Apple buys eye-tracking firm for AR push and more

All the rumours and tidbits from the past seven days
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Welcome to another And finally, our weekly dose of the rumours, tidbits and lesser stories of the week, rounded up into one bite-size dose. This week we have inside news on Apple's latest tech acquisition and what it could mean for the company's future plans, how wearable payments are rolling out in the Netherlands and how you could soon talk to friends and family via your Amazon Echo.

Apple buys SMI for AR push

Apple buys eye-tracking firm for AR push and more

Rumours around Apple's AR glasses ambitions just hit DEFCON 3 as TechCrunch reports that it's bought eye-tracking company SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI).

The German firm has been working on eye-tracking projects for the HTC Vive, and has been primarily consumer focused. Of course, Apple has been active in the AR space, launching ARKit at WWDC back in June.

ARKit is a toolkit for developers to make AR apps for iPhone and iPad, but with rumours circulating that the company is lining up some kind of mixed reality or augmented reality headset. Acquisitions like the SMI buyout will only add fuel to those rumours – but given AR is still a long way from having consumer applications, we're not holding our collective breath.

Smart ring payments incoming

Apple buys eye-tracking firm for AR push and more

Banks are embracing contactless payments, but Amsterdam based ABN Amro has taken things to the next level with its NFC smart ring. The ring – built and supplied by Kerv – should be rolled out in the latter half of 2017.

Essential reading: The best wearable payment devices

It's not the first time a bank has developed its own wearable payment system – the bPay band from Barclaycard – an NFC wrist wearable linked to an account that can be topped regardless of your chosen bank.

Amazon Echo to get intercom feature

Apple buys eye-tracking firm for AR push and more

Amazon is set to update its Echo speaker with an intercom feature, which enables users to speak to between rooms. The update is set to drop this week, and isn't just limited to Echos on the same Wi-Fi network. MacRumors reckons that if you set a friend or family's Echo up in your household group, you'll be able to speak between houses.

Thalmic bags AR glasses patent

Apple buys eye-tracking firm for AR push and more

In more AR news, Thalmic Labs has filed for a patent that covers a "hologram lens" for a wearable heads-up display, in the vein of Google Glass. Betakit reports that the patent focuses on a curved lens, which Thalmic says "enables more natural and better-fitting aesthetic designs for eyeglass frames." This would put augmented reality graphics into the user's vision, or into the periphery.

The company is best known for its Myo gesture controller, so it makes sense for the company to look at AR solutions as well – and combining the two could make for some interesting applications for controlling augmented items in the real world.

Tag launches limited edition smartwatch

There's nothing the Swiss watch industry likes more than a commercial tie-in, and Tag Heuer has released a special edition of the Connected Modular 45 for the film Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Yeah, we don't get the point whatsoever, but the special version will have "pink gold lugs and an elegant leather strap with Kingsman print."

It's not just the design either, and Android Wear has been given the Kingsman touch – whatever that is – with a special watch face with film logos, a vibration celebration at 10:10 every day (annoying) and the Kingsman logo now replaces the Android Wear lighting function. It will be on-sale at Mr Porter for a month and will cost .

Oh and yes: of course it was unveiled with one of Biver's cheeses.

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James Stables


James is the co-founder of Wareable, and he has been a technology journalist for 15 years.

He started his career at Future Publishing, James became the features editor of T3 Magazine and and was a regular contributor to TechRadar – before leaving Future Publishing to found Wareable in 2014.

James has been at the helm of Wareable since 2014 and has become one of the leading experts in wearable technologies globally. He has reviewed, tested, and covered pretty much every wearable on the market, and is passionate about the evolving industry, and wearables helping people achieve healthier and happier lives.

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