Report: GM to offer wireless charging in 2014 cars

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General Motorls will offer consumers the option of wireless charging for mobile devices in some of its automobiles, Bloomberg reported this week. Select GM models will be equipped with Powermat wireless charging surfaces, which will require compatible devices that either have wireless charging capabilities built in or are paired with a wireless charging case. The collaboration was confirmed by Powermat Technologies CEO Ran Poliakine, though GM has so far declined to comment.

“The car is a major part of life for everyone with a smartphone,” Poliakine said in an interview. “And this is taking care of that part of life.”

Powermat’s Duracell chargers are already in place in some Silicon Valley, Boston, and New York Starbucks locations. In declining to comment on the Powermat CEO’s comments, a GM spokesperson did confirm that the automaker is at least working on wireless charging technologies.

“We continue to work with Powermat to bring their technologies to GM products, but for competitive reasons we’re not discussing specifics at this time,” the spokesperson said. “The technology continues to move forward.”

Wireless charging is currently featured in a number of high-end smartphones, but the technology has yet to take off, due in part to competing standards. In addition to Powermat, there is also the Qi wireless power technology, which is featured in a number of mobile devices. Qi’s technology is also built into the 2013 Toyota Avalon.

Source: Electronista

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PiP Uses Facial Recognition To Reunite Lost Pets With Their Owners

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Having your dog or cat run away is pretty traumatic. And even if somebody finds your furry friend, they might not know where to find you. If your pet ends up in a shelter, chances are high that it will be euthanized, so Philip Rooyakkers, the CEO of PiP – The Pet Recognition Company, decided to see if he and his team could use facial recognition instead of tags to more easily report and find more lost pets.

PiP launched its Indiegogo campaign. The company is looking to raise $100,000 in the next month to raise the final funds necessary to bring the app to market.

I ran into Rooyakkers at the GROW conference in Vancouver last week, and he told me that the company’s technology, developed by the image-recognition expert Dr. Daesik Jang, is able to recognize 98 percent of dogs and cats. With the help of some extra metadata (breed, size, weight, gender, colors etc.), this means PiP can recognize virtually every lost pet.

Anybody can download the app to report found pets. Pet owners pay a subscription to PiP (the plan is to charge $1.49 per month, with 2 percent of all proceeds going to local pet rescue charities) and the moment their pet goes missing, PiP will alert local animal control and rescue agencies, veterinarians and social medial outlets.

This “Amber Alert” for missing pets is at the core of what the service does. It will also scan social media for postings about found pets. “We will not only broadcast across all social media that the pet is missing, but everyone with the app (in that locale) will get a pop-up Amber Alert. We will contact the owner directly to listen, provide PiP’s immediate response, and offer support,“ Rooyakkers said in a statement today.

Whenever a pet is found, PiP will use its facial recognition software to see if it can find a match in its system. To avoid false positives, Rooyakkers told me, somebody will always look at the metadata to ensure everything checks out.

Obviously, there are a few other ways to identify lost pets, including ID Tags and Microchip Implants. However, there are numerous standards for microchips, so not every shelter or clinic can scan every chip. Facial recognition would also allow anybody to scan dogs or cats right after finding them without the need for any special equipment, which should make reuniting them with their owners faster and easier.

For more information click the source link.

Source: TechCrunch

Boeing solid-state laser weapon system outshines expectations

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The likelihood of lasers appearing on the battlefield was boosted last week when Boeing announced that its Thin Disk Laser system had achieved unexpected levels of power and efficiency. In a recent demonstration for the US Department of Defense, the laser’s output was 30 percent higher than project requirements and had greater beam quality, a result which paves the way toward a practical tactical laser weapon.

As it says on the tin, the Boeing Thin Disk Laser system uses a thin disc laser. Also known as an active mirror laser, this type of solid state laser was first developed in the 1990s. Instead of rods, as is found in most solid-state lasers, the thin disk laser uses a layer of lasing material with a thickness less than the diameter of the beam it emits. This layer acts as both the gain medium or amplifier of the laser and as the mirror that reflects the beam.

Behind this layer is a thick substrate that acts as a heat sink. This draws the heat generated by the lasing layer away quickly, which greatly increases the laser’s power and efficiency. Boeing’s system incorporates a number of these high-powered industrial lasers to generate a single, high-energy beam.

According to Boeing, the latest version of the the laser has an output of more than 30 kW, which is 30 percent more than the Department of Defense’s Robust Electric Laser Initiative (RELI) requirements, with a similar increase in efficiency.

“These demonstrations prove the military utility of laser systems,” says Michael Rinn, Boeing Directed Energy Systems vice president and program director. “In order to be truly viable as a weapons-class system, a laser must achieve high brightness while simultaneously remaining efficient at higher power. Our team has shown that we have the necessary power, the beam quality, and the efficiency to deliver such a system to the battlefield.”

Source: Gizmag

XP’s retirement will be hacker heaven

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Hackers will bank bugs until after Microsoft retires Windows XP in April 2014; expect attacks, say security experts

Cyber criminals will bank their Windows XP zero-day vulnerabilities until after Microsoft stops patching the aged operating system next April, a security expert argued today.

Jason Fossen, a trainer for SANS since 1998 and an expert on Microsoft security, said it’s simply economics at work.

“The average price on the black market for a Windows XP exploit is $50,000 to $150,000, a relatively low price that reflects Microsoft’s response,” said Fossen. When a new vulnerability — dubbed a “zero-day” — is spotted in the wild, Microsoft investigates, pulls together a patch and releases it to XP users.

If the bug is critical and being widely used by hackers, Microsoft will go “out-of-cycle,” meaning it will issue a security update outside its usual monthly Patch Tuesday schedule.

But after April 8, 2014, Microsoft has said it will retire Windows XP and stop serving security updates. The only exceptions: Companies and other organizations, such as government agencies, that pay exorbitant fees for custom support, which provides critical security updates for an operating system that’s officially been declared dead.

Because Microsoft will stop patching XP, hackers will hold zero-days they uncover between now and April, then sell them to criminals or loose them themselves on unprotected PCs after the deadline.

“When someone discovers a very reliable, remotely executable XP vulnerability, and publishes it today, Microsoft will patch it in a few weeks,” said Fossen. “But if they sit on a vulnerability, the price for it could very well double.”

Minus any official patching from Microsoft, XP zero-days and their associated exploits could remain effective for months, maybe even years, depending on how well security software detects and quarantines such attacks.

If Fossen’s thesis is correct, there should be signs of bug banking, most notably a sharp reduction in the number of publicly-disclosed or used-in-the-wild XP vulnerabilities during the fourth quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014.

“[Hackers] will be motivated to sit on them,” Fossen stressed.

There really aren’t precedents to back up Fossen’s speculation, he acknowledged, because the last time Microsoft pulled the plug on an edition was July 2010, when it retired Windows 2000. But according to metrics firm Net Applications, at the time Windows 2000 powered just four-tenths of one percent of all PCs.

Windows XP will have a much larger share when it’s retired next year: Based on XP’s current rate of decline, Computerworld has projected that the old OS will still run between 33% and 34% of the world’s personal computers at the end of April 2014.

That would be 80 times the share of Windows 2000 when it retired.

But even with Windows 2000’s minuscule share when it left support, there were reports that an edition-specific zero-day was created and sold.

“I heard rumors of a new zero-day being found and sold after the support period expired [for Windows 2000],” said HD Moore, creator of the popular Metasploit penetration testing toolkit and the chief security officer of security company Rapid7. “But there were few if any examples that ended up in the public eye.”

Moore agreed with Fossen that XP bugs would be more valuable after April 2014, but contended that all Windows vulnerabilities would jump in value.

“Something more common [three years ago] was backporting new security advisories into functional exploits on Windows 2000,” said Moore in an email. “Every time a server-side vulnerability was found in Windows XP or 2003 Server, quite a few folks looked at whether this would also work against Windows 2000. My guess is that the retirement of Windows XP will result in all Windows vulnerabilities being of slightly higher value, especially given the difference in exploit mitigations between XP and newer platforms.”

It’s far easier to exploit flaws in Windows XP than in newer editions, such as Windows 7 and Windows 8, noted Moore, because of the additional security measures that Microsoft’s baked into the newer operating systems.

Microsoft has said the same. In the second half of 2012, XP’s infection rate was 11.3 machines per 1,000 scanned by the company’s security software, more than double the 4.5 per 1,000 for Windows 7 SP1 32-bit and triple the 3.3 per 1,000 for Windows 7 SP1 64-bit.

“Windows XP vulnerabilities will be valuable as long as enterprises utilize that version of the operating system,” said Brian Gorenc, manager of HP Security Research’s Zero Day Initiative, the preeminent bug bounty program. But Gorenc also argued that any XP zero-days would be outweighed by higher-priority hacker work.

“Researchers are primarily focused on the critical applications being deployed on top of the operating system,” said Gorenc in an email reply to questions today. “Attackers and exploit kit authors seem to rely on the fact that the update process and tempo for applications are not as well defined as those for operating systems.”

Fossen, convinced that XP would be a big fat target after April 8, wondered whether Microsoft might find itself in a tough spot, and back away from the line in the sand it’s drawn for XP’s retirement.

“If hackers sit on zero-days, then after April use several of them in a short time, that could create a pain threshold [so severe] that people organize and demand patches,” said Fossen.

The consensus among analysts and security experts is that Microsoft will not back down from its decision to retire XP, come hell or high water, because it would not only set an unwelcome precedent but also remove any leverage the company and its partners have in convincing laggards to upgrade to a newer edition of Windows.

But a few have held out hope.

“Suppose we get to a date post the end of Extended support, and a security problem with XP suddenly causes massive problems on the Internet, such as a massive [denial-of-service] problem?” asked Michael Cherry, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, in an interview last Decembe. “It is not just harming Windows XP users, it is bringing the entire Internet to its knees. At this time, there are still significant numbers of Windows XP in use, and the problem is definitely due to a problem in Windows XP. In this scenario, I believe Microsoft would have to do the right thing and issue a fix.”

Jason Miller, manager of research and development at VMware, had some of the same thoughts at the time. “What if XP turns out to be a huge virus hotbed after support ends? It would be a major blow to Microsoft’s security image,” Miller said.

Another option for Microsoft, said Fossen, would be to take advantage of a post-retirement disaster to do what it’s been doing for years, push customers to upgrade.

“They might also respond with a temporary deal on an upgrade to Windows 8,” said Fossen, by discounting the current $120 price for Windows 8 or the $200 for Windows 8 Pro. “Then they could say, ‘We’re aware of these vulnerabilities, but you should upgrade.'”

Source: Computerworld

BlackBerry Awarded “Authority to Operate” on U.S. Department of Defense Networks

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BlackBerry has announced today that the US Defense Information System Agency (DISA) has given both the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 the Authority to Operate (ATO) on the Department of Defense (DoD) networks, making BlackBerry the first Mobile Device Management (MDM) to obtain an ATO. With the ATO, the DISA is prepping to support 10,000 BB10 devices by the fall and over 30,000 but the end of 2013. 

Press Release below:

BlackBerry Awarded “Authority to Operate” on U.S. Department of Defense Networks

DISA deploying BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 to support BlackBerry 10 smartphones on DoD networks

WATERLOO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – August 08, 2013) – BlackBerry® (NASDAQ: BBRY)(TSX: BB) today announced the U.S. Defense Information System Agency (DISA) has given BlackBerry® Z10 and BlackBerry® Q10 smartphones with BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10, the Authority to Operate (ATO) on Department of Defense (DoD) networks. BlackBerry is the first Mobile Device Management (MDM) provider to obtain an ATO.

With the ATO, DISA is now developing the infrastructure to support BlackBerry 10 smartphones. DISA is architecting the capacity to support 10,000 BlackBerry 10 smartphones by this fall and 30,000 by the end of 2013 on DoD networks.

“Being the first smartphones to be supported on U.S. Department of Defense networks further establishes BlackBerry’s proven and validated security model,” said Scott Totzke, SVP, BlackBerry Security Group at BlackBerry. “With foreign entities – governmental and criminal – ramping up attacks on electronic communications and information systems, BlackBerry provides government agencies with a proven partner that follows top-to-bottom security protocols.”

Receiving the ATO is a critical step forward in the security certification process. The approval demonstrates that BlackBerry 10 smartphones meet DoD’s most stringent security requirements. BlackBerry 10 smartphones will enable DoD personnel to have the ability to securely connect to networks and access assets from work. The BlackBerry mobile infrastructure provides a highly responsive, intelligent and intuitive mobile computing experience while ensuring the personal and the corporate information on a user’s phone are kept separate and safe.

For more information about BlackBerry 10, please visit: http://www.blackberry.com/BB10.

Source: CrackBerry, Yahoo Finance

T-Mobile Joins Ubuntu Smartphone Carrier Advisory Group

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T-Mobile has joined the Ubuntu Carrier Advisory Group as a member according to a press release issued yesterday. According to Canonical:

T-Mobile USA is the newest member of the Ubuntu Carrier Advisory Group. T-Mobile USA reaches almost 300 million American consumers and business people today. As a member of the CAG, T-mobile USA will join discussions to influence the development of Ubuntu for smartphones.

As T-Mobile continues to look for ways to differentiate from the likes of Sprint and AT&T, perhaps joining the Ubuntu advisory group is one way to do exactly that. Canonical is making a concentrated effort to make sure carriers won’t be able to exert too much control over the operating system’s look and feel. As Ubuntu’s community manager Jono Bacon said as OSCon, Ubuntu is looking to prevent a world where interface fragmentation ala Android.

“My wife and I both had Android phones and they gave us two entirely different experiences,” said Bacon. “We’re avoiding that.”

Ubuntu’s handset interface has already been previewed but is said to include some of the following features:

1. Edge magic: thumb gestures from all four edges of the screen enable users to find content and switch between apps faster than other phones.
2. Deep content immersion – controls appear only when the user wants them.
3. A beautiful global search for apps, content and products.
4. Voice and text commands in any application for faster access to rich capabilities.
5. Both native and web or HTML5 apps.
6. Evolving personalized art on the welcome screen.

Bacon added, “The design and implementation of the phone is beautiful You can immediately tell it is Ubuntu; the Unity mobile experience looks clean and consistent with the desktop and touch is stunningly integrated. The Ubuntu for phones experience is designed to make all your phone content easier to access and your apps more immersive – every edge has a specific purpose, making all your apps, content and controls instantly accessible, without navigating back to the home screen every time. It’s a uniquely, beautifully converged experience.”

Source: Tmo News