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The week in tech: Humanoid bartenders and more

Our picks from the recent Mobile World Congress and other stuff that made news this week in the world of science and technology 

A visitor tries a screen called Metaverse Service at SK Telecom's stand during GSMA's 2022 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (REUTERS)

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TWITTER ANNOUNCES IT’S AVAILABLE ON TOR

The Tor network encrypts traffic
The Tor network encrypts traffic

Twitter is launching a version of its website that will work on Tor, the web browser that allows truly anonymous browsing through The Onion Router (Tor) network, which encrypts traffic and routes it through a series of volunteer-run, open-source servers to hide identifying information. What makes it especially significant at this time is the Russian invasion of Ukraine, following which Russia banned Twitter and Facebook. Although Twitter says it’s trying to restore service in the country, having access to the social media website on Tor would enable users in Russia to bypass state censorship and talk freely about their experiences of the ongoing war.

OUR PICKS FROM THE MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS

Tech companies unveiled a number of gadgets and innovations at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, this week. Among the most curious objects was the Kime robot, a robotic bartender developed by the Spanish company Macco Robotics. The 5G-enabled humanoid robot mixes cocktails, pours beer and can “work 24 hours a day”—though stimulating conversation might be beyond its scope. Meanwhile, South Korean operator SK Telecom unveiled a “virtual disco”, where, with a joystick in hand, the virtual clubber is plunged into a giant disco ball to dance among other avatars. The French mobile network operator Orange showcased Vrombr, a mobile game created by a young startup, Polyptik, which allows you to drive real miniature cars via a smartphone using the 5G network.

SK Telecom's ‘Ifland’
SK Telecom's ‘Ifland’

TRACKING MARTIAN DUST STORMS

The Hope probe shared images of the red planet engulfed by a massive dust storm
The Hope probe shared images of the red planet engulfed by a massive dust storm

The Emirates Mars Mission, the first interplanetary exploration undertaken by an Arab nation, is sending a number of unique observations of Martian dust storms. The Hope probe’s cameras and infrared spectrometer characterise the thermal state of the surface and lower atmosphere, offering details of the geographic distribution of dust, water vapour and water and carbon-dioxide ice clouds over varying time periods. Starting late December, Hope monitored a massive dust storm as it spread across several thousand kilometres, providing valuable insight into the red planet’s atmosphere, topography, and the speed at which such storms can engulf the planet.

GADGET OF THE WEEK

The Bartesian
The Bartesian

Not able to get your hands on the robotic bartender yet? Never mind, the Bartesian Premium Cocktail and Margarita Machine allows you to create craft cocktails at home, using premixed “cocktail capsules” created by mixologists which contain juice concentrates, bitters and extracts. The liquor has to be procured by the user and filled into specified slots—then just choose your tipple and hit “mix”.

ALL EYES ON THE APPLE iPHONE SE

This marks the first upgrade to the budget version of Apple’s most popular product in nearly two years
This marks the first upgrade to the budget version of Apple’s most popular product in nearly two years

Apple unveiled a host of new devices at its first product event of the year earlier this week. But probably the most anticipated gadget among the lot was the new iPhone SE. This marks the first upgrade to the budget version of Apple’s most popular product in nearly two years. The iPhone SE 3, as it is being called by many, will come with the same computational power as the iPhone 13—running on the A15 bionic chip—and 5G connectivity, among other things. That’s a big plus. But here’s the catch: It is priced at $429 (convert), an 8% increase over the last version that was rolled out nearly two years ago. Could the price tag go against the budget iPhone’s popularity?

 

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