Shiny Shiny daily round up: Google launches Global.Health

Google has worked with researchers to create a new Covid-19 tracking database that will help governments monitor how the easing of lockdown measures is affecting case rates and spot the next wave before it spreads., which launches today, will pool anonymised data on Covid-19 cases, allowing researchers to chart factors such as whether people had been to Covid-19 hotspots and when their symptoms started. This will allow epidemiologists to perform much more detailed and faster analysis on what is causing the virus to spread. See full story here:

The NHS is facing a legal challenge over its data deal with controversial Silicon Valley firm Palantir, Sky News can reveal. Palantir, which has become notorious for its close ties to security services and immigration agencies in the United States, secured its first ever deal to handle NHS data in March last year for the nominal sum of £1. Legal group Foxglove announced today that it was bringing a court case against the health service to force it to reconsider the contract, which is now worth £23.5m.

Fast internet is one of the top priorities for prospective house buyers, reports Tech Digest. Would-be purchasers would consider slower speeds but only if the property price is reduced by a whopping 19%. With the average house price in the UK now £245,443 (as of October 2020), this means a slow internet connection could wipe £46,634 off the value of your house. Those are the findings from broadband comparison site Compare Fibre from its latest research. 

Electric-car maker Fisker Inc said it will work with Apple supplier Foxconn to produce more than 250,000 vehicles a year from late 2023, jumpstarting its shares on Wednesday. Fisker’s shares surged 23.4% to $20.10 in premarket trading upon the news. The deal, codenamed “Project PEAR” (Personal Electric Automotive Revolution), is looking at markets globally including North America, Europe, China and India, Fisker said. Foxconn, Apple’s main iPhone maker, has ramped up its interest in electric vehicles (EVs) over the past year or so, announcing deals with Chinese electric-car maker Byton and automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. See full story on Reuters.

Why has buying a new bike been so difficult recently? Transition Earth looks to the recently published annual report of Shimano for a few clues. The Japanese company, which is one of the biggest bike component makers in the world, reports net sales of JPY 297,777 million (€ 2,324 million); up 2.7% on the previous year, while the company’s operating income rose 18.4% to JPY 68,494 million (€ 535 million). Yet the report also reflects on shortages in both European and North American markets as demand for bikes rose and supply chain issues – mainly the result of the Covid19 pandemic – impacted distribution. “Cycling gained attention as an easy form of recreation and exercise, as well as a mode of transportation with a lower risk of infection, leading to an increase in demand for bicycles on a global scale,” reads te report. “This led to an inability to keep up supply with the strong demand.”

Scientists are trialling a new Covid test that could provide results on your smartphone within ten minutes. French researchers have created a rapid coronavirus test that early results suggest could be 90% accurate. The researchers claim their test is three times faster than lateral-flow antigen tests, and almost as standard as the slower, but more reliable and commonly-used PCR tests. Although the prototype test, called CorDial-1, has not been approved for use yet, initial trials on 300 samples showed a 90% accuracy rate. See full story in The Mirror. 

While Huawei’s smartphone business is struggling in the face of continued US sanctions, the company is doing well in the wearables space. Last year, while its smartphone business saw a 42.4% year-over-year decline in shipments, its smartwatch shipment volume grew 90% year-on-year in China and Asia and 50% globally. Now the company is opening up its wearables to third-party apps to further boost sales. Currently, Huawei’s smartwatches run LiteOS — a proprietary software that doesn’t support third-party apps. However, starting today, Huawei’s wrist wearables ecosystem will be available to third-party developers. See XDA here. 



Chris Price