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Technology aims for perfect jump shot ‘Internet of Things’ poses new security risks

A connected basketball promises to improve your jump shot. Embedded sensors which gather and analyze data offer hope for a better swing in golf, baseball or tennis. The worlds of sports and technology came together this week at the Consumer Electronics Show, highlighting ways science can improve performance for the weekend warrior or professional athlete. Apps and sensors showcased at CES 2014 help runners, cyclists, skiers, and people who play tennis, golf or baseball and more. The 94Fifty basketball from Ohio-based startup InfoMotion Sports Technologies has sensors connected to a smartphone app, which analyzes shooting and other aspects of the game, with the goal of getting users to shoot with the optimal trajectory.

“The ideal trajectory is 45 degrees, coming down into the basket,” said Dave Calloway, a former collegiate basketball coach who is sales director for the company. But Calloway acknowledges some players might find success with a different technique. “We tell you the ideal way, but we also allow you to do what you need to do to feel comfortable,” he told AFP on the CES floor. “For most players, their biggest flaw is inconsistency in trajectory. We as coaches can tell them what they have to do but with this system it is reinforced. They get the muscle memory.” Calloway said the basketball is being sold for recreational use, but that it could be beneficial at all levels, noting that it is in use by teams at Princeton University and the University of Kansas.

The same technology, he said, is likely to be applied by the company to a soccer ball in the near future. Another basketball system was introduced by British-based Cambridge Consultants, but its engineers were hesitant to offer a specific figure for trajectory. Here are some of the highlights and trends seen at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which ended Friday: Wearables: From connected socks and bras to baby clothing, wearable technology with the ability to transform computing was an overriding theme at the huge electronics fair. There was no showing of Google Glass, but other connected eyewear and apps for Glass were prominent, as was the first-ever “wrist revolution” zone. The Internet of Things: A connected toothbrush, basketball and tennis racket showcased the many uses of embedded technology in everyday objects.

Televisions: The major manufacturers showed off their biggest displays, including “ultra HD,” curved screens and interactive features. The tech and entertainment industries unveiled new partnerships to deliver high-definition content which can benefit from the format.

Automobiles: A record nine automakers were at CES, highlighting the importance of technology in the vehicle. A fully self-driving car was not part of the show, but driverless parking was demonstrated. And General Motors announced some cars would have 4G Internet connections.

Smartphones: If the smartphone was already the center of personal technology for many, it has now become the foundation for many innovations at the show. Apps leveraging the computing power of the smartphone and linking to the cloud were numerous. And the show saw the introduction of some powerful new “phablets,” as well as bendable displays.

Robotics: For play, work or entertainment, robotics took up an increasing amount of floor space. Robots designed to teach children programming as well as “telepresence” robots were showcased.
Drones: Grabbing a lot of attention were a handful of exhibitors of personal drones to be used as toys, or for professional photography and cinematography.

3D Printing: Advances in 3D printing technology on display at CES suggest this technology is ready for the masses. Singapore-based Pirate 3D introduced its Buccaneer home printer that sells for $497.

Smart homes: Home appliance titans LG and Samsung added their might to a trend of letting people command and even exchange text messages with stoves, washing machines, vacuums and other household equipment for tending to the demands of daily life. Another new twist at the show came from makers of Internet-enabled door locks.

Intuitive computing: Technology firms want to get rid of the mouse and touchpad. New computer and gaming hardware at the show was imbued with software that recognizes gesture, voice and even eye movements as people are freed to interact with devices naturally instead of having to click on icons or use touchscreens. Meanwhile, the hackers who got into your computer or smartphone are now taking aim at the Internet of Things. The connected toothbrush, sports gear with embedded sensors and smart refrigerators are just a few of the objects showcasing innovations at the Consumer Electronics Show.
They are all impressive but “they’re all breachable” said Kevin Haley, director of Symantec Security Response, while attending the huge high-tech trade show.

“If the object is connected to the Internet, you will find it, and if it has an OS (operating system) you can hack it,” he told AFP at the Las Vegas expo. Haley said the pace of innovation could outstrip the security protecting the devices. “As we start to bring all this new stuff in our houses, we’re going have to take some responsibility,” he said. The devices displayed the CES show included an array of gear from a connected basketball to baby clothing which monitors an infant’s breathing and positioning. And security researchers have shown the possibility, at least in theory, of hacking into automobile electronics or medical devices like pacemakers. Catalin Cosoi, chief security strategist at the firm Bitdefender, said the threat remains mostly theoretical for now. “I don’t think the bad guys have understood the benefits for them of making use of such things yet,” he said. But Cosoi said some new hack in inevitable which could cause people to take notice.

“We’re definitely going to see something happening this year... we might see the first collateral victim, a person being physically harmed,” he added. The introduction of Internet-enabled door locks at CES poses the obvious question of whether the devices can be compromised by hackers. Alex Colcernian, director of product development at Unikey, which powers Kwikset remote-control locks, said the technology includes “military grade encryption” to stay secure. Leo Herlin of French-based Medissimo, which introduced a smart pill box, said the system is “extremely secure” to prevent unwanted intrusions. One factor that mitigates the risk is that with billions of objects likely to be connected, the value to hackers could be limited in most cases: would a hacker penetrate a refrigerator to steal someone’s grocery list?

“You’ve got to be smart consumers when you’re using a smart device,” said Randy Overton, national product trainer for South Korean giant LG, which showed off its smart appliances that can communicate by text message with the owner. To allay potential concerns, computer chip giant Intel announced at CES that it would offer its McAfee security service for connected devices free of charge,. Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich told a CES keynote that offering this level of security would “allow this ecosystem to flourish.” (AFP) Equipment maker Cisco estimates that 50 billion objects worldwide will be connected by 2020.

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