Earlier this week we reported that the FTC was warning people about apps that used the SilverPush framework. The reason was that the FTC believed users should be aware that SilverPush automatically collected and sent the data on to third parties, without any notification. SilverPush has now responded and is looking to put this warning behind them.
The feature that was causing issues with the FTC was the “unique audio beacons” (UAB) system, which could identify sounds, both audible and those you can’t even hear, to detect what shows you were watching on your TV and even if you were on a laptop in the same room.
In their statement, SilverPush has responded by stating the UAB system is no longer used in their framework and that they don’t have any active partnerships with US-based developers. While this may be true, there is no way to prove it as the product still features as one of their core products and is even advertised under the cross device platform.
Even amongst all of this news, it would seem that the SilverPush framework and everything it does is actually legal, something that may surprise people, and not in a good way. Do you feel comfortable knowing that the only reason the FTC had an issue was that you weren’t being told the app could use your microphone or is the entire premise of spying on everything you do through your microphone a little too creepy to handle?
Monitoring your home while you are away can be both tricky to setup and manage as well as get quite expensive depending on your needs, but there are simple solutions too. One of those simple solutions is the newly introduced SpotCam HD Eva which is a complete and user-friendly IP webcam solution with free online recording.
The HD Eva can both pan and tilt its wide-angle lens in order to monitor your pets and loved ones anywhere in the room. You can eliminate dead zones with his and get high-quality camera footage with full 3660-degree horizontal movement and 70-degree vertical movement – and this can be controlled from anywhere and any device that has a web-browser.
Most cameras like this offer you a live view for free, but recording will either cost you monthly plans or they are limited to motion-detected clips. The HD Eva offers free unlimited 24-hour cloud continuous video recording out of the box. SpotCam users can rewind and review a full 24-hour’s footage at any time without paying a subscription. That said, you can pay monthly or yearly plans in order to get access to 3-day, 7-day, or 30-day recording options too. All files are stored in Amazon’s cloud, which should keep them pretty safe and it is considered one of the world’s most secure cloud service.
The camera offers 720p HD recordings with sound and H.264 compression to save both bandwidth and storage. It features 18 IR LEDs that make it able to record when it’s practically dark too. Built-in motion and audio detection can also be configured to send out notifications to you.
With a built-in microphone and speaker, two-way communication is possible too. Say hi to your pets or yell at them when they go where they shouldn’t – it’s a small job for the HD Eva. Price-wise it isn’t the cheapest, but considering the features and included 24-recording service, £169.99 is a fair offering.
We’ve all heard that we need to improve our security. Remember your password? Are you absolutely certain you remember every single password you need to remember? How about your fingerprint? Sure someone can’t use playdough to trick your fingerprint sensor? What about headphones that know who you are?
While this may sound stupid the science behind the idea is sound. Every ear is unique, very much the same way we have unique fingerprints or eyes. By using the way sound resonated within your ear canal, the headphones create a unique sound, something that can be measured and compared.
Reported to have 99% accuracy and only taking a second to do the measurements needed, listening to all that music may actually help you unlock your phone. The system is praised by the general manager of NEC saying that as it doesn’t “require particular actions such as scanning a part of the body over an authentication device” it would enable “a natural way of conducting continuous authentication”.
This solution may be a few years out though with the company behind it, NEC, saying that they are looking to commercialize the system for the 2018 fiscal year. So looking forward to listening to music while you bank? Take your headphones out to talk to someone and your phone will start to doubt if you truly are who you say you are.
The way audio is transmitted to the consumer has evolved over the past decade or so, from higher quality headphones, well, some brands more than others, to the diverse sound systems that have incorporated today’s modern MP3 players, Smartphone’s and also transformed the flat audio from paper-thin Televisions into a Cinema experience. Audio company OMA (Oswalds Mill Audio) have decided that modern speakers are just too rudimentary in their design and have therefore announced a product by the name of the “Imperia”.
Below is an image and also a summary of this eye-catching product.
The Imperia has a four-way horn system with a vertical array of conical horns covering 100 Hz to 20 kHz.
Two rear loaded subwoofer horns using a massive 21″ neodymium woofer handling 20 Hz-100 Hz.
A special OMA sub is 104db 1w/1m and is powered by its own solid state amplifier.
The system as a whole is extremely efficient at 105db 1w/1m and is entirely time aligned.
The 100hz and 300hz wooden conical horns are made from a choice of solid Pennsylvania Black Walnut, Cherry or Ash.
The Dimensions are H 86″ D 60″ (max depth at horn) W 41″ Base footprint 41″ x 41″
OMA have stated that they are the “only manufactures to use the straight-edged cone speaker design, this is due to the fact that such a design will not add to the sound wave deformity”
I know what you’re thinking, how much? Answer is too much when you consider this product is expected to retail for around $280,000 dollars (£191,744) The product is certainly unique and provides a new dimension to sound systems, but I think I will stick to my current audio setup for the time being until this design is available at a considerably cheaper price.
Google have announced several big products in the past, ranging from the high-end Google Glass to the low-end, as well as innovations such as the modular smartphone Ara. One of their more successful pieces of technology has been the Chromecast, and it is set for a new generation with rumours spreading stating that the next version could be announced as soon as next month.
Chromecast is a small dongle and from the looks of it, you would expect not much, but the small device packed a big punch and was in many was a forerunner to the generation of home media streaming. The original Chromecast supported features such as streaming Twitch and a whole host of apps, including Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. By turning any TV is a wireless streaming device for pictures, movies and online content the Chromecast quickly became popular.
The next generation looks to improve on this according to files found by 9to5Google. The documents indicate that not only will the next version contain improved Wifi and a slew of new features, of which “Fast Play” seems to be designed for streamlining connecting your devices in a quick and simple fashion.
The new Chromecast seems to also support something titled Chromecast Audio, a system where you can connect Chromecast to your speakers by auxiliary cord. With multi-room support and “high-quality” sound, the new Chromecast could see you streaming your party music all over your house.
With more and more features being added and upgrades like this, the Chromecast could quickly become my go to device for streaming any media content. What about you, do you stream media content in your home? Would you be looking at a Chromecast or do you avoid media streaming?
Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejon, South Korea, seem to have found an easy way to take out drones from the sky using ‘the right sound’. They explained that some components inside drones are vulnerable to certain frequencies, so with the right one, you can disable them.
One of the researchers stated that components such as gyroscopes have been made to resonate with sound above the audible spectrum, but some of them are still in the audible spectrum, which makes them vulnerable to interference. In an experiment, they used a speaker attached to a drone and connected to a laptop via Wi-Fi. When the right sound was played through the speaker, the drone dived down and crashed.
Of course, you won’t be able to physically attach a speaker to a drone in most cases if you want to make it crash, but this proves that sounds can be used to crash drones. Other experiments involved attaching a speaker to a police shield and making a sonic wall, but without the proper high-tech equipment to keep aim on the drone while it spirals out of control, it is useless.
The conclusion is that drone enthusiasts shouldn’t worry about it, unless your neighbour silently attached a speaker to your drone. Using high-tech sound disruptors, as far as I know, is illegal in most countries, so if you’re not piloting a high-tech military drone, you should be fine.
Thank you PCWorld for providing us with this information
Computex 2015 – For a few weeks, PowerColour has been flashing a smaller card installed into a few computer builds; with only teasers of what it could possibly be. Rumours and speculation circulated this, but we can now confirm that this is a new range of DEVIL branded sound cards.
Specifications are scarce, but we can confirm that it will feature a 600hm amplifier, 24-bit sound quality and 124db noise level. With those specs, this will easily compete in the high-end sound card market.
We look forward to reviewing the new DEVIL HDX sound cards in the near future. We will keep you updated with any news and events from the rest of Computex 2015.
I’m sure everyone has an old floppy disk drive under their bed or in a box in the attic. How long since you used it? A year? 2? 5? Well a group of german individuals went and rounded up 49 of these relics, joined them together to produce the music of the 8-bit apocalypse.
The instrument, known as the Floppy Orgel or Floppy Organ to the English-speaking world; was devised by a german electronics youth club. It consists of 49 floppy drives and some fancy custom 3D printed parts. To power the ‘instrument’, it’s all hooked up to an Arduino Uno running Sammy1Am’s GitHub “Moppy” Code, which converts standard MIDI signals into motor pulses.
The most intriguing part of this build is how well it works by a simple keyboard interface, despite a small delay between pressing the key and the drive operating; it sounds pretty good. The group originally planned on producing a four-drive unit, but decided against it for the manly ‘go big or go home’.
“Musical floppy drives are made by manipulating the internal motor that moves the read/write heads over the floppy disk. Each floppy disk is divided into 80 tracks radially from the centre, which the notoriously noisy floppy drive motor can send the read/write head to. By pulsing the motor at any of those 80 positions, representing different frequencies, you can create a particular musical note. And, because floppy drives don’t contain their own controller, they’re far easier to manipulate with third-party boards and tools like the Arduino.”
I actually quite like the sound of it, reminds me of video games from the early 90’s. Do you know of any similar musical instruments made from computer parts? Let us know in the comments.
Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information.
Fire extinguishers can be found in any buildings nowadays in case of a fire outburst. The concept of the fire extinguisher hasn’t changed much over the years, but it still does the trick. However, what if someone could come up with another way to put out fires? They just did.
A couple of students from George Mason University are said to have created a fire extinguisher that uses sound to put out flames. While this sounds extremely revolutionary, it unfortunately is not. DARPA is said to have been the first with a similar concept unveiled back in 2012, but the two students, Viet Tran and Seth Robertson, have managed to take the concept and make it portable, something that DARPA has failed to achieve in the past.
The students managed to make the sound-based fire extinguisher work by having the device emit a certain frequency, also named the “Goldilocks zone” that exists at 30-60 Hz, that basically kept oxygen away from the flame long enough to put them out.
Having worked out the design, they moved on in figuring out how to make this theoretical concept into an actual portable design. The students apparently used a sound frequency generator, a small amplifier, and a collimator made out of cardboard with a hole at the end that helps focus the waves in a direction. The result consisted of a device that has no problems putting out a small fire.
With their new design, Tran and Robertson plan to revolutionise firefighting in homes and in the office. However, there is a long way to go before we see these fire extinguishers replacing traditional ones. The students now plan to do more testing and figure out how to make the concept work with different fire types.
Thank you Ubergizmo for providing us with this information
A group of scientists from the university of Sungkyunkwan in South Korea have apparently developed a new technology which converts sound waves into electrical energy. With this concept, smartphones will be able to charge from any sound source, from talking to music and even highway traffic noise.
“The sound that always exists in our everyday life and environments has been overlooked as a source. This motivated us to realise power generation by turning sound energy from speech, music or noise into electrical power.” Dr. Sang-Woo Kim, a researcher involved in the project, stated.
The current outcome involves a prototype that converts around 100 decibels to 50 millivolts of electricity. This is done with a pad which absorbs sound waves and causes zinc oxide wires mounted between electrodes to compress and release, creating an electrical current that can be used to charge a battery.
While the generated electricity so far isn’t enough to power a whole phone, Dr. Kim stated that different materials can be used in the future to get better results. The current prototype however can already be beneficial for small, low-power sensors and implantable devices.
Sony has apparently developed a MicroSD card that has been engineered ‘for premium sound’. The card, which is deemed as a companion to the $1,200 Walkman they introduced at CES this year, is supposed to reduce the amount of electrical noise when listening to music.
This 64GB Class 10 MicroSD card is priced at ¥18,500, which is around $155. For a regular Sony Class 10 64GB Micro SD card in Japan, you’re looking at about $90. So you can see that there is quite a substantial price difference. This combined with doubts about the card’s actual effectiveness makes this a bizarre product from a company already struggling financially.
Even Sony itself is doubtful. A spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal“We aren’t that sure about the product’s potential demand, but we thought some among people who are committed to great sound quality would want it.”
$1,119.99. For a Walkman. Yes, Sony has just announced its latest Walkman – one that utilises so-called ‘Hi-Res’ audio and subsequently costs $1,119.99.
Sony is labelling the Walkman ZX2 as “the fruit of continuous refinement in high audio quality technologies.” It contains 128GB of storage and the ability to play a cavalcade of high quality audio formats, including DSD, WAV, AIFF, FLAC and Apple Lossless. Oddly, the device uses an old version of Android – Jelly Bean to be exact, with a custom Walkman interface. There’s also a MicroSD card slot.
The software and hardware isn’t really the end of it though, as its design is a feature on its own. Its matte black curved casing is simple and abstract. It defers attention towards the display and its physical play/pause buttons on the side of the device. It also has a gold coloured headphone jack, symbolising the audio superiority it will bring to your ears.
Sony says that it will be available in the Spring.
Cloaking devices have always been a subject up for debate, either shape cloaking, thermal cloaking or any other type of cloaking device. Apparently, thermal cloaking has been a subject more people were interested in, and even brought forth from the imaginary realm to the real world.
Two teams based in Singapore have allegedly created two different types of thermal cloaking devices. Scientists have been fiddling with ways to cloak things for some time, and found out that microwaves can be bent easily. From there, light bending and infrared radiation, as well as sound, were the main topic in terms of testing and creating devices for bending the latter and devise cloaking devices.
Based on these studies, the two Singapore research teams applied the study on heat. Although heat is not a wave media such as the ones previously mentioned, they have stated that heat as well can be cloaked under certain circumstances. The idea behind cloaking heat is to create an environment where heat diffusion does not occur into an object placed into that environment. Instead, like wave cloaking, the heat is caused to stray from its normal path and move around the object instead of into it.
The first team created a heat cloak by binding strips of metal and polystyrene together and then placing the result inside of a block made of thermal conducting material. The arrangement allowed for thermal cloaking of an aluminium cylinder placed inside. The second team created their device by trapping a pocket of air inside a block made of stainless steel, having the air pocket was lined with copper. An object placed inside the air pocket was heat cloaked.
Both teams do not currently have a specific application in mind for their heat cloaking device, but suggest heat cloaking might be useful for managing heat in electronic circuits. One such application might be inside of cell phones as way to prevent batteries from overheating.
Thank you Phys.org for providing us with this information
Wikipedia is starting to add celebrity and other public figure voices to one of its projects, called WikiVIP, which stands for “Wikipedia Voice Intro Project”. What is it you ask? Well, Wikipedia thought it could do with some voices through all its article lines, namely important and known people will be voice sampled and the recordings saved on the Wikipedia database for preservation purposes.
The project was started by Wikipedia editors Andy Mabbett and Andrew Gray, who approach celebrities and explained this idea. The first celebrity to join the project was Stephen Fry, who now has a sample of his speaking voice on Wikipedia. The aim is to attract and spread the word so as other public figures, scientists, artists, etc. hear about the project and get their voice sample taken by the Wikipedia team.
Even BBC has reportedly started supporting Wikipedia, having short clips from some of its programming sent for preservation as well. The voices range from Sir Tim Berners-Lee to Augn San Suu Kyi. All recordings have been announced to have an open-license in order to allow others to use them freely. They can be uploaded to Wikipedia Commons in an open format, such as Ogg Vobis, sort of like mp3 but without patents restricting them.
The aim of the project and the preservation of voices is to help “current and future generations” to hear how celebrities and public figures sounded like, basically adding a voice to a face. Those who have Wikipedia pages about them are apparently encouraged to contact the WikiVIP team with a voice recording sample to help contribute to the growing database.
Thank you TheNextWeb for providing us with this information
Razer released its new top-of-the-line headphones: the Kraken Forged Edition. This headset features ear cups that are machined out of aircraft-grade aluminum and finished with a matte texture. The Razer Kraken Forged Edition is also carefully hand-assembled, ensuring the build quality matches the premium looks and guts.
“Razer’s renowned audio engineers spent countless hours fine-tuning the Kraken Forged Edition’s 40 mm bass-heavy drivers to perfection,” states the company’s press release. “As a result, the neodymium pair work in unison with the headphone’s acoustic chambers and isolated closed ear cup design to deliver booming bass, clear mids and crisp highs for sound that’s optimized for music and pitch-perfect for gaming.”
The headset is said to feature a custom tuned 40 nm Neodymium magnet drivers, a frequency response of 20 to 20,000 Hz, a frequency response of 50 to 10,000 Hz, a signal to noise ratio of 60 dB, and a sensitivity of -38 dB ± 3n impedance of 32 Ω at 1 kHz and an input power of 30 mW. The omnidirectional microphone h dB.
“With plush leatherette ear cushions lining the ear cups, a fully adjustable headband and a lightweight, foldable design, the Razer Kraken Forged Edition headphones are designed for extended use,” states the company’s press release. “The Razer Kraken Forged Edition also includes a swappable cable with an in-line microphone, giving users the versatility to easily convert it into a headset for gaming or telephony.”
Additional features include a comfortable, versatile form factor, closed ear cup design for optimal sound isolation, a foldable ear cup design, and a hard carrying case for portability. A 1/4 inch audio connector is also included.
“These are the best headphones on the market for both music and gaming, period,” says Min-Liang Tan, Razer co-founder, CEO and creative director. “We’ve made some incredible audio products in our time, and I’m proud to say that we have taken another huge step forward in terms of audio quality in a pair of headphones with phenomenal fit and finish.”
The headset is priced at $299.99 USD and is available now directly from Razer while the worldwide release will be featured next month.
The Xbox One has literally just become available, however there is news going around that anyone with a surround sound headset will not be able to use them to their full potential at this moment in time. This is going to be severely bad news for a large number of people who own a high-end headset from the likes of Turtle Beach and Tritton to name only a couple as the new consoles optical output will only support two channel audio until an unknown date.
Albert Panello, the Director of Product Planning at Microsoft has made a statement that indicates that there will be an update coming in the future that will unload the full Dolby capability of the optical output, thus allowing surround headsets to run at their full potential. In the statement, he did specify however that if you were to own a Dolby only HDMI receiver then you should be able to get uncompressed 5.1 or 7.1 sound to your speakers as this has been made available.
“Dolby Digital is coming post launch. This was a SW scheduling issue pure and simple, and I know people are disappointed, but we will have it. Anyone with a HDMI receiver should be fine, as we pass the uncompressed 5.1 and 7.1 through HDMI as well as DTS. Even if you have a Dolby only HDMI receiver, you will still get 5.1 or 7.1 sound since those receivers should accept uncompressed surround. For the Dolby only headsets, my understanding is that these will work but you will only get stereo audio since we only pass Stereo and DTS through the optical port. I have not tested this myself, but I’m told it works. Regardless, I understand this is an inconvenience, but again we’re going to have Dolby coming.”
There is not any mention as to why full surround capability has been left out from the Xbox’s optical jack and there could be a number of reasons why, but there is the reassurance giving that it will be coming – we just don’t know when this will be at this moment in time.
With the battle against the PS4 just kicking off, there is the possibility that there will be some disgruntled customers who can’t use their existing hardware to its full capabilities, however this will become clear over the next week or so.
Today we take a look at the Noontec Rio in-ear headphones and having previously reviewed the Noontec Zoro wireless headphones and giving them a big thumbs up I was excited to review the Rio earphones. On paper the Rio offers high quality sound in an attractive package and I’m keen to see what they can do.
In ear headphones are more popular than ever, in fact it is safe to say that personal audio is more popular than ever with the market saturated by mobile audio devices such as Tablets, portable gaming devices, mobiles, mp3 players and more. So it can really be important to have some person headphones that are not only great in terms of performance, but also comfortable and of course affordable.
So without further delay, lets get right to the good stuff and see what the Rio have to offer.
High quality packaging seems to be the norm for Noontec. The Rio comes with a small zip up hard case to store the earphones and spare tips in, you can also get any jack adapters or Bluetooth dongles in there too as there is enough room. The blurb on the inside cover promotes high end audio clarity and the window on the box teases you with what’s on offer.
The fold open front cover has magnets to stop it flying open, attention to detail in the packaging is high, it’s not just looks in this regard. You also get additional ear tips in each size.
We are given plenty of room inside the pouch but ultimately all that storage space comes at a cost. putting this case in your pocket will create bulk and is best suited to a bag to transport around in. A soft pouch may have been a nicer pocket friendly option.