Zone’s Ross Basham handpicks and shares the five best new stories on digital trends, experiences and technologies…
1. NHS contact-tracing app finally gets released
After months of delay, England and Wales finally have an NHS Covid-19 contact-tracing app, which launched yesterday on iPhone and Android. It works by using Bluetooth signal strength to estimate the distance between people. When someone tests positive, the system will send out alerts to people they have encountered.
Very little personal information is collected by the app — no name, email or phone number — which may put some minds at rest. But will it work? That depends largely on how many download it, with one model suggesting it could have a positive impact even if only 15% of the population use it. This explainer from Wired has the details…
2. Musk raises prospect of affordable Tesla
Elon Musk has teased the possibility of a £20,000 fully autonomous Tesla being available in three years’ time. Musk made the claim at a presentation he labelled ‘Battery Day’, where he also announced technology that will make Tesla batteries cheaper and more powerful, although that is likely to take years to implement.
However, Musk has been criticised before for making exaggerated claims about tech advances. Earlier this month customer group Consumer Reports released a damning report about Tesla’s automated driving services. Nonetheless, the bullish CEO said a beta version of the full Autopilot software would be available “in a month or so”.
3. Climate clock is counting down to disaster
A huge clock in New York has been changed to show how little time is left before global temperatures hit a critical high. The digital installation, which has taken over the Metronome in Union Square, is counting down the seven years and 102 days left until average global temperatures reach 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
The Climate Clock will run for the length of Climate Week, an international summit run by global non-profit The Climate Group in association with the United Nations and the city of New York. The UN has warned of huge global changes, such as the loss of coral reefs and Arctic sea ice, if the 1.5 degree threshold is crossed.
4. UK to accelerate fossil fuel ban on new cars
The UK government is due to announce an accelerated timeline to ban the sale of new cars powered by petrol and diesel. Originally, the target had been 2040 but, spurred on by the coronavirus pandemic and the desire to encourage a ‘green recovery’, Boris Johnson is now expected to bring the date forward to 2030.
Drivers will still be able to buy used vehicles powered by fossil fuels, but all new cars would need to be electric. This ban will reportedly come alongside grander plans to transform the UK into a net-zero carbon economy by 2050, which may include support for small nuclear reactors to meet the increased need for electricity.
5. More than meets the CGI in Ikea campaign
Ikea is trying out a bit of influencer marketing for its latest Japanese ad campaign. Nothing unusual in that, except this particular influencer is a CGI model called Imma, who has 263,000 followers on Instagram. The campaign, Happiness at Home with Imma, shows her doing yoga, cooking and reading in her Ikea-designed apartment.
Ikea said the campaign was to showcase the concept of small space living in Japan, and highlight happiness at home during the global pandemic. To make it more realistic, perhaps over time the campaign could show Imma losing enthusiasm in her healthy pursuits and ending up sitting in front of the TV with a big bag of crisps.