Your smartphone is probably the most important technology purchase you’ll ever make. It travels everywhere you go, delivers the sum of total human knowledge and helps you capture important memories with photos and video. In fact, they’re so good at providing these features that you might not feel the need to upgrade when the time comes. That, or the next-generation devices designed to replace them simply don’t innovate enough.
It’s a trend that many technology enthusiasts already recognise. But now one UK retailer is loudly echoing that sentiment. On Thursday, Dixons Carphone — owner of the Currys PC World and Carphone Warehouse brands — issued a trading update, warning that profits would not meet its previous expectations. Electrical sales are performing well, up 6 percent, but “a more challenging UK postpay mobile phone market” is playing havoc with the company’s balance sheet.
Dixons Carphone forecasts that the rising price of premium handsets and lower EU roaming charges will cause profits to drop to between £360 million and £440 million, which is significantly down from £501 million it recorded last year. “Currency fluctuations have meant that handsets have become more expensive whilst technical innovation has been more incremental,” the company said in its statement. “As a consequence, we have seen an increased number of people hold on to their phones for longer.”
This week, the pound hit its lowest level against the euro since 2009. The currency has weakened considerably since the Brexit vote in June 2016, which has resulted in higher import costs and higher inflation. Since the vote, the world’s biggest technology companies — including Apple, Microsoft, Sonos and HTC — have raised the prices of their products.
But that doesn’t take away from the fact that smartphones, at least over the past couple of years, have largely failed to innovate. All mid-to-high handsets now have big vibrant displays, camera sensors that capture an insane amount of detail and enough RAM to put a PC to shame. Samsung’s snazzy Note 8 event yesterday showed that while smartphones continue to improve, it’s basically a bigger Samsung Galaxy S8+ with smattering of small feature upgrades.
Is that enough to tempt Britons into upgrading to the latest and greatest? Dixons Carphone does believe that the smartphone market will return to normal, but it might take a while. The Samsung Note 8 and the upcoming iPhone 8 launches might help, but the company reckons it’s too early to say whether the flagships can reverse the negative trend it’s experiencing.
The latest trend in nutrition isn’t a fad diet or newly discovered supplement; it’s your DNA.
Unlocking the secrets of one’s genetic code used to be confined to the laboratory, but increasingly, the big business of DNA is now going after your eating habits.
Scientists already know that variations in our genes determine how well our bodies metabolize certain compounds — for example, people with a variation of the CYP1A2 gene metabolize caffeine more slowly, and are at an increased risk of heart attack and hypertension if they drink more than a couple of cups of coffee a day.
Companies now want to take the buzz over DNA testing one step further and market the tests as a way to determine how people’s bodies handle nutrients. And tech firms are stepping up to fill that demand. More and more genetics startups are getting into nutrition, with tests that claim to help people choose the best food to eat to feel good and even lose weight.
Genetic testing service 23andMe has genotyped more than 2 million customers to determine ancestry and genetic health risks, and Nutrigenomix offers tests designed to help medical professionals make recommendations for a person’s intake of sodium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, and — yes, caffeine.
Ahmed El-Sohemy, a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto and the founder of Nutrigenomix, points to research that shows the “one-size-fits-all model of nutritional guidance” is not the most effective way for people to eat healthily or lose weight.
“There’s research now showing that people who get DNA-based dietary advice are more likely to follow recommendations. So not only are people getting more accurate dietary advice, but they are more likely to follow it,” said El-Sohemy.
Disrupting the Diet
Now, there’s a new kid on the block: Oakland-based personalized nutrition company Habit.
“We think we’re going to disrupt the diet industry,” Habit founder and CEO Neil Grimmer told NBC News. “When you think about moving from a one-size-fits-all approach to food to something that’s highly personalized, it changes everything. It changes the way you shop. It changes the way you eat. And quite frankly, it even changes the way you think about your own health and well-being.”
At Habit, it’s not just DNA data they’re using to make diet recommendations. For $299, Habit sends customers an at-home test kit containing DNA cheek swabs, three finger-prick blood tests, and a “metabolic challenge shake” loaded with 950 calories. Users take one blood test prior to drinking the shake, and two more timed blood pricks afterwards. The bloodwork is designed to show how your body metabolizes the huge amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the shake.
“You layer in your blood work, your fasting blood work, and you layer in your metabolism, and all of a sudden you have a really clear picture of what’s going on inside yourself,” said Grimmer.
The Habit test kit also asks you to measure your waist circumference and provide information about your weight and activity level. Users send in the DNA swabs and blood sample testing cards sealed in a pre-paid envelope, and then get their results back a couple weeks later.
Health-conscious San Francisco resident Michelle Hillier was introduced to Habit through a friend. When she received her test results, she was surprised to learn she is a diet type Habit calls a “Range Seeker” — meaning she should eat about 50 percent of her daily calories in carbohydrates, about 30 percent from fat, and 20 percent from protein.
“You hear so much about how you need so much protein, and I’m a pretty active person so I had been really upping my protein. And to find out that I’m supposed to have more carbs than anything else was really surprising to me,” said Hillier, who is not affiliated with the company.
She also learned that she has genes that are impactful for lactose and caffeine sensitivity, something she had suspected. Like all Habit users get for the $299, after she received her test results, Hillier had a 25-minute phone consultation with a registered dietitian from the Habit team.
The Habit test kit is now available nationally (except in New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, because of regulatory restrictions). In the San Francisco Bay Area, Habit users get an added perk: the company will cook you fresh meals in their Oakland kitchen based on your diet recommendations and deliver them to your door weekly.
Hillier receives about three dinners a week — costing between $10 and $15 a meal — and she can choose her meals with Habit’s online dashboard.
For Hillier, the Habit meals have been a positive addition to her already healthy lifestyle, though she admits: “The shake was awful,” referring to the metabolic challenge shake. “It was like drinking seven coffees, four avocados, and a scoop of ice cream,” said Hillier with a laugh.
Blood pricks and a “Challenge Shake” that lives up to its name could be barriers for some people but, Hillier says, it was well worth it for her.
“I’ve noticed that my clothes are looser on my body, I feel better. I noticed that I have more energy, honestly, since I started doing the meal plans,” said Hillier in an interview, noting she’s lost about seven pounds since she started receiving the Habit meal plans in May.
Kristin Kirkpatrick is a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, where they offer DNA testing kits from Nutrigenomix.
“Many of my patients have mentioned to me that it [nutrigenomics] has truly changed the way that they eat. But I don’t think it’s the first step. I think seeing a professional and going over what those important goals and barriers are is definitely what you want to do first,” said Kirkpatrick in an interview with NBC’s Jo Ling Kent.
As some urge potential consumers to do their homework and speak with their own healthcare professional before they take the plunge into their genetics, the market for DNA-based products is racing ahead. Just last month, Helix, a personal genomics company, launched the first online “marketplace.”
Customers who have their genome sequenced with Helix get access to a slew of services from other emerging genomics companies — ranging from Vinome,which aims to pick wine for you based on your genes, to EverlyWell, which offers food sensitivity and metabolism tests.
“People are very interested to go beyond the generalities that they’ve seen and get more specific to what’s actually impacting their genes,” said Kirkpatrick, though she warns this kind of testing “may not be ready for primetime.”
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics agrees, writing in a 2014 opinion paper that, “…the use of nutrigenetic testing to provide dietary advice is not ready for routine dietetics practice.” In the same paper, the Academy did also characterize nutritional genomics as insightful into how diet and genes impact our phenotypes.
“I don’t think it’s going to answer every single question that you may have about your health and it’s definitely not going to answer things that are very specific to health ailments that you may have,” Kirkpatrick told NBC News.
“Will it put you in the right direction towards knowing what foods you need to increase? What foods perhaps you should have less of and what’s the best source of protein or fat related to weight loss? Absolutely,” Kirkpatrick continued.
An Expanding Market
By 2020, the genomics market is expected to generate a staggering $50 billion globally, and diagnostic tools, health tech, and wireless wearables are expected to boom from $2 billion to $150 billion globally, according to one analysis.
“I think this is the start of a highly personalized future,” said Habit CEO Neil Grimmer. “What we really hope to do is actually dispel a lot of the myths, get rid of the fad diets and actually get something that’s personal to you.”
Michelle Hillier says her Habit “nutrition coach,” a registered dietitian, also advised her that she should consider factors beyond just her test results.
“She said take the results with a grain of salt, because you have to first see how you feel when you eat this way. It’s not meant to be the ‘end all be all,’ but it is a guide like anything else,” said Hillier.
We are at an inflection point in our relationship with technology. Technology allows us to do amazing things that have immeasurably improved our lives. But at the same time, it’s accelerated the pace of our lives beyond our ability to keep up. And it’s getting worse. We’re being controlled by something we should be controlling. And it’s consuming our attention and crippling our ability to focus, think, be present, and truly connect with ourselves and the world around us.
The numbers only confirm what we all know to be true — we’re addicted. A 2015 Bank of America report found that over 70 percent of Americans sleep next to or with their phone. This addiction comes at a cost. A Pew study from the same year found that 89 percent of phone owners said they’d used their phones in their last social gathering, and 82 percent felt that when they do this it damages the interaction.
It’s gotten so bad that the phone doesn’t even need to be turned on for it to negatively affect our relationships. One study found that when two people are in a conversation, the mere presence of a phone can have, as the authors write, “negative effects on closeness, connection, and conversation quality,” leading them to conclude that the mere presence of mobile phones can create a psychological hindrance.
There’s also plenty of research suggesting a link between heavy social media use and depression, especially in young people.
The problem lies not with our desire to connect, but with our form of connection. Our technology gives us a form of connection with the whole world, but at the same time it can limit the depth of our connection to the world around us, to those closest to us, and to ourselves. Technology has been very good at giving us what we want, but less good as giving us what we need.
And what we need is to re-calibrate our relationship our technology. This is one of the most important conversations of our time. And ironically, conversation is the very thing our addiction to our screens prevents. We’re so busy scheduling our lives, documenting them, logging them, tracking them, memorializing and sharing them that we’re not actually living them.
Importantly, our ability to have this conversation won’t last forever. The rise of AI, and the increasing hyper-connectivity of our daily lives, has the potential to erode our humanity even further.
Isaac Asimov saw this coming back in 1988. “The saddest aspect of life right now,” he wrote, “is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” And right now, we’re drowning in data, but starved for wisdom.
Wisdom would require thinking about the qualities we consider essentially and uniquely human – about what is sacred and irreducible about our humanity — and then thinking about how can we redraw and protect the borders of that humanity as technology is mounting a full-scale invasion.
And the answer isn’t to stop technology or go backwards. That ship has sailed — and mostly for the better. The answer is smarter and better technology. In fact, I think this is going to be one of the next frontiers in technology — and it’s one of the things we’re doing at Thrive Global with our technology platform — creating apps and tools and even AI that helps rebuild those barriers around our humanity, and reclaim the time and space needed for real connection.
The increase in automation and AI, what some are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is obviously going to bring profound changes. In the workplace, it’s going to put a premium on essential human qualities like creativity, intuition, decision-making, and wisdom.
The paradox is that these are the exact qualities that are impaired by our addiction to technology. So our ability to succeed in the technology-dominated workplace of the future depends, in no small measure, on our ability to — right now — take back control of our technology, and our lives.
BROWSING the internet, writing and watching streaming services are the only things I use my computer for, so why am I stuck believing a traditional laptop is best for me?
This is the question I had to ask myself when contemplating if I would get better value from making the switch to a 2-in-1 — a device combining the computing power, storage and software compatibility of a laptop with the flexibility and freedom of a tablet.
With Samsung’s Windows 10 Galaxy Book joining the growing list of impressive 2-in-1 products on the market, I decided to see if I was ready to say goodbye to my laptop for good.
The detachable 2-in-1 device has a gorgeous 12-inch Super AMOLED display that has an impressive 2,160 by 1,440 resolution.
When removed from the keyboard, the display’s curved edges, top-oriented power button and volume rocker offer an authentic tablet experience.
The plastic shell of the display gives the illusion of an aluminium finish, which gives the device the sleek and sexy appearance of other Samsung devices.
There are two speakers on the left and right edges of the device, with both offering decent sound, while the right side also houses a 3.5mm headphone jack and two USB-C connections — USB 2.0 and HDMI inputs can be connected with an adaptor.
The Galaxy Book also offers a 13MP rear camera and 5MP front-facing webcam.
The Samsung Galaxy Book can double as a 12-inch tablet.Source:Supplied
The full-size detachable keyboard cover is the same layout and size as most Windows 10 laptops meaning there is no adjustment period or learning curve, and the backlit keys make the device easier to use the device the dark.
While Samsung could have followed the Surface Pro’s design of a rear kickstand and a detachable keyboard, the Galaxy Book includes a keyboard cover with various magnetised orientations for holding up the display.
Even though this helps avoid adding too much bulk to the device, it means the Galaxy Book tends to be flimsy when being used on anything other than a flat surface.
I did find this to be frustrating at first, but when lounging around I simply removed the display and used the on-screen keyboard built into the tablet.
After a while I actually found using the large tablet more comfortable than it would have been to use a keyboard or traditional laptop in the same position, yet it would still be nice to have the option of a reliable kickstand.
So the keyboard cover isn’t the most sturdy kickstand.Source:Supplied
In addition to the detachable keyboard, the Galaxy Book also comes standard with an S-Pen stylus that can be used for physically scribbling down notes or as a replacement for the mouse.
Both are a welcome inclusion as the Surface Pro requires users purchase the detachable keyboard and stylus separately.
The stylus is very responsive and fantastic to use, although it could be easy to lose given there is nowhere to physically store it on the device.
On the plus side, if you do happen to misplace the S-Pen you could always purchase the Staedtler Noris digital — an adaptation of a traditional pencil with the cutting-edge technology of an S Pen.
Impressively, the tablet creates an electromagnetic field that interacts with the tip of the S-Pen to ensure you always knows the exact location of the point of the pencil.
Another positive is both the keyboard and stylus don’t need to be charged for use.
The Staedtler Noris digital looks and feels exactly like your pencils from school.Source:Supplied
The Galaxy Book comes standard with Windows 10 to help it feel like an authentic replacement for your PC, while also including a few Samsung exclusive apps to take advantage of the S-Pen.
Powering the device is a dual-core, seventh-generation Core i5 processor running at 3.1 GHz, with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB hard drive also included — more than enough to meet my aforementioned computer needs.
Samsung says the Galaxy Book offers 11 hours of battery life from a single charge, although I found it delivered closer to five to six hours life during heavy use — still more than enough for your morning commute.
The Galaxy Book has also been fitted with “fast-charging” abilities, however this doesn’t work as quickly as you would hope when using the device while plugged in.
To take advantage of the 12-inch Super AMOLED display, Samsung has made the device compatible with HDR video content — a technique allowing preservation of details otherwise lost due to limiting contrast ratios.
This alone makes the device a great choice for those wanting to watch video content on the fly.
The Galaxy Book is Samsung’s latest 2-in-1.Source:Supplied
I came into this review looking to see if Samsung’s 2-in-1 Galaxy Book could be a solid replacement for my traditional laptop and I truly believe this could be the case.
There is no denying the keyboard kickstand poses some pretty big issues with the device, but the inclusion of the stylus and ability to use as a tablet certainly offers benefits not seen with the laptop. The appeal of 2-in-1 will really just depend on what you use the device for.
I enjoyed using the Galaxy Book as a tablet when watching TV on the couch and drawing using the stylus has also been a fun, new experience.
Having to use the detachable keyboard kickstand on a flat surface does add some frustrations, although I generally found myself sitting at a desk when writing on my laptop anyway.
As someone who enjoys binge-watching when on trains and planes, the Super AMOLED display is a huge winner in my eyes.
I would put some serious thought into the uses of your device and if a 2-in-1 can better fit your needs, why not make the switch?
Or if you wanted to own both a laptop and tablet, but don’t have the money for both, this could also be a valid solution.
COMPUTERS are no longer just beige boxes plonked on a desk.
They can arrive without keyboards, with digital pens, in slender bodies or hefty forms.
We’ve rounded up five of the best — and arguably most diverse — new portable computers to help you choose your next workhorse.
Microsoft Surface Laptop
4 out of 5 stars / $1499-$3299 / microsoft.com/en-au
Microsoft’s Surface Laptop is lightweight and well built.Source:Supplied
Microsoft’s most accessible computer is beautifully crafted.
The Surface Laptop features a slim profile, metal top, and unusual spill-resistant fabric covering around its keys. It also offers a 13.5-inch touchscreen that is easy on the eyes, at 201 pixels per inch, though it doesn’t flip over or detach like some of its other products.
This laptop also uses Windows 10 S, which is designed for use with Microsoft apps, though you can upgrade it to Windows 10 Pro for free this year and install whatever program you please. This straightforward laptop should appeal to anyone in need of a basic computing experience, and travellers in particular due its pleasingly light weight.
It does have just one USB port, however, so you might need to pack a couple of adaptors.
Samsung Galaxy Book 12-inch
3.5 out of 5 stars / $1599-$2299 / samsung.com/au
The Samsung Galaxy Book features a 12-inch touchscreen, and comes with a keyboard cover and stylus.Source:Supplied
Why would you buy Samsung’s Windows 10 tablet over its Microsoft Surface equivalent?
The new Galaxy Book boasts a 12-inch Super AMOLED screen that is crisp, bright, and capable of screening HDR content, it comes with a battery-free stylus capable of greater pressure sensitivity than its peers, and there’s a keyboard cover thrown into the package.
Additionally, if you buy the top package, you can get up to 256GB storage, 8GB RAM, and a built-in 4G connection to stay connected wherever you roam.
And why would you stick with Surface instead?
This 2-in-one tablet convertible peaks at a dual-core Intel Core i5 chip, is a bit smaller but a bit heavier than an iPad Pro, and the packaged keyboard is troubled, offering limited angles, connection delays, and little use on a lap.
HP Spectre X2
4 out of 5 stars / $2199 / hp.com.au
The HP Spectre X2 is a convertible tablet computer with a sophisticated design.Source:Supplied
This convertible tablet makes Microsoft Windows look young again.
The Spectre X2, from HP’s premium range, shows off the software on a 12-inch touchscreen surrounded by a copper-coloured kickstand and a slender keyboard with a matt black exterior. It’s not all about looks with this machine, of course.
As its price suggests, it can act as a fully functional laptop too, with Windows 10 Home, 8GB RAM, Intel Core i5 chip, and a 256GB hard drive.
It also has enough connections to appease most users, with two USB-C ports and a memory card slot. The new X2 comes with a stylus too, though it doesn’t match the Surface Pen, and a keyboard that offers surprising comfort but an occasionally finicky trackpad.
Its battery life is also not as good as that of the Surface Pro, but it should make the shortlist.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
3.5 out of 5 stars / $949-$1099 / samsung.com/au
The Samsung Tab S3 is a high-end Google Android tablet with a crisp 9.7-inch touchscreen and a packaged stylus.Source:Supplied
If you want a tablet free of a fruity logo, there aren’t many high-end options for you to choose. Samsung addresses this void with the Galaxy Tab S3 that is the most advanced Google Android tablet on the market and a slick device.
Its 9.7-inch Super AMOLED display is crisp and easy on the eye, it features an attractive glass back, meagre 434g weight, comes with a battery-free but efficient stylus, and decent sound thanks to four speakers and Samsung’s AKG Harman purchase.
Both its wi-fi and 4G variants come with just 32GB storage, though users can boost that by adding a memory card. On the downside, it can be sluggish to operate, its optional keyboard is poorly designed, and its screen is smaller and more reflective than the competing iPad Pro 10.5 that costs just $30 more.
HP ZBook 17 G4
No stars / $3893 / hp.com.au
HP’s ZBook 17 G4 is a mobile workstation.Source:Supplied
HP calls this a “mobile workstation” rather than a laptop because it’s far too big to sit on a lap. This 3.12kg computing beast arrives in a magnesium-reinforced chassis, features a 17.3-inch touchscreen, a full-sized keyboard with number pad, several connections including four USB ports and space for an Ethernet cable, and it can be customised to your liking.
You could, for example, add up to four terabytes of storage, and the rear panel of the machine can be removed to replace the battery.
BILL Gates has revealed the one decision he wishes he could change if time travel were possible — and it might surprise you.
The Microsoft founder said he wouldn’t change too much in case he altered the course of history, reports The Sun.
But he did say there was one small tweak he would make that may have changed your life for the better.
Gates said during a talk at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum that he wouldn’t have created the CTRL-ALT-DEL keyboard shortcut
The shortcut allows you interrupt your computer’s operations when it goes haywire, allowing you to restart if necessary but it is notoriously tricky to manoeuvre.
When quizzed on the keyboard function during his appearance at the Plaza Hotel in New York, Gates said: “I am not sure you can go back and change the small things in your life without putting the other things at risk.”
Asked whether he regretted his decision, he said: “Sure, if I could make one small edit I would make that a single key operation.”
It certainly hasn’t cost him dearly, as Gates is apparently on track to become the world’s first trillionaire.
Forbes, which publishes a yearly rich-list, estimates Gates’ fortune in 2017 to be around $A108 billion. But he is accumulating wealth by simply breathing.
An Oxfam report stated if billionaires like Gates continue to secure these returns, “we could see the world’s first trillionaire in 25 years”.
APPLE fans were warned about a hypothetical iPhone phishing attack by iOS code expert Felix Krause this week.
The phishing scam he designed mimics the familiar pop-up window on iOS devices which routinely prompts users to enter their Apple ID password when doing things like downloading apps. It looks exactly the same but it’s designed to steal your password.
The blog post gained major traction this week for showing the potential for hackers to make an easily deceptive iOS app feature, despite it not being in the wild.
“The goal of this blog post is to close the loophole that has been there for many years, and hasn’t been addressed yet,” Mr Krause wrote.
“For moral reasons, I decided not to include the actual source code of the pop-up, however it was shockingly easy to replicate the system dialogue.”
Apple declined to officially comment on the blog post but stressed the demonstration by Mr Krause remained a proof of concept and was not something currently being experienced by customers.
Ultimately a malicious developer would need to corrupt an app already in the app store or somehow sneak an app with malicious code past the auditing systems that scrutinise everything about a potential app — from its code to its appearance — before being approved to appear in the App Store.
Sebastian O’Halloran develops iOS apps under the moniker Juicy Apps in Hobart, Tasmania, and thinks these days such an app would almost certainly be detected by Apple.
The 18-year-old has been building apps since he was 11, and says he has experienced first hand just how finicky the company can be with its auditing process.
At 14 he designed an app to allow people with intellectual disabilities communicate what they wanted to get from the governments’ newly introduced disability care scheme.
Some of his apps have been rejected for relatively “minute” things in the past such as “mismatched screenshots” that didn’t appear to exactly match the appearance of the app’s interface.
“They’re incredibly thorough,” he told news.com.au. “They try to dismiss ‘scammy’ apps as much as possible.”
“In saying that there was a couple of apps that got through two or three years ago that were intended for scamming and somehow they got through the system.
“So I’m not saying it’s bullet proof.”
In 2013 researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology found a way to sneak malicious iOS apps past Apple’s review process. Ultimately the apps could be updated after they’d been approved to carry out harmful actions without triggering security alarms. The researchers shared their successful act of deception in a paper titled: When Benign Apps Become Evil.
In 2015, hackers also managed to sneak malware designed to steal users’ iCloud passwords onto Chinese apps in the App Store.
These instances have no doubt caused Apple to bolster its review process — something which it clearly thinks would catch any app like the one made by Mr Krause.
The recording, released overnight, is one of the many taken in Cuba of mysterious sounds that led investigators initially to suspect a sonic weapon.
The recordings themselves are not believed to be dangerous to those who listen. Sound experts and physicians say they know of no sound that can cause physical damage when played for short durations at normal levels through standard equipment like a mobile phone or computer.
What device produced the original sound remains unknown. Americans affected in Havana reported the sounds hit them at extreme volumes.
Whether there’s a direct relationship between the sound and the physical damage suffered by the victims is also unclear. The US says that in general the attacks caused hearing, cognitive, visual, balance, sleep and other problems.
The recordings from Havana have been sent for analysis to the US Navy, which has advanced capabilities for analysing acoustic signals, and to the intelligence services. But the recordings have not significantly advanced US knowledge about what is harming diplomats.
The Navy did not respond to requests for comment on the recording. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert wouldn’t comment on the tape’s authenticity.
Cuba has denied involvement or knowledge of the attacks. The US hasn’t blamed anyone and says it still doesn’t know what or who is responsible. But the government has faulted President Raul Castro’s government for failing to protect American personnel, and Nauert said Thursday that Cuba “may have more information than we are aware of right now.”
“We believe that the Cuban government could stop the attacks on our diplomats,” said White House chief of staff John Kelly.
Not all Americans injured in Cuba heard sounds. Of those who did, it’s not clear they heard precisely the same thing.
Yet the AP has reviewed several recordings from Havana taken under different circumstances, and all have variations of the same high-pitched sound. Individuals who have heard the noise in Havana confirm the recordings are generally consistent with what they heard.
“That’s the sound,” one of them said.
A billboard depicting the image of legendary guerrilla leader Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara images in a street of Havana this month. Picture: Yamil LageSource:AFP
The recordings have been played for workers at the US Embassy to teach them what to listen for, said several individuals with knowledge of the situation in Havana. Some embassy employees have also been given recording devices to turn on if they hear the sounds. The individuals weren’t authorised to discuss the situation publicly and demanded anonymity.
Cuban officials wouldn’t say whether the US has shared the recordings with Cuba’s government.
Another big question remains: Even if you know you’re under attack, what do you do?
Still dumbfounded by what’s causing this, the United States has been at a loss to offer advice.
The embassy’s security officials have told staff if they believe they’re being attacked, they should get up and move to a different location, because the attack is unlikely to be able to follow them, the commenting individuals said.
Some diplomats who experienced an attack or heard sounds reported they were narrowly confined to a room or parts of a room.
At least 22 Americans are “medically confirmed” to be affected, the State Department says, adding that the number could grow. The attacks started last year and are considered “ongoing,” with an incident reported as recently as late August.
Cuba has defended its “exhaustive and priority” response, emphasising its eagerness to assist the US investigation. Cuban officials did not respond to requests for comment for this story but have complained in the past that Washington refuses to share information they say they need to fully investigate, such as medical records, technical data and timely notification of attacks.
WHAT if you could stroll through a building’s lobby to be identified and gain access?
And what if your bank would let you gaze at your smartphone to unlock a payment?
Both are possible using advanced biometric authentication technology that is now being tested and even rolled out to an increasing number of smartphones, tablet computers, laptops, and smartwatches.
And new research shows the transition from passwords, or “something you know,” to fingerprint, face, and eyeball scans, or “something you are,” could be complete within two years for phones, with other devices to follow in 2020.
In the last 24 hours, there has been talk that Apple may even ditch its Touch ID system on its iPhones and replace it with Face ID.
According to an investors note sent by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, he says it’s now likely that all 2018 iPhone models will move to Face ID and leave Touch ID behind.
While Apple has been facing manufacturing difficulties with 3D sensing, Kuo says Face ID will help Apple “capitalise on its clear lead in 3D sensing design and production for smartphones.”
But, as Apple readies to launch its first face-scanner this month, do security experts consider this technology more secure or just more convenient?
Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing at Apple, Philip Schiller, introduces the iPhone X. Picture: AFPSource:AFP
Biometric security has been creeping into everyday technology for years, slowly replacing passwords and lengthy PIN codes.
Apple introduced its fingerprint scanner to phones in 2013, for example, while Microsoft unveiled facial recognition for its Surface computers in 2015.
The technology is evolving, however, and becoming both more common and more advanced.
Dissatisfied with the security of a fingerprint lock, Samsung introduced an iris scanner with its Galaxy S8 smartphone that photographs the coloured parts of your eyes and identifies up to 200 features in each eyeball to authenticate your identity.
Galaxy S8 and Note 8 users can use this technology to unlock their phone and even to authenticate bank transfers or credit card payments.
Apple will also upgrade the biometric security in its top smartphone within a fortnight, introducing Face ID to the iPhone X as a replacement for its fingerprint scanner.
READ MORE: Hands on with Apple’s iPhone X
The facial recognition system uses a host of front-facing sensors, including a flood illuminator, dot projector, and infra-red camera, to project over 30,000 invisible points on to the user’s face and create a 3D model of their appearance.
It’s similar technology to that used in the Xbox Kinect, though Apple also uses a neural engine in the phone’s processor to determine whether the person looking at the phone is someone new or whether the user has just grown a beard, added spectacles, or changed hairstyles.
Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Note 8 has biometric technology. Picture: APSource:AP
Apple worldwide marketing vice-president Phil Schiller says there is “no perfect system, not even biometric-wise” for locking phones, but the new face-scanning technology would be significantly more secure.
“The data for (the iPhone’s fingerprint scanner) Touch ID has been one in 50,000, meaning that the chance that a random person could use their fingerprint to unlock your iPhone has been one in 50,000 and it’s been great,” he says.
“What are the similar statistics for Face ID? One in a million.”
The spread of biometric security features is also expected to accelerate over the next three years.
Acuity Market Intelligence predicts all smartphones will feature some form of biometric technology by 2019 and, by 2020, it will also feature in all laptops, tablets, and smartwatches.
Facial recognition could spread to online services too, with Facebook revealing it was testing the technology to confirm user’s identities.
Biometric technology could involve more than just face or fingerprint scans in future, though.
Internet giant Google has experimented with mapping speech patterns to identify users, and the CSIRO has developed technology that identifies people by the way they walk.
The prototype technology, which requires users to wear a device backed with motion sensors, was tested on 20 subjects earlier this year with an accuracy of 95 per cent.
CSIRO Data 61 networks research group leader Professor Dali Kaafar says the unique authentication system is “convenient because as we walk around each day our gait can be sampled continuously” and it’s also “more secure than passwords because the way we talk is difficult to mimic”.
“Since (it) keeps authenticating the user continuously, it collects a significant amount of information about our movements, making it difficult to imitate or hack unlike guessing passwords or PIN codes,” he says.
DEVICES WITH BIOMETRIC SECURITY
Face scanners: Apple iPhone X, Microsoft Surface Pro, HP Spectre x2, Alienware 15.