SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Officials did not name the companies, but the Dutch electronics giant Philips, and the semiconductor specialists Infineon, based in Germany, and Japan's Renesas each confirmed they had received a letter known as a "statement of objections".
It follows the failure of negotiations that aimed to reach a settlement over the allegations, which date back to 2008. A formal complaint by European antitrust regulators can lead to heavier fines.
"The essence of settlement is to benefit from a quicker, more efficient procedure, and to reach a common understanding on the existence and characteristics of a cartel,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said.
“If that is not possible, the commission will not hesitate to revert to the normal procedure and to pursue the suspected infringement.”
Officials have said they raided companies that make chips for telephone SIM cards, bank cards and identity cards because they may have fixed prices, allocated customers and exchanged commercially sensitive information.
Chip makers have incurred hefty punishments for past antitrust violations. Intel was fined a record 1.06bn euros by the EU in 2009 for monopoly abuse.
The following year, the commission levied penalties totaling 331.2m euros on Infineon and eight other manufacturers of dynamic random access memory, or DRAM, chips for personal computers and servers.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: The Telegraph
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Anyone who has struggled to be healthy is intimately familiar with the counting game. They've counted calories, carbs, Weight Watchers points, their heart rate, steps and miles.
Now a new smart eating utensil called the HapiFork will help them count bites during meals, and maybe shame them into eating slower and potentially losing weight.
Technology has made it easier to track the minutiae of everyday life, with smartphones, pedometers and small sensors that can fit in wearable devices such as wrist bands. The self-tracking hobby has blossomed into the quantified-self movement, which reaches far beyond the health conscious.
People are tracking their sleep patterns, heart rate, mood, air quality and work habits, often in a bid to analyze enough data to correct problems with their health or lifestyle.
'Smart' fork tracks how fast you eat
"Whatever we can measure, we can improve," said Fabrice Boutain, CEO and founder of HapiLabs.
In the case of the HapiFork, what can be improved is how fast people eat. It takes 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain it is full and that it's time to stop eating, putting speedy eaters at risk for being overeaters. The HapiFork team says there are many potential health benefits to eating slower, including decreasing acid reflux, obesity and diabetes.
The $99 fork first gained attention during the Consumer Electronics Show in January and will be on the market by the end of the year.
How it works
The fork can be used to passively track eating habits and automatically sync that information, including duration of meals and frequency of forkfuls, with a smartphone. The HapiFork mobile app will also include a coaching program and tools to connect with friends and family.
The device can also be set up for behavior modification, vibrating any time the diner is eating too quickly as a gentle reminder to slow down. By default it is set to allow a bite every 10 seconds, though the exact time is customizable.
When the metal tines of the HapiFork touch the mouth, a circuit is closed and a bite is tallied. The data is automatically transmitted to a smartphone over Bluetooth or can be uploaded using a micro USB port in the base. The fork, which can stay charged for 15 days, has a thick plastic handle that houses the electronics. The core pops out so the fork can be washed by hand or run through a dishwasher. You must hold down a button to turn it on before each meal, but it powers down automatically after you stop using it.
A hands-on (and mouth-on) test
I tested the fork out this week on a lunch of seared-tuna salad. There are only 10 prototypes of the HapiFork, each thoroughly sanitized between the many test eaters (I hope). It was a pretty tasty salad, and soon slow, responsible bites turned into shoveling. When two bites happened in the same 10 second window, the fork vibrated -- a somewhat unsettling feeling especially if it's near your teeth.
I'd slow down for a while, mostly out of embarrassment, but eventually I'd forget and the fork would buzz me again. It happened about five times during the length of the meal -- a fairly typical count for newbies, according to Boutain.
HapiLabs subscribes to the theory that it takes 21 days to create a habit. If you use the fork consistently for 21 days, it should retrain you to automatically eat slower at all times. One meal wasn't enough time to cure me of my snarfing ways, but I was more aware of how fast I ate for the rest of the day.
Origin of the smart fork
The fork was invented seven years ago by Jacques Lepine, who compares the retraining to techniques used by habitual nail biters to cut down on their nibbling. Such as coating nails with bitter-tasting polish, for example.
Last year Lepine connected with 5-year-old health and fitness content company HapiLabs, which is based in Paris and Hong Kong. The two joined forces just in time to take the first prototypes to CES in Las Vegas, where it was an instant hit.
HapiLabs has 120 employees, only 10 to 15 of whom are currently working on the HapiFork project. But that ratio could change soon if the fork takes off.
When can you get one?
On Wednesday, the HapiFork team launched a 45-day Kickstarter campaign to raise $100,000 and sign up the first 1,000 users. Those early adopters will be the company's first chance to collect a large amount of data and test how effective the fork's vibration is at changing eaters' behavior. HapiLabs plans to start shipping the first forks to early Kickstarter donors at the end of the summer, and roll the devices out to everyone by the end of the year.
"We want to cater to a community of people who like to eat mindfully," said Boutain.
Data, data everywhere
Since it has started collecting data from test users, HapiLabs has found that people take about 70 fork bites per meal. They start eating fast but slow down after six minutes, and in an interesting bit of carb trivia, they tend to eat rice much faster than pasta (possibly due to the labor-intensive twirling process).
This is just a sliver of the kind of insight the fork could give the company and medical researchers into how people eat. That potential is what makes the fork more than just a silly and fun novelty gadget. It represents an evolution in tracking technology.
In the coming years sensors will pop up in more and more household objects tracking things like air quality, movement, vital signs and other stats. This potential flood of sensors could lead to a mess of data, with each piece of information tracked in its own app. Fitness trackers like the Nike Fuel Band and the Fitbit are already hugely popular. A new company, Estonian startup Jomi Interactive, recently announced it is working on tracking devices that fit onto water bottles and monitor how much water you drink.
Ideally all the sensor companies will work together so that different data can be shared across apps and devices, allowing it to be analyzed for even more insightful conclusions. (Do you eat less on days you get more than 8 hours sleep? Does the air quality in your home effect your mood?)-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Microsoft is working on designs for a touch-enabled watch device, executives at suppliers said, potentially joining rivals like Apple in working on a new class of computing products.
Earlier this year, Microsoft asked suppliers in Asia to ship components for a potential watch-style device, the executives said. One executive said he met with Microsoft's research and development team at the software company's Redmond, Wash., headquarters. But it's unclear whether Microsoft will opt to move ahead with the watch, they said.
Microsoft declined to comment.
Some investors and big technology companies are betting on a boom in wearable, computerized devices built around the growing power and slimming size of sensors that can detect body temperature, geographic location and voice commands of people on the go.
Some of the new wearable gadgets, like Nike's FuelBand, measure physical activity, while others are intended to supplement functions of a smartphone, such as receiving text messages, taking photos or checking the weather. Apple has also experimented with designs for a wristwatch-style device, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year.
"We see growing demand for wearable gadgets as the size of the smartphone has become too big to carry around," said RBS analyst Wanli Wang. "A smart watch that is compatible with a smartphone and other electronics devices would be attractive to consumers."-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – As fears mount that the smartphone market has become too saturated, a Samsung executive says the time has come to build a smart watch. If you think Samsung has concocted a wearable device just to counter the rumored Apple iWatch, the executive VP of Samsung's mobile business, Lee Young Hee, wants you to know that the company "has been preparing the watch product for so long."
The Samsung exec also told Bloomberg that Samsung is "working very hard to get ready for it. We are preparing products for the future, and the watch is definitely one of them." Samsung just recently introduced its first wearable gadget for 2013 in the S Band, a Fitbit-like wristband that will sync with the S Health application in the upcoming Galaxy S4 smartphone. A Samsung smart watch, however, would be able to do much more than tracks steps taken and calories burned.
According to a separate Reuters report, the Samsung smart watch will perform many of the tasks of the smartphone, although the source wouldn't elaborate. If other smartphone watches on the market are any guide, such as the Martian Watch and I'm Watch, we would expect the Samsung device to make calls, offer some fitness functions, as well as deliver news and social updates at a glance.
It's also possible that Samsung will court developers to make apps for its watch, which could help the brand be even less reliant on Google's services.
Meanwhile, Apple's watch is said to offer many of the same features, with Bloomberg adding that the iWatch could also let you check your map coordinates and monitor your heart rate.
Given that the stocks of both Apple and Samsung are struggling, the presumed hope is that forging into the smartwatch category could be a huge new growth area. In fact, Citigroup estimates the global watch industry will generate more than $60 billion in sales in 2013. And according to ABI Research, 485 million wearable devices will ship annually by 2018.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – You may not have head of Satechi before but they have been making accessories for some time now. Today they have announced a wireless trigger for your Canon camera using bluetooth 4.0 LE. It should be noted that this version of Bluetooth is not compatible with non 4.0 devices. The accessory is a combination of a hotshoe mounted receiver combined with an app on your smartphone. This receiver has the battery life of roughly 2-10 years based on use and can be activated from up to 50 feet away.
The mobile app that controls the receiver offers three different photo modes at the moment. The first is “Regular Shot” which acts like a wireless shutter button for group photos. The second is “Manual Shot” which allows you to do long exposures in bulb mode. The final mode “Timed Shot” is probably what most people would buy the product for. Timed Shot allows you to add the intervalometer feature to your camera for time lapses.
At the moment it appears that the app is only available for iOS devices from the App Store. Chances are if you own a Canon camera this device is compatible but if you are unsure be sure to check out their website for more information. The Bluetooth Smart Trigger goes for $45 and be found on Amazon.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Thirty-one-year-old Saudi Khalid al Jabal has come up with an innovative approach to education.
He has designed a comprehensive and compact system contained in a “Smart Bag”, which he says will make students’, parents’ and teachers’ lives easier.
“This Smart Bag is part of the system. The system contains special software specific to the teacher, programs for school administration, programs. for guardians. There is a program for centralized management, which is the Ministry of Education. These programs combined represent the project for the Smart Bag and school electronic system,” al Jabal said.
The Smart Bag is a small backpack weighing 1.5 kilograms and containing a tablet computer. This device contains the system’s educational program and connects the teacher, students and parents or guardians to one network.
“At home, the student can communicate with the teacher in a simple and easy way. There is a forum for each lesson (a session on the internet). This is a forum for communication between the teacher and the students. If there is a question from a student, he can ask it in the forum and when the teacher answers everyone will benefit,” al Jabal said.
Parents will also be able to track their children’s whereabouts through use of the “Smart Bag” system.
Part of the system involves setting up a network which includes electronic gates. When children pass through these gates at schools, a text message is sent to the parents or guardians. Parents may opt in or out of this service.
“With this system, the guardian doesn’t need to visit the school, because he gets a daily report which enables him to see the times of entry and exit of his child to and from school, and he also can see the child’s academic and behavioural progress,” al Jabal said.
And if in trouble, students also have the option of pressing a button on their tablet to alert teachers and parents of their situation.
A representative of one prospective investor in the system was impressed with the innovation.
“It’s a beautiful invention; it is a qualitative leap and is very impressive. I hope it will be adopted by our Saudi schools,” said Shaheen Shaheen, a representative of a Saudi businessman who al Jabal is trying to start a partnership with.
Al Jabal says having educational material on a tablet will save children from lugging heavy text books to and from their schools.
“Our children are suffering from carrying backpacks weighing 15-20 kilograms and we are forced to carry the bags for them, so we are suffering too. We hope that one day our children’s schools will adopt this clever idea (the smart bag,) and we can keep tabs on their comings and goings from school without having to suffer from heavy weights,” said Amjad Johar, a student’s father.
A school in al Jabal’s home city of Jawf has agreed to buy 500 Smart Bags and implement the system in its classrooms. Al Jabal hopes many more Saudi schools will sign up to buy his innovation.-www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Al Arabiya
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Viewers, beware: while you’re watching TV, your TV might be watching you back. A security firm discovered that Samsung’s Smart TV can give hackers access to the device’s built-in camera and microphones, allowing them to watch everything you do.
The Malta-based firm ReVuln posted a video showing its team of researchers hacking into one of the Samsung TVs and accessing its settings, channel lists, widgets, USB drives, and remote control configurations. The security flaw allows hackers to access any and all personal data stored on the TV.
“We can install malicious software to gain complete root access to the TV,” the video writes.
With this access, hackers can use the Smart TVs built-in camera and microphones to see and hear everything in front of it. Instead of just watching TV, viewers could themselves be watched without knowing it.
But this flaw isn’t present in just one specific model. The vulnerability affects all 11 Samsung televisions of the latest generation. The Smart TVs have many of the same features as a computer, but lack the same kind of protection. The devices do not have security features such as firewalls and antivirus software.
Fortunately for concerned viewers, the problem has a silver lining: hackers must first breach the network that the television is connected to, as well as know the IP address of the device. As a result, security breaches would likely only occur as a targeted attack against an individual, rather than randomly. Unlike an Internet virus, a hacker would have to exploit the network manually.
Luigi Auriemma, co-founder of ReVuln, told NBC News that the main concern with this possibility is that hackers could target specific companies or individuals whose businesses they have an interest in.
“In our opinion, it’s more interesting and realistic to think about attacks [against] specific targets reached via open/weak/hacked Wi-Fi or compromised computers of a network, instead of mass-exploiting via the Internet,” Auriemma wrote in a statement for NBC. “That’s interesting due to the effects of the vulnerability (retrieving information and the possibility of monitoring) which are perfect for targeted attacks, from a specific person with a TV at home to a company with TVs in its offices.”
A hacker must be connected to the local network in order to access the Smart TV – so keeping wifi passwords secure is very important. Those with stalkers or valuable data on their device may want to be particularly cautious.
“Consider that little kid next door that’s good with computers,” said Travis Carelock, content director and research technologist at Black Hat.
“We’re moving into a whole different world,” said Trey Ford, general manager of the group. “Growing up, you and I didn’t have a wirelessly connected camera pointing at the couch.”
Viewers who have any of the plasma 8000 series, the 7500 LED LCD series, the 8000 LED LCD series or the 9000 LED LCD series might want to make sure to keep personal data off their TVs and be careful about what they say or do in the device’s presence.
Even though chances might be slim that the average viewer will have his or her Smart TV hacked into, the capability of technology to watch its viewers is a chilling glimpse into a more high-tech future.
“That’s what will make this a whole lot more fun in the future,” Ford said.
Samsung said it is launching an investigation to look into the security flaw. - www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - West London Today reports that Westminster City Council will install the lights over the next four years as part of a £3.25 million ($5.2 million) investment, but will allow the council to recoup all of its money within seven years, saving tax payers £420,000 ($680,000) a year from 2015/16 onwards.
The new lights will form part of the UK’s first electronically monitored lighting infrastructure, reducing Westminster Council’s energy bill by £1 million ($1.6 million) every two years. Council engineers will be alerted if a bulb needs replacing or and is smart enough to monitor when a bulb is about to fail.
Engineers will be able to pull out an iPad and change the brightness of a street light, operating much in the same way as the Hue consumer lighting system from Philips.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — In the past half-century, computing has evolved from the mainframe to the desktop to the shoulder bag to the pocket, and now it’s taking over new frontiers: our physical bodies, and the physical environments that we inhabit. The next wave of growth in personal computing won’t come from PCs (obviously) or even phones, which have already reached nearly ubiquitous adoption. It will come from sensor-laden devices that take many shapes: glasses, contact lenses, tattoos, wristbands, shoes, textiles, toothbrushes, mattresses, mirrors, thermostats, doorways, steering wheels and parking spots are just a few of the nearly infinite possibilities. Sometimes these sensor-laden devices are called the Internet of Things, but I don’t think that fully captures the phenomenon I’m describing. I call it “Smart Body, Smart World,” because the devices themselves (the “things”) are not the point — it’s about the data they collect, the way the data is interpreted, and the smarter decisions we make when we have access to these sensor-sourced data and insights.
Why is this happening now? Smartphones, which will make up nearly half of mobile phones in the U.S. by the end of 2012, enable “app-cessories” like the larklife or the Fitbit to do a lot with a little: The phone provides processing power, display and cloud connectivity. Smartphones like the iPhone 5 and many Android phones, as well as all Windows 8 devices, have native support for low-energy Bluetooth (they’re “Bluetooth Smart”), which allows sensor-laden devices to transmit data to the phone using very little battery. It’s not just the hardware that’s evolving, it’s also the software: Programmers are getting more sophisticated at creating algorithms that interpret the sensor-collected data and deliver advice. For example, start-ups Lark Technologies, Live!y, and Wallet.AI all consult with cognitive science experts to create products that will actually change people’s behavior.
Consumers seem receptive when there’s a clear benefit that they get in exchange for their data. Progressive Casualty Insurance, for example, has more than a million users of its Snapshot device, which tracks real-time driving behavior (acceleration, breaking, mileage, time of day) and adjusts consumers’ auto insurance policies based on their actual risk; on average, users save $150 per year on their policies, according to the company. BodyMedia reports that its Fit armbands, which track 5,000 data points per minute via four sensors, have an average length of use of six months and climbing, and are used not only for losing weight but also for managing chronic diseases like diabetes.
Moving sensor-laden devices from niche to mainstream requires solving data-related problems, such as unlocking and sharing data from multiple sources, including hard-to-get data from healthcare providers. Products also need to improve data reliability: For example, Nike+ FuelBand users have noted that they get more “fuel” points for arm-intensive (but not fitness-inducing) activities such as eating pizza than they do for walking up a flight of stairs. Add to that the privacy and security challenges of managing personal data. Putting users in control of their own data will be a key success factor for any Smart Body, Smart World product. Consumers may enjoy sharing their activities with their social networks (or subsets of their social networks) some of the time, but also will want modes that act more like private journals than public broadcasts.
Smart Body, Smart World products will reorder the value chain of consumer electronics. The primary beneficiaries will be the algorithm owners; hardware design is important, but the core IP is in the algorithms that interpret the sensor-collected data and deliver advice. The platform owners, namely Apple and Google, will be the secondary beneficiaries; Google is developing first-party hardware (Google Glass and, reportedly, an Android smartwatch) while Apple is cultivating an ecosystem of apps and accessories. Carriers will accrue value through increased use of smartphones via sensor-laden accessories, and to a lesser extent via standalone device connections. Retailers also stand to benefit from smart product growth — but not traditional consumer electronics retailers. Sensor-laden baby mattresses would be an easier sell at Diapers.com or your local baby goods store than at Best Buy — consumers will look for these devices at the retailers that solve the greater lifestyle challenge, not the retailers that specialize in electronics.
It’s hard to overstate how different out lives will be when the Smart Body, Smart World paradigm is in full force. For consumers, the effects are likely to be both positive and negative: With more information and guidance, humans can make more “rational” decisions, but if we are always listening to our devices, we may experience less spontaneity, too. And what happens to our nervous systems when devices surround us, even when we sleep? Those questions are beyond the purview of the type of strategy research we do at Forrester, but answering them will be crucial to living in a Smart Body, Smart World paradigm.
Sarah Rotman Epps is a Senior Analyst serving Consumer Product Strategy professionals at Forrester Research. To learn more about this research, visit the full report here.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — I am quite sure for many of us who first watched Minority Report, we were blown away by the user interface that saw the use of a special kind of gloves that worked in tandem with the touchscreen display. Well, Google might eventually venture into this particular field if the latest patent is of any indication. Dubbed as the Google Smart Glove, it was described in a recently issued patent as “Seeing with your hand”. I suppose this sheds new light on what some might say, “Speak to the hand, cause the ear, it ain’t listening” lingo.
To put it in a nutshell, the Google Glove is filled to the brim with electronics, where the fingertips carry cameras, while the rest of the glove has embedded devices such as a compass, a slew of gyroscopes, accelerometers and other motion detectors. Heck, why not cram in a CPU while you are at it, in addition to some RAM and storage space, all on the palm of your hand, and as marketing parlance would put it – power at your fingertips. Bear in mind that the “Seeing with your hand” patent remains as so for the moment, so Smart Glove and Project Glass integration can be considered to be years away still.—www.shafaqna.com/english