SpotCam Announces HD Eva Wi-Fi Camera with Free Cloud Recording

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.

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.

Orbweb 4.0 now available for Thecus Windows-Based NAS

Thecus’ Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials NAS got an upgrade and Orbweb 4.0 is now available for the range of devices. Orbweb 4.0 is the latest version of the robust remote web access application and it provides media streaming, webcam monitoring, and allows users to view, edit and transfer files. Users will be able to remotely access files via a web browser as well as mobile devices anytime and anywhere without the use of third-party servers.

The new Orbweb.me 4.0 includes a redesigned user interface, increased support for multimedia files, compatibility with Windows 10, as well as timeline view and snapshot for webcam monitoring.

It now supports the mkv, mpg, ogv, avi, ts, webm, flv, rmvb, mov, m2ts, wmv, and 4k file formats, and also give users the joys of on-the-fly transcoding that automatically adjusts resolution based on bandwidth and screen size available. Windows 7 and 8 were already supported in the previous version and now Windows 10 is supported as well. Android and iOS devices can also be used and they’re the most common on-the-road devices.

The webcam monitoring function is pretty cool, allowing you to turn your NAS into a surveillance station with motion detection and email notifications. The new version adds a timeline view and snapshot, and the one-click activation icon allows convenient control of webcam monitoring activities. All the recorded data will then naturally be stored on the Windows-based Thecus NAS or one of its mounted drives.

Thecus Windows Storage Server NAS include a one-year subscription for the Orbweb.me Ultimate Version. Mobile versions can be downloaded from Google Play and the iOS App Store while the latest PC version can be found on https://orbweb.me/. It is to be noted that the Windows version requires Java.

 

Ikea Hosts Online Weddings

Where should we get married, Ikea? I wouldn’t have said Ikea was even a place that I would think of getting married in, yet the Swedish retailer has seen an opportunity in the marital market.

Last week the major retailer Ikea launched a new service called Wedding Online. The new service allows couples to hold a virtual ceremony attended by their closest friends and the rest of the internet if you wish.

Ikea will then process the webcam streams and live impose them onto a location. The whole process seems a bit odd and will definitely not be as romantic  as a normal wedding. You could dress up in a tuxedo or dress but as it only streams your head no one would know if you’re sat there in your jogging bottoms and tank top.

You’ll also miss out on the dad dancing at the do afterwards, the free food and drink and the eardrum splitting cheesy music that should never see the light of day.

Ikea have the system released already on their website but it’s in Swedish so may be rather difficult to work out, however after clicking a few buttons on the site you should be able to make it into the section to start a ceremony.

Ikea have posted a video onto YouTube advertising the new system

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-GmhKp1LYk]

Thanks to Designtaxi for the information

Images courtesy of ikea

Private Web Cam Site Shut Down, Owner Seeks Job

The creepy site we reported on that streamed thousands of private IP cameras has been shut down, with its owner after a new job.

Visiting the site in question now only displays a message saying “programmer looking for a good remote job”. The site caused a storm in the media, with the authorities deeply concerned about the type of content being streamed to the site without the consent of the camera owners.

Visitors to the site were able to see people’s bedrooms and CCTV feeds from bars and shops among many others. The fact that the site has now been closed suggests the owner may have been pressured to shut it down.

Security experts have suggested that all of the feeds on the site were and probably still are publicly accessible, due to the fact that owners of the cameras were unaware that they left remote access open, without password protection.

If you are interested in giving a programmer “a good remote job”, you now have one new candidate to consider.

Source: BBC News

Microsoft Create 3D Depth Sensor from Single-Camera Smartphone

Microsoft are tinkering with camera technology once again. Their Kinect technology may not be a smash hit with consumers as they once hoped it would be, but the underlying technology is not something they’re about to give up on.

Using a simple mod that can be added to any smartphone or web cam the team were able to create a working prototype of their motion sensor. It’s capable of detecting fine movements, facial animations and more, even under a multitude of lighting conditions and it’ll do it at a significantly reduced cost compared to solutions such as the Kinect.

“We present a machine learning technique for estimating absolute, per-pixel depth using any conventional monocular 2D camera, with minor hardware modifications,” said the team, “our approach targets close-range human capture and interaction where dense 3D estimation of hands and faces is desired.” they added.

It’s an impressive party trick for a single lens camera and this could pave the way for some pretty advanced tricks in the smartphone market over the next couple of years. Especially given the current rise in popularity for VR tech in all its shapes and forms.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”450″]http://youtu.be/n89EsXM69d4[/youtube]

Thank you Wired for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Wired.

First Intel Core i3 Powered Chromebook Launched by Acer

Acer has just announced its release of the first 4th Generation Intel Core i3 CPU-powered chromebook, having it be the first company to release a chromebook device with similar performance ratios. The company has stated that the Acer C720, powered by the latter processor, is available in two models in order to provide customers with even faster and more responsive performance in multi-tasking workflows, while also providing a long battery life of up to 8.5 hours.

“Acer has been a leader in the Chromebook space and the new C720 based on 4th generation Intel Core i3 processors marks a new class of Chromebook with enhanced performance and battery life,” said Navin Shenoy, vice president and general manager of Intel Mobile Client Platforms Group. “As one of the most powerful Chromebooks on the market, the additional performance of Core i3 enables an extremely responsive experience while surfing multiple tabs of web pages. Students, families and business users will recognize the difference in how snappy the new Acer C720 is with Intel Core i3.”

The chromebooks are said to be ideal for families and students, as well as anyone requiring a simple and secure computer to work with. Having the devices running on Chrome OS, updates are said to roll in regularly, this making the latest features available right away to customers, including various layers of security such as data encryption and verified boot.

In terms of specs, both C720 models are said to have a 11.6-inch ComfyView HD screen with a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, providing a clear and enjoyable image quality. The 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi antenna along with the integrated HD webcam and microphone are said to provide the best quality for video calls and connectivity features. Breaking the series down, the first C720-3404 model is said to boast Intel’s Core i3 Processor, 4 GB of memory and will be priced at $379.99.

The second one, the C720-3871, is said to boast the same Intel Core i3 CPU, while providing less memory, having it come with only 2 GB. However, while the specs are a bit low, the price is set to match it, having the tag set at $349.99. The latter chromebooks are currently available in North America, having other regions receiving the chromebooks later on.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of TechPowerUp

PC Specialist Cosmos II 15.6″ Notebook Review

Introduction


When it comes to finding a decent-spec notebook you will be overwhelmed with options. If you’re after something slim and stylish you’re likely to be stung for a hefty premium by Apple, Sony, Samsung and so on. If you’re after something with a decent amount of CPU and GPU horsepower then you’re likely to be dragged into the depths of gaming notebooks (like those made by ASUS, MSI, Alienware and so on) even if you don’t want to game. So where do you go if you’re looking for something in between? Something that has style and is fairly slim but still has a fair amount of performance to allow you to be productive and game? Well PC Specialist are always a good place to start because you can customise just about any base notebook to have anything you want. Today we have a mid-range PC Specialist Cosmos II notebook in for testing and it looks like an epic all-rounder. With a dual core Haswell Core i5, an Nvidia GTX 850M 2GB graphics card, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB SSHD it has a great balance of performance, functionality and most importantly value. The design may be a little plain-Jane for the style conscious notebook buyer but if you’re happy for simplicity then this could be the ideal notebook for you. Below you can see the specifications of our PC Specialist Cosmos II notebook as we have it configured. You can change and configure just about every aspect of the Cosmos II if for whatever reason you need more or less of something.

Specifications

  • Name: PC Specialist Cosmos II
  • Case: Cosmos Series
  • Motherboard: Generic Intel HM86
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 4210M dual core processor
  • Processor Cooler: Generic low profile integrated notebook cooling solution
  • System Memory: 1 x 8GB Kingston HyperX Impact 1600MHz
  • Main Boot Drive: 1TB Seagate Hybrid Gen3 5400RPM SSHD w/ 64MB Cache
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): Not included.
  • Graphics card: Nvidia GTX 850M 2GB DDR3
  • Power Supply: 120W AC adapter
  • Optical Drive:Generic 8X DVD-RW/24X CD-RW
  • Wireless: Intel N135 802.11N 150mbps and Bluetooth
  • Monitor: 15.6 inch matte Full HD LED widescreen (1920 x 1080)
  • Peripherals: Integrated chiclet-style keyboard and 2 button touchpad-mouse
  • OS: Windows 8.1 64 Bit
  • Warranty: 3 Year (1 month collect and return, 1 year parts, 3 years labour)
  • Price: £697 including delivery and VAT as configured. (Pricing links on final page of review)
  • Weight: 2.6kg

Packaging & Accessories

PC Specialist are no strangers to building and shipping systems and notebooks to customers so I wasn’t surprised to see our review sample come in virtually bomb proof package. Not only is the notebook box well protected inside another outer box, but you also find the notebook comes with more foam protection inside the inner box.

The notebook box comes with a convenient carry handle, if you ever need to move all the parts around or send it back to PC Specialist for repairs then you should definitely keep hold of this.

Included is a 120W AC adapter, 5600 mAh battery, UK power plug, a user guide, a driver & utility DVD and a Nero12 essentials trial version disc.

The included adapter is manufactured by Chicony Power Technology and is good for 120W of output which is required for this notebook.

The required battery provides 62.16 watt hours and is Lithium-Ion.

CPU-Z

GPU-Z

Philips 231C5 23″ IPS Touch Screen Monitor Review

Introduction


When Microsoft announced the imminent launch of Windows 8, one of the revolutionary aspects of the new operating system was its more streamlined integration into touch screen devices. Since that time we have seen touch screen capable notebooks and Ultrabooks swarm the market and the era of the touch screen computer has changed the way that many of us have interacted with our systems. For the most part, this interaction has been on mobile devices such as Microsoft’s Surface 2 Pro Tablet and Intel’s range of Ultrabooks, however we have also seen a number of touch screen enabled AIO’s (All-In-One Systems) appearing on the market, however their appeal is not as great as that of mobile devices.

The reason for this general lack of interest is the relative performance that they have to offer in comparison to an enthusiast or gamer spec system and this is where the deciding point has been left for many users. Touch screen monitors are obviously not that new to the market, but up to this point there has not been that much of a strong appeal within the consumer markets, however since the launch of Windows 8, the interest in purchasing an after market monitor with touch screen capabilities has been growing at a steady rate.

Philips as some may or may not know are very closely related to AOC who produce some of the top gaming monitors that we have seen over the last year or so and with this partnership we have seen a range of monitors that almost covers each and every sector of the tech market. To broaden their product catalogue that bit more, Philips have been developing an all new multi-point touch screen LCD panel that offers up all the image clarity that we have come to expect from the brand, with the quality and precision that the Philips brand also has to offer.

Built in to a 23″ frame, the SmoothTouch 231C5 offers users a glorious 1920 x 1080 LCD IPS panel with a touch screen element added on the top. To set the 231C5 apart from other panels as well, there is not a stand as we would typically see, but instead a foot that extends out from the back of the panel, allowing the screen to either sit upright, or lay right back for easy use of the touch screen in design applications for example.

Included alongside the monitor Philips include a wide variety of cables including VGA and HDMI display cables, a USB3.0 lead for the touchscreen element, a kettle lead and AC adaptor, 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable and also a quick start guide and driver CD to install the drivers for the touch screen element of the display.

Massive Asteroid To Pass Earth Next Week And You Can Watch It Via Webcam

Chelyabinsk – 2013

A massive asteroid (2000 EM26) will be passing earth on the 17th of February, and while it’s still 0.018 AU away from the earth it is classed as a ‘potentially hazardous’ object. No need to be worried though, 1 Astronomical Unit (AU) is the distance between the Earth and the Sun, so 0.018 may sound close, but it’s really more than 2.6 million kilometres, meaning this asteroid is ‘close’ in astronomical terms, but flipping miles away in human terms.

It may not be in with a chance of hitting us, but it is close enough to get a good look at it and thanks to some cameras on Slooh.com (or its iPad app) you can view it online. Their cameras are trained on the right part of the skies above the Canary Islands so that you can login and take a peak.

“We continue to discover these potentially hazardous asteroids—sometimes only days before they make their close approaches to Earth. Slooh’s asteroid research campaign is gathering momentum with Slooh members using the Slooh robotic telescopes to monitor this huge population of potentially hazardous space rocks. We need to find them before they find us!” Said Slooh’s technical and research director, Paul Cox while speaking with Phys.org

Slooh are known to routinely track dangerous asteroids that have the potential to damage Earth and I’m pretty grateful this latest one is going to sail past us, given that it’s roughly the size of three football pitches. It was only a year ago that the Chelyabinsk incident saw a 30 metres in diameter asteroid explode in the sky, injuring more than 1000 people in the process.

Check out the live stream YouTube video below, there is a handy countdown timer on it to let you prepare for the viewing.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCFWUemLzM0&feature=share[/youtube]

Thank you Huffington for providing us with this information.

FBI Admits To Accessing Webcams Without Triggering The Notification Light

It has emerged that the FBI has the ability to activate any computer’s in-built camera without triggering the light that lets users know the camera is on. According to the Washington Post, the FBI agency has had the ability to covertly monitor computer’s cameras for years. How safe do you feel when you have a webcam pointed at you every time you use your laptop or smartphone?

Speaking to the newspaper, Marcus Thomas, the former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division confirmed that the agency has the ability to turn on webcams without turning on the notification light. There were speculations and rumors about such actions being used by the FBI or NSA, but apparently it has also been officially confirmed.

However, to calm fears that the Bureau has been spying on civilians via their computers without their knowledge for years, Thomas stressed that the ability has been used “mainly” in counter terrorism or serious criminal activities. The Post report gives an example of the FBI’s use of the technology. It reveals how far the agency is willing to go with its use of malware to spy on people.

It also reveals that FBI agents using the technology are normal people, and how in the past they have accidentally sent emails to people outside of the organisation thanks to typos.

Thank you T3 for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of pcmag