Thursday, July 31, 2014


Messi v the Machines: A look at the RoboCup in Brazil where robots show their football skills and push the boundaries of artificial intelligence. Their goal is to produce a team of robots that is capable of defeating the World Cup champions by 2050

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Get That Silicon Valley Guy Out of Our Chinese Five-Star Hotel


A San Francisco-based cybersecurity expert claims he has hacked and taken control of hundreds of highly automated rooms at a five-star Shenzhen hotel.

Jesus Molina was staying at the St Regis Shenzhen, which provides guests with an iPad and digital “butler” app to control features of the room including the thermostat, lights, and television.

Realising how vulnerable the system was, Molina wrote a piece of code spoofing the guest iPad so he could control the room from his laptop.

After some investigation, and three room changes, he discovered that the network addresses of each room and the devices within them were sequential, allowing him to write a script to potentially control every one of the hotel’s more than 250 rooms.

"Hotels are particularly bad when it comes to security," Molina said. "[They’re] using all this new technology, which I think is great, but the problem is that the security architecture and security problems are way different than for residential buildings".

With residential automation, Molina explained, most systems will be closed and encrypted. However, in hotels and airports “or any other space where a lot of people access the network”, keeping the network secure is far more difficult.

Molina said the KNX automation system the hotel used was also insecure, which made the hack easier.

"I’m an ethical hacker, if you can say that," Molina said, explaining why he didn’t immediately plunge the entire hotel into darkness or switch every television to the same channel. Instead, he stood in the corridor and triggered the do-not-disturb lights, "so I knew I was able to control the room and everything inside".

Molina reported the problem to hotel management, which disabled the entire network while they sought a more secure automation solution. Molina said he hoped the hack, and the attention it had received, would lead to more hotels improving their security systems.

Joost Demarest, a spokesman for the KNX Association, said the most recent version of the standard did feature authentication and encryption and that it was “essential that separate Wi-fi networks are used” for the purposes of guest internet access and automation.

In a statement, St Regis Shenzhen said it had “temporarily suspended the control system of the in-room iPad remote controls for system upgrading”.

The hotel described Molina’s claim that he took control of the automation system as “unsubstantiated”.

Molina will present his findings at the Black Hat Briefings cybersecurity conference in Las Vegas next month.

"The hotel industry needs to wake up when it comes to security," he said of the risk posed to guests by open hotel Wi-fi networks.

"People think that they go to these portals and put in their room number and last name and then you access the internet," but anyone connected to the Wi-fi, even non-guests "can still see you, because we’re on the same network".

Security experts have long warned of the dangers of public Wi-fi.

"We have seen an increase in the misuse of Wi-fi in order to steal information, identity or passwords and money from users who use public or insecure Wi-fi connections," Troels Oerting, head of pan-European police force Europol’s cybercrime centre, told the BBC in March.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Hacker takes control of Shenzhen hotel’s rooms

The ‘Holographic’ 3D Video Machine is closer than you think

From the creators project:

Recently completed by Chris Helson and Sarah Jackets, two Scotland-based artist who have been honing away on the project for seven years, this innovative 3D video machine will make its debut on July 31, as part of the Alt-W at the Edinburgh Art Festival. Inspired by the famous holographic message sent to Obi-Wan Kenobi from Princess Leia in Star Wars, the 360-degree piece, entitled Help Me Obi, has already won an Alt-w production award from New Media Scotland.

Inspired by scientific concepts that have garnered iconic cultural significance, Helson said the project is not to be confused with a 3D hologram: “We use the term holographic because there is nothing else like it,” said Helson. “The machine creates 360 [-degree] moving video objects apparently floating in space and the viewer is able to walk around the machine and see the video object from any position.”

[read more] [Helson & Jackets] [video & pictures from Helson & Jackets]

Telerobotic Fanbots cheering for Hanhwa Eagles in South Korea

Japan South Korea (inadvertence, sorry) continues to surprise me. I never would have thought of Robo(tic)Capos. I think you could use them also for surveillance systems in stadiums. But that’s another story. 

What if there was a robot cheering for those fans who cannot come to the stadium?
Fanbot is the combination of ‘fan’ and ‘robot’
Hanhwa Eagles, for the first time in the world, launched eagles-fanbot, which allowed for interactive cheering for those fans who cannot come to the stadium.

[via boingboing]

The “first man-made biological leaf” could enable humans to colonise space

RCA graduate Julian Melchiorri says the synthetic biological leaf he developed, which absorbs water and carbon dioxide to produce oxygen just like a plant, could enable long-distance space travel.

Read more:

(Source: cosmicwolfstorm)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Facebook Billboard, Yemen.


Facebook Billboard, Yemen.

Mat Honan at Wired. “The Nightmare on Connected Home Street”


I wake up at four to some old-timey dubstep spewing from my pillows. The lights are flashing. My alarm clock is blasting Skrillex or Deadmau5 or something, I don’t know. I never listened to dubstep, and in fact the entire genre is on my banned list. You see, my house has a virus again.

Technically it’s malware. But there’s no patch yet, and pretty much everyone’s got it. Homes up and down the block are lit up, even at this early hour. Thankfully this one is fairly benign. It sets off the alarm with music I blacklisted decades ago on Pandora. It takes a picture of me as I get out of the shower every morning and uploads it to Facebook. No big deal.

I don’t sleep well anyway, and already had my Dropcam Total Home Immersion account hacked, so I’m basically embarrassment-proof. And anyway, who doesn’t have nudes online? Now, Wat3ryWorm, that was nasty. That was the one with the 0-day that set off everyone’s sprinkler systems on Christmas morning back in ’22. It did billions of dollars in damage.

Going back to sleep would be impossible at this point, so I drag myself into the kitchen to make coffee. I know this sounds weird, but I actually brew coffee with a real kettle. The automatic coffee machine is offline. I had to pull its plug because it was DDOSing a gaming server in Singapore. Basically, my home is a botnet. The whole situation makes me regret the operating system I installed years ago, but there’s not much I can do. I’m pretty much stuck with it.

When I moved into my house in the 20s, I went with an Android-compatible system because there were more accessories and they were better designed. But then I changed jobs and now my home doesn’t work with my company-issued phone. Which is a bummer because I have to keep this giant 7-inch tablet around to control everything and Google doesn’t support the hardware anymore so I can’t update it and now the door just randomly unlocks. Ugh, I’m going to have to start using keys again.

I’d just reinstall the OS, but that would be too expensive. Besides, all my Nexus Home® stuff uses proprietary chargers, and I can’t deal with having Amazon drones come in and rip out the drywall again….

Off Road Self-Driving Vehicle

From The Verge:

The US military has been working on self-driving vehicles of its own for several years now, and earlier this month a video was published showing just what it’s like to take a ride in one. The footage was taken from a GoPro placed right above the driver’s seat in one of the Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate (GUSS) vehicles being tested by the Marines. The ultimate goal is for the military to be able to use GUSS vehicles to lighten the load of soldiers by carrying equipment for them — potentially for multiple days at a time — and to keep soldiers further from harm’s way in the process.

[via robohub]

Advertising from Tesla: Origins

You’ve got to hand it to Tesla, they do things differently.

Director : David Holm
DP : David Holm
Editor : Ben Jordan
Sound Design : Joe Mount
Executive Producer : Tim Case

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Colbert Report - Elon Musk Interview

Another 101 on Quantum Computing this time from Microsoft

An introduction to the mind-bending world of quantum computing. Learn how Microsoft is blending quantum physics with computer science at


7 Finger Robot

"The device, worn around one’s wrist, works essentially like two extra fingers adjacent to the pinky and thumb. The robot, which the researchers have dubbed "supernumerary robotic fingers," or "SR fingers," consists of actuators linked together to exert forces as strong as those of human fingers during a grasping motion."

Robot tech, YES.


Waldpolenz Solar Park
Waldenpolenz, Germany
51°19′42″N 12°39′22″E

Waldpolenz Solar Park in Waldpolenz, Germany uses 550,000 First Solar modules to supply 40,000 MWh of electricity per year. Spanning more than 500 acres, investment costs for the park have amounted to approximately 130 million euro ($175 million).



Waldpolenz Solar Park

Waldenpolenz, Germany

51°19′42″N 12°39′22″E

Waldpolenz Solar Park in Waldpolenz, Germany uses 550,000 First Solar modules to supply 40,000 MWh of electricity per year. Spanning more than 500 acres, investment costs for the park have amounted to approximately 130 million euro ($175 million).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014