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Featured January 12, 2023

More Firms Unveil Improved Smart Glasses as AR Race Gathers Steam

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More Companies Unveil Smart Glasses as AR Race Gathers Steam
RayNeo X2.

More companies have joined the augmented reality (AR) race with Snap Inc., Magic Leap, and TCL among those announcing the launch of their own wearable smart glasses at the just ended Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, 2023.

CES is the world’s number one tech show. It offers companies and users a first look at next-generation tech innovations cutting across computers, smart home gadgets, TVs, cars, and more. For this year, the event was held in Las Vegas, U.S. from Jan. 5 to 8.

The show attracted 3,200 exhibitors from more than 170 countries and regions, according to reports. Exhibitors showcased innovations in sustainability, transportation and mobility, digital health, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality, and more.

Also read: Next, AI-Designed Proteins for Medicine

Smart glasses bring AR to life. Almost

Smart glasses that combine aspects of augmented reality drew attention at CES 2023. Snap Inc released the first version of its smart glasses known as “Spectacles” in 2016 and began to incorporate AR elements in its third generation product last year.

The California-based company highlighted the improved “Spectacles” in Las Vegas. They are a pair of AR goggles equipped with a dual 3D waveguide display and a 26.3 degree diagonal field of view (FOV) – the amount of screen area where users can realistically see AR stuff.

Spectacles also include what the company claims to be immersive AR lenses that can be overlaid on the world and can be used for both indoors and outdoors thanks to an adjustable display.

Snap’s new creation will with the aid of augmented reality creators figure out new ways to merge fun and utility through immersive AR. The AR goggles are not for sale but will be made available to AR innovators around the world.

TCL announces ‘oversized’ AR smart glasses

Spectacles is not the only product that combines reality and augmented reality in the market at the moment. Lately, more companies have come up with new optical AR products. It includes Chinese technology giant TCL Electronics.

TCL announced the launch of its RayNeo X2 AR glasses at the CES 2023, describing the pair of frames as having a “subtle and lightweight body for everyday wear.” However, some tech analysts have criticized the glasses for “their comically oversized nature.”

“If augmented reality glasses become a groundbreaking product category, they will need to look similar to regular prescription glasses,” said Will Shanklin writing for Engadget. “TCL is showcasing…how tall an order that still is.”

TCL said the RayNeo X2 “harnesses pioneering binocular full-color MicroLED optical waveguide displays.” At this stage, the glasses are not aimed at the end user, giving the firm time to fine tune the product. The prototype RayNeo X2 will start shipping to developers by end of March.

TCL’s glasses run on the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 platform, the same chipset found in Facebook’s Meta Quest 2 VR headset. The glasses come with an all-in-one assistant feature ranging from smart navigation, auto-translation to photography and playing music.

More Companies Unveil Smart Glasses as AR Race Gathers Steam

TCL RayNeo X2

Its MicroLED display has 100,000:1 contrast ratio and can reach a brightness of 1,000 nits,”which could help make its visuals readable in bright sunlight. CNET reported that TCL “will offer prescription inserts that allow you to use them in place of regular glasses.”

TCL revealed its “smart GPS” navigation system utilizes simultaneous localization and mapping, or SLAM, to overlay virtual directions while highlighting landmarks that are in the vicinity. The RayNeo X2 can play music softly without anyone else around you hearing it.

The glasses also allow users to make calls on-screen and can deliver message pop-ups or translate in-person conversations with real-time subtitles, according to TCL. It has a built-in camera for capturing so-called first-person videos, still pictures and time-lapse photos.

Magic Leap 2 wants to make a leap

In another report, MetaNews covered the Mojo lens, a high tech contact lense that gives a sci-fi like view of their world. The tech can be used for a number of real world applications such as aiding in driving, meetings, military and medical industry.

More Companies Unveil Smart Glasses as AR Race Gathers Steam

Magic Leap 2

Magic Leap has been considered a pioneer in augmented reality, but the company appears to have flattered to deceive. Many people expected Magic Leap to lead the world into the era of AR after it raised $2 billion in funding in early 2020.

But with a single headset going for $2,300, the product found no takers within the developer and creator community. There were other reasons that contributed to the failure, including a lack of user-friendliness, and the issues sort of put paid to Magic Leap’s AR ambitions.

At CES 2023, the company showcased its new Magic Leap 2 headset, launched officially in September. The new device is reported to be an improvement on the Magic Leap 1 headset. It actually costs much more than the first one, $3,300, though it is not focused on the end user.

It is now focusing on enterprise customers instead. According to the company, now led by former Microsoft executive Peggy Johnson, Magic Leap 2 is a light head-mounted device with a larger field of view of 70 degrees that allows users to see both their physical and virtual worlds.

More Companies Unveil Smart Glasses as AR Race Gathers Steam

Magic Leap 2 FOV

With this FOV, users can see taller projects without moving their heads up or down, it claims. For its latest model, Magic Leap developed a custom architecture that incorporates aspects of what is known as liquid crystal on silicon, or LCoS, to make images visible to our eyes.

The system combines with a new eyepiece design to deliver the 70 degrees field of view. Engadget reports that Magic Leap 2 “has flatter lenses and slimmer arms, making you seem less like a bug-eyed dork and more like an engineer or surgeon gearing up for a big project.”

Medical uses of AR

Lance Ulanoff is a tech expert from New York. He tested the Magic Leap 2 (ML2) augmented reality headset at CES this year. He believes the product made some improvements.

“Magic Leap is a hot spot at CES 2023. Nice to see the company has dropped the secrecy and seems to have found its path in the enterprise. Headset is pretty comfortable, puck is a little heavy, but that keeps the 2.0 headset light. FOV impressive,” Ulanoff said.

Peggy Johnson said ML2 has obtained certification from U.S. state agencies for its flagship AR headset that will see it being used in medical procedures. She added that the certification permits Magic Leap 2 to be used in an operating room and clinical settings.

This enables surgeons to focus on the patient and not focus too much on 2D screens. Apart from medical, the device can also be used in industries such as defense to health care rather than consumers more broadly.

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Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney.

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Donald Trump Coming Back to Facebook and Instagram, Says Meta

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Donald Trump Coming Back to Facebook and Instagram, Says Meta
Soon in a phone near you.

Meta has said it will restore the Facebook and Instagram accounts of former U.S. President Donald Trump “in the coming weeks,” ending a two-year suspension.

Trump, who has 34 million followers on Facebook and 23 million on Instagram, was banned from both platforms following the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021. Meta said that the real estate billionaire was barred for his “praise for people engaged in violence at the Capitol.”

Also read: Twitter ElonJet Ban Raises Questions About Elon Musk’s Free Speech Ideals

In a Jan. 25 blog post, Meta’s president of global affairs Nick Clegg, said the social media company will reinstate Trump’s accounts in the coming weeks but “with new guardrails in place to deter repeat offenses.”

“Like any other Facebook or Instagram user, Mr Trump is subject to our community standards,” Clegg, a former UK deputy prime minister, wrote.

“In the event that Mr Trump posts further violating content, the content will be removed and he will be suspended for between one month and two years, depending on the severity of the violation.”

Donald Trump ban divided opinion

The decision to ban Trump was incredibly divisive. Before his ban, Meta, the world’s biggest social media firm, “had never suspended the account of a sitting head of state for violating its content rules.” Meta suspended the then-U.S. president’s accounts indefinitely.

Explaining the decision, Clegg said the suspension was “an extraordinary decision taken in extraordinary circumstances.” Meta referred the case on whether to permanently ban Trump to its independent oversight board.

The board upheld the decision but criticized the open-ended nature of the suspension and the lack of clear criteria for when and whether suspended accounts will be restored. It directed Meta to review the decision and the company said it would do so two years after the ban.

Clegg said a review has now found that Trump’s accounts no longer posed a serious risk to public safety, which would otherwise warrant an extension of the “suspension beyond the original two-year period”.

Eventually, Meta decided that its platforms should be available for “open, public and democratic debate” and that users “should be able to hear from a former President of the United States, and a declared candidate for that office again.”

“The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying – the good, the bad and the ugly – so that they can make informed choices at the ballot box,” said Clegg.

Trump announced he will be running for the U.S. presidency again in 2024. Meta’s decision to reinstate Trump has divided opinion. While Republicans praised the move as a victory for free speech, Democrat Adam Schiff criticized it as “dangerous”.

Donald Trump claims Facebook ‘lost billions’ after his ban

In a post on Truth Social, reshared by others on Twitter, Trump responded saying, Facebook “lost billions of dollars in value since deplatforming your favorite President, me…”

“Such a thing should never again happen to a sitting President, or anybody else who is not deserving of retribution!” he added. Trump, who founded Truth Social after his Facebook ban, did not say if or when he would start posting on Meta apps again.

Donald Trump was also suspended on Twitter, YouTube and SnapChat following the Capitol riots. New Twitter CEO Elon Musk reinstated the account in November last year but the former president is yet to post anything there.

Some reports suggested the silence is due to an exclusivity agreement he has with Truth Social, which requires him to post all news to the app six hours in advance of any other platform. That agreement expires in June.

Truth Social

Trump launched Truth Social, a right-wing social network created to challenge the likes of Twitter, in February 2022.

The social network brands itself as “America’s ‘big tent’ social media platform.” Truth Social claims that it “encourages an open, free, and honest global conversation without discriminating on the basis of political ideology.”

In August, the app reached number 25 on Apple’s App Store rankings for social media apps. Truth Social has weathered reports of financial difficulty, regulatory issues and a ban from the Google Playstore, to continue to see impressive growth throughout 2022.

However, the platform could face problems again should Trump start utilizing Facebook and Twitter like he did in the past. The former president boasts a following of 5 million on Truth Social, which is far much smaller compared to the followers he has on the platforms that banned him.

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How Artificial Intelligence (A.I) Can Help to Combat Fake News

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How Artificial Intelligence (A.I) Can Help to Combat Fake News

Recent technological advancements like the internet have vastly improved the speed and the mode of communication, but they have given rise to a new problem, “fake news.”

Fake news is a false story or information peddled to push a narrative or the cause of the source. Every internet user, at some point, has come across fake news. The stories are usually written to sensationalize or muddle the truth and are spread faster than the truth, according to a 2018 research.

Essentially, the chances of an internet user receiving accurate information are relatively small. As a result, most internet users are susceptible to consuming twisted or falsified materials that fit a narrative.

How A.I. combats fake news and bias

With the fake news menace fast spreading, new technological advancements in artificial intelligence (A.I.) have been developed to curb its spread.

A.I. programs can perform linguistic analysis on the textual content to look for word patterns, syntactic structure, and readability. This analysis helps A.I. distinguish between computer-generated content and the ones produced by humans. The programs can also examine texts to check for hate speech in word vectors, word placements, and even connotations.

Fake News

Source: Merriam Webster

One major project that has helped in combating fake news is Fandango. Fandango is the brainchild of the European Union aimed at addressing “the aggressive emergence of fake news and post-truth effect.” The program crawls the internet to identify identical claims that fact-checkers have verified as false.

The program helps journalists track the source of false information and curb it before they get out of hand.

To verify claims and combat misinformation, Politifact, Snopes, and FactCheck engage human specialists to investigate the authenticity of reports. Upon proving a false claim, A.I. programs are deployed to crawl the web for similar information. These programs also issue reputation scores to website articles after it has verified their authenticity.

However, the reputation scores are issued following the completion of Sentiment Analysis, Opinion Analysis, Revision Analysis, and Propaganda Analysis. Sentiment analysis entails the examination of the journalist’s attitude toward the news. At the same time, Opinion Analysis examines whether the article is riddled with personal feelings, viewpoints, convictions, or assessments.

Revision analysis checks for a news story’s impact on public perception and mood. Propaganda Analysis also helps discover potential false information using different persuasion strategies. By combining the four analyses, A.I. helps verify the authenticity of claims and eliminate bias from the writers.

The challenges

While A.I. technologies like G.P.T. -3 have come close to replicating human-made materials, it is still far from attaining perfection. At some point, most A.I.s have even been accused of contributing to the spread of fake news and even bias. However, this can be credited to their use of Machine Learning which relies on human information.

There have also been issues of racial discrimination when using A.I. technologies. An M.I.T. Media Labs investigation uncovered flaws in facial recognition that resulted in a Netflix documentary.

Another visible issue is the inability of A.I. technologies to recognize humor and parody. As a result, it can misread real stories for fake ones if they are presented in a joking manner.

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New Metaverse Product M3 is Focused on Senior Citizens Healthcare

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New Metaverse Product M3 is Focused on Senior Citizens Healthcare

Two Lubin graduates, Chuk Ezuma and Rikin Gajjar, have developed the wearable M3 metaverse glass concept to cater to US aging population care services via the metaverse.

M3 is a traditional eyeglasses-like wearable product that allows health professionals like medical doctors to provide services for these demographics. With the product, a patient does not necessarily have to physically visit the hospital as the individual — after logging into Zoom or Microsoft Teams —  is attended to by an M3-wearing medical practitioner who communicates with the patient while accessing all necessary medical records.

M3 is unlike the usual VR headset

Per Pace University, the M3’s design is unlike the usual virtual reality headset. The prototype is said to be very much like an eyeglass. The developers believe that their novel approach would give them a competitive edge over rivals in the market.

Speaking on the product, Gajjar said:

“We want to save nurses time. Plus, older patients might not be able to drive, or getting to a hospital could be a headache. That’s our mission—save time and provide the best care.”

M3 was presented at a technology competition with participants from various schools like the University of Maryland, Columbia Business School, etc.

Experts urge for more senior citizens-focused metaverse products

While it seems the metaverse might be limited to young adults, senior citizens can also utilize it for healthcare purposes. Senior citizens can use the metaverse to access medical services and even attend therapy sessions. The metaverse can deliver virtual medical consultation services using advanced technology.

Based on the above, several experts believe that the metaverse could change how senior citizens get medical attention and quality healthcare services. This is why many of them are urging businesses in the metaverse to create more products that cater to the needs of the elderly.

New Metaverse Product M3 is Focused on Senior Citizens Healthcare

Source: Forbes

The CEO of Rendever, Kyle Rand, said senior citizens’ love for the metaverse is “growing and tangible.” According to Rand, businesses in the healthcare industry could tap into the numerous opportunities the metaverse provides by developing an age-inclusive technology.

“The future of aging depends on products and technologies that deliver and motivate older users to jump in again and again.”

Rand said these businesses could build products around travel experiences, fitness, community building, and even family connection for senior citizens. The CEO believes this move would be lucrative for these businesses and boost rapid adoption of metaverse technologies considering older adults spend over $8 trillion each year.

An article by Christos Tsagjkaris and others argued that healthcare professionals must call for an elderly-inclusive virtual environment that provides a safe and enriching user experience.

Countries tap metaverse for better healthcare services

The metaverse has revolutionized several industries, including the health space. Recently, several countries have made strides toward embracing the area.

A recent report revealed Saudi Arabia was launching the biggest virtual hospital in the world. The Chinese health sector has also been positively impacted by the growth made in the metaverse.

Over the years, experts have discovered that the metaverse could be handy in providing telemedicine services and record storage services via the blockchain. Through the metaverse, medical practitioners can assess their patients while providing other healthcare services.

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