Wi-Fi Stories March 13, 2015

Anonymously tracking phones through airport security cuts waiting time by a third

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport says that anonymously tracking smartphones through airport security has enabled it to cut the average waiting time by a third.

The system, developed by Danish company Blip Systems, scans both WiFi and Bluetooth connections to look for MAC addresses of mobile devices passing through security. Counting the number of devices in each queue enables the system to estimate the length of the queue. The queue length is displayed to passengers in minutes, so they can choose which queue to join, and also used to help the airport allocate the right number of security personnel.

Blip says that it anonymizes this data, and only uses device counts. You might think iOS 8 users don’t have to take the company’s word for it since Apple introduced MAC address spoofing when scanning for networks, but the protection offered by this was last year shown to be rather limited.

The same system is used in a number of other airports around the world, but this is the first time it’s been used in the USA.

Via The Verge

Wi-Fi Stories January 8, 2015

The plethora of smart home devices at CES makes it clear that home automation is an idea whose time has finally come. It seems there’s almost no household device now that can’t be controlled by, or at least communicate with, an iPhone.

The only downside is the expense of having to replace your perfectly good dumb devices with smart versions. This is the problem the Roost Smart Battery set out to solve, a WiFi-enabled 9v battery allowing your existing smoke alarm to send alerts to your iPhone when it’s triggered, so you get alerted even if the alarm is at the other end of the house or you’re away from home …  expand full story

Wi-Fi Stories January 6, 2015

iPad-controlled wireless power system charges devices via WiFi up to 20 feet away

While some have been disappointed that Apple hasn’t yet incorporated wireless charging technology into its devices, charging pads are really almost as clunky as wires: you still have wires going to the pads, and you have to put your device in a specific place to charge them. What we really want is true wireless charging, where power is beamed directly to the device through the air.

Which is exactly what Energous has been demonstrating at CES with a system it calls WattUp, reports Engadget.

WattUp […] works using a mix of RF, Bluetooth and a lot of patent-pending technology. The transmitter is where most of the magic happens. It communicates with and locates compatible devices using low-energy Bluetooth. Once they’ve established contact with a device, they send out focused RF signals on the same bands as WiFi that are then absorbed and converted into DC power by a tiny chip embedded in the device. These transmitters can be built into household appliances, TVs, speakers and standalone “energy routers.”

What looks like an oversized Internet router beams power up to 20 feet, so have enough of these – or transmitters embedded into other devices around the home – and your portable devices are powered wherever they are. All that’s needed is for the receiving devices to have the necessary chip.

Energous used an iPad app to demonstrate switching power between devices, but the plan is to build intelligence into the system so that it beams power to devices automatically depending on how much charge they have left. Once your phone has enough power, it switches instead to powering your iPad. As you move around the home, power transmission is handed off to the next source in much the same way as your phone switches between different WiFi networks.

Energous wants to license the technology to manufacturers, and Apple would clearly make a very attractive target.

The clunkiness of charging pads is, I think, why Apple hasn’t yet adopted wireless charging. This, not pads, is the way charging should work, and sooner or later this – or some equivalent tech – is how our iDevices will be charged. I’m very much hoping for ‘sooner.’

9to5Mac’s CES 2015 coverage brought to you by:

Wi-Fi Stories January 4, 2015

Seagate and its LaCie subsidiary have announced five new hard drives just ahead of this week’s 2015 CES, including two new iOS-compatible wireless models and three new Mac-only disks. All except one will be available in January from the company’s web sites.

For iOS, the 500GB Seagate Wireless ($130) is an economical and portable, battery-powered hard disk designed to compete with G-Technology’s G-Connect and Western Digital’s My Passport Wireless. Just under 4″ on each side and less than an inch thick, Seagate’s version is designed to look fun, with your choice of green, blue, gray, red, or white matte housings, and uses integrated Wi-Fi to connect with iOS devices and Macs for media playback as well as Android/Windows/Chrome. It runs for nine hours between charges and can connect to 3 devices simultaneously.

Seagate Seven ($100) is a Mac-only alternative that promises to be the world’s thinnest portable hard drive. Made from 100% stainless steel, the enclosure is only 7mm thick and includes a USB 3.0 cable for connecting to a computer, giving up wireless in order to achieve its small size. In a break from traditionally boxy or rounded hard drives, Seven is actually slim enough to let you see the contours of the traditional hard disk mechanism inside. Three additional drives are discussed below…

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Wi-Fi Stories November 25, 2014

From 9to5Toys.com:

9to5-image 2014-11-25 at 3.54.44 PM

We’ve got a nice 9to5Toys Specials deal on this evening and the best part is that it is a name your own price with the bids starting at $1.  The earlier you get in, the less you pay. Here’s the list of apps but frankly Typinator alone is worth it. Go big and 10% of your purchase price goes to a charity of your choice and you’ll be entered to win a Gold iPad 2 & iPhone 6

(Update:6:30am ET: the price is now $3.50)

  • Typinator – $32 – The program the “types” frequently used text for you
  • Hotspot Shield VPN – 1 Year Elite Subscription
  • Starry Night Enthusiast – $80 – Turn your computer into a virtual universe
  • Intensify Pro – $60 – The image enhancer for photographers of all levels
  • Spotdox 3 – $72 – Get access to all your files, on any device, anywhere
  • Data Backup 3 – $49 – Easy, powerful, and flexible backups
  • Paperless – $50 – Fuel your paper-free lifestyle
  • MacJournal 6 – $40 – Multimedia journal for the 21st century
  • Pixa – $25 – Image management and sharing app
  • Must Have Mac App Tutorial – $100 – Learn how to maximize the 9 apps included

 

Wi-Fi Stories November 20, 2014

Apple has pushed the first beta build of OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 out to AppleSeed users and developers. The update has a build number of 14C68k and weighs in at 422 MB. Last week the company released version 10.10.1 to the general public.

Apple hasn’t provided any indications of what’s new in this beta and has not listed any particular focus areas, though it’s possible this could be a hotfix update to address any lingering Wi-Fi glitches that didn’t get fixed in the most recent patch.

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