Weekly roundup: December 20, 2019

NVIDIA has released an advanced software-definted platform for robots and self-driving vehicles called NVIDIA DRIVE AGX Orin. Powered by an SoC or system-on-a-chip called Orin, which is made up of seventeen billion transistors to deliver 200 trillion operations per second. The SoC is almost seven times more powerful as its previous version the Xavier SoC. Founder and CEO of NVIDIA, Jensen Huang spoke of the significance of the Orin explaining, “Creating a safe autonomous vehicle is perhaps society’s greatest computing challenge. “The amount of investment required to deliver autonomous vehicles has grown exponentially, and the complexity of the task requires a scalable, programmable, software-defined AI platform like Orin.”

LifeLabs, the Canadian healthcare laboratory testing company, has been hacked leaving an estimated 15 million patients’ health records exposed. The cybercriminals who attacked the company’s computer systems have gained private information which could include customers’ names, date of births, email addresses, passwords, test results, and health card numbers. According to an open letter released by LifeLabs, the risk to patients regarding the breach is low and to date, the dataset has not made it onto any hacker platforms or the dark web. In the letter President and CEO of LifeLabs, Charles Brown says one of the numbers of measures taken following the attack includes, “Retrieving the data by making a payment. We did this in collaboration with experts familiar with cyber-attacks and negotiations with cybercriminals.” And “Offering cybersecurity protection services to our customers, such as identity theft and fraud protection insurance.”

Adyen has secured a contract with the world’s largest fast-food chain to create a mobile payment platform. The global payments company will design a platform for McDonald’s which will allow customers to effortlessly pay via a number of methods. This will first be launched in the UK within the first quarter of 2020 and extending globally from there. Kamran Zaki, COO of Adyen as of January 1st said in a statement following the announcement. “As the only truly unified, tech-focused, payments platform, we are thrilled to enter into this agreement with McDonald’s to support their in-app payments. Working together, the mobile payment experience will be even easier for McDonald’s customers.”

European Space Agency (ESA) has launched CHEOPS, a satellite whose main objective is to study stars that are relatively close to us, which scientists have confirmed have planets orbiting them. The satellite is set to determine the characteristics of these exoplanets such as their size, how long it takes them to orbit their host star and their physical makeup (whether they are made of gas or rock), all in an effort to determine the habitability of each new world. CHEOPS will use a technique called the “transit method,” which refers to the amount of dimming which occurs as the planet passes in front of the star, a proven method used by the scientists at NASA who operated the Kepler Space Telescope. According to the CHEOPS mission statement, “It will focus on planets in the super-Earth to Neptune size range, with its data enabling the bulk density of the planets to be derived – a first-step characterisation towards understanding these alien worlds.”