Today’s cache | Heathrow airport pilots passenger screening technologies, and more

Terminal Two of London Heathrow Airport in west London, on May 9, 2020.

Terminal Two of London Heathrow Airport in west London, on May 9, 2020.  

Today's cache is your daily download of the top 5 updates from the world of technology.

London’s Heathrow is trialling technologies to detect COVID-19 at its airport. If its tests work well, they may be adopted as common international standards at other aiports.

Slack had a multi-hour outage before the service was brought back up online.

Telegram shuts its blockchain and cryptocurrency unit after a US court ruled in favour of the securities regulator.

As Google is phasing out its Play Music, it is allowing users to import playlists and purchases to YouTube Music.

Lastly, European Commission is urging EU governments to use COVID-19 contact tracing apps on a voluntary basis.

Heathrow airport trialling COVID-19 detection technologies

London’s Heathrow is piloting COVID-19 detection technologies to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission and to develop a common international standard for other airports.

The trials will assess medical effectiveness, passenger response and suitability to the airport environment, the airport said in a statement.

The airport will be trialling and reviewing technologies that include UV sanitation, facial recognition thermal screening and contactless security procedures.

Heathrow plans to share the information gathered from the trials with the UK government and airline industry to develop a Common International Standard for health screening at the airport.

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s CEO, notified the House of Commons Transport Committee on May 6 that the airport is piloting UV sanitation to quickly and efficiently sanitise security trays; facial recognition thermal screening to accurately track body temperature; and contact-free security screening equipment to reduce person-to-person contact.

The trials are set to begin in the next two weeks at Terminal 2.

Slack had a multi-hour outage before coming back online

Twitter was abuzz with tweets and memes on Slack outage on Tuesday.

According to, a site that detects user-reported tech failure, users reporting outage spiked at 7:30 PM US Eastern Time. At that time, 73% users reported ‘connecting’ problems, and 24% reported ‘sending messages’ issue.

Slack outage affected both mobile and laptop version apps. The company confirmed the outage, but did not disclose the reason for the disruption.

“Users have reported general performance issues such message sending failures and timeouts,” Slack said.

“We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible and will provide an update shortly.”

About two-and-half hour later, Slack updated its status that it had fixed the issue and that users would be able to connect to the application.

“We're very sorry for the disruption. We appreciate your patience as we worked to get everyone back online,” the company said.

Telegram shuts down its blockchain and cryptocurrency platform

Telegram on Tuesday said it is shutting its blockchain platform TON and cryptocurrency Gram after a US court ruled in favour of the securities regulator.

The US Securities Exchange Commission had ordered Telegram last October to stop it from selling cryptocurrency Gram as the platform did not register its sale of tokens worth $1.7 billion before launching the service. Telegram had raised the funds via a pre-ICO offering in 2018.

The latest court ruling reinforces SEC’s October 2019 order.

“I am writing this post to officially announce that Telegram’s active involvement with TON is over,” Founder and CEO Pavel Durov said in a blog post.

In a scathing post against the ruling, Pavel said US courts shouldn’t have the power or authority to implement its ruling outside the country’s jurisdiction.

The US court ruled that Grams can’t be distributed outside of the United States as US citizens may find ways to access Telegram’s blockchain platform after it is launched.

“This court decision implies that other countries don’t have the sovereignty to decide what is good and what is bad for their own citizens,” he added.

The end of Google Play Music is drawing near

Google has been phasing out its Play Music, making YouTube Music as a single stop shop for music and video content.

As part of that transition, Play Music users can now import their playlists into YouTube Music service.

“For now, users will continue to have access to both services,” YouTube said in blog post.

“We want to ensure everyone has time to transfer their content and get used to YouTube Music, so we’ll provide plenty of notice ahead of users no longer having access to Google Play Music later this year.”

Users can transfer their entire Google Play Music library - - artists, albums, songs, playlists, likes and dislikes, curated stations, purchases and recommendations - - over to YouTube Music. The process takes only a few taps.

To make the transfers, just download the YouTube Music app, click the transfer button and upload all your contents to YouTube Music.

If you don’t see this transfer option yet, then it only means that Google is gradually rolling it out. So, check back after a few days to make the transfer.

And the whole transfer process runs in the background, so you can continue listening.

Contact-tracing apps should be voluntary: European Commission

European Commission sought to allay fears triggered by concerns about privacy breaches and government surveillance long after the COVID-19 crisis has passed.

So, the commission will urge EU governments to enable use of contact tracing apps on a voluntary basis as countries a looking to lift border restrictions and revive tourism and travel in EU, the Reuters reported citing documents it has seen.

“Contact tracing and warning measures, for example, with the use of mobile apps, could be used, on a voluntary basis, by passengers to detect and interrupt infection chains and reduce the risk of further transmission as long as transmission risks persist,” a Commission document seen by Reuters said.

Countries are building contact tracing apps to identify COVID-19 patients in an effort to quickly reopen their borders and reduce the impact from the disease.

These apps use Bluetooth to find who might have come into contact with the coronavirus infected patients.

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 2:48:00 PM |

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