Author: Brian Heater

The CC Aurora is actually pretty fun, as far as projectors go

TECHCRUNCH I don’t review projectors. Projectors are boring. Even the good ones. They remind me of vacation slideshows and the film strips we had to watch in health class — neither of which I’m in a particular hurry to revisit in my adult life. That said, I’ve always harbored some germ of a notion that some day I might buy one, to compensate for being one of those weirdos without a TV set. There’s something undeniably appealing about a big screen TV you can break out during movie night and then stash back into the closest of your one-bedroom New York City apartment. XGIMI’s CC Aurora is the closest I’ve seen to fitting the bill — or, for that matter, being a projector that I could actually muster any reasonable amount of excitement about. From the looks of it, it’s kind of the perfect package for the apartment dweller: it’s compact, self-contained with a built-in speaker system and plays nicely with mobile devices. Clearly I’m not alone here, either. The product scored $170,000 on Indiegogo — around three times its goal. The product’s clearly struck some kind of a chord with people. I’ll say right off the bat that the CC Aurora is pretty nice looking, as far as projectors go. It ships in a lovely, fabric-covered carrying case that blends in nicely with Google’s line of home products....

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Trump cites Facebook exec’s comments downplaying Russian influence on election

TECHCRUNCH You’d be forgiven for missing Donald Trump’s multiple retweets of Facebook executive Rob Goldman over the weekend. Perhaps you were spending time with family, watching Black Panther or just attempting to forget politics for a moment by ignoring the manic flurry of social media updates from the leader of the free world. But in amongst a deluge of tweets that blamed Democrats for failing to preserve DACA, called out the FBI over the recent school shooting in Florida on the FBI and affectionately referred to a member of congress as “Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control,” the President cited Facebook’s VP of Ads as evidence against claims that his campaign colluded with Russia. “The Fake News Media never fails,” Trump tweeted over the weekend. “Hard to ignore this fact from the Vice President of Facebook Ads, Rob Goldman!” “I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal.” Rob Goldman Vice President of Facebook Ads https://t.co/A5ft7cGJkE — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2018 Trump was citing Goldman’s own Twitter dump over the past week, responding to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s recent indictment of 13 Russian citizens charged with interfering in the presidential election. “Very excited to see the Mueller indictment today,” Goldman wrote. “We shared Russian ads with Congress, Mueller and...

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3D printing company New Matter is shutting down this month

TECHCRUNCH Perhaps 2014 wasn’t the ideal time to get into the 3D printing game. After years of hype, the even the biggest names have been struggling to stay afloat. Pasadena startup New Matter is joining the growing list of companies who’ve unsuccessfully made a go at it, announcing that it will be closing up shop by the end of the month. It’s not for lacking of trying — and the company’s MOD-t printer was met with decent reviews when it launched in 2016. In his writeup, John praised the pricing ($300 or $400, depending on where you picked one...

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Apple employees are reportedly walking into walls at the company’s fancy new glass office

TECHCRUNCH People in glass offices should probably watch where they’re going. Collisions have been one very clear downside of Apple’s $427 million spaceship office in Cupertino, according to a story out of Bloomberg. The “people familiar with the incidents” won’t say how widespread a phenomenon all of this is, but there’s a definite potential downside to glass walls in a setting where occupants are regularly staring down at their phones. In an effort to the phenomenon, some have apparently taken to sticking Post-Its on potential hazard zones — a sort of primitive form of augmented reality.  As someone who regularly runs into stuff, I can personally confirm that walls, not people are to blame in this situation, and likely the whole things is more a source of brief personal embarrassment for those involved. As the story points out, none of the collisions have warranted a post to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Transparency, after all, is the key to addressing these issues. This does, however, reflect a story from 2012, in which an 83-year-old woman filed suit against the company after injuring herself after bumping into a glass surface at an Apple Store. The suit, which was later settled out of court, claimed  the company “was negligent … in allowing a clear, see-through glass wall and/or door to exist without proper warning.” Likely these reports, however, won’t result...

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You can buy a $20 leather coaster for your HomePod

TECHCRUNCH Sure, yesterday’s big wood staining HomePod news was a bit of a black eye for Apple’s smart speaker, but it’s going to be a boon for one very specific, extremely narrow product category. I’m sure I’m going to get 50 similar pitches the minute this story publishes, but Pad & Quill owner Brian Holmes beat everyone to the punch by alerting us to a $20 leather coaster that’s currently up for pre-order. I’m not saying you should buy this — in fact, you probably shouldn’t — but it’s there if you want it. And yes, it will, indeed...

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Nokia is re-evaluating its wearables division

TECHCRUNCH Nokia’s been facing an uphill battle for relevance in the consumer space ever since the company threw in the towel on smartphones. Wearables seemed like a reasonable road, so the company snapped up French electronics company Withings back in 2016, phasing out the name a year later and rebranding itself Nokia Health. Of course, the past year has seen much of the air escape from wearables, and the company’s clearly feeling that pinch. In a statement today, Nokia admits that it’s doing some serious soul searching. The actual letter is brief and full of corporate speak, but it paints a company going through some serious growing pains. “Nokia today announces that it has initiated a review of strategic options for its Digital Health business,” it says in the statement. Then things get a bit more wishy washy. “The strategic review of the Digital Health business may or may not result in any transaction or other changes. Any further announcements about the Digital Health business will be made if and when appropriate.” As far as what that actually means in the short term, Reuters points out that the company plans to cut at least 425 jobs in Finland this year. It’s a fraction of the 6,300 people it employs in its home country (not to mention the nearly 103,000 worldwide), but its a pretty clear indication of a company...

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Samsung’s Notebook 9 Pen is a reasonably capable convertible

TECHCRUNCH You’d be forgiven if you’ve had some trouble combing through Samsung’s laptop product page. Honestly, I’ve been looking most of the afternoon, and I couldn’t really tell you the distinctions between the various lines. Add to that the various subcategories and SKUs, and the whole thing is a bit a maddening.  But while the company’s not doing a great job mitigating brand confusion, it is delivering some solid devices — and the Notebook 9 Pen is no exception. Announced at CES in January, the new device doesn’t represent much of a drastic departure from its predecessor. No surprise there, really, given the fact that the company didn’t even wait a full year for a refresh. The biggest change here is right there in the name, bringing Samsung’s beloved stylus to the line, to take advantage of Windows 10’s pen capabilities and bringing the Note line’s familiar Air Command overlay to the desktop. It’s not an essential addition by any means, but it gives the company a chance to play in the “creators” category that Microsoft’s been pushing in a major way with its desktop operating system. Build-wise, the Notebook 9 looks a lot like its predecessors — and, for that matter, other Samsung devices, like the Chromebook Pro. The machine’s coated in an alloy the company’s taken to calling “Metal12,” which sounds like a late-’90s rap-rock band, but...

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Miso scores $10 million to bring its hamburger-flipping robot to more restaurants

TECHCRUNCH Pasadena-based hardware startup Miso Robotics just got a big vote of confidence from investors, in the form of a $10 million Series B. This latest windfall led by Acacia Research Corporation brings the company’s total disclosed funding to $14 million and arrives as it ramps up production and gets ready to deliver its hamburger-cooking robot Flippy to 50 CaliBurger locations. “We’re super stoked to use this funding to develop and scale our capabilities of our kitchen assistants and AI platform,” CEO/co-founder Dave Zito said on a call with TechCrunch ahead of the announcement. “Our current investors saw an early look at our progress, and they were so blown away that they doubled-down.” A robot’s view of the grill The round also includes new investors, including, notably, Levy, a Chicago-based hospitality company that runs restaurants and vending machines in entertainment and sporting venues in the U.S. and U.K. The company’s investment is clearly a strategic one, as it looks toward staffing solutions in its heavily trafficked locations. “The Levy participation is really centered around their looking at this future world where people are increasingly wanting prepared foods,” says Zito. “People really like the idea of a kitchen assistant that can really come in and be that third hand for the overworked staff. They’re all reporting high turnover rate and increasing customer demand for fresh ingredients prepared quickly. Trying to keep...

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