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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Alphabet podría revolucionar la energía limpia con dinero de Bill Gates

Todo parece indicar que la división X del gigante está negociando con el fondo de inversión centrando en innovación energética creado por el multimillonario de los ordenadores. El objetivo sería desarrollar el ‘Proyecto Malta’, que crearía un almacén de sal fundida a escala comercial
Source: MIT

AARP commits $60 million to a fund backing new treatments for dementia

Dementia, the syndrome caused by several brain illnesses affecting memory, motor skills, thinking and behavior, affects 47 million people around the world and is projected to afflict 75 million by 2030, according to the World Health Organization.

It’s a syndrome that’s not only debilitating for the people who live with it but also for their families and caregivers. According to statistics from WHO the economic cost of dementia is roughly $818 billion.

Yet, it’s also one that’s the most poorly understood by researchers. Now, thanks to a $60 million commitment from the US AARP, a London-based fund has closed with $350 million to invest in new medicines to combat dementia and its underlying illnesses.

Initially formed by the UK Department of Health and Social Care and the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) alongside a consortium of pharmaceutical companies, including Biogen, Eli Lilly and Company, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Otsuka (Astex), Pfizer and Takeda, the Dementia Discovery Fund had initially targeted $200 million to invest in new treatments.

Commitments from other wealthy individuals (like Bill Gates) and interested organizations like (ahem) the NFL Players Association, and UnitedHealth Group helped round out the commitments to get the fund closed at its $350 million hard cap.

Founded in October, 2015 by SV Health Investors, a venture capital and growth equity firm with offices in London and Boston and roughly $2.5 billion under management, the Dementia Discovery Fund has already invested in 16 companies in the U.S. and the U.K. focused on microglial biology and inflammation, mitochondrial dynamics, trafficking and membrane biology and synaptic physiology and functions.

“At the DDF, we are focused on scientific approaches that look beyond the amyloid beta pathway into other areas, such as inflammation, mitochondrial function and the preservation and enhancement of healthy brain cells,” said Kate Bingham, managing partner of SV Health Investors, in a statement. “These areas are highly likely to be important to chronic traumatic encephalopathy or traumatic brain injury, leading to renewed hope for treatment of these terrible disorders.”

For the AARP, the investment in finding cures for dementia is central to the nonprofit’s mission going forward, according to chief executive Jo Ann Jenkins. “Dementia doesn’t just affect those with the disease. It takes a devastating emotional, physical and financial toll on families and caregivers. The projected doubling of the size of the 65+ population over the next generation makes finding new ways to treat dementia, including Alzheimer’s, even more critical,” she said.

Source: TechCrunch

Happy 20th birthday, Windows 98! Here’s why we loved you

We’re still feeling some of Windows 98’s legacy as we celebrate its 20th birthday. A customizable Start menu, roots of cord-cutting support, and support for plug-and-play USB are among the celebrated features of this OS.

The post Happy 20th birthday, Windows 98! Here’s why we loved you appeared first on Digital Trends.

Source: Digital trends

iOS 12 is all about making your phone work better

The pace of iOS innovation has been so intense that even Apple couldn’t keep up. In some ways, iOS 11’s main feature was that it was packed with bugs, with autocorrect bugs, messages arriving out of order and the Calculator app not calculating properly. iOS 12 is a nice change of pace.

“For iOS 12, we’re doubling down on performance,” Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi said at WWDC.

While there are a few interesting new features, iOS 12 isn’t a splashy release like the ones that were released over the past few years. It doesn’t change the way you use an iPad and it doesn’t open up apps with new hooks across the board.

It’s clear that all the low-hanging fruit has been addressed. Now, Apple is mostly adding new frameworks for specific categories of apps instead of releasing major platform changes that affect all third-party apps.

And for the rest, it’s all about refinements, bug fixes and optimizations. Apple released the first public beta of iOS 12 today. I played a bit with early beta versions of iOS 12, so here’s what you should be looking for.

Operating system changes

Let’s start with the updates at the operating system level. iOS 12 should be faster than iOS 11, including on older devices.

You know that feeling of instant regret when you update your old iPhone or iPad to a new version of iOS. Everything seems much slower. Apple wants to reverse this trend and make iOS 12 faster for the iPhone 5s or the iPad mini 2.

Apps should launch faster, the keyboard should appear more quickly, the camera should be more reactive and more. It’s hard to feel that with a beta version of iOS 12, so we’ll have to look at that statement again in September.

Other than that, there is another major theme for iOS 12 — making you look at your phone less often. And this goal is reflected with three new features — Screen Time, better notifications and a more granular Do Not Disturb mode.

Screen Time is a brand new feature that lets you see how much time you wasted scrolling through feeds. You’ll get weekly reports and parents can set up app limits that sync across all your iOS devices.

Do Not Disturb is now more granular as you can set it up for an hour, until the end of an event or until you leave a location. Many people didn’t want to use this feature because they forgot to turn it off.

As for notifications, they are now grouped by default. In my experience, it takes a while to get used to it, but it’s a big improvement for noisy apps. You can also swipe on a notification to disable notifications from a specific app or turn them into silent notifications. You’ll feel more in control of your iPhone instead of feeling like your iPhone is controlling you.

App updates

Apple couldn’t stop at those improvements and had to release app updates for its own apps. Let’s look at the most memorable ones.

You can finally ditch Skype for good as FaceTime now supports group conversations — at least if all your friends are using iPhones. This feature alone will definitely increase iPhone stickiness, just like the fact that you can’t participate in iMessage conversations on Android.

Talking about Messages, most iPhone users won’t see a difference this year as Apple focused on the iPhone X. In addition to new Animojis, you can now create your own avatar using Memoji. I have to say that I really like Snap’s Bitmoji, so I’m quite excited to use it. The only issue is that it feels like a one-way conversation if you’re not messaging someone who is using an iPhone X. It’s the kind of features that will start to make sense after a few years when everybody has Face ID on their iPhone.

Four other Apple apps got an update. Stocks and Apple News received some design improvements. Voice Memos will now store your memos in iCloud and sync them with your iPad and Mac without using iTunes (finally). Lastly, iBooks is now called Apple Books, and it now looks more like the updated App Store.

Apple’s two bets

With iOS 12, Apple is pursuing its big bet on augmented reality and starting something new with Siri. Those platform changes could resonate well with developers and users or could become a distraction for everyone.

Apple’s augmented reality SDK is getting a major update. With ARKit 2, developers can create apps that share the same augmented reality world between multiple users. You can imagine multiplayer games and shareable worlds. Apple also worked on improving the overall performance of the framework.

But does it really matter? It feels like many geeks like you, TechCrunch readers, tested ARKit apps after the release of iOS 11. But there hasn’t been a mainstream hit so far. It’s still unclear if people actually want to use their iOS device to power an augmented reality experience.

And the second big thing is Siri Shortcuts. After Apple acquired Workflow, the automation app for iOS, many people wondered what it would mean for automation fans. The good news is that Apple is completely embracing Workflow with a set of features.

App developers can now configure Shortcuts to let users add to Siri a restaurant booking, a favorite Deliveroo order or a favorite sports team. On paper, it’s quite powerful and limited at the same time. It sounds like bookmarks for Siri.

Most users will stop at suggested shortcuts. But power users will be able to configure multi-step workflows in the new Shortcuts app. It’s just like Workflow, but with a new name and new home automation features.

This is great news if you’re a power user, but I wonder if Shortcuts will find a mainstream audience. I couldn’t test those features as it’s not yet available in the beta. Maybe Shortcuts will be added with iOS 12.1 or 12.2.

There are many small refinements in iOS 12 that I haven’t listed there. For instance, Portrait Mode has been improved and the Photos app is getting better at showing you personalized recommendations. Or if you have an iPhone X, you’ll be able to add a second face to unlock your phone.

iOS 12 looks especially promising if you consider your iPhone as infrastructure. Many people want a device that is as reliable as possible. And iOS 12 should stand out on this front.

Source: TechCrunch

Apple just released the first iOS 12 beta to everyone

This is your opportunity to get a glimpse of the future of iOS. Apple just released the first public beta of iOS 12, the next major version of the operating system for iPhone and iPad. Unlike developer betas, everyone can download it without a $99 developer account. But don’t forget, it’s a beta.

The company still plans to release the final version of iOS 12.0 this fall (usually September). But Apple is going to release betas every few weeks over the summer. It’s a good way to fix as many bugs as possible and gather data from a large group of users.

As always, Apple’s public betas closely follow the release cycle of developer betas. And Apple released the second developer beta of iOS 12 just last week. So it sounds like the first public beta is more or less the same build as the second developer build.

But remember, you shouldn’t install an iOS beta on your primary iPhone or iPad. The issue is not just bugs — some apps and features won’t work at all. In some rare cases, beta software can also brick your device and make it unusable. Proceed with extreme caution.

But if you have an iPad or iPhone you don’t need, here’s how to download it. Head over to Apple’s beta website and download the configuration profile. It’s a tiny file that tells your iOS device to update to public betas like it’s a normal software update.

You can either download the configuration profile from Safari on your iOS device directly, or transfer it to your device using AirDrop, for instance. Reboot your device, then head over to the Settings app. In September, your device should automatically update to the final version of iOS 12 and you’ll be able to delete the configuration profile.

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s new in iOS 12. The main feature of iOS 12 is a performance improvement, especially for older devices. If you have an iPhone 6 or an iPad Air for instance, you should see a big improvement when it comes to launching apps, triggering the camera and entering text.

The other big theme of the year is new features to help you spend less time using your phone. There’s a new Screen Time feature to see and control how much time you spend using each app. Notifications are now grouped and you can silence them from the lock screen. You also can turn on Do Not Disturb when you’re in a meeting, for a few hours or for longer.

Apple didn’t stop there, and added new power features as well. Developers will be able to take advantage of a new file format for augmented reality and new features in ARKit 2.0. Apple is releasing the Workflow app as a new Siri Shortcuts app. Developers will be able to add information to Siri, as well, so that you can add a boarding pass or a music playlist to Siri.

The Photos, News and Stocks apps have been improved, as well as Apple Books (the app formerly known as iBooks). Apple is introducing Memoji on the iPhone X. It’s a customized avatar that you can use in iMessage and FaceTime to represent you.

If you want to learn more, read my iOS 12 preview to get my thoughts on this release.

Source: TechCrunch

Uber Tells London's Regulators 'We've Changed'

The ride-sharing company needs the world to believe that it has reformed if it’s going to get self-driving cars on the road.
Source: Wired

Implantable 3D printed organs could be coming sooner than you think

At MBC Biolabs, an incubator for biotech startups in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood, a team of scientists and interns working for the small startup Prellis Biologics have just taken a big step on the path toward developing viable 3D printed organs for humans.

The company, which was founded in 2016 by research scientists Melanie Matheu and Noelle Mullin, staked its future (and a small $3 million investment) on a new technology to manufacture capillaries, the one-cell thick blood vessels that are the pathways which oxygen and nutrients move through to nourish tissues in the body.

Without functioning capillary structures, it is impossible to make organs, according to Matheu. They’re the single most vital piece of the puzzle in the quest to print viable hearts, livers, kidneys and lungs, she said.

“Microvasculature is the fundamental architectural unit that supports advanced multicellular life and it therefore represents a crucial target for bottom-up human tissue engineering and regenerative medicine,” said Jordan Miller, an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at Rice University and an expert in 3D-printed implantable biomaterial structures, in a statement.

This real-time video shows tiny florescent particles – 5 microns in diameter (the same size as a red blood cell) – moving through an array of 105 capillaries printed in parallel, inside a 700 micron diameter tube. Each capillary is 250 microns long.

Now, Prellis has published findings indicating that it can manufacture those capillaries at a size and speed that would deliver 3D printed organs to the market within the next five years. 

Prellis uses holographic printing technology that creates three-dimensional layers deposited by a light-induced chemical reaction that happens in five milliseconds.

This feature, according to the company, is critical for building tissues like kidneys or lungs. Prellis achieves this by combining a light-sensitive photo-initiator with traditional bioinks that allows the cellular material to undergo a reaction when blasted with infrared light, which catalyzes the polymerization of the bioink.

Prellis didn’t invent holographic printing technology. Several researchers are looking to apply this new approach to 3D printing across a number of industries, but the company is applying the technology to biofabrication in a way that seems promising.

The speed is important because it means that cell death doesn’t occur and the tissue being printed remains viable, while the ability to print within structures means that Prellis’ technology can generate the internal scaffolding to support and sustain the organic material that surrounds it, according to the company.

The video above, courtesy of Prellis Biologics, shows real-time printing of a cell encapsulation device that is useful for producing small human cells containing organoids. The structure is designed to be permeable and the size is 200 microns in diameter and can contain up to 2000 cells.

Prellis isn’t the first company to develop three dimensional organ printing. There’ve been decades of research into the technology and companies like BioBots (which made its debut on the TechCrunch stage) that are already driving down the cost of printing living tissue.

Now called Allevi, the company formerly known as BioBots has seen its founders part ways and its business  strategy shift (it’s now focusing on developing software to make its bioprinters easier to use), according to a report in IncAllevi has slashed the cost of bioprinting with devices that sell for under $10,000, but Prellis contends that the limitations of extrusion printing mean that technology is too low resolution and too slow to create capillaries and keep cells alive.

Prellis’ organs will also need to be placed in a bioreactor to sustain them before they’re transplanted into an animal, but the difference is that the company aims to produce complete organs rather than sample tissue or a small cell sample, according to a statement. The bioreactors can simulate the biomechanical pressures that ensure an organ functions properly, Matheu said.

“Vasculature is a key feature of complex tissues and is essential for engineering tissue with therapeutic value,” said Todd Huffman, the chief executive officer of 3Scan, an advanced digital tissue imaging and data analysis company (and a Prellis advisor) . “Prellis’ advancement represents a key milestone in the quest to engineer organs.”

Matheu estimates that it will take two-and-a-half years and $15 million to bring implantable organs through their first animal trials. “That will get a test kidney into an animal,” she said.

The goal is to print a quarter-sized kidney that could be transplanted into rat. “We want something that would be able to handle a kidney that we would transplant into a human,” Matheu said.

One frame of a 3D map of animal tissue from 3Scan.

Earlier this year, researchers at the University of Manchester<a href=”https://newatlas.com/working-kidney-cells-grown-mice/53354/”> grew functional human kidney tissue from stem cells for the first time. The scientists implanted small clusters of capillaries that filter waste products from the blood that had been grown in a Petri dish into genetically engineered mice. After twelve weeks, the capillaries had grown nephrons — the elements that make up a functional human kidney.

Ultimately, the vision is to export cells from patients by taking a skin graft or blood, stem cell or bone marrow harvest — and then use those samples to create the cellular material that will grow organs. “Tissue rejection was the first thing I was thinking about in how I was designing the process and how we could do it,” says Matheu.

While Prellis is spending its time working to perfect a technique for printing kidneys, the company is looking for partners to take its manufacturing technology and work on processes to develop other organs.

“We’ll be doing collaborative work with other groups,” Matheu said. “Our technology will come to market in many other ways prior to the full kidney.”

Last year, the company outlined a go-to-market strategy that included developing lab-grown tissues to produce antibodies for therapeutics and drug development. The company’s first targeted human tissue printed for clinical development were cells called “islets of langerhans”, which are the units within a pancreas that produce insulin.

“Type 1 diabetics lose insulin-producing islets of langerhans at a young age. If we can replace these, we can offer diabetes patients a life free of daily insulin shots and glucose monitoring,” said Matheu in a statement at the time.

Matheu sees the technology she and her co-founder developed as much about a fundamental shift in manufacturing biomaterials as a novel process to print kidneys, specifically.

“Imagine if you want to build a tumor for testing… In the lab it would take you five hours to print one… With our system it would take you three and a half seconds,” said Matheu. “That is our baseline optical system… The speed is such a shift in how you can build cells and fundamental structures we are going to be working to license this out.”

Meanwhile, the need for some solution to the shortage in organ donations keeps growing. Matheu said that one-in-seven adults in the U.S. have some sort of kidney ailment and she estimates that 90 million people will need a kidney at some point in their lives.

Roughly 330 people die every day from organ failure, and if there were a fast way to manufacture those organs, there’s no reason for those fatalities, says Matheu. Prellis estimates that because of the need for human tissue and organ replacement alternatives, as well as human tissue for drug discovery and toxicology testing, the global tissue engineering market will reach $94 billion by 2024 up from $23 billion in 2015.

“We need to help people faster,” says Matheu. 

Source: TechCrunch

Your sealed copy of Fortnite might be worth hundreds of dollars – CNET

That is, if you somehow resisted the temptation to open it.
Source: CNET

Live out your F1 fantasies with Pirelli's Hot Laps experience – Roadshow

You get a flying lap around a Formula One circuit in one of the world’s coolest supercars with an awe-inspiring driver — but it ain’t cheap.
Source: CNET

Andreessen Horowitz has a new crypto fund — and its first female general partner is running it with Chris Dixon

Silicon Valley powerhouse Andreessen Horowitz has some big, and bigger, news today. First, it closed a dedicated crypto fund late last week from a subset of its limited partners, who’ve provided the firm with $300 million in capital commitments. The fund had become the worst-kept secret in the venture industry, largely because so many other venture firms are trying to figure out their own related strategies and have been watching closely AH’s slow but growing number of investments in crypto-related startups over the past five years.

Nine-year-old Andreessen Horowitz has also, at long last, brought aboard its first female general partner: Katie Haun, whose star has quietly been rising in the Bay Area over for the past couple of years. Haun, who is leading Andreessen’s crypto fund with general partner Chris Dixon (an early and unwavering advocate for cryptocurrencies), is kind of a big deal, so it’s no surprise that AH nabbed her.

Among her other many accomplishments, Haun spent more than a decade as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, where she focused on fraud, cybercrime, and corporate compliance no-no’s alongside the SEC, FBI, and Treasury. According to Haun’s bio, she was also the DOJ’s first-ever coordinator for digital assets, and she led investigations into the Mt. Gox hack and the task force that investigated and ultimately took down the online drug marketplace Silk Road. Haun is also a lecturer at Stanford Business School and she’s a director on the board of the digital exchange Coinbase, which was backed early on by AH and where Haun got to know Dixon, who is also on the board. (Both are keeping their seats.)

We talked with Dixon earlier today to learn more about the fund, including how he and Haun are thinking about “exits” in the cryptocurrency world when there haven’t been a whole bunch. Our conversation has been edited lightly for length.

TC: You’ve raised $300 million from some of the same investors who fund Andreessen Horowitz’s flagship funds. Will this fund in any way impact the next flagship fund? Does the firm intend to spend more time on crypto and less on other, more traditional investments?

CD: No, we’re still full-speed ahead on all traditional areas. The fund is a way for us to double down on crypto and not in any way reduce our commitment to enterprise, consumer, or bio investing.

TC: Can this new fund invest in other investors’ crypto funds, as Union Square has been actively doing?

CD: It could, but we don’t plan to. We invested in Polychain and a few others about one-and-a-half years ago when we were figuring out our new crypto strategy. Now, with the full fund and investing in both early-stage and later-stage in crypto projects, the mandate is to be investing directly, though [we] never say never to anything.

TC: How many crypto investments has the firm made over the years, and will any of them be tucked into this new fund?

CD: We’ve made about 20 crypto investments over the last five years. [Bitcoin competitor] Ripple was my first investment in January 2013 and Coinbase later in 2013, then we did  21.co, which became Earn [and sold earlier this year to Coinbase]. We few others — OpenBazaar and Mediachain —  then the space got a lot more interesting with the rise of Ethereum and talented entrepreneurs entering the space. Those [investments] will remain in the funds where we put them in.

TC: Have you made investments from this new fund?

CD: We’re in process with a few, but nothing that’s finalized.

TC: How have you been structuring these investments?

CD: Some are equity investments, but with token provisions in investments [meaning if the teams create a token, investors get access to them]. SAFTs are another thing we’ve done. We’ve also done direct, over-the-counter purchases of Bitcoin and Ethereum. But we were running into limits with what we could do out of the main fund. Now we’ll be able to do all sorts of things, as long as [we’re talking with] great entrepreneurs who are working on big and important projects with economic terms that make sense.

TC: What’s an exit going to look like with these deals?

CD: It’s a good question. To date, we’ve never sold any of our crypto assets. A lot of people in the market are day trading but we very much see this as investing. We’d expect any investment to have a five- to ten-year holding period. Some of these projects could have tokens that are freely tradable, so there’s the potential to have an exit that way.

The most likely outcome is we invest in an early-stage project and we receive coins or tokens in exchange for [our commitment] and if the project becomes successful, those digital assets appreciate when that thesis is played out. But if we invest in some project that will be used by hundreds of millions of people, we wouldn’t want to exit until that’s realized.

TC: Presumably, you will not be paying your investors back in tokens?

CD: No. We have LPs who prefer fiat money.

TC: How do you think about ownership stakes in these companies?

CD: The traditional venture model of owning 10 to 20 percent of company isn’t realistic in this world. We do think that if a project is very early stage, the valuation should reflect that. But we’re thinking more in terms of value: can this investment be big enough that it returns the fund on its own? So we don’t think in terms of percentages but value. We think this next wave of companies could be 10 times as big [as their predecessors].

TC: How are you thinking about ICOs? Are you investing in companies that will later sell shares to non-accredited investors?

CD: If done the right way, we think democratizing access is a great concept. We’re fans of the idea that more people can participate. But we don’t think [ICOs as they’re widely considered today] are regulatory compliant and we’ve never gotten involved in one of those. We participated in Filecoin, for example, but [its offering] was made only to accredited investors.

TC: What about conflicts? It’s very early days, so I wonder if the rules around backing similar companies are different. In traditional VC, obviously, it’s pretty much verboten.

CD: The norm in the crypto world is different than the traditional venture world. Typically in VC, you won’t invest in a direct competitor. But with crypto, there’s a different ethos. It’s more cooperative. People would rather grow the pie together rather than fight over the size of the pie. We always make sure that projects are okay with any investments that we’re considering that might be overlapping. But in emerging spaces, it’s hard to think about categories as it’s kind of fluid. I’d say standards are evolving, but I’d also say it’s okay to [back more than one currency, for example].

TC: How about so-called stable coins, specifically? You backed Basis, a company that’s building a price-stable currency, which the world very much needs in order for cryptocurrencies to come into wider use. Do you think there’s room for more than one stable coin?

TC: We’ve backed both Basis and Maker, though the mechanics are pretty different and we think can be complementary. We also spoke with both when we made our investments.

We do think it’s a really important idea, to have a coin pegged to something like the U.S. dollar in order to make the experience more mainstream and accessible, [versus a world rife with] these volatile coins. We think it’s such an important piece of infrastructure that there could be multiple winners.

Source: TechCrunch