Sniffing Out LG Smart TV Tracking Protocol

lg-smart-tv-tracking

[DoctorBeet] noticed the advertisements on the landing screen of his new LG smart television and started wondering about tracking. His curiosity got the better of him when he came across a promotional video aimed at advertisers that boasts about the information gathered from people who use these TVs. He decided to sniff the web traffic. If what he discovered is accurate, there is an invasive amount of data being collect by this hardware. To make matters worse, his testing showed that even if the user switches the “Collection of watching info” menu item to off it doesn’t stop the data from being phoned home.

The findings start off rather innocuous, with the channel name and a unique ID being transmitted every time you change the station. Based on when the server receives the packets a description of your schedule and preferred content can be put together. This appears to be sent as plain data without any type of encryption or obfuscation.

Things get a lot more interesting when he discovers that filenames from a USB drive connected to the television are being broadcast as well. The server address they’re being sent to is a dead link — which makes us think this is some type of debugging step that was left in the production firmware — but it is still a rather sizable blunder when it comes to personal privacy. If you have one of these televisions [DoctorBeet] has a preliminary list of URLs to block with your router in order to help safeguard your privacy.

[Thanks Radcom]

New Ads – Please Whitelist Hackaday on Adblock

adblock-plus-whitelist

If you’ve been watching very closely you may have noticed that our ads have changed. If you didn’t know we run ads, I’m asking you to consider whitelisting Hackaday.com in your advertisement blocking browser plugin.

The plan to transition to advertisements which are more targeted for our interests was mentioned back in July, when Hackaday was purchased by SupplyFrame,  I say ‘our’ interests because the companies who have signed up so far are ones with which I have personally done business when hacking my own projects. These include the manufacturers: Atmel, Microchip, NXP, and Texas Instruments as well as distributors: Arrow Electronics, Element 14, Mouser, and RS Components. The ads are in the exact same places as they have always been, at the same size, with the core belief that on-page advertising should be entirely unobtrusive. If you find the ads to be otherwise, please do let us know about it (screenshots are helpful!).

Hackaday highlights a steady stream of project features every single day. These are the best engineering-oriented hacks the web has to offer. There is some cost involved in do this, which we cover by including advertisements on our pages. Please don’t block the ads. If you haven’t been blocking, thank you! If you do use an Ad blocker, I certainly understand that you want to get away from ads that automatically play audio, flash annoying colors, or include inappropriate content. Our ads don’t do this. Please throw us a bone by adding our domain to your “whitelist”. This is very simple, and after the break I’ve included the instructions for doing so with Adblock Plus.

[Read more...]

Raspberry Pi camera built as part of advertising campaign

the-rpi-camera

Here’s yet another example of well targeted advertising. This camera built around a Raspberry Pi is a giveaway from Sprite. The “lucky” winner of the camera will have the pleasure of seeing the Sprite logo as a watermark on all of the images they snap with it. But in the right hands it’s a simple hack to remove that “feature” (they published the Python script that adds the watermark) or to just scrap the parts for another project. Either way, Sprite got us to say their name three times in this paragraph so the campaign worked.

The most obvious part of this build is the custom cast resin case that they came up with which is a gaudy cartoon-like monstrosity. It protects the case-less Raspberry Pi board, and mounts the Pi Camera board so that the lens is positioned correctly. The lipstick-sized module mounted in the lower back half of the case is a 2400 mAh portable power supply with a USB charging port sticking out the side. This makes us wonder, do you have to wait for the RPi to power up before snapping a picture? If the size and color didn’t get you noticed by everyone the shutter sound will. it shouts the name of the soda company whenever you press the shutter release button.

If you’re more of a high-end photography enthusiast this DSLR wedded with an RPi will be of more interest.

Beck’s beer bottle sound recording

becks-beer-edison-cylinder

This beer bottle includes recorded audio etched into the glass. But you certainly won’t find half an album included with your next sixer. This is a one of a kind item that took a team of engineers to craft.

The idea comes from Phonographic Cylinders invented by [Thomas Edison]. Analog audio was etched into cylinders made of wax which could then be played by a needle and amplifying horn. The beer bottle is a similar size of cylinder, but etching the audio signal into glass is a horse of a different color. The video below includes a recounting of the development process from the guys who pulled it off. It includes using hard drive parts and special processing filters that remove harmonics introduced by the milling rig.

We’re sure you’ve figured it out by now; this is an advertisement. We say good! This is the kind of advertising we want. It’s topical, well targeted, and worth paying attention to. We felt the same way about the recent Oreo campaign and that Skittles hack. We hope that ad execs will take note of this.

By the way, it is possible to do this stuff at home. Check out the guy who made an Edison Cylinder wedding ring.

[Read more...]

Oreo-creme hater builds Rube Goldberg CNC router to remove the Stuf

oreo-separator

Look, we understand the need to find a project to occupy your time and interest. So we’re not going to ask the wrong question (why?) for this one. This guy hates the creme that connects the chocolate cookies to make an Oreo. So he built a complicated system to separate the cookies and remove the creme. Check out the video after the break for a hardware overview (where we catch a glimpse of an Arduino RBBB) and a complete demonstration.

Although the project is a marketing gimmick for the company, we really love the fun they had making the video and the device actually works! Drop a cookie in the chute and it will be lifted into position for cleaving with a hatchet (we’re unsure what the string mechanism on the hatchet is for). The two pieces are then grabbed by some servo-powered grippers and transferred to a CNC router bed where a Dremel tool removes the residual creme before dumping the cookies out into your hand.

Once again, marketers should take note of this style of advertising. Notice the two main features achieved here: including a product in something we’re genuinely interested in and not being annoying (we’re looking at you Head-On).

[Read more...]

Flip-dot display is an advertising experience we can get behind

This huge and mesmerizing interactive display is just a big piece of advertising. It is a flip-dot display. Each pixel is a mechanical disk, white on one side and black on the other. The team over at BreakfastNY hacked the display modules and wrote their own software so that it can be refreshed with lighting quickness. To the left you can see the high contrast text, but on the right it’s showing the camera-based interactivity. A few seconds later this gentleman sweeps his arm to the side and all the pixels scatter as if blown away by a forceful wind. You might as well just skip down to the video after the break right now.

The display is an advertisement for a new show on the TNT network called Perception. We’ve got to say, if you’re going to advertise this is the way to do it. Make something cool, then share the details. We get to enjoy the clickity-clack of all those dots flipping into place and they got us to at least recognize the network and say the name of the show. Everyone wins.

[Read more...]

Hackaday Links: April 20, 2012

Introducing Hackaday: how it’s made edition

Ever wonder how the make the forms for marine propellers? Now you have. It turns out they use a bunch of plywood, Bondo, and sandpaper. Awesome viewing for a coffee break.

Finally a new way to hurt yourself!

[Darrell]‘s solder flux pen was filled and capped at sea level. When this pen made it to his work bench high in the mountains of Colorado there was a significant amount of pressure in that pen. The flux squirted out right into [Darrell]‘s eye. Better get some Visine on that, man.

The most accurate television portrayal of hacking ever

[Russell] was watching TV last night and saw an interesting commercial. It’s a bunch of electronic components, then a nook color showing the front page of Make: Projects, an Arduino schematic, and finally a happy robot. Two observations: firstly, someone in media and advertising doesn’t think ‘hacking’ is WarGames stealing bank accounts. Secondly, an ad exec looked into current users.

Here’s the official YouTube video of the commercial.

In a world… where components aren’t soldered… one man… uses a soldering station.

Adafruit linked to the most outrageous promo video ever. This Weller soldering station provides 240 watts, battles alongside Agamemnon at Troy,  has rework tweezers, and travels to Italy to wage war against the Latins.

An IDE for the 21st century

[Chris] is currently developing a new paradigm for programming. He calls it Light Table, and it’s designed to be an improvement over a simple text editor and project manager. All the documentation is at your fingertips, you can make changes on the fly. It reminds us of the zzstructure emulator we saw last year. It’s something to keep an eye on at least.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 92,130 other followers