PINs and text messages can be inferred from smart speaker recordings, study shows

Malicious attackers can extract PIN codes and text messages from audio recorded by smart speakers from up to 1.6 feet away. That’s according to a new study authored by researchers at the University of Cambridge, which showed that it’s possible to capture virtual keyboard taps with microphones located on nearby devices, like Alexa- and Google Assistant-powered speakers.

Amazon Echo, Google Home, and other smart speakers pack microphones that are always on in the sense that they process audio they hear in order to detect wake-up phrases like “OK Google” and “Alexa.” These wake-phrase detectors occasionally send audio data to remote servers. Studies have found that up to a minute of audio can be uploaded to servers without any keywords present, either by accident or absent privacy controls. Reporting has revealed that accidental activations have exposed contract workers to private conversations, and researchers say these activations could reveal sensitive information like

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Affordable Housing Units Prone to Floods Could Triple by 2050 | Smart News

The amount of affordable housing in the United States that is susceptible to damage and destruction caused by coastal flooding will triple by 2050, reports Daniel Cusick for E&E News.

A new study, published yesterday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, suggests that around 7,668 affordable housing units in the U.S. flood annually. Without swift action to reduce carbon emissions, that number could reach nearly 25,000 units by 2050, reports Oliver Milman for the Guardian. This is the first study of its kind to assess how vulnerable affordable housing units are to flooding and rising sea levels, according to a press release.

According to Reuters, previous studies have forecasted how houses along the coasts will be affected by climate change, but “there’s been much less attention put on these lower-income communities,” says computational scientist Scott Kulp of Climate Central, an independent group of scientists and communicators researching climate change.

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Massive Arecibo Telescope Collapses in Puerto Rico | Smart News

On Tuesday, the radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico collapsed, ending its nearly 60 years of operation, reports Dánica Coto for the Associated Press (AP).

The collapse saw a 900-ton equipment platform fall from more than 400 feet up and crash into the northern part of the telescope’s 1,000-foot-wide dish, per the AP. The National Science Foundation (NSF), which manages the facility, announced that no injuries have been reported.

This final death knell for Arecibo’s telescope, which tracked asteroids approaching Earth and searched the heavens for habitable planets, followed other serious damages to the massive

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Breakthrough A.I. Makes Huge Leap Toward Solving 50-Year-Old Problem in Biology | Smart News

Life on Earth relies on microscopic machines called proteins that are vital to everything from holding up the structure of each cell, to reading genetic code, to carrying oxygen through the bloodstream. With meticulous lab work, scientists have figured out the precise, 3-D shapes of about 170,000 proteins—but there are at least 200 million more to go, Robert F. Service reports for Science magazine.

Researchers have been trying to find efficient ways to estimate the shape of proteins since at least the 1970s, reports Will Douglas Heaven for MIT Tech Review. Now, the artificial intelligence company DeepMind, which is owned by the same company that owns Google, has developed a tool that can predict the 3-D shapes of most proteins with similar results to experiments in the lab, Cade Metz reports for the New York Times. While lab experiments can take years to tease out a protein structure, DeepMind’s

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Google Pixel 5 may soon gain smart Adaptive Sound feature

Google Pixel 5 Grey Back

Credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

  • Google is developing an automatic equalizer adjustment feature for Pixels.
  • Dubbed Adaptive Sound, the feature tweaks audio settings based on environment acoustics.
  • The Google Pixel 5 will likely receive the feature in an update, but it’s unclear if any other Pixels will join it.

The forthcoming Google Pixel feature drop could include a new toy for music lovers. Dubbed Adaptive Sound, the feature was uncovered on a Google Pixel 5 by XDA‘s APK sleuths.

The feature confusingly shares its name with a Google Pixel Buds feature. But while Adaptive Sound on the Buds automatically adjusts the volume levels on the fly to suit the wearer’s environment, Adaptive Sound on Pixel phones will tweak the equalizer instead.

While playing music on a Pixel phone, Adaptive Sound may up the bass and treble in noisier environments, or drop both in quieter settings. The feature uses

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In the Ancient American Southwest, Turkeys Were Friends, Not Food | Smart News

A blanket made by early 13th-century Indigenous peoples in what is now the southwestern United States featured more than 11,000 turkey feathers woven into almost 200 yards of yucca fiber, new research shows. The findings—published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports—shed light on farming practices among the ancestral Puebloans, forebears of modern Hopi, Zuni and Rio Grande Pueblo nations, reports Jennifer Ouellette for Ars Technica.

The researchers say the region’s people began to switch from blankets made of rabbit skin strips to turkey-feather designs during the first two centuries A.D.

“As ancestral Pueblo farming populations flourished, many thousands of feather blankets would likely have been in circulation at any one time,” says co-author Shannon Tushingham, an anthropologist at Washington State University (WSU), in a statement. “It is likely that every member of an ancestral Pueblo community, from infants to adults, possessed one.”

Though the region’s early inhabitants

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Self-repairing gelatin-based film could be a smart move for electronics

Self-repairing gelatin-based film could be a smart move for electronics
Credit: American Chemical Society

Dropping a cell phone can sometimes cause superficial cracks to appear. But other times, the device can stop working altogether because fractures develop in the material that stores data. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Applied Polymer Materials have made an environmentally friendly, gelatin-based film that can repair itself multiple times and still maintain the electronic signals needed to access a device’s data. The material could be used someday in smart electronics and health-monitoring devices.


Global consumer demand for hand-held smart devices is rapidly growing, but because of their fragility, the amount of electronic waste is also increasing. Self-repairing films have been developed, but most only work a single time, and some are made with potentially harmful agents that curtail their use in biomedical applications. Researchers have tried incorporating gelatin in electronic devices because it is transparent, readily available and safe. In tests, however, damaged gelatin film

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Global Smart Elevators and Escalators Market 2020 Upcoming Trends, Latest Innovation, Advance Technology and Top Companies to 2025

The MarketWatch News Department was not involved in the creation of this content.

Dec 01, 2020 (CDN Newswire via Comtex) —
Global Smart Elevators and Escalators Market 2020 by Manufacturers, Regions, Type and Application, Forecast to 2025 is a conclusive source of information that encapsulates vital details about the market flow as well as future status during the mentioned forecast period of 2025. The report performs a comprehensive analysis of all the significant factors, including threats, prospects, and industry-specific trends, impacting the market on a global and regional scale. The report analyses the global Smart Elevators and Escalators market, the market size, and growth, as well as the major market participants. Further, the report evaluates the upstream situation, market segmentation, market segmentation, price & cost, and industry environment.

Past, Current and Future Market Analysis:

The report highlights the potential opportunities for the market players and future trends of the global

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In Australia, Just One Wasp Can Ground an Airplane With a Strategically Placed Nest | Smart News

New research conducted at Brisbane airport shows how the invasive keyhole wasp builds their nests over important sensors, causing havoc for aircraft, George Dvorsky reports for Gizmodo.

Keyhole wasps like to lay their eggs in small, pre-made cavities like window crevices, electrical sockets and, as their name implies, keyholes. Airplanes, meanwhile, rely on external sensors that are shaped like thin tubes. If the pilot realizes after takeoff that a sensor is blocked, the plane just has to turn around so it can be cleaned. But in a worst-case scenario, malfunctioning sensors are catastrophic. The new study, published on November 30 in the journal PLOS One, confirmed keyhole wasps are the sensor-blocking culprit, figured out their favorite size sensors for nest-building, and found that they built most of their nests near a grassy field at the airport.

The researchers hope that airports will be use the data to better

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How smart cities can serve citizens

How smart cities can serve citizens
At the Dentons Rodyk Dialogue 2020, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee joined a panel of experts to discuss how digitalisation can help to transform cities. Credit: Singapore Management University

Although cities and urban areas only make up a small proportion of the world’s land mass, they are home to more than half the global population and that number is going to keep rising. As cities swell to capacity with more and more inhabitants, city planners have turned to technology to cope with the challenges that accompany urban density.


The role of digital technologies in overcoming urban development challenges have become even more apparent in the COVID-19 pandemic, said Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development and Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration.

“This pandemic has starkly shown us that we need to transform the way we design, build and maintain our city so that we move away from a heavy

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