Weekly Bytes | Microsoft Edge Kids Mode, Epic Games’ $1 billion funding round, and more

Here’s our curated list of important tech news from this week in byte size.

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Microsoft Edge gets Kids Mode

Microsoft has introduced Kids Mode in its Chromium-based browser – Edge, to help parents, by offering a safe online environment for children when they browse the internet on shared devices. Users can access Kids Mode by clicking on the profile icon in the upper right corner of the browser and selecting “Browse in Kids Mode.” Next, they will have to select the child’s suitable age range: 5-8 or 9-12 years. After this, parents can let their children browse the web. Both age groups are defaulted to the strictest tracking prevention level, blocking the majority of trackers for maximum privacy and minimum personalized ads, ensuring that adult text, images and videos are blocked from kids’ online searches, Microsoft noted in a blog post. Besides, children will require authentication from their parents to exit Kids Mode. In another update, Microsoft agreed to buy Nuance Communications, a cloud and artificial intelligence software firm, in an all-cash transaction valued at $19.7 billion, including debt.

Epic Games completes $1 billion funding round

Fortnite-maker Epic Games said on Tuesday that it completed a $1 billion funding round. This round includes an additional $200M strategic investment from Sony Group Corporation, which reinforces the two companies shared mission to advance the state of the art in technology, entertainment, and socially-connected online services, Epic Games said in a statement. “We are grateful to our new and existing investors who support our vision for Epic and the Metaverse. Their investment will help accelerate our work around building connected social experiences in Fortnite, Rocket League and Fall Guys, while empowering game developers and creators with Unreal Engine, Epic Online Services and the Epic Games Store,” Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, said in a statement. Sweeney remains the controlling shareholder of the company whose equity valuation is now $28.7 billion, the firm said. In another development, China’s Ant Group, the fintech giant whose $37 billion IPO was derailed by risk-wary regulators days before it was due to list in November, will restructure as a financial holding company.

AWS-powered F1 insights for 2021 season

The 2021 FORMULA 1 (F1) season has commenced, and to help fans better understand and highlight potential race outcomes and compare their favourite drivers and cars, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and F1 are introducing six new AWS-powered F1 insights. More than 300 sensors on each race car generate over 1.1 million data points per second that F1 transmits from the cars to the pit and onto AWS for processing, Amazon said in a release. The first new stat, Braking Performance, will be introduced at the GRAND PRIX in Italy, April 16-18, and the other five – Car Exploitation, Energy Usage, Start Analysis, Pitlane Performance, and Undercut Threat will debut as on-screen graphics, increasing the total number of AWS-powered F1 insights available to fans to 18, by the end of the season. In another update, Jeff Bezos said on Thursday Amazon needs to do better at taking care of its employees, in his final letter to shareholders as chief executive officer of the online retail giant.

Domino’s, Nuro launch autonomous pizza delivery

Domino’s has teamed up with self-driving delivery firm, Nuro, for autonomous pizza delivery to select customers in Houston, U.S. using Nuro’s R2 robot, which is the first completely autonomous, occupant-less on-road delivery vehicle with regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Once the robot arrives at a destination, customers will be prompted to enter their PIN on the bot’s touchscreen, to open R2’s doors and collect their Domino’s order. “This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot,” Domino’s CIO Dennis Maloney, said in a statement. “The growing demand for great-tasting pizza creates the need for more deliveries, and we look forward to seeing how autonomous delivery can work along with Domino’s existing delivery experts to better support the customers’ needs.” In another development, hoping to capitalise on a surge in demand for home deliveries, a Singapore technology company has deployed a pair of robots to bring residents their groceries.

SpaceX to launch NASA’s water-hunting rover to the Moon

SpaceX will launch Astrobotic’s Griffin lunar lander, which will be carrying NASA’s water-hunting Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER), to the Moon in late 2023, Astrobotic said in a statement on Tuesday. The space robotics firm was awarded a task order in 2020 from NASA to deliver VIPER to the south pole of the Moon as part of the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. After SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launches Griffin on a trajectory to the Moon, Griffin will land on the surface and VIPER will disembark from Griffin’s ramps to survey the surface and subsurface for water ice. “Gaining a better learning of resources on the Moon is critical to advancing humanity’s reach beyond Earth,” Stephanie Bednarek, SpaceX Senior Director of Commercial Sales, said. In another space update, Jeff Bezos’ aerospace company, Blue Origin, got closer to human space flight after successfully conducting an “astronaut rehearsal” during the company’s 15th New Shepard mission on April 14.

Mastercard unveils carbon calculator tool for banks globally

Mastercard unveiled its carbon calculator, which is developed in collaboration with Swedish fintech Doconomy. Mastercard Carbon Calculator is integrated across the firm’s global network. It enables consumers to receive a snapshot of the carbon emissions generated by their purchases across spending categories, the company said. The calculations are powered by Åland Index and can be further enhanced with relatable and easy-to-understand equivalents such as the number of trees required to absorb the same amount of CO2, it added. Banks can seamlessly integrate the carbon calculator into their mobile apps through new APIs that are now available on Mastercard Developers. According to a new study on sustainability, commissioned by Mastercard, more than half of those surveyed across 24 countries in the world, see reducing their carbon footprint as more important now than pre-pandemic, the company noted. In another development, Apple’s $200 million Restore Fund aims to remove at least one million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually from the atmosphere, equivalent to the amount of fuel used by over 2,00,000 passenger vehicles.

Microsoft Flight Simulator World Update 4

Microsoft has released another world update for its popular simulation game, Flight Simulator, with enhanced flight experience throughout Western Europe. The World Update IV: France, Belgium, Netherlands & Luxembourg brings improved digital elevation data and aerial imagery, high-resolution 3D photogrammetry in Paris and Amsterdam, and three new hand-crafted airports, plus visual and logistical improvements to 100 additional airports throughout the area, Microsoft noted in a blog post. Further, two new activities have been added: a Landing Challenge at La Salette, and a Bush Trip into the heights of the Pyrenees and the Alps. Users can download the FRBENELUX bundle to experience the new enhancements. Microsoft had relased the UK & Ireland update in February, and two other updates last year. In another gaming update, NASA has shared a new activity in its Learning Space, that allows children to “code a Mars helicopter video game.”

You can read more at thehindu.com/technology


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