Technology

Mon
23
Sep
John Lister's picture

Google Responds to Device 'Eavesdropping' Claims

Google is making several changes to the way it handles audio collected from phones and smart gadgets such as the Google Home speaker. It follows revelations that humans listened to recordings collected by several tech giants. Amazon, Apple and ... Google were all hit by claims that they'd not done enough to make clear that staff or contractors listened to recordings to check the accuracy of automatic speech recognition. In several cases, human engineers heard sensitive material which appeared to have been collected unintentionally, rather than the user meaning to make a spoken query or request. ... (view more)

Thu
19
Sep
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Study Reveals Smart Gadgets Share Data Unexpectedly

Researchers have discovered that many smart gadgets (such as smart TVs and streaming sticks) send data to tech companies, even when idle. The purpose of the experiment was to determine if devices were being used to monitor users, or could ... potentially leak data about the user to a third party. The research was a joint project between Northeastern University and the UK's Imperial College London. They examined 81 devices under the broad category of the Internet of Things (IoT). The study included security cameras, home automation devices such as WiFi plugs, Smart TV sets, smart speakers and home ... (view more)

Thu
25
Jul
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Robocall Bill Passes House

The House of Representatives has overwhelmingly backed a bill to crack down on unwanted robocalls. The bipartisan measure would increase regulatory power and make use of technology to tackle the problem. The proposed Stopping Bad Robocalls Act ... passed by 429 votes to 3. It follows a 97 to 1 vote in the Senate on a similar bill in May. It's now highly likely one of the bills will pass through both houses and become law. (Source: appleinsider.com ) Robocalls are automatically dialed phone calls. Because there's no need for a human to dial the number, both legitimate marketers and scammers can ... (view more)

Mon
15
Jul
John Lister's picture

Google Admits Staff Listen to Google Home Recordings

Google has admitted that staff listen to some recordings from the Google Home smart speaker. It says it's only for quality control purposes. It made the comments after a contractor in the Netherlands went to local media to talk about his work, in ... which he was paid a "few cents" to transcribe comments and questions made by people using the voice controlled device or phone app. According to the worker, some of the clips he heard did not appear to be people intentionally using the device. This included one case of a mother scolding a child and another clip which the worker suspected ... (view more)

Wed
26
Jun
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Revealed: Why Old-School USB Cables Never Fit the First Time

The man who co-created the USB plug says its greatest annoyance was simply a matter of cost. Ajay Bhatt says that in the original design of the USB-A cable, the plugs were not reversible in order to keep costs down, which would then help get the ... format established. Bhatt discussed his work in an interview with National Public Radio (NPR). He talked about the often baffling experience in which users would try to plug a USB cable in, find that it would not fit, flip it over, find it didn't fit (again), then flip it back to its original orientation and find that inexplicably it now fit. It's a ... (view more)

Thu
28
Mar
John Lister's picture

Google's New Amp Email: Good or Bad?

Google is to make emails more interactive. It's billed as offering "more engaging and actionable email experiences" but might appeal to marketers more than users. It's all to do with the release of what Google calls "AMP for Email." AMP (Accelerated ... Mobile Pages) already exists and is a project designed to have web pages open quickly on mobile devices even if they contain media such as photos or videos. AMP for Email makes it possible to send a document in AMP format, but have it delivered as an email. At its most basic level, that should mean emails will be quicker to load, rather ... (view more)

Fri
15
Mar
John Lister's picture

Google Phones Become Seeing Eyes for Blind

A new Google app uses a phone camera to describe the world around blind and visually impaired people. It's an artificial intelligence take on a task that's already performed remotely by human volunteers. The app, dubbed "Google Lookout," works best ... when the user puts the phone around their neck like wearing a lanyard, or in a shirt pocket with the camera lens uncovered. The app then uses the camera view to analyze what's around the user and describe what it can "see". The idea is that the app activates in situations where a blind user might ask for help, adjusting to context. For ... (view more)

Thu
28
Feb
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Bill Gates Predicts Breakthrough Technology

Bill Gates has picked 10 technologies he thinks will break through in 2019. Perhaps surprisingly for the Microsoft founder, only one is even partially related to computers. Gates made the picks after being chosen as the first ever guest editor of ... the MIT Technology Review annual list. His only real computer-related choice was artificial intelligence-based assistants (which appear on PCs as well as mobile devices and gadgets) doing a better job of understanding human language. That's always tough, because human speech doesn't follow mathematical logical rules and often depends on context. ( ... (view more)

Thu
31
Jan
John Lister's picture

Robocalls, Spam Likely to Surpass Legit Calls in 2019

The number of robocalls to Americans rose by nearly 50 percent last year, according to a newly-published estimate. It's consistent with other reports that suggest that 2019 will be the first year where half of all phone calls are marketing messages. ... The figure comes from Hiya, a "spam-monitoring service" and is based on data from 450,000 users of its phone app. There's reason for a note of caution on the raw numbers, as it's possible the type of people who would use such an app are getting more unwanted calls than the average citizen in the first place. That aside, Hiya says that if the ... (view more)

Wed
30
Jan
John Lister's picture

WiFi Could Provide Electricity, Charge Smartphone

A new gadget can turn WiFi signals into electricity. It could one day mean an end to charging phone batteries, though the power levels mean medical uses might be more realistic. The device is a new variant of a "rectenna," which is short for ... rectifying antenna. Traditionally it turns electromagnetic energy into direct current electricity. Although the rectenna was developed more than 50 years ago, it's not been widely used. At the moment the most common use is in contactless cards, where a wireless signal from a card reader can not only open communications, but provide just enough ... (view more)

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