Tech Digest daily round up: NHS faces legal action over data deal
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.
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. Global.health, 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 exactly 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: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2021/02/24/googles-new-tracking-tool-could-help-stop-next-covid-wave/
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. 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.
Human exploration of the ocean’s depths is set to receive a big dollop of cool, thanks to a new submersible that will feature retractable gull wings, like an aquatic Back to the Future DeLorean, writes Ted Thornhill, The MailOnline travel editor, rather enthusiastically. The other remarkable feature will be its super-strong see-through hull, which will allow those inside to experience jaw-dropping views at jaw-dropping depths. Design renderings for the sub, the Triton 13000/2 Titanic Explorer, have just been released by the manufacturer, Florida-based Triton Submarines, which said it’ll be capable of diving to an astonishing depth of 4,000m (13,123ft). That’s the equivalent of nine Empire State Buildings laid end to end, making it the deepest-diving acrylic pressure-hulled manned submersible ever built.
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 jumped 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, the company is opening up its wrist wearables ecosystem to third-party developers in a bid to attract more buyers. See XDA here.