Ina Fried Sep 21
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Amazon's approach to smart glasses sounds pretty smart

Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, at the introduction of the new Amazon Kindle Fire HD in 2012. Reed Saxon / AP

We can all envision what augmented reality glasses might eventually look like: as thin and light as regular glasses, have all-day battery life and don't make you look like a complete cyborg dork. The problem is, those aren't technically feasible today, as Google Glass and others have proved.

What's new: That's what makes Amazon's reported approach so interesting. Rather than try to cram in all the tech that will go in the glasses of the future, it appears Amazon is focused on the technology that smart glasses can deliver today while still being light, working all day and not prohibitively expansive. And that means putting a big focus on its Alexa voice assistant as the star attraction.

According to the Financial Times, Amazon is pairing Alexa with an interesting technology: transmitting audio via bone conduction, which also lets consumers skip another dorky element — having to wear headphones. It's worth noting that the newspaper report says nothing about augmented reality. If Amazon goes for an audio-only approach it won't have some of the cool features AR makes possible, but also will eliminate the screen and other components that account for much of the bulk, cost and battery drain of other smart glasses.

Why this matters to Amazon: The two other big personal assistants — Siri and Google Assistant — already have a way into consumers mobile lives via the smartphone. Though Alexa is popular, she's mostly housebound and tied to Amazon Echo and other in-home gadgets. Amazon tried and failed at doing its own smartphone, but integrating Alexa into a wearable gives Amazon a way in without having to displace Android or iOS. Amazon, by the way, wants Alexa everywhere and is talking to carmakers, appliance makers, etc.

Mike Allen 2 hours ago
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A huge clue about Mueller's endgame

Robert Mueller testifies before Congress in 2013. Photo: Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images

Axios has learned that special counsel Robert Mueller has focused on events since the election — not during the campaign — in his conversations with President Trump's lawyers. The top two topics that Mueller has expressed interest in so far: the firings of FBI director James Comey and national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Why it matters: That suggests a focus on obstruction of justice while in office, rather than collusion with Russia during the campaign. But both sagas are interwoven with Russia: Trump himself has linked Comey's firing to Russia, and Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador during the transition.

Amy Harder 4 hours ago
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Column / Harder Line

The swamp’s tug-o-war over America’s ethanol mandate

American eagle with corn in its claws
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

A biofuels standard Congress passed more than a decade ago in the name of rural development, energy security and climate change has devolved into an arcane fight over market share that has nothing to do with those initial three goals.

Why it matters: The law — called the renewable fuel standard that requires refineries to blend biofuels into gasoline — is a textbook example of how regulations create winners, losers and unintended consequences.