Friday Tech Roundup (6 December 2013): Toshiba to scoop up OCZ

Amazon Drones

By on December 6, 2013 at 11:44 am

Welcome to the Friday Tech Roundup! Contained herein is your weekly dose of some of the best tech news from across the Internet, rounded up for your edification and entertainment. Read on for all the details of Toshiba’s planned acquisition of OCZ, Amazon’s futuristic drone-based delivery system, and the upcoming reversible USB 3.0 connector.

Amazon Prime Air to deliver via UAV within 30 minutes

In a recent 60 minutes segment on the current state of Amazon fulfilment centres, CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled the company’s plans for a new delivery paradigm that feels a whole lot like the future. Amazon Prime Air is in the prototype phase, and aims to use unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver packages in less than 30 minutes, to customers that live within a 10 mile radius of a fulfilment centre. According to Bezos, 86% of orders from Amazon meet the requirements necessary for delivery via UAV, namely that they weigh less than five pounds, and fit within the delivery bins carried by the drones. Bezos clarifies that this technology is still in the R&D phase due to the obvious safety requirements involved in such a venture. Given that the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is not scheduled to make a decision on legalising commercial drone use standards in the US until September 2015, Bezos is realistic about expected timelines for the service, giving only a non-committal answer of “…but could it be four or five years? I think so.”

Meanwhile, Australian startup Flirtey is partnering with textbook rental service Zookal to use UAVs for deliveries in much the same way as Amazon, albeit with a limited product offering. Flirtey’s primary advantage is the head-start allowed by the fact that the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority already allows the use of unmanned aircraft systems through little more than the completion of a licence application form.

Toshiba to acquire OCZ SSD business

Since last week’s announcement of the closure of OCZ, the vultures have been circling. This week brings the announcement that Toshiba has agreed to take over the embattled company’s SSD client, enterprise, and software divisions, in a move that will allow Toshiba to be counted amongst the small number of companies that own both the controller intellectual property and the NAND memory supply chain. OCZ CEO Ralph Schmitt stated via press release that NAND supply chain constraints were a key in OCZ’s inability to maintain contractual profitability, “if our bid is successful, the combination of our leading NAND technology with OCZ’s SSD expertise will allow us to further strengthen Toshiba’s SSD business.” Toshiba’s bid is expected to be accepted within approximately 60 days.

Skyjack turns Parrot drones into willing slaves

In other UAV news, well-known hacker Samy Kamkar is at it again, this time releasing designs for a tool known as Skyjack, capable of hijacking in-flight Parrot drones and slaving them to a new host. Skyjack uses little more than a Raspberry Pi, a pair of wireless transmitters, and a USB battery pack to undertake its dark work, and when attached to a drone under the control of the user, could be used to repurpose drones for any purpose. Take a detailed look at Skyjack in Samy’s video below.

Next Generation USB cables to include reversible connectors

For many, the 50% success rate on blind attempts to plug in a USB cable is too low. Finally, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group has stated in a press release that the upcoming Type-C connector will be reversible — “Users will no longer need to be concerned with plug orientation/cable direction, making it easier to plug in.” The group also announced that the Type-C connector will be similar in size to the existing USB 2.0 Micro-B connector, as seen on many smartphones. The Type-C connector will not be compatible with existing plugs and receptacles, and will necessitate the production of “passive new-to-existing cables and adaptors to allow users to use their existing products.” It isn’t clear whether it is expected that the Type-C connector will replace the current Type-A connectors in use for most desktop-scale electronics, but if it does we can look forward to a future free of cable orientation anxiety.

IRL Shooter Mark II gear is here and aimed squarely at realism

The live-action zombie apocalypse-themed shooting gallery IRL Shooter, has acquired new gear with which to shoot at actors dressed up as horrible monsters, and one new piece of kit designed to let them get their own back. The MKII M4, based on the real M4A1 Carbine design, has “the same form, fit, and function as the real thing,” and includes bright muzzle flash, noises, and recoil, and requires the user to physically eject and replace the magazine to reload. The second piece of gear, The Pain Belt, is an optional extra for players 18 years and over. We reached out to Drew Hobbs from IRL Shooter to get some info on how The Pain Belt works. “Players can decide the level of pain that they wish to take and will be able to ‘test’ the setting before they go into the live mission,” he said via email. “We have full control of The Pain Belt and can remotely control the Belt, should a player be a cry baby bitch about it.”

The Pain Belt was designed to deal with a limitation that was fed back to the game’s organisers. When zombies approach, they deal damage to players within a certain radius. Apparently the fact that their attacks were “nothing physical [they] really hurt the immersion and threat levels of the previous game.” The Pain Belt ‘hurts’ the player by delivering a small, localised electric shock when the player is taking damage. Despite the fact that players are required to sign a liability waiver, the device was “developed not to cause serious injury,” though Hobbs clarifies that it despite being safe according to medical parameters, it “does carry some risk,” thus necessitating the waiver. IRL Shooter will be raising funds and selling tickets for its upcoming Sydney Patient 0 event via Pozible, starting on Monday December 16.

10 comments (Leave your own)

IRL Shooter Mark II.

So many kinds of stupid

Skyjack is a reminder that for every step tech companies make hackers make a step in ensuring that their efforts can be completely derailed.

Reminds me of a university paper I read on the vulnerability of cars to software hacking … scary how much damage a determined hacker could do in rush hour …

 

Amazon Prime Air to deliver via UAV within 30 minutes

Skyjack turns Parrot drones into willing slaves

Wow those two combined sound like so much fun. Wonder where that delivery went? I wonder… *hides hacker drone under bed*

 

CORDIS DIE!

 

“Finally, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group has stated in a press release that the upcoming Type-C connector will be reversible”

Or they could’ve just used an outer profile that had 1 or 0 axes of symmetry. Whoever was responsible for the rectangular outer profile owes society a bajillion man hours.

 

What’s amazing is the amount of people on overseas forums, whose thought process in regards to the news of Amazons drones seem to immediately go to “I would steal it / Shoot it down”!

So glad I live in a country where guns are nowhere near as accessible as they are in the US. Would someone not complain about some redneck in the street shooting at a drone or is that just natural behaviour?

And considering that a drone would probably only get low to the ground at its intended destination, keeping it when it lands on your property is just plain stupid considering the only reason it is accessible for you to grab in the first place is because you ordered something from them, giving them not only your address but more importantly would also mean they have your credit card details as well.

After all that, I think it’s a good idea and would be (depending on the distance it could travel) a marvelous idea for deliveries to people in rural areas. Today, Amazon deliveries, tomorrow, medicine home deliveries to people in need in rural areas.

 

I love the idea of amazonPrimeAir drones, i think its really fucking cool, but has anyone thought of how easy it would be to take advantage of is people can turn then into slave drones? people would be sending their own private packages which sounds good but it wouldnt take long for some form of terrorism to take notice of how simple it would be to send a drone with a package, instead of hand delivering.

 

Bicketybam,

first off take your moron uneducated opinion of guns elsewhere having a gun dosnt make you a redneck or also using one.

also what people are saying is if i wanted to shoot down the drone and get free stuff its not hard. when you buy some thing of amazon there contracted to deliver the product to you so even if you shoot the drone down when it lands in your own yard and dump it in a bin down the street and keep the delivery there’s no evidence when you call up to complain to demand a refund that at any point you took possession of your package. unless in the terms and conditions of the drone delivery you forfeit all rights which then would make it a very very unpopular and unused service.

 

squishie,

Congrats! It took less than half of your opening sentence for me to realise you were a complete fool not worthy of reading more from.

 

A couple of good reasons delivery drones will never take off (pardon the pun). 1. public liability insurance 2. the family pooch (who needs a gun)

 

mearehear,

sigh another young mind left behind to put emotions ahead of sound logic

 
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