New Universal Keyboard For All Phones And Tablets Hits Market

Universal Keyboard
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Microsoft’new universal keyboard offering is a well-built, slightly-smaller keyboard that can switch between operating systems at the touch of a button.

The keyboard will work with almost any phone or tablet, compatible with Windows, Android and IOS operating systems.

The size is 9.5 by 4.3 x 0.5 inches (24 x 10 x 11 cm), and the keyboard weighs 12.9 ounces (365 g). It is basically a clam shell design with a floppy top attached by magnets. It is small enough to fit inside a bag or purse, but not small enough to fit in a pants pocket.

Users can rest their device in the stand, creating a layout similar to that of a laptop. The stand is attached to the top of the clamshell, so when it is detached, the screen can be moved further away.

When opening up the keyboard on a device, the device will ask for a 6-digit password before allowing access.

The keyboard is powered by a built-in mAH battery, which Microsoft says will last for around 6 months on a charge.

The keypad area, at 9.25 inches (23 cm) wide, is roughly the size of the keyboards found on smaller laptops. The size may not be suitable for people who struggle with this size of keypad, but for those who don’t mind the small dimensions, the key-action has received positive reviews.

The keyboard originally retailed for around $80.00, which puts it at the same price point of many of its competitors, but recently it has been listed for around $40.00.

By Andy Stern

Elegant Hair-Thin Robot Water-Strider Leaps Into Air (Video)

Water strider robot
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Who doesn’t still vaguely remember the first time they saw a water strider standing on top of a lake?

The insects do it by taking advantage of water’s surface tension, which their thin water-repellent legs and light bodies can rest upon without puncturing through.

Now, a Harvard University and Seoul National University joint team have built robots inspired by water striders. The small bots can hop on water, taking advantage of surface tension in the same way.

The robots are simply built from hair thin rods, and their 2 cm-long bodies and 5 cm-long legs weigh only 68 milligrams.

To leap into the air, the legs of the bots are rotated inward, boosting them upward.

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By Sid Douglas

Chryslers can now be hacked, brakes, steering, transmission controlled over internet [video]

Chryslers can now be hacked, brakes, steering, transmission controlled over internet [video]
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Thousands of Chrysler vehicles can be hacked into from any computer connected to the internet, cutting out breaks, steering and transmission, according to two security experts and hackers who spend the last year creating a Uconnect hack.

Recently, a 2014 Jeep Cherokee was tested out by WIRED editor Andy Greenberg, who let the hackers attack his vehicle from the comfort of their couch as he proceeded down the highway.

Charlie Miller, security engineer at Twitter and Chris Valasek, director of vehicle safety research at Idactiv, triggered Greenberg’s PTSD by cranking the volume of the music and level of the fan in the vehicle, then activating the parking brake as the journalist drove down a busy highway.

So far, the hack has only been tested on the 2014 Jeep, but the team says that all late-model Chryslers equipped with Uconnect software are vulnerable.

According to Greenberg, who followed up on the security issue, Chrysler has since released a software update for the Uconnect issue. Chrysler posted a notice to its website informing its customers about a “software update to improve vehicle electronic security.”

For late-model Chryslers with Uconnect, owners are advised to update their software by entering their VIN number on Chryslers website, download the update to a USB, connect the USB to the vehicle, and answer the vehicle’s prompt, “Yes,” the owner confirms he wants to update the software.

This update is also a free service for anyone who brings their Chrysler into a dealership.

By James Haleavy

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Homemade gun-firing drone video prompts investigation into teen pilot [video]

gun mounted drone
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The age of homemade flying guns is upon us, as a Connecticut teenager demonstrated Tuesday, posting a YouTube video of a semi-automatic handgun strapped to a homemade helicopter drone, firing shots in the forest.

The Federal Aviation Administration is currently investigating 18-year-old Austin Haughwout from Clinton, Connecticut, who may have violated FAA regulations, which prohibit reckless operation of a model aircraft.

The teen created the multirotor last week, according to his father, who said it was done with the help of a Central Connecticut State University professor.

This is not the first time Haughwout has made news with a drone. Last year the teen flew a drone near a woman at a beach, and the woman, Andrea Mears of Westbrook, Connecticut, was later charged for assaulting the teen. The video posted by Haughwout shows Mears physically assaulting him while calling him a pervert.

[Warning: graphic language]

By James Haleavy

USA challenges Japan to giant robot battle, Japan accepts

megabots vs kuratas
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A battle between the giant humanoid robots of America and Japan is in the works, as MegaBot USA’s challenge to Japan’s Kuratas Mecha has been formally accepted.

Kuratas, the only giant humanoid robot manufacturer besides MegaBot, is set to meet the US bot suit sometime next year. Both bots will be equipped with paintball guns and will be piloted by teams made up of engineers of the rivaling nations.

“SUIDOBASHI HEAVY INDUSTRIES! MegaBots, Inc. challenges you to a duel!” the US team told Kuratas from its YouTube channel (video below). “You have a giant robot, we have a giant robot — we have a duty to the science fiction lovers of this world to fight them to the death.

“Prepare yourselves, and name the battlefield. In one year, we fight.”

Kuratas thanked the American team for their challenge, and specified a desire to engage in hand-to-hand battle: “But you know, we really need… MELEE COMBAT! If we’re gonna win this, I want them to punch them to scrap and knock them down them down to do it.”

The US challenge

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Kuratas’ response

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Smarter phones that smell, taste and feel great

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Imagine an Apple iPhone that smells like an apple or a Blackberry that taste sweet or a Windows Touch-phone that squeezes you in mid-conversation. Scientists in London have made more progress in the now-common smartphone to make the audio-visual communication transcend tool what engineers call “the glass barrier” and create an experience that is more 4-D.

Professor Adrian David Cheok of the University of London said of his technology, “In the real world, we can open up the glass, open the window. We can touch, we can taste, we can smell in the real world.”

How do inanimate smartphones deliver the sensation of senses?

First you will have to open your mouth and say, “Ah!” The human tongue’s surface has molecules, also known as tastebuds, that through chemical ionization send the brain electrical signals of a specific amplitude depending on which type of taste: sour, sweet, salty, and bitter. Scientist have found a way to send these signals — minus the calories — to savor. This process was explained by Professor Cheok.

Professor Adrian David Cheok

“You put these two silver electrodes in your mouth, you put your tongue in between and then it stimulates electrically your tongue and you get a virtual taste perception in your brain.” So far, scientists have reproduced sour, salty, sweet and bitter tastes, it will take further exploration to make all the taste we are accustomed to eat like Bacon.

At the push of a button you are now able to deliver an array of scents to smell. The device and app “Scentee” is an attachment to plug into your smart phone that holds a cartridge of 100 different smells, from fresh fruits, lavender or jasmine, to fresh ground coffee, that can be sprayed when prompted by the other side of the conversation. Professor Cheok relayed, “Basically what happens, we have an app, it connects to the Internet and then this will release scent from your mobile phone.” Think of the added benefit of sending your friend a hint of lemon scent when they say they are having a bad day or the scent of cookies because you know they are not hungry when you are.

Have you even been in a conversation and the other person for a moment stops paying attention or loses focus? Well, as long as you put a ring on them that is connected wirelessly to your smartphone, you can gently squeeze their finger to regain their attention or focus in mid-conversation. “I can be in London and my friend can be in Tokyo, and I can squeeze my finger and then they’ll get a squeeze on their finger through the Internet. It’s a way of touch communication with small mobile devices,” said Professor Cheok.

With the development of smart technology, from phones to homes, the barriers of pan-sensual communication will soon be memories of the past. Professor Cheok hopes the devices developed will soon be added to smartphone and homes to further transcend the current limitations of long distance communication.

By Mark A.G. Cox

Nokia 215 – $29 dollar cell phone that will last a month on a charge

technology, nokia, nokia 215, 30 dollar phone, new cell phone, Nokia 215 - $29 dollar cell phone that will last a month on a charge
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Microsoft Devices Group and communications and information technology company Nokia are launching a $29 cell phone that will last one month on a single charge.

“With our ultra-affordable mobile phones and digital services, we see an inspiring opportunity to connect the next billion people to the Internet for the first time,” Jo Harlow, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Devices Group, said of the device. “The Nokia 215 is perfect for people looking for their first mobile device, or those wanting to upgrade to enjoy affordable digital and social media services, like Facebook and Messenger.”

The Nokia 215 will be the Finnish company’s “most affordable internet-ready” phone, and will be marketed to buyers in developing markets, particularly in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, in Q1 of this year.

The 215 is enabled with 2G wireless technology, carries a VGA camera, and will be available in both single- and double-SIM models. The 215 will also be equipped with a flashlight–an important selling feature for around 20 percent of the world’s population who live in regions with no regular access to electric power.

The battery life of the 215 allow nearly one month of standby power (21 days for the dual-SIM model) or 21 days (20 hours) of talk time. The battery also allows for 45 hours of FM radio playback.

The 215 also comes equipped with access to social media services like Facebook, Twitter and Messenger.

By Andy Stern

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The future of drones – 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show

The future of drones - 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show
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Las Vegas is buzzing. After a week of tech advances at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show, CES2015, drones have taken the lead in seducing not only an avid public, but also companies with serious interest in new appliances in a wide range of production sectors. This year the organization has designated a specific area for drones, due to the increase of developers who have found drone niches in diverse areas, from sporting events to agriculture to rescue missions.

The tech giant Intel has announced a set of improvements and startups designed to increase software performance and portable solutions for unmanned aircrafts. “The increase of new experiences in personal computers, smart and connected devices, and the revolution of visible technology is redefining the relationship between consumers and technology itself,” said Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich.

Some improvements have enabled drones to perceive depth; others will allow the device to build 3D images of its surroundings.

One of the most highlighted devices was the winner of the Intel Challenge “Make it Wearable” from 2014, a flying camera which can be attached to the wrist as a bracelet and deployed instantly to take pictures from the heights. One new feature is attracting extreme sports athletes: a wearable tracking device and “follow me” technology, allowing the drone to follow and record the user.

Among the drone innovators at CES, the startup EHang left the audience in awe when they presented their Ghost drone, which can be controlled via smartphone.

There is plenty of space for innovation and commercial opportunities for those eager to provide unique perspectives in unsuspected fields such as real state, journalism and filmmaking.

Andrew Amato, editor-in-chief of Dronelife, who was present at CES, expressed clearly his belief that drones would be present in daily life from now on. “People have been saying the drones are coming. But I think the fact that we have an unmanned systems area dedicated to them now means they’re not coming. They’re here”.

Some of the new features take advantage of 4K resolution cameras and image stabilizers, which sharpens action footage more than ever. All this combined with air visibility still worries federal regulators. In particular, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is concerned about drones flying near commercial aircraft and therefore drone users require approval before flying.

According to the Consumer Electronics Association(CEA) , global revenue for drones will reach $130 million in 2015, twice last year’s value. Patrick Moorhead, the main tech analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, estimated that there were twice as many drones as compared to previous events. He explained that the fascination with flying objects is due to our historical difficulty to control them, which makes drones awesome.

Military drones, tiny drones, selfie-taking drones, and drones that fly themselves were “arguably the most hyped products at CES,” said Ben Wood from CCS Insight. According to the interview at BBC, the trade group expects drones to be a billion-dollar market in a few years.

The future of drones shines with optimism, and will rocket even more once regulations catch up with tech advances. Once restrictions are lifted, only the sky will be the limit.

By Santiago Bustamante González

First Website Ever Made in US Brought to Light in Digital Archaeology Find

First Website Ever Made in US Brought to Light in Digital Archaeology Find
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Digital archaeology that has revealed the earliest signs of web-life in America. Stanford Libraries has brought to light the first websites ever uploaded in the US–genealogically part Euro-descendant, part US original. The pages are now available for browsing, and Stanford Wayback, a customized platform for accessing archived web assets, provides a third dimension for viewing the internet, allowing users to see and navigate the web as it has changed over time and to look back in time at code written by the earliest “WWW Wizards.”

“A handful of staff at SLAC who worked on the early web fortuitously saved the files, along with their timestamps,” said Nicholas Taylor, web archiving service manager for Stanford Libraries.

The earliest site dates back to Dec. 6, 1991–a month in which no-fly zones were being set up in Iraq after the Gulf War, the Ukrainian people voted for independence from the Soviet Union and the Cold War ended, Hezbollite (Shiite Muslim) militants released their last US hostages, and Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston won at the 2nd annual Billboard Music Awards.

The sites were installed on the first server outside of Europe, which was installed by physicist Paul Kunz between Dec. 6 and Dec. 12.

First Website Ever Made in US Brought to Light in Digital Archaeology FindTaylor told The Speaker how in launching the Stanford Web Archive Portal, once they learned of the existence of the earliest US websites, this seemed the most intriguing choice.

“A major focus for Stanford University Libraries’ web archiving effort is preserving Stanford University’s institutional legacy. We thought that the SLAC earliest websites would be the most broadly interesting historical web content related to the University with which to launch the Stanford Web Archive Portal. That is to say, we didn’t explicitly set out to track down the oldest US website, per se, but became quickly interested once we learned about it.”

The lineage of the earliest US sites is a part European descendant-part original strain, Taylor told us.

“They’re necessarily derivative, in some sense; what made the Web was adherence to a common set of conventions (e.g., the syntax for a hyperlink). The SLAC ‘WWW Wizards’ built the first US website based upon the conventions formulated by Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the world’s first website at CERN. In another sense, the first U.S. website was entirely home-grown, built foremost to serve the research needs of the SLAC research community.”

Taylor elaborated on this piece of digital archaeology was undertaken.

First Website Ever Made in US Brought to Light in Digital Archaeology Find“You might say that there were two major digital archaeology efforts. One, SLAC’s previous recovery and preservation of the original website files, and two, Stanford University Libraries’ much subsequent restoration of access to the websites in their original temporal context, via the the Stanford Web Archive Portal.

We have the early sites back online today because of SLAC staff foresight.

“Essentially, SLAC staff that were involved with the early websites and, later, staff in the SLAC Archives and History Office had the wherewithal to retrieve, set aside, and document the files constituting the earliest websites,” said Taylor.

The sites were saved with their timesstamps, which are associated with the first version of a website, as well as subsequent versions.

“The original timestamps were preserved as part of the SLAC backup system for those servers and are a critical piece of context in understanding the restored content.

“We’re accustomed to thinking about the Web in two dimensions–i.e., as a flat plane that we navigate spatially. Web archives and the Memento protocol, in particular, offer the prospect of adding a third dimension to the Web–allowing users to see how it has changed over time and seamlessly navigate to archived versions of resources that have since disappeared.”

First Website Ever Made in US Brought to Light in Digital Archaeology FindTaylor commented on the nature of investigating the origins of the digital realm, and noted that we are close enough in time to still touch its ancestry.

“A last note about ‘digital archaeology,'” said Taylor, “unlike much archaeology, our digital archaeology effort had the benefit of being able to confer directly with the individuals who created these artifacts.”

Taylor encouraged everyone to support and celebrate the efforts of this “memory institution,” and take a look at our digital past in the artifacts they have recently preserved.

Stanford Wayback is part of the Libraries’ web archiving initiative, which aims to collect, preserve and provide access to web content that is at risk of being updated, replaced or lost.

By Andy Stern

Japan to Invest in Robots, Not Immigrants, to Provide Healthcare for Aging Population

Japan to Invest in Robots, Not Immigrants, to Provide Health Care for Aging Population
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Japan’s aging population will be cared for by robots–not immigrant laborers, according to the plans of the Japanese government. The Abe government is increasing investments in healthcare robots to meet the nation’s needs, and recently announced subsidies that will cover up to two-thirds of the research and design costs for the development of various healthcare robots.

One quarter of Japan’s 127 million population age 65 and older, and that percentage is expected to rise to approximately 35 percent by 2025. In 2010, according to the Health Labor and Welfare Ministry of Japan, the nation needed around 2 million nursing care workers, but this need went unmet–only 1.33 million workers were employed in 2010. That need will rise to 4 million by 2025, the ministry predicted, and require 1 million mostly foreign elderly care workers.

That is why the Japanese government is planning to extend financial subsidies in order to help firms develop inexpensive nursing care robots. The goal is to produce care robots that will be ready for the market by fiscal 2016, and that will cost around $1,000 per unit.

Instead of increasing immigrant workers, Japan will invest in an expanding robotics market that is expected to reach $13.6 billion in 2018, and around $90 billion by Japan to Invest in Robots, Not Immigrants, to Provide Health Care for Aging Population2025. The Japanese government, which is already funding healthcare robot production, is extending research subsidies in order to develop more inexpensive robots for hospital and home use. Beginning this fiscal year, the government will provide subsidies that will cover one-half to two-thirds of research and development costs for care robots–valued at over $20 million.

These robots will  be covered by nursing care insurance, and will be available for rent at approximately 10 percent of their purchase price.

There are several main areas of healthcare robot development that robotics firms are focusing on. One goal is to create a robot that could carry a patient to a toilet. A robotic suit has already been created that can help care staff more easily lift patients.

There is also demand for robots that could monitor a patient’s use of medication, robots that could help the elderly to walk, portable, motorized, self-cleaning toilet robots, and robots that could track the location of dementia patients.

Special concerns faced by the elderly during emergency situations are also being considered as robot care services. Robots will be programmed to ask patients if they are dizzy and to nag them to stay well hydrated and cool during heat waves.

Another area of development is companionship. Already, Japanese robots like SoftBank’s cloud-based Pepper can read and react to facial expressions, gestures and voice commands. Pepper will be sold to Japanese consumers next year for around $2,000.

By Dan Jackson

Photo: Héctor García

White House Scientists to Meet Robotics Experts to Fight Ebola

White House Scientists to Meet Robotics Experts to Fight Ebola
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On Nov. 7, the White House’s science and technology branch will meet with robotics experts and medical and humanitarian officials to explore ways to use robots to help safely treat Ebola victims, as well as victims of other infectious diseases during epidemics.

“The problem that we’re having now with Ebola is the same as the problem that we had with Fukushima,” wrote IEEE Spectrum robotics blogger Evan Ackerman, “There simply aren’t any robots that are prepared and ready, right now, to tackle an immediate crisis, even though robots would be immensely valuable in this situation.”

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will meet with Texas A&M University Center for Robot-Assisted Science and Rescue (CRASAR), the Worchester Polytechnic Institute and others. The purpose of the workshop will be to discuss the kinds of robots that would be valuable during future epidemics and to identify the abilities possessed by already existent robots.

CRASAR Director Robin Murphy blogged recently about some possibilities. These included transportation of deceased, reducing humans working in biosafety labs and field hospitals, contamination detection, disinfection, telepresence/language interpretation, physical security, waste handling, humanitarian relief (food, water and medicine distribution), and reconnaissance.

“In order to be successful at any one of the tasks,” wrote Murphy, “robots have to meet a lot of hidden requirements and sometimes the least exciting or glamorous job can be of the most help to the workers. Example hidden requirements: Can an isolated field hospital handle a heavy robot in the muddy rainy season? How will the robots be transported there? Is it easy enough for the locals to use so that they can be engaged and earn a living wage? What kind of network communication is available? What if it needs repairs? That’s what I am working on, applying the lessons learned in robotics for meteorological and geological disasters.”

Some of the tasks Murphy listed are possible with current robotics, or would be with current modifications.

Currently, West Africa is suffering under the Ebola epidemic that is infecting thousands every week. The disease is doubling every three weeks, and could infect up to a million people by January, UN officials have stated. Among the current challenges in addressing the Ebola epidemic is the lack of doctors and properly trained medical staff.

By Daniel Jackson

Chewing Sensors Invented in Japan

Chewing Sensors Invented in Japan
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A bubble gum company in Japan–a nation conscious of the relationship between chewing and cognitive function–has invented a chewing-sensor. The sensor, invented by a Tokyo-based gum manufacturer, counts chewing rate and intensity.

“Chewing, unless you make a conscious effort, can be seen as a bit of a pain,” said Katsumi Kawai, chief marketing officer at Lotte.

“As a gum maker, this is a great concern.”

Chews are recorded by special earphones created by the gum company. Sensors within the ear pieces also record the speed and strenth of each bite.

Data is sent from the earphones to a smartphone ap that tracks chewing by time periods.

The technology can also be used to turn music on and off, which can be done by chewing in a certain pattern.

The device has been called “Rhythmi-Kamu,” a play on the English word “rhythmical” and the Japanese “kamu” (to chew).

It employs technology developed by Hiroshima City University engineer Kazuhiro Taniguchi, who said that the product pleased him and that it had “satisfying functions.”

Japan, a country that already had a belief in the connection between chewing and health, had their belief fortified by a studly last year that showed a correlation between the two.

The Rhythmi-Kamu is not bound for the commercial marketplace, but Lotte has expressed a desire for research institutions to use it to study chewing.

By Heidi Woolf