Driverless cars' green light, SmartBell and hearing aid: this week in tech

Funding pot of £10m available for UK tests in January 2015, a way to catch deliveries, and a wireless hearing aid iPhone link. The designated driver question could soon be a thing of the past, as the government has greenlit the testing of self-driving cars on public roads starting next year.

A funding pot of £10m from government is available for cities and research companies looking into driverless cars. Three cities across the UK will be chosen with tests beginning in January.

While Google has attracted publicity for its prototypes, several research groups across the UK, including the University of Oxford and engineering firm Mira in Nuneaton, already have prototypes ready. Issues including who will pay in an accident still are not clear, but business secretaryVince Cable is convinced the UK is set to become the autonomous car capital of the world.

• Miss deliveries no more. The SmartBell is an interactive doorbell that connects delivery drivers or any other visitor to an app on the homeowner's smartphone wherever they may be when they hit the door bell. Callers can speak to those not at home via video chat or hear a prerecorded message, instructing them where to leave parcels when nobody's home. No more "we missed you" slips or trekking to the depot.

• Hearing aid 2.0. The Halo hearing aid wirelessly connects to an iPhoneto turn it onto a bespoke speaker for the hard of hearing. Using Bluetooth, users can listen to music, watch movies, play games or take phone calls via the hearing aid. It will even record audio through a built-in microphone to send via email to friends and family.

The guardian.com


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