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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The past week has seen some eye-popping new technology, including foldable phones from Samsung and Huawei and the HoloLens 2 mixed reality headset from Microsoft. But these breakthroughs have also come with equally jaw-dropping price tags.
Why it matters: Tech innovations often start out at prohibitively high prices. The fact that the technology exists in a commercially deliverable form practically guarantees that it will become affordable in a few years.
Folding screens: The notion of smartphones with foldable displays has been around for a while. Such screens first showed up in devices with curved but relatively fixed phones, including the Galaxy Round and LG Flex back in 2013.
AR and VR that you actually want: The HoloLens 2 was the most talked-about new product launched at the MWC trade show, and for good reason. It addresses two of the biggest criticisms of the original model — its limited field of view and cumbersome fit. The new model also builds on its predecessor with improved performance.
The bottom line: For real tech enthusiasts, eras in which everyone can afford to buy the latest and greatest are a little dull. The real thrills happen when there are products on the way that are out of your reach — because they won't be for long.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Urban sensors are often used to monitor illegal activity — from identifying drivers that run red lights to generating predictive crime maps — but they can also collect data for quality-of-life improvements like reducing emissions and preventing car accidents, writes Karen Lightman for Axios Expert Voices.
The big picture: Municipalities could use anonymized, secure sensor data in combination with advanced computing to better understand how people travel through and use public space, without sacrificing individual privacy.
What’s happening: Academic researchers and urban planners can leverage the latest sensors — including “camera-as-sensor” technologies, which convert a camera’s optical image into an electronic signal — to gather and share insights about roads, intersections and public spaces.
Details: These projects rely on a combination of video streams, computer vision, AI, and edge computing (computing done near the data source, not in the cloud).
This technology has applications outside urban areas, as well. Project Diversita developed a camera and computing system that can identify over 5,000 different animal species to inform wildlife research and management.
The bottom line: Applying machine learning and edge computing to sensor and camera data could inform future urban planning initiatives, the allocation of public space, and even conservation efforts.
Read more of the full piece by Lightman, who's executive director of Metro21.
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Sen. Roger Wicker chairs the Commerce Committee. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
A series of hearings on Capitol Hill this week may reveal how lawmakers are leaning when it comes to federal privacy legislation, Axios' David McCabe reports.
Why it matters: Industry groups have been pushing Congress to take action that would override a growing number of state privacy laws, led by regulations set to go into effect in California next year.
Driving the news:
What to watch:
The other coast: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and a state lawmaker introduced a bill to make changes to the state's forthcoming privacy rules following public forums on the issue, including an expanded ability for consumers to sue companies over privacy issues.
The bottom line: So far, the privacy debate in Congress has seen a lot of press attention and not much movement. Despite a year of discussion about these issues on Capitol Hill, it's still just the beginning of what could be a protracted legislative process.
Investigative reporting from news outlets over the past 2 weeks has led to some swift changes from some of the biggest social media companies, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.
Why it matters: Despite an onslaught of hearings and statements from Washington, virtually no regulation has actually passed in the past couple of years to significantly address the potentially harmful practices of tech companies. Media reports have driven most changes to date, especially around privacy.
Be smart: These actions come as regulators begin meeting on Capitol Hill enter a series of hearings this week. But, as Axios' David McCabe notes, "The privacy debate in Congress has seen a lot of press attention and not much movement."
Check out these harvest mice napping in flowers.