Open Sesame! Amazon’s Alexa can now control August locks

It’s Thursday, July 28 and while some still scoff at Apple’s decline in iPhone sales last fiscal quarter, the company is swatting back with an impressive figure. Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that, as of yesterday, 1 billion iPhones have been sold. That’s a pretty staggering number when you take a moment to think about it, and it only took about nine years to do it.

The news comes on the heels of the company’s recent earnings call, which indicated Apple’s iPhone shipments dropped 15 percent in the second quarter, totaling “just” 40.4 million. Certainly, growth is an indicator of success, but if you’re shipping 40.4 million of anything, you’re probably doing just fine.

Alexa, open sesame!

Amazon’s Echo speaker just got the keys to your house. Well, if you let it anyway. And if you happen to own an August brand smart lock. As of today, Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant that lives inside the Echo, Tap, and Dot speakers, can now lock August deadbolts via voice command. You’ll need an August Wi-Fi bridge to do it. One set up, you can easily call out to Alexa to lock the front door (or all the doors if you have multiples) from the comfort of your bed.

After first introducing the lock function for August Smart Locks, Amazon announced in February of 2017 the added capability of unlocking the devices. Furthermore, the Smart Lock allows owners to issue what it refers to as virtual keys, meaning anyone a user deems as a virtual key owner has (permanent or temporary) access to their home.

Watch that wireless keyboard

Do you use a wireless keyboard for your PC or mobile device? Ever use it in public spaces like a coffee shop? If so, there’s a chance your personal information could be at risk. A recent report from cybersecurity outfit Bastille indicates some inexpensive wireless keyboards could be vulnerable to a program called KeySniffer, which catches the wireless signal transmitted from the keyboards made by a wide array of companies and logs keystrokes.

So, if you enter your username, password or any other sensitive information manually, someone could capture it from up to 250 feet away. The security firm apparently tested wireless keyboards from some 12 different brands, and of those 8 were susceptible to the attack. Some manufacturers are reacting by adding encryption to the wireless signal, but it might be a good idea to upgrade just in case.

By the way, Bluetooth keyboards are not subject to attack as the encryption is built right in to the technology. So, if you’re on a Bluetooth-type keyboard, you’re just fine. Unless someone is hacking you at Starbucks another sort of way.

Robot Spiders weave patches

Finally, aerospace company Lockheed Martin has developed a robot spider to crawl around airships, find tiny holes in the airship’s skin, and repair them on the spot.

It’s probably not something you think about often, but those blimps up in the sky are basically giant balloons and the material that holds in all of that air is prone to developing tiny pin-prick sized holes.

As you can imagine, it’s a time consuming and tedious process for humans to find them – a real needle in a haystack scenario. But these new robot spiders are able to seek them out autonomously and apply a patch on the spot. It’s fascinating to watch, so be sure to check out this video.


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