Oculus Co-Founder's New Venture: Long-Range Virtual Reality Tracking System (roadtovr.com) 15

An anonymous reader writes: Jack McCauley was among Oculus' founding members and played a seminal role in the development of the Rift DK1 and DK2 VR headsets as the company's VP of Engineering. After departing from the VR firm sometime around the 2014 acquisition by Facebook, McCauley has continued his interest in VR, most recently demonstrating a laser tracking system that makes use of MEMS technology to actively track targets. He says the system's strengths are long range and low cost compared to camera-based tracking solutions, which Oculus currently uses.

First Bionic Fingertip Implant Delivers Sensational Results (gizmag.com) 26

Zothecula writes: Dennis Aabo Sorensen may be missing a hand, but he nonetheless recently felt rough and smooth textures using a fingertip on that arm. The fingertip was electronic, and was surgically hard-wired to nerves in his upper arm. He is reportedly the first person in the world to recognize texture using a bionic fingertip connected to electrodes that were surgically implanted above his stump. The device was created by scientists from the Ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, and Italy's Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna research institute. While it was wired to Sorensen, a machine moved it across rough and smooth plastic surfaces. Sensors in the fingertip generated electrical signals as they deformed in response to the topography of those surfaces, and transmitted those signals to the nerves in a series of electrical spikes -- this was reportedly an imitation of the "language of the nervous system." He was able to differentiate between the two surfaces with an accuracy of 96 percent.
Input Devices

A Phone App Helps Day Laborers Attack Wage Theft (nytimes.com) 101

An anonymous reader writes with this story from the New York Times, excerpting "After three years of planning, an immigrant rights group in Jackson Heights is set to start a smartphone app for day laborers, a new digital tool with many uses: Workers will be able to rate employers (think Yelp or Uber), log their hours and wages, take pictures of job sites and help identify, down to the color and make of a car, employers with a history of withholding wages. They will also be able to send instant alerts to other workers. The advocacy group will safeguard the information and work with lawyers to negotiate payment." Adds the submitter: "Although I completely support the app, personally, I see this encountering some significant legal challenges. Hope they've lawyered up." Though the use case is different, this is similar in spirit to "cop watch" apps, like Cell411 and the ACLU's Mobile Justice. (And of course there's Periscope.)
Input Devices

Robots May Soon Put Surgery Into the Hands of Non-Surgeons (computerworld.com) 82

Lucas123 writes: By 2020, surgical robotics sales are expected to almost double to $6.4 billion, at the same time robots are becoming easier to use. One new robot is so easy to use that even med students can achieve proficiency with a few tries, according to Umamaheswar Duvvuri, director of head and neck surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The robot, a snake-like endoscope that can be directed into any shape through the relative orientations of its linkages, requires only one incision, reducing the number from several involved in typical laparoscopic procedures. Older, and more popular surgical robotic systems, such as the da Vinci Surgical System, are now being tested by physicians who are at controls more than 1,000 miles away. Probably a lot of the same misgivings that people have about autonomous cars apply here, too.
Input Devices

Sony Patents Power Glove-Like Motion Controller For PlayStation VR (hothardware.com) 44

MojoKid writes: With so much of the VR buzz revolving around Oculus, HTC and Google lately, it would be easy to forget that Sony has its own competitor coming, called PlayStation VR. And now, as new patents have revealed, the Japanese gaming giant could have a nifty trick up its sleeve, so to speak. It looks like Sony could developing what some could consider a spiritual successor to the Power Glove, that classic late 80s peripheral for the Nintendo Entertainment System. A diagram pulled from the recent patent filing shows this glove's implementation is straight-forward. However, Sony's glove is not going to be bulky like the Power Glove was. The documents also refer to hand flexor sensors that indicate a level of precision tracking at the fingertip level, as well as some sort of cloud network processing offload.
Input Devices

HoloLens For Developers Available For Pre-Order (thestack.com) 58

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft's HoloLens, touted as the world's 'first and only fully untethered holographic computer' is available today for pre-order and will ship on March 30. The HoloLens Development Edition is available for purchase to qualified developer applicants and will cost $3,000. While the augmented-reality headset is still far from a commercial release to consumers, Microsoft will release six applications that run on the holographic platform – a mix of development tools, games, and user programs. From today, developers can access documentation, guides and tutorials for HoloLens. Additional development tools will be made available when the first HoloLens ship at the end of March, including Visual Studio projects and a HoloLens emulator, which will allow testing of holographic apps on a PC without a physical HoloLens.

Mousejack Attacks Exploit Wireless Keyboards and Mice (threatpost.com) 112

msm1267 writes: Researchers have discovered a vulnerability in the USB devices that support wireless keyboards and mice that could put a countless number of devices at risk to attack. Seven manufacturers have been informed of the flaw, but as of today, only Logitech has produced a firmware update. Some have no update mechanism and can never be patched. The issue lies in the fact that some of the commands from the peripheral device to the dongle are not encrypted. Most do not authenticate packets and an attacker within close proximity and using a USB transmitting malicious packets over radio frequency can trick the victim's machine into accepting mouse clicks impersonating keystrokes. It would take a matter of seconds for the attacker's code to load a rootkit, malware or additional network access.

Backdoor In MVPower DVR Firmware Sends CCTV Stills To an Email Address In China (softpedia.com) 60

An anonymous reader writes: An IoT security research company has discovered that a DVR model manufactured by MVPower includes a backdoor-like feature in its code that takes a screenshot of your CCTV feed and sends it to an email address hosted somewhere in China. The device's firmware is based on an open source project from GitHub that was pulled by its developer when someone confronted him about the backdoor.
Input Devices

Let Your Pupils Do the Typing 49

New submitter s.mathot writes: Researchers from France and the Netherlands have developed a way to—literally—write text by thinking of letters. (Academic paper [open access], non-technical blog, YouTube video.) This technique relies on small changes in pupil size that occur when you covertly (from the corner of your eye; without moving your eyes or body) attend to bright or dark objects. By presenting a virtual keyboard on which the 'keys' alternate in brightness, and simultaneously measuring the size of the eye's pupil, the technique automatically determines which letter you want to write; as a result, you can write letters by merely attending to them, without moving any part of your body, including the eyes.

Push To Hack: Reverse Engineering an IP Camera (contextis.com) 35

New submitter tetraverse writes: For our most recent IoT adventure, we've examined an outdoor cloud security camera [the Motorola Focus 73] which like many devices of its generation a) has an associated mobile app b) is quick to setup and c) presents new security threats to your network. From the article: This blog describes in detail how we were able to exploit the camera without access to the local network, steal secrets including the home networkâ(TM)s Wi-Fi password, obtain full control of the PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) controls and redirect the video feed and movement alerts to our own server; effectively watching the watchers.

Ask Slashdot: Fixing UVC Camera Issues Under Windows? 148

Khyber writes: I bought some cheap Chinese camera glasses with built-in microphones. These are (supposedly) UVC cameras manufactured in 2015. Under Windows XP, these cameras are seen perfectly fine and work as web cameras; even the microphones work. Under Windows 7, the camera appears to install just fine, however I get the 'This device can perform faster if you connect to USB 2.0' (which it is connected to) and when I try to load it up with any camera viewer such as manycam or any chat program's built-in previewer, I cannot receive any video from the camera. I can get audio from the camera microphones under Windows 7, so I am wondering if the camera device is having problems enumerating as a USB 2.0 device due to some change in Windows 7 (which it doesn't seem to have issues doing under XP,) or if the UVC driver for Windows 7 is missing something in comparison to the one used for Windows XP. Anybody else had issues getting newer UVC cameras to work in newer operating systems?
Input Devices

Low-Cost EEG Head-Sets Promise Virtual Reality Feedback Loops (thestack.com) 35

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from the University of Memphis have found that it's possible to use a low-cost EEG device such as the $300 Emotiv Epoc to understand how a user is feeling — opening up the path to genuine psycho-biological feedback in virtual/augmented reality scenarios. The Epoc has been used, in combination with the Razer Hydra, to give users control over VR/AR environments, but integrating emotional feedback into VR environments heralds many new possibilities in the fields of medical research, gaming — and, of course, marketing research.

Microsoft To Acquire SwiftKey Predictive Keyboard Technology Company For $250M (hothardware.com) 118

MojoKid writes: SwiftKey has been one of the more popular predictive keyboard offerings in the mobile space since it was first released in beta form on the Android market back in 2010. What made SwiftKey so appealing was its intelligent predictive texting technology. SwiftKey isn't a simple keyboard replacement. Rather, the software uses a combination of artificial intelligence technologies that give it the ability to learn usage patterns and predict the next word the user most likely intends to type. SwiftKey refines its predictions, learning over time by analyzing data from SMS, Facebook, and Twitter messages, then offering predictions based on the text being entered at the time. It is estimated that SwiftKey is installed on upwards of 500 million mobile devices. According to reports, Microsoft is apparently buying the UK-based company for a cool $250 Million. What Microsoft intends to do with SwiftKey is not clear just yet, but the company has been purchasing mobile apps at a good clip as of late.

Jailbreak Turns Cheap Walkie-Talkie Into DMR Police Scanner 82

An anonymous reader writes: Last Shmoocon, famous reverse engineer Travis Goodspeed presented his jailbreak of the Chinese MD380 digital handheld radio. The hack has since been published at GitHub with all needed source code to turn a cheap digital radio into the first hardware scanner for DMR digital mobile radio: a firmware patch for promiscuous mode that puts all talk groups through the speaker including private calling. In the U.S. the competing APCO-25 is a suite of standards for digital radio communications for federal users, but a lot of state/county and local public safety organizations including city police dispatch channels are using the Mototrbo MotorolaDMR digital standard.
Input Devices

France Says AZERTY Keyboards Fail French Typists (arstechnica.com) 315

Ars Technica reports that the AZERTY keyboard layout used in France has a problem: it's not very good for writing French words, many of which require accents that can be accessed only awkwardly. An excerpt from the Ars story: In a statement released this week, the ministry lamented the fact that French keyboards, which use the AZERTY layout rather than the QWERTY layout familiar to English speakers, make it unnecessarily difficult to type common symbols and letters. While the 26 letters of the alphabet as well as common accented letters like é, à, è, and ù are generally represented similarly on an AZERTY keyboard, the ministry said that the @ symbol and the € symbol are inconveniently or inconsistently placed, as are commands to capitalize symbols like "ç". The trouble of finding how to properly capitalize accented letters is a big issue in written French, especially for legal texts and government documents where every letter of the names of people and businesses are capitalized. Often, an accent is the only distinguishing factor between two similarly spelled words.

Cheap Web Cams Can Open Permanent, Difficult-To-Spot Backdoors Into Networks 77

An anonymous reader writes: They might seems small and relatively insignificant, but cheap wireless web cams deployed in houses and offices (and connected to home and office networks) might just be the perfect way in for attackers. Researchers from the Vectra Threat Lab have demonstrated how easy it can be to embed a backdoor into such a web cam, with the goal of proving how IoT devices expand the attack surface of a network. They bought a consumer-grade D-Link WiFi web camera for roughly $30, and cracked it open. After installing a back-door to the Linux system that runs the camera, and then turning off the ability to update the system, they had an innocent seeming but compromised device that could be stealthily added to a network environment.

Lenovo To Build Google's First Project Tango Phone (pcworld.com) 48

Press2ToContinue writes: Google and Lenovo announced plans Thursday night in Las Vegas for the first Project Tango phone to be released this summer for less than $500. Project Tango is Google's vision to bring augmented reality to phones by enabling devices to be able to sense where they are and what is around them. During the announcement, Google's Johnny Lee demonstrated measuring a room using a prototype Project Tango tablet and then shopping at Lowes for furniture that would fit it. Google also announced an app incubator for Project Tango, which they hope will encourage developers to start building apps that make use of the AR technology.
Input Devices

Video Api.ai CEO Ilya Gelfenbeyn Talks About Conversational Voice Interfaces (Video) 32

Api.ai makes an Android voice-controlled utility called Assistant. I have it on my Android phone. It is one of many simiar apps, and I have been trying them a little at a time. Are any of them as good as Siri? Let's just say, "Quality varies."

And Android voice assistants aren't the point of this interview, anyway. It's more about the process of developing interactive, voice-based IO systems. This whole voice/response thing is an area that's going to take off any year now -- and has been in that state for several decades -- but may finally be going somewhere, spurred by intense competition between the many companies working in this field, including Ilya's.
First Person Shooters (Games)

Rail Gun Controller Lets You Pack the Heat of Your Air Soft Gun In Any FPS Game (hothardware.com) 44

MojoKid writes: The cool thing about playing Duck Hunt on the NES back in the day, was that you got to point a plastic gun at the television and shoot directly at fowl or clay discs. It offered a deeper level of immersion than what would have been possible with a standard controller. Such is the pitch for a new Kickstarter project called Rail Gun. Rail Gun is a series of attachments designed to work with your existing Air Soft gun. The pieces attach to any standard Air Soft gun to give you a "truly realistic and immersive experience for FPS games." There are five units that comprise the Rail Gun. The Main Unit houses the power and sensitivity buttons; the Jog Unit has an analog stick, special action button, and a few other components; the Weapon Unit lets you cycle through weapons, walk, drop items, and so forth; the Trigger Unit features the trigger and buttons for jumping, zooming, reloading, and crouching; and the USB Unit is what plugs into your PC or console. The Rail Gun uses fast rotation technology to track your vision based on where you're pointing your Air Soft gun. It also uses an algorithm to enhance aiming by detecting minor hand trembles, and you can adjust the sensitivity of this to your liking.

Four Factors That Will Push VR Forward in 2016 (technologyreview.com) 64

At MIT Technology Review, Rachel Metz lists four factors she believes will mean great advancements for virtual reality in the next year. More and better games; wider adoption of specialized cameras for capturing the deep imagery that immersive worlds require; specialized presentation techniques that supplement VR with physical cues like temperature or direction; and availability of better viewing hardware. That better hardware seems poised to take off. According to the article, Facebook-owned Oculus’s first consumer headset, Rift, is slated for release in the first quarter of the year, while the HTC Vive—a headset created by smartphone maker HTC and video-game company Valve—is set to be available to consumers in April. Sony, meanwhile, is building its own headset, called PlayStation VR, which the company says will be released in the first half of the year.

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