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Weekly Bytes | Balloon flights to edge of space, Sony’s wearable speaker, and more

Here's our curated list of important tech news from this week in byte size.

October 09, 2021 02:36 pm | Updated 02:44 pm IST

An illustrative image of World View's Explorer Space Capsule at 1,00,000 feet.

An illustrative image of World View's Explorer Space Capsule at 1,00,000 feet.

Balloon flights to edge of space

The growing space tourism market has a new entrant, World View, a stratospheric ballooning company, which plans to take passengers to the edge of space using balloons. These flights will lift eight participants and two company crew members in a zero-pressure stratospheric balloon and pressurised space capsule to 1,00,000 feet altitude, nearly 27 km into the stratosphere for an experience that will last 6 to 12 hours. The space capsule includes in-flight dining, internet data connection, access to Earth-view cameras and star-view telescopes, and individual viewing screens. Priced at $50,000 per seat, the flights will launch from global landmarks, such as the Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef, Aurora Borealis, Giza Pyramids, and the Great Wall of China. World View’s first commercial flights are expected to begin in early 2024 with Space For Humanity securing the inaugural commercial flight. In another space development, Blue Origin’s next flight, on October 12, will take a celebrity astronaut, William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk on “Star Trek”, to the edge of space .

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Sony’s wearable speaker

Sony announced a new wireless wearable neckband speaker, designed to provide an immersive audio experience. The SRS-NS7 can deliver Dolby Atmos audio when paired with certain Sony television models, and offers the company’s 360 Spatial Sound as well. It uses an app to analyse a user’s hearing characteristics by estimating their ear's 3D shape, creating the ideal arrangement of virtual Dolby Atmos speakers around the user. The speaker has an ergonomic design that fits securely around the neck. It can deliver up to 12 hours of battery life and a 10-minute quick charge provides up to 60 minutes of play time. The wearable speaker can also be used for hands-free calling and offers echo cancelling for clear audio during calls. Its other features include multipoint connection, which enables users to connect two devices at the same time, and IPX411 splash-proof design. Recently, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s PlayStation Studios acquired Bluepoint Games .

LG’s Advanced Driving Assistance System

LG has announced the availability of its Advanced Driving Assistance System (ADAS) camera module, which is developed to boost driver and passenger safety. Advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning enable the camera to collect and process various traffic information to help drivers respond to road and traffic conditions in real-time. The system recognises surrounding environments, constantly analysing the vehicle’s position relative to both moving and stationary objects and automatically applies the brakes if a collision is imminent. The ADAS supports a variety of essential safety-oriented functions including Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition and Adaptive Cruise Control. LG’s ADAS will be first available in the new 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, in markets around the world. Separately, earlier this year, Tesla decided to remove radar sensor in select models as the company is shifting to a camera-based Autopilot system .

Apple introduces coding, app design guides for kids

Apple has introduced coding and app design through new activity guides for elementary school students in the U.S. Through its new activity guide, Everyone Can Code Early Learners, Apple aims to introduce coding to students in their early years, when learners are first developing computational thinking skills. Through off-screen activities as per the new curriculum, learners in kindergarten will discuss, discover, and play to build a foundation in core coding concepts through subjects like science, art, music, and physical education. For example, a lesson on coding commands is taught through dance moves, and an activity on functions asks students to discuss calming techniques step by step, connecting to social-emotional learning, Apple noted. In another update, the Dutch antitrust authority has found that Apple’s rules requiring software developers to use its in-app payment system are anti-competitive and ordered it to make changes .

HMD’s first Nokia tablet

HMD Global has unveiled its first tablet under the Nokia brand. The Nokia T20 features a 10.4-inch display with 1200x2000 pixels resolution. The solid metal body structure and polished 3D display frame attach the display to the thin metal body, which houses an 8200mAh battery. The tablet provides up to 64 GB of storage, expandable up to 512 GB (via microSD card), and up to 4 GB of RAM. It’s equipped with a 5 MP front camera and an 8 MP auto-focus rear camera with a LED flash. The Android-powered device also comes with Google Kids Space, a kids mode for children to explore apps, books and videos. The Nokia T20 offers three years of monthly security updates and two years of free operating system upgrades, and is available in select markets globally. Separately, last week, Google said that the 4.34 billion euro ($5 billion) European Union antitrust fine (related to Android OS) was based on flawed calculations .

(With inputs from Abhishek Chatterjee)

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