Tech Digest daily round up: Amazon smart doorbells to ‘shout at thieves’


Amazon is planning a crackdown on package thefts by developing smart doorbells that can shout at thieves if they attempt to steal parcels.  Amazon has filed a patent application in the US for the new artificial intelligence system that could constantly watch people’s doorsteps and learn to identify any packages left there during the day. Anyone seen trying to move a package would then be asked to prove their identity using an identity card, for example, to prove they’re allowed to take the parcel away. Amazon writes in the patent filing that its new doorbells would automatically make a “loud noise” designed to “startle” a thief if the doorbells detected someone moving a parcel. The device could also announce that it is filming in the hope that the thief leaves without the parcel. Telegraph 

A surge in iPhone sales, especially in China, has led to a doubling of profits at Apple since the start of the pandemic. The results reflected “optimism” about the days ahead, Apple’s boss said. Apple has seen sales of its phones, apps and other devices rise throughout the pandemic, as consumers spent more time working, shopping and seeking entertainment online. Customers continued to upgrade to Apple’s new 5G phones which were rolled out last year, and also bought Mac computers and iPads to tackle working and studying from home, the firm said. Fitness and music apps also saw a lockdown boost. Sales to China nearly doubled, leading to overall revenues for the first three months of this year of $89.6bn (£64.2bn), more than 50% up compared to a year earlier. Profit was $23.6bn, up from $11.3bn for the same period last year. BBC

American astronaut Michael Collins, who was part of the Apollo 11 original moon landing crew and kept the command module flying while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon, has died at the age of 90, his family said on Wednesday. Collins had cancer. He was sometimes known as the “forgotten astronaut” because he didn’t get to land on the moon, while Armstrong and Aldrin became household names. But his role in the three-man mission in 1969 was just as crucial and his task to keep the module circling and piloting it as his team mates departed from the module in the Eagle lander and then returned safely, was just as crucial, nerve-racking and exciting for the mission as a whole. Guardian 

Face masks made using smartphones and 3D printers could help better protect people during future epidemics or further waves of coronavirus, according to research. Engineers at the University of Edinburgh devised a system to create bespoke, reusable masks for health workers – designed using photos taken with smartphones (see images above). The researchers carried out a pilot trial with 66 volunteer staff from NHS Lothian, including plastic surgeons, speech therapists and virologists, with the 3D scanners and printers available in hospitals. 3D images were generated with a precision scanner or smartphone photos and put through a computer programme to create moulds to precisely match the contours of an individual’s face. Yahoo! News 

Wireless network maker Nokia on Thursday reported substantially improved, better than expected first-quarter profit on buoyant sales of its new generation 5G equipment. The company based in Espoo, Finland, reported net profit of 375 million euros ($454 million) for the January-March period, up from 33 million euros a year earlier. Sales were up 3%, to 5.1 billion euros. CEO Pekka Lundmark said the figures “delivered a robust start to the year” for Nokia, which is seeking to become a global leader in 5G technology in a tight race with Nordic competitor Ericsson, China’s Huawei and South Korea’s Samsung, among others. “Today’s results demonstrate that we are on track to deliver on our three-phased plan to achieve sustainable, profitable growth and technology leadership as announced,” Lundmark said in a statement. Associated Press 

Chris Price
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