Wednesday, April 12, 2017

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Renault ZOE writes On the Road fanfic, becomes first AI hipster

Apr 11, 10:48PM

Written by ZOE An all-electric Renault ZOE is writing fan fiction based on Jack Kerouac’s novel “On the Road” to demonstrate how far modern EVs can travel on a charge. It’s also a celebration of the novel’s sixtieth anniversary in 2017. Also, presumably, this will impress ZOE’s latest crush, who loves Beat literature. Read More

Uber head of comms Rachel Whetstone is leaving the company

Apr 11, 10:40PM

 Rachel Whetstone, Uber’s head of communications and policy, is leaving the company, Recode reports. Uber has confirmed Whetstone’s departure to TechCrunch. “I am incredibly proud of the team that we’ve built — and that just as when I left Google, a strong and brilliant woman will be taking my place,” Whetstone said in a statement provided by Uber. Read More

Unreal's 'photorealistic character sample' is like a Rob Lowe from the uncanny valley

Apr 11, 10:32PM

 Making the character models you see in games is a very involved process, and as a few recent titles have shown, the faces especially are hard as hell to do right. The folks behind Epic’s Unreal Engine, which powers more than a few of those games, have kindly offered a ‘photorealistic character sample’ — a Rob Lowe-looking dude who looks almost real enough to touch. Almost. Read More

An inside look at Bessemer Venture Partners' investment process for Twilio

Apr 11, 9:37PM

 Mark Twain once said that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. If Twilio provides any indication of what’s to come, we believe now more than ever in the future of the business-to-developer (B2D) space. As we reflect on 2016, Twilio’s IPO is a real highlight. Read More

Why Flybrix skipped crowdfunding to launch its LEGO drone kits

Apr 11, 9:31PM

 Flybrix first dreamed up a drone that kids could build with LEGO bricks in 2015. At the time, the co-founders debated the merits of launching with a crowdfunding campaign. They craved the exposure that brands attracted on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but they knew consumers were growing suspicious of promises made by crowdfunding hardware startups. Read More

See you tonight at TechCrunch's Pittsburgh micro-meetup

Apr 11, 9:23PM

 We’re in town for a few days and we’re excited to meet all of you at the Pittsburgh Micro-Meetup tonight. In preparation for Disrupt New York and our upcoming TC Sessions series on robotics, John Biggs and I are in Pittsburgh to talk to some startups. Come out, chat and have some food and drinks compliments of our sponsors, Duolingo and TrueFit. We will meet at The Shop on April… Read More

U.S. Air Force and Lockheed demonstrate autonomous F-16 strike capabilities

Apr 11, 8:55PM

 The U.S. Air Force, working with Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works (which, as its name suggests, is its skunkworks operation) have demonstrated another round of flight capabilities for an autonomous F-16 fighter jet, which is meant to show what an eventual “Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle” (UCAV) could do using technology they’ve developed. During this demonstration, the… Read More

Apple Clips scored up to 1 million downloads in its first 4 days

Apr 11, 8:45PM

 In its first four days on the market, Apple’s new social video editing app Clips reached between 500,000 and a million downloads, according to estimates from app store analytics firm App Annie. However, despite heavy press coverage and featured positions in the App Store, Clips hasn’t yet broken into the top 20 apps by ranking in the U.S. App Store’s Top Charts. The day… Read More

High-speed camera rig captures 3D images of birds' wings in flight

Apr 11, 8:08PM

 You don’t have to be an ornithologist to know that birds are pretty good at flying. But while we know how they do it in general, the millimeter- and microsecond-level details are difficult to pin down. Researchers at Stanford are demystifying bird flight with a custom camera/projector setup, and hoping to eventually replicate its adaptability in unpredictable air currents. Read More

Virtualitics raises $4.4 million to power its Excel for VR

Apr 11, 7:37PM

 When you have so much data that the real world doesn’t do it justice, why not toss it into virtual reality? Virtualitics is aiming to bring insight through isolation, visualization and manipulation, giving you a chance to get up-close and personal with your data while wearing a VR headset. The startup announced it has closed a $4.4 million Series A led by The Venture Reality Fund. Read More

Lyft raises $600M at $7.5B valuation

Apr 11, 7:15PM

 Lyft has raised a total of $600 million in new funding, with a post-money valuation of $7.5 billion, the company announced via its blog on Tuesday. Reports had indicated the raise was in process, though the most recent figure pinned the total at $500 million, though that was prior to its closing. Lyft’s investment included new funding partners including Canada’s Public Sector… Read More

Google's adversarial AIs could lead to less reliance on real-world data

Apr 11, 7:03PM

 One of the biggest challenges facing the development of AI is that it requires a huge amount of human input, both in terms of the involvement of people when it comes to identifying and inputting data up front, and in terms of the nature of data sets required to even make training AI systems possible to begin with. Google AI research Ian Goodfellow, who recently headed back to Google Brain after… Read More

The surprising rise of China as IP powerhouse

Apr 11, 7:00PM

 Given China’s determination to advance its IP systems and stature, China may well eclipse U.S. and Europe as the global center for intellectual property in just a few decades. This radical paradigm shift should be of utmost importance to Silicon Valley, particularly companies whose models and profits are based on proprietary intellectual property. Read More

Google's AutoDraw uses machine learning to help you draw like a pro

Apr 11, 6:55PM

 Drawing isn’t for everyone. I, for one, am definitely not very good at it. But with AutoDraw, Google is launching a new experiment today that uses machine learning algorithms to match your doodles with professional drawings to make you look like you know what you’re doing. Read More

Gravity Jack's PoindextAR tracks objects' smallest details for augmented reality anywhere

Apr 11, 6:54PM

 Augmented reality is a difficult proposition, both in the methods used to do it right and the resources required to do it at all. A new AR system from Gravity Jack makes some serious advances in the field, tracking real-world objects and their components in true 3D, not via tags or trickery. The company thinks it could figure prominently in industrial applications and spread from there. Read More

Why do airlines overbook their flights?

Apr 11, 6:35PM

 We’ve all been there: You turn up to the gate and there are more passengers than there are seats on the plane. You wouldn’t be the first person to think, “If you only have 200 seats, why would you sell more than 200 tickets?” It turns out there are excellent reasons for doing this, powered by money, efficiency and a whole lot of statistical analysis. Read More

Stripe acquires Indie Hackers, a knowledge-sharing community for entrepreneurs

Apr 11, 5:45PM

 Stripe has acquired Indie Hackers, a website and community focusing on helping entrepreneurs become profitable while remaining independent. News of the acquisition broke through a blog post by Indie Hackers founder Courtland Allen and was quickly confirmed by Stripe’s twitter account. “When I set out to build Indie Hackers last July, there weren’t many places that put… Read More

Chrome now uses scroll anchoring to prevent those annoying page jumps

Apr 11, 5:23PM

Chrome lapel pin The latest update to Google’s Chrome browser makes mobile browsing a bit easier and (hopefully) less frustrating. Read More

Slack developers get another small tool to fill out their bot functionality

Apr 11, 5:00PM

 Slack, which at times can sometimes seem allergic to product changes, is making an alteration and giving developers the ability to add a drop-down menu to give additional responses and actions to Slackbot messages. Read More

Shopkick's rewards shopping app expands to grocery stores

Apr 11, 4:54PM

 Shopkick, a shopping rewards app that’s currently ranked only #1233 on the App Store, is expanding its focus. The company today is launching a new feature called Shopkick Grocery, to move its business into the area of grocery awards. The app will dole out gift cards to consumers who engage with brands’ content, including by scanning barcodes on products, making purchases,… Read More

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