Driverless Bikes Are Now A Thing Too

The term driverless isn’t anything new and it is probably most known in relation to cars and Google’s self-driving car project that’s been going on for years now. But we’ve also heard of driverless lorries coming to the UK, driverless pods in London, and even driverless Formula E racing as well as oversized quad-copters for personal usage, but driverless bicycles is one I haven’t heard of before.

The driverless bike, or i-Bike as it has been named, is the brainchild of Ayush Pandey and Subhamoy Mahajan, two students from IIT Kharagpur, India. The whole idea started with an idea that is as noble as the result is brilliant: The two wanted to build a simple vehicle that could help disabled people get more out of life by increasing their freedom. Now that’s an idea we all can get behind.

The i-Bike has autonomous steering, brakes, driving, and balancing mechanisms that can work completely on their own as well as aids to just help you with the part that might be troublesome for you.

Just riding a bicycle wasn’t the only problem the students tried to solve, parking and retrieving a bike can be equally challenging for a disabled person as bicycle locations by default rarely have much in disability friendliness. You wouldn’t expect them to ride a bicycle, so it isn’t out of bad intentions.

“We saw some differently abled people who could ride bicycles but had to face many problems when trying to take their bikes out from the parking space, as most such spaces are not disabled friendly. To tackle this problem we started working to make a bicycle that would be controlled wirelessly,” says Ayush, a fourth year Mechanical Engineering student

You can ride the i-Bike manually or you can get help from the dual locomotion technology. The autonomous driving is handled with the help of GPS as well as lasers and sonar based sensors to avoid obstacles in its path. The destination is set by an Android app that sends an SMS to the i-Bike. Upon receiving this, it will start its journey.

None of the techniques used is new as such, but this combination of them is awesome. It has a unique and affordable software architecture that enables it to follow specialised bicycle lanes as they are found in many countries already. It also offers live tracking and wireless control mechanism on top of all that.

What started as a team of two is now comprised of 13 undergraduate students from various departments of IIT Kharagpur, all working together and making up the i-Bike team. Since the project was started back in October 2014, the team has won several awards, most recently the innovation challenge organised by KPIT Technologies where they won first prize.

The trainer wheels that have been used for balancing can easily be retracted by a switch and the same goes for the steering aids that also can be turned on and off by the flick of a switch.

The i-Bike could solve many problems in urban cities and crowded spaces. Whether you want to prevent theft by sending you bike home, retrieve it where ever you are in order to get home, or just want to send it on a cruise of its own, the i-Bike can do it. It would also allow new options for bicycle sharing centres where you could rent a bike, drive where you need to go, and then send it back home again on its own. The same way you could order it back via your smartphone no matter where you are located, and you won’t even have to pedal yourself.

Once the team has the patent, they plan to collaborate with companies willing to start bicycle sharing centres in India – and hopefully this kind of technology will make it to the rest of the world too.

Science Says Ending a Text Message With a Full Stop Makes People Suspicious of You

U ok hun?

If your response to that is…

Yes.

…then you’re a phony, or at least could be perceived as one, according to science. Why? That damned full stop. How dare you use proper punctuation? A study at Binghamton University’s Harpur College, which looked into “the role of the period [full stop] in text messaging”, suggests that you should ditch everything you’ve ever learned about grammar to make lame-brains trust you more.

126 Binghamton University undergraduates were shown a series of text messages and handwritten notes. Each exchange began with a question (e.g. “Are you coming out tonight?”) and were followed by a response (“Yep”, “Nope,” “Maybe”, etc). There were two versions of each conversation; one in which the response was punctuated by a full stop (“Yep.”) and another with no punctuation at all. The majority of participants adjudged the responses punctuated by full stops to appear less sincere.

“Texting is lacking many of the social cues used in actual face-to-face conversations. When speaking, people easily convey social and emotional information with eye gaze, facial expressions, tone of voice, pauses, and so on,” said Celia Klin, Associate Professor of Psychology at Harpur College and lead researcher on the study. “People obviously can’t use these mechanisms when they are texting. Thus, it makes sense that texters rely on what they have available to them — emoticons, deliberate misspellings that mimic speech sounds and, according to our data, punctuation.”

The overused exclamation mark, however, makes messages appear more sincere, according to a follow-up study.

“That’s not surprising, but it broadens our claim,” Klin added. “Punctuation is used and understood by texters to convey emotions and other social and pragmatic information. Given that people are wonderfully adept at communicating complex and nuanced information in conversations, it’s not surprising that as texting evolves, people are finding ways to convey the same types of information in their texts.”

Image courtesy of The Guardian.

U.S. Judge Tried to Bribe FBI Agent with Beer for Text Messages

We’ve all heard the stories, governments and agencies using every method under the sky for obtaining information. Although, I think this is the first time that I’ve heard someone try to obtain information by offering beer, at least that’s what Wayne County Superior Court Judge Arnold Ogden Jones is accused on.

According to initial reports, the judge asked the FBI official to obtain the text messages of two phone numbers on the 27th October, with it being clearly outlined by offering a few cases of beer for the action. The next issue arrived on November 3rd, when the Judge stated the had the FBI agents “paycheck” in his back seat. It was then changed to $100 and in return the agent provided a disk that was meant to contain the text messages from the two numbers. The judge was then arrested the next day and release without bond.

The total sentence for the three crimes committed is set at 37 years, with two charges of bribing a public official and one for attempted corruption of an official proceeding.

Do you think that sentence is a little too lenient? Clearly he could have gotten away with it if he had offered the Agent a new Apple Watch or maybe a Drone.

Image courtesy of JMIR.

WhatsApp Free Voice Calls Come to IOS

Under a month ago WhatsApp released free voice calls to their Android users. Now the Facebook-owned company have begun rolling out the feature to its iOS customers.

Similar to the launch on Android the change was first spotted by eager users, the update will not roll out to all Apple device users at once. The company have stated that the feature will become available over the next couple of weeks. That is a lot quicker than the Android deployment but you’ll still need some patience.

There are currently over 800 million monthly active users that use the WhatsApp service the feature has potential to upset a lot of carriers who have already seen their text message revenues ruined by the plethora of messaging apps available on the market.

The iOS update also features some more changes. Including support for the iOS 8 share extension which allows you to send photos, videos and other social related options to the WhatsApp application. You will be able to send multiple videos at once and can edit them on the fly too.

I have not personally used the application on my Sony Xperia Z3 but I have heard some great reviews. Let us know what you think of the App and the features it has in the comments below.

Thank you Tech Crunch for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of GeeksFlame

World Record Broken With Fleksy Keyboard – Twice

Brazilian Teenager, Marcel Fernandes has broken the Guinness world record for the fastest typing of a text message on a touch-screen mobile phone. Twice.

Fernandes typed “the razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human” in 18.19 seconds back in May using Fleksy for Android. Now he’s beaten his own record, typing the same message in 17.00 seconds this time using Fleksy for iOS.

Source: MacRumors

Apple Releases a Tool to Remotely Deregister iPhones from iMessage

 

 

Got rid of your iPhone and you’ve found you’re not receiving text messages from friends? No problem, as Apple quietly released a tool yesterday that makes solving the problem a lot easier.

Ever since Apple introduced iMessage in iOS 5, people have complained about text messages from other iPhone users not being delivered to their new non-Apple phones at all. The problem stemmed from the fact that those who didn’t remove iMessage from their old devices after getting rid of them, still had text messages from other iOS devices being routed to that phone. So even if their number was now registered to an Android phone, Apple’s servers still associated that number with an iMessage account, meaning texts would be sent to the iMessage server instead of the Android phone.

Early on in the history of iMessage, this problem didn’t only cause frustration, it also caused some rather big privacy concerns, after it was found that some users had their text messages routed to a new owner, or even worse, a thief.

The only way to fix this prior to now, was to go through the hassle of completely deregistering the iPhone from your Apple ID. This new system provides a handy webpage in which users only have to enter the phone number associated with iMessage to solve the problem. You’ll be sent a confirmation code to that phone number, with which you then enter on the site, making your worries about disappearing text messages a thing of the past.

Source: The Verge

BBM Messenger Gets Find Friends Feature, Helps Find Nearby Friends To Add

BlackBerry is improving its popular BBM for iOS and Android, and we all know it since the company just launched an update for both platform recently. A new feature has been introduced as well, coming by the name of Find Friends.

That the feature does is it searches for nearby friends that use the BBM client as well, and if it finds them, you can then choose to send them your PIN through an invitation. It is not something that revolutionary, since other applications such as WhatsApp or Viber have something similar, but it will be a nice addition for those of you that want to know exactly who is using the app and not flood all your friends who don’t use the app.

But of course, for those who still want to nag their friends into joining BBM Messenger, an email and SMS invitation feature will also be present which will give a link to the respective iOS, Android or BlackBerry store to download the app.

After the BBM Messager receives the update, the Find Friends feature will appear the first time you launch the application, and afterwards you can find the feature in the “Invites” tab menu, which can be tapped and accessed from the bottom menu bar.

Thank you Ubergizmo for providing us with this information

NSA Reportedly Snoops Millions Of Text Messages With The Dishfire Program

NSA has been reportedly using SMS messaging to extract data on location, contact networks and credit card details of mobile users. British spies were given access by the NSA to search the collected “metadata”, information about the text messages but not the actual contents, of British citizens.

The Guardian and Channel 4 have reported that the program, codenamed Dishfire, collects every data it can from the handsets and sends it back to the NSA for processing. It works by collecting and analysing automated text messages such as missed call alerts or texts sent to inform users about international roaming charges. It is also said that the project can work out phone users’ credit card numbers using texts from banks.

“All of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with the strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate and that there is rigorous oversight,” the statement cited.

The statement is taken from an internal NSA presentation from 2011 on the Dishfire program and papers from the GCHQ facility. The report comes a day before US President Barack Obama is due to give a long-awaited speech proposing curbs on NSA phone and internet data dragnets exposed by fugitive intelligence contractor Snowden.

Thank you ZDNet for providing us with this information

Severe SMS Vulnerability In Nexus Phones Revealed



Details were revealed about a potentially serious SMS vulnerability found in all current Nexus phones at the DefCamp Security Conference in Bucharest, Romania. The person responsible for the discovery is Bogdan Alecu, a system administrator at Levi9 and independent security researcher in Romania. When exploited, the attack can force the phone to reboot or destabilize certain services.

The method of attack simply relies on sending a series of Class 0 “Flash” messages to the target phone. Flash messages are typically used for emergency or security purposes, appearing on the screen immediately instead of going to the default SMS application. When such a message arrives, no sounds are made but the background is dimmed and a single dialog box appears on top. Once 20-30 messages pile up, assuming the user isn’t clearing them, it overloads the system and leads to a few potential side-effects. Most commonly, the result is an unresponsive device or an immediate reboot, but the Messages app or cellular radio may occasionally crash or freeze up in some instances.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwfIZBM-UGM[/youtube]

In the event that the cellular radio crashes, it may have some more serious consequences. If a target has their SIM locked with a PIN code, the phone will not be able to reconnect until the code is entered. From time to time, it’s also possible for the cellular radio to seize up, which can only be fixed by restarting the device. This is problematic because there are no audible prompts and the malfunction won’t be seen until the owner unlocks their screen, leaving them without service for potentially several hours.

Alecu first notified The Android Security Team to the issue over a year ago, but initially received only automated responses. Continued efforts were mostly unsuccessful, leading to the decision to disclose the vulnerability publicly. To mitigate potential threats, he collaborated with Michael Mueller, a Technical IT-Sec Auditor, to develop Class0Firewall, an app designed to protect the smartphone from Class 0 messages if they reach the threshold of becoming a denial-of-service attack.

Bogdan notes that the current attack is only capable of destabilizing a phone, but theorizes that it might be possible to force remote code execution. Based on limited testing with devices from various vendors, the vulnerability appears to only affect the Nexus line running on all versions of stock Android through to the current release of KitKat. None of the OEM variants checked were susceptible to the attack.

Hopefully the publicity will prompt Google to release a patch to block the issue as quickly as possible. Even if a fix is rolled out, it’s not entirely clear if the Galaxy Nexus will receive it now that it is no longer getting OS updates. A security update should be issues to all Galaxy Nexus device though in oder to patch the severity of this issue.

Thank you Android Police for providing us with this information
Video courtesy of mdforum.ru

Facebook Messenger For Android Gets A Huge Overhaul

When it comes to communicating with our friends and colleagues, a number of us chose to do so through social media messaging as opposed to sending an SMS from our phone. One such service is Facebook messenger and for those of us that use it on our Android smart phones, messenger now looks a whole lot different.

The new layout of messenger wipes the slate clean over previous versions of the app and after a period of beta testing where the app was only available to a limited number of users, Facebook has rolled out the new design to everyone.

Along with a new icon design, the app now offers a simple white and blue design which is less cluttered in its appearance, even though there are a number of additional features crammed into the latest update. The most significant of these is the added ability to now message anyone using just their mobile number. Whilst this may feel as though Facebook are diverting us from using our phones own SMS service, people with a limited number of messages per month will be pleased to see the new options.

Roll-out of the new app is already in full swing and unless your app has already updated automatically, you can download the latest version from Google Play.

Source: Tweaktown

BlackBerry OS 10.2 Update To Arrive This Week

BlackBerry has announced the release date for the OS 10.2 firmware update. BlackBerry Z10, Q10 and Q5 are the devices eligible for upgrade, while the Z30 is running on 10.2 out of box.

The BlackBerry 10.2 update brings a new Priority Hub, BBM Video with Natural Sound feature, messages preview from any app, better keyboard, easier sharing options, lockscreen notifications, better calendar and reject call with SMS/BBM option.

BlackBerry 10.2 launches for the BlackBerry smartphones in Africa, Asia Pacific, Canada, Europe and the Middle East this week. Latin America will be getting the update in November, while USA will follow at the begging of winter. Of course, the update rollout also depends on if your device is unlocked SIM-free or carrier-locked. If you got your Z10/Q10 on a contract you may have to wait a few more weeks to get you phone up to date.

Details about the features and improvements which come with the new OS 10.2 are listed below:

  • Priority Hub
Keep your important conversations closer than ever with the new Priority Hub. Always at your fingertips, Priority Hub learns what conversations are most important to you and automatically puts those messages at the top of your inbox, helping you to stay focused on the critical items. On top of that, the new attachment view helps you organize files and documents across your messaging accounts and within specific message threads.
  • BBM Video with Natural Sound
BBM Video has always allowed you to have a live face-to-face conversation with anyone, anywhere. Now, with Natural Sound, BBM Video and Voice conversations between BlackBerry 10 smartphones sound more natural and realistic. It’s the next best thing to being in the same room. We’re able to accomplish this because BlackBerry Natural Sound captures a wider sound spectrum, so you can hear subtle nuances that are lost in most cellular calls.
  • Instant Previews of BBM, SMS and Email from any app
Stay in the flow. BBM, SMS and E-mail messages now find you no matter what you are doing on your BlackBerry. See email, BBM and SMS message previews appear in any app – you can even respond to your BBM or SMS messages in any app or go to the BlackBerry Hub with a single swipe to respond to your email. Perfect for keeping the conversation going while you browse the web, watch a video, or use other apps. Of course, you can tailor these notifications to the way you work to ensure you’re only notified as much as you want to be.
  • BlackBerry Keyboard
The smartphone keyboard that knows your next move just got even smarter. With personalized next word suggestion, auto-correction, and the distinctive BlackBerry keyboard layout, we’ve built this keyboard to help you have conversations with speed and accuracy. And on the BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Z30, improved audio feedback with distinct tones for specific keys like backspace, and shift helps you type more confidently because you’ll have more reassurance you’ve hit the right key.
  • Copy and Paste Enhancements 
Copy and paste just got easier. Not only does BlackBerry 10.2 offer more precise cursor control, text selection is now easier. Once you select text, a pop up menu gives you editing options and direct sharing with BBM, Facebook and Twitter – so you can quickly copy, paste and share
  • Faster, Easier Sharing
BlackBerry 10.2 learns how you share and who you share with, helping you reduce the number of steps and amount of time it takes to get your files, photos, or documents to where they need to go. Touching “share” in any app provides suggestions on who and how to share your files based on how you’ve shared in the past, and the feature only gets smarter the more you use it.
  • Lock Screen Notifications
When the red light on your BlackBerry 10 smartphone is flashing, you don’t have to unlock the phone to see your message. Notifications on the lock screen now let you take a peek at the latest email, text, BBM, or notification to see if that’s the message you’ve been waiting for or one that can wait a while. You can customize which accounts appear on the lock screen and scroll over the icons to display the sender and subject line.
  • Reply Now
Reply Now lets you respond to incoming phone calls, even when it’s not a good time to answer the phone. Easily send a response through BBM, SMS or email – choose from a list of standard automated responses or respond with a personalized note. Perfect for ensuring that important contacts are always given your attention.
  • Calendar Enhancements

BlackBerry Calendar now comes with an ‘I’m running late’ function so you can instantly let meeting participants know if you’ll be late. You can even specify a new time in your notification. And, with a redesigned interface that makes adding an event easier, managing your time is simple.

BlackBerry 10.2 OS gives you a lot of new reasons to love your BlackBerry 10 smartphone, and we haven’t even mentioned the updates to Docs to Go, a new BlackBerry Hub icon, camera enhancements—but the best way to experience all BlackBerry 10.2 has to offer is to try it for yourself. Remember to back up before updating

Thank you GSM Arena and Blackberry.com for providing us with this information.

Android 4.4 To Let You Set A 3rd Party Messaging App As Default

The Android 4.4 KitKat update is getting near and we are all excited to see what comes out of the brain trust over at Google. One feature that they have confirmed is the ability for users to choose a third-party app as their default SMS or MMS app. This has of course never been available before.  Google notes that many third-party SMS and MMS apps have already been made using workarounds to gain access to users’ text messages, a method that it doesn’t quite condone. The specific changes which have been made are to SMS_DELIVER_ACTION and WAP_PUSH_DELIVER_ACTION, SMS and MMS respectively, which will only work with one app at a time starting with Android 4.4.

The details come amid rumours that Google will also begin bundling SMS and MMS messaging right into its Hangouts app, creating a competitor to Apple’s iMessage. It also reports that Google will do away with Android’s traditional Messaging app, leaving Hangouts as the only built-in text messaging option for Nexus devices. This is something we have wanted for some time, as Google have struggled somewhat to encompass all their messaging platforms into a single solution.

Thank you NextPowerUp and BandwithBlog for providing us with this information.

SMS and MMS To Be Merged Into Hangouts By Google

The Hangouts application, which has so far only successfully unified Google+ Messenger and Google Talk, leaving Messaging and Voice to co-exist, is finally getting SMS and MMS integration. According to sources familiar with the matter, the upcoming Hangouts version 1.3 has these features enabled and, furthermore, also allows sharing of videos via the Hangouts protocol.

Messages sent via SMS will be shown as “via SMS” next to the timestamp so that users can always figure out the protocol used for each message delivery. Users can also request delivery reports for sent SMS, a feature that is part of the SMS protocol that some use on a daily basis.

MMS picture messaging is supported as well, though it cannot be confirmed sending of video via MMS at this time. There is a settings menu for wireless alerts as well as a toggle for auto-retrieving messages while roaming. Finally, users can opt out of SMS via Hangouts altogether.

The Voice protocol has still to be implemented into Hangouts, but nobody knows if there will be another update in the future which allows Hangouts to be able to “engulf” the Voice protocol as well.

There is no official confirmation at this point about a possible release timeline and correlation between KitKat and this Hangouts update. It’s possible that Google will roll it out before KitKat but it’s equally as possible for it to come out later if it’s not fully baked just yet.

Thank you Android Police for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of Android Police.