Internet balloons 🎈, bacteria repellent 🦠 and digital gaming hits record high 🎮!

Technology


Alphabet’s Loon prepares for commercial launch in Kenya with internet balloon tests

Project Loon, the Alphabet division that aims to use high-altitude balloons to supply internet to remote communities, could be just weeks away from launching its first commercial service in Kenya. The company’s balloons are currently performing network testing in the skies above the country and hopes to turn on its commercial service in partnership with Telkom Kenya “in the coming weeks,” pending their results. The company also plans to provide internet to remote parts of the Peruvian Amazon and also has an agreement with Telesat to use Loon’s networking software to manage low Earth orbit satellites.

U.S. Space Force’s First Offensive Weapon Is a Satellite Jammer

The new weapons system delivered to the space force is a jammer type array that can prevent military or intelligence combatants from accessing their military satellites. This functionality allows the space force to neutralize orbiting satellites in a matter of minutes. The new weapons are technically called Counter Communications Systems (CCS) Block 10.2. One of the biggest potential benefits of having the CCS as an offensive weapons system is that it now gives the US the ability to block enemies’ abilities to get warnings about incoming missile strikes.

Science


New Dual-Action Coating Keeps Bacteria From Cross-Contaminating Fresh Produce

To prevent cross-contamination between fresh produce, researchers have created a coating that can be applied to food-contact surfaces like conveyor belts, rollers and collection buckets. In addition to being germicidal, the researchers have designed their coating to be extremely water-repellent. The researchers said without water, bacteria can’t stick or multiply on surfaces, thereby drastically curbing contamination from one piece of produce to another. The researchers tested if it was effective at curbing the growth of two strains of disease-causing bacteria and found that the number of bacteria on these surfaces was 99.99% lesser than that on bare surfaces.

Brain-decoding computer can restore this important human sense

For people who have suffered spinal cord injuries (SCI) losing their sense of touch can greatly impact how they interact with the world around them. By implanting a computer chip into an SCI patient’s brain and relaying neural signals to a computer, a team of researchers has found a way to amplify small, imperceptible touch sensations in a patient. This computer chip will not only restore motion to paralysed limbs, but it will restore a sense of touch as well. The researchers say they achieved 90 percent accuracy in touch trials.

Business


Digital video game spending hits record high under virus lockdown

Spending on digital video games hit a record high $10 billion in March as people stuck at home under coronavirus lockdowns turned to gaming. Money spent on major console games leapt to $1.5 billion in March from $883 million in February, while spending on games played on high-performance personal computers climbed 56 percent to $567 million in the same comparison. Nintendo sold five million copies of its family friendly “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” in March, setting a sales record for the most units of a digital console game sold in a single month

AT&T’s massive TV losses continue as another 900,000 customers flee

AT&T’s earnings announcement said the 897,000-customer net loss reduced the total number of premium TV subscribers to 18.6 million. AT&T said the latest customer loss was “due to competition and customers rolling off promotional discounts as well as lower gross adds from the continued focus on adding higher-value customers.” AT&T hasn’t done much to stop subscriber losses, as the company seems focused on raising the average revenue per customer instead of offering deals that would entice people to stick around.

Miscellaneous


Owner of stolen truck uses family’s helicopter to help track it down

Emmanuel Toner left his Ram pickup running as he went inside for 30 seconds to get a fuel receipt. He walked out and saw his truck being driven away. His father suggested using his privately-owned helicopter to search from above. Toner was giving live updates to the police on the truck’s location and speed who put out a spike strip to pop the truck’s tires. They saw the suspect arrested, roughly two hours after the truck was stolen. While Toner described what unfolded as fun, he said he’s glad his two young children were not in the truck.

A major ISIS figure whom everyone thought was killed in Syria turned out to be living in a seaside town in Spain

Abdel-Majed Abdel-Bary and two unnamed associates were arrested by Spanish police in the Mediterranean port city of Almeria after coordination with the UK domestic intelligence service MI5. He is one of the best-known of European ISIS members to have been arrested after returning to Europe from Syria. Intelligence officials are astonished that he was able to evade international border guards and re-enter the continent unchallenged. Intelligence sources said they were shaken that such a major figure could make his way back into Europe undetected.

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