The Meta is known for being the forefront of augmented reality. Much like virtual reality, Augmented reality is based on the user seeing virtual objects but instead of it being on an isolated screen, augmented reality lets you bring virtual objects to life. That dream of an Iron Man experience is one step closer thanks to the Meta 2 Development Kit.
The new development kit contains all you need to start programming your augmented reality programs. Included with the Meta 2 headset you will get the source development kit (SDK) and the Meta operating environment while the Meta headset itself contains some impressive specs.
The resolution the “screens” displayed at is 2560×1440, being captured through a 720p camera that will give you a whole new level of detail in your interactions and visual manifestations of your dreams.
Four speakers and a 6-axis measurement unit mean that your whole experience will respond with the sensors to track your hands, giving you everything you need to see, hear and interact with your minority report like Minority Report like wall of screens.
At $949 the Meta 2 Kit is not for those who are looking for a quick thrill, but for those who are interested in the experience and developing for augmented reality, the product ships in the third quarter of this year.
Augmented reality is one step beyond virtual reality, with popular VR hardware like the Oculus Rift or even Google Cardboard looking to put you into the action, there is something missing from that Iron-Man experience. This is where Meta wants to surpass everyone else by not only letting you see images in 3D but also by letting you manipulate them.
We’ve seen augmented reality in a million movies and TV shows, the ability to create a 3D image and then using your physical body manipulate the digital image, from dancing with your favourite stars on a holodeck to crafting a vase on your table ready for printing.
We’ve commented on the Meta Spaceglasses before but they’ve come a long way since then. At a demo in Vancouver, Canada, Meron Gribetz, the founder and CEO of Meta, demoed just a few of the features that could soon see it become a must buy. On stage he was able to pick apart an object and manipulate it, work with a colleague somewhere else in the world by telepresence and then creating virtual computer monitors.
Being able to create something with your own hands is always rewarding, and can be easier than attempting to draw the object using a pen of some kind for your computer to interpret. The ability to create virtual screens will be a live saver for anyone who works on the go and needs access to private screens to get the most out of their work.
I personally can’t wait to see what Meta have accomplished with the Meta 2, but I guess we will only find out when the countdown reaches zero.
In recent years, we have had several revelations in regards to how and what our governments and our agencies do in order to “protect us”, this has at times included activities which go against the very laws and principles that the countries they swore to protect were founded on. One such group was the NSA, who as revealed by Edward Snowden, were mass recording and tracking their own citizens phones and emails, all without government or legal process followed; this is set to change.
As of 0459 GMT November 29th 2015, the NSA will be required to request records from telephone companies, rather than being able to directly record or access them via wire or in the middle. The records they can request will only contain who called who and when, they will not include recordings of the calls contents.
This change is a result of the USA Freedom Act that will allow the NSA to continue using Americans phone calls, but with limitations. Court orders must be gathered before accessing the metadata (the information about the calls) and must be related to a specific case, unlike before where the NSA was gathering every piece of information regarding your phone activity (and others) just “in case”.
With changes like this, the rights to privacy and security against misuse of the system are being built up more and more as we live in a world where no data is safe, be it held by a company or a government.
Digital privacy is a concept that is being contested with government monitoring. With section 215 of the Patriot act set for renewal in America, with reviews and discussions pushing the talks to the last possible minute, the concept of acquiring data illegally is almost considered taboo, or at least admitting to it is.
I’ve previously written an article about Stingrays, no not the creatures that swim around the ocean, but the device used by the Government to mimic a cell tower and intercept mobile communication data. The topic of Stingrays has once again been raised with a Public Record Request in San Bernardino County (East of Los Angeles County) has revealed that since acquiring a stingray in 2012, in the period between January 1st, 2014 and May 7th, 2015, the stingray has been deployed 303 times.
This would not be a problem normally, I mean they are just using a device to help fight crime and do their duty, right? With the public record request, Ars Technica was able to get an example of a template for a “pen register and trap and trace order” used to deploy the stingray. This piece of paperwork was typically used to collect metadata in almost real-time from a telephone company about the activity on a landline, obviously before the mass adoption of mobile phones by the public. The order itself, however, does not mention in any way the Stingray device.
The public awareness of Stingrays has rocketed in recent years, given that previously a Non-Disclosure Agreement (an agreement between the creators of the Stingray and the companies that use them to prevent the spread of information regarding the devices), has caused cases to be dropped, rather than breach the NDA with both the FBI and the Harris Corporation (the creators of the Stingray Device). In April 2015, a women accused of being a getaway driver changed her guilty plea and refused to testify against her three co-defendants after a police detective was challenged during a deposition and they refused to provide further information. The case was then dropped, this is not the first time that legal action has been muddied by the use of stingrays.
In an email exchange between Sarasota Police Department and North Port Police Department, the departments hid the use of Stingrays from judges and defendants at the request of the US Marshal Service (who the devices were on loan from at the time). The advice given to the departments from the U.S. Marshalls Task Force was to state that they “received information from a confidential source regarding the location of the suspect”. This means they were advised to lie regarding how information was gathered in order to hide the use of Stingrays, possibly in accordance with the NDA surrounding the device.
The non-disclosure agreement was revealed by Erie County, New York, and has been seen as stating that the FBI would rather drop a legal case rather than disclose information regarding the Stingray devices. This is however in contrast to a statement the FBI released stating that the NDA should not stop legal action based on the fact that a Stingray was used in the case.
Stingrays have been controversial devices since their public appearance, and with the court cases dismissed due to their use and most recently the awareness that the devices are being deployed with little to no legal oversight, they will continue to be a highly contested device until either legislation is implemented to protect the public from what is essentially the same meta-data mass collection that the national security agencies are currently being sued and debating.
What are your thoughts? Should devices like these be allowed to help fight crime, do they require more legal oversight or has their development been overshadowed with too many legal gray areas and cloak and dagger deployments?
Edward Snowden. A name that is known in most households, the guy that blew the whistle on the giant listening and surveillance operations being run out of America. However one of these operations, observing and collecting metadata, has been ruled by a federal appeal as having not been authorised by the Patriot Act.
Metadata is described as “data about data”, that is f0r example, if you take a picture on a modern-day phone chances are it will save when the picture was taken, and in some cases where it was (called geotagging). This information is the metadata about the picture, just like author and last person to edit are metadata about a book. The Patriot Act was introduced in America in 2001 and was designed to give the authorities and government agencies the power to combat terrorism.
Today, the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the second circuit stated that the collection of metadata regarding telephone usage was beyond “the scope of what Congress has authorized”. The patriot act has made its way into both real life and fiction as it has been used in both movies and TV dramas to help explain the abilities that law enforcement officials have in regards to combating terrorism. In this instance, the metadata about telephone calls made to and from the United States was recorded, which was considered in breach to the terms which are allowed under the Patriot Act.
Under the Patriot Act the government was issued powers to collect information of a private nature on Americans as long as it was deemed “relevant” to the investigation, that is to say that they can prove the information or the persons involved are somehow connected to their case and possibly terrorism.
The information included in mass collection included:
The length and time of the calls
Calling card numbers
International Mobile Subscriber Identity number for mobile callers (ISMI)
In regards to this ruling, the main objection is similar to cases all around the world where personal information about people who were proven innocent, or in some cases without accusation, were being obtained and stored.
While found to not be authorised by the Patriot Act the program was not ordered to be stopped as the issue of section 215 of the Patriot Act is due to expire on the 1st of June. With the legislation set for renewal the use of the Patriot Act, both legally and as a reason for illegal use, will no doubt become a hot topic. While the concept of collecting information about innocent people, often used to combat the heavy encryption that people can now use to communicate around the world, will continue to be argued both in America and abroad.
This decision is made only a few weeks after it was rumoured that Government agencies didn’t want ‘backdoors’ into systems (a term used to describe when you go around security features to gain access), and would prefer to have a ‘master key’ enabling them to access systems they wanted access to (such as phone records, social messaging accounts and instant messaging services). It was suggested that this ‘front door’ method would have several locks in place so that only with the cooperation of several groups could the front door be used.
In an age where information is key, protecting your information via encryption and other methods is almost a necessity, but should the government have access to it, even if it restricted or controlled?