Master's Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Welcome to the April 13, 2022, edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

ACM TechNews mobile apps are available for Android phones and tablets (click here) and for iPhones (click here) and iPads (click here).

To view "Headlines At A Glance," hit the link labeled "Click here to view this online" found at the top of the page in the html version. The online version now has a button at the top labeled "Show Headlines."
Understanding Software Engineering Salaries in 2022
IEEE Spectrum
Tekla S. Perry
April 12, 2022

Online employment marketplace Hired's 2022 State of Software Engineers report assessed the most popular skills and wages, analyzing roughly 366,000 interactions between companies and software engineers and surveying another 2,000-plus engineers. Hired found mounting cyberattacks last year raised demand for security engineers, which pushed their average salary 7.59% over 2020 levels. Engineers with Go coding skills garnered 1.8 times as many interview requests as the average software engineer did, while Python and JavaScript were their favorite languages, cited by respondents for useful and well-maintained libraries and packages. Average salaries for Silicon Valley-based software engineers rose 2% in 2021 to $170,000 annually, and those for remote-working Bay Area engineers increased to $168,000.

Full Article

A robot makes its way along an aisle between bookshelves to take stock of books at Omonogawa Library in Yokote, Akita Prefecture, Japan. Robot Takes Stock of Books at Akita Public Library
The Asahi Shimbun (Japan)
Tsutomu Yamatani
April 12, 2022

The loan and return procedures at the Omonogawa Library in Yokote, Akita Prefecture, Japan, have been fully automated as part of a trial in which a robot was used to locate books by reading data stored in integrated circuit (IC) tags on each volume. The test involved applying IC tags to 20,000 books; a converted dish delivery robot read the data stored in the IC tags to take inventory in "several tens of minutes," a task that library staff would have needed an entire day to complete. The robot achieved a 99.5% accuracy rate in reading data from the IC tags.

Full Article

UW–Madison engineering professor Kassem Favaz (left) and graduate student Yucheng Yang analyzed the way popular video conferencing apps collect data. Videoconferencing Apps May Listen Even When Mic is Off
University of Wisconsin-Madison News
Jason Daley
April 11, 2022

The University of Wisconsin-Madison's Kassem Fawaz and Yucheng Yang found many videoconferencing applications continue to listen when the microphone is supposedly muted. The researchers tested those apps on a variety of operating systems and learned that, for the most part, "when you mute yourself, these apps do not give up access to the microphone," said Fawaz. Along with Yang and colleagues at Loyola University Chicago, Fawaz traced raw audio in popular videoconferencing apps, and found they all occasionally collect data while muted; one app even continued to compile and deliver data to its server at the same rate, despite muting the microphone. The researchers trained an activity classifier using audio from YouTube videos representing six common background activities to identify background activity from the muted videoconferencing app's telemetry; it scored 82% accuracy on average.

Full Article
Google Bans Apps With Hidden Data-Harvesting Software
The Wall Street Journal
Byron Tau; Robert McMillan
April 6, 2022

Google has pulled dozens of applications from its Google Play store amid researchers' findings that they contain software that secretly harvests data. Serge Egelman at the University of California, Berkeley and Joel Reardon of Canada's University of Calgary found links between the code's developer, Panama-based Measurement Systems, and a Virginia defense contractor that conducts cyberintelligence and other work for U.S. national security agencies. They learned the code ran on millions of Android devices and could be found within a number of consumer apps. The researchers said Measurement Systems had paid developers to embed its data-harvesting software development kit into their apps, which "continues to underscore the importance of not accepting candy from strangers," according to Egelman.

Full Article
*May Require Paid Registration

A new haptics system for VR users manipulates a person’s forearm, rather than the hand, to create physical sensations. Physical Sensations in VR Go Hands-Free
IEEE Spectrum
Michelle Hampson
April 11, 2022

A new virtual reality (VR) haptics system developed by researchers at the Chofu, Japan-based University of Electro-Communications (UEC) eliminates hand-based hardware by manipulating the forearm instead of the hand to generate physical sensations. The lightweight system features an external sensor camera that tracks the user's finger movements, and applies haptics sensations to the top, bottom, or sides of the forearm to match those movements. "We were surprised that even with this new haptic presentation method, we were able to obtain a high comfort level without any training time," said UEC's Taha Moriyama. Users described the feeling of the new system as "symbolic" of moving a VR object, rather than feeling like they were truly grasping one.

Full Article

A man standing in front of a Ukraine disaster. Researchers Create System to Quickly Identify Ukraine Atrocities Using Social Media
University of Manchester (U.K.)
Joe Stafford
April 11, 2022

A system developed by British and American scientists rapidly identifies atrocities occurring in Ukraine based on social media accounts. The U.K.'s Ukrainian-focused MOBILISE project partnered with the University of Maryland, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina to document and trace displacements, human rights abuses, humanitarian needs, and civil resistance in real time through the Data for Ukraine project, which analyzes Twitter data via machine learning algorithms. The system can flag developments several hours ahead of media outlets by demonstrating spikes of credible tweets about certain monitored topics, then mapping where these events transpired. Olga Onuch at the U.K.'s University of Manchester identified which accounts to track and generated over 600 keywords to check.

Full Article
Data From Friends, Strangers Shows Where You Are
Lindsey Valich
April 11, 2022

An international team of scientists determined that data from friends and strangers can be used to predict someone's location, even when their personal devices' data-tracking functions are inactive. The University of Rochester's Gourab Ghoshal and colleagues analyzed three location-based social network datasets compiling millions of check-ins on applications like Brightkite, Facebook, and Foursquare, and one call-data record with over 22 million calls by almost 36,000 anonymous users. The team applied information theory and measures of entropy to learn that the mobility patterns of people with social ties to an individual incorporate as much as 95% of the data required to anticipate that individual's movements; even data from strangers could be used to predict up to 85% of a person’s movements.

Full Article
Fitbit's AFib Detection Algorithm Gets FDA Approval
Liam Tung
April 12, 2022

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Google's Fitbit photoplethysmography (PPG) algorithm to identify atrial fibrillation (AFib) by measuring the user's heart rhythm while they are inactive or sleeping. The feature uses Fitbit's PPG optical heart-rate sensor, which analyzes the expansion and contraction of blood vessels under the wrist based on changes in blood volume. The PPG algorithm will alert users to any readings suggesting possible AFib risk through Fitbit's Irregular Heart Rhythm Notifications. Google says the algorithm will become available soon to U.S. customers via various Fitbit heart-rate enabled devices. Google received FDA approval following a 2020 Fitbit heart study showing that the algorithm, in conjunction with wearables, detected irregular heart rhythms and accurately identified undiagnosed AFib 98% of the time.

Full Article

The Joint Space and Frequency Reconstruction algorithm enables real-time observation of fine subcellular dynamics Rapid Image Reconstruction for Real-time Super-Resolution Fluorescence Microscopy
SPIE Newsroom
April 11, 2022

Researchers at China's Xi'an Jiaotong University (XJTU) have developed a rapid image reconstruction algorithm to overcome the limitations of optically sectioned super-resolution structured illumination microscopy (OS-SR-SIM). The Joint Space and Frequency Reconstruction (JSFR-SIM) lgorithm integrates spatial domain processing method with OS-SR-SIM deployed in the frequency domain, accelerating reconstruction and suppressing the fuzzy background in images of thick cells. This speeds image reconstruction 80-fold compared to the Wiener-SIM method, without sacrificing image quality. The JSFR-SIM enables real-time visualization of complex intracellular dynamics and quantification of the resulting images.

Full Article
Researchers Develop Universal AI Algorithm to 'Clean' Noisy Single-Cell RNA Sequencing Data
News-Medical Life Sciences
April 7, 2022

An artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm developed by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) can "clean" noisy single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-Seq) data. The AutoClass algorithm is different from most existing statistical methods in that it does not make any assumptions on data distribution. The researchers observed that the algorithm can reconstruct high-quality scRNA-Seq data and improve downstream analysis. Said UNC Charlotte's Weijun Luo, "AutoClass is an AI algorithm based on a special deep neural network designed to maximize both noise removal and signal retention. The AI teaches itself to differentiate signal vs noise in the data by seeing enough data. Usually the more data it sees, the better it performs."

Full Article

Researchers bury fiber-optic cables near the summit of Mount Etna. Scientists Spy on Mount Etna with Fiber-Optic Cables
Matt Simon
April 8, 2022

Scientists at the German Research Center for Geosciences at the Technical University of Berlin, working with colleagues at Germany’s Fraunhofer Research Institution for Energy Infrastructures and Geothermal Systems IEG, Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, and the U.K.’s Silica Ltd., are monitoring Italy’s Mount Etna through fiber-optic cables, using distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) to detect seismic signals that conventional sensors overlook. The researchers buried the cables in a three-quarter-mile-long ditch less than a foot deep near the volcano’s rim. Deployed along two branches, the cable’s performance was compared to that of conventional colocated sensors like seismometers and geophones. The cable-facilitated DAS system detected degassing events, as well as distinctive single tremor pulses, which the other sensors missed. “One of the main benefits of DAS that often tends to be overlooked is that DAS can pick up things in a lot of frequencies,” said Ariel Lellouch at Israel’s Tel Aviv University.

Full Article
Cloud Server Leasing Can Leave Sensitive Data Up for Grabs
Penn State News
A'ndrea Elyse Messer
April 11, 2022

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) researchers warn that leasing space and Internet Protocol (IP) addresses on public servers can lead to cloud squatting, which can threaten private data. The team established cloud server rentals from Amazon Web Services (AWS), renting server space for 10-minute intervals; during those intervals, they received information intended for previous tenants. Researchers noted they "deployed over 3 million servers receiving 1.5 million unique IP addresses over 101 days," during which they identified potential security breaches in cloud servers, third-party services, and Domain Name Servers. Many of the 5 million pieces of data received contained sensitive information, and the team notified AWS, Microsoft, Google, and vulnerable federal agencies of the exploit.

Full Article
In Race to Build Quantum Computing Hardware, Silicon Begins to Shine
Princeton University Department of Physics
Tom Garlinghouse
April 6, 2022

Princeton University researchers achieved more than 99.8% fidelity using a two-qubit quantum device made from silicon. The researchers used a double quantum dot silicon device to capture and force two electrons to interact; the entangling operation achieved the highest fidelity achieved so far for a two-qubit gate in a semiconductor. Princeton's Jason Petta said, "This is the first demonstration of a semiconductor spin qubit system where we have integrated performance of the entire system—the state preparation, the readout, the single qubit control, the two-qubit control—all with performance metrics that exceed the threshold you need to make a larger-scale system work."

Full Article
The Essentials of Modern Software Engineering
AI-Curated Custom Feeds by Subject

Association for Computing Machinery

1601 Broadway, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10019-7434

ACM Media Sales

If you are interested in advertising in ACM TechNews or other ACM publications, please contact ACM Media Sales or (212) 626-0686, or visit ACM Media for more information.

To submit feedback about ACM TechNews, contact: [email protected]