Tech Digest daily round up: Branson goes into space before Bezos


Billionaire Sir Richard Branson has announced his plan to reach space nine days before Amazon boss Jeff Bezos by taking part in a test flight for his company Virgin Galactic. In a video posted on Twitter, the Virgin Group founder introduced himself as “Astronaut 001” and said he will be “evaluating the customer space flight experience” during the test, beginning on July 11, ahead of Mr Bezos’s maiden voyage on 20 July. Sir Richard said: “I have always been a dreamer, my mum taught me to never give up and to reach for the stars. “This July, our dream will become a reality and we are really excited to share that moment with you all.”  The Unity 22 mission will be the company’s first to carry a full crew of two pilots and four mission specialists in the cabin but will be the 22nd flight test for rocket plane VSS Unity.


Pinterest is banning all advertisements with weight loss language and imagery, including ads that idealise or denigrate certain body types, the social media company says. The popular, picture-led social network, which allows users to create and share mood boards, said it would also not allow ads with testimonials about weight loss or weight loss products, or ads referencing body mass index (BMI) or similar indexes. “This stance makes Pinterest the only major platform to prohibit all weight loss ads. It’s an expansion of our ad policies that have long prohibited body shaming and dangerous weight loss products or claims,” the company said in a blog post on Thursday. Guardian 

A university student has designed a potentially life-saving device that first responders can use to rapidly stop catastrophic blood loss from knife wounds. Joseph Bentley, a final year product design and technology student at Loughborough University, has developed REACT – a prototype which uses pressure at the wounded area to prevent bleeding. The device targets wound areas that are normally hard to treat, such as those in the armpit, groin and abdomen. A victim of a stabbing can bleed to death in just five minutes, so the priority for first responders is to stop excessive blood loss. Yahoo!

Parents of children called Alexa say their daughters are being bullied because it is the same name that Amazon uses for its virtual assistant. Some have even changed their child’s name because they say the barrage of Alexa jokes is “relentless”. They are calling on Amazon to change the default wake word for its devices to a non-human name. Amazon says it is “saddened” by these accounts, and that alternative wake words are available. The word Alexa has become increasingly common in recent years as more households use voice-activated smart speakers. BBC 

Google is bringing digital Covid documents, which it calls a “Covid card” to Android phones and tablets. The feature is part of its Passes API, which is used for loyalty cards and airport boarding passes, and would be used to show vaccination and test statuses. “Starting today, developers from healthcare organizations, government agencies and organizations authorized by public health authorities to distribute COVID vaccines and/or tests will have access to these APIs to create a digital version of COVID vaccination or test information”, Google said in its blog post announcing the update. Once the digital Covid Card is saved on the device, it can be accessed via a shortcut on the home screen – as long as the device is using Android 5 or later and has the Play Protect certification, which is what gives devices access to the Play Store. Independent

Chris Price
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