Category: digital

Japanese Company To Sell Humanoid Robots In U.S. Within 12 Months (Video)

SoftBank To Sell Robot In U.S. Stores Within 12 Months – Bloomberg


Billionaire Masayoshi Son will start selling his humanoid robots named “Pepper” at Sprint Corp. (S) stores in the U.S. by next summer, part of SoftBank Corp.‘s push to take the technology beyond factory floors.

SoftBank also has received between 300 and 400 inquiries about Pepper from companies in finance, food service and education, Fumihide Tomizawa, chief executive officer of SoftBank Robotics, said yesterday. The 1.2 meter (4 foot) robot dances, makes jokes and estimates human emotions based on expressions. Pepper will go in sale in Japan in February for 198,000 yen ($1,900) while the company hasn’t set a U.S. price.

SoftBank, which paid $22 billion for control of Sprint last year, is investing in robotics as Japan seeks to double the value of domestic production to 2.41 trillion yen by 2020. SoftBank has developed an operating system that controls robots in the same way Google Inc.’s Android software runs smartphones, with the platform open to customization for use in construction, health care and entertainment industries.

“We will sell Pepper in the United States within a year after gathering information in Japan,” Tomizawa said. “I won’t be surprised if Pepper sales will be half to business and half to consumers.”

SoftBank Robotics was established as a subsidiary in July to direct the company’s business and sell Pepper, which is equipped with a laser sensor and 12 hours of battery life.

Shares (9984) of SoftBank rose 1.3 percent to 7,541 yen at the close of trade in Tokyo. The stock has declined 18 percent this year while the benchmark Topix index is little changed.

The robot was initially targeted at families and the elderly before getting attention for business use since its June unveiling.

Tomizawa declined to specify the company’s sales targets for robotics. SoftBank expects to generate revenue through applications and original content as customers personalize their robots.

“The basic premise is to produce profit,” Tomizawa said. “Son is aggressively involved in the project and we report to him one or two times a month.”

Son said in 2010 his vision was to create a society that coexists with intelligent robots. The SoftBank chairman has said Pepper is a result of his time spent watching the TV show “Astro Boy,” an animated 1960s series based on a character who couldn’t experience emotions.

In July, Son said he expects to improve labor productivity by replacing 90 million jobs with 30 million robots.

“We could enter the robot business for industrial use in the mid or long term,” Tomizawa said.

Pepper was initially developed by SoftBank subsidiary Aldebaran Robotics SA. The robot operating system, which isn’t currently used by Pepper, was developed by its Asratec Corp. division. The businesses continue to operate as separate units of SoftBank.

SoftBank’s development of robots comes as Google acquired robotics companies, including Schaft Inc., a Tokyo-based maker of two-legged humanoid robots. Other robot makers include Honda Motor Co. (7267), which has the soccer-playing Asimo, and Panasonic Corp. (6752), which created Hospi-R machines to deliver medicines to patients in hospitals.




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It Figures… Expert Says Security Risks Even Worse After ‘Fix’

Expert: Security Risks Even Worse After ‘Fix’ – Washington Free Beacon

The Obamacare insurance marketplace is even more vulnerable to security breaches since the administration “fixed”, according to a cyber security expert.


Health and Human Services (HHS) released a progress report on Sunday following its self-imposed Nov. 30 deadline to repair the website, saying that the “team has knocked more than 400 bug fixes and software improvements off the punch list.”

The administration said that the “site capacity is stable at its intended level,” though the site continued to crash on Monday.

The eight-page report made no mention of the website’s numerous security flaws, which experts say put Americans’ personal information at risk.

“It doesn’t appear that any security fixes were done at all,” David Kennedy, CEO of the online security firm TrustedSec, told the Washington Free Beacon.

Kennedy said fundamental safeguards missing from that were identified by his company more than a month ago have yet to be put in place.

“There are a number of security concerns already with the website, and that’s without even actually hacking the site, that’s just a purely passive analysis of [it],” he said. “We found a number of critical exposures that were around sensitive information, the ability to hack into the site, things like that. We reported those issues and none of those appear to have been addressed at all.”

After warning Americans when testifying before Congress on Nov. 19 to stay away from, Kennedy now says the situation is even worse.

“They said they implemented over 400 bug fixes,” he said. “When you recode the application to fix these 400 bugs – they were rushing this out of the door to get the site at least so it can work a little bit – you’re introducing more security flaws as you go along with it because you don’t even check that code.”

“I’m a little bit more skeptical now, and I would still definitely advise individuals to not use the website because it’s definitely something that I don’t believe is secure and neither did the four individuals that testified in front of Congress,” Kennedy said. “I think there’s some major security concerns there around privacy and information, and they haven’t even come close to being addressed, and won’t be in the short term.”

Security exposures are not limited to the federal health exchange, but the 14 state marketplace websites as well. A breach has already been cited in Vermont, where a user was given access to another’s Social Security Number.

“That’s a whole other front of hacking,” Kennedy said. “That’s what’s actually going to contain all the sensitive information for residents in those states.”

“States are required to notify in the event of a breach, the federal government is not,” he added. “So in the event that gets compromised and all their information gets taken out of it they don’t have to notify anybody.”

Kennedy said the team working on is more likely to hide its security flaws than address them. When it was revealed that the most popular searches on the website were hack attempts – confirmed by entering a semicolon in the search bar – the website simply removed the tool.

“The top results were hacker attempts,” Kennedy said. “Their fix for it wasn’t, ‘Hey let’s restrict people from inputting malicious code into the website,’ – because that’s how hackers break into websites – it was, ‘we’re just going to completely disable that entire function completely, and not even show the search results back.’”

CMS did not respond to requests for comment.

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The Incredible Sketches Which Look Just Like Digital Photographs

The Incredible Sketches Which Look Just Like Digital Photographs – Daily Mail

On first glance, these stripped-back images of well-known figures look like beautifully shot photographs.

In fact, each one is an incredibly detailed pencil drawing.

Their astonishing realism is rapidly making their young artist as famous as his subjects – who include Beyonce, Amy Winehouse, Princess Diana and Mother Teresa.





Kelvin Okafur, 27, graduated from Middlesex University in fine art and is now making waves across the country.

His subjects include popular music artists Tinie Tempah, James Morrison and Adele.

He has also picked out tragic figures from actor Heath Ledger to the late King of Jordan, King Hussein – and with each, he tries to evoke an emotion in the viewer.

Finally, he has used friends and colleagues for the impressively accurate images, which look like soft focus digital photos.

Last year, the artist from Tottenham, north London, exhibited at numerous major art galleries and won a clutch of prestigious national awards for his remarkable work.

Each of his pieces takes around 80-100 hours to complete, over approximately three weeks in the studio.

Mr. Okafor creates each piece only in black and white – using graphite pencils, charcoal, black coloured pencil and sometimes grey pastels.

Yet he believes that the range of tone, shade and texture is almost endless.


He draws on a combination of life and photographs, working on his art for up to 15 hours a day.

He admits he is ‘passionate about precision’.

‘I aspire to create art as vivid as eyes could see,’ the artist writes on his blog.

‘I want my drawings to prompt an emotional response, making viewers feel as though they are looking at a real live subject.

Mr Okafor describes the pencil as ‘a humble instrument’, but says this is part of its appeal.

‘I’ve always been creative, but fell in love with using pencils in particular.

‘It amazed me, that with only one shade of lead, you can create so many tones and textures, and almost create the illusion of colour.

‘It was only when my images started to create a buzz with other Middlesex University students that I realised their impact.’

He was selected as one of the top two pieces of work at Cork Street Gallery’s Winter Show in 2012 and recently won the Catherine Petitgas Visitors’ Choice Prize, part of the National Open Art Competition.

His work is currently on display at the The Watercolours + Works on Paper Fair at the London Science Museum, until February 3.

Before starting a piece, Mr Okafor spends a few days analysing a photo, concentrating first on the subject’s eyes, which are central to his works’ impact.

His pieces are now selling for on average £8,000-£10,000, depending on the scale.

‘The attention I’m receiving is surreal and hasn’t really sunk in yet,’ he added.

‘I’m usually sheltered from it in my studio as I continue to build my portfolio, but I’m really humbled and honoured that so many people appreciate my work.

‘I hope to have my own gallery in the future.’

He has now had more than 50 commissions, and the dedicated artist cites his role models as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo – because they not only mastered the arts but branched out into other fields including engineering, poetry, science and maths.

Twitter users describe his work as ‘incredible’, ‘extraordinary’ and ‘astounding’.

The talented artist is gaining a large following and has made videos showing the evolution of his work, to illustrate just how each one is created.

Even so, the extent of his skill is truly breathtaking.



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U.S. Taxpayers On The Hook For $1.6 Billion In Free Cell Phones For Poor

U.S. Taxpayers On The Hook For $1.6 Billion In Free Cell Phones For Poor – Weasel Zippers

Old and busted: Food stamp president. New and hot: Cell phone president.



Last year, a federal program paid out $1.6 billion to cover free cell phones and the monthly bills of 12.5 million wireless accounts. The program, overseen by the FCC and intended to help low-income Americans, is popular for obvious reasons, with participation rising steeply since 2008, when the government paid $772 million for phones and monthly bills. But observers complain that the program suffers from poor oversight, in which phones go to people who don’t qualify, and hundreds of thousands of those who do qualify have more than one phone.

Last summer, a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story shed some light on a government program that relatively few Americans knew existed. (Read more about it here.) The Lifeline program provides low-income Americans with free cell phones (basic ones such as those made by Tracfone, not smartphones) and covers up to 250 free minutes each month. As many as 5.5 million residents in Pennsylvania alone could qualify for the program, which is funded primarily by the Universal Service Fund fee added to the bills of land-line and wireless customers.

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New Dating Site Treats Members Like Prostitutes

New Dating Site Treats Members Like Prostitutes – Digital Life

Signing up for an online dating site and finding yourself facing constant rejection is a frustrating experience. It’s even worse if you’re certain that all those cyber-strangers would see what a catch you are if they would just give you a chance to impress. A new dating site offers a solution to this problem – by treating its members like prostitutes and clients.

The site is called and it divides its members into two categories: “generous” and “attractive.”

The reason these categories exist? Because “generous” members are supposed to make offers to the “attractive” members in order to negotiate the terms of a first date. Yes, you read that right. According to this site, it should be perfectly commonplace for someone to pay a man or woman just to go on a date with him or her.

The way the transactions work is simple. A “generous” member finds an “attractive” member he or she is interested in and makes an offer. The attractive member then has a chance to accept, reject, or counter the offer with a new price. (Mind you, it’s also possible for “attractive” members to approach “generous” members and suggest how much they should offer.)

Once everyone agrees on the cost, the date is set and’s part in the transaction is done – but not before it provides a few warnings to daters:

* NEVER send money to anyone you have not met in person, no matter how believable their story may be.

* When paying for a first date, we suggest paying 50% at the start and 50% at the end of the date.

* Any transactions involving Western Union (other than paying us) is 99.9% Fraud.

* Protect your privacy. Do not pay for a first date with a personal check. is free to join, but there are plenty of expenses associated with using it beyond the costs of dates themselves. Members are expected to purchase credits just to unlock the ability to communicate with their prospective paramours and there are also options for premium memberships which offer additional account features.

Brandon Wade, the founder and CEO of and several other websites such as and, explains that this is all worth it though – and possibly even better than throwing money into traditional dating communities:


Yes, this sort of approach to dating seems sleazy to most of us and yes, it feels like treats its members like prostitutes and clients — but as Gawker’s Adrian Chen explains, the site isn’t really suggesting entirely genuinely new:

Sugar daddies and their babies have been around since the dawn of commerce. But offers a slightly different form for those too busy for traditional romantico-financial relationships: The casual “mutually beneficial arrangement.”

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