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Today in Tech News Digest, Google reveals its smart contact lenses for diabetics, the NSA is accused of collecting millions of random text messages, Facebook announces Trending, Spotify kills its listening time limits, Rdio goes free on the Web, Google Chrome gets a fancy update on Windows 8, and Cecelia Abadie is cleared of driving while Glassing.
Google Reveals Smart Contact Lenses
I can’t even look at my Google Glass now. Told ’em, “Why are you so big? Why can’t you be contact lenses.” They’re feeling all bad now.
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) January 17, 2014
Google has revealed it’s working on a smart contact lens for diabetics to wear. The project, which has been worked on in secret for two years in the Google X division, foresees a time when people suffering from diabetes will be able to track their glucose levels through the contact lenses. The smart contact lens contains a tiny chip and sensor system held in place between two layers of material. Glucose levels are measured through the wearer’s tears, potentially presenting a non-invasive way of keeping permanent tabs on blood sugar levels.
Clinical studies have already been completed and Google is in talks with the FDA (Food & Drug Administration). However, Google has no plans to manufacture and market its smart contact lenses itself, instead seeking partners willing to take the project forward. Google X is the same research division responsible for Google Glass and self-driving cars. This project is completely separate from Google Glass, but the possibility of some crossover must surely exist. And who wouldn’t want the Google Glass tech on a contact lens?
NSA Collects Random Text Messages
The NSA must have an amazing stash of autocorrect fails.
— Conrad Quilty-Harper (@Coneee) January 16, 2014
The latest investigation into material provided by infamous whistleblower Edward Snowden suggests that the NSA (National Security Agency) collected and stored millions of SMS text messages from ordinary people around the world.
A program codenamed Dishfire saw the NSA allegedly collecting up to 200 million text messages every day. The agency collects “pretty much everything it can,” including missed-call alerts, financial information, and geolocation data. All on “untargeted” people rather than those under suspicion of wrongdoing.
The Guardian newspaper has a lengthy write-up on the revelations, which should be of particular interest to those in the U.K.
Facebook Introduces ‘Trending’
Facebook has announced ‘Trending’, a new section being added to the social networking site which tracks hot topics, events, and articles being shared on people’s news feeds. Far be it from me to suggest Facebook copied this from Twitter, but Facebook copied this from Twitter.
Spotify Kills Time Limits
— Josh Constine (@JoshConstine) January 16, 2014
Spotify has removed all time limits on people listening to its content for free on the Web and desktop. Previously, people in many countries were limited to just 10 hours listening time per month unless they upgraded to a paid subscription. This all suggests that the combination of advertising and subscriptions is paying well enough to support those who want to use the service for free.
Rdio Free On The Web
Rdio goes completely free on the web. This, after Spotify. Is Beats Music that much of a threat? http://t.co/CeZ0EhDHc7
— Romit Mehta (@TheRomit) January 16, 2014
Rdio has announced a free, ad-supported version of its service for those in the U.S. Rdio previously cost $9.99 per month, but this opens the music streaming option up to people not willing or able to pay.
It is surely no coincidence this was announced shortly after Spotify dropped its listening limits. Rdio needs to keep pace with Spotify or risk becoming surplus to requirements. Which is where Beats Music arguably finds itself even before it has launched.
Google Chrome Updated On Windows 8
Google has released an updated version of Chrome for Windows 8. When run in ‘Windows 8 Mode’, the new Chrome looks more like Chrome OS than just another Web browser. The other big innovation with this update is the ‘Noisy Tabs’ feature which identifies which tab is responsible for any audio that’s bugging you while browsing the Internetz.
Google Glass Driver Cleared
And finally, a Californian woman who, in November 2013 was ticketed for wearing Google Glass while driving, has been cleared of all wrongdoing. Google Glass Explorer Cecilia Abadie made history when she became the first person to test the law in this way.
Abadie was cleared of the charge because there was no proof the device was in operation at the time she was pulled over for speeding; an allegation she was also cleared of. If Google Glass takes off in a big way, then expect more cases such as this to occur. At least until the laws are made clearer.