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For more technology stories, visit newscientist.com/technology 9 March 2013 | NewScientist | 25 CLAUDIO OROZCO QUIRARTE ONE PER CENT HIDEOUT/DISNEY RESEARCH For breaking tech news go to: newscientist.com/onepercent The innovation lies in how the stored power is released to charge a phone. A customer sends a text message, which in Uganda costs 110 shillings, to the device. Once it receives the message, an LED above a socket on the battery lights up, indicating that it is ready to charge a phone. At the Konokoyi coffee cooperative, each text message allows a phone to be charged for 1.5 hours. A fully charged Buffalo Grid unit can last for three days, has up to 10 charging points and charges 30 to 50 phones a day. To bring the cost down further, Buffalo Grid hopes to co-opt the cellphone network operators into subsidising power for charging the phones, or even making it free. What’s in it for the network operators? “When you bring power to phones that don’t have any, people will use them more,” says Buffalo Grid’s Daniel Becerra. “Instead of paying for the charge, people will spend more on airtime.” It has taken Nandutu a while to make villagers comfortable with the process. “It’s a cashless business,” she says. Sometimes, phones can take more than 1.5 hours to charge, which means sending another text message. “You need to explain to the people what it means,” she says. “It’s not just about one SMS. It depends on the time the phone takes to charge.” Two text messages are still cheaper than the usual cost to charge a phone. Buffalo Grid also plans to do trials in Sierra Leone, where coffee traders are gearing up to pay farmers for their crop using cellphones. “It’ll be a tragedy if a family cannot receive their wages just because they don’t have enough battery power,” says Becerra. “So, the coffee traders have asked us to implement our unit across these communities, to make sure that every single phone is working all the time.” n Power to the peoplepeople’s privacy, the fingerprint changes every time you change your clothes, so you can be anonymous again whenever you wish. “A person’s visual fingerprint is only temporary, say for a day or an evening,” says Nelakuditi. In early tests using 15 volunteers, the team identified people 93 per cent of the time, even when they had their backs to the headset user. Matching data from the phone’s motion sensor with motion in the Glass field of view will boost accuracy. “There are a lot of personal characteristics that make us unique,” says Mark Nixon, a biometrics specialist at the University of Southampton, UK. “Clothing and movement are highly related to gait – and gait has been shown to be unique.” The system could be used by someone who wants to attract attention to themselves and their CV at a job fair, or outside a stadium where they are selling a spare ticket, the team says. It could perhaps even help people with a condition known as face blindness – a neurological disorder that makes it impossible to recognise others – by telling them the names of friends nearby. Paul Marks n Projector brings stories to life Remember your favourite book from childhood? Now imagine that the characters didn’t only appear in print, but acted out the scenes, dancing as figures of light in front of you. HideOut, a smartphone projector system developed by Karl Willis at Disney Research in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, does exactly that. It detects infrared ink markers on the book’s pages and uses them to guide the projected characters through activities. The projector also lets the user move an animated character over surfaces printed with the markers in the real world. I can guess your password “Give me letters four and seven from your password,” is a request many who bank online will be familiar with. Such partial password authentication is thought to be more secure, but is it? David Aspinall at the University of Edinburgh, UK, thinks not. He found that “a” is the second character in an eight-letter password nearly 20 per cent of the time, while “password” is the most-used password. Putting these together, if you enter “s” and “r” in answer to the above question, someone looking over your shoulder would find it pretty easy to guess the rest of the letters. The research will be presented at the Financial Cryptography and Data Security conference in Okinawa, Japan, in April. Leap Motion unveils its own app store The next big thing now has the next big app store. Leap, the much-hyped 3D gestural control device, is due to launch on 13 May alongside Airspace, a fully stocked store of related apps. The $80 gadget’s maker, Leap Motion of San Francisco, last week announced that the apps on offer will range from high-fidelity gesture-based 3D design tools to a weather channel app offering Minority Report-style map movements. Games are also on the list, including a hand-wavy version of Cut The Rope. The device can track a 10-micrometre movement of your fingers up to 290 times per second.

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For more technology stories, visit newscientist.com/technology

9 March 2013 | NewScientist | 25

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For breaking tech news go to: newscientist.com/onepercent

The innovation lies in how the stored power is released to charge a phone. A customer sends a text message, which in Uganda costs 110 shillings, to the device. Once it receives the message, an LED above a socket on the battery lights up, indicating that it is ready to charge a phone.

At the Konokoyi coffee cooperative, each text message allows a phone to be charged for 1.5 hours. A fully charged Buffalo Grid unit can last for three days, has up to 10 charging points and charges 30 to 50 phones a day.

To bring the cost down further, Buffalo Grid hopes to co-opt the cellphone network operators into subsidising power for charging the phones, or even making it free. What’s in it for the network operators? “When you bring power to phones that don’t have any, people will use them more,” says Buffalo Grid’s Daniel Becerra. “Instead of paying for the charge, people will spend more on airtime.”

It has taken Nandutu a while to make villagers comfortable with the process. “It’s a cashless business,” she says. Sometimes, phones can take more than 1.5 hours to charge, which means sending another text message. “You need to explain to the people what it means,” she says. “It’s not just about one SMS. It depends on the time the phone takes to charge.” Two text messages are still cheaper than the usual cost to charge a phone.

Buffalo Grid also plans to do trials in Sierra Leone, where coffee traders are gearing up to pay farmers for their crop using cellphones. “It’ll be a tragedy if a family cannot receive their wages just because they don’t have enough battery power,” says Becerra. “So, the coffee traders have asked us to implement our unit across these communities, to make sure that every single phone is working all the time.” n

–Power to the people–

people’s privacy, the fingerprint changes every time you change your clothes, so you can be anonymous again whenever you wish.

“A person’s visual fingerprint is only temporary, say for a day or an evening,” says Nelakuditi.

In early tests using 15 volunteers, the team identified people 93 per cent of the time, even when they had their backs to the headset user. Matching data from the phone’s motion sensor with motion in the Glass field of view will boost accuracy.

“There are a lot of personal characteristics that make us unique,” says Mark Nixon, a biometrics

specialist at the University of Southampton, UK. “Clothing and movement are highly related to gait – and gait has been shown to be unique.”

The system could be used by someone who wants to attract attention to themselves and their CV at a job fair, or outside a stadium where they are selling a spare ticket, the team says.

It could perhaps even help people with a condition known as face blindness – a neurological disorder that makes it impossible to recognise others – by telling them the names of friends nearby. Paul Marks n

Projector brings stories to life

Remember your favourite book from childhood? Now imagine that the characters didn’t only appear in print, but acted out the scenes, dancing as figures of light in front of you. HideOut, a smartphone projector system developed by Karl Willis at Disney Research in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, does exactly that. It detects infrared ink markers on the book’s pages and uses them to guide the projected characters through activities. The projector also lets the user move an animated character over surfaces printed with the markers in the real world.

I can guess your password“Give me letters four and seven from your password,” is a request many who bank online will be familiar with. Such partial password authentication is thought to be more secure, but is it? David Aspinall at the University of Edinburgh, UK, thinks not. He found that “a” is the second character in an eight-letter password nearly 20 per cent of the time, while “password” is the most-used password. Putting these together, if you enter “s” and “r” in answer to the above question, someone looking over your shoulder would find it pretty easy to guess the rest of the letters. The research will be presented at the Financial Cryptography and Data Security conference in Okinawa, Japan, in April.

Leap Motion unveils its own app storeThe next big thing now has the next big app store. Leap, the much-hyped 3D gestural control device, is due to launch on 13 May alongside Airspace, a fully stocked store of related apps. The $80 gadget’s maker, Leap Motion of San Francisco, last week announced that the apps on offer will range from high-fidelity gesture-based 3D design tools to a weather channel app offering Minority Report-style map movements. Games are also on the list, including a hand-wavy version of Cut The Rope. The device can track a 10-micrometre movement of your fingers up to 290 times per second.

130309_N_TechSpread.indd 25 5/3/13 10:54:25