The Technology News Daily Digest from Guardian Liberty Voice for July 23, 2014 includes stories about a digital tattoo used to unlock smartphones, a robotic appendage that can provide its user with additional digits, and a new method of creating lightning-fast cables. Human abilities are being augmented with the use of man-made technology, and the war for consumer privacy continues with the surfacing of a severe iOS security flaw.
Smartphone users have been looking for a more reliable way to protect their information from prying eyes, and Motorola and VivaLnk may have found the answer. A digital tattoo with NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, worn by the phone’s sole user can unlock the phone with a simple tap to the back of the device. The applique is estimated to stay on the skin for approximately five days, during which it will ostensibly be capable of weathering showers and sweaty physical activity. The current price set by VivaLnk for these advanced temporary tattoos is set at $10 for a pack of 10 tattoos, which the company says is enough to provide the consumer for 50 days of worry-free access to their data. Smartphone bills are already expensive, but the addition of these high-tech temporary tattoos that require replacement before the end of a full week is sure to send the monthly expenditures of some consumers skyrocketing.
University of Maryland Uses Lasers to Create “Air Tubes” for Data
Light travels faster than anything else does, igniting an idea in the minds of researchers at the University of Maryland. The team has been developing a new type of optical cable that utilizes thin air to transfer data signals at lightning-fast speeds. Using high-powered lasers, the development team has been able to create “a column of low-density air that can carry a signal just as well as a normal cable.”
Dr. Howard Milchberg and the individuals working in the lab with him have studied the way that air responds to a blast from a powerful laser, ultimately finding that the newly heated air will expand to form a tube. The air tubes function with a “lower refractive index” as compared to air that has not been disturbed by a laser, meaning that the inside of the air tube can behave somewhat like a mirror.
MIT’s Robotic Glove Has Seven Digits
The researchers at MIT’s famed department of mechanical engineering have created the first prototype of a robotic glove with two additional digits. The device is strapped to the wrist and forearm, encircling the wearer’s hand in the middle, while the new “fingers” rest just outside the hand on either side. The movements of the robotic digits are based on the physical movements of the wearer. The glove will respond as the user moves his or her own natural digits in an attempt to aid in the current task. This works by positioning several sensors around the hand to collect real-time information about the wear’s movement patterns. The assistive technology is cumbersome, but the MIT researchers believe that the device can be scaled down to a more sleek design that can be folded.
Apple diehards are finding that they trust they have laid in the metaphorical hands of the computing company may have been misplaced. Tools that the company has installed within the iOS enable Apple to retrieve and share user data with law enforcement at request. The invasive technology allows Apple to accomplish this without consumer knowledge that his or her data has been accessed by another party without user consent. The same applications impose further vulnerabilities to the user beyond Apple’s capabilities. The company’s information gathering tools can also be hijacked by hackers or surveillance organizations such as the NSA, to access data or install spy software undetected.
The Technology News Daily Commentary By Faye Barton