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January 26, 2021
☀ Good morning! Today I see the sun for the first time in a month? Or more? Good times.
I spy new eye tech (again!)

I can’t get over the run of health technology we’ve seen popping up. 

Here’s the latest out of Japan, where Nikkei has published a story on Kubota Pharmaceutical’s “smart glasses” that “banish” nearsightedness, or myopia. 

  • Yes, Kubota is claiming to fix short-sightedness.
  • You need to wear a pair of (very fun looking) glasses for 60-90 minutes that work by “projecting myopically-defocused virtual images generated using micro-LEDS on the peripheral visual field to actively stimulate the retina”.
  • The glasses:
kubota glasses
Kubota
Here are the key parts of Nikkei’s reporting:

  • “Can a pair of unique spectacles banish nearsightedness without surgical intervention? Japan’s Kubota Pharmaceutical Holdings says its wearable device can do just that, and it plans to start releasing the product in Asia, where many people grapple with myopia.
  • “The device, which the company calls Kubota Glasses or smart glasses, is still being tested. It projects an image from the lens of the unit onto the wearer’s retina to correct the refractive error that causes nearsightedness. Wearing the device 60 to 90 minutes a day corrects myopia according to the Japanese company.
  • “Kubota Pharmaceutical has not disclosed additional details on how the device works. Through further clinical trials, it is trying to determine how long the effect lasts after the user wears the device, and how many days in total the user must wear the device to achieve a permanent correction for nearsightedness.”
  • To assess the device’s effectiveness, Kubota is conducting clinical tests on about 25 people in the US.

That’s not really enough information to be excited but the company did release a statement back on December 16th, in English [PDF], that detailed a little behind the device and the tech progress being made.

  • We don’t have much data on effectiveness, both in terms of time and in terms of how bad your condition might be. (For example, up to -1 diopter glasses? -5 diopter? -12?)
  • And, would people wear the strange-looking device for 60 minutes each day to not have to wear glasses? I mean, maybe? Would you?
  • Would people wear the device (or a contact lens the company is also working on) for 60 minutes a day for a week to “fix” shortsightedness for a month?
  • It probably depends mostly on how weird the projected images are, and if it gives you a feeling of eye strain.
  • In any case, this has to be a little bit exciting that the technology could exist, let alone may come to a pair of glasses near you. Kubota hopes to sell it in the second half of this year.
Roundup

📸 Today’s OnePlus 9 leaks: A teardown of the OnePlus Camera app code has revealed work-in-progress features including moon mode, starburst mode, and focus peaking (yes peaking, not peeking) (Android Authority).

🔭 And, on the hardware side of the OnePlus 9 camera, tipsters are suggesting the OnePlus 9 won’t go for an extended zoom camera such as the periscope camera (with 10x zoom) we’ve seen from Samsung in the Galaxy S21 (Android Authority).

🤖 Google is working on MicroDroid, a stripped-down version of Android for virtual machines, probably for security? (XDA).

🤔 Also, a version of Android 10 was ported to a multi-core RISC-V SoC — another step on the way to royalty-free, open-source RISC-V devices with ultra-low power consumption. We’re a long way off running a Samsung smartphone with a big RISC-V CPU core, but the stage could be set, especially in China where US sanctions keep getting in the way (The Register).

🕔 A report says Tesla is partnering with Samsung on new 5nm chip for its self-driving ambitions, report says (Electrek).

🍎 Apple announced a hardware executive shuffle: moving long-time VP of Hardware Engineering, Dan Riccio, to work “on a new project”, and installing John Ternus as the new lead. So, what’s Riccio working on? “I’m looking forward to doing what I love most — focusing all my time and energy at Apple on creating something new and wonderful that I couldn’t be more excited about,” he said. Something big? Apple Car? Apple AR/VR? Or something else completely. I’d just like a really, really good printer, if that’s not too much to ask? More seriously, Riccio isn’t being gently shown the door — it seems Apple needs a hardware guru with nothing else to focus on but hardware (Apple).

🐤 Twitter debuts Birdwatch, a kind of crowdsourced moderation/fact-checking function, which allows “select” users to flag and add notes about tweets they think are misleading or false (TechCrunch).

👮‍♂️ Amazon unveils new Guard Plus subscription for $5 per month: it’s an upgrade to Alexa Guard, a free service that enables Alexa to listen for signs of danger while you’re away, and mimic smart light usage through the day. Now, a 24/7 service can act on a hunch and call emergency services. Launches in the US “this fall” (The Verge).

📈 In 2020, electricity generated from renewable sources surpassed fossil fuels in the EU for the first time, up to 38% of all electricity, up 3.4%. Coal fell almost the same amount as wind and solar picked up, while nuclear still accounts for around 25% (Ember/Agora Energiewende).

📈 The excellent Matt Levine on GameStop and r/WSB: The GameStop game never stops, including the most bizarre O’Hare anecdote (Bloomberg).

🔫 Nerf’s new blasters curve their foam shots around corners(The Verge).

🦎 A 98-million-year-old dinosaur unearthed in Argentina could be the largest land animal ever (Smithsonian).

🤔 “What do you love doing, but hate succeeding in?” (r/askreddit). Good answer: “There is always a moment towards the end of a video game where you have to decide to finish the main mission, beat the final boss, and lose interest.”

Chart Tuesday

Hey look, it’s the rise and fall of civilizations!

Reddit user nrgapple posted this to r/dataisbeautiful: “An app I made for visualizing country borders throughout history (2000 BC – 1994),” and it’s published here, making use of a github repo full of geographical and historical country bounds. 

history
  • It’s not perfect, given the likes of Australia being claimed long before Australia was claimed.
  • But it is pretty fun across Europe and the Americas, if you take it from the purely historical perspective.
  • The app is at historicborders.vercel.app, and the codebase is here if you want to peek (Github).

All the best,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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