Facebook Buys Neural Monitoring Startup; Apple Will Still Build Mac Pro in Texas; Amazon-Alexa Earbuds With Fitness Tracking; Honda Offsetting 60% of US Electricity Use With Renewables

Facebook is acquiring a New York startup that makes an armband which translates movement and the wearer’s neural impulses into digital input signals, according to techcrunch.com. CTRL-labs will be folded into Facebook Reality Labs division when the acquisition is complete. “We know there are more natural, intuitive ways to interact with devices and technology. And we want to build them,” Facebook AR/VR VP Andrew Bosworth wrote in a post announcing the deal. “It’s why we’ve agreed to acquire CTRL-labs. They will be joining our Facebook Reality Labs team where we hope to build this kind of technology, at scale, and get it into consumer products faster.” Facebook has indicated that for many things, body sensing may be better than anything a camera can pick up. No problems with field of view, and it doesn’t matter if your hands are naked, or in a glove, or even a spacesuit.

After extracting some tariff exemptions, Apple will build the next generation of the Mac Pro in Texas. Macrumors.com reports that production is being readied in the Austin facility where Mac Pros have been built since 2013. Suppliers span 8 states in addition to the parts coming in under exemption from overseas. Apple didn’t say if machines destined for overseas distribution would also be made in Teas. Apple noted that it was on track to invest $350 billion in the US economy by 2023, as previously promised.

Amazon is apparently working on wireless Alexa-powered earbuds that can do fitness tracking. CNBC.com says they would follow distance, run, calories burned, and pace of running. No word on when they will hit the market, but the earbuds are expected to be previewed tomorrow at the Amazon event in Seattle, and are thought to be priced at less than $100…far less than Apple’s or B&O’s earbuds. Most Amazon watchers also expect new Echo gear, and new Ring products to be bowed. Last year, Amazon showed off a number of new products.

Honda has announced that they will cover 60% of the electricity use of their North American manufacturing plants with renewables. Engadget.com reports that, starting next fall, Honda will buy 530,000 MWh a year from a wind farm in Oklahoma. Then, in the fall of 2021, they will pick up 482,000 MWh from a Texas solar facility. Honda claims this is the single largest purchase of wind and solar by any automaker. The car maker plans to electrify 2/3 of its vehicles by 2030.

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