- The Army is joining the AR trend…
- Why I believe Apple’s AR is on the way…
- AI assistants are only months away…
Given the frenetic rush to administer the largest number of vaccine doses each and every day, it’s not surprising that many developments and new research have been largely ignored.
I certainly understand why.
The media, governments, and, not surprisingly, the pharmaceutical companies want to sell – I mean administer – as many doses as possible. They’d even like to give out regular booster shots a couple of times a year after we complete the mass vaccination.
Talk about printing money…
Considering that there is a U.S. population of about 209 million people who are 18 years and older – and the U.S. has already administered over 195 million doses – the vaccination rollout will be largely complete before the end of May.
The majority of the vaccines have been the two-dose vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. That’s why we’re not quite finished yet. Once the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine comes off pause (more on that another day), things will speed up quickly.
What I find incredible is that, since the beginning of the year, there has been no discussion at all about the large part of the population that already has natural immunity to COVID-19.
Natural immunity is the result of having already been exposed to COVID-19 and making a full recovery from the virus.
I am one of those people.
My immune system and the immune systems of tens of millions of others in the U.S. know how to recognize the COVID-19 spike protein and deal with it accordingly.
It would be extremely rare – equivalent to “winning the lottery” rare – for any of us to be infected again. In other words, we are not at risk, nor are we a risk to anyone.
A few days ago, new research was published about the global spread of the pandemic through February of this year. The numbers are pretty incredible.
The research estimates that somewhere between 1.5 and 2 billion people have already been infected by COVID-19. At 2 billion, that equates to over 25% of the world’s population.
That also means that over 25% of the world’s population can already claim natural immunity to COVID-19.
While I know we’d all be much happier if COVID-19 wasn’t released into the wild in the first place, this widespread natural immunity means that we are much closer to herd immunity than we would be otherwise.
The research went further to determine a global infection fatality rate of just 0.15%. To look at this another way, that means that 99.85% of the global population dealt with COVID-19 just fine.
Of course, there are country-specific and regional variations in those numbers. As we now well know, populations with a high percentage of people who are morbidly obese and 65 years or older with multiple comorbidities have experienced higher infection fatality rates.
And populations with the opposite demographics have much lower rates. Perfect examples are Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Southeast Asia.
This is all very promising news. And it is a stark contrast to what those pandering fear and panic have tried to make us believe.
I’m encouraged and excited to see both countries and states lifting unnecessary mandates and lockdowns based on facts – not fear.
It’s time for a very quick return to normal.
Now let’s turn to today’s insights…
Augmented reality is on the rise…
We are seeing lots of buzz surrounding augmented reality (AR) this week. Yesterday, we talked about Niantic and the work it is doing to design a pair of AR glasses to power its AR games.
And today, we have two additional developments to talk about…
And with so many developments in this space happening right now, it is clear to me that the underlying technology is ready for mass commercialization. We are about to see an explosion of growth in this sector.
And the first AR development for today has to do with Microsoft of all companies. Microsoft just locked up a massive deal for its HoloLens.
If we remember, the HoloLens is Microsoft’s mixed reality headset. It was never designed for consumer applications. It has an enterprise focus in mind.
And Microsoft just secured a 10-year contract with the U.S. Army to deploy the headset.
Here’s a visual:
Mixed Reality Tech for the Army
Source: U.S. Army
The contract is worth a whopping $21.9 billion. And per the deal, the U.S. Army will deploy 120,000 HoloLens headsets over the length of the contract. The augmented reality industry has never seen a deal of this size and scale before.
And HoloLens’ applications for the Army are quite interesting.
These headsets will enable soldiers to see at night, home in on targets, and even see around corners. That’s done by pairing the HoloLens with data coming from a drone. The HoloLens will also be able to overlay street maps and building floor plans in the soldier’s field of vision.
Clearly, AR will give U.S. Army soldiers a tremendous advantage against enemy combatants. And it will dramatically improve their safety.
Perhaps ironically, the biggest risk to the success of this program is due to some of Microsoft’s own employees. A contingent within the company wants to cancel the contract. These employees are opposed to Microsoft doing business with the military.
However, CEO Satya Nadella has spoken out emphatically in favor of the deal. So it appears that it will go through as long as the people key to HoloLens continue to support the project.
That’s something we will keep our eye on. But either way, this is a landmark deal for the industry. And it’s a signal that augmented reality is ready for prime time.
As predicted, Apple’s augmented reality launch will happen this year…
Now for the second eye-catching development in AR…
Apple just came out with a fascinating tease for its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) scheduled for June.
Check this out:
Notice anything unusual about this picture?
Look at the glasses – there are no temples. It’s just a set of lenses. That’s a subtle nuance that means something. Obviously, we are talking about either mixed reality or augmented reality, but the industry is scrambling right now to try to decipher Apple’s hint.
We have talked several times before about Apple’s foray into augmented reality. In fact, I believe I’m the only analyst who predicted that Apple would release some kind of AR product this year.
Other analysts and journalists have said that Apple’s AR launch won’t come until 2022 or 2023.
Well, the fact that Apple should make a big AR-related announcement at its WWDC in a few months means that my prediction is about to be proven right. And to me, this makes perfect sense.
Apple always wants to have one big product announcement every year. Last year, it was the 5G-enabled iPhone. That was a huge deal. But what’s Apple going to follow it up with in 2021?
If Apple wants to make a big splash, it has to do something big like an augmented reality release. That’s why I’ve predicted the AR launch would come this year, even when everybody else said it was years away.
And because I was tracking the prototype development for Apple’s AR-related eyewear, I could tell that the project was far more advanced than most thought.
So what we’ll likely see in June is the release of a developers’ version of Apple’s AR platform. This will allow developers to port existing applications and games over to the new operating system.
And they will start to work on new applications for Apple’s AR/VR product as well. It won’t be long until we see new demos coming out.
The timing is perfect. And this is very bullish for Apple. I can’t wait to get all the details regarding what Apple has been working on in June.
Get ready for AI-enabled personal digital assistants…
In my 2021 prediction series, I said that fully functional AI-enabled digital assistants are coming faster than anyone realizes. And it’s now clear that we’ll see the first of these next-generation assistants hitting the mass market this year. Another prediction is coming true.
We aren’t talking about basic assistants like Alexa and Siri. These new digital assistants can make reservations, order groceries, and maybe even do our taxes.
Google has made enormous progress with its Duplex product, which shows us that the technology is ready for the mass market.
We talked about Duplex back in November 2019. It is Google’s bleeding-edge AI that can carry out phone conversations just like a human. And the language is so good that the people it talks to can’t tell it’s an AI. It’s freakishly good. To watch a demonstration, go right here.
What’s unique is that Google used a neural network to produce the language. And it embedded the AI with speech disfluencies. The AI pauses and says things like “um,” “ahh,” and “mm-hmm.” That’s a big reason why it sounds so real.
But the problem Google had in going to market is that each state has its own laws governing the use of this kind of technology. Google had to go out state by state and adapt Duplex to the local laws.
It now determines how each Duplex operates based on the geolocation of the user’s phone. That’s pretty neat.
And Duplex has now adapted to every state except Louisiana. It’s ready.
Google announced that it will make Duplex available on all Android devices in several months. I expect we’ll see rapid adoption wherever the AI-enabled assistant is available.
And here’s the key – Google’s approach will be easy to duplicate. Other companies will quickly release alternatives to Duplex.
Apple is already working on this. No doubt others will produce a smartphone application that will run on both Android and Apple smartphones. We’ll see several comparable digital assistants hit the market later this year.
All of the technology now exists to enable a very useful digital assistant. We’ll be able to instruct it to make appointments for us, and it will already know our preferences. That will enable it to do its work automatically in the background. No oversight will be needed.
So when we ask our assistant to make a haircut appointment for us, it will already know our favorite hairdresser.
And when we ask it to schedule an oil change for our vehicle, it will already know the make, model, and type of oil we typically use. I’m sure readers can think of many other examples here.
This is going to give us back all the minutes and hours that we spend every day on simple tasks that are low-value uses of our time. We can imagine how much our daily productivity would increase in the absence of these kinds of tasks.
And for many, it will even free up time to improve overall quality of life. This kind of technology is basically business process automation for our daily lives.
We’re so close. And what I really like about this technology is that it completely democratizes having a personal assistant. Better yet, it will be available, accessible, and affordable to anyone who has a smartphone.
Editor, The Bleeding Edge
P.S. I want to remind readers one more time that the replay of my presentation on America’s Last Digital Leap will be coming down soon. I encourage readers who missed the event last week to catch up right here while it is still available.
A “digital leap” is when an entire industry goes from analog to digital. Think of what Uber and Lyft did to the taxi industry. And what Apple and Spotify did to the music industry with streaming.
Right now, one $11.9 trillion industry that’s been tied down with restrictions and red tape is about to make its own digital leap. And it could be the last one we see for a long time.
That means the time to position our investment portfolios is now.
So if you’d like to know how you can make the most of this digital leap, I encourage you to watch my presentation right here.
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