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theEweekly Wrap

AmazonLocal – Chinese search battle – Underwater wheelchairs

AmazonLocal reveals what's new near you

Amazon users in London can now take advantage of targeted 'daily deals' which will offer them a selection of things to do in their area.

Users can register for the AmazonLocal updates, which will arrive by email each morning and include various voucher options for treats such as theatre tickets, spa experiences and restaurant discounts. Customers who pay using their Amazon credit card can accumulate reward points.

While it is not yet known when the company plans to expand this service across the whole of the UK, it has been available in the US for some time. Amazon is now hoping that it will be able to successfully challenge similar daily deal sites such as Groupon.

It will be hoping to revitalise a market which has seen Groupon's share price fall 26 per cent this month after poor sales.

It marks another new venture for Amazon, who went into a partnership with Waterstones in May that means Kindle e-readers will be sold in the high street.

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New Chinese search engine hits out at Baidu

China's premier search provider Baidu has been accused of using underhand tactics to suppress a rival company that launched just two weeks ago.

Bosses at fledgling search engine Qihoo claimed that whenever anyone used its product to search for a Baidu-related service, they were directed straight to the main page of Baidu itself.

Chief financial officer Alex Xu said: "Let's say if you do a map search, and you get a link to a Baidu map in the search result. If you click on it, you don't get a map, you get Baidu's search page."

Their response has been to promote alternatives to Baidu services in its search results pages.

While the dispute has certainly attracted attention, it is considered unlikely that Qihoo will be able to launch any meaningful challenge in the near future, as Baidu currently enjoys a comfortable 80 per cent share of the Chinese search market.

Of course, search engine controversies have been a feature so far this year, with Google embroiled in an EU antitrust dispute after it was accused of unfairly favouring its own sites over competitors in search results.

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Underwater wheelchair set for grand unveiling

As the Paralympics get underway in London, a UK artist is set to reveal her new invention, a self-propelled underwater wheelchair, at a special performance in Weymouth.

Sue Austin, who has been a wheelchair user for 16 years, came up with the idea after being introduced to scuba-diving in 2005. She says that her chair makes her much faster underwater than able-bodied divers.

Her prototype uses a standard NHS wheelchair fitted with two dive propulsion vehicles and a foot-operated steering fin. The creation is currently patent pending and has not been officially named, but Ms Austin hopes that it will prove popular with other divers.

She says there has already been positive feedback from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors and the University of Plymouth's Oceanography department.

The next stage is to create another chair using a titanium frame, as the current one is reportedly beginning to rust.

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Written by James Riches

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