Hello, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Insider Tech newsletter, where we break down the biggest news in tech, including:
- The amazing market power of Elon Musk’s tweets.
- Google’s executive productivity advisor shares tips for staying sane while working from home.
- Tech companies are drifting into sci-fi territory with wearables – again.
I’m your host Alexei Oreskovic. Hit me up with your thoughts, tips, rants and raves at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Soundtrack: This week’s newsletter has been specially designed to be consumed while listening to DEVO’s “Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA”
This week: Facebook’s quest for wearable tech superpowers and the curse of the “glassholes”
In the years since that fiasco, wearable tech has steered clear of sci-fi stylings and worked on improving familiar products that consumers are already comfortable with: Snap made relatively normal-looking sunglasses with a built-in camera and Apple focused on wireless earbuds and a wristwatch.
It’s been working. Apple’s gadgets now dominate the wearables business, accounting for 36% of the market in the last quarter of 2020. But sure enough, with sales of these ordinary-looking wearables growing, tech companies are getting excited and drifting into sci-fi territory again.
- Facebook showed off a neural bracelet prototype this week that reads motor signals for hand movements you intend to make, allowing you to control a computer with your brain (while wearing a pair of augmented reality glasses of course). “It’s sort of like having a superpower like the Force,” Facebook promises.
- Google is working on secret project code-named Wolverine, as Insider’s Hugh Langley exclusively reported this month. The gadget, a sensor-packed device that can be worn near or in your ears, would deliver “hearing superpowers” like the ability to tune different speakers in or out in a crowded room.
- And Apple is working on a virtual reality headset that The Information reports includes dozens of cameras to track hand movement as well as an 8K display and support for advanced eye tracking.
Will any of these futuristic doodads catch on? It’s generally not wise to bet against technological progress, even when the ideas initially seem silly, ugly or just unnecessary. Clunky and rudimentary smartphones were around for at least a decade before Steve Jobs finally cracked the code with the iPhone in 2007.
This next generation of wearables being cooked up in the labs by Big Tech will probably fall short of the mark. But eventually someone will figure out how to make brain-reading headsets that actually work and that don’t look ridiculous – and like it or not, we’ll all be glassholes some day.
For someone who is the CEO of several companies, Elon Musk manages to find a lot of time to tweet. And as Becky Peterson writes, those tweets have become an economic force of their own.
A loyal crowd of the celebrity CEO’s fans, many of whom will never buy anything produced or sold by one of Musk’s companies, treat his frequent tweets as inspiring calls to action, sending ripples of demand in the direction of whatever Musk mentions.
This year alone, Musk’s tweets have spiked the price of the cryptocurrency Dogecoin and have contributed to a massive surge in downloads of the encrypted messaging app Signal. He has spurred a global arms race to develop carbon-capture technologies and has left superfans straining to decipher absurdist puns in search of hidden financial advice.
The result is a spontaneous and unpredictable market that ebbs and flows according to Musk’s musings, often with dramatic results. The phenomenon has invigorated Musk’s followers, incentivized opportunists, and exasperated those who see reckless speculation in the personality-driven marketplace.
Read the full story here:
“At the outset of the pandemic, none of us knew how long this would last, and we kind of just threw our laptop on the kitchen table, and a couple of months in, we’re like: ‘Wow, I need to find a way to structure this for myself, and learn how to unplug.'”
– Laura Mae Martin, Google’s in-house executive productivity advisor, on the importance of setting boundaries while working from home and structuring no-tech time into the day.
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Not necessarily in tech:
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