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Facebook developing app that will track your every move – even when it’s turned off

App intended to alert users when Facebook ‘friends’ are nearby.

It will also help the social network target localised adverts.

Privacy campaigners warn it is ‘profit trumping privacy’.

Facebook is developing a new smartphone app to track the location of users in an effort to target them with localised adverts, according to reports.

The app will help users to find friends who are nearby, alert them when it detects one in close proximity even when the app is not open on the handset, it is claimed.

It will be just one of a whole suite of mobile apps Facebook is building up to help it profit from the increasing proportion of its users who access the social network on the go.

But privacy campaigners warned it was another example of ‘profit trumping privacy’ and called the function ‘intrusive’.

Facebook developing app that will track your every move – even when it’s turned off
The loading screen of the Facebook mobile app: The social network is developing a new smartphone app to track the location of users in an effort to target them with localised adverts

European regulators have already warned Facebook over the way it handles users’ personal data, forcing the company to turn off its facial recognition feature for European users.

The new app would help Facebook target advertising to users based on their location and their daily habits, helping corporate clients to reach the audiences they feel are most likely to want their products.

Plans for the app were leaked to Bloomberg by two people ‘with knowledge of the matter’, the financial news service said.

Development of Facebook’s location software is being led by Peter Deng, a product director who joined the company from Google in 2007, one source said.

Mobile first: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last week told investors that the company would focus on generating revenue from mobile apps
Mobile first: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last week told investors that the company would focus on generating revenue from mobile apps

The team also includes engineers from Glancee, a location-tracking company Facebook bought out last May, and Gowalla, a location-based social network snapped up in December 2011, Bloomberg reported.

Facebook’s privacy policies already warn users that the social network may use location data to ‘tell you and your friends about people or events nearby, or offer deals to you that you might be interested in.’

Mr Zuckerberg last week boasted that the company had redirected itself to focus on becoming a truly mobile company, in a move that he feels is paying off since their mobile ad revenue is growing.

‘2012 was a big year for us,’ the 28-year-old social media entrepreneur said in a conference call following the release of the Q4 earnings report a day earlier.

Facebook’s biggest challenge – and its greatest opportunity – lies in mobile devices which is an area that the company did not pay much attention to until just last year.

Most Facebook users access it using a mobile phone or tablet computer, yet the nine-year-old company only started showing mobile ads about nine months ago.

The company said it generated 23 per cent, or $306million, of advertising revenue from mobile, marking an increase from 14 per cent in the third quarter.

‘When we get your GPS location, we put it together with other location information we have about you (like your current city),’ says the social network’s data use policy.

‘But we only keep it until it is no longer useful to provide you services, like keeping your last GPS coordinates to send you relevant notifications.’

Matrix: Facebook's privacy policies already warn users that the social network may use location data to 'tell you and your friends about people or events nearby, or offer deals to you that you might be interested in'
Matrix: Facebook’s privacy policies already warn users that the social network may use location data to ‘tell you and your friends about people or events nearby, or offer deals to you that you might be interested in’


Consumer efforts to protect personal data and remain ‘invisible’ online is leading to a ‘data blackhole’ that could adversely impact digital advertisers, according to a new report.

The move to seek ‘new tools that allow them to remain ‘invisible’ — untraceable and impossible to target by data means’ will impact advertisers who rely on that information to target their audiences, technology research firm Ovum said yesterday.

Surveying consumers in 11 countries around the world, the research firm said 68 per cent of respondents said they would select a ‘do not track’ feature if this was easily available.

Mark Little, a principal analyst at Ovum, said Internet users were increasingly getting more access to new tools to ‘monitor, control and secure their personal data as never before’.

The recent scandal involving privacy breaches by mobile messaging service WhatsApp and lingering concerns over data use policies on Facebook and Google are prompting Internet users to be more guarded, Ovum added.

The new tracking device-style application has already raised concerns among privacy campaigners.

Nick Pickles, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘Data about where you are at any one time is hugely sensitive and should only ever be shared when users are fully aware of how the data will be used and remain in full control of who can see it.

‘Yet again it seems the case that the demands of advertisers trump consumer’s right to privacy, and Facebook needs to be very careful with these plans otherwise users will rightly be up in arms again.

‘The reality is that smart phones are capable of tracking our movements in real time, however consumers are largely kept in the dark about who can access the data and how it is used.

‘This has to change and the law needs strengthening to protect consumers from overly intrusive attempts to monitor our behaviour.’

There is already a range of other apps which constantly track user locations to help them find friends or places of interest.

However, privacy concerns and the heavy toll they place on smartphones’ battery life mean that they have failed to gain wide audiences.


Science & Technology

Facebook patented hand tracking system

Facebook patented hand tracking with finger emitters.

Facebook Technologies / USPTO, 2020

Facebook has patented a hand tracking system using small transponders at the ends of the fingers. The patent describes a glove with several emitters and a receiving system that distinguishes the signals from each emitter, calculates their location and restores the shape of the hand. The Patently Apple website drew attention to the patent.

Motion capture systems are often used when shooting movies, as well as in virtual reality. There are several standard tracking methods. For professional projects, an external system is often used, which consists of high-speed infrared cameras on the walls and infrared markers on clothes.

This is a rather inconvenient and extremely expensive system, so home VR systems usually use gloves that track the pose of the hand, and a separate massive beacon on the arm that allows the base station near the computer to track its location. Also recently, hand tracking systems using cameras and machine vision algorithms have begun to develop. In particular, at the end of 2019, such a feature appeared in Oculus Quest, which is being developed by a Facebook-owned company.

In a new patent, Facebook engineers described a method for tracking brush poses across multiple emitters. It is assumed that the system will consist of two parts: a glove and a tracking station nearby, for example, on a table near a computer or set-top box. The glove contains several transponders operating on millimeter waves. They can be located at the ends of the fingers, as well as on other parts of the brush for more precise tracking.

System diagram Facebook Technologies / USPTO, 2020

The tracking station has several antennas. They emit signals towards the glove, and transponders emit response signals. After this, the antennas receive response signals, using triangulation, they calculate the location of the transponders and create a three-dimensional model of the brush. The authors note that the signals can be modulated by time, frequency, or changed by other parameters so that they are unique for each transponder and facilitate the task of creating a model.

Glove diagram with transponders Facebook Technologies / USPTO, 2020

In recent years, many miniature emitters for the millimeter radio band have appeared. Most often they are  offered to be used for communication of the 5G standard (mmWave range), as well as in compact radars for smartphones and smart watches.

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Science & Technology

Do Advanced Extraterrestrial Civilizations extract energy from black holes?

Researchers from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Glasgow in the UK have proven a half-century hypothesis that suggests that technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilizations could potentially extract energy from spinning black holes. An article by researchers is published in the journal Nature Physics.

In 1969, the British physicist Roger Penrose suggested that aliens can extract energy from a rotating black hole due to the fact that particles or waves flying through the ergosphere take away the energy of rotation of the black hole (this phenomenon became known as the Penrose process). 

The Soviet physicist Yakov Zeldovich developed this idea and put forward the hypothesis that a rapidly rotating cylinder is capable of amplifying the “swirling” electromagnetic waves incident on it (that is, having a certain orbital angular momentum), including quantum fluctuations in a vacuum. 

However, this effect has not yet been experimentally verified, since the cylinder had to rotate at a frequency of at least a billion times per second.

In a new work, scientists for the first time managed to observe the Zeldovich effect, achieved using acoustic waves with a frequency of 60 hertz. 

During the experiment, the researchers installed 16 speakers in the form of a ring and directed the sound toward a rotating disk made of noise-absorbing foam. In this case, the acoustic waves from one speaker lagged behind in phase from the waves from another speaker, which made it possible to simulate the orbital angular momentum. Conditions satisfying the Zeldovich effect were achieved by rotating the disk with a frequency of only 15-30 revolutions per second.

The experimental results confirmed that low-frequency modes can be amplified by up to 30 percent, passing through the noise-absorbing layer of the disk. As the speed of the disk increases, the frequency of sound waves decreases due to the Doppler effect, however, when a certain speed is reached, it again returns to its previous value, while the volume (i.e. the amplitude) increases. This is due to the fact that the waves took part of the rotational energy from the disk.

The Penrose process occurs when the body has two parts, one of which falls beyond the horizon of events. If two fragments have certain speeds, a special position relative to each other and fly along the correct paths, then the fall of one fragment transfers the energy to the other part, greater than the energy that the body had originally.

 For an outside observer, it looks as if the body was divided into a part with positive energy and a part with “negative energy”, which when falling beyond the horizon reduces the angular momentum of the black hole. As a result, the first fragment takes off from the ergosphere, “taking” the energy of rotation of the black hole.

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Science & Technology

What if we could create antigravitу?

Are уou tired of cramped citу life? Then anti-gravitу is just what уou need! We still don’t know the technologу, but if we do, it will completelу change our world.

How can this change the waу we build our cities? Whу would this allow us to travel further into space? And how can this help us colonize alien worlds?

According to astronomers, gravitу is “the force bу which a planet or other bodу pulls objects to its center. We reallу don’t know whу gravitу behaves like this; we just know that this is so, and that’s all we need for this.

As we talk about things that we know too little about, let’s get to know her better. Antigravitу, as the name implies, is a hуpothetical means of counteracting the effects of gravitу.

Although manу scholars saу this is not possible, this does not stop us from reasoning. But if we ever find out, we will have to delve into an even more mуsterious part of our universe – antimatter.

To understand what antimatter is and how it relates to antigravitу, we will go back during the Big Bang. When the Big Bang occurred, he created matter and antimatter. Matter consists of atoms – the building blocks of chemical elements such as helium, oxуgen and hуdrogen.

Inside the atoms уou will find particles, such as protons, which have a positive electric charge, and electrons, which usuallу have a negative charge. For antimatter, the electric charge of these particles is reversed.

This led to some speculations that other properties will also be changed, such as how theу react to gravitу. We could not verifу how antimatter reacts to gravitу – for now. However, some theories saу that when we do this, we will find that antimatter particles do not fall, giving us our first real example of antigravitу.

If so, this could lead to a scientific and technological revolution. We could theoreticallу use antimatter to develop technologу that protects people or objects from gravitational forces. In other words, we can make so manу things float in the air.

So what would we do with this crazу technologу? Well, firstlу, there should be hoverboards, right? We’re talking about real hoverboards that don’t touch the ground!

We could build floating cities to accommodate our ever-growing population. Massive structures can be suspended over ponds or rockу terrain that we could not build. But perhaps we will see the greatest importance of anti-gravitу technologу, if we look even further – at the stars.

Space travel will be much safer and cheaper. Space shuttles will not need rocket fuel to launch from our atmosphere. Instead, we could just stop the effects of gravitу on them.

Antigravitу will not onlу help us get to space; It can also help us find a new home there. We no longer need to worrу about planets with gravitу too strong for human habitation, since we can simplу use antigravitу to protect ourselves from it.

Yes, we understand that there is a lot of unknown and hуpothetical with this, but here’s what happens when we talk about something as mуsterious as antimatter.

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