Saturday, May 20, 2017

Disney's Roomscale Wireless Charging..

Wireless power is an idea that came into main stream ever since from 1891, when Nikola Testla demonstrated that you could transfer power between two objects via electromagnetic field. But it took over a century for the technology to find its own way, in the past few years wireless charging has finally emerged onto the consumer electronics market. But existing wireless charging is facing two challenges: range and health concerns. Safe, non-radiative methods such as near-field coupling are highly localized and require the devices to be placed near the charging source. It interrupts freedom and Charging is restricted to a confined area. Scientists at a branch of the Walt Disney Company called Disney Research have found a way to tackle these problems and charge devices on a room-scale without using any wires.
Disney has created a prototype living room where10 objects, a smartphone, a lamp, a fan, an RC car, and more are powered, without using any cables. The room built was lined with aluminum panels. In its center was a copper tube between the floor and the ceiling, with a current running through it. Fifteen capacitors in the pole are used to set a resonant frequency in the room and isolate electric fields from a signal generator, which outputs at 1.32 MHz. A uniform magnetic field is then run through the room at the same frequency. The receivers use a coil of wire to resonate at the same frequency, providing power to a device. The researchers were able to deliver about 1,900 watts with an efficiency of 40 to 95 percent.
Unlike existing wireless power transfer solutions, which mostly require an object to be placed very close to a wireless charging pad, the objects in Disney's living room can receive power while freely roaming; you can walk into the room with a smartphone in your pocket and it will start charging.The efficiency of the system is quite high, between 40 and 95 percent, depending on the receiver's position within the room.
The technology called as quasistatic cavity resonance (QSCR), can enable purpose-built structures, such as cabinets, rooms, and warehouses, to generate quasistatic magnetic fields that safely deliver kilowatts of power to mobile receivers contained nearly anywhere within. A theoretical model of a quasistatic cavity resonator is derived, and field distributions along with power transfer efficiency are validated against measured results. Alanson Sample, associate lab director & principal research scientist at Disney Research said this new innovative method will make it possible for electrical power to become as ubiquitous as WiFi.
Following are the disadvantages in this system:
  1. The circular nature of the magnetic field produced means receivers only work when at right angles to it,. i.e, ,if you want to receive power while freely moving around the room create a new receiver design that consists of three orthogonal coils, so that one of them is always able to receive power.
  2. Safety-wise: to stay within the SAR limits, a measure of how much energy is absorbed by the human body,no humans can stand within 46 centimetres of the copper pole. Need of safety strategies such as intrusion detection or a decorative walls around the pole, right in the middle of the room.
  3. Due to the large amount of unused power stored in the room, the appliances in the space would have to use and receive that much power. Some kind of real-time power consumption tracking, would be required to use1,900 watts in the room, you also need devices to be using this to remain safe.
Disney Research isn't the first company to create wireless charging at distance, or far-field wireless charging but the thing to be noted is that they used a magnetic resonator coil, not unlike those used by conventional resonant wireless charging or "near-field" technologies sold today, to project a field at distance through which devices can receive power. A copper pipe with capacitors that transmit the electrical curren stands in the center of an experimental room.
Eventhough this system is far from commercial ready, it’s no less impressive and as they develop it further in the coming years, may soon extend to many more applications. For instance, electric buses wireless charging stations into public locations so that people with so-called battery anxiety can be relaxed. QCSR based wireless power offers a viable method for eliminating the wires and batteries, which can be restricted various imaginative arrangements in the mechanical, restorative, and customer electronic spaces while giving an anticipated measure of spatial charging flexibility. I must say it’s the most feasible yet. In addition, Disney aims to have Audio-Animatronics figures, which able to run throughout the day via wireless power source.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Hope You Don't "Wanna Cry"

WannaCry” first discovered on Friday, May 12th 2017, had spread to an estimated 57,000 computers in more than 150 different countries around the world by the end of the day. Some experts said the threat had receded as of Sunday, in part because “MalwareTech” registered a domain that he noticed the malware was trying to connect to, limiting Wanna Cry's spread. Microsoft also issued emergency security patches for a range of Windows versions. But the Hackers updated the software to another variant which spreads more rapidly and creating more havoc. Infact, second variant doesnt have a kill switch and is responsible for 50% of all attacks .
Last week, an unprecedented malware attack began sweeping the globe and the most severe malware attack so far in 2017. A new ransomeware called 'Wannacry' or 'Wannacrypt' has attacked a few big countries with Russia, Ukraine, and Taiwan being the top targets and created havoc by targeting sensitive industries like healthcare, banks. This ia a scary type of trojan virus called “ransomware”, the virus in effect holds the infected computer hostage and demands that the victim pay a ransom in order to regain access to the files on his or her computer.
Lets see, what is ransomeware wannacry. “Ransome” means a sum of money demanded or paid for the release of a captive. Ransomware is a malicious software that locks a connected device, such as a computer, tablet or smartphone and then demands a ransom to unlock it. The WanaCrypt 0r 2.0 bug, for instance, wants $300 to be paid in Bitcoins to unlock the affected computers. However, paying the ransom is no guarantee for getting the files will be restored and might just open up new attacks.
WannaCry works by encrypting most or even all of the files on a user’s computer. The software demands that a ransom be paid in order to have the files decrypted. The biggest threat with 'Wannacry' is that it's more than just a ransomware; it can also be classified as a worm. Being a worm, the ransomware has the ability to spread to different systems running on the same LAN network or even spread through emails.
The purpose of a ransomware attack is to extort money from victims. It is a powerful attack because people may fear losing their documents and photographs and so may be more likely to pay. When it hits businesses and hospitals, there is extra pressure to get rid of the ransomware quickly. The government has said the ransomware outbreak at the NHS was not a targeted attack on the UK's health service. It may be that the attackers created their virus without knowing exactly how far it would spread.
The malicious software used in the attack has the ability to automatically spread across large networks by exploiting a known bug in Microsoft's Windows operating system. Other factors were the large number of old, outdated software programs in use and often ineffective security systems. The hackers were using tools stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency and released on the Internet on 14 April through a dump by a group called Shadow Brokers. When a system is infected, a pop-up window appears with instructions on how to pay a ransom amount of $300. The pop-up also features two countdown clocks; one showing a three-day deadline before the ransom amount doubles to $600; another showing a deadline of when the target will lose its data forever. It demands payment only in bitcoin, gives instructions on how to buy it, and provides a Bitcoin address to send it to.
Have you heard of Bad USB??? BadUSB, is a malware that can be installed on a USB device to completely take over a PC, invisibly alter files installed from the memory stick, or even redirect the user’s internet traffic. Since BadUSB resides not in the flash memory storage of USB devices, but in the firmware that controls their basic functions, the attack code can remain hidden long after the contents of the device’s memory would appear to the average user to be deleted. If cybercriminal professionals thought of a collaboration of Bad USB and Wannacry, the results could be even graver(We may not find the flaw at once and the whole hardware needs to be replaced after such an attack)
How to protect ourselves from the cyber attacks?? Self defence is always the prime choice. Following are some important steps to follow:
  • Keeping a back up is the safest and most effective way to deal with the threat.
  • Regardless of which operating system you run, you should install any and all available security updates immediately.
  • Individual users as well as organisations have been asked to apply patches to their Windows system(s) as mentioned in the Microsoft Bulletin MS17-010, which is marked critical
  • Don't open emails or links in e-mails from people even in your contact list. E-mail has proven to an effective carrier in the case of 'Wannacry' ransomeware
  • Avoid downloading from websites that are not trustworthy; even attachments from unsolicited e-mails
  • Update Antivirus on all your systems and download Microsoft's latest software patches. For unsuported Windows versions such as XP, Vista etc, the user can download the necessary patch from this link.
  • Providing cyber-hygiene training to all levels of employees so that they dont click on phishing links i.e,Educate employees on identifying scams, malicious and emails that may contain viruses.
  • Organisations connecting to the Internet through Enterprise Edge or perimeter network devices [UDP 137, 138 and TCP 139, 445] should block their SMB ports or disable SMBv1.
If u get affected then immediately, Disconnect from the internet to ensure there is no further infection or exfiltrating of data as the ransomware will be unable to reach the command and control servers. Set BIOS clock back in case the ransomware has a time limit associated to it as with WannaCry.
Do you wonder why ransome isasked in Bitcoins?? Ransomware often demands between 0.3 and 1 Bitcoins (£400 – 1,375), but can demand a payment denominated in dollars but made via Bitcoin. The digital currency is popular among cybercriminals because it is decentralised, unregulated and practically difficult to trace. Also all bitcoin transactions are visible on bitcoin’s public accounting ledger, known as the blockchain.I said difficult, not impossible to trace as the law enforcement in multiple countries will be looking for the culprits.
I think literally, this may not be a money-making scheme at all. Unlike more functional and automated ransomware attacks, the wannacry attack has probably the lowest profit margin it might be someone trying to make a wake up call and I personally agree with Microsoft that the governments of the world should treat the WannaCry attack as "a wake-up call," to consider the "damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits. I think WannaCrypt could have been intended merely to demonstrate the moral hazard of governments that catalogue software vulnerabilities but do not notify software developers. Thus, WannaCrypt illustrated exactly what could happen if these vulnerabilities fall into the wrong hands. Always remember cybersecurity is a shared responsibility between tech companies and customers, the former relying on the latter to keep their critical systems updated, just as people rely on companies to put out secure systems. So its all about coperation..
In this era of big data, this is the next generation of malware, a more professional operation could improve on WannaCry’s techniques to inflict far worse damage. i.e a code that doesnt have a killer switch can be catastrophic. This combination of a network-based self-spreading worm and the profit potential of ransomware won’t fade away, and we have to develop our own abilities to adapt and innovate in order to be better prepared for the next attack.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2017

ISRO With A Perfect Solution To Fuel Crisis In India

After invading the skies, Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO) ,is now focusing on the automobile space with an emphasis on renewable energy. Since vehicles using fossil fuels persistently bring serious problems to environment and life. Electric vehicles are considered the future of transport. But the emissions are just transferred from the exhaust of the vehicle to the chimneys of the power plant. So Solar and Electrical energy based hybrid vehicles will provide the most effective and viable long-term solution by using renewable energy sources for mobility.
ISRO has been working on a number of sustainable initiatives in recent times. They recently launched a solar calculator app, that will help people install solar panels most optimally to derive energy. Now  the solar hybrid vehicle was successfully demonstrated in a test drive, including an uphill drive. Solar energy is available in abundance for free , and it is also a non-polluting source of energy. So, ISRO might solve a major problem in the electric vehicles.The electric car is equipped with solar panel, battery and super-capacitor. The technology also uses control electronics for charging of battery and gear set to transmit power to the wheels. ISRO mounted a high-efficiency solar panel on the roof of the car and used a super-capacitor to meet the demand of high peak current of over 100Ampere. The solar panels charge thelithium-ion batteries. The batteries power the lightweight brushless electric motor which propels the vehicle. The donor car is a Maruti Omni, and the electrical equipment is placed in the boot of the car. The usage of a Brushless type motor helped in improving the torque and reducing energy input while also helping in weight savings.
The car has been tested successfully at the Vikram Sarabhai space centre ( VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram and ISRO is already working on improving it. ISRO took concentrated efforts to make sure that safety was not compromised during the integrations of various subsystems. ISRO also plans to cut costs by using indigenous Li-ion pouch cells/Fuel cell with super-capacitor.Some people have commended that it has a ugly look, but i think it is the technology that matters and not the looks.India is aiming to push the use of electric vehicles to tackle rising pollution in its cities with the government setting a target of 6 million electric and hybrid vehicles on the roads by 2020 under the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 and Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles.I hope this endeveor by ISRO will fulfill India’s ambitious plan of making India a 100 percent electric vehicle nation by 2030.
When we consider the growing environmental concerns, the new technology is definitely a welcome move. EV on a clean fuel source is a better option for India as it provides an effective and long-term viable solution for the fuel crisis and pollution problems of the country. Since most leading automakers in the country have already been working hard on introducing hybrid versions, an initiative from ISRO might really help with future developments. The technology will totally revolutionise electric car market in India and might solve world’s transportation problems minimising its dependence on fossil fuels.

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