Catch up on this week’s round-up of the latest hosting and tech news. Here’s what we’ve uncovered since our last edition.
Street safety tech
New technology is being developed to help people stay safe on UK streets. One of these is the WalkSafe app which provides a map that allows users to plan their safest routes when travelling. The app uses data to determine which are the best routes to avoid crime. Next year, this will be updated with features that will allow users to let their family and friends track their journeys and chat with them on the way home.
Scientists at Bath University, meanwhile, are developing the Epowar smartwatch which uses AI to monitor the body for signs of distress and, if this occurs, automatically sends an alert. Created to overcome the issues with having to activate an app during an attack, Epowar works automatically giving an attacker no opportunity to prevent activation.
Within a few years, video conferencing may be old hat thanks to the rise in the number of companies developing hologram technology. One of these is the US firm, Portl, which recently used its technology to help the CEO of Swiss watch company, IWC, make a presentation at a trade show in China which Covid restrictions prevented him from visiting in person.
Instead, the CEO was beamed to China, with his life-sized, 3D hologram rendered in 4K in an eight feet tall glass-fronted booth. With the booth fitted with cameras and microphones, not only could the CEO be seen by the audience; he could also see, hear and talk to them, without latency, during the presentation and answer their questions.
Controlled by an app, Portl’s software connects via the internet to wherever the booths are located and can link multiple booths for group chats. Costing £45,000 to buy, but available for rent, the company expect the booths to become a regular way for businesses to communicate in the future. Indeed, the technology is already being used by firms like T-Mobile and Netflix.
We have physical gyms to train our bodies, mind gyms to train our brains and now, thanks to the boffins at MIT, we have the Evolution GYM, a platform that trains algorithms to build soft robots inside computer programs. Developed to overcome the issues caused when physical robots are built first and AI developers then struggle to find a way to control and operate them, Evolution Gym is a virtual environment where algorithms learn to design and improve a soft robot’s physical form and its controller at the same time.
The digital space lets algorithms develop robots to carry out a range of different tasks and, in tests, they have been able to create them more effectively than human robot developers. The ultimate aim is that, in the future, the algorithms will be able to design robots that are optimised to carry out the tasks for which they are needed.
McDonald’s has opened the UK’s first ever net zero emissions restaurant in Market Drayton. Powered using a wind turbine and solar panels, and with construction materials including recycled IT and household goods cladding, sheep’s wool insulation and used coffee bean signs, the Shropshire eatery has been verified by the UK Green Building Council as ‘net zero emissions for construction.’
The project will now be used as a blueprint for the development of new McDonald’s restaurants going forward and is likely to encourage other companies to look for innovative ways to make their buildings greener – just like we are when we build our new environmentally friendly data centre in the north of England in the near future.
Most hackable passwords 2022
While ‘top of the year’ lists are common in December, for anyone who uses passwords, the annual NordPass top password list is interesting reading as it tells us the most common and easily crackable passwords used in countries across the globe.
While basic passwords like ‘123456’, ‘password’ and ‘qwerty’ are always near the top and the easiest for hackers to guess, in the UK this year, it looks like it’s football fans who are putting themselves most at risk. Those with a weak defence in 2021 include ‘liverpool’, ‘arsenal’, ‘chelsea’, ‘rangers’, ‘everton’ and ‘tottenham’. Putting a 1 after the team’s name is also common, but all of these and the oft-used ‘football’ can be cracked by hackers in less than one second. Children’s names are also very popular passwords in the UK, with ‘charlie’, ‘thomas’, ‘william’, ‘hannah’, ‘jessica’, ‘george’ and ‘sophie’ among the most used. Other highly popular passwords are ‘monkey’, ‘chocolate’, ‘tigger’, ‘letmein’, ‘sunshine’, ‘dragon’ and ‘iloveyou.’
Obviously, if your password is on the list, it means there’s a reasonable chance a hacker could break into your accounts very easily, so it’s worth updating to something stronger and even using two-factor authentication.