Tucson Morning Blend


TECH TUESDAY: New software detects COVID through your cough

Plus a new Yahoo! smartphone and a writer's dream device
Posted at 3:22 PM, Nov 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-04 13:12:35-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — Welcome to Tech Tuesday, where each week I break down the hottest news in the world of science and technology -- and this time we’re starting with an unlikely new competitor in the smartphone space.

Yahoo! has released its very own branded smartphone to go along with its new cellular service that was launched in March. The device costs $49 dollars and comes in one color: Grape Jelly. It packs low-end specs, including a 5.4 inch screen, single rear and front facing cameras, fingerprint sensor and 32GB of built in storage. The cellphone plan costs $40 a month with unlimited data, text and talk, making this a great value all around for the budget conscious.

If you’re an author, script writer or you enjoy journaling, one device strips away all the extra features… and lets you just focus on the writing. The Freewrite Traveler is the latest edition to the company’s line of writing tools. There are no distractions whatsoever, so no web browser, email or notifications. Instead of a traditional screen, it has an E ink display that’s easy on the eyes and won’t wash out under direct sunlight. It has a 4 week battery life, full-size keyboard and WiFi for automatic backups. If you’re serious about writing, you can buy this right now for $429 on their website.

Finally, artificial intelligence could soon be used to detect if you’ve been infected with the virus by listening to your cough. Researchers at MIT have discovered that there’s a pattern hidden in the sound of coughs that reliably marks a person as being in the early stages of infection. This even works on people who aren’t showing any symptoms. They trained a computer with tens of thousands of cough samples from people, and it accurately identified 98.5% of infections. If it’s approved by the FDA, it could be downloaded as an app and provide quick and easy pre-screening.