Tech Digest daily roundup: Smart e-scooters will stop if ridden recklessly


Electric scooters that automatically stop when being ridden recklessly or on footpaths will be brought to British roads in a world first for the “smart” technology. Superpedestrian, an American company known as the “Volvo of e-scooters”, plans to bring the technology to a trial programme in Nottingham in the spring before taking it to cities in the US and Europe. It has also raised $125m (£93m) to expand. The technology, designed to make the devices safer, comes as scooter companies try to prove to ministers that they are not dangerous. The Department for Transport has approved trials from scooter hire companies in cities across the UK amid hopes that they could help cut down on traffic and emissions, and are considering fully legalising them. The use of privately owned scooters remains illegal. Telegraph

Countdown star Susie Dent today led calls for Wordle to remain free after the New York Times hinted the popular online word puzzle may go behind a paywall in future following its purchase for an estimated £2million. Concerns were raised after the NYT said the virtual puzzle will ‘initially remain free to new and existing players’ with millions of people now playing the game, where each day they get six chances to guess a five-letter word. Software engineer Josh Wardle said that when Wordle – a play on his surname – moves to the NYT website, ‘it will be free to play for everyone, and I am working with them to make sure your wins and streaks will be preserved’. But players fear that the game, which first appeared on a basic ad-free website in October last year, will eventually end up behind a paywall on the NYT – with some launching a campaign under the hashtag #KeepWorldleFree. Daily Mail 

Sony shipped just 3.9 million PlayStation 5 consoles in its all-important holiday quarter, a slight bump over the previous quarter’s figure of 3.3 million, demonstrating how the electronics giant is still struggling to meet demand during the ongoing global supply chain crunch. 17.3 million units in total have been shipped as of December 31st, nearly three million fewer than the PlayStation 4 had managed at the equivalent point after its release. The PS4, however, was easily found on store shelves during its first year on sale, whereas we don’t yet have a good measure of true demand for the PS5. The Verge 

Google owner Alphabet defied the gloom surrounding the tech sector as its surging internet ad business helped it deliver better than expected results. Shares rose nearly 9% in after-hours trading after Alphabet said revenues for the fourth quarter jumped by 32% year-on-year to $75.3bn and profits rose 36% to $20.6bn. For the full year, sales climbed 41% to $257.6bn – a big acceleration after growth of just 13% in 2020 when companies slashed ads spend early in the pandemic – and profit rose 89% to $76bn. The latest results were boosted by consumers using the search engine to find clothes and hobby items while retail, finance, entertainment and travel firms raised their marketing budgets. Sky News 

The Biden administration believes that Spotify’s move to add advisory warnings to podcasts discussing Covid-19 is a “positive step”, according to press secretary Jen Psaki. The move comes after several musicians asked to have their music pulled from the streaming service amid growing controversy over Joe Rogan’s show. Ms Psaki said the White House hoped other platforms would follow suit. Speaking to reporters during a briefing on Tuesday, Ms Psaki said the White House was encouraged by Spotify’s decision to add disclaimers, but that tech platforms and media outlets should collectively do more. BBC 


Chris Price
For latest tech stories go to