GulfNews Technology

GulfNews Technology

Apple unveils Dh129 AirTag for lost items: How it works

With AirTag, Apple expands the ‘Find My’ ecosystem Apple has unveiled on Tuesday (April 20, 2020), a tiny fancy new button-like accessory the helps people keep track of and find items that matter most to them — in tandem with Apple’s Find My app. The rollout unveil was live-streamed from the tech giant’s Cupertino headquarters, which also saw the introduction of the new iMac, iPad Pro, iPhone 12 in purple, and Apple TV 4K. What is AirTag? It’s an iPhone accessory that provides what Apple dubs as a “private and secure way to easily locate the items that matter most”. When will be available? From Friday, April 30. How can I use it? The small button-like accessory helps keep track of and find the items that matter most with Apple’s Find My app. Is it a tracker? Yes. It’s a locator. You may attach it to a handbag, keys, backpack, or other items. AirTag taps into the vast, global Find My network and can help locate a lost item. What about privacy? Apple says it has introduced enough safeguards to keep location data private and anonymous with end-to-end encryption. How much does it cost? AirTag can be purchased in one pack (Dh129) and four pack (Dh439). What’s it made of? What’s inside it? Each round AirTag is small and lightweight, features precision-etched polished stainless steel, and is IP67 water- and dust-resistant A built-in speaker plays sounds to help locate AirTag, while a removable cover makes it easy for users to replace the battery. How does it connect with iPhones? AirTag features the same setup experience as AirPods — just bring AirTag close to iPhone and it will connect. Users can assign AirTag to an item and name it with a default like “Keys” or “Jacket,” or provide a custom name of their choosing. Customers can personalise AirTag with free engraving, including text and a selection of 31 emoji, when purchasing from apple.com or the Apple Store app. Users can easily place AirTag into a bag or pocket on its own, or utilize a wide range of Apple-designed AirTag accessories, including the Polyurethane Loop, which is both lightweight and durable, and the Leather Loop and Leather Key Ring, featuring specially-tanned European leather. The enclosure of each accessory fits securely around AirTag, while conveniently attaching to a user’s belongings, further personalizing AirTag while making sure it is always with their important items. How to use it? Once AirTag is set up, it will appear in the new Items tab in the Find My app, where users can view the item’s current or last known location on a map. If you misplace tan item and it is within Bluetooth range, you can use the Find My app to play a sound from the AirTag to help locate it. Apple said users can also ask Siri to find their item, and AirTag will play a sound if it is nearby. What does Apple say about it? “We’re excited to bring this incredible new capability to iPhone users with the introduction of AirTag, leveraging the vast Find My network, to help them keep track of and find the important items in their lives,” said Kaiann Drance, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide iPhone Product Marketing. “With its design, unparalleled finding experience, and built-in privacy and security features, AirTag will provide customers with another way to leverage the power of the Apple ecosystem and enhance the versatility of iPhone.”

GulfNews Technology

Apple announces AirTags for lost items, podcast subscriptions at iPad launch event

Technology|: Apple Inc announced AirTags to find lost items and podcast subscription services that will compete with rival Spotify at an event also likely to include an update to Apple's iPad Pro tablet and its iMacs. Apple said that spouses and partners would be able to share and merge credit lines with its Apple Card, which CEO Tim Cook described as an important step toward making it easier for people to build their credit scores. Apple shares have risen nearly 95 per cent over the past year, faster than the 63 per cent rise in the Nasdaq Composite Index, thanks to a record $274.5 billion in sales for fiscal 2020 as consumers stocked up on electronics during the pandemic. Apple shares were down 1 per cent. Macs and iPads accounted for $52.3 billion during its fiscal 2020, and analysts expect updates to the top-end iPad Pro models on Tuesday, including better display and processing technology. "The Pro iPads are not the volume sellers, but they blur the line between Mac and iPad. How Apple differentiates between the iPad Pro and the Mac will be very interesting to watch," Ben Bajarin, principal analyst for consumer market intelligence at Creative Strategies. The AirTag announcement could result in a new round of complaints to lawmakers that Apple is hurting smaller rivals. Tile, a startup that has sold a competing tracker for nearly a decade, last year testified before the US House of Representatives that Apple's App Store rules had made it harder to use Tile's products and will be called before the US Senate to testify on Wednesday. Apple has said it subjects all apps, including its own, to the same App Store review rules. Bob O'Donnell, head of TECHnalysis Research, said he does not believe the trackers will become a big business on their own. "Because they are so late to this, it might not be that much different than when Apple got into set top boxes like Apple TV. Theyre a player. Theyre there, but they're not huge," he said. But Bajarin said the trackers could keep people tied to their iPhones if they rely on them to find items like keys and wallets. "The more you buy into just one hardware product, the less likely it is youll ever leave," Bajarin said. O'Donnell said other announcements could include Apple moving some of its iMac models to its own processors from Intel Corp's chips; and a consumer computer monitor in a lineup that recently has only had a high-priced screen for video professionals.

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Tesla gets chided by China over vehicle safety

The knocks keep coming for Tesla Inc., with the electric carmaker singled out in a piece from China's state-run Xinhua news agency that said the quality of its vehicles must meet market expectations in order to win consumers' trust. The Palo Alto, California-based company should address consumer hesitation over purchasing its cars after issues ranging from malfunctioning brakes to fires erupting during the vehicles' charging emerged last year, Tuesday's article said. Tesla on Monday had an embarrassing moment at the big Shanghai Auto Show when an angry protester climbed on top of one of its display vehicles shouting that her car's brakes had lost control. The woman, a Tesla owner from Henan, "is widely known for having repeatedly protested against Tesla's brake issue," the company said. She was live-streaming earlier from near Tesla's booth at the show before staging her protest, which was captured by scores of onlookers who then uploaded the footage to the internet. Over the weekend, a Tesla car that no one appeared to be driving crashed in Texas, erupting into flames and killing the two passengers. The car ran into a tree after traveling at high speed and failing to navigate a turn. One victim was found in the front passenger seat of the 2019 Model S and the other was in the rear, suggesting no one was driving at the time of impact. In the accident that happened in Texas, the car ran into a tree after traveling at high speed and failing to navigate a turn. One victim was found in the front passenger seat of the 2019 Model S and the other was in the rear, suggesting no one was driving at the time of impact. Image Credit: Scott J. Engle via Reuters The slew of incidents comes at an uncomfortable time for Tesla, which over the past month has defended the way it handles data in China and had its cars banned from military complexes. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk later strenuously denied the company would ever use a vehicle's technology for spying and Tesla's Beijing unit said cameras that are built into its EVs aren't activated outside of North America. Tesla has been called in by Chinese regulators over quality and safety issues before, including battery fires and abnormal acceleration. It was forced into issuing a public apology to China's state grid in early February after a video purportedly showed staff blaming an overload in the national electricity network for damage to a customer's vehicle. The U.S. automaker is also facing increasing competition in China from a slew of newer, cashed up local firms like Nio Inc. and Xpeng Inc. Their presence at this year's Shanghai Auto Show was telling, with their large, shiny booths overshadowing exhibits from some of the more traditional carmakers like BMW AG. Regardless, Teslas are still hugely popular in China, which is the world's biggest car market for both EVs and conventional automobiles. A record 34,714 China-built and imported Teslas were registered in the country in March, almost double the 18,155 registrations in February, when the week long Lunar New Year holiday slowed sales, and almost triple the number a year earlier, when the nation was in the grip of coronavrius lockdowns.

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Apple to let tweaked Parler back in App Store

Technology|: San Francisco: A version of social network Parler updated to curb incitements to violence has been cleared to return to Apple's App Store, a US congressman said Monday. A team at Apple devoted to reviewing whether apps submitted to its App Store conform to its policies has approved a modified version of Parler, which had become popular with conservatives before it was booted off online marketplaces. The news came from a copy of a letter from Apple posted on Twitter by US Representative Ken Buck of Colorado. "Parler has proposed updates to its app and the app's content moderation practices," read the letter signed by Apple senior director of government affairs in the Americas Timothy Powderly. "Its proposed updated app will be approved for reinstallment in the App Store." Apple, queried by AFP, offered no additional comment. Powderly noted in the letter that Apple stood by its independent decision to remove Parler from the App Store in the aftermath of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by supporters of former president Donald Trump. Buck said in his tweet that Parler's return to the App Store is "a huge win for free speech." Parler relaunched in February after being forced offline over incitements to violence on the platform. Parler, which calls itself "the free speech social network", came under scrutiny following the deadly attack on the US Capitol. Apple and Google pulled the network's app from their download platforms and Amazon's web hosting service cut ties as well. Powderly said in the letter that Apple had found many posts violating the iPhone maker's rules about app content moderation. He said there were "posts that encouraged violence, denigrated various ethnic groups, races and religions, glorified Nazism, and called for violence against specific people." Apple chief executive Tim Cook said early this year that Parler could return the App Store if it changed how it moderates posts on the platform. Nevada-based Parler, which launched in 2018, operates much like Twitter, with profiles to follow and "parleys" instead of tweets. In its early days, the platform attracted a crowd of ultraconservative and even extreme-right users. It has since signed up many more traditional Republican voices. Parler fired its chief executive John Matze soon after the deadly attack on the US Capitol.

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"Chuck" Geschke, founder of Adobe and developer of PDFs dies at age 81

Technology|: LOS ALTOS: Charles "Chuck" Geschke - the co-founder of the major software company Adobe Inc. who helped develop Portable Document Format technology, or PDFs - died at age 81. Geschke, who lived in the San Francisco Bay Area suburb of Los Altos, died Friday, the company said. ``This is a huge loss for the entire Adobe community and the technology industry, for whom he has been a guide and hero for decades,'' Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen wrote in an email to the company's employees. ``As co-founders of Adobe, Chuck and John Warnock developed groundbreaking software that has revolutionized how people create and communicate," Narayen said. "Their first product was Adobe PostScript, an innovative technology that provided a radical new way to print text and images on paper and sparked the desktop publishing revolution. Chuck instilled a relentless drive for innovation in the company, resulting in some of the most transformative software inventions, including the ubiquitous PDF, Acrobat, Illustrator, Premiere Pro and Photoshop.'' His wife said Geschke was also proud of his family. ``He was a famous businessman, the founder of a major company in the U.S. and the world, and of course he was very, very proud of that and it was huge achievement in his life, but it wasn't his focus _ really, his family was,'' Nancy ``Nan'' Geschke, 78, told the Mercury News on Saturday. ``He always called himself the luckiest man in the world.'' After earning a doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University, Geschke began working at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, where he met Warnock, the Mercury News reported. The men left the company in 1982 to found Adobe, developing software together. In 2009, President Barack Obama awarded Geschke and Warnock the National Medal of Technology. In 1992, Geschke survived a kidnapping, the Mercury News reported.

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SIM card registration pushed in the Philippines to block fake bookings

CLARK, PAMPANGA: Mobile phone scams and terror bomb blasts are not uncommon in the Philippines, thanks in part to the ease with which unregistered pre-paid mobile phone SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) cards can be bought and sold. Legislations mandating SIM card registrations have been proposed but nothing came out of them, bogged down in the legislative mill. But there's a rising clamour for its passage, this time for quite a different reason. Now, the Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is pushing for mandatory SIM card registration  — already practised in most countries —apparently to combat the increasing incidents of fake bookings through delivery apps. Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, in a briefing to the state-run PTV4 on Friday, said in Filipino: “One of our proposals is the registration of cellphone cards or SIM so there will be traceability.” One legislation pending in the Philippines’ upper legislative chamber, the 24-member Senate, seeks to mandate end-users of prepaid SIM cards to present a valid ID with photograph and to sign a control-numbered registration form issued by the service provider. The lower house, the 304-seat House of Representatives, had already passed its own version of the bill on third and final reading in May 2018. In July 2019, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson sponsored Senate Bill 25, dubbed as the “Prepaid Subscriber Identity Module ( SIM) Cards Regulations Act of 2019,” which seeks to address the “so-called" Tapon-SIM Scams and Crimes” (Throwaway-SIM Scams and Crimes). Local media reported recently that a family in Quezon City, a suburb of Manila, fell victim to fake delivery bookings amounting to 15,000 pesos (about $300) worth of food. This forced the family and their neighbours to fork out the amount to pay for items which none of them had ordered. Rosmar Tan, a local vlogger, also reportedly fell victim to a fake delivery booking, and was forced to pay almost 15,000 pesos worth of items she did not order. Lopez, the DTI secretary, urged citizens and residents to use online payment channels as another tool against fake bookings. High profile victim One high-profile victim of online delivery fraud is a senator. On January 14, 2021, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian had pushed for mandatory registration of SIM cards after he fell to a 1-million-peso ($20,000) credit card hack. The perpetrators managed to charge Gatchalian's credit card for an online food delivery after gaining access to a security feature on web-based services — the One-Time Password (OTP) — using a prepaid mobile phone. “When fraudsters gain access to OTPs, it’s as if they’re the actual owners of the account doing the transaction,” Gatchalian told local media. Limbs of a child blown yards away Philippines: Twin explosions kill 10 people, wound soldiers Two suspects in police custody Anonymity vs identity The senator said it is now “imperative” to regulate SIM card sales and distribution to improve tracing of unlawful activities. Similar measures had also been filed in both houses of Congress — but its passage remains elusive due to data privacy concerns. SIM registration has been largely effective in curbing crime. Some gangs, however, have resorted to identity theft to carry out criminal activity (mobile phones used SIM cards purchased with stolen identity). Also, SIM card registration in some countries have created a black market to service those wishing to remain anonymous. There’s also a concern about how SIMs can be illegally cloned, or how criminals can use foreign SIMs on roaming mode, to circumvent SIM registration requirements. Philippine officials said there are legal remedies prescribed by proposed legislation to curb abuses. A SIM registration regime, combined with the Philippine National ID system, now undergoing a rollout, could help significantly boost security in a country of more than 110 million inhabitants Gatchalian’s Senate Bill (No. 176, "SIM Card Registration Act") mandates end-users of prepaid SIM cards to present a valid ID and photo and sign a control-numbered registration form, copies of which shall be furnished to the service provider and the National Telecommunications Commission, the industry regulator. The two versions, S.B. 25 and S.B. 176, may first have to be consolidated, before they get harmonised with the House version. It is unknown at this point when this would happen, if at all. Why register SIM cards? The Philippines is one of the few countries in the world where SIM card registration is not mandated. Lacson and Gatchalian argue that requiring a valid ID as a condition for the purchase and activation of a SIM card makes users more responsible and limits the risk of misuse of a SIM card. Supporters of the legislation also believe allowing the state to know the identity of a SIM card's owner, and the person most likely making a call or sending a message, could lead to more responsible use of technology. Critics say it could expose end-users to abuse, leading to a loss of privacy of communications.  Benefits: digital payments One potential benefit of pre-paid SIM card registration include facilitation of citizens' access to e-Government services. This could include a more efficient distribution of the $2.2 billion (106 billion pesos) conditional cash transfer for the poorest of the poor (known as “4Ps") earmarked this 2021. In theory, with SIM card registration, such regular government doleouts can be sent as digital cash, greatly improving transactions velocity. It could also potentially boost digital payments, lessen the cost of handling, improve quality of life and responsible citizenship overall. Perhaps the biggest payoff is security, as mobile phones had been used by terrorists on several occasions to off bombs that randomly kill people and disrupt normal life. One downside is abuse or misuse of information by people who have access to it, as well as data leaks. Critics say the law must provide protection against such risk. Philippine bombings triggered by cellphones Officials have detected mostly cell phone-triggered explosives while poring through security records: January 27, 2019: Security footage of a bombing shows one of the bombers holding a mobile phone that was used to trigger bomb blasts that targeted two Church in southern Philippines. September 4, 2016: A blast in Davao City used a mobile phone as a trigger an improvised explosive device (IED) detonation, according to police. January 26, 2011: Five people were killed in Manila when mortar triggered by a cellphone was detonated in a bus. Upshot for SIM registration It's doable: There are an estimated 68 million unregistered pre-paid SIM cards in the Philippines. Postpaid subscribers already do SIM registration, with about 2 million postpaid subscribers having registered their names against their SIM cards. This post-paid experience shows adding pre-paid SIM cards into the system is doable. It's a deterrent: Knowing any misuse can be traced more easily and penalised, users may refrain from maligning, threatening, scamming or defrauding others. Or worse, use it for terrorist activities. Blocking scammers: Listing SIM card users will also make it easier to block fraudsters from using anonymous numbers to rip off or terrorise people. SIM Replaceability: If a SIM card number registered to your name is stolen or lost, you can request the SIM card to be de-activated and get a replacement (a facility available for post-paid SIM card users).

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Geely's iconic Lotus Cars mulls raising $1 billion

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. is considering raising about $1 billion to help expand its iconic British sports and racing automotive business Lotus Cars into the electric vehicles market in China, according to people familiar with the matter. Geely is working with advisers to sound out potential investor interest in a funding round that could value Lotus's EV operations at about $5 billion, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Separately from the fundraising, the Chinese company is also weighing an initial public offering of Lotus Cars, or just the British carmaker's EV business, as soon as next year, the people said. A listing could value the entire business, including its combustion-driven sports and racing cars, at more than $15 billion, the people said. Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. shares rose as much as 6.6% in their biggest advance in a month, outperforming a 1% gain in the benchmark Hang Seng Index. The all-electric Evija hypercar photographed in Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied Chinese billionaire Li Shufu's Geely, which also controls Sweden-based Volvo Car AB, purchased a stake in Group Lotus in 2017. It owns 51% of the company, including both Lotus Cars and consultancy Lotus Engineering, while Malaysia's Etika Automotive Bhd. owns the remainder, according to a press release. Under Geely, Lotus in 2019 launched its all-electric Evija hypercar, a 1,972-horsepower coupe that costs about $2 million. Considerations are ongoing and details including size and timing could change, the people said. A Geely representative declined to comment. Representatives for Lotus didn't immediately comment when contacted by Bloomberg News. Geely is seeking to expand into electric vehicles amid a booming market in countries including China. Polestar, the electric carmaker controlled by Volvo Car and its owner Geely, is exploring options for going public as soon as this year, Bloomberg News has reported. Investor mania over EV-related stocks has pushed the share prices of players including Nio Inc. and Xpeng Inc. to stratospheric levels. That intense interest has also spawned a wave of EV upstarts raising billions and racing to list via special-purpose acquisition companies. More than $180 billion has been raised globally through SPAC IPOs in the past 12 months, Bloomberg-compiled data show.

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Huawei to pump in $1b on car tech in 2021

auto|Business|Technology|: Chinese technology giant Huawei, which is focusing on optimising its portfolio to boost business resilience, will invest $1 billion in smart car technologies in 2021, the media reported. The new investment that the company is making this year will focus on building components for smart vehicles, including software platforms for self-driving cars, CGTN reported on Tuesday, citing Huawei's Rotating Chairman Eric Xu. Speaking at Huawei's 18th Global Analyst Summit in Shenzhen on Monday, Xu said that Huawei will strengthen its software capabilities and invest more in businesses that are less reliant on advanced process techniques, as well as in components for intelligent vehicles. Huawei faced a tough year last year as restrictions imposed by the US impacted its smartphone business and increased scrutiny of its 5G technologies. Xu said that Huawei will maximise 5G value and define 5.5G with industry peers to drive the evolution of mobile communications and innovate to reduce energy consumption for a low-carbon world. "Rebuilding trust and restoring collaboration across the global semiconductor supply chain is crucial to bringing the industry back on track," Xu said. The Huawei's Rotating Chairman predicted that many of the challenges the world is facing today will continue for some time to come. "Moving forward, we will continue to find ourselves in a complex and volatile global environment," Xu said said. "Resurgence of Covid-19 and geopolitical uncertainty will present ongoing challenges for every organisation, business, and country."

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Chip shortage: Biden promises bipartisan support for new funds

auto|Business|Technology|: President Joe Biden told companies vying with each other for a sharply constrained global supply of semiconductors that he has bipartisan support for government funding to address a shortage that has idled automakers worldwide. During a White House meeting with more than a dozen chief executive officers on Monday, Biden read from a letter from 23 senators and 42 House members backing his proposal for $50 billion for semiconductor manufacturing and research. “Both sides of the aisle are strongly supportive of what we're proposing and where I think we can really get things done for the American people,” Biden said. “Now let me quote from the letter. It says, 'The Chinese Communist Party is aggressively - plans to reorient and dominate the semiconductor supply chain,' and it goes into how much money will be they're pouring into being able to do that.” More than a dozen chief executives, including General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra, Ford Motor Co. CEO James D. Farley, Jr., and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet and Google, participated in the virtual summit. “This isn't a meeting where we expect a decision or an announcement to come out of,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. But she said the meeting shows the administration is serious about addressing supply-chain constraints and softening the blow for affected companies and workers. National Economic Council director Brian Deese and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan hosted the meeting, with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo also participating. Companies invited to join the administration officials included Dell Technologies Inc., Intel Corp., Medtronic Plc, Northrop Grumman Corp., HP Inc., Cummins Inc., Micron Technology Inc., Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., AT&T Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., as well as GM, Ford and Alphabet Inc. The administration officials intended to highlight elements of the president's proposed $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan that they believe would improve supply chain resilience, a White House official said. The agenda also included discussions about the auto industry's transition to clean energy, job creation and ensuring U.S. economic competitiveness, the official added. Many of the lawmakers supporting additional funding for semiconductors want to see the measure in a bill related to China, not as part of Biden's infrastructure package, as it is now. But exactly how to spend and allocate the semiconductor funding is a source of debate among automakers and other consumers of chips, as well as the semiconductor companies themselves. Carmakers are pushing for a portion of the money to be reserved for vehicle-grade chips, warning of a potential 1.3 million shortfall in car and light-duty truck production in the U.S. this year if their industry isn't given priority. Yet makers of other electronic devices affected by the chip shortage, such as computers and mobile phones, have taken issue with the carmakers' demands, worried their industries will suffer. The debate could be a factor in the White House meeting. The White House has not taken a public position on the issue but has indicated privately to semiconductor industry leaders that it would not support special treatment for one industry, according to people familiar with the matter. Matt Blunt, president of the American Automotive Policy Council, which lobbies for Ford, General Motors and Stellantis NV (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), expressed optimism that the Biden administration would at least consider his industry's arguments. He said the White House has not endorsed any specific plans for setting aside money for carmakers, but administration officials “understand why the proposal was made.” “We hope in the meeting, whoever is gathered there will get an understanding of how we get to where we are fulfilling 100% of orders and provide a road map of what that looks like,” he said. To avoid future chip shortages, Blunt's group proposed that at least 25% of any federal support for the construction of semiconductor factories must go to U.S. facilities that commit to allocating at least 25% of their capacity to automotive-grade chips. John Neuffer, president and chief executive officer of the Semiconductor Industry Association, said the industry understands “the difficulty the auto sector is feeling right now, and chipmakers are working hard to ramp up production to meet demand in the short term.” For the long term, he said, the industry needs a boost in domestic production and innovation across the board “so all sectors of our economy have access to the chips they need, and that requires swiftly enacting federal investments in semiconductor manufacturing and research.”

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Can Jaguar Land Rover's air purification technology block coronaviruses from entering car cabins?

A new air filtration system developed by Jaguar Land Rover inhibits viruses and bacteria from entering a car’s cabin with up to 97 per cent effectiveness. The British firm says the technology has also been proven to be effective against Covid-19. JLR partnered with leading microbiology and virology lab Perfectus Biomed Ltd to test the technology in a sealed chamber designed to simulate a car interior and ventilation system. Air purification is achieved using Panasonic’s Nanoe X technology, which uses a high voltage to create a chemical reaction that denatures the virus and bacteria proteins, inhibiting their growth. Dr Steve Iley, JLR’s chief medical officer, said: “Our customers’ wellbeing is of paramount importance to us – and now, more than ever, we are all looking for technological solutions that can help take care of our loved ones. “The independent research, developed and commissioned by our expert engineers, is just one of the ways we are working to assure our customers that harmful pathogens are being minimised, providing a cleaner environment for passengers inside the cabin and setting new standards in the ownership experience.” Alexander Owen, research engineer at JLR, said: “This technology is a great example of being able to harness the power of nature and puts JLR right at the forefront of this cabin technology. Hydroxyl Radicals are one of the most important natural oxidants in chemistry and have been helping to clean our atmosphere for millennia, removing pollutants and other harmful substances. The creation of this technology and our advanced research, is the first step in deploying this scientific phenomenon within vehicle cabins of the future.” The technology will be implemented in future JLR vehicles, with many of its existing models already using an older version of this technology.

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MIT scientists create music from spider webs

Music|Technology|Offbeat|: New York: A team of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US have translated the structure of a spider web into music, which could have applications ranging from better 3D printers to cross-species communication and otherworldly musical compositions. "The spider lives in an environment of vibrating strings. They don't see very well, so they sense their world through vibrations, which have different frequencies," said Markus Buehler, from MIT. Such vibrations occur, for example, when the spider stretches a silk strand during construction, or when the wind or a trapped fly moves the web. In the study, the team scanned a natural spider web with a laser to capture 2D cross-sections and then used computer algorithms to reconstruct the web's 3D network. They assigned different frequencies of sound to strands of the web, creating "notes" that they combined in patterns based on the web's 3D structure to generate melodies. The researchers then created a harp-like instrument and played the spider web music in several live performances around the world and also made a virtual reality setup that allowed people to visually and audibly "enter" the web. "The virtual reality environment is really intriguing. By hearing it and seeing it at the same time, you can really start to understand the environment the spider lives in," Buehler said. The step-by-step knowledge of how a spider builds a web could help in devising "spider-mimicking" 3D printers that build complex microelectronics. The team explored how the sound of a web changes as it's exposed to different mechanical forces, such as stretching. Further, in a bid to communicate with spiders in their own language they recorded web vibrations produced when spiders performed different activities, such as building a web, communicating with other spiders or sending courtship signals. Although the frequencies sounded similar to the human ear, a machine learning algorithm correctly classified the sounds into the different activities. "Now we're trying to generate synthetic signals to basically speak the language of the spider," Buehler said. The findings will be presented at the forthcoming spring meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

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Apple working on combined TV box, speaker to revive home efforts

Apple Inc. has been a laggard in the smart-home space, but a versatile new device in early development could change that. The company is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. The device's other capabilities would include standard Apple TV box functions like watching video and gaming plus smart speaker uses such as playing music and using Apple's Siri digital assistant. If launched, it would represent Apple's most ambitious smart-home hardware offering to date. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is also mulling the launch of a high-end speaker with a touch screen to better compete with market leaders Google and Amazon.com Inc., the people said. Such a device would combine an iPad with a HomePod speaker and also include a camera for video chat. Apple has explored connecting the iPad to the speaker with a robotic arm that can move to follow a user around a room, similar to Amazon's latest Echo Show gadget. Development of both Apple products is still in the early stages, and the company could decide to launch neither or change key features. The company often works on new concepts and devices without ultimately shipping them. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. The new offerings may help revive Apple's fortunes in the smart-home category. The company held 2% of the TV streaming device market in 2020, according to Strategy Analytics, while the HomePod has had less than 10% of the smart speaker market for most of its existence. In March, Apple discontinued its high-end HomePod, while the Apple TV box hasn't been updated for more than three years. Last year, the company launched the HomePod mini, which has fared better due to its lower price. Apple combined its HomePod and Apple TV engineering groups in 2020 and unified the underlying software that runs on both devices. That was an early hint that Apple may eventually integrate the hardware lines. A combined speaker and TV box isn't a product category that Google and Amazon have seriously addressed yet, though Facebook Inc. sells a Portal video chat device that uses a TV as its display and Amazon sells the Fire TV Cube box with a small speaker. Amazon does however lead the Smart Displays category, the term for smart speakers with screens. Amazon first popularized smart speakers with screens in 2017 with the launch of the original Echo Show. Alphabet Inc.'s Google offers 7- and 10-inch versions of its Nest Hub, which pairs the Google Assistant with a speaker and screen. Amazon is also working on a new speaker with a screen for a user's wall that can serve as a smart home hub. In March, Bloomberg News reported that Apple was exploring new smart speakers with displays and cameras. Apple's HomeKit software - which lets third-party devices be controlled by iPhones, iPads and HomePods via an app or Siri - supports fewer products than rival systems from Amazon and Google. New Apple devices won't change that alone, but could give both Apple and potential partners new reasons to invest in the larger Apple smart-home ecosystem.

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Online security in UAE: Beware, cybercriminal are on the prowl

Cyberattacks are still the number 1 threat to Middle East’s businesses. With a rising number of employees switching to hybrid working models, IT infrastructure and data centers of a large number of companies are at risk of being breached by cyber criminals. Email and social media users also need to watch out for phishing attempts that could lead to information theft. According to a recent survey by Proofpoint and Etisalat’s Help AG, 15 per cent of organizations in UAE suffered a phishing attack in 2019, with an additional 15 per cent suffering a business email compromise attack. In the meantime, only around 69 per cent of the Forbes ‘Top 100 Middle East Companies’ have a Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) record in place. In other words, 31 per cent of them are leaving customers at risk of email fraud. What is a cyberattack? It is an assault launched by cybercriminals using computers against a single or multiple computers or networks. With more than 3 billion people worldwide on the internet, cyberattacks have become the weapon of choice for many malicious actors who are actively looking to participate in illegal activities such as cyber theft, compromising networks and even sabotaging vital national infrastructure of countries. What is DMARC? DMARC, an email protocol, is being adopted globally as the 'passport control' of the email security world. It verifies that the purported domain of the sender has not been impersonated. The system is designed to protect employees, customers, and partners from cybercriminals looking to impersonate a trusted domain. Some industries in the region have led the charge in terms of DMARC adoption, according to the Help AG report. Almost all logistics firms and 80 per cent of banking and financial services providers have published a DMARC record. However, some other industries are clearly lagging behind - only 50 per cent of real estate and construction firms and only 20 per cent of companies from the retail sector have started their DMARC records. What is phishing? It is a kind of cybercrime where a target is contacted by email, telephone or text message by someone posing as a legitimate institution to lure the individual into giving sensitive data such as banking and credit card details and passwords. How serious are email phishing attacks? Email phishing attacks can be extremely serious due to their sheer volume and the consequences they carry for individuals and businesses. On an individual level, a successful phishing attack could enable a hacker to steal credit card information and make purchases using an individual’s credentials. For employees using a corporate email, a phishing attack could cause the theft of information such as username and password credentials, and in other instances, this could serve as the mode of entry of the attackers into the entire organization’s infrastructure. “The disruption that can be incurred due to an email phishing attack can trigger data breaches and result in legal fines; costing businesses millions of dollars, not to mention the resulting reputational damage and the possible theft of intellectual property,” said Nicolai Solling, Chief Technology Officer, Help AG. Considering the fact that people often use the same password across multiple applications, credential theft often tends to set off a chain reaction of breaches. This risk has only increased significantly with distributed workforces becoming the new norm. The Dubai Future Foundation has reported that phishing emails have surged over 600 per cent since February 2020. How can client emails be compromised? According to Help AG, client emails can be compromised if the clients’ partners do not have measures in place to prevent domain spoofing. Without implementing tools like Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) records, a company runs the risk of cybercriminals impersonating it in emails to get clients to make a wire transfer, give sensitive information, or open malicious links and files. Another issue facing client emails is Email Account Compromise. In this type of attack, a hacker obtains access to a trusted email domain and sends fraudulent emails to clients through that domain. This can be difficult to prevent, as the email domain used is legitimate and will not be filtered. “However, even with all the best security measures in place, network security is only as good as its weakest link which, in most cases, is the end user,” said Help AG’s Solling. “Social engineering tactics have proven to be the most effective way to obtain an employee’s sensitive data to hack into company networks, whether by posing as a legitimate actor or a fellow employee,” he added. Phishing campaigns have also become increasingly sophisticated and harder to spot, imitating social media platforms or financial service providers with surprising accuracy to trick users into entering personal data. These issues can only be addressed by comprehensive training programmes to raise awareness and educate end users about the potential risks. What are the threats faced through personal emails? Cybercriminals can design phishing emails that look like they were sent from the platform. For example, an individual could receive an email that appears to be from a legitimate company that prompts them to click through to a fake login screen. If you enter your credentials, your account and all the data associated with it could be compromised. The personal information shared on social media – about one’s whereabouts, interests, personal relationships, etc. – can be used as ammunition by cybercriminals to personalize their phishing emails and manipulate users into clicking. What are some of the preventive measures that corporate clients can take? According to Help AG, corporate clients should follow security best practices, such as checking the email address of the sender, never entering sensitive data unless they are sure the email is legitimate, never clicking links or downloading attachments from unknown senders, installing and constantly updating security software on their devices, enabling multi-factor authentication on their accounts, and installing a phishing filter. Individuals should also keep their personal and corporate emails and devices separate. Organizations need to seriously rethink their cybersecurity in terms of securing the distributed workforce and ensure that productivity or convenience does not compromise security. How UAE’s large oil, gas and infrastructure companies are secured Large oil, gas and infrastructure companies in the UAE have recognized that they are prime targets for cyber-attacks and have taken cybersecurity more seriously. “However, the question is whether or not they are responding quickly or robustly enough to keep up with rapid digitization and automation trends, and the growth in scale and sophistication of bad actors,” said Solling. In the industry as a whole, large organizations are increasingly integrating infrastructure such as SCADA (Supervisory control and data acquisition) with IT networks to automate systems and manage plant operations based on data provided in real time, thereby boosting efficiency and profitability. Image Credit: Vijith Pulikkal, Assistant Product Manager What is SCADA? It is a system that seeks to monitor and control field devices at remote sites. SCADA systems are critical as it helps maintain efficiency by collecting and processing real-time data. Increased risk With the modernization and automation of oil and gas infrastructure comes increased vulnerability, as the OT systems (operational technology) running them are becoming increasingly interconnected with IT systems and the internet, often including Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices in remote locations, such as sensors attached to pipelines and water mains. What is OT? Operational Technology (OT) is hardware and software that detects or causes a change through the direct monitoring and/or control of physical devices, processes and events in an enterprise. According to a report by Fortinet, 9 in 10 organizations experienced at least one OT system intrusion in 2020, while 65 per cent of them had 3 or more intrusions. The same report also saw a drastic increase in hacking activity over 2019, all of which points to a worrying trend in OT cybersecurity as a whole. If successful, attacks on companies in these industries could potentially shut down or disrupt production, and in the worst cases, put the physical safety of employees at risk, or cause significant economic damage. What are some of the biggest cyber threats to UAE’s firms? Ransomware, Distributed Denial of Services (DDoS), and carding attacks are among the biggest threats facing organizations in the UAE and the region, according to Help AG. In particular, ransomware attacks are increasing in sophistication and, according to Cybersecurity Ventures, could cost the global economy up to $20 billion in 2021. “Our own research has revealed that the region has been witnessing a tremendous growth in DDoS attacks in frequency, volume, new attack vectors and multifaceted tactics,” said Solling. “In Q3 2020, we captured many DDoS attack types among which we detected 24,386 high-volume Total Traffic attacks; attacks based on total traffic volume exceeding the defined threshold” What is a DDoS attack? Distributed denial of service attack is when an attacker tries to make it impossible for a service to be carried out. This is done by stopping access to servers, devices, services, and even transactions within some applications. What is ransomware? This is a type of malware that prevents users from accessing their system or personal files and demands ransom payment in order to regain access. The earliest variants of ransomware were developed in the late 1980s, and payment was to be sent via ordinary post. Today, ransomware authors order that payment be sent via cryptocurrency or credit card. What is carding? Help AG has seen a significant increase (500%) in carding; the illegal usage of a credit or debit card by unauthorized individuals to buy a product. “This growth in cyberthreats is expected to increase as people worldwide continue working remotely, relying on VPNs, and using unsecure networks and devices,” said Solling.

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Video: Elon Musk's Neuralink shows monkey with brain-chip playing videogame by thinking

Technology|Americas|: Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's brain-chip startup released footage on Friday appearing to show a monkey playing a simple videogame after getting implants of the new technology. The 3-minute video by Neuralink shows Pager, a male macaque with chips embedded on each side of its brain, playing 'Mind Pong'. Although he was trained to move a joystick, it is now unplugged. He controls the paddle simply by thinking about moving his hand up or down. "First @Neuralink product will enable someone with paralysis to use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone using thumbs," Musk tweeted on Thursday. "Later versions will be able to shunt signals from Neuralinks in brain to Neuralinks in body motor/sensory neuron clusters, thus enabling, for example, paraplegics to walk again. The device is implanted flush with skull & charges wirelessly, so you look & feel totally normal." Neuralink works by recording and decoding electrical signals from the brain using more than 2,000 electrodes implanted in regions of the monkey's motor cortex that coordinate hand and arm movements, the video's voiceover said. "Using these data, we calibrate the decoder by mathematically modeling the relationship between patterns of neural activity and the different joystick movements they produce." Co-founded by Musk in 2016, San Francisco-based Neuralink aims to implant wireless brain computer chips to help cure neurological conditions like Alzheimer's, dementia and spinal cord injuries and fuse humankind with artificial intelligence. Musk has a history of bringing together diverse experts to develop technology previously limited to academic labs, including for rockets and electrical vehicles, through companies such as Tesla Inc and SpaceX.