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Meet Japan’s cyborg cockroach, coming to disaster area near you

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If in the not-too-distant future an earthquake hits and survivors are trapped under tons of debris, the first responders to locate them could be swarms of cyborg cockroaches.

This is a potential application of a recent breakthrough by Japanese researchers, who demonstrated the ability to attach “backpacks” containing solar cells and electronics to the beetles and control their movement by remote control.

Kenjiro Fukuda and his team at Japanese research giant Riken’s Thin-Film Device Laboratory developed a flexible solar cell film that’s 4 microns thick, about 1/25 the width of a human hair, and fits on the insect’s abdomen.

The film allows the cockroach to move freely while the solar cell generates enough energy to process and send directional signals to the sensory organs on the beetle’s hindquarters.

The work builds on previous insect control experiments at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and could one day lead to cyborg insects that can invade dangerous areas much more efficiently than robots.

“The batteries in small robots run out quickly, so the time for exploration becomes shorter,” said Fukuda. “A key advantage (of a cyborg insect) is that the insect moves itself when it moves, so the current required is not nearly as high.”

Fukuda and his team chose Madagascar hissing cockroaches for the experiments because they are large enough to carry equipment and don’t have interfering wings. Even if the rucksack and foil are glued to the back, the beetles can overcome small obstacles or stand up again when they turn around.

Research still has a long way to go. In a recent demonstration, Riken researcher Yujiro Kakei used a specialized computer and a Bluetooth wireless signal to tell the cyborg cockroach to turn left, causing it to crawl itself in that general direction. But when the “right” signal was given, the beetle went in circles.

The next challenge is to miniaturize the components to make it easier for the insects to move and to mount sensors and even cameras. Kakei said he built the cyborg backpack using 5,000 yen ($35) worth of parts he bought in Tokyo’s famous electronics district, Akihabara.

The backpack and foil can be removed so the cockroaches can be brought back to life in the lab’s terrarium. The insects become sexually mature in four months and can live up to five years in captivity.

Beyond disaster rescue, Fukuda sees broad applications for the solar cell film, which is made up of microscopic layers of plastic, silver and gold. The film could be incorporated into clothing or skin patches for use in vital signs monitoring.

On a sunny day, a parasol covered with the material could generate enough electricity to charge a cellphone, he said.

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Indian Government Sued Over VPN Logging Orders

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A hosting company has sued the Indian government, challenging newly implemented orders Targeting virtual private networks. As first reported by Enttrackr’s Aroon Deep On Wednesday, Pune-based company SnTHostings argued in its petition to the Delhi High Court that the new government guidelines undermine the fundamental operation of VPNs by requiring companies to track and store user data.

Continue reading: India orders VPN companies to collect and hand over user data

Although VPN services for India’s users are still operated remotely, SnTHosting’s lawyers pointed to the withdrawal of VPN servers in the country by major providers such as ExpressVPN, NordVPN and Surfshark. The firm said the order by India’s Computer Emergency Response Team, known as CERT-in, not only belies the whole point of VPNs, but also defies precedents protecting online privacy and violates the country’s constitutionally protected business rights.

“VPN services anonymize outbound traffic by encrypting online activity. This ensures that financial data such as bank account, credit card (and) debit card details are not accessible to third parties, thus promoting cybersecurity,” the company’s lawyers said in the 33-sided suit.

Continue reading: Casual vs. Critical: If your VPN is a matter of life or death, here’s how to choose one

Other VPN companies have continued to remove servers within Indian borders in response to the CERT-in policy, including providers PureVPN and ProtonVPN. The latter has offered a surveillance countermeasure called Indian Smart Routing, which gives the user an Indian IP address from servers physically located in Singapore.

SnTHosting’s lawsuit is scheduled to begin on December 9th.

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Google is sending Stadia to its infamous graveyard of canceled services

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what just happened From the start, there were fears that Stadia would end up in Google’s notorious graveyard of terminated services. Those fears have now come true, but the death of Stadia is far from the end of cloud gaming as competing services continue to expand.

Google has announced It will shut down Stadia permanently on January 18, 2023. The company has already shut down all Stadia-related transactions in its store, and it is prepare full refunds on most Stadia purchases.

Anyone who purchased Stadia hardware like the controller or a Stadia Chromecast bundle through the Google Store should be eligible for a refund by January 18th. Unfortunately, those who bought Stadia products through retail stores like Best Buy are out of luck.

The company will also refund Stadia games and in-game transactions, but not Stadia Pro subscriptions. Current Pro subscribers can continue to use premium features for free until the date of shutdown.

Stadia was launched in 2019 to play high-end games over the cloud without spending hundreds of dollars on a gaming console or powerful PC. The service included a free tier, a subscription with a selection of games, and a library of titles that could be purchased outside of the subscription.

Unfortunately, Stadia struggled to find a large enough audience interested in its games and not preferring to run them locally on console or PC. Google shut down Stadia’s first-party game studio in February 2021.

A year later the company panned Stadia plans to offer backend cloud services to companies like Peloton, Capcom, and Bungie while maintaining its customer-centric streaming service. Google will continue to use Stadia’s underlying technology for this purpose after next January, and will also use it to support YouTube, Google Play and augmented reality technology.

It wasn’t until the end of July that Google denied reports that Stadia has shut down, but it seems like a lot can change in just two months.

Meanwhile, other cloud gaming services like Nvidia’s GeForce Now and Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming are showing no signs of slowing down. Earlier this year, both services offered a workaround for playing Fortnite on iOS after Apple banned the title from its App Store. GeForce Now and Xbox Cloud are also coming for devices like Samsung TVs and Logitech’s forthcoming G Cloud handheld.

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SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe Earbuds review: Big sound for a small price

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