Tech Tuesday: Courtroom VR, Google beats Oracle and bendable smartphones

VR coming to a courtroom near you?                 

Staffordshire University has launched a VR-based project that could be used to revolutionise courtroom proceedings and bring a criminal case to life. New technology, such as the immersive nature of VR tech, could be used to show jurors exactly what occurred during a crime and transport them to different parts of a scene. The hope is that VR headsets will allow jurors to make impartial decisions by bringing complicated criminal scenes “to life”.

The project gained a boost when the European Commission announced £140,000 worth of funding, proving that members of the Criminal Justice System do think there is substance to the idea.

“What we want to do is to come up with the best solution that helps the criminal justice system – help the police in their detection and recording of crime and then to help jurors in court to understand those crimes better that they ever did before,” Dr Sturdy Colls, a lead researcher on the project, told the BBC.

Is it a train or is it a bus?

Is this the future of cities? As they get steadily more overcrowded, trying to fit everything in can cause bad congestion, pollution and smog – which in China is much worse even than London.

The Transit Explore Bus was created by a company based in Chinese city Bejing, where the demand for cars is huge. China recently overtook the USA for the sale of passenger cars, to become the largest car market on Earth.

Designed to straddle the road and hence save a lot of road space for cars, buses, and pedestrians, the TEB lead scientists claim the vehicle can transport 1,400 people, costs 16% of what an underground train or subway would cost, with much shorter manufacturing and development times.

However, it will take a significant redesign of certain cities, especially those within Europe with their historically narrow streets. However far away the idea will be for Western Europe, it’s certainly a futuristic project that could revolutionise the way our cities work.

“The biggest advantage is that the bus will save lots of road space,” said Song Youzhou, the project’s chief engineer

World’s first bendy smartphone

When we first saw this, we thought it might be a joke! However, it does appear real – Chinese company Moxi genuinely claim they are going to start selling the world’s first bendable smartphone later on in 2016.

Made from super versatile Graphene, the phone will cost around 5,000 yuan (£520) and the company aims to ship around 100,000 of them worldwide. Based on images released by Moxi, the phone will be able to bend all the way around, allowing users to fasten it to their wrist like a bracelet.

Unfortunately, the Moxi phone’s first release will be very basic, without the same features as standard smartphones currently available for a similar price. However, the launch will mark the first flexible screens available for consumers – the start of a new trend?

It’s certainly something new for a market saturated in phones that look very much the same.

Google beats Oracle over software

A jury in the U.S. has granted a victory for Google, as they ruled that the use of Oracle’s Java platform to create Android was protected under the provision of “fair-use.”

Oracle had previously been seeking $9billion in damages, but Google’s high-profile witnesses such as Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, convinced the jurors they used Java to create an unrelated, totally separate product.

Oracle said it saw many grounds to appeal and would do so.

“We strongly believe that Google developed Android by illegally copying core Java technology to rush into the mobile device market,” Oracle General Counsel Dorian Daley said in a statement.

If Oracle does appeal and win, the victory could result in many more software copyright lawsuits, despite Alphabet Inc’s claim that software developers all over the world rely on open and free programming languages to create new products.

Messaging apps fear Iranian privacy risk

Iran isn’t known for being particularly generous with their population’s privacy. However, their recent demand to move all messaging servers onto Iranian borders has apps like WhatsApp and Telegram more than a little worried.

The apps are incredibly popular in Iran and are currently uncontrolled and unable to be read by government bodies. However, this new demand from the Iranian government is rumoured to be all about privacy and control – a step in the direction of full visibility on messenger apps, perhaps?

Even with the server move, the Iranian government may not be able to read and control what is sent over such apps. WhatsApp recently announced a complete end-to-end encryption on all of their servers, and the same is true for Apple’s iMessage. Currently, that encryption is impossible to break, even if the server is located in the country.