Samsung in US ‘exploding washing machines’ probe

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Samsung has confirmed it is in talks with US consumer watchdogs after a lawsuit against the firm over “exploding” washing machines.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warned of problems with some of Samsung’s top-load machines.

It comes as a US law firm filed a suit against the South Korean firm, saying the fault can lead to injury or damage.

Models sold outside North America are not affected by this issue, a spokesperson said.

The problems follow Samsung’s global recall of its Note 7 smartphone over “exploding” batteries.

Both Samsung and the CPSC said that certain top-loading washing machines from March 2011 to April 2016 were affected.

“In rare cases, affected units may experience abnormal vibrations that could pose a risk of personal injury or property damage when washing bedding, bulky or water-resistant items,” Samsung said.

Check your serial number

The company advises consumers with affected models to use the lower-speed delicate cycle when washing those materials.

Samsung does not name the models, but allows customers to enter the serial number to see whether their machine is among those affected.

The firm also faces a suit from a US law firm which alleges that some of its “top-loading washing machines explode in owners’ homes,” leading to potential injury or damage, according to attorney Jason Lichtman.

“Users have reported Samsung top-load washers exploding as early as the day of installation, while other owners have seen their machines explode months or even more than a year after purchase,” the firm said in a statement.

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Ariel Gonzalez

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A burnt Samsung Galaxy Note 7

The faulty washing machines come right as Samsung is in the midst of a global recall of its flagship smartphone Galaxy Note 7.

The company was forced to urge 2.5 million phones to be returned because of faulty batteries causing some phones to catch fire and users reporting “exploding devices”.

Samsung said on Thursday it would start selling new Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in South Korea this week.

The revamped smartphone will start being sold in other markets, including some European countries, on 28 October.

A Samsung spokeswoman said: “We would like to reassure everyone that new Note 7 phones are operating properly and pose no safety concerns.”

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Could 3D printed hair follicles help with hair loss?

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Billions of pounds are spent on hair loss treatments every year

Hair follicles created by a process similar to 3D printing could one day be used as implants, L’Oreal has said.

The cosmetics firm is partnering with a French bio-printing company called Poietis, which has developed a form of laser printing for cell-based objects.

Hair follicles have not been created this way before and the firms expect it will take at least three years to adapt the process.

However, one hair loss charity said it was too early “to be getting excited”.

L’Oreal already uses 3D printed skin in its product research.

“If we manage to bio-print a hair follicle we will enhance our knowledge of both hair biology and some of the mysteries of hair growth and loss,” Jose Cotovio, a director at L’Oreal’s Research and Innovation division, told the BBC.

Initially the follicles would be used to test new products, he added.

“Hair loss is very emotional for some people and very distressing – if we succeed in identifying some ingredients that can fight this it will be a huge revolution.

“The next step is, will it be possible to implant? This is the holy grail.”

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The printing process involves placing successive layers of tiny droplets of biological ink

The technique will make use of a laser-assisted bio-printing process developed by Poietis over the past couple of years.

It begins with the creation of a digital map that determines where living cells and other tissue components should be placed to create the desired biological structure. This takes into account how the cells are expected to grow over time.

The file is then turned into instructions for the printing equipment, so that it can lay down tiny droplets made out of the cell-based “bio ink” one layer at a time.

The printing process involves bouncing a pulsing laser off a mirror and through a lens, so that when it hits a ribbon containing the bio ink, a droplet of the matter falls into place.

About 10,000 of these micro-droplets are created every second.

The resulting organic tissue would then need time to mature before the hair follicles are ready to grow.

Poietis says it has already used the technique to create cartilage and other viable types of cell lines.

It typically takes about 10 minutes to print a piece of skin 1cm (0.4in) wide by 0.5mm (0.2in) thick.

However, since hair follicles are complex and consist of 15 different cells in a sophisticated structure, they may take longer.

Poietis is not the only company working on bio-printing, but most others use extrusion – which involves pushing a bio-ink through a nozzle – rather than lasers to build their tissue.

Poietis suggests its technique puts less stress on the biological matter, meaning there is less risk of causing it damage.

But its chief executive Fabien Guillemot acknowledges that adapting it to create hair follicles will be challenging.

“It’s of the most complex objectives so far of all the bio-printing projects that we have created,” he said.

Alopecia UK – a charity that provides support and advice about hair loss – had mixed feelings about the development.

“It is encouraging to know that companies such as L’Oreal are investing in technology that may help those with hair loss in the future,” said spokeswoman Amy Johnson.

“However, we would suggest it’s still very early days to be getting excited about what this potentially could mean for those with medical hair loss. At this point it is unclear as to whether this technology could benefit those with all types of hair loss.

“Also, if this new technology did lead to a treatment option, given the high costs of existing hair transplant procedures, how many people will be able to realistically afford any new technological advances that may become available?

“As with any other research and development into processes that may be able to help those with hair loss, we watch with great interest.”

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Army of webcams used in net attacks

Media captionEXPLAINED: What is a DDoS attack?

One of the biggest ever web attacks – in which more than one terabit of data was fired at a website to knock it offline – has been reported.

Web hosting company OVH said it had been attacked by a botnet (zombie army) of hacked devices such as webcams.

The previous largest attack was thought to be one on security expert Brian Krebs’ website which hit 620Gbps (gigabits per second).

That was also thought to be mounted via a botnet of compromised smart devices.

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OVH founder Octave Klaba posted regular tweets about the size of the attack

It is not known whether the attacks were mounted by the same botnet.

Both were so-called distributed denial of service attacks – in which websites are hit by massive amounts of data.

They have thrown the spotlight once again on the security of IoT (internet of things) devices.

Breaking the net

Media captionTechnology explained: What is the internet of things?

According to a recent report on IoT malware from security firm Symantec, cybercriminals are increasingly looking for vulnerable smart devices – such as TVs, home security systems and webcams.

“Cybercriminals are interested in cheap bandwidth to enable bigger attacks. They obtain this by hijacking our devices and stitching together a large web of consumer devices that are easy to infect because they lack sophisticated security,” said Nick Shaw from Symantec’s Norton division.

OVH founder Octave Klaba has been tweeting about the ongoing attack, updating followers on the number of devices that are joining the botnet, which at one point including more than 145,000 devices : “+15,654 new CCTV participated in the DDoS last 48H,” his last tweet reads.

Mr Krebs’ website was offline for nearly a week and, according to Akamai – the security firm that supported the site – the attack was nearly double the size of any previous one it had seen and was “among the biggest assaults the internet has ever witnessed”.

Dave Larson, chief technology officer at security firm Corero, said that IoT botnets were disrupting the industry.

“The tools and devices used to execute the attacks are readily available to just about anyone; combining this with almost complete anonymity creates a recipe to break the internet.”

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UK ‘has never been more addicted to smartphones’

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If you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night and immediately checked your phone then you’re not alone.

People in the UK have never been more addicted to their smartphones, according to a report from Deloitte.

One in three adults check for messages at night, and admit their overuse is causing rows with their partners.

For some, FOMO – or the fear of missing out – leaves them in the grip of an addiction to their devices, according to the survey.

“What smartphones enable people to do is to keep tags of what’s happening, what people are saying, what people are posting. You can do that throughout the day and what smartphones are encouraging people to do is to do that at night,” Paul Lee, head of technology, media and telecommunications research at Deloitte told Today.

But Mr Lee said the overuse was a “temporary thing” driven by the relative newness of smartphones.

“We’re getting used to how to use this tech which let’s remind ourselves is just nine years old. When we have something new we tend to overreact to it,” he added.

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Deloitte’s Key findings:

  • One in three UK adults has argued with their partner about using their mobile phone too much, according to Deloitte.
  • The rows were most common among 25-34 year olds the report found, while 11% of over 65s admitted arguments about overusing phones.
  • About a tenth of respondents admitted using their handsets “always” or “very often” while eating at home or in restaurants.
  • A third said they regularly used their devices while with friends or watching television.
  • One in three UK adults – and half of 18-24 year olds – said they checked their phones in the middle of the night, with instant messaging and social media the most popular activities.
  • One in 10 smartphone owners admitted reaching for their phone as soon as they woke up – with a third grabbing the device within five minutes of waking.

‘Peak smartphone’

Deloitte’s sixth annual Mobile Consumer Survey analysed the mobile phone habits of more than 4,000 UK consumers.

Four out of five UK adults now have a smartphone – equivalent to 37 million people – but despite their popularity, the report warned the smartphone market was reaching saturation point.

Media captionPaul Lee from Deloitte explains how people use their phones at night

Growth in new users slowed to 7% in the year to June 2016, from 9% in the previous 12 months.

And according to the study, only a fifth of adults using feature phones said they planned to trade up to a smartphone.

“It is clear from our research that we are reaching an age of ‘peak smartphone’”, Mr Lee said.

“Given the market saturation, in the next 12 months, we expect smartphone penetration to rise modestly, perhaps by no more than two or four percentage points,”

But while producers of some other handheld gadgets have struggled to persuade users to keep buying newer models, this is not a problem phone manufacturers will face, the report predicts.

“Smartphones will not suffer the same fate as tablets. The replacement market is likely to remain healthy, and given the sizeable base of existing owners, smartphone sales are likely to remain in the tens of millions for the foreseeable future,” Mr Lee said.

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Samsung delays restarting sales of its Galaxy Note 7 in S Korea

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Samsung has said it will delay restarting the sale of its Galaxy Note 7 phone in South Korea, as the firm needs more time for the global recall of the device.

The South Korean tech giant was forced to recall some 2.5 million devices globally due to overheating batteries.

Dozens of devices were reported to have caught fire.

The phone was to be back on the shelf on 28 September but is now expected to be available 1 October at the earliest.

On 2 September Samsung had said it would stop selling the phones and offered to replace the ones already sold. The firm also urged people to stop using the device.

The global recall affects 10 markets. In South Korea, some 200,000 customers have already returned their devices with the same number of people still left for the recall, according to Samsung.

Reuters reported that the next markets where the phone will be available for sale again will be Australia and Singapore in October.

What makes lithium batteries catch fire?

On Friday, cabin crew on an Indian passenger aircraft used a fire extinguisher to tackle a smoking older Samsung handset.

The Galaxy Note 2 – a model launched in 2012 – was smouldering and spitting sparks, according to a statement from airline IndiGo.

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Ariel Gonzalez

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The recall came after reports of ‘exploding’ phones

In the US, regulators have ordered a formal recall of the Note 7, while the country’s Federal Aviation Administration has told airline passengers not to bring the phones on planes unless they keep them turned off and don’t charge them during the flight.

A number of airlines around the globe have also banned the phone from being used or charged on their planes.

The phone was originally launched on 19 August and had been generally well-received by critics and consumers.

The recall comes at a crucial time for Samsung as rival Apple has just released its new iPhone 7.

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Maps to help drivers find parking spaces

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Audi, BMW and Mercedes Benz cars fitted with on-board sensors are to share information in real time about on-street parking spaces and roadworks via a digital map service.

They will also gather data on traffic conditions, hazards and road signs.

The service by mapping firm Here, owned by a group of German car makers, will roll out next year.

The platform will record vehicle speed, location and direction, as well as sharp braking and fog light activation.

Video footage of road hazards will also be captured by a forward-facing camera on the cars.

Other brands will join the service at a later date, the firm said.

Owners of cars which incorporate Here’s Open Location Platform will not have to do anything to transmit or receive data.

Community mapping service Waze, owned by Google, already crowdsources travel data but users must be logged in via their smartphones.

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The car sensors that will transmit data.

The parking information service will also provide parking availability predictions for each street as well as details about payment options.

“Here believes that industry collaboration is essential to address the major challenges faced by road users everywhere.

“What we are seeing today is the technology and automotive industries coming together to create services that will elevate the driving experience for billions,” said CEO Edzard Overbeek.

Here was sold by Nokia to the car group last year for 2.8bn euros (£2bn).

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Amazon has been fined £65,000 for trying to fly dangerous goods

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Amazon has been fined £65,000 after being found guilty of attempting to ship dangerous goods by air.

The online giant tried to transport lithium-ion batteries and flammable aerosols between 2014 and 2015.

It was found guilty at Southwark Crown Court of causing dangerous goods to be delivered for carriage in an aircraft in breach of air navigation rules.

An Amazon spokesman said: “The safety of the public, our customers, employees and partners is an absolute priority.”

The prosecution had been brought by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) under the Air Navigation (Dangerous Goods) Regulations 2002.

The items were destined for flights in and outside the UK in four shipments between January 2014 and June 2015.

Flight-safety risk

They were only discovered when the cargoes were screened by Royal Mail before departure, and seized before they could reach the aircraft.

The court heard that Amazon had tried to ship a lithium-ion battery to Jersey on a day before 7 January 2014, and a flammable gas aerosol to Romania on a similar date.

Another shipment, destined for Ireland on a day before 17 July 2014, contained another aerosol, while Amazon illegally tried to send two more lithium-ion batteries to Northern Ireland between 12 May and 3 June 2015.

The CAA’s general counsel, Kate Staples, said: “There are important international and domestic restrictions to prohibit the shipping of certain goods that pose a flight safety risk.

‘Everyday household items’

“These dangerous goods include lithium batteries, which are banned from being transported as mail or cargo on a passenger aircraft unless they are installed in or packed with equipment.”

Prosecutor Martin Goudie, told the court: “Under the right circumstances the batteries, even new, undamaged batteries, could overheat, potentially causing burns, explosion or a fire.”

Defending the online giant, lawyer Stephen Spence told the court: “We are not talking about Amazon lugging a propane canister onto a plane. They are everyday household items, and one should pay perspective to that.”

In a statement, Amazon said: “We ship millions of products every week and are confident in the sophisticated technologies and processes we have developed to detect potential shipping hazards.

“We are constantly working to further improve and will continue to work with the CAA in this area.”

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Plane crew douse smoking Samsung phone

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Samsung is recalling and swapping faulty Note 7 handsets

Cabin crew on an Indian passenger aircraft have used a fire extinguisher to tackle a smoking Samsung handset.

The Note 2 handset was smouldering and spitting sparks, according to a statement from airline IndiGo.

The crew’s prompt action meant the aircraft landed safely at Chennai, its intended destination, said IndiGo.

The incident comes as Samsung recalls millions of new Note 7 devices because of faulty batteries.

IndiGo said no-one was hurt during the incident, on flight 6E-054 from Singapore to Chennai.

Passengers told the aircraft’s cabin crew about smoke emerging from an overhead luggage compartment which, when opened, revealed the smoking phone in a piece of hand luggage, it said.

Damaged property

Once doused with an extinguisher, the sparking phone was put in a bucket of water in the plane’s toilet and kept there until the aircraft landed.

“The aircraft made a normal landing at Chennai airport, and all passengers were deplaned as per normal procedure,” IndiGo told Reuters.

In a statement, Samsung said: “We are aware of an incident involving one of our devices. At Samsung, customer safety is our highest priority.

“We are in touch with relevant authorities to gather more information and are looking into the matter.”

Earlier this month Samsung issued a worldwide recall for its new Note 7 phones because faulty batteries can make the devices catch fire while the handset is charging or being used. Samsung is offering free replacements or refunds.

Before now, no similar problems with the older Note 2 have been reported.

The problems with the Note 7 have led many airlines to tell passengers to keep the phones turned off during a flight.

In the US, the Consumer Products Safety Commission said it had received 92 reports of faulty Note 7s overheating. Of those, 26 involved left owners with burns and 55 caused property damage.

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Pippa Middleton iCloud hack claims investigated by police

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James Matthews and Pippa Middleton are due to marry next year

Police are investigating claims an iCloud account reportedly belonging to the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister Pippa Middleton has been hacked and private photographs stolen.

The Sun reported that it was offered the images, which it said included shots of the duchess’s children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

The paper said someone had contacted it asking for £50,000 within 48 hours.

The Met Police said inquiries were ongoing and no arrests had been made.

The haul from the hack is believed to include 3,000 pictures, and an anonymous person has reportedly tried to sell them via encrypted messaging service WhatsApp.

‘Specialist officers’

The Sun quoted a spokesman for Miss Middleton, who was maid of honour at her sister Catherine’s 2011 wedding, as saying: “Thank you very much for drawing this to the family’s attention.

“I can confirm that not only have the lawyers been informed but the police are about to be involved as well.”

A Met Police spokesman said: “Police have received a report concerning the alleged hacking of a personal iCloud account. Specialist officers are now investigating.”

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Pippa Middleton was maid of honour when the Duchess of Cambridge married Prince William

In the summer, Miss Middleton and hedge fund manager James Matthews confirmed their engagement, with a wedding planned for next year.

Several high-profile figures have had images stolen from their iCloud accounts, including actress Jennifer Lawrence and singer Rihanna.

In July, US man Edward Majerczyk pleaded guilty to running a phishing campaign to steal private pictures and videos from film and TV stars, in what was known as the “celebgate” affair.

Four-digit code

In 2014, Apple said it had expanded its use of “two-step verification” checks to protect data stored on its iCloud servers.

The process works by introducing an extra step after an account holder has typed their username and password into a device they have not used before.

They are also required to enter a four-digit code that is either texted to a trusted mobile phone number or sent via Apple’s Find My iPhone app.

If the person does not enter the code, they are refused access to iCloud and are blocked from making an iTunes, iBooks, or App Store purchase.

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Facebook ‘overestimated’ video viewing time

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Facebook was ignoring video views which were shorter than three seconds

Facebook has overestimated how much video people have watched for the last two years, the firm has admitted.

One advertiser suggested that, in some cases, video viewing statistics had been overestimated by up to 80%.

Facebook’s analytics are an important tool for advertisers, who use them to work out how much of their video content is being watched.

The social network said the error had been fixed and had not changed how much advertisers paid the site.

‘Unacceptable’ behaviour

The error affected a Facebook metric called “average duration of video viewed”, which was supposed to tell publishers for how long, on average, people had watched a video.

However, the metric did not include viewers who had watched for less than three seconds in the count.

Discounting the shorter views – including people who had ignored a video in their news feed – inflated the average viewing times for each video.

In a statement, Facebook said: “We recently discovered an error in the way we calculate one of our video metrics.

“This error has been fixed, it did not impact billing, and we have notified our partners both through our product dashboards and via sales and publisher outreach,” it added.

The video-watching metric has now been renamed to more accurately reflect what it measures, the company said.

The metric is now called “average watch time” and Facebook started using this to gather statistics on video consumption late last month.

The statement also said the video-viewing metric was one among many that ad firms use to work out if their content is being watched.

The Wall Street Journal quoted ad-buying firm Publicis as saying that Facebook’s misreporting was “unacceptable”.

Publicis said it showed the need for third-party verification of statistics gathered by Facebook.

The social network has previously been criticised for counting a video as being “viewed” after three seconds.

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