Standard Cognition raises $40M to replace retailers’ cashiers with cameras

The Amazon Go store requires hundreds of cameras to detect who’s picking up what items. Standard Cognition needs just 27 to go after the $27 trillion market of equipping regular shops with autonomous retail technology.

Walk into one of its partners’ stores and overhead cameras identify you by shape and movement, not facial recognition. Open up its iOS or Android app and a special light pattern flashes, allowing the cameras to tie you to your account and payment method. Grab whatever you want, and just walk out. Standard Cognition will bill you. It even works without an app. Shop like normal and then walk up to kiosk screen, the cameras tell it what items you nabbed, and you can pay with cash or credit card. That means Standard Cognition stores never exclude anyone, unlike Amazon Go. “Our tagline has been ‘rehumanizing retail'” co-founder Michael Suswal tells me. “We’re removing the
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Online SWATer will face 20 years in prison

Tyler Barriss aka SWAuTistic caused almost 100 SWATing attacks by calling the police on perceived online enemies and claiming that they were holding hostages and were heavily armed. One of these, in SWATs, launched in Wichita, Kansas last year, led to the death of a father of two named Andrew Finch.

Now Barriss is facing up to 20 years in prison after Barriss pled guilty “to making hoax bomb threats in phone calls to the headquarters of the FBI and the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C.” “He also made bomb threat and swatting calls from Los Angeles to emergency numbers in Ohio, New Hampshire, Nevada, Massachusetts, Illinois, Utah, Virginia, Texas, Arizona, Missouri, Maine, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, New York, Michigan, Florida and Canada,” wrote security researcher Brian Krebs. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren said he would give Barriss a 20 year sentence if he apologized to the
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Airtable, maker of a coding platform for non-techies, raises $100M at a $1.1B valuation

If data is the new oil, you might think of apps are the cars that need it to move. Now, a startup that has built a platform to let everyone — not just those with technical expertise — make and drive their own “cars” has raised a significant round of funding to grow its business. Airtable — which uses a simple interface built on spreadsheets and other tools familiar to knowledge workers as a frontend to produce apps and other web-based experiences — has raised $100 million in funding to expand its business with more talent and offices outside the US. Along with the funding, the company has now catapulted to a $1.1 billion valuation.

Catapult is the key word here: according to PitchBook the company was only valued at $152 million in its last round — eight months ago. Airtable’s tools are now in use by some
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Google’s annual Thanksgiving report tells you the best times to avoid traffic jams

Google has released its annual Thanksgiving traffic and search trends report, created by analyzing data from last year’s holiday season. It breaks down the best and worst times to travel by state and also throws in information about when popular places, like grocery and liquor stores, are the most crowded. Even if you can’t avoid Thanksgiving travel hell, Google’s interactive site will at least let you know what level of hell to expect by showing traffic stats by state, day, and time.

Here are some highlights: not surprisingly, Wednesday between 3PM to 4PM is when traffic is at its most abysmal during Thanksgiving week, but it becomes significantly less packed by 6AM on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. For return trips, Google’s report advises leaving Friday or Sunday morning, since most people don’t hit the road until the afternoon. The crowds in bakeries and grocery stores are at their peak the
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Ezra raises $4M to diagnose cancer with MRIs, not painful biopsies

1 in 41 men will die of prostate cancer. But sticking a needle through your rectum into your prostate to screen for cancer brings along a ton of bacteria and terrible side effects like pain, infection, urinary trouble, and even erectile dysfunction. It turns out you can detect cancer with Magnetic Resonance Imaging…it’s just prohibitively expensive to do one-off MRIs and have radiologists analyze the scans. But by buying MRI slots in bulk and using artificial intelligence to scan them, a new medtech startup called Ezra wants to replace blood tests and biopsies with MRIs as the new standard of care.

Today, Ezra launches v1 of its MRI prostate cancer screening subscription service in New York City. For $999 per year, patients get one MRI, access to medical staff and educational guides, and on-going support if the test finds they have cancer. For now, human radiologists still analyze the scans.
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Bitcoin and the crypto market is once again crashing hard

It’s not been a pretty year for anyone who owns Bitcoin, but the last 24 hours has been a period to forget as the cryptocurrency dropped below $100 billion in market cap for the first time in more than a year.

You have to go back to the end of October — the 29th to be precise — for the last time that the total circulation of Bitcoin in the market dropped below $100 billion. It looks like this will be the first 24-hour period to hold that rate — so much for the relative price stability that many in the industry had complained about, be careful what you wish for! The dip follows a decline that took Bitcoin’s price below the mark $6,000 for the first time this year — it has since plunged below $5,600. That, in turn, caused havoc in the altcoin market with valuations plummeting double-digit
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Lies, damn lies, and HQ2

There are few things certain in our world except for the uplifting tendencies of technology. I’ve spent the past few years trying to prove this to myself, at least, by interviewing hundreds of thinkers on the topic. I’ve come to a singular conclusion: when tech moves into a city, be it an iOS dev shop or a robotic facility for making widgets, things change primarily for the better. Given the recent rush to gain 25,000 or so jobs from Amazon’s HQ2 and the subsequent grumbling by cities passed over, it is difficult to refute this, but I’d like explore it.

Many cities have gained from tech, both historically and recently. Pittsburgh, for example, had a plan to become a tech city back in the early 1990s after seeing the value coming out of Carnegie Mellon and the other universities in town. Anecdotally, Pittsburgh remained a fairly depressed steel town until
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Snap up a spectator ticket to Startup Battlefield Africa 2018

Don’t miss your chance to bear witness as a cohort of sub-Saharan Africa’s exceptional entrepreneurs launch their early-stage tech startups to the world. Startup Battlefield Africa 2018, our premier pitch competition, takes place on 11 December in Lagos, Nigeria.

Join us to cheer on the competitors and enjoy a series of outstanding panel discussions from the region’s top tech and VC leaders. Spectator tickets cost $10 + VAT — they’re going fast, so grab your tickets today. With more than 300 technology hubs connecting entrepreneurs across Africa, the continent’s startup scene continues to evolve and grow rapidly, which makes it an exciting time and place to be an early-stage startup founder or investor. That’s why — in addition to the Startup Battlefield competition — we’ve added exciting panel discussions to this action-packed day. We recruited a slate of experts to share their insight, discuss emerging trends and talk about
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48-hours only: Early-bird prices for Disrupt Berlin 2018

Das ist super geil — this is awesome! Early-bird prices for Disrupt Berlin 2018 passes have returned to the roost. But you need to act fast, because our time-sensitive offer expires in just 48 hours. This opportunity translates to serious savings in any language — up to €500. Here’s even more good news. During this sale, anyone who buys a Startup Alley Exhibitor pass will receive three Founder passes instead of two.

The sale clock starts on 15 November at 12:00 a.m. and ends on 16 November at 11:59 p.m. (CET). Don’t waste another minute. Jump on this 48-hour flash sale and buy early-bird passes to Disrupt Berlin 2018 before they go extinct. If there’s one thing you’ll find in abundance at Disrupt Berlin, it’s opportunity. From top-tier speakers and world-class networking to deep-dive panel discussions and Startup Battlefield — our world-renowned pitch competition — Disrupt Berlin is
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Urban Massage re-brands to ‘Urban’ as it launches wellness services beyond massage

Urban Massage, the London-headquartered startup that lets you book a vetted massage therapist “on-demand”, is expanding into new wellness services in addition to changing its name.

Now simply called Urban, the company, which operates in several U.K. cities along with Paris, is adding the ability to book an expert nail technician, GOsC-regulated osteopath, or skin therapist. It will utilise the same logistics tech and app experience that enables therapists to be booked with as little as an hour’s notice. Founder Jack Tang tells me the move into new wellness categories forms part of a wider strategy to build Europe’s leading “holistic wellness” platform. This will see the company add fitness, yoga and other mental wellbeing-focused activities in the near future, including meditation. Further ahead, Urban has plans to integrate digital therapy services, such as counselling.
Urban founder Jack Tang

Urban founder Jack Tang

Tang says that since Urban launched back in 2014,
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These temporary electronic tattoos could redefine wearables

Wearables are great, sure, except you have to wear them. Wouldn’t it be nice if that functionality was printed right onto your skin? Well, even though it’s not for everybody, it sounds like it might soon be a possibility: CMU researchers have created a durable, flexible electronic temporary tattoo that could be used for all kinds of things.

This might sound familiar — we’ve been hearing about electronic tattoos for a while now. But previous methods were slow and limited, essentially painting oneself with conductive ink or attaching a thin conductive film. If the idea is going to take off, it needs to be easily manufactured and simple to apply. That’s what the team hopes they’ve accomplished here. “We’re reporting a new way of creating electronic tattoos,” said CMU’s Carmel Majidi in a video from the university. “These are circuits that are printed on temporary tattoo film. We print circuits
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Pirate Studios raises $20M from Talis Capital for its ‘self-service’ tech-enabled music studios

Pirate Studios, the music technology company that operates fully automated and self-service 24 hour music studios, has secured $20 million. The investment was led by Talis Capital, the London-based VC family office.

Talis was already an existing backer of Pirate Studios, with Talis’ Matus Maar also named as a co-founder of the startup. Other investors include Eric Archambeau (Spotify investor and ex-partner at Benchmark and Wellington Partners), Bart Swanson of Horizons Ventures, and partners of Gaw Capital, the $20 billion Hong Kong-headquartered proptech fund. The new funding will enable Pirate Studios to continue to expand across the U.K., Germany and the U.S., where it has been building what the startup describes as a community of musicians, DJs, producers and podcasters who need access to professional rehearsal, production and recording studios at affordable rates. The company charges as little as £4 per hour, depending on what
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Airbnb hosts offer free housing to evacuees displaced by California wildfires

With California’s recent cluster of devastating wildfires destroying homes and claiming lives, Airbnb is offering some shelter to displaced residents in its home state. This week, the company added free housing listings to serve evacuees affected by the Hill and Woolsey Fires outside Los Angeles and the Camp Fire in northern California.

The free Airbnb housing is currently available through November 29, 2018 for both displaced residents and relief workers helping out with recovery. The Camp Fire area shows as many as 700 participating homes in the area and the Hill and Woolsey fire areas show more than 1,400.
Airbnb disaster housing

Airbnb disaster housing

The California fires aren’t the first disaster relief housing that Airbnb has coordinated. The company has a disaster relief hub where it surfaces current disasters in which people might be in need of housing. Right now, Airbnb is also coordinating free housing through hosts near Marseille after a
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RFID stickers could signal contaminated food

If a food item isn’t safe to eat, it’s best to find that out before someone eats it. But manual testing of every jar and bottle isn’t possible, even when a threat, like the recent baby food scare, is known. MIT researchers have found a way to check many items instantly, non-invasively and from a distance — using the RFID tags many products already have.

RFID, or radio frequency identification, uses a tiny antenna embedded in a sticker or label that’s activated and powered by radio waves at a very specific frequency. When a transceiver sends out a 950Mhz signal, the RFID tag wakes up and re-transmits a slightly different signal identifying itself. Products that announce themselves? Convenient for doing inventory! What the researchers found was that this return signal, outside the actual information-bearing part, can be affected by the actual contents of the product, since the radio waves have
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Facebook Messenger starts rolling out Unsend. Here’s how it works

Facebook secretly retracted messages sent by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, TechCrunch reported seven months ago. Now for the first time, Facebook Messenger users will get the power to unsend too so they can remove their sent messages from the recipient’s inbox. Messages can only be unsent for the first ten minutes after they’re delivered so that you can correct a mistake or remove something you accidentally pushed, but you won’t be able to edit ancient history. Using the “Remove For Everyone” button also leaves a “tombstone” indicating a message was retracted. And to prevent bullies from using the feature to cover their tracks, Facebook will retain unsent messages for a short period of time so if they’re reported, it can review them for policy violations.

The Remove feature rolls out in Poland, Bolivia, Colombia, and Lithuania today on Messenger for iOS and Android. A Facebook spokesperson tells me the plan is to
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Uber continues to lose money as it scales scooters, bikes and other newer businesses

Uber, which is expected to go public sometime next year, just released its Q3 2018 financial results. Uber’s net losses increased 32 percent quarter over quarter to $939 million on a pro forma basis, though Uber expected these losses as it continues to invest in future growth areas.

On an earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization basis (EBIDTA), Uber’s losses were $527 million, up about 21 percent quarter over quarter. And as Uber prepares to go public, the company has started presenting the income statements with stock-based compensation. Ten years from now, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi envisions its core ride-hailing business accounting for less than 50 percent of Uber’s overall business, Khosrowshahi told me at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018. That means Uber expects businesses like Eats, scooters, bikes and freight to contribute to be more of Uber’s business, which requires Uber to invest heavily in those businesses. Revenue for
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Meet Jennifer Tejada, the secret weapon of one of Silicon Valley’s fastest-growing enterprise software startups

PagerDuty, an eight-year-old, San Francisco-based company that sends companies information about their technology, doesn’t receive a fraction of the press that other fast-growing enterprise software companies receive. In fact, though it counts as customers heavyweight companies like CapitalOne, Spotify, and Netflix; it employs 500 employees; and it has five offices around the world, it has largely operated out of the spotlight.

That’s changing. For one thing, the company is now a so-called unicorn, after raising $90 million in a September round led by Wellington and T. Rowe Price that brought its total funding to $173 million and its valuation to $1.3 billion. Crowded as the unicorn club may be these days, that number, and those backers, makes PagerDuty a startup of interest to a broader circle of industry watchers. Another reason you’re likely to start hearing more about PagerDuty is its CEO of three years, Jennifer Tejada, who
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Here’s the teaser trailer for Niantic’s Pokémon GO-style Harry Potter game

The good news: Niantic/WB Games/Portkey has released a trailer for “Wizards Unite,” the Harry Potter game built in the same spirit as Pokémon GO.

The bad news: It… doesn’t show much. If you were hoping for gameplay footage or really anything detailing how the game will work, you’re out of luck. Alas! It’s just a teaser trailer, and tease it does. The game’s newly expanded website, meanwhile, adds this:
Please resist the urge to panic. Traces of magic are appearing across the Muggle world without warning and in a rather chaotic manner. We worry it is only a matter of time before even the most incurious Muggles catch wind of it. We call on all witches and wizards to help contain the Calamity or risk the worst of times since You Know Who. Brush up on your spells, get your wand ready, and enlist immediately.
The one big new detail?
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Wreck-It Ralph is getting a warehouse-sized VR game at Disney parks

For the last year or so, Disney has been dabbling with massive virtual reality experiences that let players strap on a portable VR rig and run around in a warehouse-sized environment. In partnership with The VOID (part of Disney’s 2017 accelerator class) and Lucasfilm’s ILMxLab, it launched a Star Wars-themed experience, Secrets of the Empire, at both Downtown Disney (California) and Disney Springs (Florida) back in November of 2017.

The next Disney property getting the VR treatment? Wreck-It Ralph.

Here’s the trailer, released this morning:
Based on the upcoming movie sequel “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” this one will be called, aptly, Ralph Breaks VR. Like Secrets before it, the Ralph game will support four players running around a shared VR environment — but rather than dodging blaster fire and outsmarting stormtroopers, they’ll be having food fights with kittens and outrunning security drones. While I’m mostly neutral on Ralph, I’m… pretty
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Google My Business app revamp challenges Facebook Pages

Google is giving its business customers a new way to reach their customers. The company is today starting the rollout of a revamped Google My Business mobile application for iOS and Android that will offer new tools for viewing customer info — including followers, reviews and messages — as well as a way to quickly create content to publish to their business profile on Google.

The changes arrive shortly after a recent update to Google Maps that introduced a new “Follow” button for tracking businesses, in order to stay informed about promotions, events and other news. The move made Google’s business profiles more of a direct competitor with Facebook Pages. In the redesigned Google My Business app, a new “Customers” tab will centralize a business’s customers and their potential customers — like those who have chosen to follow the business, as noted above. Here, the business owner can track their
Photocentric posting experience - Scale
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