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MALTATODAY 2 January 2022

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ALEXIEI DINGLI 8 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 2 JANUARY 2022 NEWS 1. Roberta Metsola Bar any major hiccups, the Nationalist MEP is very likely to be elect- ed president of the European Parliament on 18 January. She will be the first Mal- tese to occupy one of the highest posts in European insti- tutions. Metsola will be representing the institution and while bringing to the table the realities of small coun- tries, Malta can expect no favours from her on issues like rule of law and abortion rights. 2. General election Robert Abela may be tempted to take the administration to its very end and hold the election in May or June, shutting down criticism that a Labour government cannot last a full term. March would have seemed a plausible option until a few weeks ago but with rising cases of COVID-19 it is becoming increasingly unlikely. 3. PN leadership race The Nationalist Party is likely to lose the election, which will trigger a leadership race. This will be the third such contest since 2017, creating a fresh round of internal turmoil. With Roberta Metsola out of the race as she savours her high-profile EU role, there will be no obvious choice. Ber- nard Grech may just be tempted to consider a second run. Kurt Sansone's 22 things to look out for this year ANY keen observer can quickly realise what is happening in the technological scene and how it will evolve in the coming years. All the breadcrumbs are pointing towards a massive revolution that will change our interaction with technology forever. First of all, almost all tablets can handle very high definition graphics and advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms. Sec- ond, the most advanced of these have inte- grated within them a LiDAR Scanner. This sensor is capable of delivering cutting-edge depth-sensing capabilities. Essentially, this means that if you take a photo of a room, it's not just a standard flat image, but it is a three-dimensional photo, and you can casu- ally take a stroll inside of it! Third, we have seen the recent announce- ment by Facebook whereby Mark Zucker- berg launched his vision for the Metaverse, a digital replica of reality where anyone can shop, work and entertain himself virtually. However, today's Virtual Reality (VR) head- sets require some massive improvements for this to become a reality since they are still bulky and uncomfortable. Fourth, in the past years, we've heard lots of rumours about the potential launch of a new device capable of integrating all of these technologies in a way that makes the Vir- tual Reality experiences seamless. So much so that Facebook in 2021 launched Ray-Ban Stories, a set of sunglasses produced by Ray-Ban with an integrated camera in them, thus making it much easier to share content on social media. If we were to combine all of these, my bet for 2022 would be on a new line of Aug- mented Reality Glasses (ARGs). Google had already tested something similar in the past when it launched Google Glass. Even though this was a failure from the commer- cial viewpoint, it was a significant learning experience. These ARGs will redefine the way we in- teract with technology once and for all. They will probably become the smartphone killer of the decade since all of the function- ality found in today's phones will be inte- grated into these glasses. Furthermore, they can offer various modes of operations. The first is plain Augmented Reality (AR), whereby the real world is enhanced with virtual objects. For example, one can read emails while taking a bus ride and even an- swer them by typing in the air using a vir- tual keyboard. And the incredible thing is that one doesn't need any additional devices apart from the ARGs they are wearing. The second is contextual AR, whereby the information is not independent of the sur- rounding environment. For example, im- agine someone walking through a shopping mall, the glasses will provide him with di- rections, and as he gazes through the shops, localised offers will pop up. The third is full-blown VR, whereby the user is transported into a virtual world. So while one is relaxing in the living room, they could explore the depths of the Amazon for- est or even swim with a great white shark! So 2022 looks like a fascinating year for technology, one that will change the way we live forever. It is the first step of a rev- olution much more significant than we are envisaging. Let's approach it with an open mind and see how we can ensure that it pos- itively affects our world. BEYOND Thinkers, movers and shakers from the worlds of science, the coming year as the pandemic moves Professor of Artificial Intelligence All roads lead to augmented reality glasses

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