TechSummit Rewind 135

This is the TechSummit rewind, a daily recap of the top technology headlines.

Twitter adds ability to watch 360-degree Periscope streams

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Periscope now supports 360 degree videos with a catch. Only “select partners” can create these broadcasts, but anyone can watch them live. The feature’s rolling out now and will come to more people over the “coming weeks.”

“We’ve always said that joining a broadcast is like stepping into someone else’s shoes and seeing the world through their eyes. Live 360 video isn’t just about taking you to places you’ve never been; it’s about connecting you with people and letting you experience something new with them.”

-Periscope, in a Medium post

Live 360 videos will be denoted with a badge on both Twitter and Periscope. When you’re viewing the video, the point of view can be modified by either moving the phone or tapping and scrolling around the screen.

Interested participants can join its wishlist.

Ford’s newest self-driving test cars have more compute power, better vision

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Ford has developed a new generation of its autonomous development vehicle, a hybrid Fusion that uses the same essential platform as its current vehicles, but with a big processing upgrade through new on-board computing hardware and improved LiDAR sensors that deliver a better field of view and improved overall vision to the sensor despite dropping two LiDAR units from the design.

The new Fusion also contains software improvements for a better virtual driver.

According to Ford autonomous vehicle chief program engineer Chris Brewer, the vehicle can gather just as much data as the previous generation. The two sensors combine to provide 360-degree coverage and can see about “the length of two football fields in every direction.”

Three optical cameras on the Fusion’s roof racks, a front-facing camera behind the windshield, short- and long-range radar complete the picture the car sees, which is used together using the onboard computing power. According to Brewer, the built-in supercomputer can generate a full terabyte of data per hour. All that virtual processing capability requires a second power converter, and also explains the use of hybrids since a standard gas-powered car just doesn’t have the energy to achieve autonomy right now.

All of Ford’s work is preface to its plan to launch autonomous vehicles in a commercial setting in 2021, beginning with a self-driving ride-hailing fleet.

Oculus acquires The Eye Tribe

Oculus has acquired The Eye Tribe, an eye-tracking startup that develops eye-tracking device developer kits for computers and software that can bring gaze-based interfaces to smartphones and potentially virtual reality headsets.

FDA releases new cybersecurity guidelines for medical devices

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released its recommendations for how medical device manufacturers should maintain the security of internet-connected devices, even after they’ve entered hospitals, patient homes, or patient bodies.

A year in the making, the 30-page document encourages manufacturers to monitor their medical devices and associated software for bugs, and patch any problems that occur. However, the recommendations are not legally enforceable.

“Hospital networks experience constant attempts of intrusion and attack, which can pose a threat to patient safety. And as hackers become more sophisticated, these cybersecurity risks will evolve.”

-Suzanne Schwartz, FDA associate director for science and strategic partnerships

Most patches and updates intended to address security vulnerabilities will be considered routine enhancements, meaning that manufacturers don’t have to alert the FDA every time they issue one, unless someone dies or is seriously harmed because of a bug. In those cases, the FDA will need a report. Dangerous bugs identified before they harm or kill anyone won’t have to be reported to the FDA as long as the manufacturer tells customers and device users about the bug within 30 days, fixes it within 60 days, and shares information about the vulnerability with an ISAO.

Singapore to record iris scans of citizens

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Starting Jan. 1, Singapore will begin including iris scans as part of the country’s registration process for citizens and permanent residents.

This is part of efforts to improve the “effectiveness and efficiency” of operations undertaken by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), according to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

According to the ministry, amendments to the country’s National Registration Act were passed in parliament to facilitate the move and take effect in January. The act facilitates the registration of citizens and permanent residents in Singapore, which encompasses the issue of national identity cards and other associated purposes.

The ICA would begin collecting iris images as another identifier, in addition to photographs and fingerprints, for re-registration of identify cards along with passport application and renewals.

Amazon attempts to recreate Prime Day magic with Digital Day

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Amazon is trying to recreate the magic of the Prime Day sales holiday with Digital Day, a year-end blowout sale for digital deals.

Today only (Dec. 30), the retailer is discounting over 1,000 digital items across the site to encourage post-holiday spending.

According to Amazon, hundreds of movies and TV shows are being sold for half off, a number of top music albums will go for $5, a Plex Pass annual subscription (popular among cord cutters and those with large digital libraries) will also be half off. A number of mobile games for kids will be 99 cents, while some video games will be up to 80 percent off.

Its own services are also being promoted, including its recently launch Amazon Music Unlimited with a $10 discount and Amazon Rapids kids’ reading app with a 33 percent discount.

Discounts extend to things like comics, graphic novels, ebooks, and various subscriptions like workout channel Daily Burn, Qello Concerts, and UFC Fight Pass. Software and service discounts include Microsoft Office Home & Business 2016, TurboTax, Norton, and H&R Block.

The full list of deals is much more extensive, but unfortunately you won’t find discounted Amazon Prime memberships.

One more thing…

This is the final TechSummit Rewind of 2016. Thanks for your support throughout the year of Paw Print Media. We’re going to be taking the weekend off in preparation of the busy CES week next week. Expect several special editions of this newsletter throughout the week digesting the news as it comes from Las Vegas. Happy New Year and may 2017 be ever in your favor.

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