Category: Internet of Things

Telly catches Fire

old-school-tvA separate Fire TV device might become a thing of the past as telly makers are starting to integrate the streaming technology.

Seiki, Westinghouse and Element Electronics are launching a series of 4K sets with Fire TV technology built-in. They all include Amazon’s current interface, including a wide range of Alexa voice commands thanks to a microphone-equipped remote. If you use an over-the-air TV antenna, you’ll have access to both a channel guide and favourite individual channels on the home screen.

The first lot are appearing at CES and so far, none of the companies are saying when.  There will be 43-, 50-, 55- and 65-inch models. These are budget telly makers so adding Fire into your telly will not cost much more.  It is also likely that other cheaper manufactures will follow suit.

Samsung, LG and Sony already have highly developed smart TV platforms (whether in-house or Android TV), and it’s doubtful they will bother.

Coppers might arrest your smart devices

copperCoppers today are looking to smart connected devices to grass up their users for crimes.

Arkansas police are hoping an Echo found at a murder scene in Bentonville can aid their investigation they have asked Amazon to hand over any recordings made between November 21 and November 22, 2015, from James Bates, who was charged with murder after a man was strangled in a hot tub. A bloke with a name like Bates must be the bloke wot dunnit and they are hoping his Amazon gear will say what happened.

While investigating, police noticed the Echo in the kitchen and pointed out that the music playing in the home could have been voice activated through the device. While the Echo records only after hearing the wake word, police are hoping that ambient noise or background chatter could have accidentally triggered the device, leading to some more clues.

Amazon stores all the voice recordings on its servers, in the hopes of using the data to improve its voice assistant services. While you can delete your personal voice data, there’s still no way to prevent any recordings from being saved on a server.

“It is believed that these records are retained by Amazon.com and that they are evidence related to the case under investigation,” police wrote in the search warrant.

Amazon has not sent any recordings to the officers but did provide Bates’ account information to authorities, according to court documents. The retailer giant said it doesn’t release customer information without a “valid and binding legal demand.”

“Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course,” the company said in a statement.

Coppers might be able to make the Echo crack. Officers believe they can tap into the hardware on the smart speakers, which could “potentially include time stamps, audio files or other data.”

The investigation has focused on other smart devices as well. Officers seized Bates’ phone but were unable to break through his password, which only served to delay the investigation.

Gear that coppers are hoping might reveal information include a Nest thermostat, a Honeywell alarm system, wireless weather monitoring in the backyard and WeMo devices for lighting at the smart home crime scene.

The smart meter appeared to reveal that Bates used an “excessive amount of water” during the alleged drowning.

 

Users will not update IoT devices leaving them wide open

Safe-with-Open-Door_Silver-Trading-Company_iStock_000016460757_ExtraSmallThe security state of the IoTs is going to be precarious because users will not be bothered to update their gear, according to a new survey.

Writing in his Ubuntu bog, Core evangelist Thibaut Rouffineau said that his organisation surveyed  2000 consumers about their Internet of Things devices.

They found that only a third of consumers that own connected devices perform updates as soon as they become available.

Another 40 per cent have never consciously performed updates on their devices and two thirds thought that it was not their responsibility to keep firmware updated.

A fifth believed it was the job of software developers, while 18 per cent considered it to be the responsibility of device manufacturers.

Canonical thinks that better automatic mechanisms were needed to fix vulnerabilities remotely as a way to secure IoT.

“We need to remove the burden of performing software updates from the user and we need to actively ban the dreaded ‘default password’, as Canonical has done with Ubuntu Core 16,” Rouffineau said.

“It’s clear to us that too many of the solutions to IoT security proposed today involve either mitigating security issues after-the-fact, or living in a world where IoT security problems are the accepted norm. This should not and cannot be the case.”

Whitman claims IoT will be a new world order

Meg WhitmanHPE supreme dalek Meg Whitman claims that the technology industry is witnessing the start of a new world led by the Internet of Things.

Speaking at HPE Discover 2016 in London, Whitman said we are heading to a world where  “everything computes” and that HPE’s vision is to be the leader in this hybrid IT market.

“We are living through the birth of a whole new world, where everything computes… From cars to stadiums, train tracks to windmills and solar panels, to much, much more. We are seeing a whole new world come into being, and it will change everything.”

Quoting Gartner, Whitman said that the number of intercommunicated devices will more than triple from 6.4 billion this year to nearly 21 billion in 2020. By 2021 there will be one billion new intercommunicated devices sold every hour.

“Harnessing this new world is what HPE is all about. Our vision is to be the leader of hybrid IT, built on secure next-generation software-defined infrastructure that will run datacentres today and bridge to multi-cloud platforms tomorrow.”

Whitman also added that HPE was not “getting out of software”.

“Earlier this year we made the decision to spin off and merge our non-core software assets with Micro Focus. We are not getting out of the software business. In fact, we are doubling down on software and infrastructure that is critical for businesses systems,” she said.

LingLong creates DingDong in smart home industry

Linglong-Dingdong-Lautsprecher-1024x576-31f5edc41d756a0cChinese outfit LingLong has created an AI based assistant it has dubbed the DingDong which is making a sing song in the consumer electronics market.

The gear has a music library of three million songs, can take memos and share updates regarding news, traffic and weather in what the firm calls ‘cinema-like sound quality’

It speaks Cantonese and Mandarin, which means it can roll into the lucrative Chinese market and get a head start on its Western rivals.

It costs $118 and answers questions, gives directions and plays music in high quality 320Kbps format

The device comes in four colours: red for prosperity, white for purity, black for money and purple because it is pretty.

In the west, Amazon is the leaders in this space. It released its Echo in 2014 – smart speaker powered by Alexa. Users can ask Alexa to do a range of activities such as request an Uber or order their usually from Dominos – and there is more than three million units in the world.

Most DingDong owners use the technology as a music player, or as someone to talk to.

BMW wants to sell 100,000 electric cars next year

BMW BMW wants to boost sales of electric cars by two thirds next year to 100,000 vehicles.

The luxury carmaker, popular with travelling salesmen and officer managers who believe that they own the road, is offering more battery-powered models.

Chief Executive Officer Harald Krueger told the German press that BMW expects to increase its deliveries of fully electric and hybrid vehicles to around 60,000 units this year.

Sales of battery-powered BMW models have totalled about 100,000 cars since 2013, he noted.

“Electric mobility will come, but demand is not going through the roof,” the newspaper quoted Krueger as saying.

To help improve sales, BMW is also increasing the battery range of its i3 city vehicle by 50 percent this year. The i3, BMW’s only fully battery-powered car, sold only 25,000 units last year.

The company has fallen behind Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz in global luxury-car sales rankings lately and thinks that increasing its share of electric cars and hybrid models to between 15 percent and 25 percent of sales by 2025 will help.

Ukraine wants Volish HoloLens

14264141_1178166992244106_4781285111052641826_nUkraine is trialing a more military use of Microsoft’s Hololens.

The big idea is to use the cameras on the outside of a tank to create a 360 degree view of the battlefield so that the tank commander does not have to pop out and have a shufty.

The new HoloLens-enabled helmet has been developed by Limpid Armor and enoables tank commanders a better view of their surroundings just by turning their heads from inside the safety of the tank.

The helmet, dubbed the Circular Review System (CRS), sets a HoloLens headset directly onto the front of its frame. Video feeds gathered from the tank’s exterior cameras are stitched together and displayed through the headset as a “mixed reality” view to the wearer. he CRS can tag enemy and friendly soldiers, designate targets and feed critical information to the commander.

Limpid Armor debuted the Limpid Armor in mid-October at the Arms and Security show held in Kiev. The company has not yet tested the helmet outside the lab, however, the Ukraine military has expressed interest in the technology so, given the region’s heightened tensions surrounding Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula, expect for field tests to come quickly.

Fitbit runs out of breath

f89d75a69595b21228964ff6170a9953Fitness device maker Fitbit is predicting that its key-holiday shopping quarter will fall well below of analysts’ estimates, hurt by soft demand and production issues related to its new Flex 2 wristband.

Shares of the company, which also reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue, immediately plummeted by a third and were set to hit record-low levels on Thursday.

Fitbit forecast revenue of $725 million to $750 million for the October-December quarter, while the cocaine nose-jobs of Wall Street thought that $985.1 million was more reasonable.

This implied revenue growth of 5.4 percent at the top end. Analysts were expecting growth to pick up to 38.4 percent from the 23.1 percent in the latest third quarter, which is the smallest rise since the company went public in June 2015.

Chief Executive James Park said the outfit was growing and was profitable, just not at the level that people expected.

Fitbit’s transition to its newer products, greater-than-anticipated softness in the wearables market and production issues with the new Flex 2 wristband were the chief causes for the weak outlook, Chief Financial Officer Bill Zerella said.

The production issue – Fitbit found it “incredibly difficult” to find small-enough batteries to fit – started in the third quarter and is not expected to be resolved before the end of December, Zerella said. He estimated that hit Fitbit’s revenue forecast by about $50 million.

Fitbit, which launched two new fitness wristbands, Charge 2 and Flex 2, in late August, said it sold 5.3 million devices in the quarter, edging past analysts average estimates of 5 million, according to research firm FactSet StreetAccount.

However, the average selling price for its devices fell to $93 from $99 in the prior quarter, and missed analysts’ average estimate of $98.25.  All this meant that Fitbit’s total revenue of $503.8 million missed analysts’ average estimate of $506.9 million.

It was also not particularly popular in the Asia Pacific market where it fell 45.1 percent to $35.7 million.

Operating expenses jumped 52.4 percent, largely due to higher research and development costs. The company’s net income plunged about 75 percent to $26.1 million.

 

British bobbies get body video

largeThe London Met is beginning what it claims to be the largest roll-out of Body Worn Video (BWV) cameras to police officers in the world.

Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe joined London Mayor Sadiq Khan in Lewisham Borough to inaugurate the deployment of the devices, which will be issued to police and frontline specialists in all of London’s 32 boroughs.

The new cameras are turned on by officers during any dealings with the public or attendance at crime scenes. The video is automatically uploaded and stored video when reconnected to a dock later at the station.

Videos saved are discarded after 31 days unless earmarked as evidence, and any affected member of the public may request a copy of the video within that time-period.

The cameras, which are manufactured by Axon and employ that company’s cloud network for uploading, feature a 30-second buffer which allows the officer to begin recording even after notable events have begun. The cameras are always recording, but abandon the recordings twice a minute until the officer commits to document an event. The ‘always on’ buffer does not feature audio.

The devices contain a blinking green light during buffer mode. When active recording begins, the light turns red and a clearly audible beep sounds at intervals.

The Met said that cameras are not always-on due to concerns about the public’s dealings with police officers, but it is more likely that the problem of storing hundreds of thousands of hours of video even for 31 days is a bit problematic.

Still the presence of cameras does reduce complaints against the police. While the BWV did not change the way that police officers deal with suspects or victims, nor did the devices inspire any change in the way officers evaluated and carried out stop-and-search procedures, it did mean that complains dropped.

The Axon camera has a 130-degree wide-angle lens and can be connected to via the mobile app Axon View, available for iOS and Android. The app appends GPS data and facilitates real-time metadata tagging for later keyword-based searching in the cloud evidentiary archives.

With remote monitoring of an officer’s camera, the 30-second buffer rule obviously does not apply, and anyone authorised to access an officer’s camera can apparently do so on the same ongoing basis as a CCTV camera.

Most of the UK trial reports show British officers in favour of the video evidence system. The Met UK roll-out is expected to be complete by summer of 2017.

Isis weaponised consumer drones

dji-phantom-vision-2-plus-004Islamic death cult, the Islamic State, has been buying off the shelf drones and packing them with explosives.

Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State in northern Iraq last week shot down a small drone the size of a model airplane. Thinking it was an observation drone they took it to their base to have a look at it only to find it was rigged with explosives and blew up.

According to the Pentagon, the Islamic State has tried to use small drones to launch attacks at least twice, prompting American commanders in Iraq to issue a warning to forces fighting the group to treat any type of small flying aircraft as a potential flying bomb.

The terror group has used off-the-shelf surveillance drones on the battlefield for a while but now it looks like they have finally created a usable weapon.

American military analysts and drone experts say that the Pentagon, which still has not worked out how to take down drones was slow to anticipate that militants would turn drones into weapons.

Apparently the Pentagon does have expensive and sophisticated devices to stop drones attacking its own troops but has not given these to the Kurds or Iraqis. Officials said they have ordered the Pentagon agency in charge of dealing with explosive devices — known as the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization — to study ways to thwart hostile drones.

The Islamic State is using simpler, commercially available drones such as the DJI Phantom, which can be purchased on Amazon for slightly over $1000. The group attaches small explosive devices to them, essentially making them remotely piloted bombs.

What is worrying is that a European or American terror cell might do the same thing and conduct a remote control terror attack on a city.