Meta teased its new high-end virtual reality headset, codenamed Project Cambria, showing CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself playing with the next-gen VR display. Zuckerberg showed off a new mixed-reality experience, which appears to involve a virtual pet, called The World Beyond. The World Beyond uses Meta’s Presence platform “to blend the physical and virtual worlds together.” In this case, it’s a mix of the real-world (Meta’s offices) and a colorful virtual fantasy world, complete with a little blue pet monster that users can interact with. Zuckerberg plays with and virtually pets that creature, then appears to paint a virtual world over physical walls.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai teased a pair of smart glasses capable of translating languages in real time. Pichai showed a video demo of the glasses during Google’s I/O developer summit. While they’re still just a prototype, Google suggested the glasses can show live language translations to the person wearing them. So, someone with the augmented reality glasses might be able to understand what another person is saying just by reading captions that are presented through the lenses while the other person speaks. It’s unclear if Google’s glasses will ever hit the market, but the prototype provides a sense of where Google thinks augmented reality can be helpful.
A team of researchers describe how they used the retina as a model of the central nervous system to investigate how neurons die – and new methods to revive them. “In eyes obtained up to five hours after an organ donor’s death, these cells responded to bright light, colored lights, and even very dim flashes of light.” The team identified oxygen deprivation as the critical factor leading to this loss of communication. They designed a special transportation unit to restore oxygenation and other nutrients to the organ donor eyes and also built a device to stimulate the retina and measure the electrical activity of its cells.
Scientists say they’ve successfully grown plants in samples of lunar soil collected during three different Apollo missions. Unsurprisingly, the cress grew best in the Earthly volcanic ash and worse in lunar soil, but it did indeed grow in the alien dirt using a water-based nutrient solution to stimulate growth. “There’s almost no carbon, no water, no phosphorous, no nitrogen, all the standard things a plant needs.” The study is important because not only did the team find that younger lunar soil is more hospitable to plant life, but also because we now know we won’t have to take all the gardening resources we need to the Moon.
Ikea announced that it was branching out into home solar panels in the US. The furniture company will team up with SunPower Corporation to create the initiative called Home Solar. “The launch of Home Solar with IKEA will allow more people to take greater control of their energy needs, and our goal is to offer the clean energy service at additional IKEA locations in the future.” Ikea’s new initiative will make it a direct competitor residential solar-panel companies and Tesla Energy. While Tesla replaces existing roofing with sleek black solar panels, SunPower’s panels are added on top of the roofing shingles, making them a more traditional product.
Disney added 7.9 million new subscribers to its Disney Plus streaming service during the first three months of 2022. The company also said that the number of subscribers for all of its streaming offerings — including Hulu and ESPN Plus — had grown to over 205 million, an increase from the 196.4 million it reported in January. Disney also reports that it’s earning more per Disney Plus subscriber than it had been previously, at least in the US. Despite this, Disney Plus is actually losing the company money at a greater clip than it was before. Disney says this is thanks to higher costs for production, advertising, and technology.
Greece hasbanned conversion therapy for minors, a practice aimed at suppressing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity and which the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community worldwide, as well as health experts, have condemned as harmful. Under the bill, which Greece’s parliament approved, psychologists or other health professionals need a person’s explicit consent to perform such treatment and face fines and a prison term if they violate the law. The government has drafted a national strategy that runs until 2025 on reforms promoting gender equality in Greece, a largely conservative country.
Spain’s Socialist-led coalition government is preparing a law that would allow women over the age of 16 to have abortions without permission from their parents or guardians, and introduce up to five days of menstrual leave a month. The draft legislation is intended to ensure that abortion is available to all those using the public health system, and that menstruation is treated as a proper health issue. “It is this government’s duty and its intention to safeguard the right to abortion in the public health system and do away with the obstacles that prevent women from deciding when it comes to their bodies and their lives.”