cars can now take on human players in a game of chess, thanks to a . Its programmers likely didn’t imagine they were designing a chess program to take on the best players in the world, however: U.S. No. 1 ranked chess player Fabiano Caruana (also currently ranked No. 2 in the world) played a Tesla Model 3 in a recent match… but Deep Blue versus Kasparov, this was not. Caruana bests the vehicle in just under five minutes of playing time, and he’s not particularly stressing the time, plus he’s offering a running commentary. The car makes some questionable moves, but to be fair, it’s not a super computer with deep artificial intelligence, and Caruana is one of the world’s best. He also gives it credit at the end, calling the game “challenging” and you can hear it’s probably more than he was expecting from a car’s infotainment system. The car would probably beat me, but I’m unranked and haven’t played a game of chess in probably 15 years, so there’s that.
cars can now take on human players in a game of chess, thanks to a . Its programmers likely didn’t imagine they were designing a chess program to take on the best players in the world, however: U.S. no. 1 ranked chess player Fabiano Caruana (also currently ranked no. 2 in the world) played a Tesla Model 3 in a recent match… but Deep Blue vs. Kasparov, this was not. Caruana bests the vehicle in just under five minutes of playing time, and he’s not particularly stressing the time, plus he’s offering a running commentary. The car makes some questionable moves, but to be fair, it’s not a super computer with deep artificial intelligence, and Caruana is one of the world’s best. He also gives it credit at the end, calling the game “challenging” and you can hear it’s probably more than he was expecting from a car’s infotainment system. The car would probably beat me, but I’m unranked and haven’t played a game of chess in probably 15 years so there’s that.
is holding a keynote today on its campus in Cupertino, and the company is expected to talk about new services. Don’t expect any new device, today’s event should be all about content. At 10 AM PT (1 PM in New York, 5 PM in London, 6 PM in Paris), you’ll be able to watch the event as the company is streaming it live. Rumor has it that the company plans to multiple new services. The most anticipated one will be a new video streaming service that should compete with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and others. In addition to that service, Apple will unveil an Apple News subscription to access magazines and premium articles for a flat monthly fee. But we might also hear about a mysterious and a subscription service. Details are still thin, so it’s going to be interesting to hear Apple talk about all those services. If you have an Apple TV, you can download the Apple Events app in the App Store. It lets you stream today’s event and rewatch old ones. The app icon was updated a few days ago for the event. And if you don’t have an Apple TV, the company also lets you live-stream the event from the on its website. This video feed now works in all major browsers — Safari, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. So to recap, here’s how you can watch today’s Apple event: Your favorite web browser on the Mac or Windows 10. An Apple TV with the Apple Events app in the App Store. Google Chrome on your Android phone. Of course, you also can read if you’re stuck at work and really need our entertaining commentary track to help you get through your day. We have a team in the room.
It was Pi Day last week, so naturally, PIE held a Demo Day. The , or PIE, hosted its first Demo Day in five years on Thursday as 13 Portland-area startups pitched their ideas on stage. PIE launched a decade ago as a startup accelerator inside advertising company Wieden+Kennedy, following in the footsteps of organizations like Y Combinator and Techstars. But it that model in 2015 as PIE co-founder looked to help the Portland startup scene in other ways. Last year, though, with a reimagined model as a nonprofit funded in part by Prosper Portland and the Inclusive Business Resource Network. PIE no longer invests capital in participating companies and offers participation and office space for free, with a focus on attracting underrepresented founders. It also moved away from the traditional three-month format, allowing companies to stay in the new space as short or long as they need. After spending several months grooming pitches and tweaking business models, founders from the fifth PIE cohort showed off their ideas last week to a group of investors and other community members. Several folks called out the diversity among CEOs and founders who pitched. “The startups presenting didn’t fit the ‘traditional’ pattern matching of the Silicon Valley startup narrative, which is to say there weren’t any 20-something, white, male coders in hoodies pitching,” noted reporter Malia Spencer. 1/9 I got to see my first demo day Thursday and it was a huge personal reminder for me on how important diversity in background and thought are in the people you surround yourself with — Jesse Reichenstein (@JReichenstein) Here’s a quick rundown of the companies that pitched, in order of when they appeared. You can watch the full pitches at the video above. delivers groceries from local farmers, butchers, bakers, and makers. empowers Latinas to live healthier lives. makes a back support integrated postural alignment system. helps companies create resilient cultures that scale. is a social network connecting student athletes to community. helps support black entrepreneurs with funding. enables commercial architects, designers, owners and contractors to find materials and solutions for their projects. develops high-efficiency vertical farming. produces newsletters in Spanish to help inform voters. creates tools that make shopping according to one’s values convenient. develops cannabis vaporizer technology. hosts the largest database of workspaces for remote professionals provides insights on the comfort and accessibility of public places for plus-size people.
After four years and more than $2 billion in funding, is ready to launch the first six satellites out of a planned constellation of 650 with which it plans to blanket the world in broadband. The Arianespace-operated Soyuz rocket will take off at 1:37 Pacific time from Guiana Space Center. . OneWeb is one of several companies that aims to connect the world with a few hundred or thousand satellites, and certainly the most well-funded — is the biggest investor, but Virgin Group, Coca Cola, Bharti Group, Qualcomm, and Airbus have all chipped in. The company’s plan is to launch a total of 900 (650 at first) satellites to about a 1,100-kilometer low Earth orbit, from which it says it will be able to provide broadband to practically anywhere on Earth — anywhere you can put a base station, anyway. Much cheaper and better than existing satellite connectivity, which is expensive and slow. Sound familiar? Of course SpaceX’s side project Starlink has similar ambitions, with an planned, and is aiming for a smaller constellation of smaller satellites for low-cost access. And Ubiquitilink just announced this week that its unique technology will remove the need for base stations and . And they’ve all launched satellites already! The launch vehicle fueling today at GSC. OneWeb has faced numerous delays; the whole constellation was originally planned to be in place by the end of 2019, which is impossible at this point. But delays are the name of the game in ambitious space-based businesses, and OneWeb hasn’t been just procrastinating; it’s been girding itself for mass production, raising funds to set up launch contracts, and improving the satellites themselves. Its updated schedule, as it states in the mission summary: “OneWeb will begin customer demos in 2020 and provide global, 24-hour coverage to customers in 2021.” At a reported cost of about a million dollars per satellite — twice the projected cost in 2015 — just building and testing the constellation will likely rub up against a billion dollars, and that’s not counting launch costs. But no one ever said it would be cheap. In fact, they probably said it would be unbelievably expensive. That’s why SoftBank and the other investors are “committing to a lot more capital,” as CEO Adrián Steckel last month. The company also announced its first big deal with a telecom; Talia, which provides connectivity in Africa and the Middle East, signed on to use OneWeb’s services starting in 2021. Soyuz launches could carry more than 30 of these satellites each, meaning it would take at least 20 to put the whole constellation in orbit. This first launch, however, only has six aboard; the other spots on board the mass launch system have dummy payloads to simulate how it should be going forward. A OneWeb representative told me that this launch is meant to “verify the satellite design and validate the end to end system,” which is probably a good idea before sending up 600 more. That means OneWeb will be testing and tracking these six birds for the next few months and making sure the connection with ground stations and other aspects of the whole system are functioning properly. Full payloads will start in the fall, after OneWeb opens its (much-delayed) production facility just outside Kennedy Space Center in Florida. .
is set to announce a brand new hardware device at MWC in Barcelona — the new HoloLens headset. The conference starts at 6:00 PM CET (5:00 AM GMT, 12:00 PM ET, 9:00 AM PT). If you’ve ever tried the HoloLens, you know that this it is a magical device. But Microsoft quickly realized that it had more potential for industrial use cases. It is now positioned as a B2B device. Let’s see what Microsoft has in mind with the second-generation HoloLens. The company is also going to talk about its mobile strategy when it comes to apps and services on iOS and Android. You can check it out live via Microsoft’s official stream above, and stay tuned on TechCrunch.com for ongoing coverage of .
For the first time later this week, a privately developed moon lander will launch aboard a privately built rocket, organized by a private launch coordinator. It’s an historic moment in space and the Israeli mission stands to make history again if it touches down on the Moon’s surface as planned on April 11. The Beresheet (“Genesis”) program was originally conceived as an entry into the ambitious but ultimately unsuccessful Google Lunar Xprize in 2010, which challenged people to accomplish a lunar landing, with $30 million in prizes as the incentive. The prize closed last year with no winner but as these Xprize competitions aim to do, it had already spurred great interest and investment in a private moon mission. and Israel Aerospace Industries worked together on the mission, which will bring cameras, a magnetometer, and a capsule filled with items from the country to, hopefully, a safe rest on the lunar surface. The Beresheet lander ahead of packaging for launch. The launch plan as of now (these things do change with weather, technical delays, and so on) is for takeoff at 5:45 Pacific time on Thursday — 8:45 PM in Cape Canaveral — aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. A live stream should be available shortly before, which I’ll add here later or in a new post. 30 minutes after takeoff the payload will detach and make contact with mission control, then begin the process of closing the distance to the Moon, during which time it will circle the Earth six times. Russia, China, and of course the U.S. are the only ones ever to successfully land on the Moon; was the first to soft-land (as opposed to impact) the “dark” (though really only far — it’s often light) side and is currently functional. But although there has been one successful private lunar flyby mission (the Manfred Memorial probe) no one but a major country has ever touched down. If Beresheet is a success it would be both the first Israeli moon mission and the first private mission to do so. It would also be the first lunar landing to be accomplished with a privately built rocket, and the lightest spacecraft on the Moon, and at around $100M in costs, the cheapest as well. Landing on the Moon is, of course, terribly difficult. Just as geosynchronous orbit is far more difficult than low Earth orbit, a lunar insertion orbit is even harder, a stable such orbit even harder, and accomplishing a controlled landing on target even harder than that. The only thing more difficult would be to take off again and return to Earth, as Apollo 11 did in 1969 and other missions several times after. Kind of amazing when you think about it. Seattle’s Spaceflight coordinated the launch, and technically Beresheet is the secondary payload; the primary is the Air Force Research Labs’ S5 experimental satellite, which the launch vehicle will take to geosynchronous orbit after the lunar module detaches. Although Beresheet may very well be the first, it will likely be the first of many: other contenders in the Lunar Xprize, as well as companies funded or partnering with NASA and other space agencies, will soon be making their own attempts at making tracks in the regolith.
Lenovo’s Watch X was widely panned as As it turns out, so was its security. The low-end $50 smart watch was one of Lenovo’s cheapest smart watches. Available only for the China market, anyone who wants one has to buy one directly from the mainland. Lucky for Erez Yalon, head of security research at Checkmarx, an application security testing company, he was given one from a friend. But it didn’t take him long to find several vulnerabilities that allowed him to change user’s passwords, hijack accounts, and spoof phone calls. Because the smart watch wasn’t using any encryption to send data from the app to the server, Yalon said he was able to see his registered email address and password sent in plain text, as well as data about how he was using the watch, like how many steps he was taking. “The entire API was unencrypted,” said Yalon in an email to TechCrunch. “All data was transferred in plain-text.” The API that helps power the watch was easily abused, he found, allowing him to reset anyone’s password simply by knowing a person’s username. That could’ve given him access to anyone’s account, he said. Not only that, he found that the watch was sharing his precise geolocation with a server in China. Given the watch’s exclusivity to China, it might not be a red flag to natives. But Yalon said the watch had “already pinpointed my location” before he had even registered his account. Yalon’s research wasn’t just limited to the leaky API. He found that the Bluetooth-enabled smart watch could also be manipulated from nearby, by sending crafted Bluetooth requests. Using a small script, he demonstrated how easy it was to spoof a phone call on the watch. Using a similar malicious Bluetooth command, he could also set the alarm to go off — again and again. “The function allows adding multiple alarms, as often as every minute,” he said. Lenovo didn’t have much to say about the vulnerabilities, besides confirming their existence. “The Watch X was designed for the China market and is only available from Lenovo to limited sales channels in China,” said spokesperson Andrew Barron. “Our [security team] team has been working with the [original device manufacturer] that makes the watch to address the vulnerabilities identified by a researcher and all fixes are due to be completed this week.” Yalon said that encrypting the traffic between the watch, the Android app, and its web server would prevent snooping and help reduce manipulation. “Fixing the API permissions eliminates the ability of malicious users to send commands to the watch, spoof calls, and set alarms,” he said.