ShinyShiny tech round up: Scientists develop Covid-detecting mask

Scientists have developed a prototype face mask that can diagnose whether its wearer has COVID-19 within 90 minutes. The tiny, disposable sensors designed by engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard could potentially be adapted to detect other pathogens in the future. The key technology is in the sensor which is based on freeze-dried synthetic genetic circuits that react with a particular target molecule – in this case the genetic material of the coronavirus itself. “This test is as sensitive as the gold standard, highly sensitive PCR tests, but it’s as fast as the antigen tests that are used for quick analysis of COVID-19,” said Peter Nguyen, one of the lead authors on the study of the technology. Sky News 

The stock market value of Facebook has topped $1 trillion for the first time after the tech giant won a court victory against US regulators. A federal court dismissed two lawsuits, from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a coalition of states, sending Facebook shares up 4.2%. It took the value of Facebook above $1tn, making it the last of the “big five” tech firms to hit the milestone. The legal actions had accused Facebook of stifling competition. But Judge James Boasberg ruled that the FTC’s anti-trust complaint against the social networking giant was too vague. Another separate anti-competition lawsuit filed by a group of 46 states was thrown out because the alleged violations occurred too long ago. BBC 

Microsoft has now made Xbox Cloud Gaming widely available on PC and iPhones. What was once called Project xCloud is now available to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members with Windows 10 PCs and Apple phones and tablets, via browser, in 22 countries, Microsoft said. Ultimate members (it costs £10.99-a-month) can go to Xbox.com/play on Microsoft Edge, Chrome or Safari on a PC or mobile device to start over 100 games from the Xbox Game Pass library. Xbox Cloud Gaming is now powered by custom Xbox Series X hardware, Microsoft added, which should result in faster load times and improved framerates. Eurogamer


Time’s up for Pepper robot. SoftBank Group is slashing jobs at its global robotics business and according to sources and documents reviewed by Reuters, it has stopped producing its Pepper robot. Touted as the first robot with “a heart”, Pepper was meant to help plug labor shortages, but struggled to find a global customer base. Only 27,000 were produced, one source told Reuters, and production ceased last year, three sources confirmed. The pullback marks a halt in Chief Executive Masayoshi Son’s ambitions plan to make SoftBank the leader in the robotics industry, producing human-like machines that could serve customers and babysit kids. Reuters.
 

A ban on mobile phones in schools is being considered in a new consultation on behaviour and discipline, with Gavin Williamson warning the devices are “distracting” and could even be “damaging”. The education secretary said he wanted to make the school day “mobile-free” and to ensure pupils can benefit from “calm classrooms”. But one leading union said Mr Williamson seemed to be “obsessed” with the topic of mobile phones in schools. A ban on their use in schools is being considered as part of a six-week consultation launched on Tuesday, which is seeking the views of teachers, parents and other staff on how to manage good behaviour. Independent 

In addition to introducing its new Wear OS-based software for its upcoming smartwatches at MWC 2021 today, Samsung also confirmed that the first device to run that will debut at Unpacked this summer. It’ll be under the company’s Galaxy Watch portfolio and the interface will be called One UI Watch. When Google announced the new Wear OS at I/O 2021, neither company had any details on actual hardware to share, besides a tease that Fitbit will be making premium smartwatches based on the platform. At the MWC event today, Samsung didn’t have much more hardware information either, besides a general timing. It said the “upcoming Galaxy Watch will be the first to feature the new unified platform and One UI Watch, which will make its debut at the Unpacked event later this summer.” Engadget

 

Chris Price