Aura: The Next Step Towards Complete Security

Technology is continually advancing, be it in the entertainment sector, practicality for the consumer or even in weapons and mechanism for war. This week, a company named Cognitive Systems Corporation, founded in 2014 is already shaking up the news with their fantastic new release to the market.



They are a company focused on applying cognitive sensors into technology and allow it to surpass the existing equipment that exists today, for a wide variety of themes.



They have announced their newest contribution to modern home security systems, and it surpasses any functionality that a camera or a traditional movement sensor by mixing the best of both worlds.



It’s called “Aura:” A small white box that has the cognitive power to cover an entire house and warn if any trespassers are sneaking in. The gadget utilizes a base station inside the box and another receptor that is placed somewhere else in the house, away from the Aura box.



Now, the signals that the product emits will return to it and warn if there is any significant movement detected. It can also tell you who is moving; if you remember to register their smartphone in the system.



Aura utilizes Radio Frequencies (RF), and it successfully covers an entire house. Because of how the cognitive sensors have to detect movement anywhere within the walls of the building, the RF is the best option to be utilized as it travels the entire space and returns in a matter of milliseconds.



More information on how the Aura system operates can be found on their official website,, or in a news article posted by Matthew Braga, a technology reporter, at CBC News:



Aura will surely define a new way to look at the Home Security market, as there is a new way to protect a space without relying on cameras and other sensors that cover a small area. Because cameras cannot be placed in the bathroom, and that made it one of the most appealing places to use to sneak into someone’s house. Aura, however, is programmed to detect even the smallest spaces inside those walls.



But not everything comes without a bit of extra refinement. Manku and Hind, leading developers of the project, laughed at how Aura still has to be better adjusted to ignore minimal movements produced by pets. However, the rotatory circulation of a fan or the weaving of the curtains, for example, is always eliminated by the system.


Facial Recognition Might Be Ready for the next Leap Forward

Most people are well aware of the fact that people and computers are becoming socially bound. Talk to any person and it’s almost certain that their smartphone or computer will factor in somehow. What’s less well known is how much easier the human side of things has been. Humans relate to technology far easier than technology relates to humans. One of the biggest reasons why comes down to how the human brain operates. People unconsciously use quite a bit of brainpower to recognize human faces. The sheer difficulty of recognizing a face can be seen by looking at non-human primates. They’re the closest relatives of humanity, and have fairly humanlike features. But most people would have to really work to distinguish the faces of multiple shaved chimpanzees from each other. All that hard work distinguishing small differences is normally handled by the human unconscious as people look at different faces. But it’s been as difficult for machines to tell humans apart as it would be for a human to tell chimpanzees apart.


All of this might be changing thanks to a recent breakthrough with the tinder dating app. Stuart Colianni has combined information from the visual components of tinder with Kaggle. The earlier information is something people need to keep in mind when setting their expectations for the project.


Humans are quite literally incapable of really understanding how much of their neural architecture goes into facial recognition. This makes the earliest hope for this work seem rather modest. The initial projects using the combined tinder data will be used to help create artificial learning systems capable of differentiating between male and female faces. But this seemingly modest task is something that takes a great deal of neural activity for humans. If machines can get a boost from this project than it’ll be a huge step forward for machine learning systems and artificial intelligence.


Tinder has yet to publically comment on the project. But in general they’ve been fairly friendly to 3rd party use of their data. Tinder’s API has made it fairly easy to implement bridges to any 3rd party code. Over the years, Tinder has generally been tolerant of projects which do so. Given that this machine learning project is fairly modest in terms of direct user interaction it seems probable that they’ll have little problem with it either.


VPNs Great, Not Perfect, For Internet Privacy

Congress’ recent vote to abandon internet privacy measures, allowing ISPs to sell off their users’ activities and preventing future safeguards from being instated by the FCC has caused a surge in interest in VPNs. A VPN, short for virtual private network, is a private server that allows a user to have a secure, encrypted connection. Browsing the internet through a VPN sends the user’s data to the private server and then securely back to the user without a chance for the traffic to be seen or modified; any out-going data looks like it originates from the server’s location instead of the user’s computer. It is important to remember that a VPN does not make users anonymous, only obscured; the VPN sees the traffic and law enforcement can request that information from the VPN company.


While a respectable VPN can get around government surveillance and malware, there is a great deal of confusion among experts on which VPN is the best. While many companies offer VPNs, many have the potential for broken security, have questionable levels of security and may not share what they do with a user’s data. With all of these variables in mind and a user’s technical affinity in mind, the best solution is to use a paid VPN or just to establish a personal one. If looking into paid VPNs, its best to look over their privacy policies and countermeasures to threats. Regardless of the individual user’s countermeasure to surveillance, it is important to remember that the best defense to having that person’s personal data open to the market.


Here are a several common reasons people have resorted to a VPN for.

  • Avoiding government censorship or surveillance programs.
  • It is an employee benefit.
  • Securing data when utilizing public Wi-Fi.
  • Masking BitTorrent usage.
  • Appearing to be in a different country to use a video streaming service.


While each of these concerns carry their own difficulties, some ill-suited for a VPN’s offerings, the primary reason for using one as of this week is stopping ISPs from making money from selling off users’ data.


What to Expect from The Samsung New Flagship, The Galaxy S8

Samsung, one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world, has a new phone; the Galaxy S8. If you are a loyal Samsung’s customer, you might be wondering whether it is wise to upgrade to the new model. During the launch of the device, the Samsung representatives echoed the company’s commitment to safety and their integration of new eight-point safety protocol into the phone. The Galaxy S8 will test its efficacy once it starts to ship in April.



The latest Samsung phone is larger compared to former versions. However, it is slim compared to the previous models. Apart from that, it has great features packed with more pixels. It is a popular device whose features includes curved edges all around. However, the most notable Galaxy S8 news is on the inside. ‘Bixby’ is the name that Samsung has given to the intelligent user interface agent; this feature allows users to perform tasks on the phone with their voice. This update is interesting when you consider the Google’s voice-enabled AI, Google Assistant, which ships with Android-powered phones. This feature is so great, such that it is capable of taking action from your voice commands. For instance, you can say something like, “Set display brightness to minimum” and many more contextual gestures.



There are about 300 actions that you can perform with touch in the gallery app alone. Samsung understands that you can say something in different ways. Thus there are about 15,000 different voice commands that Bixby can understand. The company is targeting to integrate 52 languages in Bixby.



Apart from the voice commands, Bixby can see using the phone camera. You can hold up a QR code, scan a business card and the details of the contacts or point the camera to a particular product and Bixby will use the computer vision that is powered by Pinterest; it helps you to find the outlet that you can source the product. The S8 has the footprint of Samsung flagship phone. It has wireless and fast charging. The phone’s storage has a capacity of 64GB of memory; it also has SD card slot that you can add extra memory for your media items. Also, Samsung has continued to support fingerprint, face and iris recognition to unlock the phone.


Twitter Sheds Its Egg

When the folks at Twitter changed the social network’s default profile avatar in 2010, they were practically obsessed with avian imagery. Since then, each new Twitter account has received an egg with a randomly assigned, single-color background. That standard changed on March 31, 2017. Now, one might call Twitter egg-free.


Please forgive that shell of a joke and focus on the fact that the microblogging giant has replaced the egg with an image that practically begs the Twitter user to upload a different avatar. Today’s default image looks vaguely like a person. It features a bonbon-shaped head above a pair of rounded shoulders. Two shades of gray comprise the image.


People will find this graphic boring, and that fact benefits Twitter’s vision. The team in charge of this design change would like to see much less of their newly introduced gray blobs across Twitter than they have of the egg for the last seven years.


Twitter never foresaw the egg’s icon status. The company always intended for users to upload personal images. Alas, people’s actions are difficult to forecast. Some users fell in love with their egg avatars. With the gray blobs, perhaps users will be less attached and more likely to convert to other images.


Importantly, the egg has known mixed status. Though intended as a placeholder, it became a mask for Twitter’s nefarious sector. Users who would rather troll others than add to the community’s collective value have kept their eggs for years. Now, they will likely continue hiding behind Twitter’s new gray blobs, but the brand has unmarried itself from its problematic avatar.


Further, the egg was an emblem of fake accounts. Services that offer to boost people’s follower counts do so by creating thousands of phony accounts and using automation to follow their clients’ accounts.


The old-school eggs may become the Twitter equivalent of vinyl records. Some users will surely upload egg images to remind themselves of a time when users’ pages were laden with bird-related images.


May Twitter’s gray-blobs graphic be as unpopular and simultaneously successful as the company hopes!


Cloudera Prepares To Go Public

Hot on the heels of a very successful IPO by Snap, on March 31big data giant Cloudera filed paperwork announcing its plans to go public. Cloudera built its very successful enterprise big data platform on top of open source Hadoop platform, and has cut out a huge market share. Hadoop, invented by Google and refined greatly by Yahoo, allows for very cheap distributed storage of large quantities of data. While much of Cloudera’s project is open source, their success has come from building out a number of proprietary tools aimed at business managers and other non-technical staff. This packaging has allowed the startup to outpace competitors like Hortonworks and MapR when it comes to sustained growth.


Cloudera’s announcement comes as many other highly regarded tech startups are planning to go public. API management platform MuleSoft and data analytics purveyors Alteryx have already launched very successful IPOs this year, and other companies like Yext and Okta are planning to go public as well. The first quarter of 2017 has been a hot one for tech IPOs, following a relatively small number of IPOs from the sector in 2016.


Intel has been one of the primary backers of Cloudera over the years, as have venture capital firms like T. Rowe Price and Accel. Last year, Cloudera reported a gross revenue of $261 million, up significantly from the previous year’s $166 million. By launching their IPO now, Cloudera is continuing a trend of tech copmanies going public before turning a profitable year. Last year, Cloudera lost just under $187 million when all expenses are factored in, although that number is a significant narrowing from their 2015 numbers. Cloudera seeks to raise over $200 million in their IPO, and while stock prices have not been announced the company is expected to be valued at $4 billion.


Japan Omits Bitcoin from Consumption Tax

Japan has officially accepted bitcoins as a valid form of payment for goods and services. As the nation readies equipment to accept transfers of the cryptocurrency, many bills pertaining to tax reforms have also been put into consideration. One particular legal issue is the consumption tax’s relationship with digital currencies like bitcoin. Japan’s consumption tax is a municipal law levied on anything that is used to purchase goods and services that functions similarly to VAT, GST or sales tax.


Before the relevant tax bills were ratified, bitcoin and similar digital currencies are subject to JCT, the Japanese Consumption Tax. While Japan’s consumption tax is currently set to eight percent of an item’s price, this is expected to rise to 10 percent by October of 2019.


Japan’s National Diet passed legislation in March 27 that would reform the tax laws, including amending the Fund Settlement Law from last May. These amendments were agreed upon back in December of 2016. As things now stand, the Fund Settlement Law defines virtual currencies like bitcoin as being exempt from JCT, beginning on the 1st of July 2017. The specific legal classification for digital currencies phrases them as “asset-like values” suitable for payment and transfer. This means that while bitcoin transactions no longer face eight percent taxation, trading the digital currency is still affected by capital gains tax.


According to the government of Japan, the profits earned from the trade of bitcoin are considered income that originates from business ventures and miscellaneous endeavors. Conversely, the sale of bitcoin for investment reasons means that it can be taxed for capital gains.


The bitcoin currency was created in 2009 and owes its creation to an allegedly Japanese man who goes by the name Satoshi Nakamoto. This likely explains why bitcoin subunits are known as “satoshis.” Although bitcoin has risen in popularity as the leading form of digital currency, opening itself up to federal examination, it is not the first; Wei Dai created “b-money” and Nick Szabo came up with “bit gold.” Unlike its forebears, bitcoin is more properly classified as the first decentralized form of digital currency.


Google Chromebook for Schools

Google made a major revelation about its Chromebook program during the Bett education technology conference in London recently. Apart from revealing that there is over 20 million teachers as well as the student who are currently using Chromebooks a minimum four times a month and that there is more than 70 million G Suite for the education users. The tech giant also illustrated the use of new convertible Chromebooks due with USB-C charging, stylus support as well as the world facing cameras. They are the Asus Chromebook C213 and Acer Chromebook Spin 11.



During this announcement, Google made it known that it would enable the admin to have full control over the Android apps that are functional on the Chromebooks that they give the students. Another good news for the Chromebook users is that it will come with the Adobe community suits for the Android that have now been optimized for the Chromebooks.



It can be clearly seen that Google the Chromebooks and the G-Suit for the Education are a major success for the tech giant, at the same time the company is working with hardware partners to make the devices even more attractive for the learning institutions. Rajen Sheth one of the Googles’ executive noted that the company had focused on the feedback that it was receiving from teachers. The topmost request that the company received was that teachers wanted devices that merges the advantages of the tablets and laptops with a full keyboard.



It was until the introduction of the Android apps on Chrome OS that it became more possible to have Chromebook with the touch screen because the Chrome OS was never optimized for touch. With the hybrid devices such as Asus Flip as well as the upcoming new devices from Asus and Acer, the Chrome OS makes so much sense.



One feature that was particularly noted is the Chromebook’s world facing camera. Once the user flips the keyboard on the more conventional convertible so that they can use it as a laptop, the user will get a user-facing camera. However, the devices comes with a second camera that is situated on top of the keyboard. This camera opens up a wide range of new user case of the Chromebook in schools.