• I think Apple is bluffing…
  • Why Elon Musk wants to put 42,000 satellites into orbit
  • Google now has the health records of 50 million Americans. What could go wrong?

Dear Reader,

Before we get to today’s insights, a quick update on a story we covered earlier in the month…

In a bit of comical news over the weekend, HP (HPQ) rejected Xerox’s $33 billion takeover offer.

HP felt that the offer significantly undervalued the company. This is the typical response from the target company after just about every initial deal offering. HP did, however, say that it is “open to exploring a potential combination with Xerox.”

What a sign of the times… 

This is one of those historical inflection points. Two legacy, incumbent players just missed the digital transition. Now they are being put out to pasture. They might as well do it together.

The reality is that printed documents are quickly becoming a thing of the past. It won’t be long before all information and documents are consumed digitally, on tablets, and all contracts and agreements are signed electronically.

I certainly won’t be recommending either of these companies in my research.

Now, let’s get to our main insights…

Apple’s augmented reality leak…

News leaked of a major presentation at Apple last month. It concerned the company’s plans for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Rumors say more than 1,000 employees were in attendance. And the story is that Apple plans to release a dual AR/VR headset in 2022. Then the company plans to launch form factor AR glasses – meaning they’d look like normal glasses – in 2023.

Longtime readers need no reminding. But for newer readers, augmented reality glasses overlay data, information, and graphics on top of our view of the real world. I’m on record saying that AR glasses will one day replace the smartphone… they are the next massive consumer electronics boom.

This news runs contrary to breadcrumbs over the last nine months that suggested Apple’s AR launch was much closer. Apple recently filed several AR patents. And it acquired numerous AR/VR startups. We talked about this last month.

So all signs pointed to a near-term, late 2020 AR launch. That’s why this new leak comes as a bit of a surprise.

The mainstream press was quick to report the news. But here’s the thing… I’m not sure I believe it. At least not the dates…

I know Apple has been working on this technology for years now. And they’ve intensely researched the components – the semiconductors, camera lenses, etc. Apple has the tech it needs to make an AR launch happen next year.

Plus, smart glasses have become quite a competitive environment. We know Amazon, Google, Facebook, and even private company Magic Leap all have real products now.

In fact, Amazon just launched their smart glasses with Alexa built in last month. I predict this is an early iteration. Amazon will eventually launch its own Alexa-powered AR glasses.

MagicLeap already has its first-generation product in the market today. It may be bulky, but it is an awesome product. I’ve used it myself. And I expect Magic Leap will launch its second-generation consumer AR glasses in the fall of 2021.

Apple can’t afford to sit around and do nothing while their competitors take the lead.

Putting it together, I think Apple is bluffing…

I think it released the 2022/2023 dates knowing they would be leaked. That gives the company the chance to surprise the market with an AR launch likely in 2021 at the latest.

Of course, Apple’s big product launch next year will be its 5G smartphones. We know that will be a huge deal. But I would not be surprised at all if Apple follows that up with its first set of AR glasses. That’s coming sooner than the market thinks.

SpaceX continues to build out its Starlink network…

SpaceX just launched 60 more satellites to join its Starlink network. This is now thought to be the largest satellite constellation surrounding Earth today.

As a reminder, SpaceX plans to launch a total of 42,000 satellites as part of Starlink. That’s quite impressive, considering that there’s only 5,000 satellites orbiting Earth today. Starlink will be eight times bigger than the rest of the world’s current satellite systems combined.

Starlink’s stated goal is to provide internet connectivity to remote places on Earth. But the real purpose is much more clever.

What SpaceX is really doing is building a backhaul network around the Earth. We hit on this last month. This will allow other satellites to send large data streams through Starlink and back down to base stations on Earth.

Such a backhaul network is necessary because most satellites are not geostationary. That means they don’t stay in one place in the sky.

Instead, they constantly orbit the Earth. For that reason, base stations on Earth can’t maintain a connection to a single satellite. They have to constantly establish new connections as new satellites come into range overhead.

The Starlink backhaul network will solve this problem. Other satellites can route data through Starlink, which will have satellites above every geographic location on Earth at all times. That will allow Starlink to quickly identify the best route to get the data back down to where it needs to go.

So, this is a fun story to watch. Elon Musk catches a lot of flak for his persona. But there’s no doubt that he is a visionary.

By the way, I need to point out that Starlink is not a replacement for 5G wireless technology. 5G wireless technology will always be faster, with almost no latency, and dramatically cheaper than satellite internet.

So any consumers that are in areas that have 5G wireless network coverage will use those networks. Only those that are living and working outside of network coverage will consider using a service like Starlink… assuming they can afford it.

Google’s biggest heist yet…

Talk about bad ideas…

Google now has access to millions of health records. How in the world did this happen?

The Wall Street Journal reported that Google quietly struck a deal with health care network Ascension. The project was code named “Nightingale”. It was a brash move for Google to get ahold of our most sensitive data.

This is a big deal because Ascension is one of the largest health care systems in the U.S. It has operations in 21 states.

Google claims it is fully compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), which allows hospitals to share data with business partners under certain conditions. But get this – Google got access to millions of health records without the physician or the patient’s consent whatsoever. How is that possible?

What’s more, the data isn’t anonymized. In other words, our full name, address, and contact information is right there for Google to see, on top of our sensitive health records.

Of course, Google is claiming that they are doing this to find ways to deliver a better health outcome for patients. But we know better than that.

Google doesn’t do anything unless it gets paid for it. Which means they are mining this data solely to extract the juiciest nuggets and monetize them. And that could have very bad consequences for patients…

If Google sells this data to health and life insurance companies, there’s a chance that people with health risks could be denied coverage without even knowing why.

And I’m not talking about pre-existing conditions here, which is an obvious reason one would be denied insurance coverage. Instead, what if a sensitive issue from 10 years ago pops up, and the insurance company determines that person is an increased health risk… even though they may be doing all the right things?

So this is scary. And it’s more proof that Google should not be trusted.

How could this have happened? Well, it appears that the HIPAA regulations are grossly outdated.

They state in general terms that both physician and patient consent are not required for the health care system to share patient data under the conditions that the third party that is using it is supporting the health care system’s overall goals.

Very loose language. Almost inconceivable that this was written when the regulations were put in place. I’m sure Google’s lawyers had a field day with this one.

As I write this, the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services has launched a federal inquiry into project Nightingale. I’ll update you as things progress.


Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge

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