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Google Maps’ AR adds navigation hints to the real world

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Today, the search giant unveiled its newest pilot: an AR system it’s calling “global localization” for on-foot navigation. The system (which was shown off at I/O last year) helps orientate and locate your exact position when GPS has fallen short by combining VPS (Visual Positioning Service), Google’s Street View and machine learning. The result is an impressive feature that reduces those moments when you’re not quite sure which way to walk.

During a demo of the system while walking to a coffee shop, I found it to be helpful with an impressive emphasis on safety. While standing still, you point your phone’s camera at nearby buildings and pan back and forth. After a few moments, it determines your position and re-orients the arrow in google maps so you know exactly which direction you need to be heading.

Google Maps AR

It’ll do this while you’re walking, but after a few moments, it’ll prompt you to put your phone down and pay attention to where you’re walking. Eventually, it’ll turn off the AR effect if you don’t heed the feature’s warnings. This should help reduce the number of times people walk into other people, poles or worse traffic (while using this feature at least).

The onscreen distance countdown and giant arrows telling you where to turn are also helpful in a city like San Francisco where intersections don’t always mean right angles and you need a little extra help getting around.

Google Maps AR

While I thought it was a great new tool, Google is still working on it. Starting today it’ll be rolled out to select local guides who will test global localization and give feedback to Google. So don’t expect it on your smartphone anytime soon. The company still wants to work out the kinks and make sure all its Street View data is on par with the real world. So until then, we’re back to relying on the little blue dot and hoping we’re walking in the right direction.

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India’s top court finds Anil Ambani guilty on contempt in Ericsson case

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India's top court finds Anil Ambani guilty on contempt in Ericsson case

FILE PHOTO: Anil Ambani, chairman of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, addresses shareholders during the company’s annual general meeting in Mumbai, India, September 18, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s Supreme Court said on Wednesday that Reliance Communications chairman Anil Ambani willfully did not pay 5.5 billion rupees to Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson, holding him guilty in a contempt of court case.

The court asked billionaire Ambani and two directors of RCom to pay 4.5 billion rupees to Ericsson within four weeks. They will face three months jail term if they fail to pay the amount, the court said.

The Swedish company signed a deal with RCom in 2014 to manage and operate its network and last year approached the court over unpaid dues of 5.5 billion rupees.

Reliance Communication said the company respect the court judgment and the “group shall comply with same.”

Reporting by Suchitra Mohanty; Writing by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Euan Rocha

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GM’s Arīv electric bikes are launching in Europe first

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Even though the company designed and engineered the bikes in Michigan and Oshawa, Ontario, it will release them in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands first. GM says it chose those locations “due to the popularity of lithium-ion battery-powered e-bikes in those markets,” which makes sense if you think about it.

The compact e-bike called Arīv Meld will set customers back between €2,750 and €2,800 (approximately $3,200). Meanwhile, the folding e-bike called Arīv Merge, which users can fold up and roll on two wheels if they want to, will set buyers back between €3,350 and €3,400 (around $3,900). Both models are now available for pre-order on Bike Exchange and will start shipping in the second quarter of 2019.

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Arīv Meld

ArīvArīv Merge

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EU’s Vestager says not precluding Facebook case in future

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EU's Vestager says not precluding Facebook case in future

FILE PHOTO: The entrance sign to Facebook headquarters is seen in Menlo Park, California, on Wednesday, October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Facebook is not currently in EU regulators’ crosshairs but it may well be in future because of the crucial role played by data, Europe’s antitrust chief said on Tuesday.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s comments came two weeks after the German cartel office ruled that the world’s largest social network abused its market dominance to gather information about users without their consent.

Vestager said she has no case against Facebook regarding its market power for now but nevertheless was monitoring the market.

“We have some concerns. One thing is that we don’t have an open case now, that doesn’t preclude we don’t have a case in future. We are looking at the market very closely,” she told a European Parliament hearing.

The European Commission has previously indicated that Facebook’s issues could be better handled by privacy enforcers rather than by competition regulators.

Vestager has taken on tech giants including Google and Qualcomm in recent years and handed down million-euro fines for abusing their market power.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by David Evans

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