10 must-read articles for 23 April (Wired UK)

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Your WIRED.co.uk daily briefing. Today, how butterfly wings could solve screen glare, Google’s first mobile phone network, a VR reconstruction of Trayvon Martin’s shooting and more.

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1. Tesla wants to power your home

The car company will introduce a battery for the home at an event on 30 April (CNN). In a letter sent to investors on Tuesday, Tesla said it would announce a “home battery” and a “very large utility scale battery”. Similar products already exist, but Tesla is betting that its technology can set it apart. Tesla is already trialling batteries in around 330 US households.

2. Butterfly wings could solve screen glare

Irregular, nanoscopic structures on the glasswing butterfly’s transparent wings has been found to eliminate reflections at any angle, according to new research (Engadget). If scientists can recreate the surface in the lab it would be the perfect coating for phone screens and camera lenses, eliminating glare and reflections. Early prototypes are apparently self-cleaning and water-repellant.

3. Google Fi is the company’s first mobile network

The heavily rumoured service will operate as a MVNO, or virtual network, that piggybacks on Sprint and T-Mobile in the US (Ars Technica). Google Fi, which is invite only for the time being, will also use Wi-Fi to maintain coverage when switching between networks. Prices start at $20 (£13.31) a month for unlimited minutes and texts, with data costing an extra $10 (£6.65) per gigabyte a month. The prices are similar to other carriers in the US but Google won’t charge customers for unused data, so if you only used 0.6GB you would get $6 (£4) back.

4. AdBlock beats German publishers in court

The owners of Germany’s Die Zeit and Handelsblatt newspapers had claimed that AdBlock Plus was anti-competitive and stopped them from making money (BBC News). But a court in Hamburg ruled that users were allowed to run the ad-blocking software. AdBlock Plus said publishers and advertisers should work with it, not against it. AdBlock Plus makes money through a ‘white list’ of advertisers who pay to display ads that meet certain criteria.

5. Amazon tests deliveries to your car boot

Amazon customers in Munich can soon get their online orders delivered straight to the boots of their cars (The Next Web). Working in partnership with Audi the trial will give Amazon delivery drivers keyless, one-time access to the boot of compatible cars to deliver packages. Amazon said it hoped to offer the service to Prime customers “everywhere”, but didn’t say when.

6. Facebook revenue growth slows

The social network posted its slowest growth in quarterly revenue in two years as high spending and research hit profits (Reuters). In the first quarter operating expenses jumped 83 percent with research and development costs going up 133 percent. Facebook said monthly active users grew 13 percent year on year to 1.44bn and 87 percent of users now accessing Facebook on phones or tablets.

7. Carphone Warehouse launches its own mobile network

The new 4G network, known as iD, launches in the UK in May with a number of 12-month contracts (CNET). As well as 4G, iD also has free roaming in 20 countries around the world including Australia and the USA. The virtual network uses Three’s infrastructure — similar networks include Tesco Mobile, which piggybacks on O2 and Virgin Mobile, which operates on EE.  

8. VR app recreates Trayvon Martin shooting

One Dark Night uses audio files of real 911 calls, architectural drawings and witness testimony from the trial of George Zimmerman to reconstruct the 2013 shooting (Mashable). The project was headed up by journalist Nonny de la Peña and her company, Emblematic Group. It is a free download on Google Play and is designed for use with Samsung’s Gear VR headset. The developers hope similar experiments can help bring the public closer to cases as they unfold.

9. Pentagon turns to Silicon Valley in cyber battle

The US defence department wants to work with Silicon Valley to gain access to the latest technology and talent in its ongoing battle against cyber-attacks (Bloomberg). Defence secretary Ashton Carter will pitch to companies later today on the first official Silicon Valley visit by a Pentagon chief in 20 years.

10. Watch this beautiful volcanic eruption

The Calbuco volcano in southern Chile is erupting for the first time in 42 years (YouTube). Footage of the volcano, located in a national reserve 620 miles south of Santiago, has captured its huge ash cloud coloured red by the evening Sun.

Popular on WIRED.co.uk

Probable asthma cause and ‘cheap’ treatment discovered

A team of UK and US biologists believes it has found the underlying cause of asthma, and a cheap way to treat every sufferer. The culprit appears to be an overactive calcium sensing receptor (CaSR) that, until now, was not known to be present in airway tissue. It can potentially be deactivated using a commonly available, cost-effective group of drugs called calcilytics.

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23 April 2015 | 6:50 am – Source: wired.co.uk


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