Amazon TVs will now do Zoom calls – but you’ll need one crucial piece of kit

Video calls are coming to your living room thanks to a new partnership between Amazon and Zoom.

The video conferencing giant has revealed that its platform will now be available on Amazon Fire TV sets just in time for family calls over Christmas.

The Fire TV Omni Series will let users start and join Zoom meetings, with users in the US and Canada able to enjoy the service from today.

Webcams essential

Amazon revealed its first own-branded Fire TV sets in September 2021, looking to target customers looking for more affordable hardware.

Zoom was mentioned as one of the initial apps set to be bundled with the devices, however it has been missing until now – marking the first time the company has released an app for a smart TV.

However, as there is no camera built in to the TVs themselves – you'll need to get a webcam to actually be able to carry out any Zoom calls.

Luckily, Amazon has some ideas on what webcams you can use – namely, any of the Logitech C920, C922x or C310 (although it does say any webcam offering “720p-1080p” should be compatible).

Once you're all set up, the Zoom app can be downloaded from the Fire TV Appstore, and accessed with your usual logins.

If you've got your microphone turned on, you can use Alexa to join a zoom meeting with the command “Alexa, join my zoom meeting.”

Amazon notes that the Zoom app will only use audio from your TV speakers,  meaning that users won't be able to pair with a soundbar or speakers just yet.

The news comes shortly after Zoom doubled down on its pledge to stick around even after the pandemic has ended. The company said it can play an important role in the post-pandemic world, mainly through helping facilitate and encourage hybrid working as employees look to split their time between the office and a more comfortable home environment.

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Researchers tricked a Tesla Model S into speeding with a piece of tape – how could hackers cheat our cars in the future?

As the advent of autonomous driving inches forward year by year, there’s an incredible opportunity to cede control over to the machines. AI can help look for dangers on the road and adjust our speed long before problems occur. It’s an exciting time because machine learning in cars is almost magical.

The first time, a car like the Subaru Legacy Outback tells you not to look down at your phone, or a Ford Explorer applies the brakes suddenly when you fail to notice the semi-truck that just pulled out in front of you is when you realize how far we’ve come.

Curiously, these new advancements could also present an opportunity for hackers. While the AI tech in cars never needs to sleep and is always vigilant, it is not that hard to trick the machine learning routines, even with a piece of tape.

Over the limit

Recently, researchers at McAfee announced an 18-month project where they attempted to alter the cruise control abilities in two 2016 Tesla Model S cars. They applied tape to a speed limit sign and then drove the Model S, watching as the vehicle jumped up in speed by 80 miles-per-hour. It only took one extension of the number three on a speed limit sign that said 35, changing it to read 85 instead.

The companies that developed some of the autonomous driving tech in the Tesla S refuted the claims by saying a human driver would also read the speed limit sign inaccurately, and that’s exactly when I started wondering what this all means.

Tesla Model S

I agree that human drivers are likely not that perceptive. On a highway recently, I noticed how a departure lane I took off the main highway was posted at only 35 miles-per-hour (coincidentally enough).

I slowed down to 35, but I wondered why the city lowered the speed so quickly from 75 miles per hour. It was accurate, but it didn’t make sense to me. The road was nowhere near a residential area.

However, the fact that I was wondering is the important factor.

Tesla Model S

Autonomous tech in cars might not do this. Experts who responded to Mcafee did say the Model S also uses crowd-sourced data and likely also uses GPS data, which is much harder to spoof. That said, it made me wonder.

Autonomous cars will need to do more than read speed limit signs. They will also need to interpret the conditions and the setting — it would not make sense to suddenly go from 35 MPH to 85 MPH. If it is a simple calculation from one number to another, it won’t work.

New tricks

In the future, I wondered how hackers might trick cars in other ways. We’re on the verge of cars connecting to the roadway and to other cars. Recently, an artist demonstrated how hauling a wagon full of smartphones could trick Google Maps into thinking there was traffic congestion. What else could they do?

I can envision someone creating a stir by sending out fake signals about other cars on the road, sending notices about road closures, or even worse — tapping into car systems from the side of the road and telling them to brake suddenly.

Tesla Model S

At the same time, it is a lot of fuss over something minor. Fewer and fewer cars are reading roadway signs and are determining speed based on GPS data instead. No research has ever shown that hackers could cause cars to brake suddenly, and when there are examples they are usually in controlled environments. 

I think it is mostly a curiosity. We like to be able to fool the machines, and that’s a good thing. As long as they don’t ever start fooling with us.

On The Road is TechRadar's regular look at the futuristic tech in today's hottest cars. John Brandon, a journalist who's been writing about cars for 12 years, puts a new car and its cutting-edge tech through the paces every week. One goal: To find out which new technologies will lead us to fully self-driving cars.

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