An Intel drone fell on my head during a light show

It didn’t hurt. I thought someone dropped a small cardboard box on my head. It felt sharp and light. I was sitting on the floor, along the back of the crowd and then an Intel Shooting Star Mini drone dropped on my head. Audi put on a massive show to reveal its first EV, the e-tron. The automaker went all out, put journalists, executives and car dealers on a three-story paddle boat and sent us on a two-hour journey across San Francisco Bay. I had a beer and two dumplings. We were headed to a long-vacated Ford manufacturing plant in Richmond, CA. By the time we reached our destination, the sun had set and Audi was ready to begin. Suddenly, in front of the boat, Intel’s Shooting Star drones put on a show that ended with Audi’s trademark four ring logo. The show continued as music pounded inside the
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How the Audi e-tron compares to the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace

Audi just announced its first production electric vehicle. Called the e-tron, the EV is a mid-size SUV loaded with technology with an unofficial range of over 300 miles. It’s nicely equipped, and with a starting price of $74,800, it sits between the Jaguar I-Pace and the Tesla Model X. The e-tron is most similar to the Jaguar I-Pace though the Audi is slightly better equipped. The e-tron packs a 95 kWh battery over the Jaguar’s 90 kWh battery. It’s also slightly larger and rated to tow 4,000 lbs. Comparing the e-tron to the Model X gets messy. Tesla sells the Model X in three flavors: mild, hot, and on fire. The mild version starts at $72,100 and packs a 75 kWh battery good for 237 miles. Spend $88,600 to get the 100D and its 100 kWh battery that’s rated for 295 miles. And for $125,800, buyers can get the P100D
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The Audi e-tron SUV is an electric shot at Tesla

This is the Audi e-tron. The electric SUV seats five, starts at $74,800 and in official Audi testing, experienced a range of well over 300 miles on a charge. The e-tron will hit Audi dealerships in the middle of 2019, and prospective buyers can reserve one right now for $1,000. This is Audi’s first production electric vehicle and perhaps one of the most significant EVs to be announced since the Chevy Bolt. It has everything Audi buyers expect: Quattro AWD, technology-first cockpit, and a familiar fit and finish. The e-tron is launching to a market with few competitors. It’s most similar to the new Jaguar I-Pace. Both vehicles offer similar technology and creature comforts for a similar price. But in a way, the Audi is joining forces with the Jag to compete with Tesla . The e-tron is packed with a 95 kWh battery pack that powers electric motors on each
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Mercedes-Benz turns to SoundHound for in-vehicle voice assistant

Drivers of new Mercedes-Benz A-Class vehicles will soon be able to talk to their cars. And the cars will respond. Ask the car to turn on the heads-up display or for sports scores. Say you’re hungry and it will suggest restaurants. The new in-vehicle assistant utilizes local and cloud data to provide drivers plenty to talk about. The service was built by a 13-year old startup ran out of Santa Clara, CA called SoundHound . Originally, the company launched as a Shazam-like service but kept evolving into a robust conversational artificial intelligence service. Different versions of SoundHound’s service are available on a number of platforms including iOS, Android and in several vehicles made by Kia and Hyundai. Mercedes’ version of SoundHound’s service is two parts. Some of the requests, mostly about the vehicle’s systems, are processed locally. If a driver asks about sports scores or stock prices or a gas station
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Detroit’s StockX raises $44M from GV and Battery to expand marketplace internationally

StockX started as a marketplace for reselling sneakers but has since grown to be much more, bringing its transparent and anonymous marketplace to more verticals. Today the company is announcing a $44 million Series B that will help fuel international and domestic growth while letting the company expand to even more product categories and perhaps opening StockX stores. The idea driving StockX is simple: Provide a marketplace with fair pricing and ensure the merchandise is authentic. The result scales to nearly day-trading in consumer goods in the same vein as oil futures. In some cases, the seller never touches the product. Sneakers and other in-demand products are priced and sold at rates set by the market rather than the seller. If a particular sneaker is in demand, the price increases. StockX is among the fastest growing startups in Detroit and Michigan and currently employs 300 in Detroit and 50 in
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The iPhone XR is the new budget iPhone

Apple just announced a new budget iPhone to along with the iPhone Xs. It brings many of the goodies found on the new and expensive iPhone XR but for less and it’s available in a variety of colors. The iPhone XR and XR are similar but there are key differences. Though they’re similar in design, the iPhone Xs has a more advanced camera setup and a better OLED screen. Likewise, the iPhone XR is available in different colors but only comes in aluminum. The iPhone Xs is made out of stainless steel. This phone replaces the iPhone 8 as the least expensive iPhone available. Like the iPhone Xs and the iPhone X before it, the XR is a full-screen phone minus a notch at the top that houses the phone’s camera and FaceID sensors. Long live the Home Button. It’s no longer available on any iPhone model. The screen is
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Apple Watch Series 4 can detect AFib and perform an ECG

Today at a special event at Apple’s headquarters, Apple’s COO Jeff Williams unveiled the next generation Apple Watch. It’s thinner, faster and has a larger screen than previous generations. But that’s too be expected. The Apple Watch Series 4 is packed with several features that use the built-in heart monitor for medical purposes. The Apple Watch has always included a built-in heart rate monitor but it has been limited to basic, standard functions of tracking the wearer’s heart rate. The watch can now perform an ECG, detect atrial fibrillation, and detect when a person’s heart rate is too low. Apple even got the Watch certified by the FDA, a first, Williams said, among such a devices as the Apple Watch. It seems easy to use too. According to Williams, who gave a demo on stage at the event, a person just needs needs to open the app, touch a finger
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Tesla’s sleek wireless smartphone charger will soon be available again

Last month Tesla introduced a limited edition smartphone charger. Even though it was overpriced and slow, the charger quickly sold out. Now Tesla says the charger will soon be available again and at a lower price. The charger features 6,000mAh of juice and 5W of wireless output charging and 7.5W through USB. The first time around, the charger was $65 but now it will cost $50. Still, as The Verge points out even at the lower cost, similar wireless chargers can be had for less money and often sport a larger battery. But they don’t say Tesla. This charger is the latest in Tesla’s small electronic lifestyle items. They’ve long sold USB chargers designed to mimic the design and appeal of its Supercharger line. This latest version looks like the Tesla Powerwall battery — but as awesome as the Powerwall is, it cannot wireless charge a smartphone.

The Boring Company proves life can be a video game

The Boring Company just posted a video on Twitter showing its latest digging machine can be controlled by an Xbox One controller. Because, if you’re going to dig holes, why not make it a bit of fun? Software makes it easy to map PC controls to an Xbox pad. Instead of developing and fabricating a custom controller, using an Xbox gamepad is a cost-effective alternative for a lot of organizations. The military services agree. In its latest subs the US Navy tapped the Xbox 360 controller to maneuver submarine periscopes and the Army’s anti-drone laser uses an Xbox controller. They’re used to control robots and drones, too. The reasoning is simple: A lot of research goes into game controllers. Microsoft reportedly spent over $100 million on the Xbox One controller, which, is just an updated version of the Xbox 360 controller. More than that, these controllers, whether of the
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Clinc expands to automotive, releases SaaS platform for its voice AI assistant

Clinc co-founder and CEO Jason Mars just announced the company is expanding to a third vertical: Automotive. The company, which started in fintech and recently unveiled a product for drive-thru restaurants, is aiming its voice AI service at the automotive industry. The idea is to give automakers a platform that they can integrate into their vehicles that will allow drivers to control and interact with their vehicles through natural language. Launching alongside the new product, Clinc also revealed a platform to give developers access to the conversational AI. The company says it’s easy enough for developers with little to no experience in machine learning to build with Clinc’s products. Clinc’s conversational AI is fantastic and the company’s products in other verticals show that if it’s used by automakers, the technology could usher in a new wave of user interfaces. This is not Siri.

Sonos releases new speaker Amp, partners with Sonance for in-wall speakers

Sonos is doubling down on the custom in-home audio market with new products and partnerships. The company today announced a new version of the Sonos Amp and a partnership with Sonance that will result in three architectural speakers — in-wall, in-ceiling and outdoor — that Sonos says will gain additional functionality when paired with a Sonos system. Sonos is also announcing upcoming Control APIs that the company says will make it easier to integrate Sonos into the ever-evolving smart home. This jibes with Sonos’ long-standing approach of working with other platforms to offer its customers as many services as possible.
The new Amp allows owners to use traditional home audio speakers with a Sonos system. Connect a turntable or stream media with just the Amp and power a set of bookshelf speakers. According to the spec sheet, the Amp has enough power to push most high-end bookshelf speakers. The Amp
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TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 dives deep into artificial intelligence and machine learning

As fields of research, machine learning and artificial intelligence both date back to the 50s. More than half a century later, the disciplines have graduated from the theoretical to practical, real world applications. We’ll have some of the top minds in both categories to discuss the latest advances and future of AI and ML on stage and Disrupt San Francisco in early September. For the first time, Disrupt SF will be held in San Francisco’s Moscone Center. It’s a huge space, which meant we could dramatically increase the amount of programming offered to attendees. And we did. Here’s the agenda. Tickets are still available even though the show is less than two weeks away. Grab one here. The show features the themes currently facing the technology world including artificial intelligence and machine learning. Some of the top minds in AI and ML are speaking on several stages and some are
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Fitbit’s upcoming Charge 3 to sport full touchscreen, per leak

This appears to be the Fitbit Charge 3 and, if it is, several big changes are in the works for Fitbit’s premier fitness tracker band. The leak comes from Android Authority which points to the changes. First, the device has a full touchscreen rather than a clunky quasi-touchscreen like the Charge 2. From the touchscreen, users can navigate the device and even reply to notifications and messages. Second, the Charge 3 will be swim-proof to 50 meters. Finally, and this is a bad one, the Charge 3 will not have GPS built-in meaning users will have to bring a smartphone along for a run if they want GPS data. Price and availability was not reveled but chances are the device will hit the stores in the coming weeks ahead of the holidays. This is a big change for Fitbit. If the above leak is correct on all points, Fitbit is
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Samsung turns to Plume for new mesh Wifi product line

Samsung today is announcing an updated version of its Wifi product line. The company partnered with Palo Alto-based Plume Design to provide software that powers the devices. According to Samsung, Plume’s platform uses artificial intelligence to allocate bandwidth across connected devices while delivering the best possible wifi coverage throughout a home. Plus, by using Plume, Samsung gets to say its Wifi system uses AI, which is a big marketing win. The system also includes a SmartThings Hub like the previous generation allowing owners to build a connected IoT home without having to buy another box. “Integrating our adaptive home Wi-Fi technology and a rich set of consumer features into SmartThings’ large, open ecosystem truly elevates the smart home experience,” said Fahri Diner, co-founder and CEO, Plume, said in a released statement. “Samsung gives you myriad devices to consume content and connect, and Plume ensures that your Wi-Fi network delivers a
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Understanding smartwatches

I was wrong. Several years ago I reviewed the first Garmin Fenix 3 smartwatch. This was before the release of the Apple Watch. That’s key to this story. I declared Garmin would have a hard time selling the Fenix 3. The Apple Watch would be better in every way, I pointed out. Therefore, there would be little reason to buy the Fenix 3. But here I am, in the middle of the woods, wearing the fifth generation of the Garmin Fenix while my Apple Watch sits at home on my desk. In some ways I was right. The Apple Watch is better by most measurable attributes: there are more apps, the screen is superior, there’s a vibrant accessory market, and it’s thinner, faster and cheaper. The Garmin Fenix is big, clunky and the screen looks like it’s from a Kindle. It’s not a touchscreen nor does it have the number
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Google Maps is no longer #flatearth

Go to Google Maps and zoom out. Halfway out, the map’s perspective changes from a traditional flat map view to an interactive globe. Zoom all the way out and the Earth is presented as a globe with landmasses of the appropriate size. Greenland is no longer the size of Africa and all is right with the world. On flat maps, it’s impossible to represent land mass size on a relative scale. Objects in the north and south become distorted as the the flat map compensates for the flattening of the globe. This is most evident in the commonly used Mercator projections that properly represents the size of land around the equator but super-sizes land in the Arctic and Antarctic. Now, when Google Maps is used on Desktop, users will see the appropriate size of land masses. The update is great but I have yet to find the giant ice wall
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Here’s how Airstream is updating the classic American travel trailer

Airstream has made travel trailers for generations, and the company is ramping up plans to bring connected technology to the product line. Airstream recently announced several new products that will bring new features expected by today’s consumers including less expensive and more capable trailers. The iconic silver bullet trailers are a mainstay on America’s highways and byways. Trailers made today have the same classic lines as those made for past generations. For the most part, that’s not going to change. While Airstream has new two new trailers that slightly depart from the shiny aluminum exterior, they’re still Airstream trailers. And for the classic models, which can command prices over $150,000, Airstream is now equipping them with smart control technology that will let owners control various functions through a smartphone app. Featured on initially the 2019 Classic models, Airstream’s Smart Technology puts a bevy of controls in a smartphone app. It
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Peloton raises $550M at a valuation of $4 billion

Peloton today announced its Series F funding of $550 million. That brings the total amount raised, according to CrunchBase, to $994.7 million. According to the announcement, this round puts Peloton’s valuation at $4 billion — it was just last May the company hit unicorn status.
TCV led the round with other participation in the round from Tiger Global, True Ventures, Wellington Management, Fidelity, NBCUniversal, and Kleiner Perkin, along with new investors – BlackRock, Franklin and Winslow Capital. “We are truly honored to partner with TCV and with Jay Hoag personally,” said John Foley, founder and CEO of Peloton, in a released statement. “TCV’s reputation, experience, and involvement in businesses like Netflix, Spotify and Facebook will be invaluable as we build Peloton into one of the most unique and influential global consumer product and media companies of our day.” The company previously closed a $325 million Series E, which
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Sonos sees modest gains on first day of trading

Sonos opened its first day of trading at $15 a share though quickly gained 20% as trading began. As of publication, Sonos, trading under SONO, is around $18.50 a share. Sonos priced its initial shares at $15 a share, below the expected range of $17 to $19. At this price Sonos is valued at just under $1.5 billion and will raise $208.5 million by going public. If the stock price maintains its current levels, Sonos will end its first day of trading up and in the expected range. Pricing their initial shares under the expected range resulted in the company raising as much money, but it also provided a bit of cushion in case Wall Street traders disagreed with the pricing. It’s never a good look to end a company’s first day of trading in the red. Sonos CFO Michael Giannetto tells me the company priced its
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