Saturday, January 11, 2020

A strange, scary new world is coming towards us - where tiny, invisible sensors will be all around us - will it spell a full end to privacy? [COMPACTIDEA]

  • OnePlus phone whose camera module can be hidden behind a glass that changes its colors. You won't know that there are cameras and/or other sensors behind such glass. You won't even know that a particular glass is of such type.
  • Behind-the-display / under-display cameras in smartphones without any visible notch or hole. Eventually one will never be able to be sure that there isn't an "invisible" camera lurking behind the innocent-looking displays of phones, TVs, maybe even somewhere inside home appliances such as washing machines or air-conditioners. Privacy loss as well as spying / surveillance will increase massively. Females, in particular, will be negatively affected if all those 'hidden cam', 'spy cam', voyeur type photos and videos start to be collected and spread. One example is if there are such concealed cameras planted in changing rooms / trial rooms for clothes, or in bathrooms / toilets / washrooms.
  • A camera that can shoot at a trillion FPS [or several trillion FPS]. Nothing can be hidden from this.
  • As of Jan'20, passenger cars are increasingly and forcibly getting "connected". Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, proprietary platforms such as NissanConnect or Honda Connect, microphones, touch screens, voice commands, live GPS location tracking of a car, inbuilt maps, bluetooth streaming, diagnostics and data logging, even 4G network connections are increasingly being added to cars. No one's giving options to disable these if one wants to [using hardware, not using fake 'soft' switches]. Round-the-clock tracking is becoming the norm. The good old cars of yesterday which quite simply just didn't track you in any way whatsoever are disappearing.
    • And yet this is just the tip of the iceberg. Upcoming electric and self-driving cars with tentacles of Amazon/Apple/Facebook/Google/Microsoft deeply penetrated into their systems will take tracking, spying and surveillance to an unprecedented level, justified by the ever-familiar excuses of "personalization" and "safety/security".
      • In particular, self-driving cars are an especially-worrying menace because in a way these are like remotely-controlled military drones. The American government could assassinate anyone it wanted to with sufficient plausible deniability by causing a genuine-looking accident or malfunction of a self-driving car. No logging. No one will know. Nonstop face recognition and voice matching in the car's passenger cabin will of course deeply assist with locating and tracking the target person(s). [The ethical dilemma of self-driving cars - Patrick Lin]
  • Tiny, beetle-mounted camera, Jul'20. [link 1] [link 2] [link 3]

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Amazon's secret incursion into Google's Android turf using MediaTek Helio G90T's dual wake-up word feature is admirable [COMPACTIDEA]

No idea if this feature was conceived by Amazon or MediaTek. It's a masterstroke in the sense that Amazon has been able to establish Alexa as an equally-available digital voice assistant on what was formerly a Google-only space. Xiaomi must be receiving payments from Amazon for pre-installing and also integrating Alexa on their superhit Redmi Note 8 Pro handset - so far the only phone in the world powered by the G90T [did Xiaomi 'lock' MediaTek into selling the G90T only to Xiaomi - promising guaranteed huge sales - so that Realme, Oppo, Vivo, etc., wouldn't be able to offer an equivalent phone anytime soon?]. For Xiaomi, Amazon, MediaTek and also phone-buyers, it's a win-win. Xiaomi gets subsidies to price the phone lower [or maybe to raise profits, or even both], Xiaomi also gets bragging/marketing rights ["the first and only Alexa inbuilt phone"], Amazon firmly penetrates Google's hitherto monopolized arena, MediaTek achieves commercial success with huge G90T sales and maybe a snowball effect will follow [also setting a favorable atmosphere for its upcoming Dimensity flagship chips] and it also gets to look like a Qualcomm-challenging innovator and not just a poor-man's chipmaker, while customers get a powerful device at possibly subsidized price point plus a good feeling / flaunt value of owning a phone with Alexa [the "in thing" today in India]. Google is the big loser here, especially if this trend of two [and more later?] wake-up words sets in and Qualcomm, Huawei, Samsung, and others follow MediaTek's lead.