"The Intercept has obtained a secret, internal U.S. government catalogue of dozens of cellphone surveillance devices used by the military and by intelligence agencies. The document, thick with previously undisclosed information, also offers rare insight into the spying capabilities of federal law enforcement and local police inside the United States.
The catalogue includes details on the Stingray, a well-known brand of surveillance gear, as well as Boeing “dirt boxes” and dozens of more obscure devices that can be mounted on vehicles, drones, and piloted aircraft. Some are designed to be used at static locations, while others can be discreetly carried by an individual. They have names like Cyberhawk, Yellowstone, Blackfin, Maximus, Cyclone, and Spartacus. Within the catalogue, the NSA is listed as the vendor of one device, while another was developed for use by the CIA, and another was developed for a special forces requirement. Nearly a third of the entries focus on equipment that seems to have never been described in public before."
Smartphones, tablets and e-readers should have an automatic "bedtime mode" that stops them disrupting people's sleep, says a leading doctor.
Prof Paul Gringras argued the setting should filter out the blue light that delays the body clock and keeps people awake later into the evening.
The doctor, from Evelina Children's Hospital in London, said every new model was "bluer and brighter".
He said manufacturers needed to show more "responsibility".
As it gets darker in the evening, the body starts to produce the sleep hormone melatonin - which helps people nod off.
Certain wavelengths of light, those at the blue-green end of the spectrum, can disrupt the system.
Prof Gringras was part of a study, published in Frontiers in Public Health, analysing the light emitted by devices.
It concluded there was a clear trend for new devices to be bigger, brighter, have higher levels of contrast and emit more blue light.
The professor of children's sleep medicine told the BBC News website: "That is great for use in the day, but awful for use at night.
"There is converging data to say if you are in front of one of these devices at night-time it could prevent you falling asleep by an extra hour."
"The technology titan is putting brakes on an "explorer" program that let people interested in dabbling with Glass buy eyewear for $1,500 apiece.
"Glass was in its infancy, and you took those very first steps and taught us how to walk," the team said of its "explorer" clients in a post on the Google+ social network.
"Well, we still have some work to do, but now we're ready to put on our big kid shoes and learn how to run."
The last day to buy Glass as part of the Explorer program will be Monday and Google did not indicate when a general consumer version of the eyewear might debut.
"Google Glass hasn't truly been released as a product yet -- it's been in long-term beta for over two years," said Forrester analyst J.P. Gownder.
"This organizational move will help to clarify the go to market strategy for both consumer and for enterprise customers."
The Glass test, or beta, program was later expanded to Britain.
During the Explorer testing phase, developers are creating apps for Google Glass, which can range from getting weather reports to sharing videos to playing games.
Glass connects to the Internet using Wi-Fi hot spots or, more typically, by being wirelessly tethered to mobile phones. Pictures or video may be shared through the Google+ social network.
- Outgrown the lab -
"As we look to the road ahead, we realize that we've outgrown the lab and so we're officially graduating from Google X to be our own team," the Glass post said.
"We're thrilled to be moving even more from concept to reality."
Instead of being part of the Google X lab working on innovations such as self-driving cars, the Glass team will become a separate unit answering to Tony Fadell, co-founder of Nest.
Google bought the smart thermostat maker early last year in a multi-billion-dollar deal and brought the former Apple executive on board in the process.
Google has announced alliances with the frame giant behind Ray-Ban and other high-end brands to create and sell Glass eyewear in the United States.
A partnership with Luxottica was portrayed as Google's "biggest step yet into the emerging smart eyewear market."
Luxottica brands include Oakley, Alain Mikli, Ray-Ban and Vogue-Eyewear.
The first smart glasses by Luxottica for Google Glass will go on sale this year, the Italian eyewear group has forecast.
Google has been working to burnish the image of Glass, which has triggered concerns about privacy since the devices are capable of capturing pictures and video.
Forrester data shows that while 43 percent of consumers are interested in Glass, even more have worries about privacy problems caused by the eyewear.
"Google needs to construct a consumer image for the product, and deal with privacy concerns if they want it to be mass market," Gownder said.
"I shoot with my cellphone because it is like a periscope, allowing me to stare without being noticed. I look like everyone else who is texting, Web surfing or checking messages.
I also use my cellphone because it feels right to employ a ubiquitous 21st-century tool to record 21st-century city dwellers. Almost all of us have one, and for all I know, someone is recording me right now, as I write these words on my laptop at a small outdoor cafe (under the gaze of a surveillance camera)."
Read more here
"...CA7CH Lightbox is a fun new way to snap pictures, stream short videos and share your life with friends. Live and hands-free, CA7CH Lightbox brings together a miniature wearable camera, your smart phone, and the internet to create a new way of sharing engaging moments with others."
"TechCrunch is hearing that Facebook is buying Titan Aerospace, makers of near-orbital, solar-powered drones which can fly for five years without needing to land. According to a source with access to information about the deal, the price for this acquisition is $60 million*.
From our understanding, Facebook is interested in using these high-flying drones to blanket parts of the world without Internet access, beginning with Africa. The company would start by building 11,000 of these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), specifically the “Solara 60″ model."
"....SelfScreens covers the latest in all things wearable technology. We do it all - from being the first to find the latest and greatest Glassware (via our site GoogleGlassFans), to providing you with easy-to-follow how-to guides to unlock your Android Wear device's full potential. "
"...Google Glass makes it easy for wearers to surreptitiously take pictures or video of unknowing subjects. That's caused more than a few people to ask: What does Glass mean for our privacy? Now Congress, too, wants answers."
- "Yandex's acquisition KitLocate is ushering in an era in which mobile location-based services aren't turn-on-turn-off, but rather are always on.
- This has huge implications for mobile technology and for upcoming M&A.
- Technology vendors and venture funds should keep their eyes on other companies with pervasive location technology."
"The Palo Alto Police Department has recently installed new video systems on dozens of cruisers, replacing the recording systems that were first installed on police vehicles in 2006. In addition to the usual enhancements one can expect with video upgrades -- high-definition video and high-fidelity audio -- the new recording systems have an additional feature: the ability to record and review what happened before an incident even occurs.
Unlike the previously used Mobile In-Car Video System, which included two cameras on the cruiser, the new systems include five. This means new cameras on the cruisers' sides and rearview mirrors, according a report from the police department.
"We've already had a few cases where actions of our officers that would not have been captured on the old system were completely captured on the new one, which allowed us to have a clear view of what went on," said Lt. Zach Perron, the department's public information manager. "That's exactly what we want to have."
The improvement in audio quality is also significant, he said. Audio recordings in the new systems have far more range and can work "through objects," Perron said."
Read more here.
" "Seeing the game on top, I felt amazing," Nguyen recalls. Like everyone else, he was shocked by its meteoric rise – and the avalanche of money that would be wired into his bank account. Even with Apple and Google's 30 percent take, Nguyen estimated he was clearing $50,000 a day. Before long, Shuriken Block and a new game he had submitted called Super Ball Juggling joined Flappy Bird in the Top 10. But other than buying a new Mac, and taking his buddies out for rice wine and chicken hot pot, Nguyen wasn't much for indulging. "I couldn't be too happy," he says quietly. "I don't know why." Remarkably, he hadn't yet even bothered to tell his parents, with whom he lived. "My parents don't understand games," he explains.
As news hit of how much money Nguyen was making, his face appeared in the Vietnamese papers and on TV, which was how his mom and dad first learned their son had made the game. The local paparazzi soon besieged his parents' house, and he couldn't go out unnoticed. While this might seem a small price to pay for such fame and fortune, for Nguyen the attention felt suffocating. "It is something I never want," he tweeted. "Please give me peace."
But the hardest thing of all, he says, was something else entirely. He hands me his iPhone so that I can scroll through some messages he's saved. One is from a woman chastising him for "distracting the children of the world." Another laments that "13 kids at my school broke their phones because of your game, and they still play it cause it's addicting like crack." Nguyen tells me of e-mails from workers who had lost their jobs, a mother who had stopped talking to her kids. "At first I thought they were just joking," he says, "but I realize they really hurt themselves." Nguyen – who says he botched tests in high school because he was playing too much Counter-Strike – genuinely took them to heart."
The social and behavioural implications of location-based services was a special issue guest edited by Katina Michael and MG Michael in 2011. The introductory editorial is the most read article in the Journal of Location-Based Services. Read more here
The Art of Flying Your Very Own Drone
Drones are coming to American skies—not just for surveillance or security work, but also for hobbyists. If you want to pilot your own drone, learn the ABCs of UAVs.
"Over a four-month period I learned how to fly three multicopters: a super-simple $300 Parrot AR.Drone 2.0, a $680 DJI Phantom, and a tricked-out, six-rotor $1300 3D Robotics Y6. Multicopters have anywhere from three to eight rotors, are highly maneuverable, and can hover and fly in virtually any direction. These are good starter drones, because they are generally quite controllable and won't disappear over the horizon in a hurry, the way fixed-wing craft tend to do.
But as I found out, multicopter flying is not without its challenges. Things can sometimes go haywire faster than you can react. Plus, piloting one can be a mind-bending exercise in relative positioning. Multicopters are symmetrical, so it's not always obvious which way your drone is "facing." Remote control usually involves either a radio-control unit with dual analog sticks and a dizzying array of switches and buttons (many of which do nothing), or, in the case of the Parrot AR.Drone, an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet with onscreen virtual controls. Regardless, operation can get a little complicated. When your drone flies behind you and you turn around to face it, the directional controls are now the reverse of what they were when it was in front of you—likewise, if you swivel your drone to face a new direction without reorienting your own body, the drone moves sideways relative to you. For this reason, I suggest keeping your first flights low and close by, and that you find a wide, open area to practice in—I used a local dog park. Also, purchase a few extra propellers, because you're going to crash your drone. And that's okay, because repairing your drone is part of the hobby.
In terms of accessibility, the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 is the newbie's top choice. It is affordable, durable, comes with a battery and an onboard camera, and is controlled via a smartphone. You can even fly it indoors—it comes with a removable hull that protects the rotors from bumps into walls, pets, and people. Takeoff and landing are accomplished with a single button. The AR.Drone has a sonar sensor that keeps it a fixed distance from the ground, and its 720p camera records a video to your tablet or phone as it flies.
I had fun flying it, and my nerdy little toy impressed my nerdy friends. But the limitations surfaced quickly. The standard battery for the model I tested was rated for 1000 milliampere-hours—good for a paltry 12 minutes of air time. The company now sells a 1500-mAhr battery for longer flight times. Also, since the AR.Drone is controlled via Wi-Fi, it is constrained in its range to about 165 feet from the controller. There's plenty of fun to be had within that range, but more sophisticated choppers put it to shame.
For instance, the Phantom, a ready-to-fly quadrotor from DJI, has a range of almost 1000 feet from the controller. But I wouldn't suggest sending it that far afield—at any distance greater than 500 feet, the drone becomes a coin-size white blob against the clouds. The Phantom is also fast, with a top speed of more than 20 mph—although that kind of hot-dogging will chew through a 2200-mAhr battery (which is not included) in 10 to 15 minutes.
The quadrotor also uses a GPS sensor and digital compass to do away with the orientation problem that plagues most multicopters. Phantom has two Intelligent Orientation Control settings that normalize its forward motion regardless of which way the drone is facing. One IOC setting fixes the Phantom to a grid, which still reverses the controls if you fly it behind you. The other setting fixes the craft to a radius around its launch point; forward motion moves it away from you, reverse brings it back. I found this massively useful once I attached a GoPro to the Phantom's camera mount. I could then steer the camera in any direction yet still fly the aircraft relative to my own postion. It was like having a helicopter cameraman at my disposal for home movies. Now I have tons of aerial footage of my kids playing with the neighborhood dogs in the park, and a few high-altitude pans that give a view of my entire town.
On the upper end of the (or, at least, my) cost-and-complexity curve is the 3D Robotics Y6 hexacopter, using the APM:Copter software platform, which was the last and most ambitious drone I tried. You can build this three-arm, six-rotor craft yourself for $400 to $600 in parts (depending on the options you select), or you can have 3D Robotics build it for you for $700 to $1300. Fully tricked out, a 3D Robotics multicopter can be flown manually with a remote control, or it can do autonomous waypoint navigation. It can be accessorized with a wireless-telemetry kit that communicates with your laptop and a first-person-view camera that broadcasts back to a screen or video goggles. And it can also support a servo-driven tilting gimbal for real-time control of a second video camera. The idea is that you guide the aircraft with the low-res broadcast camera and record with a hi-def camera on the gimbal. Its six motors make the Y6 a strong beast, capable of lifting a heavy payload—some of which is its own large battery (the company suggests at least 4200 mAhr). The drone can also survive one or more motor failures while maintaining flight."
"Imagine you’re walking around the British Library. Suddenly, your smartphone beeps at you. A library app is alerting you to the resources around you. You ask the app to search for a specific book. The app tells you where to go to find it. The smartphone goes to sleep. You reach the suggested reading room. The smartphone wakes up. The app tells you which shelf the book is on, posts up its publication details and reviews, and informs you about related events happening in the library."