Apple Working With Hertz; Apple Buys Eye Tracking Company; An Infarm in Every Grocery Store; Oscar Meyer Weiner Drone

Apple has tapped car rental firm Hertz to assist with testing of its autonomous vehicles. Macrumors.com reports that Cupertino is leasing vehicles from Donlen, the Hertz fleet management unit. The info showed up in information filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Meanwhile, Apple seems to be ramping up further towards an AR future. A story from appleinsider.com indicates they are buying a German company called SensoMotoric Instruments. They make hardware and software for eye tracking sensors, something key to augmented reality. The present tech tracks a wearer’s gaze in real time 120 times per second, which reduces input lag…that cuts down motion sickness when viewing. This tech probably won’t get into the iPhone 8, but could be important for the smart glasses Apple is reportedly working on.

What if fresh produce wasn’t trucked in and put in bags in your store, but was grown right there? A German startup called Infarm is working on indoor vertical farming that could grow herbs, lettuce, veggies, and fruit. According to techcrunch.com, this builds on something the Japanese have been doing, but brings it right into the supermarket, and on a modular scale. It could also find its way into restaurants. Infarm is partnering with EDEKA, Germany’s largest supermarket chain, to further develop the idea.

Everyone knows, and most people love, the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile. Now, besides the iconic hot dog cars and motor scooter with sidecar, Oscar Mayer has launched a WeinerDrone. Gizmodo.com says it has enough lifting power to transport a single wrapped hot dog about a mile. No word on if it can hold a fully loaded dog with all the trimmings some people like, or on how it delivers it to you….I’m not wanting to pick up a cold dog that hits the ground, even if it IS wrapped!


iPhone 8 Launch Timing-Supplier Leak; Google’s New AI Powered Jobs Engine; VR & AR Headsets May Hit 100 Million By 2021

There had already been rumors that the iPhone 8 would be actually in peoples’ hands in October, now a supplier may have confirmed that. Bgr.com reports that Finisar, which supplies the high-tech lasers built into iPhone 8 for AR depth mapping and image recognition, will be supplying tens of millions of the lasers to one company later this year. Analysts have put things together, and look for a rollout in September as usual, but the phones actually shipping in October.

Google has launched a jobs search feature right in its search results pages that lets you search for jobs across virtually all major online jobs boards. According to techcrunch.com, that includes LinkedIn, Monster, WayUp, DirectEmployers, CareerBuilder, Facebook, and more. This may save job seekers a lot of hassle, as it eliminates duplicate postings and a lot of irrelevant jobs for you. Just key in something like ‘jobs near me’ or ‘writing jobs,’ and the job search widget will pop up. It’s on both Google’s desktop and mobile versions. You can also see Glassdoor and Indeed ratings.

It may not quite be here yet, but VR and AR really are The Next Big Thing, and a report by IDC picked up by cnet.com says sales of VR and AR headsets will reach about 100 million by 2021. Last year, less than 10 million of the headsets shipped. Right now, ones powered by smartphones, the so-called ‘screenless viewers’ are most popular. IDC thinks AR will fundamentally change industrial jobs in the next 5 years, and that at first, 80 percent of AR headsets will be for commercial use.


Varjo VR Headset With ‘Human Eye Resolution’; Ikea May Partner With Apple on AR; Musk Talks ‘Boring’ LA

A company out of Finland called Varjo is working on a formerly secret VR headset code named 20/20 which they claim has ‘human eye resolution.’ Engadget.com reports that the rig will display over 70 megapixels per eye…that compares to 1.2 per eye for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. The company says they have patented a tech that mimics how the eye actually works, building on work by scientists that were formerly at Microsoft, Nokia, NVIDIA, and Rovio. They are shooting for shipping professional level products by late this year.

On a related note…augmented reality, furniture giant Ikea could partner with Apple when they roll out their AR setup. According to 9to5mac.com, Ikea already has 3D images of their furniture, and Apple may be able to take those and drop them into and AR system so you could see how the furniture could look in your house ahead of trying to head to the store to buy, and then bringing home to assemble. If they REALLY want to get crazy with the AR, they could show the assembly directions with it!

Call him crazy, call him brilliant, maybe straddling both, but it’s hard to avoid Elon Musk and his ideas. Cnet.com says Musk Tweeted Sunday about talks he’s had with the mayor of LA about using his Boring Company tunnel machine to criss-cross LA with a network of tunnels to move cars, bikes and pedestrians. Musk has said that getting the permits from local governments has been more of a challenge than the tech!


Some Highlights From Apple’s WWDC Keynote

The Apple home speaker got a sneak preview. It does look a lot like a mini-Mac Pro tower, and is called HomePod. There is no screen, it is powered by Siri. HomePod is 7 inches tall, and has 7 tweeters with a 4 inch upwards firing woofer, it runs an Apple A8 chip. With 6 mics, Apple claims it can hear you from across the room and respond even with loud music playing. They are touting acoustic modeling, echo cancelation, and spatial awareness. In other words, it will detect the room, and fire the speakers to give you the best sound for that area. If you run two, they are smart enough to sync up. Besides for music, it will use Siri in the usual way to get information, and also control your HomeKit devices. It will run $349. Comes in White & Space Grey, and ships in December.

Another tease was the iMac Pro. It will have an 8 core Xeon processor for base, and up to 18 core available. It runs Radeon Vega graphics with 16 gigs of vRAM. It can roll with 128 gigs of memory and 4TB of SSD storage. The iMac Pro ships in December, and will start at $4999. All the iMacs and MacBooks get Kaby Lake Intel processors and faster SSD drives. The freshened iMacs and MacBooks are shipping today.

As expected, the new iPad was shown off extensively. It has the 10.5 inch screen in the same size as the 9.7 inch model, and still weighs just a pound. It starts at 64 gigs, and $649. Preorders open now, and they ship next week.

A number of other reveals revolve around the software systems and content. For content, Amazon Prime Video is coming to Apple TV later this year. Also, the new iOS 11 will have a pretty amazing AR developers kit. A couple of demos put AR right on a desktop at the stage, with the audience right in the shot! Another had a developer standing in the middle of a Star Wars world she was manipulating on the fly…watch out for Darth Vader swinging that light saber! Steam is bringing their VR to the Mac later this year! Apple will probably post the VR Star Wars video and AR demo later today, and you should watch them!

In the new Mac OS…High Sierra, Apple File System will be brought over from iOS, modernizing Apple’s ancient file system. For Safari, we get autoplay blocking!! Now you can read an article without the annoying autoplay audio blasting away. They also touted intelligent tracking prevention using machine learning. New, better compression for video and pictures.

iOS 11 gets some major features on the iPad…the App Tray can be brought up in apps, it will save configurations of screen splits for you to return to, and now, there is a files function and DRAG and DROP! You can send money or receive it in iMessage using Touch ID, and there’s a translation feature that works on the fly with Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Other languages follow later this year.

The App Store gets a total makeover. It starts with a Today screen, and separates out Games from other apps.


Apple’s Neural Engine AI; LG Phone May Have Screen Under Screen

Besides working on AR…augmented reality…most of the big tech companies: Google, Facebook, Apple, & Microsoft, are working on beefing up AI as well….artificial intelligence. While they all offer some form of AI assistant, apparently Apple is working on a dedicated processor being called the ‘Apple Neural Engine’. 9to5mac.com says the chip will produce much improved face and speech recognition apps and help extend battery life. It is expected to be small and thrifty enough to fit into iPhones and iPads. Here comes facial recognition, iris recognition, and 3D selfies! Apple has already tested prototypes, but it’s not known if it will make it into the iPhone 8 this fall. 3D selfies….now you’re REALLY going to worry about it being your good side!

It’s not quite like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, but LG’s V10 and V20 had secondary screens on top of the main one. Now, Mashable.com says they may go all out with the upcoming V30, with a secondary screen that slides out from under the main screen. The secondary screen can display shortcuts of most used apps, keyboard, audio controls, and more. Part of the screen is visible when the phone is ‘closed,’ so it can function in always on mode, displaying the time and weather.


Microsoft’s Beam Becomes Mixer; T-Mobile Digits Service Now Free For All; Apple Watch Hack Produces Stroke Detector

Earlier this week, Microsoft was trying to convince the world to call AR..augmented reality mixed reality. Now, we know why…marketing! Techcrunch.com reports that Microsoft has re-branded its game streaming service Beam as Mixer. They have also upped the service’s game with co-streaming, a guide, and mobile broadcasting on iOS and Android. Up to 4 streamers can now combine their streams into a single page, where they’re displayed split screen style.

T-Mobile has just made a cool new service called Digits free for all T-Mobile users. Bgr.com says that Digits combines some of the best features of Google Voice and AT&T NumberSync. You can use one number on multiple devices, but also have multiple numbers on one device…so you could carry one phone and have a business number and home number on it….or a burner number that you’ve given out on dating sites. As of May 31st, every T-Mobile number becomes a Digits number. It’s free, but you will have to call them in order to activate a second number. The freebie will expire soon, then it goes to $10 bucks more a month for a second number.

The Apple Watch is the best heart monitor of any wearable, but not close to what your doctor or hospital uses…until now. According to cnet.com, some researchers at UCSF used an app called Cardiogram with some machine learning, and hacked the Watch to be a 97% accurate detector of one of the leading causes of stroke! This may open the door to considerably more preventative health care, which is far cheaper than reacting and treating problems after the fact.


Google Stand Alone VR Headsets; Google Indoor Location VPS; Google Home gets Hands Free Calling, More; Galaxy Note 8 Will Sport Dual Cams

Google is working on a standalone VR headset with HTC and Lenovo. 9to5google.com says the new system will be much easier to use, and will heighten the feeling of presence. Headsets should be out in the world and available later this year.

At I/O, Google has also revealed it is working on detailed indoor location positioning using its Tango 3D sensing computer vision tech. According to techcrunch.com, they call this Visual Positioning Service, or VPS. As an example, it could lead you directly to a certain item in a big box home improvement store. No word on when the system will be rolled out, but it will be a cool addition to the AR and VR systems Google and others are working on.

Speaking of indoors, Google Home is getting hands-free calling, proactive assistance, and Bluetooth streaming. Proactive assistance will be timely info like traffic alerts. The hands free calling can call any land line or mobile in the US or Canada with just a ‘Hey, Google call X. No setup is required, and it will default to private number, unless you want to have your number display. You can stream music from your Android of iPhone over Bluetooth, or use SoundCloud.

The Galaxy S8 and Plus didn’t get it, but it looks like the Note 8 will have dual rear cams. Bgr.com reports that there will be a 12Mp wide angle lens and a 13 Mp telephoto with a 3x optical zoom, leapfrogging Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus with the 2x optical zoom.