Disney Hacks a Smart-Watch and Your Body!

In everyday life, we come into contact with hundreds, if not thousands of items. Some we knowingly touch such as our phones or our computer peripherals, but what about that spoon that we compulsively pick up every time we go into the kitchen, no just me?

Most of the items we touch are insulated, but most give off a small electromagnetic ‘noise’ which our bodies can pick up because we are pretty impressive conductors. Disney has partnered with Carnegie Mellon University and has hacked together a proof-of-concept that can pick up the noise that travels through our bodies in real-time and displays the object on the display. The group calls this innovation “EM-Sense”.

Ars Technica reports the device has been created by essentially hacking a Samsung Galaxy Gear with a host of bulky tech such as a “software-defined radio receiver” to allow the watch to more accurately determine what is being used, with a current accuracy rating of just over 96%.

If you want to try your hand at this yourself, the researchers say that the setup is something “hobbyists can replication” and will cost “under $10” (assuming you already own a Galaxy Gear).

Personally I really like this idea, but this sort of technology could be manipulated and abused. In the future, the information stored could be sold/ used by the device manufacturer to display ad’s for products, or what if the device could be hacked and it knows when you go to an ATM and determine what buttons you press on the keypad for your pin number.

Do you think this technology would be too intrusive? Let us know in the comments.

New Prosthetic Restores Sense Of Feeling

Medical technology appears in the news every few weeks, for all kinds of reasons, from being able to control them with a cap placed over your head to giving a man who was unable to walk the ability to do so again. The reasons for this constant stream of news is quite simple, medical technology is developing at an amazing rate, especially those related to giving back something to those who have suffered the loss of a body part or ability to do something with their body. The latest piece of news comes from DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency), and it features a little more than a visible result.

Made under the DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics, the latest prosthetic has given someone the ability to feel again after their arm was paralysed due to a spinal cord injury almost a decade ago.

The DARPA project manager, Justin Sanchez, stated that:

“We’ve completed the circuit. Prosthetic limbs that can be controlled by thoughts are showing great promise, but without feedback signals traveling back to the brain it can be difficult to achieve the level of control needed to perform precise movements.”

In the first set of tests, the researchers touched the hands fingers gently while the volunteer was blindfolded. With nearly 100% accuracy he was able to report which mechanical finger was being touched, the description that he provided was that it was as if his own hand was being touched. At one point, in an impromptu experiment, the researchers decided to press two fingers instead of one, breaking any perceived order that could have been guessed, it was at this point where a joke was made in response asking if they were trying to play a trick on him.

With the ability to produce prosthetics at an ever decreasing cost, with even more functionality and now with actual control and feedback, we could soon be looking at prosthetics that are controlled and feeling just like the human body would.

Thank you DARPA for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of DARPA.

Kickstarter Wants to Hire Someone With Good Common Sense

According to Gizmodo, Kickstarter really is looking to hire someone for their “common sense”. Now for any other company, that would be a very odd position to hold. But for Kickstarter, you can probably imagine why it isn’t. Not too long ago, we reported on the story of a man who intended to crowdfund a date with himself. That’s why they need a “Common Sense Specialist”.

The technical title for this role is in fact ‘Integrity Specialist‘, but you can see why common sense would be a good alternative for “integrity”. They’re asking for someone who can “help moderate our site for appropriate content, tone, and compliance”, but most interestingly, they want the successful candidate to ensure “that our Design and Technology categories are filled with top-notch projects”.

This is obviously intended to avoid terrible ‘projects’ like the “Worst Product Ever Made” Logbar Ring that managed to raise almost $1 Million and did pretty much nothing. Enjoy a hilarious review of that ‘product’ below.

Source: Gizmodo

Warning: Latest HTC Sense Update Reportedly Screws Up Your Smartphone

If you have a HTC and already updated to the HTC Sense Version 6, then you might have already noticed your contacts deleted from both your phone and SIM, leaving the header on your text messages filled with numbers instead of names and your WhatsApp contact list empty. However, if you still haven’t updated to the latest HTC Sense rolled out over the weekend, our advice is to skip it until a fix is available.

Another issue related to the update has been described to be linked to the theme, having it default back to the Green Theme. This might not seem a major issue as you can go into the Settings and change it right back. Not this time apparently, having users reporting that although the theme changes, some loading bars and status messages will still appear in green, having it screw up the user’s preferred theme in some cases.

There have been discussions with HTC Customer Support regarding the ‘failed’ update, where they stated it is already being discussed and investigated. The customer support has also stated that nobody can roll back the smartphone in order to avoid the faulty update, meaning that users who already updated their HTC smartphones to HTC Sense Version 6 can only remain at the mercy of the company and their technical support.

Also, when asked about who was responsible for testing the update, the customer support team has pointed to the developers. This comes as a huge surprise since all software products, especially from big corporations such as HTC, must undergo strict testing cycles performed by a highly qualified Quality Assurance department in order to prevent such issues from occurring. However, HTC might have skipped this step (and we even wonder if they have such a department apparently).

What the HTC Sense 6 should have brought is an updated color palate and multiple themes for the UI, an updated interface and more news sources for the HTC BlinkFeed, an updated and simplified interface for the Camera, Galley and Apps Tray, as well as other features noted on HTC’s page. The company has not released any official news regarding the issues present in the update, nor stated when a fix would be available.

Roccat Sense Meteor Blue Mousepad Review

Introduction


Today we’re taking a quick look at the recently relaunched Roccat Sense mousepad. The mousepad was actually released back in 2008 and has proved a popular product for Roccat, so they’ve given it a new design and put it back on the market alongside their newly launch Roccat Kone Pure Optical gaming mouse. The reissue comes with a brand new Meteor Blue design, and all the original features that made it so popular are still intact.

Having the right surface can really make or break your gaming experience. Not only can the right surface improve your comfort during long gaming sessions, but having the right surface for your mouse can also improve your accuracy and it can change how well your mouse glides over the surface. All of which are important to get right, but also all are very subjective and different for each user, mouse, or in some cases each game.

Priced at around 20 Euros the Sense is on par with many similar options on the market and this re-release will no doubt please fans of the original who are eager to purchase again the surface after all these years. So let’s get right to it and see what this surface has to offer.

The packaging is nicely designed and on par with what we usually see from Roccat. They’ve added two sample cuts of the material on the side of the box, one with the top surface and one with the grip base to give you a good indication of the texture.

The side of the box says that it has been tested with a wide range of gaming mice from Razer, Roccat, SteelSeries and Microsoft and has been field-tested for gaming mice with resolutions of up to 16800 DPI.

A Closer Look


The new design is pretty striking and a lot more colourful than we usually see from a gaming surface, it is also quite shiny and has a lightly textured vinyl feel to it. The micro-crystalline coating provides a low friction surface and this will be great for people who want more glide from their mouse. The surface area is 400 x 280 mm x 2mm and this will be more than enough for low DPI settings that require the extra manoeuvring space.

The edges aren’t rolled and there may be a little curling here with months of heavy usage, but it does feel well put together so should hold up pretty well.

The grip texture is an almost sticky feeling rubber, this will not slide on a glass desk what so ever and will hold pretty firm on wood too.

Performance


The glide is pretty slick and if you’re used to cloth or softer surfaces then you’ll certainly find this to be a lot faster and easier to move your mouse around on.

A few quick tests with laser and optical mice (Kone XTD, Kone Pure Optial, Razer DeathAdder and a cheap Trust mouse) threw up zero issues at a range of DPI settings and I have no doubt that it will be suitable for any kind of mouse on the market.

Overview


Overall I think this is a pretty cool surface to use, its glossy feel may not be to everyone’s liking but the ease of movement was great for low DPI accuracy when playing Battlefield 3. It looks pretty cool with that shocking blue design, although I do admit it may be a little loud in terms of colour for some people’s desktop.

The build quality feels great and the top coating will withstand a fair few scrapes and scratches without any sign of wear.

Most important aspect I found is that the new Roccat Kone Pure Optical didn’t glide well on soft or cloth surfaces, this surface really balances that out nicely and its lower DPI optical sensor really benefited from the large surface area. If you’re on the market for a fast and accurate tracking mouse mat then the Sense is well worth your attention.

Pros

  • Great glide
  • Nice design
  • Competitive price

Cons

  • Edges not rolled and could be easily damaged over time

“I really like this surface, it stays firmly in place, looks fantastic and performs as well as Roccat promised it would, and it makes the perfect companion for the Kone Pure Optical