• Hannah

Three technology stories from the week so far

With technology a part of everyday life, and a popular conversation topic, it’s good to keep up with the latest technological headlines from this week. It may only be Tuesday, but there are already three technology stories which have grabbed our attention:

1. Amazon Alexa: Is the family friendly device really suitable for children?

The Amazon Alexa has been a very popular device since its release in November 2014, and sold 20 million devices last year in the UK alone. One of it’s strong selling points is its family friendly interactivity. At voice request, Alexa can play music, tell you the forecast or give you a news update. However, accusations stating that Alexa’s voice interactivity is making children ‘rude’ and ‘impatient’ has sparked concern that maybe the device isn’t as family friendly as previously thought. Research has discovered that children are prone to speaking very abruptly to their smart speaker (“turn on the TV!” “Turn off the lights!”) and this can sometimes spill into everyday life. Some parents fear that children will soon start questioning why they can boss Alexa about, but not grown-ups. Amazon has since introduced a “Magic Word” feature, which praises children for being polite.

2. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is now richer than Bill Gates has ever been

Carrying on with the Amazon theme, its founder Jeff Bezos is now worth $150bn making him the world’s richest man. Despite all the news about the sales glitch on Amazon’s Prime Day and workers in Spain, Poland and Germany going on strike over working conditions, Jeff Bezos has still managed a $60bn net worth increase in the last 12 months. His worth places him higher than Bill Gates has ever been at any given time- he currently has a net worth $55bn higher than Bill Gates. Bezos says he is selling about $1bn of Amazon stock every year to fund Blue Origin, a project he has founded to develop commercial space travel.

3. Rolls Royce to develop Flying Taxi

In the lead-up to the Farnborough Air Show, engine maker Rolls Royce has released an interesting concept: a propulsion system for a flying taxi that could take to the skies as early as the next decade. The concept would be an Electric Vertical Take-off and Landing (EVTOL) vehicle which could carry four to five people. The taxi is expected to reach maximum speeds of 250mph for approximately 500 miles. The vehicle will use gas turbine technology to generate electricity and power 6 electric propulsions and will also have 90 degree rotational wings, so it can take off or land vertically.

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