Over the telephone, in jail and online, a new digital bounty is being harvested: the human voice. Businesses and governments around the world increasingly are turning to voice biometrics, or voiceprints, to pay pensions, collect taxes, track criminals and replace passwords. Those companies have helped enter more than 65 million voiceprints into corporate and government databases.
Microsoft is giving its MSN news service a crisper look, new lifestyle tools and seamless syncing across devices. The company says the revamped site fits in with Microsoft's overall strategy of making mobile phones and Internet-based services priorities as its traditional businesses—Windows and Office software installed on desktops—slow down or decline.
Today, big data is a hot topic within almost every industry. May saw the biggest ever European technologists conference on big data, Berlin Buzzwords, while the likes of O'Reilly's Strata conference pull in huge numbers of attendees keen to learn how to adapt to this new world. Despite all the interest, a great deal of confusion remains around big data.
A group of computer scientists from Brown Univ. were at the Johnson Space Center in Houston for a marathon of intensive coding to build new software for the Robonaut 2. Chad Jenkins’ laboratory builds user interfaces that can control robots of all kinds with an off-the-shelf Web browser. The system can be adapted for even the most complex robots, and NASA wants the team to adapt the interface for the humanoid robot, Robonaut 2—“R2.”
Researchers in Switzerland have created an Android app which lets users get together to crack a modern cryptographic code. Building on earlier work that used a network of 300 PlayStation consoles, the scientists decided to leverage the power of smartphones. By running the algorithm a very large number of times the code may be broken eventually.
It’s often said that humans are wired to connect: The neural wiring that helps us read the emotions and actions of other people may be a foundation for human empathy. But for the past eight years, MIT Media Lab spinout Innerscope Research has been using neuroscience technologies that gauge subconscious emotions by monitoring brain and body activity to show just how powerfully we also connect to media and marketing communications.
Port scanners are programs that search the Internet for systems that exhibit potential vulnerabilities. According to report published online, Hacienda is one such port scanning program. The report says that this program is being put into service by the "Five Eyes," a federation of Western secret services. Scientists have developed free software that can help prevent this kind of identification and thus the subsequent capture of systems.
Software developed by Univ. of California, Berkeley computer scientists seeks to tame the vast amount of visual data in the world by generating a single photo that can represent massive clusters of images. This tool can give users the photographic gist of a kid on Santa’s lap, housecats, or brides and grooms at their weddings. It works by generating an image that literally averages the key features of the other photos.
Performing systematic analyses of both known and imagined chemical compounds to find their key properties, Northwestern Univ. engineers have created a database that takes some of the guesswork out of designing new materials. Called the Open Quantum Materials Database (OQMD), it launched in November and is the largest database in the world of its kind, containing analyses of 285,780 compounds and growing.
Russian hackers have stolen 1.2 billion user names and passwords in a series of Internet heists affecting 420,000 websites, according to a report published Tuesday. The thievery was described in a New York Times story based on the findings of Hold Security, a Milwaukee firm that has a history of uncovering online security breaches. For confidentiality reasons, the identities of the affected websites weren't identified by the Times.
Imagine a world in which your wristwatch or other wearable device communicates directly with your online profiles, storing information about your daily activities where you can best access it—all without requiring batteries. Or, battery-free sensors embedded around your home could track minute-by-minute temperature changes and send that information to your thermostat to help conserve energy.
Researchers at MIT, Microsoft, and Adobe have developed an algorithm that can reconstruct an audio signal by analyzing minute vibrations of objects depicted in video. In one set of experiments, they were able to recover intelligible speech from the vibrations of a potato-chip bag photographed from 15 feet away through soundproof glass.
An integrated, web-based platform for measuring research output and impact, monitoring trends and benchmarking, InCites is Thomson Reuters’ latest effort to allow users to easily assess and look beyond the global influence of a specific journal to conduct transparent analysis and make better decisions. The expanded assessment solution has been implemented on the 2014 edition of Journal Citation Reports.
In 2006, DARPA launched a long-term project called CORONET, which sought to develop a cloud-based technology that could enable affordable, fast bandwidth and ensure the survival of cloud networks in the event of system-wide failures. After years of work, scientists from AT&T, IBM and Applied Communication Sciences have announced a proof-of-concept technology that reduces setup times for cloud-to-cloud connectivity from days to seconds.
Firms buy specific keywords, including competitors’ brand names, on search engines such as Google or Bing to reach consumers searching for those words. Online advertisements employing such keywords are called search ads. This practice can backfire, however. A new study shows that any large difference in reputation between the two brand names is further magnified in the minds of consumers.
The National Science Foundation has announced a five-year, $4 million award to tackle the challenge of synchronizing time in cyber-physical systems, which are systems that integrate sensing, computation, control and networking into physical objects and infrastructure. The grant brings together expertise from five universities to improve the way computers maintain knowledge of time and synchronize it with other networked devices.
Without a specific search term in mind, it can be surprisingly hard to find information on the Internet , or to know how to start searching. To help, computer scientists have created the first fully automated computer program that teaches everything there is to know about any visual concept. Called Learning Everything about Anything (LEVAN), the program searches millions of books and images to learn all possible variations of a concept.
The need for robust password security has never been more critical than now, as people use smartphones or tablets to pay bills and store personal information. A new Rutgers study shows that free-form gestures can be used to unlock phones and grant access to apps. These gestures are less likely to be observed and reproduced than than traditional methods such as typed passwords.
Computer scientists at the Univ. of California, San Diego have developed a tool that allows hardware designers and system builders to test security—a first for the field. There is a big push to create the so-called Internet of Things, where all devices are connected and communicate with one another. As a result, embedded systems—small computer systems built around microcontrollers—are becoming more common.
A demonstration by NASA and MIT engineers last fall showed, for first time, that a data communication technology exists that can provide space dwellers with the connectivity we all enjoy here on Earth. Next month, the team will present the first comprehensive overview of the performance of their laser-based communication uplink between the moon and Earth, which beat the previous record transmission speed last fall by a factor of 4,800.
Wondering what the impact on killer whales might be from a turbine installed under the sea? Curious whether crabs and other crustaceans might be attracted to underwater cables carrying electricity to homes and businesses on the mainland? Interested in which country is harvesting the most energy from the world's oceans? The answers to these and many more lie with Tethys.
Welcome to the virtual house call, the latest twist on telemedicine. It's increasingly getting attention as a way to conveniently diagnose simple maladies, such as whether that runny nose and cough is a cold or the flu. One company even offers a smartphone app that connects to a doctor. Patient groups and technology advocates are now pushing to expand this approach digital care to people with complex chronic diseases.
Microsoft Corp., which has skewered rival Google Inc. for going through customer emails to deliver ads, has acknowledged that it searched emails in a blogger's Hotmail account to track down who was leaking company secrets. John Frank, deputy general counsel for Microsoft, which owns Hotmail, says in a statement that the software company "took extraordinary actions in this case."
The White House on Wednesday announced an initiative to provide private companies and local governments better access to already public climate data. The idea is that with this localized data they can help the public understand the risks they face, especially in coastal areas. The government also is working with Google, Microsoft and Intel, to come up with tools to make communities more resilient in dealing with weather extremes.
The 360-degree views of the Grand Canyon that went live Thursday in Google's Street View map option once were reserved largely for rafters who were lucky enough to board a private trip through the remote canyon, or those willing to pay big bucks to navigate its whitewater rapids. But a partnership with the advocacy group American Rivers has allowed to Google to take its all-seeing eyes down nearly 300 miles of rich geologic history.
The World Wide Web marks its 25th anniversary this year. On Wednesday, its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, commented about the state of the Internet and about the need to defend principles that have made the Web successful. Named an R&D Scientist of the Year in 1996, Berners-Lee has been a long-time proponent of openness and neutrality on the Web.
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