Tech Digest daily round up: Apple Watch ‘to monitor blood pressure and alcohol levels’


Apple is exploring advanced smartwatch technology that monitors wearers’ blood pressure, glucose and alcohol levels under a deal with a British electronics start-up. The US tech giant has been revealed as the largest customer of Rockley Photonics, which says its next-generation sensors could be in gadgets next year. The British company has developed ultra-accurate sensors that read multiple blood signals that are typically only detectable using medical equipment, by beaming infrared light through skin from a module on the back of a smartwatch. The more limited modules in today’s devices are able to detect measures such as heart rate but the ability to track variables such as blood glucose, which could detect diabetes, has been a long-term goal for wearable technology makers. Telegraph

Chinese tech giant Baidu rolled out its paid driverless taxi service on Sunday, making it the first company to commercialize autonomous driving operations in China. Unlike previous Baidu autonomous driving demonstrations in Beijing, this was the first time there was no safety driver sitting behind the wheel. Instead, a safety member was seated in the front passenger seat to deal with any emergencies. Up to 10 Apollo “robotaxis” are now operating simultaneously in an area of about 3 square kilometers (1.2 square miles), picking up and dropping off passengers at eight stops in Shougang Park in western Beijing. Each ride costs 30 yuan ($4.60), and is open to passengers ages 18 to 60. AP 

The four astronauts of SpaceX’s first full mission to the International Space Station (ISS) have splashed back down to Earth off the coast of Florida. It is the first US splashdown under the cover of darkness since NASA‘s Apollo 8 returned from the moon in 1968. SpaceX‘s Dragon capsule parachuted into the Gulf Of Mexico just before 8am BST (3am local time). Shortly after the Dragon capsule left the ISS, Glover tweeted “Earthbound”, as he was hurtling back towards the planet from orbit. The 167-day mission is the longest for US-launched astronauts, almost doubling the previous record of 84 days which was set by NASA’s final Skylab crew in 1974. Sky News

Amazon is poised to seize upon the recent surge in interest in cryptocurrencies, bringing in a team of British financial regulation experts amid speculation it is on the brink of launching its own digital token. The US tech giant is understood to have poached at least six regulatory specialists from UK banking watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the past two years. At least four of those have joined in the past year, taking up roles including public policy manager for regulation and chief compliance officer for payments divisions.  Earlier this year, job adverts had appeared on Amazon which suggested it had already started work on a digital currency. Telegraph 

Peloton has announced a host of new features coming to its smart bikes and treadmills, including finally letting people pause their workouts. The new updates were trailed by the company’s chief executive, John Foley, as part of the company’s annual “Homecoming” weekend. But they also come at a difficult time for the brand, with US regulators instructing people to stop using its treadmill to do so immediately, amid fears it could kill children and pets. In all, the company said it would bring five new updates to its platform: a new “Strive Score” that is intended to rank how hard people are working, a relaunch of its “scenic rides” that allow people to cycle through different landscapes, a relaunch of the “programs” that allow people to follow a routine over time, and updates to its treadmill so people can see how hard they are working. But the most celebrated is likely to be a new “pause” feature that will finally let people temporarily stop their workout if they need to answer the door, attend to a waiting child or are otherwise distracted. Independent

Chris Price
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