The Untouchables have dubbed a new Barbie a paedophile fantasy because her latest version comes with a high-tech video camera.
According to Wired, the FBI’s latest cybercrime alert warns that the latest version of Barbie which comes tricked out with a video camera concealed in her necklace could be used by predators to create child pornography.
The alert was mistakenly released to the press and shows the Untouchables worried that the toy’s camera, which can capture 30 minutes of video could be used to lure children and film kiddie porn.
Barbie and other dolls have been the tool of choice for sexual predators to attract victims, the alert notes.
It seems that the FBI appears to have opened an investigation into the doll, even though its maker Mattel points out that there have been no cases where the Barbie camera had been used for kiddie porn.
Coppers however have welcomed the warning because they say they will put Barbie on the list just like any other cameras and computers.
This means that Barbie will be automatically seized in any investigation. We guess “Barbie Cyber Criminal” set will be available from toy stores everywhere. No word on Ken yet but we guess he is still being investigated. He still has not survived that charge of wearing a loud shirt in a built up area.
Intel has bought digital signage company CognoVision in an effort to take advantage of what it believes will be a quickly expanding smart sign market.
CognoVision is a start-up company based in Toronto, Canada. It makes anonymous face detection and people tracking software that gathers data on how people watch ads and how they move around stores, using small camera sensors and computers in signs and other places.
The technology allows signs to adapt to the user depending on their age, for example. It monitors how long a person looks at an advertisement, allowing more targetted ads, and can change if people show that they are losing interest.
“It’s an area where for not a lot of money you can really pick up some of the leading companies that turbo charge you into this segment,” saidPaul Otellini, CEO of Intel at the Intel Capital CEO Summit in California. “Home energy management would be another one, and that’s where we’re bringing people portfolio investments and selective acquisitions.”
Intel has been a CognoVision partner for some time, with its processors powering CognoVision’s applications since July 2009.
The deal apparently closed in September, but Intel has been tight-lipped about it until today. It plans to capitalise on an emerging smart sign market by ensuring that its Atom processors are the primary processing power behind the displays and computers used in CognoVision’s technology.
Financial details of the acquisition were not revealed, but given Intel’s statements and the fact that CognoVision is a start-up, we imagine it was on the lower scale of payments.
Complete connectivity is already on the way for the majority of people in the US, with over a third of US adults downloading applications on their mobile phones, according to a new report by Pew Research Centre’s Internet & American Life Project.
The survey, which asked nearly 2,000 people, revealed that 35 percent of adults in the US downloaded apps on their mobile phones. Considering that the smartphone craze has only recently caught on, with many older mobiles unable to download apps, it’s just set to grow and grow.
However, only 24 percent actually use the applications they’ve downloaded, which means that 11 percent just downloaded them for the sake of it. 13 percent paid for apps, but that number is likely to rise as the app market continues to boom.
Of those who downloaded apps, it was revealed that there was an average of 18 apps downloaded per person, with most downloaders being young educated males with plenty of money lying around.
“This is a pretty remarkable tech-adoption story, if you consider that there was no apps culture until two years ago,” said Roger Entner, co-author of the report. It is particularly striking considering the app market has blossomed during one of worst global recessions in history.
A whopping 76 percent of mobile users use the camera on their phones to take pictures. 72 percent used their phones to send or receive text messages, which means that taking photos is actually a higher priority than texting for many people.
38 percent of people access the internet on their phone. 34 percent play games on their phones, while 33 percent use their phones to listen to music.
The report highlights how a lot of people like to have more functionality in a single device, explaining the recent surges in the smartphone market, particularly with Android’s debut. .
Snaps are being tainted by blue, yellow and green splotches which the iPhone 4 takes upon itself to place, driving users crazy.
The problem seems to only occur when taking images with the rear-facing camera under fluorescent indoor lighting.
If you do that you get a snap with a blue tint that appears as a circle from the centre of the photo. The front facing camera has the same problem but it is not as severe.
What is interesting is that although the forums are full of complaints about the camera, Apple has made no moves to investigate the problem. Nor has anyone made much of a song and dance about it.
It seems that using a phone which disconnects when you don’t hold it the way Steve Jobs tells you, has screen colouration problems, and now faulty cameras has created a similar psychology to those during the London Blitz. In other words: “Life is hell, but we will get through it.”
We just wonder how long it will be before the Apple fanboys revolt against the way they are treated.
The UK has over 4.2 million cameras tracking our every move, and not wanting to buck the trend we’ve got our hands on the Compro IP55. Aimed squarely at the home and small business market, this little camera is an interesting entry into the low-end security market.
The IP55 is a network camera, so once attached to a router you can connect to the video stream over the network or the web. In the box there‘s the camera, mounting kit, network cable, power adapter, installation CD and instructions. You can also connect the camera to a network through the addition of a USB wireless dongle, which is not included.
The camera itself might look a bit like R2D2’s ugly younger brother but this gawky look is probably down to the amount they have crammed in. For your money you get a 1.3 Megapixel camera that can feed dual MJPEG and MPEG-4 video streams, two-way audio (so you can shout at the people stealing your stuff in real time), Micro SD card support for capture of still images, Windows software and web firmware that can be accessed by logging into the camera in your browser.
Set up was straightforward; we used the included network cable instead of an additional wifi dongle – not just because we’re cheap (although mostly so). The Compro setup wizard configured the camera and the IDDNS.org account based on a few selected options. The free IDDNS service lets you connect to the camera via a web address rather than an IP with the format http://<your choice>.IDDNS.org. We did encounter one problem during setup; our router was giving the camera multiple IP addresses. We assigned the camera a static address and this sorted it out.
The desktop software looks serious, letting you configure 32 of these cameras and monitor 16 of them at a time. We can’t imagine this will be used much and since we only have one camera it’s wasted on us. The single camera view is still packed with features giving you the option to set up record and alert events based on movement, noise, changes in objects and scene. We only tried noise and movement, as these are probably the most useful. They’re nice features and worked well. You can stream in multiple resolutions from 320×240 to 1280×1024, although there is a frame rate drop when you select higher resolutions. If you don’t want to use events you can record nonstop to a local drive. The software had a number of features that didn’t work with this model, although this didn’t cause any problems.
The web software suite included in the camera’s firmware can be connected to through the free IDDNS.org account or directly by IP. This worked first time and gives you the option to setup two different accounts, viewer and admin. Within the admin account you can mess around with most of the features available to the windows software. The clean design of the web interface was preferable to the slightly cluttered windows software. The camera also lets you set up multiple feeds, one MPEG-4 and another MJEPG. The latter is primarily for viewing on mobile devices. We tested the second stream on an HTC hero and although the frame-rate was low, you could see what was going on as the picture was updated in real time.
In addition to the existing features of the camera and software, Compro are updating on a regular basis with two firmware releases while we were writing this review. One of these added the option to record to the optional MicroSD instead of just capturing still images, so if you are willing to keep up we would expect more to come.
The Compro I55 is a cheap solution to your security needs. It might not have all the features of more expensive cameras, but if you don’t mind a fixed viewpoint, this offers excellent value for money. The windows software is mature and was clearly developed for a more expensive model. In addition to this, the web firmware is where the Compro IP55 really comes into its own; their free IDDNS service gives you a named gateway to access your security cam wherever you are. We particularly enjoyed the mobile phone feed. We’re not sure when it would actually be useful but it’s good entertainment, anyway. The Compro IP55 delivers everything promised, and if you are security minded or own a small business we would definitely recommend.
The Moon may be home to many bizarre things says a new discovery by NASA of caverns hundreds of feet deep beneath its surface.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) sent back images of the unusual caves to NASA bases, where scientists are puzzling over what may potentially be “down the rabbit hole”.
“They could be entrances to a geologic wonderland,” said Mark Robinson of Arizona State University, one of the key figures in charge of the LRO. “We believe the giant holes are skylights that formed when the ceilings of underground lava tubes collapsed.”
Scientists theorised that the moon may have an underground network as far back as the 1960s, but now the LRO has given them some proof, with high-quality images of the entrances to the caverns and surrounding landscape.
The caverns are believed to be “skylights” for lava tubes from billions of years ago. These tubes are formed when a volcana erupts and then begins to cool, with the channels for the lava remaining behind as caverns. Such lava tubes can be found on Earth, with some creating labyrinthine tunnels that go on for miles.
The next step for NASA is to investigate the caverns, which it believes could provide shelter for humans when we go join the Clangers on the Moon.
“The tunnels offer a perfect radiation shield and a very benign thermal environment,” said Robinson.
Graham Cluley, Senior Technology Consultant at Sophos, told TechEye that quality control is most likely to blame.
“Technology firms may not be putting enough processes in place to ensure that the ‘image’ they put on a device’s internal memory or SD card does not also contain malware,” he told us. “In which case we would expect to see it on every device.”
He said that the infection may also have occurred on the production line. “You can easily imagine a scenario where devices roll down the conveyor belt and testers are required to pick up the device, plug it into a computer to ensure it works and then put it back on the conveyor belt.”
Olympus has advised its customers to check its website to see if their camera is one of the 2,000 infected.
For those who have bought a Stylus Tough 6010 it is advised that you disabled the autorun feature on your computer and do a virus scan of the card before employing it. Since it is dependent on the autorun it cannot spread if you have disabled it.
“If more care was taken to ensure that all computers were running up-to-date security software, and that the PCs used for QC could not be easily tampered with by malware, then the chances of such infections would dramatically reduce,” Cluley said.
A new application for the iPhone launched today which will supposedly prevent crime, save lives, and help you find your kids, not to mention feed the world, cure cancer and invent a perpetual motion machine.
The application, IcePics, which stands for In Case of Emergency Pictures, allows an iPhone user to point their phone at a suspicious individual and click the IcePics button to take a picture of them and automatically email it, along with the GPS location of where the photo was taken, to a pre-selected email address.
Examples given, included in the video below, involve children being accosted by a stranger, who must obviously be a kidnapper, so the children take his photo which then gets sent off with the location to the childrens’ parents. Those parents then panic, the mother drops the frying pan and sets the house on fire and the father runs out of the house screaming while trying to call the police. An hour later the man who the children assumed was a rapist is hunted down and arrested and everyone lives happily ever after.
Except the man was just asking for directions. Or he shouted at the little brats for kicking his car. But now he has to sign the sex offenders register. All, theoretically, what IcePics could do for the world.
That’s not the only major flaw of the application, of course. Jeff Neumeyer, the developer of IcePics, said that “a person with ill intent, such as a child-napper, mugger or rapist, will almost certainly abandon their plans because the chance of them being caught is almost assured.”
That’s assuming that taking a picture of someone scares them enough into not committing the crime. And how does the perpetrator know for certain that you are taking a picture, or, indeed, that it is being emailed anywhere? Unless you shout: “I have an app on this phone – don’t make me use it!” They might just commit the crime and steal or break your phone while they’re at it.
IcePics added: “Even if a person does not have an iPhone, or doesn’t purchase IcePics, once criminals become aware of the app they will flee when any phone is aimed at them. Most criminals will not stop and second guess whether or not someone actually has an iPhone equipped with IcePics.”
Let’s face it, it’s easy to know if someone has an iPhone or not, particularly when they’re pointing it in your face. Pointing a phone at someone is unlikely to stop a crime – particularly if they’re a phone thief.
A “secondary use” for the application involves the parents of a child calling them up and asking them to take a photo using IcePics. This gets mailed with the GPS location of the child to the parents, helping them locate their kid. Simply asking “where are you?” when they called the child might have worked too, but clearly most children are lying through their teeth, must be up to something and need to be tracked by satellites at all times.
And what’s to stop an unscrupulous person using this GPS tracking to also track the child? The same technology could actually put them in danger.
In fact, the examples given are so ludicrous that they even have you snapping shots of a stranger knocking at your door before opening it. So someone knocks to ask if you want to buy something and here you are taking their picture and mailing it off to someone as evidence of a crime that will undoubtedly be committed, because everyone is secretly a criminal.
Is this the beginning of a really rubbish Minority Report sequel?
Robotics company Anybots has today announced a “telepresence” robot called the QB, scheduled for release in Autumn 2010.
The robot is designed to help with video conferencing by offering a mobile robot with two cameras and a screen built in. It also comes with three microphones built in, Lidar, and is mounted on wheels for easy maneuverability. A user can control the robot via software loading onto a laptop. They can turn it on, move it, and record footage wherever it goes.
“The purpose is to let you interact with your colleagues at the office on their terms wherever you are,” Anybots CEO Trevor Blackwell told TechEye. “That means being able to join in conversations wherever they’re happening, not just in the conference room in front of their computers. Most of the important discussions in an office don’t happen in conference rooms. It means being able to see what they’re building in the lab, or make sure the shipment in the warehouse is where you expect it to be.”
He told us that when you send it to conferences instead of flying there you can network with people in the hallways between talks, “which is usually the best part of conferences”.
By not having to fly to conferences, of course, you can also avoid expensive travel bills, but since the QB is a whopping $15,000 it’s a pretty expensive mega-webcam, even if we all secretly want one.
In order to understand where Anybots is coming from with this product, however, we need to put ourselves in the shoes of someone who is looking after multiple offices, warehouses, etc.
If a CEO is in a big business meeting in California and a problem arises in a warehouse in New York a long and costly flight is needed in order for the CEO to see what’s going on and sort it out. It also completely stalls the meeting that was going on. With a QB robot, however, the CEO can remotely log onto the telepresence bot, which will alert people in the warehouse that it has been activated, and will allow the CEO to wander about the factory to inspect things.
Of course, we could raise the question of what makes this any different than calling someone in the warehouse and getting them to walk around with their webcam to show the CEO what’s up. That would certainly be much cheaper.
The QB, however, offers a few advantages. There’s no hassle in trying to get someone to hook up a webcam for you, as it’s already there, ready and able. It can be controlled yourself instead of telling someone to move around for you. This is particularly important if employees are trying to conceal something by not moving a webcam to a certain area. The QB goes wherever it is ordered to go. It could even be used for spot checks whenever a boss thinks people aren’t doing their work.
“There’s an idea that permission to always being connected and to engage is there,” said Bob Christopher of Anybots.
It works via Wi-Fi, which both the person remotely controlling it and the QB robot itself need access to, but that shouldn’t be a problem if you can afford the robot in the first place. It will also come in varying heights to suit people’s needs.
Anybots believes that the QB will help break down barriers between people in the workplace, alleviating some of the stress and strain of face to face meetings. The robot itself looks like Wall-E, with this choice of appearance being aimed at providing a non-threatening persona for a CEO in the workplace. It all sounds rather nice, but some employees will never feel comfortable with knowing their boss is watching, no matter how friendly those robotic eyes look.
Anybots is currently marketing the robots to technology firms, but hopes to make them much more widespread in the future. We may even see them acting as sales agents, according to Anybots, where the robot would accompany a customer and provide feedback, suggestions, and technical answers to any of their questions. And here we were thinking we already had robots working in sales.
The QB will use the standard lithium ion batteries we use in laptops and each charge will deliver six to eight hours of spying on your employees. Or talking to them. Whatever works.
As for the future, Blackwell told us that Anybots is “excited about adding 4G city-wide wireless support so we can even send it out to the coffee shop with the gang.” The Anybots guys are also running a beta test with several customers over the summer to see what needs improving.
It’s probably only a matter of time before you jump on the tube and see a QB following someone on. Or you may pop into work only to have a QB speak with your boss’s voice to tell you that you’re late. You might even see someone bringing one to dinner or the cinema. Maybe even to watch a film about robots.
Some sketches showing how the QB works in various situations and some videos showing it in action can be seen below.