Stories for Jul. 31, 2014

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In Brief

Tesla factor floor, image courtesy of Tesla.

Tesla factor floor, image courtesy of Tesla.

In advance of Tesla’s earnings this afternoon, the electric car maker announced this morning that its deal with Japanese battery giant Panasonic is officially a go. Panasonic will invest in the battery-making equipment and occupy about half of the space, while Tesla will fund and manage the land, building and utilities and, along with other vendors, will occupy the other half of the building. Nikkei reported the news earlier this week, as well as more details on the financing. Tune in for Tesla’s earnings later this afternoon, and check out what I’m looking for from them.

In Brief

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Revolv, whose home hub lets you control a variety of connected devices in one app, has finally released an Android version as well as added official support for the Nest thermostat. When I tested Revolv, I liked the hardware, but found the software only okay. I also couldn’t access the geo-fencing capabilities as an Android phone user (I used the app on my iPad). So this news has me wondering if should give the Revolv another test. Revolv also added support for multiple “authorized phones” so it no longer turns off that Nest if an authorized user is still home.

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Stories for Jul. 30, 2014
In Brief

A Cambridge, Massachusetts, startup called Nara has released a service the company claims use “deep learning artificial intelligence” to improve online personalization. Essentially, the technology works by scouring customer databases and the web, identifying attributes and connecting the dots between them. Nara’s team has some chops in neuroscience and computer science, but it’s difficult to tell if Nara is actually doing deep learning as it’s usually defined or something based more on mimicking the human brain. Regardless the technology, though, personalization and recommendation systems are currently a major focus of many machine learning efforts both commercial and open source.

In Brief

Gyft, a mobile gift card company, announced Wednesday that it has been acquired by First Data, an Atlanta-based payments giant. The acquisition terms were not disclosed, as first reported by Pando Daily. While it’s not technically a major acquisition of a bitcoin company, Gyft has been a long-time favorite of bitcoin users because it was one of the easiest ways to exchange the cryptocurrency for digital gift cards to use at everyday businesses. Although First Data may be bitcoin shy itself, Gyft’s CEO Vinny Lingham said in the release that it will continue to accept all kinds of payment for its mobile gift cards.

ScratchJr project from Tufts, MIT
photo: Amanda Strawhacker, Dylan Portelance/Tufts University

ScratchJr is a programming language customized to help very young kids build interactive games and storage. Now a new iPad app brings it to that audience. Read more »

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