Smart device tells waiting staff when to serve customers

Add / Remove Good service can make or break a dining experience and restauranteurs rely heavily on their waiting staff to represent them with friendly and appropriate service. However, the restaurant floor is often a chaotic and fast moving environment, making it difficult to provide the level of service even the staff themselves aspire to. To help, Omni Brain Lab in Spain have developed the Owl — a discreet, smart device — to help restauranteurs improve communication between themselves and their customers and improve efficiency in hectic hospitality businesses. One Owl is placed on each table, where it can be used to enhance and monitor the customer’s purchasing experience via a central management application. The customer adjusts the Owl’s position to indicate their needs — whether they’re ready to pay the bill, for examples — and the device registers its position and glows different colors. This helps attract the attention of the waiting staff and subtly lets them know how to respond. First time customers download a free app which connects the Owl to their smartphones, and returning customers are reconnected to the device, enabling management to retrieve their previous purchase history and dining habits. Once connected to the Owl, customers can view the menu on their screen, make their order and share their experience via social media. When they are ready, customers alert the waiting staff that their order is on the way by turning the device to select the waiter icon. The device detects its new position and glows blue. They can also turn the Owl to “do not disturb” mode — indicating to the staff that they wish to be left alone with a white light, and when the time comes to pay the bill, the customer can speed up proceedings by selecting the payment icon. All of the information is communicated to staff in real time, as well as being catalogued in the central management app, transforming it into valuable data to improve business efficiency. Management can monitor the performance of individual staff and encourage personalized service with frequent customers — through recommendations and adjusted service style. Of course, enjoyable dining experiences are often down to the personality of the waiting staff and not simply the speed of service, but the Owl certainly has potential to streamline the process and seamlessly provide useful business insights. Plus a glowing blue light is definitely an improvement on the dreaded finger clicking of an impatient customer. Are there other areas of service which could benefit from a high tech makeover? Website: Contact:

Users Revolt Over Yahoo Groups Update

An anonymous reader writes "The new NEO format of Yahoo Groups is being rolled out to users and there is no option to go back. Users and moderators are posting messages asking Yahoo to go back to the old format. Yahoo is responding with a vanilla 'thank you for your feedback we are working to make it better' comment. Most posters are so frustrated that they just want the old site back. One poster writes 'Yahoo has effectively destroyed the groups, completely, themselves.'" Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google explores texting from your browser

Google's Android Messages app could soon get a dramatic makeover with some interesting new features, judging by an APK teardown by XDA Developers and Android Police . Most significantly, it looks like you'll be able to pair your phone with a computer and text directly from a browser like Chrome, Firefox and Safari, much as you can with Google's Allo messaging app. Unlike Allo, however, Android Messages could allow you to send mobile SMSes rather than web messages, making texting a fair amount easier. To use it, you may have to scan a QR code on your PC or Mac, then pair your device each time you want to text. The feature appears to be partially implemented in the latest Android Messages 2.9 APK , but you can't yet send an actual text. The APK also hints at the ability to send and receive payments, likely via Google Pay , potentially opening that service up to many more users. There are also signs that something called Google Enhanced Messaging, probably similar Smart Replies for Gmail, Allo and Inbox, is coming to Android Messages. All told, Google appears to be transforming Android Messages into an Allo-like app, except for mobile SMS texts instead of web-based ones. It could also be monetizing it to a degree via Google Pay. Considering the power it yields over the Android smartphone ecosystem, that could amount to a lot of dollars. Take all the changes with some salt, though, because APKs don't necessarily mean features are set in stone, and some of the aforementioned features are still half-baked. Source: XDA Developers , Android Police

​How Prisoners in China Are Patenting Their Way Out of Jail

China absolutely dominates the rest of the world when it comes to the number of patents it produces, thanks in part to a system of government rewards that encourage inventors with everything from cash to early release from prison. Wait, what? Read more...

​1PasswordAnywhere Lets You Access Your 1Password Vault on The Web

1Password is one of our favorite password managers , and it can sync to all your devices via Dropbox. Once you sync your vault of passwords, 1Password actually lets you access them on any device—without installing the app. Read more...

​Make a Coffeehouse-Style Matcha Green Tea Latte at Home

Those of you with a penchant for coffee drinks might already know that it's surprisingly easy to make your own lattes (even this year's ubiquitous pumpkin spice latte ). And if you're more of a tea drinker, it also happens to be incredibly easy to make your own green tea lattes, too. Read more...

​Some Fool Threw Away a Hard Drive with $7.5 Million of Bitcoin On It

Ever accidentally lose a dollar? Then you count what's in your war chest, realize it's a dollar short, and kick yourself for being careless? Well, a British IT worker knows what that feels like—except times 7.5 million . Read more...        

Amazon To Take On UPS, FedEx Via ‘Shipping With Amazon’

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Amazon is planning to take on UPS and FedEx with a new shipping service named "Shipping with Amazon" (SWA). The new service will reportedly roll out in Los Angeles in the coming weeks. Ars Technica reports: Aside from first starting in LA, SWA will first serve third-party merchants that already sell on Amazon. The company plans to send drivers to pick up shipments from these businesses and deliver the packages for them. While shipping and delivery will mostly go through Amazon, anything outside of the retailer's reach will be given to the USPS and other shipping services for the "last mile" portion of the delivery. In the future, Amazon reportedly wants to open up SWA to businesses that aren't affiliated with the site -- meaning Amazon could ship and deliver packages from companies of all sizes. Amazon also believes it can compete with UPS and FedEx by making SWA more affordable for business customers, but its pricing structure hasn't been revealed. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

​Intel launches Core M processors for even thinner 2-in-1 PCs

At Intel's keynote presentation here at Computex, president Renee James is set to show off Intel's mobile future: a 2-in-1 reference PC powered by the company's new 14nm Intel Core M processor. 14nm processors means less energy use and, when the buck stops, longer battery life -- something we can never get enough of. We're still waiting to see what that design will look like exactly, but we do know it'll be a hybrid tablet-laptop, measuring in at 7.2mm thick (keyboard detached), while a companion media dock will apparently offer extra cooling (and a performance burst). Update: As teased, in the flesh it's a very thin tablet, with no fans to see. Intel's president also teased the companion docks, although we only saw a glance of the keyboard add-on. Thankfully, it looked at thick enough to handle a bit of typing. It's not the first appearance of Intel's new Broadwell chips: Intel boss Brian Krzanich showed off a more vanilla laptop running on the chips late last year . Regardless, Intel says the series is set to be its most energy-efficient Core processor yet, and that the majority of the hardware running on the chip will be fanless, as well packing hybrid functionality -- which explains why the reference design took the shape it did. As you can see above, Intel's Core M family will offer around a 20 to 40 percent performance improvement, while SOC power could be up to 45% less, while producing 60 percent less heat -- thus the fanless design. The new processor will also take up around 50 percent less space inside devices, whether that's a tablet, a laptop or both. Filed under: Desktops , Laptops , Tablets , Intel Comments

Attackers Drain CPU Power From Water Utility Plant In Cryptojacking Attack

darthcamaro writes: Apparently YouTube isn't the only site that is draining CPU power with unauthorized cryptocurrency miners. A water utility provider in Europe is literally being drained of its CPU power via an cryptojacking attack that was undetected for three weeks. eWeek reports: "At this point, Radiflow's (the security firm that discovered the cryptocurrency mining malware) investigation indicates that the cryptocurrency mining malware was likely downloaded from a malicious advertising site. As such, the theory that Radiflow CTO Yehonatan Kfir has is that an operator at the water utility was able to open a web browser and clicked on an advertising link that led the mining code being installed on the system. The actual system that first got infected is what is known as a Human Machine Interface (HMI) to the SCADA network and it was running the Microsoft Windows XP operating system. Radiflow's CEO, Ilan Barda, noted that many SCADA environments still have Windows XP systems deployed as operators tend to be very slow to update their operating systems." Radiflow doesn't know how much Monero (XMR) cryptocurrency was mined by the malware, but a recent report from Cisco's Talos research group revealed that some of the top un-authorized cryptocurrency campaigns generate over a million dollars per year. The average system would generate nearly $200, 000 per year. Read more of this story at Slashdot.