Author: Catherine Shu

Samsung’s new Galaxy M smartphones will launch in India first

Samsung will launch its new lower-priced Galaxy M series in India before the smartphones roll out globally. Asim Warsi, senior vice president of Samsung India’s smartphone business, told Reuters that three devices will be available through its website and Amazon India at the end of January and are intended to help the company double online sales. Samsung is currently trying to recover its lead in India, the world’s second-largest smartphone market behind China, after losing it to Xiaomi at the end of 2017, when Xiaomi’s sales in India overtook Samsung for the first time, according to data from both...

Read More

The company behind YouCam Makeup app launches a new set of AR tools for beauty brands like Ulta

Released in 2014, the year before Snapchat put face filters on the road to ubiquity, Perfect Corp’s YouCam Makeup app gave many smartphone users their first taste of augmented selfies. At the beginning, it let users experiment with different makeup looks and portrait-editing tools. Since then, YouCam Makeup has expanded beyond selfies into e-commerce and retail with tools for over 200 beauty brands and retailers, including L’Oréal, Estée Lauder, Cosmopolitan, and Target (the big-box retailer’s online Virtual Try-on tool uses Perfect Corp.’s technology). At CES this week, Perfect Corp announced a new roster of products under the brand name Beauty 3.0, including AI-based augmented reality tools that recommend foundation, makeup, and hair with a solid rate of accuracy and realism (I tested several of the new apps last month at Perfect Corp’s Taipei headquarters), even for finishes like glitter and metallics. It also recently signed a partnership with Ulta to bring its try-on technology to the retailer’s beauty stores and hair salons. Launched in 2014 by CEO Alice Chang and owned by CyberLink, a digital media software developer, Perfect Corp says its apps have now been downloaded 700 million times and claims a total of 60 million monthly active users (in China, it also has a mini-program for WeChat). The company says its tools help retailers increase basket sizes and conversions, reduce the number of products returned, and give...

Read More

Chamberlain Group acquires Lockitron and Tend for its myQ smart garage hub

Chamberlain Group, which owns several security and access brands including the myQ smart garage hub, has added two new companies to its portfolio: connected door lock maker Lockitron and wi-fi home security camera startup Tend. In a press statement, Chamberlain Group CEO JoAnna Sohovich said Tend and Lockitron’s produts will be integrated into myQ. “We know families enter and exit their homes through their garage doors multiple times a day. Our myQ technology allows homeowners to monitor and control access from their smartphone,” she said. “Adding video, connected locks, and enhanced artificial intelligence to our access solutions will provide even further peace of mind as homeowners connect to their homes and loved ones.” Lockitron was one of the first smart lock brands, shipping its first connected lock in 2010. Its flagship product is the Bolt, a smart lock that is accessed by smartphone. The Bolt launched in 2015 and was the first smart locks available for under $100. The Chamberlain Group will integrate Lockitron’s technology into myQ so users can control their garage and residential doors with one app. In an email to TechCrunch, Cameron Robertson, who co-founded Lockitron with Paul Gerhardt, said they began looking for potential buyers in order to have the resources to scale up and meet retail and e-commerce demand. Chamberlain Group was the best fit because it will support existing Lockitron users, and Lockitron’s...

Read More

Baidu announces Apollo Enterprise, its new platform for mass-produced autonomous vehicles

Baidu made several big announcements about Apollo, its open-source autonomous vehicle technology platform, today at CES. The first is the launch of Apollo Enterprise for vehicles that will be put into mass production. The company claims that Apollo is already used by 130 partners around the world. One of its newest partners, Chinese electric vehicle startup WM Motors, plans to deploy level 3 autonomous vehicles by 2021. Apollo Enterprise’s main product lines will include solutions for highway autonomous driving; autonomous valet parking; fully autonomous mini-buses; an intelligent map data service platform; and DuerOS (Baidu’s voice assistant) for cars. Baidu also released Apollo 3.5, the latest version of its platform, which now supports “complex urban and suburban driving environments.” Apollo 3.5 is already used by customers including Udelv, an autonomous delivery van startup that recently partnered with Walmart to test grocery deliveries. Baidu says up to 100 self-driving vehicles based on Apollo 3.5 will be deployed in the San Francisco Bay Area and other regions in the United States. In China, Baidu plans to launch 100 robo-taxis that will cover 130 miles of city roads in Changsha, the capital city of Hunan province. The robo-taxis will use Baidu’s V2X (i.e. vehicle-to-everything) technology, to enable them to communicate with road infrastructure, like traffic...

Read More

Meituan partners with Nvidia, Valeo and Icona for its autonomous delivery platform

Meituan Dianping, China’s largest on-demand food delivery company, announced today at CES that it has signed three new major partners for the development of its autonomous delivery open platform. They are Nvidia, Italian automotive design company Icona, and French automotive supplier Valeo. This is the first time Meituan Dianping, which went public four months ago in Hong Kong, has attended CES, where it exhibited its Meituan Autonomous Delivery (MAD) platform. Valeo will provide engines and sensors for MAD’s autonomous delivery vehicles and Nvidia’s technology will be used in its research and development and trial operations, while Icona will serve as a design partner for robots and vehicles. Launched last July in Beijing, after a four-month trial, MAD’s partners already include Uditech, Segway-GX, iDriverPlus, and Roadster. As an open platform, MAD’s partners have beeen able to work on their own autonomous delivery vehicles. As TechNode notes, however, most orders still rely on a human delivery driver for at least part of the journey. For example, autonomous vehicles, including drones and low- or high-speed delivery vehicles, might gather orders from different restaurants and bring them to a pick-up point for the driver, or collect multiple orders and complete deliveries in an office park or university. In a statement, Meituan senior vice president Wang Puzhong said “With the surging demand for food deliveries in China, Meituan is leveraging its platform and scale...

Read More

Samsung warns of Q4 profit drop, blames unexpectedly low semiconductor demand

Apple isn’t the only smartphone maker steeling itself (and analysts) for disappointing results. Samsung Electronics issued earnings guidance for the final quarter of 2018 today that not only marks its first quarterly profit decline in two years, but also fell far below analysts’ expectations. The company attributed the drop to lower-than-expected demand for its memory chips, which in previous quarters had helped bolster its earnings even when its smartphone business was lackluster. Samsung Electronics said it expects consolidated operating profit of about 10.8 trillion won ($9.67 billion), a 28.7 percent drop from the 15.15 trillion won it recorded in the same period a year ago, and below the 13.2 trillion won that analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had predicted. Consolidated sales are expected to be about 59 trillion won, a 10.6 percent decrease from 65.98 trillion won a year ago ($52.9 billion). Analysts had estimated sales of 62.8 trillion won. In a statement, the company said “we expect earnings to remain subdued in the first quarter of 2019 due to difficult conditions for the memory business,” thanks to unexpectedly weak demand from some of its data center customers. Last week Samsung rival Apple lowered its first-quarter earnings guidance, as CEO Tim Cook said that the company now expected revenue of $84 billion, down from its initial projection of $89 billion to $93 billion. The company blamed sluggish demand in...

Read More

Netflix’s ‘Roma’ wins Golden Globes for best director and foreign language film

It might be strange to imagine now, but it was only a few years ago when the presence of Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming platforms at major award shows was considered disruptive. Today’s Golden Globes showed how formidable streaming platforms have become, with Netflix’s “Roma” winning the awards for best foreign language film and best director, strong harbingers for success at next month’s Academy Awards (“Roma” previously won the Golden Lion, the Venice Film Festival’s highest honor). Written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma” was one of the best reviewed films of 2018 and its award prospects prompted Netflix...

Read More

China’s lunar probe makes history by successfully soft-landing on the far side of the moon

It’s not Lunar New Year yet, but there is something new on the moon. In a major milestone for space exploration, China announced that its lunar program has successfully soft-landed a probe on the far side of the moon, making it the first one to do so. The historic landing was reported by Xinhua, China’s official news agency, earlier today. According to the China National Space Administration, the probe, consisting of a lander and rover, touched down at about 10:26AM Beijing time. This is the first ever soft-landing (meaning a landing without damage or destruction to the space vehicle)...

Read More

Right Now in Politics and Business