Proposals for Facebook research to undergo more stringent reviews
Facebook has admitted fault over its handling of user-based research, a matter which erupted this summer, and is taking steps to prevent such incidents from happening again. The social network is putting in place measures that it hopes will place a greater degree of scrutiny on future research projects, at the time of proposal, and at the time of publication.
Researchers put 40 students in driving simulator to simulate speech-to-text distractions
In a joint study between the University of Central Florida and Air Force Research Laboratories, researcher Ben Sawyer found that drivers wearing Google Glass are just as distracted as those using smartphones to text. The study attempted to discover the level of driver distraction using Google Glass, a hands-free device that many claimed offers no or a lesser degree of distraction than other in-car devices.
Hires from VoiceSignal, Nuance talent hints at further work on in-house Siri engine
More evidence of earlier speculation that Apple was developing its own Siri engine to replace the licensed one from Nuance emerged on Monday, as a local newspaper reported that Apple is expanding its Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Siri operations with recent hires from Nuance and VoiceSignal Technologies, a company now owned by Nuance. The team would be staying in the same building, but moving to larger quarters on the upper floors -- enough for 65 workers, reports say.
Cascaded display research from Nvidia could lead to cheaper virtual reality displays
High-resolution, low-cost displays for virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift could become a reality sooner than first thought, if recently-revealed research from Nvidia is adopted. Researchers working for the graphics chip producer realized that stacking two lower-resolution panels on top of each other could effectively provide a similar experience to the user as looking at a higher-quality display.
Dating site owns up to experiments, claims that's just 'how websites work'
Dating site OkCupid took to its blog today in a small defense of the outrage over Facebook's study involving manipulation of users' emotional states through data on its news feed for "psychological research." In a post titled "We Experiment on Human Beings," the dating company proceeded to make light of the data situations, while owning up to several of its own experiments.
Nest is essentially jailbroken, uses a custom tool to end reporting back to company
A group of researchers from the University of Central Florida (UCF) discovered a way to root the Nest thermostat in the process of finding a way to hack the device to steal data and install malware. Led by engineering professor Yier Jin, the team used physical access to accomplish the hack even though it is built with security in mind. During the hacking discovery, the team came up with a way to stop the device from reporting data back to Google (or Nest).
Five year investment in research to look at 'seven nanometer technology and beyond'
IBM announced today that it is re-committing itself to the computer landscape, as the company intends to spend $3 billion on research into future chip technologies. Over the next five years, Big Blue will invest in two "broad research and early stage development programs" in search of an innovation in the field. The shift in strategy comes at a time when the company was rumored to be selling off its chip manufacturing business.
Social media usage examined in government-funded research
The US military has been analyzing the use and influence of social networks and social media, according to a report. Research funded by DARPA under the Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program was conducted with the ultimate aim of developing tools to help "counter misinformation or deception campaigns with truthful information."
Information Commissioner checks if Facebook research broke UK data laws
The fallout from Facebook's experiment with its users continues, with a UK government agency planning to investigate. The United Kingdom's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), the body that deals with data protection laws in the country, will be looking to see if the social network broke any laws during its testing of emotional manipulation in 2012.
Coauthor says benefits of research may not have been worth the backlash
Adam Kramer, co-author of the paper involving Facebook news feed manipulation, took to the social media service to explain the importance of the study earlier this week. Since news of the psychological study hit the Internet, many have wondered about the ethical implications of emotional manipulation by the company. Kramer indicated that the researchers didn't clearly state their motivations in the paper, leading to a misinterpretation of how the study was perceived.
Psychological study in 2012 altered users' news feeds for positive or negative mental states
In a study to see if emotional states could be transferred to others online, Facebook conducted a psychological experiment in January 2012 with its users as guinea pigs. According a research paper published this month, feeds from over 689,000 English-language accounts were altered for either positive or negative states for one week to see if there was an impact on mental states.
Research on 34,000 hard disks finds no correlation between failure and temperature
The operating temperature of a hard drive does not directly affect the failure rate, according to research by backup cloud service BackBlaze. After analyzing over 34,000 drives, the company found there to be no overall correlation between failure and temperature when looking at the data as a whole, but some drives were found to be affected by heat.
Infrared proximity sensor array detects fingers in Microsoft keyboard prototype
Microsoft Research has demonstrated a prototype keyboard that can be used to recognize gestures. The Type-Hover-Swipe keyboard is able to detect fingers and entire hands hovering just above the keys, allowing users to perform various maneuvers typically used on a touchscreen or a tablet but without having to make their hands travel far from the home position.
UK Sales of Moto G raised Motorola share from 'almost nothing' to 6 percent within 6 months
Motorola is seeing some success in the United Kingdom after the brand all but died in the country, according to a research firm. The latest Kantar Worldpanel ComTech report states that the Moto G helped Motorola reach a market share of 6 percent in the UK for the quarter ending in February, rising up from "almost nothing" in a six-month period.
Research outlines strides in facial recognition through deep learning
Facebook has revealed in a research paper that it has discovered a way to match faces from two different photographs with 97.25 percent accuracy. The research has aided in the development of a software project called DeepFace, which only slightly trails the facial recognition measured average of a human by only 0.28 percent.
Trojan horse Flashback botnet returns, Intego VirusBarrier includes protection
The Flashback botnet -- a malware attack which first appeared in 2011 -- has been noted as being still a threat in 2014, according to Intego. Beginning January 2, Intego studied command and control domains, and its sinkhole servers recorded all connections from Macs where Flashback is still active, trying to contact the command and control servers. This research, as of Tuesday, counted 14,248 unique identifiers of Flashback variants.
Google updates Glass Explorer Edition, app to avoid tethering charges
Google has updated the Explorer Edition of Google Glass, allowing users to avoid tethering fees on their carrier's data plans. The XE9 firmware, discovered by user Nick Starr, appears to allow the headwear to send and receive data via its companion app on a smartphone, with Engadget reporting that it is bypassing the phones Bluetooth tethering settings.
Android 79 percent of smartphone market, iOS 14.2-percent share
Research by Gartner suggests that sales of smartphones have exceeded those of feature phones for the first time. While global smartphone sales have increased by 3.6 to 435 million in the second quarter of 2013 compared to the same period last year, according to Gartner's own figures, smartphones make up 225 million of the total, a year-on-year increase of 46.5 percent, with feature phones seeing a 21-percent year-on-year decline to 210 million units.
One Samsung design center will accommodate 10,000 employees
Samsung is preparing to invest in five research and development centers in its native South Korea, say company officials. The investment, in the region of 5 trillion won ($4.5 billion) will cover the creation and operation of the new centers in the country over the next three years, in its efforts to create new products and technologies.
Says company must create game-changing products more often
In a article that could have been written by Samsung's advertising department, the Sydney Morning Herald has published an article detailing claims from "social researcher" Michael McQueen, who tracks the ever-shifting tastes of the group he calls "Gen-Y" (meaning people who reached their teenage years after 2001). In it, he says that despite wide evidence to the contrary, Apple is "losing its cool" with youth.
Research firm sees 51.8-percent rise in touchscreen-enabled notebook shipments
Almost one in ten notebook computers shipped in the first quarter of 2013 have touchscreens, according to a market research firm's report. It is claimed by Displaybank that 4.57 million of the notebooks used the displays out of a total shipment figure of 46 million, a rise of 51.8 percent compared to the previous quarter.
Capacitors supports 10k recharge cycles
An 18-year-old student, Eesha Khare, has reportedly developed a new form of energy storage, referred to as a supercapacitor, that promises to recharge a cellphone in 20 to 30 seconds. The research project landed Khare a $50,000 scholarship and an Intel Foundation Young Scientists Award at the Intel-sponsored International Science and Engineering Fair, along with a $5,000 "best of category" award and another $3,000 prize in the chemistry division.
Survey includes notebooks, tablets, phones, excludes actual sales
In its latest report, industry research firm Canalys is reporting on what it calls "worldwide smart mobile device shipments" for the first quarter of the year -- a term that includes smartphones, notebooks and tablets. Of the 308.7 million devices that fall under one of those categories that shipping in Q1, around 60 percent were said to be Android devices, reflecting the platform's strength in smartphones -- the fastest-growing area of mobile electronics. Apple's iOS placed second again, despite a dominant presence in tablets.
Apple still tops all usage studies, suggesting stronger actual sales
Research firm IDC has posted the results of a questionable study on tablet "market share" that makes the claim -- not supported by sales evidence -- that Android has outgunned Apple in the tablet market, with 56.5 percent share in the first calendar quarter of the year, leaving Apple with barely 40 percent. The study also claims that Asus, not Amazon, is the third-largest tablet vendor with 5.5 percent of the market, having seen 350 percent growth year-over-year. The numbers seem unbelievable -- until one notices that IDC is estimating shipments, not sales.
Released video shows robot capable of changing wheel, using tools
DARPA has demonstrated the results of its research into creating low-cost robotic hands. A clip released by the agency shows a robotic torso using an ordinary electric screwdriver to remove the screws mounting a wheel to a frame, before removing the wheel and attempting to re-mount a second wheel in its place.
Agreement follows more ITC complaints from InterDigital
Sony has formed a new company with InterDigital, which will work on wireless machine-to-machine (M2M) technology and bandwidth management systems. It has also been revealed that Sony has signed up for a patent license from InterDigitial for its 3G and 4G devices, and comes shortly after InterDigital filed ITC complaints with a number of other manufacturers.
Research to boost power five times in five years
The US Department of Energy is making a push to improve the technology used in batteries. The newly-formed Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), originally the Batteries and Energies Storage Hub, hopes to develop batteries five times more powerful than at present, at a fifth of the cost, over the next five years.
Briefcase-sized transmitter could block thousands of devices
An LTE network in a city could be taken down by $650 worth of equipment, according to researchers. The team at Virginia Tech believes that a battery-operated transmitter the size of a small briefcase could, if operated correctly, knock out 4G coverage for miles around a large base station, cutting off communications for thousands of users.
NC State software could be added to existing hardware
Researchers have worked out a way to boost the throughput of a high-traffic Wi-Fi network by up to 700 percent. Created by a team at NC State University, software called WiFox is able to monitor data traffic and set priority for various users, balancing traffic flow between multiple routers on a network and allowing for a smoother connection for the majority of users.
University to spend three years making OOFDM commercially viable
Scientists are working on a way to improve broadband speeds to 2,000 times that of what is currently offered to users. A team of researchers for Bangor University in the UK have succeeded in creating a 20-gigabit fiber optic connection, and will spend the next three years working on making it more commercially viable.
Nokia N900 converted to vibrate when squeezed
A phone has been modified to be able to transfer a squeeze to another phone. A prototype by Nokia Research and the Helsinki Institute of Information Technology amended an N900 to use a resistor to detect up to four different levels of pressure from compression. The recipient of the phone call receives different levels of vibration, depending on the amount of pressure applied.
Robot to use objects as tools and simple machines
A team of researchers have been given funds to develop a robot that behaves like MacGyver. A three-year, $900,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research has been handed to the Georgia Institute of Technology, to try and create a machine that can interact with the local environment as well as humans can.
Research to create next generation of mobile standards
A research center has been created in the UK to help in the development in 5G networks. The 5G Center is a partnership between the University of Surrey and various mobile companies, which will look into maximizing the use of the limited radio spectrum available, as well as making the future standard “greener” than previous versions.
Project aims to help disabled police officers back to work
Researchers are working on robotic members of the police force. The Discovery Lab of Florida International University is working with the US Navy Reserves on building telepresence robots, controlled by disabled police officers and members of the armed forces, that could be used to police the streets, according to CNET.
Charging efficiencies in larger batteries increased hundredfold
South Korean scientists claim to have found a way to greatly reduce electric car charging times from hours to minutes. The researchers have altered the geometry and physics of a lithium-ion battery to allow the cell to charge evenly throughout the battery, rather than charging from the terminals inward during a standard reduction-oxidation reaction on larger lithium-ion batteries.
Electrostatic field generator offers multiple touch sensations
A team at Disney Research has created a new wearable tactile technology that effectively changes the sensation felt when touching physical objects, using electricity. Revel can add artificial tactile sensations to almost any surface or object, without having to use the motors and actuators currently employed by touchscreen haptic feedback found in phones and tablets, and force feedback rumbling found in game controllers.
Mac, Linux see up to five percent variance in data
Neurological imaging tool FreeSurfer, curated at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, is a commonly-used open-source software tool employed by researchers to measure cortical thickness and volume of varying brain structures from the MRI scan of a patient. Recent research has shown that the calculations, given the same input, can vary up to 15 percent between different versions of the software, and up to five percent between Linux and OSX. No explanation has been given by the curators for the phenomenon.
Researchers use retinal latency to boost low-resolution screen
Researchers have found a way to increase the resolution of a display beyond its normal capabilities, thanks to the inherent latency of the brain's visual processing. Floraine Berthouzoz and Raqanan Fattal, graphics researchers, found that by vibrating the screen and quickly showing four lower-resolution images of a larger-resolution photograph, the viewer's brain can combine the images and see something close to the original photo.
Processor loses 8 percent accuracy, slashes power draw
Researchers from Rice University and other institutions have unveiled an "inexact" computer chip that is built to allow for errors. The design forsakes 100 percent accuracy in an effort to save power; in its current form, the chips are claimed to be up to 15 times more efficient than current technology.
Research firm claims 91 percent of mobile game revenue as in-game sales
American gamers spend five times more on iOS games compared to those on Android, according to game-focused research firm Newzoo. The claim is said to be based on a comparison of revenue and download data from the top 200 grossing games, along with survey results from a group of 17,000 gamers.
Colloidal quantum dot construction revolutionized
Researchers at Brown University have uncovered a new method of producing a polychromatic laser. A new material has been produced that, in conjunction with a monochromatic laser, is capable of producing laser light simultaneously in the red, blue, and green (RGB) wavelengths. This new material points the way towards multi-wavelength, single-material lasers for commercial utility.
MIT research shows glass that bounces water off
MIT researchers have worked out a way to make glass without all the drawbacks in the medium. The 34 page research paper explains a method for making self-cleaning, hydrophobic and extremely clear glass.
Copper-graphene composite said to be low cost
Researchers at North Carolina State University have reportedly developed a new form of graphene technology that is claimed to be suitable for electronics cooling systems. The copper-graphene composite materials are said to bring a 25 percent improvement in thermal conductivity compared to pure copper.
Researchers 'twist' airwaves, boost bandwidth
A team of Swedish and Italian physicists has developed an experimental technique that has the potential to dramatically increase both speed and bandwidth using the electromagnetic wireless spectrum. According the BBC, the method exploits a property of physics that can be observed in space known as the ‘orbital angular momentum’ of airwaves. Already in discussions to commercialize the technology, the researchers have used the phenomenon to impart the waves with a ‘twist’ to fit multiple data streams where previously there was only room for one.
Microsoft demos blend physical and digital worlds
Microsoft's Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie unveiled several new technologies that blue the line between physical and digital reality at the fifth annual TechForum gathering at Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters. The innovations included the latest iteration of the holographic projection systems for the desktop, an augmented reality mirror, and a low-cost lamplike device that turns any surface into a shared VR environment. The devices could find application in areas as diverse as education, gaming and business.
Microsoft Research releases 'Code Space'
Microsoft Research has released a new user interface for sharing content across devices and displays using Kinect technology. Project 'Code Space' has currently been implemented for developers who are working in small teams and who want to move content from a presentation onto their device simply by using a hybrid of touch and air gesture interactions.
Researchers use graphene for flex transistors
Korean researchers have developed flexible transistors using graphene to accomplish the feat. The researchers had experimented with a range of conventional materials including molecules, polymers and metals but found them to be ineffective for this purpose. Graphene has an advantage in that it can be integrated using the traditional printing processes at room temperatures without vacuum or high-temperature steps.
Research network and library coordination app
Mendeley, a collaborative social network for researchers combined with a cloud-based document management and storage application, has hit several milestones lately: over 1 million individual users, over 100 million research papers in its database, and the release of Mendeley Desktop 1.0 for all three major platforms. The app works as a PDF document management tool and offers levels of public and private collaborative sharing.
Menu extra now persistent, new RSS style sheets
DevonTechnologies has released the last public beta of their Internet research assistant software DevonAgent 3.0 which adds new plug-ins and features for increased functionality, along with a maintenance release for all editions of DevonThink and DevonNote. The latter two programs now sport important bug fixes and an improved DevonThink To Go conduit for packaged file formats such as iWork documents.
Prototype flexible PaperPhone makes its debut
Canadian researchers have debuted the PaperPhone (PDF), a prototype smartphone made from electronic paper. The fully functional smartphone can make and receive phone calls, send texts, play music and even display e-books. However, the device moves beyond accepting now familiar touch inputs, to trigger different functions according to the way it is handled. Bending it, folding it and flexing it at its corners or sides can control the phone’s actions.