Tech Sightings, May 13, 2014

Posted May 13th, 2014 at 2:31 pm (UTC-4)
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Ransomware Gang Targets Android Phones

The Reveton Gang that pioneered the idea of locking up a victim’s computer and demanding a ransom to unlock it is now targeting the mobile market. Once Reveton mobile infects a phone, it will display a bogus warning that will hold the phone hostage until the extortionists get payment.

 One Day, You’ll Google the Physical World With a Scanner

An Israeli startup has come up with a handheld scanner that can determine the molecular makeup of objects like food and medication. The device, called Scio, emits a beam of light that can be directed toward an object, like a piece of fruit, for example. It will then connect to a smartphone app to reveal the nutritional breakdown of that fruit.

 FDA Approves ‘Star Wars’ Bionic Arm

After nearly eight years of research and testing, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the DEKA arm, a groundbreaking prosthetic arm that helps amputees perform delicate tasks such as zipping up a coat or handling an egg without breaking it.

Research in India Suggests Google Search Results Can Influence an Eelection

Psychologist Robert Epstein says his most recent experiment found that search engines have the potential to profoundly influence voters without them noticing the impact. Epstein calls this power the Search Engine Manipulation Effect, with the acronym SEME.

Solar-Powered Roads: Coming to a Highway Near You?

A new proposal calls for replacing traditional petroleum-based asphalt highways with a system of  solar panels that would generate massive amounts of energy to feed the grid during daytime and help recharge moving electric vehicles.

How Vertical Travel Could Transform Your Commute

The Vertical Hyper-Speed Train Hub is the vision of two UK-based architects who see trains racing up and down the side of specially-designed skyscrapers. Designers Christopher Christophi and Lucas Mazarrasa say the goal is to free up valuable real estate in the congested cities of tomorrow.

Ahead of IPO, Alibaba Takes Tougher Line

After its IPO filing last week, China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba moved toward taking a tougher line against counterfeit items sold on its online marketplaces.

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

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