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Intel Shows Off Its Smart Phone and Tablet for 2012 – Technology Review

8:47 pm in Business, Gadgets, Internet, News by Admin

Intel inside: This “reference design” running Google’s Android operating system is meant to help persuade manufacturers to build their handsets around Intel’s new mobile chips.
Intel

The era of the personal computer dawned thanks in no small part to the chip maker Intel. But the company has been only a spectator to the rise of smart phones and tablets in recent years. These mobile devices use chips based on designs licensed by the U.K. company ARM, which deliver the power efficiency the powerful, compact gadgets require.

Intel is about to fight back.

Last week, Technology Review tried out prototype smart phones and tablets equipped with Intel’s latest mobile chip, dubbed Medfield, and running the Android mobile operating system created by Google. “We expect products based on these to be announced in the first half of 2012,” says Stephen Smith, vice president of Intel’s architecture group.

Known as “reference designs,” the devices are sent out to inspire and instruct manufacturers interested in building products around Intel’s latest technology. “They can use as much or as little of the reference design as they like,” says Smith, who hinted that the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in January could bring news of gadgets in which Intel’s chips will appear.

Intel’s Medfield is the latest in its “Atom” line of mobile chips. So far none of them have seriously threatened the dominance of ARM-based chips in mobile devices, in part because they are more power-hungry. However, the new chip represents a significant technological step toward lower power consumption.

Previous Atom designs spread the work of a processor across two or three chips, a relatively power-intensive scheme that originated many years ago in Intel’s PC chips. But now Intel has finally combined the core functions of its processor designs into one chunk of silicon. “This is our first offering that’s truly a single chip,” says Smith. The all-in-one design, known as a system on-a-chip, is a standard feature of the ARM chips so dominant in smart phones today.

The phone prototype seen by Technology Review was similar in dimensions to the iPhone 4 but noticeably lighter, probably because the case was made with more plastic and less glass and metal. It was running the version of Google’s operating system shipping with most Android phones today, known as Gingerbread; a newer version, Ice Cream Sandwich, was released by Google only about a month ago.

The phone was powerful and pleasing to use, on a par with the latest iPhone and Android handsets. It could play Blu-Ray-quality video and stream it to a TV if desired; Web browsing was smooth and fast. Smith says Intel has built circuits into the Medfield chip specifically to speed up Android apps and Web browsing.

Missing out: Intel isn’t among the leading companies in the fast-growing market for smart-phone processors, which all license designs from UK-based ARM Holdings.
Technology Review

One feature that stood out was the camera’s “burst mode,” which captures 10 full-size eight-megapixel images at a rate of 15 per second. Smith says that feature rests on a combination of image-processing circuits built into the Medfield chip and dedicated software tweaks on top, technology that comes in part from Intel’s acquisition of the Dutch image-processing company Silicon Hive earlier this year. This kind of hardware could help apps developed for augmented reality.

Intel’s reference tablet, which used the same Medfield chip as the phone, was running the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich. It had a slightly larger screen than the iPad 2 but was about the same in thickness and weight. A limited trial suggested that it was noticeably nicer to use than older tablets based on the abandoned Honeycomb version of Android.

Intel has tried to gain traction in mobile devices before, but those efforts were unsuccessful. In the immediate aftermath of the iPhone’s meteoric rise, the company focused on netbooks and mobile Internet device—computers larger than smart phones that never became popular. A long-term effort to develop an open-source mobile operating system to rival Android, called Meego, was scrapped earlier this year when partner Nokia signed a deal with Microsoft to use Windows instead.

It seems Intel has been hampered by both technical and business-strategy problems that come with trying to change the course of such a large company. It took time for engineers to find a way to compress their usual three-chip design into a single system-on–a-chip, says Smith, and to help Google make Android work on Intel chips. Now Intel finally has a chip that can match and even surpass established mobile chips. “Now we have this in place, we can accelerate,” Smith says. “We haven’t been able to show a production-grade design before.”

Intel has tested its reference handset against a handful of the leading phones on sale today. It says these tests show that Medfield offers faster browsing and graphics performance and lower power consumption than the top three, says Smith.

Linley Gwennap, an analyst with the Linley Group, says it’s very significant that Intel is finally offering a fully integrated system-on-a-chip. “It should make Intel more competitive—they’re kind of at the same level as anyone now,” he says. Gwennap adds that Medfield chips use more advanced technology than the established competition, which means the chip’s features are much smaller. That helps improve power consumption and processing power. “Medfield is based on 32-nanometer technology, while the biggest fabs making ARM-based processors are today shipping either 40 or 45 nanometers,” he says.

That lead is likely to disappear as ARM-based processors catch up in the next year, but Smith says that Intel will start making mobile processors using 22-nanometer technology in 2013. Manufacturers of ARM-based chips say they plan to make that jump in 2014. Gwennap says this next generation will give Intel its best hope of grabbing a significant chunk of a new market: “I expect they’ll get into a few phones with Medfield, and then it will be the 22-nanometer chip that really makes a difference.”

However, Gwennap notes that Intel could lag behind in other ways. Although it has caught up by integrating everything a processor needs into a single chip, established mobile chip makers like Qualcomm are already going a step further by incorporating the usually separate wireless modem chip, resulting in even further efficiency gains. Smith says Intel isn’t ready to talk about when it might also make that step.

 

Intel Shows Off Its Smart Phone and Tablet for 2012 – Technology Review.

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Self-healing electronics could work longer and reduce waste | News Bureau | University of Illinois

8:45 pm in Business, Computer Hardware, Gadgets, News by Admin

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — When one tiny circuit within an integrated chip cracks or fails, the whole chip – or even the whole device – is a loss. But what if it could fix itself, and fix itself so fast that the user never knew there was a problem?

additional photo
University of Illinois professors, from left, Nancy Sottos, Scott White and Jeffrey Moore applied their experience in self-healing polymers to electrical systems, developing technology that could extend the longevity of electronic devices and batteries. | Photo by L. Brian Stauffer | View video of researchers

A team of University of Illinois engineers has developed a self-healing system that restores electrical conductivity to a cracked circuit in less time than it takes to blink. Led by aerospace engineering professor Scott White and materials science and engineering professor Nancy Sottos, the researchers published their results in the journal Advanced Materials.

“It simplifies the system,” said chemistry professor Jeffrey Moore, a co-author of the paper. “Rather than having to build in redundancies or to build in a sensory diagnostics system, this material is designed to take care of the problem itself.”

As electronic devices are evolving to perform more sophisticated tasks, manufacturers are packing as much density onto a chip as possible. However, such density compounds reliability problems, such as failure stemming from fluctuating temperature cycles as the device operates or fatigue. A failure at any point in the circuit can shut down the whole device.

“In general there’s not much avenue for manual repair,” Sottos said. “Sometimes you just can’t get to the inside. In a multilayer integrated circuit, there’s no opening it up. Normally you just replace the whole chip. It’s true for a battery too. You can’t pull a battery apart and try to find the source of the failure.”

Most consumer devices are meant to be replaced with some frequency, adding to electronic waste issues, but in many important applications – such as instruments or vehicles for space or military functions – electrical failures cannot be replaced or repaired.

The Illinois team previously developed a system for self-healing polymer materials and decided to adapt their technique for conductive systems. They dispersed tiny microcapsules, as small as 10 microns in diameter, on top of a gold line functioning as a circuit. As a crack propagates, the microcapsules break open and release the liquid metal contained inside. The liquid metal fills in the gap in the circuit, restoring electrical flow.

“What’s really cool about this paper is it’s the first example of taking the microcapsule-based healing approach and applying it to a new function,” White said. “Everything prior to this has been on structural repair. This is on conductivity restoration. It shows the concept translates to other things as well.”

A failure interrupts current for mere microseconds as the liquid metal immediately fills the crack. The researchers demonstrated that 90 percent of their samples healed to 99 percent of original conductivity, even with a small amount of microcapsules.

The self-healing system also has the advantages of being localized and autonomous. Only the microcapsules that a crack intercepts are opened, so repair only takes place at the point of damage. Furthermore, it requires no human intervention or diagnostics, a boon for applications where accessing a break for repair is impossible, such as a battery, or finding the source of a failure is difficult, such as an air- or spacecraft.

“In an aircraft, especially a defense-based aircraft, there are miles and miles of conductive wire,” Sottos said. “You don’t often know where the break occurs. The autonomous part is nice – it knows where it broke, even if we don’t.”

Next, the researchers plan to further refine their system and explore other possibilities for using microcapsules to control conductivity. They are particularly interested in applying the microcapsule-based self-healing system to batteries, improving their safety and longevity.

This research was supported as part of the Center for Electrical Energy Storage, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science. Moore, Sottos and White are also affiliated with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the U. of I. Co-authors of the paper included postdoctoral researchers Benjamin Blaiszik and Sharlotte Kramer and graduate students Martha Grady and David McIlroy.
Self-healing electronics could work longer and reduce waste | News Bureau | University of Illinois.

by Admin

T-Mobile: Back to square one – Dec. 20, 2011

9:38 am in Business, Controversial, Gadgets, Internet, Mobile, News by Admin

t-mobile.gi.top.jpg

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — It’s time for T-Mobile to desperately scramble for a viable Plan B now that AT&T has walked away.

Getting bought by AT&T (T, Fortune 500) would have solved most of T-Mobile’s problems. Its customers would finally have gotten access to a true 4G network and top-of-the-line smartphones like Apple’s (AAPL, Fortune 500) iPhone.

But after the Obama administration scuttled the deal on antitrust grounds, T-Mobile is left in an even weaker position than in March, when the merger was first announced.

Since AT&T agreed to buy it, T-Mobile has largely sat on its hands, watching its profit, sales and market share sink without any major handset or network upgrades.

It’s not all doom and gloom for T-Mobile: It’s still profitable, and AT&T will be sending it $1 billion worth of wireless spectrum allocations by the year’s end. A roaming agreement with AT&T will also help expand T-Mobile’s coverage to 50 million more Americans.

That’s a nice parting gift, but it’s not even close to enough for T-Mobile to build out a 4G network. And the real prize, the $3 billion break-up fee, will go towards paying down parent company Deutsche Telekom’s debt, not to T-Mobile USA, Deutsche Telekom announced on Tuesday.

That, analysts, say, means T-Mobile will have to act sooner rather than later to figure out its backup plan.

“T-Mobile’s entire strategy is gone,” said George Appling, partner at Booz & Co. “T-Mobile should be worried, because its business isn’t going anywhere, and now it needs to start all over again.”

Making matters worse, Appling predicted a massive exodus of management from T-Mobile now that the merger is off the table. The company had incentivized management to stay as long as the deal was in the works, but now there’s “no reason to stay,” Appling said. That talent drain will force T-Mobile’s hand even more.

A T-Mobile spokesman countered that the commitment level among T-Mobile executives remains “very strong.”

So what are the options for the nation’s fourth-largest wireless company? Experts say it’s eat, be eaten, or strike a licensing deal.

Eat: If it’s going to buy up one or several smaller wireless providers, T-Mobile could do well by making a bid for regional carriers Leap Wireless (LEAP) and MetroPCS (PCS). Both stocks rallied Tuesday along with the rest of the market.

Unlike T-Mobile, both have the spectrum necessary to create a 4G solution, and MetroPCS has already begun to roll out its next-generation network. Appling estimates T-Mobile could save at least $500 million a year by purchasing one of the companies and transitioning to the much more efficient 4G technology.

Such a deal could also restore T-Mobile’s identity as the nationwide value carrier, which got muddied in recent years as the company struggled to determine whether it was in competition with the big boys Verizon (VZ, Fortune 500), AT&T and Sprint or low-cost carriers like Virgin, Boost, MetroPCS and Leap’s Cricket network.

Be eaten: If AT&T couldn’t get regulatory approval to buy T-Mobile, there’s no chance its even larger rival Verizon would be able to scoop it up. That leaves Sprint Nextel (S, Fortune 500) as the only U.S. wireless player that might have a realistic shot at playing the role of T-Mobile’s white knight.

Sprint, after all, is the company that everyone thought would buy T-Mobile before AT&T stepped in. Sprint certainly could use T-Mobile’s spectrum, and a tie-up between the two companies could create a much more competitive third option in the wireless market — making it likely that it would receive a blessing from regulators, according to Brett Gordon, professor at Columbia Business School.

But there are many reasons why that deal might not be able to get done: Sprint is rapidly running out of cash, and its network technologies are incompatible with T-Mobile’s. Sprint couldn’t offer anything close to the $39 billion AT&T had bid.

A more likely option is that a Latin American carrier like Telefonica or Telmex would buy T-Mobile to get a foothold in the U.S. market, said Josh King, general counsel at Avvo.com and former senior corporate development executive at AT&T Wireless. A European player is also possible, similar to how Vodafone (VOD) bought a large stake in Verizon Wireless.

But cable operators, once believed to be a potential savior, are now likely out. Cox, Comcast (CMCSA, Fortune 500), Time Warner Cable (TWC, Fortune 500) and Bright House sold their wireless spectrum to Verizon this month.

Dish Network (DISH, Fortune 500) has spent $3 billion on wireless spectrum over the past year, but Frost & Sullivan analyst Brent Iadarola said AT&T is more likely to strike a licensing deal with Dish than the satellite operator is to buy T-Mobile outright.

Make a deal: As a third option, T-Mobile could partner with another company in a spectrum licensing deal.

In what could be an interesting twist, AT&T’s 4G network might make the most sense for T-Mobile. AT&T could allow T-Mobile’s customers to roam on its 4G network in exchange for spectrum licenses that would allow AT&T to deploy 4G faster.

Another possibility is an infrastructure-for-4G partnership with 4G wholesale provider LightSquared, according to Jagdish Rebello, analyst at IHS iSuppli. But that network isn’t expected to deploy until 2013 at the earliest.

“What’s certain is that T-Mobile can’t go it alone,” said Rebello. “They can only call their 3G network 4G for so long.”

T-Mobile: Back to square one – Dec. 20, 2011.

by Admin

Carrier IQ: We don’t record keystrokes, but your phone does – Dec. 16, 2011

9:37 am in Controversial, Gadgets, Internet, Mobile, News by Admin

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — As the privacy fiasco that erupted around Carrier IQ continues smoldering, the finger pointing has intensified over the controversial software that sends data from individuals’ phones back to their carriers.

This week, Carrier IQ concluded an internal investigation and released a report on its findings. The company’s analysis confirmed that its software does not, by itself, record users’ keystrokes. Instead, the report affirmed the Carrier IQ’s prior suspicions that the recording is being triggered on the handset manufacturers’ end.

Carrier IQ’s investigation was a response to developer Trevor Eckhart’s 17-minute YouTube video, which showed how the software secretly runs on his HTC EVO 3D Android phone and logs every key press, every text, and the full URL of every website he visits. It recorded that data even from websites that use security encryption designed to prevent that kind of tracking.

Carrier IQ’s report said that what the Eckhart video displays is actually the result of separate tools put in place by the handset manufacturer.

The data recording was being done in what’s known as a debug log. The log is intended to help software developers understand what happened if something goes wrong with an application. It stashes information in the phone’s memory, which it remains stored until the device is powered down.

“It appears that the handset manufacturer software’s debug capabilities remained ‘switched on’ in devices sold to consumers,” Carrier IQ said in its analysis.

That debugger is supposed to be turned off unless a developer turns it on. It’s also highly unusual — and potentially insecure — for an application to store so much data to the debug logger. A stolen phone that hasn’t been turned off could be a gold mine for hackers, who would have access to literally everything a user has done or said on the device since it was last powered down.

Though Carrier IQ is installed on more than 150 million phones worldwide, the debug logging problem appears to only exist on HTC and Samsung smartphones. Those two manufacturers add a layer of their own software on top of the stock Google Android operating system, according to Dan Rosenberg, a consultant at Virtual Security Research who has extensively studied Carrier IQ’s software.

HTC did not respond to multiple requests for comment. A Samsung spokesman confirmed to CNNMoney that Samsung was storing data in its phones’ logs, but declined to say why the manufacturer had turned on that functionality or whether it is working on a fix for the problem.

Still, Carrier IQ isn’t completely off the hook.

As part of its internal investigation, the company discovered that it had been accidentally sending users’ text messages to carriers.

The problem was the result of a bug, which Carrier IQ says it has told the carriers how to fix. The texts were also encoded, so they weren’t “human readable,” the company claims.

The potential privacy breach caught the attention of the government regulators, who have launched a probe into the issue, according to The Washington Post. Senator Al Franken, D-Minn., has been asking pointed questions, and Rep Edward Markey, D-Mass., has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the practices of Carrier IQ.

Company spokeswoman Mira Woods said she was “not aware of an official investigation into Carrier IQ at this time.”

In an attempt to get ahead of the probes, Carrier IQ this week sought meetings with the FTC and Federal Communications Commission to answer questions and present its side of the argument.

An under-the-radar company until recently, Carrier IQ is a small firm whose software is designed to help carriers run diagnostics on their phones and network. Its tools are intended to monitor boring, basic phone functions, like signal outages, battery life and website load times.

But there’s a whole lot lurking under the hood of our smartphones. Carrier IQ’s sudden thrust into the national spotlight illustrates that even those who build, sell and service our phones may not know everything that’s hiding inside Pandora’s box.  To top of page

Carrier IQ: We don’t record keystrokes, but your phone does – Dec. 16, 2011.

by Admin

In-Car Video Chat And 4G Streaming From OnStar

9:33 am in Business, Controversial, Gadgets, Mobile, News by Admin

Detroit’s North American International Auto Show is typically thought of as the kick-off of the year’s major auto shows.

As automakers continue to integrate technology more and more into their vehicles, however, the Consumer Electronics Show is starting to feel like the first big auto show of the year. Automakers and third-party manufacturers have been using CES to showcase things like new infotainment systems and smartphone apps for the past several years now.

Last year, GM’s OnStar provided a preview of a technological system developed in conjunction with Verizon. It was equipped in a Buick LaCrosse research vehicle. The system used the power of Verizon’s 4G LTE network to deliver some interesting, next-generation features.

At the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, OnStar will reveal the latest on that system. This time, the system will be equipped in a Chevy Volt research vehicle, which seems to be a more appropriate vessel than a Buick for previewing your latest technology.

In a press release teasing the appearance, OnStar said the system will offer such features as cloud-based streaming of information and entertainment, rear-seat infotainment management and video chat.

While it doesn’t get into the specific configuration, the pictures make it appear as though the car itself is equipped with a 4G modem that provides Internet connectivity and services throughout. In the rear, we see two tablet computers that look hardwired directly to the car.

Video chat may sound like a terrifying feature for any car, but OnStar said in last year’s CES press materials that the feature would only be enabled when the car is in park. Other features like video streaming would also be limited to the rear seat or to a parked vehicle.

In addition to the 4G system, OnStar will show the latest in smart-charging technology. It will also make an announcement about its over-the-counter FMV system.

OnStar will make its presentation alongside Cadillac on Sunday, January 8.

In-Car Video Chat And 4G Streaming From OnStar.

by Admin

IBM’s Five Predictions for the Next Five Years – Businessweek

9:26 am in Business, Gadgets, Internet, Mobile, News, programming, Social Media by Admin

In each of the past five years, IBM has come up with a list of five innovations it believes will become popular within five years. In this, the sixth year, IBM has come up with the following technologies it thinks will gain traction. Hold on to your sci-fi novels, because some of these are pretty far out there. And some of them, well, I wish we had them today.

People power will come to life. Advances in technology will allow us to trap the kinetic energy generated (and wasted) from walking, jogging, bicycling, and even from water flowing through pipes. A bicycle charging your iPhone? There’s nothing wrong with that, though I think it might be a while before we see this actually become a mainstream practice.

You will never need a password again. Biometrics will finally replace the password and thus redefine the word “hack.” Jokes aside, IBM believes multifactor biometrics will become pervasive. “Biometric data—facial definitions, retinal scans, and voice files—will be composited through software to build your DNA-unique online password.” Based on the increasing hours we spend online, I would say we need such solutions to come to market ASAP.

Mind reading is no longer science fiction. Scientists are working on headsets with sensors that can read brain activity and recognize facial expressions, excitement, and more without needing any physical inputs from the wearer. “Within [five] years, we will begin to see early applications of this technology in the gaming and entertainment industry,” IBM notes. It will also be good for folks who have suffered from strokes and have brain disorders. Personally, I’m not sure this is commercially viable within the stated five years.

The digital divide will cease to exist. Mobile phones will make it easy for even the poorest of poor to get connected. In the U.S. and other parts of the world, this is already happening.

Junk mail will become priority mail. “In five years, unsolicited advertisements may feel so personalized and relevant it may seem that spam is dead. At the same time, spam filters will be so precise you’ll never be bothered by unwanted sales pitches again,” notes IBM. I have just one thing to say about this prediction: OMG.

HOW GOOD ARE IBM PREDICTIONS?

New predictions aside, IBM’s track record of predictions over the past five years has been somewhat mixed. Let’s take a step back to 2006 and look at its predictions:

• We will be able to access health care remotely, from just about anywhere in the world.
• Real-time speech translation—once a vision only in science fiction—will become the norm.
• There will be a 3D Internet.
• Technologies the size of a few atoms will address areas of environmental importance.
• Our mobile phones will start to read our minds.

Remote health care is a reality, but real-time speech translation is, well, not quite as real. The 3D Internet: We’re still waiting for that, but those mobile phones are becoming awfully smart. As I said, it’s mixed in its predictions. In 2007, IBM correctly predicted driving would be assisted by software and your phones would become “your wallet, ticket broker, concierge, bank, shopping buddy, and more.” But that was right after the iPhone was launched.

As another example, IBM in 2009 predicted city buildings would “sense and respond” like living organisms. That sensor-based future is finally unfolding two years later. That same year, it predicted cars and buses would run on hydrogen and biofuels. Well, that’s half-true. We have some places where some buses and some cars are running on biofuels. Its prediction that cities will develop a healthier immune system due to connectedness, however, is quite far from reality—although we still have a little more than two years to go before we can say IBM got those wrong.

Bottom line: IBM’s Five in Five makes a nice cheat sheet to keep an eye on the future and also focus on key trends that might go big. I can’t wait for the 2012 edition.
IBM’s Five Predictions for the Next Five Years – Businessweek.

by Admin

Denver must prove red-light cameras improve safety, city audit says

9:24 am in Controversial, Gadgets, News by Admin

 

Denver must prove that its controversial photo-radar and photo-red-light programs are making the streets safer, or people will think they exist only to raise money, according to a city audit.

The Denver Auditor’s Office last week issued a report about the two programs that use video and photos to catch traffic violators, saying they should be shut down unless the city can prove they are a public-safety benefit.

“These programs were sold as public-safety enhancements but are widely viewed as a cash grab,” Auditor Dennis Gallagher wrote in a letter last week to Manager of Safety Alex Martinez. “It undermines public trust to maintain photo enforcement programs that are profitable but whose safety impact has not been conclusively shown.”

The City Council next month is scheduled to decide whether to renew a $700,000 contract with the private company that operates the photo-red-light system at four Denver intersections. That program is especially controversial because since May, drivers who stop with their front tires past the stop line have been dinged with $75 fines.

From May to October, violations at those four intersections resulted in $1.3 million in fines, compared with $230,000 from January to April.

“I get a good number of complaints (about that),” said City Councilwoman Jeanne Robb. “We need to have a public discussion about this.”

The City Council might push to cut the stop-line fines in half.

City traffic engineer Brian Mitchell said fewer crashes are being recorded at intersections where photo-red-light enforcement has been set up and where yellow-light clearance time has been lengthened.

“The good news is, at all of the intersections looked at, we are trending downward,” he said.

The audit that was delivered Thursday also insists that the city prove the photo-radar program has reduced speeds and accidents, and improved pedestrian safety.

The program, which uses photo- radar-equipped vans deployed around the city, generated $3.6 million in revenues in 2010 and nearly $6 million this year through Oct. 24.

The city says a 2009 study of the program showed a decrease in speeds in eight of the 10 most frequently enforced photo-radar areas. City officials say they will conduct another study to cover the three-year period from 2010 to 2012.

But the officials say it will be difficult to determine whether photo radar has decreased the number of accidents and pedestrian injuries because locations of those events are random.

Still, according to the city, accidents throughout Denver declined by about 24 percent to 22,242 in 2010 from 29,100 in 2002, the year photo radar was introduced.

Denver must prove red-light cameras improve safety, city audit says – The Denver Post.

by Admin

Bluetooth keyboards will get 10-year battery life with new chip, Broadcom promises

6:15 pm in Business, Computer Hardware, Gadgets, News by Admin

Broadcom is working on a Bluetooth chipset that will give wireless keyboards a battery life of up to 10 years, the company said on Tuesday.

If they had a battery life of as long as 10 years, that Bluetooth-based accessories could potentially never need new batteries, the chip maker said. A set of two AA batteries would be enough to power a keyboard using the BCM20730 Bluetooth chip to connect with a computer for its entire lifetime, Broadcom said.

Besides keyboards, the component will also be used in computer mice, 3D active shutter glasses, remote controls and game controllers.

To simplify installation, the BCM20730 uses USB emulation and Broadcom’s ZeroTouch configuration technology, which makes it possible to use accessories out of the box with no special pairing procedure, Broadcom said.

The chip maker didn’t say when the first products will arrive, but the BCM20730 is in full production, and a so-called reference design to show vendors what a product using the chip could look like is being evaluated by peripheral makers worldwide, Broadcom said.

Bluetooth will continue to gain popularity in the coming years, helped by faster transfer speeds on one hand and lower power consumption on the other, according to market research company In-Stat, which expects that Bluetooth-enabled device shipments will exceed 2 billion in 2013.

Bluetooth keyboards will get 10-year battery life with new chip, Broadcom promises – wireless, peripherals, networking, Input devices, Components, broadcom, bluetooth – Services – Networking – Techworld.

by Admin

EFF Pleads to Make Jailbreaking Legal For all Devices

6:12 pm in Gadgets, Mobile, News, programming by Admin

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has asked the US Copyright Office to make legal the jailbreaking of all consumer electronic devices, including smartphones, tablets, and video game consoles. The proposal aims to remove jailbreaking, or gaining root access to a device, from being prohibited by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The EFF has also asked that electronic companies not oppose the jailbreaking of their products.

In July of 2010 the EFF won its first landmark case for this cause when the US government passed a law making the jailbreaking of Apple’s iPhone and iOS platform legal. Now, the EFF wants to make jailbreaking legal on all devices.

The EFF in an official statement:

“We were thrilled that EFF won important exemptions to the DMCA in the last rulemaking,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. “But technology has evolved over the last three years, and so it’s important to expand these exemptions to cover the real-world uses of smartphones, tablets, video game consoles, DVDs, and video downloads.”

If the US were to protect the jailbreaking of all consumer electronic devices, the rest of the industry would be subject to the same ruling that Apple already adheres to. It’s legal to jailbreak the iPhone, but Apple still has the right to combat jailbreakers (as it continues to do in iOS 5) with its company actions and warranty policies. Basically, you can’t go to prison for jailbreaking, but Apple can refuse you customer support.

“The DMCA is supposed to block copyright infringement. But instead it can be misused to threaten creators, innovators, and consumers, discouraging them from making full and fair use of their own property,” said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. “Hobbyists and tinkerers who want to modify their phones or video game consoles to run software programs of their choice deserve protection under the law. So do artists and critics who use short excerpts of video content to create new works of commentary and criticism. Copyright law shouldn’t be stifling such uses – it should be encouraging them.”

As Macworld points out, there are multiple positives and negatives to legalizing jailbreaking across the board. While we agree that jailbreaking tends to spur innovation, having low-level access does open up the potential for all kinds of security threats.

iOS has not yet seen a major case of users affected by malware due to jailbreaking, but there’s the possibility of a ‘Wild West’ malware environment if jailbreaking does indeed become legal for all consumer devices.

There have been multiple, high-profile examples of jailbreaking non-Apple devices and the legal ramifications that can follow. Originally responsible for jailbreaking the iPhone back in 2007, the infamous hacker known as GeoHot got in quite a bit of trouble for hacking the Sony PlayStation 3. More recently, another hacker from the iOS community has released a jailbreak for the Blackberry Playbook tablet.

The EFF has asked that the US Copyright Office protect jailbreaking as a legal practice across the board, and hearings for the proposed DMCA exemptions will be held in the spring of 2012.

EFF Pleads to Make Jailbreaking Legal For all Devices.

by Admin

Researcher’s Video Shows Secret Software on Millions of Phones Logging Everything | Threat Level | Wired.com

12:25 am in Business, Controversial, Gadgets, Google, Internet, Mobile, News, programming by Admin


 

The Android developer who raised the ire of a mobile-phone monitoring company last week is on the attack again, producing a video of how the Carrier IQ software secretly installed on millions of mobile phones reports most everything a user does on a phone.

Though the software is installed on most modern Android, BlackBerry and Nokia phones, Carrier IQ was virtually unknown until 25-year-old Trevor Eckhart of Connecticut analyzed its workings, revealing that the software secretly chronicles a user’s phone experience — ostensibly so carriers and phone manufacturers can do quality control.

But now he’s released a video actually showing the logging of text messages, encrypted web searches and, well, you name it.

Eckhart labeled the software a “rootkit,” and the Mountain View, California-based software maker threatened him with legal action and huge money damages. The Electronic Frontier Foundation came to his side last week, and the company backed off on its threats. The company told Wired.com last week that Carrier IQ’s wares are for “gathering information off the handset to understand the mobile-user experience, where phone calls are dropped, where signal quality is poor, why applications crash and battery life.”

The company denies its software logs keystrokes. Eckhart’s 17-minute video clearly undercuts that claim.

In a Thanksgiving post, we mentioned this software as one of nine reasons to wear a tinfoil hat.

The video shows the software logging Eckhart’s online search of “hello world.” That’s despite Eckhart using the HTTPS version of Google which is supposed to hide searches from those who would want to spy by intercepting the traffic between a user and Google.

Cringe as the video shows the software logging each number as Eckhart fingers the dialer.

“Every button you press in the dialer before you call,” he says on the video, “it already gets sent off to the IQ application.”

From there, the data — including the content of  text messages — is sent to Carrier IQ’s servers, in secret.

By the way, it cannot be turned off without rooting the phone and replacing the operating system. And even if you stop paying for wireless service from your carrier and decide to just use Wi-Fi, your device still reports to Carrier IQ.

It’s not even clear what privacy policy covers this. Is it Carrier IQ’s, your carrier’s or your phone manufacturer’s? And, perhaps, most important, is sending your communications to Carrier IQ a violation of the federal government’s ban on wiretapping?

And even more obvious, Eckhart wonders why aren’t mobile-phone customers informed of this rootkit and given a way to opt out?
Researcher’s Video Shows Secret Software on Millions of Phones Logging Everything | Threat Level | Wired.com.