Canadian book retailer Indigo partners with TikTok, Texas law that lets users sue social networks for censorship is back into effect, and Google previews a pair of smart glasses capable of translating languages in real-time.
That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now, welcome to Hashtag Trending. It’s Friday, May 13, and I’m your host, Tom Li.
Canadian book retailer Indigo announced a partnership with TikTok Canada, launching a new #BookTok Book Club, a virtual space for TikTok’s community to explore new book titles together alongside celebrated authors. The book club kicks off this month starting with Canadian author Xiran Jay Zhao’s Iron Widow. A new book and author will be announced monthly throughout the summer, and will be featured in a live event hosted by Indigo and the author for the TikTok community that includes a Q&A. Indigo’s Book Club content will include features, creator content, and more via the TikTok app. The #BookTok community on TikTok has had a huge impact on the book business, driven especially by younger generations.
The fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has put a controversial Texan law that lets users sue social media companies back into effect. Texas introduced HB 20 in 2021, after high-profile conservatives, like Donald Trump, were blocked on many social media platforms. A federal judge put HB 20 under temporary injunction in December, but that injunction has now been paused. According to Engadget, the law lets users sue social media platforms with more than 50 million active monthly users such as Facebook and Twitter if they believe they were banned for their political views. HB 20 also stops social networks from removing or restricting content based on “the viewpoint of the user or another person.” Trade industry groups like NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association secured an injunction against the law in 2021. The groups said that HB 20 would enhance the spread of misinformation and hate speech on social networks and that it also violates the websites’ First Amendment rights. The federal judge overseeing the case agreed that social networks should have the right to moderate content under the First Amendment.
On Wednesday this week, Google previewed a pair of smart glasses capable of translating languages in real-time. Google CEO Sundar Pichai displayed a video demo of the glasses during Google’s I/O developer summit. While they’re still just a prototype, Google said the glasses can show live language translations to the person wearing them, CNBC reported. A person wearing these glasses could potentially understand what another person is saying just by reading captions that are presented through the lenses while the other person speaks. Google made its first attempt at smart glasses roughly a decade ago, but Google Glass wasn’t really a hit due to a limited launch, high initial pricing and privacy concerns.
It’s unclear if these glasses will ever hit the market, however, the prototype provides a sense of where Google thinks AR can be helpful.
BeBop Sensors, a smart fabric sensor technologies company, announced the BeBop Sensors RoboSkin line of skin-like coverings for tactile awareness for humanoid robots and prosthetics. Essentially a nervous system for robots, at less than 1mm thick, RoboSkin is the only technology that fits all robotic body parts. This includes the limbs, fingers, feet, head and torso. RoboSkin’s advanced fabric-based sensor skin can be shaped to any surface allowing quick tailoring to fit any robot, with spatial resolution and sensitivity. According to the company, advances in robotics, such as vision and listening, are missing the sense of touch, which they say is essential for practical human and robot interaction. As robots are quickly becoming part of the world, they need to be able to interact and learn with all senses.
That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC Podcast network. Add us to your Alexa Flash briefings or your Google Home daily briefing. Make sure to sign up for our Daily IT Wire newsletter to get all the news that matters directly in your inbox every day. Also, catch the next episode of Hashtag Tendances, our weekly Hashtag Trending episode in French, which drops every Thursday morning. If you have a suggestion or a tip, drop us a line in the comments or via email. Thank you for listening, I’m Tom Li.