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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

How Facebook operations got 10 times faster while getting 10 times bigger – CNET

Turns out it’s hard to run a social network with 2.2 billion people.
Source: CNET

Comic-Con 2018: *Doctor Who*’s First Female Doctor Will Bring a New Generation of Whovians

Jodie Whittaker, who plays the show’s new (and thirteenth!) Doctor, met her fans at the show’s Comic-Con panel today.
Source: Wired

AnyVision AI startup locks in $28M for its body and facial recognition tech

As image recognition advances continue to accelerate, startups with a mind towards security applications are seeing some major interest to turn surveillance systems more intelligent.

AnyVision is working on face, body and object recognition tech and the underlying system infrastructure to help companies deploy smart cameras for various purposes. The tech works when deployed on most types of camera and does not require highly sophisticated sensors to operate, the company says

“It’s not just how accurate the system is, it’s also how much it scales,” Etshtein tells TechCrunch. “You can put more than 20 concurrent full HD camera streams on a single GPU.”

The Tel Aviv-based AI startup announced today that it has closed a $28 million Series A funding round led by Bosch. The quickly growing company already has 130 employees and has plans to open up three new offices by the year’s end.

Right now, AnyVision is working on products in a few different verticals. Its security product called “Better Tomorrow” has been a key focus for the company.

Even as tech giants in the U.S. like Amazon and Google are scrutinized for contracts with government orgs that involve facial recognition tech, Etshtein believes that their company’s solution will be an improvement over existing video surveillance technologies in terms of protecting the public’s privacy.

“Today, the video management systems basically record everything and you can see individuals faces, you can see everything.”Etshtein says. “Once our system is installed it pixelates all the faces in the stream automatically, even the operator in the control center cannot see your face because the mathematical models just represent the persons of interest.”

The company also recently released a product called FaceKey that leverages the company’s facial recognition tech for verification purposes, allowing customers with phones that are not just the iPhone X to use their face as a two-factor authentication method in things like banking apps. Now, there have certainly been a lot of issues with maintaining the needed accuracy which is exactly what has made FaceID so novel, but AnyVision CEO Eylon Etshtein claims to have “cracked the problem.”

Other products AnyVision is working on include some new efforts in the sports and entertainment spaces as well as a retail analytics platform that they’re hoping to release later this summer.


Source: TechCrunch

Public shareholders got high today on Tilray, the first marijuana company to IPO on Nasdaq

Tilray, a five-year-old, British Columbia-based medical cannabis company that sells its products to patients, researchers, pharmacies and even governments, saw its shares get high (sorry) on the Nasdaq today, after the company priced 9 million shares at $17 apiece and watched them soar, closing at $22.39, a jump of slightly more than 32 percent.

The company raised $153 million in the offering, capital it will reportedly use in part to fuel its marijuana growing and processing facilities in Ontario.

It was a huge win for the cannabis industry, which has been growing like a weed (sorry again). Related startups attracted $593 million in funding last year, twice what they raised in 2016 and a meaningful jump from the $121 million invested in related startups in 2014, according to CB Insights. Among the different types of companies to garner investor dollars, shows CB Insights’ research, are: startups focused on research or distribution of medical marijuana products (as with Tilray); tools for ensuring compliance with state and federal marijuana laws; startups focused on payments for marijuana companies; startups collecting data and producing marketing insights about the industry; and companies creating novel strains and types of marijuana using new farming techniques.

Tilray’s performance today is also a very positive signal for Seattle-based Privateer Holdings, a private equity firm that owned 100 percent of the startup as it headed into its offering. In fact, Privateer’s CEO, Brendan Kennedy, is also the CEO of Tilray. (Cannabis companies are weird.)

Privateer has itself raised more than $200 million since its founding in 2010, including from Founders Fund and Subversive Capital, and it has used that money to finance, acquire and incubate companies. While it incubated Tilray, for example, it also owns Leafly, a large cannabis information resource that it acquired in 2011. Another of its portfolio companies is Marley Natural, a Bob Marley-branded cannabis line that it launched in partnership with the Marley’s estate and that sells a line of cannabis strains, smoking accessories and even body care products.

It isn’t exactly clear how much Privateer had sunk into Tilray (we have a press request into the company). Tilray announced C$60 million in Series A funding back in February, money it said had come from a “group of leading global institutional investors.” But according to its S-1, it was solely owned until today by Privateer.

What we do know: Tilray remains unprofitable, reporting a net loss of $7.8 million last year. The company also cannot sell its products in the U.S. market, given that marijuana remains illegal under federal law, even though 30 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized it in some form. The reason: The U.S. government classifies marijuana as a schedule 1 drug, meaning it’s considered to have no medical value and a high potential for abuse.

That could change, but as this Vox explainer makes clear, a review process for the current schedule would need to be initiated by either the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services or the Attorney General, and current Attorney General Jeff Sessions despises marijuana, saying once that “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.

He seems to be among a dwindling minority. According to a Gallup Poll published last October, 64 percent of Americans favor legalization.


Source: TechCrunch

Disney to debut its first VR short next month

Walt Disney Animation Studio is set to debut its first VR short film, Cycles, this August in Vancouver, the Association for Computing Machinery announced today. The plan is for it to be a headliner at the ACM’s computer graphics conference (SIGGRAPH), joining other forms of VR, AR and MR entertainment in the conference’s designated Immersive Pavilion.

This film is a first for both Disney and its director, Jeff Gipson, who joined the animation team in 2013 to work as a lighting artist on films like Frozen, Zootopia and Moana. The objective of this film, Gipson said in the statement released by ACM, is to inspire a deep emotional connection with the story.

“We hope more and more people begin to see the emotional weight of VR films, and with Cycles in particular, we hope they will feel the emotions we aimed to convey with our story,” said Gipson.

Cycles centers around the meaning of creating a home and focuses on the ups and downs of a family as they create a life in theirs.

“Every house has a story unique to the people, the characters who live there,” says Gipson. “We wanted to create a story in this single place and be able to have the viewer witness life happening around them.”

While VR is a perfect candidate for this kind of emotionally driven story, the process of bringing an idea like this to life is no simple task. Apart from the technical feats involved (the short took about four months with 50 collaborators), even the notion of storyboarding is new when designing films like these. When working on Cycles, the team used both Quill VR animations and motion capture to bring their idea into a 3D space.

While this film is Disney’s first foray into VR films, it is terrain that its subsidiary Pixar Animation Studios explored this past winter in a VR trailer for the award-winning film Coco. And, according to a statement Pixar studio executives gave The Washington Post in December, it’s an area the studio would like to explore further through possible VR spin-offs.

Films like Cycles are far from mainstream, but as influential companies like Disney and Pixar continue to experiment in this space, the distant future of widespread VR cinema may be finally approaching.


Source: TechCrunch

US to alert public to foreign operations targeting Americans – CNET

A new Justice Department policy aims to combat hacking operations like those conducted by Russia during the 2016 election.
Source: CNET

Amazon Prime Day 2018: The best deals still available (late Thursday update) – CNET

Prime Day has officially ended, but there are still a handful of deals available.
Source: CNET

Shared electric scooters probably won’t return to SF until August

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is still reviewing the 12 applications from companies to operate electric scooters in the city. In early June, companies like Uber, Lime, Bird, Lyft and others applied for permits to operate electric scooter-share services in San Francisco. San Francisco’s permit process came as a result of Bird, Lime and Spin deploying their electric scooters without permission in the city in March. As part of a new city law, which went into effect June 4, scooter companies are not able to operate their services in San Francisco without a permit.

The SFMTA initially said it expected to make a decision about which five, if any, companies would receive permits by the end of June. Well, it’s now July and still no decision. The SFMTA expects to finalize its recommendations and documentation “in the coming weeks,” the SFMTA wrote in a blog post today. Once that’s done, the agency says it will work with companies to finalize and clarify the terms and conditions of the permit. The goal, according to the blog post, is to issue permits sometime in August.

As part of the 24-month pilot program, electric scooter companies selected to operate in the city will need to provide user education and insurance, share its detailed trip data with the city, have a privacy policy that protects user data, offer a low-income plan and operate in a to-be-approved service area. The city will allow no more than 2,500 electric scooters on the streets at any one time.

Despite the standstill in San Francisco, scooter companies are moving full force ahead, snatching up venture funding and partnering with larger players. Last week, Lime raised a $335 million round led by GV with participation from Uber. Late last month, Spin announced it’s closing a $125 million security token offering. That came shortly after electric scooter startup Bird raised a $300 million round led by Sequoia Capital.

For a breakdown of the ongoing scooter wars, be sure to read TC’s overview.


Source: TechCrunch

Waze for Android Auto now works on your smartphone's display – Roadshow

Drivers who prefer to use Android Auto on their phone’s display can now choose Waze for navigation.
Source: CNET

Comic-Con 2018: All things DC, from Aquaman to Wonder Woman – CNET

With Marvel having a relatively minor presence at San Diego Comic-Con 2018, it was DC’s time to shine.
Source: CNET

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