May 25, 2024

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Tech News to Know This Week: June 21-27, 2022

Every day we wake up, drink a cup of coffee, and get ready for work. Following are a handful of stories from around the tech world condensed to fit into one single cup of coffee. These are the things you need to know before you step foot out of your door (or in front of a webcam) and into the real world this morning.

So sit back, grab a cup, and start your morning off right with a few “Quick Bytes” from Innovation & Tech Today.

New Software Enables Law Enforcement to Scan Citizens’ Fingerprints from a Smartphone

Contactless fingerprinting could soon be implemented by police departments across the U.S. 

Telos, a contactless fingerprinting technology company, has developed a software that uses a phone’s camera to scan an individual’s fingers from around 2 inches away and produce a “traditional fingerprint image.” The technology works with cameras that have as little as 2 megapixels. 

Civil liberty and privacy groups are concerned about the implications of the technology, arguing the biometric data collected by law enforcement will be used to further infringe upon the freedom of citizens. Similar arguments have been made about facial recognition technology being used by several governments around the world. 

Instant messaging app Telegram recently crossed the threshold of having 700 million active users. The company is now rolling out a new premium tier with additional features. Telegram released a statement saying the move will allow the app to stay user-based instead of ad-based. 

Telegram Boasts 700 million Active Accounts, Add Premium Tier

Telegram gained notoriety earlier this year for its role in communications between Ukrainian officials and citizen hackers wishing to join the country in fighting Russian invaders. The app uses end-to-end encryption, making it a preferred communication system for individuals, organizations, and even governments that value privacy. 

Telegram Premium enables users to send files as large as 4GB (up from 2GB) and supports faster downloads, for instance, Telegram said.

Paying customers will also be able to follow up to 1,000 channels, up from 500 offered to free users, and create up to 20 chat folders with as many as 200 chats in each, according to TechCrunch.

The Stars are Aligning 

Amateur astrononmers and stargazers will be able to see the alignment of our solar system’s planets for the first time in 18 years June 24-27. 

Just before sunrise on June 24, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus will align in the night sky. However, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will be the only planets visible to the naked eye on Friday. The remaining two, Jupiter and Saturn, will be viewable through binoculars or a telescope around June 27. 

“If you look due East about 45 minutes before sunrise on June 24 you will be able to see this phenomenon,” said amateur astronomer and science communicator Kevin Walsh. “Mercury will appear closest to the horizon around East North East and we will have around 30-40 minutes of visibility before Twilight interferes. Saturn will appear in the sky towards the South East.”

States Urged to Conserve Water Amid Western Drought

The Colorado River’s reservoirs are experiencing unprecendented lows, according to the Interior Department. 

The federal government is now is telling the seven western states that rely on the river to drastically reduce water usage as the Colorado River continues to dry due to this year’s unprecedented drought in the region. 

Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton announced that major cuts of between 2 million and 4 million acre-feet will be needed next year to keep reservoirs from dropping to “critical levels,” according to The Los Angeles Times. 

The emergency efforts are an attempt to stop Lake Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the country’s two largest reservoirs, declining to dangerously low levels next year.

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