The first augmented-reality glasses with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant will be shown next week at CES in Las Vegas — manufactured by a 75-employee company rather than the e-commerce giant’s growing devices division. Vuzix Corp. will show off a pair of smart glasses that can talk to Amazon.com Inc.’s voice-activated digital assistant and display information to the wearer’s field of view, Vuzix Chief Executive Officer Paul Travers said in an interview. Vuzix’s Alexa integration is part of an Amazon program that allows third-party hardware manufacturers to put the digital assistant into their products.
In October, Sonos Inc. unveiled a smart speaker with Alexa’s system for controlling music playback. The strategy is designed to put Amazon’s service, which generates revenue for the company, in as many places as possible to sell more products. Amazon confirmed that Rochester, New York-based Vuzix’s device will be the first smart glasses with Alexa.
The company is “excited about the potential of the glasses and the ability to bring Alexa to customers in a new way,” a company spokeswoman said. Vuzix’s shares gained 8.5 percent to £7 at 2:04 p.m. in New York after jumping as much as 16 percent on the news. Voice assistants and augmented-reality products will be highlighted at next week’s CES consumer electronics show.
Executives from Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant will be seeking new partners and other big technology companies, including Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc.’s Oculus division, will be at the show behind the scenes as they ramp up their virtual-reality and augmented-reality products. AR is a technology that superimposes digital information such as maps, text messages and more onto a person’s view of the real world, while VR submerses a user into a completely different digitally created world. Vuzix will release its AR glasses by the second quarter at a cost of about £1,000, Travers said.
While it’s a “high price point,” he said, “the ultimate goal is to have it under £500, and we’ll be able to do that” by 2019. Wearers, who must be Amazon customers or become Amazon customers to enable Alexa’s capabilities, could for example ask the digital assistant to pull up a map or display sports scores on the glasses. Amazon hasn’t said whether it will release its own branded smart glasses with Alexa, but Travers expects it to happen. “I think everyone is going to come out with glasses sooner or later,” he said.
Apple is aiming to have the technology ready for its own augmented reality glasses by 2019 so that it can release a device by 2020, Bloomberg News reported last year. Oculus said it would release a £200 standalone VR headset called the Oculus Go this year that doesn’t require connectivity to a PC or smartphone. Google was an early player in the AR glasses world, launching the Google Glass prototype before pulling back and focusing on adding AR features to its Pixel smartphone and releasing an enterprise-oriented headset.
Amazon’s first Alexa device launch was the Echo voice speaker in 2014, but the company has since released speakers with screens, tablets, and TV set-top boxes.
Tatura residents and businesses are expected to be able to plug into the National Broadband Network in May next year. NBN crews will be on the ground, checking pits and pipes, laying the fibre to the network and installing node cabinets across the area in the coming months that will give 1600 homes and businesses the ability to access fast speed broadband. Due to the civil works required in the construction of the broadband access network, residents may experience some disruptions.
More than 18000 residents and businesses in Kyabram, Tongala, Stanhope, Girgarre, Rushworth, Merrigum, Undera, Lancaster, Colbinabbin, Rochester and Echuca are already able to order an NBN powered plan from a phone or internet provider. Head of NBN Victoria and Tasmania Ebony Aitken said this was terrific news for Tatura as it meant the entire community would be fully connected to the NBN broadband access network once construction was complete. ”And for the first time in history people have a choice of speed, so I’d encourage everyone to discuss their specific internet needs with their retailer and sign up for the package that is right for them,” she said.
”By May next year, local residents and businesses will have access to a network which is both fast and reliable; something that has been desperately needed in regional and rural Australia for many years. ”Not only are people online now more than ever before, we’re using it to do more things such as working from home, setting up small businesses from home, studying online, shopping online and organising our lives online. ”As our lifestyles evolve and we move further into the digital age, fast and reliable broadband will be essential to areas such as work-life, business, health, education, entertainment and leisure.
”Bridging Australia’s digital divide is vital for regional areas like Tatura with the NBN broadband access network helping to enable residents and businesses to be more productive, more creative, more efficient and more connected for decades to come.”
Credit: University of Glasgow
A team based in the UK, Germany, New Zealand and Canada carried out tests of a technique that involves ‘twisting’ photons by passing them through a hologram, giving them what’s called optical angular momentum. The number of twists in the photons can be used to represent information in addition to the ones and zeroes carried by current optical networks, potentially meaning much higher bandwidth. The technique can be used to transmit photons over cables, but the researchers investigated wireless techniques, which pose additional difficulties from interference.
They examined the effects of turbulent air in a free-space link in Erlangen, Germany, that was 1.6km in length and passed over fields and streets.
The study’s thorough investigation of the effects of turbulent air on structured light is an important step toward making commercial systems viable, said Dr. Martin Lavery, head of the Structured Photonics Research Group at the University of Glasgow. Lavery, lead author on the team’s paper, published in the journal Science Advances, said free space optical broadband could provide the bandwidth of fibre, without the requirement for physical cabling, making it ideal for developing countries, defence systems and high-density urban environments.
“In an age where our global data consumption is growing at an exponential rate, there is mounting pressure to discover new methods of information-carrying,” he stated. “This study takes vital steps forward in the journey towards high dimensional free space optics that can be a cheaper, more accessible alternative to buried fibre-optic connections.” He said the findings would allow scientists to rethink approaches to channel modelling in adaptive optical systems. Researchers participated from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light and Institute of Optics and the Universities of Otago, Ottawa and Rochester.
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