Tech Digest daily round up: Amazon investigates scratch ‘n’ sniff technology


Amazon customers could soon be using bizarre scratch ‘n’ sniff “smell-o-vision” technology to shop for goods as the e-commerce giant experiments with a unique new service, writes The Telegraph. An Amazon patent filing in the US describes a way for Amazon employees to be outfitted with cameras and sent to craft markets around the world. People following along at home, either by watching the video on their smartphone or through a virtual reality headset, could purchase trays of example goods sold at the market with the samples kept in miniature boxes. When the real-world traveller reaches a fudge stall, for example, they could instruct the shoppers watching at home to open a marked box on their tray to enjoy a sample of the fudge or to scratch a panel to enjoy its smell.

Apple is about to hold one of its major events – titled “Spring Loaded” – in which it is expected to reveal a host of new products. Rumours suggest there will be new iPads, Macs, accessories and more. The most certain rumour seems to be a new update to the iPad Pro, ready for 2021. The premium tablet is now lagging somewhat behind its iPad Air sibling – which has a better processor, though lacks some of the Pro’s features – and the new update is expected to put it back on top with improved performance and other features. The event, which will be held on 20 April, will be broadcast live online. Independent. 

Talking of Apple, the Independent also reports that the Silicon Valley giant is launching a study to find out if its Apple Watch can detect Covid-19. Apple has partnered with the University of Washington and the Seattle Flu Study for the project, according to Its goal is to see if information collected by the Apple Watch and iPhone can detect early signs of respiratory illnesses, such as the coronavirus and flu. Participants must live in the Seattle area, be aged 22 or older, have an iPhone 6s or above, and be able to take part for six months. Everyone in the study will be given an Apple Watch to wear day and night, which will collect data about the participant’s health and activity. 

Instagram has apologised after a mistake with its algorithm promoted diet content to users with eating disorders. The search function in the app automatically recommended terms including “appetite suppressants” and “fasting” to some people. Eating disorder campaigners told the BBC that vulnerable people could be triggered and even relapse. The social media platform said harmful terms have now been removed. A spokesman for Facebook, which owns Instagram, told the BBC it was a “mistake” and the issue was resolved on Monday. BBC 

Ireland’s privacy regulator said Wednesday it has opened an investigation into Facebook after data on more than 500 million users was reportedly found dumped online, in a suspected violation of strict European Union privacy rules. The Data Protection Commission said it decided to start investigating following “multiple international media reports” about the data dump. News reports earlier this month said the data was found on a website for hackers and contained information on 533 million users from more than 100 countries, including names, Facebook IDs, phone numbers, locations, birthdates and email addresses. The watchdog said it launched the investigation after it “engaged with Facebook Ireland,” questioning it about compliance with privacy rules. The company responded, the Irish agency said, suggesting it wasn’t satisfied with the answers. Yahoo! News 

Chris Price
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