Tech Digest daily round up: Google wins legal battle with Oracle


A decade-long battle over copied code in Google’s Android operating system has ended in the US Supreme Court. Oracle, another tech titan, had sued Google in 2010 for copyright infringement over what it said was copied computer code. Android is now used in an estimated 70% of global smartphones, and damages could have run into the billions. But the Supreme Court let Google off the hook, overturning a lower court’s decision it had infringed copyright. The court ruled six to two in favour of Google. At issue was whether Google’s use of Oracle’s Java API – a widely-used “building block” for programmers – counted as “fair use” under US copyright law. BBC 

Scientists working on an alternative to polluting plastic have discovered a biodegradable material derived from fish waste that would otherwise be thrown away, which could be used in a variety of products including packaging and clothing. Canadian researchers say fish heads, bones, skin and guts heading for landfill can be turned into useful material that could replace crude oil-derived polyurethanes, which are found in everything from shoes and clothes to refrigerators and construction materials. Existing polyurethanes come with a large carbon footprint and are slow to break down. Independent

A global shortage of chips for mid-end consumer products is starting to ease and will be much better come the second half of the year, a senior executive at Taiwan’s Acer Inc, the world’s No. 5 PC vendor by shipments, said on Tuesday. From delayed car deliveries to a supply shortfall in home appliances to costlier smartphones, businesses and consumers across the globe are facing the brunt of an unprecedented shortage in semiconductor microchips. Originally concentrated in the auto industry, the shortage has now spread to a range of other consumer electronics, including smartphones, refrigerators and microwaves. Reuters 

Remote-controlled Venus flytrap “robo-plants” and crops that tell farmers when they are hit by disease could become reality after scientists developed a high-tech system for communicating with vegetation. Researchers in Singapore linked up plants to electrodes capable of monitoring the weak electrical pulses naturally emitted by the greenery. The scientists used the technology to trigger a Venus flytrap to snap its jaws shut at the push of a button on a smartphone app. They then attached one of its jaws to a robotic arm and got the contraption to pick up a piece of wire half a millimetre thick, and catch a small falling object. Daily Mail

SpaceX’s first full astronaut crew successfully maneuvered its Crew Dragon spaceship to a new port on the International Space Station on Monday. It was the first time the vehicle had attempted the maneuver. Called a port relocation, the process required the spaceship to back away from the ISS port where it had been since it arrived at the orbiting laboratory in November, then fly to a different, space-facing port, and dock there instead. Russian Soyuz vehicles have conducted port-relocation maneuvers 15 times in the past, but no astronauts had ever done it in a commercial spacecraft before. Business Insider 

The mini-helicopter Ingenuity has survived its first night alone on the Martian surface detached from the Perseverance rover. NASA hailed the “major milestone” from Ingenuity ahead of what would be the first-ever flight on an alien planet when the rotorcraft attempts to lift off in the coming days. Now that it is no longer connected to the rover, the little helicopter is dependent on its own solar-powered battery to keep its electrical components warm and protected from the Martian night when temperatures can dip to -90C (-130F). Sky News 

Chris Price
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