Intel Recalls All Basis Peak Smartwatches Due to User Burn Risk

Today's topics include Intel’s recall of its Basic Peak smartwatches because of an overheating issue, the release of the Blackberry Hub+ productivity suite for Android smartphones, the results of a social experiment to see if people actually will plug random USB sticks they found on the ground into their PCs and IBM’s development of artificial neurons to speed up cognitive computing.

Intel officials are recalling its Basis Peak smartwatches due to overheating issues that they say could blister or burn a user's skin. The chip maker issued the voluntary recall Aug. 3 after almost two months of trying unsuccessfully to develop a software solution to fix the problem.

Now, officials are asking users to return their devices for a full refund. Intel, which has targeted the internet of things and wearable devices as key growth areas, has stopped supporting the smartwatches and will shut down all Basis Peak services Dec. 31, at which time people will no longer be able to access their data.

"We are issuing this safety recall of the Basis Peak watch because the watch can overheat, which could result in burns or blisters on the skin surface," Josh Walden, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's New Technology Group, wrote in a recall alert. "It is important that you stop using your watch immediately and return it."

BlackBerry is now offering its BlackBerry Hub+ productivity suite as a 99-cents-a-month subscription offering to all users of smartphones running Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

The BlackBerry Hub+ productivity suite, which is part of the company's BlackBerry 10 operating system, is already part of the company's Priv smartphones. It will be also be featured on the company's upcoming DTEK50 Android smartphone, which is scheduled to go on sale Aug. 8.

The move aims to get some of BlackBerry's most admired key applications in front of the eyes of more Android users so they can use some of the tools that make BlackBerry devices valuable to the company's shrinking, yet dedicated enterprise users.

In the information security business, there is a longstanding myth that users will pick up and try to use random USB keys that can easily infect their machines.

That's an urban legend that Elie Bursztein, anti-fraud and abuse research team lead at Google, put to the test and detailed in an amusing session at the Black Hat USA conference here.

Rather than just randomly drop USB drives, Bursztein developed a whole process that involved placing 297 keys at various locations on the University of Illinois campus. On the sticks, Bursztein included a simple HTML file for tracking as well as a follow-up survey for victims so they can learn what they did wrong.

The results showed there is considerable truth to the myth, as 46 percent of the dropped keys "phoned home," according to Bursztein, meaning someone picked up the key, plugged it into a computer and clicked a link.

IBM research scientists have advanced the company's effort to extend cognitive computing with a breakthrough that could lead to the development of "neuromorphic" computers.

Neuromorphic computing, or brain-inspired computing, is the use of computing technology built to perform like the neuro-biological architectures in the human nervous system.

A team of scientists at IBM Research in Zurich has developed technology that imitates the way neurons react, such as when a person touches something sharp or very hot.

In a blog post on the new discovery, IBM research scientist Manuel Le Gallo said IBM has developed artificial neurons that can be used to detect patterns and discover correlations in big data.

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