Samsung Hosting a Meeting to Standardize 5G Standards

We’ve all heard about 3G and 4G, the standards that define the technology that has helped shape mobile communications and mobile phones for the last generation. Samsung looks to get ahead with the next generation by hosting a meeting in hopes of standardizing standards for the next generation, 5G.

Hosting the 3GPP RAN (3rd Generation Partnership Project – Radio Access Network) group, Samsung Electronics hopes that the meeting taking place in Busan, Korea, will help encourage companies to “discuss ways to support the effective integration of new services such as IoT (Internet of Things) into 5G, and measures to ensure the compatibility of 5G technologies”.

5G is not a new technology, having been in development by Samsung since 2011, but with more and more companies looking to have the first standards ready for June 2018, we could soon see a network that could see speeds of 1.2 Gbps for moving vehicles and 7.5 gigabytes for anyone who stands still for a minute.

With companies looking at rolling out the technology for 2020, the meeting hopes to cover everything from energy and cost efficiency to security and availability, all key factors in releasing a successful piece of technology that people not only accept and pick up but support years down the road.

Racist Sends Print Jobs to Every Publicly Exposed Printer in the US

Many organizations in the US that rely on networked printers got a rude awakening last week when white supremacist troll and hacker Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer sent out an enormous batch print job to every unsecured network printer in North America. Among those who found their printer trays full of racist fliers covered in swastikas and other white supremacist propaganda were a number of universities and other educational establishments.

The motive behind this attack was simple, Auernheimer admitted to The Security Ledger that his actions served as a demonstration to other white supremacists the insecurity of Internet of Things devices and how easy it is for someone to carry out such an attack. He made use of the Masscan TCP port scanning tool in order to discover the printers, which all exposed port 9100 and then sent a batch print job to all of them with just five lines of code. Auernheimer admitted that he had not deliberately targeted universities, instead simply sending the print job indiscriminately to the huge amount of unsecured printers connected to the internet in the US.

This isn’t the first time Auernheimer has been responsible for a cyber attack, playing a role in the 2010 hack of AT&T which saw the email addresses of 114,000 owners of Apple iPads exposed. He was convicted of felony charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in 2012 and spent a year in prison before the verdict was overturned. It is unlikely that he will be prosecuted for this attack as he did nothing to gain access to the printers that would be classed as unauthorized access and simply exploited their already open states to send a print job.

Maybe this attack will be an eye-opener for those IT departments that turn a blind eye to security for the sake of ease of use and convenience. In this case, it was simply offensive printouts, but a more criminally-minded individual could easily see these unsecured devices as a way to gain unauthorized access to a network or steal data sent to the printers.

US Select Committee Calls Internet of Things a “Threat” to National Security

Smart devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) potentially poses an imminent security threat to the United States this year, according to a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, presented the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community report [PDF] to the Senate on Tuesday (9th February).

In his annual security assessment, Clapper warned that IoT devices possess insecurities that can be exploited, or used as backdoors into larger systems, by hackers.

“The consequences of innovation and increased reliance on information technology in the next few years on both our society’s way of life in general and how we in the intelligence community specifically perform our mission will probably be far greater in scope and impact than ever,” James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, writes in his report. “Devices, designed and fielded with minimal security requirements and testing, and an ever-increasing complexity of networks could lead to widespread vulnerabilities in civilian infrastructures and US government systems.”

Clapper is also of the opinion that smart devices could be used as a means of surveillance, writing, “In the future, intelligence services might use the loT for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials.”

WiFithing Makes the Internet of Things Open to Everyone

Usually, Internet of Things (IoT) platforms are designed to function only with other products by the same manufacturer, and those who need a universal system have to build it themselves, which requires both hardware and coding knowhow. WiFithing, however, is an IoT hub designed to be used by anyone out of the box, with no coding required, and across a wide range of internet-connected products.

WiFithing was originally designed as a hub to zone-control home heating systems back in 2013, but has since evolved into a multi-function IoT platform that can also control and schedule lighting, smart sockets, air conditioning, or any WiFi mains device. In addition, if you do possess the technical knowledge, you can modify WiFithing’s open source software to monitor electricity and gas usage, or control home security systems, such as automated gates, motion sensors, and cameras.

The platform and its slave devices can be controlled via either its own smartphone app or PC interface, using SSL encryption, and can be controlled locally even if you lose internet connection. WifFithing and its slaves are low power, so can even be powered by batteries, allowing access to inconvenient areas.

WiFithing, an impressive platform that can bring the Internet of Things to the homes of noobs and pros alike, is close to hitting its Kickstarter goal; the device has seven days to go with £3,405 to left to raise.

Shodan Makes Snooping on Vulnerable Webcams Easy

Shodan is a search engine designed to allow users to search through information on devices that are connected to the internet. The site, named after the AI from the System Shock series of games has been around since 2009, making news ever since as it has allowed access to potentially unsafe systems that have been exposed to the public internet, such as power stations and oddities including gym equipment. The newest feature to be added to Shodan has now put it back under the spotlight with a newly added section of the site allowing users to browse and view vulnerable webcams.

These feeds capture all manner of activities, from people’s offices and kitchens to far more worrying things including banks, schools, laboratories, drug plantations and even sleeping babies. Security researcher Dan Tentler told Ars Technica “It’s all over the place, practically everything you can think of.” He went on to explain that the prevalence of vulnerable Internet of Things (IoT) devices is the result of a race to the bottom by webcam manufacturers. Typical users tend not to value security and privacy to the point that they’d pay more for a product, allowing manufacturers to slash the costs of their devices to maximize profit. The end result of this race is a slew of cheap insecure devices being on the market and filling more and more homes as times go by.

The vulnerability of the devices is rooted in their use of the Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) on port 554 to share their video, but often have no authentication systems in place to protect it from access. Many of the devices have surfaced on Shodan as the site crawls the internet searching for IP address with ports open to connections. If the port provides a video feed and lacks any authentication, it captures an image from the feed, records the IP address and port and moves on. While Shodan may take flak for publicly exposing so much private footage, it is hardly the one to blame and, in fact, sheds light on the poor state of security often applied to consumer IoT products. Tentler estimates that millions of insecure webcams are connected and easily discoverable through Shodan.

Shodan’s image is available to its paid users at images.shodan.io while those users with free accounts can find an array of video devices by using the search filter “port:554 has_screenshot:true“. It is truly frightening how much is haplessly made available to anyone online, with users expecting manufacturers to handle the security for them, but the manufacturers being unwilling to raise the cost for the sake of security. Hopefully, the images made public by this new feature of Shodan will convince both users and manufacturers to value cybersecurity more in this increasingly connected world.

Control Your IoT Devices with WiFithing

A new open source Wi-Fi and ISM device from a UK startup hopes to centralise all your home IoT requirements in one simple hub. WiFithing is a simple smart device controller designed for entry-level users, meaning that no extra coding is required. Out of the box, it can control smart sockets, lighting, and heating, all via a PC interface or smartphone app.

WiFithing, which uses SSL encryption, can help you schedule when heating, lighting, and power sockets are activated – for both convenience and security – and for how long, while more advanced users can rig one of WiFithing’s slave devices up to motion sensors, gate openers, and gas and electricity meters.

The WiFithing master and slave boxes are low-power, meaning that users will not see their electricity bills increase for the privilege, and the devices can even run on battery power for added convenience.

Since WiFithing use open source software, its creators hope that industrious coders will help expand the range of IoT ecosystems the device can exploit. The software already supports the Orvibo ecosystem, and is looking into LightwaveRF and 433MHz support.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/180874809/wifithing

WiFithing is in the midst of its Kickstarter campaign, raising £11,519 in pledges of its £15,000 target, with 11 days remaining.

D-Link Wi-Fi Webcam Turned into a Network Backdoor

Vectra Networks researchers today released an article demonstrating how they turned a $30 D-Link Wi-Fi webcam into a backdoor onto its owner’s network. Installing a device like a networked webcam may seem like a riskless action, but when the device can allow hackers to access the same network it becomes far more worrying.

Typically, attacks on Internet of Things devices are considered a waste of time due to their lack of valuable onboard data and lack of resources to manipulate. Vectra showed that should hackers focus on and be able to compromise a device’s flash ROM, they could replace the running code with their own tools such as those to create a backdoor. It doesn’t have to be a remote hack either, with the report stating “Once we have such a flash image, putting it in place could involve ‘updating’ an already deployed device or installing the backdoor onto the device somewhere in the delivery chain – i.e. before it is received and installed by the end customer.”

The first step of the attack on the webcam was to dump the flash memory from the device for analysis. It could then be determined that the ROM contains a u-boot and a Linux kernel and image with software used to update the firmware. With this, the steps used to verify firmware updates could be reverse engineered to allow it to accept a rogue update containing a Linux proxy service while also disabling the ability to reflash in future so the back door could not be removed. With all this in place, the hacker would be able to inject his own attacks into the rest of the network and use it as a pipeline to extract stolen data.

Such a compromise would be incredibly hard to detect by the user as long as the backdoor code did not interfere with the device’s normal operations. Even then, there would be no way for the device to be recovered and would instead have to be disposed of and replaced with a clean one. D-Link is yet to issue a patch for this vulnerability, but it is not expected they will, as a true fix would require specialist chips to verify updates or a Trusted Platform Module.

It is worrying that as we bring so many more tiny networked computers into our homes, they are far more of a risk than they seem. Vulnerabilities in even the smallest network device can compromise the security of an entire network and should not be overlooked.

Wi-Fi Alliance Approves New 802.11ah Standard

The Wi-Fi Alliance has announced a new Wi-Fi solution that offers a greater range while using less power. The new 802.11ah standard, dubbed HaLow, operates on the unlicensed 900MHz band, boasting twice the range of the 2.4GHz standard, and offers greater wall penetration. It is hoped that HaLow will power the next generation of IoT (internet of things) devices, since it will require less power of its devices, while able to transmit across larger distances.

“Wi-Fi HaLow extends Wi-Fi into the 900MHz band, enabling the low power connectivity necessary for applications including sensor and wearables,” the announcement on the Wi-Fi Alliance website reads. “Wi-Fi HaLow’s range is nearly twice that of today’s Wi-Fi, and will not only be capable of transmitting signals further, but also providing a more robust connection in challenging environments where the ability to more easily penetrate walls or other barriers is an important consideration.”

“Wi-Fi HaLow will broadly adopt Wi-Fi protocols and deliver many of the benefits that consumers have come to expect from Wi-Fi today, including multi-vendor interoperability, strong government-grade security, and easy setup,” the statement adds.

“Wi-Fi HaLow is well suited to meet the unique needs of the Smart Home, Smart City, and industrial markets because of its ability to operate using very low power, penetrate through walls, and operate at significantly longer ranges than Wi-Fi today,” Edgar Figueroa, President and CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance, said at CES 2016 during the reveal of HaLow. “Wi-Fi HaLow expands the unmatched versatility of Wi-Fi to enable applications from small, battery-operated wearable devices to large-scale industrial facility deployments – and everything in between.”

Imagination Launches ‘IoT In A Box’ Kickstarter

UK-based Imagination Technologies has launched a Kickstarter for the Creator Ci40, described as “the ultimate IoT-in-a-box dev kit”.

The kit includes:

  • A powerful IoT hub, the Creator Ci40 development boardintegrates a 550 MHz dual-core, dual-threaded MIPS CPU running OpenWrt and a multi-standard connectivity package (802.11ac 2×2, Bluetooth 4.1, 802.15.4, fast Ethernet), with room for further expansion
  • Two battery-powered MikroElektronika Clicker boardsfeaturing a dedicated 6LoWPAN chip and the mikroBUS socket for adding sensors
  • Three MikroElektronika Click boardsfor measuring temperature, detecting motion, and controlling a relay (hundreds of other Click boards are available from MikroElektronika)

The Creator Ci40 development board acts as the central hub, connecting all other IoT add-ons with its dual-core and dual-threaded 550MHz MIPS InterAptiv CPU. The board’s Ensigma connectivity engine supports 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1.

The additional boards include two MikroElektronika Clickers, each with a 32-bit Microchip controller, mikroProg connector, USB connector, LEDs, push and reset buttons, and external electronics interfacing headers. The boards can standalone, powered by two AAA batteries.

The development supports three open source operating systems – OpenWRT router OS, Google’s Brillo, and a Debian Linux distro – plus Buildroot, which can compile embedded Linux systems, while the expansion boards run the Contiki real-time OS.

The Creator Ci40 is already over one-quarter the way to its £20,000 goal, having raised £5,617 at time of writing. The development board is available for those that pledge £35 (plus £5 shipping), while the full kit, including expansion boards, can be purchased for a pledge of £80 (plus £12 shipping).

Your Smart Home Appliances Are Not as Safe as You Think

Are you a proud owner of smart lock? How about motion sensors, temperature sensors, bulbs or other Internet of Things gadgets? Well, if they’re made by ZigBee, chances are your house is vulnerable to hacking, according to a paper revealed at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas.

ZigBee, a company that specializes in IoT smart appliances that supplies big name companies such as Samsung, Philips, Motorola and Texas Instruments, is said to have implemented just enough security measures to pass the requirements to ship, which means that security measures are almost non-existent. Hackers are said to easily be able to sniff out exchange network keys, gaining access to the entire network and all smart appliances.

The security experts say that the main cause for the lack of security is due to the companies, who want to quickly ship out the latest tech, make it communicate and interact with everything, all while keeping prices down to a minimum. As a consumer, I get the bit to keep prices down, but if I have to pay a bit extra to prevent someone opening my door or fiddling with my lights, I think that would be an option all of us may opt for. In the end, security is more important than cheap product, don’t you think?

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Architect’s Toy Box

Siri Can Now Play a Helpful Role in Controlling Your Smart Homes

Apple seems to be focusing on making you upgrade your homes as well as your gadgets this year. After it first announced a release date for the first smart home devices, the company is now focusing on getting their personal assistant, Siri, to help you out inside your smart homes.

What this means is that Apple made Siri compatible with certified products to give you the ability to control appliances via voice commands. This is a good thing given that most if not all manufacturers are now interested in joining the Internet of Things. Why? Well, everything nowadays is made or will be made with a microchip and yes, that includes your fridge, doors, lighting and so on.

Also, if you think Apple is the only one focusing on smart homes, think again! Google just announced it is also working on its own piece of code that will help you control things in your smart homes, having Microsoft and Samsung promoting their own solutions too. In addition, the list of manufacturers is most likely to get bigger by the end of the year, but it will also depend on how comfortable you are with having microchips in your appliances. What we do know is that your toaster will not try to kill you.

If you are interested in purchasing some smart devices to upgrade your home, Lutron Electronics and Insteon are two manufacturers now selling wireless hubs that allow you to control the lighting inside your house. Other manufacturers have also placed their products up for pre-order and are working on other home solutions, so you can now browse and save some cash for future home improvements.

Thank you Phys.org for providing us with this information

Google Developing New Internet of Things OS

Many everyday objects are now ‘smart’ and connected to the internet. If you feel the need to have everything automated or you want to check your email using a toaster, then you might be in luck. Google are working on a new operating system, ‘Brillo’, for low powered devices that could run on as little as 32 megabytes of RAM.

To bolster Google’s attempt to have a finger in every pie, the global giant are looking to make a new OS that would run on low amounts of RAM and power. Their aim is to develop software that can power any electronic device that can connect to the internet, even if it doesn’t have a digital screen. To put things in perspective, the aim is to have the software run on 32 megabytes of random-access memory, but at the moment its fully fledged older brother, Lollipop, is aiming at phones with a minimum of 512MB RAM. So there is quite a step down from its sibling, but this could be good news for embedded devices like the Arduino and other embedded tech.

The team developing the OS are linked to the company’s Android unit, so it isn’t a giant leap to think that it will be released with the Android brand. However, for now they are calling the software ‘Brillo’.

Google aren’t the first to get into the Internet of things market, Microsoft is releasing Windows 10 IoT core, Huawei announced recently an OS for IoT gadgets that is only 10kb in size and Samsung have announced a series of chips designed for IoT devices. So with all these large companies jumping on the bandwagon, it’s safe to assume that the Internet of Things is just around the corner and our truly connected lives are about to begin.

Thank you theinformation for providing us with this information.

Huawei Unveils LiteOS for The Internet of Things

Today, China-based Huawei Technologies, the world’s biggest telecommunications equipment maker went ahead to put its mark in evolving category by unveiling an Operating System to assist third-party vendors enter into the emerging Internet of Things space. It is designed to allow household or business device / appliances to communicate with each other over the internet. Agile IoT architecture and operating system called LiteOS to control basic devices was showcased by Huawei at an event in Beijing, China.

“Standardizing infrastructure will foster the development of Internet applications, including ‘IoT’ applications,” said Huawei’s chief strategy and marketing officer William Xu.

It is a significant step taken by the company as it is still an evolving market and all the tech giants are throwing all they have got in it. Giants like Google, Microsoft with its Windows IoT for core, IBM and Intel trying hard to excel. Huawei claims that their “lightweight” OS can streamline the whole process. The LiteOS software is tiny at 10 kilobytes in size. It is designed to run on minimal power which makes it suitable for a wide range of hardware, including microcontrollers and ARM Cortex embedded processors which make sense as it is aimed to run on just appliances.

Any hardware running this OS can be controlled remotely and data can be collected and supports third-party applications. To sweeten the deal, Huawei plans to make the OS open-sourced under the ISC license, which allows copying, modification and distribution of the code for free or for a fee. Huawei is providing chipsets, modules, and hardware boards through its LiteOS community to attract the developers all over the world. They already have a landing page on Github and here.

Thank you PCworld for providing us with this information.

Gigabyte Introduces Embedded Mini-PC Vending Solution

Gigabyte has developed a new vending solution based on Intel’s IoT retail gateway reference design for intelligent vending. The solution uses an imbedded mini-PC, designed to work with next-gen vending machines, with features such as built-in digital signage, encrypted transactions over Internet, and interactive touchscreens. These innovative adoptions are expected to benefit vending operators with more efficient management and may bring in a new income source from advertising and other emerging business models.

To address this evolving market, GIGABYTE has partnered with Intel to offer an Intelligent Vending Solution based on the Intel IoT Retail Gateway Reference Design for Intelligent Vending, which is a turnkey solution made of:

The GB-BXBT-3825 IoT gateway, which enables the connectivity between legacy devices and intelligent infrastructures.

The GB-TCV1A vending machine controller associated with a vending machine API providing a level of abstraction that allows vending operators to focus on high level applications, such as user interface.

The vending machine I/O expansion board to communicate between the GB-TCV1A and machine peripherals.

Key to the new vending solution is the GB-BXBT-3825 IoT Gateway (below).

By integrating the technologies and protocols for networking, security, and manageability on the GB-BXBT-3825, we offer vending operators a key building block to rapidly replace legacy systems. The GB-BXBT-3825 is a computer platform based on the Intel Atom processor E3825. Through the onboard software stack validated by Intel, the GB-BXBT-3825 is the ideal foundation for a fast development of intelligent vending machines. It provides:

  • Connectivity bridging between legacy equipment and the cloud.
  • Data acquisition from terminals and pre-filtering for further delivery.
  • A hardware security root providing trust, data encryption, and software protection.

At the heart of our Intelligent Vending Solution is the GB-TCV1A computer powered by an Intel Atom E3815 single-core processor. It delivers high I/O connectivity such as HDMI output for digital advertising, LVDS for low cost touch screen, USB 2.0/3.0 for printing and other consumer-level interactions. Associated with a vending machine API, the GB-TCV1A provides a consistent programming interface regardless of the underlying hardware. It helps the application to work across disparate machines and all functionality and features are developed as plug-ins and installed to the platform. It enables the vending machines to be capable of:

  • Multimedia interactivity
  • Cash / cashless payment and identity-based validation
  • Digital signage
  • Video analytics

The GC-SSP Vending Machine I/O Expansion Board (below) offers a broad range of vending interfaces to scale to both newer interactive vending platforms as well as traditional vending machines. It handles protocol conversion and provides a high-level of I/O flexibility.

“The Vending & Dispensing Industry is looking to integrate more and more product capabilities into machines to meet the needs of vending operators, brands and of course the consumer”, says Intel’s Jose Avalos, worldwide director of Visual Retail. “The Intel IoT Retail Gateway Reference Design for Intelligent Vending offers a significant breakthrough to the vending and dispensing sector through workload consolidation of all computing, control and telemetry onto a single platform, simplifying machine architecture and providing flexibility to easily integrate the latest technologies such as touch, gesture, payment, social media, mobile and cloud based services.”

Gigabyte, with the help of Intel, is making great strides in pushing vending machines into the 21st Century with its Intelligent Vending Solution. The Internet of Things is coming to a vending machine near you.

Businesses to Cut Energy Consumption and Cost Through Internet of Things

Businesses could save big by using smart appliances connected to the Internet of Things, making financial savings which can be used for other business ventures. The smart tech is able to provide additional details regarding energy consumption, when and where it is happening and how to save money.

“Energy costs for businesses, particularly small businesses, are always a big challenge – especially if that business is energy intensive,” said Rob McNamara, executive director of SmartGrid GB, in a statement published by The Guardian. “So any technologies, products and services that can help them reduce their energy costs are typically going to be welcome. And things like smart metering, in particular, can provide them with tangible benefits.”

Smart metering is said to be able to provide minute-by-minute metering of energy consumption, a unique tech that holds a lot of potential on the market. With all the new tech available, businesses should be able to embrace the IoT in the near future, increasing functionality and cutting costs at the same time.

Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information

Toshiba Silently Helps Google Build Tech for Project Ara Smartphones

Google might take most credit for Project Ara and its plan to make modular smartphones a reality, but according to Bloomberg, Toshiba has been the Japanese company who was silently helping to develop the chips that would make Project Ara a reality.

It is said that there are two different chips which make Project Ara work. The switch, which makes it possible to swap out different modules on the fly, and a bridge chip that allows each component to connect to the rest of the device. Google is said to have total control over the switch chip, white Toshiba has the liberty of selling the bridge chip to any company interested in building Project Ara modules.

Aside from chips, Toshiba is said to also be interested in selling modules, having be the first company to reveal swappable cameras. The company is to be working on a variety of components, including one that could add wireless charging. In addition to the latter, Toshiba sees a lot of potential in Project Ara beyond smartphones, stating that it could expand to other type of devices and the general Internet of Things.

There is still no set plan for a general release of the modular phone, though Google has recently confirmed plans for a market pilot test in Puerto Rico sometime this year.

Thank you TechnoBuffalo for providing us with this information

New Lightbulbs Feature WiFi Boosters, Speakers and Cameras

The Internet-of-Things (IoT) aims to connect pretty much every aspect and gadget around us to the internet with smart features and functions, and such a simple thing as our light bulbs is part of this too. There are several companies out there creating smart light bulbs with additional features, which in itself is a great idea. Light bulbs are used in all our homes, everywhere and in sockets and plugs that in themselves have a direct power connection. What would be more obvious than to add extra features to these bulbs.

The Shanghai-base company Sengled unveiled a line of app-controlled LED bulbs at CES that can be set to turn on your music, boost your Wi-Fi signal and recognize your faces. The newest bulb in their lineup is the Snap and it features both a built-in security camera, microphone, and speakers as well as support for motion detection and video recording. However, it will not come cheap with a price tag of $199.99 per bulb that will have to be completely replaced once burned out.

Sengled has three other models where the Boost features a built-in Wi-Fi repeater while the Pulse and Solo bulbs come with Bluetooth speaker. The $59.99 Solo has dual 3-watt speakers and the Pulse will set you back $169.99 but will in return bring a JBL multi-channel stereo wireless speaker.

All of the bulbs use default light sockets and can be controlled with the accompanying Android and iOS apps. The bulbs are rated for 25,000 hours of use according to the company.

Thanks to Mashable for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of Mashable and Sengled

Bluetooth 4.2 Can Connect Devices Directly to the Internet

Fans of the Internet of Things – the collective term for any item, gadget, or appliance with its own IP address – should welcome the latest iteration of Bluetooth, version 4.2. Any device with the new Bluetooth spec, be it a smart lightbulb, thermostat, or home security system, can connect directly to the internet, via a router or access point. This makes home Bluetooth appliances accessible remotely without a hub to bridge the gap between internet/WiFi and Bluetooth, as was previously necessary.

Bluetooth 4.2 has also had an important security update, making it more difficult to track a device without specific permission, and wireless data transmission is now up to 2.5 times faster.

Although Bluetooth 4.2 is available now, device manufacturers need to catch up before users can take advantage of all its new features. It may be 2015 until we can fully enjoy the benefits of the update.

Source: engadget

Ex-Nokia Staff to Democratise Internet of Things

From the ashes of Nokia’s sale of its mobile division to Microsoft, a group of former employees – under the name Haitian – are crowdfunding a sensory device that allows users to configure their own Internet of Things functions without needing any prohibitive software programming knowledge.

The small, handheld device, called Thingsee One, contains 2G GPRS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, light sensor, and pressure sensor. It can be used to measure movement, orientation, and weather and environmental conditions. The can configure these tools in any combination to power their own project via an accompanying mobile app.

Haitian have gathered US$23,597 of their US$99,000 target on Kickstarter so far. If they hit the threshold, Thingsee One is set to go on sale for $149+ in April 2015.

Source: Techcrunch

Swatch in No Hurry with Smartwatch, but It Is on the Way

Swatch Group is in no hurry to join the smartwatch wagon and don’t want any outside help either. They are happy to go the route alone and are planning for a launch of their own watches with smart features next year.

We’ve already seen all the big technology companies like Apple, Motorola and Samsung, as well as some smaller yet unknown companies, leak, present and release their own smart watches. Swatch doesn’t see this as a threat but rather a huge opportunity with a market that’s potentially worth $93 billion.

Swatch Chief Executive Nick Hayek said these new watches might allow the wearer to count the number of steps they take and calories they burn. He continued, “and there will be a few other cool Swatchy things on offer via latest Bluetooth technology.” “All the big technology firms want to work with us and I don’t rule out that we are or could be collaborating in some areas. But we can also do many things on our own.”

Smartwatches and other wearable gadgets are expected to be the next big thing in the tech-world, allowing the users to monitor their health, fitness and on-line statuses when connect to their smartphones. Smartwatches themselves are seen as the biggest threat for the traditional watch makers, as less and less people even wear watches and just use the phone’s build in clock instead. So it is no wonder that Swatch is betting on the new era as well, just not yet.

“For Swatch, this could mean a 2 percent hit to revenue and earnings before interest and tax for each 10 percent share that the iWatch was able to gain in its addressable market,” Bernstein analyst Mario Ortelli said in a study in July. Ortelli has a “market perform” rating on Swatch’s shares.

While the spotlight is on Apple at the moment with their special invite event next month, where everyone expects the iWatch to be officially introduced, Swatch’s stocks are dropping. The possibility of an iWatch launch is partly responsible for Swatch shares losing almost 15 percent so far this year, lagging a 3 percent rise in the European sector.

Many in the industry, as well as customers, have spoken out for an alliance between Apple and Swatch. But Swatch has no interest in this relationship, as they say, “they sell watches and not technology”. Swatch is about fashion, branding and style.

“Our first message for customers is the watch. If they like it, they might also be interested in the extra functions,” Hayek said. “It is a problem if you only define a product by its technology. Technology alone doesn’t sell, not in watches.”

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Swatch.

LG G Watch R Images and Specifications Leaked Ahead of Launch

LG is planning to unveil their new smart watch during next week’s IFA 2014 in Berlin, but the specifications and product images have already leaked onto the web. This isn’t the first smart watch on the market, but it is one of the few that actually look like a watch and not some square contraption mounted to your arm.

With the circular design, the button on the side and overall looks of an ordinary watch, this new G Watch R could appeal to many more then the ones from rival Apple or Samsung.

The watch is powered by a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Processor and has 512MB RAM. It has an internal storage of 4GB and should be running Android Wear as operating system. The screen is about 1.3 inch wide and made of an OLED panel that takes up 100 percent of the watch’s round face. It should be easy viewable in sunlight

The watch also has a heart rate monitor build in that could enrich its capabilities in personal health and exercise monitoring with companion apps. Availability is set to the fourth quarter of 2014, but no word on the price yet.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”600″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1STW7LQXONo[/youtube]

Thank you expreview for supplying us with this information.

Images courtesy of expreview.

Intel Reveals Worlds Smallest Modem for the Internet of Things

Intel has revealed what it calls “the world’s smallest standalone wireless modem for connecting the Internet of things”. This could be any everyday thing that is connected to the web, like coffee machines or bread-makers that you can turn on with a mobile app. The Intel XMM 6255 3G modem is a chip that connects a device to a cellular network, which in turn can link billions of interconnected smart devices such as wearables, sensors, and industrial equipment and it is only a little larger than a penny.

It is expected that the number of Internet-connected devices is going to rise to number between 26 billion and 50 billion by the year 2020. Right now it is estimated that there are 80 things connecting to the Internet for the first time every second and that will rise to 250 every second in 2020 according to predictions. All those devices needs a lot of modems, so it isn’t hard to see how big this little thing is.

The entire XMM 6255 board is only 300 mm² and that includes the modem and a SMARTi UE2p transceiver component which operates on a tiny amount of electrical power. The smaller the chip and its components, the less electrical power is needed to run them. It is built to deal with low signal strength in a network, so it can work fine in places like a parking garage or home basement. Previous smart watches or sensors didn’t have enough space for proper 3G antennas. I’m sure it won’t be long until these new 3G modems will be in more things then we know about, from dairy farms to cell phones and everything in between.

We could even see t-shirts like the above image, for real and with multi player option against your friends. Why play on a device when you can be the device.

Thank you venturebeat for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Intel.

Worlds Smallest GPU Launched

Japanese Digital Media Professionals Inc (DMP) has launched what they call the “world’s smallest GPU IP core”. It is called the ultra-small GPU IP core, or ‘ant’ for short. With a surface area of only 0.5 mm², wearables and Internet of Things devices (IoT) are just the right product groups to target.

DMP is a company unknown to most, but many will undoubtedly have used a product or two with their chips inside. They have a long established track record in 2D and 3D visuals, specialising in the embedded and automotive markets. But it has also made GPUs for consumer products, like the popular Nintendo 3DS handheld console. The 3DS is powered by a DMP PICA200 GPU and so are several digital cameras.

The new ant chip is however intended for even smaller devices then handheld consoles or cameras. It’s believed to become a key component in the wearables and IoT markets that everyone expects to be huge in the near future. The size is perfect to supply the graphic power for small displays such as those build into smart glasses, smart watched and other small body-devices. The GPU is optimised for rendering of characters, numerals, figures and forms used in overlay-graphic-information systems.

“Size and power are the most important factors in incorporating a GPU into the small display with touch panel. The ‘ant’ is capable of achieving the lowest power consumption yet providing a rich UI experience.” said Tatsuo Yamamoto, President and CEO at DMP, “We see the miniaturization of GPUs as a key driver of the small display with rich user interface such as wearables and IoT devices.”

We should hear more about the specifications of the ultra-small GPU IP core at the Computer Vision Seminar later this month.

Thank you DMF for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of DMF.

Growing Number of Consumers Expect Internet of Things to Change Connected Homes


The Internet of Things (IoT) is still in its infancy, but manufacturers are speculating that a growing number of people want to enjoy home electronics connected to the Internet, according to a recent survey published by Fortinet.

Sixty-one percent of respondents say a connected home is “extremely likely” to be a reality by 2019.  A whopping 84 percent of survey respondents in China pledged support towards the IoT craze, the report states.

When it comes to IoT security, there are three concerns:  Data loss, malware, and unauthorized access of IoT-connected devices.  Sixty-eight of those surveyed in the U.S. are “extremely concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about data breaches and other security issues stemming from IoT.

Here is what John Maddison, Fortinet VP of Marketing, said in a press statement:

“The Internet of Things promises many benefits to end-users, but also presents grave security and data privacy challenges.  Crossing these hurdles will require clever application of various security technologies, including remove connection authentication, virtual private networks between end-users and their connected home devices, malware and botnet protection, and application security – applied on premises, in the cloud and as an integrated solution by device manufacturers.”

Looking ahead, IoT growth is expected to evolve into a booming industry – research group IDC expects IoT to hit $7.1 trillion by 2020, and companies will need to blend IoT connected home features with strong security and ease-of-use for consumers.

Thank you to Fortinet for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Digital Trends

HPs “The Machine” Capable of Calculating 640TBs In 250ns

How do you feel about having a new type of computer that can churn its way through a staggering 160 petabytes of data in one billionth of a second, while only using 1/8th of the power of a comparable performance server? Because that is exactly what HP’s new “The Machine” is capable of doing, and it could truly revolutionise the computer world in a big way.

Using a cluster of specialized cores that are connected via silicon photonics, rather than a group of generalized cores on a copper PCB, The Machine is an incredibly powerful and high-performance device. The best trick at its disposal is the use of memristors, a special type of resistor that are capable of storing information, even in the event of power loss.

The whole thing is still a prototype, but HP are really hyped about this thing. Samples will appear some time next year, but the hardware isn’t expected to be deployed until 2018. HP hope The Machine will revolutionise “the internet of things”, but also say their technology could be scaled down, offering mobile devices likes smartphones somewhere in the region of 100 Terabytes of memory, yikes!

Thank you IFLS for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of IFLS.