<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston - Tech News]]>Copyright 2018https://www.nbcboston.com/news/tech http://media.nbcboston.com/designimages/clear.gif NBC10 Boston https://www.nbcboston.comen-usFri, 23 Feb 2018 16:50:42 -0500Fri, 23 Feb 2018 16:50:42 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[LUKE Arm: New Prosthesis Technology Helps Veterans, Others]]> Thu, 22 Feb 2018 19:35:35 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/New_Prosthesis_Technology_Helps_Veterans.jpg

New technology displayed in New Hampshire Thursday could bring a new sense of normalcy to people who have lost limbs.

Next Step Bionics & Prosthetics, Inc. and DEKA Research and Development demonstrated the LUKE (Life Under Kinetic Evolution) arm for the public in Manchester.

The LUKE arm is a modular prosthetic arm developed by DEKA and funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. According to Next Step, the LUKE arm is configurable for people who are amputated from shoulder to forearm. The hand has four pre-programmed grips.

In 2007, DARPA awarded what would be become a multi-year, $40 million contract to DEKA for an advanced prosthesis that would be minimally invasive and easily controlled.

The public demonstration showed how the arm works on its recipients, Ron Currier and Chuck Hildreth. Both men are missing at least part of their arms and hands.

Currier lost his hands in the Air Force. He was electrocuted.

"This arm right here is the closest thing to a real hand that I've had in 43 years," Currier said.

Currier has engineer and inventor Dean Kamen of DEKA to thank for that.

"These people have literally given their arms for this country," Kamen said. "We can't keep giving them the same 150-year-old technology that military gave soldiers in the Civil War."

Matthew Albuquerque is the CEO of Next Step Bionics & Prosthetics. They're the first to try the LUKE arms out.

"Those little boxes on his feet send wireless signals up to the arm so he can move the prosthesis, however he wants to move his feet," Albuquerque said.

"These are going to give me back my new normal," said Currier.

The LUKE arms starts at $150,000 if you're not a veteran. Albuquerque said he hopes as more are made, the cost will decrease.



Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[Snap Shares Fall 7 Percent After Kylie Jenner Slams Redesign]]> Thu, 22 Feb 2018 16:36:37 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/kyliejennerevent_1200x675.jpg

Tech giant Snap shares dropped nearly 7 percent on Thursday, after reality star Kylie Jenner tweeted to her 24.5 million Twitter followers that she is no longer using the popular app due to design changes, CNBC reported.

Jenner tweeted: "sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me... ugh this is so sad."

Soon after Snap lost over an estimated $1 billion in market capitalization.

The new layout first debuted in November and was rolled out gradually. It is a drastically different design from its previous design changes and many users felt it became confusing to use.



Photo Credit: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images/Huffington Post, File]]>
<![CDATA[What Will Happen to the Tesla SpaceX Shot Into Space?]]> Wed, 07 Feb 2018 16:44:56 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/AP_18037818136560.jpg

After the Tesla Roadster hitched a ride into orbit on SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket Tuesday, experts are predicting smooth sailing for the cherry red convertible, NBC News reported.

The car's current trajectory will take it beyond mars and into the asteroid belt in its planned orbit around the sun, according to a diagram tweeted by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. But scientists say it is unlikely the car will encounter anything beyond ultraviolet radiation, cosmic rays, other highly charged particles or an occasional micrometeoroid.

As a result, ongoing exposure to UV light will cause the car's paint to fade over time, just as cars here on Erth do.

A NASA physicist estimated that the Roadster has traveled about 450,000 miles from Earth, or roughly twice the distance from Earth to the moon, as of Wednesday afternoon.



Photo Credit: SpaceX via AP]]>
<![CDATA[Smart TV Is Vulnerable to Hacking, Consumer Reports Finds]]> Thu, 08 Feb 2018 09:52:26 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-123351234.jpg

Millions of smart TVs sitting in family living rooms are vulnerable to hackers taking control — and could be tracking the household's personal viewing habits much more closely than their owners realize, according to a new Consumer Reports investigation.

The non-profit consumer product testing organization examined five of the top smart TVs on the market and found that in several of them, "a relatively unsophisticated hacker" could conduct remote hijinks like cranking the volume to a roar, knocking the TV off the Wi-Fi network, quickly changing channels or forcing it to play objectionable YouTube content.

The vulnerability was found in sets by Samsung, TCL, and devices using the Roku TV platform, which can include brands like Philips, RCA, Hisense, Hitachi, Insignia, and Sharp, along with some of Roku's own streaming players.

In a statement on their blog, Roku said that Consumer Reports's story was "a mischaracterization of a feature" and "there is no security risk." The company said users could turn off the remote control function by navigating to "settings," then "system," then "advanced system settings," then switching "external control" to "disabled."



Photo Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[SpaceX Launches World's Biggest Rocket]]> Tue, 06 Feb 2018 19:58:30 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/DIT+NAT+SPACE+X.00_00_06_27.Still006.jpg

SpaceX has successfully launched Falcon Heavy, the most powerful operational rocket in the world, into orbit.

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<![CDATA[SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Rocket Is Ready for Liftoff]]> Tue, 06 Feb 2018 10:20:36 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/NC_spacexam0206_1500x845.jpg
After years of tests, delays and setbacks, SpaceX is poised to launch its Falcon Heavy rocket, designed to be the most powerful rocket in the world and the first step toward returning astronauts to the moon or even Mars.
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<![CDATA[Study of Rats Reveals Cellphone Radiation Risk Is Low]]> Mon, 05 Feb 2018 13:53:23 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/NC_cellstudy0202_1920x1080.jpg

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health found low risk of radiations affecting human bodies, according to a new study that exposed rats and mice to high levels of radio frequency radiation nine hours a day for more than two years.

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<![CDATA[Alexa on Eagles Win: 'Woo-Hoo!']]> Mon, 05 Feb 2018 05:38:37 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/20180205+Alexa.jpg

Amazon's Alexa proved herself to be an Eagles fan this postseason. 

The voice assistant said as much when asked Super Bowl questions after the Eagles beat the Vikings. And in recent days, she choked when she tried to say Tom Brady's name. 

Now, she's celebrating with the rest of the Eagles fans.

Ask if she is happy that the Eagles won the Super Bowl and she says, "Woo hoo! I knew the Eagles would fly high. Congratulations to the Patriots for a great season, and big congratulations to the Eagles for their first Super Bowl win."

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<![CDATA[Elon Musk's Flamethrowers Are Already Sold Out]]> Thu, 01 Feb 2018 14:06:01 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/855370170-elon-musk-sept-space-x.jpg

Elon Musk has a hot new product on his hands. 

The Los Angeles entrepreneur, who also leads Tesla and SpaceX, has been advertising flamethrowers sold by his tunnel-boring business Boring Co., and they've sold out in just four days.

Musk said Monday that Boring Co. had pre-sold 10,000 flamethrowers in two days, pulling in $5 million, according to The Los Angeles Times. By Thursday, the company’s website said all 20,000 flamethrowers it was making had been sold.

The white, shotgun-shaped devices were being for $500 each, with $30 fire extinguishers being sold separately as a safety precaution — which Musk admitted was overpriced. However, Musk said Thursday that the flamethrowers would ship with a complementary fire extinguisher.

Musk and the Boring Co. have been using lighthearted, even joking language when talking up the product, leading some people to question its legitimacy. 

"Obviously, a flamethrower is a super terrible idea. Definitely don’t buy one," Musk tweeted Saturday, before adding in a second tweet, "Unless you like fun."

A Boring Co. representative confirmed to NBC that the product is real.

Boring Co. describes the flamethrowers on its website as "guaranteed to liven up any party!" and the "world's safest flamethrower!" A video on the website shows two people demonstrating how to use the devices, shooting out flames about three feet.

Musk posted an Instagram video of himself laughing as he used one of the flamethrowers, which he even turned toward the camera and the person holding it.

The company first indicated that it may sell flamethrowers in December, when it offered company-branded baseball caps and said that if it sold 50,000 of them, flamethrowers would follow. The goal was reached and Musk announced over the weekend that the flame-spitting devices were officially for sale.

To the Twitter-sphere's dismay, Musk tweeted Wednesday that the flamethrowers were sold out.

However, not everyone was as excited as Musk. California Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, told The Los Angeles Times on Monday that he was worried that the sale of the flamethrowers could be a public health hazard, noting that California has already gone through some catastrophic fires.

"It's a bad joke," Santiago told the newspaper.

Boring Co. has not responded to a request for comment on the intended uses of the flamethrower.

California has some restrictions on flamethrowers. State health and safety codes mandate that, to use flamethrowing devices with a range of at least 10 feet, a person must have a permit or be part of a firefighting agency.

A Boring Co. spokesman told The Los Angeles Times the flamethrowers on pre-sale have a range of fewer than 10 feet, meaning no such permits are needed.

Musk founded the Boring Co. in late 2016 in an effort to build underground tunnels that would lessen traffic. It's currently working on a test tunnel in Los Angeles and is planning a tunnel from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., that would be extended to New York City and seeking permits for another tunnel in the Chicago area. The company suggests one use for its tunnels could be another of Musk's futuristic ideas: the Hyperloop transportation system.



Photo Credit: Mark Brake/Getty Images, File
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<![CDATA[1.4M Twitter Users May Have Seen Election Propaganda]]> Wed, 31 Jan 2018 20:48:17 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Getty-Twitter-logo.jpg

The number of Twitter users who may have interacted with Russian propaganda accounts during the months leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election has "expanded" to at least 1.4 million, the company said Wednesday.

The company made the announcement on its blog, updating a Jan. 19 post announcing that 677,775 users may have come into contact with political propaganda accounts.

About 1.4 million users have received "notices" from the company that they might have followed or interacted with these accounts, which the company said are possibly part of a propaganda campaign by a group with connections to Russian government called the Internet Research Agency.

The 1.4 million users notified, which includes the previous 677,775 users, does "not encompass every person that ever saw this content," the company said.

Notices were sent to Twitter users with an "active email address" who, according to the company's records, "are based in the U.S. and fall into at least one of the following categories:


  • People who directly engaged during the election period with the 3,814 IRA-linked accounts we identified, either by Retweeting, quoting, replying to, mentioning, or liking those accounts or content created by those accounts;
  • People who were actively following one of the identified IRA-linked accounts at the time those accounts were suspended; and
  • People who opt out of receiving most email updates from Twitter and would not have received our initial notice based on their email settings."

The company's announcement comes amid calls from lawmakers for more transparency about social media platforms' efforts to curb the spread of propaganda.

Top Democrats Rep. Adam Schiff and Sen. Dianne Feinstein requested information from the heads of both Twitter and Facebook about propaganda accounts on Jan. 22.

The lawmakers are seeking more information about the recent spread of the hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo and its possible links to propaganda accounts, including bot accounts and trolls. The hashtag calls attention to a still-classified memo produced by congressional Republicans that its leaders claim shows corruption within the FBI. Both lawmakers said they were not satisfied with the companies' responses and demanded they provide more information by Feb. 7.

And the New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman is investigating a company that sold hundreds of millions of fake social media "followers" to those seeking to gain popularity or influence online, the New York Times reported.



Photo Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Over 60,000 Facebook Users Agreed to Fake Events by Russians]]> Fri, 26 Jan 2018 12:30:49 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/facebookhearingSenateintel_1200x675.jpg

Facebook admitted in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee this month how it may have unintentionally recommended Russian propaganda on its social network to some users, CNBC reported. 

Facebook said in the letter that Russian groups used the platform to promote events. A total of 129 were created and over 60,000 Facebook users said they intended to attend those events, CNBC reported.

Facebook sent a follow up letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee after the social media giant received additional questions following its hearing in November. The letter was made public on Thursday, CNBC reported. 

Since last year, the tech giant has been under scrutiny by government officials and the public for its failure to initially recognize how Russians were using it to push propaganda. 



Photo Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin]]>
<![CDATA[ICE Gains Access to National License Plate Database]]> Fri, 26 Jan 2018 22:11:54 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/180*120/TLMD-NY-ICE.jpg

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has finalized a contract with a Bay Area-based company that gives the agency access to location-tracking information for license plates across the country.

The data will come from Vigilant Solutions, a Livermore company that has collected 2 billion license plate photos through the years. The contract comes after years of internal ICE lobbying and includes some limits on surveillance like audit logs to trace abuse of the system.

"Like most other law enforcement agencies, ICE uses information obtained from license plate readers as one tool in support of its investigations," spokesperson James Schwab said in a statement to NBC Bay Area. "ICE is not seeking to build a license plate reader database, and will not collect nor contribute any data to a national public or private database through this contract."

Many Bay Area residents are angry that a Livermore company is assisting ICE to find undocumented immigrants, and demonstrators held a rally outside the San Francisco Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office.

“If this is true, and they’re gone look at different people’s license plates to see if they’re documented, to see where they work and live, then this is another big brother-esque issue,” said Bay Area resident Kendra Froshman.

Vigilant Solutions said in a statement to NBC Bay Area that they are normally not at liberty to share any contractual details, but they were willing to comment on the general use of ALPR technology (Automated License Plate Recognition), explaining that the license plate tracker can tell the user where a driver is at a specific time but cannot by law give out any personal information.

"The only way to link any anonymous ALPR data record to personally identifiable information, like a name or address, is to obtain access to a state’s Department of Motor Vehicle database,” said a spokesperson from Vigilant Solutions. “This is restricted by a strong federal law, the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), which carries stiff fines and federal prison penalties for any violation.”

The data from Vigilant Solutions has already been used by both local law enforcement agencies and CHP.

The license plate tracking, while legal, is not likely to be imprecise; but it may be meant to specifically target sanctuary communities like Santa Clara County and San Francisco, said legal analyst Steven Clark.

“The other question is, is ICE doing this because states like California and cities like San Francisco refuse to cooperate with ICE, and this is the only avenue that ICE has to conduct its business,” said Clark.

An attorney at American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego said that this is an issue that "effects all residents and all citizens," not just undocumented immigrants.

"There aren’t clear regulations about when they can use the license plate readers, or where, or what happens to the information that’s already collected," staff attorney Zoe McKinney said.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Salesforce CEO: Regulate Social Media Companies Like Cigarettes]]> Tue, 23 Jan 2018 15:08:48 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/marc-benioff.jpg

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff suggested Tuesday that the government should step in to regulate Facebook and other social media companies the same way the government regulates tobacco companies.

"Here's a product: Cigarettes. They're addictive, they're not good for you," Benioff told CNBC while in Davos, Switzerland, after referencing Russian election interference. "I think that for sure, technology has addictive qualities that we have to address, and that product designers are working to make those products more addictive and we need to rein that back."

He said that there is a smoking age for cigarettes and regulations on how to promote them, but no such rules exist for social media.

"There is some regulation but there probably will have to be more," he said about the technology industry.




Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Details When HomePod Goes on Sale]]> Tue, 23 Jan 2018 08:52:11 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/192*120/TLMD-apple-jun-5-2017-GettyImages-692685122.jpg

Apple's smart speaker HomePod will go on sale on Feb. 9, with pre-orders available starting Friday, CNBC reported.

The HomePod is seen as Siri's answer to Amazon's Alexa, though Apple has emphasized the high-fidelity music capabilities of its speaker.

Amazon said its Echoes were among the top-selling products across any category during the holidays.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Android OS, Robot Chef in Development]]> Tue, 23 Jan 2018 08:44:58 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/214*120/Android_OS_Robot_Chef_in_Development.jpg

Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corp., is calling on Facebook to pay a fee for carrying the news. Murdoch says the social media platform should pay a carriage fee — similar to what cable companies do with pay TV. The idea is that Facebook is a subscriber, paying for access to deliever the content of news outlets.

Google's Android is rolling out a new feature that shows users how fast a WiFi network is before connecting to it. It will say "slow", "OK", "fast", or "very fast", allowing users to know if they're about to waste valuable time to check their e-mail.

And there's finally a robot that can cook dinner. The Gamma Chef, made by two entrepreneurs in Croatia, looks a bit like a large coffee maker. Users load ingredients into it in the morning and program the robot to have their meal ready when they come home at night.

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<![CDATA[Bitcoin Explained: The Ins and Outs of Crypto-Currencies]]> Mon, 22 Jan 2018 14:06:10 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/NC_bitcoin0119_1920x1080.jpg

Bitcoin is a financial buzzword, but what is it? And should you invest?

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin can be confusing.

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<![CDATA[Amazon Raises Monthly Prime Cost Nearly 20 Percent]]> Fri, 19 Jan 2018 10:40:13 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/amazon+option.jpg

Amazon announced Friday that it raised its monthly Prime membership cost from $10.99 to $12.99, an 18 percent increase, CNBC reported.

New members will begin paying the increased monthly price immediately, and existing members will pay the new price after Feb. 18, the online retailer said in a statement on its website. Members paying the $12.99 monthly price will end up paying about $155 per year, up from about $131.

Amazon also increased the price of its monthly Prime Student membership, from $5.49 to $6.49. However, the company added that the annual membership prices will stay the same at $99 for Prime and $49 for Prime Student.

Amazon started the monthly pricing model less than two years ago as a more flexible way of taking advantage of Prime's fast shipping and other benefits. Prime members spend considerably more on Amazon than non-Prime members.



Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Siri's News Feature, Colgate Smart Toothbrush]]> Thu, 18 Jan 2018 07:32:04 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Siri_s_News_Feature_Colgate_Smart_Toothbrush.jpg

Apple has been testing a new feature for Siri which they have now launched in the United States. The 'give me the news' feature defaults users to NPR but you can switch to other media outlets.

New Jersey has a new law that makes it illegal to drink and fly a drone. Penalties could be 6 months in prison and a $1,000 fine. Reuters is now reporting that 38 states are considering similar measures.

And Colgate has introduced its first smart electronic toothbrush. The E1, sold exclusively through Apple Stores and on Apple's website, can track your brushing habits, coach you on proper technique and play games.

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<![CDATA[Fujifilm Recalls Hundreds of Thousands of Wall Plugs Over Shock Concerns]]> Wed, 17 Jan 2018 13:20:13 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/digital+cams.jpg

A major New York-based camera maker is recalling nearly 300,000 power adapter wall plugs sold with digital cameras nationwide over concerns about a potential shock hazard, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Tuesday.

Fujifilm, headquartered in Valhalla, issued the voluntary recall for 270,000 plugs sold in the U.S., along with 24,000 were sold in Canada, because the plugs can crack, break or detach and get stuck in the wall, the company said in a statement. They can also expose live electrical contacts, posing a shock hazard.

No injuries were reported in connection with the recalled products, which were sold with digital cameras in-store at retailers across the country and online at Amazon.com and other websites. The products were made in China. 

Specifically, the recall involves AC-5VF power adapter wall plugs sold with Fujifilm digital camera models XP90, XP95, XP120, XP125, X-A3 and X-A10. The digital cameras were sold in a variety of colors. The recalled wall plugs are black and are combined with a power adapter and USB cord that plugs into the adapter. Model number "AC-5VF" is printed on the back of the power adapter. The serial number is printed on the bottom of the camera or under the battery compartment lid. To check your serial number, click here.

The XP90 and XP95 were sold from June 2016 through January 2018, the XP120 and XP125 were sold from January 2017 through January 2018, the X-A3 was sold from October 2016 through January 2018, and the X-A10 was sold from February 2017 through January 2018. The digital cameras cost between $160 and $600 with the power adapter wall plugs.

Anyone who has a recalled power adapter wall plug should stop using it immediately and contact Fujifilm for a free replacement. Consumers can continue to charge the camera using the USB cable attached to a computer. For more information, call toll-free at 833-613-1200 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, email productsafety@fujifilm.com or go to www.fujifilmusa.com and click on "Support & Contact."



Photo Credit: CPSC]]>