Tag: general motors

GM shows that car manufacturers don’t get tech

ElectrobatThere are signs might be a few problems as car manufacturers get their heads around technology.

Worried that people might be able to hack their cars, GM motors have issued a bug bounty. There is nothing wrong with that, in fact it is a normal and sensible way to find flaws in your software.

The only problem is that GM’s bounty is fixed at nothing, not a sausage, and bugger all. Apparently GM thinks that people will do its job for LOLs. On the plus side, if you do find a bug, GM will kindly agree not to sue you.

The company launched its bug “bounty” on January 5th on the web site of Hackerone, a firm that manages bounty programs on top of other firms, promising “eternal glory” to security experts who relay information on “security vulnerabilities of General Motors products and services”.

The page on Hackerone detailing how vulnerability reporters will be thanked reads “Be the first to receive eternal glory.” I other words God will love you so much you will go to heaven when you die. It is a pretty good deal and has worked for the Roman Catholic church for a couple of millennium, but it is not so sure if white hat hackers will buy it.

It is being seen as the first attempt by “old economy” giant to delve into the world of bug bounties for information on software flaws and vulnerabilities. United Airlines recently launched a similar programme on the Hackerone platform. At least it offered up to one million airmiles to researchers who find remotely executable vulnerabilities in the company’s web properties .

Researchers must also promise to hold the details of their finding until GM confirms its existence and fixes the issue.

Still, some researchers are skeptical that firms are willing to “walk the walk” when it comes to addressing and fixing reported vulnerabilities. “If we waited for Chrysler before disclosing the jeep hack, I bet it still wouldn’t be fixed,” wrote Valasek’s research partner Charlie Miller (@0xCharlie) on Twitter.

Samsung joins the push to autos

tv-carSamsung is one of the late arrivals trying to push its technology into cars.

Data compiled by Thomson Reuters IP & Science suggests that Samsung and its partners are ramping up research and development for auto technology. Two-thirds of their combined 1,804 US patent filings related to electric vehicles and electric components for cars coming since 2010.

The reason that no-one has heard about it is because Samsung has not yet landed significant business.

LG recently announced a major supply agreement with General Motors and Nvidia claims its chips will be in more than 30 million cars in the next three to four years.

IHS analyst Danny Kim said Samsung does not yet have a unified, group-wide approach to building its supplier presence in the industry.

“Samsung needs a serious commitment to drive the synergies between all competent organisations within Samsung Group,” he said.

Oddly Samsung has some history in the industry, but its experience has been bad. Ten years ago it flogged its debt-laden carmaking unit to Renault.  But in 2010 it had another crack at the auto industry, identifying car batteries as one of its five growth businesses.

To be fair, Samsung SDI C is the world’s number 6 electric car battery maker and can count BMW, Chrysler and Volkswagen among its chums.

The Samsung patent filings show a wide range of technologies including a drowsy-driving detection system, an alert system for break-in attempts and a transparent display for directions and traffic information.

Samsung Electro-Mechanics created a dedicated team to sell components such as camera modules to new auto clients and says it would consider acquisitions to boost car-related businesses.

Samsung Display has cited the auto industry as a potential growth area and has been testing its OLED displays with BMW and auto parts maker Continental.

Samsung Electronics could catch up by taking the one-stop-shop approach, similar to that of LG Electronics, by working with sister companies to combine offerings such as batteries, chips, sensors and software such as the Tizen operating system into a single package, analysts say.

Analysts suggest it could speed things up by acquiring established players such as Japan’s Renesas Electronics. This would allow Samsung to provide an entire platform and not just a single component.

LG sells in-car displays to Porsche and Honda

tv-carIn a move to save its perky bottom line, LG Electronics is to supply Honda and Porsche with in-car displays.

The company has been looking to auto business sales to counter weak sales at its mainstay television and smartphone units.

LG Electronics has started mass production of the Honda’s centre information displays, which will be placed in the console. It will start doing the same for Porsche in the first half of 2016.

LG Display is supplying the liquid crystal display panels. In the April-June quarter, LG’s new auto business, which involves various products including in-car displays and camera systems, accounted for 11.5 percent of overall sales in the April-June quarter.

LG Electronics is also working with BMW, General Motors and Mercedes Benz for research and development of centre information displays, but so far no products have arrived yet.

Advertising in Facebook is pointless

Facebook’s future was looking less secure after one of its key advertisers walked away from the site.

General Motors has decided Facebook’s ads had little impact on consumers and it would be better off doing something else with the $40 million it spends.  Desperate Housewife in the 4.30 at Derby would seem to be a safer bet. 

Facebook, which is about to have a huge IPO, needs the announcement by GM like a hole in the head.

GM is the third-largest advertiser in the United States, and is starting to show some doubts about whether advertising on Facebook works better than traditional media.

Analysts are saying that while Facebook looks likely that it will be one of the most important ad-supported media properties, it’s not certain marketers can prove it works.

GM said it will still have Facebook pages, which cost nothing to create and for which it pays no fees, to market its cars.

Ford at least is OK with Facebook. It told Reuters that it was committed to advertising on Facebook and is boosting its spending.

The company spends a fifth of its marketing budget on digital and social media.

John Battelle, chairman of the Internet advertising network Federated Media, told Reuters that Facebook needed to build relationships with major advertisers.

It might need to come up with customised advertising offerings, even though such efforts would likely be less profitable than traditional display or pay-per-click advertising. 

Got a commercial website? Prepare for a writ from a Parallel universe

What do the following companies have in common with each other?

Aeo, Amway, American Eagle Outfitters, AOL, Barnes & Noble, Bass Pro Shops, Bestbuy, Borders Group, Brawn, Cabela’s, Coldwater Creek, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, Footlocker, General Motors, Google, Hayneedle, Iconix Brand Group, IP Holdings, Juicy Couture, Kohl’s Illinois, LF LLC, Limited Brands, Liz Claiborne, Lowes Home Centers, Mapquest, Musician’s Friend, Nordstrom, Onestop Internet, Oriental Trading Company, Patagonia, QVC, Rampage Clothing Company, Recreational Equipment, Redbox Automated Retail, Restoration Hardware, Sony, Southwest Airlines, Staples, Sunglass Hut International, Target Corporation, The Nieman Marcus Group, The North Face, The Orvis Company, Tiffany & Co, TripAdvisor, US Airways, VF Outdoor, Williams-Sonoma, Women’s Apparel Group, and Zappos Retail.

The answer is they’re all being sued for a patent infringement by a company called Parallel Networks LLC in the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division. Conveniently,  Parallel Networks LLC lives at 100 E.Ferguson Street, Suite #602 in Tyler, Texas.

The defendants are being sued over US patent 6,446,111, called Method and apparatus for client-server communications using a limited capability client over a speed communications network, issued on the 3rd of September 2002.

So what are they alleged to have done? Each of them uses “servers which receive requests from client devices and collect data items as a function of the requests; executable applets dynamically generated by such servers in response to the client requests; constituent systems associated with such applets comprising a subset of the data items and further comprising a data interface capability configured to provide a plurality of operations with such applets being transferred over the communications link to the client device.”

Couldn’t Parallel Networks LLC just sue the whole world, rather than just all of the above?

Android partners with Kindle, Google partners with GM

The little green robot can read

Amazon is set to launch a new Kindle application for Android devices soon.

The new application will allow you to browse, buy and read books directly without having to access the Amazon website. The iPhone version, on the other hand, takes you to the website for a book purchase, since Apple charges a hefty 30 percent of in-app transactions which Amazon is obviously unwilling to pay.

Kindle will allow access to over 500,000 books, depending on which country you’re in. It also uses Whispersync, which automatically synchronises your last page read, bookmarks, notes and hightlights across Kindle and Kindle-compatible devices, such as a PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Blackberry.

This application will not require that the user have a Kindle device, but for those who do it will automatically sync up and offer the books already downloaded to your Kindle so that you can view them on your phone as well.

Kindle newspapers, magazines, and blogs, however, will not currently be available for the Android application.

The Kindle application requires Android OS 1.6 or a higher version. It also requires an SD card to store downloaded books and should work on the majority of Android-based phones.

As for the release date, all we know for certain is that it is “coming soon”.

Kindle for Android

The little green robot can drive

Last Thursday TechEye reported that General Motors had gone into talks with Google on the possibility of bringing the Android operating system to vehicles. Today a deal between the two giants has been announced.

The new Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that will be launched by General Motors soon, will be the first of many GM cars to use Google’s Android OS.

Chevrolet Volt

In our earlier report we wondered if GM’s OnStar nagivation technology would cause conflict with Google. The news today, however, is that OnStar will be staying and will work together with the Android OS.

General Motors is trying to get more people, particularly younger ones, to buy cars that use OnStar, so this deal with Google will certainly help towards that end.

“There can be a technological tour de force beyond just vehicle applications,” OnStar president Chris Preuss said. “We’re looking to enhance the value proposition on OnStar to make us more competitive.”

OnStar has a number of features, such as automatic crash response, security and emergency services, vehicle diagnostics, hands-free calling, and turn by turn navigation. It can help you if you’ve locked your keys in the car or even track down your car if it has been stolen.

The pairing with Google, however, will mean that car owners will be able to locate their vehicle using their Android phone, without needing to call up the OnStar response team at all. It will also allow voice recognition of when you need directions and will use Google Maps to find and transmit them to the driver via OnStar. So technically you’re still using Google’s navigation system, but it will be through OnStar. The turn by turn navigation that OnStar offers will then refine those directions for a more user-friendly process.

General Motors has already planned to allow the Chevrolet Volt and OnStar to synchronise with smartphones, including the ability to remotely charge and monitor the battery, which will be a vital feature for the new wave of electric vehicles.

These will be much needed features if GM hopes to become a leading player in the in-car information system sector, since Microsoft’s Sync for Ford vehicles has already become the popular choice. Even without that Bluetooth, GPS and smartphone technology has advanced so quickly that OnStar seemed to be lagging behind big time, offering what these newer technologies offer in a somewhat dated fashion. Couple that with a fee and it’s understandable why OnStar has been a less desireable choice for many car users.

According to General Motors OnStar has over 5.5 million users. With Google’s Android in the mix these figures may increase quite substantially over the coming years.

NASA, GM create Robonaut 2

NASA said that it and General Motors have created the next iteration of their robot, Robonaut 2 (R2). R2 is a development of the original Robonaut, created 10 years ago, and includes better functionality.

R2 has been designed to work safely with people and features leading edge control, sensor and vision technologies. The robot was built with the help of engineers from Oceaneering Space Systems of Houston and created under a Space Act Agreement.

It can lift and hold 20 pound weights both near and away from its body

NASA’s Johnson centre director Mike Coats said: “Our challenge today is to build machines that can help humans work and explore in space. Working side by side with humans, or going where the risks are too great for people, machines like Robonaut will expand our capability for construction and discovery.”

There’s obviously a spin off for General Motors too, as the R2 is designed to use the same tools as humans.