Bacteria Can Be Used to Power Micro-Machines, Including Smartphone Components

Bacteria Can Be Used to Power Micro-Machines, Including Smartphone Components: Study

A team of scientists has demonstrated how the natural movement of bacteria could be harnessed to assemble and power microscopic ‘windfarms’ – or other man-made micro-machines such as smartphone components.

Using computer simulations, the scientists from Oxford University demonstrated that the chaotic swarming effect of dense active matter such as bacteria can be organised to turn cylindrical rotors and provide a steady power source.

“Many of society’s energy challenges are on the gigawatt scale, but some are downright microscopic. One potential way to generate tiny amounts of power for micromachines might be to harvest it directly from biological systems such as bacteria suspensions,” said study co-author Tyler Shendruk.

The study results were published recently in the journal ‘Science Advances’.

Swimming bacteria are normally too disordered to extract any useful power from. But when the team immersed a lattice of 64 symmetric microrotors into a dense bacterial suspension, the bacteria spontaneously organised itself in such a way that neighbouring rotors began to spin in opposite directions – a simple structural organisation reminiscent of a windfarm.

“The amazing thing is that we didn’t have to pre-design microscopic gear-shaped turbines. The rotors just self-assembled into a sort of bacterial windfarm,” Shendruk said.

“When we did the simulation with a single rotor in the bacterial turbulence, it just got kicked around randomly. But when we put an array of rotors in the living fluid, they suddenly formed a regular pattern, with neighbouring rotors spinning in opposite directions,” he added.

At micro scales, the simulations show that the flow generated by biological assemblies is capable of reorganising itself in such a way as to generate a persistent mechanical power for rotating an array of microrotors, which could be harnessed to power micro-machines.

NBC Universal Patents a Way to Detect BitTorrent Pirates in Real-Time

NBC Universal Patents a Way to Detect BitTorrent Pirates in Real-Time

  • NBC’s new patent will detect and target pirates
  • New patent is the company’s latest anti-piracy measure
  • Due to piracy, content owners suffer billions of dollars in losses

NBC Universal, an American media conglomerate, has been granted a new patent that can help track files being shared by groups via peer-to-peer networks in real-time. The patent titled “Early detection of high volume peer-to-peer swarms”, seems to be way forward for NBC Universal in its ongoing attempts to restrict piracy of its copyrighted content.

The new patent will essentially help the company identify the swarm’s popularity and take anti-piracy measures before is “too late to do much good.”

“Early detection of high volume swarms in a peer-to-peer network, including a data feed of peer-to-peer swarm activity, and an analytics engine processing the data feed and identifying the high volume swarms that have parameters that exceed a threshold. The system can include a pre-processing section for conditioning the swarm data for the analytics section. There can also be a verification section that confirms that the peer download file matches the target file,” notes the patent document issued by USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office).

“The early detection provides for enhanced anti-piracy efforts, improved allocation of network resources, and better business decision-making,” it adds. NBC Universal says that the “P2P infrastructure has many advantages” but it also has led to abuses.

Of course, piracy of digital assets on peer-to-peer networks is considered to be one of the biggest losses incurred by content owners, estimated to be in billions of dollars annually.

“These costs are typically passed along to the consuming public in terms of increased costs for legitimate purchased works and higher charges for increased deterrents to the piracy,” NBC Universal added.

Torrentfreak points out that Comcast, the parent company of NBC Universal, back in 2007 received criticism when it wanted to “actively throttle BitTorrent traffic.” It is not clear when the company intends to implement the new patent to restrict content piracy of copyrighted content. Notably, the patent was applied for back in 2009 but only granted last week. The methods needed to detect and target particular torrent files presumably need to be updated.

F-Secure Suggests How You Can ‘Uncensor’ Your Facebook News Feed

F-Secure Suggests How You Can 'Uncensor' Your Facebook News Feed

Following allegations that Facebook “censors” viewpoints its employees don’t like, Finland-based cyber-security company F-Secure has suggested certain steps that people can take to “uncensor” the Facebook News Feed to give users some control over what they like to see.

According to the cyber-security expert, Facebook users would never be able to control the ‘Trending’ section of the site, which the social networking giant insists is handled as objectively as possible through curators (and, apparently, a lot of help from Google).

“But you do have some control over your news feed, which is generated by Facebook’s algorithm Edgerank.”

F-Secure suggests that you can “get rid of the noise” by adding the people you want to get less news from to your “acquaintances” list on https://www.facebook.com/friends/organize.

You’ll see their posts a lot less often and – best of all – they’ll have no idea you’ve demoted them.

To let Facebook do less of the picking for you, go to the left column of your home page, under Favorites, next to News Feed click the arrow and select “Most Recent”.

While this won’t turn off Facebook’s algorithm completely, it will make it more likely you’ll see a diversity of sources in your feed.

To set your priority on the social network, click on the down arrow in the upper right corner of any Facebook page and select “News Feed Preferences” and then select “Prioritize who to see first” and then on the dropdown menu select “Pages only.”

Now click on those new pages you just added to your stream – along with the other valuable news sources you think help keep you informed.

You can also teach Facebook what you like. When you see something you like, click on it, comment on it, interact with it. Facebook exists to keep you in Facebook and will reward your clicks with similar content.

Snapdeal Announces Changes to Simplify Seller Policies

Snapdeal Announces Changes to Simplify Seller Policies

E-commerce major Snapdeal has reduced the marketing fees for over 120 sub-categories, including for digital products, electronics, women’s fashion, FMCG products, as part of its policies to attract more sellers to its platform.

The changes have been incorporated on the basis of the feedback received from sellers and will be effective from this week, a company statement said.

However, the marketing fee for nearly 30 sub-categories has been increased marginally, it added.

While the reduction in fee ranges from 0.2-18 percent, the increase ranges from 0.5 to 5.5 percent, it said.

Snapdeal has also simplified policies for its self-serve platform which helps sellers resolve their queries easily. This is expected to enable the sellers avoid penalties due to ignorance or complexity.

To reduce the hassle of return of sold goods, or exchange, Snapdeal said it will bear the cost for reverse pickup and payment collection, while packaging and shipping will be borne by sellers.

“We believe reduction in marketing fees will foster growth for our sellers. We have worked closely with our sellers and based on their feedback. We have made these policy changes to make them in-line with e-commerce industry best practises,” Vishal Chadha, Senior Vice President, Market Development, Snapdeal, said.

The policy refresh is a part of Snapdeal’s initiatives to make the seller journey more transparent and frictionless.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 Launched; Claimed to Be 10 Percent Faster Than Snapdragon 820

Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 Launched; Claimed to Be 10 Percent Faster Than Snapdragon 820

  • Snapdragon 821 devices will hit shelves starting H2 2016
  • Snapdragon 821 is claimed to bring several improvements
  • More details on the Snapdragon 821 SoC will be revealed soon

Qualcomm on Monday announced the successor to its Snapdragon 820 flagship mobile processor, called the Snapdragon 821. According to the chipmaker, the all-new Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 comes with improved speed, power savings, and greater application performance than its predecessor.

The company claims that the Snapdragon 821 is “engineered” to deliver a 10 percent general performance increase over the Snapdragon 820. Notably, the Snapdragon 821 SoC also packs the Kryo quad-core CPU with clock speeds of up to 2.4GHz. AnandTech points that the new premium chipset from Qualcomm will come with MSM8996 Pro naming.

The chipmaker expects that commercial devices powered by the Snapdragon 821 SoC will be available to consumers in the second half of 2016. Qualcomm promises that more information on the Snapdragon 821 will be revealed soon.

The company adds that the new Snapdragon 821 SoC retains most of the the Snapdragon 820’s features such as supporting download speeds of up to 600Mbps, LTE uploads up to 3x as fast with Snapdragon Upload, apart from improved call quality and reliability with Ultra HD Voice.

Some of the Snapdragon 820-powered smartphones launched so far in 2016 are the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge, Xiaomi Mi 5, LG G5, HTC 10, LeEco Le Max 2, and Sony Xperia X Performance.

Apart from the regular smartphones and tablets, the new Snapdragon 821 will also support upcoming technologies such as mobile VR head mounted displays.

“The Snapdragon 820 helped improve the user experience for mobile imaging, virtual reality, battery life, and connectivity speed and reliability, all the updates we’ve included in Snapdragon 821 will help keep devices powered by Snapdragon 800 premium-tier processors at the top of people’s shopping lists into the foreseeable future,” Qualcomm writes.

HTC Desire 10 Tipped to Launch in Q3 2016

  • HTC 10 has reportedly fails to garner expected sales
  • Company is said to be looking at an affordable variant
  • The HTC Desire 10 is expected in the third quarter

HTC may be looking to launch an affordable version of its flagship smartphone, the HTC 10, later this year. The company is now expected to launch the Desire 10 in the third quarter, with many specifications similar to the flagship. Presumably, it will be cheaper than the HTC 10 Lifestyle, already a slightly more basic version of the HTC 10.

The HTC 10 was launched with much fanfare in April this year. Unlike previous flagships, the new HTC 10 didn’t include the ‘One’ or ‘M’ series monikers. The smartphone came with top of the line specs, and had all the makings of a competitive Android flagship (read our first impressions here), but it didn’t manage to garner as much attention as HTC would’ve hoped. The smartphone’s sales are way below the expectation limit, and is pegged to be at around a million units by the end of the year, according to TrendForce In order to ease this slump in sales, HTC may be launching the affordable Desire 10 variant by the end of third quarter (presumably September).

Tipster Evan Blass in a series of tweets suggested that HTC is working on the Desire 10 smartphone, and revealed its Q3 2016 launch time-frame. When prompted for more details, he also shared an image of a rear camera module that’s presumably of the Desire 10. It looks similar to the rear camera on the HTC 10, with laser autofocus and dual-LED flash visible.

To recall, the HTC 10 sports a 12-UltraPixel laser autofocus camera with dual tone LED flash, BSI sensor and optical image stabilisation (OIS). The rear camera has the new generation UltraPixels camera with 1.55-micron pixels. It also includes other features like self-timer (up to 10 seconds), face detection, RAW format support, Auto HDR, and Hyperlapse. It also comes with Slow motion video with support for 720P at 120fps.

The Desire 10, presumably, will have many other HTC 10 identical features, apart from its metal build. It will be much affordable than the flagship, and will sport a plastic exterior. In India, the company launched the HTC 10 for Rs. 52, 990 (4GB of RAM and 32GB storage option) in May.

redBus Acquires Majority Stake in Peru’s Busportal

redBus Acquires Majority Stake in Peru's Busportal

Ibibo Group-owned redBus has bought a majority stake in Peru-based bus ticketing platform Busportal for an undisclosed amount, a move that will help the Indian entity foray into the Latin American market.

redBus, which also has operations in Malaysia and Singapore, will now gain entry into large and under-penetrated online bus ticketing markets in the Latin American region like Peru, Colombia and Chile.

No financial details of the deal were disclosed. In addition to its local market expertise, Busportal.pe will leverage the redBus technology, product and brand name to launch and grow these markets, redBus said in a statement.

The co-founders of Busportal – Hassan Bourgi and Carol Riboud – will continue to drive the operations in Peru and further expand into Colombia and Chile, it added.

“redBus’s entry in the region will benefit the overall online e-commerce market. We are very enthusiastic about scaling up the platform with the support of the most innovative company in the industry,” Bourgi said.

Busportal’s application allows users to book bus tickets for over 20 bus operators in Peru and covers more than 70 percent of the routes.

“We are excited to partner with Hassan and Carol to expand redBus into Peru, Columbia and Chile. We believe that this will be a strong combination of local knowledge and the robust global platform and technology of redBus,” Ibibo Founder and CEO Ashish Kashyap said.

Ibibo Group also owns other online properties like Goibibo.com, Yourbus and ibibo Ryde.

redBus, which is present on mobile and desktop, has sold over 60 million tickets through its platform. It offers services of over 2,300 bus operators across 70,000 routes in India.

iPhone 7 Image Leak Shows Large Camera Lens With Protective Ring

iPhone 7 Image Leak Shows Large Camera Lens With Protective Ring

  • The leaked rear panel image shows shifted antenna bands
  • The camera lens is larger and closer to the sides
  • There’s also a protective ring around the lens

The iPhone 7 is expected to be launched by Apple at an event in September, and will run on the company’s new iOS 10 version. The leaks are picking up pace, and the latest one gives us a very clear look at the back of the smartphone.

A new leak from Nowherelse.fr comes in the form of what is possibly the first high-resolution image of the iPhone 7. The image shows us the back of the iPhone in all its glory, and it reiterates what we’ve heard in the past. The antenna bands have shifted to the edges, while the camera lens has moved near to the sides. The lens has a new protective ring around it, and seems to be larger than its predecessors. The leaked image also confirms the return of the Rose Gold colour variant with the iPhone 7.

The iPhone 7 is expected to come in three variants – iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone7 Pro. The large variant is expected to sport a Smart Connector, and a dual camera setup at the back. It is expected to be powered by new A10 SoC, and the large variant is tipped to get a bump to 3GB pf RAM to power the dual cameras.

Apple is expected to lose the 16GB base storage variant in favour of 32GB. A new 256GB storage option is also expected to be introduced. The Cupertino giant is tipped to lose the 3.5mm audio jack, in order to make the iPhone 7 waterproof. However, there are contrasting reports that claim otherwise.

Furthermore, the iPhone 7 is tipped to sport a Force Touch Home Button. Instead of a physical press, the Home Button will fuse with the smartphone design, and sport a tactile button responding to haptic feedback. Apple is also expected to ditch the Space Gray colour variant, in favour of a Space Black colour variant.

In a separate development, Apple also lost its market share in China and now stands in the fifth position in the smartphone market. Counterpoint Research (via Bloomberg) reports that the tech giant is now behind local brands Huawei, Vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi. With the iPhone 7, Apple is looking to not change much in terms of design, and leave all of that for the big tenth anniversary next year. Whether this will cause further decline in sales, only the months after the official release will tell.

Microsoft Launches New IFTTT Competitor With Support for Voice Commands

Microsoft Launches New IFTTT Competitor With Support for Voice Commands

  • New tool recognises voice commands and makes conditions accordingly
  • CAP showcased for use in day-to-day life, rather than just business
  • Microsoft may keep your data for up to 1 year to make improvements

Just two months after launching its automated workflow tool Flow, Microsoft on Saturday, launched another alternative to IFTTT (If This Then That) named Conditional Action Programmer. Only this time, it is not as business-oriented as Flow, and you can even use your voice to tell CAP what you want it to do.

For those who are unaware of the term, IFTTT or If This Then That is a tool that connects several Web services and apps, and allows users to create workflows that perform a function if a certain condition is met.

Microsoft’s new alternative for IFTTT has been showcased for its use out of business world. The examples mentioned are the likes of “Text me the forecast every week” and “Save article to pocket”.

Notably, CAP is an experimental project from Microsoft Technology and Research, and is available as an app for Android via Google Play, as well as on the Web. It is linked with services like Office Pocket, SMS, Stocks, Weather, Office 365 email, and OneDrive for Business.

The most unique thing about CAP when compared with Flow is that it uses LUIS project to process natural language. In order to set an automated workflow, all you need to do is just give the command by speaking it aloud. The command is then interpreted and developed in to the conditions and the goal required for the workflow routine.

As the company has years of experience in voice recognition, thanks to Cortana, the service seems to be working fine according to reports.

However, website Neowin made an interesting observation that on signing up, Microsoft asks you to sign a disclaimer that mentions how some “data may be retained by Microsoft for up to 1 year for product improvement purposes.” People with privacy concerns might not be too willing to comply with this condition put forward by the company and choose to stay away from this offering

Pokemon Go Has Full Access to Your Google Account, Here’s How to Fix It

Pokemon Go Has Full Access to Your Google Account, Here's How to Fix It

  • A massive security risk has been discovered in Pokemon Go
  • The game can view your emails and private photos.
  • This seems to impact mainly iOS users.

While Pokemon Go might just be available in three countries for now, that hasn’t stopped fans the world over from obtaining the game for Android via sideloading or iOS by creating and using an iTunes account for Australia, New Zealand, or the US. It seems that those playing Pokemon Go have been subject to a glaring security violation. The game has full access to your Google account. Well, at least on iOS.

 

This was discovered by Adam Reeve, Principal Architect at RedOwl Analytics. He took to Tumblr to share his findings:

“Let me be clear – Pokemon Go and Niantic can now:
• Read all your email
• Send email as you
• Access all your Google drive documents (including deleting them)
• Look at your search history and your Maps navigation history
• Access any private photos you may store in Google Photos
• And a whole lot more”

And this isn’t all. According to Reeve, since the game uses email as an authentication mechanism, he believes there’s “a pretty good chance of gaining access to your accounts on other sites too.”

 

There is no need for this either. Usually when a developer allows users to sign in via Google, the level of access is specified. More often than not this is simply contact information.

Reeves later tweeted that “it seems to affect some iOS users, not all. No idea what the criteria are yet.”

 

We’ve checked this with the Google account used on our iPhone 5S and yes, Pokemon Go did grant itself complete access to our account. This was not the case with our Android build of the game, although at the time of posting this, just one user has reported that it does impact the Android version as well. Reeves believes that on “Android it’s using client permissions to get data, whilst on iOS it’s using the Google account.”

pokemon_go_security_risk.jpgNonetheless, if you’re not keen on letting Niantic have complete access to your account, deleting the game isn’t enough. Here’s what you need to do to fix this:

  1. Log in to your Google account.
  2. View the app permissions available here.
  3. Revoke access to the game by clicking it.

Right now, Niantic and The Pokemon Company have maintained silence on this. Keep in mind that if you ever decide to risk playing Pokemon Go again, you’ll need to grant it access to a Google account. The game does have an option to let you sign in using a Pokemon.com account but since the game’s launch the sign up section of the site has been unavailable. Hopefully this corrects itself in days to come what with Niantic and The Pokemon Company planning a global launch for the game soon enough.

Update, July 12, 2016: Niantic has issued the following statement:

“We recently discovered that the Pokémon GO account creation process on iOS erroneously requests full access permission for the user’s Google account. However, Pokémon GO only accesses basic Google profile information (specifically, your User ID and email address) and no other Google account information is or has been accessed or collected.

Once we became aware of this error, we began working on a client-side fix to request permission for only basic Google profile information, in line with the data that we actually access. Google has verified that no other information has been received or accessed by Pokémon GO or Niantic. Google will soon reduce Pokémon GO’s permission to only the basic profile data that Pokémon GO needs, and users do not need to take any actions themselves.”