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Main article: Wi-fi

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Radar, a location data startup, says its “big bet” is on putting privacy first

17:00 | 12 February

Pick any app on your phone, and there’s a greater than average chance that it’s tracking your location right now.

Sometimes they don’t even tell you. Your location can be continually collected and uploaded, then monetized by advertisers and other data tracking firms. These companies also sell the data to the government — no warrants needed. And even if you’re app-less, your phone company knows where you are at any given time, and for the longest time sold that data to anyone who wanted it.

Location data is some of the most personal information we have — yet few think much about it. Our location reveals where we go, when, and often why. It can be used to know our favorite places and our routines, and also who we talk to. And yet it’s spilling out of our phones ever second of every day to private companies, subject to little regulation or oversight, building up precise maps of our lives. Headlines sparked anger and pushed lawmakers into taking action. And consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their tracked activity thanks to phone makers, like Apple, alerting users to background location tracking. Foursquare, one of the biggest location data companies, even called on Congress to do more to regulate the sale of location data.

But location data is not going anywhere. It’s a convenience that’s just too convenient, and it’s an industry that’s growing from strength to strength. The location data market was valued at $10 billion last year, with it set to balloon in size by more than two-fold by 2027.

There is appetite for change, Radar, a location data startup based in New York, promised in a recent blog post that it will “not sell any data we collect, and we do not share location data across customers.”

It’s a promise that Radar chief executive Nick Patrick said he’s willing to bet the company on.

“We want to be that location layer that unlocks the next generation of experiences but we also want to do it in a privacy conscious way,” Patrick told TechCrunch. “That’s our big bet.”

Developers integrate Radar into their apps. Those app makers can create location geofences around their businesses, like any Walmart or Burger King. When a user enters that location, the app knows to serve relevant notifications or alerts, making it functionally just like any other location data provider.

But that’s where Patrick says Radar deviates.

“We want to be the most privacy-first player,” Patrick said. Radar bills itself as a location data software-as-a-service company, rather than an ad tech company like its immediate rivals. That may sound like a marketing point — it is — but it’s also an important distinction, Patrick says, because it changes how the company makes its money. Instead of monetizing the collected data, Radar prices its platform based on the number of monthly active users that use the apps with Radar inside.

“We’re not going to package that up into an audience segment and sell it on an ad exchange,” he said. “We’re not going to pull all of the data together from all the different devices that we’re installed on and do foot traffic analytics or attribution.”

But that trust doesn’t come easy, nor should it. Some of the most popular apps have lost the trust of their users through privacy-invasive privacy practices, like collecting locations from users without their knowledge or permission, by scanning nearby Bluetooth beacons or Wi-Fi networks to infer where a person is.

We were curious and ran some of the apps through a network traffic analyzer to see what was going on under the hood, like Joann, GasBuddy, Draft King and others. We found that Radar only activated when location permissions were granted on the device — something apps have tried to get around in the past. The apps we checked instantly sent our precise location data back to Radar — which was to be expected — along with the device type, software version, and little else. The data collected by Radar is significantly less than what other comparable apps share with their developers, but still allows integrations with third-party platforms to make use of that location data. Via, a popular ride-sharing app, uses a person’s location, collected by Radar, to deliver notifications and promotions to users at airports and other places of interest.

The company boasts its technology is used in apps on more than 100 million device installs.

“We see a ton of opportunity around enabling folks to build location, but we also see that the space has been mishandled,” said Patrick. “We think the location space in need of a technical leader but also an ethical leader that can enable the stuff in a privacy conscious way.”

It was a convincing pitch for Radar’s investors, which just injected $20 million into its Series B fundraise, led by Accel, a substantial step up from its $8 million Series A round. Patrick said the round will help the company build out the platform further. One feature on Radar’s to-do list was to allow the platform to take advantage of on-device processing, “no user event data ever touches Radar’s servers,” he aid Patrick. The raise will help the company expand its physical footprint on the west coast by opening an office in San Francisco. Its home base in New York will also expand, he said, increasing the company’s headcount from its current two-dozen employees.

“Radar stands apart due to its focus on infrastructure rather than ad tech,” said Vas Natarajan, a partner at Accel, who also took a seat on Radar’s board.

Two Sigma Ventures, Heavybit, Prime Set, and Bedrock Capital participated in the round.

Patrick said his pitch is also working for apps and developers, which recognize that their users are becoming more aware of privacy issues. He’s seen companies, some of which he now calls customers, that are increasingly looking for more privacy-focused partners and vendors, not least to bolster their own respective reputations.

It’s healthy to be skeptical. Given the past year, it’s hard to have any faith in any location data company, let alone embrace one. And yet it’s a compelling pitch for the app community that only through years of misdeeds and a steady stream of critical headlines is being forced to repair its image.

But a company’s words are only as strong as its actions, and only time will tell if they hold up.

 


0

Proxyclick raises $15M Series B for its visitor management platform

08:00 | 23 January

If you’ve ever entered a company’s office as a visitor or contractor, you probably know the routine: check in with a receptionist, figure out who invited you, print out a badge and get on your merry way. Brussels, Belgium- and New York-based Proxyclick aims to streamline this process, while also helping businesses keep their people and assets secure. As the company announced today, it has raised a $15 million Series B round led by Five Elms Capital, together with previous investor Join Capital.

In total, Proxyclick says it’s systems have now been used to register over 30 million visitors in 7,000 locations around the world. In the UK alone, over 1,000 locations use the company’s tools. Current customers include L’Oreal, Vodafone, Revolut, PepsiCo and Airbnb, as well as a number of other Fortune 500 firms.

Gregory Blondeau, founder and CEO of Proxyclick, stresses that the company believes that paper logbooks, which are still in use in many companies, are simply not an acceptable solution anymore, not in the least because that record is often permanent and visible to other visitors.

Proxyclick’s founding team.

“We all agree it is not acceptable to have those paper logbooks at the entrance where everyone can see previous visitors,” he said. “It is also not normal for companies to store visitors’ digital data indefinitely. We already propose automatic data deletion in order to respect visitor privacy. In a few weeks, we’ll enable companies to delete sensitive data such as visitor photos sooner than other data. Security should not be an excuse to exploit or hold visitor data longer than required.”

What also makes Proxyclick stand out from similar solutions is that it integrates with a lot of existing systems for access control (including C-Cure and Lenel systems). With that, users can ensure that a visitor only has access to specific parts of a building, too.

In addition, though, it also supports existing meeting rooms, calendaring and parking systems and integrates with Wi-Fi credentialing tools so your visitors don’t have to keep asking for the password to get online.

Like similar systems, Proxyclick provides businesses with a tablet-based sign-in service that also allows them to get consent and NDA signatures right during the sign-in process. If necessary, the system can also compare the photos it takes to print out badges with those on a government-issued ID to ensure your visitors are who they say they are.

Blondeau noted that the whole industry is changing, too. “Visitor management is becoming mainstream, it is transitioning from a local, office-related subject handled by facility managers to a global, security and privacy driven priority handled by Chief Information Security Officers. Scope, decision drivers and key people involved are not the same as in the early days,” he said.

It’s no surprise then that the company plans to use the new funding to accelerate its roadmap. Specifically, it’s looking to integrate its solution with more third-party systems with a focus on physical security features and facial recognition, as well as additional new enterprise features.

 


0

Netgear’s Meural Canvas II is a better version of the best home gadget for photographers

00:18 | 22 November

Netgear has released the first updated Canvas digital art from from Meural since acquiring the company last September, and the next-generation connected frame comes with some decent quality-of-life improvements as well as a new, additional size. It’s not a dramatic change from the original Meural Canvas, but it means that a product that was already great is now even better.

The Meural Canvas II from Netgear comes in two sizes, including a smaller 16×24 frame that provides a 21.5-inch diagonal picture (starting at $399.95), and a 19×29-inch frame with a 27-inch diagonal display (starting at $599.95). Both screens are 1080P full HD resolution, and both feature ambient light sensors (which are relocated to a better location under the mat that surrounds the screen for improved light detection) that will automatically adjust the brightness of your image to make it appear more natural and less like a screen.

The Canvas II features built-in Wi-Fi, which is also upgraded with this generation (Netgear, which makes routers and other Wi-Fi products, seem to have brought their expertise to bear here) and they offer new Ethernet connectivity, as well as full-size SD ports. They can also hang either vertically or horizontally, and a new accessory mount for this generation (sold separately) allows for even easier switching between the two orientations via simple rotation.

For the virtual art collector

Meural is controlled primarily from the Meural companion app, though you can also access a web interface to accomplish much of the same thing from a desktop browser. The app features curated collections of artwork, which is available both via a paid monthly subscription, and via direct, one-time purchases. One of the changes that the Meural service has undergone is that the subscription membership now gets you some, but not all of the art available – some premium content is still and additional charge on top of that. It’s definitely not as good from the user’s perspective as when everything was free once you’d paid the subscription fee, but paying monthly still nets you 20GB of cloud storage for uploading your own art, discounts on the stuff that is available for purchase, and access to a much larger library than you get without any membership.

Subscriptions go for either $8.95 per month, or $69.95 per year, and they’re probably plenty to satisfy most casual art lovers who just want some recognizable or interesting works to adorn their walls, and want to be able to change that on a fairly regular basis. And when you use the art provided through Meural’s various collections, you can take a look at credits and descriptions right on the display – available quickly via a motion control swipe up gesture made possibly by the sensors built into the frame.

A note on those motion controls – they allow you to navigate between artwork, and even change playlists and access a menu of other options related to the frame. Basically you wave your hand near the bottom of the Meural to make this work, and it’s great when it does work, but it definitely takes some learning to figure out how and where to swipe to make it reliably respond. It’s convenient that it’s an option, but controlling the display with the iOS or Android app is a lot more pleasant generally speaking.

The built-in library that Meural provides is definitely a selling point, and Meural is regularly adding new art collections, both for paid purchases and to build out the library of those works available included in the subscription. It just added a bunch through a new partnership with Marvel, in fact, including movie posters from a long list of their cinematic universe releases.

For the amateur/enthusiast/pro photographer

The primary reason I think the Meural Canvas II is a fantastic product has very little to do with its subscription-based art collection, however. Instead, it’s all about the flexibility and convenience that the Canvas provides when it comes to displaying your own photos. It’s incredibly easy to upload your photos from your mobile device or your desktop, and you can organize them in playlists, add descriptions and titles, and crop them manually or have the frame crop them automatically to display in its 16×9 aspect ratio.

As a display for your own photos, the Meural Canvas II is hard to beat: It’s a lot more flexible and cost effective than getting high quality prints made, since you can rotate them out as often as you feel like, and the display’s color rendering and matte finish, while obviously not as good as a professional photo print, is nonetheless very pleasing to the eye. When you take as many photos as we collectively do now, but seldom have anywhere to show them off, the Canvas provides the perfect opportunity to ensure they have a great place to shine at home.

The included SD card reader means it’s easy to load up images and put them on the Canvas locally, but I also found that uploading from whatever WiFi-connected device I had access to around the house was easy and fast (again, seems like Netgear’s core expertise came into play here). The ability to quickly change the orientation, which is fast and simple even without the rotation mount accessory, is another big plus for your own photos since it means you can show off both portraits and landscapes.

Oh, and the ability to load your own artwork isn’t limited to just your photography, of course – any image in a standard format, including animated GIFs, can work on the Meural, which means it’s really only limited by the scope of what’s available on the internet.

Bottom line

Between the frame options, which you can swap out for different color options eventually when they’re sold separately, and the ability to upload your own content to the Canvas, it’s easily the most customizable piece of home decor you can find right now. For some, opting to move up to something like Samsung’s The Frame TV might be a better option, but that’s much larger, much more expensive, much heavier for mounting and not as flexible when it comes to playlists and your own curation of art to display.

The Meural Canvas II provides largely the same visual experience as the generation it replaces, but the other improvements make this a much better product overall, with faster, more reliable WiFi connectivity, improved motion controls, more flexible on-device storage and new mounting options. If you like some variety in your wall art, or you’ve just been trying to figure out to do something interesting with all those pictures you take, the Meural Canvas II is a great option.

 


0

Amazon Ring doorbells exposed home Wi-Fi passwords to hackers

17:43 | 7 November

Security researchers have discovered a vulnerability in Ring doorbells that exposed the password for the Wi-Fi network it was connected to.

Bitdefender said the Amazon-owned doorbell was sending its owner’s Wi-Fi password in cleartext over the internet, allowing for nearby hackers to intercept the Wi-Fi password and gain access to the network to launch larger attacks or conduct surveillance.

Amazon fixed the vulnerability in all Ring devices in September, but the vulnerability was only disclosed today.

It’s another example of smart home technology suffering from security issues. As much as smart home devices are designed to make our lives easier and homes more secure, researchers keep finding vulnerabilities that allow them to get access to the very thing they’re trying to protect.

Earlier this year, flaws in a popular smart home hub allowed researchers to break into a person’s home by triggering a smart lock to unbolt the door.

Amazon has faced intense scrutiny in recent months for Ring’s work with law enforcement. Several news outlets, including Gizmodo, have detailed the close relationship Ring has with police departments, including their Ring-related messaging.

It was reported this week that Ring had bragged on Instagram about tracking millions of trick-or-treaters this Halloween.

 


0

Solar based ISP startup Tizeti launches 4G LTE network in Nigeria

10:15 | 7 November

Nigerian internet service provider Tizeti has launched its first 4G LTE network.

The Y-Combinator backed startup — that uses solar powered towers to deliver net connectivity — has built its premier 4G capable tower in the city of Port Harcourt, where Tizeti will offer its first 4G and ISP services.

The company operates primarily in Lagos, Nigeria’s unofficial business capital, and expanded this year to Ghana. Port Harcourt is the fifth largest city in Nigeria located in River State, another commercial hotspot for the country.

Tizeti plans to take its model to additional West African countries in 2020, according to CEO and co-founder Kendall Ananyi.

“We leverage inexpensive wireless capacity and plummeting cost of solar panels to create a low capex and opex network of owned and operated towers,” Ananyi told TechCrunch.

“We’re able to offer customers unlimited internet at 30 to 50% the cost of traditional mobile data plans,” he said.

The price for a Tizeti unlimited plan is 9,500 Nigerian Naira per month, or around $26. The startup has 1.1 million unique users and packages internet services drawing on partnerships with West African broadband provider MainOne and Facebook’s Express Wi-Fi. 

On the addressable market for Tizeti after its latest move, “Not everyone’s gonna sign up but we know we have 20 million in Lagos and 1.8 million in Port Harcourt; so even if we get 10%, that it’s a huge number for us,” Ananyi said.

A lot of businesses and tech startups bank on Nigeria’s numbers, since it has both Africa’s largest economy and population, at 200 million.

Tizeti raised a $3 million Series A round in 2018 and has built a suite of internet driven products to capture market share. In addition to ISP services, it launched a Skype-like personal and business enterprise communications service — WiFCall.ng— in April 2019.

Tizeti WiFi CallTizeti could shift the connectivity equation in Africa’s key tech hubs, such as Nigeria, where high levels of startup formation and VC investment are still hindered by weak internet stats.

Though Africa (primarily Sub-Saharan Africa) still stands last in most global rankings for internet penetration (35 percent), the continent continues to register among the fastest connectivity growth in the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa countries with the highest number of internet users include Nigeria (123 million), Kenya (46 million) and South Africa (32 million).

 


0

Startup aims to make filtered water an app-driven subscription service in the home

01:42 | 2 October

With so many scandals around the quality of tap water these days, especially in the US, many people are turning to bottled water to drink. But this requires single-use plastics that are wreaking havoc on the environment.

One startup in Europe, Mitte, thinks it has the answer: filtering water direct from the tap. It’s raised $10.6 million in a seed round. But it hasn’t started manufacturing yet. A new US-based startup thinks is has a competitive solution.

oollee provides people with an unlimited supply of filtered drinking water for a small monthly fee. It’s now raised $1 million in pre-seed funding from investors including Mission Gate Inc and Columbus Holdings.

The idea is that with ordinary filters, people forget to maintain them and the water quality deteriorates. With oollee, maintenance and cartridge replacements are included in the monthly fee. To subscribe costs $29 per month (so less than $1 a day).

oollee uses the Reverse Osmosis method, where water is forced across a semipermeable membrane, leaving contaminants behind, which are then flushed down the drain. The clean drinking water collects in a holding tank. Usually, the installation and maintenance of an RO filter is costly and is too cumbersome for a house.

Umit Khiarollaev, CEO and co-founder of oollee says: “The small device connects to Wi-Fi and allows customers to monitor the water. The app reminds users to replace the filter element and lets them order new filters with a single click. Users can also check water condition, volume, temperature, and other factors.” Users can also check water condition, volume, temperature, and other factors. The oollee water purifier filters water in four stages, re-introducing essential minerals in the final stage.

Competitors are all major bottled water or smart filters manufacturers plus delivery services like Nestle or Alhambra and the tech giant Xiaomi in China with water filters.

 


0

Amazon Sidewalk is a new long-range wireless network for your stuff

21:25 | 25 September

At its annual hardware event in Seattle, Amazon today announced Sidewalk, a new low-bandwidth, long-distance wireless protocol the company is developing to connect all of the IoT devices in and around your house.

Amazon argues that Bluetooth and WiFi don’t have enough range, while 5F takes too much power and is too complex.

“We came up with something that we call Amazon Sidewalk,” Amazon’s device chief Dave Limp said at the event today. “Amazon Sidewalk is a brand new low bandwidth network that uses the already existing free over the air 900 megahertz spectrum. We think it will be great for keeping track of things, keeping things up to date — but first and foremost, it will extend in the distance at which you can control these kinds of simple, low-cost, easy-to-use devices.

The details here remain a bit vague, but Amazon says that you may be able to use Sidewalk to connect to devices that can be up to a mile away, depending on how the base station and devices are positioned.

Image from iOS 3 1

Amazon already sent out 700 test devices to households in L.A. to test the access points — and once you have a lot of access points, you create a network with some pretty broad coverage.

Amazon says it’ll publish the protocol so that other device makers can also integrate it into their devices.

The first product that uses Sidewalk? A dog tag, so that you’ll hopefully see fewer lost dogs on your local Nextdoor in the near future because if your dog now leaves the perimeter, you’ll get an alert. This new tag, the Ring Fetch, will launch next year.

download

 


0

Get popcorn for iOS 13’s privacy pop-ups of creepy Facebook data grabs

14:16 | 16 September

Privacy-minded changes to smartphone operating systems which foreground the background activity of third party apps are helping to spotlight more of the surveillance infrastructure deployed by adtech giants to track and profile human eyeballs for profit.

To wit: iOS 13, which will be generally released later this week, has already been spotted catching Facebook’s app trying to use Bluetooth to track nearby users.

facebook BT

Why might Facebook want to do this? Matching Bluetooth (and wif-fi) IDs that share physical location could allow it to supplement the social graph it gleans by data-mining user-to-user activity on its platform.

Such location tracking provides a physical confirm that individuals were (at very least) in close proximity.

Combined with personal data Facebook also holds on people, and contextual data on the nature of the location itself — a bar, say, or a house — there’s a clear path for the company to make inferences about the nature of the relationship between the people who it’s repurposed short range wireless tech to determine are in close contact.

For a company that makes money by serving targeted ads at humans there are clear commercial reasons for Facebook to seek to intimately understand people’s friend networks.

Facebook piggybacking on people’s use of Bluetooth for benign purposes like pairing devices so that its ad business can ‘pair’ people is the sneaky modus operandi that iOS 13 has caught in the act here.

Ads are Facebook’s business, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg famously told the senate last year. But it’s worth noting the social network giant recently sought to push into the dating space — giving it a fresh, product-based incentive to pry into where and with whom humans are spending their time.

Algorithmic matchmaking based on cold signals like shared interests (in basic Facebook currency this might mean stuff like liking the same pages and events) is of course nothing new.

Yet mix in hot-blooded signals gathered by watching who actually mingles with whom, where and when — by repurposing Bluetooth to harvest interpersonal interactions via tracking people’s physical movements — and Facebook can take its curtain-twitching surveillance of human behavior to the next level.

The path of least resistance to tracking people’s movements is if Facebook app users are opting in to location tracking on their devices. Which means users enabling Location Services — a location tracking feature on smartphones that covers GPS, Bluetooth and crowd-sources wi-fi hotspots and mobile cell towers.

Unsurprisingly, then Facebook Dating requires Location Services to be enabled to function. The company confirmed to us that the Facebook app prompts dating users to enable Location Services if they haven’t already. Facebook also told us it doesn’t use wi-fi or Bluetooth to determine a person’s precise location if a user has Location Services turned off.

It also made a point of emphasizing that users can switch Location Services off at any time. Just not if they wish to use, er, Facebook Dating…

As per usual the company is tangling separate purposes for data processing in a way that denies people a meaningful choice over protecting their privacy. Hence Facebook dating users get to ‘choose’ between being able to use the service; or being able to blanket-deny Facebook the ability to track their physical movements. Like it or lump it.

iOS 13’s new privacy pop-ups to call out background app activity are a clear response to such disingenuous methods by an industry Apple CEO Tim Cook has dubbed the data industrial complex — putting a degree of control back in the hands of the user, who gets a third choice of manually disallowing Bluetooth proximity tracking (in the above example).

Android 10 has also recently expanded the location tracking controls it offers users — with the ability to only share location data with apps while you use them. Though Google’s OS lags far behind what Apple is now offering with these granular pop-ups.

Facebook has responded to awkward (for it) privacy changes incoming at the smartphone OS level by putting out an update on location services last week — where it seeks to get ahead of the deluge of data-grab warnings that iOS users of the Facebook app are likely to experience as they update to iOS 13.

Here it tries to spin Apple’s pro-active foregrounding of apps’ background tracking tactics via push notifications as “reminders” — in just one amusing rebrand.

But in a truly shameless contradiction Facebook also goes on to claim that: “You’re in control of who sees your location on Facebook” (because it says users can make use of the Location Services setting on a phone or tablet to deny tracking) — before admitting that switching off Location Services doesn’t actually mean Facebook will not track your location.

Just because you’re signalling very clearly to Facebook that you don’t want your location to be collected by Facebook doesn’t mean Facebook is going to respect that. Hell no!

“We may still understand your location using things like check-ins, events and information about your internet connection,” it writes. (For a clearer understanding of Facebook’s use of the word “understand” in that sentence we suggest you try substituting the word “steal”.)

In a final shameless kicker — in which Facebook almost appears to be trying to claim credit for smartphone OSes building more privacy features in response to its data grabs — the company seeks to finish on a forward-gazing note, per its preferred crisis PR custom, writing: “We’ll continue to make it easier for you to control how and when you share your location.”

Facebook dishing out misleading qualifications (e.g. “easier”) that whitewash the extent of its rampant data grabs is nothing new. But how much longer it can hope to rely on such flimsy figleaves to cover its privacy sins as the winds of change come rattling through remains to be seen…

 


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Urbvan raises $9 million for its private shuttle service in Mexico

19:08 | 29 August

As cities in emerging markets grapple with increasingly traffic-clogged and dangerous streets, Urbvan, a startup providing private, high-end transportation shuttles in Mexico, has raised $9 million in a new round of financing.

Co-founded by Joao Matos Albino and Renato Picard, Urbvan is taking the reins from startups like the now-defunct Chariot and tailoring the business for the needs of emerging market ecosystems.

Hailing from Portugal, Albino arrived in Mexico City as a hire for the Rocket Internet startup Linio. Although Linio didn’t last, Albino stayed on in Mexico eventually landing a job working for the startup Mercadoni, which is where he met Picard.

The two men saw the initial success of Chariot as it launched from Y Combinator, but were also tracking companies like the Indian startup Shuttl.

“We wanted to make shared mobility more accessible and a little bit more efficient,” says Albino. “We studied the economics and we studied the market and we knew there was a huge urgency in the congested cities of  Latin America.”

Unlike the U.S. — and especially major cities like San Francisco and New York — where public transportation is viewed as relatively safe and efficient, the urban environment of Mexico City is seen as not safe by the white collar workers that comprise Urbvan’s principle clientele.

The company started operating back in 2016. At the time it had five vans that it leased and retrofitted to include amenities like wi-fi and plenty of space for a limited number of passengers. Since those early days the company has expanded significantly. It now claims over 15,000 monthly users and a fleet of 180 vans.

Urbvan optimized for safety as well as comfort, according to Albino. The company has deals with WeWork, Walmart and other retailers in Mexico City so that all . of the stops on t he route are protected and safe. The company also vets its drivers and provides them with additional training because of the expanded capacity of the vans.

Each van is also equipped with a panic button and cameras inside and outside of the van for additional monitoring.

Customers either pay $3 per ticket or sign up for a monthly pass that ranges from $100 to $130.

Financing for the company came from Kaszek Ventures and Angel Ventures with previous investor Mountain Nazca also participating.

For Albino, who went to India to observe Shuttl’s operations, the global market for these kinds of services is so large that there will be many winners in each geography.

“Each city is different and you need to adapt. The technology needs to be adaptable to the city’s concerns . and where it can . add more value,” says Albino. “The Indian market is super different from Latin America.. It’s a huge market with a lot of congestion… But the value proposition is a bit more basic [for Shuttl].”

Urbvan is currently operating in Mexico City and Monterrey, but has plans to expand into Guadalajara later this year.

 


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Sonos Bluetooth-enabled, battery-powered speaker leaks ahead of official launch

16:21 | 19 August

Sonos has an event coming up at the end of the month to reveal something new, but leaks have pretty much given away what’s likely to be the highlight announcement at the event: A new, Bluetooth-enabled speaker that has a built-in battery for portable power.

The speaker originally leaked earlier this month, with Dave Zatz showing off a Avery official looking image, and The Verge reporting some addition details including a toggle switch for moving between Bluetooth and Wifi modes, and a USB-C port for charging, along with rough dimensions that peg it as a little bit bigger than the existing Sonos One.

Now, another leak from Win Future has revealed yet more official-looking images, including a photo of the device with its apparent dock, which provides contact charging. The site also says the new speaker will be called the ‘Sonos Move,’ which makes a lot of sense, given it’ll be the only one that can actually move around and still maintain functionality while portable.

[gallery ids="1870393,1870392"]

Here’s TL;DR of what we know so far, across all the existing leaks:

  • Can stream via Wi-Fi (works with your Sonos network like other Sonos speakers) and Bluetooth (direct pairing with devices), with Bluetooth LE included for easier setup
  • USB-C port for power and Ethernet port for connectivity
  • Similar design to Sonos One, with more rounded corners, but wider and taller (likely to allow room for integrated battery)
  • Built in hand in the back for easier carrying
  • Contacts on bottom for docked charging (as alternative to USB-C)
  • Supports Alexa and Google Assistant and has integrated mic (neither available via Bluetooth mode, however)
  • Suports AirPlay 2
  • Offer ‘Auto Trueplay,’ which automatically tunes speaker sound to your place using onboard mic

No word yet on official availability or pricing, but it’s reasonable to expect that it’ll arrive sometime this fall, following that late August announcement.

 


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