#WhatTheTech 32

Written by:
Leah Johnston
Date Posted:
13 December 2019

We’ve handpicked some tech/security-related news stories from the past week, in case you missed them.

Superhuman strength for all!
Ever fancied your chances as a bodybuilder, but without the training? The Guardian XO is a powered exoskeleton that makes you 20 times stronger, instantly! 

Sarcos Robotics have created the world’s first battery-powered wearable robot designed to help you lift up to 90kg of heavy objects without injuring yourself or putting any strain on your body – plus you get to look like something out of Sci-Fi film whilst doing it. With up to eight hours of battery time and 24 degrees of freedom, users are able to move normally whilst wearing the suit.

The invention has been developed for industries that require a lot of manual labour, such as construction, as well as some military applications. Having been in development for 20 years, Sarcos Robotics will be rolling out the very first models to market as early as January 2020 – with the US military and a select few industry clients being the first to receive the robotic assistant. It is expected that the super strength robot will be ready for commercial launch at the end of 2020.

‘Smart’ lock not so smart
Smart lock devices are meant to make it more convenient for you to get into your home – but a new security vulnerability has been found that suggests burglars could do the same. 

The KeyWe Smart Lock markets itself as the “Smartest Lock Ever!”, yet Security researchers from Finland-based security company F-Secure, found flaws with the system. These vulnerabilities could allow any potential attacker to unlock doors by intercepting network traffic between the mobile app and the lock, essentially enabling the theft of someone’s house keys out of thin air – not quite so smart.

Krzysztof Marciniak, an F-Secure consultant, said in a statement, “Unfortunately, the lock’s design makes bypassing these mechanisms to eavesdrop on messages exchanged by the lock and app fairly easy for attackers, leaving it open to a relatively simple attack”.

KeyWe said that recent security patches would have fixed the issue, yet F-Secure’s researchers found that its firmware doesn’t allow for over-the-air updates. It is strongly advisable for KeyWe Smart Lock users to consider changing their locks.

China gets Nintendo Switch
China had a decade long ban on games before 2014, but since then the country has approved consoles such as Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 and has slowly been signing off games for the platforms.

The most recent console to be approved is the Nintendo Switch, but players don’t have much choice in which games they can play – in fact, there is currently only one. Super Smash Bros is the only official Nintendo game available after the authorities approved it for use.

Partnering with the Chinese tech giant, Tencent, Nintendo is selling the switch for 2,099 yuan (£200) and hopes to launch other games such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Mario Odyssey in China soon – if the government gives them the green light.

Taking to the Chinese social network Weibo, thousands of gamers have used the hashtag #NintendoSwitchHasArrivedInTheCountry, to make light of the country’s strict gaming regulations. Users who have bought the console say there are several Nintendo games displayed on the menu, but only one is actually playable. 

Sky-high electric dreams
The aviation industry has seen a “world-first” as an all-electric powered seaplane has taken off in Vancouver, Canada.

Harbour Air and MagniX took charge of the short test flight, involving a six-passenger aircraft, fitted with an electric motor – in what could be the first step to building the first commercial electric aircraft.

With aviation set to be the biggest source of emissions by 2050 in the UK, there has been a huge push to cut carbon emissions within such a high-polluting sector. Passengers are becoming more aware of the impact of flying, with a recent UBS survey revealing that people are beginning to reduce their air travel due to environmental concerns, and a feeling of “flight shame”.

The biggest hurdle for electric aviation is being able to travel long distances, as the heavy batteries can often outweigh the force needed to take off. An aircraft like the one flown in Vancouver could only fly about 160km (100 miles) on lithium battery power, according to AFP. MagniX chief executive, Roei Ganzarski, commented, “The [flight] range now is not where we’d love it to be, but it’s enough to start the revolution,”

Hopefully, we will be flying green in the near future!

There won’t be a #WhatTheTech video this week, we all need a holiday sometimes… but we’ll be back next week with more tech news!

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