Wireless Week: Beckham-backed tech and Nokia's rumoured VR debut

Features

If you thought Will.i.am made an unlikely advocate of the technology industry, news that David Beckham is backing a new video streaming platform will come as even more of a shock.

The former England great is the founding investor of new live-streaming service MyEye, we learnt this week.

The smartphone app, brainchild of ex-game developers Mark Betteridge and Lee Musgrave, allows users to stream content from their mobile device to social media sites. According to the duo, Becks has stepped in to act as ambassador of MyEye owing to his “real understanding of both the positive impact and great potential of social media”.

Beckham, who boasts an impressive 77 million social media followers, said: “I'm always looking to back and support British businesses that have the ability and vision to do something truly transformational on the global stage, and I believe that MyEye has the potential to change the way people interact through social media.”

It's a good thing to see Beckham putting his considerable riches into mobile technology. Just be thankful the proposed headline "Bend it like Tech-ham" was shouted down in the Mobile Europe offices.

A Fin in the (VR) water

Fresh from rumours that Nokia is cooking up new handsets, we’re now hearing word that the Finnish vendor has its sights set on virtual reality.

According to Re/Code, Nokia plans to lift the lid on its own VR project next week, at an event for VIPs in Los Angeles. If true, the vendor will officially have a hand to play in the much-hyped virtual reality space. It's very much in the early stages but has gained the vested interests of Google, HTC, Sony, Microsoft and Oculus owner Facebook, amongst others. 

The rumoured product is expected to come from Nokia’s Technologies arm, one of the company’s three remaining units following the ill-fated acquisition of its phone business by Microsoft in 2013.

Microsoft, which incurred losses of $2.1 billion (€1.9 billion) in Q2 following the recent write off of said unit, has its own AR/VR product in the works in the form of the HoloLens, pegged for release in 2016.

Jeep japes

Not so much japes as a frightening harbinger of the Internet of Things, this week Jeep owners were advised to update their connected cars after vulnerabilities were found in Fiat Chrysler’s Uconnect software.

As reported by the Guardian on Tuesday, security experts have stumbled across a hole in the connected car platform that allows hackers to hijack vehicle controls, with potentially disastrous results.

The vulnerability allows cyber-crooks to remotely take control of the brakes, engine and even the steering itself: essentially all the bits of a car that can determine whether you live or die.

Elsewhere in the connected car realm, Bosch and TomTom revealed they were buddying up to develop ultra-accurate mapping tech for autonomous vehicles.

Roach rumble 

New Scientist reported this week that the North Carolina State University is equipping cockroaches with small electrodes that can be controlled via a drone. The reason? Search and rescue.

According to the university, the cockroaches’ small size makes them ideal for seeking out survivors of natural disasters such as earthquakes.

The electrodes attached to each insect stimulate the bugs’ antennae, effectively dictating the direction in which they move. The drone, meanwhile, sets up a “radio fence”, providing a spacial constraint for the cockroaches and allowing rescuers to target the search within a set area.

Moving in a swarm and equipped with directional microphones, the cockroaches are trained to listen out for sound and hone in on its location. This information is then beamed back up to the drone and relayed to the rescue team.  

The university told New Scientist it is planning real-world tests within the next two months, with heroic drone-based airdrops also being considered.

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