Toy Fair 2011 isn’t quite as big a deal as say, CES or MWC, but it still has its fair share of nifty plaything gadgets. One jewel of the show is Sega’s Wappy Dog toy that interfaces with Activision’s Nintendo DS title of the same name. In what amounts to the logical evolutionary conclusion of the artist formerly known as Tamagotchi, Wappy Dog allows folks to communicate with their digital pets not only via the DS, but also by playing with and training their pooch’s robotic doppelgänger. After playing with DS Wappy, the game automatically syncs up with the toy bot to keep it from developing multiple personality disorder. Though currently a prototype, the toy can dance (hopefully with a little more flava than its iDog cousin), whine, and bark in response to your child’s interactions, and is slated for a release this fall at an unknown price point. No need to thank us for finding your next family pet.
Every GSM phone needs a SIM card, and you’d think such a ubiquitous standard would be immune to any hijack attempts. Evidently not, as Karsten Nohl of Security Research Labs — who found a hole in GSM call encryption several years ago — has uncovered a flaw that allows some SIM cards to be hacked with only a couple of text messages. By cloaking an SMS so it appears to have come from a carrier, Nohl said that in around a quarter of cases, he receives an error message back containing the necessary info to work out the SIM’s digital key. With that knowledge, another text can be sent that opens it up so one can listen in on calls, send messages, make mobile purchases and steal all manner of data.
Apparently, this can all be done “in about two minutes, using a simple personal computer,” but only affects SIMs running the older data encryption standard (DES). Cards with the newer Triple DES aren’t affected; also, the other three quarters of SIMs with DES Nohl probed recognized his initial message as a fraud. There’s no firm figure on how many SIMs are at risk, but Nohl estimates the number at up to 750 million. The GSM Association has been given some details of the exploit, which have been forwarded to carriers and SIM manufacturers that use DES. Nohl plans to spill the beans at the upcoming Black Hat meeting. If you’re listening, fine folks at the NSA, tickets are still available.
NASA’s been planning for the Mars 2020 rover for a long time now, back when Curiosity was just making its way to the red planet. Now, the agency has finally chosen seven scientific instruments that’ll be equipped on the new rover out of the 58 proposals submitted by researchers from all over the globe. These instruments were chosen based on their potential to discover how humans can live off the extraterrestrial land by using the natural resources available, and also by their capacity to unearth any danger posed by Martian dust to future human explorers.
One of the scientific payloads is called Mastcam-Z, a camera with panoramic, stereoscopic and zoom abilities. Another called SuperCam can analyze the chemical and mineral composition of rocks, while the Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL) can determine the elemental composition of surface minerals. The third one called Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC) uses UV light to detect organic compounds, while Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE) will attempt to produce oxygen from Martian carbon dioxide. Then there’s the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) that will monitor the environmental conditions on the planet, and finally, the Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Exploration (RIMFAX) equipped with a ground-penetrating radar that’ll give us a glimpse of what’s beneath the planet’s surface.
All these equipment will cost $130 million to develop and will be the main difference between the upcoming rover and Curiosity, as Mars 2020′s designed to look similar to the latter. Before NASA sends off Mars 2020, though, it still has to go through the InSight mission, which will explore Mars’ interior in 2016. The agency still also has to find a way to keep communication between the planets going if it wants the new rover to be able to transmit data back home.
Your worst fear, confirmed: Engadget‘s staff laptop of choice is the MacBook Air. Other than the massive checks we each personally receive from Apple (har har), it’s our go-to laptop because it’s light, fast, and great for the kind of work we do. It doesn’t hurt that it looks sweet with stickers as well, of course. And after Apple highlighted users’ proclivity for decking out their MBAs in a recent video (seen below), the world of laptop decal sellers was suddenly cast in the spotlight. That spotlight resulted in a lot of new buyers, according to a report on MacStories. Quite a few more, actually. One of the vendorsMacStories spoke with saw orders increase by 400 percent since the ad aired, and page views jumped from a typical 500 per day all the way up to a peak of some 4,500 last week. If you dug any of those stickers, well, our sister site TUAWsearched out links for where to buy those 74 decals. And while a majority of those depicted are easily found online, for those that aren’t, the site scoured Etsy and other places for suitable stand-ins. Now for the hard part: picking out the perfect decal.
Wikipedia recently revamped its app for Android, bringing the ability to edit articles and view random articles in the process. Starting today, those features are also available on iOS, with a new version of the official app available for download in the App Store. In addition to adding new functionality, the Wikimedia Foundation’s overhauled the design, and it promises a better, faster navigation experience. Check it out for yourself via the source link below.
It’s been a little over a month since Facebook unleashed Slingshot, its stab at an ephemeral competitor to Snapchat, so it seems about the right time for it to get its first update. Slingshot, if you’ll recall, is a unique messaging app that requires you to reciprocate before you get to see what your friends have sent you. Once you see that photo or video, you have the option of sending a reaction shot, which takes up half the screen and is already unlocked so you don’t need to send a reply to view it. With the latest update, you can now react to those reaction shots — as seen in the third screen shot above — again, without any unlocking necessary.
Other updates to Slingshot include the introduction of My People, which is essentially a section of folks you’re regularly slinging shots with. It’s also now easier to find Slingshot buddies on Facebook and your phone’s contacts. So if you weren’t intrigued enough to try out Slingshot before, perhaps this new update will be enough to convince you to start slinging. You can download the latest version on both iOS and Android starting today.
The folks at 6Wunderkinder have been quite busy as of late, releasing version 2 of the Wunderlist productivity app on top of Pro and Business options for power users. Keeping up the pace, the third installment of the to-do list manager is rolling out with over 60 improvements in tow. Notable additions include a visual overhaul to clean up the UI, real-time sync (insures tasks will show up on all of your devices immediately) and public lists for widespread sharing. The latest version is now available for iOS, Android, Mac and on the web with an update for Windows pending for the recently-announced universal app option.
Today, we investigate the perks of being verified on social media, review the HTC Desire 816, look at Distiller’s new social network for whiskey lovers and learn about the NFL’s next-gen stat technology. Read on for Engadget’s news highlights from the last 24 hours.
Being verified on social media isn’t just about proving your identity; it’s also a status symbol. And while the perks of that blue check mark beside your name could be considered trivial, they’re one of many indicators of online inequality.
HTC’s Desire 816 is almost a perfect mid-range LTE phablet, only to be let down by its erratically sluggish cameras. Otherwise, this $390 handset features a nicely curved metal body, beautiful display and plenty of power under the hood.
Get ready sports fans. The NFL is teaming up with Zebra Technologies for the “Next Gen Stats” initiative. Seventeen different stadiums will be outfitted with RFID receivers that track tags inside the shoulder pads of athletes, recording speed, acceleration and more.
Sony’s stable of action cams just got a new option for thrill seekers in the US. The HDR-AS20 joins the outfit’s HDR-AS100V and HDR-AS30V in capturing daring feats of whatever you fancy. This new model packs the company’s SteadyShot image stabilization tech, Zeiss Tessar lens and 170-degree wide-angle views. As you might expect, built-in WiFi allows for control via iOS or Android device in additon to Sony’s own live-view remote. In terms of detailed specs, there’s a 16.8-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor capable of 1080/60p, 1080/30p and 720/30p footage and 11.9-megapixel stills. The usual USB, HDMI and microphone jacks are included, along with an on-board memory card slot for storage. As with previous releases, a waterproof case outfits the HDR-AS20 for expeditions at sea and a smattering of mounts can position the unit for the best footage — up to 130 minutes between charges. Looking to take the plunge? $200 allows you to do just that when the compact gadget hits shelves in August.
Feeling productive? So are the folks at 6Wunderkinder, who’ve been busy little bees translating the popular desktop and mobile productivity tool, Wunderlist, into a packaged application for Chrome. The Wunderlist for Chrome experience is about as close to native as it can get — because it’s a packaged app, it works outside your Chrome browser, just like the desktop version. Included with the app are nifty features like voice dictation for your to-do list, desktop notifications, offline availability and a tagging system. Linux users will be especially happy to know that the Chrome version brings Wunderlist back to their OS, after having lost it when the company abandoned HTML5. To get your productivity on, head on over to the source link below to download the free app. And for a quick preview, check out the video after the break.