Workers driving for Uber in Britain will be able to access illness and injury cover under a new scheme from the San Francisco-based company, which has faced legal obstacles over the way it treats its staff.
Uber, which allows users to book and pay for a taxi via a smartphone app, said on Thursday it would help fund a program which provides benefits to those workers also willing to contribute.
“Drivers who make money through Uber tell us they love the freedom of being their own boss and choosing if, when and where they drive. But drivers have also told us they want more security if something unexpected happens,” Jo Bertram, regional general manager of Uber in the UK, said.
Like other firms in the so-called gig economy, Uber’s growth has come with controversy, drawing protests from traditional taxi drivers, lawsuits from its drivers and regulatory bans.
Uber is appealing a British tribunal ruling that it should treat drivers as employees and pay the minimum wage and holiday pay. It ruled in October that Uber was acting unlawfully by treating them as self-employed and not providing certain rights.
The company has also faced other rulings over issues such as the standard of English its drivers must meet and the license fees it must pay, as regulators seek to rein in a firm that has shaken up the traditional taxi industry.
Under the new plan, Uber will make a “significant contribution” to the cost of joining a scheme run by the Association of Independent Professionals & the Self-Employed.
Active drivers who have completed at least 500 trips will be able to join the system by paying 2 pounds ($2.60) a week to access benefits such as sickness, injury and jury service cover.
Nintendo Co Ltd is predicting its new Switch console will more than double annual operating profit and end the eight-year sales decline that plagued its previous offering just as players were turning to smartphone gaming.
The Japanese firm entered the mobile gaming market last year to the relief of shareholders fretting about diving console sales. Now the early success of the Switch has fueled hope of a long-term earnings recovery and sent the firm’s share price about 20 percent higher since the console’s March debut.
“We are hoping to change the tide of our business with the Switch,” Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima said at a news briefing on Thursday.
Nintendo estimated profit to grow 2.2-fold to 65 billion yen ($584 million) in the year through March 2018, with sales jumping 53.3 percent. That was still far below the 104 billion yen average of 23 analyst estimates surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Asked if the outlook was too low, Kimishima said the firm was stepping up marketing costs for the Switch.
Nintendo aims to sell 10 million of the hybrid home console and handheld device this financial year, on top of a higher-than-expected 2.7 million sold in its debut month.
“If the 10 million target is achieved … that means the sales momentum would be close to the Wii,” Nintendo’s most successful console, Kimishima said.
The Wii, launched in November 2006, sold about 20 million units in its first year and exceeded 100 million over its life. The last time Nintendo’s sales grew was in the year ended March 2009, when Wii demand drove profit to a record 555 billion yen.
Profit from a new console typically peaks a couple of years after launch when there is a wide choice of game titles.
Kimishima also said Nintendo’s first own-brand smartphone game, Super Mario Run, has neared 150 million free downloads, but the number of users paying the one-off fee to unlock most of its content is below the target 10 percent.
One reason behind the Switch’s strong start is that unlike its predecessor Wii U, the console has a long list of game titles from independent studios because Nintendo made the Switch compatible with publicly available game development platforms from the start, said Hirokazu Hamamura, a director at Kadokawa Dwango Corp, which publishes games magazines.
TCL Communications, the Chinese company that acquired rights to produce BlackBerry-brand handsets, originally had said the phone would go on sale in April, so the delay may disappoint potential users. This could be a bad time to test the patience of potential buyers, as Samsung and LG are both heavily promoting their new flagship handsets, the S8 and G6.
But true BlackBerry fans — and yes, they do exist — probably won’t be put off. The phone includes elements from the heyday of BlackBerry that aren’t available on competing smartphones, including the keyboard.
There’s also the hub, which collects messages from numerous apps, and the keyboard can be used like the trackpad that was a prominent feature in BlackBerry phones. There are also some new features, such as a security dashboard and the ability to assign each key on the keyboard a shortcut.
The KeyOne will be available for pre-order in Canada starting May 18 through Bell, Bell MTS, Rogers, SaskTel and Telus Business. In the U.S., TCL will sell unlocked GSM and CDMA versions that can be used with U.S. carriers. It will be available from Sprint later in the year.
Oracle is looking for new employees for a “new startup organization” inside its North America operation that will focus on key technology trends, including cloud computing, internet of things, artificial Intelligence, and augmented and virtual reality.
The Solution Engineering organization the company is setting up will consist of Solution Engineering Centers in Reston, Virginia, and Denver, Colorado.
The database and enterprise software company has previously indicated its interest in investing in some of these technology areas like machine learning and analytics.
Oracle announced in September that it was investing in intelligent cloud applications, called Adaptive Intelligent Applications, “that automatically offer individualized recommended actions and streamline the tasks of business users such as human resource or finance professionals.”
At OpenWorld last year, Oracle also announced tools for creating intelligent chatbots that integrate with its software.
Among the jobs listed for the new organization are the positions of director of the Denver and Reston units, each of whom will be responsiblefor managing an entire Solution Engineering Center, described as a “physical hub of solution engineers.” The company is also hiring solution engineers for the centers.
Oracle did not immediately comment on the posts and on how the new organization would operate as a startup. The new unit appears to be closely linked to the company’s immediate business goals with the director, for example, “measured on key metrics around revenue, pipeline, new innovations, talent development and customer success.”
Oracle is asking for hands-on experience in third-party cloud computing platforms like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Salesforce from applicants for the position of solution engineers at the centers.
“The mission of the organization and these two centers is to build and engineer cutting-edge solutions for our customers around cloud computing, big data analytics, mobile computing, internet of things, cybersecurity,” according to the job listings, first spotted by Bloomberg.
“Additional trends we are considering to investing in are Artificial Intelligence, Augmented and Virtual Reality and many other exciting technology trends that interest us all. Our mission is simple, we build new and innovative technology solutions for real world problems that our customers face,” according to the posts, which did not provide details of how AR and VR would be used by Oracle in its products and services.
Automotive manufacturers are urging the state of California to further ease its proposed regulations for autonomous vehicles, saying the state did not respond to their earlier objections by making enough revisions to its planned set of rules for self-driving cars.
At a public hearing in Sacramento monitored via webcast, automakers urged California to drop some additional proposed regulations and leave much of the oversight to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But safety and consumer advocates urged the state to adopt strict oversight, and an official from San Francisco said cities should have more local control.
A number of automakers have said they plan to begin deploying self-driving vehicles, some in commercial fleets, by 2020-2021.
Paul Scullion, a manager at the Association of Global Automakers, said California’s proposed regulations go “too far.”
The group opposes California’s plan to require a permit to deploy autonomous vehicles, which must meet performance and design criteria. “We do not think requiring a permit to deploy is the right approach,” Scullion said.
Global Automakers said it opposes California’s proposal that it could withdraw permits to deploy vehicles even if they met federal requirements.
Ron Medford, director of safety at Alphabet Inc’s self-driving unit Waymo, urged California to quickly issue final rules “to provide manufacturers with the certainty that they need.”
Brian Soublet, deputy director of the California Department of Motor Vehicles, said the agency will review written comments before unveiling final rules.
Andre Welch, a Ford Motor Co official, asked the state to lift the proposed prohibition on testing self-driving vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds, such as multi-passenger shuttles.
Existing California regulations require self-driving test vehicles to have conventional manual controls such as steering wheels and pedals, as well as a backup driver. California moved to change the rules as many states said they would allow testing of vehicles without conventional controls.
In March, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles revised proposed rules to allow testing by the end of the year of autonomous vehicles without human backup drivers.
After objections from automakers, the proposal was revised to drop requirements that local communities approve testing and that companies generate a year of testing data before being allowed to deploy vehicles on public roads.
Among those who called for strict oversight of self-driving cars were Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. “We do not trust the auto manufacturers or the tech industry to protect the public in the absence of federal motors vehicle safety standards,” said the group’s president Rosemary Shahan.
The group Consumer Watchdog called for stricter state rules, noting that there were not yet any federal standards for self-driving cars. In written comments, the group said relying on federal standards would amount to a “meaningless house of cards.”
In February, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said she was reviewing self-driving vehicle guidance issued by the Obama administration. Those guidelines call on automakers to voluntarily submit details of self-driving vehicle systems to regulators in a 15-point “safety assessment.”
California has proposed requiring companies submit a copy of a voluntary assessment submitted to NHTSA. David Strickland, a lawyer representing a group of self-driving advocates including Google, Ford and Uber opposed California’s proposal, saying it effectively makes the assessment mandatory.
Tom Maguire, an official at San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, said in some cases the proposed rules “rely too heavily on manufacturers’ self certification of their safety technology.” The agency believes cities should have the authority to deny deployment and determine when and how testing occurs.
General Motors Co official Paul Hemmersbaugh said California should drop plans to include separate privacy rules for driverless cars. The company said California’s proposed liability rules could make automakers liable regardless of fault for any crash. He said that would be “unduly punitive” and could have a “chilling effect on testing and deployment of self-driving cars.”
Jimmy Wales, the founder of online encyclopedia Wikipedia, has launched a new website focused on stopping the spread of fake news by bringing together professional journalists and a community of volunteers and supporters to produce news articles.
The new platform, called Wikitribune, will be free to access and carry no advertising, instead relying on its readers to fund it, while the accuracy of news reports will be easily verifiable as source material will be published, Wales said.
“The news is broken, but we’ve figured out how to fix it,” he said in a promotional video posted on the website’s homepage.
The online proliferation of fake news, some of it generated for profit and some for political ends, became a major topic of angst and debate in many developed countries during last year’s U.S. presidential election.
Wales argued in his video that because people expected to get news for free on the Internet, news sites were reliant on advertising money, which created strong incentives to generate so-called “clickbait”, catchy headlines to attract viewers.
“This is a problem because ads are cheap, competition for clicks is fierce and low-quality news sources are everywhere,” said Wales.
He also argued that social media networks, where an ever-increasing number of people get their news, were designed to show users what they wanted to see, confirm their biases and keep them clicking at all costs.
Social media giant Facebook was widely criticized last year for not doing enough to prevent fake news reports from spreading on its platform, and has announced new tools to tackle the problem.
Wales said Wikitribune would combine professional, standards-based journalism with what he called “the radical idea from the world of wiki that a community of volunteers can and will reliably protect the integrity of information”.
He said articles would be authored, fact-checked and verified by journalists and volunteers working together, while anyone would be able to flag up issues and submit fixes for review.
“As the facts are updated, the news becomes a living, evolving artifact, which is what the Internet was made for,” he said.
The Wikitribune homepage said the platform would go live in 29 days. It also indicated that the intention was to hire 10 journalists, but none had been hired so far.
ABB has inked a collaboration agreement with International Business Machines Corp, the Swiss engineering company said on Tuesday, the latest move to increase its presence in digital technology and the internet of things.
In a joint statement ABB said it would combine its digital offering, which gathers information from machinery, with IBM’s expertise in artificial intelligence featured in its Watson data analytics software. The two companies will jointly develop and sell new products.
“This powerful combination marks truly the next level of industrial technology, moving beyond current connected systems that simply gather data, to industrial operations and machines that use data to sense, analyze, optimize and take actions that drive greater uptime, speed and yield for industrial customers,” ABB Chief Executive Ulrich Spiesshofer said in a statement.
For example, instead of manual machinery inspections, ABB and IBM intend to use Watson’s artificial intelligence to help find defects via real-time images collected by an ABB system, and then analyzed using IBM Watson.
ABB has identified digital technology – where machinery communicates with control centers to increase productivity and reduce downtime – as a driver of growth. It now gets around 55 percent of sales from products that are digitally enabled.
As part of the drive, the company last year signed a strategic partnership with Microsoft Corp to roll out digital products for customers in the robotics, marine and ports, electric vehicles and renewable energy sectors.
To spearhead its strategy, it appointed former Cisco executive Guido Jouret as its first chief digital officer last year.
Netflix has struggled to break into the Chinese market, where streaming services are subject to strict data storage regulations and foreign films and television are routinely censored.
Content air times will parallel other regions, a spokeswoman said, who declined to say comment further on the tie-up.
Netflix has played down the possibility of its entry into China in the past year despite its otherwise rapid global expansion.
In October co-founder and Chief Executive Reed Hastings said that prospects for a direct streaming service in the country were slim, and the firm had made no progress in obtaining government approvals.
iQiyi.com is one of China’s largest streaming services and is backed by search giant Baidu Inc. In February it raised 1.53 billion to take on local rivals in a hotly contested market.
This month Netflix forecast a global increase of 3.2 million subscribers in the second quarter, far outpacing analysts’ estimates of nearly 2.4 million.
The Nintendo Switch straddles a line between the Mario maker’s portable and home console businesses, but it remains to be seen if Nintendo intends to follow the upgrade cadence of the former or the latter. According to a Bloomberg report, analysts from Citigroup Inc. are expecting Switch hardware refreshes more in line with the DS and 3DS than the Wii and Wii U.
Among the first big changes expected by Citigroup is a smaller version of the Switch to arrive in stores during Nintendo’s next fiscal year, which runs April 2018 through March 2019. While the current Switch is portable, it is decidedly bulkier than Nintendo’s previous handheld systems.
“Although the Nintendo Switch can be used as a handheld device, we think smaller children could struggle to use it comfortably in that format due to its size and weight,” Citigroup analysts said last week. “Accordingly, we think Nintendo will launch a lighter, dedicated handheld version of the Switch, possibly to be called the Switch Mini.”
Losing accessories like the dock for hooking the Switch to a TV could facilitate a cheaper dedicated handheld version of the hardware, but Citigroup did not speculate on a price for any sort of Switch Mini. However, the analysts did say it could sell 6.7 million units by the end of its launch fiscal year. They added that the standard Switch is expected to have an installed base of 25.7 million within the same timeframe.
Nikon, the world’s eighth-largest chip equipment maker, said it had filed patent infringement cases in the Netherlands, Germany and Japan against ASML, which makes semiconductor lithography machines, and Carl Zeiss, ASML’s optical supplier.
“ASML and Zeiss employ Nikon’s patented technology in ASML’s lithography systems, which are used globally to manufacture semiconductors, without Nikon’s permission, thereby infringing Nikon’s patents,” Nikon said in a statement.
Nikon said it is seeking damages and to prevent ASML and Zeiss from selling the technology.
ASML dominates the market for semiconductor lithography machines, which map out electronic circuits on silicon wafers. The Netherlands-based firm has a 90 percent market share in such high-end machines, according to a January research report from Fitch Ratings.
“Nikon’s litigation is unfounded, unnecessary and creates uncertainty for the semiconductor industry,” said ASML President and Chief Executive Officer Peter Wennink. ASML has repeatedly attempted to negotiate an extension of a cross-license agreement with Nikon, he said.
The legal action comes after mediation carried out by a retired judge in the United States failed to reach a settlement late last year, Nikon said.
Carl Zeiss was not immediately available to comment.
The dispute is the latest involving the three, with ASML and Carl Zeiss paying Nikon $87 million and $58 million respectively in 2004, according to Nikon.
Neuralink is aiming to bring to the market a product that helps with certain severe brain injuries due to stroke, cancer lesion etc, in about four years, Musk said in an interview with website Wait But Why.
“If I were to communicate a concept to you, you would essentially engage in consensual telepathy,” Musk said in the interview.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning will create computers so sophisticated and godlike that humans will need to implant “neural laces” in their brains to keep up, Musk said in a tech conference last year.
“There are a bunch of concepts in your head that then your brain has to try to compress into this incredibly low data rate called speech or typing,” Musk said in the latest interview.
“If you have two brain interfaces, you could actually do an uncompressed direct conceptual communication with another person.”
The technology could take about eight to 10 years to become usable by people with no disability, which would depend heavily on regulatory approval timing and how well the devices work on people with disabilities, Musk was quoted as saying.
In March, the Wall Street Journal reported that Musk had launched a company through which computers could merge with human brains. Neuralink was registered in California as a “medical research” company last July, and he plans on funding the company mostly by himself.
According to Cowen and Company analyst Timothy Arcuri Apple company is struggling with low production yields on the revolutionary edge-to-edge display rumoured for the Apple iPhone 8.
He thinks that this will mean that the outfit will have to dump the embedded the Touch ID fingerprint scanner technology, which until now has been housed within the physical button, beneath the glass display.
Arcuri believes Apple is looking at dropping the ambitious new technology for another less-exciting design for the iPhone 8.
Samsung is believed to have faced similar issues with the Galaxy S8, leaving it no choice but to relocate the fingerprint scanner to the back of the phone.
Arcuri believes Apple could follow suit and maroon the Touch ID scanner on the rear of the iPhone. He also thinks it is possible that Jobs’ Mob could drop its fingerprint sensor altogether, and rely solely on the face recognition technology believed to debut on the next iPhone.
However, this would be stupid as the technology is half-baked and not reliable enough to be the sole biometric security option included with the handset.
Apple could push-back the launch of the iPhone 8 until it can remedy the production problems and there are rumours that the next-generation iPhone will miss the company’s traditional September launch window.
Although there are all sorts of rumours put about by the Tame Apple Press, it is clear that the iPhone’s design has not been worked out yet and the next handset has yet to enter full-scale production.
IDC analyst Bryan Bassett predicted that “millions” of enterprise customers will buy one of the devices, some of them partly out of the pent-up demand created when the enterprise-focused Note7 was recalled globally after some units overheated and caught fire.
“Samsung won’t have any trouble selling these devices and they will do well with both consumers and businesses,” Bassett said in an interview. “Business users are very eager to get their hands on the S8, especially after the Note7 recalls. They will especially want this slick and gorgeous device.”
Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, said that up to 65% of all S8 buyers will use them for business and work purposes at least part of the time. Samsung has reportedly set a sales target of 60 million sales of both versions of the S8, compared to sales of 52 million Galaxy S7’s, according to unnamed Samsung sources quoted by The Investor in South Korea.
Both phones, announced March 29, feature rounded edges and corners and an Infinity display that picks up the styling of the S7 Edge. Prices start at $720 for the S8 and about $100 more for the S8+, depending on the carrier. Both run Android 7.0 Nougat.
While individual buyers might pick the device for its looks, the S8 will rely on the latest Knox 2.8 security and management that Samsung has promoted and improved over the past three years.
Both Gold and Bassett said that one of the biggest selling features of Knox to IT managers is that Knox is supported by dozens of enterprise mobility management (EMM) software platforms globally, something that Samsung announced a year ago. Knox can also be used to extend encryption and other security to apps running on a phone, Gold noted.
Researchers in Singapore say they have invented a “virtual lemonade”, using electrodes to emulate the flavor of the beverage and LED lights to imitate its color, that could one day allow people to digitally share drinks over the internet.
“We are primarily motivated by the fact that our current digital interactions are not supportive for sharing beverages and food, which is something very common in our everyday lives,” said Nimesha Ranasinghe, who led the team that did the research.
The team conducting the research at the NUS-Keio CUTE Center, a collaboration between the National University of Singapore and Japan’s Keio University, decided to focus on the sour taste of lemonade to prove their idea.
A sensor dipped into a glass of real lemonade collects data on its acidity and color, which is transmitted via Bluetooth to silver electrode strips on the rim of a tumbler.
The action of a drinker running their tongue over the strip in taking a sip causes the electrodes to simulate the sour taste, while a light-emitting diode (LED) flashes yellow.
The technology can also simulate bitter and salty sensations, Ranasinghe said, adding that it could help people on restricted diets who need to cut back on salt or calories.
“We can even help the people who want to cut down their calorie intake,” she added. “If he craves lemonade, and can have a virtual lemonade, he can get the same experience, but zero calories.”
Still, the design needs some improvement, said student Genevieve Low, a volunteer who participated in tests of the drink.
“I think it’s definitely the way the tongue touches the cup, because no one would, sub-consciously or consciously, put their tongue onto the electrode and then drink the water,” she said in a recent test round.
Another volunteer student, Wang Pan, was surprised by the taste.
“I was imagining the electronic taste, but it’s actually quite real to me because it’s really mild, like mild-sweet. It’s less sour than the real lemonade,” she said.
Microsoft is touting operating system-wide power efficiencies in a recent preview of Windows 10, claiming that the technology will reduce notebook battery consumption by 11% on laptops equipped with the newest processors.
The technology, temporarily tagged as “Power Throttling,” was enabled on all copies of Windows 10 Insider build 16176, which Microsoft released Friday. Insider is the beta program Microsoft runs for both enthusiasts and businesses. The latter rely on Insider to learn how the OS will change for the next feature upgrade, as well as for testing the upgrade prior to deploying the final code when it is shipped several months later.
“With ‘Power Throttling,’ when background work is running, Windows places the CPU in its most energy efficient operating modes — work gets done, but the minimal possible battery is spent on that work,” Bill Karagounis, director of program management for Insider, said in a post to a company blog.
The CPU throttling is triggered on an app-specific basis by a detection system Microsoft integrated with the OS, said Karagounis. Like other such technologies, Microsoft’s is meant to recognize foreground tasks — such as active apps — as well as persistent applications, like music streaming applications, then give them full access to the processor. Other apps, or even individual processes within an app, that are classified as “background,” are restricted in how they impact the CPU’s power usage. For instance, they may not be allowed to kick the processor into its higher-frequency, higher-power, higher-consumption mode.
Power Throttling works only on Intel processors with that firm’s Speed Shift, a feature of sixth-generation and later CPUs, including “Skylake” and the newer “Kaby Lake.”
Recognizing that most personal computers are laptops and that battery longevity is a major factor in productivity, Microsoft has aggressively promoted Windows 10’s power savings, notably in the boosterism behind Edge, the OS’s default browser.
The Redmond, Wash. company isn’t working in a vacuum: Other operating systems also try to eke out more battery life by scaling back CPU use. Apple’s iOS, for instance, switches to a low-power mode when an iPhone or iPad battery reaches about 20% capacity. Among other things, the iOS mode halts background app refreshing and stops automatic email fetching.
Microsoft first added Power Throttling to Windows 10 in January, saying that it had turned it on for a subset of Insider-equipped devices as an experiment and promising to provide an update in mid-February. That update never appeared, hinting that Microsoft pulled it from inclusion in the then-upcoming Creators Update, the feature upgrade released April 11.
The first opportunity most users will have to apply Power Throttling will be with 2017’s second feature upgrade. Microsoft has not revealed a release timetable, but most experts expect it to appear this fall.