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Velodyne becomes latest tech company to go public using a SPAC, eschewing the traditional IPO path – TechCrunch

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Velodyne becomes latest tech company to go public using a SPAC, eschewing the traditional IPO path – TechCrunch

Velodyne Lidar, the main provider of a sensor broadly thought-about important to the business deployment of autonomous automobiles, mentioned Thursday it has struck a deal to merge with special-purpose acquisition firm Graf Industrial Corp., with a market worth of $1.eight billion.

The firm mentioned it was in a position to elevate $150 million in non-public funding in public fairness, or PIPE, from new institutional traders in addition to current shareholders of Graf Industrial. Through the transaction, Velodyne may have about $192 million in money on its steadiness sheet.

Velodyne’s founder David Hall together with backers Ford, Chinese search engine Baidu, Hyundai Mobis and Nikon Corp. will preserve an 80% stake within the mixed firm. Hall will grow to be government chairman and Anand Gopalan will preserve his CEO place.

The merger is predicted to shut within the third quarter of 2020. The mixed firm will stay on the NYSE and commerce beneath a brand new ticker image VLDR following the shut of the enterprise mixture, Velodyne mentioned.

The settlement marks the most recent firm to show to SPACs in lieu of a standard IPO course of. Earlier this week, on-line used automobile market startup Shift Technologies introduced an settlement to merge with SPAC Insurance Acquisition Corp. The newly mixed firm shall be listed on NASDAQ beneath a brand new ticker image. Nikola Motor additionally went public by way of a SPAC earlier this 12 months.

Velodyne will grow to be a publicly traded firm amid a interval of consolidation within the broader autonomous car business. Startups, automakers and tech giants have prolonged their timelines within the capitally intensive pursuit of creating and deploying AVs. Some startups have been swallowed up by bigger firms, whereas others have grow to be defunct. It has additionally prompted automakers previously 18 months to shift extra sources and a spotlight towards superior driver help programs in passenger automobiles, vehicles and SUVs.

Lidar is probably one of the vital crowded sub classes within the autonomous car business. Lidar is a sensor that measures distance utilizing laser mild to generate extremely correct 3D maps of the world across the automobile. The sensor is taken into account by most within the self-driving automobile business a key piece of expertise required to securely deploy robotaxis and different autonomous automobiles.

Velodyne is greatest identified for its “KFC bucket” spinning-laser lidar. The design was impressed by sensor failures in automobiles competing within the DARPA Grand Challenge in 2004. Hall developed the spinning laser lidar and bought the sensors to groups competing in a future autonomous car DARPA competitors. The KFC buckets have been the go-to lidar sensors for firms engaged on autonomous automobiles. Waymo, again when it was simply the Google self-driving challenge, even used Velodyne LiDAR sensors till 2012.

However, Spinning lidar items are costly and mechanically advanced. It spurred a brand new technology of lidar startups to strive new approaches. Today, there are dozens of lidar firms — some counts observe upwards of 70 — attempting to persuade automakers and AV builders to make use of their sensors. And they’re all aiming for Velodyne.

This new technology of firms has prompted Velodyne to evolve, as effectively. The firm introduced at CES 2020 in January new sensors, together with a tiny $100 lidar unit known as Velabit, as effectively the VelaDome and a software program product known as Vella.

“There’s no argument in regards to the market alternative for lidar,” Gopalan informed TechCrunch reporter Devin Coldewey again in January. “I feel the precise dialog is about what you need to do with it. Others are centered on stage 2+ or 3 [autonomy, i.e. above simple driver assistance] — what we need to do is short-circuit that method. The solely motive it’s not being adopted at decrease ranges is value. If I say you’ll be able to have lidar for 100 {dollars}, after all you’re going to make use of it. Under 100 {dollars}, you’ll be able to’t even think about the functions you open up: drones, house robotics, sidewalk robots.”

The firm has spent the previous a number of years centered on decreasing the price of its lidar, in addition to diversifying its portfolio. The Velabit is only one instance of the corporate’s efforts to lock in prospects outdoors of the AV business. The small sensor doesn’t have the capabilities wanted for autonomous automobiles. Instead, Velodyne sees an utility for the sensor for use on smaller industrial robots.

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Digital imaging pioneer Russell Kirsch dies at 91 – TechCrunch

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Digital imaging pioneer Russell Kirsch dies at 91 – TechCrunch

Russell Kirsch, whose analysis going again to the ’50s underlies the complete discipline of digital imaging, died earlier this week on the age of 91. It’s onerous to overstate the influence of his work, which led to the primary digitally scanned photograph and the creation of what we now consider as pixels.

Born to Russian and Hungarian immigrant mother and father in 1929, Kirsch attended NYU, Harvard and MIT, finally touchdown a job on the National Bureau of Standards (later the National Institutes of Science and Technology) that he would maintain for the remainder of his working life.

Although he researched, coded and theorized for 50 years and even after his retirement, his most well-known accomplishment is little doubt the primary scanned digital picture — a long time earlier than the primary digital digital camera.

The analysis was being undertaken from the angle that computer systems — then in fact nonetheless room-sized issues — might finally simulate the human thoughts and notion. Of course, we’re nonetheless engaged on that, however one main step was simulating imaginative and prescient, which Kirsch achieved in 1957.

Kirsch’s colleague R.B. Thomas makes use of the scanner. Image Credits: NIST

His analysis group used “a rotating drum and a photomultiplier to sense reflections from a small picture mounted on the drum.” In lieu of grid-based sampling of the picture, a masks was positioned on it pierced at intervals to create what amounted to pixels, although that time period wouldn’t be used for years to come back.

By measuring the reflectivity of the a part of the picture the machine might see and recording the end in a digital register (run by SEAC, among the many nation’s first programmable computer systems), the system was successfully viewing the world — and by combining a number of scans at completely different settings they have been capable of retailer and present a grayscale picture.

Touchingly, that picture was of Kirsch’s three-month-old son Walden. It was 179 by 179 pixels initially and actually doesn’t look dangerous greater than 60 years later. Here’s a greater model, a high-resolution picture of how it might have been displayed:

Image Credits: NIST

This foundational work led on to the creation of strategies, algorithms and storage strategies for digital photographs that might inform a long time of laptop science. Kirsch continued his work on early AI proper up till retirement, and even then continued tinkering together with his thought of adaptive pixels that might allow a lot clearer photographs at decrease resolutions. The thought has advantage, naturally, although reminiscence and bandwidth aren’t fairly the bottlenecks they as soon as have been.

Throughout his life Kirsch and his spouse, who survives him with their kids, have been additionally vacationers, climbers and artists. No doubt his wealthy life contributed to his necessary work and vice versa.

Kirsch’s official obituary and visitor ebook are right here.

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Five success factors for behavioral health startups – TechCrunch

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Five success factors for behavioral health startups – TechCrunch

Courtney Chow
Contributor

Courtney Chow is an affiliate with Battery Ventures in San Francisco who focuses on early and growth-stage web, software program and companies firms.

Justin Da Rosa
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Justin Da Rosa is a vp with Battery Ventures in San Francisco. He focuses on client web, on-line market and software program investments.

Telehealth, or distant, tech-enabled healthcare, has existed for years in major medical care by means of firms like Teladoc (NYSE: TDOC), Doctors on Demand and MDLIVE.

In current years, the appliance of telehealth had quickly expanded to handle particular power and behavioral well being points like psychological well being, weight reduction and diet, dependancy, diabetes and hypertension, and so forth. These are actual and oftentimes very extreme points confronted by individuals all around the world, but till now have seen little to no use of know-how in offering care.

We consider behavioral well being is especially suited to profit from the digitization traits COVID-19 has accelerated. Previously, we’ve written concerning the pandemic’s influence on on-line studying and schooling, each for Ok-12 college students and grownup learners. But behavioral well being is one other space impacted by the basic change in shoppers’ conduct at the moment. Below are 4 causes we expect the time is now for behavioral well being startups — adopted by 5 key components we expect characterize profitable firms on this space.

Telehealth can considerably decrease the price of care

Traditional behavioral healthcare is cost-prohibitive for most individuals. In-person remedy prices $100+ per session within the U.S., and plenty of psychological well being and substance-use suppliers don’t settle for insurance coverage as a result of they don’t receives a commission sufficient by insurers.

By distinction, telehealth reduces overhead prices and scales extra successfully. Leveraging know-how, suppliers can deal with extra sufferers in much less time with nearly zero marginal prices. Mobile-based communications allow asynchronous care that additional helps suppliers scale. Access to digital content material provides sufferers on-going assist with out the necessity for a human on the opposite aspect. This is especially helpful in treating behavioral well being points the place ongoing assist and motivation could also be needed.

Technology unlocks provide in “shadow markets” of suppliers

Globally, we face an excessive scarcity of behavioral well being suppliers. For instance, the United States has fewer than 30,000 licensed psychiatrists (translating to <1 for each 10,000 individuals). Outside of massive cities, the issue will get worse: ~50-60% of nonmetro counties haven’t any psychologists or psychiatrists in any respect.

Even when suppliers can be found, wait instances for appointments are notoriously lengthy. This is a big concern when behavioral well being situations usually require well timed intervention.

We are seeing new platforms construct massive networks of licensed coaches, licensed psychologists and psychiatrists, and different suppliers, aggregating provide in what has traditionally been a scarce and a extremely fragmented supplier inhabitants.

Behavioral/psychological well being points are dropping their stigma

We consider the stigma related to psychological sickness and different behavioral well being situations is dissipating. More and extra public figures are talking out about their battle with nervousness, melancholy, dependancy and different behavioral well being points. Our zeitgeist is shifting quick, and there’s an all-time excessive in individuals searching for assist because the Google Trends information beneath demonstrates.

Image Credits: Google

Note: The anomalous dip in March/April ’20 was pushed by necessary shelter-in-place as a result of COVID-19.

Policy and rules are altering rapidly

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Instagram wasn’t removing photos and direct messages from its servers – TechCrunch

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Instagram wasn’t removing photos and direct messages from its servers – TechCrunch

A safety researcher was awarded a $6,000 bug bounty payout after he discovered Instagram retained photographs and personal direct messages on its servers lengthy after he deleted them.

Independent safety researcher Saugat Pokharel discovered that when he downloaded his information from Instagram, a characteristic it launched in 2018 to adjust to new European information guidelines, his downloaded information contained photographs and personal messages with different customers that he had beforehand deleted.

It’s not unusual for corporations to retailer freshly deleted information for a time till it may be correctly scrubbed from its networks, methods and caches. Instagram stated it takes about 90 days for deleted information to be absolutely faraway from its methods.

But Pokharel discovered that his ostensibly deleted information from greater than a 12 months in the past was nonetheless saved on Instagram’s servers, and may very well be downloaded utilizing the corporate’s information obtain device.

“Instagram didn’t delete my information even once I deleted them from my finish,” he informed TechCrunch .

Pokharel reported the bug in October 2019 by Instagram’s bug bounty program. The bug was fastened earlier this month, he stated.

A spokesperson for Instagram informed TechCrunch: “The researcher reported a problem the place somebody’s deleted Instagram photos and messages can be included in a replica of their data in the event that they used our Download Your Information device on Instagram. We’ve fastened the problem and have seen no proof of abuse. We thank the researcher for reporting this subject to us.”

It’s a near-identical subject that Twitter fastened final 12 months, by which customers may entry long-deleted direct messages — together with messages despatched to and from suspended and deactivated accounts — utilizing its personal information obtain device.

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