Author Archives: Mariia Manoilo

QOOBO – the heart healing pillow

Have you ever heard “No!” from your parents when asking for a pet? Are you having a busy life and cannot afford spending enough time with a pet? Do you feel lonely in your apartment with no fluffy tale? Qoobo can be a solution for you.

According to Engadget, at CEATEC, the Japanese company called “Yukai Engineering” unveiled its latest wacky product, the Qoobo “tail therapy” robot. This is essentially a cushion with a realistic cat tail that reacts to stroking and patting, such that it’s able to comfort its “owner” like a real pet would simply through tail wagging.

According to creators of Qoobo, it is a robotic pillow with a tail intended to provide a sense of comfort to users.  When caressed, it waves gently. When rubbed, it swings playfully. And, it occasionally wags just to say hello. Qoobo was designed for communication that warms your heart the way animals do. “Through trial and error, we developed a mechanism that closely mimics the flexible and elegant movements of an animal. We selected different materials for various parts of the robot to enhance the movements and the tail’s appearance. We also made it durable to allow for use in various environments” – say Yukai Engineering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The story of Qoobo is very ordinary: the idea of the pillow originates from one of Yukai Engineering’s employees. The designer had a cat, but since the apartment she moved into didn’t allow pets, she had to leave her cat with her parents. This inspired her to come up with a lifelike pet substitute that would make her feel better whenever she thought of her cat.

According to The Verge, Qoobo is expected to cost around $100 when it launches in June 2018. Like with its adorable Bocco robot that was delivered with Kickstarter, the company is hoping to launch Qoobo with the help of a crowdfunding platform too. It’ll have an eight-hour battery life with USB charging, and will come in two colors: Husky gray and French brown.

Now you can back Qoobo at the page of the project at Kickstarter platform, and starting from $83 you can order a pillow and expect the delivery by June 2018.

People, who have already “touched” Qoobo say, that they were surprised by how realistic the tail moved, especially with how its wagging intensity increased as they petted it harder. Interestingly, the stroking detection is mostly done with just one accelerometer inside the body, according to CEO Shunsuke Aoki. He added that despite the cat-like appearance, the realistic tail movement is actually based on research on both cat and dog behavior.

Being a former dog owner, I must say, that I hardly imagine how a pillow can replace a real pet. But it looks like robots never die, unlike our pets…

 

Sources:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/10/5/16431118/qoobo-yukai-engineering-cat-tail-wagging-robot

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1477302345/qoobo?ref=thanks_link

https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/04/qoobo-cat-tail-cushion-therapy-robot/

 

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The Future of Security – Highlights from O. Brodt’s speech at Masters&Robots Conference 2017

Oleg Brodt works at Deutsche Telekom Innovation Labs in Israel. He comes from the small city called Beersheba, also spelled Beer-Sheva, which also is the largest city in the Negev desert of southern Israel. In the end of October this year he spoke at Masters&Robots Conference in Warsaw, and I would like to present some of the highlights of his speech on cyber security.

 

1. Beersheba – as a Cyber Security Center of Israel

Israeli government decided that Beersheba is going to be a cyber security capital of Israel (being more than 4 times smaller than Warsaw). Therefore, all the cyber security units of military and other agencies were moved to this city. That is what made a great impact on Beersheba’s development and stimulated the inflow of human capital into the city. Nowadays there are 40 multinational companies located in Beersheba. There are also many accelerators, incubators, around 100 Start-Ups and the Ben-Gurion University, which is the only university in Israel offering a cyber security degree. Generally, there are around 400 Start-Ups focused on cyber security in Israel, furthermore, the country attracts 15% of global venture capital financing of cyber security projects.

Beersheba 2007

Beersheba 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Cyber Security Kids – Israeli Programs for Talented Pupils

In Israel children, who are good at math and IT, have a chance to become a part of the educational programs, which are aimed to prepare human resources for Israeli military units. Those are usually kids, who go to 9th grade. If the kid is cherrypicked, he or she attends the after school classes on cyber security twice a week during four years of high school and after this, he or she joins the army unit.

By the time a child finishes a school, he or she is already an expert in cyber security. Moreover, there is a 6-months gap between the kid finishes school studies and joins the military agency, and during that gap, a kid already works on military CS projects in IT labs. Those are the lowest qualified workers in Israeli IT Labs. The IT labs are being headed by professor Yuval Elovici, who is a known academic figure in the field of CS.

3. There are Different Kinds of Attackers in CS

  • Kids (“Script Kiddies”) – just children, who are bored, they have spare time and technical skills to hack you. They have some basic knowledge, and start to play around with CS, however, they are lowly qualified and normally can not do a lot of harm. Moreover, kids are hacking for “FUN”, there is no real money interest in it.
  • State Actors – governments, which hack each other or specific targets. They are extremely highly qualified, and if you are the target – it will be very difficult to defend. Also, they have “unlimited resources” to hack you, which means they are very dangerous and if they really want to hack you, it is a question of time.
  • Cybercriminals – revenue driven hackers, who aim to get a financial benefit from you.
  • Hacktivism – is the subversive use of computers and computer networks to promote a political agenda or a social change. Perhaps the most prolific and well known hacktivist group, Anonymous has been prominent and prevalent in many major online hacks over the past decade.
  • Terror Organizations – not very active in the field of CS yet, but are increasing their activity gradually.

4. Financial Models of Attackers

There are also different ways attackers might harm you and there are some of them:

  • Ransomware – a type of malicious software from cryptovirology that threatens to publish the victim’s data or perpetually block access to it unless a ransom is paid. While some simple ransomware may lock the system in a way which is not difficult for a knowledgeable person to reverse, more advanced malware uses a technique called cryptoviral extortion, in which it encrypts the victim’s files, making them inaccessible, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them.
  • DDOS-as-a-Service – a new service in the Darknet. If you want to attack your competitor in the internet (for example internet shop), you order such a service in the Darknet from qualified hackers, and than they attack the e-commerce platform of your competitor in a way that it gets too many requests and falls offline.
  • Crypto-Hacks – is something relatively new, and means that hackers attack bitcoins exchangers in order to still their money.
  • Darkweb hacking services – there are even whole price lists for certain violations in the Darkweb. For example, how much does it cost to buy a thousand credit cards, or to hack somebody’s Facebook account.

5. It Is Not Personal – When Hacking You is a Business

  • The hackers, who attack you because of financial motivation are interested only in getting the money. They really do not care who you are, they are not hacking you because you are you, they are hacking you because of your resources. And the most popular way to hack during last two years is ransomware. Due to its “commonness”, there starts to arise a commoditization of the services connected to ransomware, so to say. In other words, hackers, who attack you with ransomware have support centers! So, for example, if you get hacked, and your entire organization data in currently encrypted, you get a message that you have to pay a ransom in bitcoins, but you do not know what actually bitcoin is – you may address hackers’ customer service for help. Yes, you get a phone number on your screen, and if you call on this number – a nice customer service representative guide you through the whole process. Sounds nice, hah?
  • Organizations, which are specialized in negotiations with hackers arise. For example: you are being hacked, and the attacker wants you to pay 5000$ ransom for your files. But how can you know that after the transfer of the money the files will be released? That is where negotiations companies come into play. First, they try to establish a reputation of the hacker – they ask him questions like: “How do I know that you are not going to publish my files in the Darkweb?” or “How do I know that you are not going to sell my files to other organizations?” And what happens next is something surprising – hackers give lists of “previous customers” (people or organizations, which were hacked by them before) to convince the victim that the deal is safe. They also propose to refer to those “customers” to get a recommendation. So there exists so-called recommendation base for hackers, in which new negotiations companies are specialized.

Sources:

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ransomware
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beersheba
  • Oleg’s Brodt Speech at Masters&Robots Conference in Warsaw (26-27 October 2017)

 

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Animoji – new way of killing time from Apple

If you are still not convinced whether to buy the new iPhone X or not for only $999, this new feature might convince you to purchase it.

iOS 11 includes a new animated emoji feature known as “Animoji”. This responds to facial expressions via the iPhone X camera, to animate various 3D animated emojis that can be sent as a video file with sound.

Maybe this feature is not what makes you pay $999 from your pocket, but in reality, emotions are a good selling instrument, and in this case, animated emoticons – is a 100% hit. The people who get the iPhone X and try this new function are full of joy. Similar reactions once caused, and still cause, the Snapchat application filters, but Apple technology went on much further.

What we imagine for ourselves as entertainment or silliness, is a complex technology based on rather complicated processes. Each animoji has a range of expressions which respond to the face being recorded. The Animoji mouth also animates to match the words being spoken, or sung in the case of “Animoji Karaoke” – the new trend on the Internet.

With the help of Animoji people record clips and sing famous songs, and it looks like it is only the beginning.

Look at this version of the STAR WARS songs 🙂

There are even step-by-step instructions available on the Internet on how to record your own Animoji Karaoke song. Here is one of them https://www.imore.com/make-animoji-karaoke.

I personally do not share the affection about animoji (maybe because I don’t have the iPhone X), but Apple fancies animoji as the evolution of emoji. Moreover, they might also be the next stage in the development of voicemail. They certainly make sound messages vastly more interesting and engaging.

 

Sources:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/11/6/16611922/animoji-apple-iphonex-hate-love

https://emojipedia.org/animoji/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2017/11/06/animoji-karaoke-weird-wonderful-new-iphone-x-trend/

https://www.imore.com/make-animoji-karaoke

https://wylsa.com/karaoke-animoji/

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Stop following me! Or targeted ads

Have you been in such a situation when you visited a web site and after this quick 5 minutes check you are haunted by this brand’s ads everywhere you go on the web? Annoying, right? That is actually called targeted advertising.

Targeted advertising is a form of advertising where online advertisers can use sophisticated methods to target the most receptive audiences with certain traits, based on the product or person the advertiser is promoting. These traits can either be demographic which are focused on race, economic status, sex, age, the level of education, income level and employment or they can be psychographically focused which is based on the consumer’s values, personality, attitudes, opinions, lifestyles, and interests.

According to Toubiana et al. (2010), online behavioral advertising (OBA), also called online behavioral ad targeting, has began in the late 1990s. DoubleClick used 3rd party cookies to track users across sites and presented ads based on the user’s browsing patterns. Nowadays OBA is a large and complex industry where entire exchanges trade user information specifically for the purpose of better ad placement. This means that if you visit a certain website, it will follow you on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and what’s more – on your every device! In fact, there is a real-life example, which makes me feel uncomfortable using my own gadgets: today at 19:30 i was checking out hm.com from my mobile and spend a few seconds more staring at 2 particular items. Now I see them popping up in my Facebook news feed! That is kind of scary. I can’t say that by seeing this ad I feel motivated to buy those items, or it makes me question if I really want those things. It only makes me feel spied by intrusive ads of H&M and decreases my loyalty to this brand.

To make a long story short, targeted advertising raises privacy concerns. Targeted advertising is performed by analyzing consumers’ activities through online services such as cookies and data-mining, both of which can be seen as detrimental to consumers’ privacy. In other words, companies monitor what you do, where you go, who you interact with and what your interests are. They do it privately and securely, and it’s all automated so that no human being actually learns anything about you. And then the online world becomes customized, just for you. The ads are always the things you want to buy. The services are just what you’re looking for. But does it really works the way it was designed?

 

 

Sources:
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2567076
https://www.computerworld.com/article/2690822/security0/why-do-contextual-ads-fail.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/apps/g/page/business/how-targeted-advertising-works/412/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Targeted_advertising

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Ivyrevel Digital Fashion House: Discovery or Empty Promise?

Ivyrevel is a clothes brand founded in 2003, which officially is a part of H&M global business group since 2016. It was co-founded by popular Swedish fashion blogger Kenza Zouten Subosic, and have been heavily promoted by her through social media channels as well as through her blog (kenzas.se). Ivyrevel already has been on the market for several seasons, but last year the founders have decided to offer a brand new and innovative relaunch that will turn it into the first truly digital fashion house. H&M is a major investor to offer strategic and production support. Another partner is Paypal, which is supposed to provide advisory services on payment and distribution issues.

Ivyrevel clothes are inspired by urban contrasts, strong independent women and by the contemporary now. Its style is polished, loud and extrovert with feminine silhouettes and ample amounts of attitude. It follows fashion trends and continuously releases new items with no pause, by reacting to latest fashion drifts.

The creators of the brand say that their site is their palace, their home, their one and only shopping window to the world. Consequently, you can find Ivyrevel clothes only online and there is no single physical store or a showroom to come try the clothes. Nevertheless, Ivyrevel ships worldwide and their clothes can be bought through many various e-commerce platforms, such as German Zalando or British Asos, and with the support of such a giant as H&M, it makes Ivyrevel a recognizable brand all around the world.

Using the hype around the brand relaunch, Ivyrevel announced that they are partnering with Google to bring couture into the digital age with the Data Dress – a personalized dress designed using a smartphone app developed by Ivyrevel and Google. The app tracks each user’s activity and lifestyle which is then interpreted into a truly unique, and on-trend, custom-made Ivyrevel dress.

”It’s such an exciting moment. We’re about to change the fashion industry by bringing the customer’s personality into the design process through data technology. To get a unique piece of clothing today you need to either buy a custom-made design piece or design it yourself, but that is generally not an affordable option and most people lack the design experience. The Data Dress enables women around the world to order a dress made entirely for them, that reflects the way they live their lives,” says Aleksandar Subosic, co-founder of Ivyrevel.

You ask how does it actually work? At 2016 Google I/O developer conference, Google introduced a new Awareness API that would allow for smarter applications that could understand where you were, what you were doing, what’s nearby, and even the weather, in order to more intelligently react to your current situation. In 2017 Google introduced a new application that’s taking advantage of this sort of data in order to…design you a dress.

Through a forthcoming Android application, users can consent to have their activity and lifestyle data monitored – by way of the Awareness API –  to create their own, personalized, custom-made dress that’s ordered through the app. Now it is officially called the “Data Dress,” says Google.

The idea is that you can translate your life and your lifestyle into a unique, wearable look sounds promising, but in reality, the resulting creation mainly displays your routes and routines as lines on a map, sans street labels and points of interest. But who would like to wear a roadmap?

Creators have promised that the app will release later this year, but still, there are no signs of progress.

 

Sources:
ivyrevel.com

kenzas.se

techcrunch.com

fashionpost.pl

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