Author: Sarah Wells

Yes, open office plans are the worst

TECHCRUNCH If you’re endlessly distracted by your co-workers in the gaping open office space you all share, you’re not alone. Compared to traditional office spaces, face-to-face interaction in open office spaces is down 70 percent with resulting slips in productivity, according to Harvard researchers in a new study published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B this month. In the study, researchers followed two anonymous Fortune 500 companies during their transitions between a traditional office space to an open plan environment and used a sensor called a “sociometric badge” (think company ID on a lanyard) to record detailed information about...

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There’s now just one Blockbuster remaining in the U.S.

TECHCRUNCH And then there was one. With the impending closures of Blockbuster locations in Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska, just one single store will remain in the country, Anchorage Daily News reported yesterday. The two locations in Alaska will officially close their respective doors on July 16, leaving just one location in Bend, Ore. “…it is sad to say goodbye to our dedicated customers,” Blockbuster Alaska General Manager Kevin Daymude said in a Facebook post announcing the closures. “Both [the district manager] and I have been with the company since 1991 and have had great memories throughout our career. Thank you...

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Guru announces new AI and Sync features for knowledge sharing platform

TECHCRUNCH It’s one thing to have a great business idea, but connecting all of the disparate pieces of information and people needed to build it can be a frustrating growing pain — and one that the internal knowledge sharing company Guru is trying to fix. Guru launched in 2015 as a Chrome extension to help revenue and customer service teams have easy access to all of their company’s information the moment they needed it by congregating relevant “cards” of information written by different internal teams. Since its launch, Guru has extended its company to include a web app, and...

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Project Loon and Project Wing graduate from Google X

TECHCRUNCH Google X projects Loon and Wing have left the nest and graduated to independent companies under Google’s parent company Alphabet, Google X Captain of Moonshots, X Astro Teller wrote in a Medium post yesterday. “Today, unlike when they started as X projects, Loon and Wing seem a long way from crazy — and thanks to their years of hard work and relentless testing in the real world, they’re now graduating from X to become two new independent businesses within Alphabet: Loon and wing,” Teller wrote in the post. [embedded content] Loon and Wing, which respectively launched in 2013 and 2014, have both seen substantial progress from the moonshot ideas they were proposed as. Loon, a fleet of internet enabling balloons that patrol the skies to connect remote and technologically undeserved areas, played a role in connecting those affected by flooding in Peru last summer and assisted those devastated by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico this past fall. Meanwhile, Wing, an autonomous drone delivery service aimed at reducing CO2 emissions, has tested its drones remote reach through burrito deliveries in Australia. This May, the U.S. Department of Transportation selected Wing as one of ten teams to push the limits of drone technology in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program. In his statement, Teller announced that Alastair Westgarth will be stepping in as Loon’s new CEO and Wing will welcome James Ryan Burgess as its...

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Nurx raises $36 million and adds Chelsea Clinton to its board of directors

TECHCRUNCH Telemedicine startup Nurx recently closed a $36 million funding round led by Kleiner Perkins. As part of the investment, Kleiner Perkins General Partner Noah Knauf is joining the startup’s board of directors, along with and Chelsea Clinton. With this new funding, CEO and co-founder Hans Gangeskar told TechCrunch that the startup plans to scale its clinical teams, pharmacies and geographic reach in the coming year. “We have a new site in Miami where we have a team of nurses being on-boarded, [we’re] building out our engineering and design teams and really just [working to] increase the pace of everything...

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Hinge employs new algorithm to find your ‘most compatible’ match for you

TECHCRUNCH There are always more fish in the sea. The once-comforting relationship advice has turned out a prophetic, and overwhelming reality in the world of app and online dating. With ever-mounting numbers of profiles to look through and scrutinize for potential compatibility, one can start to feel stuck in a cycle of flirtation, failed first dates and constant repetition. Hinge’s new feature, Most Compatible, aims to break that cycle by utilizing a Nobel Prize-winning algorithm to identify the matches you’re most likely to hit it off with and put one at the top of your Discover each day. The...

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Your next summer DIY project is an AI-powered doodle camera

TECHCRUNCH With long summer evenings comes the perfect opportunity to dust off your old boxes of circuits and wires and start to build something. If you’re short on inspiration, you might be interested in artist and engineer Dan Macnish’s how-to guide on building an AI-powered doodle camera using a thermal printer, Raspberry pi, a dash of Python and Google’s Quick Draw data set. “Playing with neural networks for object recognition one day, I wondered if I could take the concept of a Polaroid one step further, and ask the camera to re-interpret the image, printing out a cartoon instead...

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Boost VC backs Storyline’s Alexa skill builder

TECHCRUNCH Have you felt a disconnect with your Alexa and wished she could share more of your sense of humor or tell you an actually scary ghost story? Startup Storyline makes designing your own Alexa skills as easy and dragging and dropping speech blocks, and has just raised $770,000 in a funding round led by Boost VC to help grow its skill builder API. The company launched in 2017 to help bridge the gap between creators and the tricky voice recognition software powering smart speakers like Alexa. With its new funding, CEO and co-founder  Vasili Shynkarenka says that Storyline is hoping to expand...

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