Facebook AR Glasses; New Portal TV & Other Portal Models; Amazon Letting US Users Pay Cash Via Western Union PayCode; Salesforce Unveils Pollution Tracking Tool

Facebook is partnering with glasses giant Luxottica, to help it market its augmented reality glasses.
CNBC reports that the Orion glasses are a pet project for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Zuck’s concept is for them to replace a smartphone, letting users take calls, display information on a small screen, and livestream video to social media followers — features that aren’t huge stretches from some of the industrial AR solutions available today. Facebook’s is said to be working on Agios, a ring-shaped motion sensor that would help with physical input, as well as a voice assistant that could process text-to-speech output and speech-to-text inputs for the wearer. New partner Luxottica controls many if not most of the world’s top eyewear brands, including Ray-Ban, Oakley, and licensed labels like Armani, Burberry, Coach, and Polo Ralph Lauren. Orion isn’t expected to hit shelves until 2023 at the earliest, or as late as 2025.

In other Facebook news, they rolled out a new line of Portal gadgets. All feature the auto-zoom AI camera, in-house voice assistant, plus Alexa, Spotify, and now Amazon Prime Video, Messenger Video Chat, and newly encrypted WhatsApp video calling in a smaller form factor unit. According to techcrunch.com, the main event is the $149 Portal TV, which can turn most tv sets with an HDMI connection into a video chat smart screen. If a friend has the setup, you can use the Watch Together feature, and see a picture in picture in the corner. An 8 inch Portal Mini is just $129. The 10 inch one that was out a year ago is redesigned, and the price cut from $199 to $179. If you really must, there’s a monster 15.6 inch Portal + that’s on a swivel, and it has dropped in price from $349 to $279. Facebook will still cut an additional $50 of the bill if you buy two devices. For all the data they are getting, they ought to be paying US to put these things in our houses!

Amazon has announced a partnering with Western Union to let US customers pay cash on checkout with WU’s PayCode. Businessinsider notes that the majority of shopping is still in person, not online…and that a third of those transactions are cash payments. PayCode is in use in 19 other countries. Customers who pay with PayCode are given a code upon checkout, which they will be able to take to any Western Union and settle with cash. Their online order will ship after Western Union transfers the money to Amazon. PayCode will allow Amazon to move in on the market of customers who are unwilling or unable to pay for online orders with credit or ATM cards, potentially widening their business.

Salesforce has just unveiled Sustainability Cloud, software that helps businesses track and analyze their environmental data. Theverge.com says there are already such tools available, but since Salesforce has 150,000 businesses and organizations as clients, it has a huge advantage in possibly spreading a way for them to track their environmental impact and carbon footprint. In fact, the system actually was developed out of one Salesforce uses to track its own carbon footprint, in an effort to reach 100% renewable energy use by 2022. A key issue is pricing….most companies haven’t dumped a ton of money into sustainability departments, so that could put a damper on widespread use. Salesforce hasn’t yet released pricing.

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