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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Monzo, the U.K. challenger bank, now lets you pay ‘Nearby Friends’

Monzo, one of a plethora of U.K. fintech startups aiming to re-invent current account banking, has launched a new feature that makes it even more frictionless to transfer money to friends. Dubbed ‘Nearby Friends’, the new geolocation functionality uses Bluetooth to let you see anyone else that uses Monzo who is nearby so that you can initiate a payment without needing their phone number to be in your contact book first.

One of the ways Monzo has increased its virality from the get-go is by making friend-to-friend payments easy, either to people who already bank with the startup, or via the Monzo.me service, which gives users a payment link to share with friends. The idea, as Monzo co-founder often explains, is that unlike traditional incumbent banks that basically have zero network effects (perhaps beyond joint accounts), the challenger bank is designed to become more useful the more people who join it.

Revolut has a similar feature called 'Near Me'

Revolut has a similar feature called ‘Near Me’

“Thanks to the magic of Bluetooth, you can see anyone else that uses Monzo nearby. To protect people’s privacy, you’ll only find people who also have the feature open at the same time. With just a couple of taps, you can send people money, without the need to swap numbers or do any other admin,” writes Andy Smart, iOS Platform Lead at Monzo, on the company’s blog.

Under the hood, Monzo’s ‘Nearby Friends’ uses Google Nearby, Google’s peer-to-peer networking API that allows apps to “easily discover, connect to, and exchange data with nearby devices in real-time, regardless of network connectivity”. Specifically, here is how Monzo says its implementation works:

  1. When you open Nearby Friends, we send an anonymous token (a random string of text) to Google
  2. That token is broadcast via Bluetooth to devices nearby
  3. At the same time, your Monzo app starts searching for other devices near you
  4. When your Monzo app discovers a device nearby, it receives the device’s token. Using the Monzo API, it exchanges that token for your friend’s name and profile picture
  5. We also receive an identifier which we can use to work out who to make the payment to

The token does not identify you personally outside of Monzo’s systems, which means we don’t share any of your personal information with third parties during the process. The token we send to Google expires after a short period of time, meaning your personal data is unidentifiable.

Meanwhile, competitor Revolut recently — and relatively quietly by its standards — rolled out a very similar feature, as it is wont to do. Called ‘Near Me’, I understand it will be formally unannounced in a company blog post as soon as tomorrow and is another clear sign of how fast the $1.7B valued banking startup is moving.


Source: TechCrunch

What Did AT&T Want From Michael Cohen?

The telecom giant confirms that it paid President Trump’s personal lawyer $200,000 “to provide insights into understanding the new administration.”
Source: Wired

Facial Recognition Tech Is Creepy When It Works—And Creepier When It Doesn’t

It’s a powerful tool, but recent incidents have shown that there’s no winning with facial recognition.
Source: Wired

Google and the Rise of 'Digital Wellbeing'

Google wants to unglue people from their phones. But like other wellness trends, “digital wellbeing” promises more than it can deliver.
Source: Wired

This Random Videogame Powers Quantum Entanglement Experiments

How a simplistic keyboard-mashing game recruited thousands of players—for physics!
Source: Wired

ZTE's business comes to a grinding halt after the US ban – CNET

It’s hard to get things done when the government stops you from getting parts from US companies for seven years.
Source: CNET

Google vs. Amazon: After I/O, whose voice assistant is best? – CNET

Google’s annual developer conference came with fresh new features for the Google Assistant — which, incidentally, now seems capable of fooling people into thinking it’s human. Can Alexa keep up?
Source: CNET

Google's smartwatches get a smarter Assistant video – CNET

Wear OS now can turn on your lights, a vacuum, speak responses and have smart follow-ups. Basically, they’re a bit like mini Google Home-on-your-wrist.
Source: CNET

Fantasmo is a decentralized map for robots and augmented reality

“Whether for AR or robots, anytime you have software interacting with the world, it needs a 3D model of the globe. We think that map will look a lot more like the decentralized internet than a version of Apple Maps or Google Maps.” That’s the idea behind new startup Fantasmo, according to co-founder Jameson Detweiler. Coming out of stealth today, Fantasmo wants to let any developer contribute to and draw from a sub-centimeter accuracy map for robot navigation or anchoring AR experiences.

Fantasmo plans to launch a free Camera Positioning Standard (CPS) that developers can use to collect and organize 3D mapping data. The startup will charge for commercial access and premium features in its TerraOS, an open-sourced operating system that helps property owners keep their maps up to date and supply them for use by robots, AR and other software equipped with Fantasmo’s SDK.

With $2 million in funding led by TenOneTen Ventures, Fantasmo is now accepting developers and property owners to its private beta.

Directly competing with Google’s own Visual Positioning System is an audacious move. Fantasmo is betting that private property owners won’t want big corporations snooping around to map their indoor spaces, and instead will want to retain control of this data so they can dictate how it’s used. With Fantasmo, they’ll be able to map spaces themselves and choose where robots can roam or if the next Pokémon GO can be played there.

“Only Apple, Google, and HERE Maps want this centralized. If this data sits on one of the big tech company’s servers, they could basically spy on anyone at any time,” says Detweiler. The prospect gets scarier when you imagine everyone wearing camera-equipped AR glasses in the future. “The AR cloud on a central server is Big Brother. It’s the end of privacy.”

Detweiler and his co-founder Dr. Ryan Measel first had the spark for Fantasmo as best friends at Drexel University. “We need to build Pokémon in real life! That was the genesis of the company,” says Detweiler. In the meantime he founded and sold LaunchRock, a 500 Startups company for creating “Coming Soon” sign-up pages for internet services.

After Measel finished his PhD, the pair started Fantasmo Studios to build augmented reality games like Trash Collectors From Space, which they took through the Techstars accelerator in 2015. “Trash Collectors was the first time we actually created a spatial map and used that to sync multiple people’s precise position up,” says Detweiler. But while building the infrastructure tools to power the game, they realized there was a much bigger opportunity to build the underlying maps for everyone’s games. Now the Santa Monica-based Fantasmo has 11 employees.

“It’s the internet of the real world,” says Detweiler. Fantasmo now collects geo-referenced photos, scans them for identifying features like walls and objects, and imports them into its point cloud model. Apps and robots equipped with the Fantasmo SDK can then pull in the spatial map for a specific location that’s more accurate than federally run GPS. That lets them peg AR objects to precise spots in your environment while making sure robots don’t run into things.

Fantasmo identifies objects in geo-referenced photos to build a 3D model of the world

“I think this is the most important piece of infrastructure to be built during the next decade,” Detweiler declares. That potential attracted funding from TenOneTen, Freestyle Capital, LDV, NoName Ventures, Locke Mountain Ventures and some angel investors. But it’s also attracted competitors like Escher Reality, which was acquired by Pokémon GO parent company Niantic, and Ubiquity6, which has investment from top-tier VCs like Kleiner Perkins and First Round.

Google is the biggest threat, though. With its industry-leading traditional Google Maps, experience with indoor mapping through Tango, new VPS initiative and near limitless resources. Just yesterday, Google showed off using an AR fox in Google Maps that you can follow for walking directions.

Fantasmo is hoping that Google’s size works against it. The startup sees a path to victory through interoperability and privacy. The big corporations want to control and preference their own platforms’ access to maps while owning the data about private property. Fantasmo wants to empower property owners to oversee that data and decide what happens to it. Measel concludes, “The world would be worse off if GPS was proprietary. The next evolution shouldn’t be any different.”


Source: TechCrunch

Google bans abortion referendum ads in Ireland – CNET

The search giant says it’s putting a moratorium on advertising related to the upcoming vote in Ireland on a restrictive abortion law in order to protect the integrity of the referendum.
Source: CNET

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