Technology News for the week (5/10/2020) – Legendshub Blog

Hello Guys, Welcome to Legends hub Blog. Top technology news for the week are as follows.

Confirmation of Contact tracing app for COVID by UK

The health secretary Matt Hancock of UK has announced a confirmation plan for an app that will warn users if they have recently been in close proximity to someone suspected to be infected with the coronavirus and they are working closely with the world’s leading tech companies on the initiative.

However, the cons have also followed this brilliant idea where one expert who had advised the effort has now raised doubts about it.

App Tracing during COVID19.

The idea at present, is that, people who have self-diagnosed as having coronavirus will be able to declare their status in the app. The software will then send the yellow alert to any other users who they have recently been in close proximity for an extended period of time.If a medical test confirms that the original user is indeed infected, then a stronger warning – effectively a red alert – will be sent instead, signaling, that the other users should go into quarantine.                                                                                          To report testing positive, the user would have to enter a verification code, which they would have received alongside their Covid-19 status.

Mr. Hancock assured, “All data will be handled according to the highest ethical and security standards and would only be used for NHS care and research. Also, we won’t hold it any longer than it is needed.”

His reference to a tie-up with tech companies was a nod to Apple and Google and the one benefit of using Apple and Google’s API is that, the NHS app will not have to employ workarounds to keep monitoring the signals even when the app is not active. Part of the reason Apple and Google say they developed their own idea was to ensure that iOS and Android users’ privacy would not be compromised and their method is designed so that citizens can trigger and receive alerts without the authorities being notified of who was involved.

Nevertheless, Prof Ross Anderson of Cambridge University has raised a few concerns: –

  • Firstly, how effective the tech would be unless everyone was regularly tested.
  • Secondly, flagging doubts about the use of Bluetooth, given that its signals can go through thin walls, meaning there could be false flags.
  • Thirdly, warning about “trolling”, suggesting that allowing people to report they were ill without any verification opened up the system to abuse.

He also included that the overwhelming force of the public-health arguments for a centralized system, but I also have 25 years’ experience of the NHS being incompetent at developing systems and repeatedly breaking their privacy promises when they do manage to collect some data of value to somebody else.

Despite problems Zoom download is the Highest in India

India has accounted for the most downloads of video conferencing app Zoom in April despite the government warnings against its official use and various security issues.

The percentage that India contributes is 18.2 which is followed by the US at 14.3. Apart from Zoom, TikTok has also shown massive growth last month with a contribution of 22 percent by India. US which was not very far behind was at 9.4 percent.

Zoom Time

As people have adapted to social distancing, they have also adhered to video conferencing apps like Zoom and Google Meet to not just take care of the work obligations but also to remain in contact with their friends and family.

Zoom and other app are also being used by the school for virtual classrooms as students can’t physically go during the lockdowns. Sensor Tower also claims that Zoom was the most downloaded non-game app globally in April along with that it features TikTok, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger, apart from Zoom.

However, Zoom’s popularity hasn’t been without issues and controversies and has even led to creation of the term “zoombombing.”  Zoombombing refers to incidents when random strangers pop up in non-secure Zoom meetings and harass the users. These issues have forced the government to warn its officials from using the app last month and has issued a set of precautions for the public at large.                                                                                   

In the advisory given by the government, the Cyber Coordination Centre (CyCord) of the Ministry of Home Affairs highlighted security concerns about Zoom, stressing that Zoom should not be used by government offices/ officials for official purposes. Following security issues and its ban by various organizations as well as countries, Zoom has announced that it is making several changes to the app to enhance the security and privacy. In the same bid, the company earlier this week purchased encryption startup Keybase that will help it make the video calls placed through the app end-to-end encrypted. 

US Army developing wearable sensors for COVID

The US Army is asking technology companies to develop wearable sensors to detect early symptoms of coronavirus.

“There is a dire and urgent need for development of rapid, accurate wearable diagnostics to identify and isolate pre-symptomatic COVID-19 cases and track/prevent the spread of the virus,” the Army said in an initial solicitation that was issued through a medical consortium.

Where ever the sensor is worn on the body, possibly on the wrist like a watch or on a shirt or belt, the aim is it will provide indicators of a fever, respiratory difficulties, “molecular biomarkers” of exposure to the virus and even the presence of antibodies against it. If symptoms are detected, then, the service member can be fully tested, isolated and receive medical attention if necessary.

It’s all part of a broader military effort to contribute to efforts to battle the virus on everything from vaccine research to sewing face coverings. Many of the initiatives are similar to what is happening in civilian society, but there are efforts to adapt emerging battlefield technology to take on the pandemic.

An Army team based at Fort Benning, Georgia, in charge of ensuring advanced war fighting capabilities for soldiers in close combat has adapted goggles used in battle to take the temperature of 300 troops in 25 minutes. A group was tested as the Army Infantry School was getting ready for additional training but needed a temperature check as an initial screening measure. Army officials also tell CNN that the units are calibrated for weather, so even if it a hot summers day, they will be able to detect someone running a fever and refer them for medical testing to see if they have the virus.

The screeners were provided with a prototype of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), goggles designed for soldiers to keep their eyes on a target while receiving information about what they are focused on.

In addition, a system with a tripod mounted infrared sensor to measure body temperature is being installed at the Pentagon where eventually more than 20,000 people will return to work. The system scans for just a second or two before they enter the building. Eventually more than 20 systems will be activated, including at the Pentagon’s entrance and exit next to the Metro, one of the most heavily trafficked areas.


Ishleen Mankatala

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