Auto Manufacturers Consider Computer for Your Car Windshield

  • General Motors, Daimler AG and other automakers are working on specially designed windshields that they hope will one day provide drivers with important information about their surroundings while on the road — and make driving safer.
  • “Using a technology known as augmented reality, which overlays real world images with digital ones, these windshields could display driving directions, text messages or impending hazards, all without requiring drivers to take their eyes off the road,” explains the Wall Street Journal.
  • “The goal is to reduce head-down time and maybe make driving a more interactive experience,” says Tom Seder, GM’s chief technologist for human machine interface.
  • The technology would fuse together sensors working outside the vehicle with ones working inside, tracking the driver’s eyes.
  • This could improve safety, writes WSJ, “…for instance, an augmented reality windshield could sense that a driver hasn’t seen a car merging into his or her lane or a sudden traffic slowdown ahead. The windshield might light up red or highlight the potential hazard to cause the driver to hit the brakes.”
  • But these windshields are likely at least five years away from actually appearing in vehicles and pricing remains unknown.

Malware Shift: Android Overtakes Windows as Top Security Threat

  • In the 2013 Security Threat Report from security firm Sophos, it’s been revealed that Android is now the top market for hackers, beating out previous frontrunner Microsoft’s Windows OS.
  • “The security firm found that during a three-month period this year, 10 percent of Android-based devices experienced some form of malware attack. Just 6 percent of Windows PCs, meanwhile, were hit by an attack,” according to Technology Review.
  • Cybercriminals understand more than ever that the technological future is in mobile, making this an issue of high concern considering over 100 million Android devices shipped worldwide in the second quarter of 2012, notes the report.
  • Because Android is fairly new, especially when compared to Windows OS, users are not yet conditioned to security concerns and will click on links or open unknown apps.
  • “To make matters worse, the anti-malware tools available in the Android ecosystem just aren’t as strong as they could be,” explains the article. “Security firms are behind the times a bit. And until they catch up, we’re all at risk.”
  • According to the Saphos report, in order to stay safe, users should only surf the Web to known sites and should not download anything that could be dangerous.

YouTube Takes to the Skies with Virgin America Distribution Deal

  • YouTube has teamed up with Virgin America in what is the company’s first distribution deal with an airline.
  • “The airline will make programming on five YouTube channels — Warner Bros.’ ‘H+ The Digital Series,’ produced by Bryan Singer; WIGS’ ‘Blue,’ starring Julia Stiles; Geek & Sundry’s ‘Written by a Kid;’ ‘Crash Course’ and Barely Political’s ‘The Key of Awesome’ — available through its inflight entertainment system on December 15,” reports Variety.
  • The content will be free on all flights in the U.S. and Mexico. More content is expected to follow.
  • “For YouTube, putting the channels in front of more viewers is seen as a way to promote the programming on a new platform, where auds are eager to turn to video to bide their time during flights, and hopefully encourage them to seek out the shows after they’ve landed,” notes the article.
  • And it’s a win for Virgin America also, since it now has another partner through which to offer free entertainment to customers.
  • Virgin America is used to being the first to do things. It was the first domestic carrier to offer fleetwide Wi-Fi in 2009, enabling flyers to connect to YouTube through their own mobile devices.

The Fate of Photographic Film: Can Kodak Learn Lessons from Polaroid?

  • According to The Washington Post, “few fields have experienced upheaval in the digital age as dramatic as the shake-up in photography.” Kodak and Polaroid, for example, two companies once atop the U.S. photographic film market, have both recently faced bankruptcy.
  • “At its peak in the late 1990s, Kodak sold about a billion rolls of film in the United States each year. Last year, it sold roughly 20 million. That’s a 98 percent drop in its core business over barely more than a decade,” notes the article.
  • Kodak filed for bankruptcy earlier this year and after nearly 125 years, it will most likely stop selling photographic film, putting its analog film division up for sale.
  • This sort of downfall already happened to Polaroid. It filed for bankruptcy in both 2001 and 2008. Whoever comes along to buy Kodak’s film business could learn from Polaroid’s fall.
  • The article suggests Kodak needs to be unafraid of raising prices, because even amidst a dwindling market, one still does exist for reasons of aesthetics over economy. It also needs to focus on the changing landscape of camera hardware and the intersection of the smartphone and midlevel camera.
  • Finally, Kodak must remain innovative and original, in as many ways as possible. Because while brand loyalty is working in its favor, it is not enough to keep it alive without those other factors.
  • For fans of Kodak film “and nearly everyone who cares about the photographic arts,” the hope is “that someone generous and deep-pocketed” will come along to pick up this iconic piece of Kodak.

Targeted TV Ads in 2013: Platform Operators Want a Bigger Slice of the Pie

  • Targeted video ads will make their way into living rooms in 2013 as two of the UK’s largest TV operators plan to implement the strategy.
  • “Leading provider BSkyB will trial-launch an NDS Dynamic-powered service to seven million set top boxes under the AdSmart banner by the summer, allowing advertisers to target 90 different demographic attributes,” reports paidContent.
  • “When a break contains a Sky AdSmart instruction, a unique code is sent to all Sky+HD STBs at the precise moment selected in the schedule,” explains BSkyB. “Households with matching attributes will seamlessly trigger the playing of an appropriate ad for the circumstances.”
  • Ads are pushed via satellite dishes and are stored for later playback. “Some 500,000 of the 1.3 million Internet-connected boxes Sky has in the market will be used as a viewing panel, recording an ad impression when at least 75 percent of the ad is viewed,” according to the post.
  • For now, the ads will only appear on Sky’s own channels: Sky 1, Sky Sports, Sky Atlantic, Sky Movies, Sky Arts, Sky Living, Challenge and Pick TV. Cable operator Virgin Media also says it will start to roll out targeted TV ads, but details are not yet available.
  • “Further ‘targeted’ ad initiatives like these will need to prove both that they can target further than the conventional TV schedule, and work effortlessly, to trump the established paradigm,” notes the post. “These launches’ biggest impact could be to establish platform operators, not broadcast networks, as the more innovative ad targeters.”

SoundCloud Teams with Getty Images Music for Commercial Licensing

  • Users of SoundCloud can now offer their tracks for commercial licensing, thanks to a partnership with Getty Images Music.
  • The partnership “gives ‘media, advertisers, designers and creatives’ a new way to license fresh material — that’s because, in what is being described as ‘sync’ licensing, SoundCloud users can embed the license button immediately after they’ve hit publish, removing much of the friction traditionally associated with licensing music for visual projects,” details TechCrunch.
  • Commercial users can request a license by clicking the ‘license’ button, at which point the Getty Images Music licensing department takes control. “If the track has never been licensed before, the process is said to take between a few days or a few weeks, dependent on paperwork and the necessary clearance,” writes TechCrunch.
  • Getty Images Music will curate a SoundCloud collection, consisting of handpicked songs for commercial potential.
  • “Noteworthy is that Getty Images will be the commercial rights manager of the audio content selected for the SoundCloud collection, ensuring that all tracks are available for safe commercial use by customers — which is an important promise given SoundCloud’s ‘User-Generated’ nature,” notes the post.

South Korean Mall Uses Facial-Recognition for Targeted Advertising

  • When people shop at the International Finance Center Mall in Seoul, South Korea, they’re being watched as they approach any of the 26 informational kiosks.
  • “Just above each kiosk’s LCD touchscreen sit two cameras and a motion detector,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “As a visitor is recorded, facial-identity software estimates the person’s gender and age.”
  • SK Marketing & Co., which is running the system, plans to allow advertisers to tailor interactive ads to the attributes calculated by the software.
  • “Advertisers in big public spaces only have a general idea of who they’re reaching and they can only target ads at big audience segments,” explains Ahn Jae-heon, a senior planner for SK M&C. “This can offer more focus and customization for them.”
  • “The system, which is in data-collection phase now and will begin full operation early next year, is the first of its kind in South Korea and one of the first in the world,” according to WSJ.
  • Executives have said that no interactions will be recorded nor information stored. “They also won’t ask for any personal information from people as they use it,” adds the article.

Digital Encryption Patent Could Bring Copy Protection to 3D Printing

  • Nathan Myhrvold, the former Microsoft CTO who currently runs Intellectual Ventures, has been issued a patent for a system that could prevent people from printing objects via 3D printers using designs for which they have not paid.
  • “The patent, issued [October 9] by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, is titled ‘Manufacturing control system’ and describes methods for managing ‘object production rights,'” reports Technology Review.
  • “The patent basically covers the idea of digital rights management, or DRM, for 3D printers,” explains the article. “As with e-books that won’t open unless you pay Barnes & Noble and use its Nook reader, with Myhrvold’s technology your printer wouldn’t print unless you’ve paid up.”
  • However, there is a caveat to consider since manufacturers are not required to use DRM.
  • According to ETCentric staffer Phil Lelyveld: “The patent appears to be incredibly broad, but as the article says it only applies to 3D printers that implement DRM technology.”
  • The patent goes beyond 3D printing to include additive manufacturing. “It also covers using digital files in extrusion, ejection, stamping, die casting, printing, painting, and tattooing and with materials that include ‘skin, textiles, edible substances, paper, and silicon printing,'” notes the article.

New Direction in Computer Interaction: Is the Mouse Facing Extinction?

  • Younger generations are growing up in a tablet and mobile world, and have little use for the computer mouse, first introduced at the Stanford Research Institute by Douglas Engelbart and Bill English in 1963.
  • “This fall, for the first time, sales of iPads are cannibalizing sales of PCs in schools, according to Charles Wolf, an analyst for the investment research firm Needham & Co.,” writes The Washington Post.
  • Whereas the mouse was once the “primary bridge to the virtual world,” it’s now becoming unnecessary as touchscreens, mobile devices and voice recognition software dominate the market.
  • “Kindergartners, as young as 4, use the iPod Touch to learn letter sounds,” explains the article. “The older students use iPads to research historical information and prepare multimedia slide-show presentations about school rules.”
  • “Even toddlers are able to manipulate a touch screen. A popular YouTube video shows a baby trying to swipe the pages of a fashion magazine that she assumes is a broken iPad.”
  • “The popularity of iPads and other tablets is changing how society interacts with information,” notes Aniket Kittur, an assistant professor at the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. “Direct manipulation with our fingers, rather than mediated through a keyboard/mouse, is intuitive and easy for children to grasp.”
  • Could we be witnessing the final countdown for the computer mouse?

Music Lyrics Site LiveUniverse Hit with $6.6 Million Copyright Decision

  • Music publishers have long taken offense to websites posting song lyrics. “A recent court judgment against LiveUniverse makes it crystal clear: hosting an unauthorized lyrics site can get you in serious legal trouble,” writes Ars Technica.
  • LiveUniverse and its owner Brad Greenspan were hit with a $6.6 million judgment last week by a federal judge for running a lyrics site with no licenses from music publishers.
  • “That’s $12,500 per song for the 528 songs whose lyrics he was accused of infringing,” according to the article.
  • “There are thousands of lyrics sites, and many of them remain unlicensed. Music publishers started pursuing these sites several years ago, and now… they’re starting to see some real revenue come from online businesses who have taken licenses,” writes Ars Technica.
  • The lyrics sites may be viewed as harmless by some, but they are generating significant advertising revenue, and subsequently stealing from songwriters and publishers, according to Ross Charap, one of the attorneys representing the music publishers who sued Greenspan.
  • “This is an important new stream of revenue for publishers,” suggests Charap. “They got nothing from it five or six years ago, and now they get tens of millions of dollars.”

DirecTV Genie DVR System Records Five Shows in HD at One Time

  • DirecTV’s new Genie system allows for multiple, simultaneous DVR recording of HD shows; eliminates the need for receivers in every room; and adds new recommendation features.
  • “The company’s flagship HR34 DVR has been relabeled as the Genie and makes the new software its centerpiece, with those five tuners letting even the chronically uncommitted take new recommendations as seriously as they like,” writes Engadget.
  • “As before, simultaneous viewing is otherwise the biggest angle: there’s support for up to eight RVU-capable TVs hooked up at once, two shows playing on one TV and up to four TVs watching the same show,” notes the post. “You’ll have to be a new subscriber to get the video recorder under the Genie moniker.”
  • According to the press release, the Genie system offers “up to three times more HD recording capacity than cable HD DVRs.”
  • “Gone are the days of scheduling conflicts, channel surfing, messy wires and boxes, missed shows and family fights over the remote,” suggests Romulo Pontual, executive VP and CTO of DirecTV.

FBI Issues Android Warning and Offers Suggestions to Combat Malware

  • The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) issued a warning against malware on Android devices last week.
  • “The IC3 has been made aware of various malware attacking Android operating systems for mobile devices,” it notes. “Some of the latest known versions of this type of malware are Loozfon and FinFisher.”
  • Loozfon is information-stealing malware, used by criminals to steal address books and phone numbers. FinFisher is “a spyware capable of taking over the components of a mobile device. When installed the mobile device can be remotely controlled and monitored no matter where the Target is located,” explains Fortune.
  • IC3 offers suggestions for consumers to protect themselves:
  • “When purchasing a smartphone, know the features of the device, including the default settings. Turn off features of the device not needed to minimize the attack surface of the device.”
  • “With the growth of the application market for mobile devices, users should look at the reviews of the developer/company who published the application.”
  • “Passcode protect your mobile device. This is the first layer of physical security to protect the contents of the device. In conjunction with the passcode, enable the screen lock feature after a few minutes of inactivity.”

FCC Approves Basic Cable Encryption, Looks to Protect Open Access

  • Following a lengthy review process, the FCC has granted cable operators permission to encrypt basic cable programming.
  • “That’s a major breakthrough for a cable industry that has notoriously been locked down over the years,” writes The Verge.
  • In order for companies including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Verizon, Charter and AT&T to get permission to encrypt, they’ll need to meet one of two requirements.
  • “The first involves issuing a network-connected converter box to consumers that would allow other devices in the home to receive the encrypted signal,” explains the post. This equipment would be free to users for two years.
  • Option two “skips extra hardware in favor of software updates. Should operators opt against handing out converters, they’ll need to instead produce software-based solutions for third-party IP components like those from Boxee,” writes The Verge.
  • “Unfortunately, smaller operators like Cablevision and Bright House are exempt from these restrictions for now,” adds the post. “The FCC believes they’ll eventually follow their larger competitors in embracing IP functionality but warns that it may ‘revisit the issue’ should these providers block compatibility with consumer devices.”

Video Platform Tvinci Helps Cable Companies Launch Streaming Video

  • Video startup Tvinci “has built a platform that enables cable and other pay TV operators to quickly deploy over-the-top video services for their subscribers,” writes TechCrunch.
  • Tvinci raised $4.5 million in funding from investors such as Kaedan Capital and Zohar Gilon, along with new investor Trellas Enterprises.
  • “With more and more consumption of long-form video happening online and on mobile and other connected devices, it’s become necessary for cable and IPTV companies to build applications for those screens,” explains the post. “But rather than having each build their own DIY backend, Tvinci lets them connect with its system and more quickly roll out new services.”
  • Tvinci’s OTT 2.0 platform allows for the creation of mobile and connected TV apps as well, which its pay TV operator clients can use to deliver video across multiple screens.
  • “Tvinci’s revenue has tripled over the past year, and it has doubled headcount to meet demand from clients,” notes TechCrunch. “It’s signed up seven TV operators recently, including Liberty Global and Finnish pay TV company Elisa, to help get their content delivered across more screens.”

Part TiVo and Part Slingbox: Simple.TV DVR Offers Cord-Cutting Option

  • “The battle for your cord-cutting dollars continues to heat up,” reports Wired. “Hardware for streaming, time-shifting (recording to DVR), or place-shifting (watching your TV content on mobile devices) continues to flood the market, promising to take up all your precious HDMI ports.”
  • The Simple.TV DVR streamer, which began shipping on Monday, does all those things and keeps ports available for other devices, like game consoles.
  • The product is a DVR that doesn’t actually connect to the TV, but instead connects to over-the-air HDTV signals or cable TV and then streams content to iOS devices, browsers and Roku boxes.
  • “With a $50-a-year subscription, users can send streams over the Internet to up to five devices at once,” explains the article. “How might this come in handy? Say the latest episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ is about to come on, and you’re at the airport and days away from being able to watch it on your DVR. With this service, you can open up your iPad and watch whenever and wherever you want.”
  • “The DVR lacks internal storage and requires an external USB drive to use the DVR capabilities,” notes Wired of the device’s limitations. “The single coaxial input limits the recording feature to one show at a time. And without a subscription, cool features like scheduling an entire series won’t work. Finally, the device doesn’t work with encrypted channels, leaving premium networks like HBO and Showtime out of the streaming fun.”