Oculus Connect 5 Tomorrow; Apple Watch Gets 2nd Manufacturer; Google Chrome Addressing Log in Privacy; ARM Chip Just for Autonomous Cars; Airport Face Scanning #FAIL

Facebook is holding their Oculus Connect 5 event in San Jose. According to techcrunch.com, they will be showing off their stand alone headset, which has been code named ’Santa Cruz.’ What’s unknown now is the pricing. With the Oculus Go selling for $199, some analysts expect the free standing headset to run $349-$399. It will be powered by a Snapdragon 845, while the Go has the older 821 chip set. Also expected tomorrow will be a sneak peak at the next-gen Oculus Rift. The present Rift is 2 years old, and it’s thought the update will utilize the ‘half dome’ manner of lenses focusing on objects…dynamically like your eyeballs instead of fixed focal distance. [UPDATE: The Oculus Quest, a standalone VR headset that uses touch controllers, will go on sale next spring for $399. Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the product today at the company’s Oculus Connect developer conference.]

It’s been noted that the Apple Watch 4 is selling much better than Apple had expected. Now, macrumors.com says Apple is adding another manufacturer in Taiwan to help keep up with demand. Compal Electronics will begin mass producing Watch 4 in November, joining Quanta Computer, which is apparently maxed out trying to keep up with Apple Watch 4 sales. Apple Watch is now not only the most popular smartwatch by an number of metrics, but has apparently passed Rolex as the world’s most popular watch of any kind.

We just reported that there was a dubious feature that when you logged into a Google account, you got logged into Chrome too, and your browsing data got sent to Google. Now, thenextweb.com reports Google will address this privacy concern in the next release of Chrome….which will be version 70. With the update, you will be able to toggle an option called Allow Chrome sign-in, so can choose not to if you prefer. Also to be addressed is a nasty little issue…Chrome 69 apparently keeps Google cookies EVEN if you delete them! They have promised that 70 will fix this issue, too.

ARM has added what they call a Split-Lock feature to their 64 bit Cortex A76…which will now be the A76AE….for automotive enhanced. According to the Register, the improved chip is aimed at running code controlling self-driving vehicles. By allowing the split of cores, if there’s a malfunction, the other core should be able to keep running code, which is pretty important when it’s driving your vehicle. ARM hopes the improvement will keep them in the self-driving auto game along with Intel and Nvidia.

The US has been testing face scanning at airports, but with less than stellar results so far. Engadget.com says they are only catching about 85%, and have trouble matching people from specific age groups and countries. The Inspector General’s Office says they may not be ready for deployment in the top 20 airports by 2021 as originally planned.


Huawei Passes Apple to be the Avis of Smartphones; Facebook-100% Renewable Energy by 2020; Oculus Studies VR in Classrooms; Toyota Invests in Uber; Trump- Google is RIGGED

Chinese smartphone maker Huawei has slipped past Apple to grab the #2 spot in smartphone sales. TechCrunch.com reports that a Gartner figure puts Huawei ahead in sales for the 2nd quarter. Huawei came in at 13.3%, up from 9.8% in the prior year, while Apple got 11.9%, off slightly from the 12.1% they had in 2017’s Q2. Samsung still stands tall as #1, at 19.3% this year, and 22.6% in 2017.

Facebook has announced they will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 75% and be running on 100% renewable energy by the end of 2020. According to theverge.com, Facebook has signed contracts for more than 3 gigawatts of new solar and wind energy since 2013. Those projects are all on the same grids as Facebook data centers in Oregon, Virginia, New Mexico, and Sweden. Samsung has also pledged to be on 100% renewable by 2020 in the US, Europe, and China. Apple and Google have also purchased enough renewable energy to offset their global energy consumption since April.

Oculus is getting ready to study how virtual reality can be used in education. Cnet.com says they have kicked off a pilot program called Oculus Education, which will distribute Oculus Go and Rift headsets to schools, libraries, and museums in Taiwan, Japan, and Seattle. The first phase will center around training teachers and other instructors in the use of VR and gathering feedback, and how VR can fill unique needs in those institutions. In conjunction with the headset program, Oculus is releasing 3 new VR experiences centered around history, science, and culture. They are all available at the Oculus store.

Toyota is pumping $500 million into Uber as part of a self-driving car partnership. Businessinsider.com reports that Toyota had previously invested in Uber a couple years ago as part of an auto leasing deal. Uber is reportedly selling self-driving tech to Toyota, while Toyota is promising to collaborate with Uber in moving self-driving tech forward. We may be seeing a Toyota self-driving Prius Hybrid sooner, not later.

Donald Trump fired off another angry Tweet from the White House…this time accusing Google of rigging search results against conservatives. According to gizmodo.com, the Chief Executive Tweeted “Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake New Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal?” He is claiming that ’96% of the results on ‘Trump News’ are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous.’ He went on to rail that it was a very serious situation and it will be addressed. It might help if he adjusted his view of ‘Fake News.’


Google & LG-Highest Res AR&VR OLED Display; Amazon Sells Face Recognition Tech to Police; Drink a Day Purveyor Hooch Expands

Google has taken the wraps off a high resolution OLED display that more than triples the pixels per inch of the Oculus and the HTC Vive. 9to5google.com says the mobile display was developed in partnership with LG, and has 1443 PPI, a wide field of view, and is optimized for both AR and VR. No word yet on when you might be able to wrap one of these around your face or how much it will cost, but it will essentially take mobile VR and AR headsets from 2-3 megapixels to 18!

Amazon has begun selling facial recognition technology called Rekognition to police. The tech, which Amazon boasts can track and analyze hundreds of people in a photo using a database with tens of millions of faces, has been used in Orlando, Florida, and by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon. According to cnet.com, Rekognition isn’t used for active surveillance… but in a video clip posted online, it was noted that Rekognition could follow Orlando’s mayor using cameras throughout the city. Amazon says the tech matches photos and videos uploaded by the customer — not by Amazon. They note on the positive side that it has been used to help find lost children at amusement parks, and was used for public safety at the Royal Wedding on Saturday to identify attendees. Both the EFF and ACLU have expressed grave concerns about this kind of tech in the hands of law enforcement and government…particularly since tests in London show that facial recognition tech can be wrong up to 98% of the time!

Drink-a-day startup Hooch has announced that it has raised almost 3 million in seed money. Techcrunch.com reports that they are also adding to their base plan…which
offers a basic subscription of $9.99 that gets you one free drink per day from a variety of partner bars and restaurants. Hooch Black (which you have to apply for, and which costs $295 per year) adds hotel deals, concierge service and other perks on top.
On top of that, Hooch is planning to launch its blockchain initiative this summer. They believe that by having their own cryptocurrency token, Hooch could work with partners to create a “decentralized model for consumer rewards.” After reading about the Amazon facial recognition for law enforcement, you might want to subscribe to Hooch!


Oculus Connect 3 Headlines; Where NOT to Buy Your Google Pixel Phone

Mark Zuckerberg was front and center yesterday for Oculus Connect 3. The VR company is working on a standalone headset that will tuck into the lineup between the expensive, PC tethered Oculus Rift and a Gear VR. It will have position tracking.

There’s a drop date for the very late Oculus Touch motion controllers…they’ll be out December 6th, and run $199. They do include an extra camera sensor for tracking. You can also add a 3rd sensor for an additional $79 for room scale VR, according to theverge.com.

Another December present….$49 in-ear Rift headphones to complement the on ear models the Rift comes with.

More games are on the way, and they have partnered with Disney on some original short films based on classic characters.

If you are lusting for a new Pixel phone from Google, here’s a tip…don’t buy it through Verizon, unless you want to wait and wait for software updates. According to arstechnica.com, Verizon will control when updates get pushed out, not Google, on the phones they sell. Although they are the ‘exclusive’ provider, you can buy the phones unlocked from the Google Store, Best Buy, Target, and Walmart. The phone will work with any carrier. If you want to ensure that your software gets updated in a timely way, don’t buy it through Verizon.


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.


iPhone and Others May Get Sony Dual-Lens Cameras; Google Baking VR Into Android

We’ve reported earlier that Apple was testing a dual lens camera for the iPhone 7. Highly reliable KGI Securities says the top iPhone 7 will get the next gen camera, which will have dramatically improved image quality and optical zoom, plus other features. Now, macdailynews.com says a Sony report confirms that their dual lens camera system will be out in iPhone and 3 other unnamed smartphones, and they expect it to be widespread by 2017. Other vendors, including the one that supplies 60% of iPhone camera lenses, have sent dual lens camera samples to Apple. It isn’t much of a reach to think that Samsung is one of the 3 makers besides Apple that will bow these vastly improved cameras.

Facebook has Oculus, and we know Apple has a division working on virtual reality. Google has had a VR division too, and now comes word that they…as Apple…are working on more than just a Rift or Gear-like VR headset. Google is reportedly working on Android VR. According to 9to5google.com, Google plans to bake VR software right into Android….where the current Cardboard is just an app. This means latency would be decreased, and users could spend significantly more time in VR without getting queasy. It looks like they and Apple are working towards eventually making VR essentially an operating system. Google may show off it’s latest VR for Android at Google I/O in May.


Virtual Reality Headset from Samsung & Oculus Here; Volvo & Microsoft Team for VR Car Shopping

We’re about to get a real feel for how fast virtual reality will catch on. Samsung and Facebook’s Oculus VR division are dropping the Gear VR headset for $99.99. Cnet.com notes that it basically lets you strap a samsung smartphone to your head. It debuts with a Netflix app, and over 100 other apps and games, to offer what Oculus is calling ‘bottomless content.’ Apps on the special app store will go for $1.99 to $9.99.

In a more specialized…and maybe long term use of virtual realty…Volvo has partnered with Microsoft on a HoloLens based virtual car shopping experience. Geekwire.com reports they are testing out sitting in your living room, office, or wherever, strapping on the VR headset, and checking out and configuring car models. One touch in midair, and you change the color…another the interior, and so on. You can rotate the model on the table in front of you, then gesture and poof….it’s full size, and sitting on a rotating platform across the room. Volvo expects to have the HoloLens based system available to customers next year.


Will Apple Replace Google for Search On iPhones Next Year?

A big fight behind the scenes over your iPhone. Theinformation.com says Apple’s deal with Google is up next year, and Yahoo and Microsoft are scrapping to become the default search engine. Siri already relies on Bing for its (or her) search results!

Would you like to get $550 trade-in for your iPhone? Blackberry is offering up to that amount to switch to a Blackberry Passport. Thenextweb.com reports it varies by model, and $150 of it is on a Visa prepaid card, from December through next February.

The Gear VR virtual reality visor is just a start, and more joint Oculus and Samsung products are coming. Cnet.com says that’s according to Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe.He declined to be specific, except to hint about ‘storytelling.’