Magic Leap Is Considering a Sale, Stakeholder or Partnership

Magic Leap is exploring the possibility of a sale, according to sources. The Florida-based startup raised $2.6 billion to create augmented reality products, and now has hired an adviser to consider “strategic options” for moving forward. In addition to the potential of a sale, Magic Leap could sell a stake in the company or form a strategic partnership. The company is valued at $6 billion to $8 billion. Among the company’s largest investors are Alphabet’s Google and China’s Alibaba Group Holding. Continue reading Magic Leap Is Considering a Sale, Stakeholder or Partnership

Apple Drops iCloud Encryption Plan Based on FBI Concerns

According to six sources, in response to FBI concerns, Apple dropped the plan to allow iPhone users to encrypt backups in its iCloud service. Although this took place two years ago, it is just now being reported. Stress between Apple’s stance on privacy and law enforcement’s push to have access to its phones re-emerged a few weeks ago when a Saudi Air Force officer killed three Americans at Naval Air Station Pensacola. U.S. attorney general William Barr and President Donald Trump urged Apple to unlock the killer’s two iPhones. Continue reading Apple Drops iCloud Encryption Plan Based on FBI Concerns

Terrorist Act Revives Clash Between Government and Apple

In the aftermath of a deadly shooting at a Naval air station in Pensacola, Florida that was later declared an act of terrorism, Attorney General William Barr requested that Apple provide access to the two iPhones used by the killer. He later complained that Apple has thus far provided no “substantive assistance.” The Saudi Arabian assassin, Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, was training with the U.S. military but had earlier posted anti-American, anti-Israeli and jihadist screeds on social media. Continue reading Terrorist Act Revives Clash Between Government and Apple

CES: The Era of Screens in Contact Lenses May Be Upon Us

Beneficial Vision smart contact lenses from Care Harmony Corp. use a variety of technologies distributed among wearable devices to deliver monochromatic text and video images through contact lenses. The smart lenses contain an outer ring of rechargeable batteries and lasers that use wave-guide technology to project an image into the central area of the contact lens. In addition to delivering audio, wireless earbuds track head position and send that information to the contacts, so the projected image can appear to be a stable overlay in a fixed position in the real world when you move your head. Continue reading CES: The Era of Screens in Contact Lenses May Be Upon Us

Amazon Makes the Case That Rekognition Is a Force for Good

In June, in a letter to Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, almost 19 groups of Amazon shareholders expressed concern about the company’s cloud-based facial recognition system Rekognition being provided to law enforcement in Orlando, Florida and the Washington County (Oregon) Sheriff’s Office. They joined forces with Amazon employees, the ACLU, academics and more than 70 other groups to protest the decision. After the ACLU showed how Rekognition can err in IDing people, three Democratic lawmakers joined the chorus. Continue reading Amazon Makes the Case That Rekognition Is a Force for Good

Magic Leap Taking Pre-Orders for Magic Leap One AR System

After seven years and $2.3 billion, Magic Leap has started taking pre-orders for its augmented reality headset, Magic Leap One, priced at $2,295. Magic Leap One is made up of a pair of sensor-powered goggles and a powerful notebook computer worn on the hip, with a battery that will hold a charge for three hours of continuous use. Magic Leap One is designed to be used indoors, and will be available initially in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Seattle, delivered by Enjoy Technology. Continue reading Magic Leap Taking Pre-Orders for Magic Leap One AR System

U.S. Commerce Department Lifts Trade Ban on China’s ZTE

Following a deal made by President Trump, the U.S. Commerce Department has given the go-ahead to Chinese telecom company ZTE to resume its commercial relations with U.S. suppliers. ZTE was told the ban would be lifted once the company placed $400 million into an escrow account and paid a $1 billion fine, part of the penalty the Department had imposed on ZTE for breaking an earlier agreement to not sell to Iran and North Korea. ZTE’s failure to make good on this agreement led the Commerce Department to ban U.S. companies from selling to the Chinese company. Continue reading U.S. Commerce Department Lifts Trade Ban on China’s ZTE

Twitter Cuts Millions of Followers to Combat Fake Accounts

In an effort to restore trust in its social platform, Twitter plans to “begin removing tens of millions of suspicious accounts from users’ followers” today, reports The New York Times. “Many users have inflated their followers on Twitter or other services with automated or fake accounts, buying the appearance of social influence to bolster their political activism, business endeavors or entertainment careers.” Twitter has acknowledged that easily creating or buying fake followers has negatively affected the legitimacy of the platform. Continue reading Twitter Cuts Millions of Followers to Combat Fake Accounts

ACLU Has Concerns Regarding AWS Facial Recognition Tool

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), leading more than 24 other civil rights organizations, has asked Amazon to stop selling Rekognition, its facial/object recognition system, to law enforcement. Amazon introduced this online service in late 2016, offering Rekognition at a low cost through Amazon Web Services. Pitching it to law enforcement with the idea it could be used to assist in criminal investigations, Amazon signed on the Orlando Police Department in Florida and Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon. Continue reading ACLU Has Concerns Regarding AWS Facial Recognition Tool

California Law Would Require Social Platforms to Report Bots

State legislators in California are pushing for a law that would require Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to identify bots, automated accounts that can be created or used by individuals or organizations. Most recently, bots, reportedly out of Russia, generated hundreds of posts on gun control in the wake of the shooting in Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Russia-linked bots also played a role sharing Donald Trump’s tweets almost 500,000 times in the final weeks of the 2016 election. Continue reading California Law Would Require Social Platforms to Report Bots

Magic Leap Ships AR Headsets to Developers With Constraints

Under mysterious circumstances, some Magic Leap augmented reality headsets have started showing up at software developers’ offices. The headset itself is even more mysterious, in that access to it requires a commitment from the user that they keep it in a locked safe. Apparently, the Florida-based startup is worried about the balance of testing the product while losing control of it out in the wild. Magic Leap, which has raised more than $2.3 billion, has promised to deliver more sets to more developers later this year.

Continue reading Magic Leap Ships AR Headsets to Developers With Constraints

Company Offers Twitter Followers, Bots That Retweet for a Fee

Devumi is a company that sells Twitter followers and retweets to celebrities, politicians, businesses, overseas governments and anyone else who wants to become a digital influencer. According to the results of a New York Times investigation, the company has an estimated stock of 3.5 million automated accounts and has provided its approximately 200,000 customers with more than 200 million Twitter followers. The revelation comes at a time when big tech companies are in the spotlight for deceptive news and outside manipulation. Continue reading Company Offers Twitter Followers, Bots That Retweet for a Fee

Amazon Go Closer to Public Launch, Amazon Opens Pop-Ups

Amazon Go, an experimental convenience store in Seattle that relies on a mobile app instead of human cashiers, is moving into its next stage prior to a public opening. Amazon Go was originally slated to open early this year, but technical glitches led Amazon to postpone the launch. The technology is improving, and Amazon has shifted hiring from engineers and research scientists to construction managers and marketers. Shoppers will scan their smartphones upon entering; cameras and sensors will track the items removed. Continue reading Amazon Go Closer to Public Launch, Amazon Opens Pop-Ups

States Are Battling Sales Tax Loopholes for Amazon Vendors

Starting December 1, shoppers on Amazon will most likely have to pay sales taxes on goods purchased from third-party merchants, in addition to paying tax on those bought directly from Amazon. That’s because, on that date, at least some vendors will begin collecting taxes to receive partial amnesty from back taxes in almost half of the U.S. states, including Florida, New Jersey and Texas. The deadline for the partial amnesty deal is October 17, so it is not yet clear how many merchants will take it. Continue reading States Are Battling Sales Tax Loopholes for Amazon Vendors

Microsoft Debuts AI-Powered Software, Customer Service Bot

At the Microsoft Ignite annual IT event in Orlando, Florida this week, Microsoft announced it will soon debut a customer-service virtual assistant as part of its Dynamics 365 product line that will incorporate artificial intelligence. A user will be able to describe a problem in her own words, and the virtual assistant will answer by relying on user manuals, help documents and other materials. The customer can request a human, in which case the bot will assist the human customer service agent; a manager can view the result on a dashboard. Continue reading Microsoft Debuts AI-Powered Software, Customer Service Bot

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