U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter granted $75 million to assist a consortium of high-tech firms and researchers develop electronic systems packed with sensors flexible enough to be worn by soldiers or molded onto the skin of a plane.
Carter said funding for the Obama administration’s newest manufacturing institute would go to the FlexTech Alliance, a consortium of 162 companies, universities and other groups, from Boeing , Apple and Harvard, to Advantest Akron Polymer Systems and Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
The group will work to advance the development and manufacture of so-called flexible hybrid electronics, which can be embedded with sensors and stretched, twisted and bent to fit aircraft or other platform where they will be used.
“This is an emerging technology that takes advanced flexible materials for circuits, communications, sensors and power and combines them with thinned silicon chips to ultimately produce the next generation of electronic products,” Carter said.
He was speaking at NASA’s Ames Research Center in the heart of Silicon Valley.
The consortium, which will be managed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, will add $90 million to the federal money. Local governments will chip in more, boosting the group’s total five-year funding level to $171 million.
Defense officials say the rapid development of new technologies around the globe is forcing the Pentagon to seek partnerships with the private sector rather than developing most of its technology itself, as it once did.
The Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Hub, which will be based in San Jose, is the seventh of nine such institutes planned by the Obama administration in an effort to revitalize the U.S. manufacturing base.
The European Commission will launch a study in September of the ride-hailing app Uber in an effort to resolve legal disputes that have pitted the U.S. start-up against conventional taxis across Europe, three people familiar with the matter said on Friday.
Since opening in Paris in 2011, San Francisco-based Uber has run into vehement opposition from taxi drivers, who complain it competes unfairly by bypassing local laws on licensing and safety.
Uber has responded by submitting complaints to the European Commission against German and Spanish court bans, as well as a new French law on taxis.
The study will attempt to determine the legal instruments Brussels might use to decide whether Uber is a transport service or just a digital service, an EU official said.
Uber argues it is a digital platform that connects willing drivers with customers. Being considered a transport service might make it subject to stricter rules on licensing, insurance and safety.
The study will review the regulatory regimes for taxi services in all member states and assess if an EU-wide framework is needed. Currently, taxis and vehicle-with-chauffeur services are regulated at a national level.
“This investigation appears to indicate that the European Commission believes that the manner in which the taxi and private hire sectors are currently regulated in some member states is dysfunctional and is no longer fit for purpose, not to mention new barriers to entry for innovative, technology-based services such as ridesharing,” an Uber spokeswoman said.
The study will run in parallel with a case at the European Union’s top court that could set a precedent for legal battles across the continent. However, it is likely the European Court of Justice will rule before the completion of the study, expected around June next year. In the meantime, the Commission will also continue assessing the complaints against France,Germany and Spain. In May, the Commission asked France for more information on its new taxi law, which Uber says favors regular taxis at its expense.
The Commission has previously said it welcomes innovative services such as Uber as part of the so-called sharing economy - where individuals are put in touch with others offering services, such as travel or accommodation.
Apple is about to spike plans to make a cheaper, plastic iPhone 6C.
The Tame Apple Press became all moist when the news that Apple was going to make a a plastic bodies and 4in screens in an iPhone 6C? This would mean that Apple would not only have three phones coming out this year, but actually have one that it could put into cheaper markets.
We have heard that logic before, and it never really worked. And now it looks like Apple has abandoned the plan (if it even had it in the first place).
A marketing firm claims it has seen testing data for just two new iPhones, which strongly suggests that an iPhone 6C launch is not imminent.
Fisku, had access to data that shows identifiers for models in testing. Its logs recently showed two new iPhones, which showed up as “iphone8,1″ and “iphone8,2″ – most likely codenames for the upcoming iPhone 6s (or 7, depending on Apple’s choice of moniker) and the iPhone 6s Plus (or 7 Plus).
If the phone is launched it might be at a much later date, but so far it looks like Apple will stick to launching just two models.
Those are the findings from enterprise mobility management vendor Good Technology, which issued a report that measured mobile device activations among its business customers. Good says its technology serves more than 6,200 companies.
In the first quarter of 2015, 72 percent of all smartphones activated globally ran iOS. Compared to 2014′s fourth quarter, that’s a 1 percent decrease. Android device activations, meanwhile, reached 26 percent, increasing 1 percent from the fourth quarter of 2014. Windows Phone activations remained steady at 1 percent, the same as the previous six quarters, said the report.
Apple lost significant ground in the tablet market. In the first quarter of 2015, iPads had an 81 percent market share in activations, down from 92 percent in the year-ago quarter, according to the report. Tablets running Android and Windows increased their market share to 15 percent and 4 percent, respectively. According to Good, Microsoft Surface devices, which Microsoft manufactures, as well as Windows tablets sold by third-party makers, were both in demand.
The iPhone 6 was the most popular smartphone for businesses, comprising 26 percent of all smartphone activations in the first quarter of 2015. The Samsung 5 was the most activated Android smartphone. Together, 28 of the top 30 selling smartphones came from either Apple or Samsung, the report said.
The industries with the most iOS activations were education (83 percent), the public sector (80 percent) and financial services (76 percent), the report said. Android activation was prevalent in the tech (47 percent) and energy (44 percent) industries.
Windows device activations, meanwhile, stood out in the retail and entertainment and media markets. In retail, Windows tablets claimed a 5 percent market share while in the media and entertainment industry, 7 percent of device activations were for Windows Phone.
Working with publishers and libraries, the White House sees the modest plan as part of a strategy to address inner city problems by increasing educational opportunities for kids – woes brought into focus with recent riots in nearby Baltimore.
“If we’re serious about living up to what our country is about, then we have to consider what we can do to provide opportunities in every community, not just when they’re on the front page, but every day,” said Jeff Zients, Obama’s top economic adviser, in a briefing with reporters.
Zients cited research showing 80 percent of low-income children lag below their grade level in reading skills and lack books at home. The president will be visiting Anacostia Library in Southeast Washington, DC.
The plan includes $250 million in e-book commitments from publishers, including from the five major publishing houses: Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH’s Macmillan, CBS Corp’s Simon & Schuster Inc, Penguin Random House, Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group Inc, and News Corp’s HarperCollins Publishers LLC.
The New York Public Library is developing an app to connect low-income kids with the books, and Obama will urge more communities to find ways to get kids into libraries.
Kids will need computers and devices to read the e-books. Zients noted the White House had previously announced programs to upgrade Internet services for schools and libraries, with private sector help from companies including Apple, which pledged $100 million in devices to low-income schools.
“It’s very different than for our generation,” said Cecilia Munoz, Obama’s domestic policy adviser.
Google is putting its considerable resources behind PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ bid to build a new cloud-based healthcare system for the military that would support its more than 9.7 million beneficiaries.
PwC announced yesterday that it will team up with Google on a bid that will go to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for what’s been dubbed the Healthcare Management Systems Modernization Electronic Health Record contract.
The DoD is looking to replace and modernize its online health system, enabling doctors and other healthcare providers, working both inside and outside of government, to easily and securely access medical records for military personnel, retirees and their families.
“Google is known for its expertise in innovative, secure and open technologies, and the power of Internet scale,” said Scott McIntyre, PwC’s global and U.S. public sector leader, in a statement. “Their capabilities can complement our proposed open-architecture solution and bring added value, agility and flexibility to the new Military Health System.”
PcW and Google have recently joined in an effort to help enterprises move their apps and data onto the cloud.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Dealing with a decline in the mail it has been delivering since the days of America’s Revolutionary War, in 2012 the U.S. Postal Service began aggressively targeting e-commerce and lapsed customers as the way to salvage its slumping business.
“Really it started almost at the level of cold-calling, talking to people who really hadn’t spoken to us in a long time,” said Nagisa Manabe, who joined the USPS in May 2012 as chief marketing and sales officer from Coca-Cola Co after a career in the private sector. “And really trying to persuade them to consider us as a very viable alternative in the shipping market.”
With further drops in its traditional bread-and-butter products ahead, the USPS wants to capitalize on e-commerce, which consulting firm Detroit LLP has predicted should grow 14 percent this holiday season alone. But industry experts question whether the USPS has enough space in its delivery vans and whether its unionized work force can handle a greater proportion of the e-commerce market.
Over the past two years the USPS has rolled out real-time scanning for packages, a vital tool for online retailers and consumers alike to track their packages. It is also upgrading all of its delivery workers’ handheld scanners.
The rise of the Internet has taken a heavy toll on first-class mail, the USPS’s most profitable product. That falling business played a significant role in the USPS’s fiscal 2014 loss of $5.5 billion, its eighth consecutive year in the red.
From 2009 to 2013, the volume of first-class mail deliveries dropped more than 20 percent. In the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, USPS deliveries declined to 155.4 billion pieces from 158.2 billion. First-class deliveries accounted for 2.2 billion pieces of that decline.
But package deliveries rose to more than 4 billion pieces from 3.7 billion, accounting for $1.1 billion of the USPS’s revenue growth of $1.9 billion. In the run-up to Christmas, the USPS has been doing Sunday deliveries for Amazon.com Inc in a number of cities. Manabe adds that the agency will handle the online retailer’s push into same-day and next-day deliveries “in many markets.”
EBay Inc is another major customer and Manabe says “pretty much anyone who’s in the e-commerce space at least does some volume with us.”
In an effort to advance technologies needed to get astronauts to an asteroid orMars , NASA wants to get back to the moon. The space agency needs robotic technology to help them get there.
The robotic machine NASA wants to build must be able to ferry cargo weighing 66 pounds to 1,102 pounds to various lunar sites.
The space agency is seeking proposals from the private sector and plans to create a partnership to build robotic a lunar lander..
The program is dubbed Lunar CATALYST, for Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown.
“As NASA pursues an ambitious plan for humans to explore an asteroid and Mars, U.S. industry will create opportunities for NASA to advance new technologies on the moon,” said Greg Williams, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. “[This] will help us advance our goals to reach farther destinations.”
NASA noted that, in a partnership, the agency would be able to contribute the technical expertise of NASA staff, access to NASA center test facilities, equipment loans, and software for lander development and testing.
NASA will host a pre-proposal teleconference on Jan. 27 to giving companies a chance to ask questions about the program.
Proposals are due by March 17. The winners are expected to be announced in April.
A prominent venture capitalist has put forth a plan to divide California into six new states, including one called “Silicon Valley” that would stretch from San Francisco to San Jose and include the entire region where many of the biggest tech companies have their headquarters.
The plan by Tim Draper, who was an early backer of Skype, Baidu and Hotmail, faces multiple hurdles and would require significant support from among the state’s 38 million residents, and from the rest of the country if it makes it any further. He hopes to put the idea plan on the November 2014 ballot, which would require about half a million signatures. On the face of it, the chances of it being realized are low.
But Draper said splitting California would bring real benefits.
“Something’s not working in our state, and I’m convinced that it is with the existing system, the existing breadth of industry and varying interests. California is untenable and un-governable,” Draper told a sparsely attended news conference at the Silicon Valley school for entrepreneurship that he created and that bears his name. There were about 20 people in the room, although only six appeared to be reporters.
“I’m convinced that the best path for Californians is to create six new states that are unencumbered by trying to balance the interests of people who have very divergent goals and aspirations,” he said.
Draper said he believes the interests of the tech industry in Silicon Valley, the defense and entertainment industries in and around Los Angeles, the farms of the state’s Central Valley, and a growing medical devices business in the south of the state are best served by local governments.
For Silicon Valley, he said tech companies would benefit from a state government that was more “tech savvy.”
The proposal comes at a time of growing discontent in San Francisco and Silicon Valley at the apparent impact of the tech industry. The massive amount of wealth created by companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter has amplified economic disparities in the area and made the local housing market one of the most expensive in the country.
While Draper’s chances of realizing his vision might be slim, the plan will almost certainly serve to continue the debate about the power of the technology industry and how it interacts and is regulated by government.
Syria’s civil war and political strife in Egypt have given birth to new battlegrounds on the Web and driven a surge in cyber attacks in the Middle East, according to a leading Internet security company.
More than half of incidents in the Gulf this year were so-called “hacktivist” attacks – which account for only a quarter of cybercrime globally – as politically motivated programmers sabotaged opposing groups or institutions, executives from Intel Corp’s software security division McAfee said on Tuesday.
“It’s mostly bringing down websites and defacing them with political messages – there has been a huge increase in cyber attacks in the Middle East,” Christiaan Beek, McAfee director for incident response forensics in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), told Reuters.
He attributed the attacks to the conflict in Syria, political turmoil in Egypt and the activities of hacking collective Anonymous.
“It’s difficult for people to protest in the street in the Middle East and so defacing websites and denial of service (DOS) attacks are a way to protest instead,” said Beek.
DOS attacks flood an organization’s website causing it to crash, but usually do little lasting damage.
The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), a hacking group loyal to the government of President Bashar al-Assad, defaced an Internet recruiting site for the U.S. Marine Corps on Monday and recently targeted the New York Times website and Twitter, as well other websites within the Middle East.
Beek described SEA as similar to Anonymous.
“There’s a group leading operations, with a support group of other people that can help,” said Beek.
McAfee opened a centre in Dubai on Monday to deal with the rising threat of Internet sabotage in the region, the most serious of which are attacks to extract proprietary information from companies or governments or those that cause lasting damage to critical infrastructure.
Cyber attacks are mostly focused on Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, Qatar, the top liquefied natural gas supplier, and Dubai, which is the region’s financial, commercial and aviation hub, said Gert-Jan Schenk, McAfee president for EMEA.
“It’s where the wealth and critical infrastructure is concentrated,” he said.
The “Shamoon” virus last year targeted Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, damaging about 30,000 computers in what may have been the most destructive attack against the private sector.
“Ten years ago, it was all about trying to infect as many people as possible,” added Schenk. “Today we see more and more attacks being focused on very small groups of people. Sometimes malware is developed for a specific department in a specific company.”
President Barack Obama is directing federal agencies to find more ways to eventually share a greater portion of their radio airwaves with the private sector as the growing use of smartphones and tablets ratchets up the demand for spectrum, according to a memo released on Friday.
With blocks of spectrum reserved by dozens of government agencies for national defense, law enforcement, weather forecasting and other purposes, wireless carriers and Internet providers are urging that more spectrum be opened up for commercial use.
The call comes as airwaves are becoming congested with the increase in gadgets and services that are heavily reliant on the ability to transport greater amounts of data.
“Although existing efforts will almost double the amount of spectrum available for wireless broadband, we must make available even more spectrum and create new avenues for wireless innovation,” Obama said in his presidential memo. “One means of doing so is by allowing and encouraging shared access to spectrum that is currently allocated exclusively for Federal use.”
The memorandum, welcomed and lauded by the telecommunications industry, directs federal agencies to study how exactly they use the airwaves and how to make it easier to share them with the private sector.
The directive also sets up a Spectrum Policy Team that in six months will have to recommend incentives to encourage government agencies to share or give up their spectrum – something industry experts see as a critical step in opening more of the federally used airwaves to the private sector.
“Our traditional three-step process for reallocating federal spectrum — clearing federal users, relocating them and then auctioning the cleared spectrum for new use — is reaching its limits,” Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic member of the Federal Communications Commission, said in supporting Obama’s move.
The FCC is now working on rules for the biggest-ever auction of commercially used airwaves, in which TV stations would give up and wireless providers would buy highly attractive spectrum. The auction is expected to take place in late 2014 or later.
The U.S. today maintains a large lead in R&D spending over China, with federal and private sector investment expected to reach $424 billion next year, a 1.2% increase.
By contrast, China’s overall R&D spending is $220 billion next year, an increase of 11.6% over 2012, a rate similar to previous years, according to the 2013 Global R&D Funding Forecast prepared by Battelle, a research and technology development organization, and R&D Magazine. “The U.S. still has a significant lead and advantage in R&D over all of these countries,” said Martin Grueber, one of the authors of the report and a lead researcher at Battelle, “but the concern is R&D is a long-term investment, and as these other countries continue to grow their R&D capabilities … how long can we maintain that advantage?”
A major share of R&D research in the U.S. is funded by the federal government, which is expected to budget $129 billion for R&D next year, a decline of 1.4%. This figure could decrease even further if Congress does not resolve its budget impasse.
Government R&D spending is seen as particularly important because, unlike the private sector, it funds basic research. This is research that often takes years or decades to yield results, but it can also lead to new industries and jobs.
Other emerging economies, besides China, are also spending more on R&D. India, for instance, will invest about $45 billion next year in R&D, an increase of just over 12%.
“The fiscal climate right now is just not conducive to growth in federal research investments,” said Peter Harsha, director of government affairs of the Computing Research Association. “That’s a disturbing trend, especially given the growing research capacity of our global economic competitors. The U.S. leadership role isn’t a birthright.”
President Barack Obama, hoping to spur U.S. innovation in the burgeoning field of mobile communications, on Wednesday ordered all major federal agencies to make many more of their services available on mobile phones within the next year.
“Americans deserve a government that works for them anytime, anywhere, and on any device,” Obama said in a statement.
His administration is eager to hasten government adoption of new technology since showing itself to be highly tech-savvy after running a 2008 election campaign that was widely praised for the innovative way it used the Internet and social media.
Analysts welcomed the move, but voiced skepticism it could be effective unless Obama also freed up more government broadband spectrum to the private sector.
“American citizens won’t be better served by government technology and digital services unless more government spectrum is made available to enable these technologies and services,” said Mobile Future Chairman Jonathan Spalter.
His coalition includes AT&T Inc, Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile, Cisco Systems Inc and Qualcomm Inc.
The presidential order tells each agency to make at least two services relied upon by the public available on mobile phones within 12 months.
The Ponemon Institute’s annual study of data loss costs this year looked at 51 organizations who agreed to discuss the impact of losing anywhere between 4,000 to 105,000 customer records. The private-sector companies participating in the Ponemon Institute’s “2010 Annual Study: U.S. Cost of a Data Breach” are from various industries, including financial services, retail, pharmaceutical technology and transportation.
While “negligence” remains the primary cause of a data breach (in 41% of cases), for the first time the explanation of “malicious or criminal attacks” (in 31% of cases) came in ahead of the third leading cause, “system failure.”
It turns out “malicious or criminal attacks” are the most expensive type of data breach to uncover and respond to, costing on average $318 per customer record, $151 more than non-malicious breaches that stem from negligence of system failure.
“It’s harder to detect and do investigations,” says Dr. Larry Ponemon, about cases involving malware and botnets or social engineering. He notes just two years ago, only 12% of data breaches were assigned to malicious and criminal activity.
Negligence is still the leading cause of a data breach, however, and last year there were a couple of instances of data breaches that companies confided to Ponemon were due to mistakes made by their cloud-service providers. One financial-services company found itself having to report a data breach because its records were exposed on a shared virtual-machine server in a way that others using the cloud-based service could see, Ponemon notes. The financial-services firm found out about it because some of the other firms in the cloud environment directly told them.
Some industries last year saw higher costs per customer record in a data breach than others, with upward spikes. For instance, financial services jumped from $353 per customer record in 2010, up from $249 in 2009, and healthcare jumped from $345 last year from $301 in 2009. The communications sector had the highest cost of all, at $380 per customer record. Media, at $131, education at $112 and the public sector at $81, stood at the lowest.
Ponemon acknowledges it’s hard to determine exactly why these sector cost differences exist. Trends show organizations with chief information security officers incur less costs when a data breach occurs. And companies coping with their first data breach — which were 20% of the study’s participants — had the highest costs of anyone on average in the 2010 study, averaging $326 per compromised customer record, up 48%.