Internet connectivity projects unite as Alphabet spinout Loon grabs $125M from SoftBank’s HAPSMobile – TechCrunch
Two futuristic projects are coming together to help increase global internet access after Loon, the Google spinout that uses a collection of floating balloons to bring connectivity to remote areas, announced it has raised money from a SoftBank initiative.
HAPSMobile, a SoftBank project that is also focused on increasing global connectivity, is investing $125 million into Loon, according to an announcement from SoftBank made this morning. The agreement includes an option for Loon to make a reciprocal $125 million investment in HAPSMobile and it includes co-operation plans, details of which are below.
HAPSMobile is a one-year-old joint venture between SoftBank and U.S. company AeroVironment . The company has developed a solar-powered drone that’s designed to deliver 5G connectivity in the same way Facebook has tried in the past. The social network canceled its Aquila drone last year, although it is reported to have teamed up with Airbus for new trials in Australia.
Where Facebook has stumbled, HAPSMobile has made promising progress. The company said that its HAWK 30 drone — pictured below in an impression — has completed its initial development and the first trials are reportedly set to begin this year.
Loon, meanwhile, was one of the first projects to go after the idea of air-based connectivity with a launch in 2013. The business was spun out of X, the ‘moonshot’ division of Alphabet, last year and, though it is still a work in progress, it has certainly developed from an initial crazy idea conceived within Google.
Loon played a role in connecting those affected by flooding in Peru in 2017 and it assisted those devastated by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year. Loon claims its balloons have flown more than 30 million kms and provided internet access for “hundreds of thousands” of people across the world.
In addition to the capital investment, the two companies have announced a set of initiatives that will help them leverage their collective work and technology.
For starters, they say they will make their crafts/balloons open to use for the other — so HAPSMobile can tap Loon balloons for connectivity and vice-versa — while, connected to that, they will jointly develop a communication payload across both services. They also plan to develop a common ground station that could work with each side’s tech and develop shared connectivity that their airborne hardware can tap.
Loon has already developed fleet management technology because of the nature of its service, which is delivered by a collection of balloons, and that will be optimized for HAPSMobile.
Outside of tech, the duo said they will create an alliance “to promote the use of high altitude communications solution with regulators and officials worldwide.”
The investment is another signal that shows SoftBank’s appetite in tech investing is not limited to up-and-coming startups via its Vision Fund, more established ventures are indeed also in play. Just yesterday, the Vision Fund announced plans to invest $1 billion in German payment firm Wirecard and its past investments include ARM and Nvidia, although SoftBank has sold its stake in the latter.
Everything You Need To Know Before Buying A Used Graphics Card
As is the case with buying pretty much any used electronics or components, it’s important that you know exactly what the device in question has been through before it comes into your possession. If someone offered to sell you a car, for instance, only for it to show up with four flat tires and a hole in the roof, you probably wouldn’t want it. It’s the same thing with graphics cards.
Graphics cards, like any PC component, gradually wear out over time. If someone was pushing a graphics card to its absolute maximum 24/7, especially for something like crypto mining, it’s not going to have much life in it by the time it makes it into your hands. To ensure this problem doesn’t happen to you, you should only purchase used graphics cards from trustworthy sources. If you’re buying directly from a person, make sure it’s someone you know and trust. If you’re buying from a storefront, online or physical, check reviews and source opinions. The extra legwork will spare you the tragedy of finding your new graphics card on its proverbial deathbed.
Apple Vision Pro Headset Is Real, And It Expertly Blends AR With VR
Apple seems to have joined Meta in going down the productivity path, instead of catering specifically to the gaming market. The headset is controlled with a user’s “eyes, hands, and voice” instead of controllers. Expect advanced hand and eye tracking as standard. Gestures themselves are designed to be “subtle and natural,” and Siri also plays a part.
Users can utilize a variety of apps, and scale them to their needs. If you hate looking at your living room, “environments” can also be added to change your backdrop, and their transparency can be altered via a wheel on the headset. It also syncs with iCloud, and interacts seamlessly with the rest of Apple’s ecosystem. If you must have some form of input, Vision Pro will automatically connect with a Mac or iPhone, and can connect to things like keyboards via Bluetooth.
Apple has suggested it could particularly benefit remote workers, and people who regularly attend virtual meetings. The device also has a slim profile, which could mean it is comfortable to wear for extended periods. As current VR-users may know, this is vital when working in a headset for an extended period, or if you’re using one as a home entertainment system.
As far as gaming is concerned, Apple did give a glimpse of some capability — however, there is nothing to suggest you’ll get a similar experience to the one currently offered by devices like the Quest 2 headset.
Mac Pro With M2 Ultra Serves Up Big Expandability At A Big Price
At WWDC 2023, Apple talked extensively about the storage expansion versatility of the new Mac Pro. It offers seven PCIe expansion slots, with six of them supporting the PCIe Gen 4 standard that is twice as faster. The I/O situation is handled by a total of eight Thunderbolt 4 bolts — two on the top and six at the back.
There’s also a trio of USB Type-A ports, a pair of high-bandwidth HDMI ports that allow up to 8K video streams, and a pair of Ethernet ports with a peak 10Gbps data throughput. You can hook up to six Pro Display XDR monitors to the new Mac Pro, if you desire that many screens on your workstation for some reason.
The Mac Pro starts at $6,999 for the tower setup, but if you want the rack-mounted format, you will have to cough up $7,499 at the bare minimum. A student discount brings the asking price of Apple’s updated Mac Pro to $6,599.
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