Chinese augmented reality glasses maker Nreal looks to go public within 5 years, CEO says
PUBLISHED SAT, JUL 31 202112:47 AM EDTArjun Kharpal@ARJUNKHARPALSHAREShare Article via FacebookShare Article via TwitterShare Article via LinkedInShare Article via EmailKEY POINTS
Nreal, a Chinese company making glasses for so-called augmented reality experiences, is looking to go public within five years, its CEO Chi Xu told CNBC.
The company’s flagship product is a pair of lightweight glasses called Nreal Light, which has been released in a handful of markets including South Korea and Japan.
Kuaishou, the short-video platform in China and iQiyi, a video streaming service, are among the company’s investors. Xu said Nreal would be working with both Kuaishou and iQiyi.
WATCH NOWVIDEO04:06Nreal CEO says the company plans to go public ‘in less than 5 years’
SHANGHAI — Nreal, a Chinese company making glasses for so-called augmented reality experiences, is looking to go public within five years, its CEO told CNBC.
“We’re thinking this is really a major tech market and really looking forward to what’s going to happen in the next 10 to 15 years. Very exciting – I think its more like ’06, ’07 of the smartphone business,” Chi Xu, CEO of Nreal said.
“We see a lot of good opportunities and, definitely, we’re thinking the market size is going to be massive. And we have this opportunity and we want to take this to the final end.”ADVERTISING
He said an initial public offering could come in “less than 5 years.”
The company’s flagship product is a pair of lightweight glasses called Nreal Light, which has been released in a handful of markets including South Korea and Japan. Nreal says its glasses allow users to experience “mixed reality” where digital images are superimposed over the real world.
The Nreal Light connects to a smartphone. One of the immediate uses frees people from being tied to their small smartphone screens.
“Whatever you’re displaying in the cellphone screen in front of you, you put that in front of your face, into a massive screen, and that can be 3D, that can be ultra-high definition,” Xu said.
An attendee tries a pair of Nreal mixed-reality glasses at the MWC Shanghai exhibition in Shanghai, China, on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021.Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images
But current headsets on the market are expensive and often bulky. Nreal is hoping its portable nature will appeal to consumers. The price varies by market depending on how it is distributed. For example, in Japan the headset costs around $700. But in South Korea, the device can be purchased through a telecom operator’s plan which subsidizes the headset to around $300.
Nreal has a platform for developers to create apps for the headset’s operating system called Nebula.
“It’s very similar to what Apple has been doing for smartphone,” Xu said. “We offer a platform where people use that for different kinds of experiences and developers — they can deploy, they can develop different content onto the field.”
Apple not only makes money from sales of its iPhones and other hardware but it also gets revenue from commissions off its App Store.
Nreal has some notable backers. Kuaishou, the short-video platform in China and iQiyi, a video streaming service, are among the company’s investors. Xu said Nreal would be working with both Kuaishou and iQiyi.
“As we mentioned, not only are we going to provide the hardware. We want to bundle different services with the glasses. So take video for example, whether it’s a long video or short video. We’re thinking glasses are a much better terminal to experience the video in,” the CEO said.
“So that’s why we’ll be working with those giants, really working on the new interface.”
“Many of the greatest challenges of our time, from clean energy to environmental justice, require new approaches to the craft of scientific experimentation. This is exceedingly apparent in the field of electron microscopy. As researchers utilize this powerful window to peer into the atomic machinery behind today’s technologies, they are increasingly inundated with data and constrained by traditional operating models. We must leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning in our scientific instruments if we are to unlock breakthrough discoveries.”
This is Steven R. Spurgeon’s forward-looking assessment of the present and future state of microscopy and instrumentation in scientific experimentation. Spurgeon, a materials scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), is an international expert in the study of nanomaterials using electron microscopy. At PNNL, he and his colleagues are working to reimagine the discovery and design of new material and chemical systems by applying state-of-the-art computing and data analytics to instrumentation.
Accordingly, academia and industry are turning to these PNNL electron microscopy science experts for their solutions. PNNL is at the helm of thought leadership in this growing research area and is now bringing advanced technologies to market to accelerate scientific discovery.
An evolution in scientific experimentation
Spurgeon and his colleagues are attempting to address a challenge that is ubiquitous throughout multiple industries—experts are deluged with large volumes of data and hampered by outmoded operating models, making knowledge extraction difficult. From new battery development to emerging quantum computing technologies, all domains are grappling with this burden.
In advanced manufacturing, the opportunity for automation in instrumentation is keenly evident—modernization would have an immediate and transformative impact. In the semiconductor industry, failure analysis is conducted on an immense scale—24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Microscopes and other systems must screen millions of transistors to assure the quality and reliability of microelectronics. Experts are increasingly concerned with how to translate these large data streams into rapid and explainable decisions that ultimately drive down costs.
The solution they seek requires hardware and software architectures that can emulate the human brain in terms of cognition. This would allow for the evaluation of unique scenarios while tapping into the ability of computers to tirelessly scale analysis to different types and volumes of data.
Industry-driven technology transfer
In an October 2020 Nature Materials commentary, a team co-led by Spurgeon shared its vision for electron microscopy infused with the latest advances in data science and artificial intelligence. Fast-forward to present day and this vision is being realized inside PNNL’s Radiological Microscopy Suite. There, researchers have developed a prototype of a next-generation microscope platform, and industry players are taking note.
PNNL and Japan Electron Optics Laboratory/Integrated Dynamic Electron Solutions (JEOL/IDES), a world leader in electron microscopy, recently signed a licensing and co-development agreement to commercialize the application. Together, they will bring to market the platform’s core concept—applying minimal, or ‘sparse,’ data analytics to perform image classification—an important step toward instrument automation. Technologies developed under this partnership will be further refined and made available to research organizations and private industry. Accessing the platform will allow these experts to process microscopy data without the need for entirely new instrumentation hardware.
“JEOL/IDES sees the clear need for improvement in the way microscopy data is acquired and analyzed. This doesn’t just mean automated instruments, but smart automated instruments that can acquire data expertly and effectively,” said Tom Isabell, vice president for product management for JEOL/IDES. “We need to develop a new paradigm in which data is acquired efficiently and the vast amounts of data are analyzed intelligently, in turn leading to an even more efficient way to collect further data. PNNL has shown world leadership in taking on this smart microscopy model and JEOL/IDES looks forward to partnering with PNNL to develop and implement these new technologies.”
The broad application of this platform reflects the intent of PNNL’s Office of Technology Deployment and Outreach and the early work of commercialization manager Jennifer Lee in spearheading the licensing agreement with JEOL/IDES. She was motivated by her interactions with industry partners, where she heard a clear theme—the labor-intensive, manual work involved in processing large volumes of microscopic data was simply too onerous. Industry partners were looking for multi-faceted expertise, not only in materials and electron microscopy science, but especially in data science, inherent to a research entity that could quickly deliver on a solution.
“At PNNL, we take an industry-driven approach to all of our technology transfer efforts. We work hard to understand the industry’s pain points and bring those concerns back to our scientists to address,” said Lee. “In our work with JEOL/IDES, for example, there was immediate support and palpable expertise for developing an approach that could replicate the human brain’s decision-making capabilities, resulting in the quickest laboratory-directed commercialization effort, from start to finish, yet.”Play00:0400:00MuteSettingsPIPEnter fullscreenPlayFully automated data collection and classification of MoO3 nanoparticles in the PNNL transmission electron microscope. Credit: Steven Spurgeon and Stephanie King | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Automation meets electron microscopy
PNNL’s next-generation microscope platform implements a never-before-seen analytics and control architecture. Experts are redesigning the electron microscope’s foundation, leveraging low-level system automation, domain-grounded data pre-processing, and emerging sparse data analytics to rapidly extract statistical information. They’re making significant progress toward the microscope of tomorrow, one that is highly integrated and automated, which can target challenges in energy storage, quantum information science, and more.
“Steven and his team are addressing an age-old problem in the control and operation of electron microscopes. Their approach has the potential to greatly impact the scientific community by helping researchers conduct richer and more efficient analyses at scale,” explains Sergei V. Kalinin, a corporate fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and a leader in machine learning and automated experiments in electron and scanning probe microscopies not involved in this research.
To bring the microscopy platform to life, Spurgeon assembled a team from inside and outside PNNL, including fellow materials scientist Matthew Olszta, statistician Sarah Akers, computer scientist Derek Hopkins, and Kevin Fiedler, a mathematician from Washington State University. Spurgeon and Olszta’s microscopy expertise was an ideal match for Akers’ few-shot machine learning, which represents a new kind of data analytics that can make decisions using very limited examples. To build a centralized instrument controller, Spurgeon tapped Hopkins, who specializes in hardware/software integration and lab automation. Hopkins and Fiedler designed an architecture to process and analyze incoming images to enable large-area montaging and stage feedback.
The team’s resulting machine learning work is currently in review in an article led by Akers, titled, “Rapid and Flexible Segmentation of Electron Microscopy Data Using Few-Shot Machine Learning,” with a more detailed article on the system to follow. Several joint appointments are also in the works for Spurgeon.
The prototype microscopy system is now being deployed at PNNL on two flagship transmission electron microscopes—a JEOL GrandARM 300F and a JEOL ARM 200CF—with the eventual goal to extend it to other instruments. This unique capability will enable richer, around-the-clock statistical analysis to take advantage of the laboratory’s best-in-class instrumentation.
Democratizing data-driven analysis
“The true potential of this work is that it can be extended to many other areas, drawing on PNNL’s expertise across multiple scientific disciplines,” said Spurgeon. “We have the opportunity to move the conversation away from simply buying higher-powered instruments toward more informed modes of operation and analysis. We can think of this as a democratization of best-in-class analysis capabilities.”
To accelerate this transition, and in support of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics workforce development, the PNNL team recently advised a group of students through the University of Washington’s Data Intensive Research Enabling Clean Technologies (DIRECT) capstone program. The students were tasked with developing a graphical user interface for interacting with the few-shot model. This web-based application allows end users to intuitively process their data and export the results for further use. The students completed a publication, released their codebase, and will present a poster at the Microscopy and Microanalysis Virtual Meeting in early August.
On the road to the future
In addition to the team’s publications and the licensing agreement, other upcoming activities speak to broad enthusiasm for the microscopy platform, namely an invited tutorial and four talks planned for the Microscopy & Microanalysis Virtual Meeting. Hosted by the Microscopy Society of America, the annual meeting is open to its 3,000 members and is considered the premiere event covering original microscopy research.
Cumulatively, these activities are helping propagate the current and future potential of this new platform. This will lead to unlocking experimentation at scale and deriving richer, more meaningful physical models for technologically relevant systems. The team’s work has only just begun, as they plan for the full implementation of the system and build on their machine learning work to increase the power and generalizability of their approach.
Concluded Spurgeon, “We started with a new approach to classifying data in the microscope, but we’ve grown beyond that to addressing how we as a community approach experimentation. Traditional approaches are very manual and labor-intensive, but, most importantly, they can’t keep pace with the latest generation of hardware. We believe our platform is a first step in that direction. The feedback we’ve received from the scientific community and industry has been very positive, which is extremely gratifying.”
Electrical engineers from the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering have developed a more efficient way of converting light from one wavelength to another, opening the door for improvements in the performance of imaging, sensing and communication systems.
Mona Jarrahi, professor of electrical and computer engineering at UCLA Samueli, led the Nature Communications-published research.
Finding an efficient way to convert wavelengths of light is crucial to the improvement of many imaging and sensing technologies. For example, converting incoming light into terahertz wavelengths enables imaging and sensing in optically opaque environments. However, previous conversion frameworks were inefficient and required bulky and complex optical setups.
The UCLA-led team has devised a solution to enhance wavelength-conversion efficiency by exploring a generally undesirable but natural phenomenon called semiconductor surface states.
Surface states occur when surface atoms have an insufficient number of other atoms to bind to, causing a breakdown in atomic structure. These incomplete chemical bonds, also known as “dangling bonds,” cause roadblocks for electric charges flowing through semiconductor devices and affect their performance.
“There have been many efforts to suppress the effect of surface states in semiconductor devices without realizing they have unique electrochemical properties that could enable unprecedented device functionalities,” said Jarrahi, who leads the UCLA Terahertz Electronics Laboratory.
In fact, since these incomplete bonds create a shallow but giant built-in electric field across the semiconductor surface, the researchers decided to take advantage of surface states for improved wavelength conversion.
Incoming light can hit the electrons in the semiconductor lattice and move them to a higher energy state, at which point they are free to jump around within the lattice. The electric field created across the surface of the semiconductor further accelerates these photo-excited, high-energy electrons, which then unload the extra energy they gained by radiating it at different optical wavelengths, thus converting the wavelengths.
However, this energy exchange can only happen at the surface of a semiconductor and needs to be more efficient. In order to solve this problem, the team incorporated a nanoantenna array that bends incoming light so it is tightly confined around the shallow surface of the semiconductor.
“Through this new framework, wavelength conversion happens easily and without any extra added source of energy as the incoming light crosses the field,” said Deniz Turan, the study’s lead author and a member of Jarrahi’s research laboratory who recently graduated with his doctorate in electrical engineering from UCLA Samueli.
The researchers successfully and efficiently converted a 1,550-nanometer wavelength light beam into the terahertz part of the spectrum, ranging from wavelengths of 100 micrometers up to 1 millimeter. The team demonstrated the wavelength-conversion efficiency by incorporating the new technology into an endoscopy probe that could be used for detailed in-vivo imaging and spectroscopy using terahertz waves.
Without this breakthrough in wavelength conversion, it would have required 100 times the optical power level to achieve the same terahertz waves, which the thin optical fibers used in the endoscopy probe cannot support. The advance can apply to optical wavelength conversion in other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, ranging from microwave to far-infrared wavelengths.
The sleep gap: If you’re wealthy, you probably get plenty. If you’re poor or a minority, you may not, research finds
By Katherine EllisonToday at 11:30 a.m. EDT39
Remember the lines from that old folk song?
“If living were a thing that money could buy
“You know the rich would live and the poor would die.”
Sadly, research shows there’s little “if” about it. On average, poor people live less healthy lives and are more than three times as likely to die prematurely as the rich. That’s true for many well-documented reasons, including less healthy diets with too much processed food, polluted neighborhoods and a lot more toxic stress. In recent years, however, researchers have added one more factor to this mix: It turns out that the poor, as well as socially disadvantaged racial minorities, sleep much less well on average than the rich, which can take a major toll on their physical and mental health.
“We used to think that sleep problems were limited to Type A professionals, and they certainly aren’t immune, but low-income individuals and racial minorities are actually at greatest risk,” says Wendy Troxel, a senior behavioral and social scientist at the Rand Corp., who co-wrote an analysis of socioeconomic disparities in sleep and health in the 2020 Annual Review of Public Health.
Inadequate sleep among low-income adults and racial minorities is seen as contributing to higher rates of illnesses, including cardiovascular disease and dementia, both of which are more common among these groups, Troxel and her co-authors say. One study they cite attributes more than half of the differences in health outcomes between White people and Black people, for example, to differences in quantity or quality of sleep.
You might think of this as the great sleep divide.
Poor sleep has become such a widespread complaint that scientists have been sounding alarms for years about an epidemic of poor sleep among Americans.
More than 1 in 3 U.S. adults sleeps less than seven hours a night, the minimum recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. About 7 in 10 high school students fail to get the eight to 10 hours a night recommended for their age group. And each year, 1 in 4 Americans suffers from insomnia, while up to 7 percent of men have obstructive sleep apnea severe enough to leave them sleepy during the day. (For many, sleep issues such as insomnia were worsened by the pandemic, with one metastudy reporting that nearly 40 percent of people reported sleep problems during the first-half of 2020.)
It’s still commonly assumed that poor sleep is a symptom rather than a cause of other medical or mental problems, Troxel said. Yet studies show that poor sleep can also cause illness.
People with sleep apnea suffer more cardiovascular disease and stroke, as well as increased inflammation, which may contribute to illnesses including heart disease, cancer and arthritis. For teenagers, one study has shown, each hour of lost sleep comes with a 23 percent increase in the risk of tobacco, alcohol or marijuana use and a 58 percent increase in suicide attempts.
Insufficient sleep may even make people more vulnerable to viruses and less likely to benefit from a vaccine, another study suggests.
But here’s where the great sleep divide comes in. Over the years, researchers have repeatedly have found evidence that people in poverty get less sleep than those with more money.
In 2013, for instance, a large survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 35.2 percent of people earning below the poverty level reported sleeping less than six hours in an average 24-hour period, compared with 27.7 percent of those earning more than four times the poverty level.
The disparities are even sharper among racial groups. A rigorous 2015 study involving both lab tests and self-reports from more than 2,000 U.S. participants found that, compared with White people matched for age and sex, Black people were five times as likely to sleep for shorter periods. Hispanics and Chinese Americans were roughly two times as likely to get fewer hours of sleep than White Americans.
Several economic, social and physical factors contribute to these differences and their related harm to health, school performance and productivity.
Merely living in low-income neighborhoods is a risk factor for poor sleep, for a slew of reasons that include more light and noise pollution and less access to green space, according to Troxel and other researchers.
“It’s said that your Zip code matters as much as your genetic code,” says Troxel, who has gathered evidence demonstrating that where people live affects their health.
She and her colleagues compared groups of residents in two low-income neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, only one of which received public investments in housing and green space. They found that even as both groups of residents slept more poorly over time — a natural consequence of aging — those who lived nearer to the neighborhood improvements showed less of a decline.
For African Americans, markedly higher rates of sleep apnea sabotage slumber, says Girardin Jean-Louis, a sleep researcher at New York University.
One reason for this difference is that non-Hispanic Black people are 1.3 times as likely to be overweight or obese as non-Hispanic White people, federal data show, and this excess weight can partially close off breathing during sleep. During sleep studies, Jean-Louis and his fellow researchers have seen people waking up as often as 200 times a night — a predicament that can become a cruel trap. Poor sleep can affect people’s metabolism and even the hormones that regulate appetite, leading to further unhealthy weight gain, research has found.
Stress is an additional impediment to sleep — and socially and financially disadvantaged people, not surprisingly, tend to have more of it. Financial problems, a relative lack of control over one’s life and racism can all interfere with getting sufficient rest, Troxel says.
Black people, for example, consistently report more job-related stress than White people. On average, they are more likely to work in jobs with little sense of control, work at more than one low-wage job at a time and live in poverty even when employed, research shows. In a sad irony, however, even as White people tend to sleep better as they advance in their careers and become more responsible at work, the opposite has been found to be true for Black people.
Research by Jean-Louis and others has found that Black people tend to spend less time than White people in slow-wave sleep, the deep slumber that supports physical and mental health. In a longitudinal study involving home and lab studies of 210 elderly people, including 150 African Americans, Jean-Louis is exploring the degree to which this deficit may contribute to higher rates of heart disease and dementia.
Whatever its causes, the sleep divide creates a devastating vicious cycle.
Poor sleep makes people less healthy, which in turn may further trouble their sleep. And in yet another malicious feedback loop, poor sleep can contribute to more vehicle accidents and reduced productivity and income. All of which, of course, create more reasons to toss and turn.
A community priority
Some of the reasons for the sleep divide are profound and depressingly familiar, having bedeviled policymakers for decades. There’s little hope that any of the huge issues researchers cite, such as poverty, racial discrimination and environmental injustice, will be solved anytime soon. Still, Troxel and other scientists say the new attention to sleep is a major step forward, guiding them to imagine smaller “socioecological” steps to improve sleep health and its cascade of consequences.
“In many cases, sleep health is modifiable,” says Rebecca Robbins, a sleep researcher at Harvard Medical School.
Troxel, Robbins and Jean-Louis have been focusing on strategies to do just this. In New York, Jean-Louis has been recruiting barbers and church leaders as ambassadors to spread the word about sleep health.
“The patients just aren’t coming to the clinic or the hospital,” he says. “We have to go to them.”
Jean-Louis has teamed up with Robbins and other researchers to adapt videotaped educational materials about sleep apnea that featured older White men to include narratives from Black people. They’ve installed these videos on iPads that they distribute to barbershops and churches.
Sleep hygiene education is sorely needed, Jean-Louis adds, given the depth of public misunderstanding about common sleep disorders. He says he has often been dismayed, for instance, to hear people insist that snoring is a healthy sign of deep sleep, when it often signals a problem such as sleep apnea. His usual response is to say, “This is God’s way of saying there’s something wrong.”
Changes in laws and regulations could also go far to improve sleep health, Jean-Louis and Troxel say. Improved noise ordinances, building codes for reducing light pollution, and more humane schedules for overnight shift work (which is more prevalent among African Americans) could all help reduce the sleep divide.
Major national debate has focused on one relatively straightforward change, which scientists contend could help tens of millions of people to sleep better: namely, delaying school start times by as much as an hour. The science is solid. For their physical and mental health, teens need a lot more sleep than they’re getting.
Many school districts that have moved back their starting clocks have seen benefits including more alert students, better academic outcomes and fewer car accidents. So far, however, fewer than 20 percent of middle and high schools have made the change, Troxel says. (When schools closed for the pandemic, many set their remote schedules later, and some surveys of students suggest that this has allowed students more sleep.)
A paradigm shift is implied in all of these sleep strategies. Sleep has traditionally been seen as a purely individual responsibility: Don’t drink coffee at night; keep the room dark; don’t look at your phone in bed. Troxel, Jean-Louis and other scientists argue that we need to widen our perspective to reimagine sleep as a public health opportunity.
“We need to think of population-level interventions,” Troxel says, “including policies to ensure that healthy sleep is not merely a luxury for those who can afford it.”
Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century
By Tim Higgins Doubleday: 400 pages, $30
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Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook and Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk are talking on the phone. The 2016 unveiling of the make-it-or-break-it Model 3 is coming soon, but Tesla is in serious financial trouble. Cook has an idea: Apple buys Tesla.
Musk is interested, but one condition: “I’m CEO.”
Sure, says Cook. When Apple bought Beats in 2014, it kept on the founders, Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre.ADVERTISEMENT
No, Musk says. Apple. Apple CEO.
“F— you” Cook says, and hangs up.
So goes the juiciest allegation in “Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century” by Wall Street Journal reporter Tim Higgins. The secondhand anecdote is atypical in a way — Higgins doesn’t break much news or gossip — but it also nicely encapsulates this sweeping history of the electric-car juggernaut, a company that often seems to innovate and thrive in spite of its founder rather than as a result of his vaunted genius.
To the inevitable disappointment of some and the relief of others, this is a book about Tesla, not about its founder. Elon Musk already does a fine job aiming the spotlight on himself. As Higgins details, it took a village to build Tesla. “Power Play” at its core is about the many employees not named Elon Musk who made essential contributions to whatever success the carmaker enjoys today.
Don’t fret: Musk is always part of the story, contributing his own brand of drama to keep things moving along. But in this book, the self-anointed “TechnoKing” (his actual job title at Tesla) serves not as main character but dramatic foil to those doing their best under chaotic, dysfunctional conditions.
One is J.B. Straubel, the Stanford engineer who teamed with Musk to take over the original Tesla, founded in 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. Musk was the money man, Straubel the brains behind the battery technology. Straubel departed Tesla in 2019 after the board of directors agreed to a pay plan that has made Musk one of the richest people on the planet.
Another key player who gets his due here is Sterling Anderson, the self-driving-car pioneer who headed Tesla’s Autopilot project, only to quit after Musk rejected his push for driver-monitoring technology to keep people safe. Musk said he didn’t want to add technology that might nag Tesla customers. Anderson is now cofounder and chief product officer at Aurora Innovation, engineering true self-driving vehicles.
There is also Peter Rawlinson, who came to Tesla from Lotus as chief engineer for the Model S. He and Musk got along fine until Rawlinson started criticizing some of Musk’s ideas for the ill-fated Model X. Musk then found him “irritating.” Rawlinson quit and now runs Lucid Motors, a luxury EV maker soon to introduce vehicles that will compete directly with Tesla.
Dozens more are noted, most of them witnesses to or victims of the rage and wrath of Musk, a hair trigger of an executive who’s quick to fire people whether they deserve it or not.
On the floor of Tesla’s Fremont, Calif., factory, a line worker told Musk he’d invented a way to fix a car window’s screeching sound by making an incision on the door seal. Musk turned on manufacturing executive John Ensign in a rage: “This is unacceptable that you had a person working in your factory that knows the solution and you don’t even know that!” Ensign was fired. In fact, engineers had already tried that approach and the fix proved temporary. Ensign — now chief operating officer at Los Angeles electric bus maker Proterra — didn’t want to embarrass the worker by saying so in front of Musk.
Musk’s approach to many manufacturing issues was, and still appears to be, keeping the assembly line moving while line problems are being fixed. He’s not a fan of the Toyota method, where a worker can stop the line until the problem is solved. He’s all about the volume.
That may be one reason why the quality of Teslas is so variable — why buying one can feel like a crapshoot. Some owners report their car is perfect; some say they were sold a piece of junk. (Including Kristen Wiig and Avi Rothman.)
In fact, Toyota ended a partnership with Tesla over such issues. “Musk was willing to let some quality issues slide if addressing them meant slowing down their schedule…,” Higgins reports. “Tesla was building the airplane as Musk was heading down the runway for takeoff.”
Plenty of readers would respond: Sure, but look at how successful he’s made Tesla. Maybe you need that kind of personality to succeed.
These days, maybe so. No question: Tesla has earned a prominent place in motor vehicle history under Musk. While the rest of the auto industry sought to protect its internal-combustion business under the assumption few people would buy an alternative, Musk showed that stylish, fast and fun electric cars would prove popular. The Model S sold in sufficient numbers to prompt regulators to begin ordering phaseouts of gasoline and diesel cars. The Volkswagen diesel-cheat scandal and the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler weakened auto industry clout. Now everybody’s spending billions on an EV transition.
Still, the company has a long way to go. Tesla did deliver just shy of 500,000 cars last year, but that’s still less than 1% of the world market. Tesla profits today come mostly from sales of emissions credits to other automakers and $10,000-per-customer payments for “full self-driving” technology — which, Musk admitted in a recent analyst call, doesn’t work. Videos posted all over YouTube attest to the fact. One shows Tesla’s “self-driving” system mistakenly identifying the moon as a yellow traffic light.
Some call Musk a genius. When it comes to fundraising, he’s in a class by himself. Tesla’s skirted bankruptcy at least twice. The company would not be alive today without continued infusions of debt and equity. The longest-running bull market in U.S. history has helped. So has investor preference for storytelling over old-fashioned fundamentals as a way to value a company’s stock. But a showman can only paper over serious long-term challenges for so long.
Higgins quotes Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas at an early crisis point: “The biggest question is if Tesla can remain solvent long enough to capitalize on the forthcoming technology breakthroughs.” The word “forthcoming” is key here. While Tesla now has four cars on the market, only future projects will justify the company’s jaw-dropping $625 billion market value.
In 2016, Musk promised that a self-driving car, a Tesla semi truck and a new, possibly jet-powered roadster were imminent. None are remotely close to production. .Musk’s side hustles are doing no better: His underground tunnel project is just a tourist attraction in Las Vegas. He faked an innovative solar roof tile in 2016 before Tesla bailed out SolarCity, a company owned by Musk’s cousins. He promised a million robotaxis by the end of 2020. So far there are none.
And then there’s Musk’s fake “funding secured” buyout announcement in 2018 that earned him a wrist-slap fine from the Securities Exchange Commission on charges of fraud.
Musk apparently did not participate in the creation of “Power Play.” In an author’s note at the end, Higgins writes that Musk “was given numerous opportunities to comment on the stories, facts, and characterizations presented in these pages. Without pointing to any specific inaccuracies, he offered simply this: ‘Most, but not all, of what you read in this book is nonsense.’”
I’ve covered Tesla as a reporter since 2016. When Higgins writes about facts and situations I’m familiar with, I can attest he’s right on the button, every time. If there’s any nonsense in “Power Play,” Higgins isn’t the source of it.
Robots today have been programmed to vacuum the floor or perform a preset dance, but there is still much work to be done before they can achieve their full potential. This mainly has something to do with how robots are unable to recognize what is in their environment at a deep level and therefore cannot function properly without being told all of these details by humans. For instance, while it may seem like backup programming for when bumping into an object that would help prevent unwanted collisions from happening again, this idea isn’t actually based on understanding anything about chairs because the robot doesn’t know exactly what one is!
Facebook AI team just released Droidlet, a new platform that makes it easier for anyone to build their smart robot. It’s an open-source project explicitly designed with hobbyists and researchers in mind so you can quickly prototype your AI algorithms without having to spend countless hours coding everything from scratch.
Droidlet is a platform for building embodied agents capable of recognizing, reacting to, and navigating the world. It simplifies integrating all kinds of state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms in these systems so that users can prototype new ideas faster than ever before!
People using droidlet can quickly test out different computer vision algorithms with their robot or replace one natural language understanding model with another. Droidlets enable researchers to easily build agents that can accomplish complex tasks in the real world or in simulated environments like Minecraft or Habitat.
For researchers or hobbyists, droidlet is a fully-developed set of modules that includes primitives for visual perception and language building. These components are available to be used by anyone with programming experience who would like to build robots or simulated agents in the future without worrying about how these systems work individually.
The droidlet platform is powerful and flexible, it can be used outside of the full agent. Over time Droidlet will become even more robust as they add new tasks based on sensory modalities or other hardware setups that others have contributed to.
Citing the popularity of smart wearables and the potential boom of augmented reality (AR)-based technology in the future, Facebook was said to be working with premium accessory brand Ray-Ban to develop its AR-based glasses. Later, the social media giant confirmed that it has partnered with Essilor Luxottica, the parent company of Ray-Ban, to launch an AR glass this year. Now, we have some more details about Facebook’s Ray-Ban AR glasses, coming straight from CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
In a recent investor meeting, Zuckerberg confirmed that the company is working with Ray-Ban to develop a pair of smart AR glasses under its Project Aria. He told the investors that the smart wearable will have the “iconic form factor” of Ray-Ban glasses and will pack some “neat” features.
“I’m excited to get these into people’s hands and to continue to make progress on the journey towards full augmented reality glasses in the future,” said Zuckerberg during the meeting.
Now, for those unaware, Project Aria is Facebook’s research and development wing for smart AR-based wearable tech. The company announced it last year and has been working on it extensively to bring unique technological advancements to the smart wearable scene.
So, the Facebook-Ray-Ban AR glasses will be a core part of this project that will try to make Mark’s vision of a fully AR/ VR-based social platform a reality. In the past, Zuckerberg has stressed the potential of augmented as well as virtual reality experiences, and the pair of smart AR glasses from Facebook will be a stepping stone for his vision.
Now, although the CEO did not reveal much about the upcoming wearable, we already know that it won’t come with an integrated display. The company has previously confirmed that it wants to develop smart glasses that are “flexible enough to work for most face shapes and sizes,” to cater to more people.
Moreover, the description of Project Aria says that the smart glass could add “a 3D layer of useful, contextually relevant and meaningful information on top of the physical world.” So, the Facebook glasses could help users navigate around a city, find lost items, take photos or videos, or make a call without using their phones.
Coming to the availability, although previous reports stated that Facebook will launch the smart glasses this year, Zuckerberg did not share any details about the potential launch timeline of the product. Nonetheless, as we have now seen the company mention the product so many times in the past months, we can expect the company to launch the Ray-Ban-style AR glasses sooner rather than later. Stay tuned for more updates on Facebook’s Ray-Ban AR glasses.
However, for the sake of clarity, there’s two points I need to make first:
Time crystals are a wickedly difficult concept to understand and even harder to explain.
The Google team might have created time crystals. This is pre-print research and has yet to receive full peer-review. Until the rest of the scientific community has time to review and replicate the work, we can’t say for sure it’s legitimate.
What’s a time crystal?
In colloquial terms, it’s a big screw you to Sir Isaac Newton.
Time crystals are a new phase of matter. For the sake of simplicity, let’s imagine a cube of ice.
When you put a cube of ice in glass of water, you’re introducing two separate entities (the ice cube and the liquid water) to each other at two different temperatures.
Everyone knows that the water will get colder (that’s why we put the ice in there) and, over time, the ice will get warmer and turn into water. Eventually you’ll just have a glass of room-temperature water.
Most people are familiar with Newton’s first law of motion, it’s the one that says “an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion.”
An important side-effect of this law of physics is that it means a perpetual motion machine is classically impossible.
According to classical physics, the universe is always moving towards entropy. In other words: if we isolate an ice cube and a room-temperature glass of water from all other external forces, the water will always melt the ice cube.
The entropy (the movement towards change) of any system will always remain the same if there are no processes, and it will always increase if there are processes.
Since our universe has stars exploding, black holes sucking, and people lighting things on fire – chemical processes – entropy is always increasing.
Except when it comes to time crystals. Time crystals don’t give a damn what Newton or anyone else thinks. They’re lawbreakers and heart takers. They can, theoretically, maintain entropy even when they’re used in a process.
What’s that mean
Think about a crystal you’re familiar with, such as a snowflake. Snowflakes aren’t just beautiful because each one is unique, they’re also fascinating formations that nearly break the laws of physics themselves.
Crystalline structures form in the physical world because, for whatever fundamental scientific reason, the atoms within them “want” to exist in certain exact points.
“Want” is a really weird word to use when we’re talking about atoms – I’m certainly not implying they’re sentient – but it’s hard describe the tendency toward crystalline structures in abstracts such as “why.”
A time crystal is a new phase of matter that, simplified, would be like having a snowflake that constantly cycled back and forth between two different configurations. It’s a seven-pointed lattice one moment and a ten-pointed lattice the next, or whatever.
What’s amazing about time crystals is that when they cycle back and forth between two different configurations, they don’t lose or use any energy.
Time crystals can survive energy processes without falling victim to entropy. The reason they’re called time crystals is because they can have their cake and eat it too.
They can be in a state of having eaten the whole cake, and then cycle right back to a state of still having the cake – and they can, theoretically, do this forever and ever.
Most importantly, they can do this inside of an isolated system. That means they can consume the cake and then magically make it reappear over and over again forever, without using any fuel or energy.
Nearly every far-future tech humans can imagine, from teleportation to warp drives and from artificial food synthesizers to perpetual motion reactors capable of powering the world without burning fuels or harnessing energy, will require quantum computing systems.
Quantum computers can solve really hard problems. Unfortunately, they’re brittle. It’s hard to build them, hard to maintain them, hard to get them to do anything, and even harder to interpret the results they give. This is because of something called “decoherence,” which works a lot like entropy.
Computer bits in the quantum world, qubits, share a funky feature of quantum mechanics that makes them act differently when observed than when they’re left alone. That sort of makes any direct measurements of qubit states (reading the computer’s output) difficult.
But time crystals want to be coherent. So putting them inside a quantum computer, and using them to conduct computer processes could potentially serve an incredibly important function: ensuring quantum coherence.
No. No, no, no, no no. Don’t get me wrong. This is baby steps. This is infancy research. This is Antony van Leeuwenhoek becoming the first person to use a microscope to look at a drop of water under magnification.
What Google‘s done, potentially, is prove that humans can manufacture time crystals. In the words of the researchers themselves:
These results establish a scalable approach to study non-equilibrium phases of matter on current quantum processors.
Basically they believe they’ve proven the concept, so now it’s time to see what can be done with it.
Then why is this so exciting?
Time crystals have always been theoretical. And by “always,” I mean: since 2012 when they were first hypothesized.
If Google‘s actually created time-crystals, it could accelerate the timeline for quantum computing breakthroughs from “maybe never” to “maybe within a few decades.”
At the far-fetched, super-optimistic end of things – we could see the creation of a working warp drive in our lifetimes. Imagine taking a trip to Mars or the edge of our solar system, and being back home on Earth in time to catch the evening news.
This could be the big eureka we’ve all been waiting for. I can’t wait to see what happens in peer-review.
If you want to know more, you can read Google’s paper here. And if you’re looking for a technical deep-dive into the scientific specifics of what the researchers accomplished in the lab, this piece on Quanta Magazine by Natalie Wolchover is the bee’s knees.
The Oura Ring will further help you get on the road to a healthier life.CHRISTINE CHAN30 Jul 2021 0
Source: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore
Even though I’ve been using my best Apple Watch, the Series 5 (I skipped out on the Series 6), for sleep tracking since watchOS 7, I’m still not satisfied with Apple’s solution. Honestly, the current implementation of sleep tracking with the Apple Watch is very basic, and you’re missing out on some important data about your sleep habits every night.
Even though watchOS 8 brings in sleep respiratory rate data, it’s not enough. I was really hoping to see sleep stage data (light, deep, REM), but again, Apple failed to deliver this year (unless maybe it’s an Apple Watch Series 7 thing). I’ve also always wondered why the Apple Watch doesn’t have a “rest” mode, giving you a break from continuing your streaks if you’re feeling sick or just not well.Insta360 Go 2 Review: So Much Fun I (Almost) Forgot The Flawshttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.473.0_en.html#goog_980511998Volume 0%
As I vented my frustrations about the Apple Watch in recent months, I ended up discovering the Oura Smart Ring. It’s a ring that you wear on your finger to measure important health stats, especially during sleep, and it gives you a better insight into your overall health and well-being. It’s a perfect complement to the Apple Watch, as far as I’m concerned. It’s definitely pricey, but I believe it’s well worth the cost.
Bottom line: The Oura is incredibly lightweight and durable. With the integrated infrared light sensors, NTC temperature sensors, and accelerometer, you’ll gain even more valuable insights into your body’s overall health.
Lightweight titanium in four finishes and two styles
The Oura Smart Ring is available to purchase directly from the Oura website. There are two partner websites that you can also buy an Oura from: Goop for United States customers and Indigo for those in Canada.
There are two different styles available for the Oura: Heritage (flat-top design) and Balance (pointed peak). Heritage comes in four color finishes: Silver, Black, Stealth, and Gold, while Balance only comes in Silver, Black, and Diamond. The Silver and Black finishes cost $299, while Stealth and Gold cost $399. The Diamond Balance is $999. Stealth is the only matte finish, while the others are all glossy.
If you purchase from one of the partner sites, however, there are limited selections. Goop only has Heritage Silver, and Indigo has Heritage Silver, Black, and Stealth.
Oura Smart Ring: A simple wearable that helps you understand yourself better
Source: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore
The Oura Smart Ring is designed to fit on your ring, middle, or index finger. Since the ring itself is made with titanium, you’ll need to figure out what size you need first since the Oura is not adjustable. Thankfully, you can get a free sizing kit with your purchase to determine what size you need before selecting. The sizing kit includes eight different sizes (from six to 13), and these are made with plastic and have nubs to simulate the actual sensors. Once you receive the sizing kit, it’s recommended to wear it on your preferred finger for 24 hours to make sure that it fits properly.
The Oura Smart Ring is made with titanium, so it’s super lightweight. After a while, you forget that it’s even there.
Setting up the Oura itself with your best iPhone is an easy affair. You first need to charge it up on the charger, which should only take about 20 to 80 minutes (typical of most activity trackers in general). As it charges, just download the Oura app from the App Store, create your Oura account, and then follow on-screen instructions to pair your iPhone with your Oura ring through Bluetooth Low-Energy (LE). After the pairing process, you’ll input your personal information like age, height, and other details. This is necessary so that your Oura Ring experience is custom-tailored to suit your needs.
Source: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore
Since the Oura Ring itself is made with titanium, it is incredibly lightweight. Depending on the size you choose, it only weighs between four to six grams. The thickness is about 2.5mm, and it has a width of about 7.9mm, which is similar to a men’s wedding band. Honestly, once I have the Oura Ring on my (middle) finger, I usually forget that it’s even there. The Oura Smart Ring lasts around seven days on a single charge, which is fairly impressive considering the size. I usually charge it once a week, but sometimes I just place it on the charger to top it off. Oura recommends keeping the battery charged between 30-80% for optimal battery life.
Unlike most other fitness trackers on the market, the Oura Ring uses infrared sensors instead of green light. This is because infrared penetrates deeper than green light, but while this prioritizes data quality, it’s sensitive to movement. That’s why while you can (and I do) wear the Oura Ring pretty much 24/7 as a health tracker (it’s also waterproof), its main strength is at night as it tracks your sleep. But during the day, the Oura Ring measures activity levels, calories, steps, inactive time, and naps/rest with the 3D accelerometer. However, don’t think of the Oura Ring as a full-on activity tracker like an Apple Watch since it doesn’t track heart rate during the day.
While you can add manual workouts in the Oura app, it can also pull in workout information from other wearables (i.e., Apple Watch), which count towards your Activity score. This gives you the freedom to continue using whatever fitness tracker you prefer, which is nice. But with the sensors and accelerometer, the Oura Ring can detect when you take steps, general activity movement, and calories based on that, all of which contribute to your Activity score. It even detects when you are resting and taking naps, which I absolutely love (the Apple Watch still lacks in the nap department).
Oura uses infrared sensors instead of green light. This means more precise data, but it’s sensitive to movement, so Oura’s strength is when you sleep.
As you rest, the Oura Ring measures your resting heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), respiratory rate, body temperature, light/deep/REM sleep, nighttime movement, and sleep timing and quality. All of these factors are measured while you sleep, which results in your Sleep score.
However, along with your Activity score, these factors also contribute to your Readiness score for the next day. With Readiness, you get an overall measure of your body’s recovery, which signals your ability to perform at your mental, emotional, and physical best.
I’ve been using the Oura Ring for about a month now, and I have found it to be a perfect complement to my Apple Watch Series 5. One of my favorite features is the in-depth sleep tracking information since Apple is a bit lacking in that department. I always like to see how much I spent in the different sleep stages (awake, light, deep, and REM), and from what I can tell, it seems pretty accurate. Lately, I’ve been tossing and turning quite a bit throughout the night, and all of this movement is precisely recorded as “awake” in my Oura app. But Oura also takes sleep tracking a step further with information like sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep at night), restfulness, efficiency, and more. If the Oura Ring detects any areas you’re lacking in, it is highlighted red with “Pay Attention” text. You can tap on any of these factors to learn more about what it is and how it affects you.
The Readiness is another great benefit of the Oura Ring for me. Since it’s a sign of your overall recovery, I’m learning that I have been having average readiness for the past month since my sleeping habits aren’t exactly…great. However, this motivates me to do better, and maybe I can get optimal readiness at some point. Regardless, seeing my Readiness score every morning gives me an idea of what my energy levels will be for the rest of the day, which I don’t get with my Apple Watch.
Oura can detect when you take naps during the day, which can boost your Sleep and Readiness scores. And if you’re not feeling well, just turn on Rest Mode.
Another thing I love is the fact that the Oura Ring detects when I take a nap during the day or just rest in general. The requirements for a nap to count is that it must be between 15 minutes to three hours in length, and your body must fall into one sleep stage during that time. The sleep stage is monitored by changes in your heart rate, movement, and body temperature. Otherwise, it may not count as a “nap” and just as a restful period. But when it qualifies as a nap, it actually boosts your overall Sleep and Readiness scores, which I found pretty cool. After all, I definitely feel much better than I did before snoozing with a proper snooze, and it’s nice to see that visualized in data.
With the NTC temperature sensor, the Oura can detect even the smallest changes, up to 0.1 degrees Celsius, in your body temperature. This does take at least two weeks of continued use to build up a personal baseline for you, but once it’s established, monitoring changes in your body temperature has many benefits. For example, in women, changes in body temperature can help you know when your next cycle is coming, and for most people in general, it can be a sign that you are falling ill.
If the Oura app predicts that you may be coming down with something (elevated temperature) or is just strained, it will automatically prompt you if you want to go into Rest mode. While you’re in Rest Mode, it adjusts your Sleep and Readiness insights to give you recovery guidance instead, and it puts your Activity score on the back-burner. While it’s designed to come up if it detects there’s something wrong, you can also enable Rest Mode manually and turn it off at any time too.
The Oura Smart Ring has proven to be a valuable tool in my journey towards better health.
Oura also has a meditation feature in the app, dubbed Moment. It provides you with guided and unguided meditation sessions while collecting data about your heart rate, HRV, and skin temperature. It’s a nice bonus feature of Oura, but honestly, I didn’t use it much.
Overall, the Oura Smart Ring has proven to be a valuable tool in my journey towards better health. I know that my Sleep and Readiness scores haven’t been great (being pregnant is a complication to that, in all honesty), but having this data visualized allows me to understand where I need to improve on. And since its main strength is during the nighttime with sleep, it has filled a void for me that the Apple Watch hasn’t been able to. I also appreciate that I can continue to use my Apple Watch as I normally do, and the Health app syncs perfectly with Oura for my Activity score.
Oura Smart Ring: It’s a steep price to pay for pretty visuals of data
While the Oura Ring is made out of titanium and is super lightweight, I’m honestly not a big fan of how thick and bulky it looks. I’ve grown accustomed to it over the past month of use, but sometimes, depending on what I’m doing, the ring feels a tad clunky and sometimes not comfortable. This may not be an issue for men, but since I’m used to thin rings with my wedding band and engagement ring, it’s just something that I tend to notice now and then.
It’s definitely expensive, but if you value this kind of health data, it can be a worthy investment.
All of the Oura Rings, except for the Stealth, have a glossy finish. Because of that, those colors may be prone to scratching, especially if you wear Oura next to other rings (the company does not recommend doing this). However, since I have the Heritage Stealth, which is matte, scratches don’t really show up on it, but of course, the Stealth finish is $100 more. But the Stealth does make smudges and other things more obvious, though you can easily wipe it away.
There’s no denying it — the Oura Smart Ring is an expensive piece of tech. It starts at $299 and just goes up from there. If you absolutely do not care about getting more insight into your own overall health and well-being, or if this could be something that may stress you out more, then yeah, maybe it’s not worth the money. But I like to have concrete data about my health, and the Oura Ring provides some metrics that you just won’t find with many other trackers, including the Apple Watch. To me, that’s worth the cost, but your mileage may vary here, depending on your needs.
Oura Smart Ring: Competition
While smart wearables have taken off, the most popular type are the ones you wear on your wrist, like the Apple Watch. However, there are definitely other types of smart wearables out there, and the closest competition to the Oura is BodiMetrics CIRCUL Sleep and Fitness Ring. This one takes it a step further over the Oura by having continuous SpO2 and heart rate tracking, and it features adjustable sizing. However, like Oura, it is expensive at $299, and it looks even bulkier. But if those features are important to you, this may be worth looking into.
Oura Smart Ring: Should you buy it?
Source: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore
You should buy this if …
You want detailed sleep and other insights
You want a wearable besides a smartwatch
You want to track naps and have a Rest Mode
You shouldn’t buy this if…
You don’t like wearing rings
You are on a budget
You want a smart ring that tracks more during the day
The Oura Smart Ring is a unique product in the wearable market, which is flooded with smartwatches. The ring itself is waterproof, resilient, and lightweight since it’s made with titanium. It charges up quickly and will last a full week.
Oura uses advanced sensors that are fairly precise and accurate with readings when you sleep, providing you with more insight into your overall health. I appreciate that it can detect naps and other moments of relaxation, and the temperature sensors can even note the smallest changes, which may prompt you to go into Rest Mode. I’ve gained valuable data about myself, and I found the information to be motivational to do better.4.5 out of 5
But there is no denying it — Oura has a steep price for admission. Depending on your personal needs, the cost may or may not be worth it. For me, I think it is a good investment into my health. I also just wish that the Oura Smart Ring could be a little thinner and not as bulky for feminine hands.
Oura Smart Ring
Bottom line: Oura is a durable, lightweight titanium ring with integrated sensors that give you a better understanding of your overall health.