News briefs for January 2, 2019.
Google has received approval from the FCC to launch Project Soli, a radar-based motion-sensing device. Reuters reports that the FCC "would grant Google a waiver to operate the Soli sensors at higher power levels than currently allowed. The FCC said the sensors can also be operated aboard aircraft. The FCC said the decision 'will serve the public interest by providing for innovative device control features using touchless hand gesture technology.'" Originally Facebook had voiced concern that "the Soli sensors operating in the spectrum band at higher power levels might have issues coexisting with other technologies."
Sony is set to produce the "next generation of visual-processing chips with a set of new 3D sensors". According to The Verge, "the most intriguing aspect of this new tech would appear to be a better form of face identification than we currently have". In addition, Sony's 3D sensor "is said to deploy laser pulses, which, much like a bat's echolocation, creates a depth map of its surroundings by measuring how long a pulse takes to bounce back. Sony's sensor chief argues this produces more detailed models of users' faces, plus it apparently works from as far away as five meters (16 feet)."
The GIMP team has posted look back at 2018 and an outline showing future plans for GIMP, GEGL and babl. Development has been focusing on refactoring, usability, smart colorization, extension management and more. The team plans to ship 2.10.x updates throughout 2019 and version 2.10.10 should be out this month or next. See the blog post for ways you can contribute.
The Thunderbird team has also published a 2018 retrospective and a look at what's ahead for the new year. The team has added more full-time staff members, and they are focusing on "making Thunderbird fly faster" and making a "more beautiful (and useable) Thunderbird". See the Mozilla blog for all the details.
xfce4-panel 4.13.4 was released today. According to the Simon's Secret blog post, this release includes a new plugin icon size feature, correct menu positioning, tasklist fixes and small theming updates. You can get it from here.