Tech Universe: Friday 28 September

By Miraz Jordan

WIPEOUT: Uh oh. People using Samsung smartphones running the TouchWiz user interface could be in for an unpleasant surprise. A security researcher from the Technical University Berlin discovered that a single line of malicious code on a website could wipe all the data from the phone. The phone could be sent to the website from a scanned QR code or NFC tag. Better hope the Cloud backup has been working. International Business Times has the news. The exploit is demonstrated at around the 10 minute mark on the video.

GLASS BITS: Magnetic bits on tape don't last forever and CDs and hard drives may only last a decade or two. But Hitachi say their quartz glass plate technology can store data indefinitely. The glass can endure extreme temperatures and hostile conditions without degrading. The plate stores data as dots inside a thin sheet of quartz glass. It can then be read with an ordinary optical microscope. The binary data can then be processed with a computer. The prototype is 2 cm square and 2 mm thick and can hold 40 MB per square inch. Hitachi believe they can fairly easily increase the storage. Hmm, will a microscope fit inside a computer? PhysOrg details.

MAPS ON THE GO: Researchers at MIT want to help rescue workers map buildings as they traverse them. They created a wearable sensor panel that includes a Kinect, a laser rangefinder, a cluster of accelerometers and gyroscopes, a camera, wireless, and even a barometer. As a test subject walked around inside a building observers were able to track progress on a map created in real-time. The wearer was able to add simple annotations with a clicker to mark points of interest, but the team hope to expand the possibilities for more meaningful annotations. It could be handy for explorers to create maps of unknown territory too. MIT News explains, Video here.

SEE-THROUGH SOIL: When biologists want to study plants and their roots they have a big problem: soil obscures their view. UK researchers have developed a transparent soil that lets them see exactly what's going on underground. They used used 350 to 1600 micron wide pellets of a synthetic and transparent polymer, Nafion. Then they saturated it with a water-based solution that refracts light. Now they have see-through soil. They also added minerals and fluorescent dyes for both nutrients and to see the size and shape of pores. That could make some rather interesting window gardens. io9 details.

CHARGE ON THE GO: Need to keep your phone charged all day? An entrepreneur in Chicago found a solution after her phone kept running out of charge during her busy day: a small bag with a flat charger sewn into the lining. Place the Everpurse on its charging mat for 6 hours, perhaps overnight, to recharge an iPhone twice during the day. The purse also charges the Galaxy S3. Nice one. Women 2.0 elaborates. Check out the video.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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