TIME Innovation

See the Men Who Got Their Hands Cut Off and Replaced With Bionic Ones

Milorad Marinkovic holds an egg with his bionic arm with his bionic arm in Vienna, Austria on Feb. 24, 2015.
Ronald Zak—AP Milorad Marinkovic holds an egg with his bionic arm in Vienna, Austria on Feb. 24, 2015.

"I can do almost everything with it. I just don't have any feeling in it."

Three Austrian men who lost motor control over their hands volunteered for a breakthrough surgical procedure to amputate their lifeless appendages and replace them with bionic hands.

Doctors hailed the operations as the first cases of “bionic reconstruction,” in which the mechanical hand is hardwired directly into the patient’s arm, enabling the patient to open and close the fingers without external controls, the Associated Press reports.

Milorad Marinkovic demonstrates writing with his bionic hand as he poses for a photograph at his home in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015. Three Austrians have replaced injured hands with bionic ones that they can control using nerves and muscles transplanted into their arms from their legs. The three men are the first to undergo what doctors refer to as “bionic reconstruction,” which includes voluntary amputation, transplantation of nerves and muscles and learning to use faint signals from them to command the hand. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Ronald Zak—AP

Nerves and muscles transplanted from the patient’s legs run signals from the brain directly into the prosthetic arm. “I can do almost everything with it,” one patient, Milorad Marinkovic, 30, told the Associated Press. “I just don’t have any feeling in it.”

Milorad Marinkovic shows his bionic arm as he poses for a photograph at his home in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015. Three Austrians have replaced injured hands with bionic ones that they can control using nerves and muscles transplanted into their arms from their legs. The three men are the first to undergo what doctors refer to as “bionic reconstruction,” which includes voluntary amputation, transplantation of nerves and muscles and learning to use faint signals from them to command the hand. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Ronald Zak—AP

TIME Security

SIM Card Company Says the NSA Probably Hacked It

Mobile phone SIM card
David Gould—Getty Images

But it denies the NSA got access to billions of people's mobile communications

One of the world’s largest manufacturers of SIM cards has acknowledged evidence of security agency attacks on the company’s internal networks, but it’s denying that American and British intelligence agents were able to get access to billions of mobile phone users’ secure data.

Gemalto, a French-Dutch supplier of SIM cards, found “reasonable grounds” of an attack by U.S. National Security Agency and its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) following an internal investigation into a series of security incidents. The audits came after online publication The Intercept reported on what it said was a joint British-American operation to covertly hack Gemalto’s stash of SIM encryption keys, based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

SIM cards are small encrypted devices inside cell phones that carry users’ unique identifier codes on a network. Breaking their encryption could allow intelligence agencies or hackers easier access to targets’ mobile communication.

In particular, Gemalto cited two “sophisticated intrusions” in 2010 and 2011, one of which involved sending malware-infected attachments from faked company email addresses. Gemalto acknowledged that the breaches may have enabled a third party such as the NSA to spy on internal communications from company employees, but denied the breach led to a massive loss of encryption keys. The Intercept previously reported that the NSA and GCHQ stole encryption codes as Gemalto sent them to device makers like China’s Huawei.

“The attacks against Gemalto only breached its office networks and could not have resulted in a massive theft of SIM encryption keys,” read a statement from the company.

TIME Media

Google’s Music Service Just Got Way More Useful

Chris Yerga, engineering director of Goo
AFP—AFP/Getty Images Chris Yerga, engineering director of Google, introduces some features of Google play during Google's annual developer conference, Google I/O, at Moscone Center in San Francisco on June 27, 2012.

Google Play Music users will now be able to store up to 50,000 of their own songs for free

Google is expanding the size of its celestial jukebox.

The company announced Wednesday that users will now be able to store up to 50,000 of their own songs for free using Google Play Music, up from the previous limit of 20,000 songs. The songs, which can be uploaded directly from a user’s iTunes collection or other local music folders, can be played on iOS devices, Android devices and the web.

This service shouldn’t be confused with Google Play Music All Access, Google’s Spotify competitor that lets users stream more than 30 million songs from the cloud for $10 per month. However, the two services can work in tandem, so a user can mix songs from the All Access library with tracks they’ve uploaded directly from their own files.

TIME Innovation

Saying ‘Open Sesame’ Actually Unlocks Doors Now

A new app wirelessly unlocks doors by a classic spoken command

The expression “open sesame” was popularized by a folk tale in One Thousand and One Nights, but it’s taken roughly three centuries for the expression to start opening doors in real life.

MIT graduate student Dheera Venkatraman calls his “Sesame” app for Android Wear smartwatches an “exceedingly simple project” to unlock a door using spoken commands. The wearer simply needs to shout into the watch face, “OK Google, open sesame” to open the app. It then wirelessly transmits a command via Bluetooth to turn an Internet-connected lock.

Of course, the lock itself has to be outfitted with a fair amount of hardware. Venkatraman fastened a small rotating cuff to a deadbolt handle. The apparatus is still very much an early build with a few exposed wires running along the door. Still, Venkatraman has shared instructions on his website so hobbyists can gather up the components, copy the code and add their own refinements to an idea that’s been some 300 years in the making.

TIME Security

Google Will Now Pay You to Kill Bugs Year-Round

Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of
AFP—AFP/Getty Images Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome, speaks at Google's annual developer conference, Google I/O, in San Francisco on June 28, 2012.

Up to $50,000 in individual rewards

Google is making its annual contest to find vulnerabilities in Chrome a year-round affair.

The security contest known as “Pwnium” previously awarded cash prizes to developers once a year who found bugs in the Chrome browser or the Chrome operating system. Now the company is offering “infinity million” dollars on an ongoing basis to people that identify bugs (the company clarifies in a blog post that the contest can be modified at any time).

Individuals can be awarded between $500 and $50,000 for each bug they discover.

Google says the change in structure is an effort to prevent “bug hoarding,” in which coders would wait to disclose vulnerabilities until they could claim a reward once a year. “By allowing security researchers to submit bugs all year-round, collisions are significantly less likely and security researchers aren’t duplicating their efforts on the same bugs,” Google wrote in its blog post.

The new rules for Pwnium go into effect Wednesday.

TIME Innovation

Meet the Kid Who Made an Unbelievable, Real-Life Batsuit

It withstands punches and cuts

A Philadelphia University student designed a real-life Batsuit that withstands punches, baseball bats and even blades.

The industrial design student, Jackson Gordon, created the 25-pound suit in his spare time and unveiled it earlier this month at Katsucon, an anime convention, USA Today reports. Gordon started on the first prototypes last September, and raised over $1,000 on Kickstarter in November to buy supplies.

Gordon says it’s not quite done yet. “Designing is never finished,” Gordon told USA Today. “You either run out of time or you run out of money.”

[USA Today]

TIME Companies

Google Is Planning a Massive New Headquarters

Google
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A man walks past a painted Google sign in the reception area of the Google Inc. office in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.

But some locals worry that the search giant is taking over their town

Google is planning to unveil plans for a sprawling new headquarters this week, according to The New York Times, but some residents of the company’s hometown of Mountain View, Calif. aren’t happy about it.

The new Googleplex would include “canopylike buildings,” the Times reports, as well as bike and pedestrian paths. However, a new facility to accommodate Google’s ever-growing workforce (nearly 54,000 at the end of 2014) could place even more strain on the overcrowded Mountain View. Traffic gridlock is now common and housing prices have increased thanks to the influx of well-paid tech workers.

Mountain View’s city council appears split on how much leeway to allow Google as it builds out. Some see Google’s expansion as an opportunity to turn Mountain View into a world-class city, while others worry that if more Google residents begin living in Mountain View itself rather than San Francisco, they’ll be able to to create a strong enough voting block to effectively control the local government.

The full proposal for Google’s headquarters is expected to be submited Friday, according to the Times.

TIME space

This Is How Incredible (and Terrifying) Space Looks in Virtual Reality

New first-person space exploration game takes you far above the Earth

Soon you’ll be able to float around in space…in virtual reality. Design studio Opaque Multimedia unveiled on Tuesday a trailer for Earthlight, an upcoming first-person space exploration game. Using Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that is expected to debut this year, and Microsoft Kinect 2, a motion sensor, Earthlight lets you play an astronaut aboard the International Space Station, 268 miles (431 km) above the Earth you’re actually standing on. It looks like a startling, if slightly disorienting, experience.

TIME Web

Watch Hundreds of Fireworks Explode Over Beijing From the Air

See Chinese New Year unfold from the sky

A passenger flying into Beijing at midnight on Chinese New Year recorded the fireworks exploding all across the city—a spectacle that puts 4th of July to shame.

Though China has been toughening regulations on fireworks due to air pollution—Beijing’s smog has already reached hazardous levels—it’s clear that they haven’t stopped these traditional celebrations.

TIME iPhone

The 5 Best iPhone Apps of the Week

Try Storm, Do Camera and Short

It seems like hundreds of new iPhone apps pop up every week, but which ones should you bother trying? We explored the App Store and found five apps worth downloading this week.

  • Storm by Weather Underground

    Storm
    Storm

    Understanding the way storm systems work can be a pretty useful skill. Not only does Storm offer detailed maps, but it also has radar images, storm tracking, and expanded forecasts. Chances are, by using this app, you’ll become the person your coworkers rely on to tell whether or not everyone should just work from home that day.

    Storm by Weather Underground is free in the App Store

  • Do Camera

    Do Camera
    Do Camera Do Camera

    If This Then That’s camera app allows you to set a particular action based on your iPhone’s camera. For instance, you can set it up so when you snap a photo, your phone’s camera immediately corrects for color balance, emails your snap to mom, or posts the pic to Facebook. Handy!

    Do Camera is free in the App Store

  • Short

    Short
    Short

    For those with only fleeting moments of spare time for reading the news, Short curates quick articles from different sources. It also has a night mode for those truly deprived of downtime. It’s a good way to keep up with your favorite topics without setting aside chunks of the day to reading the entire A-section of a newspaper.

    Short is free in the App Store

  • Weafo

    Weafo
    Weafo

    Weafo allows quick, easy file transfers between iOS devices and other handhelds. The receiving device doesn’t need to be running iOS, nor does it need to have Weafo installed. Downloading Weafo automatically adds the option to send files through Weafo to your iPhone. You can then add as many media files as you wish into a compressed zip file. Weafo is faster and easier than emailing single files from your iPhone.

    Weafo is free in the App Store

  • Keadle

    Keadle
    Keadle

    Keadle is one part geocaching, one part Snapchat. First, you take a photo. Then you add text and select a location on a map. Once your friend enters the physical zone you’ve selected, the message will appear. It’s a digital photo treasure hunt with great potential to send your friends on a search around the city.

    Keadle is free in the App Store

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