Augmented reality – Cars that can see pillars and posts

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It seems that fiction is indeed overtaking fact these days with laser weapons and robot sharks. The latest addition to this is by Jaguar Land Rover who is in the process of developing a system which would allow a driver to be sable to see right through objects such as pillars and posts, essentially putting an end to blind spots and is touted to be among the first augmented reality systems that could actually end up saving lives.

It operates by having cameras that point outside feed images to screens which are embedded in objects such as posts and pillars, essentially providing what is called a 360-degree view and then joining these screens with images from a projector that displays images onto the windshield of the vehicle. The screens are activated only when there is vital and critical information to be displayed so as not to be a hindrance to the driver and passengers.

Skype now has a real-time translator

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Popular video call and collaboration app Skype has made its way into our lives and managed to stay there ever since. Its light, easy to use and helps us be connected to those who are important to us, be it loved one or the ones we work with for a better tomorrow. With many people speaking different languages collaborating over various projects, its no wonder that Skype decided it was time to unveil its newest feature; real time translation.

The company has launched its first preview of its real time translation service initially for English and Spanish, along with translation options for over 40 languages within instant messaging conversations.

The new translation feature is available for anyone running Microsoft Windows 8.1 and/or Windows 10 Technical Preview on their PC or tablet.

The company also posted a video displaying how the real time translation would work by taking a conversation between Spanish-speaking students in Mexico City and English-speaking students in Tacoma, Washington.

The app acts similar to a a third party interpreter between two parties and as such carries out the translation by forwarding the audio streams to speech engines for translation and transcription. This allows for translation as soon as the individual has finished talking.

The system breaks down phrases into individual words before connecting the dots and translating the language and can even filter out common speech phrases such as “ahs” and “umms” within the conversation.

The little USB necklace that can hack any computer

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Necklaces are usually seen as a gift for a loved one and a fashion accessory right? Well not always. According to one Samy Kamkar who is a developer of projects such as the huge worm that dominated MySpace in 2006, or SkyJack, the drone that hijacks other drones, released a video that show the somewhat ridiculous abilities of a “necklace” that he wears.

What’s so special about it you ask? Well for starters, this is no ordinary necklace. Christened USBdriveby, the necklace is actually a microcontroller-on-a-chain powered via USB which has been coded to manipulate the ever present security flaws in a PC’s USB port and in about a minute, can make things nasty. Listed below are the processes it initiates

  • It pretends to be a keyboard/mouse
  • If you have a network monitor app, using a a series of keystrokes, it communicates with the app that everything is okay and to silence all warnings
  • It disables OS X’s built-in firewall
  • It edits your DNS settings and and changes it to something that the hacker has control over, thereby allowing them to replace any website with one of their own creation
  • It opens up a backdoor, then establishes an outbound connection to a remote server which can send remote commands. Since the connection is outbound, it eliminates the need to tinker with the user’s router port forwarding settings.
  • It closes any windows and settings screens it opened up, sweeping up its footprints as it heads for the door.

So basically, you are completely hacked in under a minute and left vulnerable even after the device has been removed. Scary isn’t it? Well, if you’re asking yourself what can be done to protect yourself, the answer is; Not much.

Many of these flaws are inherent to how the USB protocol was designed and implemented across the vast number of computers available for us. And short of disabling all USB ports on all PCs and laptops and tablets, there’s no real solution.

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