Every day we wake up, drink a cup of coffee, and get ready for work. Following are a handful of stories from around the tech world condensed to fit into one single cup of coffee. These are the things you need to know before you step foot out of your door (or in front of a webcam) and into the real world this morning.
So sit back, grab a cup, and start your morning off right with a few “Quick Bytes” from Innovation & Tech Today.
Meta Platforms’ vision of a connected metaverse where users can interact virtually on a mass scale is not going according to plan. Following a report last week that found metaverse platforms Decentraland and The Sandbox each have fewer than 1,000 “daily active” users, new data suggest only 9% of worlds built by users are visited by by at least 50 people, while most never receive any visits at all.
Users have cited glitches and bizarre brand content in the worlds as some of the reasons for not returning to the virtual worlds.
Last month, in response to user complaints, Meta put the Horizon platform into “lockdown” — pausing the rollout of new features while it works to improve the user experience of existing elements in the virtual reality world.
Microsoft Set to Unveil its Most Expensive Desktop
At a press event Wednesday, Microsoft is set to unveil the Surface Studio 2+ as well as several Surface Pro tablets and Surface Laptop models. The price is set at a whopping $4,299, and $4,499 with the digital pen, making it Microsoft’s most expensive all-in-one desktop option by far.
The upgrade to Microsoft’s most expensive computer includes several new features including an Intel Core H-35 processor, 50% faster CPU performance and an updated NVIDIA chip for faster graphics. The device also includes an updated display, cameras, microphones and supports a digital pen for on-screen drawing. It also has several ports, including USB with Thunderbolt 4, and the display can split into four different apps at once for greater multitasking.
Glowing Trees Could Soon Light Our Cities
Engineers at MIT have successfully created bioluminescent trees. Experts injected specialized nanoparticles into the leaves of a watercress plant, which caused it to give off a dim light for nearly four hours. The discovery could offer an organic alternative to streetlights, lighting the way for pedestrians and drivers while providing a fantastical and scenic environment.
To create their glowing plants, engineers turned to an enzyme called luciferase. Luciferase acts on a molecule called luciferin, causing it to emit light.
Another molecule called Co-enzyme A helps the process along by removing a reaction byproduct that can inhibit luciferase activity. The MIT team packaged each of these components into a different type of nanoparticle carrier.
Second Apple Store Votes to Unionize
Apple workers in Oklahoma City have voted to unionize. The vote marks the second union at the company’s U.S. stores, following the vote to unionize at a store in Towson, Maryland four months ago.
A preliminary tally by the National Labor Relations Board on Friday evening showed 56 workers, or 64% of those casting ballots at the Penn Square Mall Apple store, voted to be represented the Communication Workers of America. Thirty-two employees voted against it. The vote reflects a growing trend in the tech industry, as the first Amazon warehouse voted to unionize in Staten Island, New York in August.
The Robot Boot that Learns as You Walk