Author: Devin Coldewey

Cryptocurrency chill causes mining speculator Nvidia’s stock to plunge

TECHCRUNCH The cryptocurrency market is an exciting one, but it’s also unpredictable — and when things go south, they take related businesses with them. Nvidia, a hardware giant that has been riding the cryptocurrency wave, saw its stock price take a double-digit hit as it reported vanishing demand for GPUs specializing in crypto-mining. It’s been a wild year in the GPU market at there were points when ordinary gamers, who have relied on Nvidia for years for the powerful cards used to play the latest games, found inventory scarce for the company’s latest generation of hardware. The cards had...

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E3 slouches towards irrelevance again as Sony announces it’s skipping the show

TECHCRUNCH I like E3. I really do. But it’s also monumentally dumb: game companies spending millions to show off essentially faked content to an increasingly jaded audience. And it’s increasingly out of step with how the gaming industry works. So it should come as no surprise that Sony will be skipping the show more or less altogether this year, joining Nintendo in taking a step back from spectacle. Sony has been a part of CES for 20 years and this will be the first one it’s ever missed. I’ve gone to their events every time I’ve attended; I was...

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Cassette decks from Crosley take aim at tape-hoarding nostalgia-seekers

TECHCRUNCH Crosley, makers of the “good enough” record players you see in Urban Outfitters and Target, have turned their retro novelty eye on the next obvious format: cassettes. These two new decks from the company have all the latest features from 1985, but also a handful of modern conveniences. Let’s get one thing clear at the outset: these are certainly ridiculous. And yes, you can buy a boom box with a cassette deck right now, new, for $30 or so. But having browsed the stock I can tell you that most of them are pretty ugly. There are vintage...

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FCC approval of Europe’s Galileo satellite signals may give your phone’s GPS a boost

TECHCRUNCH The FCC’s space-focused meeting today had actions taken on SpaceX satellites and orbital debris reduction, but the decision most likely to affect users has to do with Galileo. No, not the astronomer — the global positioning satellite constellation put in place by the E.U. over the last few years. It’s now legal for U.S. phones to use, and a simple software update could soon give your GPS signal a major bump. Galileo is one of several successors to the Global Positioning System that’s been in use since the ’90s. But because it is U.S.-managed and was for a...

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SpaceX gets FCC approval to add 7,518 more satellites to its Starlink constellation

TECHCRUNCH SpaceX’s application to add thousands of satellites to its proposed Starlink communications constellation has been approved by the FCC, though it will be some time before the company actually puts those birds in the air. Starlink is just one of many companies that the FCC gave the green light to today at its monthly meeting. Kepler, Telesat, and LeoSat also got approval for various services, though with 140, 117, and 78 satellites proposed respectively, they aren’t nearly as ambitious in scale. Several others were approved as well with smaller proposals. SpaceX officially applied to put these 7,518 satellites into orbit — alongside the already approved 4,409 — back in March of 2017. Last month the FCC indicated it planned to approve the request by circulating a draft order (PDF) to that effect, which it today made official. These satellites would orbit at the extremely low (for satellites) altitude of around 340 kilometers — even lower than the 550-kilometer orbit it plans to put 1,584 satellites in from the other group. Low orbits decay quickly and satellites may only last a couple years before they burn up. But being closer to the Earth also means that latency and required power for signals is considerably lower. It requires more satellites to cover a given area, but if managed properly it’ll produce a faster, more reliable connection or augment the system...

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After first commercial launch, Rocket Lab announces $140 million in funding

TECHCRUNCH When it rains, it pours. And when you’re a successful space startup, it pours money. Rocket Lab, the New Zealand-based launch provider, is still on cloud nine from having completed its first fully commercial launch this weekend — and now they get to announce a $140 million funding round that puts their valuation well above a billion. The series E, led by current Australian investor Future Fund, was not (as you might guess) contingent on the success of “It’s Business Time,” the Electron rocket that went up without a hitch this weekend. It was closed last month, with participation from Greenspring Associates, Khosla Ventures, Bessemer, DCVC, Promus, K1W1 and ACC. The success of the mission no doubt comes as a relief to the whole company, not to mention its investors: The launch had been delayed for various technical reasons and although they had every confidence in their tech, space is tricky. Not to mention expensive. With the new $140M in the bank, Rocket Lab is set up to kick its manufacturing facilities into high gear. I talked with CEO Peter Beck at Disrupt SF in September and he proudly discussed the infrastructure the company had built to churn out rockets in huge numbers. In the press release announcing the raise, Beck elaborated on what the cash would be used for. “This funding also enables the continued aggressive scale-up...

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These temporary electronic tattoos could redefine wearables

TECHCRUNCH Wearables are great, sure, except you have to wear them. Wouldn’t it be nice if that functionality was printed right onto your skin? Well, even though it’s not for everybody, it sounds like it might soon be a possibility: CMU researchers have created a durable, flexible electronic temporary tattoo that could be used for all kinds of things. This might sound familiar — we’ve been hearing about electronic tattoos for a while now. But previous methods were slow and limited, essentially painting oneself with conductive ink or attaching a thin conductive film. If the idea is going to...

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RFID stickers could signal contaminated food

TECHCRUNCH If a food item isn’t safe to eat, it’s best to find that out before someone eats it. But manual testing of every jar and bottle isn’t possible, even when a threat, like the recent baby food scare, is known. MIT researchers have found a way to check many items instantly, non-invasively, and from a distance — using the RFID tags many products already have. RFID, or radio frequency identification, uses a tiny antenna embedded in a sticker or label that’s activated and powered by radio waves at a very specific frequency. When a transceiver sends out a...

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