Tech Digest daily roundup: Ford announces £230 million EV investment


Car giant Ford is to invest £230 million in one of its UK factories to make electric vehicle components, giving a huge boost to the motor industry. The company said the plant at Halewood on Merseyside will be “transformed” to build electric power units for future Ford all-electric passenger and commercial vehicles in Europe. Halewood will be Ford’s first electric vehicle component in-house assembly site in Europe, with production beginning in 2024 – and the move safeguards hundreds of jobs. Yahoo!

Facebook is planning to hire 10,000 people in the European Union to develop a so-called metaverse. A metaverse is an online world where people can game, work and communicate in a virtual environment, often using VR headsets. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been a leading voice on the concept. The announcement comes as Facebook deals with the fallout of a damaging scandal and faces increased calls for regulation to curb its influence. “The metaverse has the potential to help unlock access to new creative, social, and economic opportunities. And Europeans will be shaping it right from the start,” Facebook said in a blog post. BBC 

There’s been a worry for a while now that the Google Pixel 6 and Google Pixel 6 Pro could be expensive phones, with leaks and even vague comments from a Google executive pointing in that direction, but it’s now looking like they might actually be surprisingly affordable. Most pricing leaks so far have been in euros, so even if they’re correct they don’t give us a clear idea of how much the Pixel 6 range will cost in other regions. But now two sources point to the US pricing being $599 (around £435 / AU$810) for a 128GB Pixel 6, and $898 (roughly £655 / AU$1,215) for a 128GB Pixel 6 Pro. This claim initially came from Twitter user @EvanLei1, who posted a photo of shelves in Target listing those prices, and claimed that store staff said those prices were correct. Tech Radar 

Image: FCC

Ikea’s Vappeby Bluetooth speaker just leaked courtesy of an FCC filing. And because it’s Ikea, this mushroom-shaped speaker with an IP65 rating — which means it’ll resist dust, rain, and low pressure jets of water — also features an integrated 20 lumen (2700K) bulb to pull double-duty as a portable lamp. But that’s not the only surprise. The Vappeby speaker also has a Spotify Tap button, in what would appear to be a first for Bluetooth speakers. Spotify Tap lets you resume your music from wherever you last stopped, or tap the button again to get a different recommendation tailored for you. Spotify Tap is already available on a range of Bluetooth headphones from Samsung, Microsoft, Bose, Jabra, and others.

Nine schools have begun taking payments from children for lunch by using facial recognition software to automatically identify each student. The system, which the schools in North Ayrshire claim will speed up queues and reduce the COVID-19 risks of card payments and fingerprint scanners, is being launched today. But some parents and campaigners warn that it normalises exposing children to biometric surveillance, and complained they weren’t confident the students were adequately informed about the privacy risks. Sky News 

Britain has been left out of an initial wave of hydrogen plants announced by Sir Jim Ratcliffe after the chemicals tycoon unveiled plans for factories in Germany, Belgium and Norway. Ineos, the billionaire’s company, will invest more than €2bn (£1.7bn) into electrolysis projects to make zero-carbon green hydrogen across Europe. It said the first unit to be built will produce clean hydrogen through the electrolysis of water in Norway, powered by renewable electricity, and will serve as a hub to provide gas for the country’s transport industry. This will be followed by projects in Germany and Belgium. Telegraph


Chris Price
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