Grab’s Promotion Problems

(updated to include Grab’s response, edits) Grab, Uber’s rival in Southeast Asia, is putting up an impressive fight against the ridesharing company. Both have deep pockets, and offer incentives to both drivers and riders. But Grab is either struggling to phrase its promos correctly or something more sinister afoot. Today riders were in uproar when …

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Going Soft On Robots

Snake on a plane! Don’t panic, it’s probably just a (soft) robot My piece on soft material robots for Reuters. Original story here: I’ve added links in this piece. SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Robots are getting softer. Borrowing from nature, some machines now have arms that curl and grip like an octopus, others wriggle their way …

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Narrowband Goes Broad

Seems LoRa is really taking off. Citing data from research firm Analysys Mason, Chris Donkin writes that 85 new networks were announced as live, in a trial phase or in development in 2016 compared with 29 in 2015. While early LPWA deployments were concentrated in the US and Western Europe, Analysys Mason found interest in the technology spread …

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2017 Predictions

This piece was written for the BBC World Service’s Business Daily. This year is going to be an interesting one, but in technology it’s going to be particularly so. Social media is going to see some reverses, as users start to wake up to the compromises they make in sharing information with companies, governments and …

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PCs with Wireless Charging?

PCWorld reports of a Dell laptop with wireless charging, but it seems a low-key affair without much conviction: At CES last week, Dell showed a wireless charging PC called the Latitude 7285, a 2-in-1 with a detachable screen attached to a keyboard base. It’s the first wireless charging laptop based on the AirFuel Alliance’s emerging …

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Dog fight: Start-ups take aim at errant drones

Here’s a piece I wrote with Reuters colleague Swati Pandey about the rise of anti-drone technologies. Buckle up. A boom in consumer drone sales has spawned a counter-industry of start-ups aiming to stop drones flying where they shouldn’t, by disabling them or knocking them out of the sky. Dozens of start-up firms are developing techniques …

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Why we hate video calls

Good piece in the New Scientist about why we’ve always hated video calls: When another New York Times reporter went to Pittsburgh in mid-1971, however, he found only 33 Picturephones in operation, with just 12 able to dial outside their own buildings. Aside from impracticalities such as cost, it seemed that, against all predictions, no …

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Evernote Makes Employee Reading of Messages Opt-in

Evernote has been through the wringer with its decision to add machine learning to its repertoire, effectively trying to pave the way to added services based on scanning the contents of users’ notes. Users were not happy, not least because Evernote made it opt-out. The settings looked like this:  Evernote has now had a change …

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Turn off location in iOS, and Uber doesn’t work

(Update: Uber say they are looking into it.)  Buzzfeed says Privacy Advocates Want Uber To Stop Tracking Users After Rides End but Uber responds that “by offering the option of manually entering pick-up locations, the company is giving users a choice to be tracked or not.” It quotes Kurt Opsahl, deputy executive director and general counsel at …

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Lighten up: tech firms take on economy-class flight challenge

A piece I wrote for Reuters on travel startups: Lighten up: tech firms take on economy-class flight challenge SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Some start-ups are taking on one of air travel’s last undisrupted bastions – the economy-class cabin. While first and business class travelers have long enjoyed comfort upgrades, there’s been less attention to innovation at …

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