HouzSecure, a Silicon Valley start-up that made a splash last year with release of its smart door opener, says it’s launching other products that never work, are hard to program, and increase the chances people’s account numbers will be sold to criminal enterprises around the world.
“Our smart door opener showed people, while they’re at work or on vacation, the freedom of having their home security system hacked by someone in Poland and their data sold to someone in Russia,” HouzSecure CEO Hunter Duncan said. “What we want to do now is take other overly simplistic and reliable household devices, like doorstops, and replace them with smart technology that no one will know how to use a and unintentionally acts like a beacon to hackers around the world to come in and make a grab for your personal information.”
Duncan said doorstops, which are simple spring-mounted posts with rubber tips attached to the wall to prevent damage when doors are swung open with too much force, don’t offer the kind of scalable solution that his company plans to introduce this spring. “What our SmartStop® will offer is a seamless answer to the question, ‘Is there a more complicated way to stop a door from banging into the wall?'”
Sensors in the SmartStop® doorstop will gauge how much force the door was opened with and match that force with the exact amount of counterforce, creating a door opening experience that’s unlike anything that can be provided with yesterday’s analog technology, Duncan said. “Preventing your door from banging into the wall will never be the same,” he said.
Another company, jRY, offers “moisture-responsive” towels to create “a new kind of hand and body drying experience.” The company’s line of wic-dryTowels® use sensors woven into the fabric to gauge how wet your skin surface is and adjusts the fabric’s patented responsive wic-dry technology based on how much moisture needs to be absorbed.
“Today’s towels simply consist of absorbent fabric, usually cotton,” says Andrew McNeely, CEO of jRY, based in Palo Alto, Calif. “It doesn’t matter if your hands are really wet or only a little wet, the fabric doesn’t know the difference. Think of how much better it is if your towel is doing your thinking for you and says, in effect, ‘This is a little wet, so I’m only going to need to do a little absorbing to get you dry.'”
As a bonus, the sensors that collect the moisture data also send it to a cloud storage system so that you can see at a glance how wet your hands typically get when you wash them. “You’ll be able to see valuable trends that can help you dry yourself more efficiently over time,” he said. “Do you get more wet while washing during the summer versus the winter? Now you can get helpful ideas for saving water. Maybe you don’t need to wash your hands every time you peel an orange; maybe you can use a sanitizing solution instead. The point is, you’re now armed with data you weren’t before.”
The company also touts its environmental consciousness by promising to use 1 percent of its revenue from towel sales to help remove the heavy metals contamination they cause when people throw out the towels in the regular trash. “You’re not just buying a towel,” McNeely says. “You’re buying a partnership for a cleaner tomorrow.”
Learn about other companies disrupting useful, effective ways of doing things by replacing them with expensive, complicated solutions that no one can get to work properly in a new report, Is Your Life a Living Hell Yet? Give Us Five More Years, from the American Smart Design Consortium.
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Traditional taxicab companies are trying to persuade riders to leave Uber and Lyft and return to good old-fashioned cab companies because people can use them without having to reveal their location and destination to companies that sell that data on the web. “When you take a cab, no one has to know where you were when you got picked up and where you were when you got dropped off,” said Sayed Abdullah, a driver with Yellow Cab in Washington, D.C. “You get in the cab, you tell the driver to go to a club on M Street, and who’s going to know?” Vladimir Kovakovich, an independent cab driver in Chicago, said people are flocking to his cab because they know they can go anywhere in the city without a single bit of personal data getting out on the dark web. “I can tell you that, if you’re doing something you don’t want others to know, you can’t beat hailing a cab and putting cash in the driver’s hand,” he said. “Plus, we offer TV in the backseat. More.
Kinko Bot®, the Japanese company that’s hoping to mass market the first sex robot, says its product is the long-sought solution to the plague of sexual harassment. “With all the scandals coming to light, it’s never been more clear that we need something like our sex robot to fill the need of men to have sex with beautiful women without having to go through all the boring preliminaries like taking women out to dinner, buying them flowers, and promising to marry them,” said Daisuki Nakamura, CEO of Kinko Bot®. Nakamura said his company’s line of robots are programmed to accept whatever approach men take to get women into bed, even if that approach would be considered harassment by a non-robot woman. “Inappropriate touching? Lewd remarks? It doesn’t matter,” said Nakamura. “Whatever approach is comfortable to you as the owner of one of our sex bots will be acceptable, because she is programmed not to be judgmental or even have a preference for how she likes to have sex. Frankly, she doesn’t even care if you’re not attractive or don’t make a lot of money.” More.
A mjority of Americans say they have enough time to look at their phones and stuff for five or six hours a day but not for the seven or eight hours a day that they’d like, and driverless cars could solve that problem for them, a poll shows. “I have friends who make comments and stuff on Twitter that I don’t like to miss when I’m making a left turn or a right turn,” says April Barnett, a manicurist in Tucson, Ariz. She says she’d like to have her car do more driving so she can keep up with her friends when she’s behind the wheel. “Like last week, my friend Ashleigh posted a video of her eating cake with her boyfriend at a restaurant and it came to me, like, when I was parking or something. I could have liked it right away but I couldn’t because, you know, the car’s not going to park itself.” More.
LONDON—Some of the world’s top women tennis players say their game has struggled as they try to keep their new Nike tennis dress from interfering with their shots, but they also love the way the dress doubles as lingerie for later that night. “Anytime I can pack one dress instead of two while I’m on the road I’m happy,” says Ivana Sveltka, the top-ranked Moldovan player gearing up for the second round at Wimbledon this week. “Being able to play in the dress during the day and then slip it on at night as a comfortable nightie is just wonderful.” The dress, which Nike-sponsored players are required to wear under their sponsorship agreements with the company, breaks the mold in tennis attire by replacing the standard skirt and top design with a single, loose fitting dress that’s notable for its high cut and willowy fabric. More.
Carmakers in Detroit, Japan, Germany, and elsewhere are competing fiercely to offer cars and trucks that have the most irritating, annoying, and distracting lights possible. “Thanks to new LED technology, we’re able to annoy and distract people in a way that we never could before, and that’s really a game-changer for this industry,” says Rolf Anthonssen, chairman of Volvo Personvagnar AB, the Swedish car making giant based in Gothenburg. Since about 2010, carmakers have been turning to LED technology for headlights and tail lights because of the technology’s versatility and efficiency. LED technology uses light emitting diodes that require little energy to power on and off. Because of that efficiency, automakers can make lights twice as bright as traditional incandescent bulbs, and at less cost. More.
AKRON, Ohio—Touring a wire coat hanger factory in what was once a blighted industrial area here, President Barack Obama said the United States is returning to its roots as a manufacturing giant and he took a stab at critics who say the country risks losing more manufacturing jobs if a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is passed. “Like this wire coat hanger I have in my hand, the United States is strong,” Obama said, speaking before the 75 employees of the Ace Wire Company. “Anyone who needs evidence that the United States can compete with anyone in the world just needs to look at the factory floor that surrounds me. Every day, more than 10,000 coat hangers are made here and distributed to dry cleaners and hotels throughout the United States and throughout the world. America is back!” More.
Manufacturers and technology companies have failed to blanket the living environment with blinking lights and bleeping noises even though they’ve had the capability to do so for many years, the world says. Until enough blinking lights and bleeping noises fill all living spaces at all times, there will be operations and processes that won’t be sufficiently signaled for people the world over to be sufficiently signaled about every process and operation. “As hard as it is to believe, it’s possible today to go from your home to your car without being signaled by a blinking light or a bleeping noise alerting you to an operation or process that has occurred and that could affect you,” says the world. “Has the newspaper arrived at your doorstep? Have your sprinklers been turned on to water your grass? These are the kinds of processes and operations today that remain un-signaled with a blinking light or bleeping noise. More.
When John and Lucy Wong had Angie three months ago, nothing was too good for her. Now their daughter is the first on her block to have a carriage with a built-in TV, so she can watch educational and other programming even when she’s out enjoying a stroll with mom or dad. “Why just have her watch TV when she’s in her crib?” says Lucy, 24, a marketing assistant with a financial services company in Atlanta. “Going outside for walks is the perfect time to have her watch TV, too.” Although pediatricians generally discourage screen time for children before they reach two years old, parents like the Wongs say such advice doesn’t apply to them. “That’s for people who just throw their child in front of the TV for babysitting,” says Wong. “We don’t do that. We’re always educating our daughter. More.
Trent Sanders says he had no idea the world was filled with other people like him until someone pointed it out after he had been driving around town with music blasting out of his car. “It was like a light went off in my head,” says Sanders, 25. “I was just driving around like I always do and while I was sitting at a stop light this guy pulled up next to me, rolled down his window, and yelled, ‘Other people live in this world, asshole! Not everyone wants to listen to your f**ing music!’ Then the light turned green and he peeled off. And I just sat there, stunned.” Sanders says he just automatically assumed he was the only person in the world, which is why he thought it was perfectly okay for him to blast his music while he drives around. “Did I know other people were driving around, too, some trying to listen to their own music? I confess, I did not.”
TORONTO—Not everyone at Orione Corp. knows what the guy with three monitors does, but there’s little doubt he’s a man of mystery. “I’ve got a five-year-old Dell computer and that’s it,” says Jeff Norton, one of the company’s purchasing associates. “No one walks by my cubicle and wonders what I do, but I can tell you people wonder what he does.” Based on the kinds of programs he uses, the guy with three monitors appears to do something requiring complex multimedia functionality because he’s always working with a high-res graphic interface, motion graphics and video, and audio. To add to the mystery, he keeps the lights out around his workstation to reduce glare on his screens. “It’s almost like a spaceship control module,” says one colleague, a hint of awe in his voice. More.
An unsuccessful applicant for an account executive opening at an Macro Surety Analysts, an insurance risk management firm, says the company’s failure to hire him constitutes discrimination against his headphones, which he refused to remove during his interview. “I wear headphones when I work, everyone I know wears headphones when they work, and I’ve been told that Macro Surety employees often wear headphones at work, so to be discriminated against in the hiring process because I wore headphones to the interview is a clear violation of federal equal opportunity rules and the national goal of equal opportunity in the workplace, says Joseph Bernard, 24, who’s put the issue of headphone discrimination on the front burner with his claim filed yesterday with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. More.
“OMG!” A Silicon Valley web start-up is shifting the micro-blogging movement into hyper gear with its launch this week of hhrmp.com, a “hyper-micro” blogging site that limits posts to just 5 characters. “At this point in the evolution of social media, the 140-character limit of Twitter is just too big,” says Jeremy Gliner, whose title is chief hhrmp’er at hhrmp! Media. “Today’s teenagers have grown up on Twitter, Snapchat, and other micro-blogging platforms and they want their own thing. And they don’t want to compose anything that resembles a sentence. Given the success of our beta site with this critical demographic, we feel we’re giving this up-and-coming generation of word-economizers what they want.” A quick check with a group of 19- and 20-year-olds outside Hillsdale College in College Park, Md., appears to bear out Gliner’s assessment. More.
Alarmed at a rash of high-profile data breaches at big U.S. retailers like Home Depot, a task force of scientists and engineers looking at computer safety and privacy have called on lawmakers to add 16 letters to the English alphabet. They’ve also called for the addition of three numbers to the number scale, but that recommendation was not included in the final report as task force members look at how that could be done, since the number scale is universally understood to be based on the 10-digit system and any change would be difficult to administer. More.
WASHINGTON—America’s super-secret National Security Agency (NSA) is responsible for the dreaded “Heartbleed” virus that has infected servers worldwide, according to documents leaked by former U.S. security contractor Edwin Snowden. The documents show that NSA developed Heartbleed as part of its massive MYSTIC anti-terrorism surveillance operation. The virus “enables security personnel to monitor Internet traffic flowing through half a million U.S. and European-based servers,” according to a highly classified briefing NSA officials made last summer to security experts at European intelligence agencies. The briefing was part of the large trove of classified documents on NSA surveillance passed along to news outlets last year by Snowden, who is living under asylum in Russia. More.