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Google now owns Fitbit

Engadget

Google has completed its $2.1 billion purchase of Fitbit, more than a year after the deal was first announced. The EU approved the acquisition in late December, clearing the way towards Google's ownership over what is perhaps the best-known brand out there for mainstream fitness-tracking devices. Fitbit co-founder and CEO James Park reiterated in a letter today that Fitbit would continue to be device-agnostic, making products that work with both iPhones and Android devices. Both Park and Google's Rick Osterloh also reiterated that this deal was always about "devices, not data." That's shorthand for Google and Fitbit's pledge to keep user data private going forward; Park said that "Fitbit users' health and wellness data won't be used for Google ads and this data will be kept separate from other Google ad data."


Guest Mode now available on Google Assistant

ZDNet

Google has introduced Guest Mode to Google Assistant to give users the chance to ensure their interactions with their Google smart speakers or displays, including Nest Audio and Nest Hub Max, are not saved to their account when this new mode is switched on. When Guest Mode is switched on, users will be able to continue to ask questions, control smart home devices, set timers, and play music, but will not be able to access personal results, such as calendar entries or contacts, until Guest Mode is switched off. Google added the device will also automatically delete audio recordings and Google Assistant activity from the device owner's account when in Guest Mode. However, if users are interacting with other apps and services, such as Google Maps, YouTube, or other media and smart home services while in Guest Mode, those apps may still save that activity, Google said. To switch on Guest Mode, it is a matter of users saying, "Hey Google, turn on Guest Mode", before the device plays a special chime and a guest icon is displayed.


Get ready for really low-power AI: Synaptics and Eta Compute envision neural nets that will observe every sound, every motion

ZDNet

Eta Compute had already developed its own ASIC chip and system board for low-power applications. Now it will devote its effort to making software tuned to Synaptics's chips. Smart buildings, smart cities, smart transportation -- such applications of the Internet of Things have been part of the lore of technology companies for over a decade now. But what does it really mean for there to be sensors that are constantly measuring the ambient noise of rooms, or watching people move about, day and night? That kind of constant surveillance may be coming to some built environments as soon as later this year, thanks to the arrival of chips and software that are dramatically more efficient at running algorithms within the tightest of energy constraints.


Start your smart home with a Google Home Mini for under $20

CNN Top Stories

The Google Home Mini, like the Amazon Echo Dot, really started the smart speaker revolution -- and while the Google Home Mini launched in 2016, it's still humming along with more smarts than ever before. Right now at StackSocial the Google Home Mini is just $19.99 -- nearly 60% off its original $49.95 price tag. The big appeal of the Home Mini is adding the Google Assistant to your room. You can ask for your favorite music, a trivia game show to entertain the children and even questions. The assistant knows how far Earth is from the sun and the weather in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, alike.


Panasonic unveils its vision for future automotive interiors at CES 2021

Engadget

Despite the show being wholly digital this year, Panasonic's automotive division still had plenty to show off at CES 2021. On Monday, the company unveiled five futuristic technologies that will help make the autonomous vehicles of tomorrow more capable and more comfortable. Those include wireless Wi-Fi towing cameras, a Dolby Atmos surround sound system, and augmented reality HUDs. First up, Panasonic Automotive has unveiled its "first fully wireless Wi-Fi camera." This ruggedized camera captures 1080p at 60 fps, connects via the vehicle's Wi-Fi network directly to the infotainment system display, and is designed to stick onto the trailer you're towing to provide an unobstructed view of the traffic conditions around the vehicle.


At Google, Hundreds Of Workers Formed A Labor Union. Why? 'To Protect Ourselves'

NPR Technology

Google engineer Raksha Muthukumar is among more than 500 employees of the tech giant who this week announced the formation of a labor union, a rarity in Silicon Valley. Google engineer Raksha Muthukumar is among more than 500 employees of the tech giant who this week announced the formation of a labor union, a rarity in Silicon Valley. After the death of George Floyd, Google engineer Raksha Muthukumar sent an email to colleagues. In it, she pointed to a list of criminal justice reform groups and bail funds for protesters who were seeking contributions. Soon after, Muthukumar was summoned into a meeting with Google's human relations department.


Google's second-gen Nest Mini is on sale for almost half off at Walmart

Mashable

As of Jan. 7, Walmart has the second-gen Google Nest Mini on sale for only $24.98 -- that's 49% off its $49 MSRP. Last year saw Big Tech duking it out for smart speaker superiority as Apple, Amazon, and Google each released new additions to their respective lineups. But for the ultimate deal on such a device, we're going to throw it way back to 2019. That's the year Google released its second-gen Google Nest Mini, a small-but-mighty smart speaker that normally retails for $49. For a limited time, Walmart's got it on sale for just $24.98 (or almost half off) -- that's only a few bucks away from its all-time-low Black Friday pricing of $18.98.


A Decade Of AI: Most Defining Moments 2010-20

#artificialintelligence

People were talking, theorising and experimenting with AI for sure, but what happened in the last decade has made AI more tangible. This was the decade when AI went mainstream. Be it access to world standard courses, platforms, libraries, frameworks, hardware -- everything just fell into place. And, it wouldn't be an exaggeration if one were to say that what was accomplished in the last ten years single-handedly fortified the foundations of our future. In this article, we look at a few of the most important breakthroughs that directly or indirectly have made AI a household name.


Hundreds of Google employees unionize, culminating years of activism

The Japan Times

OAKLAND, California – More than 225 Google engineers and other workers have formed a union, the group revealed Monday, capping years of growing activism at one of the world's largest companies and presenting a rare beachhead for labor organizers in staunchly anti-union Silicon Valley. The union's creation is highly unusual for the tech industry, which has long resisted efforts to organize its largely white-collar workforce. It follows increasing demands by employees at Google for policy overhauls on pay, harassment and ethics, and is likely to escalate tensions with top leadership. The new union, called the Alphabet Workers Union after Google's parent company, Alphabet, was organized in secret for the better part of a year and elected its leadership last month. The group is affiliated with the Communications Workers of America, a union that represents workers in telecommunications and media in the United States and Canada.


Google employees form Alphabet Workers Union to bring back the 'Don't be evil' motto

ZDNet

Workers from Google's parent company Alphabet have announced they are unionising, with the Alphabet Workers Union open to all of the tech giant's 120,000-plus employees. The union, currently boasting a membership of 226, has the support of the Communications Workers of America (CWA). It's part of CWA's Coalition to Organize Digital Employees project, and the workers will be members of CWA Local 1400. According to the union, it comprises dues-paying members, an elected board of directors, and paid organising staff. "This union builds upon years of courageous organising by Google workers," program manager Nicki Anselmo said in a statement.