Tags Posts tagged with "Best Tech Stocks"

Best Tech Stocks

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technology_lincoln

On Demand Driver Technology? Lincoln Chauffeur Service Will Make You Feel Like A VIP

Automobile company, Lincoln, is testing a new service for owners of its vehicles that supply a driver on demand technology. The service is like an upscale version of Uber’s technology, in which you supply the car, and Lincoln supplies a professional driver. This driver is actually a Lincoln employee, not a spot contractor, and will drive you around and return your car to your home, basically make you feel like a VIP.

technology

The service will launch first in Miami and will let Lincoln owners order up a chauffeur via a smartphone app. The chauffeur will not only be able to drive you around, but will also return your car to your home in case others in the household need to use it, will fill it up if so required, and can even run light errands like picking up some groceries. Costs, as you might expect, are not cheap. During the pilot program, Lincoln Chauffeur will run around $30 per hour, which is actually not terrible compared to Uber until you remember you have to supply the car as well. On the plus side for Lincoln owners, they will get eight hours free of Chauffeur service included in the purchase price of their vehicle.

This is only a limited test at the moment, but Lincoln reported that it would like to expand the service to San Diego next, and then additional markets after that. It is likely a decent challenge to scale, since Lincoln’s actually employing the drivers it is using. Lincoln Chauffeur may be a bit of a departure from other mobility service offerings automakers are exploring, which include on-demand vehicle rentals and even white glove delivery of said cars to a renter’s door, but it still sounds like an interesting way to add value while driving new revenue sources in the luxury segment.

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Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence Goes Corporate

Artificial Intelligence / A Cambridge, Massachusetts startup, Talla, wants to help companies to ease into artificial intelligence, and they have come up with a new service assistant bot that gives companies whatever degree of intelligence-fueled power they are looking for. The tool, called ServiceAssistant, works as an IT or HR help desk inside of Slack or Microsoft Teams and gives customers a few options on how to use it. First of all, you can run it like a conventional service desk. The user sends requests through ServiceAssistant where it gets processed and answered by a human.

Artificial Intelligence

In the second scenario, the customer eases into automation where the ServiceAssistant provides an automated answer, which gets checked by a human before being sent through to the questioner, or at the highest level of automation the system simply sends an answer when the confidence threshold is above a certain level set by the customer. Rob May, CEO and co-founder, says the company deliberately used an in-house service model instead of live customers because after reviewing the technology, he felt that the current Natural Language Processing technology was better suited to this approach.

The Talla ServiceAssistant looks like any user on Slack or Microsoft Teams. As with any Slack or Teams bot, employees can interact with it by asking questions. If it’s tuned to be an HR assistant, for example, an employee might ask, “Do we have Labor Day off?” If the system has been configured to answer automatically, it’s the kind of question that it can answer with a high degree of certainty and can simply tell the employee yes or no. In an IT Help Desk approach, the questions could get trickier such as, “How I get access to QuickBooks?” In this case, the system might find multiple matches, and if it were set for automated responses, it could ask the questioner to choose the most relevant one, or it could ask if they want to open a help desk ticket to move to the question to a human for processing.

The system is tuned to ask questions when it doesn’t understand and to learn from the responses. Since people ask questions in non-standard ways, the system can also learn that “Are we open Labor Day?” is the same as “Do we have Labor Day off?” or “Is the office closed on Labor Day?” May says even in companies where there are high usage rates for Slack or Teams, there could be as many as 20% of employees not using that tool, so they’ve also built a Web App and allow email, but the ultimate goal is to get people into the conversational tools to ask the questions; and do it in an automated way as possible.

The company wants to be more than a conversational bot, however. It wants to be a central place for processing IT and HR requests. That means having a ticket system, a knowledge base, and the ability to broadcast to employees, for example, when the system is going down for maintenance or the office is closed for a holiday. May says among his customers Slack is definitely the more popular of the two offerings today, but he believes it’s important to look at the different conversational tools and continually assess where that market is going as it’s still being established.

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water technology

Technology Turning Seawater Into Drinking Water

Technology / Researchers continue to examine the potential of graphene, the one-atom thin sheet of bonded carbon atoms that was created more than ten years ago after researchers first peeled a few layers off a block of graphite with some Scotch Tape, before going on to refine their technique until a sheet just a single atom thick was produced.

water technology

The nanomaterial has been posited for all sorts of potentially revolutionary uses; from faster, thinner and even transparent electronics, to biotech implants, to better battery capacity. Now researchers at the University of Manchester say they have come up with a method for controlling the permeation of graphene oxide membranes so they can act as a filter to remove salt from ocean water. By controlling the size of the pores in the membranes the team was able to prevent common salts passing through the material, turning seawater into drinking water.

While graphene has previously been demonstrated for filtering small nanoparticles, organic molecules, and even large salts, the challenge with common salts found in seawater is their small size. Graphene membranes also swell in size when immersed in water; meaning smaller sieves were required in order to block these common salts.

The team at Manchester say they used physical confinement to control the interlayer spacing within graphene laminates immersed in water, enabling them to achieve what they describe as “accurate and tunable ion sieving”, and to provide a sieve size smaller than the diameters of hydrated ions.

While they found that permeation rates for the membranes decrease exponentially with decreasing sieve size, they also report that water transport itself is only “weakly affected.” That means the filtered water flows through the membrane relatively quickly; an important factor if the aim is to develop affordable desalination technology. As well as potential uses for desalination, the team envisages wider industrial applications for “on-demand filtration capable of filtering out ions according to their sizes.” This study is detailed in a paper published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Professor Rahul Nair, one of the scientists stated, “Realisation of scalable membranes with uniform pore size down to atomic scale is a significant step forward and will open new possibilities for improving the efficiency of desalination technology. This is the first clear-cut experiment in this regime. We also demonstrate that there are realistic possibilities to scale up the described approach and mass produce graphene-based membranes with required sieve sizes.”

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electric vehicle

Electric Vehicles Go To Two Wheels

What To Expect With A Zero Motorcycles’ Electric Vehicles, I mean, Motorcycles.

With growing popularity, electric vehicles have started taking over. Some of the most popular brands on American roads are: Bolt, Prius, Proterra, and Tesla. It is rare to see or hear of a fully electric or hybrid motorcycle. Harley and Honda are two of the more popular brands of motor bikes. Their customers have expressed interest in the greener approach to riding but not many startups have been successful. Zero Motorcycles, Lightning Motorcycle, and Alta Motors are some US Companies still in the game.

electric vehicles

Zero Motorcycles CTO, Abe Askenazi, has been in the motorcycle industry for almost twenty years. He said right now a lot of Zero Motorcycles’ customers buy the company’s EV bikes alongside market-leading V-twins and V-4s. To him, that indicates Zero’s bikes perform at the same or better levels as riders’ long-held favorites. He continued, electric bikes are quiet, so riders can hear what’s happening around them, and won’t disturb the peace, which their neighbors appreciate. That quietness is one reason police departments buy Zero Motorcycles for their fleets. They can ride at any hour, and approach suspects stealthily if they drive electric.

Zero’s products range from lightweight “hot rods” to off-road models that cost anywhere from about $8,500 to $16,000. Some of the new bikes are promising 200 miles per charge, which is a significant improvement from past models. The motorcycles’ easy to read instruments, speed control, and acceleration are some of Zero’s customers’ favorite qualities.

Askenazi stated, “Optimization of chemistry has gotten us here. The beautiful thing is that batteries are plug-and-play. When that battery comes that will give you 1,000 miles, we’ll be able to use it. Where the industry is going though is not so much a bigger battery to go further between charges, but faster charging so you can go grocery shopping, plug it in, come back and then you’re ready to go again.”

The CTO said that batteries will eventually weigh less and take up less space on the e-bikes. This will allow more space for cargo and other components. Askenazi stated, “You gain a lot of practicality with this bike.” He believes over time there will be many improvements with lighter weight and stronger materials.

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technology_ride_sharing

How Will Autonomous Vehicle Sharing Technology Affect Cities?

New research from Arcadis, HR&A Advisors and Sam Schwartz Consulting offers advice for city planners who are considering a future that includes autonomous vehicle technology, or AVs. McKinsey (who was not part of this particular study) says that by 2030, autonomous vehicles will account for 15% of auto sales worldwide. The study released recently, “Driverless Future: A Policy Roadmap for City Leaders,” estimates that nearly 8 million people in its three sample cities will choose an AV over a traditional vehicle in the next 15 to 20 years. Those three sample cities were Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York and were selected for the extent of their of density, walkability, and usage of public transportation.

technology ride sharing

The research compared the cost of car ownership to speculated AV ridesharing and AV ridesourcing, and determined when people in those cities were likely to make the move from commuting in their own car to hailing a self-driving car. However, the study’s authors also point out that in order for AV to work, it has to work for everyone. They suggest things like using open data and universal apps so riders can compare prices, travel times, and environmental impact across modes of transportation, and pay using one app. To that extent, the authors also remind cities to keep in mind that not everyone has equal access to technology. People who do not have cell phones or bank accounts need to be able to access the transportation network, including autonomous rideshare or ridesource vehicles, through Dial-a-Ride and smartcard payment options.

It is also worth taking in mind now, as this kind of technology and service is growing worldwide, how to fund accessible services. For example, the study notes that in New York City, there is a 30-cent fee per taxi ride that supports the city’s expansion of wheelchair-accessible transportation options. Ridesourcing services like Uber and Lyft don’t pay that fee. There are potential drawbacks to having fleets of AVs wandering city streets, and the study is aware of these concerns. Mass adoption of AVs could encourage sprawl and increase the number of miles cars travel, and the system could develop in a way that leaves behind anyone without a cell phone and a checking account. AVs also could decrease public transit revenues, which could affect public transportation.

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technology

Technology For Automobile Cybersecurity Getting Beefed Up

A Technology focused on auto’s has been reintroduced by Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Ed Markey of Massachusetts called the Security and Privacy in Your Car (SPY Car) Act of 2017. The proposal was first introduced during the last session. The SPY Car Act places the responsibility for automotive cybersecurity and privacy standards on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The regulation would require critical software systems to be isolated from noncritical systems. And then those isolated systems should be tested for security.

technology

It also addresses securing personal information, including all data “collected by the electronic systems that are built into motor vehicles,” against unauthorized access. If there is a hacking attempt, the SPY Car Act calls for all cars to be equipped with the ability to detect the breach, report it and stop it from taking over the vehicle or collecting driving data. If a manufacturer doesn’t include this capability, under the law it would be fined $5,000 per car that didn’t have security technology built in.

So far, the SPY Car Act seems like something we would expect to see. However, Senators Markey and Blumenthal take another step in requiring a “cyber dashboard.” This would tell the driver how far above and beyond the basic requirements a car company has gone to secure the onboard electronic systems via an “easy-to-understand, standardized graphic.” So some kind of scorecard would be placed where anyone could see it.

The SPY Car Act also requires that every vehicle give “clear and conspicuous notice” to the driver about what driving information is being collected, if it is being transmitted or saved, and how it’s being used. Once you know this, the law would require that manufacturers give you the right to opt out of data collection without interfering with your ability to use navigation tools. And that data can only be used for marketing to you if you choose to opt in. The SPY Car Act does exempt black-box-type data collection. That basic information is still useful in the event of a crash, or to check the emissions history of a vehicle.

Vehicle tracking specialists Satrak Plant Security polled 2,000 people in the U.K. recently and found that 40% of respondents said hacking was a “fairly serious” problem, which echoes other polls of consumers’ attitudes toward automotive cybersecurity. Now that NHTSA has created guidelines for autonomous vehicles, maybe it can build on its best practices guidelines if the SPY Car Act is passed.

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    technology nasa

    App Technology Allows Users To View Landscapes From Space

    The global imaging technology company that acquired Google’s Terra Bella satellite imaging business recently, Planet, is introducing a new tool called Planet Explorer Beta that permits its users to view how its image captures of Earth from space change over time. It is available to the public without a login, which means almost anyone can see what a particular spot on the planet looked like over a yearly or monthly period.

    technology nasa

    Will Marshall, Planet co-founder and CEO, describes in a blog post that the company has noticed that, as it captures images of the same locations over time, almost all places show visible signs of transformation. Planet’s satellite network captures a lot more imagery than has typically been available, and on a more frequent basis. It can collect a new photo of every piece of land on Earth on a daily basis, via its network of almost 150 orbital satellites. It proves things transform almost indefinitely all over the planet.

    There is clearly a business focus with Planet’s choice to reveal Explore Beta publicly with no login required. Use of the resulting images is limited to non-commercial purposes, and Planet anticipates this will drive free account sign-ups, which unlock access to not only yearly and monthly change imagery, but also daily comparisons. These gimmicks are likely to convert at least some users into paid subscribers, which permits them to use the available data for commercial use.

    However, Planet also says it believes imagery of the Earth should be freely accessible to all, including NGOs, individuals, and small companies, rather than exclusive province of big corporations and government agencies. For the everyday user, this is a great modern way to pass some time looking at truly fascinating satellite images, and getting some new perspective on the all-too inevitable passage of time.

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    technology

    Augmented-Reality Technology Company Attracting Big Investment

    Technology & e-commerce company Alibaba is digging deeper into the automobile industry after launching its first car last year. The company announced the Chinese Internet and e-commerce beast is the lead investor in smart car tech developer WayRay’s $18 million Series B round. Founded in 2012, WayRay makes holographic navigation systems. According to its funding announcement, WayRay has already spent $10 million of its own cash, as well as previous venture funding, on the technology that underpins Navion, an augmented-reality dashboard that overlays directions and other information onto a driver’s view of the road. WayRay plans to unveil a consumer version of Navion in 2017.

    technology

    Alibaba Group’s senior investment director, Ethan Xie stated, “We believe there is huge potential in the development of leading-edge technology like augmented reality and its application to various industries, like WayRay’s AR navigation system in the auto sector. The potential of augmented reality makes it an exciting and promising area.” Alibaba made its first appearance in the car industry last summer, when the RX5, a smart car it designed with SAIC (one of China’s “big four” state-owned auto manufacturers) opened for pre-orders. The RX5 uses Alibaba’s Yun operating system and the company anticipates to make the vehicle part of an Internet-of-Things ecosystem that will include its other smart hardware and Internet services like Alipay.

    But Alibaba’s smart cars are already up against challengers from other big Chinese tech companies like LeEco, which bills its electric car LeSee as “the first mobility ecosystem on wheels,” and Baidu, which is developing smart car technology and autonomous vehicles with BAIC, another of China’s big four state-owned automakers. WayRay also said that it will partner with Banma Technologies (a joint venture between Alibaba Group and SAIC) to create an augmented-reality navigation and entertainment system for a car that will be launched by Banma in 2018. WayRay claims that this is “the world’s first vehicle in-production with a holographic AR head-up display.”

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    3d printing technology

    3D Printing Technology Can Print Your Pizza

    BeeHex, a technology startup company designing a 3D food printer, has raised $1 million in seed funding to debut its first product, a pizza printer called the Chef 3D. Originally, the company wanted to create a printer that would have the capability to make an array of foods for astronauts on long missions in outer space. However, the company’s cofounders: Anjan Contractor, Chintan Kanuga, Jordan French, and Ben Feltner, have been adjusting their original concept printer technology for a commercial market that is ready on Earth today. The printers use pneumatic systems, rather than conventional additive manufacturing technologies, to move around ingredients.

    3d printing technology

    Long-term, French said, BeeHex wishes to design a network of printers that are able to create snacks or meals on-the-spot, tailored to the consumers’ needs. Customers would eventually be able to choose their food through an app, or the BeeHex printers could make food that correlates to their health needs, taking into consideration information transmitted from internet connected medical devices or fitness-related wearables. BeeHex CEO and cofounder Anjan Contractor says the startup plans a soft debut, working with select pilot consumers in the food business in 2017. The company moved its research and development facilities to Ohio recently, a region that is home to some 170 food and beverage manufacturers

    “Businesses want to provide food personalization, and they don’t want to have to spend a lot on training new employees to offer this,” contractor said. A machine like BeeHex’s 3D Chef would let businesses offer fresh pizzas that are shaped like a cartoon character for kids, for example, or that are gluten-free for celiac customers, without requiring cooks to learn specialized skills. Investor Jim Grote said BeeHex could be a long-term profitable business just creating 3-D printing solutions for high-volume pizza restaurants, especially major chains like Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, or Dominos. According to market research firm Packaged Facts, the pizza restaurant industry pulls in around $43 billion in annual sales worldwide.

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    technology

    Nokia’s 17 Year Old 3310 Took Center Stage At MWC

    Recent Press conferences from LG, Motorola, Samsung, and Sony confirmed all attendees seemed to care about at Mobile World Congress was a rebooted, 17 year old device. A candy bar feature phone whose main selling point is its ability to play Snake, surpassing BlackBerry’s KeyOne smartphone. Feature phones never disappeared. You can still purchase them inexpensively. Yet, HMD’s Nokia 3310 seems to have gathered more excitement at the show than any new forerunner, including LG’s G6.

    LG noted during its press conference that the future of mobile innovation will be about usability than specs, just before talking up its fancy new aspect ratio. LG was right, the smartphone battle has too often been waged as a war of specs, but the company’s execution was off. One decade after the iPhone transformed the mobile industry, consumers have grown tired of a war over incremental updates like display resolutions and megapixels. After ten years of hard fought redundancy, what is conceivably the most out-of-date phone of the show feels like a breath of fresh air.

    You can call it smartphone fatigue if you’d like. The churn of the yearly upgrade cycles and the flood of me-too handsets seems to have hit a breaking point, so much so that the solid gimmick of reviving a feature phone nearly old enough to vote in the US overshadowed a handful of the year’s biggest smartphone announcements. We would like to recommend that the sentiment is symptomatic of some larger trend to return to simpler technological times, that the 3310 in the beginning of a nostalgia movement among smartphone buyers akin the vinyl movement of the last several years. However, the only larger trend the 3310 is ominous of is our need of a break from the seemingly endless parade of minor smartphone upgrades.

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