Catch up on this week’s round-up of the latest hosting and tech news. Here’s what we’ve uncovered since our last edition.
REvil hackers arrested
While Russian-US tensions are high, they have not stopped the Russians from arresting hackers on behalf of their American counterparts. This month saw the FSB intelligence agency (formerly the KGB) carry out a raid on the international ransomware gang, REvil. Aside from making arrests, officers conducting the raid also seized £4m in roubles, almost half a million in crypto-currency and twenty luxury cars.
In a statement, the FSB said its actions meant REvil had now ceased to exist and that its information infrastructure had been neutralised.
Shutdowns hit economies
Governments that deliberately shut down the internet or block online services are costing their economies billions of dollars in lost trade according to recent research. At the top of the list is Myanmar, where restrictions brought in by the military leadership following its coup cost the country almost $3 billion in 2021. Nigeria, meanwhile, lost around $1.5 billion resulting from a seven-month blocking of Twitter.
The region most affected is sub-Saharan Africa, where over 20 countries implemented internet shutdowns, with Ethiopia, Uganda and Sudan losing hundreds of millions between. Compared to 2020, the global cost of government-imposed shutdowns grew by eight times during 2021.
German car paint
If you’ve been following the 2022 CES tech expo, you may have come across two German cars with some rather novel paint-jobs. The first is the BMW iX, a fully electric model that comes with customised body panels made from E Ink displays coated with a protective layer. Using similar technology to that found in e-reader screens, the car’s iX Flow system allows it to change colour. The one on show at CES changed from black to white and back again.
Less of a novelty but infinitely more practical is the Mercedes Vision EQXX. Although still a prototype, its revolutionary skin is made of solar cells that allow the electric car to charge continuously during daylight and give it the ability to travel up to 620 miles on a single charge. That’s further than driving from London to Inverness, a distance even most conventional combustion engine cars struggle to do on a full tank.
However, while these may be the future for car exteriors, the cost of repairing those all too frequent car park scrapes might be somewhat on the expensive side – something owners will certainly see reflected in insurance premiums.
Hi-tech health & beauty
CES 2022 also highlighted tech innovations within the health and beauty industry. L’Oréal, which invented synthetic hair dye in 1907, has launched a new device called the Colorsonic that transforms colour application by enabling home users to mix and apply hair dyes with less mess and more reliability. The device contains a special brush that evenly combs correctly portioned amounts of dye through hair while preventing it from staining clothes.
Slovenian brand Ninu, meanwhile, has launched a smart perfume. Essentially, this is a perfume bottle containing a range of ingredients and which uses AI to create up to a hundred personalised fragrances. Depending on the occasion or how a user feels, they can create a new perfume simply by using the Ninu app on their smartphone.
Finally, there’s the ICON.AI smart mirror, an innovation award winner that looks like your everyday mirror but which also contains an Alexa-enabled, voice-activated smart speaker from which users can play music, set alarms, check the weather and control their other smart devices around the home.
Intel’s chip shortage solution
The lack of microchips has had a huge knock-on effect across the range of sectors over the last couple of years. The soaring price of second-hand cars in the UK, for example, is the direct result of the chip shortage affecting new car production.
With advanced semiconductor production still unable to keep up with rising demand, Intel, the world’s leading manufacturer is investing $20 billion in the building of two new chip manufacturing plants in Ohio. The 1000-acre site will employ 3,000 people once completed. This new factory is only one part of the company’s extensive plans to boost production. At the same time, it is building new plants in Arizona and across the Atlantic in Ireland.
According to Intel, its investment will help increase resilience across the microchip supply chain and ensure there is reliable access to advanced semiconductors for the foreseeable future. The new plants will establish what the company calls a ‘lab-to-fab chip making pipeline,’ with the Ohio site potentially expanding to eight production sites over the next decade with a total investment of up to $100 billion.
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