Posts Tagged ‘Skype’

New software lets Skype users maintain eye contact while video chatting

August 29th, 2013

Skype users can now maintain eye contact while chatting – thanks to a new software. Researchers have developed a new software designed to correct the ‘gaze’ of people while video-chatting on Skype, without them having to remember to look at the camera.

Lack of eye contact is said to be a considerable obstacle to the feel of a ‘real’ conversation, researchers said.

This problem arises because the speaker looks mainly at their counterpart’s picture instead of at the camera.

New software lets Skype users maintain eye contact while video chatting

Lack of eye contact is said to be a considerable obstacle to the feel of a ‘real’ conversation, researchers said.

Researchers are now offering a solution to the problem for everyday use: software that recognises the face in the video and rotates it so that the person appears to be looking at the camera.

“We want to make video conference calls as similar as possible to a real meeting,” said Claudia Kuster, a doctoral student at the Computer Graphics Laboratory ETH Zurich.

Until now, only larger companies have been able to afford the luxury of creating artificial eye contact during video conferences; this has required complex mirror systems or several cameras and special software. No satisfactory solution to the problem has existed for private use.

This is now changing thanks to the new software that Kuster has developed under the guidance of Markus Gross, Professor of Computer Science at ETH Zurich.

Thanks to Kinect, a new generation of cameras that collect colour and depth information simultaneously, the system is available for home use.

The software uses a depth map calculated from the image information and a programme that recognises faces in real-time video.

In contrast to previous solutions, Kuster and her colleagues do not turn the entire video image including the background, thus avoiding the problem of missing information in the original image resulting in gaps appearing in the rotated picture.

Instead, her algorithm turns only the face and inserts it seamlessly into the original image. The software looks for a contour around the face in which the border pixel in the original and the corresponding pixel in the rotated image have as many similar colour values as possible.

“The software can be user adjusted in just a few simple steps and is very robust,” said Kuster.

If the programme temporarily loses sight of the face for example, if the person turns their head or disappears behind an object such as a cup the software leaves the original image in place.

The software can cope effortlessly with changing light conditions and even two faces at the same time, as the researchers demonstrated in a video.


Skype Finally Fixes Security Flaw In Its Software

November 15th, 2012

For over two months, there has existed a large security hole in video chatting and messaging service Skype. Until today, hackers could break into any Skype account with only the target’s email address.

Popular Website The Next Web first found mention of the flaw on Russian forums and have been able to replicate it on their own. The Next Web said it was shocking just how easy it was to break into one another’s accounts.

According to The Next Web, all they needed was the email address associated with the target’s account. With this email address in hand, a hacker could simply sign up for a new account with the target’s email address. After a few more “key steps,” the hacker could request a password change, thereby locking out the target from every account associated with that email address. Users could catch these hackers and prevent them from changing their passwords, but only if they acted very quickly. Once the hacker is in the account, they have access to the target’s user name, as well as their address book and contacts. Once the hacker changes the password for the account, these targets are then effectively locked out of their account.

Skype acknowledged the flaw this morning and said they were working to fix it.

“Early this morning we were notified of user concerns surrounding the security of the password reset feature on our website. This issue affected some users where multiple Skype accounts were registered to the same email address. We suspended the password reset feature temporarily this morning as a precaution and have made updates to the password reset process today so that it is now working properly,” said Skype in a statement to The Next Web.

Skype has also said they’ll be working with those users who were affected by the flaw.

Later in the day, Skype issued a new statement saying they had permanently fixed the security flaw. However, any Skype user concerned that their account may still be compromised is encouraged to change their email address associated with their account to a lesser-known, less frequently used address.

To change your email address, login to Skype. Then, click on the “Profile” link under the “account Details” heading, then scroll down to find “Contact Details.” From here, click “Add Email Address.” Add your new, relatively secret email address, then scroll to the bottom and click “Save.” Once this new email address is entered, scroll to the bottom once more and click “Edit.” Find your new email address and choose “Set As Primary Email” to set this address as the address associated with your account.

According to TG Daily, the Russian hackers who found this exploit warned Skype about it months ago. Yet, the company refused to make moves to fix the flaw until today.


Microsoft Unveils Skype Preview for Windows Phone 8

November 12th, 2012

Software giant Microsoft on Sunday rolled out a preview version of the new Skype app for Windows Phone 8.

First announced on Oct 29 at the Windows 8 phone launch, the updated version of Skype is now available for free download from the Windows Phone website.

“Skype for Windows Phone 8 isn’t just about the design – we’ve built a completely new app from the ground up to be an important part of the Windows Phone experience,” Microsoft said on its official blog.

One of the main advantages of using the latest version is that the app will let users stay online without consuming the phone’s battery power phone through the cloud system. The user will be able to chat and receive notification of video calls even when the phone is locked.

“Skype notifications can be added to the lock screen to appear alongside missed calls, unread emails and text messages, so there’s no need to unlock your phone to check if you’ve missed a message or call in Skype,” Microsoft added.

The Windows Phone website said that all the features listed on Skype Preview for Windows Phone 8 may not function at the moment since Microsoft is still working on the app. The preview app can be downloaded only on Windows Phone 8. Apart from making video calls, Skype to Skype voice calls, users can also place calls to mobiles and landlines at a low cost.


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