Author: Brian Heater

Sphero acquires a music education startup

TECHCRUNCH It’s hard to say precisely how Sphero’s pivot to education is going in these early stages, but it recently got an infusion of funding and is already out acquiring new startups. The BB-8 maker announced this morning that it’s picked up Specdrums​ — the fellow Boulder, Co-based startup is a Kickstarter success story that lets users create music with an app connected ring. It’s a strange fit at first glance, but Sphero clearly sees the company’s wearable technology as a strong addition to its newfound STEAM education focus. “We firmly believe that play is a powerful teacher. With...

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Supreme Court decision requires warrant to obtain cellphone records for tracking

TECHCRUNCH The United States Supreme court issued a decision this morning required police to obtain a warrant from a judge in order to track individuals through cellphone records. The 5-4 ruling is being regarded as a win for privacy advocates in the U.S. The decision derived from a 2011 case in which FBI agents used three months of phone records in order to capture and convict a Michigan man of robbing Radio Shack and T-Mobile locations. The suspect’s lawyers argued that the evidence should be thrown out due to a lack of warrant, after their client lost in lower court rulings. Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the opinion for the majority, used the platform to highlight the limitations of the ruling. “The Government will be able to use subpoenas to acquire records in the overwhelming majority of investigations. We hold only that a warrant is required in the rare case where the suspect has a legitimate privacy interest in records held by a third party.” Roberts, who was joined by four of the court’s more liberal judges, also left open the possibility of using such records without a warrant in the case of life and death circumstances. “As a result, if law enforcement is confronted with an urgent situation, such fact-specific threats will likely justify the warrantless collection of CSLI,” he wrote. “Lower courts, for instance, have approved...

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MoviePass competitor Sinemia intros family plans starting at $9

TECHCRUNCH A day after MoviePass announced upcoming surge pricing, Sinemia is introducing a new deal group deal for families. The plans start at $9 a month for one movie for two people and goes up considerably from there, topping out at ten times that amount for three movie days a month for six people. Families can get expensive. The new plans will be available in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and Turkey. Earlier this month, the company, which touts itself as a MoviePass competitor in its own press material, launched single user plans starting at as low as $5...

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Zume adds a robotic arm to its automated pizza kitchen

TECHCRUNCH Earlier this year, Zume made it pretty clear that it was exploring life beyond pizza. Coffee, steamed buns and frozen yogurt have all been floated as possibilities for the newly formed Zume Inc. Of course, for its subsidiary Zume Pizza, the titular foodstuff is very much its bread and butter. In fact, the company’s increasing the number of in-kitchen robots its implementing, with the addition of an arm into the mix. The ABB robotic arm, nicknamed “Vincenzo,” pulls pizzas from the 800-degree robotic oven and places them on nearby shelves, filling an entire rack in around four and a...

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Google Assistant’s ‘Continued Conversation’ feature is now live

TECHCRUNCH Google I/O was awash with Assistant news, but Duplex mystery aside, Continued Conversation was easily one of the most compelling announcements of the bunch. The feature is an attempt to bring more naturalized conversation to the AI — a kind of holy grail with these sorts of smart assistants. Continued Conversation is rolling out to Assistant today for users in the U.S. with a Home, Home Mini and Home Max. The optional setting is designed to offer a more natural dialogue, so users don’t have to “Hey Google” Assistant every time they have a request. Google offers the...

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Intel’s CEO resigns as information about a ‘past consensual relationship’ surfaces

TECHCRUNCH In a press release touting “another record year,” Intel dropped a a bombshell, announcing that CEO Brian Krzanich is resigning, amid revelations of a “past consensual relationship” with an employee. “Intel was recently informed that Mr. Krzanich had a past consensual relationship with an Intel employee,” the company notes in the release. “An ongoing investigation by internal and external counsel has confirmed a violation of Intel’s non-fraternization policy, which applies to all managers. Given the expectation that all employees will respect Intel’s values and adhere to the company’s code of conduct, the Board has accepted Mr. Krzanich’s resignation.”...

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Microsoft is buying AI startup, Bonsai

TECHCRUNCH If all of the big tech co’s agree on one thing at the moment, it’s that artificial intelligence and machine learning point the way forward for their businesses. As a matter of fact, Microsoft is about to acquire Bonsai, a small Berkeley-based startup it hopes to make the centerpiece of its AI efforts. The company specializes in reinforcement learning, a kind of trial and error approach to teach a system within in the confines of a simulation. That learning can be used train autonomous systems to complete specific tasks.  Microsoft says the acquisition will serve to forward the...

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AMC’s MoviePass competitor arrives June 26

TECHCRUNCH It was just a matter of time before AMC went head to head with MoviePass. After all, the two companies have been at odds for some time. Back in January, MoviePass dropped out of 10 of the theater chain’s highest traffic theaters in what was seen as a negotiating tactic. But AMC had no interest in playing ball. The company had already publicly stated that it had “no intention[…]of sharing any […] admissions revenue,” one of many signs that it was working on its own version of the subscription service. That response arrives June 26, in the form of...

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