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Posts from the 'Uncategorized' Category
20.09.18 Alexa Guard turns Echo products into security devices Here’s another unexpected surprise, as the hardware announcements have started coming fast and furious. Alexa Guard is a home security device that integrates with existing Echos. When the users is away, the product, flips the smart speakers in “Guard Mode,” so they listen out for sounds like breaking glass. The product features smoke and carbon monoxide and integrates with existing security products, including those from ADT and Amazon’s own Ring products. The company didn’t highlight much in the way of information beyond that, but it promises that the offering is part of a much larger security offering, moving forward. Along with the Guard offering, the company also announced the new Ring Stick Up, a camera powered by batteries that works outdoors. https://ift.tt/2xFv9zQ
20.09.18 Amazon launches an Echo Wall Clock, because Alexa is gonna be everywhere Amazon keeps rolling out new Alexa devices this morning, with the launch of a new Alexa device – in a clock. Yes, there’s now an Echo Wall Clock available that has Alexa voice capabilities built in. That means you can ask Alexa to do things like set alarms and timers – and the lines on the clock will illuminate as the time progresses. Alarms and timers, of course, are two of the most used Echo features – and a wall clock makes sense as a place where people might like to use them, or so Amazon thinks. The Wall Clock is designed to have an easy-to-understand interface so anyone who walks into the room could use it, without a long learning curve, the company claims. The company demonstrated using the clock for setting a pasta timer, where a little LED shows up to tell you where the timer is, and then it begins to count down. Amazon also pointed out that an Alexa-connected wall clock would mean you’d no longer have to update your clock for daylight savings time. The device sort of feels like Amazon is throwing out a bunch of stuff just to see what sticks. Do people want an Alexa microwave or wall clock? The holiday shopping season will give us that answer. The Wall Clock will ship later this year for $30. https://ift.tt/2QKOOa5
20.09.18 Amazon launches an Alexa microwave with built-in popcorn Dash button One of the weirder rumors ahead of today’s Amazon event has come to fruition. The company’s attempting to make a big push into home appliances, so it’s leading the way with its very microwave. The Amazon Basics Microwave apparently began life as an in-house reference product, as the company was developing an API for third-parties to develop their own Alexa-powered devices. Among the other things the company had to solve was the ability to make the microwave work with WiFi signals — which has proven a difficult problem to solve. Unlike early rooms, Alexa isn’t built in, rather the appliance works with a nearby Echo, so you can cook things via voice. The real killer app, however, is a built-in Dash replenishment, so you can order popcorn directly from the device. Seriously. The other big upside here is the price — the microwave will be available later this year for $60. https://ift.tt/2Df3QCg
20.09.18 Amazon updates the Echo Plus so it can control the smart home when the internet goes down Amazon today is giving its premium smart home-ready Echo Plus device a notable update. The device, which includes a smart home hub built into the Echo, is now getting a new fabric design, and a temperature sensor. However, what’s more interesting is the addition something Amazon calls “local voice control.” What this means is that if the internet goes down, you’ll still be able to use Alexa to control your smart home devices. As the company explained this morning at an event in Seattle, a hub that works with a cloud-based system can often run into trouble when internet access becomes spotty or unavailable. So what the company did to address this is build in a new capability, local voice control, that takes the best of its natural language understanding and its automatic speech recognition, and runs it all locally on the device. So when the internet goes down – and Amazon says it’s starting with the smart home capabilities here, when it comes to local voice control – you can still say “Alexa, turn on the lights” or “Alexa, turn on the plug,” and it’ll work. This feature will get better over time as the devices add more local control more capabilities, the company noted. Meanwhile, the temperature sensor feature will allow Alexa owners to add temperatures into their routines. For example, if the room gets too chilly, Alexa can tell you. The updated version of the Echo Plus will still remain $149 and it will be shipping in every country that Alexa is in today. https://ift.tt/2xrDIPb
20.09.18 Amazon launches an Alexa Smart Plug Amazon wants to make it easier to set up your smart home. Today, the company introduced a new Smart Plug device that brings Alexa’s voice control capabilities to anything you want to control – a coffee pot, a light, or anything else that can be powered on or off at a power outlet. What makes the device interesting is that it won’t require a smart home hub in order to work – that is, something like the premium Echo Plus it introduced last year. However, the price of this new device – $125 – could be a breaking point for some potential smart home adopters, especially considering they could get a fancy Echo for not that much more. Pre-order starts today and the product starts shipping next month. It’s not the the first smart plug by any stretch, but it’s a big part of Amazon’s plans to be the connective tissue for the smart home. The device works instantly, for those with an Echo at home. Plug it in and Alexa will recognize the device. From there, you can rename the device, to designate which room it works in, making it easier to control devices remotely. https://ift.tt/2QNuzIJ
20.09.18 Meet the startups in the latest Alchemist class Alchemist is the Valley’s premiere enterprise accelerator and every season they feature a group of promising startups. They are also trying something new this year: they’re putting a reserve button next to each company, allowing angels to express their interest in investing immediately. It’s a clever addition to the demo day model. You can watch the livestream at 3pm PST here. Videoflow – Videoflow allows broadcasters to personalize live TV. The founding team is a duo of brothers — one from the creative side of TV as a designer, the other a computer scientist. Their SaaS product delivers personalized and targeted content on top of live video streams to viewers. Completely bootstrapped to date, they’ve landed NBC, ABC, and CBS Sports as paying customers and appear to be growing fast, having booked over $300k in revenue this year. Redbird Health Tech – Redbird is a lab-in-a-box for convenient health monitoring in emerging market pharmacies, starting with Africa. Africa has the fastest growing middle class in the world — but also the fastest growing rate of diabetes (double North America’s). Redbird supplies local pharmacies with software and rapid tests to transform them into health monitoring points – for anything from blood sugar to malaria to cholesterol. The founding team includes a Princeton Chemical Engineer, 2 Peace Corps alums, and a Pharmacist from Ghana’s top engineering school. They have 20 customers, and are growing 36% week over week. Shuttle – Shuttle is getting a head start on the future of space travel by building a commercial spaceflight booking platform. Space tourism may be coming sooner than you think. Shuttle wants to democratize access to the heavens above. Founded by a Stanford Computer Science alum active in Stanford’s Student Space Society, Shuttle has partnerships with the leading spaceflight operators, including Virgin Galactic, Space Adventures, and Zero-G. Tickets to space today will set you back a cool $250K, but Shuttle believes that prices will drop exponentially as reusable rockets and landing pads become pervasive. They have $1.6m in reservations and growing. Birdnest – Threading the needle between communal and private, Birdnest is the Goldilocks of office space for startups. Communal coworking spaces are accessible but have too many distractions. Traditional office spaces are private but inflexible on their terms. Birdnest brings the best of each without the drawbacks: finding, leasing, and operating a network of underutilized spaces inside of private offices. The cofounders, a duo of Duke and Kellogg MBA grads, are at $300K ARR with a fast-growing 50+ client waitlist. Tag.bio – Tag.bio wants to make data science actionable in healthtech. The founding team is comprised of a former Ayasdi bioinformatician and a former Honda Racing engineer with a Stanford MBA. They’ve developed a next-generation data science platform that makes it easy and fast to build data apps for end users, or as they say, “WordPress for data science.” The result they claim is lightning-fast analysis apps that can be run by end users, dramatically accelerating insight discovery. They count the UCSF Medical Center and a “large Swiss pharma company” as early customers. nCorium – They’ve built a new server architecture to handle the onslaught of AI to come with what they claim is the world’s first AI accelerator on memory to deliver 30x greater performance than the status quo. The quad founding team is intimidatingly technical — including a UCSD Professor, and former engineers from Qualcomm and Intel with 40 patents among them. They have $300K in pilots. Spiio – Software eats landscaping with Spiio, which combines cloud-driven AI with physical sensors to monitor watering and landscaping for big companies. Their smart system knows when to water and when not to. This reduces water consumption by 50%, which means their system pays for itself in less than 30 days for big companies. They want to connect every plant to the internet, and look like they are off to a good start — $100K in orders from brand name Valley tech firms, and they are doubling monthly. Element42 – Fraud is a major problem — For example, if you buy a Rolex on eBay, you run the risk of winding up with a counterfeit. Started by ex-VPs from Citibank, the founders are using risk models and technologies that banks use to help brands combat fraud and counterfeiting. Designed with token economics, they also incentivize customers to buy genuine products by serving exclusive content and promotions only to genuine product holders. Built on blockchain at the core, they claim to be the world’s first peer-to-peer authentication platform for physical assets. They have 45 customers across two industry verticals, 800K in ARR and are a member of World Economic Forum’s global initiatives against corruption. My90 – Distrust between the public and the police has rarely been more strained than it is today. My90 wants to solve that by collecting data about interactions between the police and the public—think traffic stops, service calls, etc.—and turn these into actionable intelligence via an online analytics dashboard. Users text My90 anonymously about their interactions, and My90’s dashboard analyzes the results using natural language processing. Customers include major city police departments like the San Jose Police Department and the world’s largest community policing program. They have booked $150K in pilots and are expanding aggressively across the US. Nunetz – A Stanford Computer Science grad and UCSF Neurosurgeon have come together to try to build a single unifying interface to replace the deluge of monitors and data sources in today’s clinical health environment. The goal is to prepare a daily “battle map” for physicians, nurses, and other providers, with an initial focus on the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). They have closed 3 paid pilots with hospitals through grants. When Labs – If you hate managing people, When Labs wants to unburden you. Using an AI-powered assistant that texts with employees to negotiate assignments for hourly work, WhenLabs is trying to free customers like Hilton from spending money on managers who would normally do this manually. As the system gets smarter, they claim employees will prefer interfacing with their AI bot more than a human. AI and HR is a crowded space, but this might be the team to separate from the pack: the founding team’s previous company had a 9 figure exit to IBM. FirstCut – FirstCut helps businesses put video content out at scale. Video dominates social media — it creates 10x more comments than text — and is emerging as a necessity for B2B media. But putting video out if you are a B2B marketer normally requires using agencies that charge hefty fees. FirstCut wants to disrupt the agencies with software and marketplaces. They use software automation and an on-demand talent marketplace to offer a fixed price product for video content. They are at $180k revenue, and most of it is moving to recurring subscriptions. LynxCare – LynxCare claims that 90% of healthcare data goes untapped when doctors make critical decisions about your life. Further, they claim the average person’s life could be extended by 4 years if that data can be converted into insights. Their team of clinicians and data scientists aims to do just that — building a data platform that aggregates disparate data sets and drive insight for better clinical outcomes. And it looks like their platform has fans: they are active in 9 hospitals, count Pharma companies like Pfizer as Partners, and grew 4x over the past year and now are at $800K ARR. ADIAN – Adian is a B2B SaaS product that digitizes the complex agrochemical supply chain in order to improve the sales process between manufacturers and distributors. The company claims manufacturers reduce costs by 20% and increase sales by 4% by using their online framework. $1.5 Billion and 70,000 orders have gone through the platform to date. Hardin Scientific – Hardin is building IoT-enabled, Smart Lab Equipment. The hardware becomes a gateway to become the hub for monitoring, controlling, and sharing scientific data across teams. They’ve closed over $1.5m in revenue, and raised $15m in equity and debt financing. One of their smart devices is being used to 3D print bio-tissues and human organs in space. ZaiNar – This team of 5 Stanford grads — 3 PhD’s and 2 MBAs — joined up with the Co-Founder of BlueKai to build the world’s best time synchronization technology. ZaiNar claims their ability to wirelessly synchronize and distribute time between networked devices is a thousand times better than existing technologies. This enables them to locate RF-emitting devices (i.e. phones, cars, drones, & RFID) at long distances with sub-meter accuracy. Beyond location, this technology has applications across data transmission, 5G communications, and energy grids. ZaiNar has raised a $1.7M seed from AME Cloud and Softbank, and has built an extensive patent portfolio. SMART Brain Aging – This startup claims to reduce the onset of dementia by 2.25 years with software. They are the only company approved by Medicare to get reimbursed on a preventative basis for the treatment of dementia. In conjunction with Harvard University, they have developed 20,000 exercises that are clinically proven to reduce the onset of dementia and, they claim, help build neurotransmitters. The company works with 300 patients per week ($2.2m annual revenue) and is building to a goal of helping 22,000 people in 24 months. Phoneic – Phoneic believes the data trapped in voice calls from cellphones is a gold mine waiting to be unleashed. Their app records and transcribes cell phones conversations, and the company has built an integration layer to enterprise AI and CRM systems that traditionally didn’t have access to voice data. The team is led by the co-founder of 3jam, one of the first group SMS and virtual number companies, which was acquired by Skype in 2011. He is keenly aware of the power of virality — and like Skype, the use of Phoneic spreads its adoption. The company has already raised $800,000 in seed funding. Arkose Labs – Whether or not you think Russia interfered with the 2016 election, it’s no secret that bots are having significant impact on society. Arkose Labs wants to fight fraud, without adding friction to legit users. Most fraud prevention platforms today focus on gathering info from the user and providing a probability score that the traffic is good or bad. This leaves companies with a difficult decision where they may be blocking revenue generating users. Arkose has a different approach, and uses a bilateral approach that doesn’t force this tradeoff. They claim to be the only solution to offer a 100% SLA on fraud prevention. Big companies like Singapore Airlines and Electronic Arts are customers. USVP led a $6m investment into the company. https://ift.tt/2NWQRt1
20.09.18 Amazon introduces a new subwoofer and amp for the Echo line The Echo Sub isn’t quite a HomePod competitor, but it’s pretty darn close. In fact the the Amazon-made subwoofer actually looks a far bit like Apple’s high-end smart speaker. But the device is actually designed to work in conjunction with the Echo line, offering a much deeper sounds than any of the current devices. Along with the Sub, the company rolled out two more products, the Link and Link Amp, both designed to make the company’s smart products a fuller part of the home sound system. The offering is an interesting one for users who already own an Echo device, helping them improve the sound of the products, without forcing them to start from scratch with a self-contained product. The new devices put Amazon in direct competition with third-parties like Sonos, who have been integrated Alexa into their products for some time now. Of course, Amazon brings one thing to the table the competition doesn’t — much lower prices. The Sub runs $130, with the Link and Link Amp are $299, respetively. The first two are shipping this year, while the Link Amp will be available in 2019. https://ift.tt/2OACdVs
20.09.18 Amazon introduces the Echo Input, its first Echo without a speaker Amazon today introduced a new product it’s calling the Echo Input. This is a very thin, tiny version of the Echo Dot – and the first Alexa device without a speaker. The idea here is to offer a device that allows you to connect to the speaker you already own. On the back of the device is a line in and Bluetooth, and it sports a far field microphone array like other Echo devices. The small form factor, meanwhile, allows the device to fit in almost anywhere – you to drop them out throughout the house, for example. Amazon says the product is designed also to be shipped in bundles with other speakers that people like – such as Bose. The device will be available later this year for $34.99 in the U.S., U.K. and Germany. https://ift.tt/2xztN9D
20.09.18 Amazon refreshes its best selling Echo Dot The first big piece of hardware news news at today’s Amazon event is a long awaited refresh to the Echo Dot — what the company calls the “best selling speaker, ever.” The new product features a fully refreshed designed with a much nicer cloth covering — akin to the new Echo and Echo Plus, along with Google’s Home line. Rolling out next month, the Dot still runs $50, like its predecessor, along with an updated driver (from 1.1 to 1.6), bringing 75 percent louder audio than the most recent device. As with other Dots, the cheapest Echo features both Bluetooth and Audio, connecting to third party speakers and the new Echo Input. https://ift.tt/2QN9Xk8
20.09.18 Amazon FreeTime for Alexa adds routines, kids’ podcasts and audiobooks Amazon today announced it’s rolling out new features for its FreeTime service for parents and children, which recently started working with Alexa, allowing parents to control children’s experience with the personal assistant. Now, the FreeTime service for Alexa will also support routines – the combination of voice commands that can be kicked off with a single phrase. For example, parents could say, “Alexa, it’s bedtime” to have Alexa turn off the lights, lower the shades and play lullabies. The company said it’s also adding other features for kids, as well, including podcasts and over 1,000 audiobooks for kids. More to come…. https://ift.tt/2xqTbiy