Big Tech &
Facebook's Infinite Office is a virtual office space for the WFH crowd (1 minute read)
Facebook Connect is introducing a new virtual office experience called Infinite Office. Infinite Office makes the work-from-home experience more immersive, transporting the user to a virtual customizable office space. Using the Passthrough mode, users can toggle between a fully immersive experience or one mixed with the real world. Infinite Office will be rolled out as an experimental release for Quest 2 later this winter. Two short demo videos from Facebook showing Infinite Office and Passthrough mode are available in the article.
Facebook’s first ‘smart glasses’ will be Ray-Bans, coming next year (3 minute read)
Facebook will be releasing its first pair of consumer smart glasses next year in a partnership with Ray-Ban. The details of the device haven't been released yet, but Facebook has said it will not be classified as an AR device and it will not have an integrated display of any kind. Project Aria is Facebook's project to create a full-fledged pair of AR glasses. Facebook will start testing Aria in the real world starting next month. The company released white papers and prototype design images for hybrid AR-VR devices earlier this year which may have included a version of Project Aria.
China to Launch Space Mining Bot (4 minute read)
Origin Space, a Chinese private space resources company, will launch a space mining robot in November. The small satellite will enter a 500-kilometer-altitude sun-synchronous orbit, where it will be testing technologies and not actually mining. Origin Space aims to verify and demonstrate functions such as orbital maneuvers, simulated small celestial body capture, and intelligent spacecraft identification and control. Asteroid mining could potentially be a trillion-dollar industry. In 2021, China will launch a satellite designed to observe and monitor Near Earth Asteroids, and Origin Space is planning to send NEO-2 to the Moon in late 2021 or early 2022.
In a first, astronomers detect giant planet orbiting a dead star (5 minute read)
WD 1856 is a white dwarf around 80 light-years from Earth that still has a giant planet in its orbit. The planet, WD 1856 b, is seven times larger than its star and completes one full orbit every 1.4 days. It is probably 14 times larger than Jupiter. When stars die, they enter into an expansion phase that usually destroys nearby planets. WD 1856 b could have been drawn in by the expansion or was formed as part of the process. It could be a type of failed star known as a brown dwarf.
Programming, Design & Data Science
First hands on the new Twitter API (4 minute read)
Twitter has released version 2 of its API, promoting its support for bot developers, businesses, academic researchers, students, and makers. The developer portal has been fully rebranded, with a design that is more welcoming for newcomers. It still uses OAuth 1.0a for authentication and is mostly a REST API. Applications have a quota of 500,000 tweets per month. Only six endpoints are currently available, but there are still many features on the roadmap.
a18n (GitHub Repo)
iOS 14 is available today (8 minute read)
iOS 14 is now available as a free software update. The update brings major changes to the Home Screen, with Widgets and a new App Library. Incoming calls and Siri interactions have a new compact design. FaceTime now has Picture-in-Picture support, so users can watch videos while on a call. App Clips are features of apps designed to be discovered when they are needed. They can be discovered and accessed through App Clip codes, NFC tags, QR codes, and links. Messages received an update that allows users to better organize their chats. Maps now has new cycling directions, electric vehicle routing, and curated Guides. Users will have more access and control to their privacy settings. There are many other changes in the update. A list of additional iOS 14 features is available in the article.
Backup Driver Of Autonomous Uber SUV Charged With Negligent Homicide In Arizona (3 minute read)
In 2018, Elaine Herzberg was killed by a Volvo SUV outfitted with an Uber self-driving system. The driver behind the wheel, Rafaela Vasquez, has been charged with negligent homicide. Vasquez pleaded not guilty to the charge and has been released with an ankle monitor. Her trial is set for February 21. An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board found that the likely cause of the crash was inattention from Vasquez, with dashcam footage showing Vasquez spending nearly a third of the trip looking towards her phone. While Uber was not criminally liable in Herzberg's death, the company failed to implement countermeasures to control operator disengagement, and the SUV's sensor systems failed to correctly categorize Herzberg or predict her path.