Tuplejump – using artificial intelligence to understand and manage big data



Photo credit: iphonedigital.

Apple has bought Tuplejump, a Hyderabad-based startup that uses artificial intelligence to understand and manage big data, according to reports from TechCrunch and Bloomberg. The acquisition happened in June, Bloomberg said.

Tuplejump was founded by Rohit Rai, Satyaprakash Buddhavarapu, and Deepak Alur. According to Rohit and Satyaprakash’s LinkedIn profiles, they moved to work at Apple in May. Deepak left to join Anaplan in April. Tuplejump’s site has been taken down.

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” Colin Johnson, an Apple spokesman, said in a statement to TechCrunch.

If the reports are true, this will be Apple’s third acquisition this year. Last month, it bought machine-learning startup Turi for US$200 million. In January, it bought Emotient for an undisclosed amount. Emotient uses artificial intelligence to analyze facial expressions to figure out emotions. It’s also yet another addition to the company’s foray into artificial intelligence technology. In October 2015, Apple acquired Perceptio, which makes it possible to run artifical intelligence image-classification programs on phones without needing too much customer data.

Tuplejump will be the first Indian startup that Apple has bought.

The southern city of Hyderabad has had some of its other startups get attention. AppVirality, a startup that develops toolkits to help mobile developers figure out how to grow their apps, has been backed by Rajan Anandan, managing director of Google India and Southeast Asia.

Tuplejump – Source: TechCrunch

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Five.ai – AI powerhouse for driverless cars



A startup spearheaded by serial entrepreneur Stan Boland plans to build a world-leading UK software powerhouse for autonomous vehicles – a hothouse of AI that manufacturers can harness to validate the safety of driverless cars.

Boland (pictured), who has a string of Cambridge technology successes under his belt, is co-founder and CEO of Five.ai which recently raised $2.7 million in a round led by Hermann Hauser’s Amadeus Capital Partners.

Three VCs weighed into the round and the company will be looking for some $35m in a further two rounds to get definitive validation technology into the marketplace by 2019 and subsequently push on with commercialisation. It expects its investor profile to become increasingly international.

Co-founder Ben Peters, who heads up marketing for Five.ai and worked with Boland at Neul in Cambridge before it was bought by Huawei, said brainpower in the golden triangle of Cambridge, London and Oxford was helping the UK lead the way in embedded software for autonomous vehicles.

“We intend to leverage the pull of their talented professors and PhDs and build a UK powerhouse for machine learning and embedded software that will be required to validate and power driverless cars,” he said.

The company currently has Cambridge offices at Barclays’ new Eagle Labs incubator and in Bristol and feels no need to make a call on an HQ location just yet. The business is currently just the six founders but two job offers are in the process of converting and Peters said headcount will ramp steadily after that.

“The current funding gives us 18 months; we will probably grow by 10 or 12 people over the next year. We will be looking for around $10-$15m in about a year’s time to see us through to 2019 and then a further $20m to really push on commercially, by which time we should be up to 60+ headcount.

“It is seriously exciting time for the business and we are lucky to have such cool offices in Cambridge. As we progress we can give talented young AI professionals who join the business an equity stake and a platform to showcase their skills.”

Peters said the technology for autonomous vehicles had moved on substantially since Google, for example, first paraded its potential in the space in 2011.

Five.ai is purely a software play. It will harness best-of-breed machine learning, embedded software and AI to ensure that makers of driverless cars can thoroughly validate their safety and efficiency before they hit the highway.

The theory is that chipmakers can buy into the software capability and that manufacturers can incorporate the proven software and chip technology into their prototypes.

Boland believes Five.ai has the edge by utilising more sophisticated machine-learning that will help a vehicle understand its surroundings without the need to constantly compare its data against ultra-precise, three-dimensional maps created by radar systems. He says a Five.ai-powered vehicle would need three to four times as many computers as Google’s driverless car. That is intended as a reassurance that safety and efficiency are paramount to the autonomous vehicle proposition and that Five.ai will not cut corners to appease manufacturers as they scramble for pole position in a red hot marketplace.

The Five.ai team is perfecting a computer-vision system and will soon be in a position to engage with vehicle manufacturers and transport companies.

Boland has an outstanding track record. He was brought into Hermann Hauser’s Acorn Computers to restore equilibrium and lay the foundations for the spin-out of ARM in 1990.

He went on to head up chip designer Element14 (acquired by Broadcom for $600 million). He then founded Icera, which made wireless modems for cell phones and sold that to Nvidia for $367m.

He also turned round wireless broadband startup Neul and moulded it into such an attractive proposition that Chinese ICT giant, Huawei acquired it and is now up to 80 people at Cambridge Science Park as a re-engineered and powerful player in the IoT marketplace.

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StretchSense – IoT of clothes & smart clothing


This could be the future of smart clothing in this partnership between New Zealand’s tech and Japan’s market dominance


When we think of “wearables” we usually imagine smart gadgets, such as the FitBit, Apple Watch, or even the ill-fated Google Glass. The traditional approach of imbuing accessories such as watches, eyewear or the like with sensors and a CPU might very well be the way of the future, but wouldn’t it be cooler if a wearable could tell you more than just your heart rate and distance covered? As a workout fanatic dogged by injuries, I’m just as interested (if not more) in proper body alignment, posture, and the overall quality of my movement, getting information like how fast is my heart pumping. The ability of a single gadget attached to my wrist to provide that feedback is virtually nil since several kinds of data from numerous different limbs, joints, and muscles need to be accurately collected without hindering the movement that is supposed to be measured.

An alternative approach would be to integrate flexible sensors directly into clothing or sports apparel, allowing them to move with the body. That is precisely what StretchSense, a company from New Zealand, has done. Founded in 2012 as an offshoot of the Biometics Lab at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute, they have developed a range of soft sensors that measure pressure, stretch, bend, and shear, and can be interwoven with most kinds of fabric. They have also recently received Series A funding from StartToday, owner of Japan’s largest online retailer ZOZOTOWN. Although StretchSense provides sensors to more than 200 R&D partners in over 28 countries worldwide, this partnership could provide the right circumstances for integrating the Kiwi-developed sensors into retail apparel and making it available to a wider audience.

StretchSense CEO Ben O’Brien, with a fabric stretch sensor

StretchSense CEO Ben O’Brien, with a fabric stretch sensor


Talking to Geektime about the announcement, Head of Marketing Shin Jeong Park said, “Today the trend is for many fashion and tech-oriented companies to join forces to make wearables that work really well and look really good.”

Its partnership with StartToday would put the company in an excellent position to tap into Japan’s $100 billion plus e-commerce retail market. Until now, its most mainstream retail application has been the integration of its sensors in Heddoko’s 3D motion-sensing sports garment technology, a niche company targeting professional athletes and coaches. With a retail price of $499, that is well beyond what the average fitness customer is prepared to spend. Hopefully, this new partnership will produce more affordable solutions that come with a dedicated application, like Heddoko, or will make the data available for third-party developers to access and integrate into already existing fitness trackers and apps.

Aside from taking an alternative approach to the whole concept of wearables, StretchSense also promises to provide a solution to one of the most dogged problems with wearables: power supply. One of the main challenges when it comes to wearables is the fact that there is no reliable alternative to batteries, which cannot be too large since wearable gadgets are small by necessity, and the smaller the battery the more limited the functionality is. However, wearables powered by body energy – be it kinetic or thermal – would be the ideal solution, the Holy Grail if you will, enabling the making of “disappearables”, devices that are integrated into the clothing we wear and require neither charging nor replacing.

Energy Harvesting Kit

Energy Harvesting Kit


StretchSense has one solution called the StretchSense Energy Harvesting Kit, and it turns the power dissipated while walking or running into electricity by using a compression mode soft generator that is placed underfoot and generates 1mW of power when compressed at a rate of 0.5 – 1.5 Hz. An obvious problem with this solution is that it requires regular compression unless combined with an external battery, something which not all activities involve.

StretchSense is developing a power generation solution involving stretch mode generators, but it is an open question when either of these two solutions will be affordable enough for mass-market use. Energy harvesting solutions for wearable devices are still something that only exists in labs and R&D centres, but hopefully, StretchSense will be able to put the StartToday cash injection to good use and make those smart, charge-less and affordable disappearables us exercise junkies dream about a reality.

The article New Zealand startup StretchSense & Japan’s StartToday announce partnership to create the IoT of clothes first appeared in Geektime

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Ayla Networks – IoT platforms for OEMs


Ayla’s big round shows there are no doubts about the direction of smart homes among investors

Ayla Networks

Santa Clara-based IoT company Ayla Networks announced a US$39 million early Monday morning, a Series C round co-led by design manufacturer 3NOD and Ants Capital.

“Ayla is fast becoming one of the leading IoT platforms for OEMs that are manufacturing and shipping IoT products globally,” said David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks since 2010. Before then Friedman served as VP Business Development at ZeroG Wireless.

Ayla focuses heavily on smart homes: appliances, water heaters and softeners (HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and home fire products. They’ve racked up a number of clients including Fujistu General, Hunter Fan and Ozner. They claim to have doubled their number of employees, but didn’t provide an exact figure for people under head.

Other new investors included Acorn Pacific and Mitsui. Returning investors include Cisco Investments, Voyager Capital, Crosslink Capital, International Finance Corp. (IFC, a division of World Bank Group), Linear Venture, SAIF Partners/Oriza Ventures and SJF Ventures.


Ayla Networks offices in Santa Clara

“With IoT clouds operating in multiple regions worldwide, and with major customers continuing to expand their Ayla-powered IoT product lines,” Friedman continued, “Ayla believes that the ‘when’ of the IoT is right now—and that Ayla Networks is well positioned to help manufactures take advantage of growing market for connected products.”

The smart home market has impressive projections and might be worth approximately US$121.73 billion by 2022 according to Markets and Markets. Fifteen percent of that market will in the Asia-Pacific region according to the same analysis, but 60 per cent in North America and 20 per cent in Europe.

The market includes some big names like Siemens AG in Germany, Schneider Electric in France, Honeywell and Acuity in the United States. Comcast, Time Warner and Nest Labs are also big participants in the market.

Ayla plans to expand abroad, building on their move to Japan earlier this year, plus new offices in Taiwan and manufacturing and growing IoT hub Shenzhen near to Hong Kong. Yin Min, the managing partner at Ants Capital running point on Ayla, pointed directly at China where they have been granted a license as an Internet Content Provider (ICP).

“The IoT market is like a rocket ship, and we’ve seen it gather speed rapidly in recent months,” said Friedman. “Manufacturers that a year ago simply wanted to build a connected product are now discovering the business transformation possible through harnessing the data generated by IoT products.”

Image Credit: Ayla

The article IoT startup Ayla scores US$39M investment to expand in Japan, China and Taiwan was first published on Geektime.

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Soracom – a communication platform for developers of connected devices


SoracomSoracom, a Tokyo-based startup that provides a communication platform for developers of connected devices, announced today that it has raised a 2.4 billion yen (about $22 million) Series B from World Innovation Lab, Infinity Venture Partners, and other investors, to enter the United States and other markets. Read More

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