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How augmented reality can find your keys

Image: AR headset
This cartoon shows a user wearing a headset that’s part of a system to keep track of items such as keys (102). The headset display could highlight the location of the keys even if they end up hidden under a sheaf of papers or lost between the cushions of a couch. (Microsoft Illustration via USPTO)

Microsoft expects its HoloLens augmented-reality headset to guide you through complicated tasks in the workplace, but someday you could also use it around the house to find misplaced items, play games – and even watch movies on a virtual big screen.

The possibilities for augmented reality, or AR, are laid out in a series of patents and patent applications published over the past month or so.

Augmented reality is a cousin of virtual reality. VR creates a complete computer-generated environment, viewed through headsets ranging from the high-end Oculus Rift and HTC Vive to the smartphone-based Google Daydream and Samsung Gear systems. AR systems like Microsoft’s HoloLens goes one step further, blending computer-generated imagery with the real-life scene that’s in front of you.

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SpaceX explains rocket failure (and its fix)

SpaceX Vandenberg pad
SpaceX’s return to flight is due to take place Jan. 8 at its launch facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. (SpaceX Photo)

SpaceX says an investigation has concluded that the Sept. 1 explosion of its Falcon 9 rocket occurred due to the failure of a helium pressure vessel, and it’s taking steps to avoid the problem for its return to flight, set for Jan. 8.

That launch will send 10 Iridium Next communication satellites into orbit from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. Meanwhile, repairs are continuing at SpaceX’s launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, where September’s blow-up occurred during a pre-launch fueling test.

The California-based launch company’s founder, Elon Musk, had said previously that the supercooled helium tanks played a role in the accident, which led to the fiery loss of the rocket and its commercial Amos-6 satellite payload. Today’s update adds lots more detail to that diagnosis, and explains what SpaceX is doing to address the issue.

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