CES 2015: Samsung calls for openness on net of things

via wearablesarena.com

via wearablesarena.com

The push to create an “internet of things” (IoT) will fail unless electronics firms collaborate more, Samsung has warned.

The potential of the technology will go unrealised unless gadgets and appliances from different manufacturers can easily share data, it said.

This openness will also help people manage the smart gadgets they own, said the boss of the South Korean firm.

Within five years, all Samsung hardware will be IoT enabled, he added.

Open net

“The internet of things has the potential to transform our society, economy and how we live our lives,” said Boo Keun Yoon, chief executive of Samsung, during a keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The Samsung boss said sensors were getting increasingly accurate and soon would be able to adapt and change as people move around the world.

“It is our job to pull together – as an industry, and across different sectors – to make true on the promise of the internet of things,” he said, adding that the IoT was now a “science fact”.

The internet of things refers to efforts to turn formerly dumb devices such as fridges, thermostats and the like into smarter gadgets that can report on their status or be controlled remotely.

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We Took The Laser Scanner That Tells You What’s In Your Food Out For A Spin

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Is this food scanner that claims to count calories just vaporware? We tried it out.

The Indiegogo hit Tellspec scanner shoots a laser at your food and counts the calories and nutritional data. But is it just vaporware? We tried one out.

If there’s one thing true about the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, it’s that there’s no shortage of people who think they have a groundbreaking idea. With a mind-numbing array of wearable technology, bendable screens, and “Internet of things”-type devices at the show this year, it can be debated just how much any one product truly breaks ground.

The TellSpec laser scanner appears, at least in its demo form, to have potential. The device is a raman spectrometer that uses an algorithm to calculate what’s in your food. You point the laser at a potato chip for instance, and the accompanying app on your smartphone gives you a read-out of the ingredients.

TellSpec founder Isabel Hoffman gave me a demonstration of the device in action during CES. She turned on a prototype, which isn’t yet as slim or pretty as the hoped-for final product, and pointed the laser at chips, bread, and various snack foods.

I, not a particularly big fan of processed foods, was anxious to see if the device could easily point out the man-made goo that some companies put in their products. It did this in less than 30 seconds with one chip-like snack food she scanned. After pointing her laser, a list of ingredients popped up on the TellSpec app.

Seeing that something called “tartarzine” was listed, I was able to click through to a detailed wiki-like page explaining that this is in fact Yellow No. 5. Based on some of the information the app provided me on tartarzine, I’m leaning away from eating it in the future.

There were a few caveats. Although the device can point out allergens, she says it’s not as accurate as it may someday be, and isn’t a cure all for them.

“Right now the algorithm works very well tabulating carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and calories,” she said. “But we are very concerned with the allergies that we may not track down enough parts per million yet.”

Hoffman says when the device is released there will be an allergy disclaimer that comes along with it. The team hopes to add in more functionality over time in that area.

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LG’s HomeChat will let you text your appliances as if they were people

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LG HomeChat will allow users to issue commands and receive status updates from their smart appliances by texting them and using simple, conversational language

According to the company, you will literally be able to ask your washer “What’re you doing?” or your fridge “Do we have beer?” and they will respond just as a person would.

LG had plenty of eye-catching gadgets at this year’s CES, from a massive 105-inch curved 4K display to the bendable G Flex mobile phone, but probably one of the most intriguing new innovations it revealed was the upcoming HomeChat service. LG HomeChat will allow users to issue commands and receive status updates from their smart appliances by texting them and using simple, conversational language. According to the company, you will literally be able to ask your washer “What’re you doing?” or your fridge “Do we have beer?” and they will respond just as a person would.

Naturally, the service will only work with LG products, but the company seems intent on rolling it out to most of its major home appliances – refrigerators, robotic vacuum cleaners, ovens, washers, dryers, etc. – in the next year. LG stated it has spent a lot of time researching and implementing as many different phrases as possible into its software to ensure users can communicate with devices using natural language instead of learning pre-programmed commands. The company also presented a wealth of examples for how talking with your home appliances could come in handy.

When used in conjunction with the Smart Manager software for refrigerators, HomeChat users will be able to message their fridge from a grocery store to find out what they already have in stock, what they might need, and even if anything is about to expire.

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The Next Data Privacy Battle May Be Waged Inside Your Car

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Privacy (Photo credit: g4ll4is)

Cars are becoming smarter than ever, with global positioning systems, Internet connections, data recorders and high-definition cameras.

Drivers can barely make a left turn, put on their seatbelts or push 80 miles an hour without their actions somehow, somewhere being tracked or recorded.

Automakers say they are only responding to consumer demand, and besides, they and regulators say, the new technologies help them better understand consumers and make the cars safer. But privacy advocates increasingly see something more unsettling for drivers: that someone is always watching.

Now two senators are trying to give car owners more say over some of that data. Early next week, Senator John Hoeven, Republican of North Dakota, and Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, will introduce a bill stipulating that car owners control the data collected on the device called the event data recorder. The recorder, commonly known as a black box, collects information like direction, speed and seatbelt use in a continuous loop. It is in nearly every car today, and in September, it is set to become mandatory.

“We’ve got real privacy concerns on the part of the public,” Senator Hoeven said in a telephone interview. “People are very concerned about their personal privacy, especially as technology continues to advance,” he said, referring to revelations of spying by the National Security Agency. Fourteen states have already passed similar laws.

The data collected by the black box has already been the center of litigation by law enforcement agencies and insurance companies seeking to use the information against car owners. The bill would limit what the data could be used for and would require a warrant to release the data without the owner’s consent.

But even this legislation covers only part of what is a rapidly evolving technological landscape.

At the International CES in Las Vegas this week, automakers and technology companies announced a stream of new products and services aimed at making cars more connected.

Google announced it had a partnership with G.M., Audi, Honda and Hyundai to bring its Android platform to vehicle infotainment systems by the end of this year. At the same time, G.M. said it would start an app shop, where drivers can use apps like Priceline.com to book a hotel room and CitySeeker, which provides information about attractions and restaurants near the vehicle.

The days of a driver being alerted to a deal at a retailer as he drives nearby are rapidly approaching.

Many consumers, though, are unaware of just how much personal information is collected and used, privacy advocates say.

Read more . . .

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iOptik augmented reality contact lens prototype to be unveiled at CES

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Embedded in the contact lens are micro-components that enable the user to focus on near-eye images

An augmented reality system which projects a heads-up display onto contact lenses

Though most of the attention surrounding the race to commercialize connected eyewear has focused on Google Glass, a lesser known player has been quietly toiling away. At CES this week, Washington-based company Innovega will be showcasing its first fully-functioning prototypes of iOptik, an augmented reality system which projects a heads-up display onto contact lenses.

We first learned of Innovega‘s vision for augmented reality back in 2012 when the company received a contract from DARPA to develop the iOptik prototype for the battlefield. Though it was clear that the technology could serve many uses outside of the military, the company’s progress in gearing it towards mainstream applications has caught our attention once again.

Before we get too excited, the iOptik system does not offer a solution for potential stigma attached to the less-than-discreet Google Glass, as it too requires a pair of glasses to function. Acting as a micro-display, the glasses project a picture onto the contact lens, which works as a filter to separate the real-world from the digital environment and then interlaces them into the one image.

According to the company, the technology enables users to focus on objects right in front of their eyes and in the distance simultaneously, offering an alternative solution to traditional near-eye displays which create the illusion of an object in the distance so as not to hinder regular vision.

Embedded in the contact lenses are micro-components that enable the user to focus on near-eye images. Light projected by the display (glasses) passes through the center of the pupil and then works with the eye’s regular optics to focus the display on the retina, while light from the real-life environment reaches the retina via an outer filter. This creates two separate images on the retina which are then superimposed to create one integrated image, or augmented reality.

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