Tekla Perry writes: Lily Robotics' idea of a flying camera was a good one--but others quickly grabbed it and flew with it, while this startup founded by two just-out-of-college entrepreneurs got bogged down. Was the problem technical wrong turns, blowing through its venture money, or just the classic Silicon Valley story of a startup that just didn't cross the finish line ahead of its competition?
Tekla Perry writes: CES 2017 is turning into the battle of the intelligent agents: Alexa, with a head start, is everywhere; Google Assistant isn't out of the game though. Siri, however, stayed home. As to where these chatty agents will be hanging out in your home it turns out that they are no different than most people you invite to your parties--you'll find them in the kitchen.
Tekla Perry writes: Why can't Silicon Valley do better on diversity? Atlantic Magazine hosted a one-day discussion on this topic last week. Among the insights: it's not the pipeline, it's easier for this industry to connect to tech workers in Mumbai than to kids in Oakland, the culture is hostile to a certain kind of diversity, and the culture set up by Google and Facebook--that has filtered out to startups--is a big part of the problem. Said one panelist: “They created this culture where people are expected to come from a certain school and have a certain background. They’ve spun out hundreds of companies that have taken this model and run with it."
Tekla Perry writes: An autonomous shuttle from Auro Robotics is picking up and dropping off students, faculty, and visitors at the Santa Clara University Campus seven days a week. It doesn't go fast, but it has to watch out for pedestrians, skateboarders, bicyclists, and bold squirrels (engineers added a special squirrel lidar on the bumper). An Auro engineer rides along at this point to keep the university happy, but soon will be replaced by a big red emergency stop button (think Staples Easy button). If you want a test drive, just look for a "shuttle stop" sign (there's one in front of the parking garage) and climb on, it doesn't ask for university ID.
Tekla Perry writes: Startup Ommo, launching at Highway 1 Demo Day this week, says it can do millimeter-precise, 360-degree position tracking using a $30 pocket-sized magnetic field generator and a handful of 70-cent sensors. Its first product, aimed at virtual reality gaming, will be a $189 pair of gloves.
Tekla Perry writes: Stanford's Jeremy Bailenson and his Virtual Human Interaction Lab have for more than a decade been testing whether experiences virtual reality can change real world behavior. Now they are using their knowledge--and expertise at developing VR software--in what they hope will be a large-scale move towards making people behave better. The lab this week released, for free, a VR experience for the HTC Vive. It's aimed at giving people the sense of diving down to a coral reef--but the real goal is getting them to consider how carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is killing the oceans. He hopes, with the dearth of good VR content available, this software will proliferate at least as fast as VR hardware does. Next up for the lab, a deep dive into homelessness.
Tekla Perry writes: Global Equities Analyst Trip Chowdhry says his predictions of massive tech layoffs for 2016 were right, and the laid off workers will never again find tech jobs: “They will always remain unemployed,” at least in tech, he said. “Their skills will be obsolete" He also predicts worse news for tech employment in 2017, when the layoff tsunami hits startups and the tech bubble bursts. "The startup companies have exhausted the number of fools," he says. The bust starts in March and it all will last two years, according to Chowdhry's analysis.
Tekla Perry writes: Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, first VP engineering Al Alcorn, and a host of early employees, some on stage, the rest filling the 100 seats in front of them, last week turned what was billed as a discussion of Atari's role in Silicon Valley history into a night of secret telling. Getting Atari started was truly a case of fake it until you make it--and the early employees were even faking each other out. There was the fake customer, the fake competitor, the fake demo, and more... And there was Steve Jobs, watching it all and getting an education about doing a startup.
Tekla Perry writes: Software engineer Edward Newett thought Spotify was making it too hard for users to get to recommendations of new music. So he pulled together various machine learning systems used elsewhere in the company, pulled user photos from Facebook, and quietly pulled together a new recommender, "Discover Weekly" that he pushed out to Spotify's employees, and then the world. The first "production incident" verified its popularity: Some users “went into blind rage or existential crisis.” Newett told the story of Discover Weekly at the @Scale conference last week. “This wasn’t a big company initiative,” he said, “just a team of passionate engineers who went about solving a problem we saw with the technology we had.”
Tekla Perry writes: Stanford wrapped up its first "Hacking for Defense" class this week; the plan is to roll it out at universities around the country as a sort of cyber ROTC. The eight teams in this first, 10-week effort worked with various defense agencies on pressing problems--some found solutions, some redefined the problem--and one already has $200,000 in seed funding to take it to the next level. In many cases, the apparent need was a hardware problem ("more sensors," "defensive drones") turned out to be a software problem (better data aggregation and analysis).
Tekla Perry writes: View From the Valley
Atlanta, Seattle, and Chicago are Desperate for Software Engineers, says Job Search Firm By Tekla S. Perry Posted 23 May 2016 | 22:58 GMT AddThis Sharing Buttons Share to FacebookShare to TwitterShare to Hacker NewsShare to RedditShare to EmailShare to PrintMore AddThis Share options Photo: iStockphoto
Where are the most software engineering job openings? You might guess Silicon Valley, but you’d be wrong, according to job search site Indeed Prime. Silicon Valley has jobs, indeed, but also plenty of software engineers. Instead, the most jobs per engineer are found in Atlanta, Seattle, and Chicago; the fewest? Houston, Columbus, and Dallas. Indeed Prime also reports on high demand specialty, with DevOps coming in as number one.
Tekla Perry writes: This underwater drone will find its first job in fish farming, but its creators hope to get research kits out to universities, to save future robotics researchers the hassle of building their own hardware. The Stanford grads who started the company say that underwater drones were far behind their airborne counterparts in functionality and cost, so set out to change that.
Tekla Perry writes: Zero Zero Robotics comes out of stealth today with the Hover Camera drone that uses face and body recognition to follow and photograph selected subjects. Company cofounder Meng Qiu Wang explains why he did the engineering in China (he built a team of 80 that worked two years on the project), and how this flying camera will evolve to be a navigation and control system for future home robots
Tekla Perry writes: When deciding to take a job, good "fit," a clear path to advancement, and the numbers on your paycheck are all important. But salary is the first among equals. Apparently, tech firms fully understand that, according to a ranking by job search firm Glassdoor in which Silicon Valley tech companies dominate the list of top 25 highest paying firms in the U.S.