DIGIT Tech News Roundup: 5th July 2019

weekly news roundup

Edinburgh’s Amazon jobs boost, Scottish green energy funding and new EU regulations for electric car noises feature in this week’s edition of DIGIT’s Tech News Roundup.

New Electric Vehicles Must Emit Noise to Alert Pedestrians

New regulations introduced by the European Union (EU) will require electric vehicles to be fitted with a device that imitates the sound of a traditional vehicle engine.

The rule changes follow concerns that low-emission vehicles are too quiet and, on occasions, could endanger pedestrians. A car’s acoustic vehicle alert system (Avas) must now sound when reversing or travelling below 12 miles-per-hour. Entitled the ‘Quiet Road Transport Vehicles (QRTV) with regard to their Reduced Audibility’, the new EU rules state that pedestrians are most likely to be at risk when cars are reversing or driving slowly.

Drivers will be given the option of deactivating the audio devices – if they believe it to be necessary. A host of disability charities have complained that, traditionally, it has been difficult to hear low-emission cars approaching – an issue that puts people with visual or auditory impairments at great risk. The Guide Dogs charity welcomed the changes as a positive step toward improving pedestrian safety.

Roads Minister Michael Ellis shared the concerns of people with visual impairments and said the UK Government will work to ensure that the “benefits of transport” can be felt by everyone.

“This new requirement will give pedestrians added confidence when crossing the road,” Ellis said.

Want to find out more? Read the full article here.

Augmented Reality App Gives Users a Glimpse into Life at Caerlaverock Castle

An augmented reality game, launched by Historic Environment Scotland, will help tell the story of one of Scotland’s most iconic medieval castles.

Castle Quest is an educational game that allows visitors at Caerlaverock Castle to bring the site to life and delve into the lives of its 14th-century inhabitants.

Users are transported back more than 700 years to the year 1312, just before the return of Sir Eustace Maxwell, Lord of Caerlaverock, following the siege of 1300. The augmented reality experience will let users explore the castle grounds and hear tales from the various staff as they prepare for the return of Sir Eustace.

Caerlaverock Castle played a significant role in the first Scottish War of Independence, and in 1300 was besieged by an English force following an invasion led by King Edward I. Under the command of Sir Eustace, the castle garrison repelled the besieging English several times until they were forced to surrender.

Want to find out more? Read the full article here.

Edinburgh Primed for Amazon Jobs Boost Amid Fresh Recruitment Drive

Amazon is set to create more than 2,000 jobs across the UK, with 170 new positions at the company’s Development Centres in Edinburgh, Cambridge and London.

The Amazon Development Centre Scotland, located on Waterloo Place, is responsible for “devising and growing innovations for Amazon around the world”. Teams of developers, designers and leaders run parts of the business and technology operations.

Following the recruitment surge, the e-commerce giant will have a workforce of nearly 30,000 in the UK. Chancellor Philip Hammond described the new opportunities as a “vote of confidence in the British economy”.

He said: “Today’s announcement from Amazon is a clear vote of confidence in the British economy. This Government is supporting business to create the high-skilled, high-paid jobs of the future and these roles will benefit people across the UK, including the cities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Manchester and London.”

The new jobs will encompass engineering, software development, data science, cloud computing and machine learning roles at its head office and at fulfilment centres. Amazon’s new corporate Manchester office which opened last year is also hiring.

Want to find out more? Read the full article here.

Green Energy Projects Across Scotland to Get £10m Funding Boost

SP Energy Networks (SPEN) has awarded £10 million to 21 innovative green projects in Scotland from its £20 million Green Economy Fund, which is intended to help the Scottish Government to meet its zero-emissions targets.

The largest recipient of the fund, Stagecoach’s Western Buses Limited, has been awarded a £2 million share to help it introduce a fleet of zero-emission single-decker buses, which will run between Kilmarnock and Priestland in Ayrshire.

Glasgow City Council has also been awarded £420,000 to enable it to provide social transport by investing in two electric buses. While Dumfries and Galloway Council has been awarded £1,150,000 to replace outdated diesel bin lorries with two electric rubbish collection vehicles.

This fresh funding follows on from SP Energy Network’s £1.5 million award to help establish Glasgow’s first permanent electric bus routes, the M3 Glasgow service last year.

Want to find out more? Read the full article here.

US Expansion on the Horizon for GeckoLabs After £1.8m Investment

GeckoLabs, an Edinburgh-based software company, has secured £1.8 million investment from Mercia Fund Managers, the Scottish Investment Bank’s Co-Investment Fund and existing angel investors.

This latest funding round, which brings the total raised by the firm to £3 million, will enable GeckoLabs to expand its operations in North America and more than double the size of its team.

GeckoLabs was established in 2012 by Matt Lanham, who had previously run a digital agency. The company now boasts a 27-strong team in Edinburgh, but the fresh investment will allow the firm to open a new office in New York.

An additional 10 jobs will be created in the UK, while 28 new roles will be created in the US and Canada, the company confirmed. The software company’s GeckoEngage platform helps universities to engage and recruit students – helping academic institutions to capture, manage and follow-up with prospective students.

Want to find out more? Read the full article here.

Scottish Ultrasound Tech Company Secures £1m to Boost Expansion

A spin-out company from the University of the West of Scotland has secured a £1 million grant from Scottish Enterprise.

Novosound, based at the Biocity incubator outside Glasgow, will use the grant to rapidly scale up its research & development activity and will create 17 new positions in STEM disciplines – bringing the firm’s total staff to more than 30.

The company develops hi-tech sensors for industrial and medical markets and raised £1.5 million in seed funding in April 2018. Early-stage investors in Novosound include Par Equity, Kelvin Capital, the Scottish Investment Bank and Investing Women.

Founded by Dave Hughes and Richard Cooper, Novosound has revolutionised ultrasound technology by replacing conventional sensor materials with a flexible piezoelectric thin-film.

Want to find out more? Read the full article here.

In Case You Missed it…

Google Lets Destroyed Lion of Mosul Roar Again

Google has recreated an ancient statue, which was infamously destroyed by Islamic State forces in 2015. Using crowd-sourced images and 3D printing, the iconic ‘Lion of Mosul’ will be brought back to life as part of an exhibit at the Imperial War Museum in London this month.

The Lion of Mosul was a guardian lion statue, created during the reign of the Assyrian Empire. The statue was located at the entrance to the Temple of Ishtar in Nimrud, Iraq. The recreated fixture was developed by Google Arts & Culture and marks a significant moment for this particular arm of the tech giant. It is the first time the organisation has created an historical object or piece of artwork to feature in a museum exhibition.

While the recreated fixture will be available for museum-goers, history enthusiasts can go online and view a 3D model of the lion, even zooming in to view the ornate details.

The Assyrian Empire was one of the most formidable states in human history. For more than three centuries, spanning from around 900 to 600 BC, the empire expanded and conquered a number of neighbouring kingdoms and empires in the Middle East. At its height, the empire encompassed parts of modern-day Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Egypt and Syria.

Want to find out more? Read the full article here.

Chinese Border Authorities are Installing Spyware on Tourists’ Phones

Chinese border authorities are installing an app on tourists’ mobile devices that helps them gather personal data – including contact information and even text messages.

Malware is being installed on mobile devices at the borders of the country’s western province of Xinjiang. The province has been dubbed a “police state with few modern parallels” and has resulted in heavy criticism of the Chinese regime due to its treatment of Uighur Muslims.

Muslims in the province are allegedly being held in concentration camps and subject to intense civil rights violations by the regime.

The app in question allegedly scans a person’s device for thousands of files contained within, according to technical analysis carried out by Vice Motherboard.

Want to find out more? Read the full article here.


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