Microsoft Drops $2 Billion in Cruise; Snapdragon 870 Announced; Foxconn-$270 Million for Vietnam Plant, Smartwatches May Detect Signs of COVID-19 Early

GM’s Cruise self-driving car spin-off has just picked up another $2 billion in funding…from Microsoft. Redmond will be an investor and partner, according to techcrunch.com. GM itself and Honda have also pumped more funding into the company as it gets closer to commercializing its tech. As part of the deal, Cruise will leverage Azure, Microsoft’s cloud and edge computing platform, to commercialize its autonomous vehicle solutions at scale. Microsoft also becomes GM’s preferred cloud provider. GM plans to launch some 30 electric vehicles globally by 2025. 

Qualcomm has announced the new Snapdragon 870, which will power many higher line smartphones. Theverge.com reports that the 870 will actually not be the top of the line processor…that is the Snapdragon 888. The 870 will be dropped into phones selling for $800 or less, while the 888 powers top line phones like the Samsung Galaxy S21 series. The 870 should be showing up soon in handsets from Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo, and Xiaomi towards the end of the first quarter of this year.

Foxconn has acquired a license to build a plant in Vietnam, and plans a $270 million dollar factory there to build MacBooks and iPads. Reuters.com says that the finished factory should be able to crank out around 8 million laptops and tablets a year. Foxconn has already poured $1.5 billion into Vietnam for production centers, and plans to invest $700 million more in the country as they move away from so much dependence on manufacturing in China. They also have plants now in India, South America, and Mexico.

Researchers at Mt. Sinai have found that the Apple Watch can pick up small changes in a user’s heartbeat that may indicate coronavirus a full week before they feel sick. According to engadget.com, the watches pick up changes in heart rate variability metrics (using a special app). The Watch already measures heart rate variability right out of the box, but the app traces it in a way that can match the accuracy of the nasal swab. Researchers at Stanford found that trackers from Garmin and Fitbit can do the same, finding the virus 81% of the time up to 9-1/2 days before any symptoms. A company called NeuTigers formed out of research from Princeton is using software to do this, and is now developing an app that will work on Fitbit, Apple, Samsung, and Withings smartwatches…they claim with 90% accuracy. 



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