Tag Archives: Gadget Reviews

Research shows eye-reflections in photos could be used to identify criminals

Did you ever watch CSI’s tech boffins zoom into a photo, grab the reflection in someone’s eye, and through processing magic generate a full facial image of the wanted criminal? If, like us, you rolled your eyes at the program’s “Hollywood” technology, then maybe you did so too soon (again). Researchers at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, have effectively done just that. Okay, so the team was using near perfect conditions: a 39-megapixel Hasselblad H2D camera, shooting a subject from one meter away, in perfect lighting, but the results proved the idea is well within the realms of science fact. When looking at a close up of a subject’s eye, the team was able to grab an image between 27 to 36 pixels wide by 42 to 56 pixels high showing the face of one of the “bystanders” they had organised to be in the subject’s view. The reflected images proved good enough that when volunteers were asked to match the small image with that of the actual bystander, or someone of similar appearance, results came in well above chance averaging between 70- and 84 percent. As well as assisting in criminal investigations, the researchers claim the technique could also yield 3D environments, when images can be taken from both eyes. Of course, real-world application would require similarly optimal conditions, but as technology advances, the researches claim this could be an ever increasing scenario.

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Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/12/29/eye-reflections-catch-criminals/?ncid=rss_truncated

Roku player software cracked open temporarily, root now to run XBMC later

Roku’s line of set-top boxes have been popular thanks to their simple controls, large set of available apps (recently expanded to include YouTube for the new Roku 3) and hardware ranging in price from inexpensive to downright cheap. Still, despite an active and encouraged developer community with custom channels and well-supported media player apps like Plex, the hardware has remained largely on lockdown — until now. The GTVHacker team that previously unlocked Google TV and Chromecast has found a way to run its commands as root on any Roku 2 or Roku 3 using the most recent software version (unfortunately, that does not at this time include Sky TV’s cheap Now TV player, which runs on older software). While the player overall is credited as “considerably more secure than others in the entertainment field” (Samsung comes to mind but it’s from from the only one) a development password field provided a way in.

Currently they’ve only achieved persistence on the Roku 2, which in this case means they can maintain control even after the box reboots by breaking the secure boot process and modifying the initial boot loader. Since Roku 2 runs on the same Broadcom chip used by the popular Raspberry Pi, team member CJ Heres expects to see ports for third-party home theater PC software like XBMC very quickly. The Roku 3 will be a bit trickier since it runs on different hardware, and right now it needs to have the command entered each time the box starts.

Those well-versed in using the command line should find the process simple. A WGET command entered via the development password field pulls down a script — available from the GTVHacker team — that makes sure you have the right box and does all the dirty work before rebooting, leaving you with a rooted box, as seen above. Hardware level access on mobile platforms has lead to a number of custom software projects and we’ll have to see if the same path is followed here, but if all this does is create a simple $40 XBMC box, it’s probably still worth looking into — and quickly, the team expects this security hole will be patched soon.

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Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/12/28/roku-2-roku-3-rooted/?ncid=rss_truncated

Nike updates Training Club app to help you keep those New Year’s resolutions

You know what always comes after pigging out during the holidays: a New Year’s resolution to get fit, this time (you swear!) for sure. Well, Nike’s hoping to kickstart your quest to fitness by updating its Nike Training Club (N+TC) apps for Android and iOS. New features include the ability to customize exercise routines, as well as earn reward content and sharable milestones whenever you reach a goal. Nike has also added six new exercise videos (of athletes and celeb trainers) to its archive of more than a hundred. Other than that, the app’s now more tightly integrated with other Nike products: it’s now possible to add minutes from each run on the separate Running app to your N+TC total, and you can tag N+TC sessions on the FuelBand app. The update will hit both platforms’ app stores on December 31st — just in time to make you feel less guilty about that third slice of cheesecake on New Year’s Eve.

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Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/12/28/nike-training-club-app/?ncid=rss_truncated

Microsoft connects Windows 8 for PCs, phones with new Solitaire, Minesweeper and Mahjong

As a late holiday gift, Microsoft is finally syncing up some of the popular software from its desktop and tablet Windows OS with the latest version of Windows for phones. We are, of course, referring to classic Windows games like Microsoft Solitaire Collection, Minesweeper (which also has a WP7 version) and Mahjong, which as of today are available on Windows Phone 8. Better still, they’re enhanced for Xbox leaderboards, achievements and stat-tracking, with the ability to pause and resume games across Windows PCs, phones and tablets. They’re all free, so hit the links to download them and waste time on the go just like you do at work.

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Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/12/27/windows=phone-8-solitaire-minesweeper-mahjong/?ncid=rss_truncated

Samsung’s got another tablet in the works

One of the great things about the FCC is that the commission is obligated to reveal all of the newly-minted and as-yet unannounced gadgets that pass through its hallowed halls. The latest to be shown is a Samsung tablet measuring in the 8-9-inch category. Naturally, all that the FCC is concerned with is if the unit’s Bluetooth and WiFi modules are working properly, so we shall have to wait and see what the SM-T320 turns out to be. But considering that we’ve got CES in less than a week and MWC a month afterward, we doubt we’ll be waiting long.

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Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/12/27/samsung-sm-t320-fcc-tablet/?ncid=rss_truncated

This homemade ‘3D printer’ spikes jello shots with infused designs (video)

Barista Bots, one of the most popular attractions at this year’s South by Southwest festival in Austin, printed scanned logos, smileys and other shapes atop comped lattes. Thirsty attendees with 20 minutes to spare for the queue walked away with a free coffee and a robot-extruded froth. The novelty will have surely worn off by next year’s SXSW, and we think we’ve stumbled upon the perfect replacement. It was born from a desire to turn otherwise ordinary gelatin shots into an original alcoholic treat — meet the 3D Jello Printer.

SpritesMods managed to accomplish this feat with a lot of creativity and a few recycled parts. They repurposed the stepper motors from discarded CD-ROM drives to move a syringe along the necessary axes, and used an old ejector mechanism to push down the plunger. An AVR microcontroller stores several different designs, which materialize in tiny jello shots using a cocktail of banana liquor, food coloring and a bit of corn starch to turn the liquid into a gel. SpritesMods is kind enough to help you get started with creating your own. Just dig up some choice e-waste and follow the tutorial — you’ll be mass producing the perfect New Year’s Eve consumable in no time.

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Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/12/26/3d-jello-shot-printer/?ncid=rss_truncated