Month: January 2015

Ericsson’s Connected Paper tech streams info through your body

This intriguing technology lets you call up information on your smartphone by touching an object with your finger, turning your body into a kind of capacitive power line network.

by            Source

Imagine simply touching a piece of paper, whether it be a business card or a label on an object, and relevant information almost instantly being displayed on your smartphone. That’s Ericsson’s Connected Paper tech, a working prototype of which I saw.

And what’s really cool about it? The information is literally flowing through your body.

Connected Paper uses “capacitive coupling” technology, which transfers electrical signals through the human body, using the same principle as your phone’s touchscreen responding to your finger’s proximity rather than the physical pressure you exert.

You don’t feel a thing, and it means there’s no need to tap an object with your phone, which is how it’s done today via near-field communication (NFC). It’s kind of like your body has become a power line network between the paper and your phone.

ericssonconnectedpaper02.jpg
Sample objects that make use of the tech. Touch the soup carton and you’d see its ingredients on your phone.Aloysius Low/CNET

Ericsson, which first showed off Connected Paper at CES 2014, says it is capable of data transfers of up to 10Mbps. The simple data transfers I saw, such as touching a paper for a link to the product information, would be a few bytes at most.

Instead of transferring all the information through to the body to the smartphone, Ericsson is betting that the tech will take advantage of future 5G networks, in which the company has made significant investment. 5G will have sufficient bandwidth to handle the thousands of simultaneous download requests of information without a significant loss in latency.

There’s still plenty of time before this technology goes mainstream. For one, the receiver is still pretty bulky (see picture below), so work still needs to be done to shrink it down and fit it into a smartphone. Commercial deployment of 5G networks will likely not happen till 2020, too.

ericssonconnectedpaper03.jpg
The receiver is still a tad bulky, so work needs to be done to shrink it down to fit on a smartphone.Aloysius Low/CNET
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You can now post videos and send group messages on Twitter

Is this the end of the subtweet?

by Casey Newton                             Source

Twitter is rolling out long-awaited features for its core apps designed to boost the time people spend on the service. As of this morning, you can begin shooting and post 30-second video clips to Twitter from the iOS and Android apps. And direct messages are expanding to let you message groups of up to 20 people, creating a place for more private conversations on Twitter (and doing grave damage to the time-honored practice of subtweeting in the process.)

The changes, which will roll out over the next several days, both address significant competitive needs for Twitter. Letting users post videos helps to level the playing field with Facebook, which is dramatically increasing the amount of video in the News Feed. And group DMs help Twitter recapture some of the conversations that migrated off the service to the many other social networks that enable multi-person chat.

MAKING TWITTER MORE COMPETITIVE

The video player will look familiar to anyone who has used Vine, Twitter’s short-form video service. To take video, you simply tap and hold your phone’s screen. You can record multiple segments, and delete a segment with a tap. You can also upload a clip of up to 30 seconds (not 10 minutes) from your phone’s camera roll — but for now, camera roll uploads are available only on iOS. (Android is coming soon, Twitter says.)

twitter video

Given Twitter’s position as a place where news breaks, it’s easy to imagine that you’ll be seeing lots of video in your timeline. (Although it won’t play automatically, as some had suspected.) “We thought, what would Ferguson be like if everyone was armed with a video camera in their pocket?” says Jinen Kamdar, a product director at Twitter. “Or think of the Ellen Oscar selfie. What would the Oscars be like once video is available?” But it’s not just news: as Kamdar notes, Twitter is home to a large number public figures, athletes, and celebrities, and many of them are likely to embrace video.

group dm

Meanwhile, today’s update brings some much-needed power to Twitter’s perennially neglected direct message feature. You can now host group discussions, and anyone in the group can invite anyone who follows that person back. But not everyone has to follow each other to get the chat to work, and Twitter says this will result in you meeting more people and having more conversations there than you might otherwise.

In October, when Kevin Weil became Twitter’s fifth head of product in as many years, insiders told me he was chosen because of his ability to ship products. (Weil, who has been at Twitter since 2009, previously was head of all revenue-generating products.) At the time, it sounded like spin. But in the months since, Twitter restored the ability to send hyperlinks in DMs; released new tools for reporting abuse and harassment; launched its phone-based password killer, Digits; and introduced a useful “while you were away” feature.

Twitter still has a long way to go, of course. And the changes are likely to annoy some users, particularly if video overtakes the feed and makes it harder to scan. But for the first time in a long time, Twitter’s product team actually has some momentum. All of which means Weil may be the person who fixes Twitter’s product after all.

Microsoft is turning Skype into its own version of iMessage in Windows 10

Microsoft is integrating Skype directly into Windows 10, and the result looks a lot like Apple’s iMessage service. While the company unveiled some of its Skype integration at a special Windows 10 press event in Redmond yesterday, the software maker didn’t show its new Messaging app on the PC version of Windows 10. This appears to be key to a new experience for Skype messaging in Windows 10, and it brings back the built-in Messaging app from Windows 8 that Microsoft killed with the Windows 8.1 update.

SKYPE IS STARTING TO LINK USERNAMES TO MOBILE NUMBERS

The new Messaging app works by integrating Skype, allowing you to chat to Skype contacts or initiate video / audio calls. All the conversations are synced between PCs, tablets, and phones, and the new app looks like a lightweight version of Skype. It’s also identical to the Messages app on OS X, with the same two-panel interface and circular UI for contact photos. Microsoft has started linking Skype usernames with mobile numbers to make it easier to find friends who are using the service without having to know their user ID. That makes this whole approach a lot more like iMessage, allowing Skype users to chat to friends easily on the service. The main difference is that Skype is cross-platform so you can chat to friends on iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows, and more, while iMessage is limited to Apple’s platforms.

The built-in Skype experience on the phone version of Windows 10 also allows you to send text messages, but it’s entirely possible (and likely) that Microsoft will extend this functionality and sync state to the PC version just like iMessage. In Microsoft’s new world Windows 10 apps are the same across PCs, phones, and tablets, so such a move would be expected. Microsoft isn’t fully detailing its Messaging app plans just yet, but it’s encouraging to see the company move to a more native and simple integration of Skype instead of separate and unnecessary apps. All that’s needed now is the complexity of usernames to fully disappear so everyone can use Skype just with their mobile number.

The internet, the perfect tool for the surveillance state? Further reading (and watching) on the state of digital privacy

TED Blog

Mikko Hypponen speaks just last week at TEDxBrussels, expressing outrage at the NSA. Mikko Hypponen speaks just last week at TEDxBrussels, expressing outrage at the NSA.

“We already knew this.” “It’s necessary for the War on Terror.” “Other countries are doing it too.” “But I have nothing to hide.” These are the most common reasons people express for not feeling outrage over the revelations this year that the United States’ National Security Agency has been involved in widespread surveillance. [ted_talkteaser id=1861]In today’s blistering talk, security expert Mikko Hypponen shares why he is hopping mad about the NSA’s actions, and why every user of the internet should be equally enraged. Because at the end of the day, he says, these rationalizations obscure a shocking fact: because the world relies on American companies for its information needs, virtually every user of the internet is being watched.

Digital privacy is, obviously, something on many of our minds. Below, a collection of articles, think pieces, op-eds…

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Are you being tracked? A TED Fellow on how law enforcement follows your movements, and why you should care

TED Blog

Catherine-Crump-CTA-imageDid you know that across the United States, cameras are automatically taking pictures of your car’s license plate as you drive by, recording your plate number and your locations over time? In a chilling talk given at TEDGlobal 2014, civil liberties lawyer and TED Fellow Catherine Crump called attention to the ubiquity of mass surveillance technology currently being deployed without public awareness, laws governing its use or privacy policies regulating what happens to the data being collected. (Watch the talk, “The small and surprisingly dangerous detail the police track about you.”)

Crump tells the TED Blog more about her work, and the technologies that are quietly threatening the privacy and civil liberties of innocent people.

You are a civil liberties lawyer with many different strands to your work, but in the talk you gave at TEDGlobal, you focused on automatic license plate reader technology. Why did you choose that topic?

I think…

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