Looks like there may be some consolidation in the augmented reality scene: TechCrunch reports that the U.K.’s Blippar has bought Dutch rival Layar. Both companies focus heavily on bringing print ads to virtual life. Layar is a real AR veteran; 5 years ago its original, non-marketing-centric app did a lot to popularize the concept (at least, among geeks.) Now both Blippar and Layar are trying to make AR finally take off through the use of Google Glass. If the deal’s real — I’ve been unable to get confirmation — I wonder what will happen to Layar’s interoperability pact with Metaio and Wikitude.
Like Protonet, Sherlybox offers a collaboration-friendly alternative to public cloud services — although this Raspberry Pi-based device can also play nicely with those services as well, for those who want it. Read more »
We’ve covered TransferWise quite a few times – along with one or two rivals such as CurrencyFair, the London-based financial technology startup offers a genuinely disruptive foreign exchange service that significantly undercuts the banks. Its backers apparently also continue to see great potential: having led TransferWise’s $6 million Series A round just over a year ago, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures has again participated in the firm’s $25 million Series B, alongside Index Ventures, Virgin boss Richard Branson, IA Ventures, TAG, and Le Monde owner Xavier Niel. TransferWise, run by former Skype director Taavet Hinrikus, says it will use the funds for marketing.
Can we turn ordinary plants into sensors, in order to learn more about the environment? A bunch of European researchers with nearly $1.5 million in funding think it can be done. Read more »
The carrier group has published a very lengthy and reasonably detailed breakdown of its interactions with law enforcement and spy agencies, covering 29 countries where its operators have faced metadata and wiretap requests. Read more »
Protesting is useful to a point, but the privacy pack that accompanies Thursday’s Reset The Net campaign could help people make a real difference. Read more »
While not as severe as April’s heart-stopping Heartbleed vulnerability, this flaw could for example allow people operating fake Wi-Fi hotspots to intercept, decrypt and manipulate supposedly secure traffic being passed between a user and a web service. Read more »
It may seem obvious, but it’s a ruling that puts to rest a genuine debate in Europe over the limits of copyright law. Read more »
Companies like Google and Apple have been colorfully characterized by the People’s Daily as “pawns of the villain.” Looks like this Sino-U.S. argument over surveillance and hacking will run for some time. Read more »
Finally, a full-blown investigation has been launched. It’s only focusing on the phone-bugging incident, though, not the NSA’s alleged surveillance of normal Germans. Read more »
The German company has set what appears to be a new record for crowdfunding a million bucks. The cash will mostly go towards the launch of Protonet’s privacy-centric Maya server for individuals and small teams. Read more »
The not-at-all-creepily-named “digital engagement” firm LivePerson has bought a German startup called Synchronite for its co-browsing technology. The deal should help LivePerson boost its real-time customer service product by allowing agents to see what the customer sees, so they can guide him through form-filling, completing purchases and other functions of the client’s website. Other outfits doing similar things include Unblu, LiveLook and Firefly. The purchase price for Mannheim’s Synchronite was not revealed.
Finland’s Pryte developed technology that lets carriers charge for mobile data on a per-app, short-term-pass basis. Is this the way forward for Facebook’s Internet.org initiative? Read more »
The SPARC partnership between the European Commission and the private sector will create many jobs and help keep Europe competitive, the Commission claims. Read more »
Wearable computing and the internet of things are two trends that are set to take off and ARM – the British company whose processor designs already power the vast majority of the world’s mobile devices – wants to be riding those rockets. On Monday ARM announced a new CPU design center in Taiwan that will focus on ARM Cortex-M processors for the internet of things, wearables and other embedded systems that require connectivity delivered through a small form factor with low power consumption. ARM CEO Simon Segars said the new center, due to open this year, will allow the firm to “work even more closely with key regional partners seeking to accelerate this market.”
The web giant’s plans reportedly involve sending at least 180 small satellites into the skies to enable connectivity using Ku-band spectrum. However, as with Facebook’s Internet.org initiative, it’s not clear who would pick up the bill down the line. Read more »
The Austrian-German company, which is a finalist in this year’s Structure Launchpad contest, offers technology born out of the frustration of scaling a large social network. Read more »
Confidential documents from the BND, Germany’s answer to the NSA and GCHQ, suggest the agency could soon get major funding to improve its online surveillance and hacking capabilities. Read more »
Web firms like to say they cooperate with the authorities in the countries where they operate, but what are they to do when there’s just been a coup? In the case of Facebook and Google, asked by the new military junta in Thailand to come discuss cracking down on anti-coup online dissent, the answer seems to be “play dead.” According to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Friday, the social media companies simply didn’t show up to the meeting. If the junta was keen on following Turkey’s censorship example, incidentally, it should probably note that a Turkish court has just overturned a recent blanket YouTube ban.
The search engine has begun to comply with a landmark Court of Justice of the European Union ruling that says people must be able to force search providers to de-link certain content about them that is out-of-date or unwelcome. Read more »
The U.K.’s keenness to identify and prosecute online trolls and bullies is well-documented, but a Freedom of Information request by Sky News has given us some numbers. The channel found that British police deal with around 20 “social media abuse” cases a day. In the last 3 years, there have been 20,000 investigations involving adults and almost 2,000 targeting children – although, since around a third of police forces did not give up their data, the number must be higher. Over 1,200 children have been “charged with a criminal offence or given a caution, warning or fine,” including four 10-year-olds and one 9-year-old. All this points to both a serious bullying problem and increasing watchfulness over what happens online.
The city’s transport authority says it reckons the services of companies like Uber don’t qualify for regulation in the same way as traditional taxi services do, but it realizes the law is unclear on this point and wants senior judges to step in. Read more »
It’s a mystery that has the information security industry scratching its collective head: why did the anonymous developers of TrueCrypt, a tool recommended by the likes of Edward Snowden, suddenly kill the project and recommend a Microsoft encryption tool instead? Read more »
The configuration management specialist has taken on Justin Arbuckle, a long-time systems architect in the banking industry, as chief of its expanding European operations. Read more »
Facebook has asked the European Commission’s antitrust watchdog to review its $19 billion takeover of the messaging service WhatsApp, according to the Wall Street Journal and also my own sources. The move may seem counterintuitive, but it would save Facebook the hassle of seeking regulatory approval in each European member state. European carriers in particular are reportedly worried that the deal – already green-lit by U.S. regulators — would give Facebook too much leverage in the SMS-revenue-stealing mobile messaging market. Personally, I think that market is in too much flux for a dominant position to be a sure thing just now, at least in Europe, but the concern is understandable.
Witness the power of forward-thinking net neutrality law in action! This sort of thing could be hugely detrimental to the growth plans of Facebook in particular, but it’s ultimately very pro-consumer. Read more »
It’s been many years in the making and it may take a couple more before it’s widely available, but Microsoft’s research into real-time voice translation looks set to pay off. Read more »
The system is one of several options being weighed by Germany after this month’s seismic European ruling about the removal of unwelcome information from search results. It sounds ominous, but it beats automated takedown. Read more »
The personal details of hundreds of thousands of people were taken in an attack on the antivirus outfit’s web forum. Read more »
Yet another blow for U.S. technology companies selling into China: the government there is reviewing whether Chinese banks should stop using IBM servers due to security fears, Bloomberg reports. Looks like a fresh parry in the ongoing Sino-U.S. spat over Chinese hacking and American surveillance, though it would also boost local suppliers. Either way, it’s really bad news for IBM, which already saw Chinese sales fall 20 percent in the first quarter of this year, following Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations. Another recent tidbit from the dispute: the U.S. is considering blocking Chinese hackers from attending popular American security conferences, the Guardian reported on Saturday.
The reverse takeover saves Kakao, a challenger to the likes of Line and WhatsApp, the trouble of going through a tiresome stock market flotation. Read more »
The report, posted on Sunday as an analysis of public logs, suggests that the systems of failed bitcoin exchange MtGox played host to automated bots that artificially pushed the bitcoin price skywards during 2013. Read more »
MaidSafe’s project is absurdly ambitious — a serverless network system that offers free storage, repels surveillance and effectively constitutes a distributed supercomputer. But maybe, just maybe, it might work. Read more »
The German company has come up with a way to turn anything into a user interface, through a combination of existing augmented reality techniques and thermal imaging. Read more »
U.S. vendors are not explicitly called out, but there’s little doubt that China’s newly-announced vetting program is part of a trend that will hurt U.S. companies trying to sell into the country. Read more »
Russia’s new Kremlin-friendly search engine Sputnik – planned since last year — reportedly achieved lift-off on Thursday. As spotted by Tech.eu on Wednesday and confirmed to me today by local sources, Sputnik was launched on Thursday by state-controlled Rostelecom. Recent reports suggest the venture cost $42 million to develop and Sputnik, unavailable from outside the country, will be the default search engine for government departments and state-controlled companies. Russia is increasingly keen on censoring the internet there, and having an amenable search engine will prove useful to the authorities … if they can get significant numbers of people to switch from rivals such as Google and market leader Yandex. Sputnik’s name may harken back to past days of technological glory, but it’s also fitting for these days of Cold War revivalism.
It’s nice of Vodafone to give customers a free Netflix subscription, but the promotion highlights the absurdity of running a 3GB-per-hour service on a plan that only offers 3GB a month. Read more »
The online auction house says credit card data was not taken and the passwords stored in the hacked database were encrypted, but an awful lot of apparently unencrypted information was in that database. Read more »
Putting a surface transducer into a charging dock is quite smart, as is the functionality run through an accompanying app. Read more »
The investment bodes well for business models built around security and privacy, and for the chances of the soon-to-be-released Blackphone. Read more »