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Input Devices

Listnr Wants to be 'Your Listening Assistant' (Video) 45

Posted by Roblimo
from the can-you-hear-me-now? dept.
This Listnr is "a new listening device connected to the cloud" being developed by a team in Japan that's currently running a Kickstarter project looking for $50,000 by March 7. The other Listnr "is a free music service helping people discover the best music from independent artists on Soundcloud and Bandcamp." More accurately, that's what it was, since their last Facebook post was in 2011 and their domain name is now for sale. Today's Listnr -- the listening device one -- claims it is able to tell whether a baby it hears is laughing, crying, gurgling or trying to talk. It is supposed to respond to finger snaps, hand claps, and other audio commands. It has an open API so that you can extend its use however you like. The company, too, is working on new applications for their product. Will there be enough of them, and will they interest enough people, to make this a success? Co-Founder Rie Ehara says, "We wanted to build something using sound to enrich and delight our lives." As of today (Feb. 2), Listnr is slightly less than halfway to its Kickstarter goal, so it's still a coin-toss whether or not Listnr will succeed.
Printer

VP Anthony Moschella Shows Off Makerbot's Latest Printers and Materials (Video) 47

Posted by timothy
from the now-you-can-make-fake-wood-designer-shapes-on-the-3d-printer-at-your-local-makerspace dept.
You may have read a few weeks ago about the new materials that MakerBot has introduced for its 3-D printers; earlier this month, I got a chance to see some of them in person, and have them explained by MakerBot VP of Product Anthony Moschella in a cramped demo closet — please excuse the lighting — at the company's booth at CES. Moschella had some things to say about materials, timelines, and what MakerBot is doing to try to salvage its open-source cred, despite being a very willing part of a corporate conspiracy to sell boxes of Martha Stewart-branded extruder filament — as well as a few unremarkable things that the company's ever-vigilant PR overseer decreed Moschella couldn't answer on the record for reasons like agreements between MakerBot parent Stratasys and their suppliers. The good news for owners of recent MakerBot models: they'll be upgradeable to use the new and interesting materials with a part swap, rather than a whole-machine swap (it takes a "smart extruder" rather than the current, dumber one). And the pretty good news for fans of open source, besides that the current generation of MakerBots are all Linux-based computers themselves, is that MakerBot's open API provides a broad path for 3-D makers to interact with the printers. (The bad news is that there's no move afoot to return the machines' guts to open source hardware, like the early generations of MakerBots, but STL files at least don't care whether you ship them to an FSF-approved printer to be made manifest.)
Portables

Getting Charged Up Over Chargers at CES (Video) 33

Posted by Roblimo
from the slip-me-some-of-that-juice-Bruce dept.
First we look at Skiva Technology and their Octofire 8-port USB charger that pulled in nearly five times the requested amount from a Kickstarter campaign. (The 'pulled in X times the requested Kickstarter amount' is becoming a common product boast, isn't it?) Then, for MacBook owners who are tired of having their chargers or charger cords break, we take a brief look at the Juiceboxx Charger Case. These two power-oriented products and WakaWaka, which we posted about on January 9, are just a tiny, random sample of the many items in this category that were on display at CES 2015. Timothy was the only Slashdot person working CES, so it's shocking that he managed to cover as many (hopefully interesting) products as he did, considering that even the biggest IT journo mills don't come close to total coverage of the overwhelming muddle CES has become in recent years. (Alternate Video Link)
Security

'Never Miss Another Delivery' - if You Have a TrackPIN (Video) 85

Posted by Roblimo
from the let-me-in-let-me-in-by-the-hair-on-my-chinny-chin-chin dept.
The company is called TrackPIN, as is the product. Its creator, Mark Hall, showed it off at CES. Timothy pointed his camcorder at Mark as he explained how his product would let you get package deliveries safely when you aren't home by giving the UPS or FedEx (or other) delivery person access to your garage, as well as letting in selected people like your maid, your plumber, and possibly an aquarium cleaner. Each one can have a private, one-time PIN number that will actuate your garage door opener through the (~$250) TrackPIN keypad and tell your smartphone or other net-connected device that your garage was just opened, and by whom. You might even call this, "One small step for package delivery; a giant leap forward for the Internet of Things." Except those of us who don't have garages (not to mention electric garage door openers) may want to skip today's video; the TrackPIN isn't meant for the likes of us. (Alternate Video Link)
Bitcoin

Jim Blasko Explains 'Unbreakable Coin' (Video 2 of 2) 39

Posted by timothy
from the is-it-cryptocurrency-or-cryptic-currency? dept.
Today, the conclusion of my talk with Jim Blasko (here's part 1), who encourages you to go start your own crypto currency, because it's a fun exercise and because every entrant adds new ideas to the mix. As you'd expect, he's bullish about both his own Unbreakable Coin and cryptocurrencies more generally; how any given given currency performs, though, is an open question: U.S. dollars, Euros, or Yen may not go experience any meteoric rises, but their stability, even with inflation, is a nice feature, and so is their worldwide convertibility.

Regulation, speculation, fraud, and cultural fashions all play a role in making new currencies risky; reader mbkennel yesterday asked an insightful question: "Are you up to loaning bitcoin or something less popular for 10 years?" Confidence in any given currency can be tested with the terms current holders are willing to accept to make loans payable in that same currency. (On the other hand, if large companies will accept it in payment, they've probably got an idea that a given currency will be around next month or next year.) If you've bought any form of crypto currency, what's been your experience, and what do you expect in 10 years? (Alternate Video Link)
Bitcoin

Jim Blasko Explains BitCoin Spinoff 'Unbreakable Coin' (Video 1 of 2) 55

Posted by timothy
from the yet-another-cryptocurrency dept.
Las Vegas seems an appropriate place for cryptocurrency businesses to emerge, both because the coins themselves are so volatile that some gambling instinct may be required, and because Vegas is a high-tech outpost with lower taxes and lower rents than many other West Coast hot-spots, well-suited to risky startups with ambition but without huge venture backing.Jim Blasko moved there to work on low-voltage engineering for Penn & Teller, and is a qualified Crestron programmer, too (useful in a town that looks from the air like one giant light-show), but has shifted to a quite different endeavor, or rather a complex of them — all related to cryptocurrency. I ran into Blasko during this month's CES, at a forum with several other cryptocoin startups, and the next day we met to talk about just how hard (or easy) it is to get into this world as an entrepreneur.

Blasko has some advice for anyone who'd like to try minting a new cryptocurrency. Making your own coin, he says, is the easy part: anyone can clone code from an existing entrant, like Bitcoin, and rename the result — and that's exactly what he did. The hard work is what comes after: making worthwhile changes, building trust, and making it tradeable. Blasko's done the legwork to get his own currency, which he's bravely called "Unbreakable Coin," listed on exchanges like Cryptsy, and is working on his own auction site as well. He's also got an interesting idea for cryptocoin trading cards, and had a few prototypes on hand. (Part 1 is below; Part 2 to follow.) Alternate Video Link
Security

Forget Stuxnet: Banking Trojans Attacking Power Plants 34

Posted by Soulskill
from the subprime-malware-lending dept.
New submitter PLAR writes: Everyone's worried about the next Stuxnet sabotaging the power grid, but a security researcher says there's been a spike in traditional banking Trojan attacks against plant floor networks. The malware poses as legitimate ICS/SCADA software updates from Siemens, GE and Advantech. Kyle Wilhoit, the researcher who discovered the attacks, says the attackers appear to be after credentials and other financial information, so it looks like pure cybercrime, not nation-state activity.
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: Options For Cheap Home Automation? 189

Posted by timothy
from the fan-blows-out-the-candles dept.
New submitter goose-incarnated writes I'm looking at cheap and simple home automation. Unfortunately I'm not too clued up on what my options are. There are such a wide array of choices, none of which seem (to me) to be either cheap or simple. I'd like to: Turn switches on/off (lights, wall sockets, general relays, etc); Read the status of on/off switches; Read analog samples (for example, temperature sensors); 'Program' switches based on analog samples/existing switches (for example, program a relay to come on at 30C and go off at 25C, thereby controlling the temperature); Similarly, program switches to go on/off at certain times; Record the samples of analog or digital inputs for a given time . I'd like to do the above using smartphone+bluetooth (for when I'm in the vicinity of the room), or smartdevice+WiFi (for when I'm in the house, somewhere), or even in a pinch, using HTTP to access a server at home from 600km away (which is what I'm willing to do). I'm definitely not willing to stream all my requests/data/responses through a third-party so third party cloud subscription solutions, even if free, are out of the question. Finally (because I know the Slashdot crowd likes a challenge :-)), I'd like something that is easily reprogrammable without having to compile code, then reflash a device, etc. What languages for embedded devices exist for home automation programming, if any. A quick google search reveals nothing specially made for end-users to reprogram their devices, but, like I said above, I'm clueless about options.
Security

Asus Wireless Routers Can Be Exploited By Anyone Inside the Network 68

Posted by timothy
from the coming-from-inside-the-building dept.
An anonymous reader writes A currently unpatched bug in ASUS wireless routers has been discovered whereby users inside a network can gain full administrative control, according to recent research conducted by security firm Accuvant. Although the flaw does not allow access to external hackers, anyone within the network can take administrative control and reroute users to malicious websites, as well as holding the ability to install malicious software. The vulnerability stems from a poorly coded service, infosvr, which is used by ASUS to facilitate router configuration by automatically monitoring the local area network (LAN) and identifying other connected routers. Infosvr runs with root privileges and contains an unauthenticated command execution vulnerability, in turn permitting anyone connected to the LAN to gain control by sending a user datagram protocol (UDP) package to the router. In relevant part: The block starts off by excluding a couple of OpCode values, which presumably do not require authentication by design. Then, it calls the memcpy and suspiciously checks the return value against zero. This is highly indicative that the author intended to use memcmp instead. That said, even if this check was implemented properly, knowing the device’s MAC address is hardly sufficient authentication,” said Drake. Here are the technical details at GitHub.
Blackberry

BlackBerry's Survival Plan: the Internet of Things 74

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-new-basket-for-your-eggs dept.
jfruh writes BlackBerry's smartphone business is famously floundering, but the company isn't betting everything on its new retro physical-keyboard phones. It's also making moves into distributed, embedded, and asset-tracking computing for homes, cars, and businesses, which can all be lumped under the currently trendy "Internet of Things" buzzword umbrella. The company got a head start when it acquired the QNX OS in 2010, which was intended as the basis of a new smartphone OS but which already had credibility in the embedded market.
Technology

Thync, a Wearable That Zaps Your Brain To Calm You Down or Amp You Up 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-saw-that-episode-of-star-trek dept.
blottsie sends this first-hand report on how it felt to use a wearable device called Thync, which sends small amounts of electricity into your brain for the purpose of either calming you down or making you feel energized. While the unit I used isn't the finalized physical version, the best way to describe it is as a two-part device, one of which is fasted to the front of the right side of your temple, and one behind your right ear. It's not a helmet, which is what I absolutely assumed it would be. It's relatively discreet sort of dual patch system ... It didn't... hurt. Hurt isn't the right way to describe it. It felt like a tightness; it felt like the patch was trying to crawl across my skin. But — if you can believe this — in a good way. And while Thync was attached to the right side of my head, occasionally I felt 'tingles' pulling and hitting my brain on the left side and in the middle. I was feeling progressively awake and aware. Granted, I had patches stuck to my head sending gentle vibrations to my brain, so that might have been part of my sudden alertness. But still, after 20 minutes of Thync I just felt... better.
Google

Nest Will Now Work With Your Door Locks, Light Bulbs and More 163

Posted by samzenpus
from the joining-the-party dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about 15 new brand partnerships Nest announced today. "When Google purchased Nest Labs – the maker of Internet-connected thermostats and smoke detectors – the search engine giant saw the potential to create a software platform for controlling the myriad everyday devices and gadgets in consumers' homes, a central hub for the so-called "Internet of things." This vision took a major step towards becoming reality Monday morning, when Nest announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that 15 new partners were joining its "Works with Nest" developer program. Soon, everything from washing machines to light bulbs will be connected with the Nest platform."
Operating Systems

The Missing Piece of the Smart Home Revolution: The Operating System 252

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-code-to-rule-them-all dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this story about who will lead the IoT revolution, and whether it will follow in mobile's footsteps. "As these technologies sense and and react to changes in your environment, there are obvious parallels to computer operating systems, which receive input and return output. What does the 'operating system' for the smart home of the future look like? Alex Hawkinson is trying to help answer that very question. The founder and CEO of IoT company SmartThings is not only a leader in the market, he’s a consumer. He suggests there won’t be a singular, cohesive operating system for your home, that this stuff isn’t one-size-fits-all. 'I think it’s up to everyone to determine their own bits,' Hawkinson said. 'Some people love cameras in house, my wife wants none. It’s up to your preferences.'”

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