Teaching robots to learn about the world through touch

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 Slowly, but surely, the Baxter robot is learning. It starts as a series of random grasps — the big, red robot pokes and prods clumsily at objects on the table in front of it. The robot is learning through tactile feedback and trial and error — or, as the Carnegie Mellon computer science team behind the project puts it, it’s learning about the world around it like a baby. Read More

Nutanix introduces two new tools in quest to simplify hybrid cloud management

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 Nutanix began as a storage company, but always had a broader view of the computing world. As company president Sudeesh Nair told me, they started with storage because they believed legacy storage was holding back data center transformation. Today the company made another step beyond that initial vision, introducing two new products that they see as part of a larger hybrid cloud operating system. Read More

Twitch’s mobile app is adding live streaming, dark mode and more

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 Amazon-owned game-streaming site Twitch today announced a series of changes coming soon to its mobile application, the most notable of which is the ability for broadcasters to stream directly to their channel from the app itself. That doesn’t mean you can live stream gameplay as of yet, though. Read More

While investment firms ponder ICOs, this team is barreling ahead with a $100 million ICO fund

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 Most investors are trying to get a handle on initial coin offerings, which have begun racing through the tech ecosystem like a fire, causing excitement and confusion and some degree of terror. One San Francisco-based firm is barreling full steam ahead into the world of ICO investing: Pantera Capital. Read More

Facebook Messenger launches Discover as it takes on chatbots (again)

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 Facebook isn’t done with chatbots quite yet, today, the company is launching Discover, a hub inside Messenger for discovering new and interesting chatbots to message with. The section which Facebook announced at F8 is going live for users stateside and the company is billing it as an opportunity for people to interact with businesses and brands in more useful ways. The platform is,… Read More

Diabetes management platform Glooko raises $35 million

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 Glooko, a startup selling data management healthcare service on top of a device-agnostic platform to make it easier for doctors to remotely monitor patients, has pulled in $35 million Series C funding. It had previously raised $20 million, bringing the total up to $55 million. The startup was shy about how many were using the platform last time TechCrunch wrote about the company. But it… Read More

Pornhub now supports interactive toys, proving porn paves the way

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 Pornhub, an adult content site, has announced compatibility with interactive sex toys like the Kiiroo Onyx – essentially an articulated sex jar – and the Fleshlight Launch – also essentially an articulated sex jar. Certain pre-coded videos played on Pornhub will send signals to these wireless devices, recreating the action on screen with motors and actuators. The company… Read More

9 promising at-home lab test startups for everything from fertility to STDs

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 It’s easier than ever to skip the doctor and go straight for the at-home test these days, thanks to updated regulations and the technology to match — and for many, it’s the answer to invasive and expensive hospital visits. A new army of startups has popped up in the last couple of years to offer you low-cost options for everything from breast cancer inheritance to HIV.… Read More

The engineer behind the Not Hotdog app from ‘Silicon Valley’ put a lot of thought into AI

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 It would have been easy for a show like HBO’s Silicon Valley to show off a machine learning app that classifies hotdogs with some clever post processing — drop in some fake static screenshots and call it a day. But to their credit, Tim Anglade, the engineer behind the viral spoof app Not Hotdog, probably put more thought into his AI than at least one “AI” startup to… Read More

Sign up for a free Featured Pavilion exhibit at Disrupt SF

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 Startup Alley is at the center of TechCrunch’s Disrupt events, and this year at Disrupt SF (September 18-20) we are taking it to the next level! We are looking for 30 outstanding startups to participate in one of our Featured Pavilions, exhibit your startup and attend Disrupt SF for free. Read More

Google unveils Advr, an experimental Area 120 project for advertising in VR

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 Google today is more formally taking the wraps off its internal incubator, Area 120, with the launch of a dedicated website, alongside the launch of one of the program’s more interesting projects to date: a way to advertise within VR. The new experiment, which is simply called Advr, involves a cube-like ad format which allows video ads to run in a 3D/VR environment. Area 120 was launched… Read More

LendUp gets strategic investment from PayPal and adds to its executive team

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 LendUp has built business providing personal loans to customers that traditional financial institutions wouldn’t touch. As it looks to expand into credit cards and other services, the company has raised some strategic funding from PayPal and also has expanded its executive ranks. Read More

A look back at Amazon’s 1997 IPO

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 Amid tech’s current rally, Seattle is enjoying the updraft. Amazon, one of the area’s two critical tech companies, is busy setting records.
Shares of Amazon, the e-commerce and cloud computing leader, have busily risen, recently cresting the $1,000 per-share mark. That per-share price is up from Amazon’s 52-week low of $682 and change.
Driving that valuation is continued… Read More

Google Photos adds smarter sharing, suggestions and shared libraries

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 Google today will begin rolling out new sharing functionality in Google Photos, first unveiled at the company’s I/O developer conference in May. Specifically, it’s launching the AI-powered Suggested Sharing feature along with Shared Libraries, both of which are designed to make the Google Photos app a more social experience, rather than just a personal collection of photo… Read More

Intercom lands former Intuit exec Karen Peacock as its new COO

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Karen Peacock, COO at Intercom Intercom, a business messaging tool that enables companies to communicate directly with customers in an online context, announced today that it has hired former Intuit SVP Karen Peacock as company COO.
She joined the company May 30th, but they are making the news public for the first time today.
Peacock comes with an impressive resume that starts with a BA from Harvard and an MBA from Stanford. Read More

Mysterious stealth gaming startup Wonder announces $14 million in funding

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 Ah, another day, another stealth mobile gaming startup getting funded by Shakira. LA-based Wonder announced today that it has closed a Series A round of funding. The startup is building what it claims to be a new breed of “VR-ready” gaming hardware in secret, but seems to have been gesturing loudly about just how secret it is. Read More

Zume Pizza adds extra automation as it rolls out to new cities

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 Zume Pizza has its eyes set on disrupting legacy pizza players like Pizza Hut and Domino’s by improving on both speed and quality with the help of robots. Over the last two years, founder Julia Collins has been steadily adding new machines to her pizza assembly line to maximize consistency without resorting to cheats that sacrifice the pizza itself. Today the company is announcing… Read More

Snapchat now lets you create custom geofilters right in the app

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 Snapchat introduced a way to create custom geofilters back in February of last year, and now it’s making the feature easier to use. U.S. Snapchat users can now create and submit custom filters directly in the app, rather than having to go to the studio website to make their custom filter.
The mobile creative studio is now located in settings, under a menu item called “On-Demand… Read More

Watch Microsoft Accelerator’s Tel Aviv demo day right here

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 TechCrunch is pleased to offer Microsoft Accelerator’s Tel Aviv demo day event today at 6:30 p.m. local time, 8:30 a.m. PST. The Microsoft Accelerator is an immersive three- to six-month program aimed at helping entrepreneurs get through the challenges of building a company, finding customers and scaling to global markets. There are seven accelerators located around the world, from… Read More

Waymo’s self-driving van hits the desert to see if it can stand the heat

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 Testing self-driving cars in California is like playing a video game on the “easy” setting, because it’s nice all the time and basically temperate year-round. Autonomous vehicles face significant challenges when it comes to more extreme weather conditions, which are a standard part of certifying any current cars for legal road-ready status. Waymo, Alphabet’s… Read More

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