Stories for Dec. 5, 2013
On The Web

3D Systems, one of the largest and oldest 3D printer companies, will be able to offer on-demand ceramic 3D prints after purchasing printing service site Figulo. 3D Systems will incorporate Figulo into its software, allowing users to instantly order a print.

3D Systems also announced a series of updates to its professional line of 3D printers this week, including full-color printing and a new line of printing materials.

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In Brief

2D printing veteran HP announced in October that it plans to enter the 3D printing market by mid-2014, but the details released since then have been slim. Wired reporter Robert McMillan was able to catch a glimpse of the prototype printer that sits in HP’s basement. He  described it as a “a five-foot tall giant of a machine cobbled together from existing jumbo-scale metal printing parts and some new custom-built equipment that HP isn’t ready to talk about.” HP has also developed a new plastic for the machine to use to make objects.

In Brief

Ford CEO Alan Mulally has been a front runner for Microsoft’s top job for a few months now. Many said he’s been the candidate to beat to succeed outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. But now Ford chairman Edsel Ford II told Bloomberg News that Mulally is locked up through the end of 2014. Last August, Ballmer pledged to step down within 12 months and the conventional wisdom has been that sooner would be better so Microsoft can get on with business free and clear of succession rumors and worries. Maybe this latest wrinkle gives internal candidates Satya Nadella, Stephen Elop and Tony Bates the edge now?

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In Brief

Wireless power company WiTricity announced on Thursday that it has entered an intellectual property licensing agreement with Toyota. The auto-maker will “offer wireless charging power capture devices on their future rechargeable hybrid electric and battery electric vehicles,” meaning that its cars won’t need to be physically plugged in for a re-charge. Instead, using WiTricity’s technology, the vehicles will get their battery charge without wires, presumably through a charging pad on the ground under the vehicle.

In Brief

For Apple product users, the home may soon be Siri’s domain. Apple Insider reports that Cupertino has filed a patent with the USPTO for a “smart dock” that, when plugged in, continually listens for audio cues throughout the house. It’s a much more function-rich version of docks currently available now, but with easily accessible voice control options that allow users to execute commands via voice prompts. The concept seems like a practical step for Apple to get the most use from Siri, while tackling smart home technology.

In Brief

Sweden’s FRA intelligence agency has been spying on Russian politicians on behalf of the United States, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Swedish TV station Sveriges Television reported on Thursday that Sweden was a key regional partner for the U.S. National Security Agency because major telecommunications cables pass through it (suggesting bulk rather than targeted collection). Investigative journalist Duncan Campbell has previously warned of this situation, which dates back to the Cold War but was still apparently in play as recently as April this year. Diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks in 2011 also pointed to the arrangement.

Stories for Dec. 4, 2013
In Brief

This morning, an email from a PR agency titled “Netflix likely to end binge watching in 2014″ hit my inbox, responding to this week’s announcement that the streaming service’s first animated original Turbo Fast will be released in installations, as opposed to making the entire season available on day one. Then, a little later, another email, this time from Netflix: “House of Cards returns for second season Friday February 14.” In one big swoop, ready to binge. No change of heart, after all. So why did Netflix divvy up Turbo Fast? Business Week has the answer, House of Cards star Robin Wright has no comment.

In Brief

Just days after clearing the U.S. Department of Justice, Microsoft’s plan to purchase Nokia’s Devices and Services business for $7.2 billion got the European Commission’s stamp of approval. On Wednesday, the EU body outlined three main reasons to let the deal happen, including Microsoft’s low Windows Phone market share, saying that Apple and Samsung will continue to compete with the merged entity. The Commission also saw no risk to Microsoft holding back Windows Phone from handset makers other than Nokia, nor Skype or Office from other platforms.

On The Web

Since the start of 2012, home automation startups have raised $468M across 56 deals. Surprisingly, most of those have not been the recent flurry of smaller rounds for SmartThings ($12.5 million), Zonoff ($3.8 million) or Revolv ($4 million), but from companies like Alarm.com ($136 million) and Nest ($80 million) raising really large rounds. Check out the CB Insights story for a nifty chart!

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