Tag Archives | Smartphones

Our Smartphones Are Poised To Predict Our Every Move

When will happen when our gadgets know where we are going before we do? It’s on the verge of becoming reality, writes Slate:

Your cellphone knows where you’ve been. And new research shows it can take a pretty good guess at where you’re going next. A team of British researchers has developed an algorithm that uses tracking data on people’s phones to predict where they’ll be in 24 hours. The average error: just 20 meters.

That’s far more accurate than past studies that have tried to predict people’s movements. Studies have shown that most people follow fairly consistent patterns over time, but traditional prediction algorithms have no way of accounting for breaks in the routine.

The researchers solved that problem by combining tracking data from individual participants’ phones with tracking data from their friends—i.e., other people in their mobile phonebooks. By looking at how an individual’s movements correlate with those of people they know, the team’s algorithm is able to guess when she might be headed, say, downtown for a show on a Sunday afternoon rather than staying uptown for lunch as usual.

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Don’t Ask Siri About Tiananmen Square

Apple has unveiled Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking versions of iPhone voice-controlled personality Siri, known for her subservient manner and witicisms. But Siri isn’t willing to crack a joke about everything. It may or may not be a glitch, but she really does not want to discuss Tiananmen Square with you, so stick to asking questions about the weather and where to buy things. The Wall Street Journal writes:

Some users have tested her devotion to free speech by asking her questions about the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square crackdown—a topic she seems loathe to broach. One screenshot posted to Twitter shows Siri responding to the question “Do you know about the Tiananmen incident?” with the answer: “I couldn’t find any appointments related to ‘Do you know about Tiananmen.’” A second try with the question rephrased – “What happened on June 4, 1989?”—produced an even stranger response: “I’m sorry, the person you are looking for is not in your address book.”

A[nother] screenshot posted suggested Siri wasn’t even able to provide directions to Tiananmen Square.

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If You Have a Smart Phone, Anyone Can Now Track Your Every Move

NavisonChristopher Mims spills the beans for Technology Review:
Location services company Navizon has a new system, called Navizon I.T.S., that could allow tracking of visitors in malls, museums, offices, factories, secured areas and just about any other indoor space. It could be used to examine patterns of foot traffic in retail spaces, assure that a museum is empty of visitors at closing time, or even to pinpoint the location of any individual registered with the system. But let's set all that aside for a minute while we freak out about the privacy implications. Most of us leave Wi-Fi on by default, in part because our phones chastise us when we don't. (Triangulation by Wi-Fi hotspots is important for making location services more accurate.) But you probably didn't realize that, using proprietary new "nodes" from Navizon, any device with an active Wi-Fi radio can be seen by a system like Navizon's. To demonstrate the technology, here's Navizon CEO and founder Cyril Houri hunting for one of his colleagues at a trade show using a kind of first person shooter-esque radar.
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Nokia Files Patent For Magnetic, Vibrating Tattoos

nokiaSomeday soon, you may pick your own magnetic resonance, in the form of a tattoo linking you to your personal possessions. BBC reports:

Vibrating magnetic tattoos may one day be used to alert mobile phone users to calls and text messages.

The idea…in a filing to the US Patent and Trademark Office…describes tattooing, stamping or spraying “ferromagnetic” material onto a user’s skin and then pairing it with a mobile device. It suggests different vibrations could be used to create a range of alerts.

The filing also suggests that the magnetised marking could be used as an identity check. By picking a certain shape the user could create a “specific magnetic impedance” – effectively their own magnetic fingerprint. This could act as a “password” and gives the example of a laptop refusing to display content on its screen unless it verifies its user is close by.

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Man Gets Smartphone Built Into His Arm

phoneFor this disabled British man, becoming a bit of a transhuman cyborg makes everyday tasks more doable. However, I think the rest of us will eventually get smartphones implanted in our arms simply out of laziness. Via the Telegraph:

Trevor Prideaux, who was born without his left arm, used to have to balance the smartphone on his prosthetic arm or put it on a flat surface to use it. But now Mr. Prideaux, 50, can call and text his loved ones without moving the mobile, which is embedded into his fiberglass and laminate limb.

The catering manager sought help from medical experts and communications chiefs at Nokia to build the special prosthethic. They carefully carved a phone shaped fibrecast cradle into the skin-colored prototype, allowing his Nokia C7 to sit inside it.

Mr Prideaux, of Wedmore, Somerset, said: “I think this is the first time this has ever been done in the world – and it is brilliant.

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The Gadgets We Never Heard Of

Did you know that the iPod is basically a ripoff of a German transistor radio from the 1950s? Via the Atlantic, selections from Bill Buxton’s collection of little-known gadgets (such as early touchscreen devices, the first robotic chess game, and a “mindblowing Casio watch from 1984″) which sadly are in the secret dustbin of history:

055446_braunipod

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Verizon To Put Location-Tracking Warning Sticker On Phones

Verizon WarningJulianne Pepitone reports in CNN:

In the wake of a giant brouhaha over the news that Apple’s iPhones record and store users’ locations, Verizon Wireless says it will start slapping ‘we can track you!’ warning stickers on its products.

Verizon’s announcement came in the form of a letter to Representatives Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Joe Barton, a Texas Republican. In March, they asked the four major wireless carriers to explain how and why they track mobile location data.

All four carriers acknowledged that they store location data for varying periods of time, but Verizon was the only company to suggest a warning label. The company says it will begin including the removable sticker on all new devices it sells.

The sticker warns: “This device is capable of determining its (and your) physical, geographical location and can associate this location data with other customer information. To limit access to location information by others, refer to the User Guide for Location settings and be cautious when downloading, accessing or using applications and services.”

Verizon also disclosed that it stores location data and other customer information for seven years.

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Can Cellphones Become Credit Cards?

New iPhone?AT&T and Verizon are testing a new feature designed to “supplant more than 1 billion plastic cards in American wallets” – by letting people make traditional credit card purchases using their cellphones!

It seems like a glimpse of the future, but it’s already in place in Japan, Turkey and the U.K., with smart phones simply being waved over a reader to complete in-store purchases. “This is definitely a game-changer,” an analyst told Bloomberg news, saying that already cellphone carriers are “the biggest recurring billers in every market. They are experts at processing payments.” And the concept is already being cheered on by retailers. “We have long argued that real competition is missing from today’s payments market,” one industry spokesperson added.

Plus, the cellphone carriers are attacking when credit card companies are already being reviled for their dishonest disclosures on penalty fees. (Today Forbes cited a new study which shows that some credit cards “no longer provide full disclosure of the terms of the penalty rate, or fail to correctly follow disclosure requirements required by the new Federal Reserve rules.”) Consumers are already experiencing raised hopes that federal stimulus cash can somehow eliminate credit card debt.… Read the rest

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Smart Phones May One Day Be Universal Translators

Babel FishSure beats inserting a Babel Fish into the ear. Ryan Kim writes in the San Fransisco Chronicle:
In science fiction, characters often turn to a portable universal translator to help bridge the linguistic divide, either among humans or with aliens. But the concept doesn't just exist in the imagination of "Star Trek" writers or the pages of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Researchers are actually closing in on the technology and foresee its application in the coming years in a very familiar device: the smart phone. Imagine walking into a restaurant in Beijing and ordering off the menu and talking with waiters in Chinese. It's a future that is on the way to becoming a reality.
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