IoT news of the week for July 3, 2020
See Spot run! After 11 years in the making, Boston Dynamics has begun selling its Spot robot to anyone who has $75,000 lying around. I’ve seen dozens of company-produced videos of Spot, the four-legged robot, but this is the first time I’ve seen a customer share one. Technically, Spot may be on loan to the Unbox Therapy YouTube channel, which shows the capabilities of this dog-like device from an end-user point of view. I’m more amazed than ever at how Spot can navigate obstacles and uneven ground after watching this. Most impressive? How Spot navigates stairs with uncanny ease. This is well worth the watch to understand what kinds of robotics we can expect in the coming years as the cost of compute power, sensors, and other hardware decrease. ( Unbox Therapy )
Facebook has a new take on VR glasses: A Facebook proof of concept for thinner VR glasses appeared this week, showing what look to be sunglasses at first glance. Behind the dark lenses are a new technology the company calls “holographic optics,” which help to reduce the lens thickness to 9 millimeters. The idea is to replace the traditional refractive lens, which focus images in a VR headset, with another lens to shorten the focal length and allow for thinner optics. The company says that by using the other lens, “light can be controlled to move both forward and backward” within it, which is how the lens can be thinner than what you’ll find in today’s bulky headsets. Anything that makes wearing one of these VR contraptions less like wearing a scuba mask is a good thing in my book. ( The Verge )
Speaking of smart glasses, I tested Amazon Echo Frames: I really wanted to like the Echo Frames, mainly because they look like traditional glasses. And Amazon has succeeded in delivering a simple way to use Alexa hands-free thanks to always-on listening, two microphones, and two pairs of speakers. But marginal battery life, reliance on having your phone with you at all times, and a lack of interesting new features have me thinking that $250 isn’t worth the price of admission for these. ( StaceyOnIoT )
California Consumer Privacy Act enforcement has begun: The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) took effect back in January, but legal enforcement of it has only just now begun. This week, the state’s Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, made sure to remind both businesses and consumers of that fact. This data privacy law is among the first in the U.S. at the state level, so it will be interesting to see if others follow. Under CCPA, consumers can request information about what personal data businesses sell and ask companies to no longer sell that data, requests which the company must abide by. This is great for general online privacy, but I don’t know that most smart device makers will fall under CCPA; the act is only enforceable on companies that make “50 percent or more of [their] annual revenues from selling consumers’ personal information.”...