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H1Z1 officially comes to the PS4

H1Z1 has spent a couple months on PS4 in an open beta. But today, the Battle Royale game is officially making its debut on the PlayStation platform. Much like Fortnite Battle Royale, which has swept the gaming world unlike almost any title before it, H1Z1 drops 100 players into a map where they must loot up and survive. Unlike Battle Royale, H1Z1 is relatively more realistic, with a much larger map, more drab colors, and a handful of drivable vehicles. Interestingly, H1Z1 was one of the earlier Battle Royale games during the game type’s wave of popularity, catching the attention of pro gamers back in 2015. Back then, the game was only available via Steam. Since, games like PUBG and Fortnite have grown wildly, forcing H1Z1 makers Daybreak to play a bit of catch up. But today, H1Z1 goe...

MessageBird offers single API for customer comms across WhatsApp, WeChat, Messenger and more

MessageBird, the Amsterdam-based cloud communications platform backed by Accel in the U.S. and Europe’s Atomico, is unveiling a new product today that aims to make it easier for enterprises to communicate with customers across various channels of their choosing. Dubbed “Programmable Communications” (yes, really!), the product takes the form of a single API that unifies customer interactions across multiple channels into a single conversation thread. Out of the box these include WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, Line, Telegram, SMS and voice interactions. The idea is that by providing a consolidated view of a customer’s entire communication history with an enterprise, customer support agents and other customer-facing staff will have the firepower to stay on top of thei...

Handiscover, the startup that helps you find accessible travel accommodation, raises $700K

Handiscover, a startup that lets you find and book accessible travel accommodation, has raised $700,000 in new funding. The round is backed by Howzat Partners, which has previously invested in a number of successful travel companies, such as publicly-listed Trivago and more recently Lodgify. Tranquility Capital, a Swedish family fund with a background in accessibility, also participated. Originally launched in June 2015 to enable hosts to list accommodation and have Handiscover’s algorithm classify the accessibility of their properties or rooms, the startup has since evolved into a fully fledged two-sided marketplace, enabling consumers to search for and book travel accommodation based on various accessibility needs. The idea, founder Sebastien Archambeaud tells me, was born from his...

Don’t fear the big company ‘kill zones’

Ed Byrne Contributor Share on Twitter Ed Byrne is an entrepreneur, investor and co-founder of Scaleworks. Do you worry about the so-called “kill zones” of big tech companies? The Economist thinks you should. The theory basically suggests that if your product or service is anyway threatening or accretive to one of these incumbents,  they will either force-buy your company or clone it and destroy your market. Any entrepreneur that believes this should probably pack up now before it’s too late —  if it’s not a “kill-shot,” it will be some other perceived death-knell that ruins your company. Starting a company has never been easier. But growing a sustainable business is still difficult  —  as it should be. If you build something customers will pay for ,  you...

Scale, whose army of humans annotate raw data to train self-driving and other AI systems, nabs $18M

The artificial intelligence revolution is underway in the world of technology, but as it turns out, some of the most faithful foot soldiers are still humans. A startup called Scale, which works with a team of contractors who examine and categorise visual data to train AI systems in a two-sided marketplace model, announced that it has raised an additional $18 million in a Series B round. The aim will be to expand Scale’s business to become — in the words of CEO Alexandr Wang, the 21-year-old MIT grad who co-founded Scale with Lucy Guo — “the AWS of AI, with multiple services that help companies build AI algorithms.” “Our mission is to accelerate the development of AI apps,” Wang said. “The first product is visual data labelling, but in the fut...

Chinese AI startup Tianrang raises a $26M funding round, launches new project to apply ML to cities

Chinese AI startup Tianrang has raised a $26 million (RMB180 million) funding round from China’s Gaorong Capital and co-lead CMB International Capital. Other investors included Ziniu Fund and Chinese fintech company Wacai. In 2016, the company raised an angel round led by Gaorong Capital and participated in by Shanghai Jindi Investment Management Ltd. Based on deep learning and other AI technology, Tianrang provides data analysis and smart solutions for enterprises. It was founded by in 2016 by Xu Guirong, former director of Alibaba’s Ali Cloud and chief scientist at Alibaba’s cloud platform Alimama. So no slouch on the AI front. Tianrang claims to be able to automatically collect and analyze marketing trends and purchase-related information on Alibaba’s e-commerce platform, allowing vendo...

Lumen raises $7M and passes $1M on Indiegogo for its breath-measuring device for weight loss

Our body is continuously storing and consuming energy to keep us alive — but understanding which fuels are being used and why is the Holy Grail of things like weight loss and body hacking. Today’s weight-loss market is saturated with generic products because — guess what — trying to tailor-make a solution for an individual is usually hard and expensive. For a while now there’s been a technology around which can measure the metabolic gases found in your breath. The theory goes that if you can do that, everyone can work out what they should be eating and when. A few startups have tried, but nothing really took off. Now a new startup is having a crack and has secured significant funding to go for it. Lumen is a pocket-sized device that measures the gases in your breath and translates th...

InVision hires former Twitter VP of Design Mike Davidson

InVision continues its slow march toward design world domination, today announcing the hire of Mike Davidson who will take over as Head of Partnerships and Community. Davidson was previously the VP of Design at Twitter, where he built a 100-person team that was responsible for every aspect of Twitter’s user experience and branding, including web, mobile web, native apps, and business tools. Before Twitter, Davidson worked at ESPN/Disney until 2005, when he founded NewsVine, which was purchased by NBCNews in 2007. Davidson then took on a Vice President roll for five years before starting at Twitter. At InVision, Davidson will oversee partnerships, product integrations, strategic acquisitions and community building. This includes leading InVision’s Design Leadership Forum, which ...

Self-driving truck startup Kodiak Robotics raises $40 million

In Don Burnette and Paz Eshel’s view, trucking is the killer app for self-driving technology. It’s what led Burnette to leave the Google self-driving project and co-found Otto in early 2016, along with Anthony Levandowski, Lior Ron and Claire Delaunay. And it’s what would eventually prompt Burnette to leave Uber — the company that acquired Otto — and co-found with former venture capitalist Eshel a new driverless-trucks startup called Kodiak Robotics. “It was no secret that Uber was primarily focused on the car project and 80 to 90 percent of my time was focused on the car project,” Burnette told TechCrunch. “But I still felt that trucking was the killer app for self-driving. I still believe that. I wanted to focus 100 percent of my time on trucking.” Now he and Eshel can. Kodiak Robotics, ...

Klara picks up $11.5 million to improve communication in healthcare

Health tech continues to make impressive strides forward, but some pieces of the healthcare puzzle are still lagging way behind. Communication is one of those pieces. But a startup called Klara, which just received $11.5 million in Series A, is looking to change that. FirstMark Capital led the round, with participation from existing investors Lerer Hippeau, Project A Ventures, and Atlantic Labs, alongside a few angels including Zac Weinberg and Nat Turner (Flatiron Health founders), Vivek Garipalli (Clover Health founder and CEO) and Clark Valberg (InVision founder and CEO). Led by founders and co-CEOs Simon Bolz and Simon Lorenz, Klara looks to rethink the way that communication is handled across the healthcare industry. As it stands now, the vast majority of communication across a practi...

Researchers teach an AI how to dribble

While this animated fellow looks like something out of NBA 2K18, it’s really an AI that’s learning how to dribble in real time. The AI starts out fumbling the ball a bit and by cycle 95 it is able to do some real Harlem Globetrotters stuff. In short, what you’re watching is a human-like avatar learning a very specialized human movement. To do this researchers at Carnegie Mellon and DeepMotion, Inc. created a “physics-based, real-time method for controlling animated characters that can learn dribbling skills from experience.” The system, which uses “deep reinforcement learning,” can use motion capture date to learn basic movements. “Once the skills are learned, new motions can be simulated much faster than real-time,” said CMU professor Jessica Hodg...

Shell Ventures backs UK car repair marketplace WhoCanFixMyCar

WhoCanFixMyCar, the U.K. online car repair marketplace, has secured £4 million in new funding. Backing the startup is Shell Ventures — the corporate venture arm of Shell — in addition to chairman Sir Trevor Chinn (who previously chaired the boards ofAA, Kwik Fit and RAC), Active Partners, and Venrex Investment Management. Launched in 2011 by former investment bankers Al Preston and Ian Griffiths, WhoCanFixMyCar.com claims to be the biggest online marketplace in the U.K. for matching car owners with repair garages (although the likes of ClickMechanic might not agree, despite having slightly different models). Specifically, the company, which has offices in Newcastle upon Tyne, London and Kiev, operates a local garage and mechanic online comparison service, allowing drivers to po...

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