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Updated: 6 hours 41 min ago

Would it make sense for Tesla to buy Lyft?

Tue, 08/23/2016 - 4:22pm

This morning, after hearing about Tesla’s “big announcement” coming this afternoon, I speculated on Twitter that maybe the electric vehicle iconoclast was looking to buy ride-share firm Lyft.

It would definitely be a “new product” for them. But I was wrong, mea culpa.

Turns out it’s a new battery pack, a longer range, and a new “ludicrous” mode that will allow Teslas to be the fastest production cars on the road. All noble things, and worthy of announcing, if not necessarily worth building up so much beforehand.

But…what if?

Lyft has reportedly spurned a bid from current partner GM a week ago. GM plans to rolls out their new electric Bolt via Lyft as part of this partnership, and Tesla’s Model 3 competes with the Bolt.

See also: Get ready for a thermonuclear autonomous ride-hailing war

Since that news, rumors have also emerged that Lyft had also reached out to Apple, Google, Amazon and competitors Uber and Didi to discuss a sale.

Uber founder Travis Kalanick told his investors that Lyft wasn’t worth more than $2 billon, despite having a reported $1.4 billion cash in the bank.

Lyft slapped him and said they really didn’t want to go to the M&A prom anyway because they’re washing their hair that night. Recode reported that everyone has a price, and even with a valuation estimated at $5 to 6 billion, Lyft’s was reportedly $9 billion.

Kalanick also said he didn’t want the anti-trust issues that would ensue, but it’s not entirely clear if the two money-losing unicorns mating publicly like this would warrant federal scrutiny.

“(A merger) could take the pressure off margins for the combined company,” one fund manager who follows next-generation auto tech told ReadWrite. “But then it really just looks like a cab company with an app. We have those already. There’s no real monopoly, in most markets, in their core business today that would damage average buyers’ power.”

So if Lyft’s looking for an exit, Tesla may be the sign on that door.

It’s hardware versus software…again

The intersection of several trends and technologies may soon provide the place for Tesla and Lyft to collide.

Electric vehicle growth will likely be spurred by autonomous vehicle development, and carmakers from Volvo to Ford to Musk himself are now counting the time until a fully autonomous car hits the road in months, not years.

Add to that a sharing economy increasingly treating car ownership as a commodity and not status symbol, and it could become a challenging time to sell $135,000 electric cars no matter how awesome. And they are, without a doubt, awesome.

And it’s an interesting time for the entire “next-generation” auto industry as a whole, as it becomes clear that humans will not be behind the wheel in the future, or even if there will be a wheel in the future.

While this may seem mind-blowing to most car owners today, it’s just a new chapter in the Silicon Valley story of “Hardware vs. Software.”

In this corner, Team Hardware. It’s made up of virtually automaker on the planet, including Tesla, as well as car parts makers, agricultural and construction equipment companies, trucking firms, and ship builders. They’re looking for what happens next, and all roadsigns point towards “metal-as-a-service.”

Whether it’s an entire vehicle or just some of its components, the decades-old relationship with buyers for these huge brands is being unpacked by the new sharing economy audience and broken down into the basket of services that their products actually provide.

See also: The fight is on to win the $560b self-driving car market

Think of all of the advertising you’ve watched over the years from carmakers. Now, the attachment to the idea of owning a certain type of car, or a certain brand of equipment, starts to look gauzier by the day.

In the other corner, Team Software. That includes the ride-hailing giants like Uber and Didi, flush with cash but concerned everyone will figure out “oh, it’s just a cab company, kind of.” Add in Google, Baidu, retailers like Amazon, and shippers like FedEx — who’ve always looked at their fleets as dots on a global last-mile logistics planning map.

Those deliveries don’t happen without wings, wheels or hands. Or possibly, whatever appendages drones will use.

An integrated delivery ecosystem, whether it delivers a person or package, is their end game. If that means a new dimension in fleet management, so be it.

Add to that all of the safety concerns, regulatory needs and data infrastructure issues, and it’ll be a wild time take a ride — or even cross a street  — in the coming years.

The post Would it make sense for Tesla to buy Lyft? appeared first on ReadWrite.

Categories: Technology

India pushes smart city collaboration among BRICs countries

Tue, 08/23/2016 - 4:00pm

A senior Indian official is pushing for greater smart city collaboration among the group of countries knows as BRICS.

As reported in the Indian Express, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje recently spoke as the BRICS Smart Cities Conference in Jaipur, India. The acronym BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Raje’s presentation emphasized the potential opportunities emerging for fellow BRICS nations to cooperate in developing smart cities and related infrastructure. As well, she encouraged further information sharing between these nations to enhance and accelerate the smart city learning process.

“Member countries of BRICS can learn many things from each other,” said Raje. “The collaborations within BRICS shall strengthen ties and improve our appreciation of each other’s cultures and peoples.”

She drew attention to innovative urban environmental management practices currently being developed in such cities as Beijing, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Saint Petersburg.

Innovative projects in these cities can be explored for potential application in India, with scholars and urban planners developing deeper exchanges of knowledge with fellow nations. She said that such knowledge exchanges will improve smart cities by enhancing safety and resilience.

“Growth of population in urban settlements is posing many challenges. It has placed additional loads on the infrastructure in every city,” said Raje. “Our thinking is that cities of tomorrow require technology-driven inputs to make life of our citizens easier and safer.”

BRICS may have more pressing citizen needs than others

In her presentation, the minister discussed the support of the Indian government for smart city transformations of Jaipur, Ajmer, Kota and Udaipur.

She added that a critical element in the process of developing smart cities is the tandem development of smart citizens. This echoes a growing sentiment among smart city pundits that governments are forgetting about citizens in the rush to implement whizzy new smart city technology.

“To make our citizens smart and skilled, our government has taken skill development as a top most priority,” she said.

“We have engaged with numerous partners in skilling up our youth in a wide range of trades,” continued Raje. “ITIs have been taken up by industrial houses to impart skills and all our industry partners are collaborators in creating job and imparting world class training to our youth.”

The post India pushes smart city collaboration among BRICs countries appeared first on ReadWrite.

Categories: Technology

IoT and conferences: Not a sector, but a critical theme

Tue, 08/23/2016 - 2:00pm

These days there is a conference or convention for just about everything. Are you a foodie that also enjoys gaming and watching YouTube? There is a conference for that. Are you a fan of My Little Pony? There is a convention for that, too. The Internet of Things is no different, but where it does stand out is in the sheer number of conferences that are taking place around the world with a focus on the technology and promise of the IoT.

Because the Internet of Things really is… everything, it would be exceedingly difficult to contain it in a single conference. New technologies and solutions are being created every day. This may be why there are dozens of conferences around the world each year, all dedicated to one or more aspects of the Internet of Things.

Even the tech conferences that aren’t specific to the Internet of Things are quickly becoming overrun with IoT projects from attending vendors. At the Intel Developer Forum, the main keynote became a showcase of Intel’s IoT projects, including its Joule IoT development kit and Merged Reality, a VR experience that takes advantage of Intel’s RealSense camera to blend the real world with the virtual one.

Even big conferences like SXSW are looking at IoT

SXSW Interactive, a giant annual Austin-based technology and entertainment conference hosts meetups and parties for tech brands across the city. These companies often test and even launch their new apps and IoT solutions at this event. The Internet of Things has become such a large part of this conference that you can find over a dozen separate events dedicated to IoT taking place during the Interactive portion of SXSW.

There are even multi-day conferences set aside for the most specific of IoT applications. The Wearable Tech in Sport Summit, for example, is being held in August alongside the Sports Analytics Innovation Summit. There is even a conference dedicated to smart lighting solutions being held in Australia called the Australian Smart Lighting Summit.

With so many innovations happening that partner everyday items with a new generation of connected technologies, it’s no surprise that so many conferences are adopting and even being formed around the ever-expanding world of IoT.


The post IoT and conferences: Not a sector, but a critical theme appeared first on ReadWrite.

Categories: Technology

Get ready for a thermonuclear autonomous ride-hailing war

Tue, 08/23/2016 - 12:30pm

On Thursday, Ford CEO Mark Fields announced the company’s first autonomous car will arrive in 2021. That big news—even if the launch date is timid from the company that invented the first affordable car—but the even bigger story is a ride-hailing app will be the easiest (and cheapest) way to ride in the unnamed autonomous car.

Ford did not name the ride-hailing app it plans to launch in major cities, but it is clear the company is positioning for its own stake in the ride-hailing industry. Its not hard to see why, estimates from economists and transport experts say car autonomy will reduce car sales and car ownership, which takes a slice out of the automotive industry’s pie.

See Also: Uber swallows self-driving truck startup Otto for $680 million

Uber, Lyft, and Didi are the three major firms that stand to gain from the reduction in car ownership, but they won’t be alone in the battle to win the ride-hailing market.

Automotive firms are gearing up for the battle of their lives. General Motors spent $600 million on a 40 person automation startup; Volkswagen, GM, Daimler, BMW, and Ford are all working on ride-hailing apps; Toyota, GM, Ford, Audi, BMW, and others have opened Silicon Valley offices and spent more on R&D than ever before.

Not to mention Apple and Google, the two most valuable companies in the world, are both working on self-driving and ride-hailing services.

A new world ride-hailing war?

Automotive firms are putting on their cooperative face, but come 2020 there will be thermonuclear war for ride-hailing market share. Every automotive firm will have its own ride-hailing app and software will be inserted into the car to make sure Uber, Lyft, or Didi can’t hijack it.

For Uber and Didi, that might force them to acquire an automotive manufacturer. For others that have less than $5 billion tucked away, it likely means lights out. Lyft could become an independent subsidiary of GM (or another larger company), a similar situation could play out in Europe with Gett and Volkswagen.

Partnerships may work for a time, but automotive firms have the power. Apart from Uber and Didi—who are building their own autonomous systems—automotive manufacturers will provide the hardware and software, putting them in a clearly advantageous position.

Volvo and Fiat are providing 100 cars to Uber and Google, respectively. It should be noted these two firms will have limited reach in the self-driving world, compared to major automotive manufacturers. In the future, we may see Uber, Google, or Didi dictate the design and production of the car, to meet standards, while the two firms have independent leadership.

Room for more?

The ride-hailing industry should look like the auto industry today, once the dust clears. Ford, GM, VW, and the other major suppliers will have the largest volume of cars on the road, while others attempt to win customers over with unique design, better software and services, or lower rates.

This only works if automotive manufacturers block ride-hailing services from adding software to their cars. If not, Uber takes control. Most affiliate ride-hailing with Uber, it will be nearly impossible for one of the upstarts (apart of Didi) to match the purchasing power and scalability of Uber.

Apple may make inroads, as it is able to provide the full package, but it may take the iPhone maker a few years to reach the scale of GM and Ford, who in this scenario are providing cars directly to Uber.

For the health of the auto industry, the former option; having manufacturers provide the ride-hailing services for their own cars, looks best. Some manufacturers will be unable to compete with Uber’s pricing and speed, but at least in this future customers have the choice of several operators, rather than the entire industry belonging to Uber.

The future of car ownership

It is unlikely that Ford, GM, and others will ban ownership out of the gate. Instead, it is likely that changes in cost, city planning, and laws will make ownership more exclusive and less enjoyable.

Prices will be too high for most families, while ride-hailing becomes much more affordable. City planners will remove parking garages and ban parking on the side of the road for extended periods of time. Driver’s licenses will become near impossible to obtain, unless you have clear sight, a clean record, and perfect understanding of all road signs.

Some may continue to purchase cars and be distrustful of autonomy, but most will conform once the economical advantages become obvious. Even fans of cars that add customizations will start to see their pastime fade, as the steering wheel, brakes, and other manual controls are removed in favor of tablets and desks.

Automotive manufacturers and tech firms may attempt to make the transition from ownership to hailing more attractive through customization. When you enter the autonomous car, your Spotify playlist is synced to the car stereo or your YouTube video moves to the large tablet. In the morning, the car plays soothing tunes and dims the lights. If you’re a big NFL fan, perhaps Google will let you watch the livestream for free if you take a ride.

See Also: Self-driving? You’re gonna need a bigger data plan

We may see different business models rise, including a rent model where you can keep a car in close permitter for 24 hours. That may be useful for weekend trips to the countryside, where the ride-hailing services are unavailable. As the systems become more fine-tuned, it may deploy a car to your doorstep in the morning before you even order it.

All of this is highly speculative, but one thing is for certain, a new warzone is opening in the transport industry and everyone is fortifying their positions.

The post Get ready for a thermonuclear autonomous ride-hailing war appeared first on ReadWrite.

Categories: Technology

New mental health technology tells your doctor what you won’t

Tue, 08/23/2016 - 11:30am

Health services around the globe still struggle with mental health disorders, relying on a patient to provide documentation of mood changes in a journal or be open with a doctor or psychiatrist.

Both solutions are not seeing excellent results, which is why U.K. based Cambridge Cognition and Ctrl Group have announced Cognitive Kit, a software platform that lets patient express their mood and improve memory, attention, and reaction on a wearable.

See Also: Is Apple launching a fitness tracker alongside Watch 2?

The platform is built into the Apple Watch and Microsoft Band 2, which both feature heart-rate sensors. Other wearable devices will receive support in the future.

Mental health via “mood faces”

For now, patients are able to select six different mood faces and send them to a doctor or psychiatrist. Patients will also be able to play a variety of games throughout the day, which may show patterns in mood and memory or reaction deficiency.

Cognitive Kit, similar to Apple’s ResearchKit, will be open source. That means scientists and research will be able to dig into the data, find patterns, and hopefully improve mental health treatment.

In a two week trial, Cambridge Cognitive said over 30 million data points were recorded on wearables. If the kit was provided to every mental health patient that approves, we could see hundreds of millions more data points.

Cambridge Cognitive is looking to partner with healthcare and pharmaceutical providers to launch the Cognitive Kit. Alzheimer’s is one of the disorders it wants to tackle first, after presenting the platform to the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

The post New mental health technology tells your doctor what you won’t appeared first on ReadWrite.

Categories: Technology