25 Oct 2017
by Admin
Comments are closed

Amazon To Sell Smart Locks So It Can Slip Packages Into Your Home

By Jeffrey Dastin

(Reuters) – Inc <AMZN.O> has plans to drop off packages directly into shoppers’ homes.

The world’s largest online retailer on Wednesday announced Amazon Key, a lock and camera system that users control remotely to let delivery associates slip goods into their houses. Customers can create temporary passcodes for friends and other services professionals to enter as well.

The move, in the works for more than a year, may help Amazon capture sales from shoppers who could not make it home to receive an order in person, and did not want the package stolen from their doorstep. It also signals Amazon’s ambitions in the growing market for home security devices, where Alphabet Inc’s <GOOGL.O> Nest Labs competes.

“This is not an experiment for us,” said Peter Larsen, Amazon vice president of delivery technology, in an interview. “This is a core part of the Amazon shopping experience from this point forward.”

Members of Amazon’s Prime shopping club can pay $249.99 and up for a cloud-controlled camera and lock that the company offers to install. Delivery associates are told to ring a doorbell or knock when they arrive at someone’s house. If no one greets them, they press ‘unlock’ in a mobile app, and Amazon checks its systems in an instant to make sure the right associate and package are present.

The camera then streams video to the customer who remotely can watch the in-home delivery take place. The associate cannot proceed with other trips until the home is again locked.

It is unclear if such protections will persuade customers that the service is safe to use.

Larsen said theft was “not something that happens in practice,” based on early tests of the Amazon Key program.

He added that if a problem arises, “You can call customer service, file a claim and Amazon will work with you to make sure it’s right,” reimbursing customers in some cases.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc <WMT.N>, Amazon’s biggest retail rival, has similar plans. It said last month it would test delivering grocery items “straight into your fridge” with August Home, a smart lock business that Assa Abloy AB <ASSAb.ST> said it will acquire.

Amazon’s new service goes live on Nov. 8 in 37 U.S. locations, the company said. The “Cloud Cam” is also available by itself for purchase, it said.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco)

19 Oct 2017
by Admin
Comments are closed

Silicon Valley Veteran Says Tech Giants ‘More Powerful Than AT&T Ever Was’

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif., Oct 18 (Reuters) – Two of the technology industry’s top startup investors took to the stage at a conference on Wednesday to decry the power that companies such as Facebook Inc had amassed and call for a redistribution of wealth.

Bill Maris, who founded Alphabet Inc’s venture capital arm and now runs venture fund Section 32, and Sam Altman, president of startup accelerator Y Combinator, said widespread discontent over income inequality helped elect U.S. President Donald Trump and had put wealthy technology companies in the crosshairs.

“I do know that the tech backlash is going to be strong,” said Altman. “We have more and more concentrated power and wealth.”

The market capitalization of the so-called Big Five technology companies – Alphabet, Apple Inc, Amazon Inc, Microsoft Corp and Facebook – has doubled in the last three years to more than $3 trillion. Silicon Valley broadly has amassed significant wealth during the latest tech boom.

Altman and Maris spoke on the final day of The Wall Street Journal DLive technology conference in Southern California.

Facebook’s role in facilitating what U.S. intelligence agencies have identified as Russian interference in last year’s U.S. presidential election is an example of the immense power the social media company has amassed, the investors said.

“The companies that used to be fun and disruptive and interesting and benevolent are now disrupting our elections,” Maris said.

Altman said people “are understandably uncomfortable with that.”

Altman, who unequivocally rebuffed rumors that he would run for governor of California next year, said he expects more demands from both the public and policy makers on data privacy, limiting what personal information Facebook and others can collect.

Maris said regulators would have good cause to break up the big technology companies.

“These companies are more powerful than AT&T ever was,” he said.

Facebook said last month it had discovered an operation likely based in Russia that spent $100,000 on political ads and created 470 fake accounts and pages that spread polarizing views on political and social issues.

Altman and Maris offered few details of how to accomplish a redistribution of wealth. Maris proposed shorter term limits for elected officials and simplifying the tax code. Altman has advocated basic income, a poverty-fighting proposal in which all residents would receive a regular, unconditional sum of money from the government.

(Reporting by Heather Somerville; editing by Jonathan Weber and David Gregorio)

16 Oct 2017
by Admin
Comments are closed

How A New Technology Could Help Find The Next Harvey Weinstein

NEW YORK ― There’s a reason women keep quiet about men like Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and Donald Trump for decades before numerous sexual assault accusations suddenly spill out at once. In game theory, it’s called the “first-mover disadvantage”: the idea that a first accuser faces the greatest risk of retaliation or skepticism, especially if no one else follows.

“Information escrows” ― systems that hold onto an encrypted, confidential sexual assault or harassment report until at least one other person has accused the same individual of assault ― could help solve this problem, according to Yale economist Ian Ayres. Just as dating apps like Tinder allow people to privately express interest until it’s returned, technology can keep people’s sexual assault reports private until there’s a “match,” so no one has to make the first move alone.

“Survivors are reluctant to be the first one to file a claim against a particular perpetrator ― the evidence of this is just all around us,” Ayres told HuffPost. “But if you learned that this happened to other people, you’d feel much more confidence that it’s appropriate to bring a claim. And there are good reasons to believe that many offenders are repeat offenders.”

In 2015, Ayres helped to develop a new sexual assault reporting app, Callisto, which is already in use on college campuses and could soon spread elsewhere. Callisto connects people who have reported problems with the same individual and enables them to submit their reports together to campus authorities.

According to Callisto’s data, 15 percent of reports in the system have found a match so far, and students who use the app take less than half the time ― about four months ― to report sexual assault than the average college accuser.

“We’ve had survivors explicitly say, ‘I would not have reported if it weren’t for Callisto,’” Jess Ladd, CEO of Callisto, told HuffPost.

In the wake of the assault allegations against Weinstein, Ladd is now being bombarded with requests to expand the app beyond college campuses.  

“I’m getting email message after text after Facebook message from friends and colleagues saying, ‘Look, blank industry really needs Callisto right now’ ― whatever industry they’re in,” Ladd said. “We’re actively considering that and are in the process of figuring out which industry would make the most sense to go into first ― tech? Hollywood?”

There are good reasons to believe that many offenders are repeat offenders.
Yale economist Ian Ayres

Of course, apps like Callisto have drawbacks and limitations. If a man rapes only one woman, for instance, an information escrow will do nothing to help her expose him. Ayres said another concern is that the technology could cannibalize formal reports to the police.

Ultimately, however, sexual assaults are already so massively underreported that Callisto is likely to do much more good than harm, Ayres argues. “The main effect is that it encourages women survivors that would not have placed a formal report,” he said. “They’re motivated now to go forward and use Callisto.

Information escrows would be especially useful to women in workplaces with especially skewed power dynamics, like Congress and the military. A 2016 Human Rights Watch study found that servicewomen are 12 times more likely to be retaliated against after reporting a sex crime than to see their assailant convicted. And Capitol Hill has a notoriously weak internal sexual abuse reporting system, which, combined with political pressure and job uncertainty, keeps staffers quiet. If a group of women could come forward at once against a commander or congressman, they would be more difficult to punish or ignore.

Women have long relied upon underground “whisper networks” in these industries in the absence of any reliable aboveground means of redress. While they can be useful in helping women protect each other from men who are known to be serial predators, they can do little to stop the harassment overall.

Molly Redden, a senior reporter at The Guardian, said she has used whisper networks both to give and receive warnings about certain men in the media. She says an editor once approached her from behind at a work party, put his hands on her shoulders, kissed the back of her head and said, “Don’t worry, it’s just me.” The incident made her “skin crawl,” but reporting him up the chain didn’t seem like an option, since his behavior was already an open secret.

“I’d received warnings about him from other women in the office, and so I’d steeled myself for much worse,” she said. “Plus, this person had zero compunction about being sexist in front of the other editors. I got the message: They knew, they saw, they didn’t care.”

Redden said that while she’s relieved these whisper networks exist, she’s concerned that they may ultimately deter women from taking action.

“I worry that, by whispering about these people, I’m signaling to their next target that she or he ought to keep silent, too,” she said. “That maybe they’ll think, ‘His behavior is not gonna come as news to anyone, so why should I be the one who makes a big stink? Why should I take it so seriously?’”

I worry that, by whispering about these people, I’m signaling to their next target that she or he ought to keep silent, too.
Molly Redden, The Guardian

Apps like Callisto are a useful supplement to underground warning systems because their end goal is the reporting and investigation of a crime. And information escrows could potentially be used in other ways to prevent sexual harassment and legally nebulous romantic behavior in the workplace ― particularly in industries with baked-in power imbalances.

“Right now, most workplaces have a one-bite rule: If you and I are co-employees, you can ask me out once, and if I say no, you can’t ask me out a second time,” Ayres said. “If we could have a rule that employees never got to ask each other out initially, that they could only put expressions of interest into escrow that would only be forwarded if they were matched, there would never be the uncomfortable conversation with the coworker or boss.”

But there are some challenges to expanding the technology beyond college campuses. Callisto’s efficacy, for instance, relies on having a closed network of trust so that any random internet troll can’t come in and file baseless reports. While it’s simple to verify that a user is a student at a particular university, it’s harder to contain and authenticate members across a sprawling industry. “How do you make sure somebody’s a part of Hollywood?” Ladd wonders.

The likely move is to start with groups like the Screen Actors Guild that have long email lists of registered members, in order to authenticate who’s part of the trust network and allowed to make entries.

Sexual Health Innovations would also need help from donors to enter a new market. To use the app, schools currently pay a $5,000-$10,000 setup fee and a $13,000-$40,000 annual fee, depending on school size. Ladd said the nonprofit would need to raise around $5 million to expand to Hollywood or the tech industry.

Callisto has already partnered with the Upright Citizens Brigade, a bicoastal improv and comedy training center, to raise money for the platform, and it’s now seeking other potential sources of funding.

“It’s possible to expand if there’s enough philanthropic support to do so,” Ladd said. “We have the data to show that it’s working.”

13 Oct 2017
by Admin
Comments are closed

What To Do If You Think An Online Account Has Been Hacked

By David Nield

Being hacked can feel like a personal attack: You go to log into Facebook, or Gmail, or iCloud — and your password doesn’t work, leaving you unable to protect your most important online accounts. This worst-case scenario might bring on feelings of nausea and helplessness. Fortunately, you can take action in the face of digital vandalism. If you find yourself locked out of your accounts, major internet services have prepared a few routes for getting back in. As well as restoring your access, these companies help you limit the damage that a hacker can do.

How do you know that someone else really has taken control of one of your accounts? Not being able to log in is a big clue — but if your password doesn’t work, don’t immediately assume you’ve been hacked. First, make sure the culprit is really a bad actor: For example, if you can’t get into your Facebook or Twitter account on your computer, try logging in on another device to see if you’ve really lost your access. Also make sure to double-check the password you’re typing before you start to suspect the worst.

Another warning sign can come in the form of email. Many services will send you messages about suspicious activity, such as when somebody logs into your account from an unfamiliar computer (or an unfamiliar country), or when somebody changes your username or password. Make sure to check your inbox for emails like these. Also keep an eye out for messages from friends: If “you” have started sending them spam, they can alert you that your account was compromised.

Once you realize you’ve been hacked, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and take back your account.

Raise the alarm

The good news is that you have help: Google, Apple, Microsoft and other tech giants don’t want impostors to take over your online identities either, so they’ll try their best to restore your access. For example, in some cases where you can’t open your account, it’s because the company sensed suspicious activity and automatically locked everyone out.

So when you suspect a hack, your first step is to tell the company. A quick web search, such as “Report Gmail hack,” should reveal the right place to explain your problem. Before you start entering information, make sure that the page you visit is the official recovery page. Check the URL to make sure the page is hosted on the correct web domain, such as or, for the service you’re trying to access. We’ve also rounded up the recovery links for a few of the big players: For Google, report hacks here, for Apple here, and for Microsoft here.

Once you report your issue, follow the instructions the app or service gives you — these will be tailored specifically for your account. Different programs employ different recovery methods, so you might have to confirm your phone number or backup email address, or answer personal questions — such as a few queries about your Facebook friends — to prove you are the real account owner.

If you’re lucky, you can get back in pretty fast. That’s partially because today’s apps collect so much data about us that they can identify individuals through tidbits such as date of birth, phone number, location and more. However, getting back into your account isn’t the last step you need to take.

Change your passwords

Once you can log in once more — or if you could already access your account but have noticed suspicious activity — change your password to boot out any unwelcome visitors. The new code should be completely new; don’t recycle a past password or reuse the same string of letters and numbers that open another account. If you have been using that old password to access multiple accounts (which you really should not do!), change the password on your other accounts as well.

Most online services let you see all the devices where you’re logged in. Hunt around the security settings until you find this page. Then, log out of all other sessions except the one you’re currently using. For example, you can visit this Facebook page and this Google page to log out of sessions you don’t recognize.

While you’re poking around your account, review the other settings to make sure nothing has been changed. Look at your personal details, review any third-party apps connected to your account, and check your security questions and answers and your backup email addresses and/or phone numbers. If you think your hacker had a chance to scan your security questions and backup accounts, try to change these on the compromised account and on any other account that relies on the same information. This will prevent the bad actor from using your personal details to breach other accounts in the future.

Speaking of other accounts, were your credit cards, bank accounts, or other financial programs connected to the compromised service? In this case, review your statements. If your hacker spent any of your money, you should try to claim back the cash as soon as possible — contact your bank directly and ask how to do this. While you’re checking for financial malfeasance, also review your account to see if the hacker added any unfamiliar payment methods or shipping addresses.

Run security checks

Having recovered from a hacking attempt, you’ll want to protect against any future ones. So activate the security features designed to prevent attacks — for more details, you can follow our guide to protecting your online accounts. One of the most helpful measures is turning on two-step verification, where logging in requires a code sent to your phone, on top of the standard username and password. And specific services offer their own security features: Facebook, for example, lets you add a list of trusted friends who can verify your identity if you get hacked again. Turn on this option via the Security page in Settings.

Next, try to find out how the hacker managed to access your account so you can prevent future incursions. This won’t always be possible; however, it can’t hurt to run a thorough virus and malware scan of your hard drive (in case that’s how the attacker got in). Before you start, update both your operating system and your antivirus package of choice. After you run the review, get a second opinion from a standalone scanner like Kaspersky Virus Scanner for macOS or Microsoft Safety Scanner for Windows.

If the breach affected a service that includes email, such as your Google account, check the email account for sent messages or for new filters. For example, clever hackers can set up filters that forward all incoming mail to an address you don’t recognize. Delete such filters to prevent people from worming their way back into your account in the future. This is particularly important because you can reset many other accounts’ passwords, and receive notifications about suspicious activity, over email. You don’t want an eavesdropper to nab those recovery messages.

In fact, even if only one account becomes compromised, you should consider all your main services breached. Carry out a thorough security audit on all of them, working through all the steps we’ve mentioned above. For more details on strengthening the security of individual services, check out our previous guides to locking down your Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook accounts.

This article originally appeared on Popular Science.

12 Oct 2017
by Admin
Comments are closed

Sheryl Sandberg: Russian Targeting On Facebook ‘Should Not Have Happened’

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg acknowledged on Thursday that “things happened on our platform in [the 2016 election] that should not have happened,” and Americans deserve an apology for that.

“We’re angry, we’re upset, and what we really owe the American people is determination,” Sandberg said in an interview with Axios’ Mike Allen in Washington concerning the discovery that Russian-backed groups ran ads on Facebook aimed at influencing the election.

“As early as we heard any rumors we started investigating,” she said. Expressing support for public release of the ads, she said: “We don’t want this kind of foreign interference, we’re all going to have to fully cooperate” with investigations into the meddling.

“We know that we have a responsibility to do everything we kind to prevent this kind of abuse on our platform,” she said.

Allen noted that Facebook removed the ads because they came from fake accounts. He asked Sandberg about Facebook’s policy that had they come from real accounts, they would have remained on the platform.

Sandberg replied using the example of Twitter’s removal of a recent ad in which by Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s (R-Tenn.), who is running for the Senate in 2018, discussed the sale of baby body parts. Facebook, Sandberg said, would have run the ad.

“The question is should divisive political or issue ads be run? Our answer is yes,” she said. But she also added: “We don’t allow hate, we don’t allow violence. We don’t allow bullying.”

The scope of Facebook’s tacit involvement in last year’s election continues to broaden. It told Congress last month that it had sold 3,000 ads to groups linked to the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-run organization.

The company now plans to manually moderate the ads submitted to Facebook.

The House intelligence committee met with Sandberg in a closed-door session on Wednesday. Members said they plan to release copies of the Russia-backed Facebook ads that were turned over to Congress in the coming weeks.

Facebook also plans to release the targeting for those ads, Sandbeg said. “We’re going to be fully transparent.”

“I think there’s a lot of interest in the committee on the progress of Facebook’s internal investigation, when they discovered what they discovered, how exhaustive their review has been, what more forensics need to be done,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Wednesday.

Ads on Google and Twitter have also been linked to Russia. Sandberg told Allen Facebook is working with other companies so that “when anyone identifies a threat, we can get them off of all of our platforms.”

11 Oct 2017
by Admin
Comments are closed

Adults Must Teach Kids To Use, Not Be Used By, Social Media

I was an archetypical progressive educator, respecting the autonomy of students and empowering them to follow their passions and not just the curriculum pacing guide. But in terms of classroom management, I was “Old School,” insisting that students “work smart and work steady” from “bell to bell.” One tradition that I passed down was my parents’ and grandparents’ admonition to “pay close attention, I’m only going to show you once.”

As with my adult mentors, my directions were accompanied with a grin. We weren’t demanding obedience but teaching the younger generation to “keep your head in the game,” to “work smart,” and to “learn how to learn.”

Perhaps the greatest failing of Baby Boomers is that we reneged on that responsibility and didn’t teach kids the habits, the mindsets, and the ethics required to learn how to learn from their cell phones. We abdicated our responsibility to teach media and digital literacy. Schools are finally being forced to confront one of our most challenging but most crucial question: How can we control digital technologies and not be controlled by them?

Jane Meredith Adams writes in Edsource about “one school’s attempt to revive the art of the face-to-face conversation. No earbuds. No head phones. No music. No photos. No bent necks. No phones.” Korematsu Middle School in the East Bay of San Fransisco had tried the normative process of restricting phoness to lunchtime and passing periods, but it became clear to the principal. “we would never do that again.”

The middle school learned the lesson that our society is still trying to duck, the “rise of cell phones and social media has created a generation that spends less time with friends and more time alone in their rooms on their phones.” As a growing body of cognitive research explains, “teenagers who spend more time online than they do with their friends are the most likely to report being lonely and feeling left out.”

To take just one example, Jean Twenge wrote in The Atlantic that research has shown, “the presence of a cell phone — even if it’s face down on the desk or in a bag, on silent — limited a person’s thinking and memory.” Other research finds, “Eighth-graders who spend 10 or more hours a week on social media are 56 percent more likely to say they’re unhappy than those who devote less time to social media.”

More than 5,000 schools have shown the documentary “Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age.” The producer of “Screenagers,” who is a doctor, is prompting the conversation with children that we should have started long ago. And we as a society are reluctantly starting to probe into the role of social media plays in the dissemination of “alt facts” and our bitter conflicts over identity politics.

As our entire culture takes on the characteristics of Attention Deficit Disorder, it would be tempting to abandon the goal of teaching our kids to, “pay close attention.” As all of our attention spans grow shorter, it would be nice if we could toss our concentration skills on the ash heap of history. As the world speeds up, however, we must preserve at least some of our old-fashioned study skills.

Reading, for instance, is changing and we cannot hold back the tide. But the essence of literacy must be preserved – at least until we can lay a foundation for an equally profound replacement. The same applies to cultural and artistic literacy. We adults cannot predetermine what the attention spans of subsequent generations will be. Nor should we try. We should take our stand by umpiring a structured discussion on the principles that we seek to preserve. It is not up to teachers to preordain which of our favored values survive, but we must protect the integrity of the schooling process.

Finally, “Pay close attention; I’m only going to show you once,” must not be seen as an artifact of a teacher-centered world that is obsolete in a world made “flat” by technology. We must remember the key words within the spiritual context of “The Death of a Salesman.” “Attention must be paid.” We all have a moral core, and we all want attention to be paid to our humanity. The hearts of teens today are as hungry as those of preceding generations. We must appeal to their emotional centers. I doubt there is another power on earth that could pry their fingers off of their text messaging contraptions.

06 Oct 2017
by Admin
Comments are closed

AOL Instant Messenger To Sign Off Forever After 20 Years

AOL Instant Messenger has g2g ― forever.

The online messaging app, often referred to as just AIM, will be discontinued on Dec. 15, as Michael Albers, vice president of communications product at Oath, announced Friday.

“AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed,” Albers wrote. “As a result we’ve made the decision that we will be discontinuing AIM effective December 15, 2017.” (AOL is now part of Oath, which owns HuffPost.)

AIM was originally introduced as part of a chat app built into the AOL desktop. It launched on its own in 1997, and remained dominant even when competitors like Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger came along. But by 2011, Facebook and Google’s email chat, known as Google Chat or “Gchat” for short, had gained a significant edge.

“If you were a 90’s kid, chances are there was a point in time when AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) was a huge part of your life,” Albers wrote. “You likely remember the CD, your first screenname, your carefully curated away messages, and how you organized your buddy lists.”

“In the late 1990’s, the world had never seen anything like it,” he added. “And it captivated all of us.” 

Twitter users almost immediately began sharing their most cherished AIM memories. Others expressed shock that the application is actually still around.

Tweet us your favorite AIM memories using #InMemorAIM (shout out to HuffPost’s Carolina Moreno for that one).

05 Oct 2017
by Admin

When is the Best Time to Send an Email Marketing Campaign [Infographic]

Have you considered the relevance of timing when sending out your e-mail marketing campaigns?

With more and more people consuming information on the go, the timing of your e-mail outreach should be a key consideration – which is especially relevant as we head into the holiday season.

To help with this, SendinBlue recently conducted a survey of the six industries which most commonly use email marketing campaigns and determined when marketers should be sending emails in order to maximize customer engagement.

Their full findings are included in the infographic below, but the key takeaways include:

  • Over 85% of marketing emails are opened on weekdays
  • Overall 24% of emails were clicked between 4pm-6pm, however, 32% of emails sent by B2B companies were clicked late in the evening around 10pm
  • It’s best to send an email during the middle of the week, between Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • Email engagement rates are most effective during the mid-morning at 10am, or mid-afternoon around 2pm

Check out the full infographic for more insights. 

When is the Best Time to Send an Email Marketing Campaign [Infographic] | Social Media Today 

05 Oct 2017
by Admin

Snap Inc.’s Sold 150,000 Pairs of Spectacles, Looking to Bring Snapchat to PCs

Despite Snap Inc.’s ‘Spectacles’ generating a lot of hype – due, in no small part, to their creative marketing tactics – Snap CEO Evan Spiegel has this week announced that they’ve only sold around 150,000 pairs of the camera-enabled glasses.

Snap Inc.’s Sold 150,000 Pairs of Spectacles, Looking to Bring Snapchat to PCs | Social Media TodayThat’s still a lot, of course, but when we’re talking about an app that has more than 173 million people logging on every day, it’s only a very small fraction of their potential market.

Spiegel made the announcement at the Vanity Fair Establishment Summit, where he also discussed the company’s future, and their decision to go public – which, despite seeing declines since the shares debuted, Spiegel believes was still the right move.

The company’s in an interesting place right now.

On one hand, they’re up against it, with Facebook looking to press their advantage and limit Snapchat’s growth at every turn. And for the most part, it does seem like Facebook is succeeding – Snapchat’s growth numbers have slowed significantly since the introduction of Instagram Stories, while more and more reports suggest that platform influencers are switching from Snap to Instagram, due to increased reach and opportunity.  

Snap Inc.’s Sold 150,000 Pairs of Spectacles, Looking to Bring Snapchat to PCs | Social Media Today

Image via Recode (Snap is now at 173m)

On the other, Snap does have some interesting projects in the works.

Speculation about ‘Spectacles v2.0’ has been floating around for months, with many (including myself) reporting that Snap’s likely looking to introduce an augmented reality overlay element, which would enable users to see what they can through their Snapchat camera via their Spectacles.

There are various hints towards this – back in May, Mashable located a patent which Snap had lodged for an AR-enabled device that would enable the user to overlay the real world with virtual objects – like a giant t-rex.

Snap Inc.’s Sold 150,000 Pairs of Spectacles, Looking to Bring Snapchat to PCs | Social Media TodaySnap’s also been looking to develop new ad products which would align with this AR-view approach, while they also purchased a development lab in China late last year. Having a dev lab in China, where Spectacles are made, might enable them to keep their plans more under wraps – in fact, TechCrunch reported in June that few of Snap’s 1,800 staff are aware of the details of Spectacles’ development, though they are sure a new version is coming.

AR-enabled spectacles would be a huge step – and really, when you look at Snap’s latest additions like World Lenses and their latest Snap Art project, it’s clear to see that the app’s functionality is gearing towards this next wearable phase.

Snap Inc.’s Sold 150,000 Pairs of Spectacles, Looking to Bring Snapchat to PCs | Social Media Today

Snap’s virtual art installations are now viewable in various locations

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted back in April that high-quality AR-enabled glasses were still 5-7 years away from being a reality, but maybe, Snap can move faster than that – and given they’ve already delivered a popular wearable product, they may be better placed to deliver than other providers.

Relevant note: Before consumer sentiment for Google Glass tailed off, it was projected to become an $11 billion market. With Facebook eating away their audience, that level of alternative opportunity would be tough to ignore.

In addition to this, Snap Inc. has also been working with both Apple and Google on smaller projects, which seem fairly minor, but the fact that they’re working together at all could point to something more.

Apple recently used Snapchat Lenses to showcase the power of their new iPhone X, while Google is working with Snap on both a new educational initiative, and more interestingly, on bringing Snapchat to the new Pixelbook.

That’s right, Snapchat’s coming to PC – as reported by Engadget:

“Snapchat for the Pixelbook will be optimized for the laptop’s 12.3-inch quad HD display, so you won’t have to squint to see a tiny rectangle on your screen. 

That could mean that there’ll be a version of Snapchat available on desktop PCs.

Will that matter? Maybe not – but it could give the app opportunities to create more immersive experiences, and broaden their market reach by connecting with users in new ways.

And again, it’s interesting to note the partnership. There’s a reason why both Google and Apple are looking to work with Speigel and Co. There may be more to those partnerships than it seems.

We’ll learn more about how the company is placed soon, when Snap announces its Q3 numbers, but it is interesting to note the various developments and projects, and to speculate what they could mean.

Facebook seems to be slowly squeezing the life out of Snap, but I wouldn’t count it out just yet. 

© 2017