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Thursday December 13, 2018

Amazon Patent Melds Facial Recognition Technology with Ring Doorbell Cameras

Amazon has been recently granted a patent that brings its facial recognition technology to its Ring doorbell business. According to the ACLU, the patent will allow homeowners to scan the faces of strangers that pass by their homes and cross-reference the image with a database of suspicious individuals that have been tagged by other people in the neighborhood. If a match is confirmed, then the images from the Ring doorbell and the database will be sent to law enforcement and the police could arrive in minutes. An image of the suspicious person is sent to the homeowner's phone. The system can use cameras from multiple sources such as various neighborhood houses to build a 360 degree composite image of the suspect.

This patent application also suggests that Amazon has no plans to stop at identifying people based on their faces. The company anticipates targeting an arsenal of other biometrics, including fingerprints, skin-texture analysis, DNA, palm-vein analysis, hand geometry, iris recognition, odor/scent recognition, and even behavioral characteristics, like typing rhythm, gait, and voice recognition.

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 1:31 PM (CST)

Russian State TV Mistakes Man in a Suit for a Robot

The Guardian reports that state-owned Russian media thought a man in a costume was actually a "hi-tech robot." The TV station's praise for the "robot" was preserved on YouTube, and Russian bloggers and journalists were immediately suspicious when the footage first aired. After some digging, other journalists found a picture of a man in a similar looking suit, and claim that the robot costume costs about $3800 USD. Thanks to AceGoober for the tip.

The organisers of the Proyektoria technology forum, held each year for the "future intellectual leaders of Russia", did not try to pass off the robot as real, the website reported. But whether by mistake or design, the state television footage did just that. "It's entirely possible one of these [students] could dedicate himself to robotics," an anchor reported. "Especially as at the forum they have the opportunity to look at the most modern robots..." On Wednesday morning, the television report briefly disappeared from Russia-24's YouTube channel but by early afternoon it was accessible again.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 12:49 PM (CST)

Forbes Cracked Android Facial Recognition With 3D Printed Heads

Facial recognition is everywhere now, whether it's used for convenience or pushed as a "security" feature. But according to a report by Forbes, Android's facial recognition system isn't particularly hard to fool. Using a commercial, 3D printed model of his own head, Thomas Brewster was able to unlock all 4 Android phones he tested, namely an LG G7, Galaxy S9, a Note 8, and a OnePlus 6. Check out the video of the attempt below:

No such luck with the iPhone X, though. Apple's investment in its tech - which saw the company work with a Hollywood studio to create realistic masks to test Face ID - has clearly paid off. It was impossible to break in with the model. Microsoft appeared to have done a fine job too. It's new Windows Hello facial recognition also didn't accept the fake head as real.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 12:08 PM (CST)

Hunt: Showdown Shows off Quickplay in New Trailer

Crytek just pushed the Hunt: Showdown 4.0 update out, and one of the headlining features is the new Quickplay game mode. The developers say the mode is designed for solo hunters, who drop in 10 player games and race to close four Rifts. New rounds start with a free hunter, and the first player to close four rifts is marked with a bounty. Check out the trailer for the new game mode below:
Crytek also added a number of daily and weekly challenges, and introduced some "Quality of Life" gunplay changes, like faster animations for switching guns, throwing grenades, and aiming down sights. Quickplay details, as well as the various other features and bug fixes, are worth checking out in the full change log. Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 11:42 AM (CST)

Scott Wasson Discusses Flawed Benchmarking and New AMD Adrenalin Features

AMD Senior Manager of Product Management, Scott Wasson was interviewed by Gamer's Nexus where he explains why fps metrics and benchmarks are flawed. In the second video, he demonstrates some of the exciting new features in the AMD Adrenalin 2019 Edition 18.12.2 drivers like setting custom memory timings for GPUs .

AMD's Scott Wasson walked us through the new Adrenalin driver update while the team visited GN HQ.

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 11:11 AM (CST)

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Reaches Space

Following a deadly crash back in 2014, Virgin Galactic has been reworking and retesting their plane-based launch platform for the past few years. The company completed their second supersonic flight earlier this year, and according to Twitter, SpaceShipTwo made it all the way to space in a test conducted minutes ago. After dropping from its carrier aircraft, SpaceShipTwo reached at least 250,000 feet and traveled at over Mach 2.9, before beginning its descent and touching down about 15 minutes later.

Wheel stop, SpaceShipTwo. Welcome back to Earth

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 10:35 AM (CST)

Qualcomm Files New Chinese Suits Against iPhone XS and XR

Citing a paywalled report from the Financial Times, Reuters reports that Qualcomm is asking courts to ban the iPhone XS and XR from sale in China. The company apparently gained confidence from its win on Monday, and claims it intends to use the same patents against Apple's newer phones and operating systems.

The case, brought by Qualcomm, is part of a global patent dispute between the two U.S. companies that includes dozens of lawsuits. Apple said on Monday that all of its phone models remained on sale in mainland China and that it had filed a request for reconsideration with the court, the first step in a long appeal process that could end up at China's Supreme Court. Apple had also said its three models released in September were not part of the case. Qualcomm and Apple did not immediately respond to Reuters' requests for comment.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 10:11 AM (CST)

Concert Venues Use Facial Recognition to Identify Stalkers and VIPs

Concert venues and organizers are turning to facial recognition solutions to identify security threats such as stalkers and important individuals who are to be treated as VIPs. Taylor Swift fans were unknowingly scanned at a kiosk that displayed rehearsal clips of the star at her Rose Bowl performance this year. The facial recognition software was able to identify potential security threats by sending images of concertgoers to a "Nashville "command post" where they were cross-referenced with a database of hundreds of the pop star's known stalkers." Ticketmaster has invested in facial recognition technology to scan concertgoers for the purpose of identifying VIPs and high rollers who will be able to pay a fee to avoid waiting in line at the turnstiles.

"Everybody who went by would stop and stare at it, and the software would start working," says Downing, who attended the concert to witness a demo of the system as a guest of the company that manufactures the kiosks. Earlier this year, Ticketmaster invested in Blink Identity, a startup that claims its sensors can identify people walking past at full speed in about half a second. "It holds a lot of promise," says Justin Burleigh, Ticketmaster's chief product officer, adding that the company plans to beta-test the tech at venues early next year. "We're just being very careful about where and how we implement it."

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 9:49 AM (CST)

Apple Announces Plans for $1 Billion Campus in Austin, Texas

Today, Apple announced plans for a $1 billion dollar campus in Austin, Texas. The 133-acre facility will be less than a mile away from Apple's current Austin campus, and they claim it will initially accommodate about 5,000 employees, "with the capacity to grow to 15,000." The company is quick to point out that it already employs 90,000 people in all 50 states, and that the 6,200 people at the existing Austin campus represents the largest concentration of Apple employees in the U.S. outside of Cupertino. Texas politicians seem to be quite happy with the new campus, to say the least, and Apple also mentioned that it's investing about $4.5 billion dollars in US data centers over the next two years.

"Apple is among the world's most innovative companies and an avid creator of jobs in Texas and across the country," said Texas Governor Greg Abbott. "Their decision to expand operations in our state is a testament to the high-quality workforce and unmatched economic environment that Texas offers. I thank Apple for this tremendous investment in Texas, and I look forward to building upon our strong partnership to create an even brighter future for the Lone Star State." Jobs created at the new campus will include a broad range of functions including engineering, R&D, operations, finance, sales and customer support.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 9:10 AM (CST)

AMD Adrenalin 2019 Edition 18.12.2 Drivers Released

AMD just uploaded the "Adrenalin 2019 Edition" 18.12.2 drivers to their website, along with several videos showing off the new features. The release notes can be found here, and there are some big changes.
Starting with ReLive, AMD added an in-game replay feature, a "scene editor," GIF encoding support, more platforms to stream to, and support for multi-channel audio. In addition, AMD has added the ability to stream 4K60 gameplay to Android an iOS devices via the AMD link app, and has made numerous improvements to the app itself. Now you can take screenshots, crop, and save video captured on your desktop to your phone, and you can apparently update your Radeon drivers through it too. In addition, AMD added VR streaming support to ReLive, which it says is available through the Steam ecosystem.
Meanwhile, AMD also added in-game controls for Enhanced Sync, complete with "per game real-time adjustment." Until now, Enhanced Sync could only be toggled on and off, so it'll be interesting to see what options AMD supposedly added. FreeSync and color controls, WattMan, and an updated Performance Metrics Overlay are also available in AMD's in-game overlay.
Several "advisors" and automated features have been added to the software package as well. Radeon Game Advisor can "measure game performance" and provide suggestions for improving performance or image quality. Radeon Settings advisor provides "optimization suggests" after scanning your system's capabilities, while Radeon Upgrade advisor scans your library and informs you if your GPU isn't up to snuff. WattMan got an automatic overclocking feature, allowing in to overclock your GPU, memory, or even undervolt your GPU with a single click. AMD also claims to have added customizable temperature dependant fan curves, with an option for a threshold to shut down fans, and say they "Unlocked Radeon RX Vega series DPM states for finer power adjustments." Radeon Chill now saves more power, FreeSync 2 supports tonemapping, and VSR supports 21:9 displays. AMD also boosted performance in Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, DOOM, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and Strange Brigade, and fixed a wide range of bugs.
Update 12/13/18: Added release notes, videos. Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 7:52 AM (CST)

The EFF Blasts the FCC Text Messaging Vote as Promoting Censorship

The EFF and other groups have lambasted the latest FCC vote to keep text messaging classified as "information services" as another measure that elevates the power of corporations over the rights of consumers. The EFF notes that wireless providers such as Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint have already been caught numerous times discriminating and censoring texts related to political speech, charities, businesses, and religious groups. Also reclassifying text messages as "telecommunications services" "under Title II would require that wireless carriers contribute to the Universal Service Fund which funds initiatives to, among other things, increase the availability and affordability of phone and Internet services for rural and low-income users." The FCC release can be read here.

Lone dissenting FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel called the ruling "doublespeak" as "doublespeak is language designed to evade responsibility, make the unpleasant appear pleasant and the unattractive appear attractive" in her statement. She also notes that none of the talking points brought up by dissenters were referenced in the FCC statement to mislead Americans with discussions about spam. She says that the FCC has already empowered the wireless carriers to block spam and scam texts. "At the same time, this approach makes a range of key FCC policies newly vulnerable--from roaming obligations to universal service. But you will find no discussion of these harms in today's decision." She goes on to say that the "approach we take now does not newly empower consumers," it "empowers companies instead" by letting them "censor content . . . at their whim . . . rather than at the consumer's will." FCC Chairman Ajit Pai reiterates that the ruling is strictly about filtering spam, scams, and robotexts. He goes on to talk about how robocalls are plaguing the nation and are the number one category of consumer complaints. He lists numerous groups that say they want to keep spam, scams and robotexts off text messaging platforms. He finds it "unfortunate that one of my colleagues has suggested that those in favor of our action today--including Democratic state attorneys general, African-American elected officials, and consumer groups--are aiding and abetting, if not engaging in themselves, deception and "doublespeak." Actually, doublespeak is demanding that companies offer robocall-blocking tools to consumers for free while--on the very same day--voting to block wireless messaging providers from continuing to use free robotextblocking tools to protect consumers from unwanted text messages."

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 1:32 AM (CST)
Wednesday December 12, 2018

The Archer Class Joins Black Desert Online

Today Pearl Abyss, the Korean developer behind Black Desert Online has opened its first North American office in Manhattan Beach, California. This coincidences with its first global release of a new class; the Archer. Today the highly requested male Archer class becomes the 16th class in the MMORPG Black Desert Online. Black Desert Online is currently on sale for 50% off.

The Archer uses his Crossbow for his stylish ranged attack and skill combos. In addition, the Archer has an assortment of magic skills at his disposal that assist him in combat by upsetting the opponents' balance, and wreak havoc by unleashing a flurry of arrows with his Crossbow from afar. He is never flustered nor disoriented even in the thick of the battle.The Archer can easily escape without breaking a sweat even when he is outnumbered by countless foes. This brand new male class is set to receive a rich storyline in which its background will be fully explored when he gets added to the current roster of available characters.

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 11:38 PM (CST)

How to Stop Apps from Tracking Everywhere You Go

Todd Haselton of CNBC has written a guide on how to disable location services for apps to keep them from tracking your location. His guide covers the iPhone and Android ecosystems. For example, there are options in the menus to completely disable location services or to only enable it for certain apps when they are in use.

In recent years, Apple and Google have made it easier to identify the applications that have access to your information, and to turn off the ability for those apps to see where you are. Sometimes this can stop an app from performing correctly: a mapping application would need to know your location to provide you with accurate directions somewhere, for example. But others, like weather apps, don't necessarily need to know where you are at all times.

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 5:32 PM (CST)

Nvidia GeForce Game Ready Driver 417.35 WHQL Has Been Released

The Nvidia GeForce Game Ready Driver 417.35 WHQL has been released and it adds support for Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) beta in Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition. The following 3D Vision profiles have been updated: Insurgency Sandstorm has a Not Recommended rating and Atlas has a Fair rating from NVIDIA. The release notes are found here. Special thanks to @schlitzbull !

Open Issues in Version 417.35 WHQL. [GeForce GTX 1080Ti]: Random DPC watchdog violation error when using multiple GPUs on motherboards with PLX chips. [2079538]. [Firefox]: Cursor shows brief corruption when hovering on certain links in Firefox. [2107201]. [G-Sync]: Random flickering occurs when connecting G-sync monitor + non-G-Sync HDMI monitor with G-Sync enabled. [2399845]. Fixed Issues in this release include: [SLI][TITAN Xp]: SLI is disabled by default after installing the driver. [200471881]. [TITAN V][NVIDIA Control Panel]: The Workstation->Manage GPU Utilization page appears when it shouldn't. [200470813]. [Rocket League]: The game launches to a white screen with audio in the background and then crashes. [2451530]. [Battlefield V: Day0 97][Ansel]: After being moved all the way to the left, the Ansel field-of view (FoV) slider stops following the click-and-drag mouse movement. [2438857]. [Hitman 2 Silent assassin]: There is flickering texture corruption in the game. [200472315]. [Notebook][3D games]: Frame rate of 3D games may drop to under 30 fps on notebooks. [2456653].

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 4:08 PM (CST)

EPIC Games Announces Its Cross-Platform Online Services Roadmap for 2019

Epic Games has announced its plans to implement free cross-platform online services into Unreal Engine and Unity. Over time these services will be free for all developers to mix and match with other solutions, and will be open to all engines, all platforms, and all stores. Epic Games has successfully battle tested these tools in Fortnite which has reached 200 million players across 7 different platforms including PC, Mac, iOS, Android, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch. Some of the upcoming features planned for cross-platform services in 2019 include voice comms, data storage, cloud-saved games, achievements, trophies, parties and matchmaking, PC/Mac overlay API, login, friends, presence, and entitlements. After the first steps are taken, more features such as user-generated content, enhanced social features, anti-cheat and more are planned.

We connect developers and players across all platforms, and respect existing platform relationships and player accounts. For example, Fortnite runs on 7 platforms that are fully interoperable; the game requires no login on console, and supports multi-platform login via Facebook, Google, Xbox Live, PSN, and Nintendo accounts, in addition to Epic accounts; and supports Twitch account linking. Besides these existing account and service integrations, we're eager to work with partners on further efforts to connect accounts, gaming services, and cloud services for a more seamless experience. We operate our services primarily on Amazon Web Services data centers throughout the world to bring the high reliability and wide international reach required by the next generation of online and socially-connected games.

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 3:33 PM (CST)

FCC Votes to Classify Text Messaging as an Information Service

The FCC has voted to classify text messages as an "information service" under the Communications Act. This was done to give more leeway to wireless providers to fight spam messages and scam robotexts. Mass texting companies wanted text messaging reclassified as a "telecommunications service" under the Communications Act as this would limit the power of wireless providers to combat spam and scam texts. Wireless providers have been accused of blocking messages from certain groups before. The FCC report can be viewed here.

The Federal Communications Commission today issued a ruling rejecting requests to make it harder for text messaging providers to protect consumers from spam and scam robotexts. The Commission's decision makes clear that wireless providers are authorized to continue their efforts to stop unwanted text messaging through robotext-blocking, anti-spoofing measures, and other anti-spam features.

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 2:31 PM (CST)

Google Trends Releases the Biggest Search Topics of 2018

Google Trends has released data on the most popular and trending searches of 2018. The data is broken up into categories such as Music, Movies, TV, and Sports. It can also be viewed globally or by country.

In a year of ups and downs, the world searched for "good" more than ever before -- according to Google Trends. From the epic headlines to the everyday moments, here's to all the good that people discovered in 2018.

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 1:10 PM (CST)

Razer Launches Idle "Mining" App

Razer just launched an application called "Softminer" that "utilizes your idle GPU processing power to supplement distributed network needs for the mining process." They stop short of detailing what the program actually "mines," but instead of rewarding you with cryptocurrency like a regular cryptomining pool or app, Softminer rewards users with Razer Silver, which in turn can be used to buy items from the Razer Silver catalog. According to a report by VentureBeat, the software is actually powered by Gamma's distributed computing platform, and the company says they are excited to see that "blockchain and gaming are coming together in a natural way." While not specifically mentioned, Gamma's website and statements suggest that their platform could potentially be used for more than just mining crypto. Thanks to Dahkoht for the tip.

I asked Schillinger if the crash in the cryptocurrency market has hurt the proceeds that gamers can get from mining. He said in an email, "There are still earnings to be made on crypto mining (closer to $10-$12 month), just not the same as this time last year. The future of distributed compute will come from other use cases like computer-generated imagery (CGI) rendering and AI/machine learning processing. These use cases provide a stable higher return than mining."

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 12:52 PM (CST)

Ace Combat 7 Multiplayer Gameplay Revealed

As Ace Combat 7's release approaches, more and more gameplay is starting to come out. We've already seen snippets of several singleplayer missions, but Shacknews managed to play first 15 minutes of the campaign, as well as try a few sessions of the multiplayer mode. Interestingly, the game has both FFA and team deathmatch modes, with up to 8 players each, and the footage from matches looks pretty intense. Unfortunately, Bandai Namco didn't allow the reviewers to directly capture in-game footage, but you can still check out a video of the multiplayer mode here, or watch the 15 minutes of singleplayer gameplay below:

While the AI pilots in story mode can be predictable enough when trying to lock on and blast them with a missile, but human opponents are a whole other creature altogether. The 8-player frenzy is a constant ballet of trying to avoid being locked onto by an enemy missile while hoping you can keep up with your own target. Fortunately, a kill isn't necessary to accrue points. Getting any sort of hit whether its a couple of bullets to a chassis or a direct hit with a missile will help players get on the scoreboard...Team deathmatch is a whole other ballgame compared to free for all. Having three other players who can bait an opponent into chasing them down or help you shake someone off your tail isn't as frantic as going solo, instead, it relies on more on strategy and communication with your team. Working with a capable team definitely helped beef up my overall rank post-match.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 11:29 AM (CST)

ZeniMax Settles with Facebook in Oculus Lawsuit reports that ZeniMax and Facebook have finally settled their long-running lawsuit over Oculus technology. As a reminder, the trouble started when John Carmack left ID for Oculus in 2013. ZeniMax sued shorty after that, claiming that Carmack and Oculus stole some of ID's intellectual property, and things went south from there.

A federal judge yesterday granted the pair's joint motion to dismiss their appeals in the case after they reached a settlement through the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals mediation program. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. "We are pleased that a settlement has been reached and are fully satisfied by the outcome," ZeniMax chairman and CEO Robert Altman said. "While we dislike litigation, we will always vigorously defend against any infringement or misappropriation of our intellectual property by third parties."

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 10:57 AM (CST)

Dell Votes to Go Public Again

Following rumors of an IPO back in September, and a public plan to shift shares of VMWare back in November, Dell has reportedly passed a vote that will allow the company to go public again. Dell decided to go private in 2013, but a spokesman told Techcrunch that the PC maker will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange once again.

With today's vote, Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research, says the company is looking to move away from activist investors like Icahn and Elliott Management to more traditional institutional investors. "Michael Dell is attempting to rid his short-term activist shareholders for more mid- to long-term institutional types as he goes public again," Wang explained. As the company returns to the public markets, it means it is in the fairly unique position of going from public to private to public again. Dell originally went public in 1988 before taking the company private again in 2013 in a $24.4 billion buy-back.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 10:10 AM (CST)

SKYF Drone Lifts 220 Pounds

The Russian drone company SKYF has apparently broken the world record for the heaviest weight to be lifted by a remote controlled multicopter. According to their website, the "SKYF" drone features a 220hp gasoline engine that drives 2 large rotors for lift, while "small" electric motors power 4 sets of smaller fans for stability and maneuvering. The "Cargo" variant of the monster drone managed to carry a 220 pound payload about 330 feet, while an "Agro" variant successfully tested a crop dusting system. The demonstration fell short of the company's 551 pound payload claim, but they did manage to capture the record setting run on video, which you can see below:

The cost of a SKYF flight hour is calculated to be ten times lower compared to a helicopter. A fuel use rate is calculated at 30 liters per hour. The drone uses ordinary gasoline instead of expensive aviation fuel that makes maintenance cheaper and more accessible . SKYF plans to reach a significant export potential as a simple, roomy and multipurpose machine that can be used for tundra, taiga and deserts even under extreme temperatures. Several European countries, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Japan, and Sweden have already expressed interest in the $225,000 apiece machines.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 9:43 AM (CST)

Researchers Use Deep Learning to See in the Dark

Researchers from MIT have developed a technique that can reconstruct images of objects snapped in near total darkness. The scientists trained a deep neural network on "more than 10,000 transparent glass-like etchings, based on extremely grainy images of those patterns." They claim those grainy images were taken with about one photon per pixel, and that they used a "light modulator" to display the vast amount of images they needed to reproduce. Anexandre Goy, one of the co-authors of the study, said that "We have shown that deep learning can reveal invisible objects in the dark," and that "This result is of practical importance for medical imaging to lower the exposure of the patient to harmful radiation, and for astronomical imaging."

From an original transparent etching (far right), engineers produced a photograph in the dark (top left), then attempted to reconstruct the object using first a physics-based algorithm (top right), then a trained neural network (bottom left), before combining both the neural network with the physics-based algorithm to produce the clearest, most accurate reproduction (bottom right) of the original object.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 9:20 AM (CST)

Intel Announces Sunny Core CPU Architecture, 3D Stacking and More

Intel made a flurry of new announcements at their recent "Architecture Day" event today. Among other things, they revealed an "industry first" 3D chip stacking technology called Foveros, the Sunny Cove CPU architecture, and Gen11 integrated graphics. Check out our coverage of the event here.
Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 8:28 AM (CST)

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