Apple Mixed Reality Headset Timeline; Heat Pumps for EVs; Virtual Guide Dogs for Visually Impaired; Qualcomm Satellite Plans for Androids 

After years of rumors and delays, it looks like Apple is locked in on releasing their mixed reality headset. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports that they will unveil it this spring, ahead of the World Wide Developer’s Conference in June. The actual device should be in the hands of the well-heeled early adaptors by fall. Apple has apparently already shared the device with some high-profile software developers. Most Apple Watchers think it will run about $3,000, and be initially aimed at developers. It remains to be seen whether it will connect to a battery pack on the belt, but given the power demands for AR/VR, it doesn’t seem feasible to have a useful headset with tiny batteries just in the head strap.

It is starting to be more widely known that EVs get a pretty hard hit in range in cold weather. On the plus side, if people are stranded, they can generally keep the cabin warm for a couple days or more. According to the Washington Post, that cabin heat is the issue during cold spells. You draw power to keep warm, and that can steal about 41% of the car’s range. Interestingly, EVs are actually much more efficient than gas cars. Gas cars deliver about 20% of the energy the motor produces to the wheels….EVs push over 75% of their energy to the wheels. Still, you don’t want to lose range. A number of makers are putting in heat pumps to heat the cabin, which cuts the range loss to about 15%! The Jaguar I-PACE and Tesla Model Y come with heat pumps standard. They are an option now on other cars, but could become standard as EVs become more mainstream. 

Guide dogs have been a staple of helping visually impaired folks for decades. Now, tech is stepping in that could be a virtual guide dog for people. TechCrunch.com says a Korean startup called AI Guided showed a belt at CES that incorporates optical and Lidar sensors to help identify obstacles and help with navigation. It gives gentle haptic feedback to assist the sight impaired person. Since it’s on a belt, both hands are free…unlike with a cane or the harness for a guide dog. The company calls the device Guidi, and they are launching an Indiegogo campaign later this month.

Apple surely knew this fall when they launched the emergency satellite connection on iPhone 15s that others would be right on their heels. We reported here that Samsung is working on one that not only works for emergency, but allows simple non-emergency texts, too. Now, theverge.com reports that Qualcomm has announced new processors and modems that will connect with the Iridium satellite network doing exactly that! It’s called Snapdragon Satellite, and will start appearing in phones equipped with Qualcomm’s tech by the second half of this year. You can expect it to just show up in the flagship Android phones, not just Samsung’s. Also….the initial system will be emergency only…like Apple’s, but they will be adding ‘premium messaging’ later. Expect that to be extra cost. The emergency service will reportedly be free of pretty cheap. 

I’m Clark Reid, and you’re ‘Technified’ for now. 

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