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The Digital Age

Fingerprint Sensors Mass-produced for Smartcards

June 3rd 2017

credit cards

Taiwanese card manufacturer Jinco Universal Co., Ltd, the fingerprint sensor IC design house Elan Microelectronics Corporation, and the Korean biometric authentication technology company KSID have joined forces to supply what they believe will be the world first biometric fingerprint bank card to Korean Worri Bank.

This bank card has integrated EMV dual interface chip, capacitive fingerprint sensor, and a rechargeable battery.  This card can last for more than 300 usages on a single full charge.

Jinco Universal is a world leader in the powered smart card industry. A year ago the company has entered into a contract agreement with the bank to supply 3 million cards over a 3-year period but mass production has only started recently and half a million biometric fingerprint bank cards could be delivered this year. Read more ..

The Race for Autonomous Cars

Why Israel Is A Fast-Moving Force In Smart Transportation

June 3rd 2017

Israeli battery vehicle MIA

In June 2013, 250 Israeli smart-transportation visionaries flocked to the inaugural EcoMotion “unconference” to share their crazy fantasies about the future of moving people from one place to another.

Only four years later, leaders of the global automotive and transportation industry were among 1,500 participants at the fifth annual EcoMotion Main Event at the Peres Center in Jaffa last month.

It hasn’t taken long for Israel to emerge as a significant source of innovation for autonomous  and connected vehicles, navigation, public transportation,  alternative fuels, super-efficient engines, urban parking and environment-friendly personal and mass transportation. Read more ..

The Digital Edge

Self-powered Flexible Mic/Speaker is 0.1mm Thin

May 18th 2017

Man cupping his ear

Led by Nelson Sepúlveda, Associate Professor at the Michigan State University, a team of researchers who recently reported a breakthrough in ferroelectret nanogenerators (FENGs) was able to further characterize the behaviour of their thin-film FENG as a flexible acoustic transducer capable of operating both as a loudspeaker and a microphone.

Their paper "Nanogenerator-based dual-functional and self-powered thin patch loudspeaker or microphone for flexible electronics" published in Nature Communications examines the FENG's energy conversion mechanism under various sound pressure levels (SPL). Because the 0.1mm thin polypropylene ferroelectret (PPFE) includes compressible charged voids behaving as deformable dipoles in a metal-insulator-metal structure (with conductive silver layers for electrodes on the faces of the film), the alternating waves of sound pressure are faithfully transduced into alternating electrical signals. Here, rather than focus on energy generation, the study focused on reading out the analogue signal produced by the polymer-based FENG and the results are compelling.


The Race for Mars

Want To Live On Mars? Gala Dinner In LA Unveils First Opportunities To Eat Like A Martian

May 9th 2017

Red Planet

If you could move to Mars, what would your house look like? Would you eat from your local hydroponic Martian farm, drink wine from the Martian vineyard and eat meat cultured by vegetarian butchers?

Mars architect Very Mulyani is building the first Mars City, on Earth, and is pretty sure your future home on Mars, with 40% less gravity, won’t be anything like what you own or rent on earth today: “With lower gravity, a house doesn’t have to have a door touching the ground,” she says.

And for food? These questions and more will be answered in Los Angeles on May 25, at the world’s first dinner for Mars. Grab a date, and take advantage of discount tickets, ($150 instead of $300 for Green Prophet readers, and $500 for VIP) as Mulyani lays the foundations for the first Martian city she is creating on Earth, in the Mojave Desert. Read more ..

The Digital Edge

Smart Farming Gaining Acreage

May 2nd 2017

wheat fields

Big data, industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT). Terms most of us associate with professional services companies, not with farming and agricultural businesses.

However, automation technologies form a critical part of modern livestock and farm management systems. Many farmers though, especially those operating small and medium sized farms, might be overlooking a critical aspect of power quality in their automated livestock farming systems.

The smart agriculture market is currently growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.8 per cent and is expected to be worth $18.45 Billion by 2022, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets. The main factors driving growth include an increased adoption of technology in agriculture generally, a higher demand for food globally and assistance in monitoring livestock performance and health.


The Race for Smart Cities

LED Streetlights Can Be Programmed to Adapt to Traffic

April 26th 2017

Downtown LA Neighborhood

IoT systems provider Echelon Corporation has developed a patent-pending cognitive vision-based technology that can enable a wide range of smart city and smart campus applications, including traffic-adaptive lighting.

Using artificial intelligence in vision-enabled edge devices, Echelon's InSight technology collects traffic data and processed at the edge of the network instead of on a central server. It then uses the Echelon's Lumewave lighting platform to transmit traffic information, reducing response time and improving reliability.  This architecture is said to enable faster action in response to changing conditions and minimizes network bandwidth requirements.


The Race for Batteries

Separator Layer Can Make Lithium-ion Batteries Fireproof

April 15th 2017


Lithium-ion batteries, though being considered as the power source of choice for today’s electric vehicles, are having a significant disadvantage: They are not fireproof. Even worse, they tend to catch fire under overload and short circuit conditions which can occur as a consequence of accidents. Researchers from the Stanford University have developed a potential solution.

The reason why lithium ion batteries can start burning so easily is that the electrolytes necessary to enable the exchange of electrons between cathode and anode are flammable and highly reactive. Though battery manufacturers have tried to minimize this risk through internal protective covers or by adding flame retardants, the risk persists, acknowledged Stanford researcher Kai Liu. In addition, these measures have side effects: They reduce the energy density and ion mobility which in turns reduces the battery performances.


The Race for EVs

Electromobility: The Big Leap has Yet to Come

April 14th 2017

Electric car Israel

The annual Electromobility Index from consultancy Roland Berger and the fka automotive technology research institute (Aachen, Germany) certifies Germany and France the leading positions in terms of technology. Though the market shows growth in all regions, the market share for electric vehicles is still very low.

The Electromobility Index periodically compares the competitive positions of the seven most important automotive geographies China, France, Germany Italy, Japan South Korea and USA in terms of technology, industrialization and market.

According to the study, Germany currently holds the technology pole position in the race about electromobility – a little bit surprising, given the success of Tesla in the US and the relatively high market penetration of electric vehicles in France. Wolfgang Bernhardt, Roland Berger Partner and expert for automobile markets, explains why.


The Digital Age

Smartphone Fingerprint Security Vulnerable

April 13th 2017

Smart phone

No two people are believed to have identical fingerprints, but researchers at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering and Michigan State University College of Engineering have found that partial similarities between prints are common enough that the fingerprint-based security systems used in mobile phones and other electronic devices can be more vulnerable than previously thought.

The vulnerability lies in the fact that fingerprint-based authentication systems feature small sensors that do not capture a user's full fingerprint. Instead, they scan and store partial fingerprints, and many phones allow users to enroll several different fingers in their authentication system.

Identity is confirmed when a user's fingerprint matches any one of the saved partial prints. The researchers hypothesized that there could be enough similarities among different people's partial prints that one could create a "MasterPrint."

Nasir Memon, a professor of computer science and engineering at NYU Tandon and the research team leader, explained that the MasterPrint concept bears some similarity to a hacker who attempts to crack a PIN-based system using a commonly adopted password such as 1234. "About four percent of the time, the password 1234 will be correct, which is a relatively high probability when you're just guessing."


The Edge of Defense

Glove Biosensor Detects Nerve Agents

April 6th 2017

Worker contemplates nuclear waste

An international team of researchers from the University of California, San Diego and the Australia-based Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have devised a disposable 'lab-on-a-glove' enabling the wearer to identify health-threatening biochemical agents through a simple and secure swipe across a surface to be tested.

The researchers used tailor-made printable inks stencil-printed as serpentine patterns on regular purple nitrile powder-free exam gloves to create stretchable, yet robust conductive circuits. The thumb is used as a sample collection surface and only sports a printed stretchable carbon disk to ensure the adhesion of analyte residues.

At the tip of the index, part of an electrochemical cell is printed, immobilizing the enzyme organophosphorus hydrolase (OPH) capped with a conductive semi-solid gel matrix (covering an enzymatic OPH/Nafion layer) for analyte diffusion from the collection pad towards the OPH enzyme layer on the working electrode. The enzyme reacts to the presence of organophosphate (OP) compounds, also known as nerve agents for their high neurotoxicity.


The Edge of Technology

Easily-tricked Microprocessors are Security Threat

March 27th 2017

Trendy Kitchen

Microprocessors have had numerous layers of software protection wrapped around them to improve security as well as hardware support provided for the encryption of keys for encoding and keeping secret data and communications. However, this is effort primarily addressed the threat of hacking over wired or wireless communications channels. Little or no thought has been given to the data that comes from local sensors, which has just been assumed to be valid.

The rapid growth of the market for embedded systems and the Internet of Things and the broad deployment of sensors means a traditional lack of security around sensors has become a security problem, the university research team asserts. Read more ..

Media on Edge

Science Sting Exposes Corrupt Journal Publishers

March 23rd 2017

Physician and stethoscope

Spring break season is here, and, like a lot of beachgoers, science too is suffering some stings — albeit not of the jellyfish kind.

In the latest ploy, reported Wednesday, a group of researchers at the University of Wroclaw, in Poland, tried to seat a fictional scholar onto the editorial boards of 360 academic publications.

The goal: to test whether, with just a CV — full of fake scientific degrees — and a profile on Academia.edu as well as a fake university, some would accept a scholar named “Anna O. Szust” (which translates to “Anna, a Fraud” in English) as a member of their editorial boards.

And many did. The sting, reported in Nature, netted 48 journals — nearly all of which were so-called “predatory” journals. Such journals accept manuscripts without reviewing them, print them without editing them, and otherwise make a mockery of the scientific literature by pumping out low-quality work. Read more ..

The Edge of Science

Paper-based Thermometer Wraps around Objects Monitoring Temperatures on All Sides

March 20th 2017

Test Tubes

Researchers from the Renmin University of China have devised a very cheap and scalable temperature sensor made out of paper and traces of gold (for the electrodes) joined by a line of inkjet printer-ready ionic ink as the thermistor.

Publishing their results in the ACS Sensors journal under the title "Ultrafast Paper Thermometers Based on a Green Sensing Ink", they detail a very simple implementation where they leverage the benefits of paper as a flexible substrate and the ionic liquid, 1-ethyl-3-methyl imidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide ([EMIm][Tf2N]) for its non-volatile and hydrophobic nature.

Transferred to regular A4 paper by pen writing or inkjet printing, the ionic liquid holds onto the paper through the capillary effect, showing no leakage during bending and folding. The electrical conductivity of the ink trace is measured between two sputtered gold electrodes (5mm wide and 1.5cm long in the experiment) connected to an external power supply.


The Race for EVs

Recharge EVs from Under the Roadway

March 16th 2017

Traffic Jam

As more and more electric vehicles hit urban streets across the world, better battery-recharging solutions are desperately needed to improve range, keep costs low and boost user confidence.

Oren Ezer (CEO) and Hanan Rumbak (CTO) cofounded ElectRoad in 2013 to develop their unique twist on the concept of underground electric coils that recharge vehicles as they travel on the road.

In a few months, ElectRoad’s dynamic wireless electrification system is beginning a pilot project in Tel Aviv involving a short public bus route.

“The idea of electrifying vehicles from the road is trendy right now and you can see several companies trying to do a similar concept to us, but our technology is totally different, from the coils under the asphalt to the transfer of energy to the bus,” Ezer tells ISRAEL21c. Read more ..

The Edge of Physics

The Quest to Crystallize Time

March 14th 2017

Taurus Molecular Cloud

Christopher Monroe spends his life poking at atoms with light. He arranges them into rings and chains and then massages them with lasers to explore their properties and make basic quantum computers. Last year, he decided to try something seemingly impossible: to create a time crystal.

The name sounds like a prop from Doctor Who, but it has roots in actual physics. Time crystals are hypothetical structures that pulse without requiring any energy—like a ticking clock that never needs winding. The pattern repeats in time in much the same way that the atoms of a crystal repeat in space. The idea was so challenging that when Nobel prizewinning physicist Frank Wilczek proposed the provocative concept in 2012, other researchers quickly proved there was no way to create time crystals.

But there was a loophole—and researchers in a separate branch of physics found a way to exploit the gap. Monroe, a physicist at the University of Maryland in College Park, and his team used chains of atoms they had constructed for other purposes to make a version of a time crystal. “I would say it sort of fell in our laps,” says Monroe. Read more ..

The Race for Solar

Molecular 'Leaf' Harvests Sunlight Without Solar Cells

March 13th 2017


An international team of scientists have engineered a molecule that uses light or electricity to convert the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide that could replace solar cells.

The team, led by Liang-shi Li at Indiana University (Bloomington, IN) with researchers from Nanchang University and the University of Science and Technology of China, used a nanographene-rhenium complex connected via an organic compound known as bipyridine to trigger a highly efficient reaction that converts carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide.

"If you can create an efficient enough molecule for this reaction, it will produce energy that is free and storable in the form of fuels," said Li, associate professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Chemistry.


The Anthropological Edge

Australia was Colonized by a Single Group 50,000 Years Ago

March 9th 2017

Neanderthal man

There are two central mysteries about human history in Australia. First, when did people arrive on the world's southernmost inhabitable continent? And second, how did they colonize it? A paper in Nature offers new answers, based on an extensive analysis of decades-old DNA.

The Edge of Nature

How Plants Evolved into Carnivores

February 7th 2017

Amazon rainforest

Any insect unlucky enough to land on the mouth-like leaves of an Australian pitcher plant will meet a grisly end. The plant's prey is drawn into a vessel-like ‘pitcher’ organ where a specialized cocktail of enzymes digests the victim.

Now, by studying the pitcher plant's genome—and comparing its insect-eating fluids to those of other carnivorous plants—researchers have found that meat-eating plants the world over have hit on the same deadly molecular recipe, even though they are separated by millions of years of evolution.

“We’re really looking at a classic case of convergent evolution,” says Victor Albert, a plant-genome scientist at the University of Buffalo, New York, who co-led the study. Read more ..

The Edge of Space

New Era of Exoplanet Discoveries In Store

January 24th 2017

New Earth Sized Planets

For astronomers seeking Earth twins around other stars, the exoplanet GJ 1132 b probably isn’t an identical sibling—but it may be the closest cousin yet found. It weighs in at just over one Earth mass, but circles its star in a warm orbit that could make it more like Venus than our own world. Moreover, its diameter is nearly 50 percent larger than that of Earth, suggesting it possesses a thick atmosphere. Now, after taking the closest-ever look at GJ 1132 b, a European collaboration has confirmed the presence of its atmosphere and found hints it might contain water and methane. The results are currently under review for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

As mere discoveries of exoplanets become routine, efforts to learn more about them—their compositions, climates and histories—are moving to the fore, with studies of their atmospheres occupying center stage. Although astronomers detected the first exoplanet atmosphere more than 15 years ago, they have only managed to observe a handful ever since, mostly for very hot worlds as big as Jupiter or even larger. With their first glimpse of GJ 1132 b’s alien air, astronomers are now entering a new frontier as they examine the atmospheres of smaller, more Earth-like worlds.


The Edge of Science

Scientific Breakthroughs in 2017 May "Blow Your Mind"

January 11th 2017

Research and Development Chemistry

The Pentagon’s research and development division, DARPA—the creative force behind the internet and GPS—retooled itself three years ago to create a new office dedicated to unraveling biology’s engineering secrets. The new Biological Technologies Office (BTO) has a mission to “harness the power of biological systems” and design new defense technology. Over the past year, with a budget of about $296 million, it has been exploring challenges including memory improvement, human–machine symbiosis and speeding up disease detection and response.

DARPA, or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is hoping for some big returns. The director of its BTO, neuroprosthetic researcher Justin Sanchez, recently spoke with Scientific American about what to expect from his office in 2017, including work on neural implants to aid healthy people in their everyday lives and other advances that he says will “change the game” in medicine. Read more ..

The Edge of Space

NASA Should Build a Superhighway in Space

January 5th 2017

Mars & Earth, Christopher Leather U Chicago

Donald Trump will take power any minute now, and we need to take advantage of the change in the White House to change NASA's focus.

Why? NASA needs to get out of the rocket business and shift its attention to a permanent space transport infrastructure, an Eisenhower-style highway in the sky. An infrastructure with:

  • Gas stations (propellant depots),
  • Rest stops and permanent housing—roomy human habitats with windows and vegetable gardens,
  • Truck stops and freight yards—logistics bases with cargo-handling equipment,
  • Trucks, SUVs, and dune buggies—Moon-and-Mars ground vehicles; plus tugs to haul loads around in space,
  • Fuel production equipment—units to turn the water of the Moon and Mars into rocket fuel, breathable oxygen, and drinkable water,
  • Units to turn the carbon dioxide in Mars' atmosphere into plastics, graphene, and carbon fiber with which 3-d printers can build more habitats, tools, and rovers—more trucks, SUVs and dune buggies.
  • Units to turn the rusty rocks lying around on the Martian surface into high strength steel for habitats. 

Why move NASA into space highway construction? Because no one else will do it. And our future in space depends on it. Our future share in a space economy that United Launch Alliance (a joint venture rocket company from Boeing and Lockheed Martin) estimates will be worth $2.7 trillion in thirty years.


The Edeg of Nature

Do Dogs Know Other Dogs Are Dogs?

January 2nd 2017


Do you see dogs everywhere?

My ears perk up to the jingle jangle of metal-on-metal, hopeful that it predicts a dog and his collar, disappointed when it turns out to be keys on a belt (boring).

A person walking down the street with their arm outstretched holds the promise of a leash with a dog on the other end (sometimes it’s a stroller holding a kid. Oh well).

From a distance, my eyes play a cruel trick on me, where shopping bags are dogs and dogs are shopping bags until I get close enough and one wins out (obviously I'm rooting for the dog).

But catch any part of a tail, and I know I'm in. You could say my motto is, “dog, until proven otherwise.”

How about dogs?

Does a dog know, merely by sight, that an approaching being is a fellow dog? Before you answer, remember this: Canis familiaris is the least uniform species on the planet. Members of this species come in a wide range of body shapes and sizes from itty bitty teeny weeny to absolutely ginormos. Adult members of this species appear as tight little packages, huge weightlifters, lean ballerinas, elongated hotdogs and everything in between.


The Edge of the Universe

Hunting Dark Matter between the Ticks of an Atomic Clock

December 21st 2016

Massive black hole disrupting star formation

Dark matter is thought to make up some five sixths of all matter in the universe. Yet incredibly sophisticated projects ranging from the most powerful atom smasher ever built to vats of chilly liquid xenon have failed to find a trace of it. But now some scientists are hoping atomic clocks, the most precise timekeepers ever made, could be used to help explain this elusive phenomenon.

Many physicists believe dark matter is an invisible substance whose predicted gravitational effects on known matter would help explain a variety of cosmic mysteries, such as why galaxies can spin as fast as they do without flying apart. Despite its apparently colossal importance to the very structure of the universe, however, no one knows anything for certain about what it might be composed of or where it came from.


The Edge of Health

New Diagnosis for Parkinsons Advanes the Cause

December 15th 2016


Doctors diagnose as many as 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s disease (PD) every year in the United States. Yet diagnosing PD with certainty can take years — long after early signs and symptoms have appeared.

The Israeli startup BioShai has a game-changing product on the horizon: PDx, the world’s first simple blood test for the early diagnosis of PD.

The test results can be combined with clinical data, providing a more accurate diagnosis to help physicians decide on the best course of treatment at a much earlier stage.

More than 10 million people worldwide are living with this chronic and progressive movement disorder caused by the malfunction and death of neurons that produce dopamine, a chemical that coordinates the brain’s control of movement and coordination.

“Having a diagnosis at an earlier stage can lead to a more precise treatment and a higher quality of life for the patient,” says BioShai CEO Jennifer Yarden, who has a PhD in medical science and formerly was responsible for clinical and commercial development of diagnostic assays and kits at Glycominds. Yarden is also CEO and cofounder of Curewize Health.

“Offering a simple and inexpensive test for the diagnosis of Parkinson’s is considered essential for the development of neuroprotective therapy,” she explains, “because by the time a patient has the many movement symptoms associated with Parkinson’s, a majority of the dopamine-producing neurons are lost or become impaired by the disease.”


Environment on Edge

Tuna’s Declining Mercury Contamination Linked to U.S. Shift Away from Coal

November 30th 2016

School of tuna

Levels of highly toxic mercury contamination in Atlantic bluefin tuna are rapidly declining, according to a new study. That trend does not affect recommended limits on consumption of canned tuna, which comes mainly from other tuna species. Nor does it reflect trends in other ocean basins. But it does represent a major break in the long-standing, scary connection between tuna and mercury, a source of public concern since 1970, when a chemistry professor in New York City found excess levels of mercury in a can of tuna and spurred a nationwide recall. Tuna consumption continues to be the source of about 40 percent of the mercury contamination in the American diet. And mercury exposure from all sources remains an important issue, because it causes cognitive impairment in an estimated 300,000 to 600,000 babies born in this country each year.


The Edge of Medicine

World’s First Blood Test To Aid Diagnosis Of Parkinson’s

November 25th 2016


Doctors diagnose as many as 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s disease (PD) every year in the United States. Yet diagnosing PD with certainty can take years — long after early signs and symptoms have appeared.

The Israeli startup BioShai has a game-changing product on the horizon: PDx, the world’s first simple blood test for the early diagnosis of PD.

The test results can be combined with clinical data, providing a more accurate diagnosis to help physicians decide on the best course of treatment at a much earlier stage.

More than 10 million people worldwide are living with this chronic and progressive movement disorder caused by the malfunction and death of neurons that produce dopamine, a chemical that coordinates the brain’s control of movement and coordination.

“Having a diagnosis at an earlier stage can lead to a more precise treatment and a higher quality of life for the patient,” says BioShai CEO Jennifer Yarden, who has a PhD in medical science and formerly was responsible for clinical and commercial development of diagnostic assays and kits at Glycominds. Yarden is also CEO and cofounder of Curewize Health.


The Weapon's Edge

The Stealthy Gallium War

November 23rd 2016


War is going on over special integrated circuits based on a material called Gallium Nitrite. Winning this war will effect not only the United States national security, but also its ability to protect key global partners in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
Unfortunately the battle for Gallium Nitrite is very complicated, because the material has extensive commercial as well as military application.

But perhaps the single most important use for Gallium Nitrite is for detecting stealth aircraft and defeating long range weapons including so-called Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles launched from aircraft.

The United States is totally committed to stealth as the game changing technology of the present and future.  So deeply is the United States committed, that the only air superiority multi-mission aircraft being produced today is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).  The JSF is hugely costly and less stealthy than its big brother the F-22, but the F-22 was sacrificed so the JSF program could be financed, so mostly everything going forward hangs on this single airplane.

The Defense Edge

Plants Can Now Be Used to Detect Explosives

November 3rd 2016


Scientists at MIT have successfully bioengineered spinach to wilt if explosive material is detected in groundwater, according to a paper put out in the prestigious Journal of Nature Materials.

The research paper is titled “Nitroaromatic detection and infrared communication from wild-type plants using plant nanobionics.”

Here, we demonstrate that living spinach plants (Spinacia oleracea) can be engineered to serve as self-powered pre-concentrators and autosamplers of analytes in ambient groundwater and as infrared communication platforms that can send information to a smartphone,” the paper’s authors said their introduction.

As the plant absorbs water from the ground it will also absorb the explosive material. Thanks to deliberately created adaptations in the plant’s leaves, the plant will wilt in response to the presence of the explosive compounds.

Fixed sensors nearby will monitor the spinach using infrared technology and will pick up on the change in the plant.  

The project was funded by DARPA, the body of the U.S. military in charge of research and development. It has an annual budget of nearly $3 billion and funds a vast array of different technologies that either have or could potentially have military application. Read more ..

The Digital Edge

IoT Growing Faster Than the Ability to Defend It

November 2nd 2016

Google Glass

With this year’s approaching holiday gift season the rapidly growing “Internet of Things” or IoT—which was exploited to help shut down parts of the Web this past Friday—is about to get a lot bigger, and fast. Christmas and Hanukkah wish lists are sure to be filled with smartwatches, fitness trackers, home-monitoring cameras and other wi-fi–connected gadgets that connect to the internet to upload photos, videos and workout details to the cloud. Unfortunately these devices are also vulnerable to viruses and other malicious software (malware) that can be used to turn them into virtual weapons without their owners’ consent or knowledge.

The recent distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks—in which tens of millions of hacked devices were exploited to jam and take down internet computer servers—is an ominous sign for the Internet of Things. A DDoS is a cyber attack in which large numbers of devices are programmed to request access to the same Web site at the same time, creating data traffic bottlenecks that cut off access to the site. In this case the still-unknown attackers used malware known as “Mirai” to hack into devices whose passwords they could guess, because the owners either could not or did not change the devices’ default passwords. Read more ..

The Edge of Health

The Next Zikas

October 13th 2016

mosquito biting

Disease detectives are on the lookout for obscure viruses that can be spread among people by traveling insects, and quickly become a widespread problem. Scientific papers are filled with illnesses to watch. Four particular viruses now stand out to virologists and epidemiologists, although it is not certain any of the ailments will become the next Zika or West Nile virus. But researchers give several reasons to keep a close eye on this quartet:



“For 10 years now I’ve been thinking that Mayaro is right on the cusp of being able to amplify in humans and being transmitted efficiently by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes,” says Scott Weaver, a virologist  at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Mayaro causes a disease that is clinically indistinguishable from the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus: fever, chills, rash and the characteristic joint pain that can last longer than a year. It does matter, though, which of these viruses circulates in your body. Once there are vaccines against Mayaro and chikungunya, and drugs to treat them (so far there are none), they will likely be virus-specific.


The Digital Edge

Vehicle-To-Infrastructure Successfully Tested Over 4G Networks

October 11th 2016

Traffic Jam

The Australian telecommunications provider Telstra and telematics group Cohda Wireless have successfully tested a range of Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) applications over 4G networks. V2I, and more general, V2X is regarded as an enabling technology for intelligent connected road transport systems that will in turn open the path to better traffic management with less congestions, coordinated autonomous vehicle operation and more efficient use of the road infrastructure.

During their trials, the partners tested applications involving vehicles talking to infrastructure (such as traffic lights), vehicles communicating with other vehicles, and vehicles talking to vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians. In detail, the applications included alerting a driver to roadworks ahead, giving green light priority to high priority vehicles, and testing optimal green light timing where the vehicle is informed of the optimal speed to approach a traffic light so that that they get a green light when they arrive, therefore allowing a more continuous flow of traffic.


The Edge of Nature

How Israel is Saving the Honeybees

September 28th 2016


Honeybees across the world are in a sticky situation. Their numbers are dwindling dramatically due to colony collapse disorder (CCD) for reasons that are not fully understood. Yet the honeybee population in Israel is holding steady.

That’s great news at this time of year, when sweet Jewish New Year dishes push honey demand to its peak. And most importantly, bees play a crucial role in agriculture by pollinating vegetables and fruits.

Israel takes measures to ensure that its bee population declines no more than 10 percent each year, compared to 30%-50% in the United States, where the problem is so severe that Häagen-Dazs ice cream has donated $1 million to honeybee research since 2008, and President Obama initiated a national strategy to promote bee health.

“We try all kinds of things,” Israeli Honey Board CEO Hertzel Avidor tells ISRAEL21c, such as supporting Israeli research into all the biological and botanical angles on CCD, from boosting bees’ immune systems to developing nectar-rich plants.The council helps Israel’s 500 beekeepers implement innovative tactics to support a collective 110,000 hives.


The Race for IoT

Smart Buildings and IoT

September 15th 2016

Minneapolis skyline

Even though the smart buildings market still suffers from a fragmented ecosystem as proprietary building automation systems continue dominate, ABI Research expects that smart buildings global facility services revenue will grow from $625 million in 2015 to more than $8 billion in 2021.

The bulk of the revenue will stem from North America and Western Europe, as large buildings in these regions implement cloud-based smart building platforms or integrate existing building management systems to smart building platforms.


The Digital Age

Hacking a Car via the Driver's Smartphone

September 6th 2016


In a recently published paper "A Security Analysis of an In Vehicle Infotainment and App Platform", researchers from New York University and George Mason University unveiled the vulnerabilities posed by MirroLink, an industry standard for connecting smartphones to in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems.

It is commonplace for car makers to allow the integration of trusted third-party apps with the IVI systems via smartphones, typically through a pair of apps, one that executes on the smartphone and one that executes on the IVI itself connected to the vehicle’s CAN bus.

"To what extent are these apps, protocols and underlining IVI implementations vulnerable to an attacker who might gain control of a driver’s smartphone?" Asked themselves the researchers led by Damon McCoy, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering.


The Edge of Space

Mysterious Signal Prompts SETI Hopes

August 30th 2016

Solar System Birth

A powerful signal has been spotted coming from the vicinity of a sunlike star, and now astronomers are trying to figure out what it means.

In May 2015, researchers using a radio telescope in Russia detected a candidate SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) signal that seems to originate from HD 164595, a star system that lies about 94 light-years from Earth, the website Centauri Dreams reported over the weekend.

The astronomers have not yet published a study about the detection; they plan to discuss it next month at the 67th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico, according to Centauri Dreams' Paul Gilster, who wrote that one of the team members forwarded him the IAC presentation. [13 Ways to Hunt Intelligent Alien Life]


The Edge of Space

Earth-like and Nearby

August 26th 2016

New Earth Sized Planets

It was just over 20 years ago—a blink of a cosmic eye—that astronomers found the first planets orbiting stars other than our sun. All these new worlds were gas-shrouded giants like Jupiter or Saturn and utterly inhospitable to life as we know it. But for years each discovery was dutifully reported as front-page news, while scientists and the public alike dreamed of a day when we would find a habitable world. An Earth-like place with plentiful surface water, neither frozen nor vaporized but in the liquid state so essential to life. Back then the safe bet was to guess that the discovery of such a planet would only come after many decades, and that when a promising new world’s misty shores materialized on the other side of our telescopes, it would prove too faraway and faint to study in any detail.

Evidently the safe bet was wrong. On Wednesday astronomers made the kind of announcement that can only occur once in human history: the discovery of the nearest potentially habitable world beyond our solar system. This world may be rocky like ours and whirls in a temperate orbit around the sun’s closest stellar neighbor, the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri just over four light-years away. Their findings are reported in a study in Nature. Read more ..

The Race for Smart Cars

Radar-Based Sensor Network Helps Drivers Finding A Parking Spot:

August 19th 2016

car door

Searching for a parking spot can be quite annoying. In particular in urban areas, motorists waste lots of time and fuel on the search for a place where they can leave their vehicle - for a couple of minutes or overnight. A test project in Munich currently puts a radar-based sensor network through its paces that could help drivers to find a parking spot faster and easier.

Motorists in places like Paris, London or Rome are familiar the situation: To find a free parking spot, drivers have to go for miles; at average it takes 4.5 kilometres. According to a recent study from Apcoa, up to 30 percent of the traffic in cities today are accounted to searching for parking lots. A network of radar sensors mounted on lamp post now is the basis for a smart parking management solution currently tested in Munich.


The Race for Connected Cars

Connected Car: Dramatic growth ahead

August 9th 2016

Dashboard for electric car

Already in a few years, the number of connected cars out on the roads will reach a quarter billion. Market research and IT consultant firm Gartner predicts a dramatic growth - and many new business opportunities for hardware and software vendors.

The IoT is currently the big thing in technology, and the automotive version of the IoT is the Connected Car. No wonder the growth is similarly astronomic - and now Gartner came up with figures. By 2015 (that is, during the current year), the number of connected things will reach 4,9 billion units - up 30 percent from 2014. By 2020, this figure will quintuple to 25 billion units, believes Gartner. In this picture, connected cars are a major element. "The connected car is already a reality", said Gartner research director James F. Hines. "and in-vehicle wireless connectivity is rapidly expanding from luxury models and premium brands to high-volume mid-market models."


The Race for Autonomous Cars

Car Hacking Remains a Viable Threat

August 4th 2016

new cars close up

In last year’s hack, which led to Chrysler’s recall for 1.4 million vehicles, Miller and Valasek focused on pulling off “wireless attack” on the Jeep.

The two at that time exploited a Harman “head unit,” which offers a Wi-Fi hot spot — in a 2014 Jeep Cherokee — to get into the vehicle’s network. Later the hackers invaded the car through its cellular connection, via Sprint’s wireless network.

This year, the security experts turned their attention to injecting rogue messages into a vehicle’s CAN bus, which resulted in a full-speed attack on the Jeep’s steering and acceleration.

Instead of getting into the guts of a car wirelessly, Miller and Valasek this year used a laptop directly plugged into the Jeep’s CAN network through a port under its dashboard. They confirmed that they used the patched Jeep for this hacking. Read more ..

The Race for E-Bikes

Battery Technology Drives E-Bike Boom

July 14th 2016


Improvements in lithium ion battery technology are driving a boom in electric bicycle shipments around the world says a new report from market researchers Navigant Research.

Increasing urbanization and a desire to move away from cars for motorized transportation are creating more opportunities for alternative mobility devices such as e-bikes which will be the highest selling electric vehicle globally with nearly 35 million units sold this year. Navigant predicts the market will grow from $15.7 bn this year to $24.3 billion by 2025.

“Rising levels of population density and traffic congestion are driving interest in different modes of transportation,” says Ryan Citron, research analyst at Navigant Research. “E-bikes are uniquely positioned to be a primary benefactor of this trend since they are low in cost relative to cars, do not require licenses to operate, and can take advantage of existing bicycling infrastructure.”


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