The latest news and insight on how the technology sector is reacting to Covid-19.
Tech better placed to avoid job losses
Layoffs in response to the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus are either expected or have begun happening at 44% of companies, according to a survey conducted by Verdict. The survey, which ran from 25 March to 15 April, found that 24% of respondents expected their company to conduct layoffs as a result of the coronavirus, while 20% said this had already begun to happen. 35% also reported that recruitment was on hold, meaning 79% of companies have seen staffing disruption of some form or another as a result of the pandemic.
Just 8% said their company had stepped up hiring as a result of the pandemic, while 13% reported no impact on recruitment. However, the report did highlight that not all industries are seeing layoffs or a recruitment downturn as a result of Covid-19. “There are some industries that have seen no interruption and in some cases an upturn. This is mainly within the tech industry, which was already set up for remote working,” said Brad Coombes, co-founder of Collabz, a talent company.
UK ID tech startup raises £80m
Onfido, a that company verifies the authenticity of a person's photo ID by using AI to match it against selfie video, raised £80m in new funding to boost its ID technology as it looks to create “immunity passports” for governments battling coronavirus. It has previously used its artificial intelligence software to tackle identity fraud, but is now exploring potential applications for its technology to ease lockdown measures. Last week the company announced it was offering its solution to any such non-profit or charity operating in the healthcare, home care or education spaces for free for a period of six months.
Update Windows immediately if you are working from home
If you are working from home, you should install the latest Windows update issued by Microsoft as a matter of urgency, as it includes patches to vulnerabilities that hackers are already exploiting. Two of the vulnerabilities in question stem from the Adobe Type Manager Library, one of which was first acknowledged by Microsoft in late March.
At the time the company said that the vulnerability, which can be used as a gateway for severe attacks such as the injection of malware and ransomware on all versions of Windows 10, as well as Windows 7 and Windows Server, was already being used by hackers. While the update will be installed automatically for many users, it will not be initiated for those who have opted to manually update, and those that are on low-bandwidth networks may find that it does not initiate immediately.
MIT develops wireless box to help Covid-19 patients at home
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is conducting trials on a device designed to monitor Covid-19 patients at home. It uses wireless signals to detect a wide range of different activities, including patient movements, sleep patterns and even breathing. It is able to distinguish between different people, using artificial intelligence to track movement.
“It’s clear that, with these high-risk elderly patients, they would greatly benefit from us being able to passively gather medical data over time when it is not possible to interface with each person directly,” the MIT’s mental health chief William McGrory said in a release. The system, named Emerald, was developed at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).
Apple shows how Covid-19 lockdowns affect movement
Apple is going to release data that could help inform public health authorities on whether people are driving less during lockdown orders to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
The data is gathered by counting the number of routing requests from Apple Maps in the US, and comparing it with past usage to detect changes in the volume of people driving, walking or taking public transit around the world, Apple said.