• UK and Ukraine close ‘landmark’ digital trade deal

    UK and Ukraine close ‘landmark’ digital trade deal

    Ukraine’s first-ever digital trade deal is expected to support its economy through the current crisis and lay foundations for its recovery and revival.  Ukraine’s first deputy prime minister, Yulia Svyrydenko, will sign the trade agreement with UK Trade Secretary, Kemi Badenoch, with officials saying that the deal will support digital commerce through the facilitation of cross-border data flows. The digital trade agreement is expected to support Ukrainian businesses by cutting red tape and helping them to trade with the UK more efficiently, as well as make it easier for UK companies to work with Ukrainian businesses and support their economic recovery. The agreement, first announced in August, is based on a similar agreement signed between the UK and Singapore earlier this year, and it…

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  • Compound fractures

    Compound fractures

    What the government gives, the government takes away. Newport Wafer Fab (NWF) was born in government and could well end up being hobbled by it, albeit by an administration of a completely different kind. The decision by business secretary Grant Shapps after just a few weeks in the job to force Nexperia to shed almost 90 per cent of its interest in the south Wales fab comes at a time when finding a buyer with the resources to maintain the level of investment promised by the owner, which is Chinese-owned but Netherlands-based, is a lot trickier than it was just a matter of months ago or indeed 16 months ago when the acquisition was waved through. However, Shapps was quick to argue in parliament that the act that allowed this decision only passed in January. “From what we see, it looks like…

  • Ofgem promises major green investment in electricity network without bill rises

    Ofgem promises major green investment in electricity network without bill rises

    The controls will run from April next year until 2028 and are focused on driving the move away from importing fossil fuels and relying on expensive gas. Grid capacity will also be boosted in order to pave the way for cheaper greener energy as more products become reliant on electricity. The businesses include Southern England’s UK Power Networks and SP Energy Networks in southern Scotland, among others. They will need to invest a total of £22.2bn between 2023 and 2028 to help Britain prepare for a future where more homes and businesses opt for electric cars and heating. The potential of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and wave power require changes in the way energy is used and stored to gain their benefits. The price controls set out by Ofgem will allow for the scale…

  • Quantum research could help build ‘unhackable’ telecommunication networks

    Quantum research could help build ‘unhackable’ telecommunication networks

    With cyber-attacks and information leaks on the rise, quantum entanglement will allow future communications networks to be unhackable, the researchers said, even if devices are unsafe or in criminal hands. Quantum entanglement describes the phenomenon that occurs when two particles remain connected even when they’re separated by vast distances. When entangled photons travel long distances, they can be disrupted by noisy real-world environments, such as stormy weather, background noise, or signal loss in a communications network. These types of problems like these can jeopardise security in a quantum network. However, the new research by Heriot-Watt physicists, who have worked with colleagues at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, showed a new way for quantum entanglement to survive…

  • UK railways risk ‘spiral of decline’ without post-pandemic reforms, sector warns

    UK railways risk ‘spiral of decline’ without post-pandemic reforms, sector warns

    Rail Partners, which represents independent passenger and freight train operators, warned that the government’s current focus on cost reduction will lead to reduced services and fewer people travelling by train. “This would be a bad outcome for passengers and also for taxpayers funding the service,” the report said. It recommends boosting investment from private sector operators to help them attract passengers in a bid to restore revenues that have been lost since the pandemic. A thriving railway would also help to tackle some of the UK’s current economic challenges and contribute towards climate change efforts, report said. “As a lower carbon form of transport, rail also helps to deliver the government’s sustainability objectives, air quality improvements and reduced congestion in…

  • Programming tool turns handwriting into computer code

    Programming tool turns handwriting into computer code

    The pen-based interface, called Notate, allows users of computational, digital notebooks to open drawing canvases and handwrite diagrams within lines of traditional, digitised computer code. This innovation allows far more creativity for programmers, who would usually have to type all of the commands into the code.  Notate is powered by a deep learning model that has been designed to allow programmers to link handwritten notes and diagrams to textual code and vice versa. For instance, it can identify handwritten programming symbols, like "n", and link them up to their typewritten equivalents. Programming tool turns handwriting into computer code / Cornell University Image credit: The 35th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (2022) …

  • Campaigners criticise the ‘watering down’ of the Online Safety Bill

    Campaigners criticise the ‘watering down’ of the Online Safety Bill

    The new draft of the government's Online Safety Bill has softened its requirements of so-called 'Big Tech' firms, prompting criticism from digital safety advocates.  The much-delayed Online Safety Bill has been presented by the government as a ground-breaking law that will target online racism, sexual abuse, bullying, fraud and other harmful material often found on the internet.  In its original form, the bill gave regulators wide-ranging powers to sanction digital and social media companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok. It proposed  significant fines for those firms which failed to deal with online abuse as well as possible  criminal prosecution  for executives. Originally due to be presented to Parliament earlier this year in the summer, the bill was delayed due to the…

  • Call for ban on court-imposed pre-payment energy meters

    Call for ban on court-imposed pre-payment energy meters

    While energy firms are obliged to protect people from formal disconnection over the winter, the End Fuel Poverty Coalition (EFPC) has found evidence that customers in debt who are forced onto a PPM by their supplier will often “self-disconnect” and stop using energy. Reports have established that energy suppliers are now using PPMs more often as a method of revenue protection. Court warrants are increasingly being used to get magistrates courts to “rubber stamp” warrants to install meters, EFPC said. Freedom of information requests revealed 187,000 such applications were made in the first six months of 2022. Energy firms were also found to be switching smart meters from credit to prepayment mode, thereby effectively forcibly installing PPMs remotely and failing to follow due process by…

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  • Orion capsule breaks space record

    Orion capsule breaks space record

    The Orion capsule has reached the midpoint of its uncrewed mission around the Moon, travelling more than 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometres) beyond the far side of the Moon. The previous record for the farthest a human-rated spacecraft has travelled was set in 1970, during the Apollo 13 mission that saw humans walking on the Moon for the first time. The spacecraft carrying these astronauts travelled 248,655 miles (400,171 kilometres) from Earth.  Instead of three men, Orion carried three dummy astronauts, four Lego mini-figures, a cuddly Snoopy and Shaun the Sheep to this historic distance. The trial flight is part of Nasa's Artemis programme, which aims to take humans back to the Moon and establish a lunar colony in the Earth’s only natural satellite.  During this part of the mission, the…

  • Music streaming market healthy for consumers despite artist complaints, CMA finds

    Music streaming market healthy for consumers despite artist complaints, CMA finds

    In its final report on the sector, it found that consumers have benefited from digitisation and competition between music streaming services. Prices for consumers have fallen by more than 20 per cent in real terms between 2009 and 2021 – with many services also offering music streaming for free with ads. The study found approximately 39 million monthly active users access music streaming services in the UK, streaming 138 billion times a year. But the CMA has also heard concerns from artists and songwriters about how much they earn from streaming. With an increasing number of artists, tracks and streams, the money from streaming is shared more widely – with those that have the highest number of streams earning the most. Over 60 per cent of streams were of music recorded by the top 0…

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  • Digital tools drive thermal management innovation for automotive specialist

    Digital tools drive thermal management innovation for automotive specialist

    As the automotive industry transitions to becoming all-electric, a wave of large batteries will be needed to power and run such vehicles. But if you know anything about batteries, you know they have the tendency to heat up, which is not ideal when driving from one place to another. Therefore, it is imperative that there are other components within the car that help maintain the temperature of the battery. In fact, tucked away in a German town between Frankfurt and Stuttgart lies a facility opened by the fluid handling specialists TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) dedicated to developing systems to help manage this temperature rise, thus increasing the battery’s efficiency, safety and lifetime. The Rastatt E-Mobility Innovation Centre (e-MIC) is the first of five centres worldwide that will comprise…

  • Book review: ‘Escape from Model Land’ by Erica Thompson

    Book review: ‘Escape from Model Land’ by Erica Thompson

    Over the past few years we’ve been inundated with political catchphrases masquerading as unbiased policy which claim to be neutral because they ‘follow the science’. The idea behind the slogan was that – as with all mantras – if repeated regularly enough, people will come to believe it. When the public realised that ‘follow the science’ was only there to elevate baffling and often contradictory politicking to scriptural incontrovertibility, the spin doctors beefed up the linguistic illusion of credibility by adding the word ‘model’. Chanting this, they anticipated, would lead the public to eventually think: ‘well, if there’s a model involved, it must be true.’ As Erica Thompson says in her brilliant ‘Escape from Model Land’ (Basic Books, £20, ISBN 9781529364873), the problem with models is…

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  • Hands-on review: Lenco LS-410WA Bluetooth turntable with built-in speakers

    Hands-on review: Lenco LS-410WA Bluetooth turntable with built-in speakers

    Vinyl's resurgence continues, with sales booming and turntables aplenty on which to play those LPs covering all bases. Wired turntables that are part of a bigger separates system; Bluetooth turnables that transmit vinyl playback over the air to connected speakers, or all-in-one, standalone Dansette-style turntables with built-in speakers. Lenco, the long-standing hi-fi company with Dutch/Swiss roots, and which recently celebrated its 75th anniversary, has a number of turntable options in all these spaces. Its LS-410WA belt-driven Bluetooth turntable with four built-in speakers, reviewed here, is a hybrid turntable covering aspects of all the types described above, to more or less some degree. There are four speakers, arranged in a line array, projecting sound from behind the grille in…

  • Smart wireless bandages could help heal chronic wounds

    Smart wireless bandages could help heal chronic wounds

    The medical device designed at Standford University has shown promise in speeding up tissue repair by monitoring the wound healing process and treating the wound simultaneously. The smart bandage is composed of wireless circuitry that uses temperature sensors to monitor the progression of wound healing. If the wound is less healed or an infection is detected, the sensors inform a central processing unit to apply more electrical stimulation across the wound bed to accelerate tissue closure and reduce infection. The researchers were able to track the sensor data in real time on a smartphone, all without the need for wires.  In a paper published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, the team said their device promotes faster closure of wounds, increases new blood flow to injured tissue, and…

  • National Grid calls off emergency plan to prevent imminent blackouts

    National Grid calls off emergency plan to prevent imminent blackouts

    Earlier today (Monday), National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) said it was considering activating the Demand Flexibility Service for the first time in order to prevent blackouts on the UK grid. Fears were stoked that energy supplies this evening and tomorrow evening would not be enough to satisfy demand, due to a combination of factors including insufficient nuclear power coming from a French interconnector and low ambient temperatures. “Even though wind is coming back for tomorrow evening’s peak, slow return of nukes in France plus lower temperatures may mean that there is a reduction in available imports across the interconnectors,” according to consultancy service EnergyAppSys. Ofgem approved the ESO’s calls to implement the Demand Flexibility Service earlier this month as…

  • UK pledges £1bn to insulate middle-income homes

    UK pledges £1bn to insulate middle-income homes

    The government's recently announced Eco+ scheme could see hundreds of thousands of homes across the country receive loft and cavity wall insulation , saving consumers around £310 a year, according to the energy secretary.  The £1bn scheme will run for three years from Spring 2023 and target households that do not currently get support to upgrade homes. Around 80 per cent of the funding will be made available for those households who are in some of the least energy-efficient homes in the country – that is, those with an EPC rating of D or below – and in the lower council tax bands. A fifth of the funding will also be targeted to those who are the most vulnerable, including those on means-tested benefits or in fuel poverty, the government said. In addition, approximately £18m will be spent…

  • Driver assistance systems in all cars would cut accidents by a quarter, research says

    Driver assistance systems in all cars would cut accidents by a quarter, research says

    The research also found that automatic emergency braking (AEB) is the most impactful technology, reducing three out of the four most frequent accident categories: intersection (by 28 per cent), rear-end (by 27.7 per cent) and pedestrian accidents (by 28.4 per cent). The research was funded by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) under their academic-industrial partnership programme. Based on publicly available road safety reports from the UK for 2019, the research team estimated that a full deployment of ADAS would reduce accident frequency in the UK by 23.8 per cent, representing an annual decrease of an estimated 18,925 accidents. Existing research shows that connected and automated vehicles (CAV) are expected to improve road safety substantially, including reducing accident…

  • £32m awarded to promising energy storage projects

    £32m awarded to promising energy storage projects

    Such technologies are considered to be crucial if the UK is to scale up renewable energy facilities and reach net zero carbon by 2050. The variable nature of renewables like solar and wind power means that energy can be produced when it is not needed, such as during extended periods of high wind. New energy storage technologies can help to store that excess energy to be harnessed at times of peak usage. The money, which is provided by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, will be spread across five projects: StorTera will receive just over £5m to build a prototype demonstrator of its energy-dense single liquid flow battery (SLIQ) technology that is designed to boost grid flexibility. Sunamp will receive £9.25m for a project that will trial its advanced thermal…

  • US bans Huawei and ZTE equipment sales

    US bans Huawei and ZTE equipment sales

    The United States has banned a pprovals of new telecommunications equipment from China's Huawei Technologies and ZTE, among other Chinese companies, due to national security concerns.  The rules were adopted by the US Federal Communications Commission unanimously and will also bar the sale or import of equipment made by Chinese surveillance equipment maker Dahua Technology Co, video surveillance firm Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co Ltd and telecoms firm Hytera Communications Corp Ltd. The news is the latest development of a long -running technological dispute between Washington and Beijing, as US firms demand more government support to reduce reliance on components produced in Chinese factories. “These new rules are an important part of our ongoing actions to protect the American…

  • Hands-on review: Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C Light Wand

    Hands-on review: Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C Light Wand

    With both photography and videography becoming hugely popular - we've all got a good quality camera in our pockets now - people   have also come to expect a certain degree of professional quality from the images they both view and create. In tandem with this uprating of content - online, on social, on TV - and given the surge of interest in creating content, the tools to support creating your best work are also becoming more accessible, flexible and powerful.     If you're looking to take your camera work (whether your pictures are still or moving) to a higher level, something like a light stick is a good investment, as it gives you greater flexibility to control the lighting in any location, for better and more creative results.   Having taken to equipping its smartphone and camera gimbals…

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  • British soldiers to get upgraded comms capability under £90m MoD radio order

    British soldiers to get upgraded comms capability under £90m MoD radio order

    The new deal with L3 Harris Communications Systems for 1,300 new multi-mode radios (MMR) will provide both ground-to-ground and ground-to-air communications for deployed soldiers. Technical advances and upgrades will allow the radios to work across a range of security classifications, with the first ones being delivered to the British Army before the end of the year, ahead of further deliveries in 2023, the MoD said. The MoD is currently planning to spend £11.7bn over the next 10 years in order to update or replacing its digital systems to keep pace with potential adversaries. It hopes the money will enable seamless sharing and exploitation of data in military operations across land, air, sea, space and cyber. The contract will lead to the creation of 10 new jobs and the sustaining…

  • Wind turbine invented by 15-year-old provides power to Kenyan communities

    Wind turbine invented by 15-year-old provides power to Kenyan communities

    The turbine, designed by a then 15-year-old Scottish pupil, is to be used to help provide power to communities in Kenya.  The technology's goal is to improve energy access by making it affordable, reliable and low-carbon. The prototype can be assembled without any specialist training and is intended to be used to help areas recovering from natural disasters and in rural settlements far from grid connection. The device was first presented at COP26, after the idea was handpicked from 11,000 entries in a national competition run by the not-for-profit organisation Primary Engineer in 2019. One year later, the university team behind the project is working with other partners to bring the turbine to Kenya. The project is one of 64 sharing £26m of funding from the UK Government's Innovate UK…

  • Chinese cameras banned on ‘sensitive’ UK government sites

    Chinese cameras banned on ‘sensitive’ UK government sites

    The UK government is moving more forcefully against Chinese technology, as it bans the use of certain "visual surveillance systems" on "sensitive" government sites.  The ban applies to security cameras and other systems made by Chinese companies that are required to cooperate with Beijing’s security services. Officials have been told to ensure that these systems are not connected to departmental core networks and to consider immediately removing all existing equipment, without waiting for the scheduled updates. They have also been urged to consider whether the same “risk mitigation” should be extended to locations that are not designated “sensitive”. The UK’s reticence towards Chinese technology is framed within a long-running technological dispute between Washington and Beijing, in…

  • Online Safety Bill amendments to criminalise ‘deepfakes’ and ‘downblousing’

    Online Safety Bill amendments to criminalise ‘deepfakes’ and ‘downblousing’

    Deepfakes are explicit images or videos which have been manipulated to look like someone without their consent while downblousing photos are those taken down a woman’s top without consent. The government will also bring forward a package of additional laws to tackle a range of abusive behaviour including the installation of equipment, such as hidden cameras, to take or record images of someone without their consent. In July 2022, the Law Commission recommended that the government changed the law to make the sharing of deepfake pornography without consent a criminal offence. The oft-delayed Online Safety Bill has been presented by the government as a ground-breaking law that will protect the privacy and safety of people online. The bill will also place a legal obligation on platforms…