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By Namerah S
Microsoft bags yet another HoloLens contract with U.S. military
by Namerah Saud Fatmi
A few years back in November 2018, Microsoft was awarded a $480 million contract for its augmented reality headset, the HoloLens, by the U.S. military. Though it was a big win for the company, it wasn't exactly met with applause. The deal was followed by protests from employees worried about their work contributing to the death of others as the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) was designed to help soldiers practice.
At the time, CEO Satya Nadella dealt with the situation rather bluntly, reaffirming that Microsoft would continue to engage with the U.S. military despite employee disapproval. Following suit, today one of the world's largest tech giants did just that, winning another contract with the United States Army for the augmented reality headset.
Today's deal between the U.S. Army and Microsoft is worth a whopping $21.9 billion, more than forty times the value of the first IVAS contract. The multi-billion dollar agreement will be spread out over the span of ten years, as reported by CNBC. As per the contract, 120,000 customized AR headsets are to be built in the given period.
Employees of the Redmond-based corporation have yet to respond. Whether the Microsoft workers will stay quiet about yet another military deal this time remains unknown.
By Rich Woods
Microsoft's Surface Duo is coming to the UK, France, Germany, and Canada next week
by Rich Woods
Back in December, Microsoft announced that after four months on the U.S. market, it was finally going to bring its Surface Duo handset to other markets in early 2021. Now, pricing and availability is here, and the dual-screen device is coming to the UK, France, Germany, and Canada on February 18. To be clear, those were the four markets that were announced in December, so if you're in another region in Europe, it's unclear when you'll be able to get your hands on this.
In France and Germany, the price of the 128GB model is €1,549, while it's going to be £1,349 in the UK. For comparison, the Surface Duo starts at $1,399 here in the United States, although it's currently on sale for as low as $949. The 256GB model costs $100 more, and that's it's a similar model for other countries; for example, it's €1,649 in France and Germany.
The Surface Duo was originally announced back in October 2019, heralding Microsoft's return to the smartphone business. The company doesn't often actually call it a phone, but it was introduced to the world in a promo video where the device was revealed by it ringing from inside of a bag, and yes, the user answering a phone call. It wasn't supposed to arrive until holiday season 2020, and it was going to arrive alongside the Surface Neo.
But things changed. The Surface Neo was delayed, as was the Windows 10X operating system, and Surface Duo shipped early.
It comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, which was the company's flagship chipset two generations ago now, and as has been widely criticized, it's a 4G phone. It also comes with an 11MP f/2.0 camera and 6GB of RAM. As for the two displays, which is really the selling point, it has dual 5.6-inch 1800x1350 screens, which are 4:3. They combine for an 8.1-inch 2700x1800 display, and of course, the device has Surface Pen support.
You can check out the Surface Duo on the UK Microsoft Store here, for France here, Germany here, and Canada here.
Amazon Future Engineer programme lands in Canada
by Paul Hill
Amazon has announced the launch of its Future Engineer programme in Canada. With Amazon Future Engineer, the tech firm hopes to invest in over a million students and teachers in deprived communities to give them free computer science lessons, tutorials, online resources and workshops.
Amazon said that over three years it will invest $3 million (CAD) in those who are under-served and under-represented, and one day, it could have some of those students working at the firm in the future.. The resources being offered will focus on programming, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, ensuring that students have the skills for the jobs of tomorrow.
Commenting on the announcement, Head of Amazon Future Engineer Canada Susan Ibach said:
Amazon highlighted women and indigenous peoples as some of those it wanted to reach with the new programme. According to TD Economics, only 1 in 5 engineering and 1 in 4 computer science undergraduate degrees are earned by women and an ICTC report shows that just 0.3% of information and communications technology roles in Canada are held by indigenous peoples.
To deliver the programme, Amazon said it’ll be partnering with Canadian charities including Canada Learning Code, Kids Code Jeunesse and TakingITGlobal. The latter charity is a vital component in the plans as it will provide the resources for teachers to educate themselves in computer science so they can deliver effective lessons to their students. To learn more about the project, head over to Amazon Future Engineer Canada.
Japan agrees to provide important Lunar Gateway components
by Paul Hill
NASA and the Government of Japan have come to an agreement over the Lunar Gateway that will see the east Asian nation provide capabilities for the Gateway’s International Habitation module (I-Hab). The I-Hab is a key component of the modular space station as it includes life support capabilities and additional space where astronauts can live and work during Artemis missions.
According to the American space agency, JAXA’s planned contributions include I-Hab’s environmental control and life support system, batteries, thermal control and imagery components. Once developed, these parts will be integrated into the I-Hab module by the European Space Agency (ESA) which shows just how much of an international effort this new space station is.
Under a previous agreement between JAXA and Northrop Grumman, Japan will supply the batteries that’ll be used in Gateway’s Habitation and Logistics Output (HALO) – the area of the station where astronauts will go first once arriving at Gateway. Japan has also decided to take a look at its HTV-X cargo resupply craft to see whether it can adapt it for use in Gateway logistics resupply missions.
Commenting on today’s partnership, Gateway program manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center Dan Hartman said:
The Lunar Gateway, which is set to orbit the Moon, will begin launching in January 2024. Initially, the Power and Propulsion Element and the HALO modules will be launched and eventually will be joined many other modules. The I-Hab, which Japan is developing components for under today’s agreement is set for launch in 2026.
By Steven P.
What a nice gesture, well done to office Lima