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Bracelet Unlocks Devices with Heartbeat

Bracelet Unlocks Devices with Heartbeat via YouTube

Could replace keys and PINs.

Forget 1-2-3-4-5. A new wristband, dubbed the Nymi, promises to make password stress a thing of the past by using a wearer’s heartbeat to unlock devices. The bracelet is outfitted with an electrocardiogram sensor that can identify a user and then, in theory, start up just about anything from computer networks to automobiles, says Bionym, the Toronto-based startup that engineered the device. It looks cool, and while geeks everywhere are holding their breath, the device hasn’t gone through a formal security audit yet and may be vulnerable to hacking.

Read it at Ars Technica

Big Chill

(Nuclear) Winter is Coming

Underground ice walls have been used by the mining industry for more than a century. Now the Japanese want to build one around the Fukushima nuclear plant. By Josh Dzieza.

At first glance Japan’s plan to surround the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant with a mile-long subterranean wall of ice seems like a crazy, last-ditch gambit by a Tepco employee turning to Game of Thrones for inspiration. But the technique isn’t as farfetched as it sounds. Engineers have been building underground ice walls for over a century, and using one to contain radioactive waste makes a lot of sense, though building it won’t be easy.

130903- dzieza-fukushima-ice-wall-tease


For a precedent for Fukushima’s ice wall you don’t need to look to fantasy, but to the 19th-century mining industry. Digging a mine shaft is a never-ending battle against groundwater, which is constantly flowing into the mine and threatening to collapse the walls and flood the project. You can try to pump it out faster than it comes in, or you can dig another shaft to divert it—or you can freeze everything in place.

In 1863 German scientist  F.H. Poetsch patented a method of driving metal pipes full of super-cold brine (saltwater can go below 32 degrees without turning to ice) into the soil, freezing the surrounding ground solid as concrete. This allowed miners to dig in peace.

Tech Saver

Put That Phone Down

Are you that person at the dinner table who can’t stop checking your iPhone? The makers of the new app BRB have a solution for your fear of missing out—a timer with a customizable away message to send to all your friends.

It’s a familiar scenario. You’re out to dinner and all your friends’ faces are illuminated by the iPhone they’re half-trying to hide under the table. Maybe they’re scrolling through Instagram, learning what other, lesser, friends are eating, or they’re sending a maddening “I’ll call you after dinner!!” text.


Photo Illusration by The Daily Beast

But choose to leave your phone at home or ignore your texts, and by the time you check it your mom has already filed a missing person report or you’ve found yourself in a surprise fight with your slighted significant other. It’s a lose-lose.

Enter BRB, a brand-new app that is attempting to notch a victory in the long battle against FOMO.


ATMs for Mobile Phones?

Can a consumer electronics technology help solve the environmental problems by the rampant obsolescence of consumer electronics?

The half-life of a piece of technology these days is very short. Every year, upgrades to computers, televisions, and mobile phones render last year’s version technologically obsolete. To a large degree, electronics are disposable.


A technology representative demonstrates the ecoATM which purchases used cellphones from consumers during CES on the Hill on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on April 16, 2013. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty)

And yet, according to the Environmental Protection Administration, only 11 percent of the estimated 152 million discarded mobile devices are properly recycled. Bamboo Mobile estimates that 30 percent of people are unaware of the fact that their old cell phones can be recycled.

This is an unsettling trend that will probably grow as years go by -- as newer phone models are released and more people upgrade their phones, more and more electronics are likely to lie around in homes, unrecycled. This has inspired efforts to publicize the recycling process.

Quiet, Please

How to Hide From Your Phone

What happens when haute couture meets counter-surveillance? The OFF Pocket, a sleek pouch that deflects phone tracking—and phone calls. By Josh Dzieza.

Haute couture usually makes you stand out, but Adam Harvey and Johanna Bloomfield imagine a future where it can help you hide.

The newest item designed by Harvey, an artist with a background in mechanical engineering, and Bloomfield, a fashion designer, is called OFF Pocket, a metallic-fiber pouch designed to block all wireless signals to your phone. Bloomfield calls it a “privacy accessory.” For the next month, it will sit alongside other examples of counter surveillance chic from Harvey’s company, PRVCM, in a “privacy gift shop” at New York’s New Museum


Adam Harvey

Harvey and Bloomfield’s first collaborative project, Stealth Wear, a line of futuristic looking streetwear that shields the wearer from thermal imaging cameras, debuted this January at the fashion boutique Primitive London. Stealth Wear was more of a “provocation” than a consumer fashion line, Harvey says, designed to make people aware of how invasive thermal imaging could be, and the sort of counter-measures that would be required to block it.

The social media giant has made a lot of changes that have caused uproars over the years. But this latest atrocity--horrifically ugly, giant emoticons--takes the cake, says Winston Ross.

The other day I was Facebook chatting with an old and dear friend of mine who has taken it upon herself to become more... cheery, in electronic communication. After a few cheery minutes, something horrible happened. She showed me a new feature on Facebook, and it’s worse than any other new feature the Privacy Robber Barons of The Internet have ever introduced. 

Facebook's New Emoticons


Some background: This friend is on an admirable and perpetual quest for self-improvement due to her history of, let’s call it “blunt,” communication. In person, her unfiltered comments mostly work because she’s hilarious. Even when she says something like “You’re fat,” (she told me that once; I was pretty chubbers at the time) she follows up with some kind of disarming addendum (“but not as fat as Fat Albert”) that is usually funny enough to get you to overlook the original offensive comment. 

But in text messaging and chat, this is a harder thing to pull off. Harder because what often reminds this blunt and funny friend of mine that she needs to make a funny follow-up comment is the blank, stunned look on the face of whoever received that first jab. In chats and texts, there’s no stunned look. No way to know if she’s just crushed someone’s soul. Even brusk replies to inquiries or invitations can hurt the cyberfeelings of the more (hyper?) sensitive of her friends. 

Ticked Off

I Want an iWatch!

Wristwatches are so 20th century, just bracelets that need batteries, writes Winston Ross, who eagerly awaits the debut of Apple’s iWatch.

Like most gadget-obsessed Americans with (some) disposable income, I am on an iWatch watch. I have an “iWatch” Google alert set to notify me whenever Apple finally announces its smartwatch, wired to the smoke alarms inside my house, so any time some tech blog posts a new rumor, it’s like Armageddon up in this piece.


Screenshot from a concept video created by ciccaresedesignvideo. (YouTube)

Which is why I know all kinds of hot insider scoopy exclusive never-before-revealed stuff about this conclusion that is as foregone as Hillary 2016: when it’s coming, what it’ll look like, how it will one day cure cancer, and we’ll get to all that. But first, understand some important cultural paradigm shifts that provide the backdrop to this new era of technology on whose precipice we now precariously perch:

The wristwatch has been marching toward obsolescence for at least a decade, thanks to the pernicious rise of the smartphone. Even dumb phones tell time. Why would anyone need to buy, much less wear a wristwatch any more, pinching at the skin, painting an embarrassing tan line all your friends will relentlessly mock? Why go through the 30 seconds every day of strapping the thing on and then off and then on again every time you take a shower or root around in a compost pile?


The Sex-Tracking App

How’s your sex life going? A new app tracks users’ data to help boost performance between the sheets. Filippa Iannou talks to the technology’s founders about their nifty tool.

The Quantified Self movement—the trend empowering individuals to track trends in their vitals and other personal data—has long had its place in the bedroom. Self-quantifiers have used devices from the now-defunct Zeo Band to the UP band to the SleepTracker monitor to apps like Sleep Cycle to gain insight into their sleeping patterns and wake feeling more rested.



But the new app Spreadsheets heats things up by giving users a tool to apply Quantified Self principles between the sheets. Created by Danny Wax and Tyler Elick, the co-founders of Ardenturous Labs, Spreadsheets uses an accelerometer and analysis of coital sounds to track the data of your sex life. Having first set its calibrations based on the type of mattress you own (inner spring? memory foam?), it measures the duration, number of thrusts (if applicable), and loudness of sex. But Wax and Elick, who met through a mutual friend at the University of Denver and started developing the app in March of this year, are quick to clarify that they’re not trying to tell people how or how often to have sex.

“We’re not saying louder is better, or more sex is better, bigger is better,” says Elick. “I think that’s kind of a mind-set that I grew up with in our culture—but that’s not what we’re saying. What we’re saying is—hey, we want to provide a thermometer. We’re not here to tell people what their sex lives should look like.”


13 ‘Dirty Little Secret’ Revelations


Rich Legg/Getty

Users have been flocking to a popular thread on Reddit consisting of workers exposing alleged scams and secrets within their various industries. Here are the 13 most shocking revelations.

“I’m a celebrity event photographer in Hollywood. Most of the smaller award shows winners like the MTV VMAs, Teen Choice Awards, etc. ... already know they are going to win. This motivates the talent to come to the event. During the show they are backstage talking with friends and take a seat during a commercial break just before their award is announced. The few exceptions are the Oscars and Golden Globes, where the audience is mostly celebrities.”

“The process creates an enormous environmental problem; using toxic chemicals which are flushed into our sewers along with those pureed livers, hearts, spleens, pancreas’ which then also flow into our sewers. Oh, what’s that? I told you embalming is a legal requirement for public sanitation? That’s utter bullshit. If anything, it creates a sanitation problem if the cemetery you use is anywhere near a municipal water line, which most 'commercial' cemeteries are."

My Space

Friend Or Not Friend?

Should you monitor your child’s Facebook? Clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair, author of the new book ‘The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age,’ answers some questions about parenting in the social-media age.

What is your big idea?

When children and families see me privately, often in a crisis or when a child’s situation has become more than they can manage or ignore any longer, parents’ responses are always a significant factor. What we say and how we say it matters to our children.

Facebook Less Fun

Nick Ut/AP

In therapy, at parent talks, and in my travels and interviews sharing The Big Disconnect, one of the most common questions parents ask is: Should I monitor my child’s Facebook? The more important question is not whether you should have access but what you do with it: How do you react to what you see or read there?

Yelp for Men?

Rate This Guy

How would you like to rate your ex-boyfriend as a #TrustFundBaby or a male friend who #CanTalkToMyDad? Lulu lets girls do just that, using Facebook profiles—and it’s caught on like wildfire. But is it sexist? Isabel Wilkinson reports.

Last spring, Ellie Claxton, a 19-year-old freshman at Auburn University, entered a contest. The $200 winning pot was, as she put it, “easy money,” so she thought, “Why not?”

Lulu App


But what she had to do was less than ordinary: she was asked to rate her male friends using a new iPhone app called Lulu. The first girl to rate 300 guys on the app won the prize money. Claxton quickly began rating her Facebook friends—guys she knew—and then broadened, reviewing guys that been selected for her at random. As part of the process, she assigned each guy hashtags pre-chosen for her by Lulu. They ranged from positive descriptors—such as “#WritesLoveSongs” and “#CanTalkToMyDad”—to the more negative: “#ManChild,” “#OwnsCrocs,” “#WanderingEye,” and “#NoGoals.”

Saying it took her “less than 30 seconds” to rate a guy, Claxton whipped through the required 300 ratings in less than a week—and took home the prize money.

Asked "What company has forever lost your business?," users of responded angrily and voluminously. Corporate reputation managers, take note!

The people who frequent the website, which bills itself as “the front page of the internet,” are overwhelmingly young, male, fairly affluent, and, generally, interested in—or work with—computers. They are what one might call “tech-savvy.”

The Internet's 9 Most Hated Companies

Clockwise from top left: Best Buy, AT&T, PayPal, and British Airways. (AP (4))

So it’s no surprise that when asked on the site “What company has forever lost your business?,” users took the occasion to direct a fire hose of bile at several well-known technology and consumer companies. The results, of course, are highly nonscientific. But sorting the responses by most “points,” helps reveal the Internet’s (well, the Internet front page’s) most hated companies.

1. PayPal—“Their customer service is the worst I’ve ever dealt with,” “Paypal has quite the scam going,” “Plus PayPal won’t allow you to donate to WikiLeaks” list among the primary concerns people have with PayPal, the online payments company founded by Elon Musk and later bought—for $1.5 billion—by eBay. The good news, for those who have to send money online, is there are alternatives. WePay, Skrill, Dwolla, Google Wallet, and Payza are five that have been recommended as alternatives.

Flying Waiters

Does Your Drone Deliver?

Around the world, unmanned aircraft are the hottest thing in retail. But don’t try it at home just yet. Abby Haglage explains why civilian drones occupy a legal gray area in the U.S.

Beer. Pizza. Cake. Sushi. If you can dream it, someone can drone it in.

As the debate surrounding America’s use of targeted drone killings rages on, a friendlier side of the technology is zooming to center stage. From a bakery in Shanghai to a sushi restaurant in London, companies across the globe are experimenting with unmanned aircraft to deliver—well, just about anything. Back in the U.S., however, early adopters will likely find themselves grounded in legal limbo as Congress sits on legislation regulating civilian use.


DJI innovations technician Scott Horn releases a small drone during a demonstration at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International exhibition in Washington. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

In South Africa, for example, the first known beer drone drop received ecstatic reviews two weeks ago. “Each time the drone dropped a beer into the crowd, the entire camp erupted in a fantastic roar,” says Carel Hoffman, who masterminded the event as part of Johannesburg’s Oppikoppi Music Festival. “The entire thing was supposed to be a gimmick ... just a small gimmick in the corner of the festival,” he says. But the feat was risky, and the Oppikoppi founders admit it. “We were worried that someone would stop us and say, ‘What the fuck are you doing?’” Hoffman says. No one did.

Baby Face

The Perviest Hackers

Marc Gilbert got a baby monitor to keep tabs on his little one—then some creep hacked it and shouted obscenities at the poor kid. Winston Ross on how parents can protect themselves.

What happened to Marc and Lauren Gilbert and their gurgling little bundle of joy in Houston last week is pretty horrifying, and it will hopefully never happen again.

It’s horrifying because some creepsauce found a way to hack into the couple’s video baby monitor and yell obscenities at their 2-year-old daughter as she lay sleeping peacefully in her crib. The child is deaf, so she was never awakened during the rant that included phrases like, “wake up you little slut.” Marc Gilbert heard the commotion from a different room in his house, burst in to find out who was yelling at his child, and is now convinced that what once seemed a foolproof method of keeping tabs on his child was not even remotely worth the consequences.

But it will hopefully never happen again because this informative article you are reading right now will trend worldwide and every parent across the globe will soon understand how to keep the creepers from peeping on your baby. We talked to several very smart people (including Marc Gilbert) and this is what we learned:


S. Deissner/Corbis


Syrian Hacker Speaks Out

This week’s hacks of the New York Post and SocialFlow show the Syrian Electronic Army is still on its game—and not going anywhere. Brian Ries talks to one of the group’s leaders.

They’ve infiltrated the Associated Press. They’ve pulled one over on The Onion. They’ve hit the BBC, NPR, Thomson Reuters, the Financial Times, and most recently, the New York Post.



After months of disrupting the Twitter accounts of major U.S. media outlets—causing, with the AP hack, a momentary dip in the stock market—it’s safe to say the hackers who make up the Syrian Electronic Army are on a roll.

On Tuesday afternoon, a little after 3 p.m., the SEA struck again, gaining access to accounts used by the social-media-optimization company SocialFlow, which counts some of the top media outlets in the country as its customers (including The Daily Beast).

13 Hacks to Improve Your Google Search

13 Hacks to Improve Your Google Search

Even the king of all search engines can be throttled up with a few simple tricks.

The App Center

The Snapchat Explosion

The Snapchat Explosion

The photo app is social-media’s puberty: naughty or dorky fun without a permanent record. By Winston Ross.


Hailo Summons Taxis

Yelp for Men?

Rate This Guy

Tech Saver

Put That Phone Down


The Sex-Tracking App

What the Future Holds

Does Your Drone Deliver?

Does Your Drone Deliver?

Around the world, unmanned aircraft are the hottest thing in food delivery. But don’t try it at home just yet.


Musk Unveils Hyperloop


Google Glass Frenzy Builds