The Clever Vine-Like Robot That Grows and Steers With Air

In a hallway of an engineering building at Stanford University, some devilish researchers have built a sprawling obstacle course. To make it through, competitors have to wind over sand, through a door, up some steps, and finally, through a forest of small pillars. Sounds like the Rube Goldbergian machinations of an grad student with too much time and Red Bull on their hands, but no: This is a robot training ground.

See, a tracked robot might be able to navigate the sand and the steps, but good luck in the forest. A wheeled automaton could well get stuck in the sand. Amateurs, says vinebot. Air pumps into a flexible plastic tube, slowly extending it over the sand as an operator steers it through the door and over the steps and between the pillars. Obstacles bested.

You may have seen vinebot snaking around last summer, but now it’s better than ever. read more

TaskRabbit returns following data breach it can’t account for

“While our investigation is ongoing, preliminary evidence shows that an unauthorized user gained access to our systems,” the company said. “As a result, certain personally-identifiable information may have been compromised.” All users of the IKEA-owned service have been advised to change their passwords and monitor their accounts for unusual activity.

TaskRabbit CEO Stacy Brown-Philpot said, “This is not the last time you will hear from us,” and noted that the company had been working “around the clock” to rectify the issue. The company now plans to reassess its security protocols and enhance its network threat detection technology. Brown-Philpot added, “We hope you will give us the opportunity to regain your trust.”

social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #engadget

Battlefield 2018: everything we know so far

After the huge success of Battlefield 1 in 2016 and a break in 2017, the Battlefield franchise will return in 2018 with a brand-new game. Now that this has been confirmed, the rumor mill is spinning like an overactive hamster’s wheel, and we’re seeing all kinds of snippets about EA’s next wartime shooter crop up.

We’re expecting to see a lot more from Battlefield 2018 at this year’s EA Play, which takes place in LA from June 9 to 11. But in the meantime, we’ve gathered together the latest news and rumors to give you a better picture of just what we can expect from Battlefield’s next outing.

[Update: Battle royales are all the rage at the moment and a recent report from GamesBeat suggests that Battlefield 2018 could receive its very own battle royale mode. Coming not long after the rumors that Call of Duty Black Ops 4 may integrate a battle royale, we’re now hearing that EA may be prototyping its own.

According to GamesBeat, the mode would be unlikely to be ready read more

Report: Smartphone usage set to overtake time spent watching TV in China

2018 is the year that smartphone usage eclipses time spent watching TV in China and it’s all down to the growth of digital video platforms, according to a new report from eMarketer.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this had already happened in China, which happens to be the world’s largest smartphone market, but eMarketer forecasts that the momentous moment is about to arrive.

According to the report, the average adult in China is set to spend 2 hours and 39 minutes per day on a mobile device this year, up 11.1 percent on 2017. Watching TV, meanwhile, is set to fall by two percent to reach 2 hours 32 minutes daily.

eMarketer said that the growth of digital video services is “a key driver” in this change. The company forecasts that online video time per day will leap 26 percent year-on-year to reach 58 minutes per adult on average. It is further predicting that by 2020 China’s adult population will spend one-third of their time online watching videos.

The signs have been read more

The Morning After: TESS takes off and Russia battles Telegram

Just two years late.Paul Allen’s massive Stratolaunch may finally take off this summer

With a wingspan measuring 385 feet, the 500,000-pound, twin-fuselage Stratolaunch is the largest plane in the world. And at the 34th Space Symposium, its makers revealed they’re planning its first test flights. First, though, it will need to hit 80 and then 138 MPH during on-ground taxi tests.

And Twitch gets caught in the crossfire.Russia stops at nothing to silence Telegram

In order to block Telegram’s access in the country, Russia has indiscriminately blocked the better part of two million IP addresses owned by Google and Amazon, which means other services that use the same hosts are also at risk of disruption. Amazon-owned Twitch has noticeably felt the effects, and until the situation with Telegram is resolved, VPNs may be the best way for Russian viewers to tune in.

Lack of investment.Intel cancels its subtle smart glasses project

When Intel showed off its Vaunt smart glasses read more

Browser Standard WebAuthn Could Usher in a Password-Free Future

Password-free logins have long been the stuff of dreams for security researchers and privacy advocates—not to mention regular people who fat-finger their account passwords into a browser every day. Industry efforts to end our reliance on the multi-character password have resulted in the proposal of numerous alternative login methods, including biometric verification and the use of behavioral data to prove an individual’s identity. But most of these attempts haven’t yet lead to the promised land: A web without passwords.

Now, a new standard for the web called WebAuthn is being lauded as a major step forward in secure authentication, and “probably the most effective anti-phishing measure for the web that’s out there,” according to Selena Deckelmann, senior director of engineering for Mozilla Firefox. It introduces a set of rules for the web that, if adopted by popular browsers and websites, would read more

Facebook moves to shrink its legal liabilities under GDPR

Facebook has another change in the works to respond to the European Union’s beefed up data protection framework — and this one looks intended to shrink its legal liabilities under GDPR, and at scale.

Late yesterday Reuters reported on a change incoming to Facebook’s T&Cs that it said will be pushed out next month — meaning all non-EU international are switched from having their data processed by Facebook Ireland to Facebook USA.

With this shift, Facebook will ensure that the privacy protections afforded by the EU’s incoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — which applies from May 25 — will not cover the ~1.5BN+ international Facebook users who aren’t EU citizens (but current have their data processed in the EU, by Facebook Ireland).

The U.S. does not have a comparable data protection framework read more

Mass-produced graphene: MIT may have cracked it

Graphene is the wonder compound that’s being hailed as the solution for battery life problems, the building block for paper-thin Wi-Fi receivers, brain-computer interfaces, and many other major technological breakthroughs.

So why isn’t it everywhere? Well, long story short, it’s incredibly difficult and expensive to make. But that could possibly be about to change thanks to a team working out of the prestigious MIT labs. 

In a paper published in online science journal Applied Materials and Interfaces, the team claims that is has managed to create the world’s first roll-to-roll graphene production, paving the way for a scalable, industrial method of graphene creation.

Mass market roll-out

Up until this point, the creation of graphene has mostly happened in tiny batches, using a process called vapor deposition which involves heating copper foil which then has carbon deposited onto it in combination with a mix of gases.

As you can imagine, this process is time consuming, laborious, and expensive. Not to read more

Apple Watch can now unlock your August Smart Lock

You’ll also need to update your iOS app, because you might be prompted to log in to sync your locks. Once that’s done (and you’re a recognized owner), though, you’ll be able to view all the August locks you have on the Watch’s screen. If you want easy access to a specific lock, you can even add it as a Watch face shortcut. August Home says it’s a different feature from Auto-Unlock, since you’ll still have your phone nearby with that one. With this particular feature, all you’ll really need is Apple Watch itself.

social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #engadget

Welcome to the Wikipedia for Terms of Service Agreements

Most people spend very little time thinking about the terms of service that govern life online. The agreement appears in a flash, we affirm that “I agree to the terms of service,” and then it’s all quickly forgotten.

Until, of course, something goes wrong. Last week, when Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress to defend Facebook, more than one senator pointed to the company’s terms of service. Could Facebook’s users be reasonably expected to understand what they’re signing up for? “I would imagine probably most people do not read the whole thing,” Zuckerberg responded. “But everyone has the opportunity to and consents to it.”

What if, before you consented, you could at least read the SparkNotes? That’s the goal of ToSDR—short for Terms of Service; Didn’t Read—a website that turns lengthy terms of service agreements into bulleted summaries, and then rates read more