Episodes

  • Do you track your physical activity on your phone, count your daily steps, or how many calories you’ve burnt? Perhaps you are learning a new language using an app or have performance-related leaderboards at work? All these things are part of gamification – making everyday tasks more fun. But is all this gameplay good for us and is there actually any evidence that it works? Digital Planet this week explores the phenomenon of gamification with guests Adrian Hon, the CEO and founder of the games developer Six to Start and co-creator of one of the world’s most popular gamified apps, Zombies, Run! and Gabe Zichermann founder of six high-tech companies and author of three books on Gamification, including “Gamification by Design”.


    The programme is presented by Bill Thompson with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.

    Studio Manager: Tim Heffer
    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    (Image: Gamification. Credit: Getty Images)

  • The Digital Divide in Tribal Communities
    Across the North American continent, there is a stark difference in the availability of the internet to different communities. Tribal lands are typically remote, rural, and rugged landscapes, and often have very patchy, or non-existent internet connectivity. Dr. Traci Morris explains why such a digital divide exists and how tribes are working together, both within their communities and with each other, to create and gain access to communications networks.

    Digital Deras connecting farmers in rural Pakistan
    In rural Punjab in Pakistan, farmers and villagers gather in places called ‘Deras’ to socialise, drink tea and coffee and discuss their farms. But one project has created a community network to transform one of these Deras to have digital facilities – a ‘Digital Dera’. Farmers use this Digital Dera to access crucial weather forecasts and other information to help them manage their farms more efficiently. It also helps them battle the impact of climate change, as the crop cycles change due to shifting weather patterns. Founders of the project Fouad Bajwa and Aamer Hayat speak to Gareth about the impact of the Digital Dera project on the farming community.

    Offline interview in Cuba
    Cuba is one of the least digitally connected countries in the Western hemisphere. This is due to the US trade embargo but also poor internet infrastructure and tight control of its own government on the flow of information. Although accessing digital technologies is getting better, for ordinary Cubans going online is still a challenge. The internet connection is slow, unreliable, and prohibitively expensive. To combat this, they have created an offline underground internet called ‘El Paquete Semanal’ or ‘Weekly Package’ – it is a one-terabyte collection of eclectic material of movies, tv-series, sports, and music while turning a blind eye to copyright. Reporter Snezana Curcic visited to learn more about this Cuban alternative to broadband internet.

    This programme was first transmitted on Tuesday 7th June 2022.

    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.

    Studio Manager: Jackie Margerum
    Producer: Hannah Fisher

    (Photo: 5G data stream running through a rural village
    Credit: Huber & Starke/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

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  • In this special 21st birthday show we’re bringing our Digital Planet community together for the first time since 2019. The team has been asking World Service listeners about their favourite bit of tech – we hear from around the world about the software and hardware that our listeners can’t live without. We will also be having not one but two special appearances – holograms from Canada and France – using the technology that President Zelensky used to beam himself to UN and London Tech week. We’ll be hearing from the listener who set up our Digital Planet Facebook group back in 2007 and we’ll also have a multimedia premier of Wiki-Piano that has been collaboratively composed by our listeners.

    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mair, Bill Thompson and Ghislaine Boddington.

    Studio Managers: Andrew Garrett

    Radio Theatre Manager: Mark Diamond
    Sound Balance: Guy Worth
    Stage Engineer: Alexander Russell
    Screen Visuals: Brendan Gormley
    PA Sound: Clive Painter
    Lighting: Marc Willcox
    Stage Hand: Alan Bissenden

    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

  • Inoculation against misinformation
    Could people be inoculated and protected against misinformation online? A new study published in Science Advances shows that short animated videos could protect people from harmful content. Controlled experiments where people were shown how misinformation is spread e.g. using emotional language or scapegoating, appeared highly effective in helping people judge what might be fact or fiction on the web. Psychologists worked with Google Jigsaw and tested their experiments in real life by placing them in the ads section on YouTube videos. They saw a 5% impact in being able to spot misinformation and they also reduced sharing frequency.

    This “pre-bunking” strategy exposes people to tropes and explains how malicious propaganda is spread, so they can better identify online falsehoods. Researchers behind the Inoculation Science project compare it to a vaccine: by giving people a “micro-dose” of misinformation in advance, it helps prevent them falling for it in future – an idea based on what social psychologist’s call “inoculation theory”. Lead author Dr. Jon Roozenbeek is live on the programme to explain why this works and Beth Goldberg from Google talks about their new project to reduce misinformation spread about refugees in central Europe.

    Indonesian data breaches
    There have been five major data breaches in Indonesia this month, three alone in the last fortnight; the personal data of more than 26 million users of state-owned telecommunication provider PT Telkom was allegedly leaked – but the company denied this. Last week, foreign companies, including Microsoft and PwC, were also reportedly hit by a data breach. Astudestra Ajengrastri, Deputy Editor in the BBC Jakarta office, is on the show to explain why this is such a huge problem, how little is being done about it and why so many Indonesians seem indifferent to the breaches.

    Robotic Dogs
    Have you seen the video of a robotic dog firing a sub-machine gun? It’s had well over 4 million views. It comes swiftly after reports of robotic dogs being used to patrol the US-Mexican border. But can robotic dogs become our virtual best friend despite them being used by the military and security services? Reporter Dominic Watters looks at the tech and what these robots are truly capable of (walking on uneven surfaces still needs to be mastered) and could actually be used for the benefit of humankind – using their sensory systems to navigate dangerous terrains after natural disasters for instance?


    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.

    Studio Manager: Steve Greenwood
    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    (Image credit: Screenshot of a video collaboration between Cambridge University, the University of Bristol, and Google Jigsaw)

  • Nearly a third of people in India lost money through online fraud in 2020 alone. Of them, it is thought that only 17% saw any returns through redressal mechanisms. Despite this prevalence of scams, reports have shown that the Indian population have got more trusting of unsolicited messages from companies online over the last five years. New Delhi based journalist Mimansa Verma from Quartz has been exploring this problem and joins the programme to discuss.

    Ultrasound sticker that monitors your heart
    A postage stamp size sticker could give doctors a more detailed picture of our health. Ultrasounds are one of the most common medical diagnostic tools in the world, but they only measure a snapshot in time and rely on the skill of the sonographer. A newly proposed ultrasound patch could record our heart changing shape during exercise, the impact of eating or drinking on our digestive system, and even the flow of blood through veins and arteries. Ghislaine Boddington checks out the tech and how this, and other devices, are giving doctors a much more complete picture of how our bodies work.

    Finally getting your slot on the JWST
    More than twenty years ago, Professor Mark McCaughrean submitted a proposal for observations to be made on a new space telescope. At midnight on August 29th he will finally see the results of his first observations from the James Webb Space Telescope. In the convening years, Prof. McCaughrean has become a scientific advisor for the European Space Agency and a collaborator on the JWST project. He joins the programme to talk about his hopes for observing star and planet formation with the JWST, as well as the tech that underpins the telescope.

    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington

    Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant
    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    (Image: An Indian man counts Indian rupee currency. Credit: Getty Images)

  • With the US midterm elections only a few months away Twitter has announced how it plans to “enable healthy civic conversation” on its platform i.e. how they plan to control political disinformation. Journalist Emma Woollacott who has written about the new measures for Forbes is on the show, as is New York Times Reporter Tiffany Tsu to tell us about political misinformation on TikTok.


    Facebook evidence – should they have handed over private messages?
    Should Facebook have handed over private messages between a mother and her teenage daughter about procuring abortion pills? The two are facing criminal charges. Bill Thompson examines why this happened – Facebook messenger data, unlike many other messaging apps, is not end-to-end encrypted. Should the company be able to hold onto so much data and what can our listeners do to ensure their conversations on messenger apps remain private.

    Satellite pollution
    In this week’s Discovery reporter Jane Chambers looks at the unexpected impact of satellites. There are currently around 7000 active satellites orbiting space and there are plans for many more to be launched in the next decade by internet companies and countries around the world. They are revolutionizing our lives but having some unintended consequences from disrupting million dollar astronomical research to the real danger of satellite collisions in space as orbits become increasingly crowded. She tells us what the satellite companies are doing to minimize the impact.


    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.

    Studio Manager: Giles Aspen
    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    (Image: Hash tag over US election badges credit: Getty Images)

  • Were you one of the 2.92million people who was watching Nancy Pelosi fly into Taiwan on FlightRadar24 bypassing Chinese bases in the South China Sea as it approached Taipei? It’s one of the most popular flight tracking sites in the world and uses open standard surveillance technology which allows planes to transmit their location data to anyone with a receiver. As the receivers are fairly inexpensive it now has a network of more than 30,000 and collects data from other sources too like satellites. These data sources aren’t blocked which is why so many flights can be tracked (although they are not always named). It’s often used by fans to track celebrities, especially sports stars, it also shares information with air crash investigators. Ian Petchenik from FlightRadar24 is on the show to explain more.

    New push to get women into fintech in Ethiopia
    Digital payments in Ethiopia are just part of a much wider push by the government to get the country financially online. Currently most payments – including fuel bills - are paid by cash. Wairimu Gitahi, Global Communications & Knowledge Management Analyst at the United Nations Capital Development fund tells us about a new project the “Women’s Digital Inclusion Advocacy Hub.” The project is aimed at women, so they don’t get left behind in Ethiopia’s fintech revolution.

    Wikipiano – a call to compose our Radio Theatre performance piece
    Digital Planet is celebrating its 21st birthday this September and we’re recording a special show in the Radio Theatre (you’re all invited). To help us party we’re asking our listeners to compose a special multimedia performance of Wikipiano that will be premiered on the night in the Radio Theatre. You don’t have to be musical – just log onto Wikipiano.net and add text, video, images, compose new music (if you can), add actions for cyber soloist Zubin Kanga to perform on the night. Zubin helps Gareth add to the score and invites all our listeners to have a go themselves. The piece was composed by Alexander Schubert.


    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.

    Studio Manager: Bob Nettles
    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    (Image: FlightRadar24. Credit: https://www.flightradar24.com/)

  • Why does tech not understand my speech?
    Physicist Dr Claire Malone is facing a problem: no speech-to-text software understands her. She is living with cerebral palsy, a condition that affects her movement and muscle coordination, including her speech. Claire shares how much of a difference this tech could make in her life, and Gareth speaks to Sara Smolley, the co-founder of Voiceitt, one of the leading companies in the area, about how close we are to having software that can understand people like Claire.


    Listening glasses
    Many people have reading glasses, but what about glasses that can hear? A new pair of augmented reality glasses can hear what other people say, transcribe it, and then displays the text on your glasses like real-life subtitles. How could this type of tech help people with hearing impairment? Gareth speaks to XRAI CEO Dan Scarfe, as well as Josh Feldman, who was born hard of hearing and usually relies on lip reading. Will the listening glasses work live on the show?


    Who gets to use assistive tech?
    Technological solutions for people with disabilities are hugely beneficial, but as a new report from WHO and UNICEF shows, many people in need never get to access them. Chapal Khasnabis, head of the Access to Assistive Technology and Medical Devices unit at WHO, tells Gareth just how big the global inequity of assistive tech, and what we can do to fix it.







    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.

    Studio Manager: Bob Nettles
    Producer: Florian Bohr

    (Image: Wheelchair user using assistive technology credit: Getty Images)

  • Open source investigators
    We live in an age where there is data on almost everything, and a large chunk of it is publicly available. You only need to know where to look. There are many investigators on the internet that are gathering Open Source Intelligence, or OSINT for short, and conduct research and verification, much of it focussed on war zones. The most prominent collective in this field is the NGO Bellingcat, but there is a whole ecosystem of amateur sleuths online. Gareth speaks to Charlotte Godart who leads the volunteer programme at Bellingcat, on how they effectively crowdsource part of their investigations, and we hear from several hobbyists who rose to prominence on Twitter about why they spent much of their free time on this type of research.

    Data tackling gun violence
    Brazil has a gun violence issue, and a public data issue. In the Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area, there were, on average, 13 shootings every single day last year, and the only reason we know this is because of open data platform Fogo Cruzado. They collect data in real-time on shootings happening in Rio and other cities across Brazil via their app, social media, and public police reports, and they make that data publicly available for ordinary citizens, organisations, and journalists to use. The founder of Fogo Cruzado, Cecília Olliveira, explains how it all works, and how having data can help set the public agenda.

    The blue map: environmentalist action in China
    Only 10 years ago, Beijing was a city covered in smog with many residents opting to wear pollution masks. Now, the situation has, remarkably, improved, with blue skies being a normal sight. One possible reason for this drastic change is environmentalist Ma Jun, who, in 2006, started the blue map database aggregating government data and making it more easily accessible to the public. Since then, the blue map project has grown into an app that lets users check many types of environmental data and even contribute to the database themselves by simply taking a picture of a dirty river, a cloud of smog, or a factory that isn’t following environmental guidelines. Gareth speaks to Ma Jun, founding director of China’s Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs and founder of the Blue Map, about how this crowdsourcing approach works, and how environmental activism in China differs from Western countries.


    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.

    Studio Manager: Michael Millham
    Producer: Florian Bohr

    (Image: Crowd and data credit: Getty Images)

  • A recent amendment to a regulation by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) will extend automated driving technology to 130 km/h. The regulation, which will come into effect in January 2023, will set the standard for car manufacturers to develop so-called "level 3" autonomous vehicle. Gareth speaks to Francois Guichard, who is leading UN regulations on vehicle automation, about what "level 3" really means, and when we will see these types of cars on the road. Also, Prof Jack Stilgoe tells us about the potential issues and implications of self-driving technology.

    Robbed of mobile innovation
    In many cities globally, urban robberies have become a familiar occurrence, so much so that many people have started to develop their own strategies to mitigate losing their mobile phone. In São Paulo, some leave their phones at home or take a second throw-away phone that they can give away instead, but there are more technological solutions as well. Expert contributor Angelica Mari tells us more, and shares why this is affecting the adoption of mobile phone innovation, in particular fintech.

    Crypto adoption during Argentina's inflation crisis
    In Argentina, rising inflation has become a growing issue. Economy minister Martin Guzman resigned earlier this month, and annual inflation is set to hit above 70%. In light of the peso's instability, some Argentines are deciding to invest in cryptocurrencies instead. Is this a safer bet? Could crypto adoption affect Argentina's economy? Our reporter Lucía Cholakian has been finding out more.

    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.

    Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant
    Producer: Florian Bohr

    (Image: Auto driving system and technology. Credit: show999 / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

  • Internet shutdowns have been a global issue for many years, and Digital Planet has reported on many of them, from Cuba and Myanmar to Iran. A new United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) report now warns of the dramatic real-life effects. Gareth speaks to Peggy Hicks, one of the authors of the report, about how internet shutdowns impact the lives of millions worldwide. In addition, Rest of World journalist Peter Guest, and #KeepItOn campaign manager at AccessNow, Felicia Anthonio, join live in the studio to discuss why internet shutdowns occur, and whether they have changed over time.

    Quantum-safe algorithms
    The encryption methods we currently use to keep our data safe and secure could be a thing of the past soon. Experts expect quantum computers to be able to crack these encryption codes quite easily in the future, which could have devastating consequences. After a six year selection process, the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the United States has chosen four initial algorithms for their quantum-safe cryptography standards. Gareth speaks to Anne Dames, an engineer at IBM, where three of the final four were developed.

    Mobile app for tinnitus
    Hearing a ringing or buzzing in your ear can be very difficult to deal with. A number of mobile tinnitus apps are now promising help. One of them, called TinniBot, even includes an AI chatbot that provides support whenever it is needed. Our reporter Fern Lulham has been finding out more.

    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson

    Producer: Florian Bohr
    Studio manager: Duncan Hannant

    (Image: Abstract Digital Pixel Noise Credit: The7Dew/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

  • On June 24th, the mayor of Berlin thought she was on a video call with the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko. The call, however, was fake. The head of the Deutsche Welle’s fact-checking team Joscha Weber tells Gareth what happened, how the mayors of Vienna and Madrid were deceived by similar fake calls, and how a Russian comedy duo claims to be behind it all. The video call was initially thought to be a deepfake, but a later analysis by German media suggests that it may have been a shallowfake instead. What do these two terms mean, and what is the difference between them? We have deepfake experts Hany Farid and Hao Li in the studio to answer this question, explain how deepfakes are created, and discuss the wider issues that they pose.

    India’s great VPN exit
    In late April, the Indian government decided to enact new cybersecurity rules that include forcing virtual private network (VPN) providers to keep users’ data such as names, contact numbers, and IP addresses for a period of five years. VPN companies in India have sharply criticised the ruling, and some have already exited and pulled their servers out of the country. India has now given VPN providers another three months to comply with the new rules. Expert contributor Bill Thompson tells Gareth what VPNs are, why these new rules conflict with their premise, and what this could mean for privacy and the tech sector in India.

    Can AI solve prostate cancer?
    In a recent machine learning competition, developers used a new prostate biopsy dataset to train artificial intelligence algorithms to diagnose and grade tumours. Gareth speaks to Ph.D. student Nita Mulliqi about the difficulties of using AI in prostate cancer grading and how a dataset from diverse clinical settings is needed to create effective algorithms. We also hear from a consultant for the WHO, Rohit Malpani, about the limitations of applying machine learning applications in healthcare in low- and middle-income countries.

    Studio manager: Michael Millham
    Producer: Florian Bohr

    (Image: Vitali Klitschko. Credit: Getty Images)

  • So what is the metaverse really? Following a montage of BBC World Service listeners’ responses and opinions, contributing expert Ghislaine Boddington will shed light on this question. As it turns out, while there are current examples of virtual worlds, the metaverse is still being formed. Predicting exactly what it will be like is harder than one might think.

    An afternoon in Altspace
    What does it feel like to be in the metaverse? Reporter Chris Berrow strapped on his VR headset and spent some time in AltspaceVR to find out. From holding a virtual cat to doing yoga class, his experience turned out to be stranger than he had anticipated.

    Future implications
    If the metaverse becomes as popular as some predict, where are we headed? In a live discussion with tech futurist and metaverse expert Cathy Hackl, video game writer Colin Harvey, and our very own Ghislaine Boddington, we discuss the big issues on the horizon. Who will be creating it and who will have access? Could this lead to harvesting of biometric data? Will all of us actually use the metaverse?


    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.

    Studio Manager: Sue Maillot
    Producer: Florian Bohr

    (Image: Looking through virtual reality glasses into the metaverse world. Credit: Cemile Bingo l/ Getty Images)

  • Increased punishment for online insults in Japan
    Japan has taken the first steps to make online insults punishable by up to one year in prison. This new legislation comes two years after the suicide of Japanese reality TV star and professional wrestler Hana Kimura. BBC reporter Mariko Oi tells us how this new legislation came to be and what it means, and legal expert Dr. Sanae Fujita and cyberpsychologist Dr. Nicola Fox Hamilton talk to Gareth about why online abuse occurs so frequently, what ways we can tackle it, and whether this new law is fit for purpose.

    27 years of Internet Explorer
    After almost three decades, Microsoft has decided to retire the Internet Explorer (sort of). Contributing expert Bill Thompson takes us on a journey to the early days and back again. What has changed since the once-popular browser’s inception?

    Smart lipstick
    Brazilian cosmetics company Grupo Boticario and centre for innovation CESAR are developing 'O Batom Inteligente' – 'the smart lipstick'. The device will use artificial intelligence to apply lipstick automatically. Reporter Fern Lulham spoke to the creators of the device, and explains to Gareth how applying lipstick is a much harder feat to accomplish than one might think, and what it could mean for people with disabilities.

    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.

    Studio Manager: Steve Greenwood
    Producer: Florian Bohr

  • ‘Project Silica’ uses ultrafast laser optics and machine learning to utilise glass as a storage device. The fused silica glass is fully resilient to electromagnetic pulses (EMP) and to the most challenging environmental conditions, ensuring the data written into it is not degraded. In this proof of concept for the Global Music Vault in Svalbard, this glass platter will have a selection of some of the most important music data and files on it. Gareth talks to Ant Rowstron, who has been working on the technology at Microsoft, and Beatie Wolfe, a musician whose music has been included in the data storage proof of concept.

    Data-driven city planning
    Barcelona is developing a digital twin of its city to aid with city management decisions. The city is currently at the initial stage of the project, designed to produce simulations of different planning scenarios to create more data-driven decisions. Gareth chats to Deputy Mayor of Barcelona Laia Bonet and Patricio Reyes, a researcher at the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, about the potential uses of simulations and how digital twins could improve city planning in the future.

    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.

    Studio Manager: Steve Greenwood
    Producer: Hannah Fisher


    Photo: Music stored in fused silica glass
    Credit: Global Music Vault

  • Across the North American continent, there is a stark difference in the availability of internet to different communities. Tribal lands are typically remote, rural and rugged landscapes, and often have very patchy, or non-existent internet connectivity. Dr Traci Morris explains why such a digital divide exists and how tribes are working together, both within their communities and with each other, to create and gain access to communications networks.

    Digital Deras connecting farmers in rural Pakistan
    In rural Punjab in Pakistan, farmers and villagers gather in places called ‘deras’ to socialise, drink tea and coffee and discuss their farms. But one project has created a community network to transform one of these deras to have digital facilities – a ‘digital dera’. Farmers use this digital dera to access crucial weather forecasts and other information to help them manage their farms more efficiently. It also helps them battle the impact of climate change, as the crop cycles change due to shifting weather patterns. Founders of the project Fouad Bajwa and Aamer Hayat speak to Gareth about the impact of the digital dera project on the farming community.

    Offline internet in Cuba
    Cuba is one of the least digitally connected countries in the Western hemisphere. This is due to the US trade embargo but also poor internet infrastructure and a tight control of its own government on flow of information. Although accessing digital technologies is getting better, for ordinary Cubans going online is still a challenge. The internet connection is slow, unreliable and prohibitively expensive. To combat this, they have created an offline underground internet called ‘El Paquete Semanal’ or ‘Weekly Package’ – it is a one terabyte collection of eclectic material of movies, tv series, sport and music, while turning a blind eye to copyright. Reporter Snezana Curcic visited to learn more about this Cuban alternative to broadband internet.

    Presenter: Gareth Mitchell
    With expert commentary from Bill Thompson

    Producer: Hannah Fisher
    Studio Manager: Jackie Margerum

    (Photo: 5G data stream running through a rural village. Credit: Huber & Starke/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

  • Data-Driven football
    With the end of this year’s Premier League season and the Champion’s League final in the last two weekends, viewers around the world were cheering on their favourite teams. While the rules of football may not have changed much in recent years, there is one thing that has: the amount of data. Coaches and teams can now examine player performance and statistics in great detail. Has this transformed the way the game is played? Gareth chats to Ruben Saavedra, CEO of Metrica Sports, which uses software to analyse videos of football games, and we hear from John Muller, a sports journalist at The Athletic, and Jordi Mompart, Director of Research and Analytics at FC Barcelona.

    The tech behind the ABBAtars
    ABBA's show opened this week in London, using digitally created avatars of their younger selves. Ghislaine tells Gareth about the cutting-edge tech that makes this performance possible and where else it might be used in the future.

    Cultural representation in video games
    Video games are a booming industry that is making its way across the globe. But are different cultures and places actually represented in mainstream games? BBC Arabic reporter Hossam Fazulla chats to Gareth about Jordanian games company Tamatem, which localises games for Arab audiences. And we speak to game developer Dimas Novan from Mojiken Productions in Indonesia, about their upcoming title 'A Space for the Unbound' and making content rooted in local culture.


    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.

    Studio Manager: Giles Aspen
    Producer: Florian Bohr and Hannah Fisher

    (Photo: Futuristic silver soccer ball exploding into pixels
    Credit: Colin Anderson Productions pty Ltd/Getty Images)

  • Scientists at the National Physical Laboratory have released research that utilises existing subsea telecommunications cables as environmental sensors, for example to detect earthquakes. These cables exist in many parts of the world already, so this finding has the potential to revolutionise seafloor earthquake monitoring. Research scientist Giuseppe Marra explains how it all works and Laura Kong, the director of the International Tsunami Information Centre, tells Gareth how this could improve tsunami warning systems.

    Healthcare delivery drones in India
    India’s first organised medical drone programme was recently completed in the state of Telangana. Over the course of the 45-day trial, drones delivered different medical supplies including vaccines. What are the takeaways from this trial? Could this technology be used in other parts of the world? Gareth speaks to Rama Devi Lanka, Director of Emerging Technologies of Telangana government, and India lead for aerospace and drones at the World Economic Forum, Vignesh Santhaman.

    AI translating African Bantu languages
    The African continent has over a thousand languages and many of these are spoken by small populations. Abantu AI is a startup in Nairobi aiming to broaden the access to translation services by training AI on datasets of Bantu languages. Founder James Mwaniki tells Gareth how translation into these smaller African languages might be used in the future.

    Presenter: Gareth Mitchell
    With expert commentary from Bill Thompson

    Producer: Florian Bohr

    (Photo: Underwater fibre-optic cable on ocean floor. Credit: imaginima/Getty Images)

  • A Nigerian project called Looty is seeking to take back African art in digital form. Members go into museums, take LiDAR scans using their phones, and recreate these African artworks as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The first piece is one of the Benin Bronzes from the British Museum. Different artistic reimaginations of this ancient artwork are now being sold as NFTs, with parts of the proceeds going to emerging Nigerian artists. Gareth speaks to Looty’s founder Chidi about the idea, and blockchain expert Anne Kaluvu comments on the project.

    The innovative vision of Amazonia 4.0
    The Amazon rainforest is being destroyed at an alarming rate. Could there be another way? The project Amazonia 4.0 is envisioning harnessing the rainforest’s inherent biodiversity through a sustainable bioeconomy. Professor Carlos Nobre explains how, with the help of drones, fibre optic cables and other technologies, this vision may become a reality.

    The common fruit fly’s digital twin
    One of the most ubiquitously used and best understood organisms in science is the common fruit fly. Many important developments in medicine and biology stem from research on this tiny insect. Now Professor Pavan Ramdya and his team have developed a complete simulated model of the fruit fly, a so-called digital twin. This model can be used by researchers to conduct experiments digitally, which may help speed up research and solve unanswered questions.


    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.

    Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant
    Producers: Hannah Fisher and Florian Bohr

    (Photo: A man uses Sony's 3D Creator scanning to create a three-dimensional image
    Credit: PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images)

  • North Korea is known as one of the most isolated countries in the world. Yet, there are North Koreans who have access to some of the same kind of technologies that are available to the rest of the world, albeit with severe restrictions. A new report suggests that some even hack their smartphones to get around the stringent digital controls. The authors of the report looked at North Korean phones and spoke to two escapees, a former computer programmer for the North Korean government and a former computer science student. One of the authors Martyn Williams as well as North Korea expert and co-host of the BBC podcast The Lazarus Heist Jean H. Lee join us on the programme.

    Clean Drinking water at the push of a button
    Researchers at MIT have created a portable device that can clean and desalinate seawater. It works by creating an electrical field that pulls salt and suspended solids out of the water. Unlike other methods, this requires little electricity and no filters. Research scientist Junghyo Yoon is hoping to improve and commercialise the technology in the next couple of years.

    Military virtual and augmented reality
    Microsoft has recently been contracted to construct more than 120,000 augmented reality headsets for the U.S. Army. How is virtual and augmented reality used in the military? Will it be used on the battlefield? Gareth speaks to journalist and VR training expert Andy Fawkes.

    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.

    Studio Manager: Steve Greenwood
    Producer: Florian Bohr

    (Image: Woman browsing on tablet in the dark
    Credit: Christina Reichl Photography/Getty Images)