPhone 187

zacharye writes "Sprint chief executive Dan Hesse is being watched closely by the company's board of directors, but the CEO has to answer to investors and subscribers as well. Last year in October, Hesse revealed that the company is placing a massive $15.5 billion bet on Apple's iPhone, and in a recent interview, Hesse defended the move, which has been criticized by a number of industry watchers. From the article: '“Subsidies are heavy for the iPhone. This is the reason why a high percentage of new customers is important,” Hesse said during the interview. “But iPhone customers have a lower level of churn and they actually use less data on average than a high-end 4G Android device. So from a cost point of view and a customer lifetime value perspective, they’re more profitable than the average smartphone customer.”'"

AT&T Clarifies Data Limitations On "Unlimited" Data Plans 247

MojoKid writes "Several months ago, AT&T notified customers that it would begin throttling network speeds for users who exceeded a certain threshold, with the definitive throttle point defined as an imprecise "the top 5% of mobile data users." The company has issued a statement clarifying this policy after irate customers with unlimited data plans demanded to know what the cap was and how the company determined who should and shouldn't be throttled. The magic number is 3GB, which conveniently happens to be the maximum amount of tiered bandwidth AT&T will sell you. So why would AT&T want unlimited users to move to tiered pricing when its maximum tier is also set at 3GB? Simple — the amount of money the company makes on customers who exceed that 3GB limit. The fine print reads: 'If 3GB is exceeded, an additional 1 GB is automatically provided at a rate of $10 for each additional 1 GB.' Anyone using above 3GB on an unlimited plan is a customer who isn't paying enough for the privilege (from AT&T's perspective)."

Georgia Tech iPhone App Could Help Blind Users Text 60

MojoKid writes "Researchers at Georgia Tech university have built a prototype app for touch-screen mobile devices that is vying to be a complete solution for texting without the need to look at a mobile gadget's screen. In theory, it should greatly help the blind interact with mobile phones, but it could help just about anyone looking for a more efficient way to interact. Research has shown that gesture-based texting is a viable solution for eyes-free written communication in the future, making obsolete the need for users to look at their devices while inputting text. The free open-source app, called BrailleTouch, incorporates the Braille writing system used by the visually impaired. Early studies with visually impaired participants proficient in Braille typing have demonstrated that users can input up to 32 words per minute with 92 percent accuracy with the prototype app for the iPhone."

Businesses Now Driving "Bring Your Own Device" Trend 232

snydeq writes "Companies are no longer waiting for users to bring in their own smartphones and tablets into business environments, they're encouraging it, InfoWorld reports. 'Two of the most highly regulated industries — financial services and health care (including life sciences) — are most likely to support BYOD. So are professional services and consulting, which are "well" regulated. ... The reason is devilishly simple, Herrema says: These businesses are very much based on using information, both as the service itself and to facilitate the delivery of their products and services. Mobile devices make it easier to work with information during more hours and at more locations. That means employees are more productive, which helps the company's bottom line.' Even those companies who haven't yet embraced bring your own device policies yet already have one in place, but don't know it, according to recent surveys."

Microsoft Patents Module-Based Smartphone 101

edumacator writes "It seems Microsoft is working on an interesting concept for smartphones, or maybe they are just adding to their patent war chest. From the article: 'A recent Microsoft patent describes a smartphone with a slide-out section that can house one of several modules, including a QWERTY keyboard, a gaming pad, a second display or a battery pack. Even better: The modules work wirelessly when they aren't docked in the smartphone's slider. Another useful way the modular smartphone concept could be used: The keyboard can be used as a controller while the smartphone acts as a TV-connected media hub.'"

"Subconscious Mode" Could Boost Phone Battery Life 85

cylonlover writes "University of Michigan researchers have proposed a new power management system for smartphones that could dramatically improve battery life. The system, known as E-MiLi, or Energy-Minimizing Idle Listening, addresses the energy waste that occurs when 'sleeping' phones are looking for incoming messages and clear communication channels. E-MiLi slows down the clock of a phone's WiFi card by up to 1/16 its normal frequency in order to save power, but then kicks it back up to full speed when information is coming in. The phone uses the header of the incoming message to wake itself up from its 'subconscious mode,' so the clock is at full speed to receive the main message. For users on the busiest networks, it could extend battery life by up to 54 percent."

The 10 Best Android Hacks 134

Barence writes "The Android vs iPhone debate will continue until the apocalypse, but there's no doubt Android wins on customability. PC Pro has listed its ten favorite Android hacks, which include the ability to open your garage door with your smartphone, install Ubuntu on your handset, and overclock your phone's processor. There's also instructions on how to replace your dashboard satnav with Google's version."

Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982