Swipe to unlock could be a thing of the past and iOS users could soon be using facial recognition technology to lock or unlock their iDevices. Wired reports.
As described in a recently discovered patent, Apple’s method would sense when a user is approaching the device — for example, if it’s seated in a dock, and the user walks toward it. The device would then use its image processor to execute facial recognition to unlock the device, all with low battery penalties. If the device is used for business applications, higher security levels could even be set.
According to new data by Flurry Analytics, a record-number of new devices activated on Christmas morning is leading to a tidal wave of new mobile application downloads. All Things D reports.
-- Apple’s App Store is on pace to exceed 10 billion downloads this year alone, which is twice the number it recorded over the three previous years combined.
-- The Android Market is also setting records. Over the past seven months, it has achieved more than 7 billion downloads, which more than triples its life-to-date downloads of 3 billion reached in May 2011.
At those rates, both operating systems are generating roughly one billion downloads a month, or the equivalent of 33 million a day.
Because cellphones are nearly ubiquitous among American adolescents, the study said, this technology can give family, friends and providers new ways to keep connected to homeless youth, a population that is highly transient.
Unlike adults who are homeless, teenagers have fewer mental-health and substance-abuse problems that can stop them from getting off the streets.
In a six-month investigation into the Fukushima disaster, a 507-page report published yesterday, points a finger at Japan's atomic power regulator, the Nuclear Industrial and Safety Agency, known as NISA. Business Week reports.
While the utility supplied the electricity that kept homes, factories and offices running in metropolitan Tokyo, the world's biggest city, lack of preparation for power failure in the Fukushima station left workers reduced to flashlights at the 864-acre plant site, the size of about 490 soccer fields.
Batteries in cell phones at the Fukushima plant started running out on March 11 and with the failure of mains power couldn't be recharged, preventing communication with the on-site emergency headquarters, according to the report.
Because the utility known as Tepco hadn't considered a tsunami overwhelming the Fukushima plant, no preparation was made for “simultaneous and multiple losses of power” causing station blackout, the document says. The blackout caused the failure of all personal handyphone system units in the plant, seriously disrupting communications among staff.
For the first time ever, we used mobile apps more than opening up a browser window to access Web-based services. Flurry Analytics found that users had crossed over in mid-2011; we spent 81 minutes a day in apps versus 74 minutes in a browser. A year earlier, the tally had been an average of 64 minutes in a browser versus just 43 minutes in apps.
One of the most popular — and controversial — video games of our time is now playable in mobile form. USA Today reports.
Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto III: 10 Year Anniversary Edition delivers an experience similar to the original gritty console game adventure, but now can be taken on the go on an iPhone 4/4S, iPod touch (fourth generation), iPad and most Android devices.
Despite some all-touchscreen controls that take some getting used to — especially on smaller screens — this new spin on the decade-old instant classic delivers the same exhilarating gameplay, missions and open-world freedom.
According to The Wall Street Journal, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he won't back a proposal to prohibit drivers from talking on cellphones, even hands-free devices, giving a boost to car makers and mobile-phone companies that stand to lose if regulators impose a ban.
The National Transportation Safety Board last week asked states to ban cellphones while driving in response to a deadly collision in Missouri last year that the agency blamed in part on a driver who was texting while driving. The NTSB wants the ban to include hands-free devices, which let drivers keep their hands on the wheel while talking through speakers or a headset.
Coming to a cellphone near you in 2012: campaign contributions on the fly, at a moment's notice. NBC Los Angeles reports.
California is the first state in the nation to adopt new rules which allow a phone user to simply text a campaign donation. It's the same idea as texting a donation to a favored charity or a disaster relief organization. The amount pledged goes into the phone bill, then is pass on to the campaign.
The new texting rules were approved by California's Fair Political Practices Commission earlier this year. Commission Chair Ann Ravel thinks the move will engage more people in the political process. And she believes other states will eventually get behind the idea.
The overwhelming impression from looking through the figures in the Pew Global Attitude’s Digital Communication Survey is how widespread and similar cellphone use is in countries across the world. It appears to be age and level of education that have the biggest influence on how you use the cellphone, which is likely to be in your pocket. The WSJ reports.
Texting is widespread in both wealthy nations and the developing world. In fact, it is most common among cell phone owners in two of the poorest nations surveyed: Indonesia and Kenya.
The survey shows that people who own cellphones use them in similar ways.
IBM is predicting that in the next five years we'll no longer need passwords for email or even ATMs, we'll be able to control smartphones and laptops with our minds, and the digital divide will cease to exist. The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
From it's annual "5 in 5" report of five technologies "that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years."
You will never need a password again
Your biological makeup is the key to your individual identity, and soon, it will become the key to safeguarding it.
You will no longer need to create, track or remember multiple passwords for various log-ins. Imagine you will be able to walk up to an ATM machine to securely withdraw money by simply speaking your name or looking into a tiny sensor that can recognize the unique patterns in the retina of your eye. Or by doing the same, you can check your account balance on your mobile phone or tablet. ...
Mind reading is no longer science fiction
IBM scientists are among those researching how to link your brain to your devices, such as a computer or a smartphone. If you just need to think about calling someone, it happens. Or you can control the cursor on a computer screen just by thinking about where you want to move it. ...
The digital divide will cease to exist
There are 7 billion people inhabiting the world today. In five years there will be 5.6 billion mobile devices sold – which means 80% of the current global population would each have a mobile device.
... Growing communities will be able to use mobile technology to provide access to essential information and better serve people with new solutions and business models such as mobile commerce and remote healthcare....
Their study compares the level of deceit people are prepared to use in a variety of media, from text messages to face-to-face interactions.
“People are communicating using a growing range of methods, from Twitter to Skype,” says Sauder Assoc. Prof. Ronald Cenfetelli, a co-author on the paper. “As new platforms of communication come online, it’s important to know the risks that may be involved.”
"Our results confirm that the more anonymous the technology allows a person to be in a communications exchange, the more likely they are to become morally lax,” says Sauder Prof. Karl Aquino, also one of the co-authors.
The study involved 170 students performing mock stock transactions in one of four ways: face-to-face, or by video, audio or text chatting. Researchers promised cash awards of up to $50 to increase participants’ involvement in the role play. “Brokers” were promised increased cash rewards for more stock sales, while “buyers” were told their cash reward would depend on the yet-to-be-determined value of the stock.
The brokers were given inside knowledge that the stock was rigged to lose half of its value. Buyers were only informed of this fact after the mock sales transaction and were asked to report whether the brokers had employed deceit to sell their stock.
The authors then analyzed which forms of communication led to more deception. They found that buyers who received information via text messages were 95 per cent more likely to report deception than if they had interacted via video, 31 per cent more likely to report deception when compared to face-to-face, and 18 per cent more likely if the interaction was via audio chat.
Their results suggest that communicating by video heightened the brokers’ awareness of being scrutinized, which suppressed their impulse to use dishonest sales tactics – the so-called “spotlight” effect.
“With this in mind, people shopping online using websites like eBay should consider asking sellers to talk over Skype to ensure they are getting information in the most trustworthy way possible,” says Cenfetelli, who studies human-computer interaction in Sauder’s Management Information Systems division.
The study also reveals that people deceived by “leaner” media, such as text messages are more angered than those misled by “richer” media, such as video chat.
The lesson for business, says Cenfetelli, is that video conferencing or in-person interactions may be preferable to text-based communication if the company is concerned about how customers may react to the given information.
The study, led by Asst. Prof. David Jingjun Xu of Wichita State University, will appear in the March edition of the Journal of Business Ethics.
For further information contact
Manager, Public and Media Relations Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia
E-mail: Andrew Riley
The “teardown” graphic below, based on data from iSuppli, a market-research firm, shows who makes what inside the iPhone, and how much the various bits cost. Samsung turns out to be a particularly important supplier. The Economist via @Jan Chipchase
U.S. companies might soon be required to publish where they get their rare metals for all those electronics consumers buy. And activists hope that it will be one small step toward resolving long running conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. npr reports.
These minerals are coming from the most conflicted area in the world, where women are raped by the thousands, where men are held in slavery and humiliated by having their wives raped in front of them," says Rep. Jim McDermott, a Democrat from Washington state. "All of this mayhem is the basis for the mining of tin, tungsten and tantalum, which are elements that are essential for the creation of a Blackberry.
Mali has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. There are roughly 111 deaths for every 1000 live births in the country and the under-5 mortality rate is 191 out of every 1000 children. The need for early detection of diseases and stronger local health structures led to the creation of Pesinet, a non-profit that uses mobile technology to provide regular health checkups and affordable health insurance for young children in Mali's capital, Bamako. Mobileactive.org reports.
Roughly 600 children are currently enrolled in the program in the neighborhood of Bamako Coura, under the care of four Pesinet agents (each covering around 150 children). Pesinet combines both early warning systems and insurance. Families pay 500 CF a month for each enrolled child; the payments cover doctor examinations and half the cost of any medications the child needs if he or she gets sick.
Enrolled children are tested weekly for symptoms of illness such as fever, cough, diarrhea, low weight, or vomiting by community health workers who enter data from each visit into a custom-designed Java application on their phone. The data is sent via GPRS to an online database. Doctors at local community health centers monitor the patient data for sudden changes in health. If changes occur, the community health workers receive an alert on their phones and then go back, in turn, to alert the family that the doctor needs to give the child a checkup.
A leading researcher says digital technologies are about to make health care more effective. But is so much data really beneficial? MIT Technology Review via @jranck.
Nanosensors patrolling your bloodstream for the first sign of an imminent stroke or heart attack, releasing anticlotting or anti-inflammatory drugs to stop it in its tracks. Cell phones that display your vital signs and take ultrasound images of your heart or abdomen. Genetic scans of malignant cells that match your cancer to the most effective treatment.
In cardiologist Eric Topol's vision, medicine is on the verge of an overhaul akin to the one that digital technology has brought to everything from how we communicate to how we locate a pizza parlor. Until now, he writes in his upcoming book The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care, the "ossified" and "sclerotic" nature of medicine has left health "largely unaffected, insulated, and almost compartmentalized from [the] digital revolution." But that, he argues, is about to change.
A major milestone has been hit according to TomiAhonen Consulting, the primary use of our mobile device worldwide is no longer voice calls, but text messaging.
... Ofcom surveyed 5,636 consumers in six major countries on three continents and part of the usage survey were questions 'do you use SMS on your mobile phone' and 'do you use voice calls on your mobile phone'. And for the first time we have solid comparable measurements.
The countries are all in the 'Industrialized World' and are Australia, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the USA. They found SMS usage levels from a low of 64% in the USA to a high of 86% in Australia. They also found voice calls ranging from a low of 68% in Italy to a high of 80% in Germany. The population-weighed average of the six countries gives an average SMS usage level of 71.52% for SMS, vs 71.48% for voice calls.
... So, its time to celebrate. The mobile PHONE is dead, long live Mobile! Not only is the primary need of a mobile today for most people SMS text messaging, rather than voice calls, but now, as of December 2011, in terms of total mobile users worldwide, that transition has also now happened.
It upheld a judge’s decision, made in July, that some of HTC’s devices that use Google’s Android operating system infringe a patent owned by Apple, creator of the iPhone, but reversed his verdict that another patent had been violated.
The offending handsets may not longer be imported into the United States after April 19th next year. Not only is the ruling plainly unwelcome for HTC, but it illustrates how important an American trade agency has become as an arbiter of disputes that, at first blush, have little to do with international trade.
HTC sells around 40% of its smartphones in North America, nearly all of them using Android. A ban on some of its Android phones is thus a blow, although it or Google may find a way of working around the patent.
... Apple’s victory is only the latest episode in a fierce war in which just about everyone you can think of seems to be suing just about everyone else for patent infringement.
Numbers that illustrate just how eventful a year it was. By PaidContent.
-- 324 million: The number of smartphones sold worldwide through three quarters of 2011 (according to Gartner), and feel free to tack on another 120 million or so to account for the fourth quarter. That’s a 63 percent increase compared to the same period in 2010.
-- 194 percent: The growth in Android smartphones worldwide from the third quarter of 2010 to the same period this year.
-- 33.62 billion: The market value shed by Research in Motion during 2011.
The Taliban on Sunday seized and set on fire around 300 cellular phones and over a dozen computers from tribesmen in Wana, headquarters of South Waziristan.
Tribal sources said the Taliban had earlier issued leaflets in Wana in which they termed cellphones with camera as the source of promoting obscenity and vulgarity and banned the use of such mobile phone sets.
Mobile health platforms are fast emerging in Kenya, where one startup's newly launched mobile health platform is attracting nearly 1,000 downloads daily, and the dominant telecom, Safaricom, has forged a partnership that will give its 18 million subscribers access to doctors. MIT Technology Review reports via @jranck.
.. Many Kenyans have serious health problems; for example, according to the World Health Organization, more than 30 percent of children under age five show stunted growth. At present, only 7,000 doctors serve a nation of 40 million people. But Kenya is rich in mobile phones, with 25 million subscribers (Africa has more than 600 million of them).
The new app, called MedAfrica—available for smart phones and less powerful feature phones—is the product of Shimba Technologies, a Nairobi-based company founded by two locally educated entrepreneurs, Stephen Kyalo and Kezia Muoki, with $100,000 in seed money from a European VC.
MedAfrica is platform that provides a suite of health services (health widgets) such as symptom checkers, first-aid information, doctor & hospital directories as well as relevant alert services.
When we used text-messaging to collect drinking data and to offer immediate feedback and support to young adults discharged from the emergency department, they drank less," said lead study author Brian Suffoletto, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh in Pa.
"Each day in the U.S., more than 50,000 adults ages 18 to 24 visit hospital emergency departments and more than a third of them report current alcohol abuse or dependence. If not addressed, hazardous or binge drinking can lead to high rates of avoidable injuries and death.