Tesla Model 3 Orders; Facebook-Not Listening; Google Gaming; CIMON Robot to ISS

If you have a reservation and deposit on a Tesla Model 3, you’re in luck….you can start spec’ing out your future car. On the occasion of Elon Musk’s 47th birthday, techcrunch.com says you can now log on to the Tesla website and start configuring your car with the online design studio. For now, only the two higher cost Model 3s are available to be configured, and they aren’t giving an estimated delivery time for some models, but if you pick the dual motor performance version…the most expensive one…Tesla says you should have it in two to four months. For advance order holders that plunked down $1000 to get in line, it will be nice to at least spec out their car.

There was a flurry of reports yesterday that a patent showed that Facebook might be getting ready to switch on your phone’s mic when your TV was on and secretly record you and what you are watching…to better serve you ads. Theverge.com has pointed out that a number of sources saw the title and what’s called the ‘abstract’ of a patent, and got this idea…without actually reading the claims…which are the actual subject matter of the patent.  It’s really a system that receives a user ID and an audio fingerprint, matches that audio fingerprint to some content, sees if that content was played for a certain duration, and then checks a counter to see if that content has been played a specific number of times. No microphone use at all. With all they already know about all of us, they could practically write a conversation in our living room, IMHO!

Earlier this year, there was a rumor that Google might be getting into gaming. Now, further reporting from 9to5google.com indicates that it’s happening. The project apparently involves a streaming platform to offer games from the cloud without presumably having to download large files in the tens of gigabytes, as well as hardware. In other words, you could open a tab on your browser and play a game. Google has been in talks with some major game studios about content. They have also hired some top game developers and marketers lately. Here’s a Google-esque wrinkle they are considering…if you hit a tough level or boss, you could hit a key to activate an overlay on your screen that cues up a YouTube walkthrough of the game you’re playing.

The International Space Station is getting a new crew member. On the SpaceX supply ship that blasted off this morning is a round robot with a flat side for a face dubbed CIMON…for Crew Interactive Mobile Companion. Engadget.com says it can speak, respond to spoken commands using AI, and fly…well, obviously fly…there’s no gravity on the ISS! The helpful robot can display repair instructions on a screen with just a voice command, so astronauts can keep both hands free for doing the repair. It will also be able to display procedures for experiments, and be something of a floating database. The ‘brains’ of the little robot are made by IBM, and the body and flight mechanism are built by Airbus.

Advertisements

Uber Rolls Out Self-Driving Cabs; Facebook To Muscle in on Steam

We may be seeing quite a few car makers and tech companies rolling out self-driving cars by 2020 or 2021, but meanwhile, Uber is rolling out a small fleet of self driving Volvo SUVs later this month in Pittsburgh. Thenextweb.com says they’ll still have a driver supervising from behind the wheel. The cars will be assigned at random, and here’s the cool part….rides in them will be free for the time being! Uber will be staffing them with a co-pilot of sorts, to take note of how everything is working. Uber has had a $300 million dollar deal with Volvo to build fully autonomous cars, and apparently has been working on its own global mapping system, so they won’t have to rely on Google for navigation.

Facebook is looking to go after Steam, or at least claw back some of the revenue it’s lost since casual gaming moved to mobile. According to techcrunch.com, the social media giant announced it was working with game engine Unity to build a dedicated, downloadable desktop gaming platform, in addition to broadening the Facebook.com experience for gamers. It’s thought the desktop app will support both casual games and more hardcore games. Of course, Oculus was a big…and pricey…step back to gaming for Facebook, but the bulk of us still stare at screens, as opposed to strapping on headsets for hours at a time at this point.