News Roundup: March 20

A lot of interesting news in autonomous vehicles, IoT and more in this week’s news roundup. Take a look.

Autonomous and connected vehicles

Lyft to pay $27 million settlement in driver classification lawsuit but drivers remain independent contractors(Ars Technica)
Lyft will pay 200,000 former and current California Lyft drivers over their classification as contractors rather than employees. Under the new agreement, drives will be challenge firings before an arbitrator. They will be required to pay for their own gas and other expenses, will remain uncovered by minimum-wage laws and won’t be able to receive unemployment insurance or other benefits. Uber is currently facing its own class-action lawsuit in California and Massachusetts.

Uber’s driverless cars still struggling to go it alone (MIT Technology Review)
Though California recently granted Uber permits to test autonomous vehicles, leaked internal documents show Uber’s autonomous cars still need regular human intervention. In one week 43 cars drove 20,354 autonomous miles but human drivers had to intervene every 0.8 miles on average. Its cars also averaged 196 miles between incidents where the cars would have injured people or caused over $5000 in damage.

Nvidia teams up with Bosch to mass produce driverless car systems (PC World)
The two companies will team up to make driving systems with the Xavier chip, meant to act as “a supercomputer in a car” that can help autonomous vehicles make driving decisions by enabling it to recognize everything that’s in sight of the moving vehicle.

Dutch firm awarded AV contract in Dubai (Eurotransport Magazine)
Dutch firm 2getthere won a contract to connect Dubai’s Bluewaters living community to the city’s metro stations, with 25 driverless Group Rapid Transits that can carry 24 passengers each with the whole system projected to carry 5,000 people per hour per direction. Dubai hopes to have 25 percent of all car trips in the county be driverless by 2035.

VR/AR/MR

International Data Corporation projects 99.4 million AR & VR shipments in 2021 (Market Business News)
The IDC expects headset shipments to increase tenfold over the next four years, with growth driven by businesses adopting the technology for work purposes as well as by expanding gaming and media content attracting consumers.

VR vs. AR is an obsolete argument (VentureBeat)
While many have debated the merits of VR and AR and discussed which of the two technologies will come out on top, VentureBeat asks why not both?

iPhone 8 could have AR capability (Tech Republic)
Many listed suppliers for iPhone 8 supply AR technology, leading some observers to think the iPhone 8 may have AR capabilities.

Law professors draft article exploring legal issues surrounding AR, VR (The Washington Post)
Stanford law professor Mark A. Lemley and UCLA law professor Eugene Volkoh drafted an article exploring the legal issues surrounding AR and VR technologies, how harm is defined in alternate spaces and potential ways the law can regulate and protect without squelching the technology’s growth.

Smart Living

Smart home device producers flock to Unified Inbox while others explore deep learning for device control (Fortune)
Fortune explores how many producers are turning to Unified Inbox as an alternative to voice control as both an option of convenience for consumers and a way to keep giants like Amazon from dominating the smart home ecosystem with their one-device-controls-all approach. It also looks at how some companies like LG are exploring deep learning for products so they can learn user preferences and then perform them without being instructed each time.

California housing development offers HomeKit-enabled houses (MacRumors)
A KB Home development in San Jose is offering homes equipped with numerous Homekit devices integrated into them at a cost of $2500 per house. House owners will be able to control the front door lock, room temperature, lighting, fans and window shades with the devices.

How to build a hacker-proof smart home (Mansion Global)
Mansion Global offers a helpful guide to ensure smart homes are hack proof at a time when concern about smart home device security is high.

Robotics & drones

New initiative works on robots to improve agricultural management (Forbes)In a new initiative called FarmView, robotic developers are working to develop sensors, robots and AI systems that will enable more effective crop management and crop reproduction.

ABB Group CEO criticizes Gates suggestion to tax robotsAt the China Development Forum, Ulrich Spiesshofer criticized Bill Gate’s suggestion to tax robots, saying it was akin to taxing software and that the productivity and safety they provide to workers is invaluable.

Utah to use robotic station to automate DNA extraction in rape kits for faster processing (Salt Lake Tribune)
Utah plans to use a new crime lab with robotics station that will automate part of the DNA extraction process to help analysts get DNA results quicker, hoping to bring the kit processing time to 30-60 days.

Wearables

Google Glass gets new life in the manufacturing industry (NPR)
Though consumers were wary to adopt Google Glass because of potential for violations of privacy, U.S. manufacturing companies like AGCO have adopted the glasses to help workers on the factory floor. Google Glasses have been providing workers instructions on part placement, easy access to manuals and voice recording to leave notes for the following shift worker.

Wearable tech has to be really good or really wearable (Verge)
Verge analyzes the two camps smart devices tend to fall within-being either highly specialized or easy to wear. It looks at the question challenging many product developers: can we make a wearable that doesn’t feel like a wearable?

Intel is looking to develop new form of its Curie chips for wearables (PC World)As Intel dips its toes further into the water of wearables, its working on new chips that are smaller and faster than its existing chip that will allow for the creation of thinner, sleeker wearables.

IoT and Big Data

We-Vibe to pay $3.75 million in settlement for data collection (NPR)
The vibrator maker will pay $3.75 million class action settlement with users following allegations the company was collecting data on when and how the sex toy was used.

Building a business-ready internet of things (PC World)
PC World has created a three-part guide on setting up an Internet of Things system for businesses, including a set of use cases, security and standardization.

We’ve Brought These Stupid ‘Internet of Things’ Hacks Upon Ourselves (Life Hacker)
Life Hacker examines how consumer apathy toward Internet of Things poor device security has enabled a continued lax attitude in the industry and that with many smart devices and how the current potential detriments many devices pose to people’s lives outweigh the benefits they offer.

Privacy & Security

WikiLeaks to work with tech companies to patch security holes (The New York Times)
Julian Assange has said WikiLeaks will work with companies including Apple to patch security holes revealed by the most recent WikiLeaks release.

Previous owners may have access to used smart home devices
Digital Trends reports on how many used smart devices, particularly home devices, still provide previous users access even following a factory reset, requiring manufacturer intervention. The National Association of Realtors developed a check list for agents on how to transfer smart home device control over to new owners.

Browser extension aims to educate people on online threats and prevention (Wired)
Browser extension Sideways Dictionary, developed by Google’s online safety division Jigsaw and The Washington Post, aims to help average consumers understand online threats and precautions they can take against them.

Audio

Dolby Labs is using biosensors to learn how we’re reacting to movies and shows (The Verge)
Dolby has been using EEG caps, pulse oximeters, thermal cameras and heart rate and galvanic skin response trackers to see how people physiologically react to sound to develop better sound systems.

MIT Chip allows for cheaper, power-thrifty and more private voice control (Wired)
MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories have developed a new chip that allows it to handle more processing (thus require less juice) as well as pick up speech audio more effectively. It enables speech to be converted to text before being sent to servers, which prevents the collection of information like a speaker’s age, accent, gender and ambient noise, better protecting user’s privacy.

Google assistant plays Beauty and The Beast Audio Ad (The Verge)
Google Home users were surprised with an audio advertisement played by their Google Assistant announcing the opening day of Disney’s new film. Google at first said the audio played wasn’t an ad, then later stopped serving the audio content to users.

Medical Technology

Potential Next-Stage Digital Medicine (KQED Science)
KQED speaks with Dr. Daniel Kraft, doctor and chair of medicine at a technology think tank about some of the potential applications of technology in sectors of medicine.

Findings from first robot-assisted cochlear implant published today (Wired)
Science Robotics published the results of the first robot-assisted cochlear implant, finding it assisted doctors in the procedure. The magazine also published a proposed classification system for medical robots based on their level of automation.

10 Engineered Medical Technologies That Are Shaping Our Future (Manufacturing and Engineering Magazine)
A quick rundown of how current technological products could be used for medical purposes in the future.

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