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Archivos mensuales:agosto 2018

Apple is late to a self driving milestone — its first test car accident

Apple’s secretive self-driving vehicle program has disclosed its first accident, according to a report filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

The low speed accident, which occurred August 24, is a milestone of sorts for the company, albeit not one that is being celebrated. These days, as more companies head out onto public streets to test their autonomous vehicle systems, accidents have become more common. The vast majority are minor, low-speed incidents.

There was just one accident involving a self-driving vehicle (that one was owned by Delphi) reported to the DMV in 2014. So far this year, there have been more than 40 accidents involving self-driving cars reported to CA DMV.

The first fatal autonomous vehicle accident, which involved an Uber self-driving vehicle striking a pedestrian, occurred in March in Arizona.

The Apple test car was attempting to merge onto an expressway near its headquarters in Cupertino, California, and traveling about 1 mile per hour, when it was rear-ended by a Nissan Leaf, according to the report. There were no injuries reported. Both parties reported moderate damage to their vehicles.

Apple doesn’t talk about its self-driving vehicle program. The tech company’s permit with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the agency responsible for monitoring AVs in the state, is the only official acknowledgment that it even has a program. Apple’s self-driving program has been considered an open secret in Silicon Valley. And more recently, CEO Tim Cook has made references to the company’s interest in autonomous systems. In an interview with Bloomberg, he called it the mother of all AI projects. But the company doesn’t talk about its program or its ultimate product plans.

The accident report doesn’t reveal much, beyond the make and model of Apple’s test vehicle. The self-driving test vehicle involved in the accident was a 2016i Lexus RX450H. This the same make and model that Google used to test its self-driving system.


Source: TechCrunch

Thailand is becoming a critical country for blockchain

While United States regulators are still trying to figure out how to think about cryptocurrencies, Thailand’s government is already mapping out its own central bank digital currency.

This is just one of numerous examples how Thailand has emerged as one the most interesting cryptocurrency and blockchain countries in Southeast Asia in 2018.

Since the start of the year, the Thai government has become increasingly outspoken and welcoming of cryptocurrency projects and exchanges. In just a few months, Thai regulators have made notable progress, from setting up cryptocurrency company licenses to permitting exchanges and ICOs. More importantly, the country has attracted foreign companies by providing clear and explicit guidelines for foreign blockchain companies to operate. It’s a pattern that we are seeing across Southeast Asia, and one that blockchain and cryptocurrency startup founders should take note as they think about global expansion.

Southeast Asia regulators are keen to understand cryptocurrency and blockchain 

To understand how a small country like Thailand can move so quickly in the blockchain space, it’s crucial to understand the strategy of regulators and local companies. Unlike their U.S. peers, most Asian blockchain companies and exchanges work with local regulators right from the beginning, even as they are first building their products and growing their communities. These teams use formal and informal relationships to get buy-in from their respective local governments in order to bolster their credibility. This pattern is particularly true for Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand.

However, it isn’t just startups that are trying to curry ties with government officials – these relationships work in both directions. Take for example Pundi X, which is a technology company building out a blockchain-based point of sale solution in Southeast Asia and globally. Its CEO, Zac Cheah, is Malaysian and local to the Southeast Asia region, and discussed with me how regulators are engaging with the startup community:

I think government is morphing and changing and many governments that we know are not you know exactly the ones that we say that are lagging behind. They, in fact, have like people, young or not so young people, that are very knowledgeable about what is happening right now. So in fact sometimes when we go to core blockchain meetups, we actually see some very core people from the regulatory side […] they know that this will change the landscape a lot so I think they are trying to think through the, if I may, the ‘tokenomics’ of how they want to get involved.”

No longer Thaied up in regulation

These types of regulatory engagements are encouraging signs for the region and particularly for Thailand, where regulators have been working quickly to provide a legal path for blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies.

In June, Thailand’s government legalized seven cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin cash, Ethereum classic, Litecoin, Ripple, and Stellar). It has also permitted a limited number of cryptocurrency exchanges and broker-dealers to apply for operating licenses. Then in July, the Thailand SEC permitted additional digital token issuers to file for applications. In the same month, the securities regulator categorized ICOs into three types: investment tokens, utility tokens, and cryptocurrency. As should be clear from this timeline, the speed at which these regulators execute decisions has surpassed that of most countries in the West as well as the rest of Asia.

Part of that speed is that in Thailand, regulators have shown an openness to knowledge exchange. For example, recently the Thailand SEC held a dialogue with Vitalik Buterin and the OmiseGo team on the status of exchanges and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). For Thailand, having a local, knowledgeable, and well-established team such as Omise is very helpful to building a clear regulatory environment for companies.

Photo by Juan Antonio Segal used under Creative Commons.

In fact, we are seeing foreign companies already starting to gravitate towards Thailand’s crypto opportunity, with both Western and Eastern businesses seeking opportunities in the country. In early July, Bithumb, the second largest cryptocurrency exchange in Korea, announced that it plans to open in Thailand after receiving the required regulatory approval from the local government. IBM and Krungsri, one of Thailand’s largest financial institutions with 8.6mn credit cards, sales finance, and personal loan accounts, announced a five-year $140 million engagement to build out digital banking, including blockchain technology. The crypto momentum will likely continue in Thailand, and more announcements and developments should come in the second half of the year.

Not only has it become open to private cryptocurrency companies, but the Thailand government is also testing its own blockchain technologies. For example, it has allowed the Thai Bond Market Association to create a “BondCoin,” a custom token on a private blockchain between permissioned participants including issuers and investors alongside regulators and registered firms.

Then just last week, Bank of Thailand (BOT) outlined a preliminary roadmap for ‘Project Inthanon,’ its central bank digital currency (CBDC) initiative. This is following similar projects initiated by other central banks, including the Bank of Canada, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the Monetary Authority of Singapore. BoT plans to work with eight participating banks to start building a prototype. The announcement of Project Inthanon says: “The BOT and the participating banks will collaboratively design and develop a proof-of-concept prototype for wholesale funds transfer by issuing wholesale Central Bank Digital Currency (Wholesale CBDC).”

Phase 1 of Project Inthanon will involve development and testing of key payment features such as a liquidity-saving mechanism and risk management. It is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2019, and its outcome will be very telling of Thailand’s progress in Southeast Asia.

Building strong local Thais?

For new companies going into the region, it may become increasingly more difficult to enter. Traditionally, a large part of doing business successfully in many parts of Asia requires forming the right connections and business relationships. As the blockchain space evolves, regulators are establishing more stringent requirements and higher standards to accept additional tokens and exchanges into the country. They’ll likely be influenced in their decisions by existing teams that they already have a relationship with. That dynamic is something cryptocurrency companies should think about as they build out their communities in Asia, as the most established countries may not necessarily provide the most opportunities.

One positive though is that we are still in the relatively early stage of adoption in Southeast Asia, and every country in the blockchain adoption phase is at different stages. A healthy competition between Southeast Asian nations is still brewing, which may benefit newcomers. That said, the strategies used to enter one of these markets will almost certainly change and mature compared to when these opportunities were very green.

In the long run, it’s very possible for many cryptocurrency and blockchain companies to develop a codependency with their respective local government. This doesn’t just apply to Thailand and Asia but to the rest of world too. Each region’s regulators will want to further advance their own interest and form allies with local token companies. So for a project that is thinking globally, forming too close of a relationship with a small set of regulators may pull the company in directions that it otherwise would not want to.

Ultimately, for a cryptocurrency company going into any foreign markets, it is important for one’s team to have a multi-country strategy to avoid developing biases and become overly influenced by one local government. However, to succeed locally, the teams on the ground will also have to be very deeply knowledgeable and experienced in understanding the business culture and regulatory environment there.

As Thailand proves, the ground is changing rapidly on which countries are most open for blockchain and cryptocurrency business, and adapting to these changing market dynamics is critical to the success of startups and companies in the space.


Source: TechCrunch

Best of IFA 2018 Award Winners

Maybe you’ve heard of IFA, the biggest technology show in Europe. Maybe you haven’t. It really doesn’t matter, because all anyone really wants to see are the hottest new gadgets, and IFA 2018 delivered them in spades. From wall-devouring 8K televisions to one of the most unique laptops we’ve ever seen, the biggest names in […]

The post Best of IFA 2018 Award Winners appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

In recruiting win, GM’s Cruise employees offered equity in Cruise

In what will be seen as a big recruiting and retention win for Cruise, employees will be offered equity in GM’s self-driving technology subsidiary rather than shares of GM. The securities offering was disclosed in a recent SEC filing for GM Cruise Holdings LLC.

The filing, which also lists the initial officers of GM Cruise Holdings LLC, is a result of SoftBank’s investment in Cruise earlier this year. SoftBank’s Vision Fund announced in May plans to invest $2.25 billion in Cruise. Once that deal closes, GM will invest another $1.1 billion.

GM Cruise Holdings LLC’s board of directors includes Cruise’s CEO and co-founder Kyle Vogt, GM chairman and CEO Mary Barra, GM president Dan Ammann, GM general counsel Craig Glidden and GM’s VP of autonomous technology Doug Parks. Vogt, Cruise’s CFO Geoff Richardson and Cruise general counsel Matt Gipple are executive officers of GM Cruise Holdings.

The equity structure gives all Cruise employees the chance to own actual shares of Cruise, not in GM. It’s a critical development for a company, even one flush with new capital like Cruise, that is working to deploy autonomous vehicles on a commercial scale.

“The goal was primarily to create a new equity structure so that we could recruit and retain the best talent by giving them direct participation in potential upside in Cruise through owning actual shares in Cruise, which we didn’t have before,” Cruise CEO and co-founder Vogt told TechCrunch.

It’s similar to the idea that went behind the acquisition of Argo.ai, Gartner analyst Mike Ramsey noted to TechCrunch.

“The compensation structure at companies like GM and Ford make it difficult for them to compete with the Google’s of the world,” Ramsey said. “The potential for a giant, strike-it-rich pay out from an IPO is a carrot that will attract and keep talent that is in high demand.”


Source: TechCrunch

Sony says you can't have cross-play because PlayStation is the best – CNET

Commentary: It’s a splash of cold water for those who thought Sony might relent.
Source: CNET

Apple's self-driving car has its first confirmed crash – Roadshow

Doesn’t look like it was Apple’s fault.
Source: CNET

Skullcandy aims upscale with two new headphones

Skullcandy has always been an odd brand. Aimed at a younger, hipper audience, the headphones always featured wacky graphics and a lower price point. Now, facing competition from multiple players, they’ve decided to step up their game in terms of quality and style.

Their two new models, the noise-cancelling Venue and the bass-heavy Crusher 360, are designed to hit the Bose/B&O/Sony quality point while still maintaining a bit of Beats styling. The Venue are the most interesting of the pair. They are true over-ear noise-cancelling headphones that cost a mere $179 — more than $100 less than Bose’s best offerings.

The Venue’s noise cancellation was excellent, as was the sound quality. The headphones were solidly built and last for two five-hour flights, a first for me when it comes to wireless or wired noise-cancelling headphones. Usually in almost every model I’ve tested I’ve had to charge or change the battery after about eight hours. This is a vast improvement.

As for audio quality, I was quite impressed. Having heard earlier Skullcandy models, I went in expecting tinny sound and muddy bass. I got neither. What I got was a true sound without much modification and very nice noise cancelling. In short, it did exactly what it says on the tin.

One peeve is the size of the headphones and the case. Most headphones can fold up to a smaller package that is unobtrusive when it hangs off your back or sits in your lap. These headphones come in a massive, flat case that is not imminently portable. If you’re used to smaller, thinner cases, this might be a deal breaker. That said, the price and sound are excellent and the Venue is a real step up.

Then we have the Crusher 360. These are also well-made headphones that collapse into a slightly smaller package than the Venue. They also offer what Skullcandy calls Sensory Bass and 360-degree audio. What that means, in practice, is that these things sound like a bass-lover’s very effusive home theater system on your head.

The Crusher, like the Venue, is wireless and lasts about 30 hours on one charge. They don’t have noise cancelling, but what they do have is a set of haptics inside the ear cups that essentially turn bass events into wildly impressive explosions of sound. You can turn this feature up and down using a capacitive touch control on the side of the headphones and, if you’re like me, you probably will be using that feature multiple times.

How do they work? Well, the bass these things pump out is almost comical. While I don’t want to completely disparage these things — different ears will find them pleasant if not downright cool – the Crushers turn almost everything — from a drama to a bit of dubstep — into a bass-heavy party. I used these on another flight and heard every single bang, boom and bop in the movies I watched and, oddly, I found the added bass response quite nice in regular music. If you like bass you’ll like these. If you don’t, then you’d best stay away.

The headphones cost $299.

Skullcandy isn’t the audiophile’s choice in headphones. That said, their efforts to improve the brand, product and quality are laudable. I avoided the company for years after a few bad experiences and I’m glad to see them coming back with a new and improved set of cans that truly offer great sound and a nice price. While the Crushers are definitely an acquired taste I could honestly recommend the Venue over any similarly priced noise-cancelling headphones on the market, including Bose’s businessperson specials. These headphones aren’t perfect, but they’re also not bad.


Source: TechCrunch

Twitter hints at new threaded conversations and who’s online features

Twitter head Jack Dorsey sent out a tweet this afternoon hinting the social platform might get a couple of interesting updates to tell us who else is currently online and to help us more easily follow Twitter conversation threads.

“Playing with some new Twitter features: presence (who else is on Twitter right now?) and threading (easier to read convos),” Dorsey tweeted, along with samples.

The “presence” feature would make it easier to engage with those you follow who are online at the moment and the “threading” feature would allow Twitter users to follow a conversation easier than the current embed and click-through method.

However, several responders seemed concerned about followers seeing them online.

Twitter’s head of product Sarah Haider responded to one such tweeted concern at the announcement saying she “would definitely want you to have full control over sharing your presence.” So it seems there would be some sort of way to hide that you are online if you don’t want people to know you are there.

There were also a few design concerns involved in threading conversations together. TC OG reporter turned VC M.G. Siegler wasn’t a fan of the UI’s flat tops. Another user wanted to see something more like iMessage. I personally like the nesting idea. Cleans it up and makes it easier to follow along and I really don’t care how it’s designed (flat tops, round tops) as long as I don’t have to click through a bunch like I do with the @reply.

I also don’t think I’d want others knowing if I’m online and it’s not a feature I need for those I tweet at, either. Conversations happen at a ripping pace on the platform sometimes. You are either there for it or you can read about it later. I get the thinking on letting users know who’s live but it’s not necessary and seems to be something a lot of people don’t want.

Its unclear when either of these features would roll out to the general public, though they’re available to those in a select test group. We’ve asked Twitter and are waiting to hear back for more information. Of course, plenty of users are still wondering when we’re getting that edit button.


Source: TechCrunch

Apple reportedly hiring augmented reality team to work on Maps app

Apple Maps has been rumored to be getting a complete overhaul, and it looks like the redesign may also include an augmented reality experience. If true, Apple may be looking to extend its AR investment beyond Animoji and Memoji.

The post Apple reportedly hiring augmented reality team to work on Maps app appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

Secret ad deal with MasterCard lets Google track shoppers’ retail purchases

Google may have inked a deal with MasterCard that raises some eyebrows when it comes to privacy. If you click on an ad, Google will be able to track you to see if you later decide to make the purchase in a retail store.

The post Secret ad deal with MasterCard lets Google track shoppers’ retail purchases appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends