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Amazon US customers have one week to opt out of mass wireless sharing | Amazon

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Amazon customers have one week to opt out of a plan that would turn every Echo speaker and Ring security camera in the US into a shared wireless network, as part of the company’s plan to fix connection problems for its smart home devices.

The proposal, called Amazon Sidewalk, involves the company’s devices being used as a springboard to build city-wide “mesh networks” that help simplify the process of setting up new devices, keep them online even if they’re out of range of home wifi, and extend the range of tracking devices such as those made by Tile.

But Sidewalk has come under fire for the apparent lack of transparency with which Amazon has rolled out the feature, as well as the limited time available for users to complete the tricky process required to opt out. Other critics have expressed concerns that failing to turn the setting off could leave customers in breach of their internet service provider’s terms and conditions.

“Amazon Sidewalk is a shared network that helps devices work better,” the company said in a Q&A document for users. “In the future, Sidewalk will support a range of experiences from using Sidewalk-enabled devices, such as smart security and lighting and diagnostics for appliances and tools.”

The feature works by creating a low-bandwidth network using smart home devices such as Amazon Echoes and Ring security cameras. At its simplest, it means that a new Echo can set itself up using a neighbour’s wifi, or a security camera can continue to send motion alerts even if its connection to the internet is disrupted, by piggybacking on the connection of another camera across the street. Other devices that don’t need a high-bandwidth connection, such as smart lights, pet locators or smart locks, can use Sidewalk all the time.

But the company’s plans have caused alarm among observers. Ashkan Soltani, a former chief technology officer of the US Federal Trade Commission, told the tech site Ars Technica: “In addition to capturing everyone’s shopping habits (from amazon.com) and their internet activity (as AWS is one of the most dominant web hosting services) … now they are also effectively becoming a global ISP with a flick of a switch, all without even having to lay a single foot of fiber”. The feature may also break the terms and conditions of users’ internet connections, which do not allow such resharing, warned Lydia Leong, an analyst at Gartner.

Users can disable Sidewalk in the settings section of the Alexa or Ring apps, but have until 8 June to do so. After that, if they have taken no action, the network will be turned on and their devices will become “Sidewalk Bridges”.

Amazon is not the first company to look to create such a network. Apple has taken a similar approach with the company’s range of AirTag item trackers, which can connect to the internet through any compatible iPhone they come into contact with, not simply their owner’s. And BT, through a long-term partnership with Fon, ran a service from 2007 until 2020 that allowed broadband customers to share spare bandwidth in a public wifi network.



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4 Galway companies to compete in global medtech competition

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MedTech Innovator has selected 50 companies to take part in its annual showcase, highlighting future innovators in the medical field.

The international MedTech Innovator competition this week announced its selection of 50 leading medical device, diagnostic and digital health start-ups from nearly 1,100 applications.

Of the 50 start-ups selected for the non-profit contest, four companies are based in Galway, Ireland.

Atrian Medical, Lifelet Medical, Neurent Medical and Tympany Medical are the four Irish start-ups that will be participating. The programme, taking place virtually, commenced on Tuesday (15 June), when the leadership of the 50 chosen start-ups participated in the annual MedTech Innovator Summit.

During this online event, the selected companies collaborated with MedTech Innovator’s partners, participating in virtual networking events and interactive workshops.

A subset of 25 early-stage companies will participate in MedTech Innovator’s award-winning accelerator programme, in which medtech start-ups are matched with senior industry leaders to receive continual in-depth, customised mentorship and support, as well as being eligible to compete for scholarships and cash prizes. Atrian, Lifelet and Tympany have all been selected as participants in this accelerator.

Galway’s medtech innovators

The four Irish companies chosen by MedTech Innovator represent broad approaches to the medical field. They have been selected among start-ups from the US, the UK, France, The Netherlands, Belgium and Israel.

Atrian Medical has developed non-invasive techniques for treating atrial fibrillation. This restores the heart’s steady rhythm through targeting neuronal cells in clusters known as ganglionated plexi.

While most treatments for this heart condition involve ablation (both burning and freezing), this start-up aims to permanently disable errant signals.

Also working on the heart is Lifelet Medical. By developing a fully synthetic polymer-based material, Lifelet is working to provide new heart valve replacements. The company hopes to improve clinical outcomes, achieve increased valve durability and reduce the carbon footprint involved in the process.

In doing so, they aim to improve the lives of the millions of patients suffering from heart valve disease.

Next is Neurent Medical – a start-up that has designed the Neuromark system for addressing rhinitis.

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Rhinitis is a disease of the nose that is characterised by persistent symptoms of nasal congestion, nasal discharge (rhinorrhoea), sneezing, postnasal drainage, and numerous other symptoms that have a large impact on the patient’s overall quality of life and wellbeing.

The Neuromark system applies controlled low-power radio frequency energy to target regions of the nasal cavity. In doing so, it aims to disrupt the parasympathetic nerve signals and halt the inflammatory response, thereby eliminating core symptoms such as congestion and rhinorrhoea.

As nearly one out of four rhinitis sufferers develops new respiratory comorbidity – including new allergen sensitivity, sinusitis, and asthma – Neurent Medical researchers hope to considerably reduce the burden on the healthcare system through this innovation.

Finally, Tympany Medical is developing new sterile panoramic endoscope technology.

Endoscopes are typically long, thin tubes with a light source and camera attached to their tip. They are used to provide an internal view of the body’s structures and organs.

By considering issues in the usability and flexibility of existing devices, Tympany hopes to enable a new generation of minimally invasive ear surgery.

MedTech Innovator showcase

These four Irish companies will participate in a four-month programme that culminates in The MedTech Conference from 27 to 30 September, where all 50 companies will present in showcase panels.

During the conference, five start-ups from the accelerator cohort will compete for the Execution Award, and another five companies will advance to compete in the grand final.

An audience vote will determine the winner of the $350,000 grand prize and the title of 2021 MedTech Innovator. Additional awards will be presented, including incubator space at JLABS.

“Our goal at MedTech Innovator is to find the most promising medical innovations and make sure they actually reach the patients who need them,” said Paul Grand, CEO of MedTech Innovator.

“We are thrilled with the calibre of the start-ups participating in this year’s cohort and we look forward to providing them with the resources and mentorship they need to succeed.”

The MedTech Innovator competition is supported in its review and feedback by its partners, including Johnson & Johnson, Baxter and Olympus Medical Systems Group.

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E3 2021: Nintendo dates The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 for 2022 | Games

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Nintendo showed new footage of the long-awaited sequel Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 during its E3 livestream on Tuesday afternoon, along with a tentative launch date of 2022.

The company revealed a new teaser for the game, which is set in the same world as its critically acclaimed predecessor. This time, the action will take in the skies above Hyrule as well as on land, with Link able to fly to islands floating far above the earth.

During the presentation, Nintendo also revealed a new horror-tinged Metroid title, Metroid Dread, the first 2D instalment in the series for 19 years, in which spacefarer Samus Aran is pursued by distressing transforming robot drones. It’s out on 8 October. Nintendo’s other upcoming Metroid game, first-person shooter Metroid Prime 4, was mentioned, but not shown.

There will also be a fresh Warioware game, Get It Together, in which players barrel through bizarre microgames about everything from squeezing toothpaste to balancing a towering ice-cream cone to plucking chest hairs from statues. It will be released for the Nintendo Switch on 10 September.

There was also fresh footage of cult supernatural adventure title Fatal Frame: Maiden of Blackwater, showing how the new game in this ghost photography series will take advantage of the Switch’s motion controls. Fans of the classic Game Boy Advance turn-based strategy game Advance Wars were also pleased to see the first two titles in the series are to be remastered and released together as Advance Wars: Reboot Camp this winter.

There was no news, however, on the much rumoured Switch Pro console, an expected technical upgrade to the current machine, which the company had been tipped to reveal this year after months of speculation. It could be that Nintendo is waiting until current chip shortages make actually manufacturing and shipping a new console more feasible.

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Indian tax authorities summon Infosys to explain glitchy tax portal’s glitches • The Register

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Infosys has been hauled in by India’s Ministry of Finance to explain the glitchy e-tax it developed for the nation.

The portal was launched on June 8th, with much ministerial fanfare about how it would benefit India.

The next day government figures stopping smiling because the portal proved significantly sub-optimal. India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman called out Infosys in tweets.

The portal has remained glitchy ever since. So glitchy, in fact, that on Monday the Central Board of Taxes was forced to permit the resumption of manual filing of some tax forms.

Now the Ministry has revealed it’s summoned Infosys to a two-hour meeting on June 22nd, at which senior officials and stakeholders will line up to ask Infosys to “answer queries, clarify issues, and receive inputs on the working of the portal, to remove glitches and sort out issues faced by the taxpayers.”

The Ministry’s announcement of the meeting precedes the event by a week but offers no detail on remediation work or deadlines for its delivery.

Electronic tax filings matter to India, because its tax base remains under-developed, especially for personal income tax. The nation has previously attempted to make filing for taxes easier and less susceptible to corruption and tried education schemes that position paying taxes as a patriotic act.

With the nation now in deep economic strife thanks to a certain pandemic, Infosys’s glitchy portal is therefore not just an embarrassment, but potentially also a bigger problem.

Infosys has not responded to previous inquiries on the matter from The Register, other than to direct us to tweets from its executives. No such missives relevant to the portal have appeared in recent days. ®

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