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Wearable Electronics on the Cusp of Commercialization

A Boston-area start-up is working on wearable electronic devices that are sufficiently flexible to conform to the body’s contours, but also might be incorporated into materials such as fabric or an airframe. MC10 uses islands of high-performance silicon circuits connected via springy interconnects that are deposited on a pre-stretched polymer as the basis of its flexible devices. The thickness of both islands and the interconnects is adjusted, based on the application, to prevent the circuits from being strained. The company is seeking to move this concept into new applications such as portable power generation devices and optics, including cameras. It continues its work on health and medical applications, such as skin-mounted monitoring devices, and is also interested in technologies such as those for high-resolution neural mapping. MC10 reportedly has some competition from other domestic and international university researchers working on flexible electronics.
(SlashDot)(Xconomy Boston)(Wearable Computing, MIT Media Lab)

Spelling Mistakes Cost UK Online Sales Millions

A UK entrepreneur states that a single spelling mistake on a commercial website can cut that site’s online sales in half. Charles Duncombe, director of the Just Say Please group, told the BBC his analysis of the issue based on sales shows a simple spelling error could lead a potential customer to question the site’s credibility. Duncombe said that he measured the revenue per visitor on one of his group’s sites and found the revenue doubled after an error was corrected. “If you project this across the whole of Internet retail, then millions of pounds worth of business is probably being lost each week due to simple spelling mistakes,” he reported. (BBC)(Times of India)

Start-Up Brings NASA-Developed Mapping to Gaming

A Swedish software start-up is applying a NASA-developed 3D mapping technique to gaming. Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) builds and tracks a 3D map, continually building the map by computing a device’s position. The firm adds to this by tracking a device’s position in the environment using its sensors and camera for sub-centimeter, local 3D-positioning in real time. This brings the world surrounding a player into the gaming environment, much like a heads-up display in advanced aviation works. 13th Lab is making the technology available as a software platform for developers and has released the game Ball Invasion for iPad based on the technology. (SlashDot)(GigaOM)(13th Lab)

US Law Enforcement Might Adopt Portable Facial-Recognition Technology

Police agencies throughout the US could soon start using the Mobile Offender Recognition and Information System or MORIS, a technology developed by BI2 Technologies that attaches to the back of an iPhone and can take a photo of a suspect’s face or scan an iris or fingerprint. Law enforcement officers can then use the photo or scan to find a match in a national criminal database.  A thousand devices, which are roughly US$3,000 each, are being supplied to 40 different agencies, including the Pinal County, Arizona, sheriff’s department. Some law enforcement officials say they are concerned about the legality of using such technology without a warrant even though some agencies have been using face recognition technology for years. (Forbes)(Wall Street Journal)

Android OS Faces New Malware Threats

A Trojan spyware application called Zitmo has been adapted to run on the Android mobile operating system. The malware disguises itself as a banking activation application, but it steals financial data by intercepting incoming SMS messages that contain mobile transaction authentication numbers. This allows Zitmo’s creators to both create and verify fraudulent money transfers and gives them control of the user’s smartphone and personal computer. The same Trojan has reportedly been active on the Symbian, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile OSes for several months. Security researchers at Fortinet discovered the Trojan, which is a variant of the infamous Zeus banking Trojan. (InformationWeek)(MSNBC)(CNET)

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