This Week’s technology news – 14th March 2014

New data protection age as Europe votes in data protection laws
MEPs this week voted overwhelmingly to tighten up new data protection laws in the “Data Protection Regulation”. Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding commented: “This reform is a necessity, and now it is irreversible…”. She added: “Strong data protection rules must be Europe’s trade mark. Following the US data spying scandals, data protection is more than ever a competitive advantage”. This was echoed in a speech by Euro Commission VP Neelie Kroes who said: “The next phase of the internet will be data-centred and connectivity-driven. Cloud computing, big data, the internet of things; tools which support manufacturing, education, energy, our cars and more. It is no longer about emails. In this new world, reliability and trust is a pre-condition”. These changes will be especially hard for smaller businesses to manage and could cripple them with onerous administrative responsibilities. However, for MSPs there is a clear opportunity to sift through the complexities by providing proper consultative and support services to ensure companies and individuals are better protected.

New storage horizons with Blu-ray’s successor
Not long ago, Facebook started utilising Blu-rays for a low powered storage solution. This was done with a customised solution holding 10,000 Blu-ray discs. However a much more efficient and practical solution is on the horizon. Sony and Panasonic have teamed up to create the next generation of disc-based media called Archival Disc. This goes far beyond Blu-ray, storing up to 1TB of data per disc (the equivalent of 250 DVDS or 40 Blu-rays). With this much storage on such a slim profile, Archival Disc’s could genuinely change the way we think about corporate data backup. Compared to tapes these are much easier to store and secure. The only unknowns so far are speed and cost. The first discs are due out in 2015 in 300GB variety, with 500GB and 1TB versions rolling out at a later date.

Microsoft and Samsung and now on the board for Qi wireless charging
Wireless charging technology has been creeping into the mainstream since launching in 2009. Mostly used as a cable-free way to charge your smart phone at your desk. Like all emerging technologies there is a lot of money to be made and big tech companies will fight to have their version of the technology become the universal standard. The two big names in wireless charging are Qi and PMA. PMA have managed to catch some big contracts like AT&T. The communications giant has been controlling mobile phone manufacturers to force use of the PMA technology instead of Qi. Qi on the other hand has penetrated the market more and won over move mobile phone manufacturers with Nokia, Google, Samsung all mostly using Qi. The latest news in this battle of wireless technologies brings tech giants Microsoft and Samsung to the QI board. This emphatic demonstration of commitment shows not only their support of the technology but also the drive for its wholesale adoption. This could be the fatal blow to PMA, whose product could soon end up in the bargain bin where HD-DVDs were just a few years ago.

Healthcare breakthrough in surgery using 3D printing
The UK has become one of the world’s pioneers in implementing 3D technology in surgery. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than a recent pioneering operation in Wales, where a motorbike victim had reconstructive surgery to his face, using 3D printed parts (including custom printed models, guides, plates and implants), months after the accident. The speed with which this technology has been adopted for surgery is remarkable. It is in stark contrast to the news in 2013 when 3D printers were first used to print guns in the States. Criminals unsurprisingly have also found uses for the technology, notably creating card readers (“skimmers”) to steal money from ATMs. Consequently, police organisations have set up dedicated departments to monitor cyber-crime alongside emerging technology. But at least on this occasion, the outcome is a wholly positive one for everyone involved.

Facebook utilises Blu-rays in new low-powered storage solution

Hi-definition movies often come to mind when thinking about Blu-rays, not so much data centre storage solutions. Facebook however has announced exactly that, prototyping a system capable of storing 10,000 disks, making up 1 petabyte of data per cabinet. They also have plans to increase this to 5 petabytes. Cost savings appear to be the driving factor, with 50% savings in costs and 80% in energy usage compared to hard-disk based cold storage. The other factor is lifespan, traditional disks usually last about 5 years but this Blu-ray solution is quoted at 50 years. There is a clear advantage here and the opportunity for a new revenue stream for the Blu-ray Disc Association (BRDA). If BRDA was to collaborate with a hardware manufacturer such as HP or Dell, this would be advantageous to both delivering to the corporate market.