This startup could make predictive inventory possible

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Pulsa designed the dashboard for its sensor tracking app to be easy for anyone to use. Image courtesy of Pulsa.

The world of industrial IoT is rarely sexy, but it can be exciting. And right now I am really excited about a startup from San Francisco called Pulsa which is making sensors that measure pressure in gas tanks and the general weight of items in inventory. Formed in June 2016, the startup first created sensors that measure the pressure of gasses in those big cylinders sold to everyone from industrial manufacturers to restaurants that use CO2 in their soda machines.

The sensors communicate with a Pulsa-supplied gateway to let companies keep track of their gas inventory without having to send a person around to manually check it. Pulsa has also built predictive algorithms to anticipate the need for more gas and help companies keep it in stock without buying excess inventory, just in case.

Dave Wiens, the CEO and co-founder of Pulsa, says that the company’s pressure sensors for gas cylinders are already in customer trials and the weight sensors should be ready for trials by the end of April. Customers buy the sensors and receive an accompanying gateway. Today’s gateways use Wi-Fi, but Wiens says that later this year they will have a gateway with Wi-Fi and cellular backup. Those gateways will have NB-IoT, LTE-CatM 1, and 2G fallback, which should enable them to work anywhere in the world.

The sensor hardware costs $ 79 for the current pressure sensors which includes the gateway and cloud services for the app. Afterward, the app costs $ 48 a year per sensor.

As for the return on investment, one of Pulsa’s trial customers manages about 200 gas cylinders and has sensors on 50 of them. So far that customer estimates that it has saved $ 1,000 a month on easy-to-measure things, such as the gas in its tanks. Eliminating the need for an employee to check those levels at the end of each day saves the customer roughly $ 200 a month alone.

More impressive is how the ability to check the actual amount of gas left over and predict when it will run out saves the customer $ 1,500 every other month when a tank unexpectedly runs out in the middle of a manufacturing process.

Plus, the customer gets to use more of the gas. That’s because historically the company would toss a tank at the end of the day if it reached 200 psi due to worries it would run out overnight, costing precious production time. Ahead of weekends and holidays engineers would toss the cylinders if they had less than 300 or 400 psi. But the predictive algorithms that Pulsa provides let the managers of the process feel more comfortable using up more of the gas without worrying about running out. The customer estimates this saves it about $ 750 in what would otherwise be wasted gas.

The customer also plans to look at how to reduce its backup inventory by 10% since it will now have a more accurate sense of which gases it needs and when. In other words, the sensors on gas cylinders and the coming weight sensors will hopefully do for inventory what predictive maintenance is currently doing for production.

Wiens says that Pulsa is ready to sell the pressure sensors for gas cylinders and has received a lot of inquires about the weight sensor product. Potential customers for that product include grocery stores that want to track produce inventory, building management companies that want to measure the amount of cleaning products they have left, and more. Heck, I’d love to have something like it for my fridge so I know when my milk is running low.

But Pulsa isn’t aiming for the consumer market. So far, the enterprise and industrial market is plenty for it to handle.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

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‘Big Fish Casino’ Ruled by Court to be Gambling – Could This Impact Mobile Gaming Industry?

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A court decision over Big Fish Casino [Free] might have a major impact on the mobile casino genre. An appeals court overturned a lower court’s ruling dismissing a case saying that Big Fish Casino constitutes illegal gambling under Washington state law. Circuit Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr. said in the ruling:

In this appeal, we consider whether the virtual game platform “Big Fish Casino” constitutes illegal gambling under Washington law. Defendant-Appellee Churchill Downs, the game’s owner and operator, has made millions of dollars off of Big Fish Casino. However, despite collecting millions in revenue, Churchill Downs, like Captain Renault in Casablanca, purports to be shocked—shocked!—to find that Big Fish Casino could constitute illegal gambling. We are not. We therefore reverse the district court and hold that because Big Fish Casino’s virtual chips are a “thing of value,” Big Fish Casino constitutes illegal gambling under Washington law.

Now, this isn’t the end of casino games as we know them…yet. This appeals court ruling just makes it so that the case can go to trial, unless Big Fish’s lawyers decide to appeal the case to the Supreme Court. This case is also a potential class action lawsuit, and if you’ve ever seen the results of class action lawsuits, they usually result in some nominal compensation for users, perhaps a few changes made to how a company operates, but rarely bring forth massive changes. Also, this case originally started in 2015, so it’s likely that redress will not come until the far-off future if at all.

However, this should scare the developers of mobile casino games a bit. Several titles are in the top grossing charts, including Slotomania Slots [Free]. These games are big business, and if legal issues make them untenable, even just in certain jurisdictions, then it might have an impact on many companies and the mobile gaming market as a whole.

While the appeal of mobile casino games migth seem bewildering, they provide the thrill of, well, gambling, while letting people do it from their phone. The catch is that t’s quite likely that most people aren’t paying, since the games do offer ways to play for free. Of course, while there are prizes to redeem, there’s no easy way to turn tokens into cash. But, it’s still going for many of the elements that constitute gambling, an activity that requires regulation because of the way that it can trigger addiction in people. Legally, this case is complicated, and so are the ethics! Will Big Fish Casino survive this legal challenge? Should it? The coming years might lead to interesting circumstances.

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Apple and TSMC could start Apple Watch MicroLED display mass production later this year

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Apple’s work on developing MicroLED panels is slowly nearing mass production, according to the report, by partnering with TSMC to manufacture small panels for use in the Apple Watch and the rumored AR wearable device, potentially starting later this year.
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Apple’s MicroLED displays could debut later this year

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Apple is going all-in on MicroLED displays, a new report claims. The company is reportedly gearing up to use the next-gen displays in future Apple Watches, Macs and even an as-yet-unreleased wearable device, which could be Apple’s augmented reality glasses. The first MicroLED displays may arrive sooner than expected, too. According to today’s report, Apple […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

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Apple Files New Patent for VR Technology That Could Alleviate Motion Sickness in Cars

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Apple’s self-driving car program, known internally as Project Titan, might get an important upgrade over the coming iterations according to a new patent application. The USPTO application talks about alleviating motion sickness and boredom among users by using a combination of VR headsets and in-car metrics. Continue reading
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Mid-range Pixel for developing markets could land this summer (joined in India by Home, Nest stuff, practically everything Google sells)

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Whether you’re selling phones or powering the platforms behind them, there’s little that’s more exciting for a company seeking out growth opportunities than a rapidly expanding market. As other markets around the globe see slumping projections or sales threatening to plateau, India’s doing gangbusters, and last year sales of smartphones were up 14 percent. This growth hasn’t gone unnoticed, and today we’re checking out some signs of Google’s increasing interest in India, including rumors of a possible new Pixel phone targeting India and other “price-sensitive” markets.

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Mid-range Pixel for developing markets could land this summer (joined in India by Home, Nest stuff, practically everything Google sells) was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Nubia Z18 mini to be announced on April 11, could feature dual rear cameras, Full HD+ display

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ZTE’s Nubia brand has scheduled an event on April 11th to unveil its mid-range Z18 mini, successor of last year’s Nubia Z17 mini in Beijing, China. The invite shows 24OO, which hints at 24-megapixel dual rear cameras for the phone or it could be 24-megapixel front camera. The invite doesn’t reveal any other details of the phone. The phone is rumored to come with Full  HD+ 18:9 aspect ratio screen, Snapdragon 660 SoC with up to 6GB of RAM and rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. It is likely to feature a unibody metal design, similar to the predecessor. The Nubia Z18 mini is rumored to be priced around 1599 yuan (US$ 254 / Rs. 16,555 approx.). We should know all the details when the phone goes official next Wednesday. Source
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Stomach wearable could replace the need for invasive probes

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Researchers have created a wearable monitor that can track your stomach's electrical activity for signs of digestion maladies. Called electrogastrography (EGG), it's like an EEG for the GI tract, and was used briefly in the '90s but abandoned due to…
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Leak: This is what the LG G7 could look like

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LG smartphones are having a weird year. After skipping its usual flagship launch at Mobile World Congress, rumors suggested LG threw out the G7’s original design and came up with something else entirely. A new leak may give us our clearest look at what might be the phone’s final design. The CAD render, courtesy of OnLeaks and Mr. Phone, shows a device that is very, umm, 2018. Small bezels, dual cameras, and the ever-controversial notch are present. The design doesn’t look like much of a shift from the G6, with a glass back and metal frame. However, some LG fans…

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