Apple Supplier Cuts Deal to Make Lenses for AR Glasses; Self-Driving Nissan Leaf Taxi Test; Amazon Handmade in Hand in 2 Hours

It’s an open secret that Apple has been working on AR smart glasses. Now, 9to5mac.com reports that Apple supplier Quanta has inked a deal to start making lenses for augmented reality smart glasses. This deal isn’t apparently specific to Apple, but it sure opens the door for Cupertino to bring such a wearable to market. Last year, Quanta poured $45 million into Lumus, which makes AR lenses, and they now have apparently struck a licensing agreement that will make AR glasses much more affordable. Quanta has indicated that full AR headsets could be priced at less than the cost of a high end cell phone, or under $1000. Quanta says an AR product may be out in 2019, but maybe not from Apple, which is shooting for 2020.

Nissan has fired up 2018 Leaf production in the US, with the promise of battery packs coming that will get drivers 150 miles between charges…and down the road 225 miles. Now, according to techcrunch.com, the company is working with Japanese software maker DeNA to test an autonomous ride-hailing service. They expect to start testing the self-driving cabs in Japan this March. The interesting wrinkle about Nissan’s project is not just getting from point A to point B…you can apparently put in a general written inquiry such as wanting a specific kind of food, and the car will find and take you to a restaurant that serves it!

Stepping things up a notch for people using Amazon Handmade so they can better compete with Etsy, Amazon will start offering Prime Now 2 hour delivery for handmade artisan products. According to geekwire.com, customers in select Prime Now cities will be able to buy handmade items between now and Christmas Eve for the 2 hour delivery. The cities include: Austin, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Portland, Raleigh, San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle.

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New Samsung & LG Hero Phones Out in January; Amazon Jumps into VR & AR, Lyft Gets Self-Driving Permit

We were expecting Samsung to show off the new Galaxy S9 in January. Now, it looks like it will be launched at CES 2018, and according to bgr.com, LG will also show its latest and greatest, the G7. Last year, the LG G6 was overshadowed by Apple and Samsung, and with the runaway success of the iPhone X and a strong Samsung Galaxy S9, they will need the new G7 to have some ‘wow’ factor. The G7 is rumored to have and OLED display, like the iPhone X and Galaxy S9, but does add its own wrinkle…the fingerprint sensor will be under the screen, not on the back like the S9’s. For those leery of the iPhone X’s facial recognition scheme, this might be a real draw.

Google, Apple, and Microsoft are busily working on VR and AR products, so it was only a matter of time. Geekwire.com reports that Amazon is jumping in with its new ‘Sumerian’ service for Amazon Web Services. Sumerian will allow creation of VR, AR, and 3D scenes for Oculus, Vive, iOS, and Android. Sumerian has a web based editor for creating interactive 3D scenes, and a library of objects and templates. It launches in preview today on all but Android, which Amazon says is coming soon.

Another company has a permit to test self-driving cars in California, and this one is a biggie. Cnet.com says Lyft was granted a permit, and now brings to 45 the number of companies testing or getting ready to roll driverless cars on public roads. They join VW, General Motors, Tesla, Google’s Waymo, Uber, and Apple. You’ll be able to spot them by the apparatus on top, but don’t expect to see no one in the driver’s seat…all the permits require a driver on board, just in case.


Apple Push on AR Headset iPhone Replacement; Harry Potter AR Game; Facebook Working on Anti-Revenge Porn System

We commented recently that AR- augmented reality and AI-artificial intelligence, will be the next really big thing. Now, word is from bloomberg.com that Apple is working on a breakthrough product to replace the iPhone. It’s an AR headset that could be in customer hands (or more to the point, on their faces) by 2020. That’s only 3 years away, kids! The device will have its own display and run on its own chip and operating system. The whole project is spread over several Apple facilities and code named T288. It builds on the ‘system-on-a-package’ concept of the also small Apple Watch. Not mentioned is how Apple will deal with powering the device…the Apple Watch can easily run all day, but only for an hour when talking on LTE. Streaming video overlays along with live visuals through the glasses won’t exactly be thrifty when it comes to battery use!

Staying with AR, Niantic’s follow up game to the wildly successful Pokemon Go will be a Harry Potter AR game. According to techcrunch.com, it will be out next year. No precise time frame, but the game is expected to let users roam their real surroundings in search of Potter items, casting spells, and fighting villains.

Facebook is working on a system to combat revenge porn. That’s a great idea, but with a catch…9to5google.com says you have to upload your nudes to Facebook…what could possibly go wrong? The idea is that FB would create an encrypted version of the raw data in the image file…if an EX tries to upload a file with that data, it’s blocked. You still have to send the nude to yourself in Messenger…which means people with stupid, simple passwords (lots of them) and people who can be Phished would be vulnerable. No word on how the system would work on altered photos…like the EX pulling the nude of you out of the pic and Photoshopping it into another background or just grabbing (the naughty) parts and posting them, which might show up as different data. Let’s hope Facebook thinks this all through…it’s being trialled in Australia and 3 other countries right now.


Galaxy Note 9 May Get Under Display Print Reader; Other Android Makers Looking To Face ID Clones; GM Buys Lidar Maker For Self-Driving; Food Delivered to Your Mouth-We Will Become Like In Wall-E

Apple had to ditch the effort for the iPhone X, but Samsung is working on putting under screen fingerprint sensors in the Galaxy Note 9 for next year. Businessinsider.com reports that they are planning to let you unlock your screen simply by touching a finger on part of it.

Meanwhile, other Android makers are turning to developing 3D sensing for Face ID clones like Apple has in the soon to be released iPhone X. Appleinsider.com says the number of makers looking at 3D sensing has tripled since Apple showed off the tech in September. It’s not all about unlocking phones…the 3D tech also opens the door to AR…augmented reality.

General Motors has bought Strobe, a 3 year old startup that makes lidar tech for self driving vehicles. According to the New York Times, the company will be folded into Cruise Automation, the GM self-driving subsidiary. The General says it will help accelerate its efforts to develop and build electric cars with self-driving capabilities. They are saying the tech will help bring such cars to the market sooner than you think!

Researchers at University of Sussex have developed TastyFloats…a food delivery system that levitates food morsels right into your mouth…no hands or utensils! Thenextweb.com says it’s not really ro make us like the denizens of Wall-E, but to test if food tastes differently without touch or manipulation. It uses two phased arrays of ultrasonic transducers to transport the morsels of food. OTOH, someone may ‘monitize’ the idea, and then we really could all become porky couch potatoes.


Galaxy S8 BOGO; $99 AR Headset for iPhone 7 Coming; Amazon-Made Meal Kits to Your Door

Have I got a deal for you! Well, actually, I don’t, but Samsung sure does. Starting today, on their website, and in the Shop Samsung app, you can buy a new Galaxy S8 and trade in your old phone, and get a 2nd S8 for FREE! Want an S8+? No problem, you can get that one with your qualifying trade in and $100! Bgr.com says it’s good on every major carrier, and they have a 24 month payment plan..better than the carrier plans, because it’s no money down.

You’ve been able to get Google Cardboard and get your feet wet with augmented reality for some time now…but if you have an iPhone, you’ve been out of luck. That is changing. 9to5mac.com reports that an LA based startup is getting ready to release the Mira Prism. It’s a $99 headset with a slot for an iPhone 7. Instead of popping the phone in a slot in front of you, the phone goes in a slot above, and you see the AR elements along with the rest of the world through a plastic visor in front of your eyes. It’s cheap and simple.just slide the phone into the Prism headset, fire up the app, and away you go! There’s even a spectator mode, to allow a friend to watch your AR experience on their own phone or tablet. You can preorder on the Mira website.

Amazon continues to eat the world…and this time, you can join in the eating! Amazon made meal kits could be on the way to your doorstep soon! According to arstechnica.com, the online giant has filed a trademark for a meal kit service with the tag line ‘We do the prep. You be the chef.’ They look to sell the kits through Amazon Fresh, their online grocery ordering and delivery service. Amazon Fresh already has meal kits from Tyson Foods and Martha Stewart. Blue Apron stock dropped 10% when the news came out, even though no start date has been announced by Amazon.


iPhone 8-Rear Facing 3D Laser; Cheaper, Wireless Oculus VR Headset Coming

The iPhone 8 is to have a rear facing 3D laser sensor to aid with augmented reality and photography. 9to5mac.com reports that it will make for a more accurate autofocus when shooting pictures. It’s possible the AR features may be activated in a later software update. The story from Fast Company also claims it will have sealed buttons that use haptic feedback, and are completely waterproof.

Facebook is planning to reveal a Wireless Oculus VR Headset next year, and it will run around $200. Unlike most cheaper headsets, it won’t require a phone to be popped into it, nor will it need to be hooked up to a PC or phone. Bloomberg says it’s aimed at immersive gaming, watching video, and social networking. It’s code named ‘Pacific,’ and looks like a pared down version of the Rift.


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!