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News Roundup: Nokia VR, tech lobbying and fish

A roundup of the week’s tech news including Apple Watch sales, Sony drones, and autonomous cars.

 

A note about the Apple Watch

Did the Apple Watch sell 2 million units in its first quarter? 3 million? 4? 5? No one knows. While it’s amusing to read random guestimates, it seems like a waste of time.

Nokia VR

So we know there’s not going to be a Nokia phone for a while. But is there going to be a Nokia-branded Virtual Reality headset before long? Re/Code reports that Nokia Technologies – the unit that Microsoft didn’t buy – will “unveil its first major VR project next week”, citing unnamed sources.

There was a little hint in last week’s no phone statement about Nokia being back in non-mobile form, but this would quite a turn up. The VR headset sector is already pretty crowded, and it’s hard to see a business that doesn’t have the capability to make and sell a mobile phone anymore can compete with Microsoft, Oculus, Sony et al.

We might have had our first look at Magic Leap, the mysterious startup that promises to rock the AR/VR world. A patent has surfaced showing how the hardware may look and work. If these images reflect reality, it could be a stylish bit of kit.

And if all this talk of virtual reality makes you queasy, fear not. There’s a pill for that. Party New York are offering VIRMO; “fast action relief pills VR motion sickness” made of nothing that might actually make you feel better, the pills are aimed VR developers and enthusiasts. Probably ones who like alternative medicine.

US Tech: Politics & funding

As tech companies move further and further into everyday life, they’re spending more to influence and support politicians who get what they’re about. Silicon Valley is spending huge amounts in contributions to political candidates, reaching the hundreds of millions for the last few election cycles.

The latest figures for US tech lobbying are through. Google spent $4.62 million in Q2, while Facebook, Amazon and Apple all spent $2.69 million, $2.15 million and $1.23 million respectively. For a full list and context with wider spending trends, as well as what they’re lobbying for, check out our nifty little graphic.

In other political news, the French government may soon be ditching Microsoft. According to The Reg, the Direction interministérielle des systèmes d'information et de communication de l'État has recommended that Microsoft services are dropped in favour of the Open Document Format (ODF)…

Flirtey drones

Amazon may be the loudest supporter of drone-based delivery, but they’ve been beaten to the punch in seeing it through. In Europe the Swiss postal service got there first, and in the US a little startup called Flirtey flew the first FAA-approved delivery via drone.

Sony has also decided to enter the drone fray. The Japanese company’s mobile unit has partnered with robotics firm ZMP Inc. to found a new company named Aerosense Inc. The new business will tout “enterprise solutions using autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles for image capture combined with cloud-based data processing.”

2030 IT emissions

A new report from the Global e-Sustainability Imitative has been released, and it’s surprisingly good news. It predicts that carbon emissions generated from the IT industry will actually go down by 2030, and, that by embracing IT, the world can reduce its carbon footprint and generation $11 trillion in economic benefits.

Hacking Team

The Hacking Team – the company listed as an “enemy of the internet” by the EFF and victim of a major hack – are still having a bad time of it. Wikileaks has published a million emails from the hack, they’ve been found to have spied on activists in Vietnam, selling some very resilient software to lots of repressive governments, be working with the FBI to hack the Tor network, and even dreamed of delivering spyware via drones.

The company has posted various statements saying they’re innocent of any wrongdoing and have tried to paint themselves as the victims. They’ve done interviews with Vice and Business Insider. As a results of all the news, various companies have updated and patched systems, and you can download software to check for traces of Hacking Team within your own comp, although the company claims to have rebuilt its systems.

Other related news:

-          Hillary Clinton has published a looong list of facts about her recent email scandal

-          We’re still a few years away from eVoting being ready for the mainstream

-          Pakistan is looking to copy the NSA’s style and build its own surveillance state

-          Facebook’s Internet.org project could face regulation in India

-          Accidently sitting on your phone and calling someone waives your right to privacy

M&A

The talks between Micron and Chinese state-own Tsinghua holding are still on, although even if a deal is signed it’s unlikely to make it past the US government.

LG has had to deny rumours that Google was to acquire a majority stake in the company.

Microsoft has acquired Israeli security startup Adallom, Google has taken on the team behind Homejoy and bought app-prototyping Pixate, IBM has purchased Database as a Service (DBaaS) firm Compose, BlackBerry now owns Athoc, and Dropbox has snaffled communication & collaboration company Clementine, while Accenture has made a triple swoop for Solium, EnergyQuote JHA and Chaotic Moon.

Who cares for self-driving cars?

So Google’s self-driving car may be cute, but does anyone actually want one as their full-time commuting machine? Seems not. Researchers from the University of Michigan surveyed 505 licensed drivers, and found only 15% said they’d prefer entirely autonomous motors. 40% said they want to be in control of their vehicles at all times, with the rest somewhere in between. Nearly 70% said they would be concerned if using self-driving cars were the only option available.

The idea of the connected car has been done no favours by hackers who demonstrated a way to remotely turn off a Jeep from miles away. It’s fixed now, but still, scary stuff.

Smartwatches from Tag Heuer

Despite the general disappointment and mystery around the sales of Apple Watch, the Cupertino company has generated enough buzz to stir some of the Swiss watch industry into action. LVMH, owner of the Zenith, Hublot and Tag Heuer brands, is reportedly planning to launch a $1,500 smartwatch, according to a report in Handelsblatt.

Interested in seeing if other Swiss watchmakers are moving into the technology business? Download our smartwatch report now. It’s free. And interesting.

Fish and social media

Sad bit of social media news. UK Prime Minister David Cameron has reportedly refused to pose with fish while on holiday because he was tired of being mocked for it on social media.

Sadly “pointing at or with fish” isn’t covered in parliaments’ guide to Twitter. It does, however, provide clever tips about not tweeting drunk, telling the truth and not giving your password out to too many aides.

SuperPlaystation

Some genius has made a DIY supercomputer from the CPUs of Sony Playstations and used it to find black holes. That’s very cool and impressive, but I’d much rather use Playstations for their intended purposes: playing Hogs of War

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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