This startup wants to replace the white cane for blind people

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Using advanced technologies such as lidar—also used in autonomous vehicles—Strap’s assistive device is aimed at helping visually impaired people navigate their environment. Lots of companies are pouring resources into teaching cars to see the world around them. Now a startup called Strap Technologies is developing a wearable pod that uses some of the same kinds of sensors used by autonomous vehicles—radar, lidar, ultrasonic—to give blind people a clearer sense of their surroundings. Read Full Story

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Google’s secretive ATAP lab is imagining the future of smart devices

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The consumer-electronics research arm has been quiet for years—but it’s also been busy. Its new mission: Make Google hardware as smart as Google software. In 2015, Dan Kaufman, the director of the information innovation office at the U.S. Department’s fabled DARPA lab, began talking to Google about joining the company in some capacity. Maybe he could work on Android. Or take a job at X, the Alphabet moonshot factory formerly known as Google X. And then another possibility came up: ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects), a Google research skunkworks that was “just like DARPA, but in Silicon Valley,” as he describes it. His reaction: “That sounds awesome!” Read Full Story

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Microsoft’s new Surface gear is arriving at a WFH moment, and that’s okay

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You might not take a Surface Go 2 or Surface Book 3 to a coffee shop anytime soon. But Microsoft says that they still deliver what people need right now. Last October, Microsoft held a splashy hardware event in New York City at which it unveiled the Surface Neo and Surface Duo, two two-screen mobile devices that it doesn’t plan to ship until the fall of this year. It’s rare for any company to switch on its hoopla machine so far in advance, but the Neo and Duo both aspire to push the boundaries of portable computing, making them a big deal for Microsoft—and, at least potentially, the whole industry. Read Full Story

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