This Creepy Finger Plugs Into Your Phone and Drags the Device to You

Courtesy of Marc Teyssier
Courtesy of Marc Teyssier

A team of researchers has finally answered the question on everyone’s mind: "What if mobile devices had a robotic limb?" Well, the future is here, and a new invention spotted by Tech Radar lets you plug a faux finger into your phone.

Like something out of The Addams Family, the MobiLimb uses sensors and embedded electronics to scoot across a surface and bring you your phone. The finger-like "skin" is made from the same type of silicone that's used in Hollywood to make masks and realistic prosthetics. It's creepy, sure, but never again will you be forced to get off the couch to grab your phone when it's on the opposite end of the coffee table. So there's that.

The robotic digit is the invention of four researchers from France, including human-computer interaction researcher Marc Teyssier. Their findings—and hopefully a reasonable explanation for inventing this terrifying thing—will be presented this month at the 2018 User Interface Software and Technology Symposium in Berlin, Germany.

With the MobiLimb, your phone will no longer be boring, motionless, and passive. It taps on the table when you get a notification, and if you happen to receive a smiley face emoji while holding your phone, the robotic finger softly strokes your hand or inner wrist. Why? Well, we're not totally sure. According to researchers, the device "reacts expressively to users' actions to foster curiosity and engagement" and also "provides rich haptic feedback such as strokes, pats, and other tactile stimuli on the hand or the wrist to convey emotions during mediated multimodal communications." In other words, it's meant to make your phone more human. Yikes.

If the realistic rubber finger is too grotesque for you, you can opt instead for a robot-like one instead. Another version, clad in faux fur, is designed to resemble a wagging tail—because at this point, nothing is really surprising anymore. You can see the MobiLimb in action in the video below.

Of course, the MobiLimb has less disturbing applications, as well. It can be used as a joystick, or as a stand to prop up your phone while you watch cute cat videos. Sadly, it doesn't appear to be for sale at the moment, so all plans to freak out your friends with it will have to be put on hold.

[h/t Tech Radar]

Autumnal Dessert Spices and Cubed Meat Collide: Pumpkin Spice SPAM Now Exists

David McNew/Getty Images
David McNew/Getty Images

Does sipping on a pumpkin spice latte ever make you think: “Man, I wish this were cubed meat”? Soon, it will be. According to NBC News, Hormel will start selling Pumpkin Spice SPAM on September 23.

It all started back in October of 2017, when Hormel announced via its Facebook page that pumpkin spice SPAM was coming—as a joke. The post clearly stated that it wasn’t real, but that didn’t stop scores of people from making comments about how it would probably taste delicious and asking where they could purchase a can.

Now, a Hormel publicist has confirmed to NBC News that the limited-edition, fall-themed flavor will soon be available to order online from Walmart or Spam.com.

"True to the brand’s roots, SPAM Pumpkin Spice combines deliciousness with creativity, allowing the latest variety to be incorporated into a number of dishes, from on-trend brunch recipes to an easy, pick-me-up snack,” Hormel told NBC News.

While Pumpkin Spice SPAM might not yet be accepted into pumpkin spice canon alongside lattes and muffins, it’s far from the strangest product that has been imbued with the mysterious, cinnamon-y spice blend to date; we’ll leave automotive exhaust spray and light bulbs to duke it out for that designation. And the Facebook commenters might have actually been onto something when they dared to suggest that Pumpkin Spice SPAM had palatal potential. After all, ham recipes often include sweet ingredients like maple syrup, brown sugar, and honey. And, according to TIME, the word spam was invented as a portmanteau of spiced ham.

Wondering what other SPAM innovations you might be missing out on? Check out these recipes from around the world.

[h/t NBC News]

A Security Researcher’s Attempt to Prank the DMV Backfired in a Spectacularly Expensive Way

tommaso79/iStock via Getty Images
tommaso79/iStock via Getty Images

A security researcher known as Droogie took to the DEF CON hacking and security conference stage last weekend to regale the audience with his story of getting bested by the very bureaucratic system he was trying to exploit.

As Gizmodo reports, it all started when Droogie decided to register his car with a vanity license plate that read “NULL,” a word that computer programs use to designate something that has no value. He thought that the Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) systems might misinterpret his license plate as an entry with no value and fail to catalog his car’s data.

ALPR systems are built into surveillance cameras on police vehicles, streetlights, highway overpasses, and elsewhere, collecting license plate numbers along with the time, date, and location. The cameras don’t just catalog your car’s data if you’re speeding or doing something otherwise suspicious—they'll capture license plate data whenever it comes into view. It’s not exactly clear when and why the systems keep track of your whereabouts, let alone who’s watching and how they’re using the information, so Droogie’s scheme was more about protecting personal privacy, rather than trying to dodge tickets.

His hypothesis proved partially correct: The systems didn’t properly process his “NULL” license plate, but the outcome was basically the opposite of what he was hoping for. First, upon trying to renew his tags, the DMV website informed him that his license number was invalid. Then he was hit with a barrage of parking tickets that totaled more than $12,000, because a processing center had used “NULL” for all parking misdemeanors committed by unidentified vehicles, and the system mistakenly attributed them all to Droogie’s car. According to Mashable, he told his DEF CON audience, “I was like … 'I’m gonna be invisible.' Instead, I got all the tickets.”

After Droogie contacted the DMV and the Los Angeles Police Department, they helped erase the fines from his account and advised him to change his plates so it doesn’t happen again, since there are no plans to alter the processing system that was assigning him the tickets in the first place. He refused, insisting he "didn’t do anything wrong." As of his DEF CON presentation, Droogie has received another $6000 in misattributed tickets.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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