MWC-Restrictions Due to Coronavirus; Samsung Unpacked Virus Precautions; Impact on iPhone Production; Tesla Patents Touchscreen Steering Wheel; Facebook Grabs Computer Vision Startup

Some major exhibitors have pulled out of the big Mobile World Congress in Barcelona due to coronavirus worries. Techcrunch.com notes that ZTE, LG, Nvidia, and Ericsson have bailed out. MWC has banned visitors from Hubei province, where the virus is thought to have started. Travelers from China will have to prove they have ben out of the country for over 14 days with a passport stamp or health certificate. MWC will utilize temperature screening as well.

Samsung Unpacked is continuing as planned, but with some modifications due to the coronavirus. 9to5google.com says there will be hand sanitizer stations throughout the venue, and thermal imaging cams will be at all entrances to detect fever. Samsung will also have face masks available. They also have medical workers standing by.

A lot of analysts are trying to determine the impact of the Coronavirus on production coming from China. According to most, authorities there aren’t going to let Foxconn open its Shenzhen facility today. Earlier reports from reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and others have said that could start having a serious impact on Apple’s iPhone production. It may mean shortages of the so-called SE2 or iPhone 9. One bright spot….a second source besides Kuo has now confirmed a $399 base price for the entry level iPhone. That one comes from Fast Company. Foxconn has said most of the workers have returned, and that the plants have been inspected, but there are differing reports on their getting permission to restart. Right now, production has been delayed by ‘at least several days.’ Another Apple supplier in Shanghai, Pegatron, has already resumed work, but Pegatron has not been able to restart their Kushan plant yet…they haven’t received government permission either.

Patents are issued all the time, and a number never see the light of day. Here’s an interesting one from Tesla. Electrek.co says the have patented a steering wheel with small touchscreens and haptic feedback. One screen, on the bottom leg of the wheel, would replace the gearshift stalk…you would just touch the appropriate spot. Other screens on the left and right legs of the wheel would have a menu of controls. Tesla indicates that this would likely not be implemented until the cars are fully self-driving. The patent even includes gestures as well as touching with the haptics. It would sense the user’s digit approaching a control before it was touched!

Facebook has acquired Scape Technologies, a London based computer vision startup. According to techcrunch.com, the company has been working on ‘location accuracy beyond GPS.’ The tech was initially aimed at augmented reality apps, but also could be used in mobility, logistics, and robotics. The company claims they intend to enable any machine equipped with a camera to ‘understand its surroundings.’



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