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back to article Relax, Hollywood, ARM's got your back: New chip 'thwarts' video pirates

ARM today touted the Mali-V500, its new graphics processing unit for gadgets, which apparently can protect 1080p video from pirates. The British design biz said the V500 can decode high-definition video without giving the operating system, nor the applications running above it, the chance to copy the footage in transit: in other …

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Re: "ARM's TrustZone" - abuse of ENGLISH!

Same with "SecureBoot". After all, only ne'erdowells would disable security. It's not like anyone else would ever want to do that and use their property in the way they see fit, not mandated by a freedom hating corporate.

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Re: "ARM's TrustZone" - abuse of ENGLISH!

Even those that willingly pay have problems...

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/game_of_thrones

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Re: "ARM's TrustZone" - abuse of ENGLISH!

>The marketers are taking a beneficent word - Trust - and turning it into a euphemism for something that removes the freedom of the user to use a computer or other possession how he wishes.

I pay for it. I get to watch it- where is the betrayal of trust, Eadon? It sounds like a straight deal to me, one I can choose to take up or not.

TrustZone can demand exclusive access to the hardware, of which this DRM scheme is just one application. Other applications include preventing memory-resident malware from sniffing PINs or passwords.

Some people might wish to use their device to access a movie streaming service, and pay for the convenience.

In any case, this doesn't nothing to prevent you from watching content from which you have previously stripped the DRM (or torrented), so I don't know what you're getting upset about. Many people can't be arsed with that sort of faffing about, and have the money to pay for convenience. To earn this money, they generally make themselves useful, by taking out your trash, tending to your illnesses, or generating the electricity that powers your Linux box.

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Unhappy

Re: "ARM's TrustZone" - abuse of ENGLISH!

" DRM forces the same user to buy the *same* content multiple times if he wants to see/hear it multiple times. And it forces them to watch annoying anti-piracy ads!"

Surely this is against the law (First Sale Doctrine) - restricting reuse of something bought..

I'd love to see a test case.

Sad face, because I upvoted Eadon! :)

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Re: "ARM's TrustZone" - abuse of ENGLISH!

Leaving aside the linguistics and ethics, this: "In any case, video DRM always gets cracked sooner rather than later. One reason is that it is because you have to *display* the output" seems to indicate you skimmed the article.

The whole point of the chip seems to be to solve this. Now I don't claim to understand how it works, but this isn't some MPAA guy saying "we've got some *technology* that will stop copying by using binary and encryption and other things you little people wouldn't understand." This is ARM, and if they say they've done it I'd think it warrants hearing them out at the very least.

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Re: "ARM's TrustZone" - abuse of ENGLISH!

"Surely this is against the law (First Sale Doctrine) - restricting reuse of something bought.."

No because they say you licence it, and the licence (page 17 of 43) said you have given up all your rights.

There have been several services that sold* DRMed video and music who turned off their servers. Remember Plays for Sure? Walmart Video? ...

There have been test cases with iTunes content that people wanted to resell.

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FAIL

Re: "ARM's TrustZone" - abuse of ENGLISH!

What they've done is offer a way a device manufacturer can ensure that no application running on the ARM core of the same device can read back the output of the framebuffer. Quite how this can usefully stop an application popping it back into normal mode to read the framebuffer is unknown, given that users want nice transitions between 'play video' and 'not play video' and quite like having GUI elements like Play, Pause, Quit etc.

But this feature isn't for the users. It's for devices that are genuinely frightened of the user.

However, any given implementation of this feature may be flawed, and the output of the physical IC remains (and always must remain) available - both LVDS and LCD-RGB will forever remain unencrypted (so getting the image is easy if you pop the lid) and both HDMI and DisplayPort are crackable, if not cracked already.

Fundamentally, the reason DRM as a concept cannot possibly work is because Bob, Eve and Mallory are all the same person.

For the same reason, the overall effect is to only annoy legitimate users and damage reputations, because it prevents the legitimate user from watching the content they've paid for - both when it works and when it breaks down.

In this case, if any issue (eg minor bug in playback app) causes the 'secure' GPU to get stuck in takeover mode, your device is a brick.

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Re: "ARM's TrustZone" - abuse of ENGLISH!

Abuse of ownership principle too and a free society too.

"permitted OS"...?

Sick of people trying to sell you something and then tell you what you can install on it, and ARM supporting this kind of anti democratic fascist idea.

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Almost correct......

"Unbreakable DRM would be so encumbering as to prevent sales; the trick is to make buying content easier than copying it, which is what ARM is hoping to facilitate with the Mali, but how exactly it works will be up to the manufacturers who using it."

Current DRM systems already prevent sales. It isn't the buying of content that is the problem, it is making reasonable use of it once you have bought it.

It works like this. Buy movie. Try to watch it, FAIL. Buy movie, try to watch it, FAIL. Download torrent, try to watch it, SUCCEED. The buying is easy. Its the watching that is the problem. Until the DRM obsessed media industries realise that DRM is a major driving force behind media piracy they will never beat it.

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Re: Almost correct......

The problem is that for you the goal is "watch" but for them it is "buy". As long as they trick you into paying they are happy, "watching" is not something they concern themselves with.

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Unhappy

Re: Almost correct......

How true, my daughter had a Sony CD player 'system'. The only way it could play Sony CDs was to copy them on a PC and play the copy. Totally stupid is not the half of the 'mu-sick' business.

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Re: Almost correct......

@Vladimir

Not true. Successful companies DO care about the 'watchability' i.e. end-user experience. A failure to make the experience enjoyable and successful would mean that punters will only ever buy a maximum of 1 item from them- before giving up and going somewhere else. Think how successful iTunes would have been if people had only ever bought one song.

In a high transaction volume retail space, the measurement metrics that count are Willingness to Repurchase, and Willingness to Recommend.

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Re: Almost correct......

>How true, my daughter had a Sony CD player 'system'. The only way it could play Sony CDs was to copy them on a PC and play the copy. Totally stupid is not the half of the 'mu-sick' business.

Curious. I have seen a Sony CD player refuse to play all tracks on a brand-new from HMV CD, Jurrassic 5's Power in Numbers. This must have been a different Sony scheme to the one that deliberately placed errors on a CD's TOC, errors that upset PC CD drives (and those car stereos that used the same drives), but not normal CD players. The idea was to prevent easy ripping. I seem to recall that such CDs didn't sport the traditional 'Compact Disc' badge on the cover, since they didn't conform to the Red Book standard.

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Unhappy

Re: Almost correct......

"The problem is that for you the goal is "watch" but for them it is "buy". As long as they trick you into paying they are happy, "watching" is not something they concern themselves with."

But how many time will people buy without being able to watch?

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Re: Almost correct......

"In a high transaction volume retail space, the measurement metrics that count are Willingness to Repurchase, and Willingness to Recommend."

Indeed:

Ultraviolet:

Chances of me repurchasing: NIL

Willingness to Recommend: NIL (unless to say "Avoid like the plague").

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Re: Almost correct......

Re: Ultraviolet.

Yet, every time you buy a DVD or BD disc "bundled" with UV they are paid royalties, which they will report as a "great success" in attaining customer interest.

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Pirate

@ Richard and Dave

I had the opposite problem and a bit of embarrassment when I burned a CDR (free to download and burn album) to take to test out some speakers I was thinking of buying. The shop's Arcam player wasn't havin' none of it! Had to resort to the Gnarls Barkley CD they had kicking around. When I got back home the CDR played perfectly in my 15 year old Technics.

Additionally, SecuRom on F.E.A.R. wouldn't play nice with my drive, and I had to crack it just to play it, bringing the added bonus of not having to fart about with physical media.

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Re: Almost correct......

Take the "digital copies" that come "free" with some DVD / BluRay disc.

I only ever got one to work (after getting new codes from their support system twice) and the quality was crap. Now I toss the paper with the code in the trash with the shrink wrap, I'll make my own digital copy that I can play where I want if needed.

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Ogi

The thing about DRM...

The problem is, no matter how hard they make it to copy the output, you only need one person to succeed and then it gets shared the world over.

They are fighting a losing battle. Even if they made it totally impossible to access the bitstream, in the worst case someone can screen scrape frame by frame, reassmble into a movie file, and share it. The others will just download it.

Funnily enough, I think that the harder they make the DRM to crack, the higher quality rips will be available. When everyone can click a button and rip a DVD, you get all sorts of rips, with varying audio/video quality/distortion, audio/video out of sync, etc...

If it becomes really hard, then only those with the skills to do it will be able to release anything, and those people will probably also have a clue when it comes to normalising the audio correctly, and otherwise making sure everything works as intended. We'll get fewer rips of a movie/TV Series, but possibly better quality overall.

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Pint

Re: The thing about DRM...

"...you only need one person to succeed and then **it** gets shared the world over."

You probably intended the 'it' to mean the media files stripped of DRM.

The other option is 'it' being the piracy-enabling app that performs the technically-challenging task with one click.

It's an obvious point, but I still see some clinging to the obsolete position that if something is technically difficult, then it helps to protect DRM'ed content. They overlook the obvious fact that computer processors exist in the wild.

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Ogi

Re: The thing about DRM...

Indeed that is true, but even if we assume that they somehow magically make 100% hack-proof DRM with Trusted module/path/execution, it can still be defeated by a determined individual (or group of individuals).

Even if it meant they had to sit there and manually screen scrape the whole thing. The fact is that at some point in time the system will have to show the content to the user. And you only have to do this once, then the content can be distributed far and wide by the usual methods with no degredation of quality.

DRM fails because it tries to deny access to the end user, while at the same time having to allow access to the end user. At some point in the line, it will be interceptable (unless they start embedding TPM modules in our brains to disable our audio/video senses if there is any unauthorised content around).

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Re: "embedding TPM modules in our brains"

STFU Ogi don't give them ideas!

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Anonymous Coward

x86 > ARM

Just sayin'.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: x86 > ARM

The main problem is that ARM architecture doesn't support x86 applications.

x86 has been around for decades now, thus making things even more complicated.

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Pint

Re: x86 > ARM

"In terms of chips sold these days, it's ARM > x86. Just "Sayin" (bah humbug!)"

I guess that SMT resistors take the win then. In second place, SMT capacitors.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: x86 > ARM

"In terms of chips sold these days, it's ARM > x86."

In terms of market segments where the technology is relevant, it's ARM >> 86 too.

x86 is relevant in Window boxes and irrelevant everywhere else.

ARM isn't relevant in Window boxes but in any other piece of consumer or professional electronics, there is little sensible alternative to ARM.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: x86 > ARM

>x86 is relevant in Window boxes and irrelevant everywhere else.

What about Linux or Mac? What do they use?

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Re: The main problem is that ARM architecture doesn't support x86 applications.

Not a problem for 99.99% of applications - just MS office by the looks of it.

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Re: x86 > ARM

Well Mac is somewhat exclusive, but Linux? Well, there's x86, ARM, MIPS, PowerPC, 68k, Atmel oddities, your auntie's kitchen toaster...

Linux is a whore, and we all love her for it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: x86 > ARM

"Mac is somewhat exclusive"

Yeah, that's right, just 68K, PowerPC, and currently x86 so far in IT kit (desktops and laptops). And what about iOtherStuff? How much ARM can it be?

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Re: x86 > ARM

I don't see Apple Macs running on anything other than x86, and specifically Intel x86 at that. They dumped 68k and PowerPC faster than a fashion magazine dumping a model on her 29th birthday.

Granted, I wouldn't want to try and run the latest Photoshop on a 68k machine, any more than I'd want to try and emulate a Core 2 on a 6502.

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Re: x86 > ARM

So everyone here who uses Linux is doing it on ARM boxes, because "there is little sensible alternative to ARM"?

I doubt it. These arguments are silly - ARM has its advantages, and is overall more popular (I believe it's been this way since the 90s) but doesn't come close to x86 for high end performance. The idea that the only reason for x86 is those people stuck with Windows x86 compatibility is not very well supported. (And anyhow, Windows now does support ARM - the only platform stuck on x86 is OS X.)

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Re: x86 > ARM

OS X has never supported 68k, and PowerPC was ditched years ago. IOS is not OS X, nor even uses the "Mac" trademark (it's just a brand name - today's "Macs" are x86 PCs, with nothing but name in common with the original Macintoshes - and even the name isn't entirely the same).

By your logic, Windows supports PowerPC, x86 and ARM.

Talking about 68K and PowerPC are irrelevant anyway, since the OP didn't say only x86 was worse, he said "there is little sensible alternative to ARM", which would include PowerPC and 68K.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: x86 > ARM

"everyone here who uses Linux is doing it on ARM boxes, because "there is little sensible alternative to ARM"

Don't be silly.

The original sentence in full said "ARM isn't relevant in Window boxes but in any other piece of consumer or professional electronics, there is little sensible alternative to ARM."

The chip industry isn't what it was ten years ago. x86 isn't what it was ten years ago. ARM isn't what it was ten years ago.

Look around you, Where do you see x86 (or even MIPS or PowerPC or SPARC) in consumer electronics? You barely see x86 at all, or PowerPC or SPARC, and there's not much MIPS left.

Time was when Intel and Microsoft were the 'goto people' if you wanted to build a DRM-encumbered content delivery platform based on "trusted computing'. Not any more. Even to the content companies, Intel and Microsoft have had it. Microsoft even lost the delivery platform for BT Vision's set top box (the Home Hub 3 is one of Broadcom's MIPS SoCs rather than one of Broadcom's ARM SoCs).

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Re: What about Linux or Mac? What do they use?

In the case of Linux, a lot more than just x86, the main one being ARM of course but also PPC, m68k, SPARC, Alpha, MIPS ... I expect I've missed some.

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Re: x86 > ARM

"ARM has its advantages, and is overall more popular ... but doesn't come close to x86 for high end performance"

Indeed, but we've reached the point where available x86 hardware is more powerful than is needed for web, mail, office, media consumption and other everyday uses. Media creators, programmers, scientists, PC gamers may want/need more performance, but a lot of people are seeing what they can do with Raspberry Pi, and finding that it handles many tasks with ease.

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In the good old days

I would buy a record, tape, CV or DVD,. if the machine I used to play them broke I could buy a new machine and continue to enjoy the film/music I had purchased. It appears increasingly the case that technology companies and 'hollywood' are attempting to make it such that when the machine breaks I have to buy everything again... and the machines break after about 2 years tops because the battery is buggered.

All in all eventually the public will just stop buying totally and rely entirely on ripped off copies on the internet

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I am not very motivated to...

pay for the expensive development of a 'trusted zone' that will bring nothing but grieve to me. Let's hope that capitalism works as intended and I'll get the choice to buy something else.

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It's TPM for ARM, basically.

But, more interesting, is that this will never be the "only" device that such content is available on. As another caveat of the "analogue hole" method, if there's a single, unprotected (or poorly protected) 1080p digital content source out there, then all the rest don't really matter. Who's going to hack the 1080p on their smartphone (why 1080p on a smartphone anyway?) when they can just take the content from somewhere else?

The thing about copyright infringement is: the original copyright infringers don't really care where the content has come from, and aren't the majority of your consumers. If anything, they are the tiniest, tiniest minority for whom even these sorts of measures aren't show-stoppers (see the linked article about the TrustZone compromises, for example - not saying that guy did it for copyright infringement, but there are people just that clever all over the net). Once a single, unlocked, digital content source exists, then a million people can copy the movie. It's that SINGLE copy ever coming about that you have to stop (without alienating your existing customers), not the casual smartphone user.

And moving EVERYTHING to TPM, across all media, formats and manufacturers, is going to be a bit of an uphill struggle (consumers? Pah, they're happy to pay/rent on the contractual bases that already exist, for the most part, and might not like but generally tolerate things like "on X amount of devices only", etc.). For a start, it means the end of all DVD / Blu-ray -type formats, and that no one manufacturer ever makes a mistake (and, in fact, the TrustZone hack linked actually uses the Linux source code and some poor security in the code to compromise the device - which means that ANY NUMBER of similar devices might well be running that kind of code already).

It's the next logical step in the TPM evolution. The problem is that it STILL doesn't stop "piracy". Hell, if it came to it, I'd just tap into the stream going to the LCD. Sure, it's awkward but it would work and obtain full 1080p 60fps perfect digital copies. It would mean raw frame captures (and thus recompressing them back into something MPEG-like) but that's a small price to pay if you're that determined. And once ONE guy has done it, that's game over for that content.

I'd still place bets that the more profitable venture over the next decade or so would be to just sell un-DRM'd (but maybe tagged in some way, e.g. with steganographic subscriber name/numbers etc.) plain content for a decent price. But without something like that existing it's hard to prove that would be the case. I think things like Amazon MP3, though, kinda already proved that it would work without bringing an industry to its knees.

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Anonymous Coward

"why 1080p on a smartphone anyway?"

So you can use your trendy new smartphone with its decent software and hardware together with an HDMI cable to your large screen TV with its crap software and underpowered hardware. And you can upgrade the phone from time to time without having to upgrade the 42" screen. Smart TVs => dying species.

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@Lee D

"Hell, if it came to it, I'd just tap into the stream going to the LCD. Sure, it's awkward but it would work and obtain full 1080p 60fps perfect digital copies"

The trouble is you'd have a perfect digital copy of a compressed frame (because it came from a compressed source) with artifacts and all. If you then tried to put this back into a compressed container, you would compound the artifacts and the resulting file would be measurably inferior to the original (double compression).

I suspect that within a month or so of this technology becoming widespread the method you describe will have been done (and double-compressed rips will flood TPB) - but the pirates will not stop trying until they've cracked the original digital file. Say another couple of months work.

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Boffin

Re: @Lee D

//The trouble is you'd have a perfect digital copy of a compressed frame (because it came from a compressed source) with artifacts and all. If you then tried to put this back into a compressed container, you would compound the artifacts and the resulting file would be measurably inferior to the original (double compression).//

While this is true for naive recompression, in theory it must be possible to regenerate the original compressed data from the uncompressed output.

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Re: @Lee D

@Tony Haines

Interesting point. Reconstructing the uncompressed data from a compressed datastream is something that a lot of very clever people have spent many years trying to do (in fact that's the basis for any good compression algorithm), but I presume you're talking about reconstructing the original compression container and thereby rebuilding the original compressed file (but without double-compressing).

I'm not aware of anybody having done this (and I've been in/around this industry for a while now) but equally I can't see any major reasons why it couldn't be done. In fact, if we could get hold of a couple of original uncompressed frames for comparison (maybe a scan from a movie poster?) then reconstructing the algorithm should be eminently doable. After that, putting the frames back in their container is a logical next step.

Nice thinking.

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Whilst I can see uses for Full HD on mobile devices, I don't think phones are a replacement for smart TVs.

The last thing I want to do is get off the sofa and fiddle plugging my phone in with a cable! And then I either need a long cable trailing the living room, or have to get up everytime to change the video or volume! And what if I want to use my phone whilst I'm watching TV?

Nor do I see the software is better - I'd rather sit on the sofa and use the remote on the TV's interface, than stand fiddling with a much smaller screen. In terms of functionality, Android doesn't come with "smart TV" functionallity - you could probably get the required stuff via 3rd party apps, but that means searching.

If anything, smart TVs complement smart phones - I can use my phone as a remote for the TV; and I can play content from the phone to the TV without fussing with cables.

And the upgrading issue can be solved by having upgradable parts (which some TVs allow). And if you want Android, just buy an Android smart TV USB box to put in it permanently, with dedicated remote - better than faffing with a phone.

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Boffin

"...Smart TVs => dying species."

I'm not sure about it. The reasoning is sound, but...

Wouldn't it means smart TVs with more processor/memory? All in all, smart TVs are more expensive - hence, more profitable.

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Boffin

"The last thing I want to do is get off the sofa and fiddle plugging my phone in with a cable! And then I either need a long cable trailing the living room, or have to get up everytime to change the video or volume! And what if I want to use my phone whilst I'm watching TV?"

You don't have to. HDMI provides this functionality, built in the standard. Panasonic calls it "Viera Link". Sony says it is "BRAVIA Link" or "BRAVIA Sync" - and so on. I used it with my Sony mobile and Panasonic TV. I could play/pause and stop. Didn't check much more, but...

(I)Relevant link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hdmi#CEC

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"why 1080p on a smartphone anyway?"

Google Glass, about five years from now.

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