Waymo Takes On Tesla’s Former Engineer

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Waymo has taken on Satish Jeyachandran, Tesla Inc.’s former director of hardware engineering, as the mobility division created by Google parent Alphabet Inc. moves closer to commercializing its self-driving vehicle technology.

“I wanted to join Waymo because it has a talented, mission-driven team that has made impressive advancements in self-driving hardware,” Jeyachandran said in a statement. “This technology offers incredible potential to save millions of lives.”

Jeyachandran, 38, spent nearly seven years at Tesla before leaving earlier this year. He will lead Waymo’s hardware team, overseeing the development and integration of cameras, radar, lidar, and computer vision, while working closely with the company’s software team.

“A few years ago, we made the decision to start building our own self-driving vision system, radar and LiDAR in house,” said Waymo CEO John Krafcik, in a statement.

“This has been crucial to improving the quality of our self-driving technology, and bringing down cost. With Satish’s expertise, we’ll be able to further advance our self-driving hardware, and bring our technology to more people, more quickly.”

The hire is the latest in a series of high-profile talent acquisitions and departures to rock the fiercely competitive autonomous driving landscape. Established automakers, suppliers, tech companies and a raft of startups are competing to bring self-driving cars to market on the promise that the technology will save lives and transform vehicle ownership. Engineers with expertise in hardware, software, artificial intelligence, and computer vision, particularly those with experience leading teams, are in incredibly high demand.

Waymo has been aggressively hiring in hardware, software, artificial intelligence, and deep learning fields since being spun-out of Google X Labs by Alphabet. At the same time, the company has lost most of its star power from the early days, with former head Chris Urmson the last of the major contributors to leave in 2016 to found his own startup and Waymo’s former hardware chief, Bryan Salesky, who co-founded his own self-driving startup, Argo AI.

Another key executive, Anthony Levandowski, was recently sued by Waymo for allegedly stealing trade secrets and revealing them to Uber.

Moreover, Waymo recently started a free, experimental service to ferry hundreds of people around Phoenix in an effort to get consumers comfortable with the technology.

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Intel Inks Olympics Sponsorship Tech Deal

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Intel Corp. announced on Wednesday it would become a major sponsor of the International Olympic Committee, making the chipmaker the latest technology company to put marketing dollars behind the global sporting event.

Intel and the International Olympic Committee said on Wednesday the chip maker will become a world-wide sponsor of the Olympic Games through 2024 in a partnership to bring technologies, such as 5G wireless technology, virtual reality, 360 videos and artificial intelligence to the Olympic viewing experience.

The efforts will start with the next Olympics in Pyeongchang in 2018, and go through to 2024.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but IOC sources have previously said that major sponsors pay about $100 million per four-year cycle, which includes one summer and one winter games. The IOC has been looking to increase the cost of those deals.

IOC President Thomas Bach said the partnership is part of the committee’s push for the Olympics to embrace and use new technologies to enhance viewers’ experience as well as the future of sports.

“We’ll allow people online to feel like they are there,” IOC chief executive officer Brian Krzanich said, speaking at a press conference in New York.

Intel’s announcement comes one week after McDonald’s Corp. announced it would be ending its Olympics partnership after the 2018 Winter Games, three years before the agreement was set to expire. The fast food giant, which has been an Olympics partner since 1976, expressed a desire to focus on other opportunities.

Intel joins about a dozen global Olympics sponsors such as Coca-Cola, Samsung and most recently, Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, which signed on six months ago. The IOC has been trying to make the Olympics more technologically savvy and appeal to younger people through its internet-based TV network, the Olympic Channel.

The rise of digital networks and new media technologies have made up that opportunity exponentially, with more ways presenting those coverages, and more ways to reach more sports fans. Intel working on developing more of these services will directly feed into expanding that machine.

“Intel’s vision is that building a better world is our business. Our vision is building a better world through sport,” said Bach. “So bringing together these two visions will allow us to make great progress with regard to experience through games, as well as promoting the values we are sharing.”

Intel has made a number of moves in the arena of sports to ramp up its involvement in sports as a target vertical for the company’s efforts in emerging areas like VR. They have included acquisitions of Voke VR for immersive sports technology; Replay Technologies for 3D video tech; providing a March Madness experience in VR, and helping provide tech for the X-Games in Aspen and the NBA All-Star Weekend.

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Snap Strikes $100 Million Deal With Time Warner

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Snap, the owner of Snapchat, just struck a $100 million deal with Time Warner, the company that owns HBO and Warner Bros, which will see the entertainment company provide the platform with up to 10 original shows annually for the next two years.

Time Warner will produce original programming and advertising, as the newly public social media group tries to get a greater share of the ad dollars earned from marketing to younger audiences.

“This partnership is another exciting step as we continue to branch out into new genres, including scripted dramas, comedies, daily news Shows, documentaries, and beyond,” said Nick Bell, vice president of content for Snap, in a statement.

Gary Ginsberg, Time Warner executive vice-president, said Snap had driven the “evolution of media”.

“We’re confident this partnership will help drive larger audiences to our shows and to the new direct-to-consumer platforms we continue to roll out,” he said.

It is not clear how much of the $100 million deal will be spent on developing the new programs and how will be spent on advertising on the platform. Snap sells video ads that sit within collections of photos known as “stories”, original programming to appear on its Discover section, and sponsored filters and lenses which are visual overlays on people’s snaps. Time Warner will advertise HBO, Turner and Warner Bros. on Snap in the next two years.

Snap typically broadcasts one show a day in its app under a “Shows” header. They all are five to 10 minutes and made in participation with networks like NBC, ABC, BBC, A&E, Discovery, Vice, and others. The shows have collectively drawn “audiences of over 8 million,” Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said during the company’s latest earnings call.

By the end of 2017, Snap aims to have two to three shows air in its app every day.

Snap is one of many internet companies competing to be the future of TV. Facebook is investing in original content to encourage people to watch long-form video on the social network. YouTube launched a subscription service in 2016 as well as YouTube TV, a platform on which consumers can watch live broadcasting, earlier this year.

Shares of Snap are up 1.94% on Monday, to $17.88, after falling back to their IPO price of $17 late last week. It opened at $17.85, with a session high of $18.34 and a session low of $17.03. The stock currently has a market capitalization of $21.75 billion. Meanwhile, Time Warner shares settled at $99.90, up 0.7%.

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Nokia Rolls Out The World’s Fastest Routers

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Nokia rolled out the world’s fastest routers on Wednesday, giving its existing network business a boost and marking a breakthrough into the core router market dominated by rivals Juniper and Cisco.

The new traffic routers can handle the greater demands of virtual reality programming, cloud-based internet services and next-generation mobile communications, the Finnish company said.

They will also serve Nokia’s existing base of telecom operator customers who want speed, but still must contend with legacy gear needed to run existing services, as they are backward compatible with older products.

Nokia’s new products, which grew out of its 15.6 billion-euro ($17.5 billion) 2016 acquisition of Alcatel and its IP network gear business, should help it win business from companies such as Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon, for whom transmission speed is everything and who are still increasing spending on network gear, unlike its traditional base of telecoms customers.

“With this announcement, Nokia will have the highest-performance system capacity in the market, and a lot of those web-scalers, they just want speed,” said Ray Mota, a principal analyst, in an interview. “That gives them an opportunity to approach the core network market with more credibility and gain some traction there.”

Telecom operators’ capital spending is increasing by just 2-3% a year which means Nokia is turning to web-scale players whose spending on new network gear is rising by double-digits.

The former Alcatel IP networks business is already the world’s No. 2 player in edge routers behind Cisco, having displaced Juniper Networks, which is now No. 3.

Nokia’s Petabit-Class Routers

Nokia’s latest FP4 silicon chipset is capable of processing data at 2.4 terabits per second. It’s based on the FP3 chip Nokia already uses, but combines several of them into a single package. The new chipsets will be shipped in the fourth quarter, with routers running FP4 chips ready in the first quarter of next year.

These will be built into routers to operate both ultra high-speed “core” networks at the heart of the biggest internet services and also “edge” networks that connect datacenters to front-line customer services on mobile or fixed-line networks.

Pack several of these on the same circuit board and the end result is a line card capable of 12 Tbps. In a new router, these cards can handle six times the traffic of the model they replace, but according to Steve Vogelsang, CTO for Nokia’s IP and optical business, they can be put into routers up to 10 years old as well.

FP4 chips, which are manufactured for Nokia by Taiwan’s TSMC are designed using circuits as narrow as 16 nanometers apart, skipping 22- and 28-nanometer-sized circuits compared to the prior FP3 processor built at 40-nanometer scale, Nokia said.

Nokia is introducing the 7950 petabit-class router aimed at the core routing market to help it win business from customers such as Apple and Facebook. A petabit can transmit 5,000 two-hour-long high-definition videos every second. For edge network customers, Nokia is introducing its 7750 router, offering the highest traffic capacity on the market.

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Time Inc. To Lay Off 300 Jobs In Shift To Digital

 

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Time Inc. announced on Tuesday that it is set to lay off 300 jobs in the U.S. and abroad through layoffs and buyouts as the U.S.’s largest magazine publisher shapes up its focus on digital media and video opportunities.

The cuts were being made as the New York-based media company, which publishes dozens of magazines including Time, Sports Illustrated and Fortune magazines, is looking to cut costs and reinvest in growth areas.

The job cuts and buyouts will affect 4% of the company’s workforce, or roughly 7,500 at the end of December. The streamlining will include print magazines, corporate and sales, with more than half of the employees affected based in the U.S. However, no details were provided about where the specific job cuts would be happening.

“Time Inc. is a company in rapid transformation in an industry undergoing dynamic change,” Time CEO Rich Battista said in the e-mail. “Transformations do take time and patience, but I am encouraged by the demonstrable progress we are making as we implement our strategy in key growth areas, such as video, native advertising and brand extensions.”

Time Inc. said it hired a consultant to help evaluate the next round of cuts, and that the company, while no longer considering a sale, would consider selling titles or partnering on them with other interested parties, for instance. “We’re seeing some real demonstrable progress,” said Battista.

The streamlining comes less than two months after Time Inc.’s board decided not to sell the company and ended talks with potential suitors.

“We’re re-engineering our entire cost structure,” said Battista. “We’re trying to be as nimble and efficient as possible, and get this process moving.”

Battista also said the next six to 12 months will be critical in terms of the company’s streamlining as it is looking to become more efficient in terms of legacy systems in place. “This isn’t only about cutting employees.”

Time Inc. already has begun hiring more staffers in video, digital products and digital sales, all growth areas, said a company spokesman.

Time Inc. shares were slightly higher at 0.36% to $13.98 per share. It opened at $13.95, with a session high of $14.10 and a session low of $13.85. The stock has a market capitalization of $1.39 billion, and a dividend yield of 1.15%.

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Apple Introduces The New iOS 11

 

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Apple Inc. introduced the new iOS 11, taking the wraps off it as the world’s most advanced mobile operating system will power the next iPhone as well as the current and some past iPhone models with new features.

The new iOS update will be available in beta form next month and will probably be released in September. Also, updates to the software running Macs, Apple TVs, and Apple Watches such as watchOS 4 and MacOS High Sierra were also introduced, along with more integration of the company’s Siri digital assistant.

With iOS 11, stickers and iMessage apps are now more accessible with a redesigned App drawer feature, where there’s no need to tap multiple times to send a sticker, and conversations are automatically synchronized with iCloud and stay in sync across devices.

Apple Pay’s much anticipated new feature now allows users to pay one another within iMessage. The peer-to-peer payments can be made and verified via in-built fingerprint scanner and TouchID.

Siri probably has one of the substantial improvements in iOS 11, with a more natural male and female voices.  It can now make built-in real-time translations, starting out with English, French, German, Chinese, Spanish and Italian. It can also be used for task management, taking notes and scanning QR codes. Siri is used on 375 million devices every month.

The Camera has got an update as it now supports high-efficiency video coding, or HEVC, where it supports up to 2x better compression without changing the video quality. The update also supports editing of Live photos, where user can choose a different main still photo, and make live photos go back and forth or loop just like Instagram’s boomerang.

Apple also has its control center feature redesigned and refreshed in iOS 11 as it looks completely new and features a ton of buttons fitting on a single page with sliders and key functions. Using 3D touch, users can press for further details and more depth of options and information.

Apple has added a feature that when the user is driving, it activates the new “Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode. With this mode activated, it turns the user’s iPhone screen black and can send automatic message replies telling they are on the road.

More of iOS 11 updates are AirPlay 2, where the user can connect multiple speakers via Wi-FI, then a redesigned Apple Music app, which user can see recommendations from their friends, what they’re listening to, and a kit for developers to make alternative reality (AR) products for the iPhone and iPad, where users will be able to use the camera to see virtual content built on top of real-world settings for gaming, shopping or creative design.

Lastly, for the first time in its nine-year history Apple has redesigned its App store. The new-look download shop includes sections for featured apps and games, with articles and videos exploring more detail of their development, story and design.

Apple has become the world’s most valuable public company by designing phones and other devices that work seamlessly with software. It puts on a Worldwide Developers Conference each year to show outside developers the latest software so they can create new apps and services that make the company’s gadgets more useful.

Currently, Apple shares are at $154.68. Earlier today, Apple opened at $154.34 with a session high of $154.45 and a session low of $153.46. The stock has a market capitalization of $814.46 billion, a P/E ratio of 18, and a dividend yield of 1.64%.

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Toyota Sells Tesla Stakes, Hopes to Light 2020 Olympic Games

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Toyota Motors Corp. sold all the last of its remaining shares in Tesla Inc. by the end of 2016., concluding the two companies’ more than half-decade relationship and cancelling its tie-up with the U.S. luxury automaker to jointly develop electric vehicles.

Toyota spokesman Ryo Sakai said the company had sold all of its shares in Tesla as of the end of 2016, part of a regular, periodic review of its investments, after it had initially sold down a portion in 2014.

“Our development partnership with Tesla ended a while ago, and since there has not been any new developments on that front, we decided it was time to sell the remaining stake,” he said.

The two automakers had started their cooperation in 2010, when Toyota purchased 3.15% shares of the California company for $50 million, and in 2012, the collaboration also led to the production of an electric-powered sports utility vehicle, particularly, the RAV4 sport utility vehicle, that sold 2,500 units.

However, after some false starts in their collaboration with Tesla to create an electric RAV4, the heritage Japanese firm has apparently chosen to go it alone in the race to fill U.S. driveways with affordable electric vehicles.

Toyota, which has till recently focused on developing the fuel-cell technology for green vehicles, has set up a team, drawing members from its various group companies to work on electric cars instead. Its fuel-cell powered car Mirai (meaning “future” in Japanese), powered by a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, produces only water from its exhaust pipe. However, hydrogen refuelling stations haven’t appeared around the world, making it difficult to make the technology mainstream.

Toyota’s Flying Cars Hope To Light 2020 Olympic Flame

Toyota recently turned heads as well by announcing its involvement with a very special kind of auto startup, and on Saturday, Toyota supported engineers demonstrated their car which they will be able to light up the Olympic flame for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games.

Last month, Toyota agreed to invest 42.5 million yen ($385,000) in “Cartivator”, a start-up group of about 30 engineers, including some young Toyota employees, who started to develop a flying car “SkyDrive” in 2014 with the help of crowdfunding.

Head of Cartivator, Tsubasa Nakamura, said that while the car was still at an early stage of development, the group expects to conduct the first manned-flight by the end of 2018.

During their demonstration, the current test model was able to get off and float to the ground for a few seconds. Nakamura said the design needed more steadiness so the prototype would be able to fly long and high enough to reach the Olympic flame.

Engineers of Cartivator are aiming to make their flying car the world’s smallest electric vehicle, which can be used in small urban areas, and hopes to commercialize the car in 2025, and have a world of flying cars by 2050.

“By 2050 we aim to create a world where anyone can fly in the sky anytime and anywhere,” the team writes. “To realize our vision, a compact flying car is necessary with [vertical] takeoff and landing technology, which do not need roads and runways to lift off.”

Currently, Toyota’s shares steady at ¥5968, down 2.04%. Earlier today, it opened at ¥6,001 with a session high of ¥6,005 and a session low of ¥5,964. The stock has a market capitalization of ¥19.47 trillion, a P/E ratio of 9.96, and a dividend yield of 3.52%.

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