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Go into any home in today's world, and you'll likely find some form of technology. Whether it's a smartphone, a baby monitor, surround sound speakers, or a security system, we now rely heavily on technology to help us complete tasks, to entertain us, to keep us safe, and so on.
With the increased intelligence of technology, we're able to do things that were never thought imaginable. While this has taken us to new heights in the world of discovery, the growing intelligence of technology has also become increasingly involved in our personal lives. Not only do we use technology to call friends, plan meetings, and send files, but we also use our phones, laptops, and iPads to hold documents, store passwords, and track our locations.
In the grand scheme of things, it seems that the convenience of technology is too good to give up for a little added safety. However, the more we rely on technology, the more our protection is weakened. If you're curious about how home technology is having an effect on our level of protection, the following are some of the problems that arise with home technology and security.
One of the biggest issues with home technology and security is that it has the potential to be broken into by online hackers. Regardless of how large or small a system is, hackers have the ability to breach even the most complicated systems where they can steal information, take money, and create irreversible damage for lots of people.
In 2016, there were over 2 billion records stolen by hackers before the year was even over. Some of the biggest companies in the world had to deal with compromised accounts, including LinkedIn and MySpace, where confidential passwords were sold and over 117 million accounts were hacked. So, what does any of this mean for home technology and home security? Essentially, if billion-dollar companies can get hacked into, chances are your phone or tablet is going to be a cinch to break into.
For all of the people who rely on their home technology to get them through the day, it's likely that sensitive information is being saved on these tech toys, putting lots of people at risk. Information such as their home location, garage code, and even security system passwords are often saved within home technology, which can often be breached and shared publicly. Burglars who need only a few pieces of information to grant themselves access into your home will have no trouble if you're not smart about your technology and personal information.
For those people who are not technological hackers but who are experienced with break-ins, a lot of the personal information mentioned is just as accessible to them via public access. Whether it's a social media platform like Facebook or a location tool like Google Maps, any account that is set to Public is exposed to prying eyes.
This is why it is so important for home technology to be used intelligently, which will require users to install privacy settings and to only allow certain users to view their information. Anyone with a public profile can easily share information about their whereabouts, home location, etc. with viewers who have other intentions for the information.
The following are some of the accessible pieces of information that should be blocked or kept to a minimum to ensure the safety of your household members and everything within the home.
Many of our iPads and smartphones are equipped with a feature known as "Location Services," and, if you're not familiar with the feature, there's a good chance you're sharing your location without even knowing it.
Essentially, your phones and tablets get your permission to allow apps and websites to gather information from your Wi-Fi, GPS networks, and Bluetooth to determine your approximate location at any given time. For many people, this is a fun feature that displays where they are when they send tweets, take photos, perform live streams, etc.
While a location finder is most helpful when you're using a GPS tracker to get directions, having a location finder on at any other time can be very harmful to your security. For example, a family who posts about their week-long trip location is handing out valuable information about their empty house and for how long it will be empty. Similarly, anyone who does live streams might be sharing enticing information for thieves about what they have in their household or that the house is currently empty.
All of the things we share online in a public forum are accessible to people both near and far. Surprisingly, it is more common for a burglar to be someone who lives in your area than to live farther away. You may consider this person a friend or neighbor; however, if they can see where you are and know where you live, your home is exposed to potential theft or damage.
It's best to go into your settings on all of your home technology and ensure that location services are turned off. You can turn these services back on when you're comfortable or leave them off at all times to ensure your phone isn’t being tracked.
Live streaming is one of the newest features in our home technology that can be used on laptops, phones, and iPads. The idea is for users to upload video footage of their current whereabouts, and it has become very popular for users of all ages.
The trouble with live streaming is that it serves to inform watchers where the user is and, often, shares information about what they're doing, whether they're at home, and what kinds of valuables can be seen in the area. This kind of feature is very limited when it comes to security precautions, and many people are not careful enough when it comes to sharing live information.
For hackers, burglars, and unwanted viewers, live streaming can be a technological tool to get them up-to-the-minute information about a home and whether the owners are present or not. While many adults have the proper decision-making skills to keep their exact location a secret, children often struggle with the parameters of live streaming and can give away personal information about their whereabouts, home locations, routes to school, etc.
This kind of home technology is most certainly a factor when it comes to security. For those families with children, it's even more important to have family discussions about safe technology practices and why it's important for kids to maintain the privacy settings their parents set for them.
Social Media Updates and Statuses
Social media use has the power to connect us with friends and family all over the world, and, for the most part, it's one of the greatest solutions to long-distance communication. While there are many great things about social media, this home technology can also be a culprit of home security problems.
Social media types come in a variety of forms, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and more. Many of these platforms require users to upload locations, photography, audio, video, and messages to let others know about their personal life.
Sharing this personal information between small groups of friends can be fun; however, giving access to those who may be looking for an easy home target can end in disaster for homeowners. Updates are usually to-the-minute, and profiles that are public can often give information about the homeowner's whereabouts in a status, photo, or video. It is crucial that social media users are always updating their passwords and making them unique, as well as going through their settings to ensure their information is private.
It's also a good idea for social media users to go through their current followers, to ensure that they know everyone or have a specific relationship with them that they can trust. While many people prefer to increase their followers by going public, this kind of security breach is not worth the attention.
Audio and Video Output
One of the other great ways for people to stay connected is by using audio and video outputs on their laptops and cell phones to communicate. Programs such as Skype are live-streaming video applications, which users can install to speak with friends, organize work meetings, or share visual information.
While Skype is a great program for communication, its security walls are not quite as impressive. For many users, daily hacks are a constant reminder that not even the hardest password or security question can keep spammers and hackers out of their account. Some Skype users who have been hacked have expressed how easy it is for spammers to guess their security questions, thereby gaining access to their e-mail and changing their passwords.
Once a spammer can get into your Skype account, they can then access all of your other contacts as well. It's a serious problem, but it's also not the only one. For hackers, laptops are incredibly helpful for
gaining knowledge about a home and what it contains. Once a hacker gets into a laptop, they can manipulate the camera settings and turn the lens on again, even when the user doesn't have it turned on.
With this kind of breach, a hacker or spammer can gain visuals of the home, including its layout and the valuables that it possesses. It's also possible for hackers to override the microphone and audio in a laptop, which means that any conversations can be heard even when the laptop is closed. Home security can be breached and break-ins are much easier if a burglar can get information about the home ahead of time.
Solutions to the Problems with Home Technology & Security
It would be unrealistic to suggest that all homeowners set aside their technology and start sending snail mail again. Technology has done many great things for this world, and it would be impossible to revert back to simpler times.
Unfortunately, with this great power comes a lot of responsibility. Companies who are coming out with these new features, apps, and programs need to seriously consider the security problems that could arise, and they need to make them known to potential users ahead of time.
If you're trying to find solutions to problems with your home technology, the first thing you'll want to do is re-set your passwords, making each one unique and strong. It is also very important to try to refrain from saving these passwords on your phone and, instead, have them written down on a piece of paper and store that paper somewhere in the home where you won't forget.
If the program you're using has security questions, you'll want to be as creative with these as possible, as well. Make sure that the information you're using is not accessible anywhere else on your social media platforms, such as maiden names, dog's names, or previous schools.
Even if you do have a security breach with your home technology, the next step in protecting your home is investing in a home security system. A quality system will be your best defense against burglars, and modern systems will be able to notify the correct authorities at the first sign of theft, damage, or potential break-ins. Systems like these can also notify authorities about potential fires, hot spots, and smoke, so the added benefits of investing in this type of system are worth the investment to protect loved ones and possessions.
If you're looking for ways to improve the security of your home, take some time to go through all of your devices and apply the information provided, such as turning off location services and keeping your profiles private. Everyone in your home should be educated about the possibilities of security breaches through technology and informed about the ways that they can avoid these kinds of problems.
In January of 2005, owner Christopher Grouse founded FireFold.com as a small online project. After dedicating years to the budding technology industry, he wanted a way to make quality, affordable networking products available to the general public. He and his wife Holly quit their jobs and devoted all of their time to operating and promoting their e-commerce store. Each order was processed, packed, and shipped by hand from the cramped basement they converted into their office and warehouse.
Their long hours and hard work paid off. News of the superior value and exceptional customer service spread, and business was able to expand beyond its humble basement beginning. FireFold.com has continued to grow ever since. In the spring of 2012, the company moved its headquarters to a larger building in Concord, NC. The 30,000 square feet of office and warehouse space has allowed FireFold to develop even more. Along with thousands of products stocked locally, Grouse now has a skilled team of in-house installers, technicians, and specialists to continue the legacy of remarkable products and services.
Technology continually evolves, especially when it comes to household items. When TVs were first invented, they displayed pictures in black and white and offered only several channels. Today, many TVs feature Wi-Fi connectivity and can operate similarly to a computer. They can display high-quality audio and video, stream movies, play games, and allow you to surf the Web.
If you have a high-definition TV set in your household, then you probably use the HDMI port to connect your devices – like video game systems, Blu-ray players, and laptops – to view shows and images in the best picture quality possible. Most likely, you use HDMI specification 1.4 for this purpose.
If you’re still using HDMI 1.4, you’re in need of an upgrade. HDMI 2.0 is now available to enhance the video and audio experience for in-home consumer use. If you have a home theater or simply want to experience the best quality of video and audio when playing TV shows and movies, then HDMI 2.0 can offer the ultimate viewing and listening experience. You’ll feel like you’re in a movie theater, except you won’t have to pay $10 for popcorn.
When comparing HDMI 1.4 to 2.0, you’ll notice various changes – but, for the better. With specification 1.4, you could expect to get 4,096 x 2,160 pixel resolution at a rate of up to 24 frames per second. But, with TVs getting more and more advanced, the HDMI world had trouble keeping up.
For example, you may now see Ultra HD 4K TVs everywhere. These TVs have higher resolutions and frame rates than TVs that were manufactured just several years ago. In an effort to keep up with the times, HDMI 2.0 was born.
One of the big features that sets HDMI 2.0 apart from earlier versions is that it allows you to transmit high dynamic range (HDR) video. Why is this important? Because, with standard TVs, the contrast – the difference between the brightness and darkness – is very narrow and the details are quite limited.
HDR fixes this by enhancing the signal and widening the contrast so you get more colors. As a result, you’re able to see more details, especially in sunny and darker shots. You are better able to see very dark and very bright objects together on the same screen without major issues.
You can also view 4K resolutions (2160 pixels) at up to 60 frames per second. This clarity is four times greater than HDMI 1.4’s rate of 1080 pixels at 60 frames per second. This allows you to view the highest resolution possible on your Ultra 4K TVs and 3D TVs. HDMI 2.0 also supports 4K at 24, 25, 30, and 50 frames per second, in 8, 10, 12, and 16-bit color modes.
What does this mean in terms of color? You’ll get as many as 16.7 million colors in 8-bit mode. In 12-bit mode, expect a whopping 68.7 billion colors. These rates – known as deep color – make going from HDMI 1.4 to 2.0 a data-heavy task.
Even if you don’t have a 3D TV, you can still benefit from higher frame rates on 2D content such as certain video games (like those played on a PC) and home movies. However, since most movies are shot at 24 frames per second, you won’t see much difference – if any – when viewing this type of content.
The same holds true if you’re a hardcore gamer. Most video gaming systems – even PlayStation 4 and Xbox One – will unlikely be able to deliver their games in 4K mode. Even a gaming PC won’t be able to keep up, so switching to HDMI 2.0 won’t improve your gaming experience at all.
Another key feature is the increased bandwidth. HDMI 2.0 increases bandwidth up to 18 Gbps, which amounts to 2,250 MB per second. Data is displayed from the source to the TV at higher speeds. This allows high-resolution TVs to display higher frame rates as well as increased resolution for data coming from lower-resolution sources. With dual video streams, HDMI 2.0 allows you to display two HD shows or games on the same screen at the same time. Do you want to watch a movie, while your husband wants to play video games? You can do both, and get high-quality resolution.
If your focus is not only on video quality but the sound as well, you’ll love what HDMI 2.0 has to offer. With as many as 32 multi-dimensional audio channels, you can truly immerse yourself in the sound. You get four times as many digital audio channels compared to the 1.4 version, which offers only eight channels. As a result, you’ll get a “3-D” quality to every sound on your TV shows or movies, like being in a theater.
Speaking of audio, you’ll get the highest fidelity possible. If you want clear sound without distortion and other noises that distract from the listening experience, HDMI 2.0 offers 1536 kHz audio sample frequency.
The HDMI 2.0 upgrade means a better Consumer Electronics Control. Through HDMI, a device can send signals to another – like what a remote control does. You can control up to 15 devices without having to purchase a universal remote. However, the manufacturers of devices you’re going to control need to put this standard in place in order for it to work. Many people aren’t aware of this capability, and it’s useless if your TV or Blu-ray player doesn’t support it.
Many HDMI users put off upgrading because they don’t want to have to change out the cables. The good news is that if you upgrade from HDMI 1.4 to 2.0, there’s no need for new cables. That’s because 2.0 simply changes out the hardware and nothing more. The cables are not affected at all, so even though you may see 4K HDMI cables advertised everywhere, don’t feel pressured to purchase them.
However, that’s not to say that nobody will have issues. There are always exceptions to the rule. If you notice issues with the picture quality, it’s possible that the cable could be to blame. If that’s the case, you may want to upgrade to an HDMI 2.0 cable – but spend your money wisely. You’ll see cables available at various prices. What’s the difference between a $20 cable and one that sells for $100? Nothing. You won’t get better picture quality by spending five times as much for the same exact thing, so don’t be fooled.
When upgrading to HDMI 2.0, you may experience some issues with video streaming. With more frames per second, you’ll have to download more data. While that won’t be a problem as far as HDMI is concerned, it may wreak havoc on your Internet connection – even if you have broadband or DSL. So, there may be some concerns as to whether or not your connection can keep up with the pace.
In addition, HDMI 2.0 is backward compatible with earlier HDMI versions. However, if you’ve never had HDMI set up in your home, you can’t simply start with the latest and greatest version. HDMI 2.0 is built upon earlier versions, so you’ll need to start out with some version – likely 1.4 – before upgrading.
How to Upgrade
The jury’s still out on how you will be able to upgrade to HDMI 2.0. According to Sony, its Ultra HD TVs can be upgraded through a download that upgrades the firmware. However, that method is not universal. Each manufacturer has a different method for obtaining the upgrade.
There are no provisions in place but expect to upgrade either your hardware or firmware or, potentially, both. With so many new and enhanced features in place, it will be a major conversion. This is especially true since bandwidth and other specifications are based on the chips inside the HDMI hardware, and those chips can only do so much before upgrades are needed in order to enhance performance.
Newer models may already have HDMI 2.0 in place, while older models may require additional hardware or other workarounds in order to get you up and running. In any case, check with the manufacturer of your TV to see what needs to be done to make sure your device is compatible with HDMI 2.0. If you use a DVD or Blu-ray player with your TV, you’ll want to make sure it’s current as well, so you can take advantage of all the features the HDMI upgrade will offer.
HDMI Specification 2.1
In the second quarter of 2017, HDMI 2.1 will be released to those who currently use HDMI 2.0. HDMI 2.1 offers many advanced features, such as higher refresh rates and video resolutions – ideal for fast-action movie scenes and video games. You’ll also get Dynamic HDR, which ensures that every frame offers detail, color, depth, brightness, and contrast at ideal levels.
Since HDMI 2.0 doesn’t offer a lot for gamers, the 2.1 version is making up for that with a feature called Game Mode VRR. This feature offers a variable refresh rate, which means better gameplay. A 3D graphics processor eliminates stutters, lags, and other frame issues that can impact the video game experience.
As with the HDMI 2.0, the 2.1 version is also backward compatible with older versions. However, a new cable will be required if you choose to display high video resolutions, such as 4K at 120 frames per second or 8K at 60 frames per second. The 48G cable is recommended due to the higher bandwidth required.
Again, the ability to upgrade and the procedure for upgrading will be dependent on the manufacturer. If you have concerns, contact the manufacturer of your TV.
Should You Upgrade to HDMI 2.0?
If you’re a casual TV watcher, an HDMI upgrade will be no big deal to you. But if you live and breathe viewing the latest TV shows and movies on your Ultra 4K TV connected to your state-of-the-art home theater surround sound system, then you’ll definitely want to upgrade to HDMI 2.0 as soon as it becomes available. The enhanced features will offer an experience that will make you feel like you’re part of the movie or show.
As consumers, we tend to push our devices to their limits, and home entertainment systems are no exception. If you’ve ever wanted to take advantage of everything that technology has to offer in a consumer’s home environment, HDMI allows you to do that. From enhanced audio and video to dual streams and more colors, your high-tech home will be squeezing everything it can out of your Internet connection.
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In Brief Video game company Square Enix collaborated with Open Bionics to design two Deus Ex-inspired prosthetic arms. The designs are royalty-free and anyone can 3D print their own.
Video game company Square Enix and its subsidiary Eidos-Montréal teamed up with low-cost prosthetic company Open Bionics,
Intel, and Razer to give amputees two Deus Ex-inspired prosthetic arm
designs: the Adam Jensen Arm, based on the hero of Mankind Divided, and
the Deus Ex Universe Arm.
The Adam Jensen Arm is fully functional with flexing fingers and a
rotating wrist, while the Deus Ex Universe arm is sharper, geometric,
and more sinister-looking.
This could be a mainstream opener for human augmentation, especially in the midst of controversies over AI– whether or not they would be a threat to humanity, or if we should try to achieve symbiosis with machines.
And the best part–these designs are royalty-free. Anyone can 3D print their own bionic arms using the designs and be a total badass.