All posts by Daniel Davies

What’s left to get excited about with wearable technology? Find out in issue 35 of Factor magazine. Out now!

We think it’s fair to say wearable technology is not what it once was. Over the past year, multiple players have gone out of business, with Pebble, darlings of the smartwatch world, collapsing and being broken down for parts by Fitbit.

Even the fitness tracker giant itself hasn’t fared well, with a year that saw its stock steadily tumble as the public decided that they didn’t need another fitness tracker, thank you very much.

So in April’s issue of Factor, we scrape through the debris of the wearable technology industry to try and determine if there is anything left to be excited about, and what really does lie ahead on the horizon.

You have to read Factor to find that out, but right now we can tell you one thing about the future of the wearable tech industry: it’s not going to be saved by another smart payment ring or fitness tracking watch.

But we understand the smartwatch is the standard bearer for wearable tech, so we’re taking a look at the sorry state of the tech and ask where the likes of Apple and co can go to make their smartwatch offerings appealing, as well as charting the rise and fall of some of the industry’s major wearable tech players.

To write this month’s mag we took a trip to the 2017 Wearable Technology Show and found the fashion industry picking through wearable tech’s creaking remains, which suggests there is hope for things yet, even if it’s in a form that is totally unrecognisable from what’s available today. We look at how the fashion industry is making wearables wearable, and look at some of the avant-garde projects that are injecting creativity into proceedings.

It’s fair to say there’s a fair bit of pessimism around wearable tech at the moment, but don’t be deceived, the whole industry isn’t desperately trying to cling to former glories.

One area where promise still remains is hearables, and with tech such as Amazon’s Echo proving a hit, there is promise for audio-based wearable technology yet. We consider the likelihood of hearables following in the footsteps of smartphones to become “the fourth platform”, and look at how concerns around listening tech are adding fuel to the burning inferno that is the privacy debate.

Despite the industry’s failures, there are products that could truly be a hit if their manufacturers manage to get them right. We look at promise behind the emerging category of pollution-targeted wearables , consider the sleep-helping wearable that has actually been backed up by clinical trials and detail our wearables wish list of devices we’d like to see developed.

Plus, if you’d like a break from all things wearable technology, we also look at how the Trump administration is taking a political axe to the open and fair internet playing field, and consider the peculiar and largely forgotten history of Penny Arcade Adventures:  On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness.

As well as this there’s all the latest news and we take a look at Bang & Olufsen’s BeoSound 2 in issue 35 of Factor magazine – out now on iPad and online.

Cyber security company reveals vulnerability that lets hackers take control of a car’s engine

Israeli cyber security company Argus has revealed vulnerabilities in Bosch Drivelog Connect USB sticks that allow hackers to bypass authentication and issue commands to cars, including stopping cars’ engines.

In September 2016, Bosch announced its new Drivelog Connect, essentially a USB stick that can be used by drivers to send details about the condition of their vehicle to an accompanying app.

However, Argus has found vulnerabilities in Bosch’s technology, which include an information leak between the Drivelog Connect USB and the Drivelog Connect smart phone app.

The information leak allowed Argus to quickly brute-force the Drivelog Connect’s secret PIN and connect to the USB via Bluetooth. Once connected to the USB, Argus said it could “inject malicious messages” between the various devices, as well as control things like the car’s engine.

Images courtesy of Drivelog/Youtube

“In our research, we were able to turn off the engine of a moving car while within Bluetooth range,” said Argus in a blog post.

“If an attacker were to implement this attack method in the wild, we estimate that he could cause physical effects on most vehicles on the road today.”

In the case of Argus’ attack on Bosch’s Drivelog Connect, hackers need to be in close proximity to the targeted vehicle, but as Kyle Wilhoit, senior security researcher at DomainTools explains, this isn’t always the case.

“Cars are becoming more virtual every day. From anti-lock braking systems to navigation control, the reliance on complex computing across a vehicle is surprising,” said Wilhoit.

“One of the only saving graces to this technology is the attack surface. Typically to attack a vehicle’s onboard systems, the attacker would need to be within physical proximity of the vehicle. This is not always the case, and there are some remote exploit opportunities available, but those are a harder attack surface to compromise.”

Having found that it could gain access to Bosch’s Drivelog Connect, Argus informed Bosch and the company says its Product Security Incident Response Team took “decisive and immediate action to address the vulnerabilities”.

Details of how Argus carried out the attack are available here.