Tim Cook touts the future of AR, says the technology isn’t there yet for AR glasses

During his current trip in Europe, Apple’s Tim Cook sat down with The Independent for a wide-ranging interview. The primary focus of the talk was on ARKit and how Apple has implemented it in iOS and where else it augmented reality could be useful…

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Cook explained that one of the biggest benefits of the iOS ecosystem is how Apple can do the “heavy lifting” by building a framework like ARKit, and then letting developers implement it throughout their apps.

“The way that you get lots of great ideas is for us to do the heavy lifting of the complexity of locational things and software, and put those in the operating system,” says Cook. “And then you have all the developers that are able to put their energy into their passion.”

The ecosystem further helps Apple when in competing with other smartphone manufacturers, Greg Joswiack says:

“Our competitors are trying to mimic what we’ve done,” says Greg Joswiack, Apple’s vice president for iOS, iPad and iPhone marketing. “But they just don’t have that scale we bring to it.”

Cook also noted that Apple has an advantage in that it controls both the hardware and the software o the iPhone, a level of control that competitors don’t have:

That gives Apple an especially strong position because its competitors “don’t control the hardware and software”, Cook says. “It goes to what Apple is about – the integration of those two things, with the App Store on the server side. I think it’s going to be hard for other folks.”

The conversation then shifted primarily to augmented reality in general. Cook likened AR’s affect to that of the App Store, saying that it will be just as “dramatic” as the App Store was for mobile technology. The Apple CEO also noted of how ARKit become “the largest AR platform” instantly because of the existing iPhone user base.

“If it were on a different device then you would never have a commercial opportunity, and without the commercial opportunity you’d never have 15 million people that say, ‘I want to design my passion with AR’.”

By putting it on iPhone, Apple was able to “instantly overnight become the largest AR platform”, Cook says.

Cook also vaguely addressed the rumors that Apple is building a pair of augmented reality glasses, saying that the technology to create such a product isn’t there yet, while noting that Apple doesn’t care about being first.

“But today I can tell you the technology itself doesn’t exist to do that in a quality way. The display technology required, as well as putting enough stuff around your face – there’s huge challenges with that.

“The field of view, the quality of the display itself, it’s not there yet,” he says. And as with all of its products, Apple will only ship something if it feels it can do it “in a quality way”.

“We don’t give a rat’s about being first, we want to be the best, and give people a great experience,” he says. “But now anything you would se on the market any time soon would not be something any of us would be satisfied with. Nor do I think the vast majority of people would be satisfied.”

Snap’s Evan Spiegel touts first year Spectacles sales, using the iPod as a comparison

Speaking at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit this afternoon, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel touted how many units of the Snapchat Spectacles the company has sold. Spiegel said the company has sold around 150,000 of the camera glasses during the first year of availability – a number he’s proud of based on first year iPod sales (via CNBC).

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Spiegel, speaking to famed biographer Walter Isaacson, explained that sales figures exceeded initial expectations internally. Isaacson, however, pressed harder on the idea that Spectacles weren’t catching on like Snap had hoped.

The Snap CEO, however, argued that the company is proud of its first year with Spectacles and used the iPod for reference. Apple sold around 143,000 units during the first full year of the iPod’s availability, and Spiegel said the goal from the start was to sell at least 100,000 pairs of Spectacles.

“It’s out-sold our expectation. We’ve sold over 150,000 units,”  Spiegel said. “Our goal was, if we can sell 100,000, then at least people are open to trying a new way to make memories.”

Spiegel’s comparison to the iPod is certainly a bold one as the iPod has gone on to sell more than 300 million units in its lifetime. The Snap CEO, however, is convinced Spectacles have a viable future and teased that there are “so many things” coming for the glasses.

He also touched on Snap’s decision to go public earlier this year in the interview, a move that some have questioned given the company’s performance:

“I think investors are fearful, and fear is a powerful motivator – they’re fearful we’ll never be profitable, or they’re fearful that competition will kill us or something like that,” Spiegel said.

“But I think those are kind of normal fears for any start-up – and the really successful companies just grow through that. And that’s why we’ve just tried to stay focused on the business this year and execute and deliver results.”

Snap has been expanding its horizons over recent months and is attempting to turn itself into a full-fledged camera company rather than a simple social network. Whether or not that works, however, remains to be seen.


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Samsung Touts Brand Vision, ‘Team Of Rivals’ Approach 06/23/2017

CANNES, FRANCE — It is easier to herd cats than to get
agencies to work together. Yet two years ago, Pio Schunker joined Samsung with a vision to reshape the brand by creating a “team of rivals” with Leo Burnett, Turner Duckworth. R/GA, Ogilvy, and Cheil
Worldwide.

“Sometimes, you have a take bold action when bold action is the last thing you want to do,” says Schunker during a presentation at Cannes Thursday, featuring Leo Burnett’s Mark
Tutssel, Turner Duckworth’s David Turner, R/GA’s Nick Law, while Ogivily’s Tham Khai Meng and Cheil Worldwide’s Malcolm Poynton chimed in with pre-recorded videos.

At first, these agencies
weren’t excited about this collaboration.  Their basic attitude was You don’t get to be the best in our field by compromising.

Samsung, however, appealed to them to be “something bigger
than they all were.”  According to Schunker, “This wasn’t about just creating a great brand campaign, but creating a brand vision with a great product” along with an outstanding
campaign. 

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Allowing agencies to develop their own concepts was like letting them loose in a toy store, said Tutssel, whose agency served as creative lead. “Everything looks different but
similar.”

Leo Burnett set the overall guidelines, including that Samsung’s blue would regress into the background in favor of a bold black and white palate. The design principles were “bold,
engineering, innovative and inviting,” says Tutssel.

Leo Burnett directed the other agencies to channel “their energy into ideas rather than logos or typeface.” The initial launch was
widely successful. In one particularly challenging market, India, Samsung vastly improved brand metrics as result of the campaign.

Just when everything went right, it all went wrong.

Samsung’s exploding batteries forced the company to issue massive recalls and hold press conferences. Samsung took a big hit on trust, reputation, positive sentiment and sales. “How would you
feel?” asks Tutssel. “What would you do?”

Samsung and its team of agencies recovered by demonstrating the resiliency of the brand. They developed ads that illustrated the product process and
people.

Then, agencies started work on the next edition S8 design. The phone design itself hadn’t really changed, but the device’s function evolved into becoming a content viewing machine.

Tutssel remembers November 2, 2016 vividly. “It was a blood bath.” The agencies brought their strategy to the client who rejected everything. “All creative work died.”

However, one little
idea that didn’t get killed was that the top and bottom edges of the phone resemble like brackets, says Tutssel. This glimmer was the only concept that proved to potentially have value. The agencies
then went back to work to further expand on this insight. It worked. The brackets fueled the entire S8 campaign by freeing phones from being “[Confined].”

Samsung sought to find an iconic
brand message similar to Nike’s “Find Your Greatness.” Rejected taglines included “Hello Progress,” “Make Progress” and “Defy Barriers.” “Once we shifted our focus to the consume,r we finally hit the
nail on the head,” says Tutssel. “Do what you can’t.”

Microsoft Touts Windows 10 ‘Creators Update’ Ransomware Protections — Redmondmag.com

News

Microsoft Touts Windows 10 ‘Creators Update’ Ransomware Protections

Microsoft has published details about how the Windows 10 “creators update” (version 1703, released in April) provides protection against ransomware, including last month’s infamous “WannaCrypt” (or “WannaCry”) ransomware outbreak.

Windows 10 machines weren’t subject to the WannaCry ransomware outbreak, according to Microsoft’s 13-page retrospective article, announced here. WannaCry took advantage of an exploit in Microsoft’s long-outdated Server Message Block 1 (SMB 1) Windows protocol to proliferate across networks, using purported U.S. National Security Agency attack code. Exploiting the SMB 1 flaw wasn’t a typical ransomware strategy, but it did cause havoc across networks, such as the U.K.’s National Health Service hospitals and other institutions around the world. Ransomware more typically spreads via e-mail attachments, as well as Web sites that run malicious code.

Windows 7 Was Targeted
Early reports about the WannaCry outbreak had suggested that unsupported Windows operating systems, such as Windows XP, were primarily subject to the attack. Microsoft, though, offered a different view. Only users of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 systems that lacked a March security patch (MS17-010) were subject to the WannaCry attack, according to Microsoft’s article:

Windows 10 customers emerged unscathed in the aftermath of the WannaCrypt attack. The exploit used by the ransomware was meant to work only against unpatched Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 systems. More importantly, however, Windows 10 has built-in security technologies that can help defend against WannaCrypt.

However, unpatched Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 systems that used the Microsoft Security Essentials antimalware program (now called “Windows Defender Antivirus”) were still protected against the WannaCry attack, according to Microsoft. Those antimalware solutions use signals from “billions of downloads, web pages, emails and endpoints” to detect new malware. This approach, referred to as the Microsoft “Intelligent Security Graph,” blocks about “99.992%” of malware, the article claimed.

Windows 10 Creators Update Protections
The article claimed that Windows 10 version 1703, the creators update, has specific protections for fending off malware attacks. For instance, Windows Defender has a new behavior in which it will suspend a suspicious file and run it though a “controlled detonation chamber” service to check for malware. Windows Defender uses an Antimalware Scan Interface technology in the creators update to detect when JavaScript or Visual Basic script is “downloading and executing a ransomware payload.”

Microsoft also touted protections in its Edge browser in the Windows 10 creators update. Pages are opened in “container sandboxes” as a protection against malicious content. Browser downloads are checked against a reputation-checking service. Users also have control over whether Flash-based content can run on a Web site they visit, which Microsoft sees as potential protection against ransomware.

“This [Flash control] can stop ransomware infections that automatically start with malformed Flash objects that exploit vulnerabilities in the Adobe software,” Microsoft’s article claimed.

Some of the protections may require using an upper-end product version of Windows 10 or subscribing to an additional service. Security is a large part of Microsoft’s upsell practices.

For instance, the Windows 10 creators update also supports Device Guard, a Windows 10 Enterprise edition feature. Device Guard is white-list protection scheme that lets organizations specify policies such that only trusted applications can run. It applies the white list to browser plug-ins and add-ins as well.

Device Guard uses CPU hardware virtualization technologies to protect against bad drivers or system files, too. However, tapping that capability requires having specific CPU virtualization technologies in place (AMD-V or Intel VT-x technologies), along with firmware that supports second-level address translation (SLAT) technology.

Microsoft also claimed that its Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection service, a post-breach analysis service, is enhanced with the Windows 10 creators update to more quickly identify ransomware. Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection is sold as a separate service for enterprises, though. It’s not the same thing as Windows Defender Antivirus, which is a “real-time” antimalware solution that’s included with all Windows 10 versions.

Researcher Views
In a proof-of-concept study, Albuquerque, N.M.-based security research firm RiskSense tested Windows 10 x64 Version 1511, first released in November 2015, to check if it’s still possible to use the leaked hacking code against it. The study, “EternalBlue: Exploit Analysis and Port to Microsoft Windows 10,” available here, described version 1511 (code-named “Threshold 2”) as the last potentially vulnerable version of Windows 10 for this particular exploit, although there are workaround protections for it.

In contrast, there are no workarounds to protect older Windows versions, according to the RiskSense report.

“Unfortunately, there are no working mitigations for Microsoft Windows Server 2003 (XP), Server 2008 (Vista/7), or Server 2012 (8/8.1),” the report stated. “While certain versions do have mitigations enabled, the mitigations in place have straightforward workarounds.”

RiskSense made changes to the exploit code as part of its proof-of-concept test. Such “porting” of the code is still a possibility, the security firm warned.

“This research confirms that porting the original exploit to more versions of Microsoft Windows, while difficult, is not an impossible feat,” the study concluded.

About the Author


Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

As Apple touts job creation, former software engineer says it’s at the expense of small developers

As Apple boasts of creating two million U.S. jobs, it has been accused of making life as a small developer unsustainable.

The claim was made by Matt Gemmell, a software engineer who used to work for Apple and whose source code has been used in hundreds of iOS and macOS apps.

No company has done as much damage to the perceived value of software, and the sustainability of being an independent developer, as Apple …

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Gemmell wrote this in a blog post in which he argues that Apple has ‘trained’ consumers to think that apps should be free or extremely cheap, and that they shouldn’t have to pay extra to run an app on multiple devices, or for updates.

[In the App Store, you’ll make] exactly one sale of an app per person, ever, regardless of the number of devices they own, how often the app has been updated since they last used it, and so on. This also teaches customers that they’re entitled to come back to a free app at any point in the future, no matter how long ago they paid for it.

He says that while Apple positions itself as the developers’ friend, bringing them a ready-made market for their work, the reality is quite different. The way that Apple promotes and sells apps is, he says, ‘deeply hostile to the sustainability of a small business as a software developer.’

Has Apple created a huge market, in terms of potential customers? Absolutely. It’s just done so at the expense of its platform-invested developer community. Judging by the company’s value and income, it was a very wise move, and you can justify it on that basis if you choose. But don’t ignore the reality of the situation. Apple is not a benevolent entity; your human-centric partner in aesthetics and ethos. If that was ever true at all.

His viewpoint is entirely understandable. We know independent developers who have either switched to working as an employee for a large software company, or got out of the business altogether. It’s a tough way to make a living.

But as someone who’s been in the personal computer field since the days of the Apple II, ’twas ever thus. In those early days, no consumer expected to pay for software at all: it was either free or ‘shareware,’ where people were encouraged to make a donation. Very few people ever did.

What Gemmell is really describing is the tail-end of a gold-rush. A lot of people moved into the field hoping to make their fortune, but only a tiny minority ever did. The companies that consistently made money during the gold-rush were the ones selling the shovels. In neither case does it make sense to me to blame the shovel-maker when most people fail to strike gold.

What are your thoughts? Is Apple the hero or the villain of the piece, or neither one? Please share your views in the comments.

Photo: TechCrunch


Apple CEO Tim Cook Touts Benefits of Globalization in China Speech

Apple CEO Tim Cook gave a talk on Saturday to attendees of the China Development Forum 2017, where he offered commentary on a range of issues including globalization, economics, and data privacy.

The annual forum is a high-profile conference in which senior Chinese government officials, global corporation leaders, institutions, and scholars gather to discuss major issues including Chinese economic reform and the country’s relationship with the wider world. Other tech CEOs at this year’s event included IBM’s Ginni Rometty and Siemens’ Joe Kaeser.

Image: VCG/VCG via Getty Images


According to The Wall Street Journal, Cook chose to focus on the perceived merits of globalization during his speech, calling its impact on the world “great” in general, while noting the currently uneven distribution of its economic and cultural gains. Despite shortcomings – and amid calls from the Trump administration to direct investment inwardly – Cook encouraged China and other countries to bet on a future of more balanced development by opening themselves further to foreign investment.

“I think the worst thing would be to — because it didn’t help everyone — is to say it’s bad and do less of that,” said Cook. “I think the reality is you can see that countries in the world… that isolate themselves, it’s not good for their people.”

In general, Cook’s comments largely avoided sensitive Chinese political issues. On the subject of data privacy and cybersecurity, for example, Cook reiterated previous statements made about the importance of encryption to protect user information from state hackers and other bad actors. “We think that an individual should own their data and should be able to control their data,” said Cook, while avoiding any explicit criticism of Chinese cybersecurity policy, which in its current form only serves to tighten state control over information flows and technology equipment within the country.

In contrast to outspoken political stands taken at home – such as last year’s very public encryption battle with the FBI – the tone of Cook’s comments reflected Apple’s historically mindful approach to Sino relations, with the company having previously fallen foul of China’s restrictive internet policies. Given Apple’s ongoing efforts to crack China’s booming smartphone market, combined with heavy investment in research and development facilities in the country, Cook’s cautiousness aligns with Apple’s strategy of sidestepping issues that could significantly damage future negotiations.

As part of his China trip, Tim Cook is also scheduled to speak with Xu Lin, director of the Cyberspace Administration of China, in a private meeting on Monday.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Apple Powers To Record High As Yet Another Analyst Touts iPhone 8 ‘Hope’ | Stock News & Stock Market Analysis

Apple (AAPL) stock blasted to an all-time high on Wednesday after BTIG published a bullish report on the iPhone maker.

BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk reiterated his buy rating and raised his price target on Apple to 165 from 133 based on his 2018 estimates for the company.

Apple shares rose 2.2% to 139.98 in afternoon trading on the stock market today. Intraday, Apple hit a record high of 139.99, eclipsing its previous high of 137.48, reached on Feb. 23.

“Apple’s return to revenue growth and anticipation of the next iPhone has re-rated the P/E multiple to what has been peak levels over the past five years,” Piecyk said in a report. “The hope for new product categories and services is also once again creeping back into the stock.”


IBD’S TAKE: Apple stock has an IBD Composite Rating of 81, meaning it has outperformed 81% of stocks in key metrics over the past 12 months. For more information on Apple, visit the IBD Stock Checkup.


Piecyk sees Apple gaining from reinvigorated smartphone sales and higher average selling prices thanks to the iPhone 8, expected to launch in September.

He said Apple also will benefit from its fast-growing services business, which includes the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay, iCloud and other offerings.

Apple’s services business has risen to 11.7% of company revenue from 9.6% over the past three years, he said.

“We believe that Apple continues to explore ways to expand its video service offerings and believe 2017 could be the year when we see additional movement by the company,” Piecyk said. “We estimate revenue growth for this business in the midteens over the next 2 years.”

BTIG is the latest research firm to issue a price-target increase on Apple stock in recent days. Guggenheim Securities and UBS raised their price targets on Apple on Tuesday. Last Thursday, BMO Capital Markets upped its target on Apple stock.

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Trump touts new jobs as Intel resurrects Arizona chip factory

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, left, stands next to President Donald Trump to announce a next-generation chip factory.


CBS News

Intel chip factories come and go, but a new one planned for Arizona assumed new political importance amid President Donald Trump’s attempt to enliven US manufacturing.

Intel Chief Executive Brian Krzanich stood by Trump in the White House on Wednesday to announce a plan to resuscitate an Arizona chip factory called Fab 42, boasting of the company’s manufacturing prowess and criticizing US regulations. His close proximity contrasts with many tech companies’ displeasure with the new administration.

“Intel is proud of the fact that the majority of our manufacturing is here in the US and the majority of our research and development is here in the US while over 80 percent of what we sell is sold outside the US,” Krzanich said. “We’ve been able to do that even while the regulatory and tax policies have disadvantaged us in the past relative to the competition we’ve had across the world.”

Trump tweeted his pleasure at Intel’s move: “Thank you Brian Krzanich, CEO of @Intel. A great investment ($7 BILLION) in American INNOVATION and JOBS! #AmericaFirst”

Intel no doubt would like more favorable regulations in the US, but tight ties with Trump can come with a cost, too. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigned from a Trump economic advisory council after customers uninstalled his company’s ride-hailing app en masse in part to protest Uber’s cooperation. Elon Musk, CEO of electric carmaker Tesla, hasn’t resigned despite some similar pushback, but he’s also offered some resistance to the Trump administration’s fondness for fossil fuels. For example, a tweet Wednesday from Musk pointed toward a Wall Street Journal op-ed seeking a carbon tax to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Intel’s investment reawakens an old plant. Intel announced Fab 42 in 2011 as part of a $5 billion investment plan that would mean 1,000 new jobs, but mothballed it in 2014 because of slumping chip demand. Now it’s back on with a $7 billion plan that will mean 3,000 jobs in three or four years, Intel said.

Intel announced Fab 42 in Chandler, Ariz., in 2011, mothballed it in 2014 and is now set to begin manufacturing chips there in 2020 or 2021.


Intel

Intel didn’t immediately comment on whether Trump administration policies had anything to do the decision to reawaken the Fab 42 plans.

At the White House, Krzanich echoed Trump’s speaking style to boast of the plan. “This factory will produce the most powerful computer chips on the planet, powering the best computers, the best data centers, autonomous cars — the most powerful computing devices on the planet,” he said.

In an email to employees, he also lent his backing to Trump administration policy. “We support the administration’s policies to level the global playing field and make U.S. manufacturing competitive worldwide through new regulatory standards and investment policies,” he said.

But Intel also joined Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and dozens of other tech companies that objected to Trump’s immigration ban.

“When we disagree, we don’t walk away,” Krzanich said in his email. “We believe that we must be part of the conversation to voice our views on key issues such as immigration, H1B visas and other policies that are essential to innovation.”

Solving for XX: The industry seeks to overcome outdated ideas about “women in tech.”

Crowd Control: A crowdsourced science fiction novel written by CNET readers.

Motorola Solutions touts financial visibility, does not expect new public-safety LTE revenue in 2017

Motorola Solutions expects to see a healthy land-mobile-radio (LMR) market for the company throughout 2017, but delays in key public-safety LTE initiatives likely will prevent the company from seeing revenue growth associated with that technological trend, Motorola Solutions Chairman and CEO Greg Brown said today.

Brown made the statements during the company’s year-end earnings call, during which Motorola Solutions officials highlighted growth in the company’s operating margin to 23.6%–a figure achieved through increased sales and lower operating costs. Motorola Solutions Chairman and CEO Greg Brown repeatedly referenced the company’s backlog of business, which has reached “record” levels.

“I think we have as good a view as we’ve ever had, quite frankly, from a visibility standpoint into the business, as we sit here today,” Brown said during the earnings call, which was webcast.

Motorola Solution is “well positioned” to transition its business from “critical communications to critical intelligence,” but the company continues to see steady revenue from its traditional LMR business and support services.

 “I think there are a number of things that are driving demand for our business,” Brown said. “Some of it is the age of the technology and we refresh it, but a lot of it is upgrading it in current releases, it’s the need for newer digital, spectrally efficient radios with more feature functionality.

“Public safety has always remained high in the value chain of mission-critical communications, particularly in developed countries—certainly in North America, that continues to be a strong component of overall demand. Things like border security, immigration, and global terrorism … all lend itself to the need for mission-critical, encrypted, secure, end-to-end, reliable, redundant, always-on communications. It’s very different from a smartphone. It’s very different from a cellular network.

“In these times, I think there are a variety of things that remind people and reinforce the need to invest in land mobile radio. I think each time we put in a system, … we see customers still buying 10- and 15-year maintenance contracts on these systems and platforms that are going in.”

Previously, Motorola Solutions expected to realize about $25 million in new 2017 public-safety LTE revenue from the deployment of the Emergency Services Network (ESN) in the United Kingdom, Brown said. However, the ESN project deployment has been delayed until mid-2018, resulting in the revenue also being delayed, he said.

Elon Musk hails Hyperloop teams – and touts his tunnel at SpaceX

SpaceX test track for Hyperloop
A pod rolls down an enclosed test track next to SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. (SpaceX Photo)

Three student teams got through the engineering gauntlet and sent their Hyperloop pods through a mile-long tube to test a new mode of transportation today.

The pod races were the climax of this weekend’s first-ever Hyperloop competition – hosted by SpaceX at its headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., and backed by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who came up with the Hyperloop concept in 2013.

Twenty-seven teams, including a squad from the University of Washington, brought their fast-moving, high-tech machines to Hawthorne for testing.

But there was only enough time for three of the teams – coming from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and Germany’s Technical University of Munich – to pass all of today’s required preliminaries and make a tube run under full race conditions.

“We completed all tests and were ready to go, as were a few other teams,” David Coven, one of the leaders of the UW Hyperloop team, told GeekWire in an email. “There just wasn’t enough time to race each of the teams.”

The German team, known as WARR Hyperloop, clocked the fastest time of the three, traveling through the vacuum tube at a maximum speed of 94 kilometers per hour (58 mph). Delft won the overall prize, based on the points given for design and safety as well as for speed.

The biggest star of the show was Musk himself. Students flocked around the billionaire as he strode past the teams’ booths and inspected the hardware.

“You’ve done incredible work,” he told them during an afternoon gathering. “Well done.”

Musk said the volunteer effort was just one step along a path he hoped would eventually lead to a transportation network that’s capable of carrying people at near-supersonic speeds between San Francisco and Los Angeles in about a half-hour.

“What this is really intended to do is to encourage innovation in transport technology,” he said. “To get people excited about new forms of transport, things that may be completely different from what we see today.”

SpaceX built the enclosed test track, which Musk said was “the second-biggest vacuum chamber in the world, after the Large Hadron Collider.” But it was up to the teams to build the scaled-down test pods, which showed off magnetic levitation and other exotic technologies.

One team, Japan’s Keio Alpha, designed the components of its pod so they could be carried in the luggage of team members as they made their way to SpaceX’s headquarters, which is about six miles from Los Angeles International Airport.

Musk gave a shout-out not only to SpaceX’s Hyperloop tube, but also to his plans to dig a tunnel that could provide a short cut through Los Angeles’ tangled traffic.

“We started digging a hole,” Musk said. “So on Crenshaw [Boulevard], which is in front of SpaceX headquarters, there’s a giant hole. I find holes in the ground exciting, I was discussing this with my girlfriend. She didn’t find it that exciting, but I thought it was really great. It’s right there, you can check it out.”

Last week, the Daily Breeze reported that this initial tunnel would go beneath Crenshaw, one of L.A.’s busiest thoroughfares, merely to let employees walk from one side of the street to the other without having to cross traffic.

But Musk said the tunnel could blaze a trail for far more ambitious holes in the ground:

“That’s going to be the start, a hole for the tunnel boring machine. We’re going to just try to figure out what it takes to improve tunneling speed by …  somewhere between 500 and 1,000 percent is, I think, possible, if you apply a limit-of-physics approach. We’ll see how far we can get. We’re just sort of muddling along. We have no idea what we’re doing, let’s be clear about that.

“We’re going to get this machine, figure it out, OK, take it apart, [and find out] how do we make it go much faster while still being safe and not affecting people on the surface and all that. We’ll see how much progress we can make. But I’m actually quite optimistic that tunneling can be improved by at least fivefold, maybe tenfold.

“That’s really key to a lot of technologies: road tunnels, Hyperloop tunnels, train tunnels. Because fundamentally you have to go 3-D in a city. If you’ve got tall buildings, they’re all 3-D. And then everyone wants to go into the building and leave the building at the same time. So then on a 2-D road network, that obviously does not work. You have to go 3-D, either up or down, and I think probably down … and then for longer distances, [for] things like the Hyperloop and other ideas.”

Musk’s focus on tunnels suggests that if the full-scale Hyperloop ever does get built, he might prefer to see a below-ground system rather than a network of elevated tubes.

It may not be totally up to him: At least two ventures, Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, are trying to develop commercial transit systems without Musk’s participation. But thanks to today’s comments, the subject of tunnel-boring technology will probably sound a lot less boring than it has in the past.

Here’s who won the Hyperloop competition’s awards:

  • Fastest team: WARR Hyperloop.
  • Highest overall score: Delft Hyperloop.
  • Safety and reliability award: MIT Hyperloop.
  • Performance and operations: University of Maryland. Honorable mention: Virginia Tech, Purdue, Hyperlift (St. John’s High School, Texas).
  • Performance in flight: WARR Hyperloop.
  • Innovation: Badgerloop (University of Wisconsin at Madison) and Team rLoop (the contest’s only non-student team, organized through Reddit). Honorable mention: VicHyper (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia).
  • Design and construction: The top 10, from 1 to 10, are Delft, WARR, MIT, Virginia Tech, University of Maryland, University of Washington, Purdue, Carnegie Mellon University, Hyperlift, Keio Alpha.

“This is not a one-time event,” Steve Davis, SpaceX’s director of advanced projects, told the students. The next Hyperloop competition will take place this summer in Hawthorne, with the top honors decided solely on the basis of speed.