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Author: Devin Coldewey

From launch to launch: Peter Beck on building Rocket Lab’s orbital business

Breaking into the launch industry is no easy task, but New Zealand’s Rocket Lab has done it without missing a step. The company has just completed its third commercial launch of 2019, and is planning to increase the frequency of its launches until there’s one a week. It’s ambitious, but few things in spaceflight aren’t. Although it has risen to prominence over the last two ...

DefinedCrowd offers mobile apps to empower its AI-annotating masses

DefinedCrowd, the Startup Battlefield alumnus that produces and refines data for AI-training purposes, has just debuted iOS and Android apps for its army of human annotators. It should help speed up a process that the company already touts as one of the fastest in the industry. It’s no secret that AI relies almost totally on data that has been hand-annotated by humans, pointing out objects i...

Xnor’s AI2GO serves up custom edge AI models with a few clicks

AI would be useful for tons of everyday tasks for small businesses and other operations — if people just knew how to build and deploy their own machine learning agent. Unfortunately, few do. Edge-based AI startup Xnor.ai aims to let non-experts put state of the art AI to work as easily as they might update their website. The company just kicked off a new platform called AI2GO that basically collec...

7 accessibility-focused startups snag grants from Microsoft

Microsoft has selected seven lucky startups to receive grants from its AI for Accessibility program. The growing companies aim to empower people with disabilities to take part in tech and the internet economy, from improving job searches to predicting seizures. Each of the seven companies receives professional-level Azure AI resources and support, cash to cover the cost of data collection and hand...

Kiwi’s food delivery bots are rolling out to 12 new colleges

If you’re a student at UC Berkeley, the diminutive rolling robots from Kiwi are probably a familiar sight by now, trundling along with a burrito inside to deliver to a dorm or apartment building. Now students at a dozen more campuses will be able to join this great, lazy future of robotic delivery as Kiwi expands to them with a clever student-run model. Speaking at TechCrunch’s Robotic...

WellSaid aims to make natural-sounding synthetic speech a credible alternative to real humans

Many things are better said than read, but the best voice tech out there seems to be reserved for virtual assistants, not screen readers or automatically generated audiobooks. WellSaid wants to enable any creator to use quality synthetic speech instead of a human voice — perhaps even a synthetic version of themselves. There’s been a series of major advances in voice synthesis over the last c...

Ubiquitilink advance means every phone is now a satellite phone

Last month I wrote about Ubiquitilink, which promised, through undisclosed means, it was on the verge of providing a sort of global satellite-based roaming service. But how, I asked? (Wait, they told me.) Turns out our phones are capable of a lot more than we think: they can reach satellites acting as cell towers in orbit just fine, and the company just proved it. Utilizing a constellation of sate...

Facebook picks up retail computer vision outfit GrokStyle

If you’ve ever seen a lamp or chair that you liked and wished you could just take a picture and find it online, well, GrokStyle let you do that — and now the company has been snatched up by Facebook to augment its own growing computer vision department. GrokStyle started as a paper — as AI companies often do these days — at 2015’s SIGGRAPH. A National Science Foundation grant got the b...

Robin’s robotic mowers now have a patented doggie door just for them

Back in 2016 we had Robin up on stage demonstrating the possibility of a robotic mower as a service rather than just something you buy. They’re still going strong, and just introduced and patented what seems in retrospect a pretty obvious idea: an automatic door for the mower to go through fences between front and back yards. It’s pretty common, after all, to have a back yard isolated ...

Aurora Solar’s computer-generated installation maps pull in a $20M Series A

Solar installations are becoming a no-brainer for anyone with a roof in much of the country. But getting an estimate on how much it would cost and how much juice it would generate can be complicated and time consuming. Aurora Solar has made an automated process for doing this, and attracted $20 million in funding as a result. A big part of the uncertainty anyone has about getting solar installed i...

Swarm Technologies raises $25M to deploy its own 150-satellite constellation

Swarm Technologies is one of several companies looking to populate low Earth orbit with communications satellites, setting itself apart with the sheer smallness of its devices — and of course with the notoriety of having defied the FCC and earned a fine. But investors are bullish, and the company has just raised a $25 million Series A round to put 150 of its tiny SpaceBEEs in orbit. There are many...

To rebuild satellite communications, Ubiquitilink starts at ground level

Communications satellites are multiplying year by year as more companies vie to create an orbital network that brings high-speed internet to the globe. Ubiquitilink, a new company headed by Nanoracks co-founder Charles Miller, is taking a different tack: reinventing the Earthbound side of the technology stack. Miller’s intuition, backed by approval and funding from a number of investors and ...

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