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Input Devices

Modular Touchpad Aims To Replace Most Input Devices 76

An anonymous reader writes: Wired reports on the 'Sensel Morph' input device, which launched on Kickstarter yesterday and blew past its funding goal almost immediately. It's a tablet-sized touchpad, but the key feature is the ability to place custom overlays on it. For example, you can snap on a flexible keyboard and the device starts behaving like a normal keyboard. Other overlays can imitate a game controller or a musical instrument. It's sensitive enough to detect paintbrushes, or you can put a simple overlay on it and use pencil or pen. The magnetic connectors in these overlays tell the device how to process the input, and they're making an open source API so developers can create their own. The touchpad has 20,000 individual sensors, with pressure sensitivity ranging from 5g to 5kg.
Microsoft

Microsoft Researchers Generate 3D Models From Ordinary Smartphones 48

New submitter subh_arya writes: Engineers from Microsoft Research have unveiled the first technology to perform 3D surface reconstruction from ordinary smartphone cameras. Their computational framework creates a connected 3D surface model by continuously registering RGB input to an incrementally built 3D model. Although the reconstruction results look promising, Microsoft does not plan to release an app anytime soon.
Input Devices

Skylake Has a Voice DSP and Listens To Your Commands 98

itwbennett writes: Intel's new Skylake processor (like the Core M processor released last year) comes with a built-in digital signal processor (DSP) that will allow you to turn on and control your PC with your voice. Although the feature is not new, what is new is the availability of a voice controlled app to use it: Enter Windows 10 and Cortana. If this sounds familiar, it should, writes Andy Patrizio: 'A few years back when the Xbox One was still in development, word came that Kinect, its motion and audio sensor controller, would be required to use the console and Kinect would always be listening for voice commands to start the console. This caused something of a freak-out among gamers, who feared Microsoft would be listening.'
Security

Cheap Thermal Imagers Can Steal User PINs 100

Bismillah writes: A British infosec company has discovered that cheap thermal imaging attachments for smartphones can be used to work out which keys users press on -- for instance -- ATM PIN pads. The thermal imprint last for a minute or longer. That's especially worrying if your PIN takes the form of letters, as do many users' phone-unlock patterns.
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Do You Press "6" Key With Right Or Left Hand? 240

New submitter ne0phyte73 writes: In some countries and in some touch typing books key "6" is pressed with right hand and in some others with left. It's not a big issue until you have a split keyboard. Guys at UHK are putting it on the left side. Do you agree? What hand do you use to press "6"? Left hand here, but it's not a strong preference; I'll take a keyboard that omits Caps Lock wherever they put the 6.
AI

Apple Testing Service That Allows Siri to Answer Calls and Transcribe Voicemail 70

An anonymous reader writes: Apple is reportedly testing a new feature which would allow Siri to answer your calls and then transcribe the voicemails as text messages. The iCloud service would then send users the text of that transcribed voicemail. Apple employees are testing a voicemail service currently and a public release isn't expected until sometime in 2016 in iOS10.
Input Devices

Nokia Announces OZO 360-Degree Camera For Filming Virtual Reality 23

New submitter Sepa Blackforesta writes: Nokia has unveiled Ozo, a next-generation camera for capturing audio and video in 360 degrees. It is built for professional content creators and the company hopes the camera will become the leading device for shooting virtual-reality experiences for Hollywood. A formal launch and price announcement is planned for the fall. A Nokia press release reads in part: "OZO captures stereoscopic 3D video through eight (8) synchronized global shutter sensors and spatial audio through eight (8) integrated microphones. Software built for OZO enables real-time 3D viewing, with an innovative playback solution that removes the need to pre-assemble a panoramic image - a time-consuming process with solutions currently in the marketplace. OZO's filmed content can be published for commercially available VR viewing hardware such as head mounted displays (HMDs), with immersive, full 360-degree imaging and spatially accurate original sound. OZO also integrates into existing professional workflows and works with third-party tools, dramatically simplifying content production at all stages."
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Caps Lock Key Still So Prominent On Keyboards? 698

Esther Schindler writes: The developers at .io are into tracking things, I guess. In any case, a few weeks back they decided to track team performance in terms of keyboard and mouse activity during the working day. They installed a simple Chrome plugin on every Macbook and collected some statistics. For instance, developers have fewer keypresses than editors and managers—around 4k every day. Managers type more than 23k characters per day. And so on. Some pretty neat statistics.

But the piece that jumped out at me was this: "What's curious—the least popular keys are Capslock and Right Mouse Button. Somewhere around 0.1% of all keypresses together. It's time to make some changes to keyboards." I've been whining about this for years. Why is it that the least-used key on my keyboard is not just in a prominent position, but also bigger than most other keys? I can I invest in a real alternate keyboard with a different layout (my husband's a big fan of the Kinesis keyboards, initially to cope with carpal tunnel). But surely it's time to re-visit the standard key layout? What keys would you eliminate or re-arrange?
Input Devices

Disney Bans Selfie Sticks 177

New submitter albimaturityr writes with a story from the Orlando Sentinel that Disney is banning selfie sticks from its parks, starting with Disney World (as of Tuesday) but continuing with its other parks in California, Paris, and Hong Kong. Says the report: The issue has been building at Disney. Previously, the sticks were prohibited from its rides, and "no selfie-sticks" signs were at select rides, such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom. Cast members have given verbal warnings to rule breakers. Several incidents preceded the change, but officials have been discussing the rules for some time, Disney said. This week at Disney California Adventure park, a roller coaster was halted after a passenger pulled out a selfie-stick. The ride was closed for an hour.
XBox (Games)

Microsoft Announces Customizable Xbox Elite Wireless Controller 99

MojoKid writes: Today, Microsoft announced that later this year, it will be releasing what could be the "ultimate" Xbox and Windows game controller. Called Xbox Elite Wireless, this gamepad has a dramatically overhauled D-pad and four paddles underneath. Other features that make this gamepad special: there are trigger locks, the ability to customize thumbstick sensitivity, along with the level of travel for the top triggers. In addition, it also sports swappable components, like the paddles, etc. Pricing has been announced at $149 and given just how advanced this gamepad is over the original, it's understandable but still pretty steep.
AI

Toshiba Introduces a Cortana Keyboard Button For Windows 10 127

Ammalgam writes: In what seems like a really pivotal moment for computing, Toshiba have indicated that they will be introducing a new button to their line of keyboards. This key would be dedicated to summoning Microsoft's virtual assistant in Windows 10 — Cortana. A dedicated Cortana key would be one of the more significant changes to the keyboard since the Windows key was added at about the time Windows 95 was introduced, in 1995.
Input Devices

Logitech Introduces G29, G920 Racing Wheels For PS3, PS4, Xbox One and PC 67

MojoKid writes: If you're an ardent PC racing fiend, chances are that you either own or have heard of Logitech's G27. The G27 has been a popular gaming peripheral (it supports the PC, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3) that not only includes a steering wheel and three pedals (accelerator, brake, clutch), but also a six-speed "H" pattern gearbox. Today, Logitech is finally introducing successors, the G29 Driving Force Racing Wheel and the G920 Driving Force Racing Wheel for PS3 and PS4, as well as PC and Xbox One racers, respectively. Both wheels are equipped with dual-motor force feedback, 900-degree (2.5 turns to lock) steering, helical gearing, and anti-backlash hardware. Logitech is also hoping to impart a premium feel to its new controllers courtesy of a hand-stitched leather wheel, stainless steel paddle shifters, and steel ball bearings to stand up to abuse. Like its predecessor, the G29 and G920 both come with a separate, floor-mounted three-pedal unit to keep your feet busy when blasting around the Nürburgring. Unfortunately, the six-speed shifter unit that used to come standard in the box with the G27 is now an optional accessory. The G29 will be available this July, while the G920 won't arrive at retailers until October.
AI

Siri, Cortana and Google Have Nothing On SoundHound's Speech Recognition 235

MojoKid writes: Your digital voice assistant app is incompetent. Yes, Siri can give you a list of Italian restaurants in the area, Cortana will happily look up the weather, and Google Now will send a text message, if you ask it to. But compared to Hound, the newest voice search app on the block, all three of the aforementioned assistants might as well be bumbling idiots trying to outwit a fast talking rocket scientist. At its core, Hound is the same type of app — you bark commands or ask questions about any number of topics and it responds intelligently. And quickly. What's different about Hound compared to Siri, Cortana, and Google Now is that it's freakishly fast and understands complex queries that would have the others hunched in the fetal position, thumb in mouth. Check out the demo. It's pretty impressive.
The Courts

Blackberry Defeats Typo In Court, Typo To Discontinue Sales of Keyboard 67

New submitter juniorkindergarten writes: Blackberry and Typo have reached a final settlement that effectively ends Typo selling its iPhone keyboard accessory. Blackberry took Typo to court for twice for patent infringement over the copying of Blackberry's keyboard design. Blackberry and Typo first battled it out in court, with Typo losing for copying the Blackberry Q10 keyboard design. Typo redesigned its keyboard, and again Blackberry sued them for patent infringement. The final result is that Typo cannot sell keyboards for screens less than 7.9", but can still sell keyboards for the iPad and iPad air. Exact terms were not disclosed.
China

China Unveils World's First Facial Recognition ATM 129

An anonymous reader links to an article at IB Times according to which: China has unveiled the world's first facial recognition ATM, which will not allow users to withdraw cash unless their face matches their IDs. The machine was created by Tsinghua University and Hangzhou-based technology company Tzekwan. It has a camera installed in it that captures the facial features of the user then compares it with a database of identification photos.
Input Devices

Video Mechanical 'Clicky' Keyboards Still Have Followers (Video) 147

For a good number of years, the sound of the old IBM or other mechanical keyboard clacking away was the sound of programmers (or writers) at work on their computers. Then, according to Edgar Matias, president and cofounder of the Matias Corporation, computer companies started using membrane switches and other cheaper ways to make keyboards, which made a lot of people mutter curse words under their breath as they beat their fingers against keys that had to go all the way to the bottom of their travel to work, unlike the good old mechanical keyboards we once knew and loved.

Enter Edgar Matias, who started out making the half keyboard, which is like a chorded keyboard except that you can use your QWERTY typing skills with little modification -- assuming you or your boss has $595 (!) to lay out on a keyboard. But after that Edgar started making QWERTY and Dvorak keyboards for semi-competitive prices. FYI: No Slashdot person got a free keyboard (or extra money) for making this video, but I have a Matias keyboard, and in my opinion it's far better than the cheapie it replaced. A lot of other people seem to want "real" keyboards, too, which they buy from Matias or from other companies such as Unicomp, which makes keyboards just like the classic, heavily-loved IBM Model M. Again, I've owned a Unicomp keyboard (that I bought; it was not a giveaway) and it was excellent. Both companies put out quality products that are far easier on your hands and wrists than the $10 or $20 keyboards sold by big box electronics retailers.
Input Devices

The Challenge of Getting a Usable QWERTY Keyboard Onto a Dime-sized Screen 144

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from Spain and Germany are building on Carnegie Mellon's work to attempt to create workable text-input interfaces for wearables, smartwatches and a new breed of IoT devices too small to accomodate even the truncated soft keyboards familiar to phone users. In certain cases, the screen area in which the keyboard must be made usable is no bigger than a dime. Of all the commercial input systems I've used, Graffiti seems like it might be the most suited to such tiny surfaces.
Communications

How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text 164

Presto Vivace writes: Dan Froomkin reports at The Intercept: "Though perfect transcription of natural conversation apparently remains the Intelligence Community's 'holy grail,' the Snowden documents describe extensive use of keyword searching as well as computer programs designed to analyze and 'extract' the content of voice conversations, and even use sophisticated algorithms to flag conversations of interest." I am torn between admiration of the technical brilliance of building software like this and horror as to how it is being used. It can't just be my brother and me who like to salt all phone conversations with interesting keywords.
Windows

Microsoft Announces Windows Holographic Platform 99

An anonymous reader writes: At its Build 2015 developer conference [Wednesday], Microsoft announced the Windows Holographic Platform. In short, the company will let developers turn Windows 10 apps into holograms for HoloLens. On stage, Microsoft showed a Windows video app that you can simply control with your voice: Just say "follow me" and the video app moves along as you walk around a room. "Every single universal Windows app has these capabilities," said Alex Kipman, technical fellow for the operating system group at Microsoft. Apps can look like little windows, or they can be more than that. The demo included a photos app, a browser, Skype, a holographic Start Menu, and even a dog on the floor.
Input Devices

Linux 4.1 Bringing Many Changes, But No KDBUS 232

An anonymous reader writes: The first release candidate of Linux 4.1 is now available. Linus noted, "The merge window is pretty normal in terms of what got merged too. Just eyeballing the size, it looks like this is going to fit right in — while 4.0 was a bit smaller than usual, 4.1 seems to be smack dab in the middle of the normal range for the last couple of years." There are numerous new features in Linux 4.1, like Xbox One controller force feedback support, better Wacom tablet support, Intel Atom SoC performance improvements, Radeon DisplayPort MST support, EXT4 file-system encryption, ChromeOS Lightbar support, and ACPI for 64-bit ARM, among other additions. However, KDBUS wasn't accepted for Linux 4.1.