Welcome to the news roundup, where we look at some of the notable news for startups and tech hardware to get you caught up on some recent industry developments.
Autonomous and connected vehicles
Google accuses Uber of using stolen technology (The New York Times)
In the latest development of the race to create fully functional autonomous vehicles, Google’s self-driving car unit Waymo filed a federal lawsuit accusing Uber of using intellectual property stolen by a former Google project leader. How did Waymo come to this conclusion? One of Waymo’s suppliers accidentally copied it in an email with drawings of Uber’s LIDAR circuit boards whose design bore “a striking resemblance” to its own.
Uber self-driving cars ran six red lights in California before permits revoked (The New York Times)
Uber ignored the California DMV’s warning it would need an autonomous testing permit and subsequently had its registrations revoked. Prior to the license revocation, Uber’s self-driving cars blew through six stoplights in California. A company representative blamed human error, but internal sources and documents uncovered by The Times showed
Uber’s Senior Vice President of Engineering forced to step down over undisclosed sexual harassment allegations (Geek Wire)
Amit Singhal was forced to step down after it was revealed he had failed to disclose allegations of sexual harassment against him at his previous employer Google. This follows after Uber began an investigation into sexual harassment in the company in response to allegations from former engineer Susan Fowler in a blog discussing the harassment and chaotic working environment she experienced during her year working there.
Market researcher projects that worldwide spending on VR and AR could reach $13.9 billion in 2017 (CNET)
IDC estimates spending on VR and AR hardware, software and services could increase 128 percent from $6.1 billion, almost half of which they estimate will come from consumers.
Sony VR sales could be too slow to encourage software developers (The Wall Street Journal)
Sony posted sales of 915,000 PlayStation VR goggles but some analysts are concerned about the pace of sales growth, saying it may not enough to drive outside developers to generate enough content to support the device.
OxSight develops AR glasses to assist the visually impaired
OxSight has developed glasses to help those with deteriorating sight to emphasize light and shape, allowing them to have better spatial awareness and see faces. As OxSight works to bring the product to market, its team hopes to expand the AR technology to assist those with dementia, autism and dyslexia in the future.
Smart products for cats (BBC)
There’s been a lot of love from developers for smart devices for dogs. To help even out the discrepancy, BBC highlights new hardware devices for
Sengled works with Alexa to offer voice-controlled carbon-neutral bulbs (CNET)
Sengled’s Element LED bulbs can now be controlled by Amazon’s smart speaker system Alexa.
While Alexa can also control numerous other smart lighting systems including Philips Hue, Cree and GE, Sengled pledges to plant a tree for every bulb bought.
Robotics & drones
UPS delivery drone demonstration hits snag (Tech Crunch)
UPS did a test demonstration of its new residential delivery drones, but encountered some technical difficulties on a second run where it fell and “was nearly crushed by the still-closing lid of the vehicle”.
Gesture controlled quadcopter demonstrated at New York Toy Fair 2017 (CNET)
KD Interactive displayed its Aura drone, complete with controller-eliminating glove that lets users pilot it with hand gestures to pilot the quadcopter and a roll cage to prevent damage when they still manage to slam it into a wall.
Otherlab designs biodegradable drone for conflict areas and emergency response (Wired)
Otherlab has designed the single-use Aerial Platform Supporting Autonomous Resupply Actions drone for delivering medicine and supplies in emergency situations. The initial prototype was designed from cardboard, while the final design calls for its exterior to be made completely of mushroom-based mycelium so it can dissolve within days. They’re now working on making the internal machinery perishable as well.
France trains eagles to take down terrorist drones (The Washington Post)
In response to terrorists weaponizing drones for nefarious purposes, France is training eagles to take them down.
They’re not the only country to do this, but it continues eagle’s longstanding standoff with technology, from clawing drones our of the sky, to destroying power lines and electric grids with salmon and poo.
Data from wearables show sleep deprivation highest among city dwellers and those busier during the day (BBC)
Jawbone compared sleep data of one million users around the U.S. and found that city residents get less sleep than those in rural or suburban areas.
Microsoft also mined data from 75 million keystrokes and clicks on Bing from more than 30,000 individuals wearing a fitness device, finding that those busiest during the day (based on their Microsoft calendars and search activity) slept worse at night and those who slept less than six hours for two consecutive nights were sluggish for the next six days.
Wearables given to employees create challenges for employers (Financial Times)
While many employers are distributing wearables to employees, few have codes of conduct for data collection, protection, analysis and ownership. Financial Times looks at some of the potential legal, ethical and business implications.
IoT and Big Data
5.3 million hackable IoT devices found in Spain (Computerworld)
At the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, Avast used internet-connected device search engine Shodan to find 5.3 million hackable IoT devices in Spain. 150,000 of those were webcams, 22,000 of which were classified as baby monitors. There were also 79,000 vulnerable smart coffee makers and kettles.
Privacy & Security
Smart toys maker Spiral Toys left children’s data and voice recordings exposed (Motherboard)
800,000 Spiral Toy’s CloudPets users had their account information exposed along with 2.2 million of their voice recordings.
Germany’s Federal Network Agency advises parents to destroy smart doll (BBC)
Germany’s telecommunications regulator advised parents to destroy any My Friend Cayla dolls in their households after it was discovered the doll’s unsecure Bluetooth device could be hacked, allowing for recording and projection of audio and potential commandeering of other internet of things devices in the home. See a nightmare-inducing demonstration of a compromised doll in action below.
Approximately half of Internet traffic is now protected by HTTPS (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
Approximately half of all Internet web traffic is now encrypted according to EFF, helping combat eavesdropping, content hijacking, cookie stealing, and censorship.
The ongoing potential and drawbacks of wireless buds (CNET)
Scott Stein touches on some of the strengths and weaknesses that many wireless earbuds in the market are facing in his review of Here Ones.
Finding the perfect headphones and using them for alternative purposes (The New York Times)
The New York Times offers a guide on finding the perfect headphones and a missive on how many people use headphones as Do Not Disturb Signs.
Techshot developing space-bound condensed bioprinter
Techshot Inc. is working on a making a condensed version of its bioprinter to go on a space capsule next January that could create transplantable organs and other human tissue to aid earth-bound patients and astronauts on long-duration space exploration.
500 Startups panel discusses impact of the current U.S. presidential administration on healthcare technology(CIO)
Panelists acknowledge concerns about the technology healthcare industry, particularly the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, but ultimately struck an optimistic tone. “It’s a world of opportunity for you as entrepreneurs,” said Geoffrey Clapp, health technology expert and HIPPA-adherent Paubox adviser. “As an entrepreneur, problems didn’t change this month because an executive order got changed.”
India medical technology startups and investment potential (India Times)
India Times profiles several medical technology startups in the country, looking at some of the challenges they’re facing (tentative venture capital investments) and strengths (low-cost medical technology innovation, allowing for more bang for R&D investment bucks).