New Destiny 2 Alexa skills let you ask Ghost to do stuff in-game


Destiny 2 fans will know that you get your own virtual assistant of source in the game world – Ghost, who sort of floats around and guides you. The new Alexa skill for Destiny 2 allows you to ask Ghost to do a number of things for you, including provide guidance about your in-game mission, calling backup, equipping different armour and weapon sets and providing lore and fictional world background info.

This is clearly an example of ‘brands being brands’ ™ and teaming up to make each other look cool, but the integration is actually pretty neat, especially because it works with a physical, Wi-Fi connected Ghost speaker accessory that Bungie and Activision also revealed. The speaker doesn’t have Alexa on board directly, but can pair with Alexa devices and provides an even more realistic simulation of actually speaking to the in-game companion character.

Alexa-based voice commands for calling up info and doing things like equipment and inventory management without having to open sub-menus and dig through complex visual interfaces in games actually sounds like a super cool feature that could be applicable to a range of different titles and genres beyond Destiny 2.

The Alexa skill for Destiny 2 requires on the game, and an Alexa device like an Echo to work. But if you want to grab the Ghost speaker, it’s an $89.99 pre-order with a ship date of December 19, 2017.

I already use Alexa to control my home theater, fans, my lights, my thermostat and a lot more, so why not also use it to up my gaming skills? Here’s hoping this turns into a trend.

FDA clears AliveCor’s Kardiaband as the first medical device accessory for the Apple Watch


The Food and Drug Administration has just cleared AliveCor’s Kardiaband EKG reader as the first medical device accessory for the Apple Watch.

Europe has been able to use a version of the Kardiaband for Apple Watch for some time now but, thanks to the new FDA approval, the device can now be used in the U.S., marking the first time an Apple Watch accessory will be able to be used as a medical device in the States.

Up until now, AliveCor has used the KardiaMobile device, which was stuck to the back of your smartphone and paired with an app to detect abnormal heart rhythm and atrial fibrillation (AFib). The new Apple Watch accessory, Kardiaband, clicks into a slot on the Watch band to do the same thing.

However, rather than needing to hold your smartphone with both hands for 30 seconds to get a reading, you can get an EKG reading continuously and discreetly just by touching the band’s integrated sensor.

Along with the new Kardiaband for Apple Watch announcement, AliveCor is introducing a software feature called SmartRhythm, which uses a deep neural network to give you insight into your heart rate and can potentially detect an abnormal heart beat using the Kardiaband or KardiaMobile EKG reader.

Note, there have been a couple studies conducted using just the Apple Watch’s built-in heart rate monitor to detect an abnormal heart rhythm. This spring, UCSF and Cardiogram conducted one such study, concluding the Apple Watch could detect an abnormal heart rhythm with a 97 percent accuracy when paired with an AI-based algorithm called DeepHeart.

Later, the same eHealth study concluded the Watch could also detect sleep apnea and hypertension with similar accuracy using its built-in sensor.

But, as AliveCor CEO Vic Gundotra points out, it’s one thing to be able to detect and another thing to get FDA approval to use your sensor as a medical device.

“Apple might be able to say ‘oh your heart rate is high’ …but what does that mean? Does that mean you should go to the hospital? And if you go to the hospital what are they going to do?. Any doctor will say ‘ok come in, lets get an EKG reading’,” Gundotra told TechCrunch.

EKGs are usually only available in offices and hospitals — and only after a life-threatening event. Having one on your wrist that you can use to check your heart and then send a readout straight to your doctor is vital to prevention of a heart attack or stroke.

And, as Gundotra also points out, “It’s not possible to diagnose atrial fibrillation without FDA clearance. That is a big, big play.”

It’s worth noting Apple could easily replicate what AliveCor is doing. It has all the right equipment within the Apple Watch and  the manpower to do so. However, it doesn’t seem likely Apple would want to go through the hassle of FDA approval for the Watch, which is a general purpose device used for numerous other applications besides getting your heart rate.

The FDA has also told TechCrunch in the past that it would be the software, not the platform on which it operates, that would be regulated anyway.

That’s not to say someone else couldn’t come up with an FDA-approved EKG reader but so far AliveCor seems to have the market on that for both the KardiaMobile and now the Kardiaband.

That’s an important marker for the company. AFib is the most common heart arrhythmia, and a leading cause of stroke. In fact, one in four adults over the age of 40 could be at risk.

“This is a medical device. This is not a toy that says your heart might be irregular. This is an FDA-cleared device. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life,” Gundotra said.

Those interested can get their own Kardiaband starting today for $199 on AlivCor’s site. The band does require a subscription to AliveCor’s premium service for $99 a year.

12 of the best baby tech gifts for the little ones in your life



Welcome to the 2017 TechCrunch Holiday Gift Guide! We check out a lot of really cool stuff here at TechCrunch, so we figured we ought to put that experience to good use and help you get your holiday shopping done quickly. Need help with some other ideas? Check out the full Gift Guide here!

This baby tech gift guide is a new one for TechCrunch’s annual gift list but one that’s been on my mind for a little while now (for reference, I’m six months pregnant). Lately, I’ve been inundated with ads, tips, lists and articles of my own on items for baby in this modern tech age… so, I’ve scanned through it all, compiled a list of the top tech and wrapped it up just for you and your little one (or little one to be).

Let me know if there’s some must-have tech you’d add to the list, too.

Analyst says Apple could have sold 6 million iPhone X units during Black Friday weekend


Apple hasn’t shared any exact number, but Rosenblatt Securities analyst Jun Zhang calculated that Apple may have sold as many as 6 million iPhone X units this weekend alone, StreetInsider reported.

With such a big number, it’s hard to grasp Apple’s success with the iPhone X. Last quarter, Apple sold 39.3 million iPhones when you combine all iPhone models. In other words, Apple usually sells around 1.75 million iPhones during a 4-day period.

So this weekend was a huge weekend for Apple, even if you don’t take into account other iPhone models. The company sold more than 17 iPhone X units every single second during four days.

Rosenblatt also says that Apple currently produces 3 million units per week. But this could increase to 4 million units per week in just a few weeks. Overall, Apple may have sold 15 million iPhone X units ever since it went on sale.

Zhang says that most people buy the more expensive 256GB model. Apple is currently selling twice as many 256GB units of the iPhone X compared to the 64GB model.

This should greatly improve Apple’s average selling price in the company’s next earnings report. Apple could end up selling 30 million iPhone X units during the current quarter that ends in December, and 40 million units during the next quarter. It turns out that a premium iPhone wasn’t a bad idea.

Featured Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images