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This Week in Tech News: On Top of Industry Trends

Metallic, reflective glasses in front of a purple and pink background.

Round Three for Snapchat’s Spectacles

This week, social media giant Snapchat announced the launch of the 3.0 version of Snapchat Spectacles sunglasses. Users can capture photos and videos with new and improved lenses, complete with a second high-definition camera to ensure proper depth and dimension in photos and videos with the touch of a button. Augmented reality features such as unique lighting, landscapes and three-dimensional elements can also be added to your photos and recordings after the content is uploaded. The frames are also embedded with microphones to capture audio, according to CNet. Spectacles 3 orders are expected to begin shipping this November.

  Billboard of a woman wearing Snapchat spectacles. While Snapchat has not yet found a way around the technical issues preventing these snapchats to immediately transfer to your Snapchat account, connecting to your phone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi will allow you to export them to your camera roll. Images and videos captured with the glasses will automatically appear in the Memories section of the Snapchat app. The Verge comments on whether the company will see success from this new product, after charging almost twice as much money with no user experience improvements. During Snapchat’s last release of the glasses in 2017, the company ate a $40 million USD loss in unsold products, according to Reuters. Be prepared to spend more than last year’s Spectacles model, which rang in at the $150 USD mark. You can preorder your Spectacles 3 this fall for $380 USD, or £330. The glasses are available in black and a beige/gold tint and are targeted towards Snapchat’s “fashionable” core user base—young adults ranging from high school to college age. Snapchat plans to raise $1.1 billion USD to fund further AR investments, as well as invest in content and possible acquisitions, according to Reuters.

What Would You Do to Never Lose Your Keys Again?

If you frequently lose track of your car keys, how far would you go to keep them within arm’s reach at all times? Would you try a device implanted into one of your limbs? Still from a Youtube video featuring software developer Amie DD. Texas-based software engineer Amie DD posted a video on the development community page Hackaday.io that details how she “bio-hacked” her body, as reported by TechCrunch. As an owner of the Tesla Model 3, which uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to unlock and lock the vehicle without a key, Amie implanted the RFID tag to her vehicle’s keycard into her arm. According to The Verge, Amie dissolved the keycard containing the RFID tag in acetone and had the tag encased in a biopolymer, with the help of a company that specialises in implantable chips, called VivoKey, as reported by Business Insider. The chip was then implanted into her forearm by a body-modification specialist, according to Amie’s blog that details her process. Amie has a separate RFID tag that was previously implanted into her hand for what she calls “access control,” allowing her to do things like tap her hand to your smartphone and automatically pull up her webpage, or unlock her front door. The Tesla RFID that was successfully implanted now allows Amie to unlock and start her Tesla with no key fob or keycard needed. Talk about a Tesla fan!

Meet My Roommate, Alexa

St. Louis University is the first U.S. University to provide each of its dorm rooms with a second-generation Amazon Echo dot smart speaker. Through Amazon’s Alexa for Business platform, each of the 2,300 University’s Echo Dots can answer over 100 questions about the campus and its events, hours and food options according to Engadget. The Echo Dot can also stream live music and podcasts and make phone calls, including the University’s Student Services Directory, according to CNet. An Amazon echo dot on a stack of books. The University’s Vice president, Chief Information and Innovation Officer and overseer of the IT department, David Hakanson, is the man behind the movement. His goal is to improve the students’ campus experience and acclimation to college life, with no additional cost to the students. The SLU website confirms that tuition wasn’t increased to provide the voice assisted smart speakers, and instead cites that costs were offset by capital funding and its partnerships with Amazon and n-Powered. In terms of privacy, because recent headlines confirm ever-present concerns and skepticism, CNet reports that no personally identifiable information is stored or provided to the SLU team. No details are recorded that can be used to identify a specific student, or even a specific dorm room. "Alexa voice interface means that students can instantly gain access to university information without referring to complex intranet sites or student support services which may mean long wait times,” says IHS Markit senior research analyst Daniel Sutton.

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If you enjoyed this article, check out some more of our This Week in Tech News blogs:   Featured image credit: Photo by Joshua Coleman on Unsplash Article image credits: Billboard of Spectacles 1.0. Photo by Jimmy Baikovicius on Flickr, Amie DD via YouTube, Andres Urena on Unsplash

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