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Boston Dynamics, owner of Spot the robot dog, is now officially part of Hyundai Motor Group

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It’s official, the friendly robot dog, Spot, has a new owner. Softbank, Hyundai Motor Group, and Boston Dynamics announced Monday that Hyundai’s acquisition of a controlling stake in the robotics company is now complete. Hyundai and SoftBank revealed there was a deal as early as last year, and as of today, it’s official.

What’s the Deal?

In December of 2020, the motor group paid around $880 million for the controlling stake. Not enough details were divulged about the deal, but reports have it that Hyundai paid a whopping $1.1 billion overall for this transaction. The car manufacturer now owns an 80% stake in the robotics firm, while the previous owner, Softbank, owns the remaining 20% through an affiliate company.

The Backstory

To date, Hyundai is the third owner of Boston Dynamics. Founded in 1992, Google acquired it after 11 years, in 2013. In 2017, Softbank Group bought. It was mainly operated as an R&D (Research and Development) organization since its founding. When Softbank acquired it, commercialization had become the focus.

The Reasons Behind

The robot dog’s new owner didn’t disclose any reason behind the acquisition. The only assumption observers have is Hyundai’s interest in robots. This, after a previous announcement by the carmaker that they have a new division devoted solely to create “walking cars.” The excitement for what they’re going to do with this grand acquisition leaves spectators baffled yet expectant.

Video Announcement

The same day of the announcement, Hyundai released a video about the acquisition. Unfortunately, it’s not definitive as not many details are shown. What we can see, though, is Spot, the robot dog. In the video, Spot showcases his many talents, primarily as a guide dog to help the elderly.

Walking Cars

Hyundai’s Director of Product Management, Dr. Ernestine Fu, said that the acquisition will pave the way for the car company’s walking car concept. They are relying on Boston Dynamic’s technology to help them make it a reality. The idea was pioneered when the automaker debuted the Hyundai Elevate at the 2019 CES show in Las Vegas in October 2020.

With four extendable legs with wheels, the Elevate is among many car designs which Hyundai calls their “Ultimate Mobility Vehicles.” It aims to get you through challenging terrains that the Jeep Wrangler will find impossible to navigate. The production date hasn’t been announced yet, but the excitement is palpable.

Realization of Progress for Humanity

According to Boston Dynamics’ press release, Hyundai said that they aim to develop advanced technologies in the field of robotics. The objective is to enhance people’s lives, promote safety, and realize progress for humanity. 

The auto manufacturer also said that they are expecting to work with the robotic company to use both their strengths in manufacturing, logistics, construction, and automation. The two are planning to create a robotics value chain that will manufacture robot components, smart logistics solutions, and many others.

Hyundai also reiterated their support for the continued expansion of Boston Dynamics’ product lines and sales and service footprint worldwide.

Spot, the Robot Dog

Spot is Boston Dynamics’ first commercial robot launched in June of 2020. Since then, there are now numerous Spots operating around the globe. In February this year, the company introduced Spot Arm, a robotic arm that converts Spot into a platform for mobile manipulation. Its usage is for autonomous monitoring of job sites, among many others.

Boston Dynamics

A global leader in the development and deployment of mobile robots, Boston Dynamics has released Stretch. This is a mobile manipulator to move boxes out of trucks and into and around warehouses. Along with Spot, the company has three robots in its portfolio.

In the video stated above, you can see one of their other product lines, the Atlas. Here, the humanoid is dancing with a child. The company gives these robots agility, mobility, intelligence, and automation. The exact technology that is ideal in Hyundai’s objective of bringing their walking car concept to life.

On the other hand, Hyundai has extensive experience in building and designing product lines for mass production. Thus, it may seem that this acquisition is a marriage made in robot heaven.

For other tech news, check out Owner’s Mag!

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The Best Telescopes of 2022 for the BEST Viewing Experience

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blue sky

Astronomers and physicists get the best views of the stars and planets through giant telescopes like the James Webb Telescope or the Thirty Meter Telescope. But stargazers that want a glimpse of the stars and planets may not get access to those giant telescopes. However, that wouldn’t stop them from admiring celestial bodies with good ol’ regular telescopes, even in the comfort of their home. And if you’re curious about what to buy and where to buy one, here’s the list of the best telescopes of 2022.

1. Celestron AstroMaster 102AZ

black telescope

If you’re new to stargazing and planet viewing, the Celestron AstroMaster 102AZ is one of the best telescopes in 2022. Many experts recommend this telescope for beginner and experienced stargazers. It’s easy to set up because of the tripod and user-friendly controls. 

Technical specs and inclusions:

  • 102 mm primary mirror
  • StarPointer red dot finderscope
  • Two eyepieces
  • Lightweight and sturdy frame
  • Tripod

Price: $299.46

Buy it on Amazon here.

2. Sky-watcher Skymax 127 

telescope

Sky-watcher is another popular name in the telescope biz. Astrophotographers can surely get a bang for their buck with this telescope because of the crisp images it produces. Even on the darkest nights, stargazers can definitely see planets and stars thanks to a coated corrector plate.

Technical specs and inclusions:

  • Borosilicate primary mirror
  • Vixen-style dovetail
  • 2-in 28 mm eyepiece
  • 90-degree star diagonal
  • 6×30 finderscope

Price: $844.60

Buy it on Amazon here.

3. Vaonis Stellina

small white telescope

Although many stargazers swear by traditional telescopes, The Vaonis Stellina changed the game on its release. It’s an automatic telescope that takes photos of the sky for you. You can see beautiful views of deep-sky objects like galaxies and nebulae. Plus, you’ll even get a better glimpse of the moon.

Unlike most telescopes, the Stellina isn’t heavy. It’s so small and light you can pretty much bring it anywhere. However, it being an automatic telescope means you will have to pay a much higher price than its competitors. Still, it’s considered one of the best telescopes in 2022.

Technical Specs and inclusions:

  • 5 hours of use
  • Tripod
  • 80 mm aperture
  • 400 mm focal length
  • 3096 x 2080 px images

Price: $3,999

Buy it on Adorama here.

4. Celestron Starsense Explorer DX 130AZ

silver telescope

Here’s another Celestron that made this list. But what makes the Celestron Starsense Explore DX 130 AZ different from the AstroMaster AZ? You can connect the Starsense Explore to an app, and it tells you the locations of certain stars in space. Plus, you’ll know what stars and planets are in the sky, depending on where you’re pointing this telescope at.

The app is compatible with all iOS and Android devices.

Technical Specs and inclusions:

  • 130 mm optical tube
  • two eyepieces (25 mm and 10 mm Kellner eyepieces)
  • Red dot finderscope
  • Smartphone dock
  • Tripod

Price: $449

Buy it on Amazon here.

5. Orion SpaceProbe II

blue telescope

If you want another beginner-friendly telescope, the Orion SpaceProbe II is one of your best options. It’s one of the most affordable telescopes, and kids and adults can use the SpaceProbe II to navigate the skies and watch stars and planets. You can even see a better view of the Moon, Saturn rings, and Jupiter’s moons!

Technical Specs and inclusions:

  • 76 mm aperture reflector
  • Tripod
  • Two eyepieces (both Kellner eyepieces – 25 mm and 10 mm)
  • Red-dot reflex sight
  • MoonMap 260

Price: $89.99

Buy it on Amazon here.

And for other stories and news, read more here at Owner’s Mag!

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Netflix reveals account sharing struggle; to launch “add a home” as potential fix

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netflix logo

Netflix is one of today’s most influential companies. It has changed how we consume content and made us question what we want from our entertainment experiences. With its library of TV shows, movies, and documentaries available on demand across all media platforms, from mobile devices to TVs to computers, Netflix has become a go-to option for anyone wanting to watch their favorite shows on-demand. 

With over 100 million subscribers, Netflix has become a household name in the entertainment world. However, Netflix has been experiencing some problems lately. The company has announced that its subscriber growth rate is slowing down and that they are losing subscribers more rapidly than it did in previous years. The culprit – Netflix account sharing. 

Chengyi Long, Netflix’s Director of Product Innovation, announced in a press release in July that they’ve worked hard to build a streaming service over the past 15 years. And though it’s great that members love Netflix movies and TV shows they want to share more broadly, the widespread account sharing between households goes against their long-term ability to invest in and improve their service.

Netflix account sharing occurs when one person shares access to their Netflix subscription with multiple people—usually family members or friends. In this way, the person who pays for the Netflix service uses fewer accounts than they would if they paid for each account individually. It’s still an expensive subscription, but it doesn’t cost as much as multiple subscriptions would. 

This is a major concern for Netflix because it allows people who do not pay for the service to watch movies and TV shows at no additional cost. If this Netflix account-sharing practice continues, the company is apprehensive about how it will affect the company’s growth rate because it means less money coming into their system. It also means fewer people are paying for subscriptions, which means less money is coming into general circulation.

The bottom line is that Netflix must ensure that its subscriptions are maintained, if not exceeded, to continue growing at their current rate. 

Netflix Account Sharing Feature: ‘Add a Home’

man watching netflix on the tablet

The company has been trying to crack down on this practice of Netflix account sharing for the past months. 

They already tested an “add extra member” feature in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru in March of this year, allowing account holders on their Standard and Premium plans to have two additional subaccounts outside their household for an additional fee.

This August, they will begin testing a new feature in Dominican Republic, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala called “add a home”. This feature basically gives an option to add extra “home” accounts within your subscription, but for an additional fee. According to Netflix’s press release, they will ask subscribers to pay an extra – 219 Pesos per month per home in Argentina and $2.99 per month per home in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.”

All plans include a single “home” account through which you can access Netflix on any of your preferred devices. When you want to share your account with someone not from the same household or physical location, you must add extra “home” accounts.

You’re probably wondering how Netflix will detect physical address variations. According to Netflix’s published FAQs, the company uses “information such as IP addresses, device IDs, and account activity from devices signed into the Netflix account”.

Aside from the “add extra member” and “add a home” features, which are only available in certain countries, the company has not stated whether or not they will implement a penalty for sharing Netflix account soon. Meanwhile, the type of member subscription defines the Netflix account sharing limit for most countries.

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Oppo Air Glass: A Ground-Breaking AR Experiment?

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oppo air glass

On March 3, 2022, Oppo launched the Air Glass, the company’s first Augmented Reality (AR) to pair with their smartphones. However, Oppo has no plans to launch the Air Glass outside China. And they sell it in limited quantities there, where the company is already planning on replacing it with a newer version. The price of an Oppo Air Glass is relatively steep at 4,999 yuan (approximately $745). Currently, it’s still more a demo than a product.

Main Features

woman wearing glasses
Credit: Oppo

While many AR experiments focus on pushing purely technical capability, the Oppo Air Glass accepts some clear hardware limitations to play with an exciting form factor. Adi Robertson of The Verge tested a set of glasses and a matching smartphone. Robertson found a design idea so obvious and still needs more improvement.  

Augment Reality is a spectrum, and the Air Glass is considered a “simple notification machine” aspect. It differs from those realistic holograms in products such as Microsoft HoloLens. 

Below are some of the noticeable features of Oppo Air Glass: 

  • The device is a single lens with a microLED display. The display can have a staggering peak brightness of up to 1400 nits!
  • The powerful Spark Micro Projector shows all the dual Sapphire crystal glass information.
  • Oppo Air Glass is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 4100 SoC.
  • This innovative device is equipped with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS with in-built speakers and microphone.
  • This device can turn into a mini teleprompter. Since the teleprompter displays any text you want, you can use it more creatively.   
  • Currently, automatic translation is still limited to English and Chinese.

When you pair the smart device over Bluetooth with a China-only Oppo smartphone, you’ll see a green heads-up display that covers a tiny but significant portion of your vision. But Robertson said she was amazed by the assumption behind Oppo’s design. It is because it’s a solid idea to offer lots of style options while mitigating the usual AR creepiness. 

Nine years ago, Google Glass conducted a similar experiment. They invented the expensive camera and projection system and let them wear them at all times. But it looked awkward.

Other Specs and Features

Oppo’s AR interface relies on widget-like applications in the form of “cards,” which the wearer can manage from the paired smartphone application. It can be controlled using a touchpad on its side. Hand gestures are also supported, as is the peculiar feature of using the motion of the head to control it. Moreover, voice control is also incorporated.

Meanwhile, the Air Glass looks like an earbud for your eyes. Oppo Air Glass weighs only 30 grams, making it incredibly lightweight to wear. Users can wear it over their frames, but only two specific sizes exist.

It’s a product that takes people’s concerns about privacy and distraction seriously instead of trying to hide what they’re worried about inside a smaller package. It also helps that this version of Air Glass doesn’t have to include a camera. But Oppo says it doesn’t rule the option out for future versions.

“Unfortunately, after my first few hours with the glasses, I became slightly motion-sick and developed a headache within minutes of putting them on. The discomfort seemed to improve over time, but my eyes still feel strained after wearing them”, says Robertson.

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