Volkswagen will race this wild new EV up Pikes Peak later this year

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Volkswagen announced late last year that it would return to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb for the first time in 31 years. Now we know that the German automaker plans to tackle the competition with a wild, all-electric race car called the ID R Pikes Peak.

In case you’re unfamiliar, PPIHC is one of the more revered (and daunting) motorsports competitions in the world. Drivers start at the bottom of a 156-turn, 12.4-mile course, and race (one at a time) to the finish line at the summit some 14,000 feet above sea level.

EVs aren’t new to Pikes Peak — in fact, they’ve flourished there since showing up a few years ago, in part because they don’t wind up gasping for oxygen like internal combustion engines are wont to…

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Photos: Apple’s secretive race for new Silicon Valley office space

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After two decades of being stuck inside 1 Infinite Loop, Apple began building an expansive new Campus 2 now called Apple Park. In parallel, it leased a third large development known as AC3. But the company isn’t finished. It’s expanding in other directions and has already planned out another major campus in Silicon Valley with a capacity larger than the Spaceship. Here’s a look.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

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Apple faces intense competition when it finally jumps into TV race

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Apple keeps ordering TV shows but hasn’t said yet what it will do with them. Whatever the company’s plans are, Cupertino will face heavy competition. All the big networks are expected to launch their own for-pay streaming video services soon. Netflix may dominate this market right now, but Amazon is coming on strong. HBO and […]

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

Cult of Mac

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Alula sees a spot in the tightening race for home security

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Alula wants to sell alarm systems to dealers. Its gear looks…okay. Image courtesy of Alula.

Just when I thought the market for home security solutions was saturated, Alula, a company formed by merging ipDatatel and Resolution Products, launched this week with a product that offers security systems to dealers. It’s designed for dealers, but it purportedly lets them offer a DIY-type solution to their customers as well.

Alula Holdings CEO Brian McLaughlin says the company was created to help dealers compete in the rapidly changing environment for home security. Resolution Products made the physical hardware for the security systems while ipDatatel provided the connectivity. The two companies combined to create Alula, likely one of many consolidations to come in the residential and business security market.

Dealers can buy the gear and connectivity from Alula and use it to create any type of business model they want. They can resell the gear for a premium and let the user handle everything, or they can sell it at some level of loss and sign the user to a contract. This latter business model is common across large security companies such as Alarm.com and ADT.

What’s changed is the landscape of DIY options. Thanks to devices like the Nest Cam or easily linked door and window sensors, a whole new market for security gear has opened up. The people in this market might spend $ 500 to $ 1,000 on a few security products linked up through a smartphone app with no monitoring fees. Instead of getting a call from the police if and when a problem occurs, they’ll get a notification on their smartphone.

There are obvious downfalls to this scenario (to start, not everyone checks their smartphone for every notification), but for many people security doesn’t mean an alarm that calls the cops when it goes off. They just want to know what’s happening in their homes. The big security firms have responded to this newer market with their own low-cost systems and lower monitoring fees. For example, ADT offers a package of sensors and a camera with SmartThings.

ISPs are also looking at this space as an opportunity, such as with Comcast offering security and home automation through its Xfinity Home product. Meanwhile, Nest has a home security system offering that a user can connect and hire someone to monitor if they choose to do so. Nest’s system costs $ 500 for a hub, two sensors that offer motion and open/close detection, and two person tags that a user can swipe to arm or disarm the system. For $ 250 more, you can get a Nest Cam or a Nest video doorbell. Another vendor that offers DIY security, SimpliSafe, charges $ 359 for three open/close sensors, a motion detector, a camera, a hub, and a keypad.

We can’t make a direct comparison between Alula’s gear and DIY options because the dealer ultimately will decide how to price the system, but the company sent me two theoretical options on a configuration I set. Alula says the consumer cost of an outdoor camera, two door sensors, two window sensors, an indoor camera, and a motion sensor all tied to the Alula Connect+ with central station monitoring would likely be priced at $ 29.99 for a three-year contract with no up-front product cost. Without a contract, the system would cost about $ 500 up front, with monitoring for $ 9.99 a month. In this configuration there is no keypad, and the user would use his or her phone to arm and disarm the system.

Instead of focusing on the gear, I think that in order to remain competitive, the next-generation security company should think about services and tweaks to its product lines that incorporate new devices and machine learning. It’s asinine to think that a security system isn’t going to tie directly in with the home automation system to handle things like lights and gleaning information about which person is home and their preferred security settings.

While bringing in products and connectivity is a start, it’s not enough to keep a dealer in the fight. Alula should add more context-aware sensors and invest in integrations with devices that can offer that context. Much like Amazon or even Google, a true security system will just be part of an overarching AI system that controls the home.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

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Apple Has Two-Year Lead Over Smartphone Rivals in 3D Sensing Race

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Apple has gained a two-year lead over its rivals in the smartphone industry in the area of 3D sensing technology, according to a new report on Tuesday.

Following talks with three major parts suppliers, Reuters estimates that Android phone makers will have to wait until 2019 to duplicate the 3D sensing feature behind Apple’s Face ID security, which debuted last year in the iPhone X.

According to parts manufacturers Viavi Solutions Inc, Finisar Corp and Ams AG, bottlenecks on key parts will mean mass adoption of 3D sensing will not happen until next year, disappointing earlier expectations.

That means that China’s Huawei, Xiaomi and others could be a total of almost two years behind Apple, which launched Face ID with its iPhone X anniversary phone last September.

Android producers are reportedly struggling to source vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers, or VCSELs, a key component of Apple’s TrueDepth camera that the company moved to secure supplies of last year. In December, Apple said it planned to invest $390 million in Finisar Corp, which supplies the components for VCSELs.

Apple said the investment would enable Finisar to exponentially increase its R&D spending and high-volume production of VCSELs, which power some of the iPhone’s X flagship features, such as Face ID, Animoji and Portrait mode selfies, as well as the proximity-sensing capabilities of AirPods.

According to Reuters‘ sources, Apple was initially sourcing VCSELs chiefly from California-based Lumentum, and it was bottlenecks in production there last year that also spurred the $390 million deal with Finisar.

Meanwhile, Lumentum, which declined to comment on the report, is ramping up additional manufacturing capacity for VCSELs and edge-emitting lasers for the first half of fiscal 2019, according to the company’s earnings call.

Another producer, Austria-based Ams, also expects to have VCSEL chips widely available next year and says it has won a large deal with one phone maker.

Viavi, the only major supplier of optical filters needed for the 3D sensing modules, believes only one Android handset maker will deliver 3D sensing by the end of the calendar year, but volumes are likely to be very low. The company expects at least two more Android-based phones to follow that trend in 2019.

According to a report in October by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, inquiries by Android smartphone vendors into 3D-sensing technologies tripled after Apple unveiled its TrueDepth camera and Face ID technology, which will likely replace traditional Touch ID fingerprint recognition in future iOS devices.

Apple is reportedly working on a new high-end 2018 iPad that will adopt many of the design elements from the revamped iPhone X, including built-in support for Face ID. The new tablet device, which is likely to be a “Pro” model, will reportedly do away with the Home button.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer’s Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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Apple has two-year head start on Android in 3D sensing arms race, report says

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Apple’s savvy supply chain acumen has afforded it a two-year lead in a mounting 3D sensing arms race the company sparked with the introduction of Face ID on iPhone X, as reports claim major suppliers will not have crucial parts available for Android makers until 2019.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

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Recode Daily: Democrats may have won the Pennsylvania race; Stephen Hawking R.I.P.

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

Plus, Amazon is still No. 1 in corporate brand reputation, the black market for Spotify playlists and Instagram followers, and this startup will back up your brain — but it has to kill you first.

Democrat Conor Lamb looks like he’s pulled off a stunning defeat of Republican Rick Saccone in a closely watched Pennsylvania Congressional race. The margin is very close, but Lamb declared victory early this morning; now NBC News is calling the race for him as well. Conventional political wisdom is that the result, in a traditionally Republican district, is a referendum on Donald Trump. [NBC News]

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Trump dumped Secretary of State Rex Tillerson via Twitter, then called Tillerson more than three hours later. Here’s a look at Tillerson’s rise and fall, as viewed through Trump tweets. Tillerson is replaced by CIA Director Mike Pompeo; Pompeo’s spot will go to Gina Haspel, deputy director of the CIA, who will become the first woman to head the spy agency. [The New York Times]

Google is banning all cryptocurrency ads. The new policy goes into effect in June and follows Facebook, which instituted its own crypto ad ban in January. [Thuy Ong / The Verge]

YouTube will use Wikipedia to fact-check conspiracy videos. The world’s biggest video site, which has struggled to deal with extremist and distasteful content, will add links below videos that refer to conspiracies — like the idea that the moon landing was faked. [BuzzFeed]

Stephen Hawking died at age 76. The Cambridge University physicist, who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease, was the world’s best-known scientist since Albert Einstein. [New York Times]

Elon Musk has hired writers from The Onion to work on a mystery project. No joke. [Maxwell Tani / The Daily Beast]

Turns out there’s a booming black market for Spotify playlists: They’re a defining feature of the streaming service, and the biggest playlists can essentially manufacture hits. [Austin Powell / The Daily Dot]

Instagram followers are for sale, too: Marketers are flocking to businesses that specialize in detecting large numbers of bots and fake accounts that follow popular Instagram personalities. [Sapna Maheshwari / The New York Times]

Apple will hold its annual developer conference, WWDC, June 4-8 at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose; the company is expected to unveil iOS 12, macOS 10.14, watchOS 5 and tvOS 12. [Zac Hall / 9to5Mac]

Here’s what you need to know about today’s nationwide school walkout, which takes place one month after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Elementary, middle, and high schools and some colleges are participating in the event, with more than 2,500 walkouts planned. At 10 am local time, students will walk out of class in an effort to push lawmakers to pass gun reform, and to honor victims killed by firearms. [Jen Kirby / Vox]


Recode Presents …

Do you have questions about fantasy sports, March Madness bracket betting and sports tech? Send them in for this week’s Too Embarrassed to Ask podcast with SB Nation Editor in Chief Elena Bergeron. Tweet with #TooEmbarrassed or email TooEmbarrassed@recode.net.


Top stories from Recode

Walmart will offer grocery delivery in more than 100 metro areas amid pressure from Amazon, Target and Instacart.

The company already offers grocery pickup at 1,200 of its stores.

Former CNN digital boss KC Estenson is running GoNoodle, an educational video company.

GoNoodle makes free software your kids may have used at school; Estenson wants them to watch it at home, too.

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes: Why guaranteed income makes sense.

On the latest episode of Recode Decode, Chris Hughes, the co-founder of Facebook and former owner of The New Republic, talks with Kara Swisher about his new book, “Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality and How We Earn.”

This is cool

This brain-uploading startup will back up your mind — but it has to kill you first.


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Alphabet’s Waymo is entering the self-driving trucks race with its first test in Atlanta

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Alphabet’s self-driving truck

Waymo is shipping cargo for Google.

Alphabet’s self-driving arm is expanding beyond passenger vehicles into autonomous freight trucks. The company, called Waymo, is testing its driverless trucks in Atlanta, Ga., by shipping cargo for its sister company, Google.

But Waymo — a pioneer of the self-driving industry — is entering a space already crowded by competitors, including Uber, with the same challenges facing the passenger vehicle space: How does it plan to commercialize the technology?

Waymo has explored multiple business strategies, according to people familiar with the matter. But it doesn’t have a built-in path to market the way Uber does. The ride-hail company launched a trucking logistics platform, called Uber Freight, that matches commercial truck drivers with companies looking to ship cargo, close to a year after it acquired self-driving trucking startup, Otto.

Uber announced earlier this week it had been shipping cargo for commercial partners in Phoenix, Ariz., since the beginning of this year. The company is working with commercial truck drivers and shippers for this service.

Waymo does have a nine-year technological development lead over its competitors. The company is far and way the most advanced autonomous company on the road with the only fleet of vehicles operating on public roads without a driver.

Of course, using an in-house logistics platform is not the only way to approach the driverless trucking industry. Trucking startup Embark, which has raised a little more than $ 17.2 million in funding, is taking the partnership approach instead. The company is working with commercial fleet management company Ryder to ship Frigidaire refrigerators.

Like both Uber and Embark, Waymo needs to strike a manufacturing partnership to build these trucks. That’s where Tesla, which recently unveiled its self-driving electric freight trucks, could have a leg up. As the original equipment manufacturer, Tesla’s primary path to market is fairly straightforward: Selling the trucks to other companies.

Whether the company will be able to meet the ambitious deadlines of manufacturing trucks starting in 2019 and at some point produce 100,000 trucks per year, as CEO Elon Musk laid out, however, is still yet to be seen.

All that said, the driverless trucking space is in its infancy, and given Waymo’s clear technological lead, the company may seem like an attractive partner for manufacturers and commercial shippers alike.

Alphabet has been public about its move into driverless trucking since Waymo was formed in late 2016, but it may not have always been the plan, at least according to recent testimonies. As part of Alphabet’s lawsuit against Uber over the acquisition of Otto, Otto co-founder and former Google Maps employee Lior Ron testified that he originally wanted to try to work on driverless trucks at Alphabet alongside Waymo. But the company wasn’t interested, he said.

In fact, he decided to sell the company to Uber — instead of staying at Alphabet or selling to Lyft — because it was one of the few places that was open to creating a driverless trucking service.

As many industry experts have predicted, autonomous trucks may hit the road en masse much faster than passenger vehicles, largely because teaching software how to drive on the highway is much easier than teaching software how to drive on local streets where there are many more variables.


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Amazon closes in on Apple in race to $1 trillion market cap

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(Reuters) — Apple, the world’s most valuable publicly listed company, is in danger of being beaten by Amazon.com to the $ 1 trillion mark.

Wall Street’s optimism about last year’s 10th anniversary iPhone had propelled Apple’s stock 24 percent higher over the past 12 months, giving it a market capitalization of $ 893 billion.

That is $ 141 billion more than the $ 752 billion market value of Amazon, the world’s second most valuable publicly listed company, but Amazon has been closing the gap.

Amazon’s stock has surged 83 percent over the past year, bolstered by scorchingly fast revenue growth as more shopping moves online and businesses shift their computing operations to the cloud, where Amazon Web Services leads the market.

In January, Amazon announced that it, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase & Co would form a company to cut health care costs for their employees, which was widely seen as a threat to the existing U.S. health care system and underscored Amazon’s ability to disrupt markets.

Amazon dislodged Microsoft as the No. 2 U.S. company by market capitalization in February.

Meanwhile, optimism about Apple’s iPhone X has given way to concerns that demand for the $ 1,000 device may be weaker than expected.

To be sure, past stock gains are not a reliable predictor of future performance, and the surge in Amazon shares in recent years has been exceptional by most standards.

But if Amazon’s stock were to keep growing on the trajectory seen over the past year, the company’s market capitalization would hit $ 1 trillion in late August. Apple would reach $ 1 trillion around a week later if its stock price continued to rise at the same pace seen over the past year.

Most Wall Street analysts are not quite that enthusiastic. Analysts on average expect Apple’s stock price to rise 11 percent and reach $ 195 within the next 12 months, which would put its market capitalization at $ 989 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Analysts covering Amazon on average expect its stock to rise 10 percent within the next year to reach $ 1,700, which would give it a market value of $ 823 billion.

Apple on Thursday was up 0.60 percent at $ 176.05, while Amazon rose 0.31 percent to $ 1,549.90.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

Apple – VentureBeat

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GreenWaves Technologies joins the race for machine learning at the edge

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The GAP8 processor block diagram for those of y’all who like block diagrams!

A few weeks back, I wrote about the need for machine learning at the edge and what big chip firms are doing to address the challenge. Even as Intel, ARM, and others invest in new architectures, startups are also attempting to innovate with new platforms.

GreenWaves Technologies, based in France, is one such company. It has built a machine learning chip that offers multiple cores and low-power machine learning at the edge. The chip is called the GAP8 application processor. GreenWaves CEO Loic Lietar says the GAP8 processor can offer always-on face detection with a few milliwatts of power, indoor people counting with years of battery life, and sub-$ 15 machine vision or voice control for consumer applications.

But what’s really fascinating about GreenWaves is that it has built this chip with so little in funding. The company has raised 3.1 million euros ($ 3.8 million) so far, much less than a traditional semiconductor startup. And yet it’s gotten all the way to producing chips based on its design, with a development board coming in April. The reason GreenWaves could do so much with so little is because it’s building on a new open-source hardware architecture called RISC-V.

RISC-V was created eight years ago as a project at UC Berkeley aimed at building low-power chips that use minimal instruction sets. An instruction set governs how software talks to the actual computing elements on the chip, and anyone can use it to build their own designs. By comparison, Intel keeps its x86 instruction set to itself (and AMD), while the instruction sets of ARM and MIPS are licensed out for millions of dollars. (For more on this dynamic, here’s a good article.)

GreenWaves’ Lietar says the cost of building a new chip using ARM’s instruction set would start with a $ 15 million license and escalate from there. But with RISC-V his engineers could simply download the code and get going. Of course, to design a chip at this level still requires sophisticated engineers experienced in building processors. However, GreenWave’s founders hail from ST Microelectronics and have lots of chip design experience.

I’m excited by GreenWaves’ chips, but I’m even more excited that in an era when we are going to need different types of processors designed for low-power, edge computing jobs, there’s potentially a way to innovate in silicon at a lower cost. Because in my opinion, silicon is where your innovation starts. The capability has to be there in hardware before you can do new things with software.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

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