Geely's iconic Lotus Cars mulls raising $1 billion
Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. is considering raising about $1 billion to help expand its iconic British sports and racing automotive business Lotus Cars into the electric vehicles market in China, according to people familiar with the matter. Geely is working with advisers to sound out potential investor interest in a funding round that could value Lotus's EV operations at about $5 billion, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Separately from the fundraising, the Chinese company is also weighing an initial public offering of Lotus Cars, or just the British carmaker's EV business, as soon as next year, the people said. A listing could value the entire business, including its combustion-driven sports and racing cars, at more than $15 billion, the people said. Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. shares rose as much as 6.6% in their biggest advance in a month, outperforming a 1% gain in the benchmark Hang Seng Index. The all-electric Evija hypercar photographed in Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied Chinese billionaire Li Shufu's Geely, which also controls Sweden-based Volvo Car AB, purchased a stake in Group Lotus in 2017. It owns 51% of the company, including both Lotus Cars and consultancy Lotus Engineering, while Malaysia's Etika Automotive Bhd. owns the remainder, according to a press release. Under Geely, Lotus in 2019 launched its all-electric Evija hypercar, a 1,972-horsepower coupe that costs about $2 million. Considerations are ongoing and details including size and timing could change, the people said. A Geely representative declined to comment. Representatives for Lotus didn't immediately comment when contacted by Bloomberg News. Geely is seeking to expand into electric vehicles amid a booming market in countries including China. Polestar, the electric carmaker controlled by Volvo Car and its owner Geely, is exploring options for going public as soon as this year, Bloomberg News has reported. Investor mania over EV-related stocks has pushed the share prices of players including Nio Inc. and Xpeng Inc. to stratospheric levels. That intense interest has also spawned a wave of EV upstarts raising billions and racing to list via special-purpose acquisition companies. More than $180 billion has been raised globally through SPAC IPOs in the past 12 months, Bloomberg-compiled data show.
Huawei to pump in $1b on car tech in 2021
auto|Business|Technology|: Chinese technology giant Huawei, which is focusing on optimising its portfolio to boost business resilience, will invest $1 billion in smart car technologies in 2021, the media reported. The new investment that the company is making this year will focus on building components for smart vehicles, including software platforms for self-driving cars, CGTN reported on Tuesday, citing Huawei's Rotating Chairman Eric Xu. Speaking at Huawei's 18th Global Analyst Summit in Shenzhen on Monday, Xu said that Huawei will strengthen its software capabilities and invest more in businesses that are less reliant on advanced process techniques, as well as in components for intelligent vehicles. Huawei faced a tough year last year as restrictions imposed by the US impacted its smartphone business and increased scrutiny of its 5G technologies. Xu said that Huawei will maximise 5G value and define 5.5G with industry peers to drive the evolution of mobile communications and innovate to reduce energy consumption for a low-carbon world. "Rebuilding trust and restoring collaboration across the global semiconductor supply chain is crucial to bringing the industry back on track," Xu said. The Huawei's Rotating Chairman predicted that many of the challenges the world is facing today will continue for some time to come. "Moving forward, we will continue to find ourselves in a complex and volatile global environment," Xu said said. "Resurgence of Covid-19 and geopolitical uncertainty will present ongoing challenges for every organisation, business, and country."
Chip shortage: Biden promises bipartisan support for new funds
auto|Business|Technology|: President Joe Biden told companies vying with each other for a sharply constrained global supply of semiconductors that he has bipartisan support for government funding to address a shortage that has idled automakers worldwide. During a White House meeting with more than a dozen chief executive officers on Monday, Biden read from a letter from 23 senators and 42 House members backing his proposal for $50 billion for semiconductor manufacturing and research. “Both sides of the aisle are strongly supportive of what we're proposing and where I think we can really get things done for the American people,” Biden said. “Now let me quote from the letter. It says, 'The Chinese Communist Party is aggressively - plans to reorient and dominate the semiconductor supply chain,' and it goes into how much money will be they're pouring into being able to do that.” More than a dozen chief executives, including General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra, Ford Motor Co. CEO James D. Farley, Jr., and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet and Google, participated in the virtual summit. “This isn't a meeting where we expect a decision or an announcement to come out of,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. But she said the meeting shows the administration is serious about addressing supply-chain constraints and softening the blow for affected companies and workers. National Economic Council director Brian Deese and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan hosted the meeting, with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo also participating. Companies invited to join the administration officials included Dell Technologies Inc., Intel Corp., Medtronic Plc, Northrop Grumman Corp., HP Inc., Cummins Inc., Micron Technology Inc., Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., AT&T Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., as well as GM, Ford and Alphabet Inc. The administration officials intended to highlight elements of the president's proposed $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan that they believe would improve supply chain resilience, a White House official said. The agenda also included discussions about the auto industry's transition to clean energy, job creation and ensuring U.S. economic competitiveness, the official added. Many of the lawmakers supporting additional funding for semiconductors want to see the measure in a bill related to China, not as part of Biden's infrastructure package, as it is now. But exactly how to spend and allocate the semiconductor funding is a source of debate among automakers and other consumers of chips, as well as the semiconductor companies themselves. Carmakers are pushing for a portion of the money to be reserved for vehicle-grade chips, warning of a potential 1.3 million shortfall in car and light-duty truck production in the U.S. this year if their industry isn't given priority. Yet makers of other electronic devices affected by the chip shortage, such as computers and mobile phones, have taken issue with the carmakers' demands, worried their industries will suffer. The debate could be a factor in the White House meeting. The White House has not taken a public position on the issue but has indicated privately to semiconductor industry leaders that it would not support special treatment for one industry, according to people familiar with the matter. Matt Blunt, president of the American Automotive Policy Council, which lobbies for Ford, General Motors and Stellantis NV (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), expressed optimism that the Biden administration would at least consider his industry's arguments. He said the White House has not endorsed any specific plans for setting aside money for carmakers, but administration officials “understand why the proposal was made.” “We hope in the meeting, whoever is gathered there will get an understanding of how we get to where we are fulfilling 100% of orders and provide a road map of what that looks like,” he said. To avoid future chip shortages, Blunt's group proposed that at least 25% of any federal support for the construction of semiconductor factories must go to U.S. facilities that commit to allocating at least 25% of their capacity to automotive-grade chips. John Neuffer, president and chief executive officer of the Semiconductor Industry Association, said the industry understands “the difficulty the auto sector is feeling right now, and chipmakers are working hard to ramp up production to meet demand in the short term.” For the long term, he said, the industry needs a boost in domestic production and innovation across the board “so all sectors of our economy have access to the chips they need, and that requires swiftly enacting federal investments in semiconductor manufacturing and research.”
Can Jaguar Land Rover's air purification technology block coronaviruses from entering car cabins?
A new air filtration system developed by Jaguar Land Rover inhibits viruses and bacteria from entering a car’s cabin with up to 97 per cent effectiveness. The British firm says the technology has also been proven to be effective against Covid-19. JLR partnered with leading microbiology and virology lab Perfectus Biomed Ltd to test the technology in a sealed chamber designed to simulate a car interior and ventilation system. Air purification is achieved using Panasonic’s Nanoe X technology, which uses a high voltage to create a chemical reaction that denatures the virus and bacteria proteins, inhibiting their growth. Dr Steve Iley, JLR’s chief medical officer, said: “Our customers’ wellbeing is of paramount importance to us – and now, more than ever, we are all looking for technological solutions that can help take care of our loved ones. “The independent research, developed and commissioned by our expert engineers, is just one of the ways we are working to assure our customers that harmful pathogens are being minimised, providing a cleaner environment for passengers inside the cabin and setting new standards in the ownership experience.” Alexander Owen, research engineer at JLR, said: “This technology is a great example of being able to harness the power of nature and puts JLR right at the forefront of this cabin technology. Hydroxyl Radicals are one of the most important natural oxidants in chemistry and have been helping to clean our atmosphere for millennia, removing pollutants and other harmful substances. The creation of this technology and our advanced research, is the first step in deploying this scientific phenomenon within vehicle cabins of the future.” The technology will be implemented in future JLR vehicles, with many of its existing models already using an older version of this technology.
Google to shut down its mobile Shopping app in June
Media|: Washington: Google has announced that it is shutting down its mobile shopping app for both iOS and Android devices by June this year. As per The Verge, the tech giant will direct users to its web shopping site instead. On Friday, Xda Developers discovered that the term "sunset" had been added to several strings of code in the Shopping app, suggesting the apps were being discontinued. A Google spokesperson told 9to5 Google that the apps will continue to function through June. The shopping.google.com site will remain active. "Within the next few weeks, we'll no longer be supporting the Shopping app. All of the functionality the app offered users is available on the Shopping tab," the spokesperson said. "We'll continue building features within the Shopping tab and other Google surfaces, including the Google app," the spokesperson added. The app allowed users to choose from among thousands of online stores and make purchases using their Google accounts. The move comes as the tech giant has been expanding shopping functionality in Search, Image Search, and YouTube, while increasingly leveraging augmented reality.
MIT scientists create music from spider webs
Music|Technology|Offbeat|: New York: A team of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US have translated the structure of a spider web into music, which could have applications ranging from better 3D printers to cross-species communication and otherworldly musical compositions. "The spider lives in an environment of vibrating strings. They don't see very well, so they sense their world through vibrations, which have different frequencies," said Markus Buehler, from MIT. Such vibrations occur, for example, when the spider stretches a silk strand during construction, or when the wind or a trapped fly moves the web. In the study, the team scanned a natural spider web with a laser to capture 2D cross-sections and then used computer algorithms to reconstruct the web's 3D network. They assigned different frequencies of sound to strands of the web, creating "notes" that they combined in patterns based on the web's 3D structure to generate melodies. The researchers then created a harp-like instrument and played the spider web music in several live performances around the world and also made a virtual reality setup that allowed people to visually and audibly "enter" the web. "The virtual reality environment is really intriguing. By hearing it and seeing it at the same time, you can really start to understand the environment the spider lives in," Buehler said. The step-by-step knowledge of how a spider builds a web could help in devising "spider-mimicking" 3D printers that build complex microelectronics. The team explored how the sound of a web changes as it's exposed to different mechanical forces, such as stretching. Further, in a bid to communicate with spiders in their own language they recorded web vibrations produced when spiders performed different activities, such as building a web, communicating with other spiders or sending courtship signals. Although the frequencies sounded similar to the human ear, a machine learning algorithm correctly classified the sounds into the different activities. "Now we're trying to generate synthetic signals to basically speak the language of the spider," Buehler said. The findings will be presented at the forthcoming spring meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
TikTok most downloaded non-gaming app worldwide in March
Media|: San Francisco: With more than 58 million installs in March, TikTok became the most downloaded non-gaming app worldwide last month, said a new report. TikTok was followed by Facebook which became the second most installed non-gaming app worldwide for March with more than 56 million installs, showed the data from app analytics firm Sensor Tower. Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger - all of which are part of the Facebook family of apps - rounded out the top five most installed non-gaming apps worldwide for the month. The countries with the largest number of TikTok installs were from Douyin in China at 11 per cent, followed by the US at 10 per cent, Sensor Tower said. The countries with the largest number of Facebook installs were from India at 25 per cent, followed by the US at 8 per cent. The other apps which made it to the top 10 in the overall list include Snapchat, Josh, Zoom, Telegram and CapCut. However, the data showed that Facebook retained the top position in terms of downloads from Google Play Store. ShareChat's short video platform Moj also made it to the top 10 list of most downloaded non-gaming apps worldwide from Google Play Store for March, according to Sensor Tower.
Google Lens comes to the desktop web: Report
Media|: San Francisco: Google is reportedly now bringing Lens to the desktop web inside Google Photos for convenient text copying through optical character recognition (OCR). Besides being its own app, Google Lens is also available in Image Search, Photos and integrated across Android. Opening an image with words reveals a "Copy text from image" suggestion chip that features the (old) Lens logo and dismiss button. It appears to the left of Share, Edit, Info and other controls for Google Photos, reports 9To5Google. Tapping launches Google Lens with the same analysis animation of pulsating dots appearing over the picture for a brief second, the report said. Afterward, all text in an image is selected by default and everything appears in the right panel, it added. Users can "Deselect text" from the top-right corner to just highlight specific passages and copy with a floating button over the image. OCR is a very convenient Google Lens capability and the only capability live in this web version of Photos, which is widely rolled out today, the report said. The visual search tool does not currently work to recognise monuments or plants and could help people explore their images and memories. As per the report, this is the first time Lens has expanded beyond mobile. On Android, it is available when you use Google Image Search, while Chrome mobile lets you hold down on any image for quick analysis.
Apple working on combined TV box, speaker to revive home efforts
Apple Inc. has been a laggard in the smart-home space, but a versatile new device in early development could change that. The company is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. The device's other capabilities would include standard Apple TV box functions like watching video and gaming plus smart speaker uses such as playing music and using Apple's Siri digital assistant. If launched, it would represent Apple's most ambitious smart-home hardware offering to date. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is also mulling the launch of a high-end speaker with a touch screen to better compete with market leaders Google and Amazon.com Inc., the people said. Such a device would combine an iPad with a HomePod speaker and also include a camera for video chat. Apple has explored connecting the iPad to the speaker with a robotic arm that can move to follow a user around a room, similar to Amazon's latest Echo Show gadget. Development of both Apple products is still in the early stages, and the company could decide to launch neither or change key features. The company often works on new concepts and devices without ultimately shipping them. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. The new offerings may help revive Apple's fortunes in the smart-home category. The company held 2% of the TV streaming device market in 2020, according to Strategy Analytics, while the HomePod has had less than 10% of the smart speaker market for most of its existence. In March, Apple discontinued its high-end HomePod, while the Apple TV box hasn't been updated for more than three years. Last year, the company launched the HomePod mini, which has fared better due to its lower price. Apple combined its HomePod and Apple TV engineering groups in 2020 and unified the underlying software that runs on both devices. That was an early hint that Apple may eventually integrate the hardware lines. A combined speaker and TV box isn't a product category that Google and Amazon have seriously addressed yet, though Facebook Inc. sells a Portal video chat device that uses a TV as its display and Amazon sells the Fire TV Cube box with a small speaker. Amazon does however lead the Smart Displays category, the term for smart speakers with screens. Amazon first popularized smart speakers with screens in 2017 with the launch of the original Echo Show. Alphabet Inc.'s Google offers 7- and 10-inch versions of its Nest Hub, which pairs the Google Assistant with a speaker and screen. Amazon is also working on a new speaker with a screen for a user's wall that can serve as a smart home hub. In March, Bloomberg News reported that Apple was exploring new smart speakers with displays and cameras. Apple's HomeKit software - which lets third-party devices be controlled by iPhones, iPads and HomePods via an app or Siri - supports fewer products than rival systems from Amazon and Google. New Apple devices won't change that alone, but could give both Apple and potential partners new reasons to invest in the larger Apple smart-home ecosystem.
Online security in UAE: Beware, cybercriminal are on the prowl
Cyberattacks are still the number 1 threat to Middle East’s businesses. With a rising number of employees switching to hybrid working models, IT infrastructure and data centers of a large number of companies are at risk of being breached by cyber criminals. Email and social media users also need to watch out for phishing attempts that could lead to information theft. According to a recent survey by Proofpoint and Etisalat’s Help AG, 15 per cent of organizations in UAE suffered a phishing attack in 2019, with an additional 15 per cent suffering a business email compromise attack. In the meantime, only around 69 per cent of the Forbes ‘Top 100 Middle East Companies’ have a Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) record in place. In other words, 31 per cent of them are leaving customers at risk of email fraud. What is a cyberattack? It is an assault launched by cybercriminals using computers against a single or multiple computers or networks. With more than 3 billion people worldwide on the internet, cyberattacks have become the weapon of choice for many malicious actors who are actively looking to participate in illegal activities such as cyber theft, compromising networks and even sabotaging vital national infrastructure of countries. What is DMARC? DMARC, an email protocol, is being adopted globally as the 'passport control' of the email security world. It verifies that the purported domain of the sender has not been impersonated. The system is designed to protect employees, customers, and partners from cybercriminals looking to impersonate a trusted domain. Some industries in the region have led the charge in terms of DMARC adoption, according to the Help AG report. Almost all logistics firms and 80 per cent of banking and financial services providers have published a DMARC record. However, some other industries are clearly lagging behind - only 50 per cent of real estate and construction firms and only 20 per cent of companies from the retail sector have started their DMARC records. What is phishing? It is a kind of cybercrime where a target is contacted by email, telephone or text message by someone posing as a legitimate institution to lure the individual into giving sensitive data such as banking and credit card details and passwords. How serious are email phishing attacks? Email phishing attacks can be extremely serious due to their sheer volume and the consequences they carry for individuals and businesses. On an individual level, a successful phishing attack could enable a hacker to steal credit card information and make purchases using an individual’s credentials. For employees using a corporate email, a phishing attack could cause the theft of information such as username and password credentials, and in other instances, this could serve as the mode of entry of the attackers into the entire organization’s infrastructure. “The disruption that can be incurred due to an email phishing attack can trigger data breaches and result in legal fines; costing businesses millions of dollars, not to mention the resulting reputational damage and the possible theft of intellectual property,” said Nicolai Solling, Chief Technology Officer, Help AG. Considering the fact that people often use the same password across multiple applications, credential theft often tends to set off a chain reaction of breaches. This risk has only increased significantly with distributed workforces becoming the new norm. The Dubai Future Foundation has reported that phishing emails have surged over 600 per cent since February 2020. How can client emails be compromised? According to Help AG, client emails can be compromised if the clients’ partners do not have measures in place to prevent domain spoofing. Without implementing tools like Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) records, a company runs the risk of cybercriminals impersonating it in emails to get clients to make a wire transfer, give sensitive information, or open malicious links and files. Another issue facing client emails is Email Account Compromise. In this type of attack, a hacker obtains access to a trusted email domain and sends fraudulent emails to clients through that domain. This can be difficult to prevent, as the email domain used is legitimate and will not be filtered. “However, even with all the best security measures in place, network security is only as good as its weakest link which, in most cases, is the end user,” said Help AG’s Solling. “Social engineering tactics have proven to be the most effective way to obtain an employee’s sensitive data to hack into company networks, whether by posing as a legitimate actor or a fellow employee,” he added. Phishing campaigns have also become increasingly sophisticated and harder to spot, imitating social media platforms or financial service providers with surprising accuracy to trick users into entering personal data. These issues can only be addressed by comprehensive training programmes to raise awareness and educate end users about the potential risks. What are the threats faced through personal emails? Cybercriminals can design phishing emails that look like they were sent from the platform. For example, an individual could receive an email that appears to be from a legitimate company that prompts them to click through to a fake login screen. If you enter your credentials, your account and all the data associated with it could be compromised. The personal information shared on social media – about one’s whereabouts, interests, personal relationships, etc. – can be used as ammunition by cybercriminals to personalize their phishing emails and manipulate users into clicking. What are some of the preventive measures that corporate clients can take? According to Help AG, corporate clients should follow security best practices, such as checking the email address of the sender, never entering sensitive data unless they are sure the email is legitimate, never clicking links or downloading attachments from unknown senders, installing and constantly updating security software on their devices, enabling multi-factor authentication on their accounts, and installing a phishing filter. Individuals should also keep their personal and corporate emails and devices separate. Organizations need to seriously rethink their cybersecurity in terms of securing the distributed workforce and ensure that productivity or convenience does not compromise security. How UAE’s large oil, gas and infrastructure companies are secured Large oil, gas and infrastructure companies in the UAE have recognized that they are prime targets for cyber-attacks and have taken cybersecurity more seriously. “However, the question is whether or not they are responding quickly or robustly enough to keep up with rapid digitization and automation trends, and the growth in scale and sophistication of bad actors,” said Solling. In the industry as a whole, large organizations are increasingly integrating infrastructure such as SCADA (Supervisory control and data acquisition) with IT networks to automate systems and manage plant operations based on data provided in real time, thereby boosting efficiency and profitability. Image Credit: Vijith Pulikkal, Assistant Product Manager What is SCADA? It is a system that seeks to monitor and control field devices at remote sites. SCADA systems are critical as it helps maintain efficiency by collecting and processing real-time data. Increased risk With the modernization and automation of oil and gas infrastructure comes increased vulnerability, as the OT systems (operational technology) running them are becoming increasingly interconnected with IT systems and the internet, often including Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices in remote locations, such as sensors attached to pipelines and water mains. What is OT? Operational Technology (OT) is hardware and software that detects or causes a change through the direct monitoring and/or control of physical devices, processes and events in an enterprise. According to a report by Fortinet, 9 in 10 organizations experienced at least one OT system intrusion in 2020, while 65 per cent of them had 3 or more intrusions. The same report also saw a drastic increase in hacking activity over 2019, all of which points to a worrying trend in OT cybersecurity as a whole. If successful, attacks on companies in these industries could potentially shut down or disrupt production, and in the worst cases, put the physical safety of employees at risk, or cause significant economic damage. What are some of the biggest cyber threats to UAE’s firms? Ransomware, Distributed Denial of Services (DDoS), and carding attacks are among the biggest threats facing organizations in the UAE and the region, according to Help AG. In particular, ransomware attacks are increasing in sophistication and, according to Cybersecurity Ventures, could cost the global economy up to $20 billion in 2021. “Our own research has revealed that the region has been witnessing a tremendous growth in DDoS attacks in frequency, volume, new attack vectors and multifaceted tactics,” said Solling. “In Q3 2020, we captured many DDoS attack types among which we detected 24,386 high-volume Total Traffic attacks; attacks based on total traffic volume exceeding the defined threshold” What is a DDoS attack? Distributed denial of service attack is when an attacker tries to make it impossible for a service to be carried out. This is done by stopping access to servers, devices, services, and even transactions within some applications. What is ransomware? This is a type of malware that prevents users from accessing their system or personal files and demands ransom payment in order to regain access. The earliest variants of ransomware were developed in the late 1980s, and payment was to be sent via ordinary post. Today, ransomware authors order that payment be sent via cryptocurrency or credit card. What is carding? Help AG has seen a significant increase (500%) in carding; the illegal usage of a credit or debit card by unauthorized individuals to buy a product. “This growth in cyberthreats is expected to increase as people worldwide continue working remotely, relying on VPNs, and using unsecure networks and devices,” said Solling.
Video: Elon Musk's Neuralink shows monkey with brain-chip playing videogame by thinking
Technology|Americas|: Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's brain-chip startup released footage on Friday appearing to show a monkey playing a simple videogame after getting implants of the new technology. The 3-minute video by Neuralink shows Pager, a male macaque with chips embedded on each side of its brain, playing 'Mind Pong'. Although he was trained to move a joystick, it is now unplugged. He controls the paddle simply by thinking about moving his hand up or down. "First @Neuralink product will enable someone with paralysis to use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone using thumbs," Musk tweeted on Thursday. "Later versions will be able to shunt signals from Neuralinks in brain to Neuralinks in body motor/sensory neuron clusters, thus enabling, for example, paraplegics to walk again. The device is implanted flush with skull & charges wirelessly, so you look & feel totally normal." Neuralink works by recording and decoding electrical signals from the brain using more than 2,000 electrodes implanted in regions of the monkey's motor cortex that coordinate hand and arm movements, the video's voiceover said. "Using these data, we calibrate the decoder by mathematically modeling the relationship between patterns of neural activity and the different joystick movements they produce." Co-founded by Musk in 2016, San Francisco-based Neuralink aims to implant wireless brain computer chips to help cure neurological conditions like Alzheimer's, dementia and spinal cord injuries and fuse humankind with artificial intelligence. Musk has a history of bringing together diverse experts to develop technology previously limited to academic labs, including for rockets and electrical vehicles, through companies such as Tesla Inc and SpaceX.
Dexa Coin integrates digital payments into its social messaging platform
Technology|: Dexa Coin announces partnership with Accubits, a leading technology company in the region, whose client portfolio includes Nasa, Smart Dubai, and the UAE’s Ministry of Community Development. Dexa Coin integrates blockchain technology into its core system to empower everyday users with access to this technology. Its users will be able to experience HD voice and video calls on the platform and can seamlessly socialise with friends and family through the social messenger app while also sending and receiving payments. Thanks to blockchain technology, digital payments are instant and secure. Dexa Coin’s future plans include introducing mobile-based multiplayer games such as pool and combat into the platform that enable users to challenge each other and improve their in-game performance by using the native Dexa token. Accubits is now spearheading the application development of the platform and is also responsible for the development of its blockchain ecosystem. Accubits is renowned for working on major technology projects. It is the company behind the launch of the first blockchain satellite into space scheduled by the third quarter of 2021. Adnan Altaf, CEO of Dexa Coin, and Shameer Thaha, CSO of Accubits Technologies, signed the partnership agreement on March 31. For more information, visit Dexacoin.net
F&B industry should acquire a taste for digital - and not just on taking orders
Analysis|Technology|: Despite being one of the oldest, the F&B industry didn’t changed much according to the times. A clear indication is the number of online marketplaces serving the F&B industry being extremely low. The number becomes even more segmented when it comes to the B2B food and beverage industry. For years, ecommerce was considered to be a B2C game, a channel best suited for consumer brands. However, with digital transformation, traditional F&B is reshaping operations by taking technology into consideration. B2B ecommerce is now challenging the authority of traditional sales channels, with estimates of it reaching $1.8 trillion by 2023, accounting for 17 per cent of all B2B sales in the US. According to research by Gartner, 57 per cent of organizations cite “delivering the desired customer experience” as a critical challenge faced in B2B endeavors. B2B buyers have been trained to expect seamless, high-quality online purchasing experiences. It is worth mentioning that the millennial generation is taking over the executive-level realms at companies, and hence brands looking to do business with them need to understand and be present on the platforms their potential customer wants to interact on. An estimated 42 per cent of millennials use real-time messaging and social media while at work. This means that, as B2B buyers, they favor omnichannel communication for instantly gratifying information, giving them everything they need in the most streamlined manner possible. Gartner research also indicates that 80 per cent of buyers now use digital information at each stage of the purchasing process, and 61 per cent and 33 per cent consult a supplier website or want to complete their B2B purchase online without a sales representative. As a result, B2B suppliers have witnessed, instead of picking up the phone to call a vendor for pricing or engaging directly with sales reps, B2B buyers are demanding the option to self-serve online i.e., to research, find, buy, and manage their purchases through a single web-based platform. Introducing technological changes, especially in F&B sector, can not only help with reducing costs and a competitive advantage, but also prevent organizations from incurring huge losses. Igor Nikolenko, CEO of SupplyMe, suggests big data and AI to optimize operations and empower these organizations to solve real business problems. Some of the elements where technology can be efficiently used include: Read More Consultancies should stop prioritising fees in a post-COVID-19 world Fintech needs more space to develop in GCC - and it will be worth the time and effort Inventory management The HoReCa (hotel-restaurant-café) sector has been one of the fastest-growing verticals. With social distancing and contactless communication becoming the new norm, the sector now heavily relies on digital power to carry out its operations. Vendor evaluation, spend analytics and demand forecasting are some of the most popular benefits of data analytics in the F&B sector. Consensus demand planning Traditional product forecasting is based on statistical time-series techniques that create forecasts using sales history. With fast changing customer behavior, the past is rarely a great predictor of the future. In this scenario, demand sensing capabilities and demand planning capabilities can help F&B companies respond to micro-market changes, to improve fill rates and reduce distressed product. Typical demand sensing inputs that can be used to improve forecasts include daily sales order history, daily point of sale (POS), syndicated data, market intelligence, social media, location square footage, foot traffic and even weather. Wholesalers can optimize their supply chain and align their deals with their accordingly. This helps to minimize costs through optimization of warehouse turnover, which leads to minimization of frozen capital and, eventually, applying a lean approach. Supply chain management The F&B supply chains tend to be inventory-rich with average days of inventory still hovering in the high 30 days of coverage. It takes on unique challenges, starting with intake of raw ingredients to making sure the right amount of product gets to the right place, under increasing food safety and quality scrutiny. The optimal flow of F&B goods to consumers is vital for brand protection. Fortunately, the promise of granular product journey tracking and temperature monitoring from origin through all the nodes and custody hand-offs in the supply chain is within reach. During the last year, we have witnessed rapid increase in direct-to-customer deliveries, with 40 per cent of essential items now being bought online. RFID tags applied to food supply chains can provide full visibility and traceability along the whole chain and trace perishable food packages from their production source to disposal point. The technology has proven its ability to transmit information with high speed and accuracy, and in great capacity. Igor Nikolenko The writer is CEO of SupplyMe.
Half of UAE online shoppers will not go back to portals hit by data breaches
Retail|Technology|: Dubai: Online retailers and portals be warned – UAE shoppers will be in no mood to forgive them if data breaches happen. Nearly half of these consumers would ‘sever’ further purchases or exposure on that platform. That’s according to a survey by the cyber security software firm Kaspersky. And nearly two-thirds (59 per cent) said they are now worried that their online activities are being constantly tracked by the websites or online services they visit or frequent. Online users want companies to be transparent in their data processing, and the same percentage 48 per cent believe that companies should be equally open about how their technology works. Similarly, 47 per cent called on governments to be transparent about their data collection and management processes. “It is clear from the responses that people have developed a sense of control and they are now demanding openness about how and where their data is being managed," said Marina Titova, Head of Consumer Product Marketing at Kaspersky. "This is something we at Kaspersky absolutely support and champion, having brought to light the significance of transparency in the InfoSec space. "Businesses should be aware of how detrimental it would be to brand reputation to ignore these calls.”
Asus ZenBook 13 OLED checks the right boxes for demanding on-the-go lifestyles
Technology|: The new Asus ZenBook 13 OLED brings you visuals like you have never experienced before. It is both portable and incredibly compact yet offers a robust set of connectivity options. Built for powerful performance and true-to-life visuals, it is the perfect choice for users constantly on-the-go. Stylish and durable Both the chassis and lid of the ZenBook 13 OLED is made of diamond-cut aluminum alloy. Just like all Asus ZenBooks, it has the unique concentric-circle finish which makes for a soothing and sophisticated appearance. With a side profile of 13.9mm and a 1.14kg weight, you get both a thin and lightweight design that is easy to carry with you. To ensure the laptop withstands the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, the ZenBook 13 OLED also meets the MIL-STD-810 U.S military standard for reliability and durability. The rigorous stress tests that Asus has performance on top far exceed the standards set by the industry so you can use your laptop with peace of mind. Image Credit: Reach by GN OLED NanoEdge HDR Display You find up to a 13.3-inch OLED HDR display on the ZenBook 13 OLED which supports a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution and a 0.2ms response time. The display comes with 100 per-cent DCI-P3 coverage and is PANTONE Validated to provide the most precise color accuracy. To ensure color accuracy across a wide range of brightness levels, Asus panels are calibrated to accurately reproduce colors in a 3D color volume regardless of brightness level. For HDR content and creative professionals, this is a big deal. On top of this, the ZenBook 13 OLED features a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio with support for up to a 400nit brightness. Combining this contrast with the panel’s accurate color reproduction, content looks crisp and vibrant. Yet, with Asus’ attention to detail to eye-care, the display reduces potentially harmful blue light emissions up to 70 per-cent less than a typical LCD panel certified by TUV Rheinland. Ultimate typing experience Image Credit: Reach by GN Complimenting the 4-sided NanoEdge display and the laptop’s ErgoLift design is the ZenBook 13 OLED’s keyboard. This automatically tilts when the lid is opened allowing for a comfortable typing experience and improved heat dissipation. The edge-to-edge design of the keyboard uses up the space available on the compact machine well. Each key has a subtle 0.15mm dish-shaped indentation with a 1.4mm key travel. Not only is there room for independent function keys but also extra dedicated hotkeys all helping you with core functions such as capturing your screen or turning on the keyboard backlight. For its glass trackpad, the ZenBook 13 OLED comes with the Asus NumberPad 2.0 support. This is an LED illuminated numeric keypad integrated in the touchpad to make up for the lack of a physical number pad. This gives you a productive way to enter numbers both for data entry and calculations. Powerful performance The ZenBook 13 OLED packs an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 1TB of PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD storage. The processor supports Intel Iris Xe graphics which allow for better computing performance and enable FHD gameplay at up to 60fps. For people with creative workflows, the processor offers Intel Deep Learning Boost AI acceleration and AV1 media encoding and decoding. Alongside wireless connectivity staples such as WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0, the ZenBook 13 OLED sports a healthy selection of ports. There are two Thunderbolt 4 Type-C USB ports which support 40Gbps data bandwidth, the new USB 4.0 standard and up to 8K display output. Alongside these, you find an HDMI 2.0 port, a Type-A USB 3.2 Gen 1 port and a microSD card reader. For those wanting headphone jack support, Asus bundles a Type-C to 3.5mm dongle out of the box with Hi-Res Audio certification. Image Credit: Supplied As for power, there is a 67Wh battery on the ZenBook 13 OLED which offers up to 13 hours battery life. It supports Type-C USB Easy Charge, a feature which allows for charging with a wide range of standard Type-C USB chargers (5V-20V). You can also benefit from ultrafast charging with any PD (Power Delivery) certified charger including the 65W fast charging adapter included in the box. With this, you can go from 2 per-cent to 60 per-cent in just 49 minutes. Audio professionals will also be happy to see a Harman Kardon dual-speaker experience on the ZenBook 13 OLED. The audio is tuned by experts from the Asus Golden Ear team for speakers that offer loud volumes, rich depth and surround effects. Pricing and availability Asus ZenBook 13 OLED (UX325) will be available from 8th April 2021 in UAE from Virgin Megastore, Jumbo, Sharaf DG, Emax, ECity, Computronic, Gulf Micro, AL Ershad and Amazon starting from Dh3,799.
Xiaomi storms into the premium flagship smartphone segment with the new Mi 11
Technology|: Yesterday, Xiaomi brought the Mi 11 premium smartphone to the UAE. The flagship smartphone brings a highly impressive array of features and high-end specifications to it’s line-up of devices. Capture the world in high-res The Xiaomi Mi 11 comes with the world’s highest resolution 108MP wide-angle camera sensor as its primary shooter, comparable to professional-grade DSLR or mirrorless cameras. Next up is a 13MP ultra-wide angle camera and a 5MP tele-macro lens which round out the rear camera setup, offering impressive landscape and detail shots. For you selfie lovers, a 20MP punch-hole front camera is present that minimizes bezels on the homescreen. The Mi 11 brings improved night mode capabilities on three of its cameras, namely the primary, ultra-wide, and front shooters. Other features include studio-level shooting control with its HDR10+ recording and new Pro Time-lapse mode. Image Credit: Supplied Content bingers rejoice The Mi 11 screen has received an A+ rating as well as a best display award from DisplayMate, the world’s leading professional display review institution. The phone’s premium 120Hz 6.81” AMOLED DotDisplay comes with Super Resolution technology, which upgrades low resolution videos to WQHD+ quality without the worry of increased data consumption. The display also comes with a 480Hz touch sampling rate, an in-screen fingerprint sensor to smoothly and swiftly unlock their device and a comfortable swiping experience and in-hand feel with its quad-curved smooth edges and rear glass finishing. The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, which safeguards the phone against costly damage from falls and drops. With this amazing display and Harman Kardon dual speakers, content never looked so good! Image Credit: Supplied Power, power and more power The Xiaomi Mi 11 was this year’s first phone to feature the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, which completely redefines premium processing standards with its Adreno 660 GPU, 6th generation Qualcomm AI engine and X60 modem – blending AI technology with lightning fast 5G connectivity. The processor’s cutting-edge 5nm process technology allows the smartphone to support 2K/120fps/HDR gaming with an octa-core design, and ultra-large core Arm Cortex-X1 which ramps up performance dramatically. On the software front Xiaomi introduces MIUI 12.5 on the Mi 11. An intermediate update based on MIUI 12 with a strong focus on system optimizations, reducing CPU usage by up to 22%, power consumption by up to 15% , ensuring frictionless performance and graphics. Last but not least, the phone comes packing a 4600mAh battery and can charge with a cable at up to 55W. Most importantly, the compatible 55W charger comes in the box! Price and availability The powerful Xiaomi Mi 11 with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage will be available for Dh2,999 and available to purchase from Xiaomi’s official sales channels including Carrefour, Lulu, SDG, Jacky’s, Amazon, Noon, IR channels, Mi home from 8th April. Midnight Grey and Horizon Blue colors are available for UAE customers. The Xiaomi Mi 11 is currently on pre-order for Dh2999 with the Mi Watch Lite and Mi True Wireless Earphones 2s completely free.
Xiaomi brings the Mi 11, Mi 11 Lite and their 75” Mi Q1 TV to the UAE
Technology|: After the recent launch of their pocket-friendly affordable smartphones, Xiaomi today launched three new devices today. First were the Mi 11 flagship smartphone with it’s more affordable sibling the Mi 11 Lite and next was their 75” Mi Q1 premium QLED TV. Mi 11 – Flagship made affordable What's in the box? The Xiaomi Mi 11, a 33W wall charger, headphones and a 3.5mm dongle Image Credit: Supplied With the Mi 11 Xiaomi brings flagship features to the market at a relatively affordable price-tag (compared to the competition). The phone features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, supported by 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. On back, the phone comes with a 108MP main camera, supported by a 13MP ultra-wide lens and a 5MP macro-lens. For you selfie lovers, there’s a 20MP sensor on the front too. The display on the phone is a 120Hz 6.81” AMOLED DotDisplay with a 480Hz touch-sampling rate and an in-display fingerprint reader. Adding to the media consumption experience are the dual Harman Kardon stereo speakers on the phone. The Mi 11 comes with a 4600mAh battery and 55W wired charging (with the charger in the box) and supports 50W wireless charging. The Mi 11 with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage will be available for Dh2,999 and available to purchase from Xiaomi’s official sales channels including Carrefour, Lulu, SDG, Jacky’s, Amazon, Noon, IR channels, Mi home from 8th April. Midnight Grey and Horizon Blue colors are available for UAE customers. Mi 11 Lite - Ultra-slim and not far behind Image Credit: Supplied The Mi 11 Lite is the mid-range brother of the Mi 11 but comes packed with features too. Powering the phone is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G processor. The phone comes with a 4250mAh battery and 33W fast wired charging. The 6.55” AMOLED DotDisplay with 10-bit TrueColor support that produces a 1.07 billion colors, 64x more than its predecessor. Not just that, it comes with a 90Hz refresh rate and a 240Hz touch-sampling rate. Now the phone is a super slim 6.81mm thin and weighs just 157g. There’s a triple camera setup on the back whichh comes with a 64MP main camera, supported by and 8MP ultra-wide angle camera and a 5MP macro lens. The Mi 11 Lite comes in three variants. The Mi 11 with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage will be available for Dh999, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage will be available for Dh1099 and the one with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage will be available for Dh1199. UAE customers can purchase via above retail stores start from 8th April. All will be available for purchase via Xiaomi’s official sales channels including Carrefour, Lulu, SDG, Jacky’s, Amazon, Noon, IR channels, Mi home. Mi Q1 75” TV - Another segment, More affordability Image Credit: Supplied The Xiaomi MI Q1 75” TV is the brand’s most premium TV to date. The TV boasts an enormous 75’’ panel, quantum dot technology, the Android TV 10 system and an enhanced smart TV experience. Based on what was seen in the presentation, the TV has pretty slim bezels and has a metallic finish to it. The 75” has an edge-to-edge display with a 178° viewing angle. As fast as picture quality is concerned the TV accommodates 100% NTSC colour range, has 192 full array local dimming zones, is Dolby Vision and HDR10+ certified and could potentially be great for gamers with 120Hz refresh rate, HDMI 2.1 ports and Auto Low Latency mode. The Mi Q1 also produces cinematic sound from 30W stereo speaker system that utilise six speakers – two tweeter and four woofer – as well as Dolby AudioTM and DTS-HD. Last but not least, being an Android TV users get an immense array of apps and “OK Google” voice control. The Mi Q1 75” TV is priced at Dh5,799 and is exclusively available at Sharaf DG from 8th April.
I never spoke to Elon Musk on buying Tesla: Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that he never spoke to Tesla CEO Elon Musk about buying his failed electric car business couple of years back. Musk in December last year tweeted that he offered Cook to sell his electric car company at one-tenth of its value during the struggling period in 2017 but the Apple CEO refused to meet him. In an interview with The New York Times on Monday, Cook said that talks never happened. "You know, I've never spoken to Elon, although I have great admiration and respect for the company he's built," Cook was quoted as saying. Musk had said that during the "darkest days" for Tesla Model 3, he wanted to sell the company off. "During the darkest days of the Model 3 programme, I reached out to Tim Cook to discuss the possibility of Apple acquiring Tesla (for 1/10 of our current value). He refused to take the meeting," Musk had said in a tweet. Musk's tweet came as reports resurfaced that Apple is planning to introduce its first electric, autonomous car in 2024. Musk had said during a media interview in 2018 that his electric car startup was close to death within "single-digit weeks". He said that the company nearly went bankrupt in 2008, the year he took over as CEO, and that at the time Tesla had "less than a 10 per cent likelihood to succeed." Tesla and Model 3, however, survived and the company went on to produce Model Y SUV and new vehicles like the Cybertruck. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Musk is now the second richest man on the planet after Amazon's Jeff Bezos. Tesla last week said it produced 180,338 vehicles and delivered nearly 185,000 vehicles in the first quarter of 2021. In the interview, Cook also offered some hints about augmented reality and the autonomous cars. "I'm already seeing AR take off in some of these areas with use of the phone. And I think the promise is even greater in the future," Cook said. "We love to integrate hardware, software, and services, and find the intersection points of those because we think that's where the magic occurs," Cook added.