Tech Tent: Toys with a tech twist and Apple's difficult week

Scalextric at London Toy Fair, 2016 Image copyright Alamy

Every Friday on Tech Tent on the BBC World Service we bring you the big technology stories of the week. Here's what's in today's very playful show.

The tech of toys

This week we visited the London Toy Fair which has become a great place to spot how tech trends are reflected in the world of play. We found that traditional toymakers are finding ways of grabbing children's attention back from the touch screen devices they all now have. So the best toys combine the physical with the digital - in the latest version of the Scalextric car-racing game a tablet controls the race and tells drivers when to come into the pits. Then there is a toy called Stikbot which, combined with a free app, encourages children to make stop motion animations.

AI passes go

Still with toys, or rather games, this week saw a computer program beat a champion player at Go. The 2,500-year-old game has simple rules but presents a fiendishly complex challenge for the AI researchers who have been racing to create a program to play it at a professional level. Just hours after Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg wrote about his firm's efforts to tackle the problem, Google's DeepMind trumped that with the news that its AlphaGo program had beaten the European Go champion five games in a row. We have an interview with DeepMind's founder Demis Hassabis.

Africa's Netflix

The streaming video service Netflix is expanding worldwide, so can any local content provider compete? Jason Njoku, founder of Nigeria's iROKOtv, certainly thinks he has a chance with a service which offers Nollywood movies and TV programmes. He tells us why expat Nigerians and a domestic audience is eager to get access via their mobile phones to high quality content. Like Netflix, iROKO is now investing in creating as well as distributing content and Mr Njoku has just persuaded investors including Canal Plus to back this venture.

Apple's difficult week

Apple delivered another quarter of record profits, but the revelation that iPhone sales look certain to suffer their first decline over the next three months, sent its shares tumbling. The mobile phone industry guru Ian Fogg of IHS Consulting tells us that even if the market is disappointed, Apple is still making huge profits from every phone. He says the firm now faces an interesting choice - keep prices sky-high to boost profits further, or nudge sales higher with more affordable phones.

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Will you like Facebook's new Reactions?

Media captionSee the new Reaction options

Do you ever "like" something on Facebook? If so, life is about to get a bit more complex.

The social networking giant is about to roll out emoji-style Reactions, which will allow you to express your feelings in a more nuanced fashion.

Read full article Will you like Facebook's new Reactions?

Needed - facts about broadband

Close up of a broadband router and cable Image copyright PA

What's the state of Britain's broadband infrastructure and would it be better if the dominant supplier BT was split up?

That is the big issue for the regulator Ofcom and, as its decision approaches, the political temperature is hotting up. What has been lacking from the debate so far is much independent research with some facts about where we stand now and how we compare internationally.

Read full article Needed - facts about broadband

Tech Tent: Future farmers, Minecraft and Doom

Drone flying over onion field Image copyright iStock

Every Friday we digest the week's technology news on Tech Tent on the BBC World Service. Here's what we are looking at this week.

Big Data on the farm

It's the world's oldest industry and one you might not think was that forward-looking - but farming is undergoing a whole new data-driven revolution. From drones giving aerial surveys of crops, to combine harvesters measuring precisely the output of every square metre, or sensors giving minute-by-minute updates on the health of animals, farmers are handling an ever growing flood of data. We will be hearing from a chicken farmer who is adapting to this new way of working and our special guest is Rob Carter, the co-founder of Field Margin which aims to help farmers navigate their data via a smartphone app. By the way, our colleagues on BBC Radio 4's Farming Today have been covering technology and farming all week and have a special report on Saturday morning's On Your Farm.

Minecraft in the classroom

Read full article Tech Tent: Future farmers, Minecraft and Doom

Zano: The rise and fall of Kickstarter's mini-drone

Zano drone Image copyright Torquing
Image caption More than 12,000 people gave a total of £2,335,119 to fund the Zano drone via Kickstarter

When Europe's biggest Kickstarter project, the Zano mini-drone, crashed to earth last November there was plenty of blame to go round. But many of the 12,000 backers - who had put in £2.3m and ended up with nothing - had angry words for the crowdfunding platform.

Kickstarter responded in a creative way - by commissioning an investigative journalist to find out what went wrong. Now his report has been published.

Read full article Zano: The rise and fall of Kickstarter's mini-drone

The internet - not an equaliser

Young farmer in India using the internet Image copyright iStock
Image caption Access to information is having an impact on the incomes of many groups, notably farmers

Here's the story about the global impact of the internet. In the last 20 years, the digital revolution and its leapfrog technologies have allowed developing countries to close the gap with richer nations, and have brought huge advances in health, education and transparent government.

Well, not quite, according to the World Bank. Its annual World Development Report, this year entitled Digital Dividends, pours some cold water on that utopian view. True, it sees plenty of good things emerging from the advance of technology, but it warns that poor governance and a lack of skills is making it hard for all of those benefits to be realised even once countries do get connected to the internet.

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Elon Musk - the driven dreamer

Elon Musk and Rory

It is when our interview is over and we are filming some introductory shots around a Tesla Model S that Elon Musk drops into conversation a prediction that makes my eyes pop.

"Ultimately," he says, "you'll be able to summon the car from New York if you're living in LA and it will drive across the country, charge itself at the various locations and come to you."

Read full article Elon Musk - the driven dreamer

CES 2016: Clouds over Nevada’s solar revolution

Media captionSolarCity is turning its back on Nevada

Las Vegas must be a prime contender for the title of world capital of waste.

Millions come to waste their money in the casinos, and the city in the desert sucks up water and energy on an epic scale. But in recent years Las Vegas has also become a pioneer in solar energy, with casinos and thousands of homes now looking to go green while saving money.

Read full article CES 2016: Clouds over Nevada’s solar revolution

Dad's building a robot - Zuckerberg's latest idea

Toy robot Image copyright iStock

It is now a long time ago, but I've been trying to remember my two periods of paternity leave.

I dimly recall clumsily changing nappies, making endless cups of tea for visitors, and a mixture of immense joy and total weariness. What I'm sure I did not do is come up with a plan for a personal robot assistant.

Read full article Dad's building a robot - Zuckerberg's latest idea

2016: the year when VR goes from virtual to reality

Media captionVirtual reality is helping people face their phobias

Recently, I climbed Everest, making my way gingerly across a shaky bridge while trying not to look down into an icy chasm.

Then I watched as Helena, an 18-year-old with a fear of lifts, got into a series of them as a psychologist attempted to treat her phobia.

Read full article 2016: the year when VR goes from virtual to reality