Today’s news touches a bit on COVID-19, VR/AR, and on web development. 

COVID-19 Coronavirus News

Georgia’s Republican governor has ordered cities to stop requiring masks.

In a stunning act of sheer brilliance, Georgia’s governor has decided masks are a waste of time and that cities shouldn’t be making people wear it — never mind studies proving the contrary. Via Ars Technica: Georgia Governor Brian Kemp yesterday issued an executive order that overturns local mask-wearing requirements. Kemp’s executive order says that “any state, county, or municipal law, order, ordinance, rule, or regulation that requires persons to wear face coverings, masks, face shields, or any other Personal Protective Equipment while in places of public accommodation or on public property are suspended to the extent that they are more restrictive than this Executive Order.”

U.S., UK, and Canada Accuses Russia of Hacking to Steal COVID-19 Vaccine Data

In a move surprising absolutely nobody, it appears Russia is attempting to steal data pertaining to COVID-19 vaccine research. 

Via CNN: Russian cyber actors are targeting organizations involved in coronavirus vaccine development, according to a new warning by US, UK and Canadian security officials on Thursday that details activity by a Russian hacking group called APT29.

In April, CNN also reported on a growing wave of cyberattacks on US government agencies and medical institutions leading the pandemic response by nation states and criminal groups.  Hospitals, research laboratories, health care providers and pharmaceutical companies have all been hit, officials said at the time.

Virtual & Augmented Reality News

It appears Apple has started pushing ahead with preliminary production on semi-transparent AR lenses, presumably for use in their AR glasses. Via RoadToVR: Apple is gearing up to enter a new phase in production on its fabled AR headset. Together with Foxconn Technology, the Taiwan-based contract manufacturer behind many of Apple’s mobile devices, the company is said to have entered the trial production on the AR lens portion of the device. The report, citing a person familiar with the matter, maintains the lenses first passed the prototype stage “two months ago.” The lenses, which are described as “semitransparent”, are said to be two years away from mass production. The Information’s source further says the AR headset itself would also likely arrive around that supposed 2022 timeframe.

This makes sense, since Apple has been snapping up Magic Leap’s recently laid off engineers recently: Magic Leap was in hot water earlier this year, as reports surfaced that the well-funded startup was searching for a buyer. Although the AR company managed to avert disaster by securing another $350 million in May, around 600 full-time employees have reportedly been let go in its downsizing—presumably a direct result of the company’s failure to ignite a consumer AR market and subsequent pivot to the enterprise space. According to an investigation of LinkedIn profiles by Protocol, many former Magic Leap employees have taken up residence at Silicon Valley’s most prominent tech companies, including Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon. In the past six months though, Apple seems to have hired the most ex-Leapers, and positioned them into roles such as XR prototyper, computer vision engineer, and optical systems engineer—things you’d expect would have a direct effect on the development of an Apple AR headset. The flow from Magic Leap to Apple has been a constant one too, Protocol has found. According to a broader assessment of LinkedIn bios, Apple has consistently been the number one place for former Magic Leap employees, with Facebook coming in a close second.

Web Dev: Background Blur via CSS

Stumbled across a good way to achieve background blur via CSS. It’s as simple as doing this:
.container {
    backdrop-filter: blur(10px);
}
Browser support is actually not too shabby at 83% global coverage. The catch is that IE and Firefox doesn’t support it. To compensate, one can do this instead:
.container {
    background: rgba(0,0,0,0.8);
}

@supports (-webkit-backdrop-filter: none) or (backdrop-filter: none) {
  .container {
    -webkit-backdrop-filter: blur(10px);
    backdrop-filter: blur(10px);
  }
}
Pretty nifty! Credit goes out to CSS Tricks!

See the Pen PwRPZa by Guillermo Esteves (@gesteves) on CodePen.

It’s quite interesting to see how the VR/AR industry is shaping up. I suspect 2021 will be a very interesting year, indeed. Thanks for reading, see you next time!

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