Bose is carving out $50 million for startups using its new audio-focused AR tech

The high-end audio technology company Bose is getting into the augmented reality game with a new product and a $50 million money devoted to startups that will develop services for its new platform.

While most of the industry is focused on a visually augmented experience, Bose is most concerned with the intersection of sound and vision.

The Bose AR prototype, which was unveiled at South by Southwest in Austin this year, will use visual info captured by the glasses and add contextually relevant audio information to its wearer.

Bose’s AR kit is a “wafer-thin” acoustics package that the company hopes can be added to headphones, eyewear, helmets and other wearables to give a new spin on reality “augmentation.” The company said the new technology can be controlled with voice commands, head gestures and simple touch gestures.

The new product is a clever spin on augmented reality and a product that plays into Bose’s strength. “It places audio in your surroundings , not digital images, so you can focus on the amazing world around you — rather than a tiny showing, ” said John Gordon, vice president of the Consumer Electronics Division at Bose, in a statement posted. “It knows which way you’re facing, and can instantly connect that place and hour with endless the chances of traveling, learn, music and more. And it can be added to products and apps we already use and love, removing some of the big obstacles that have maintained AR on the sidelines.”

The first prototype glasses are Bluetooth compatible for bellows or to integrate with Siri or Google Assistant. A new technology developed for the glass ensures that the audio is audible merely to the listener wearing the glasses, and the acoustic packages fit inside the arms of the glasses.

Sensors in the glasses track the orientation of a listener and integrate with an iOS or Android device to track place and motion, which is sent to the AR-enabled application in the wearables.

The company is already working with ASICS Studio, Strava, TripAdvisor, TuneIn and Yelp on cooperations that will provide content for the wearables, while MIT’s Media Lab and the NYU Future Reality Lab are also playing around with prototypes.

But Bose wants entrepreneurs and programmers to develop their own applications. They’ve made a $50 million fund to finance companies that would like to work with the new audio technology and is providing an SDK and updated glasses afterwards this summer.

Bose has invested in a number of companies already — unrelated to its new augmented reality platform — that are all based on novel wearable technologies.

The platform includes investments like Embr Labs, a wearable for governing body temperature; Qleek, a company that embeds augmented reality experiences onto custom designed wooden blocks; and Vesper, a MEMS-powered microphones.

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Why investor Jalak Jobanputra is betting big on crypto

When investor and entrepreneur Jalak Jobanputra first visited a blockchain conference five years ago she got goosebumps. The experienced investor had heard of cryptocurrencies but now that they had genuinely come into maturity she was aroused. Now, five years later, she’s constructing her entire VC practice around blockchain and ensures bright days ahead for the technology.

Join us Jobanputra, the founder of FuturePerfect Ventures, as we talk about her take on crypto, the future of investment, and the direction she’s headed in terms of investment and startup innovation.

Nuros self-driving vehicle is a grocery-getter and errand-runner

Not every self-driving auto has to be able to move passengers from point A to point B. Take, for example, Nuro: The startup just disclosed their unique autonomous vehicle platform, which is more of a mobile small logistics platform than a self-driving car.

The company, which has been working away in stealth mode in Mountain View until now, has raised a $92 million Series A round led by Banyan Capital and Greylock Partners to help make its unique vision of autonomous transport take shape.

Nuro’s vehicle is a small, narrow box on wheels, which is about half the width of a regular vehicle, and which is designed to be a lightweight style to get goods from a local enterprises to a customer, or from one person to another within a neighborhood or city. The platform is just one example of what Nuro wants to do, however; the startup bills itself as a product company focused on bringing “the benefits of robotics” to everyday use and ordinary people.

Nuro’s AV also operates altogether autonomously, and looks like something you’d ensure on a Moon base in a retro-futuristic sci-fi demonstrate. There’s a pin pad for user interaction, so that only the right customer can access the contents stored under, and a top-mounted sensor array that includes LiDAR, optical cameras and radar( other sensors are located around the vehicle to enable its autonomous driving ).

The young startup’s objective is to partner with businesses to set up transportation services. You can easily imagine this slotting in nicely to something like Uber Eats, and bringing food from the local lunch place to offices around where people are hungry but can’t build the trip out to their usual places in person. Or, they are able supporting Amazon’s last mile be required for in-city delivery, for example. Nuro isn’t yet talking about specific partnerships, however.

This fit-for-purpose vehicle and dedicated focus could help Nuro achieves some of the vision that Ford has for its AV program, for example, with potentially fewer barriers to deployment in limited markets and specifically bounded surroundings. It’s still early days for the startup, however, and it’s also competing in some way with more established young companies like Starship Robotics. Still, it’s a neat first product and an interesting vision.

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Amazon is cutting hundreds of corporate jobs, according to a new report

In a rare move for the online retail giant, Amazon is laying off hundreds of corporate workers in its Seattle headquarters and elsewhere, according to a Seattle Hour report.

The corporate cuts come after an eight-year hire spree, taking the company from 5,000 in 2010 to 40,000 in its Seattle headquarters and gobbling up several retail industries throughout the country.

However, according to the report, Amazon’s rising employee numbers over the last two years left some departments over budget and with too many staff on hand. In the last few months, the company implemented hiring freezes to stem the flow of new workers, cutting the number of open positions in half from the 3,500 listed last Summer.

The layoffs will mainly focus on Amazon’s Seattle office, but there have already been cuts in some of its retail subsidiaries in other parts of the country, such as the Las Vegas-based online footwear retailer Zappos, which had to lay off 30 people recently. And the company behind, Quidsi, had to cut more than 250 tasks a year ago.

The moves suggest Amazon may be trying to rein in spending and consolidate some of its retail businesses.

It’s important to note that cutting out a few hundred workers at a company with tens of thousands of employees is not unusual — and is pretty small in comparison to other established tech giants that have had to lay off far more recently. For instance, Microsoft had to lay off thousands of employees starting late last year — though the majority of members of those employees affected were outside of the United States.

The cuts also don’t indicate Amazon, which employs more than half a million people globally, has any intentions of cutting more or of slowing down its hire practises elsewhere. According to its most recent quarterly earnings report, the company has upped its global workforce by 66 percent over the last year. Amazon currently has more than 4,000 task listings on its site for Seattle.

We have yet to hear back from Amazon about the latest report, but a spokesperson for the company told The Seattle Time the move was part of the company’s annual planning process and that, “We are attaining head count adjustments across the company — small reductions in a couple of places and aggressive hiring in many others.”

According to the report, several employees have already been told they’ve been laid off and those layoffs are expected to be completed in the next few weeks.

“For affected employees, we work to find roles in the areas where we are hiring, ” the spokesperson said.

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Barnes & Noble is killing itself

I’ve been chronicling the slow demise of B& N for years now, watching the company bled out, declined by fell, until it has become a shell of its former value. B& N was a cultural center in places without culture centres. It was a stopover on rainy days in New York, Chicago, and Cleveland and it was a place you could go to get your kids’ first books.

That’s mostly over now. On Monday the company laid off 1,800 people. This offered a cost savings of $40 million. But that’s particularly interesting. That entails each of those people made an average of $22,000 or so per year and minimum wage employees- hourly folks who are usually hit hardest during post-holiday downturns- would be stimulating $15,000. In fact, what B& N did was fire all full time employees at 781 stores. From a former employee 😛 TAGEND

On Monday morning, every single Barnes& Noble location told their full-time employees to pack up and leave. The eliminated positions were as follows: the head cashiers( those are the people responsible for handling the money ), the find administrators( the people responsible for bringing in product and building sure it runs where it should ), the digital leads( the people responsible for solving Nook problems ), the newsstand leads( the people responsible for distributing the magazines ), and the bargain leadings( the people responsible for keeping up the massive discount sections ). A few of the larger stores were able to spare their head cashiers and their obtain managers, but not many.

Further, the company laid off many shipping receivers around the holidays, resulting in bare shelves and a customer escape to Amazon. In December 2017, usually B& N’s key month, marketings dropped 6 percentage to $953 million. Online sales fell 4.5 percent.

It is important to note that when other big box retailers, namely Circuit City, went the road of firing all highly paid employees and bring back minimum wage cashiers, stockers, and salespeople it signaled the beginning of the end.

Streamlining a bookstore may work in theory but in practice a bookstore is far more than a depot for printed matter. It is a play place, a coffeehouse, and a browsing place. Small booksellers know this and they make their spaces interesting and welcoming.

A Barnes& Noble without a guy in a pirate suit reading stories is a Wal-Mart without the added benefit of selling more than only media. We assume that the people who dedicated their lives to selling books at B& N weren’t there for they money but instead worked there for the love of volumes. Now they’ve lost those people forever.

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Heres how to keep track of Elon Musks Roadster and Starman in space

Elon Musk’s Starman, the mannequin driver of the Tesla Roadster SpaceX launched aboard its Falcon Heavy rocket, is taking a trip around our solar system, in a large elliptical orbit that will bring him comparatively close to Mars, the Sun and other heavenly bodies. But how to track the trip-up , now that the Roadster’s onboard batteries are out of juice and no longer transmitting live footage?

Thanks to the work of Ben Pearson, a SpaceX fan and electrical technologist working in the aerospace industry, who made’ Where is Roadster, ’ a website that stimulates use of JPL Horizons data to track the progress of the Roadster and Starman through space, and to predict its path and let you know when it’ll come close to meeting up with various planets and the Sun.

The website tells you the Roadster’s current position, too, as well as its velocity and whether it’s moving towards or away from Earth and Mars at any given moment. It’s not officially affiliated with SpaceX or Tesla, but it is something Elon Musk is apparently use to assist recollect where he parked his galactic ride.

New credit card skimmer worked in plain sight at Aldi stores

Police in Lower Pottsgrove, Pennsylvania have spotted a group of thieves who are placing totally camouflaged skimmers on top of charge card terminals in Aldi stores. The skimmers, which the gang placed in plain sight of surveillance video cameras, look precisely like the original charge card terminals but would store debit card numbers and PINs of unsuspecting shoppers.

“While Aldi payment terminals in the United States are capable of accepting more secure chip-based card transactions, ” writes security researcher Brian Krebs. “The company has yet to enable chip payments( although it does accept mobile contactless payment methods such as Apple Pay and Google Pay ). This is important because these overlay skimmers are designed to steal card data stored on the magnetic stripe when clients swipe their cards.”

Interestingly, commenters reported that many Aldi stores subsistence chipped EMV credit card but that they would often videotape over the slots and ask users to swipe instead.

“The Aldi stores near me get chip readers early last year with Apple Pay and everything enabled. After~ 5 months they videotapeed over the card insert slot and now involve customers to swipe again, ” wrote one commenter. “I asked one of the managers and he said corporate necessitated them to switch back because’ swipes are faster.’”

I love these tales primarily because phase of sale terminals are widely unguarded and offer the best of security theatre – you think you’re safe because they look like the egg sacs of some armored brute but, with a quick addition of a skimmer, you create something that is deeply unsafe. That this skimmer objective up at a town of only 12,000 spirits is especially poignant.

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What Silicon Valley tech VCs get wrong about consumer investing

Argo AI self-driving test car hit in Pittsburgh as truck runs red light

One of the test autoes Argo AI operates in its Pittsburgh fleet was involved in an accident on Wednesday, with two people sent to hospital( in stable condition) with traumata as a result of the accident. The incident appears to have been caused by a light box truck driving through a red light, rather than by Argo’s test vehicle, based on an early traffic report.

The self-driving car was T-boned by the truck, and two of the Argo car’s four occupants were the ones who ended up in hospital. Ford the following statement regarding the accident when contacted by TechCrunch 😛 TAGEND

We’re is conscious that an Argo AI test vehicle was involved in an accident. We’re assembling all the information. Our initial focus is on making sure that everyone involved is safe.

It’s never good news when an vehicle is involved in an accident, patently, but in this case since it appears to clearly be the result of human error, it’s better news than it might otherwise have been given the circumstances. Autonomous vehicles still have a long way to go to earn human trust, after all.

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Robomart is the latest startup to try and unseat the local convenience store

The startup assault on the humble neighborhood store continues to intensify.

First came Bodega, the awfully named, and mostly misguidedstartup with its mission to bring the non-perishable necessities available at the corner store to the masses and “disrupt” the corner store.

Now there’s Robomart, which wants to bring the groceries, cooked goods and prepared foods of the supermarket aisle to your doorstep with a white-labeled service for wholesalers and big box retailers.

The culmination of a ten-year vision from founder Ali Ahmed, Robomart is an autonomous grocery store department on wheels.

Robomart is the serial entrepreneur’s latest startup. Ahmed, who first conceived of the rolling grocery store theory while an employe at Unilever ten years ago, went on to saw LuteBox , which was around the social sharing of media content.

From LuteBox, the London-based entrepreneur moved on to the now-defunct Dispatch, a competitor to the U.S.-based on-demand concierge services like Magic, which pitched a bespoke service where users could — for a fee — get almost anything their hearts desired( but you couldn’t get a tiger ).

At its height, Dispatch had 1500 deliverers and the company received the most orders from folks who wanted grocery deliveries( this was in the early days of on-demand before Instacart, etc. had brought grocery delivery to the masses ).

After investors bought Ahmed out of Dispatch, the entrepreneur endeavoured to Santa Clara, Calif. to start Robomart.

“I believe we’re creating a new category, ” Ahmed says. “We think we’re vying with the sidewalk robots.” In fact, Ahmed seems to be competing with the corner store — which offers the same fractional amount of goods with the debate of proximity and convenience.

Just as sidewalk robots are being met with friction in California, Robomart also expects to face some tough hurdles.Traffic and parking are probably the biggest among them.

And while Ahmed was contended that his autonomous delivery vehicles could be purchased by a collective of local stores to compete with big box retailers( or wholesalers who are looking to go direct) — those companies are the more likely customers.

Customers would license the platform, vehicle and all, on a 24 month rental. “It’s significantly cheaper than setting up a new store, ” Ahmed said. “And customers can shop for goods without pre-ordering.”

Interiors come equipped with either a refrigeration or heating system, and Ahmed says he’s talked to wholesalers about equipping separate trucks to mimic different sections of a grocery aisle — from dairy, to poultry, to meat, to vegetables.

A final benefit for retailers, Ahmed said, is that grocers and other retailers who license the technology will retain all of the customer information rather than giving it away to Uber, Postmates, Instacart or others.

The company, part of Nvidia’s inception program and a alumnu of the Archetype incubator and consulting program, is in the process of building out prototypes through the partnership agreement with Corbin, the once heralded — then humiliated — developer of a prototype electric vehicle in 1996, and Hevo Power. a wireless charging startup for electric vehicles which has yet to deliver a product to marketplace( although Hevo Power has reportedly installed prototypes at Google’s super secret self-driving automobile headquarters in the California desert ).

Those are not the partners that instill the most confidence in an operation’s success, but Ahmed insists that he’s in discussions with food wholesalers and big box retailers on the development of vehicles for the road.

When they’re rolled out, Ahmed claims that they’ll be fully autonomous. The company aims to license the technology to grocery store — providing them with the Robomart vehicle, a wireless charging device( courtesy of Hevo Power) and an autonomous fleet management and on-demand ordering system designed by Robomart’s team of three technologists( all of whom have been with Ahmed since LuteBox ).