Infrared Face Unlock, Bezel-Less Screen for Next iPhone?

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Another week, another batch of rumours related to the next iPhone-- according to iOS developer Steve Troughton-Smith, leaked HomePod firmware reveals the addition of iPhone unlocking through infrared (IR) and face recognition.

HomePod firmwareIn other words, the future iPhone might use IR to 3D-scan, and thus recognise, faces in order to unlock. Trougton-Smith learned this through examining the firmware for the upcoming HomePod smart speaker, which Apple accidently released to developers earlier last week. A number of lines in the firmware code mention "BKFaceDetect," with "BK" possibly meaning "Biometric Kit." Such a name would make sense, considering how Apple likes using "Kit" in developer tools.

The code also refers to an infrared camera, which would be able to detect faces even in the dark. Earlier this month Bloomberg reported a similar story on the next iPhone featuring face recognition through a "new 3D sensor" able scan a face and unlock the smartphone "within a few hundred milliseconds."

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The Most Profitable Retail Square Footage is...

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Which brick-and-mortar retail is the most profitable on a sales per square foot basis? According to eMarket the answer is no other than Apple, who managed to buck the decline seen in most traditional retail outlets.

Singapore Apple StoreThe analyst says the average retailer makes around $325 per square foot, down from nearly $375 in the early 2000s. In good part this is due to the disruption caused by Amazon, but some companies have managed to grow sales despite the decline. The most spectacular results come from Apple-- The iPhone maker makes $5546 per square foot, making it one of the most successful brick-and-mortar retailer in the world.

In comparison, second placing retailer Reis & Ivy makes $3970 per square foot, while gas/convenience chain Murphy USA makes $3721. Even top jeweler Tiffany & Co stands lower than Apple, since it makes $2951, and leading apparel retailer lululemon Athletica makes $1560.

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Tivoli Celebrates Summer With Transparent PAL BT

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Tivoli presents a more summer-y version of the PAL BT Bluetooth speaker-- the PAL BT GLO, a transparent version complete with an internal LED, making it ideal for nighttime parties.

PAL BT GLOThe LED is complete with adjustable brightness level, allowing it to serve as a campfire, candle or full moon substitute. Otherwise the speaker is identical to the non-transparent version, being able to play both AM/FM radio stations and music from any Bluetooth-enabled device.

Power comes from a rechargeable battery Tivoli says lasts for up to 10 hours.

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The Bluetooth Earpiece in a Ring

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Origami Labs presents itself as a solution for customers wanting a Bluetooth earpiece without the dorky look-- Orii, an index finger-worn ring able to produce sound via bone conduction.

OriiThe actual ring is perhaps oversized, being 30mm, 20mm wide and 12mm thick. Construction is in aluminium, and inside are a dual Bluetooth 4.0 radio with Bluetooth Low Energy support, dual-mic noise cancellation, gyroscope, LED, 50mAh battery and a bone conduction actuator. The LED flashes whenever a call is received, and to answer one simply needs to touch their ear with their index finger.

As well as calls the Orii allows users to talk with voice assistants such as Siri and Google Assistant. A companion iOS/Android app allows the customisation of the notifications provided by the LED light. Origami Labs says battery life totals 1 hour of talk time, with 45 hours of standby time.

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Nanomaterials for Faster Charging Batteries

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Researchers at the Drexel College of Engineering present a new kind of battery electrode made with MXene, a highly conductive nanomaterial promising faster charging chemical batteries.

MXeneThe MXene material is nearly two dimensional material similar to a sandwich. It combines oxide "bread" with a conductive carbon and metal "filling," with layers stacked on top of each other like a Pringles. However the structure, while highly conductive, makes it difficult for ions, the chemical carriers of charge, to diffuse to through the battery. To resolve the issue, the researchers combined the MXene with a hydrogel, turning the Pringles into a swiss cheese through which ions can flow freely.

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