Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Amazon Bezos' Letter

And we know they're going to be WAY more useful with BIG & interactive screens.

They are inviting anyone to create devices with "Alexa" inside. (I had a very nice chat at CES with an Amazon representative who is part of that program.)

Things are going to get interesting.

Full Letter Text


Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has released his latest annual shareholder letter.
In the letter, Bezos stressed the importance of having high standards in running a business. By setting high standards, companies are able to live up to "ever-rising customer expectations," he said.
"How do you stay ahead of ever-rising customer expectations? There's no single way to do it – it's a combination of many things. But high standards (widely deployed and at all levels of detail) are certainly a big part of it," Bezos wrote in the letter.
Bezos also disclosed for the first time that Prime now exceeds 100 million members worldwide. In 2017 alone, Amazon added more Prime members than any prior year, and shipped over five billion items through the paid membership service worldwide, he said.
Amazon also sold the most number of devices last year, with customers buying "tens of millions" of Echo devices, Bezos wrote in the letter.
With regards to Whole Foods, Bezos said the "technical work" is currently under way to bring Prime member benefits to the grocery chain.

Alexa – Customer embrace of Alexa continues, with Alexa-enabled devices among the best-selling items across all of Amazon. We’re seeing extremely strong adoption by other companies and developers that want to create their own experiences with Alexa. There are now more than 30,000 skills for Alexa from outside developers, and customers can control more than 4,000 smart home devices from 1,200 unique brands with Alexa. The foundations of Alexa continue to get smarter every day too. We’ve developed and implemented an on-device fingerprinting technique, which keeps your device from waking up when it hears an Alexa commercial on TV. (This technology ensured that our Alexa Super Bowl commercial didn’t wake up millions of devices.) Far-field speech recognition (already very good) has improved by 15% over the last year; and in the U.S., U.K., and Germany, we’ve improved Alexa’s spoken language understanding by more than 25% over the last 12 months through enhancements in Alexa’s machine learning components and the use of semi-supervised learning techniques. (These semi-supervised learning techniques reduced the amount of labeled data needed to achieve the same accuracy improvement by 40 times!) Finally, we’ve dramatically reduced the amount of time required to teach Alexa new languages by using machine translation and transfer learning techniques, which allows us to serve customers in more countries (like India and Japan).

  Amazon devices – 2017 was our best year yet for hardware sales. Customers bought tens of millions of Echo devices, and Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick with Alexa were the best-selling products across all of Amazon – across all categories and all manufacturers. Customers bought twice as many Fire TV Sticks and Kids Edition Fire Tablets this holiday season versus last year. 2017 marked the release of our all-new Echo with an improved design, better sound, and a lower price; Echo Plus with a built-in smart home hub; and Echo Spot, which is compact and beautiful with a circular screen. We released our next generation Fire TV, featuring 4K Ultra HD and HDR; and the Fire HD 10 Tablet, with 1080p Full HD display. And we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Kindle by releasing the all-new Kindle Oasis, our most advanced reader ever. It’s waterproof – take it in the bathtub – with a bigger 7” high-resolution 300 ppi display and has built-in audio so you can also listen to your books with Audible.

Laser Scanning (SLAM) and AR making surgery safer

The uses for Microvision's technology will have enormous value, far beyond consumer electronics.

Machine Design

At the University of Twente in the Netherlands, a research team is developing an economical smartphone technology based on the Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) technology, along with augmented reality (AR). The device allows doctors to reconstruct 3D body sections by directing the smartphone to the areas of interest. The smartphone will display AR layers of the 3D skin surface so that it can help visualize information that would otherwise be invisible to the doctors.

According to Søren Riisgaard and Morten Rufus Blas, researchers from MIT, “SLAM consists of multiple parts: Landmark extraction, data association, state estimation, state update and landmark update.” By using the data from the body scans, the computer outputs a continuous update mapping by constantly reorienting the scans and interpreting the new data into updated maps.
“We want our SLAM toolbox software solution to support different cameras like a plug-and-play system,” Srmacek added. “So, this allows users to use higher resolution cameras when needed. After medical approvals are obtained for our SLAM toolbox, we would like it to be commercialized as soon as possible.”

“SLAM is a core technology in robotics, but its universal usage will only be possible if we have methods to easily interface many sensors in a robotic system,” said Prof. Dr. Ir. Stefano Stramigioli, chairman of the Robotics and Mechatronics (RAM) Group, Robotics and Mechatronics. “At RAM, we intend to create a modular SLAM box, which will automatically reconfigure itself if extra sensors are attached in a ‘plug-and-play’ fashion. Then it would be possible to connect this ‘SLAM Box’ to a complete robotic system, giving it powerful perception capabilities.”

Friday, April 13, 2018

Apple, NDA's & Penalties

Those of you who are frustrated with NDA's I share the frustration.

But nothing is kept so close to the vest that isn't a big deal.

Apple doesn't take kindly to leaks.

Fast Company
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports on a memo recently sent to all Apple employees stating that 29 Apple people were caught leaking secrets about planned products last year, and 12 of them were arrested. The memo describes in stark terms the implications for employees who leak and get caught: “These people not only lose their jobs, they can face extreme difficulty finding employment elsewhere,” says product marketing executive Greg Joswiak in the memo.
The memo lays out examples of times when whole product announcements have been spoiled by leaks to the media. The main facts about the iPhone X and the Apple Watch 3 had been leaked to the media before the splashy launch event, leaving Apple executives to go through the motions of delivering big surprises from the stage. Apple says leaked information can depress sales of existing product models, and give competitors more time to respond to features coming in future models.  “We want the chance to tell our customers why the product is great, and not have that done poorly by someone else,” the memo says.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Parkinson's help from AR

It will work better with Glasses.

HealthCare Analytics

The phenomenon known as “freezing” occurs for many Parkinson’s patients. It’s when their limbs temporarily won’t do what their brain is telling them to, causing them to “freeze” during activities like walking. Sometimes, a simple visual cue can help spur their motion.

That’s where augmented reality (AR) comes in. The students developed a smartphone app that allows a user to place one of those cues, like a circle or block (see image above), to target where on the ground their next step should land . According to a brief from Rice, the cue is often enough to spur patients back into their gait.

“This is for patients who, in their day-to-day lives, experience freezing episodes,” one team member, Gaby Perez, said. The app can also use tactile and audio cues, which Perez said other devices meant to assist with the problem typically don’t incorporate.

A smartphone app is also cheaper and more innocuous than those other solutions, like laser-guiding canes. One of Perez’s teammates, Dan Burke, said that the project “has the potential to work more effectively and at a fraction of the cost.” The app—which is more proof-of-concept than eventual product—was designed for iPhones, but the team said it should be adaptable to Android devices as well.

Watch this again, carefully....

Brought to you here first during this years CES

Facebook Portal

EXCLUSIVE: Facebook Dives into Home Device Market with Video Chat Product Named "Portal"

January 9, 2018

Facebook is about to jump into the consumer hardware business in a big way with a video chat device named "Portal," which will put it in direct competition with Amazon’s hugely popular line of Echo voice-controlled devices, Cheddar has learned.
The device is designed to work in the home and represents Facebook’s first serious foray into selling consumer hardware, people familiar with the matter said. Rather than position the device as a smart assistant akin to Amazon’s Echo speakers, Facebook intends to pitch Portal as a way for families and friends to stay connected through video chatting and other social features.
Facebook plans a formal product introduction in early May at its annual developer conference and hopes to ship the device in the second half of 2018.
Like Amazon’s screen-equipped Echo Show, Facebook’s Portal is designed to work indoors and be controlled through voice commands. According to people familiar with Facebook’s plans, Portal will be equipped with a wide-angle lens that is capable of recognizing individual faces and associating them with their Facebook accounts.
The world’s largest social network has been using facial recognition for years and recently started notifying users if their faces appear in photos they aren’t tagged in.
Facebook also intends to let Portal access outside streaming services like Spotify and Netflix. The company recently signed sweeping music licensing deals with Sony/ATV and Universal Music Group.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Accidents will happen

This is an important thing. Accidents WILL happen with new technology, that's no doubt. But it's important to note that this was a collision with a bicycle.

I have searched for the reference regarding the abilities of MicroVision's LiDAR -- but among them mentioned specifically is the ability to recognize things like bicycles & being able to distinguish the difference between objects of roughly the same size -- such as the difference between a brick and a cat.

Dense point cloud, and lasers on multiple wavelengths are feature that can benefit this ability.

They do not operate in isolation, however. There is a lot of software that has to be developed and tested and 

ABC 15 Arizona

TEMPE, Ariz. - Tempe, Arizona police are investigating a deadly crash involving a self-driving Uber vehicle early Monday morning.

The Uber vehicle was reportedly headed northbound when a woman walking outside of the crosswalk was struck.

Tempe Police says the vehicle was in autonomous mode at the time of the crash and a vehicle operator was also behind the wheel. No passengers were in the vehicle at the time.

An Uber spokesperson said they are aware of the incident and are cooperating with authorities.

Uber has paused self-driving operations in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto, which is a standard move, the company says.

The investigation is still active.

Uber began testing self-driving cars in Tempe in February 2017. The fleet of self-driving Volvos arrived in Arizona after they were banned from California roads over safety concerns. Gov. Doug Ducey touted Arizona as a testing ground, saying at the time in a written statement, “Arizona welcomes Uber self-driving cars with open arms and wide open roads.”

One of the self-driving cars was involved in a crash a month later, after a car failed to yield to the Uber vehicle and hit it, authorities said. The self-driving SUV rolled onto its side as a result crash.

There were no serious injuries were reported in that crash.

Sotheby's Curate

Imagine shopping for a home with AR Glasses.

The furniture you own is stored inside / or as shown in the video you can shop for things that work with it on the fly.

You enter the prospective home, and can arrange your furniture in it, and see how it looks.

Sotheby's Curate | DigitalTrends

Thanks T!

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Google Smart Screens Walkthrough

I am nearly 100% certain that we will be included in Google "Smart Screens" and nearly 100% certain that this is NOT the "black Box project."

This is laying it out.

AT CES, Google had smart speakers. In fact, Google and Amazon were very heavily promoting their smart speakers to the conference. (If you were IN the conference, you thought Amazon was everywhere, if you were around Las Vegas at the time, you thought Google was everywhere.)

I put up all the puzzle pieces, (here)  but I received more than a few inquiries "What did that all mean?" So, here it is a bit more directly.

During CES Google Presented Smart Screens.

(The Verge, Google Smart Screens)

Here is a Google Smart Screen Video....

Keys to inclusion:

Developer's Blog (From the same day as the release.)
"New voice-activated speakers powered by Android Things are being announced at CES, including the LG ThinQ WK7 and iHome iGV1. Turnkey hardware solutions based on the Qualcomm SD212 Home Hub Platform, MediaTek MT8516 and Rockchip RK3229 SoM are certified for the Assistant and Cast, and NXP i.MX 8M is coming soon. Three of our Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) partners, Tymphany, Goertek, and Tonly, have created full speaker reference designs based on these SoMs to further reduce development cost and time-to-market."
Rockchip 3229

>>> This mentions Goertek, who is the manufacturing partner for MVIS Engines.
>>> Rockchip is also interesting, but for a different reason....
>>> Rockchip is here, at WPG holdings  (If you don't remember, WPG holdings is the Asian Distributor Microvision announced the connection with during the Fall of 2017)
The below, cart is distributed by WPG (Still #8 in the hottest of 612 items in the IOT area as of April 9, 2018) It shows a RockChip 3036 processor.

What is the Rockchip 3036? look for the frame below in the video...

Now, if you want to know why I don't think it's the "Black Box" Project, is because the PSE-0403-101 is the Interactive display engine. -- Which was ALREADY demonstrated and Announced by MicroVision.
Link to PR... (too lazy to search outside blog)

"PSE-0403sti-101 Short Throw Interactive Display Engine
MicroVision will also be featuring an interactive display prototype that combines display functionality with 3D sensing that enables a natural gesture recognition feature for consumer products. The interactive display engine enables user experiences where touching a projected image is processed by the system in the same way as interacting with a touchscreen on a smartphone or tablet. Samples of interactive display engines the company is developing, model PSE-0403sti-101, are expected to be available in the second quarter of this year with production units targeted for the third quarter.
The interactive display engine is built on the common LBS platform shared with the PSE-0403 display engines and will include the same display features combined with an integrated time-of-flight (ToF) sensing function. MicroVision’s ability to combine ToF sensing and pico projection into a single compact engine offers OEMs new possibilities for products by mimicking a Windows 10 or Android touch screen display or providing access to intermediate point cloud data all from an engine so small it can be embedded in mobile and smart IOT products."

2018 Anticipated Smart Speaker Sales

Goertek(MVIS Maker) Qualcomm AR

SANTA CLARA, Calif., March 2, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Goertek announces today its 3rd generation virtual reality (VR) reference platform in partnership with Qualcomm. This VR head mounted display (HMD) design, based on the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 845 mobile platform, enables a vivid and immersive VR experience in a standalone form factor. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will be able to leverage Goertek's vast product experience to quickly bring the highest performing VR products to market.

"This is a pivotal moment for our industry," said Dr. Pen C. Li, Vice President, Product Marketing, Goertek. "The launch of Snapdragon™ 845, together with Goertek's successful integration of cutting edge VR technologies, opens the opportunity to bring our users the most complete standalone VR experience ever seen. Goertek's extensive experience in design, engineering and manufacturing, in both components and systems, has propelled it to become a global ODM [original design manufacturer] leader."

In this latest generation of VR HMD, Goertek successfully integrated the various subsystems including display, advanced optics and lens, mechanical design, audio, chipset, and software. OEMs will benefit from the turn-key nature of this design to shorten time-to-market, decrease engineering investment, and increase focus on user experience and content implementation.

Customers of this reference design should feel confident in this Goertek-designed platform. Goertek has designed multiple successful VR products by especially focusing on ergonomics, thermal management, and system integration. After years of strategic investment in the VR ecosystem, Goertek has proven to be a trusted and capable partner for this market and have supported major ecosystem leaders like Google Daydream, Lenovo™ and others.

"With the Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR Platform, we are paving the way for customers and developers to create the immersive and life-like experiences that our users are asking for," said Hugo Swart, Head of Virtual and Augmented Reality Business Group, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. "We are pushing forward and delivering leading technologies to support the growing product segment of standalone and smartphone VR products."

The Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 845 Mobile Platform features updated architectures and subsystems that aim to deliver an unprecedented VR experience. Using the the Qualcomm® Adreno™ 630 visual processing subsystem, this latest design includes 30 percent faster graphics performance and 2.5x increased display throughout while using 30 percent less power.

Previously unavailable to the standalone VR category, multiple technology innovations dramatically improve the user experience. Foveated rendering along with eye tracking allow for graphics processing to increase in the areas where the user is focused. This allows for power savings as well as the highest performing visual effects to date. 6DoF inside-out tracking frees the user to explore the full VR environment, free of wires that threaten to break the immersive quality of VR.

About Goertek

Goertek is a global leader in total system design and manufacturing and was the worldwide #1 ODM for virtual reality HMD in 2017. Goertek Inc. was established in June 2001, and listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in May 2008. As a worldwide leading high-tech consumer electronics company, Goertek's main focuses consist of R&D, production and sales of electro-acoustic components, including MEMS mic, sensor, miniature speaker, linear motor, antenna, CNC metal parts, optical component, camera module, and system product, including VR/AR and VR accessories, wearable device, smart hearable device such as smart speaker and wired/wireless headphone/earphone, smart robots, and 360-degree camera, etc.

Thursday, April 5, 2018