This week’s technology news – 1st August 2014

Who is really in control of that car?

January 2015 has been announced by the Government as the start date for trials in three cities in the UK for the generation of driverless cars.   Tests will run for 18-36 months and cities have until October to declare their interest with a £10m shared funding pot to cover costs. Originally scheduled for rollout in December 2013, it places the UK, according to Vince Cable, at the “forefront of this transformational technology”.  Not strictly true when other countries have been faster:   California (with Google’s autonomous vehicle), Nevada and Florida in the US have all approved driverless cars, Japan did their first public road tests in 2013 and Sweden last year approved 100 driverless cars to start trialling (albeit in 2017).

Public concerns remain about liability in the event of a crash, terrorism through vindictive use of the technology, as well as software hacking (and use of data trapped about the person or their journey/habits). And all of this is additional to the weird concept of it all.  The British love affair with the cars and driving, despite being caught in increasing traffic queues, has been going on for generations and updates the story of Herbie.  Will this cause some of the older or younger generation to throw in the key?

Wireless charging at home in the workplace

A lot of new technologies emerge, promoted as the next best thing, usually to sell the latest PC, tablet or smart phone. Most of the time these ideas are later written off as gimmicks and buried with the devices they were bundled with. Sometimes though these ideas break through their launch devices, picked up by more manufacturers and become homestays going forwards. Wireless charging is arguably there; Nokia, Samsung, LG and Sony are all actively using the technology. If you walk into a phone shop today you will have a good choice of devices today. With support continuing, and in fact growing, the future of wireless charging technology, specifically the Qi standard which enables the above manufacturers to share the charger, it looks less gimmick and a more established tech feature.

The convenience of wireless charging can be handy at home but it makes so much more sense in the office. For employees working at a desk, it is just as easy to place the mobile on a wireless charger whilst working at a PC to ensure the battery is always fully charged, with no wires to get tangled up with when picking up a call whilst charging.

New developments in the Qi wireless technology have been revealed this week. Dubbed v1.2 the next wave of charging pads will keep the compatibility and extend the charging range, letting a single wireless charging unit charge multiple devices at once. This of course gives another advantage to wireless in the office, along with less chargers plugged into wall sockets for a more power efficient environment, with mobiles always charged and ready to go.

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