PMD fires in Singapore, Silicon Valley Bank, Meta cuts NFT plans and Pixel 8 leaks

Bite-sized updates about tech news you might have missed in this week's Tech C Siew Dai

A composite image of tech, an electric scooter, and a logo of non-fungible token (NFT)
PMD fires and NFT news are part of this week's tech news. (Photo: Getty Images)

Here is a roundup of the tech news that you may have missed this week.

PMD fires still happening

Personal mobility devices (PMD) have been a talking point in the Singapore community since they arrived on the scene..

From its initial early days before major regulation, to requiring a license to possess, to outrightly being banned on footpaths, there has always been one constant in all this — PMD explosions and fires.

Less than a month after an e-bike was caught on video going up in flames, another case was reported this week of a PMD catching fire at a HDB home at Pipit Road.

Preliminary investigation into the cause of the blaze indicates that it was of electrical origin from the PMD, which was charging at the time the fire happened.

Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) has also put out an infographic on how to avoid PMD fires, which can happen because of reasons like charging the batteries wrongly or using unauthorised models.

A fire safety tips infographic for PMDs & PABs from Singapore Civil Defence Force
A fire safety tips infographic for PMDs & PABs from Singapore Civil Defence Force

Singapore isn't the only country battling PMD fires.

Recently in the US, a dog was caught in a fire stemmed from an overheating PMD battery, and a fast-spreading fire in New York City last week was also caused by an e-bike.

If you own a PMD, please do take the necessary safety precautions to avoid fires from these devices.

Google working on AI to support health causes

In news regarding tech companies putting their foot forward to help the health sector, Google is currently working on an AI that can be used for ultrasound diagnosis and cancer therapy.

Currently, the tech giant is partnering with Jacaranda Health to research AI-based ultrasound treatments for mothers and babies in government hospitals, while also working with Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan to research how AI can detect breast cancer via ultrasound as an alternative to mammograms.

TikTok's science and tech feed, POFMA obligations

Tiktok is launching a dedicated Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) feed on its app.

Separate from its usual entertainment-focused content, the STEM feed could be used for showing and discussing all things related to STEM, and to encourage discussions among scientists and people that are knowledgable in the fields.

This comes after talks of banning TikTok in the United States, with one of the reasons cited was that TikTok may pose harm to children and teens alike.

Although there isn't any confirmation that this will be happening anytime soon, the STEM feed could make TikTok a much more educational app for younger audiences, and in turn, be less likely to be classified as a threat to them.

This comes shortly after the Singapore government added the short video app to the list of internet companies that have responsibilities under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA). This means the platform will need to do its part to combat fake news online, comply with any directions given by the POFMA office on falsehoods, and abide by codes of practice.

Google Pixel 7a and Pixel 8 leaks

Leaks of the upcoming budget version of the Google Pixel 7, the Pixel 7a, are already emerging.

Recently, a Vietnamese website, Zing News, shared pictures of an alleged prototype of the Pixel 7a. They claim that the phone's screen will run at 90hz, similar to the Pixel 6 and 7 non-Pro. It will also have two 12-megapixel cameras as its main cameras, 8GB of RAM and could come with a 128GB storage space.

What is even more crazy is that while the Pixel 7a hasn't even been officially announced, there are also leaks of regarding to the design of Google's next flagship phone, the Pixel 8.

The Pixel 8 leak seems to suggest a design that brings back the curved edges that was present in the Pixel lineup before the release of the Pixel 6.

Meta cuts NFT support on Facebook and Instagram

There was a time when Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs, were all the rage.

Meta, the parent company of social media apps Facebook and Instagram, jumped onto the NFT hype-train then, but has now pulled the plug on all support for the tokens.

This is a pretty confusing move, simply because when Meta rebranded from its Facebook name, it was supposed to usher in a new era of the metaverse, essentially having a 'social world' in the virtual reality domain.

A part of the metaverse also included NFTs, digital items one could flaunt in a virtual reality world, which were valued with real money or with cryptocurrency, however the creators preferred.

Cutting support for NFTs will only hinder the push towards the concept of the metaverse.

But to be fair, Meta's own venture into the metaverse seems to be pretty half-hearted, with their own internal Metaverse app still looking pretty unpolished (and has not been heard of since).

With the recent job cuts at Meta as well, it will probably be a while before we hear of any kind of initiative being planned for the metaverse.

What is with the Silicon Valley Bank collapse?

The biggest news to hit the tech sector in the United States is the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB)

As you might have guessed from the name, it is the bank that many startups in the US go to to keep their assets. The bank then used their customers cash to heavily invest in US government bonds, which backfired when the US Federal Reserve aggressively hiked interest rates.

This led to Moody's, a firm which rates financial institutions, threatening to downgrade SVB's rating, which led to SVB selling securities at a loss... which also backfired.

The move spooked the people and companies who kept money at the bank, leading to massive withdrawals, a plunge in stock prices and eventually a complete trading halt before the US' Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation swooped in to seize its assets. More can be read here if you are into the nitty gritty of the whole situation.

But if you want a really simplified version of the whole story in one minute, you can watch this video by TikToker, build_in_public, explaining the whole debacle with the help of Microsoft Bing's AI (and a whole lot of.....monkey business).

Keep your bananas safe everyone.

Dominic loves tech and games. When he is not busy watercooling his computer parts, he does some pro wrestling.