Skip to main content

Today's Tech: Dell to join Google and Samsung in wearable tech market and Boston University sues Apple over iPhone, iPad patent

Dell has put gadget boffins around the globe on high-alert, after one of its senior executives strongly hinted that the computing giant will join the likes of Google and Apple in the wearable technology market (opens in new tab). Dell's global vice-president of personal computing, Sam Burd, confirmed that the company was "exploring ideas in that space" and said that the smart watch was a particularly interesting prospect. "Looking ahead five years, we expect devices and form factors to continue to change. There will still be a need for 'static' computing on desktops, but there will be a real need for mobile devices," he opined, before adding, "There's a lot of discussion about how that fits into wearable devices like we've seen with Google Glass and watches. We're looking at a world of lots of connected devices." However, he also cautioned that while smart headsets like Google Glass were hugely promising, the PC market may already have witnessed the heyday of truly revolutionary devices.

The UK government has announced a new cyber-security alliance between the Ministry of Defence and an array of defence and telecom firms (opens in new tab), in a bid to improve the sharing of intelligence around growing cyber-threats. The Defence Cyber Protection Partnership (DCPP) includes prolific arms dealers BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and Lockheed Martin, as well as tech giants BT and Hewlett Packard. Finmeccanica's Selex unit, EADS's Cassidian, the CGI Group, and Thales make up the rest of the alliance. With the UK facing daily cyber-attacks on its critical infrastructure and covert raids on intellectual property among domestic businesses, forming effective security strategies has become more pertinent than ever for the British government. Indeed, GCHQ – which is also involved in the new alliance – this week revealed the country was seeing as many as 70 cyber-espionage operations launched on UK networks every month, with business secrets being stolen on an "industrial scale." "I'm absolutely delighted by the level of commitment shown by the participating companies in helping us to build our national resilience against cyber attack, and I look forward to more of our key contractors coming on board," said Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne.

An official audit has found out that the government's introduction of superfast broadband to rural areas is two years behind schedule (opens in new tab). A report from the National Audit Office (NAO) has shown that only nine of 44 projects will meet the original May 2015 date. Of the remaining 35 projects, four (Cumbria, Highlands and Islands, Norfolk and Suffolk) could even fail to hit the revised 2017 deadline. Back in 2011, then Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced plans to dedicate £530 million to getting the whole of the UK connected, with 90 per cent of homes getting access to speeds of at least 24Mbps by May 2015. However, this has now changed. Instead, the target is to provide 95 per cent of UK homes with superfast broadband by the end of 2017 – 22 months later than the original date and beyond the next general election. According to the NAO report, the scheme could also require an extra £207 million.

Finally, Boston University is asking a court to stop sales of the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air over claims Apple has infringed on a patent (opens in new tab) filed by one of its professors in 1997. The institution is claiming that a semiconductor used in the products was invented by Theodore D Moustakas, professor of electrical and computer engineering, with the patent entrusted to the university. The technology, known as "Highly insulating monocrystalline gallium nitride thin films", allows for the generation of blue LED lasers. It is alleged by the institution that the "Defendant's acts of infringement have caused and will continue to cause substantial and irreparable damage to the university." They are seeking a cut of all previous profits made from the products, plus interest. In order to win the case, Boston University will have to prove that professor Moustakas and the institution were planning to make a business out of the patent. It is highly improbable that the sales or shipments of the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air will be halted as a result of the action.

Aatif is a freelance copywriter and journalist based in the UK. He’s written about technology, science and politics for publications including Gizmodo, The Independent, Trusted Reviews, Newsweek, and ITProPortal.