Tech Digest daily roundup: Virgin space tourists return to Planet Earth


Virgin Galactic has taken its first tourists
to the edge of space, with an 80-year-old British ex-Olympian saying the trip “exceeded my wildest dreams”. On board the VSS Unity were Jon Goodwin, from Newcastle, who had competed in canoeing at the 1972 Games in Munich, Keisha Schahaff, 46, and her 18-year-old daughter Anastatia Mayers, a University of Aberdeen student. The crew took the passengers about 55 miles (88km) above Earth where they experienced zero gravity during the flight which lasted just over an hour. Sky News 

A prototype “brain-like” chip could make artificial intelligence (AI) more energy efficient, its developer, technology giant IBM, has said. Concerns have been raised about emissions associated with warehouses full of computers powering AI systems. IBM said its prototype could lead to more efficient, less battery-draining AI chips for smartphones. Its efficiency is down to components that work in a similar way to connections in human brains, it said. Compared to traditional computers, “the human brain is able to achieve remarkable performance while consuming little power”, said scientist Thanos Vasilopoulos, based at IBM’s research lab in Zurich, Switzerland. BBC 

Disney will dramatically increase the price
of its streaming service. Disney+ prices will rise by as much as 27 per cent, with the company saying that it is facing a challenging market. At the same time, the company will roll out an ad-supported tier in the UK, that will allow customers to subscribe for £4.99 per month. And its chief executive, Bob Iger, said that next year it would be looking to launch a password-sharing crackdown to attempt to force different households to have their accounts. Independent 

Amazon workers in the US are being tracked and penalized for not spending sufficient time in the company’s offices, an email sent to employees this week revealed, as tech companies push back against work-from-home practices that flourished during the pandemic. Some staff members were alerted on Wednesday they were “not currently meeting our expectation of joining your colleagues in the office at least three days a week”, according to emails shared with the Financial Times. The emails were also discussed on the anonymous corporate message board platform Blind. The Guardian

A flying taxi owned by the billionaire boss of Ovo Energy has crashed in the Cotswolds. Vertical Aerospace, founded by Stephen Fitzpatrick, was dealt a blow on Wednesday when a test flight failed in dramatic fashion. The Bristol-based startup, which is producing a five-seater flying taxi that can reach speeds of up to 200mph, said in a short statement that its prototype had crashed during a test of the “aircraft’s manoeuvrability”. Mr Fitzpatrick has incorporated Vertical Aerospace into his sprawling business empire, the bulk of which is made of Ovo Energy, Britain’s fourth-largest gas and electricity supplier that serves 4.5m customers. Telegraph 

Apple looks set to be moving one of the most well-used buttons in iOS; the Phone app’s red end call button. Beta versions of iOS 17, which will likely get an official release this fall alongside the forthcoming iPhone 15, feature a redesigned call interface that shifts the red button down and to the right, and eliminates the distance between it and the rest of the call controls.  The new interface was technically made available with the very first developer beta of iOS 17, but it hadn’t been widely spotted until this week when the likes of CNBC and Gizmodo covered the change. The Verge


Chris Price
For latest tech stories go to