Bad news if you bought several Insignia-branded smart devices from Best Buy. The company has decided to shut down the back end systems that make them work — or at least work as a smart device. On the chopping block are smart outlets, switches, a security camera, and an upright freezer. If you bought, say, the freezer, it will still keep things cold. But the security camera will apparently be of no use at all now that the backend systems have gone dark. The company is offering an unspecified partial refund to users of the affected devices.
Best Buy announced this in September, and the shutdown date was last week on November 6th. Not all Insignia products are impacted, just the ones that rely on their app.
Anytime we talk about cloud-based technology, there are always a few people who say something like, “I’ll never rely on anything in the cloud!” Perhaps they have a point — certainly in this case they were right. There are really two things to consider: hardware devices that rely on the cloud, and data that resides in the cloud. In some cases, one product — like a camera — might have both.
Continue reading “Best Buy’s IoT Goes Dark, Leaving Some “Smart” Products Dumbfounded”
Most hacks need some fair bit of skill and knowledge if you want to come out successful at the other end. Others, you just plunge in blindly with a “heck, it’s already broken so I can’t make it any worse” attitude. Throwing caution to the wind, you dive in, rip things up, and see if you can manage to catch the bull by the horns.
[Jim]’s cheap LCD TV, barely a few years old, died. It was purchased from the store whose blue polo-shirted cashiers can drive you nuts with their incessant questions. [Jim] just rolled up his sleeves and rather haphazardly managed to fix his TV while adding an extra feature along the way.
His initial check confirmed that the LCD panel worked. Using a flashlight, he could see that the panel was displaying video which meant it was the backlight that wasn’t working. Opening up the TV, he located the LED driver board whose output turned out to be zero volts. [Jim] happened to have a lot of WS2812B strips lying around, along with their power supplies and RGB color controllers. The obvious solution was to ditch the existing LEDs and power supply and use the WS2812B strips.
Surprisingly, the original backlight consisted of just 21 LEDs arranged in three rows. He ripped those out, put in the WS2812B strips, and taped the jumble of wires out of sight. After putting it back together, [Jim] was happy to see it worked, although the new strips were not as bright as the old ones, causing some uneven light bands. He solved this by adding a few more strips of LEDs. It took him a couple of hours to fix his TV, but by the end of it, he had a TV whose backlight could be adjusted to any color using the external color controllers — although we’re not too sure what good that would be.
The people at Two Bit Circus are at it again; this time with a futuristic racing simulator where the user controls the experience. It was developed by [Brent Bushnell] and [Eric Gradman] along with a handful of engineers and designers in Los Angeles, California. The immersive gaming chair utilized an actual racing seat in the design, and foot petals were added to give the driver more of a feeling like they were actually in a real race. Cooling fans were placed on top for haptic feedback and a Microsoft Kinect was integrated into the system as well to detect hand gestures that would control what was placed on the various screens.
The team completed the project within in thirty days during a challenge from Best Buy who wanted to see if they could create the future of viewing experiences. Problems surfaced throughout the time frame though creating obstacles surrounding the video cards, monitors, and shipping dates. They got it done and are looking towards integrating their work into restaurants like Dave & Buster’s and other facilities like arcades and bars (at least that’s the rumor going around town). The 5 part mini-series that was produced around this device can be seen after the break:
Continue reading “Custom Racing Chair With A Kinect And Haptic Feedback”
First we start with some protection… for your USB charged devices. Here’s a USB Condom which acts as a pass-through for the power rails but not the data lines. This prevents untrusted charger security exploits. [Thanks Markus]
[OutKastz] seems to think he’s uncovered a price matching conspiracy at Best Buy. His post references an HDTV video wall he has built. But he also discovered that there are two different version of the same television sold as the same SKU. His theory is that this prevents the big box from matching prices on half of their inventory.
When you’re in need of some breadboarding action with your Raspberry Pi and want to make it as painless as possible you need to build your own Pi Cobbler. This is the diy version of an Adafruit product, built using a couple of pin headers, stripboard, and an IDE cable.
Speaking of Adafruit, did you see Ladyada’s teardown of an ICEdot crash sensor?
[Phineas] is showing off a really really small hexacopter. Check out the maiden flight, as well as first indoor and first outdoor tests.
Perhaps this coded entry system will inspire a future project for you. It uses piezo elements to enter a code which unlocks the back door to the company. The glass door already had a series of large dots painted on it. This turns out to be a nice interface for a four button code system.
Many projects use a Raspberry Pi as a web server. But there is more than just one flavor available. [Jeremy Morgan] performed a variety of Pi server benchmarks using Nginx, Monkey, Lighttpd, and Apache. [Thanks Walter]
Can an old TV antenna reflector be used to boost the range of a WiFi dongle? We’re a bit skeptical. Let us know what you think in the comments.
And finally, we do wish there was more information on this upright piano used to play Doom [Thanks Itay].
Gift-giving season is upon us, and it’s time for people to start panicking about what to give to their friends and families. Gift cards have gained in popularity over the years, as companies count on people to forget to use them. But how about gift cards that do more than store a token amount of cash? Best Buy is now selling a gift card that doubles as a speaker. It has a mini headphone jack that’ll plug into any audio player. You only need to spend fifteen dollars to get it. Target’s gone all out, with a gift card that is also a 1.2 MP digital camera. It comes with a USB cord and driver disk, and there’s even one with a 64MB USB flash drive. We’re very interested to see if these will take off, and what people will do with them once the cards are used up.