If you haven’t taken part in the yanny/laurel controversy over the last couple of days, allow me to sincerely congratulate you. But your time is up. The viral speech synth clip has met the AI hype train and the result is, like everything in this mortal world, disappointing.
Sonix, a company that produces AI-based speech recognition software, ran the ambiguous sound clip
through Google, Amazon and Watson’s transcription tools, and of course its own.
Google and Sonix managed to get it on the first try — it’s “laurel,” by the way. Not yanny. Laurel
But Amazon stumbled, repeatedly producing “year old” as its best guess for what the robotic voice was saying. IBM’s Watson, amazingly, got it only half the time, alternating between hearing “yeah role” and “laurel.” So in a way, it’s the most human of them all.
Top: Amazon; bottom: IBM.
Sonix CEO Jamie Sutherland told me
Continue reading "AI will save us from yanny/laurel, right? Wrong"
The complexity and cost of packing an array of sensors and power inside a small amount of space has opened the door to a wider and wider variety of use cases for internet-connected devices beyond just smart thermostats or cameras — and also exposed a hole for getting those ideas into an actual piece of hardware.
So there are some startups that are looking to address this hole by providing developers a path to creating the customized chipsets they need to power those devices. zGlue is one of those, led by former Samsung engineering director Ming Zhang and former Misfit founder Sonny Vu. The company’s chiplets are built around the kind of system-on-a-chip approach that you’ll see in most modern devices, where everything is in a single unit that reduces some of the complexity of moving processes around a larger piece of hardware — shrinking the space constraints and
Continue reading "zGlue launches a configurable system-on-a-chip to help developers implement customized chipsets"
According to new reporting from The Washington Post, President trump personally pushed United States Postal Service head Megan Brennan to jack up shipping prices on Amazon and and other firms.
The story comes from unnamed sources, who suggest that, thus far, the Postmaster General has held out against pressure from the President. If enacted, the new pricing structure would likely cost the online retailer and others billions. g
Amazon has been in Trump’s crosshairs from some time, of course. In late March, he took to Twitter to personally call out a “scam” he believed was costing the USPS “billions,” writing, “If the P.O. ‘increased its parcel rates, Amazon’s shipping costs would rise by $2.6 Billion.’ This Post Office scam must stop. Amazon must pay real costs (and taxes) now!”
Brennan has reportedly pushed back on the notion that deals with companies like Amazon have
Continue reading "Trump reportedly pushed USPS to double Amazon’s shipping rates"
There’s confusion about whether a meeting between Facebook
founder Mark Zuckerberg and the European Union’s parliament — which is due to take place next Tuesday — will go ahead as planned or not.
The meeting was confirmed by the EU parliament’s president this week, and is the latest stop on Zuckerberg’s contrition tour, following the Cambridge Analytics data misuse story that blew up into a major public scandal in mid March.
However the discussion with MEPs that Facebook agreed to was due to take place behind closed doors. A private format that’s not only ripe with irony but was also unpalatable to a large number of MEPs. It even drew criticism from some in the EU’s unelected executive body, the European Commission,
which further angered parliamentarians.
Now, as the FT
reports, MEPs appear to have forced the parliament’s president, Antonio Tajani, to agree to livestreaming the event.
Guy Verhofstadt — the
Continue reading "EU parliament pushes for Zuckerberg hearing to be live streamed"
AWS is adding
a new kind of virtual machine to its growing list
of EC2 options. These new machines feature local NVMe storage
, which offers significantly faster throughput than standard SSDs.
These new so-called C5d instances join the existing lineup of compute-optimized C5 instances the service already offered. AWS cites high-performance computing workloads, real-time analytics, multiplayer gaming and video encoding as potential use cases for its regular C5 machines and with the addition of this faster storage option, chances are users who switch will see even better performance.
Since the local storage is attached to the machine, it’ll also be terminated when the instance is stopped, so this is meant for storing intermediate files, not long-term storage.
Both C5 and C5d instances share the same underlying platform, with 3.0 GHz Intel Xeon Platinum 8000 processors.
The new instances are now available in a number of AWS’s U.S. regions,
Continue reading "AWS adds more EC2 instance types with local NVMe storage"
All around the world, hip young people are competing to see who can live in the tinest, quirkiest, twee-est house. But this one has them all beat. Assembled by a combination of origami and nanometer-precise robot wielding an ion beam, this tiniest of houses measures about 20 micrometers across. For comparison, that’s almost as small as a studio in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
It’s from the Femto-ST Institute
in France, where the tiny house trend has clearly become an obsession. Really, though, the researchers aren’t just playing around. Assembly of complex structures at this scale is needed in many industries: building a special radiation or biological sensor in place on the tip of an optical fiber could let locations be probed or monitored that were inaccessible before.
The house is constructed to show the precision with which the tools the team has developed can operate. The robot that
Continue reading "Tiny house trend advances into the nano scale"
of people are complaining
not delivering them their movie membership cards within the seven-day timeframe the company said it would. Although Sinemia has charged people for their memberships, the company has not been able to deliver the membership cards in a timely manner.
“We have seen strong demand for our new Sinemia membership plans and, while our processing operations have increased production, delivery times can be expected to be longer than usual,” Sinemia CEO Rifat Oguz told TechCrunch in a statement. “We greatly appreciate our subscribers’ patience while we work on preparing their cards. Please note that subscribers first month of service will not begin until their card arrives.”
Sinemia, which launched its low-cost plans earlier this month, says to
Continue reading "MoviePass competitor Sinemia can’t keep up with demand"
Baidu’s stocks took a hit earlier today after the company announced that its Qi Lu is stepping down his job as President/COO after just a year and a half. In a press release tied to the news, the executive cited personal reasons for his decision to “transition” to a lesser role.
“Baidu is a great company with strong talent and deep technologies,” Lu said in the statement. “I am highly optimistic on Baidu’s future and will continue to support Baidu, while spending more time with my family in the U.S. For my next steps, I plan to work in research and investment areas, to help advance our shared mission to make a complex world simpler through technology.”
Regardless of his stated reasons, however, the move is seen as a big blow for the Chinese company’s ambitions to grow beyond its search engine roots. The former Microsoft executive, who
Continue reading "Baidu’s top AI exec is stepping down"
The highlight of Google’s
I/O keynote earlier this month was the reveal of Duplex
, a system that can make calls to set up a salon appointment or a restaurant reservation for you by calling those places, chatting with a human and getting the job done. That demo drew lots of laughs at the keynote, but after the dust settled, plenty of ethical questions popped up because of how Duplex
tries to fake being human. Over the course of the last few days, those were joined by questions about whether the demo was staged or edited after Axios asked Google
a few simple questions about the demo that Google refused to answer.
We have reached out to Google with a number of very specific questions about this and have not heard back. As far as I can tell, the same is true for other outlets that have contacted the company.
Continue reading "What we know about Google’s Duplex demo so far"
Every tech founder worth their title knows that investors, customers and media exposure form the life blood of every early-stage startup. And there’s no better way to place your startup in front of these three essential groups than to exhibit in Startup Alley
at Disrupt San Francisco 2018
. The conference takes place on September 5-7, but if you want to secure your spot you need to apply to purchase a Startup Alley Exhibitor Package
before the application window closes.
Startup Alley at Disrupt SF ’18 will feature more than 1,200 highly vetted, early-stage startups showcasing the very latest in tech products, platforms and services spanning the tech spectrum. You can expect more than 10,000 attendees to pass through the Alley, including more than 400 media outlets.
Exhibit your company in the Alley’s energetic atmosphere of networking, collaboration and possibility. According to Crunchbase, Startup Alley exhibitors at Disrupt SF 2017 raised
Continue reading "Apply today for a Startup Alley Exhibitor Package at Disrupt SF ‘18"
Sameer Qureshi has left his role as a senior manager of Tesla
Autopilot Programs and has joined Lyft, according to his LinkedIn
. We first saw the news over on Electrek
. Tesla declined to comment, but Lyft confirmed Qureshi joined the team this week.
At Lyft, Qureshi is now director of product for autonomous driving, specifically focused on Lyft’s Level 5 self-driving car efforts. To be clear, Level 5 is when a car requires no human to be at the wheel. In fact, Level 5 prohibits humans from intervening, even if they want to.
At Tesla, Qureshi was “responsible for the entire Autopilot software stack across all of Tesla’s cars and platforms” for more than one year, he wrote on his LinkedIn. To be clear, Qureshi was not an executive, VP or director, but one of 4,000 managers at Tesla. Prior to his most recent role at Tesla, Qureshi served as
Continue reading "Lyft hires former Tesla Autopilot manager for self-driving car efforts"
Oh my god, someone’s doing Blippy again. If you’ve been around the internet as long as I have (too long), you’ll probably remember the meteoric rise of the social network for sharing your purchases, Blippy, which was hyped up to a $46.2 million valuation back in 2010
before the world realized that almost nobody wanted
a dedicated network for sharing and viewing each others’ purchases. Well, guess what? Someone’s trying a Blippy-like thing again — this time, in the form of a new app called Vota
, which automatically records your credit card purchases and the places you visit so you can share them with friends or family, or view them privately for your own reference.
As a byproduct of this data collection, you may spot credit card fraud or other errant charges, too, or just get a handle on your spending.
But why revisit this concept now, when
Continue reading "Vota turns your credit card transactions into recommendations, helps you spot fraud"
In my endless quest to get geeks interested in watches I present to you the Bell & Ross BR V2-93 GMT 24H
, a new GMT watch from one of my favorite manufacturers that is a great departure from the company’s traditional designs.
The watch is a 41mm round GMT, which means it has three hands to show the time in the 12-hour scale and another separate hand that shows the time in a 24-hour scale. You can use it to see time zones in two or even three places and it comes in a nice satin-brushed metal case with a rubber or metal strap.
B&R is unique because it’s one of the first companies to embrace online sales after selling primarily in watch stores for about a decade. This means the watches are slightly cheaper — this one is $3,500 — and jewelers can’t really jack up the prices
Continue reading "Bell & Ross releases a new watch for travelers"
next money-maker could be this tool for connecting marketers to social media creators so they can team up on sponsored content Facebook ad campaigns. The Branded Content Matching search engine lets advertisers select the biographical characteristics of creators’
fans they want to reach, see stats about these audiences, and contact them to hammer out deals.
Leaked screenshots of Facebook’s promotional materials for the tool were first attained and published in german by AllFacebook.de. TechCrunch has now confirmed with Facebook the existence of the test of the search engine. Facebook first vaguely noted it would build a creator-brand tool in March, but now we know what it looks like and exactly how it works.
Even though Facebook will not actually broker or initially take a cut of the deals, the tool could equip brands with much more compelling and original marketing content. That could in turn encourage them to
Continue reading "A leaked look at Facebook’s search engine for influencer marketing"
Fortnite is finally coming to Android…in a matter of months. After dominating the iOS gaming charts since March, the wildly popular sandbox survival game will be hitting the world’s top mobile operating system at some point this summer.
Creator Epic Games buried the news in the middle of a larger blog post titled, “The State of Mobile,” noting, vaguely, “We know many of you are excited for this release, and we promise that when we have more information to share, you’ll hear it from us first.”
That news comes amid a flurry of other Fortnite-related announcements this week. Earlier this morning, Epic unveiled a Battle Royale competition with a large in-game cash prize. This morning, the company also laid out plans to bring voice chat and improved gameplay and controls to the mobile side of things. Stats are coming to mobile, as well, along with a reduced install
Continue reading "Fortnite is finally coming to Android this summer"
Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden, who oversaw Uber Elevate, has left the company, Recode first reported
. His last day was yesterday, TechCrunch confirmed.
On a day-to-day level, Holden was not that heavily involved. Manik Gupta, for example, is in charge of product, maps and marketplace at the VP level. There was also Uber Head of Product Daniel Graf, who left the company in March but was quickly replaced by former Amazon Alexa shopping lead Assaf Ronen
Holden, instead, was more of a big-picture kind of executive, which entailed him taking ownership over Uber Elevate. Under his leadership, Uber brought on the CEO of flying taxi startup Zee Aero, Eric Allison.
Eric Allison at Uber Elevate in May 2018. (Photo by MRD)
“As demonstrated by last week’s Uber Elevate Summit, we’re incredibly bullish on the future of aerial ridesharing,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch. “Under the
Continue reading "Uber’s chief product officer is out"
Prediction markets, such as those that exist in the realm of fantasy sports, have taken off amongst consumers in the last few years. But fantasy sports have yet to make much of a play in one of the hottest areas online right now, namely eSports. And it’s a big market.
Fantasy eSports have been thriving across international markets. In 2017 over 360 million viewers watched League of Legends alone, significantly overtaking the SuperBowl viewership. By 2020 eSports industry is estimated to be worth over $1.5B, with the target audience being 21-35 years old. But quite how to take advantage of this arena has been a conundrum.
Now a new startup thinks it has the answer. What if you could create a live predictions market around eSports as it happens?
That’s the aim of WARD
, a startup out of Berlin which has created a “pick and predict” real-time prediction
Continue reading "WARD is an app for placing fantasy bets on eSports games"
In April, YouTube TV confirmed rumors it was expanding its service by way of digital-only networks by launching two news channels from Cheddar.
The streaming service was also expected to roll out channels from Tastemade and The Young Turks soon, reports said – something YouTube TV hoped would differentiate its service from the now numerous live TV streaming rivals, while leveraging the power of big-name online brands to attract new subscribers.
On Thursday, YouTube TV alerted customers by way of email it had added new channels Tastemade
and TYT, along with Cheddar and Cheddar Big News, which had arrived earlier.
The company also confirmed
the news in an interview with Variety, where the company explained how it saw this as the first step towards YouTube TV fulfilling its original promise of delivering a streaming service that combined traditional TV content with that from YouTube publishers.
Those efforts will continue, as YouTube
Continue reading "YouTube TV adds Tastemade and The Young Turks, as it expands its digital media content"
For the first time ever, Fortnite
Battle Royale players have the chance to compete with one another for a huge amount of V-Bucks, the game’s virtual currency.
Fortnite Battle Royale often adds new wacky game modes, like 50 vs 50 or the much-memed Thanos game type made in conjunction with Marvel for Avengers: Infinity War.
Unlike those other game modes, however, Solo Showdown
will not change the underlying game in any way — there is no extra shield, the storm doesn’t move any faster, and there are no extra weapon sizes or different team sizes.
Instead, Solo Showdown is a way to compete with other Battle Royale players in solo mode to discover who is the true GOAT.
Players must compete in 50 matches to join the leaderboard, and placement in each of those first 50 matches will determine overall ranking.
Prize pools are as follows: