• , ,

    Future iPhones could have foldable screens

    Though Apple is currently working with many different types of phone screens — including Face ID and bezel-less resolutions — the company’s next step may be making them foldable.

    The tech giant is reportedly partnering with LG in order to create a new type of foldable OLED displays for future generations of iPhones. While the idea may seem far-off, the devices are set for production as early as 2020.

    This idea comes on the wings of the newly announced iPhone X, which has some significant design changes from past models. The new devices will have a front-facing camera that is able to scan a person’s face, a bezel-less OLED screen, as well as no home button. As a result, it makes sense that Apple is looking to years into the future to see what design they should pursue next.

    The iPhone X is the first iPhone to use an OLED screen. To make that feature work, Apple needed to team up with its rival, Samsung, who is currently the world’s leading OLED manufacturer. The deal gave the iPhone a new type of screen, but it is also going to make Samsung billions of dollars and could cause Apple to become dependent on another company.

    That is likely why, despite Samsung’s work into folding phones, Apple chose to team up with LG instead. This move allows them to push Samsung away and distance themselves from a long time rival, CNet reports.

    “Amid Samsung’s near monopoly in mobile OLED production, Apple has been strengthening its partnership with LG Display, its long-time LCD partner,” stated the Korean website The Investor, according to Financial Express.

    LG has already developed prototypes for its folding OLED screens, but most of them are much smaller than the screens Samsung has built. That size could be the reason for the 2020 production timeline, but three years may still put the company behind in the game. Samsung already has plans to release a folding phone that could come out as early as next year.

  • , ,


    Hackers hit millions of Pornhub users with “malvertising” attack

    Millions of visitors to adult-video site Pornhub unwittingly downloaded malware onto their PCs in the past year, information-security firm Proofpoint reported Tuesday. The firm said that the malware disguised itself as harmless software updates and duped the users into downloading it.

    Proofpoint linked the attack to a group known as KovCoreG, which had set out to infect users’ computers with Kovter, a fraudulent ad malware that hackers use to generate money through clicks on fake online ads. The malware redirected Pornhub visitors to a page that claimed to offer software updates for their Web browser or their Adobe Flash plugin. If the users clicked the links and downloaded them, the malware took over their computers and used them to click on masses of fake ads to generate money for the hackers.

    By the time that security experts had uncovered Kovter, it had been active for more than a year, Proofpoint said. Pornhub has shut the malware down on its site but that the malware has migrated to other sites and remains capable of infecting.

    “Malvertising” attacks such as this are an increasingly frequent threat on the Internet, warned Javvad Malik, an AlienVault security advocate. He told the Guardian that it is not easy for legitimate ad networks and app stores to screen out every fake ad or plugin from the real ones.

    “There are insufficient controls to place an advert with an ad network, making it far easier to get a malicious app accepted by an official app store. This has led to an upturn in the number of reputable organisations distributing malvertising,” Malik said.

  • , ,


    FDA panel approves a gene therapy for blindness

    A drug-administered gene therapy to treat an inherited form of blindness got unanimous approval Thursday from a U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel. The agency will make a final decision on whether to approve the drug by January, according to researchers who said that it will be the first time in the FDA’s history that it has approved a gene therapy to treat a genetically inherited disease.

    The drug, Luxturna, is a product of Philadelphia-based pharmaceutical company Spark Therapeutics and is made for patients suffering from Leber congenital aumarosis, a blindness that is caused by a mutation of the RPE65 gene. The patients receive the drug via injection into their eyes, and it delivers a correct copy of the RPE65 gene to their retinal cells, which leads to healthy cells that function properly and enable working eyesight.

    The FDA has approved one gene therapy so far: Kymriah, which treats a form of leukemia by transferring new genes to the cancer patients’ cells. Two other drugs that use genes to treat genetically inherited diseases have received approval for market in Europe. But Jeff Marrazzo, CEO of Spark Therapeutics, noted that an FDA approval of Luxturna would make it the first time that U.S. consumers will have access to a gene therapy that treats a genetically inherited disease.

    “This is what I believe medicine is going to be like for the next 20, 30, if not 50 years,” he said. “I think this is the beginning of an age that is going to fundamentally change medicine.”

    In one study of 21 patients who underwent the procedure, 11 experienced “significant” vision improvement. No conclusive data is available on how long the improved vision lasts, however, or how much the treatment will cost.

  • , ,


    Razer’s new smartphone rumored to have 8GB of RAM

    In a couple of weeks, the gaming company Razer plans to unleash its very first smartphone.

    Though many of the phone’s features are under wraps, a few new details about the device have been released. Phone Radar spotted an early listing on GFXBench for a “Razer Phone” that lists an array of features on what could be inside the upcoming device.

    While the listing has since been removed, it stated the new phone will have a 5.7-inch display with a 2560 x 1440 resolution — roughly the same as an LG G6 — in addition to a Snapdragon 835 processor. It will also come with a single 12-megapixel rear camera, an 8-megapixel front camera, and 64GB of internal storage, The Verge reports.

    While most of those features are common among today’s smartphone market, there is one spec that stands out: the phone will come with 8 gigabytes (GB) of RAM.

    That is a staggering amount of processing power that suggests Razer could be far ahead in at least one aspect of the phone game. Currently, an Android only has 4GB of RAM. That extra space for the Razer phone could allow the device to be used as a mobile gaming platform.

    “One of the most hotly rumored things about Razer is that we’re coming up with a mobile device,” said Min-Liang Tan, CEO and co-founder of Razer, according to CNBC. “And I can say that we are coming up with a mobile device specifically geared toward gamers and entertainment.”

    While the rumored RAM is impressive, it does not mean the phone will perform better than other ones on the market. That will largely depend on how well the package has been optimized. However, there is reason for gamers to be excited.

    The phone will run on a custom version of Android based on top of Nougat, which means it will be a bit out of date on release. However, there will be some customization options available. There could also be custom game features as well.

    An announcement for the phone is supposed to come out November 1st.

  • , ,


    Facebook hopes Oculus Go headset will get more people interested in virtual reality

    Facebook hopes its new wireless headset — known as the Oculus Go — will help bring virtual reality into the spotlight.

    The company first paid over $2 billion to buy Oculus back in 2013. Though many were skeptical about the move, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg assured that VR would be the next big technological breakthrough.

    “Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction,” he wrote at the time. “But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones. One day, we believe this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people.”

    However, in the three-and-a-half years since that point, virtual reality has not come close to taking off. Two million headsets shipped in 2016, and the Oculus accounted for roughly 400,00 of those sales. While that is a lot, it is far below the number that Zuckerberg wants to hit.

    As a result, Facebook hopes the new Oculus Go will finally act as a headset that can hit every person’s interest level. The device has many advantages over previous models, including that it will not need a smartphone, cables, or wires to properly operate.

    In addition, the company also plans to drive the price point of the headset way below competitors. Price is a big obstacle when it comes to VR, and it is one of the reasons many people have not gotten into the idea. Facebook hopes lower prices will change that.

    Beyond the Oculus Go, the company is also working on a standalone headset known as Santa Cruz, which could also put the devices on the map.

    Zuckerberg states he wants to get one billion people around the world using VR. That is a lofty goal. However, the ambitious tech genius is willing to put in the work.

    “When we were acquired, Mark [Zuckerberg] came out [and said] this is a ten year journey,” Nate Mitchell, an Oculus co-founder who oversees hardware and software for the Rift, told Recode. “We’ve been at Facebook now for three years. Will we get a billion people into VR in the next seven years? I don’t know. It would be awesome. I think it’ll probably take a little bit more than that, but I’m optimistic.”

  • , , ,


    Color changing skin could one day enhance soft robots

    An international team of researchers has developed a synthetic cephalopod skin that can transform from a flat, two-dimensional surface to a three-dimensional one with bumps and pits, according to research published in the journal Science.

    The new technology is based off of octopi and cuttlefish, both of which can rapidly change the color and texture of their skin to blend into their surroundings. The scientists hope that same idea can one day be applied to soft robots that are typically covered in a layer of stretchy silicone.

    “Camouflaged robots may hide and be protected from animal attacks and may better approach animals for studying them in their natural habitats,” said Cecilia Laschi, a professor of biorobotics at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies who wrote an accompanying article also published in Science, according to Live Science. “Of course, camouflage may also support military applications, where reducing a robot’s visibility provides it with advantages in accessing dangerous areas.”

    The team made the new substance by taking inspiration from the small bumps — known as papillae — that octopi and cuttlefish use to camouflage. While they cannot perfectly copy the structures, the team hopes to use air pockets beneath silicone skin to mimic them This would allow machines to rapidly change their outer layer in a variety of different ways.

    To combine the two technologies, researchers in the study embedded small fiber-mesh spheres into the silicone. That change allowed them to specifically control and shape the texture  in the same way an octopus moves its skin. They then reinforced the mesh to gain even more control over the shape as the material inflated.

    This new technology is a big step for robotics, but sophistication is not the experiment’s main goal. Rather, researchers hope they can make the technology fairly easy to use. While the shifting skin has a lot of industry potential, the team also wants it easily accessible for hobbyists and those in academia.

    This study is exciting, but it is merely the first step on a much longer journey. The team next plans to follow up on their initial research to see what else they can uncover. For example, researchers have already begun to replace the inflation with electric currents to see if the system can work without air pressure. There is even a chance the process can be applied to materials where surface area plays a significant role, like batteries or coolants.

    “We’re still very much in the exploratory phase of soft robotics,” said study co-author Robert Shepherd, a researcher at Cornell University. ”We’re just at the beginning, and we have great results.”

  • , ,

    Snapchat’s “Context Cards” could make the app more useful

    Though it started as a basic photo-sending app, Snapchat’s new feature may push it into the next realm and help it compete with some of the bigger tech companies around.

    On October 10th, the app’s parent company, Snap announced that it will begin to roll out so-called “Context Cards” that will enable users to get information about the places they see in snaps.

    To do this, users will simply swipe up to learn more about the location or business from which a snap was sent. The cards will work on snaps from friends as well as one viewed on Snap Maps, and they will include information like location data, menus, phone numbers, reviews, and details on how to make a reservation. The company has also partnered with ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft to give users the option to book a ride to that snap’s location.

    “With Context Cards, Snaps have become the visual starting point for learning more about the world, empowering our community to get more information about anything that catches their eye,” the Snapchat team posted, according to Forbes. “The billions of Snaps created each day on Snapchat power products like Stories, Search, Snap Map and now, Context Cards. As we learn more about how to improve Context Cards, we’ll be adding more partners and additional information. Stay tuned!”

    While the function is not being monetized just yet, it could go that way as the cards are rolled out, Quartz reports.

    Snapchat currently has 170 million users, and most of those spend roughly 30 minutes on it each day. While those numbers help drive annual revenue, they still do not come close to the power of companies like Facebook.

    Snap hopes the Context Card feature will help bridge that gap by giving people more reasons to use the app.  It would not just be a place to share photos anymore. Rather, people could use it to see where their friends are, find good food, or even travel to certain locations in their area.

    Though it is impossible to tell how big Context Cards will be, there is no doubt they have some potential. The company states the new tool will soon be available in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.

  • , ,

    Hot Popular

    New atomic clock is the most precise one ever created

    Scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology have built the world’s most precise atomic clock in order to shed light on both time and the universe.

    The researchers built the new machine by vibrating atoms across three dimensions and then using laser light to trap them inside a bookcase-like modular where they count down to the tiniest measurable units of time. Though the clock has no strong applications yet, it could one day help researchers conduct advanced experiments in the field of quantum mechanics.

    “Developing a clock like this represents the most sensitive and inquisitive instruments mankind has built,” study co-author Jun Ye, a researcher from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, told Gizmodo. “We want to use it to describe the connection between quantum mechanics, the mathematics describing the smallest pieces of the universe, and general relativity.”

    Atomic clocks are merely atoms that vibrate in a special way when subjected to light. Though scientists first used microwaves to run such machines, they now use visible light because it is both more accurate and more precise.

    However, there are some issues with the technology as well. For example, the more atoms they use, the higher the chance inter-atomic interactions will undo any accuracy benefits. The signal from the vibrating atoms can get fuzzy as well.

    To overcome such problems, researchers in a new study used a special gas at hyper-cold temperatures to amplify one of the specific properties shared by atoms in the gas. This then reduced the interactions between the molecules and helped the new clock become more precise than any other.

    Though the new technology is not going to be used in everyday life anytime soon, it could have large applications for future research. A wristwatch loses roughly 1 second a year. That may not seem like a huge deal, but it can make a big difference in the world of quantum mechanics.

    In addition, extremely precise clocks can be used to look at some of the universe’s biggest mysteries. For instance, they could be used to detect both dark matter and gravitational waves.

    “This new strontium clock using a quantum gas is an early and astounding success in the practical application of the ‘new quantum revolution,’ sometimes called ‘quantum 2.0’,” said Thomas O’Brian, a scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology who was not involved in the research, according to Phys.org. “This approach holds enormous promise for NIST and JILA to harness quantum correlations for a broad range of measurements and new technologies, far beyond timing.”

    The technology is a big step forward for quantum mechanics, but there is still a lot work to do. While the clocks are precise, that does not mean they are accurate. Further research is needed to see how the ticking compares to the way the universe keeps time.

    The new study is published in the journal Science.

  • , , ,

    Smartphones can be a major source of frustration, study reports

    A group of scientists from Nottingham Trent University have found evidence that suggests smartphones tend to worsen moods and make people upset, a new study published in IEEE Access reports.

    In the study, the researchers asked 50 participants to download an app that collected information about their phone’s notifications — including email and social media — over a five week period. They then calculated how each subject reacted to the different notifications.

    The team found that nearly a third of the half a million alerts recorded in the study triggered negative emotions, causing users to be hostile, upset, nervous, afraid, or ashamed.

    Though every notification came with a reaction, the data showed alerts relating to non-human activity — such as general phone updates and wifi availability — had the worse impact the subjects’ mood. In addition, work-related alerts made people upset as well.

    However, the participants were happy when they received messages from friends. This was especially true when they got multiple at once.

    “These digital alerts continuously disrupt our activities through instant calls for attention,” said lead author Eiman Kanjo, a researcher at the Nottingham Trent University, according to Telegraph UK. “While notifications enhance the convenience of our life, we need to better-understand the impact their obsessive use has on our well-being. It is clear that social notifications make people happy, but when they receive lots of work-related and or non-human notifications, the opposite effect occurs.”

    These new findings are important because they show it is possible to predict a phone users’ mood based on the data they receive each day. As a result, it could one day be possible to personalize or structure notifications in a way that makes people less upset. Such changes could have far reaching effects on mental health.

    “Although notifications serve an important purpose for smartphone users, the number of apps which compete for attention has grown significantly over the years,” said study co-author Daria Kuss, a psychologist in Nottingham Trent University’s International Gaming Research Unit. “Our findings could open the door to a wide range of applications in relation to emotion awareness on social and mobile communication.”

  • , ,

    Trending Hot

    British appliance inventor Dyson sets out to make electric cars

    Sir James Dyson has made a $4.5 billion fortune with future-forward home appliances, such as his bagless battery-powered vacuum cleaner or blade-free fan. But the British billionaire announced this week that he plans to put $2.7 billion into a whole other kind of battery-operated product: an emissions-free car.

    Dyson said that he has gathered a team of 400 engineers and that he is aiming to have the car ready for market by 2020. He hasn’t built cars of any kind before, but he cites his appliance-manufacturing experience—in particular, his knowledge of electric motors and aerodynamic design—as valuable assets.

    He has also invested substantially in battery power. In 2015, Dyson’s company bought Sakti3, a solid-state battery maker that had been researching and developing ways to make batteries lighter and pack more energy into them than is possible with today’s lithium-ion batteries.

    He will be up against many established car manufacturers who are also looking to debut new electric cars, however. Tesla is readying a new electric SUV for a 2020 debut, while Ford and Volkswagon both hope to make 2020 the year they each start marketing their new electric crossover vehicles. Arthur Wheaton, a Cornell University auto-industry expert, cautioned that Dyson’s electronic appliance know-how does not guarantee that he will be able to break into the highly competitive auto industry.

    “Dyson can use the premium image of its vacuum products and design experience,” said Wheaton. “They do have a chance to be a niche player, like Tesla was at the beginning, but man, that’s a steep hill to climb.”