Hearing Aid Tuned to Translate Wifi Signals

A Man Going Deaf Can “Hear” Wi-Fi SignalsA Man Going Deaf Can "Hear" Wi-Fi Signals

Losing your hearing can be a frighteningly isolating experience. But instead of trying to replace the audible landscape he began losing at age 20, science writer Frank Swain decided to find a way to listen in on something humans can’t hear: the hum of Wi-Fi all around us.

In this essay for New Scientist, Swain talks about how he worked with sound designer Daniel Jones to build a tool that makes Wi-Fi audible. The project, named Phantom Terrains, works by translating the language of a wireless network into sounds. Each Wi-Fi element—router names,data rates, encryption modes—are assigned their own sonic tones, which are then streamed to Swain’s phone where he can pick them up through his hearing aids:

The strength of the signal, direction, name and security level on these are translated into an audio stream made up of a foreground and background layer: distant signals click and pop like hits on a Geiger counter, while the strongest bleat their network ID in a looped melody.

So what does the internet sound like? Here’s a walk that Swain took with the various Wi-Fi networks mapped along the way. Stronger network signals are shown as wider shapes, the different colors denote the router’s broadcast channel, and the pattern references the security level:

A Man Going Deaf Can "Hear" Wi-Fi SignalsEXPAND

Now here’s what the same walk sounds like:

While the cosmic blips and static pops are certainly beautiful (and somewhat creepy at the same time), there are some larger implications for why this kind of work could be important. Swain equates it to a kind of auditory “prosthetic” which can actually enhance the range of normal hearing, transforming him into a kind of superhuman who can actually “hear” the landscape in a way that most people will never experience. We don’t normally think of VR as including sound, but this is augmented reality for the ear. [New Scientist]

Top image: Artistic depiction of what Wi-Fi signals would look like if we could see them, byNickolay Lamm


Nixie: A Wearable Camera Drone in Development

Nixie The Wearable Camera That Flys On Demand


This just may take the cake in the selfie department. Nixie is a tiny drone that you wear on your wrist. When released, the drone flies around you shooting video, eventually returning back. Winner of Intel’s Make It Wearable contest, the Nixie wearable flying camera may just be a prototype at the moment, but with a powerful team and money behind them, you can expect to see it come to market soon.

Nixie is the first wearable and flyable camera that you carry on your wrist like a watch. A swiveling camera sits at the middle of four flexible bands, each with an extendable propeller. To launch the wearable drone, simply unfold the bands from beneath your wrist and Nixie is ready for takeoff.

Once aloft, the drone is designed to detect your presence and fly around you, pointing the camera at you in order to film your adventures. Nixie was built on Intel’s Edison wearables development system that gives it enough computing power to do things such as track you and avoid obstacles.

Check out the cool footage below that was captured on the Nixie prototype. Now let’s see how quickly these get banned in National Parks….


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Remote-control cannon installed atop wall near Bethlehem

Wall north of Bethlehem, from this site

detail of photograph of wall north of Bethlehem

Update: Since we posted the story below, it appears that our suggestion that the gun fires live ammunition was in error. Ryan Rodrick Beiler has posted pictures on twitter pointing to the idea that the gun is a water cannon, designed to spray skunk water for riot control. Beiler tweets a picture showing the device was there during last week’s Palestine marathon.

Tom Suarez also says that it is a water cannon. “I live right there,  and our understanding has been that it is a water cannon (this coming from a Palestinian here who does some journalism). I see it swivel around, but have never seen it ‘work’”.

Beiler also tweets his photo of a gun atop the Erez crossing at Gaza that he says is the real thing: a remote-controlled machine gun that fires ammunition at people.

Original post: 

The above device, fixed lately to the top of the separation wall north of Bethlehem, is a remote-controlled machine gun, according to Palestinian sources. Ma’an News published a report on the device three days ago, saying it’s “unprecedented” and is causing anxiety among Bethlehemites. A Facebook page called “Bethlahem Today” has the same report.

Here’s a crude automatic translation of the Arabic report:

Israeli occupying forces erected Sunday, machine guns equipped with cameras on top of the security wall surrounding the Bilal bin Rabah mosque, North of Bethlehem.

Israeli forces provided each machine gun cameras from large high-capacity and possibility of photography relatively long distances and to Bethlehem in the direction of the education of the old junction.

This allows the cameras to Israeli soldiers monitor the city of Bethlehem and targeting citizens far below that reveal themselves and sees them one using special monitors in the occupied area of the mosque and surrounded by walls from all directions.

Jareer Kassis, an Arabic speaker in the States, says:

The reports are consistent with this article in Wired, 2007, on Israel developing remote controlled machine guns.

For years and years, the Israeli military has been trying to figure out a way to keep Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip from crossing over into Israel proper. The latest tactic: create a set of “automated kill zones” by networking together remote-controlled machine guns, ground sensors, and drones along the 60-kilometer border.

Thanks to Alex Kane and Icarus Verum.


A Drone That Can Intercept your Cell Signal from the Air

Scary New Drone Can Hack Your Phone From the Air

Imagine you’re walking around, enjoying the early spring sunshine, and looking for a Wi-Fi network. You hear a whirring sound above you, look up, and there’s a drone, just chilling. Did that drone just take your picture? Nah. It just stole all the precious passwords from your smartphone.

This is a real—however somewhat distant—possibility. We know that it’s technically possible thanks to some London-based SensePost security researchers who built new software called Snoopy that turns drones into data thieves. Essentially, Snoopy works on drones that seek out the signal that your smartphone broadcasts when it’s looking for a Wi-Fi network to join. The drone intercepts the signal and tricks the phone into thinking it’s a trusted network, then Snoopy gains access to all kinds of data on the phone.

It’s not just passwords. The researchers say that Snoopy can retrieve credit card numbers, location data, and usernames, too. They’ve successfully stolen Amazon, PayPal, and Yahoo credentials from random Londoners. The technology is not dissimilar to some of the gadgets in the NSA’s spy gear catalog that enable them to break into Wi-Fi networks from a distance. Whereas the NSA can do it from eight miles away, however, Snoopy evidently needs to be as close as two feet.

So the data-stealing drone is real, but it’s not like they’re flying all over cities around the world right now. SensePost did the drone project in the name of better security and are presenting their findings at the Black Hat Asia conference next week in Singapore. In the meantime, maybe it’s best to just turn off that automatic Wi-Fi network-finding feature. It’s clearly vulnerable. Furthermore, it drains your battery like whoa. [CNN Money via ThinkProgress]


Roomscan app draws floorplan by tapping phone on the wall

If you’ve ever been in a situation where you needed to draw up a floor plan or recreate a room’s dimensions, then you’ll appreciate what RoomScan can do for you. This deceptively simple iOS app can do all that for you and all you need to do is tap on the walls.

RoomScan includes voice prompts to instruct you on what to do, but it’s all rather simple. You simply walk around the room, tapping the Apple device to the wall and waiting for the beep before you proceed to the next wall. You have to be careful though to include each wall that you want to be detected, meaning all those angled walls and corners that matter.


The seemingly magical ability is thanks to an oft underrated feature in most devices today: the motion sensor. RoomScan notes the data recorded by the motion sensor every time it is placed on a wall. From this data, the position, orientation and distance of each wall is calculated to draw up an accurate floor plan, more or less. Of course, there will be some inaccuracies, but the app allows you to input your own figures into the floor plan afterwards.

RoomScan comes in two flavors, free and pro. The free version allows you to scan a single room, while the paid pro version opens up more possibilities. You can scan multiple rooms and have RoomScan stitch them up together to create one whole floor plan. You can even pick your own colors. Also in the Pro version, you can add doors as you go instead of dragging and dropping them to the finished floor plan like in the standard version. The timelapse video below demonstrates how to use RoomScan to quickly recreate a floor plan. Other demos can be found here.

RoomScan is available on iTunes but is only compatible with Apple devices that have motion sensors in them. It also requires that they be running iOS 7 or higher. To unlock all the features that this app has to offer, better purchase the Pro version that costs $4.99.

VIA: RoomScan

via Slashgear

Audi’s Virtual Cockpit Is The Amazing Future Of Automotive Infotainment

Audi's Virtual Cockpit Is The Amazing Future Of Automotive Infotainment

The interior of the next Audi TT has just been shown at CES 2014. To say it’s full of technology is probably an understatement when you look at the huge map where the instruments would normally be. P

That’s a 12.3-inch TFT display in the gauge cluster of the new TT, which Audi says has the first “virtual cockpit.” Drivers can switch between two modes, according to Audi, with a traditional tach-and-speedo arrangement available.P

Audi's Virtual Cockpit Is The Amazing Future Of Automotive Infotainment

The rest of the interior looks standard Audi fare, meaning it’s pretty gorgeous and everything will probably feel amazing. The MMI knob changes functions in the TFT display, meaning the rest of the interior gets to stay button and screen-free. Oh, that’s a manual transmission, too.P

Audi's Virtual Cockpit Is The Amazing Future Of Automotive Infotainment

The air vents are cool in that they also house the climate controls.17P


A Sniping Sprinkler That Only Targets Your Plants When They Need Water

I posted the following article as it related to drones, remote control, building security and keeping your trees growning…


A Sniping Sprinkler That Only Targets Your Plants When They Need Water

A built-in sprinkler system is a better way to water a garden than just standing there randomly blasting plants with a hose. And taking that idea one step further, the Dropletturns your sprinklers into intelligent snipers that only water the plants you tell them to using a focused stream—except when rainy weather already has.

When connected to your home’s Wi-Fi network the compact Droplet water cannons can not only be programmed to fire exactly where you target them, you can also program an exhaustively detailed schedule of when they should and shouldn’t blast away.

But the software controlling the sprinklers also has access to detailed weather reports so it knows not to water if there’s strong odds it’s going to rain soon. You can even specify the type of plants and soil it’s watering, and it will adjust its own schedule to account for special needs.

A Sniping Sprinkler That Only Targets Your Plants When They Need Water

Besides being a much better way to water a garden for the lazy and technologically inclined, the Droplet is also promised to dramatically reduce your water consumption—up to 90 percent—saving you hundreds of dollars on your water bill every year. Which is great because each Droplet sprinkler head will cost you $300 once it’s finally available.

So we might actually hold out for generation two that hopefully introduces some motion tracking capabilities to constantly harass the local squirrel population—even if it triples our water bill. [Droplet via Gizmag]