FS Fives: Wednesday, May 25

Welcome to the latest FS Fives – FutureScot’s lunchtime round-up of Scottish digital news.

First up, a preview of the Dundee Design Festival which launched today. Jon Rogers, professor of creative technology at Dundee University, says we all have our own special independent places that make our cities great. Whether it’s the Wee Curry House in Glasgow or Analogue Books in Edinburgh. “That there is an incredibly human creative world outside in the high street is so important, a world that’s been designed by individuals for a collective experience.” It’s something he and his colleagues have been exploring in a research collaboration between Dundee, Northumbria and Edinburgh universities to look at the future of the Internet of Things (IoT) for the high street. They worked with Richard Cook, of Spex Pistols, the independent opticians in Dundee, to design a mirror that connects to a cloud-based facial recognition service which guesses your age and plays you music from the year the mirror thinks you were 14 years-old. In his preview of the festival, Rogers says: “For Richard this provides a playful space in his shop to talk about pop culture from different eras, about music and about the glasses his customers wear and try on.”

Speakers from a variety of technology fields feature in next week’s ‘A Disruptive WorldTEDx talk in Glasgow. James Lyne, global head of security at Sophos, will present ‘hacking with words and smiles’, covering the innovation of increasingly sophisticated cyber security attacks, while technology investor Dr Mark Payton, of Mercia Technologies PLC will explore the concept of ‘patient capital’, an idea which he believes must be accepted if the UK is to become home to more successful start-ups. Dr Craig Robertson, founder of Epipole, will explore the opportunities to disrupt the medical device industry and Ruairidh Wynne-McHardy, founder of RollRun, wants to bring innovation to the legal sector.

Keeping one step ahead of the hackers is no mean feat but there are signs that the increasing professionalisation of the cybersecurity industry is starting to throw up some pretty foolproof solutions. This piece by David Burg, Global and Co-US Advisory Cybersecurity and Privacy Leader at PwC, explores the ‘top cyber trends to watch’ over the coming year, with five technologies that are rapidly becoming game-changers in a sector that has received some pretty derisory headlines for the seeming ease with which hackers have exploited supposedly impregnable systems. Leading the charge is Blockchain – the peer-to-peer networking that underpins the cryptocurrency Bitcoin; the development of cloud security, advanced (two stage or more) authentication, built-in encryption and predictive analytics to assess where threats might come from, are also discussed.

Not content with changing the way we all book taxis, Uber has now signed a ‘strategic partnership’ with car giant Toyota, reports the Verge. Under the agreement, Uber drivers can lease their vehicles from Toyota and cover their payments through earnings generated as Uber drivers, with Toyota reportedly investing an ‘undisclosed sum’ in the San Francisco-based ride-sharing firm. There is also speculation that the driverless car ambitions of Uber could be fulfilled with help from Toyota’s recently-established Toyota Research Institute, which aims to develop artificial intelligence technologies applicable to autonomous cars and robot helpers in the home.

And finally…Storm Troopers are once again all the rage, thanks to the latest Star Wars franchise (not to mention a return to past intergalatic glories, Ed). But the internet, thanks to the unceasing Buzzfeed-ification of online entertainment, has ‘dram’-atically altered the provenance of these loyal foot soldiers of the Empire. A new whisky-loving ‘Scotch Trooper’ has been created by a photographer for reasons probably best left to himself, but for lovers of the grain and galaxies far, far away, his series of images might make for a refreshing afternoon blend. Enjoy!