What to make of a cheaper Google Nest with Soli radar, and more tech news today

Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Friday, 9 October 2020.

1. New Google Nest Thermostat with Soli

Google Pixel 4 XL Teardown Soli Radar

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman is usually hot on the heels of Apple news. Or, is busy talking about the Los Angles Lakers. But he had a Google scoop late yesterday: the company looks close to releasing a new, cheaper Nest Thermostat.

  • Now this isn’t A1 news because, you know, thermostats.
  • The original Nest Thermostats are a little bit special to me. I recommended them early on to some friends and colleagues, and each one raved about it more and more.
  • It became a challenge to find someone who didn’t absolutely love the improvement over old-style thermostats.
  • Being in Germany and stuck with incredibly terrible thermostats again, you come to appreciate what Nest created. Before Google stepped in and snapped them up, of course.

Anyway, Google is stepping

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As Delta makes landfall, Southwest Louisiana is still without a working radar

It’s mobile radar to the rescue, and not a moment too soon.



a small clock tower in the middle of a field: The radar dome at the NWS Lake Charles sits on top of a tower that was battered by winds and is now out of commission as another hurricane heads toward it.


© NWS Lake Charles
The radar dome at the NWS Lake Charles sits on top of a tower that was battered by winds and is now out of commission as another hurricane heads toward it.

This is the story of how a moving research radar will be helping the Lake Charles, Louisiana, National Weather Service (NWS) outpost, whose radar was broken during Hurricane Laura.

The Lake Charles NWS office and radar are both located at the Lake Charles Regional Airport, which also took a significant hit during Laura.

The radar dome sits on top of an over 60-foot tower, and since wind speeds are often stronger the higher you go up, this likely led to its demise.

The problem is, the radar equipment is still not fixed, and another hurricane arrived Friday night in the the same area

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Google might release a $129 Nest thermostat with built-in radar soon

Google is getting ready to release a new $129 Nest thermostat that will apparently switch out some of the touch-based controls found on other Nest thermostats for hand gestures, according to a new Bloomberg report. Bloomberg gave the example of a user swiping their hand up and down near the thermostat to adjust the temperature.





© Photo by Jake Kastrenakes / The Verge


That tech sounds a lot like the motion controls you could activate with the Project Soli radar sensor in the now discontinued Pixel 4 and 4 XL. And while the newly announced Pixel 5 doesn’t have the Soli technology, Google hardware boss Rick Osterloh did say that the sensor and gestures would be used at some point in the future. He also suggested the tech was too expensive for the Pixel 5, which seems curious in light of Bloomberg’s report that a new low-end Nest thermostat

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Japan’s iQPS to update technology for future radar satellites

SAN FRANCISCO – Like many of its western counterparts, Japan’s Institute for Q-shu Pioneers of Space (iQPS) has ambitious plans for its Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) constellation.

By 2025, iQPS plans to operate a 36-satellite constellation to gather data and imagery with a resolution of one meter “of almost any point in the world within 10 minutes and to conduct fixed-point observations of particular areas once every 10 minutes,” iQPS spokeswoman Yuki Ariyoshi told SpaceNews by email. With that resolution, customers can obtain frequent imagery of land and buildings in addition  to observing moving objects like livestock, vehicles and vessels, she added.

IQPS launched its first 100-kilogram SAR satellite, Izanagi, in November 2019 on an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. The firm’s second satellite, Izanami, is scheduled to launch as early as December on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as part of Spaceflight’s SXRS-3 rideshare mission.

The key technology iQPS

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Synthetic aperture radar finally shedding its mystique

When Capella Space’s first operational synthetic aperture radar satellite launched from New Zealand last month on a Rocket Lab Electron, a team of agriculture specialists at The Climate Corporation watched with excitement.

“We were really happy,” said Steven Ward, the director of geospatial sciences at The Climate Corporation, a San Francisco-based subsidiary of life sciences and pharmaceutical giant Bayer that leverages satellite imagery to help farmers boost crop yields and insure against weather-driven losses. “We actually had a Slack channel where we were celebrating that launch.”

The Climate Corporation processed 600 million satellite images in 2019, most of it optical, Ward said. The company hasn’t integrated synthetic aperture radar, or SAR, imagery into its Climate FieldView product line yet, but is studying how radar, which can peer through clouds, could fill gaps left by optical satellites over notoriously cloudy regions like Brazil, Indonesia and the Niger delta, he said.

“We’re

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Doppler weather radar for Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., is broken

That radar, a WSR-88D model, is the most powerful one tasked with scanning the skies in northern Virginia, central Maryland, the eastern panhandle of West Virginia and the District. It’s part of a network of 159 such Doppler radars maintained by the NWS nationwide. Each radar emits high-frequency pulses of energy, a portion of which bounce off precipitation targets and offer valuable information from inside a storm.

While the radar is down, forecasters will rely on airport radars and NWS radars at adjacent offices in State College, Pa.; Pittsburgh; Mount Holly, N.J.; Wakefield, Va.; Dover, Del.; Blacksburg, Va.; and Charleston.

This network of radars can stitch together a reasonable representation of storm surveys.

The region has some of the best radar coverage in the country thanks to four smaller, less-powerful “terminal” radars at the three major airports — Dulles, Reagan National and BWI Marshall — as well as Andrews Air

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