GM’s plan to turn the car into a smartphone on wheels


At CES in January both Ford(s f) and General Motors(s gm) unveiled their connected car open development plans, but the two automakers couldn’t have been different in how they followed up. Ford immediately started pumping out new apps for its Sync AppLink platform, but GM kept quiet. It opened up its new developer portal to registrants, and that’s it; except for a promise to show us the fruits of its labors this fall in a few of its model year 2014 vehicles.

Despite GM’s silence, though, there’s been a lot of activity going behind the scenes in its Detroit headquarters. I recently sat down with GM’s developer ecosystem director Nick Pudar, and he detailed an ambitious and extensive plan to open up future Chevys, Buicks and Cadillacs to the development community.

GM’s not just talking about letting audio streaming and simple location-based services apps into the dashboard, it’s planning to…

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Review: Exo, A Cricket-Based Protein Bar That Won’t Destroy Your Productivity


My sweet tooth is the enemy of productivity: sugary snacks are a one way ticket to midday brain fog and squishy love handles. As TechCrunch’s resident healthnut, I regularly get pitched by food startups claiming to solve the workplace snacking problem, but their “healthy” alternatives invariably raise my blood sugar like a Snickers bar fried in Pepsi.

Last night, I’m happy to say, I tried a new protein bar that was sufficiently tasty, didn’t raise my blood sugar, and was packed with raw healthy ingredients. There’s just one catch: it’s made from pulverized crickets (video below).

The admirably bold Exo team wants to bring crickets to the American diet, and has successfully raised $20,000 on Kickstarter in just 3 days to build a factory that churns out bug-based snacks. “Exo will introduce to the West one of the most nutritious and sustainable protein sources in the world: insects,” declares their…

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Can An Algorithm Be Empathetic? UK Startup EI Technologies Is Building Software That’s Sensitive To Tone Of Voice


Often it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it that matters. Especially if you’re being sarcastic to a customer services operator. Such nuance is obviously lost on automated speech systems, more’s the pity (and, indeed, on some human ears) but don’t give up hope of being able to mock your future robot butler with a sassy response. UK startup EI Technologies, one of 17 in the current Wayra London incubator cohort, is developing a voice recognition platform that can identify emotion by analysing vocal qualities with an accuracy rate it says is already better than the average human ear.

EI Technologies’ algorithm analyses the tonal expression of the human voice, specifically looking at “acoustic features”, rather than verbal content — with the initial aim of powering a smartphone app that can help people track and monitor their moods. The idea for the app – which will be…

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Futureful’s Predictive Discovery Engine Gets New Interface, Expands From iPad To iPhone


Helsinki, Finland-based smarter web surfing startup Futureful, which launched in the U.S. on iPad back in January — and is best described as a predictive discovery engine (rather than a traditional web browser) — has extended its reach, launching onto the iPhone with a global app. The startup has raised around $1.5 million to-date. Its main investor is Skype (and Kazaa) co-founder Janus Friis.

The earlier U.S.- and iPad-only launch was a “test-run”, says co-founder Jarno Koponen, aimed at seeing how its machine learning tech managed out in the wild. It also wanted to see how users took to its interface/UX — which dispenses with URL bars, and other traditional browsing paraphernalia, to focus on encouraging curiosity and serendipity. As part of that test run, Futureful has now updated its interface — dispensing with the original discovery ticker and opting for a new bubbles-based browsing mechanism instead.

The new interface — introduced…

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Testers claim lab-grown burger backed by Sergey Brin had nice texture, bland flavor


Three taste testers bit into the first hamburger made from lab-grown beef Monday morning in London. They labeled it similar in texture and lacking in flavor compared to the real thing, but the bigger surprise came when the team behind the burger revealed their financial backer: Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

Brin’s $325,000 went toward a team of researchers called Cultured Beef, which grew stem cells from cow shoulder muscle into strips of muscle fiber. Around 20,000 strips were mixed with bread crumbs and a binder, plus red beet juice and saffron for coloring, to form the burger tasted Monday — an event Brin said many people would consider science fiction.

“I actually think that’s a good thing. If what you’re doing is not seen by some people as science fiction, it’s probably not transformative enough,” Brin said in a video describing the project. “If it succeeds there, it can be…

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Watch Curiosity journey across Mars in 2 minutes


Next week marks one year since NASA’s Curiosity rover touched down on Mars. In honor of the anniversary, the Jet Propulsion Lab published a video that condenses Curiosity’s journey so far into two minutes. The rover generally moves at about 98 feet per hour and is currently on its way to Mount Sharp, where scientists hope to learn more about the planet’s ancient environment.

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The future of work: maximizing your distributed workforce


Traditional work is being uprooted. Knowledge and creative workers are increasingly distributed and decentralized and their work and project teams transient. Mobile access to business documents for employees and collaborators outside the company firewall is critical. Workers are geographically dispersed and increasingly blurring the boundaries between work and home life. This all leads to loosely coordinated teams collaborating on high-velocity, short-term projects. At the same time, the consumerized, easy-to-adopt-and-use technologies supporting the distributed workforce are entering a company’s IT infrastructure through the “side door” of line of business and functional management and by individual users.

In this webinar, our panel will address these topics:

  • How can managers harness the creative collaboration of the distributed workforce?
  • How can IT managers create more-efficient workflows for them?
  • How do these workflows vary by industry?
  • What kind of collaboration tools will be adopted first, and for what types of functions?
  • How can companies better…

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