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11-04-2012, 11:13 AM
Star Trek's tricorder becomes a reality...
Turning the smartphone from a telephone into a tricorder
November 3, 2012 - Earlier this year, well known cardiologist Eric Topol published his highly successful book, “The Creative Destruction of Medicine.”

In it he describes several examples where smartphones, particularly the iPhone (http://www.extremetech.com/tag/iphone), have been morphed into first-rate medical devices with the potential to put clinical-level diagnostics in the hands of everyday users. Coincidentally, Topol was on a flight not long ago, returning from a lecture where he had spoken about a new device made by AliveCor. The pilot intoned an urgent, “is there a doctor on board?” In response, Topol took out the AliveCor prototype, recorded a highly accurate electrocardiogram (ECG) of an ailing passenger, and made a quick diagnosis from 35,000 feet.

As the leader in the smartphone revolution, the iPhone has been the platform of choice for early adopters in the health and quantified self (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantified_Self) arenas. Even so, there are a few shortcomings to development on the iPhone which, at least among DIYers, has led to Android becoming the path forward. Apple’s single-vendor solution and sequestering of many low-level input/output details behind the premise of ease of use have made interfacing the device to external sensors both a difficult and expensive proposition.

While it can be nearly impossible to write an Android app that will work on every device out there, writing an app to work on one’s own smartphone or tablet is fairly straightforward. Another challenge to the smartphone as a medical device is that many important sensor variables are analog in nature. It is possible to use the analog-to-digital converter on the audio input for data acquisition, however in the absence of sophisticated multiplexing one is limited to a single channel (unless some kind of expansion device is used).

Run tracking and calorie counting apps can certainly be regarded among the successes of the smartphone, but without dedicated sensor hardware, the philosophy of “there’s an app for that” only goes so far. A host of products now available for Android let users with a little bit of technical know-how create powerful devices previously found only in the domain of hospitals and law enforcement. One of the most successful expansion boards that allows Android devices to control external instruments and to orchestrate the collection of a variety of sensor data is the IOIO board (https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10748). The system works well in wireless mode with most Bluetooth dongles, and its on-board FPGA (http://www.extremetech.com/tag/fpga) gives 25 I/O channels, including plenty for analog input. It also handles analog output via pulse width modulation (PWM).

MORE (http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/138658-turning-the-smartphone-from-a-telephone-into-a-tricorder)

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Efficient Power Amplifier Could Double Battery Life of Smartphones
11.01.12 - The modern smartphone is the Hungry Hungry Hippo of the electronics world. Tablets, e-readers, and even notebooks are more efficient than the power-sucking smartphone in your pocket.

While battery technology is slowly moving forward, an MIT spinout company is working to reduce the power consumed by not only smartphones but the base stations that keep them connected to the world. MIT Technology review reports that startup Eta Devices (http://etadevices.com/) is bench testing a new power amplifier chip that consumes less power than those currently found in smartphones (http://www.technologyreview.com/news/506491/efficiency-breakthrough-promises-smartphones-that-use-half-the-power/) and base stations. Power amplifier chips transform electricity into radio signals and keep your smartphone connected to your carrier’s network.

In current power amplifier chips the standby mode pulls a hefty amount of power in order to be ready to communicate with cell towers. Smartphones like the iPhone 5 have up to five power amplifier chips in them. These chips lose more than 65 percent of their energy to heat. It’s the reason your smartphone gets warm when you download large files.

Eta Devices hopes to create a single chip that would regulate the amount of power needed by the radio by determining how much power is needed as many as 20 million times per second. Called asymmetric multilevel outphasing, the new technology would find the optimal energy usage needed by the radio without sacrificing the connection between smartphone and cell tower.

The first application of the new technology will be in cell towers in 2013, according to the company. Towers currently lose 67 percent of their energy to heat and need to have cooling units installed to keep the power amplifiers from overheating. According to Eta Devices CEO Mattias Astrom, their chips will reduce the energy needed by towers by 50 percent. Once the technology hits smartphones, the mad search for an available power outlet at around 2 p.m. might go the way of searching for a pay phone when got a page on your beeper.


11-13-2012, 09:41 PM
Is 'headset computing' the future?...
Motorola unveils a computer that straps onto your head
13 November 2012 - Imagine a computer that isn't a rectangular box like the PC on your desk or the smartphone in your pocket. Nor is it driven by a touchscreen or mouse and keyboard.

Instead you wear it on your head and interact with it through voice commands. This isn't a fantasy look-ahead to what computers may be like in years to come. It's an actual product that is scheduled to go on sale in the New Year. Just don't expect an exciting name. The HC1 is made by Motorola Solutions, which should not to be confused with the other half of what used to be the same company, Motorola Mobility, a handset-maker now owned by Google.

The device looks a bit like a massively overgrown telephone headset, with overtones of a cycle helmet and maybe a gas mask thrown in. It comes in two parts: there's an adjustable cradle that fixes the device to your head, and the computer itself is in a metal bar that curls around the side of your head. A miniature screen is located at the front, in front of your face. You need to look down slightly to view it. Using voice commands, the user can order the device to open files, check emails or zoom in with the camera to look in closer detail at what's in front of them.

Hands-free helper

It's intended for use in working environments where people need to access complex information, and having both hands free is an important priority. "If you imagine somebody up, say, a telegraph pole at the very top, needing to rewire something, they don't really want to be fiddling with a laptop," explains Paul Reed, Motorola's mobile computing product manager. "They can get all the information they need and do the job safely with this device." Potential users include maintenance engineers in remote locations, construction workers, architects and warehouse staff pulling stock off the shelves following complex computerised schedules. Nottingham-based software firm, Ikanos Consulting, is already developing an app for the product called Paramedic Pro. It is designed to let ambulance workers view medical records and stream video back to a hospital to prepare doctors for a patient's arrival.

Another firm has shown interest in using the headset to help its workers maintain power lines at heights. Its staff are required to climb out of helicopters to do the job - it is easy to understand how a hands-free computer would be useful in these circumstances! Motorola reckons it will sell several thousand of its computer headsets each year at a cost of $3,000 to $4,000 each (1,900 to 2,500). That is approximately the same price as a rugged laptop. But product manager Paul Reed recognises that the device is unlikely to find a mass market. "Its very niche, very specific to certain types of enterprise," he explains. "I doubt if we're going to walk down the High Street wearing these devices in future."

More Vision of the future (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20316589)

06-26-2017, 08:53 PM
Mexico tells a whopper...
Spyware to Tap Into Smartphones Puts Users’ Rights at Risk
June 24, 2017 — Governments around the world are using surveillance software that taps into individual smartphones, taking screenshots, reading email and tracking users’ movements, according to security experts and civil liberties groups.

The rise of so-called spyware comes as electronic communications have become more encrypted, frustrating law enforcement and governments’ surveillance efforts. Over the past several years, private companies have begun selling advanced software that first appears as a text message with a link. When a person clicks on the link, the phone becomes infected. A third party can then read emails, take data and listen to audio, as well as track users’ movements.

Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui checks her phone during a press conference in Mexico City, June 19, 2017. An internet watchdog has found that Mexican journalists, lawyers and activists were targeted by Israeli-produced spyware that is sold exclusively to governments.

The companies that sell this spyware exclusively to government agencies insist that the software must be used only in a legal manner, to fight crime and terrorism. However, security researchers and civil liberties groups contend that some governments use the programs to track human rights activists, journalists and others. A recent story in The New York Times focused on activists and journalists in Mexico who have received text messages and emails with links that, if clicked on, would infect their devices with spyware. In some cases, the messages appeared to come from legitimate sources, such as the U.S. Embassy. The Mexican government says it does not target activists, journalists and others with spyware unless it has “prior judicial authorization.”

‘Lawful intercept’

In recent years, there’s been a rise in software sales in what is known as the “lawful intercept” market, said Mike Murray, vice president of security intelligence at Lookout, a mobile security company based in San Francisco, California. Countries that can’t make their own surveillance software can now buy sophisticated surveillance tools, Murray said. “What’s new is the enthusiasm [from] nation-states. ... It’s a capability they always wished they had. Now they have it,” he added. Lookout, which makes security software and services, receives monthly information from more than 100 million phones in 150 countries. It has seen spyware “in every kind of contentious place around the world,” Murray said.

Nation-state use

The use of nation-state spyware used to be limited to a handful of governments, said Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit digital rights group. But now that the price of the spyware has come down, countries can spend a few hundred thousand dollars to get the same capability. Galperin spent three weeks in Mexico last year training activists. One tip she gives: Users who are not certain that a link in email or a text message is safe should forward it to a separate account, such as Google’s Gmail or Google Docs, to prevent infection. “We should be very concerned,” Galperin said. “Surveillance malware is incredibly powerful. You have full control of the machine. You can see everything the user can see, and do everything the user can do.”


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Activists, Journalists in Mexico Complain of Government Spying
June 19, 2017 — Activists, human-rights lawyers and journalists in Mexico filed a criminal complaint on Monday following a report that their smartphones had been infected with spying software sold to the government to fight criminals and terrorists.

The complaint to the attorney general's office by nine people followed a report by the New York Times that some of them had been spied on with software known as Pegasus, which Israeli company NSO Group sold to Mexico's government. Citing a report by a research group that investigated the alleged spying, the complaint says the attorney general's office and the defense ministry were among government organizations that purchased the software. Those claiming to be targeted by the software included Carmen Aristegui, a journalist who in 2014 helped reveal that President Enrique Pena Nieto's wife had acquired a house from a major government contractor, as well as Carlos Loret de Mola, a journalist at leading television network Televisa.

Others included in the complaint were anti-corruption activists and lawyers representing the families of 43 trainee teachers whose disappearance and apparent massacre in 2014 created a huge public relations headache for Pena Nieto. Daniel Millan, a spokesman for Pena Nieto's office, issued a statement saying that there was no proof the Mexican government was responsible for the spying described in the New York Times story. "We condemn any attempt to violate the right to privacy of any person," the statement said.

A Reuters report in 2015 showed government surveillance requests were gathering speed in Mexico, raising concerns about a lack of oversight in a country plagued by corruption and collusion between security forces and criminal gangs. Mexico's government purchased about $80 million worth of spyware from NSO Group on condition it would only be used to investigate criminals and terrorists, the Times said.



Kidnapped Journalist Found Dead in Mexico
June 26, 2017 - The charred remains of a missing reporter have been found in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, bringing to seven the number of journalists murdered in that country this year.

Salvador Adame, director of the local television station 6TV, was abducted May 18 in the city of Nueva Italia, 400 kilometers west of Mexico City. State officials said Monday that Adame's burned remains were found in mid-June and were identified with DNA testing. Adame's abduction came after prominent journalist Javier Valdez was pulled out of his car and killed in broad daylight in Culiacan, in Mexico's Sinaloa state.

Frida Ortiz, wife of reporter Salvador Adame, speaks to the media during a protest against the May 18 disappearance of Adame, outside the offices of the Attorney General of the Republic in Mexico City

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says 40 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 1992 for reasons confirmed as related to their work. An additional 50 were slain during the same period under circumstances that have not been clarified.

At least four of the reporters killed this year were murdered in direct retaliation for their work, according to the CPJ, making Mexico the most dangerous country in the Western Hemisphere for media workers. On Monday, federal prosecutors in Mexico said they would ask for help from the FBI and other international groups in investigating reports of high-tech spying against journalists and human rights defenders in Mexico.


06-26-2017, 10:26 PM
The worst trend in smartphones is the price. The next Samsung Galaxy Note and next Apple iPhone are expected to sell for a little over $1000 each.

06-26-2017, 11:10 PM
The worst trend in smartphones is the price. The next Samsung Galaxy Note and next Apple iPhone are expected to sell for a little over $1000 each.
Which is why I'll likely never own one.

Sent from my evil cell phone.

06-27-2017, 09:13 AM
Which is why I'll likely never own one.

Sent from my evil cell phone.

I hear ya. And yet I might. The next Samsung Galaxy Note comes with a docking station so you can attach monitor, keyboard, and mouse. No need for a computer. So tempting.

06-28-2017, 08:33 AM
I hear ya. And yet I might. The next Samsung Galaxy Note comes with a docking station so you can attach monitor, keyboard, and mouse. No need for a computer. So tempting.
Unless it mows the lawn or changes the oil as a feature -it's not worth 1000 bucks to me given how fragile it is.

Sent from my evil cell phone.