Tech News Feed

Google publishes its own archive of US political ads

Engadget - Wed, 2018-08-15 18:23
In the months leading up to the US midterm elections, the big online sites that inadvertently hosted the worst manipulation back in 2016, like Facebook and Twitter, have adopted new advertising policies to enforce transparency. So has Google, which h...

Investor Sues AT&T Over Two-Factor Security Flaws, $23 Million Cryptocurrency Theft

SlashDot - Wed, 2018-08-15 18:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fast Company: Crypto investor Michael Terpin filed a $224 million lawsuit against AT&T in California federal court Wednesday alleging that the phone company's negligence let hackers steal nearly $24 million in cryptocurrency from him, Reuters reports. He's also seeking punitive damages. Terpin says hackers were twice able to convince AT&T to connect his phone number to a SIM card they controlled, routing his calls and messages to them and enabling them to defeat two-factor authentication protections on his accounts. In one case, he says hackers also took control of his Skype account and convinced one of this clients to send money to them rather than Terpin. The second hack came even after AT&T agreed to put an additional passcode on his account, when a fraudster visited an AT&T store in Connecticut and managed to hijack Terpin's account without providing the code or a "scannable ID" as AT&T requires, he says.

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VR optics could help old folks keep the world in focus

TechCrunch - Wed, 2018-08-15 17:57

The complex optics involved with putting a screen an inch away from the eye in VR headsets could make for smartglasses that correct for vision problems. These prototype “autofocals” from Stanford researchers use depth sensing and gaze tracking to bring the world into focus when someone lacks the ability to do it on their own.

I talked with lead researcher Nitish Padmanaban at SIGGRAPH in Vancouver, where he and the others on his team were showing off the latest version of the system. It’s meant, he explained, to be a better solution to the problem of presbyopia, which is basically when your eyes refuse to focus on close-up objects. It happens to millions of people as they age, even people with otherwise excellent vision.

There are, of course, bifocals and progressive lenses that bend light in such a way as to bring such objects into focus — purely optical solutions, and cheap as well, but inflexible, and they only provide a small “viewport” through which to view the world. And there are adjustable-lens glasses as well, but must be adjusted slowly and manually with a dial on the side. What if you could make the whole lens change shape automatically, depending on the user’s need, in real time?

That’s what Padmanaban and colleagues Robert Konrad and Gordon Wetzstein are working on, and although the current prototype is obviously far too bulky and limited for actual deployment, the concept seems totally sound.

Padmanaban previously worked in VR, and mentioned what’s called the convergence-accommodation problem. Basically, the way that we see changes in real life when we move and refocus our eyes from far to near doesn’t happen properly (if at all) in VR, and that can produce pain and nausea. Having lenses that automatically adjust based on where you’re looking would be useful there — and indeed some VR developers were showing off just that only 10 feet away. But it could also apply to people who are unable to focus on nearby objects in the real world, Padmanaban thought.

This is an old prototype, but you get the idea.

It works like this. A depth sensor on the glasses collects a basic view of the scene in front of the person: a newspaper is 14 inches away, a table three feet away, the rest of the room considerably more. Then an eye-tracking system checks where the user is currently looking and cross-references that with the depth map.

Having been equipped with the specifics of the user’s vision problem, for instance that they have trouble focusing on objects closer than 20 inches away, the apparatus can then make an intelligent decision as to whether and how to adjust the lenses of the glasses.

In the case above, if the user was looking at the table or the rest of the room, the glasses will assume whatever normal correction the person requires to see — perhaps none. But if they change their gaze to focus on the paper, the glasses immediately adjust the lenses (perhaps independently per eye) to bring that object into focus in a way that doesn’t strain the person’s eyes.

The whole process of checking the gaze, depth of the selected object and adjustment of the lenses takes a total of about 150 milliseconds. That’s long enough that the user might notice it happens, but the whole process of redirecting and refocusing one’s gaze takes perhaps three or four times that long — so the changes in the device will be complete by the time the user’s eyes would normally be at rest again.

“Even with an early prototype, the Autofocals are comparable to and sometimes better than traditional correction,” reads a short summary of the research published for SIGGRAPH. “Furthermore, the ‘natural’ operation of the Autofocals makes them usable on first wear.”

The team is currently conducting tests to measure more quantitatively the improvements derived from this system, and test for any possible ill effects, glitches or other complaints. They’re a long way from commercialization, but Padmanaban suggested that some manufacturers are already looking into this type of method and despite its early stage, it’s highly promising. We can expect to hear more from them when the full paper is published.

Best Buy buys Jitterbug phone maker GreatCall for $800M - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2018-08-15 17:48
"New: Tech for seniors," reads one of the company's new ads.

China stops approving new video, phone games - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2018-08-15 17:41
And it's unclear when regulators will resume licensing.

T-Mobile is offering free 30-day trials in three cities

Engadget - Wed, 2018-08-15 17:40
T-Mobile has one of the fastest mobile networks around, according to a recent study, and it's eager for more people to check out its service. To give potential customers a taste of the network, T-Mobile is offering a free 30-day trial in Atlanta, Bos...

Jack Dorsey is finally realizing Twitter is a terrible place

Engadget - Wed, 2018-08-15 17:25
Twitter's attempts to clean up its service using policies often feel like a Band-Aid on a bullet wound, and the company's leadership finally appears to be acknowledging that fact. CEO Jack Dorsey told the Washington Post in an interview that he was...

The Next Flagship iPhone Will Support Apple Pencil and 512GB Flash Storage, Says Report

SlashDot - Wed, 2018-08-15 17:20
Next month, Apple is expected to unveil three new iPhones, each with differing specs/features. According to analyst firm Trendforce, the large 6.5-inch "flagship" model will support up to 512GB of onboard flash storage. Apple Pencil support will also be "offered as an option," although the company didn't specify which models will support the stylus. Apple Insider reports: The company expects that the the 6.1-inch LCD version will come with Face ID, Dual-SIM technology. The firm expects it to retail for between $699 and $749. The 5.8-inch OLED iPhone will be priced at $899 to $949. The 6.5-inch device will come in storage capacities up to 512GB, with one variant of the size potentially having dual-SIM support and expected to be "limited within $1,000 threshold as to encourage purchasing from consumers," according to Trendforce. Both the 5.8- and 6.5-inch OLED models are expected to have 4GB of RAM. The 6.1-inch LED devices will have 3GB of RAM, the same as the iPhone X. The analyst firm believes that all three models are expected to ship in September and October.

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Indie gem 'Gone Home' will arrive on Nintendo Switch August 23rd

Engadget - Wed, 2018-08-15 17:20
The Nintendo Switch's reputation as a haven for indies got a little more support today. Gone Home, the breakout hit from The Fullbright Company will be released to the Switch's eShop next Thursday, August 23rd. Sure, it's a bit late, having originall...

Swiss government bans diesel models from Mercedes and Porsche - Roadshow

CNET News - Wed, 2018-08-15 17:18
The ban applies specifically to the Mercedes Vito van as well as the Porsche Cayenne and Macan diesels.

SEC slaps Tesla with a subpoena over Elon Musk tweets, report says - Roadshow

CNET News - Wed, 2018-08-15 17:00
No entity involved will confirm or deny what's actually going on.

'Diablo III' arrives on the Nintendo Switch this fall

Engadget - Wed, 2018-08-15 17:00
After Blizzard dropped an ominous Diablo hint on Twitter back in May, the franchise's community manager revealed in a video last week that multiple projects are in the works. One of those revelations was supposed to be unveiled tomorrow, but leaked i...

Leak: Diablo 3 is coming to Nintendo Switch later this year - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2018-08-15 16:54
A leaked announcement confirms your Switch is about to become a Diablo machine.

Valve Seems To Be Working On Tools To Get Windows Games Running On Linux

SlashDot - Wed, 2018-08-15 16:40
"Valve appears to be working on a set of 'compatibility tools,' called Steam Play, that would allow at least some Windows-based titles to run on Linux-based SteamOS systems," writes Kyle Orland from Ars Technica. From the report: Yesterday, Reddit users noticed that Steam's GUI files (as captured by SteamDB's Steam Tracker) include a hidden section with unused text related to the unannounced Steam Play system. According to that text, "Steam Play will automatically install compatibility tools that allow you to play games from your library that were built for other operating systems." Other unused text in the that GUI file suggests Steam Play will offer official compatibility with "supported tiles" while also letting users test compatibility for "games in your library that have not been verified with a supported compatibility tool." That latter use comes with a warning that "this may not work as expected, and can cause issues with your games, including crashes and breaking save games."

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Fitbit may give the Charge 3 a touchscreen but not GPS

Engadget - Wed, 2018-08-15 16:40
A new leak has revealed info about the upcoming Fitbit Charge 3 — namely, that the fitness watch is finally getting a full touchscreen. But that's not the only feature it's inheriting from the pricier Fitbit Ionic and Versa — the Charge 3...

The Motorola phones getting Android Pie: Moto Z3, Z2, X4, G6 - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2018-08-15 16:26
Look out for the Android Pie update on the Moto G6, Moto X4 and Moto Z3 starting this fall.

Twitter's Dorsey vows 'consistent' enforcement after Alex Jones, Infowars suspended - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2018-08-15 16:21
But still no full ban for the conspiracy theorist who's used Twitter to attack children and families.

MIT leads the way in spaghetti-based innovation

Engadget - Wed, 2018-08-15 16:20
Breaking dry spaghetti noodles into precisely two parts might seem impossible, but scientists at MIT have done exactly that. In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers report how they twisted the noodles...

LG unveils two new Styler clothes steamers ahead of IFA 2018 - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2018-08-15 16:12
The LG Styler ThinQ and the Styler Mirrored Glass Door will be on display at Europe's biggest tech trade show.