Google Nest Speaker Leak; Possible Twitter Subscription Platform; Microsoft Teams Together Mode; Middle Plane Seats= Near Double COVID Risk

Thanks to a regulatory filing in Japan, we know there is a new smart speaker from Google in the pipeline. According to theverge.com, it is the likely successor to the original Google Home, which was first released in 2016. In pictures, it is fully fabric covered, and looks a lot like a miniaturized, vertical Google Home Max. No LEDs are visible in the pictures, but a mute button and power jack can be seen on the back. It stands 8.5 inches tall. It could be rolled out for sale this fall.

Twitter has a team busy cooking up a new subscription platform which has the name Gryphon. Venturebeat.com reports that there is at least speculation that this platform could morph into a paid Twitter model that would eliminate ads in your feed, in addition to customization of the feed. Twitter had previously toyed with paid subscriptions for TweetDeck, but really never got beyond the survey point. A product that gets cash flow from subscriptions would be a huge move to free the platform from dependence on ad revenue…which can be impacted by boycotts, as Facebook is experiencing right now.

After a blizzard of Zoom, Teams, and Blue Jeans meetings, the eyeballs of many work from home employees are either rolling or burned to a crisp. Now, techcrunch.com says Microsoft has come up with a way to make Teams video meetings less tiring. One feature is called Together mode, and it essentially uses Microsoft’s AI tech to cut out the images of all the participants and put them in virtual auditorium seats. According to their research, this layout is much easier for the brain to process than the varied and often blurred backgrounds our cams pick up. Microsoft is also showing off Dynamic View. This one allows you to see content and specific participants side by side. The have also added filters, lighting tweaks, and are planning soon to add reaction emojis. Expect even more tweaks as the work from home and video meeting model becomes the norm!

For everyone who’s common sense told them that United and American Airlines going back to filling middle seats was crazy…now, there’ s some research to that effect. According to zdnet.com, a paper from MIT professor Arnold Barnett (George Eastman Prof. of Management Science) has results of a statistical model that indicates leaving middle seats empty cut the risk of death from COVID-19 in half…or, 20 lives saved over the next 90 days! The airlines, of course, are pushing back against this, claiming that social distancing is just impossible in an aircraft cabin. If you fly, keep in mind that Delta has promised NOT to fill their middle seats until after September 30th at the earliest.



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