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Hsu et. al, CSAIL [PDF]

A Wall-Mounted Sensor Can Track Your Movement Better Than a FitBit

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Hsu et. al, CSAIL [PDF]

The way that a person walks can contain important information about their health. In 2011, a University of Pittsburgh study found that walking speeds could predict life expectancy. Now, MIT researchers have found an easy way to monitor how fast people are walking at home, as The Verge reports.

The MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL)—which has previously debuted technology to help people learn languages and evaluate their selfies—is working on a wall-mounted sensor that can track people’s movements via radio signals. WiGait sends out low-radiation signals that reflect off a person’s body as they walk through the room, then calculates how fast that person is moving based on how the signals come back. It’s 95 to 99 percent accurate at measuring people’s walking speeds and stride lengths, according to MIT. The team behind the device claims it is more accurate than trackers like FitBit, which don't measure velocity or stride length, just step numbers. WiGait can recognize the movements of up to four different people in a room and works at distances of up to 40 feet, including through walls.

The technology could be used to study older people’s walking speeds at home to analyze their health without requiring them to wear an intrusive wristband or other wearable device. Walking speed can be an indicator of a person’s risks for future falls and hospitalizations, and WiGait could be used to monitor patients with a high risk of falling or cognitive decline, especially in assisted-living homes.

The CSAIL research [PDF] tested out WiGait in 14 different homes, and found that users tended to forget it was there after a few days, and preferred it to the idea of installing a camera-based monitoring device in their home. Most people don’t want to be recorded 24/7, but radio signals that only recognize movement might be a more acceptable way to collect data on people’s gait speeds at home, where, in the case of older people with limited mobility, they probably spend most of their time.

[h/t The Verge]

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Getting Calls From Your Own Phone Number? Don't Answer!
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There’s a new phone scam that could affect you, according to Washington’s KIRO 7 News. In addition to keeping your eyes open for calls that come from area codes like 473 or involve people claiming to be Equifax representatives, you now have to watch out for your own phone number.

Scammers are manipulating your phone’s caller ID to make it look like you’re getting a call from your own phone number, then posing as someone from a wireless carrier like AT&T or Verizon. They tell whoever answers the phone that their account has been flagged for security reasons, then ask for the last four digits of that person’s Social Security number. The FCC has been aware of these scams for at least two years, but they seem to be ramping up once again.

In general, you shouldn’t give out any part of your Social Security number over the phone on an incoming call. If you’re suspicious, you can always call your carrier back using the official customer service phone number on their website or on your bill. But it’s best not to pick up at all. If you receive a call from your own number, don’t answer or press any buttons. Instead, file a complaint with the FCC.

[h/t KIRO 7 News]

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Samsung’s Star Wars Vacuums Offer Everything You Want in a Droid
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Samsung

Hate housecleaning but love Star Wars? Samsung’s got the solution. In anticipation of December’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the newest film in the Star Wars saga, Samsung has transformed a limited number of its VR7000 POWERbot robot vacuum cleaners into two familiar faces from George Lucas’s legendary space opera: a Stormtrooper and Darth Vader (which comes with Wi-Fi connectivity and a remote control).

In order to create a unique device that would truly thrill Star Wars aficionados, Samsung consulted with fans of the film throughout each stage of the process. The result is a pair of custom-crafted robo-vacuums that fill your home with the sounds of a galaxy far, far away as they clean (when you turn Darth Vader on, for example, you'll hear his iconic breathing).

“We are very pleased to be part of the excitement leading up to the release of The Last Jedi and to be launching our limited edition POWERbot in partnership with Star Wars fans,” B.S. Suh, Samsung’s executive vice president, said in a press statement. “From its industry-leading suction power, slim design, and smart features, to the wonderful character-themed voice feedback and sound effects, we are confident the Star Wars limited edition of the VR7000 will be a big hit.”

Be warned that this kind of power suction doesn’t come cheap: while the Stormtrooper POWERbot will set you back $696, the Darth Vader vacuum retails for $798. Who knew the Dark Side was so sparkling clean?


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