• Google wins U.S. approval for radar-based hand motion sensor

    By David Shepardson

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google unit won approval from U.S. regulators to deploy a radar-based motion sensing device known as Project Soli.

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said in an order late on Monday that it would grant Google a waiver to operate the Soli sensors at higher power levels than currently allowed. The FCC said the sensors can also be operated aboard aircraft.

    The FCC said the decision “will serve the public interest by providing for innovative device control features using touchless hand gesture technology.”

    A Google spokeswoman did not immediately comment on Tuesday, citing the New Year’s Day holiday.

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    The FCC said the Soli sensor captures motion in a three-dimensional space using a radar beam to enable touchless control of functions or features that can benefit users with mobility or speech impairments.

    Google says the sensor can allow users to press an invisible button between the thumb and index fingers or a virtual dial that turns by rubbing a thumb against the index finger.

    The company says that “even though these controls are virtual, the interactions feel physical and responsive” as feedback is generated by the haptic sensation of fingers touching.

    Google says the virtual tools can approximate the precision of natural human hand motion and the sensor can be embedded in wearables, phones, computers and vehicles.

    In March, Google asked the FCC to allow its short-range interactive motion sensing Soli radar to operate in the 57- to 64-GHz frequency band at power levels consistent with European Telecommunications Standards Institute standards.

    Facebook Inc raised concerns with the FCC that the Soli sensors operating in the spectrum band at higher power levels might have issues coexisting with other technologies.

    After discussions, Google and Facebook jointly told the FCC in September that they agreed the sensors could operate at higher than currently allowed power levels without interference but at lower levels than previously proposed by Google.

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    Facebook told the FCC in September that it expected a “variety of use cases to develop with respect to new radar devices, including Soli.”

    The Soli devices can be operated aboard aircraft but must still comply with Federal Aviation Administration rules governing portable electronic devices.

    (Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

    From: Reuters

  • Oil falls to $53 on economic worries, surging supply

    By Alex Lawler

    LONDON (Reuters) – Oil fell to around $53 a barrel on Wednesday, pressured by rising output in major OPEC and non-OPEC producers and concern about an economic slowdown that could weaken demand.

    Russian production hit a post-Soviet record in 2018, figures on Wednesday showed. Earlier this week, official data showed U.S. output reached a record in October and Iraq boosted oil exports in December.

    Brent crude <LCOc1> fell 70 cents to $53.10 a barrel at 0838 GMT. On Dec. 26, it reached $49.93, the lowest since July 2017. U.S. crude <CLc1> slipped 62 cents to $44.79.

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    “The omens are far from encouraging,” said Stephen Brennock, of oil broker PVM, about the price outlook for 2019, citing rising non-OPEC supply and the likelihood of further increases in oil inventories.

    “The current bearish bias will therefore continue in the near term and it stands to reason that oil will struggle to break out from its current trough.”

    Oil fell in 2018 for the first year since 2015 after buyers fled the market in the fourth quarter over growing worries about excess supply and economic slowdown. U.S. crude slumped nearly 25 percent and Brent by almost 20 percent.

    Surging shale output has helped make the United States the world’s biggest oil producer, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia. Oil production has been at or near record highs in all three countries.

    Adding to concern about economic slowdown, a series of purchasing managers’ indexes for December mostly showed declines or slowdowns in manufacturing activity across Asia – the main growth region for oil demand.

    China issued its first batch of crude import quotas for 2019 on Wednesday at a lower volume than for the same batch a year ago though expectations are for the volumes to climb later this year.

    Independent market analyst Greg McKenna said in a note on Wednesday that it was “difficult for traders and investors to ignore what looks like a genuine global economic slowdown.”

    The signs of rising production illustrate the challenge faced by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies including Russia, which are returning to supply restraint in 2019, to support the market.

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    But OPEC is hopeful the supply-cutting deal will work. The energy minister for the United Arab Emirates said on Tuesday he remained optimistic about achieving a market balance in the first quarter.

    (Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein; editing by Adrian Croft)

    From: Reuters

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