sciencehabit writes "In a few years, an iPhone app may give you a 3D layout of a room as soon as you step into it. Researchers have developed an algorithm that spits out the shape and contours of complex structures (including Switzerland's Lausanne Cathedral) using data compiled from four randomly placed microphones. The technology, which relies on the same sort of echolocation bats and dolphins use to navigate, could be used to develop more realistic echoes in video games and virtual reality simulations and to eliminate the echo from phone calls."
Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.
First time accepted submitter TigerPlish writes "AT&T has rolled out Wireless Emergency Alerts for iPhones. The alerts are for huge catastrophes (a Presidential Alert), for weather / natural calamities, and for AMBER alerts. One can turn off the latter two, but the Presidential alert cannot be turned off. The article mentions only 4S and 5 get this update. That said, I have a 4 and it got the update this morning. This was enacted in 2006, for those keeping track of such things. I, for one, do not care for this any more than I like the idea of them reading my communications to begin with. Oh, I'm sorry, the "metadata" from my communications." As promised.
Iddo Genuth writes "Videographer Tom Antos developed an advanced DIY camera stabilizer which can hold almost any DSLR or mirrorless camera steady for video photography. Although this surely isn't as sophisticated (and super expensive) as the professional MVI M10 handheld 3-axis digital stabilized camera gimbal, its still quite impressive especially when you consider it only costs a few hundred dollars rather then tens of thousands — that is if you feel like building it yourself." Antos' design takes advantage of stabilized gimbal systems made for hanging cameras on remote-controlled helicopters, and does a very impressive job for its price.
First time accepted submitter jarle.aase writes "It's doable today to use a mix of virtual machines, VPN, TOR, encryption (and staying away from certain places; like Google Plus, Facebook, and friends), in order to retain a reasonable degree of privacy. In recent days, even major mainstream on-line magazines have published such information. (Aftenposten, one of the largest newspapers in Norway, had an article yesterday about VPN, Tor and Freenet!) But what about the cell-phone? Technically it's not hard to design a phone that can switch off the GSM transmitter, and use VoIP for calls. VoIP could then go from the device through Wi-Fi and VPN. Some calls may be routed trough PSTN gateways — allowing the agencies to track the other party. But they will not track your location. And they will not track pure, encrypted VoIP calls that traverse trough VPN and use anonymous SIP or XMPP accounts. Android may not be the best software for such a device, as it very eagerly phones home. The same is true for iOS and Windows 8. Actually, I would prefer a non cloud-based mobile OS from a vendor that is not in the PRISM gallery. Does such a device exist yet? Something that runs a relatively safe OS, where GSM can be switched totally off? Something that will only make an outgoing network connection when I ask it to do so?" And in the absence of a perfect solution, what do you do instead? (It's still Android and using the cell network, but Red Phone — open sourced last year — seems like a good start.)
schwit1 writes with a followup to a story we discussed in April about how using voice-activated texting while driving was no safer than using your hands. Now, a study by AAA has found that using voice commands to send texts is more dangerous than simply talking on your cellphone. "Texting a friend verbally while behind the wheel caused a 'large' amount of mental distraction compared with 'moderate/significant' for holding a phone conversation or talking with a passenger and 'small' when listening to music or an audio book, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found in a report released today. Automakers have promoted voice-based messaging as a safer alternative to taking hands off the wheel to place a call and talk on a handheld phone. About 9 million infotainment systems will be shipped this year in cars sold worldwide, with that number projected to rise to more than 62 million by 2018, according to a March report by London-based ABI Research. 'As we push towards these hands-free systems, we may be solving one problem while creating another,' said Joel Cooper, a University of Utah assistant research professor who worked on the study. 'Tread lightly. There's a lot of rush to develop these systems.' The findings from the largest U.S. motorist group bolster National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman's call to ban all phone conversations behind the wheel, even with hands-free devices."
New submitter WML MUNSON sends this quote from NJ.com: "License, registration and cell phone, please. Police officers across New Jersey could be saying that to motorists at the scenes of car crashes if new legislation introduced in the state Senate becomes law. The measure would allow cops — without a warrant — to thumb through a cell phone to determine if a driver was talking or texting when an accident occurred. It requires officers to have 'reasonable grounds' to believe the law was broken. There were 1,840 handheld cell phone-related crashes in New Jersey in 2011, resulting in 807 injuries and six deaths, according to the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety. 'Think about it: The chances of the cop witnessing the accident are slim to none,' said the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. James Holzapfel (R-Ocean), who has worked as a county and municipal prosecutor. 'He’s dispatched, and by the time he gets there — unless they’re unconscious and the phone is in their hands, or some passenger says they were on the phone — then he’s got to do what? Subpoena the service to see if the phone was actively used or not?'"
colinneagle writes "The first developer preview of Ubuntu Touch – aka 'Ubuntu for Phones and Tablets' – was unveiled just a few short months ago. And, just a few weeks back, it was announced that the team was shooting for having a fully functional (aka "can use it as your actual phone, on a daily basis") version by the end of May. May is now over, so Bryan Lunduke published some screenshots and analysis of the core features of the Ubuntu OS for smartphones and tablets."
An anonymous reader writes "Apple has always been extremely anti jailbreaking, but it might now have a good reason to plug up the exploits. As Hardware 2.0 argues, Apple's new iOS 7 Activation Lock anti-theft mechanism which renders stolen handsets useless (even after wiping) unless the owner's Apple ID is entered relies on having a secure, locked-down OS. Are the days of jailbreaking iOS coming to a close?" I can see a whole new variety of phone-based ransom-ware based on this capability, too.
DavidGilbert99 writes "According to the latest report from analysts at CCS Insight, there will be more mobile phones and tablets in use in four years' time than there are people on the planet. With the machines well and truly taking over, will we be using them or will they be controlling us?"
itwbennett writes "'Find My iPhone' is neat, but it's time for smartphone makers and carriers to stop pretending their anti-theft measures are anything more than minimum viable products, says blogger Kevin Purdy. He's not the first to point this out: As reported in Slashdot, 'NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said overall crime in New York City was up 3.3% in 2012 due to iPhone, iPad and other Apple device thefts.' And now San Francisco and New York attorneys general are calling a 'Smartphone Summit' where representatives from Apple, Google, Samsung, and Microsoft are due to meet and discuss the implementation of a industry-wide 'kill switch' system."
Bent Spoke writes "The U.S. trade agency has banned the import of older Apple iPhone and iPad models due to the violation of a patent held by Samsung (PDF). 'The president can overturn the import ban on public-policy grounds, though that rarely happens. Apple can keep selling the devices during the 60-day review period. ... Apple pledged to appeal the ITC decision. The underlying findings will be reviewed by a U.S. appeals court specializing in patent cases. ... The decision could mean fewer choices for AT&T and T-Mobile customers who want to get an iPhone without paying the higher cost of the iPhone 5. Samsung told the commission that Cupertino, California-based Apple could drop the price of the iPhone 5 if it was worried about losing potential customers. All of the iPhones are made in Asia.' It's getting so complicated we need a scorecard to keep track of who's winning these offensive patent battles in the smartphone coliseum."
hypnosec writes "Mozilla has confirmed reports that indicated a probable collaboration with Foxconn for development of Firefox OS based devices. Announcing the 'wide ranging partnership' with Foxconn, Mozilla's SVP of Mobile Devices noted in a blog post that collaboration between the two companies 'demonstrates the full potential of Firefox OS,' and it would not only enable the smartphone 'but also a wide range of mobile devices.'"
First time accepted submitter Emmanuel Cecchet writes "Researchers of the BenchLab project at UMass Amherst have discovered a bug in the browser of the Samsung S3. If you browse a Web page that has multiple versions of the same image (for mobile, tablet, desktop, etc...) like most Wikipedia pages for example, instead of downloading one image at the right resolution, the phone will download all versions of it. A page that should be less than 100K becomes multiple MB! It looks like a bug in the implementation of the srcset HTML tag, but all the details are in the paper to be presented at the IWQoS conference next week. So far Samsung didn't acknowledge the problem though it seems to affect all S3 phones. You'd better have an unlimited data plan if you browse Wikipedia on an S3!"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Back in the ancient days of 2009, Motorola Mobility earned considerable buzz with its Droid smartphone. Marketed as an iPhone alternative, the device featured a sliding QWERTY keyboard and a chunky black body that seemed positively Schwarzenegger-esque in comparison to its svelte Apple rival. But Motorola failed to translate that buzz into sustained momentum in the smartphone space. Instead, Samsung became the dominant Android smartphone manufacturer, battling toe-to-toe with Apple for market-share and profits. Even Google acquiring Motorola for the princely sum of $12.1 billion didn't really seem to alter the equation very much. Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside wants to change all that. In a May 29 talk at AllThingsD's D11 conference, he told the audience that Motorola has a 'hero phone' in the works, dubbed the Moto X—and that it's self-aware. 'It anticipates my needs,' he said, according to AllThingD's live blog of the event. But what does that actually mean? Thanks to embedded sensors, the phone knows when the user removes it from his or her pocket; in theory, that capability could serve broader applications, such as the phone recognizing where the user is located within a city and serving up content and applications accordingly. In fact, it sounds a bit like Google Now on steroids—or like the smartphone precursor to SkyNet, the supercomputer from the Terminator movies that's so intelligent, it decides that the world would be better off if it ruled over humanity."
snydeq writes "Brian Katz offers a simple take on the buzz around BYOD in business organizations these days: 'BYOD is only an issue because people refuse to realize that it's just about ownership — nothing more and nothing less.' A 'hidden issue' hiding in plain view, BYOD's ownership issue boils down to money and control. 'BYOD is pretty clear: It's bringing your own device. It isn't the company's device or your best friend's device. It's your device, and you own it. Because you own the device, you have certain rights to what is on the device and what you can do with the device. This is the crux of every issue that comes with BYOD programs.'"
Imagine game designer Steve Jackson and a bunch of friends building Lego trains and tracks and scenery, including buildings and other props. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? The group calls itself the Texas Brick Railroad. A lot of members have children, so their meetings tend to be family affairs. Plus, as they're doing here, they often display their train sets at public events where -- yes -- their trains attract children like crazy. This video shows off both current Lego trains and some of the classic, no-longer-sold Lego trains that members have collected over the years, including the highly-prized monorails. There's a transcript, but face it: This is basically visual material, and worth checking out on a computer or handheld that runs Flash if your normal one doesn't. (We've requested an upgrade from Flash-only video, but don't hold your breath. It might be a good while before we get it.)
x_IamSpartacus_x writes "Jolla, the Finnish company that continued Nokia's work on the MeeGo mobile platform, announced details of its first smartphone on Monday. Availability for the Jolla device is expected by year end and can be pre-ordered now; the phone will be priced at no more than €399 (US $512.26). The Jolla hardware looks similar to that of Nokia's Lumia, with a clean, button-less front face that houses the 4.5-inch touchcscreen. The phone will use a dual-core processor and support 4G LTE in some regions. Internal storage tops out at 16 GB, but can be expanded via microSD card. The phone also includes an 8 megapixel rear camera with auto focus. The phone is also 'Android app compliant' which, in a move similar to that of BlackBerry, can help with available apps at launch."
Madwand writes "The NetBSD Project is pleased to announce NetBSD 6.1, the first feature update of the NetBSD 6 release branch. It represents a selected subset of fixes deemed important for security or stability reasons, as well as new features and enhancements. NetBSD is a free, fast, secure, and highly portable Unix-like Open Source operating system. It is available for a wide range of platforms, from large-scale servers and powerful desktop systems to handheld and embedded devices. Its clean design and advanced features make it excellent for use in both production and research environments, and the source code is freely available under a business-friendly license. NetBSD is developed and supported by a large and vibrant international community. Many applications are readily available through pkgsrc, the NetBSD Packages Collection."
First time accepted submitter iinventstuff writes "The Idaho National Laboratory has built a dirty bomb detection network out of cell phones. Camera phones operate by detecting photons and storing them as a picture. The INL discovered that high energy photons from radiological sources distort the image in ways detectable through image processing. KSL TV reports that the INL's mobile app detects radiation sources and then reports positive 'hits' to a central server. Terrorists deploying a dirty bomb will inevitably pass by people carrying cell phones. By crowdsourcing cell phones, the INL has created a potentially very large, inexpensive, and randomly mobile radiation detection grid."
grub writes writes with news that BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins has announced that BBM (BlackBerry Messenger, one of the favorite features of BlackBerry device-owners) will soon be coming to rival mobile operating systems. Devices running iOS 6 and Android ICS or later will be supported, pending approval with the App Store and Google Play. "BBM uses carrier data networks to pass secure messages back and forth through its servers to other BlackBerry users. The service recently gained the ability to make phone calls, conduct video chats and even share screen tops with other BBM users (requires BlackBerry 10). Normal chat and group chats will be the first features to hit the Android and iOS BBM apps, followed by the others (including voice and video) during the course of the year. BBM for Android and iOS will be free." The company also unveiled a new smartphone today: the Q5. It's a budget device intended for emerging markets.