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A company that uses artificial intelligence to detect firearms in active shooting settings has been awarded a US$1.25 million grant by the US Air Force to integrate the technology into existing unmanned aerial vehicles.

This is the third R&D grant the Air Force has awarded to ZeroEasy, whose core business is protecting schools with its gun detection video analytics platform.

With ZeroEyes technology, the camera in a flying drone can be used to locate a firearm as soon as it appears, report it to a weapons specialist at an operations center to assess the threat, and Instruct to take action – all within three to five seconds.

“A quarter of active shootings occur on government property, and we will do everything we can to protect our airmen,” Dover AFB Chief Innovation Officer Captain Nicholas Martini said in a statement.

“ZeroEasy’s technology not only provides another layer of security,” he adds, “it will also enable us to reduce our investment in security personnel and utilize our manpower for more mission-critical tasks.”

In addition to the Dover award, ZeroEyes has a $750,000 grant for drone-robot enabled active shooter deterrence at Ellsworth AFB, SD, and a $1.2 million grant for unmanned ground vehicle automated threat detection at Minot AFB, ND.

robo dog

“DoD was impressed by what we had and asked us if we could apply our technology to mobile cameras, unmanned aerial systems and unmanned ground vehicles,” said co-founder Sam Alimo, ZeroEas chief revenue officer.

Alimo, along with the four other founders of ZeroEasy, are all former leaders of the Navy SEALs team. He said his company’s technology could be very valuable in a war zone.

“When you’re on a mission, the base for protection is often low so having an extra layer of security with drones that can detect someone with a gun in a crowd of people without it, would be a huge asset.” ,” he said.

He explained that the Air Force grant will enable ZeroEyes to adapt its technology, which is currently used on stationary video cameras, on mobile platforms as well as on robotic dogs. “First responders like the idea of ​​walking a gun detection dog in an active shooter situation rather than a human being,” he said.

Optimizing on-the-go vehicles could also open up other business possibilities for ZeroEyes. “A lot of third-party logistics companies and sporting arenas ask us for the technology,” Alimo explained. “Playgrounds want the ability to follow a drone around the stands.”

active solution

Last week, ZeroEyes announced that its gun detection system was being deployed at Vassar Public Schools, located 45 minutes from Oxford High School in Michigan, the scene of a mass shooting in November 2021 that killed four students and seven people were injured. including a teacher. After shooting, Oxford began a pilot program with ZeroEyes.

“I stumbled upon the ZeroEas at a superintendent’s convention. I didn’t know anything about them,” confessed Vassar Public School superintendent Dot Blackwell.

“What surprises me about the product is that it’s very active,” she told TechNewsWorld. “Someone who is ex-military or law enforcement is looking at frames from our cameras 24/7, and me and law enforcement will be alerted in seconds.”

“In these situations, the first few seconds are the key in stopping them,” she said.

Alaimo explained that the ZeroEyes technology can be used with any existing security camera system. “It can identify an object and send an alert to first responders in three to five seconds,” Alimo said. “However, we have a human in the loop because no algorithm will ever have 100% certainty on anything.”

ZeroEasy’s machine learning models have been trained with thousands of samples – everything from snub-nosed revolvers to semi-automatic pistols to submachine guns to assault rifles to shotguns and hunting rifles, he said.

“When the algorithm sees what it thinks is a gun, it will send an alert to our surveillance center,” he continued. “The center is staffed with veterans and law enforcement personnel who are very comfortable in these situations. He has the final say on what a gun is. This way, we ensure that our customers never get false positives. ,

“This process is very fast,” he said. “The camera will see the gun. The image will be sent to our surveillance center, and the surveillance will be sent to the customer in three to five seconds.

privacy protected

Although images are being piped into ZeroEyes’ monitoring center from across the country, it can accommodate workflows with a modest number of analysts.

“The algorithm is such that we don’t get overwhelmed by false positives,” Alimo said. “It’s manageable to the point that we’ve been able to scale to a million cameras without a massive surveillance center.”

“Right now,” he continued, “we are in 30 states and we have less than a dozen analysts in our surveillance center.”

“We have identified hundreds of guns, some of them real, some of them not real, some of them fake, some of them sharp guns,” he said.

Once a potential threat has been identified, the threat system can be notified in a number of ways.

“We have several mechanisms in place to notify customers if some of them don’t work,” Alimo said. “There is a call tree to make sure that no matter what happens, we can find someone on the phone. We also have a mobile app that sends notifications with the shooter’s image, the shooter’s exact location, and a bread crumb trail.

“We also have desktop notifications and integrations with an organization called RapidSOS,” he continued. “They are integrated with 93% of public safety answering points nationwide.”

“A school often tells us to send our alerts to Rapid SOS,” he said, “so first responders can get notification at the same time as a principal so both can enforce their safety protocols simultaneously.”

The combination of artificial intelligence and surveillance video may raise red flags among privacy advocates, but ZeroEyes seems to have covered those grounds. It says its AI does not record, store or share videos or images of students or others, ensuring that privacy is maintained.

For years companies have been allowing their employees to mix business and pleasure on their mobile devices, a move that has raised concerns among cybersecurity professionals. Now a network security organization says it has a way to secure personal mobile devices that could allow cyber warriors to sleep less comfortably.

Cloudflare on Monday announced its Zero Trust SIM, which is designed to secure every packet of data except mobile devices. Once installed on a device, the ZT SIM drives network traffic from the device to Cloudflare’s cloud, where its zero trust security policies can be applied to the data.

According to a company blog written by Cloudflare Director of Product Matt Silverlock and Innovation Head James Allworth, by combining software layer and network layer security through ZT SIM, organizations can benefit from:

  • Preventing employees from visiting phishing and malware sites. DNS requests leaving the device can automatically and implicitly use the Cloudflare Gateway for DNS filtering.
  • Reducing common SIM attacks. An eSIM-first approach could prevent SIM-swapping or cloning attacks, and could bring similar security to physical SIMs, by locking SIMs to individual employee devices.
  • rapid deployment. eSIM can be installed by scanning the QR code with the mobile phone’s camera.

distrust of personal devices

“A lot of organizations don’t trust the tools they’re managing to access sensitive corporate data because of it,” said analyst Charlie Winkless, senior director at Gartner.

“Most of us are a little less careful with our personal devices than with our business tools,” he told TechNewsWorld. “There are also fewer controls on a personal device than a business device.”

“The Zero Trust SIM is a way to try to allow some of those individual devices to take control of the corporate network as they connect.”

With a distributed workforce, the classic hub-and-spoke model for security has become obsolete, explained Malik Ahmed Khan, an equity analyst at Morningstar in Chicago.

“So, you have employees across the country accessing company resources with a mobile device sitting in their home,” he told TechNewsWorld. “How do you secure their access? That’s a big question for firms to answer.”

The answer to that question for many organizations is installing software agents on their employees’ phones as part of a mobile device management (MDM) system, which can rank employees.

“It’s inherently difficult to protect anyone’s personal equipment because owners don’t want their equipment to be managed by someone else,” said Roger Grimes, a data-driven defense campaigner at KnowBe4, a security awareness training provider in Clearwater, Fla.

Khan said adoption will be a significant challenge for Cloudflare. “There are two degrees of believing that needs to happen,” he said. “First, Cloudflare needs to convince firms to take it and second, firms need to convince their employees to use eSIM.”

hardware limitations

Grimes said there are other roadblocks facing organizations dealing with BYOD. “Phone operating systems simply don’t come with the complexity that is needed to enable and implement the methods that are typically applied to regular computers,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“For example,” he continued, “it is very difficult to implement patching so that phones and all their apps are up to date. Many times a phone’s OS will only be patched if the phone’s network provider, such as Verizon or AT&T, Decides to push the patch.

“The user can’t just click on an update feature and get a new patch, unless the phone vendor has approved it and decided to allow it to be installed,” he said.

When considering an eSIM solution, it’s important to know what it does and doesn’t do, observed Chris Clements, vice president of solutions architecture at Cerberus Sentinel, a cybersecurity consulting and penetration testing company in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“Cloudflare’s use of eSIM links the mobile device’s cellular data connection to Cloudflare’s network, where malicious domains or sites not approved by the organization’s policies cannot be blocked,” he told TechNewsworld.

“There are also capabilities for logging connections going over cellular data networks that companies typically are not able to monitor,” he said.

MDM complications

He continued, however, that there is no end-to-end encryption and that blocking and logging is limited to cellular data connections only. For example, Wi-Fi data connections are unaffected by eSIM offerings.

CloudFlare’s eSIM solution may be cheaper and simpler than deploying a full mobile device management solution and a whole network VPN that covers both Wi-Fi and cellular data connections, but it offers the same level of control and security of those solutions. does not do.” Told.

“The ability to reduce user account hijacking by preventing SIM swapping to intercept multifactor authentication codes is useful, but in reality, implementing MFA via SMS codes is no longer a best practice,” he said.

Khan pointed out, however, that there are problems with the agent-based solutions that ZeroTrust SIM has to offer. “The problem with these deployments is that they require the user to deep dive into their device’s settings and enable them to accept a bunch of certificates and permissions for the agent,” he explained.

“While it is very easy to do this on a company-issued laptop or mobile device – since the agent will be pre-configured – it is quite difficult to do it on BYOD, as the employee cannot set things up properly leaving the endpoint still partially exposed,” he said.

“Imagine having an IT security team for a firm with thousands of employees and each of them trying to follow a series of steps on their individual devices,” he continued. “It can be a nightmare, logically speaking.”

“Furthermore,” he said, “there may be a problem with updating agents uniformly and constantly asking employees to stay on the latest operating system.”

mobile headache

In addition to the ZT SIM introduction, Cloudflare also announced its Zero Trust program for mobile operators, which is designed to give mobile carriers the opportunity to give their customers access to Cloudflare’s Zero Trust platform.

“When I talk to CISOs I hear over and over again that effectively securing mobile devices at scale is one of their biggest headaches,” Cloudflare co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince said in a statement. , it’s a flaw in everyone’s deployment of Zero Trust.

“With Cloudflare ZeroTrust SIM,” he said, “we will offer the one-stop solution to secure all device traffic, helping our customers plug this hole in their ZeroTrust security posture.”

However, how the market will react to this solution remains to be seen. “I haven’t heard Gartner customers asking for this,” Winkless said. “Maybe they’ve seen something I haven’t seen. So, we’re going to see if this is an answer to a question that no one needs to answer or a transformative way of providing security.”

Data privacy laws are becoming a major focus globally as businesses scramble to meet new compliance obligations.

Privacy rules generally oblige any business or organization to securely store all data collected or processed by them. What they do with that data is strictly regulated.

According to a Gartner report, by the end of next year about 65% of the world’s population will have their personal data covered under modern privacy rules. Following these extended rules can be challenging.

The harvesting of personal data from electronic transactions and the increasing use of the Internet over the past 20 years have seen companies have almost free reign.

Many organizations involved in international commerce must modify their procedures in line with the new law. This is a priority for transactions and correspondence involving e-commerce and social media.

Expanding consumer mistrust, government action, and competition for customers prompted some governments to introduce stricter rules and regulations. Its effect is changing the conditions of a no-man’s land, which has allowed both large companies and small businesses to run rampant with people’s personal data.

“The biggest challenge companies face by far is maintaining the amount of data they manage, which is subject to ever-changing data privacy requirements,” Neil Jones, director of cybersecurity evangelism at Egnyte, told TechNewsWorld.

Classification of different demands

The European Union has a General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). According to Jones, in the UK and Continental Europe, data privacy has generally been viewed as a fundamental human right. In the US and Canada, businesses must navigate around a growing patchwork of state and provincial laws.

Data privacy law in the US and Canada has traditionally been more fragmented than in the UK and Europe. Canada’s Quebec, and the United States’ Utah and Connecticut are the latest to enact comprehensive data privacy laws, joining the US states of California, Virginia and Colorado.

By the end of 2023, 10% of states in the US will be covered by data privacy legislation, Jones said. The lack of a universal standard for data privacy has created an artificial layer of business complexity.

In addition, today’s hybrid work environment has created new levels of risk, with complex compliance with myriad privacy concerns.

what’s at stake

To increase productivity, organizations may need to ask employees detailed questions about their behavior and work-from-home arrangements. According to Jones, these types of questions can create unintended privacy implications of their own.

The recent convergence of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Protected Health Information (PHI) has put even highly confidential data at risk. This includes confidential test results such as workers’ compensation reports, health records of employees and patients, and COVID-19 information.

“With 65% of the world’s population expected to have personal data covered under privacy regulations by next year, respecting data privacy has never been more important,” Jones said.

cloud privacy barriers

Data privacy and security are the top challenges for implementing a cloud strategy, now rebranded as Foundry, according to a recent study by IDG. In this study, the role of data security was a major concern.

When implementing a cloud strategy, IT decision makers or ITDMs are facing challenges such as controlling cloud costs, data privacy and security challenges, and lack of cloud security skills/expertise.

With more focus on securing privacy data, this problem becomes bigger as more organizations migrate to the cloud. The two main obstacles the IDG study found were data privacy and security challenges and a lack of cloud security skills/expertise.

According to Foundry, spending on cloud infrastructure has increased by about $5 million this year.

“Although enterprise businesses are leading the charge, SMBs are not far behind when it comes to cloud migration,” said Stacey Rapp, marketing and research manager at Foundry, when the report was released.

“As more organizations move towards living entirely in the cloud, IT teams will need the appropriate talent and resources to manage their cloud infrastructure and overcome any security and privacy barriers that may occur in the cloud,” he said.

obtaining compliance

Organizations can successfully prepare for data privacy legislation, but doing so requires making data privacy initiatives a “full-time job,” Jones maintained.

“Many organizations view data privacy as a part-time project for their web teams, not a full-time business initiative that can significantly impact customer relationships, employee morale and brand reputation,” he said. offered.

Beyond that step comes establishing holistic data governance programs that provide greater visibility into a company’s regulated and sensitive data. Added to this is working with trusted business and technology partners who understand the data privacy space and can help you prepare for rapidly evolving regulations.

Jones suggests that perhaps the most dynamic approach is to use advanced privacy and compliance (APC) solutions. It enables organizations to easily comply with global privacy regulations in one place.

Specifically, APCs can help achieve compliance by:

  • Managing Data Subject Access Requests (DSARs), such as the right of individuals to be notified of personal data collected on them, the right to opt-out of personal information being sold to others, or by collecting organizations right to be forgotten
  • Assessing the company’s compliance preparedness and scope with specific regulations (eg, GDPR, CCPA)
  • Create and review technical assessments of third-party vendors and evaluate potential risks to consumer data
  • Enhance cookie consent capabilities such as integration of cookie consent into compliance workflows

active labor

It can be difficult for companies to understand today’s rapidly evolving privacy landscape, as well as how specific rules apply to them, Jones said. However, by taking proactive steps, organizations can stay on top of data privacy regulations in the future.

Those phases include these ongoing tasks:

  • Monitor the status of data privacy regulations in the countries, provinces and states where the customer base resides
  • Create a data privacy task force that can improve organizational focus and increase senior executive focus on privacy initiatives
  • Be aware of new federal data privacy legislation such as the proposed US Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA)

It is also important to note the long-term benefits of data privacy compliance. Specifically strengthening the company’s overall cyber security protections.

Originally published on July 11, 2022. This story is brought to you today as part of our Best of ECT news series.

A TED talk by Graham Conway, principal engineer at the Southwest Research Institute, claims that electric vehicles are less green than ICE cars and this is well argued. While I don’t agree with all of Conway’s metrics, the point he makes is valid, which is that the things we need to do to make electric vehicles truly green haven’t been done yet.

We are nowhere near the maximum potential for an electric car. Conway argues that for the next two or three decades, the hybrid approach may be better – at least until we can fix the parts of the ecosystem that are making electric vehicles less green.

In the meantime, we must continue to explore alternatives such as green hydrogen; A process where hydrogen is produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable electricity. With that, if we continue our massive push to convert to electric vehicles, we could be in a better place faster.

Here’s Conway’s presentation for reference:

This week let’s talk about what’s really involved in switching to electric cars. Then we’ll close with our product of the week, a laptop from Vaio that shows just how much you can get for less than $700—at least for now.

I’m not anti-electric

I’ll start by pointing out that I drive an EV and have leased one of the first Jaguar I-Pace electric cars to come to the US since 2019.

Last year I bought that car from a leasing company because I didn’t like anything better, and the lease buyout was much less than what I sold the car for. Seems like a good deal.

I’ve been covering electric cars since the late 1990s, when I was the top US battery analyst among many other titles. So, I love electric cars, but I also know their drawbacks and there are still many.

disadvantages of electric car

As Conway pointed out, electric cars can be driven indefinitely in a closed room without killing us and are certainly greener to operate. However, they have three major weaknesses.

The first is that due to the almost complete collapse of battery development in the early 1900s, battery technology is not where it would have been otherwise.

Lithium ion has one-third the energy density of dynamite, the common configuration being in cells such as small AA batteries that are difficult to cool, and if the battery catches on fire, it is difficult to put out. I know this directly because a fire broke out in a bicycle with a lithium-ion battery in my garage and even though I was trained as a fireman and was at home, I almost lost the house.

Lithium ion burns hot enough to melt aluminum and it will continue to ignite as long as the cells have enough energy to generate the heat needed for combustion. That’s why we have reports of a crashed Tesla on fire again in the wreckage.

Also, as Conway mentioned, manufacturing these batteries is far from a green process and the substance is a pollutant, which means that the batteries must be recycled to prevent groundwater contamination.

The second weakness is that for large-scale cryptocurrency miners, there is no electrical power headroom in the world and the peak generation capacity of the power grid often comes from old, dirty and nearly obsolete production facilities.

Electric cars draw a considerable amount of electricity, and we don’t yet have the headroom in our grid to supply it. Cars are typically charged at night when renewable energy such as wind and solar is unreliable (wind) or non-existent (solar). So, even if you have a solar plant on your roof, if you’re connected to the grid (not using the battery for power at night), and you change your electricity at night, you might end up with something like this. Pulling from a power source that is anything but green.

Third and finally, we don’t have enough neighborhood electric capacity to handle the huge influx of electric cars. Last time I checked, if you find more than three cars charging at once in a block of houses, there’s a good chance your local transformer will grenade – and they really do boom when they go up.

I considered getting a Level 3 charger for my electric vehicle, and it would have cost me more than the car cost. Not only would I have to pull bigger wires and more of them (going from L-2- to L-3 phase), but I would have to pay to replace the local transformer and massively increase my home service level.

Now with solid state batteries (which are coming), the expansion of green energy sources (especially nuclear or geothermal ones that can operate at night), and the expansion of micro-grid technologies (which are small green generators to be distributed Provided), we can turn Electric cars serve as a tremendous force to work against climate change. But we are not there yet.

This is not a list of requirements you can pick and choose from. You need all three elements to make electric cars truly green: green energy storage, sufficient green energy generation, and a more efficient grid to deliver that energy reliably, cheaply, and safely. All that is coming, just not in this decade.

Other Problems We Aren’t Talking About

The big deal is, what do we do with existing gasoline drilling, refining and distribution systems? The oil industry employs about 6 million people directly and 10 times more jobs are created indirectly.

Refineries, gas and oil pipelines, storage tanks and gas stations are all potentially hazardous material problems depending on how much oil and gas has leaked over the years. Even if the answer is zero, equipment will need to be safely cleaned and then scraped.

Industries dependent on oil production ranging from plastics to cheap drugs (petroleum jelly) and some solvents would collapse without large-scale oil production, and the resulting economic collapse of an industry (what happens to all oil platforms and oil drilling rigs?). The ecological time bombs of the future are subject to the firms once owned by them.

Plans should be drawn up on what to do with these related industries and implemented before the car and truck industry moves to electricity so as to avoid huge labor and ecological problems.

Plug-in Hybrids: The Short-Term Answer

As TED Talk also pointed out, you can get the same benefits as an electric car with a plug-in hybrid.

My wife drives a Volvo XC60 rechargeable plug-in hybrid. With the car coming up in a year and a half, we’re on our third or fourth gas tank (largely connected to the drive that exceeds its electric limit). It uses a very small and safe battery.

The Volvo XC60 also typically only requires the included Level 1 battery charger that plugs into a regular household electrical plug, unlike Level 2 chargers that require a two-stage hookup and a plug that plugs into an electric cloth. Uses dryer. His car will work with my level 2 charger, and it charges fast but not enough, in my opinion, to make a level 2 charger worthwhile.

Oh, and I should point out that while his car has a 20-mile power range, the latest version of his car doubles that to 40 miles, which makes the battery size far smaller and greener than the full- Keeping full is more ideal. – On an electric car.

wrapping up

While I’m an electric car fan because they’re fun to drive and gas stations surprisingly pleasant to pass through, the electric car ecosystem isn’t where it needs to be to get the full benefits of going electric just yet.

We need better, safer, more reliable and green battery technology. Charging cars requires more green energy, and we need a far stronger and more powerful grid to handle the extra load (cryptocurrency mining, which has taken off as of late, has led to arguably more powerful grids). pushing has helped). We also need a plan to more painlessly go away from oil. Otherwise, the infection will be noticeably more ugly than expected.

If we move to electric cars before all of these elements are in place, the result will not only be less of the positive impact on climate change that electrics would otherwise provide, but they will create many other environmental and social problems that we are prepared to tackle. are not. with.

Sometimes it’s better not to rush into new technology and instead be more measured in our approach. This is why, for now, a hybrid car may be a more sustainable option than electric vehicles, until we address other aspects of the conversion process to EVs.

Technical Product of the Week

Vaio 15.6″ FE Series Notebook

I was a big fan of Sony’s Vaio line back when Sony had the Vaio — and I studied why Sony failed massively in the PC market in the early 2000s. It was not because it did not have a well differentiated and well manufactured product. The products were more innovative and better built than any other big seller of the time.

The bigger problem was that while the product broke less often when it did break, the service experience was terrible. Therefore, customers did not hold back and tended to replace their better looking Vaio PCs with vendors that are still in this market.

Vaio is now largely a standalone company. I was curious whether it maintained its product quality, so I requested the least expensive new laptop evaluation model for this review. I should point out that I haven’t tested the company’s service process, but I’ve been told that it has improved and today’s laptops are far more reliable than they were two decades ago when Vaio was part of Sony.

Priced at $699 in silver, the 15.6″ Vaio FE laptop runs an acceptable Intel i5 processor with limited integrated graphics. That means it tests well for things like web browsing, watching movies, and office work – But it’s by no means a gaming machine or workstation. Its graphics score indicates it’ll be woefully useless if you need graphics headroom for gaming, photo or video editing, or computer-aided design.

Vaio 15.6

The Vaio 15.6″ FE Series Notebook is currently available in silver for $699 and in black for $799. (image credit: Vaio)


It played older and more casual games respectfully, and as mentioned, it streamed TV and movies just fine, though the speakers don’t do the included THX technology justice. It would be far better with a good set of headphones.

This Vaio FE has a fingerprint reader for security on the track pad (unusually), it lacks a touch screen, and has an older-style charger (no USB-C charging) that’s unusual on current-generation laptops – but probably acceptable is the lower end. USB-C chargers are a lot more useful in the sense that they’re more common now, so you’re more likely to find a charger you can borrow, and they can charge many of your smartphones in a pinch.

The fit and finish were sturdy, with a metal casing and a painted plastic keyboard. What I found was silver – and silver-painted plastic usually looks cheap – but this was the best implementation I’ve seen so far. Still, I’d pay an extra $100 to get it in black.

Vaio 15.6”-inch FE Series Notebook in Black Color

VAIO 15.6″ FE Series Notebook in Black color. (image credit: Vaio)


It was one of the first laptops to come with Windows 11 already on board, and with one exception the startup experience has improved.

That exception is that when it does its first major update, it doesn’t provide a progress bar, which makes you wonder if it’s doing anything at all. Since rebooting the machine can brick it, lack of notice can lead to some costly mistakes. Otherwise, the OS loaded fine and did a better job of bringing in my settings and favorites than Windows 10.

In the end, the $699 Vaio 15.6″ FE laptop in silver was a good high-end, entry-level laptop for school or remote work, has good battery life, isn’t too heavy for its class, and looks great. Is to be mistaken for a more expensive product.

All this makes the VAIO FE Series Notebook my product of the week.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.

PCs and TVs received high scores from consumers in a report released Tuesday by the US Customer Satisfaction Index.

The ACSI Home Appliances and Electronics Study for 2021-2022, based on interviews with more than 9,000 consumers, rates a range of products on a scale of zero to 100.

Customer satisfaction with the TVs is “sky high,” ACSI noted in a news release, pulling the score down to 80.

“Television – and consumer electronics more broadly – has been one of the more satisfying industries measured at ACSI,” said ACSI Research Emeritus Forrest Morgesson.

“When you consider the never-ending wave of technological innovations being introduced into the industry, as well as the ever-decreasing prices for these goods – despite recent inflation – it is not hard to understand why, Morgeson, who is also an assistant professor of marketing at Michigan State University, told TechNewsWorld.

streaming satisfaction

It should come as no surprise that overall consumer satisfaction with TVs is so high, said Mark N. Venna, president and principal analyst at SmartTech Research in San Jose, Calif.

“For nearly a decade, TVs with embedded ‘smart’ interfaces have been gaining in overall share, allowing users to more easily and intuitively change settings, as well as content in an intuitive manner through an ‘app’ orientation. can reach,” he told TechNewsWorld. , “Consumer satisfaction is up as TVs get easier to use.”

Streaming programming has also contributed to consumer satisfaction with TV. “With TV streaming, they’ve become far more capable over time, and they’re relatively problem-free, in terms of devices,” said Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst at Enderle Group, an advisory services firm in Bend, Ore. .

“With streaming, TV is again the center of in-home entertainment, and people are pleased with improvements over time and not worried about premature obsolescence,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Desktop Outscore Laptop, Tablet

PCs, which include desktops, laptops and tablets, also scored higher on the index with 79. In form factor, desktops, at 80, scored higher than laptops and tablets, which both posted 79, although the tablet satisfaction number was three points. More in 2022 than in 2021.

“It’s little surprise that PCs recorded higher customer satisfaction than laptops and desktops,” Morgesson said. “Of course, it’s important to note that PCs have a much smaller market share than the other two, and there are different consumers of PCs who are looking for different features and functionality in their computers. These differ in needs. explains the large amount of difference in product types.”

Neither Vena nor Enderle, however, were surprised by consumer satisfaction with the desktop.

“Tablets and laptops are often used to penalize mobile settings that make them more prone to accidental damage,” explained Vena. “Due to their fixed nature, desktop PCs — especially all-in-one models — tend to have a stronger reliability assumption because they don’t move around.”

“Desktops generally don’t need to be carried around, the bigger the screen you can afford, the fewer connectivity issues there are, and there aren’t much battery life issues,” Enderle said.

Apple tops in popularity

Among PC makers, Apple had the highest customer satisfaction rating with 82, although Samsung came second with 81.

“Apple PCs have long been popular with their customers, and have often outperformed other PC makers,” Morgesson said.

“For many years,” he continued, “this popularity was driven by the niche market created by Apple, appealing to web and graphic designers. More recently, the strong popularity of the Apple iPhone, and with Apple’s PC Its seamless integration – like the MacBook – has attracted a broad set of customers who have come to really like the product.

US Customer Satisfaction Index: Home Appliances and Electronics Study for 2021-2022


Apple is a leader in overall consumer satisfaction because they control the total hardware and software “stack,” explained Vena.

“This allows Apple to manage the overall user experience in a very strict and cohesive manner, which is something Microsoft cannot do because it relies on an OEM model,” he said.

“Apple products ‘just work’ because they are not open, generally speaking, like Microsoft-based products from a third-party peripheral and device perspective,” he continued.

“Microsoft focuses more on backward compatibility with the tools that enterprise customers demand,” he said.

stellar customer service

Customer service is another way Apple attracts customers. “Apple has great service,” said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a technology consulting firm in Campbell, Calif.

“Over the past 20 years, they have developed a top-notch service model that includes physical service at Apple Stores and Genius Bars,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“When you have an issue with an Apple product, you know how to deal with it,” he continued. “It has a great online service for handling problems and if you are in a city with an Apple Store, you can make an appointment with Genius Bar and 90% of the time, this will help you take care of the problem.”

“It’s a really big difference for Apple,” he said. “None of the other companies have the same kind of network to handle customer service as Apple does.”

In contrast, surveyors found that satisfaction with Microsoft’s software dropped four points to 73.

“Microsoft offers its customers a wide range of very different software solutions, and so it’s hard to attribute their decline to any one software product,” Morgesson said.

“Nevertheless,” he continued, “the increasing availability of competing alternatives for many of their products – including low- or no-cost apps now available to consumers – is potentially influencing consumer perceptions with software offerings. “

LG is the leader in the domestic category

“Microsoft’s bread-and-butter apps like PowerPoint, Outlook, Word and Excel keep getting new features that create a notion of bloat that doesn’t necessarily mean ease of use,” Venna said.

Then there’s Windows 11. “Satisfaction usually goes down when new OSes come out because people don’t like to upgrade, even though the process has improved a lot over the years,” Enderle said.

Consumer satisfaction with the major home appliances in the survey – washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, oven and microwave – also rose one point year-on-year to 79. LG Corp led all companies in the domestic category, jumping three points to 81.

“Our performance in the 2022 ACSI Rankings indicates that LG is an innovative brand that delivers products and features with real consumer benefits, but more importantly, without sacrificing product quality,” said the CEO of Home Appliances Product Management. LG Vice President Brandt Warner said.

“As we continue to listen to the customer and prioritize their recommendations, the quality of our product remains our main focus so that consumers know that their LG device will offer excellent performance while meeting their needs, ‘ he told TechNewsWorld.

A new service powered by artificial intelligence that can turn portraits into talking heads was announced by D-ID on Monday.

Called Creative Reality Studio, the self-service application can convert a facial image into video, complete with speech.

The service is aimed at professional content creators – learning and development units, human resources departments, marketers, advertisers and sales teams – but anyone can try out the technique on the D-ID website.

Creative Reality Studio
Video by John P. Mello Jr.


The platform reduces the cost and hassle of creating corporate video content and provides an unlimited variety of presenters – versus limited avatars – that include users’ own photos or any images that the company has the right to use, according to the company. Gained notoriety when its technology was used in an app called Deep Nostalgia. The software was introduced as a way to animate old pictures.

The company said the technology enables customers and users to choose a presenter’s identity, including their ethnicity, gender, age and even their language, accent and tone. “It provides greater representation and diversity, creating a stronger sense of inclusion and belonging, which drives further engagement and interaction with the businesses that use it,” it said in a news release.

Matthew Kershaw, D-ID Marketing Vice President, told TechNewsWorld, “The use cases include empowering professional content creators to seamlessly integrate video into the digital space and presentations with specialized PowerPoint plug-ins, the use of customized corporate video narrators.” Generating more engaging content.

impressive services

The quality of these services is impressive, and continues to get better, maintained Daniel Castro, vice president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a research and public policy organization in Washington DC.

“The service isn’t at a level where it’s completely replacing a presenter, but there’s no reason not to expect it to be there relatively soon,” he told TechNewsWorld.

D-ID explained that the use of video by businesses has increased dramatically and more of them are integrating it into their training, communication and marketing strategies.

Accelerating this trend, it continued, are the rapidly evolving worlds of avatars and the metaverse, both of which demand a more creative, immersive and interactive content approach from digital creators. Production budgeting, however, can be prohibitively expensive and requires significant allocation of time and talent.

“The service is an evolution of the avatars and emoji people use today, but can be used in lengthy discussions or presentations,” said Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, a consumer technology consulting firm in New York City.

“The idea is to save time, especially if you were going to read a script,” he told TechNewsWorld. “It can be more engaging to an audience than simply watching audio or slides.”

democratizing AI

D-ID CEO and co-founder Gil Perry noted in a news release that the company’s technology, which is limited to the enterprise, has been used to create 100 million videos.

“Now that we are offering our self-service Creative Reality platform, the potential is enormous,” he continued. “It enables both large enterprises, small companies and freelancers to create personalized videos for multiple purposes on a large scale.”

Kershaw said D-ID’s technology will further democratize creativity. “I say ‘forward’ because technology has really been democratizing the arts for decades,” he said.

“From the installation of synthesizers, samplers and sequencers in music to Photoshop and Illustrator in photography and illustration, and premiere and desktop editing in film production and motion graphics, the ability to create high-quality productions outside of specialist high-end studios It’s been happening since the 1980s,” he said. “This is the latest episode of that long-running series.”

“This is certainly a step forward towards democratizing AI,” agreed Aviva Litton, a security and privacy analyst at Gartner. “It has great use cases in education, healthcare and retail,” she told TechNewsWorld. “It’s a better way to communicate with people. We’re becoming a more visual society. Nobody has time to read anything.”

deepfake concerns

With growing concern over the use of “deepfakes” to spread misinformation and take social engineering to new heights, there is always the potential for misuse of new synthetic media solutions such as D-ID.

“As with any technology, it can be used for the ill by our bad actors, but our platform is aimed at legitimate businesses that would have no interest in that kind of use,” Kershaw said.

“Plus,” he continued, “we’re not deepfakes. We don’t put someone else’s face on someone else’s body, and we’re not trying to tell anyone something they didn’t say.”

“Within D-ID’s platform, we have put in place a number of security measures to ensure that our technology is not used in this manner,” he said. “We do not repeat the voices of celebrities or those without permission from any person.”

The company also filters abusive and racist comments, and prohibits the platform from being used to make political videos.

“D-ID is putting railings on their platforms, but we all know that railings are never perfect,” Litton said.

“It is a good tool to spread misinformation because these social media sites are not ready for deepfakes,” she said. “Even if social media sites are good at detecting deepfakes, they will never be enough. It’s like spam. Spam always gets through. It will happen too, but the consequences There will be worse.”

need for origin

Detecting deepfakes is a losing proposition in the long run, Litton said. Even today, detection algorithms typically cannot detect more than 70% of deep fakes.

He added that determined adversaries will keep pace with deepfake detection using generative adversarial networks so that the detection rate is eventually reduced to 50%.

She predicts that in 2023, 20% of successful account takeover attacks will use deepfakes to turn over sensitive data to socially engineered users or transfer funds to criminal accounts.

“Many safeguards need to be implemented industry-wide, which is why we are also working with industry bodies and regulators to implement legal safeguards that will make the industry more secure and reliable in general ,” said Kershaw. “We think that having an industry-wide system for watermarking content invisibly through the use of steganography, in particular, would get rid of almost all potential issues.”

“You will be able to see a section of media and click a button to see where it came from and what’s in it,” he said. “Transparency is the solution.”

“There are many ways to deal with counterfeiting, but the most important is to know the origin and authenticity of the media,” Castro said.

A new search engine powered by artificial intelligence and natural language processing is offering an alternative to the list of web pages that make up the results of a typical online search.

Called Andy, the search engine combines the use of large language models – think OpenAI’s GPY-3 – and live web data to formulate answers to questions posed by searchers.

“We use AI and natural language processing to understand the intent of a question,” explained co-founder Angela Hoover.

“Andy will look at the top 10 to 20 results for any question,” she explained to TechNewsWorld. “Then, using the larger language model, it would produce a direct answer to the question.”

andy search engine

Andy’s Search Query Screen (Image Credit: Andy)


Does the Internet need another search engine? Hoover thinks so. “Google is broken,” she said. “Google is built 20 years ago for the way the web worked. The cognitive overload of ads and links overloads the user with a lot of distraction and time wasted.”

“People want direct answers to questions. They don’t want a list of links,” she said.

Gen Z Appeal

Andy is designed for a younger demographic.

“It felt like my search results were being found in social media feeds. It appealed to younger users,” said Will Duffield, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute, a Washington, DC think tank.

“The clean reading that Andy is showing seems like a pushback against adding more widgets to Search,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Hoover acknowledged that Andy aims to appeal to the younger set, particularly Generation Z. “Gen Z lives in visual feeds and chat apps. My generation spends all their time in conversational interfaces,” she said.

“The key to taking on Google is a conversational interface,” she insisted. “Everyone who has tried to take down Google has been a weak copy with the same amount of massive information, spam, and clutter in the results.”

andy search results

Andy search results (Image credit: Andy)


A search engine that provides answers could also appeal to older people, noted Mark N. Venna, president and principal analyst at SmartTech Research in San Jose, Calif.

“In general, users are getting tired of Google’s search algorithms being biased, deterministic and selective,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“Whether that assumption is correct or not,” he continued, “a new search engine that uses common sense language and provides specific answers rather than links could be particularly interesting to older users who have Don’t want to bother reviewing the link. To get an answer to a question or query.”

search option required

However, making people switch search engines is a daunting task. “Google has set the bar really high for web search,” said Danny Goodwin, managing editor of Search Engine Land and SMX, a digital marketing and advertising technology publication.

“The only reason we would need another search engine is if you can provide something better than Google,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Better search results. Better user experience. Better answers. Better whatever.”

Greg Sterling, co-founder of the news, commentary and analysis website Near Media, said there is a lot of information online right now, much of it of low quality.

“Google is trying to respond to growing complaints about the decline in the quality and usability of its search results,” he told TechNewsWorld. “I believe there is an opportunity to deliver a new or better search experience. But this is a big problem and many new search engines copy the look and feel of Google.”

“Google’s partial abandonment in favor of TikTok by some young users,” he said, “is an example of the hunger for something different.”

“It’s hard to get just one answer now,” said Liz Miller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, a technology research and advisory firm in Cupertino, Calif.

“Which one do you see fighting for first in query results is extremely costly for brands and increasingly unpleasant for users,” she told TechNewsWorld. “The reality for many users is that they only want answers to the question they asked. They don’t want easter egg hunts that provide sponsored and level-headed results.”

finding a niche

Kerstin Recker, chief strategy and development officer at Seeker Search Engines, said there are several reasons why alternative search engines exist. “When a search engine controls the majority of the market, it has control over the information most people receive,” she told TechNewsWorld.

“Top search engines all factor engagement in their rankings,” she continued. “The more clicks a result gets, the higher the rank of the result. Most search engines do not take into account the quality of the content.

“Alternative search engines are needed to balance bias and give people more choice and clarity when it comes to information discovery and privacy,” he said.

Chasing the biggest search player to an alternative search engine can be challenging, but not frustrating.

“If you’re going to compete with a major product like Google, you find a niche that Google doesn’t want to cater to — in this case, answering questions — and you come up with a service that does a better job.” does,” explained Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst at Enderle Group, an advisory services firm in Bend, Ore.

“It’s usually a successful strategy called sub-targeting,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Andy’s target demographic should also help it gain some traction in the market, Enderle said. “It’s targeting a demographic in which the demographic feels it’s not getting from the primary search engine,” he said.

“One thing about going after the younger demographic is that they are very active on social media,” he continued. “So if a few influencers get excited about it, it can drive a lot of people into it.”

show me money

Providing answers, not lists, isn’t the only way Andy differs from some of its competitors. It does not charge any fees for its service and does not record personally identifiable information about its users.

Hoover explained that the service is looking at several ways to generate revenue, including creating a premium tier of service, offering API services, and partnering with publications. “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to partner with tools like Amazon Alexa and other types of voice-powered search,” she said.

However, Duffield said that becoming profitable through organic link referrals and add-on services can be difficult. “Current searches are bundled with advertising for a reason. That’s the way to make money,” he said.

Is your favorite Linux desktop Cinnamon, MATE or Xfce? Or are you longing for something different and potentially better?

Then one of your best options is the upgrade to Linux Mint 21 “Vanessa” released on July 30th. It comes in a choice of Ubuntu- or Debian-base flavors.

It is an important step for me to make this recommendation. Once my daily Linux driver, I had a major fallout with this distribution several years ago, when an upgrade caused some troubling issues, leading to unpleasant reactions to — and no solution at all — Linux Mint tech support. from the community.

I then jumped into Linux Mint, a near-clone of Phaeron OS, and was a happy user until the distro’s developers made a radical design change and moved away from the traditional Cinnamon desktop.

So I jumped to distros again. I had reviewed the then new Cinnamon Remix distro released by an independent Linux developer. My go-to Linux distro became Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix, later renamed Cinabuntu. I’ve been very happy with its performance and usability options since then.

The ability to pick and choose operating system and configuration options is one of the shining beads you can polish your way to with Linux. It is not possible with Windows or macOS to be able to quickly install a replacement OS with the same look and feel.

However, with the release of Linux Mint 21 my Linux reviewer got the best of me. I was curious what I was missing.

I have detected some features that are not available in my current Cinnamon version. Those new features are in the MATE and Xfce versions as well. LM 21 versions include the latest versions of the three supported desktop environments: Cinnamon 5.4, Xfce 4.16, and MATE 1.26.

Read on to see what’s pulling me back to Linux Mint. Since Cinnamon is my favorite desktop, I focused on that version for this review.

hello old friend

The Vanessa release rekindled my appreciation for how tightly knit Linux Mint is as a computing platform. From the initial loading of the live session DVD to the impeccable installation, I was up and running in less than 30 minutes.

The welcome screen is becoming a standard setup routine for Linux installations. They can all take lessons on how to do this correctly using Linux Mint as an example. Even for experienced Linux users, Linux Mint’s approach is fast and convenient to perform all first-run tasks.

The left column panel of the panel provides general information, documentation, and a great index for completing the first steps. This is especially useful for new users who are unfamiliar with Linux in general – and LM in particular.

The main window area walks you through each step of updating system components and basic desktop configuration. Each section briefly describes what is included. The green themed launch button sets each part of the process in motion.

Steps include desktop color selection, choosing a traditional or modern panel layout, updating drivers and system components, setting up system settings, and software manager. The process also includes activating the built-in firewall, which is an item that many users overlook.

Linux Mint 21 Welcome Screen

The Linux Mint 21 welcome screen guides you through all the setup steps after installation, and it’s also a handy reminder that updates need to be made from time to time.


desktop difference

Design and usability features are one of the reasons I favor the Cinnamon desktop. It has one of the most detailed and organized configuration panels of any Linux distribution.

The System Settings panel keeps all the configuration options in one place. But unlike other desktop layouts with very few options, Linux Mint organizes all system controls into four general categories. In total, 40 icons hide related subcategories until you click an icon to open it.

KDE Plasma is the only other desktop with such an amount of configuration options. But that design is a series of separate settings panels that scatter controls and user options across a lot of menu locations.

While the configuration options available in the MATE and Xfce versions are less extensive, they still offer the ability to customize the look and feel to suit your computing needs.

Linux Mint does a better job than other desktops in how it handles the screen design and usability aspects. It has a wide range of quick access tools called desktops that reside on the desktop screen. Its use of applets that reside on the lower panel adds flexibility.

lm also provides a collection of extensions that provide even more usability options (similar to those available in the KDE Plasma desktop). This combination of features is a solid reason to try this distro.

Linux Mint 21 Desktop Configuration Options

The desktop configuration options available in the MATE and Xfce versions are less extensive than in Cinnamon. They still offer the ability to have the same look and feel as your computing needs.


under the hood

Linux Mint 21 is based on Ubuntu 22.04 and provides a full WIMP display like Windows, Icon, Menu, Pointer. This is a Long Term Support (LTS) release supported until 2027.

Vanessa, which continues the LM’s imagination for naming all releases with female names ending in the letter “A”, is packed with notable improvements in performance, compatibility, and stability. It ships with the Linux kernel 5.15 LTS.

Other changes include a new NTFS file system driver that simplifies interaction with Windows partitions, improvements to the default EXT4 file system, as well as improved hardware support, security patches and bug fixes.

A major Bluetooth change to the LM Blueman circuitry replaces the Blueberry app, which relies on GNOME-desktop plumbing. Like Blueberry, Blueman is desktop-agnostic and integrates well across all environments. It depends on the standard bluez stack and works universally, including from the command line.

Blueman Manager and Tray Icons have features that were not previously available in Blueberry. It handles more information for connection monitoring or troubleshooting Bluetooth issues and brings better connectivity to the headset and audio profiles.

Linux Mint 21 Cinnamon Desktop

Linux Mint 21 classic Cinnamon desktop design sports a favorites column, application category list, and a changing sublist of installed titles.


pain point solution

Welcome to Vanessa. Its lack in earlier releases was a usability issue. To address this, a new XApp (Linux Mint Exclusive Application) project called xapp-thumbnailers was developed for Linux Mint 21.

Process Monitor is a pain point solution for me. It places a special icon in the system tray when automated tasks are running in the background. Such tasks can slow down the performance of the system until it is completed. This new monitor is a silent alert that explains computer slowdowns.

Timeshift was an independent project for backing up and restoring OSes. The producer abandoned the application. LM took over the maintenance of Timeshift prior to the release of the LM 21. Timeshift is now an XApp.

One immediate benefit is the change in the way rsync mode works. It now calculates the space required for the next OS snapshot storage. If there is less than 1 GB of free space on the disk when the snapshot is executed, it quits proceeding.

Another pain point remedy is how LM21 now handles package removal. This prevents removal from the main menu (right-click, Uninstall) if the evaluation shows that other programs will be affected. This triggers an error message and stops the operation.

If no damage is found to major system components, uninstalling an application from the main menu also removes dependencies for applications that were installed automatically and are no longer needed.

Linux Mint 21 Scale and Expo Window View

Scale and Expo window views in Cinnamon are triggered by heated corners and applets on the lower panel.


ground level

The computer hardware requirements for Linux Mint 21 have not changed. You need a modern computer because LM is not as light on system resources as it used to be. That means a box with a 64-bit processor, at least 2GB of RAM, and 15GB of free space.

If you need help installing Linux Mint 21, the Linux Mint website has a comprehensive installation guide. But that shouldn’t be a possibility. Installation Engine is well polished. Most of my computers run multiple partitions, which usually forces manual intervention.

The LM 21 installer does not stumble. It simply asked where to put the OS. The installer handled all the splitting and adjustments in the background.


suggest a review

Is there a Linux software application or distro that you would like to recommend for review? Something you love or want to know?

Email me your thoughts and I’ll consider them for future columns.

And use the Reader Comments feature below to provide your input!