Industry and Service
The IRS Grants EQUIFAX Access to our Data Again.
Great, because we needed some more news to add to the EQUIFAX saga. It’s clear that the company responsible for the biggest cybersecurity incident in history is not trusted by anyone. However, the Internal Revenue Service seems to think otherwise. In fact, it seems like the IRS trusts EQUIFAX more than ever!
The IRS has granted a multi-million-dollar contract to EQUIFAX. With the purpose of verifying taxpayers’ identities, I am not making this up. This all happened on September 30, the very last day of the fiscal year. With a contract signed for $7.3 Million dollars, which was posted yesterday on the Federal Business Opportunities website.
The synopsis taken from the IRS is as appalling as this news sounds:
This action was to establish an order for third party data services from Equifax to verify taxpayer identity and to assist in ongoing identity verification and validations needs of the Service. A sole source order is required to cover the timeframe needed to resolve the protest on contract TIRNO-17-Z-00024. This is considered a critical service that cannot lapse.
You are reading this correctly, ladies and gentlemen. The company that hired a music major as a Chief of Security. The company that led concerned citizens to phishing websites. The very company that is currently under investigation by the Department of Justice is once again trusted with the information of American citizens.
It’s like a nightmare in the real world. Why would the IRS trust such vital and delicate information to a company that showed its incompetency in many occasions? It just doesn’t make any sense! Well, now we can only hope that the company actually follows the current cybersecurity measures. If not, then I guess we’ll see yet another leak with even more sensitive information exposed. I mean, if we’re lucky, the company won’t make a mistake like this again.
The Matter standard is now supported by Google’s smart home appliances
Only if goods truly support it can the Matter standard facilitate the use of smart home appliances from different brands. You don’t even need to download or install any updates because Google has just announced that it has enabled Matter compatibility for its Nest and Android devices. This means that Matter can now be controlled by the Google Home speaker, Google Home Mini, Nest Mini, Nest Audio, Nest Hub (1st and 2nd gen), Nest Hub Max, and the new Nest WiFi Pro.
Additionally, Google has made Matter compatibility available for Fast Pair on Android, which will let you to connect Matter-enabled devices to your home network “as rapidly as you can pair a set of headphones.” This functionality will make it simple to integrate your devices with apps and smart home ecosystems once they are linked. The tech behemoth has also upgraded the Nest Wi Pro, Nest Hub Max, and Nest Hub (2nd gen) to include Thread border router functionality. In this manner, you can utilize them to link items that support Thread, the networking standard for low-power gadgets like smart locks.
Since 2019, the Connectivity Standards Alliance, of which Google is a member, has been working on the Matter standard to address the fragmentation issue in the smart home market and make it simpler to use products from various manufacturers. It had to postpone Matter’s release a few times before it was eventually able to roll out the standard’s version 1.0 definition and product certification program this October. It had originally planned to introduce the standard in 2021. Soon after Matter was released, Samsung said that it is collaborating with Google to make it simple to add devices that are already configured with SmartThings to Google Home and vice versa. One of the other founders of the Alliance, Amazon, also provided a list of the 17 Echo devices that will support the standard as of this month.
The number of products that are Matter-enabled is now somewhat small, but according to Google, this holiday season and early 2023 will witness an increase. With the exception of the aforementioned Google items, all devices that implement the standard will be identified by the Matter badge and will function with all other Matter devices right out of the box.
CES 2023 :Learn the latest information from the greatest technology event of the year
Although the CES doesn’t start until tomorrow, we’re back in Vegas for the event, and several exhibitors have already shown their new items at numerous press conferences and media events. In addition to more news from TV manufacturers, gaming laptop manufacturers, smart home firms, and other companies, we are starting to see some of the early automotive news that typically headlines CES today. Here is a summary of the top news from Day 1 of CES 2023 in case you haven’t caught up yet.
Since last night
But first, even though we covered the most of yesterday’s launches in a different video, more things were announced last night after we had finished filming that. For instance, Withings demonstrated the $500 pee-scanning U-Scan toilet computer.
It’s a 90mm block that you install inside your toilet bowl as a deodorizer and employs a microfluidic device that functions like a litmus test to identify the components in your pee. Although Withings is developing a consumer-focused version that will evaluate your nutrition and hydration levels and forecast your ovulation and period cycles, you will need to decide the precise tests you wish to run in your module. Prior to launching in the US, it is still awaiting regulatory approval from the European Union.
We also witnessed the Fufuly pulsing cushion by Yukai Engineering, which was less… gross news. Although a vibrating cushion may sound like something out of an anime, the concept is that cuddling something that might simulate real-life pulsation may have calming effects. Another thing that could calm anxiety? watching a video of adorable birds! Additionally, Bird Buddy unveiled a brand-new intelligent feeder with a built-in camera so you can watch your feathered friends while they build nests. The most recent version, which is intended for hummingbirds, uses AI to recognize the different breeds that are in the area and, in conjunction with a motion sensor, determines when they are ready for a feast.
Speaking of nibbles, there was a ton of food-related technology news last night, like as the $1,000 stand mixer from GE Profile that has a digital scale and voice controls. We also observed OneThird’s freshness scanners, which determine the freshness of produce using near-infrared lasers and secret algorithms. Even the shelf life of an avocado can be determined instantly, preventing food waste!
We also witnessed the Wisear neural earbuds that let you control playback by clenching your jaw, the blood pressure monitor that hooks onto your finger from Valencell, and Loreal’s robotic lipstick applicator for people with limited hand or arm mobility. Smart speakers, smart pressure cookers, smart VR gloves, smart lights, and more were available.
Let’s move on to the recent news. Prior to the onslaught that is set to happen tomorrow, there was only a little trickle of auto news. Volkswagen debuted the ID.7 EV sedan, tempting us with only the name and a rough body form. BMW, meanwhile, revealed the I Vision Dee, or “Digital Emotional Experience,” to provide additional information about its futuristic I Vision concept vehicle development. It’s a simplified design with a heads-up display that spans the entire front windshield. Many of the Dee’s characteristics are anticipated to be incorporated into production vehicles starting in 2025, notably BMW’s new NEUE KLASSE (new class) EV platform. BMW’s Mixed Reality slider will also be available on the Dee to regulate how much digital stuff is shown on the display.
The premium 2023 TVs from Samsung were also not unveiled until the evening, with this year’s models emphasizing on MiniLED and 8K technologies. Additionally, it added more sizes to its selection and unveiled new soundbars with Dolby Atmos capability at all price points. While this was going on, competitor LG unveiled a 97-inch M3 TV that can wirelessly receive 4K 120Hz content, allowing you to deal with fewer connections in your living room and… more soundbars. Leave it to LG and Samsung to essentially duplicate each other’s actions.
Hisense, a competitor with comparatively smaller TVs, today announced its 85-inch UX Mini LED TV, which has more than 5,000 local dimming zones and a maximum brightness of 2,500 nits. Startup Displace, meanwhile, demonstrated a brand-new 55-inch wireless OLED TV that can be attached to any surface via vacuum suction, doing away entirely with the requirement for a wall mount or stand. You can even live without a power cord thanks to its four inbuilt batteries. Essentially, this is a fully functional, portable TV.
We also noticed more HP, MSI, and ASUS laptops. A laptop with glasses-free 3D, a sizable Zenbook Pro 16X with lots of space for thermal dissipation, and a Zenbook 14X with a ceramic build are all products of ASUS. Both of the latter Zenbooks include OLED displays. In the meantime, HP unveiled a new line of Dragonfly Pro laptops that are designed to simplify the purchasing process for customers by removing the majority of configuration options. The Windows version exclusively uses an AMD CPU and has a column of hotkeys on the right of the keyboard that provide shortcuts to camera settings, a control center, and 24/7 tech support, whilst the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook has an RGB keyboard and Android-like Material You theming capabilities. The last of these buttons can be programmed to open a particular program, file, or website.
The first of some audio news is now being presented to us, starting with JBL. The business presented its array of five soundbar models for 2023, all of which will support Dolby Atmos. New true wireless earbuds with a “smart” casing including a 1.45-inch touchscreen and controls for volume, playback, ANC, and EQ presets were also introduced. Nearly simultaneously, HP unveiled the Poly Voyager earphones, which are comparable to the JBL in terms of controls and have a touchscreen on the carrying case. However, the Voyager also features a Broadcast mode that enables you to connect the case to an older device with a headphone port (like while you’re on an airline) via the provided 3.5mm to USB-C connection, so you can view movies during a flight without having to bring along a second set of headphones.
Not only today but also the remainder of the week will see a ton more CES news. I was unable to tell you about Citizen’s latest wristwatch or Samsung’s new, more affordable Galaxy A14 smartphone. Keep checking back for updates on all CES 2023 news.
Industry and Service
The creation of some of Spotify’s live audio shows is coming to an end
Due to the company’s decision to stop producing a number of its live audio shows, Spotify appears to be reducing the scope of its live audio goals. The ending of “Deux Me After Dark,” “Doughboys: Snack Pack,” “The Movie Buff,” and “A Gay in the Life” has been confirmed by a corporate representative to TechCrunch. Bloomberg was the first to break the news.
According to the spokesman, Spotify will keep airing live episodes of its programs “The Fantasy Footballers” and “The Ringer MMA Show.”
In April, the main Spotify streaming app merged the live audio features from its subsidiary app, Spotify Greenroom. When Spotify paid $62 million for Betty Labs, it bought the software that would become Greenroom. The app, which was once called as Locker Room, had a particular interest in how live audio and sports material interacted. In June 2021, Spotify changed the app’s name to Greenroom and released it.
Given that Spotify has been making significant investments in podcasts and related technology over the past few years, its entry into the live audio industry first seemed like a natural match for the business. Additionally, the COVID-19 epidemic had led to a rise in the use of fresh audio streaming services like Clubhouse. When podcasters had developed fan following who would probably want to audio chat with hosts in real time, this was an obvious use case for Spotify. However, after pandemic lockdown procedures ended and live events reappeared in person, audio applications like Clubhouse saw a fall in usage. Because of this, Spotify’s decision to dial back its plans for live audio isn’t exactly shocking.
It’s important to note that Spotify is not the only business to abandon live audio. Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms service—a Clubhouse ripoff—was incorporated into Facebook Live earlier this year. The social media behemoth also stopped supporting its Audio hub and short-form audio tool Soundbites.
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