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Autodesk puts up $100M fund for 3D printing companies

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Autodesk is gearing up to release its open-source 3D printer and accompanying software, both of which it hopes will spur growth in the 3D printer industry. But today it announced another effort to encourage the growing industry: $100 million it will award to the most promising 3D printer companies.

“We will look carefully at companies small or large that are able to both innovate and enhance the ecosystem,” Autodesk consumer group vice president Samir Hanna said in an interview. “We want to make sure we bring the best minds together … that will develop in the fastest possible way the 3D printing ecosystem, hopefully at a much faster pace than has happened to date.”

The fund is aimed at both software and hardware companies. Hanna described the selection process as “deliberately open,” so anyone is encouraged to apply.

Autodesk surprised the industry back in May with the announcement of the 3D printer–its…

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It doesn’t matter if deep learning mimics the brain or Watson is cognitive. It matters if they work

Originally posted on Gigaom:

I spent half an hour speaking with IBM Watson VP John Gordon on Tuesday, and no matter how many ways I asked it, he would not acknowledge a gap between peoples’ perceptions of Watson and what the “cognitive computing” system is actually capable of doing. I know there’s misunderstanding out there — I just know it — but Gordon spun his responses to focus on inspiration rather than disappointment, about how easy it is to learn Watson and build new applications now that it’s available as a set of software products and cloud APIs.

It annoyed me at first, but the more I think about it, the less I can fault his strategy. It wasn’t so long ago, he noted, that it was still only Ph.Ds. in IBM Research programming Watson systems for early users; today, pretty much anybody with an application and some data can start experimenting with it. There’s not a lot…

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IBM Earnings Reflect Just How Difficult Transformation Really Is

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

The news came out this week that IBM had another bad quarterly report card. Unfortunately for IBM it marked the 10th straight quarter of falling revenue, indicating that maybe something’s not quite right at Big Blue. IBM’s earnings illustrate the challenge they face as they transform themselves into a cloud-centric company.

It could be that it will take some time for that transformation to bear fruit or it could be that it’s just harder for large companies like IBM to make big money in the cloud, a harsh lesson not just for IBM, but also for other big companies like HP, Red Hat, EMC and Cisco who are trying to make similar transformations.

IBM deserves a great deal of credit, however for simply getting to where they are today as they put their cloud business front center. In just a couple of years, they have put together a 3-tiered cloud strategy…

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Amazon Quietly Launches A Functional App Store Within Its Main Android Application

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Until recently, if you wanted to install an application from Amazon’s own Appstore onto your Android device, you would have to install the Amazon Appstore app separately. And this is a bit of a hassle, since you can’t exactly just download the app from Google Play. But last month, Amazon quietly rolled out a new feature within its main Amazon application on Android which now includes a fully-functional Appstore that’s accessible directly through the Amazon app’s “Shop by Department” section.

There, right at the top of the list of Departments, is a new category called “Apps & Games.” And this isn’t just a list of apps that Amazon has for sale elsewhere in its Appstore app – it’s actually a complete app store in and of itself, tucked away right within the main Amazon application.

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According to an Amazon spokesperson, this section launched on September 9th, and we were pointed…

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Microsoft Fires Another Set Of Employees, Continuing Its Announced Layoff Strategy

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Microsoft took an axe to another slice of its employees today, cutting around 3,000 jobs according to Mary Jo Foley. TechCrunch heard through a separate source that the layoffs were imminent, but was not able to confirm their size.

The company released a short statement indicating that it has nearly wrapped “all [of] the 18,000 reductions announced [it] in July.” Today’s cuts come from “many different business units, and many different countries,” the company indicated.

Presuming that the 3,000 figure for today is accurate (Microsoft did not respond to a comment asking if the figure was in the correct range) only a few hundred layoffs remain out of the original 18,000 that were announced. The majority of the reductions have come from Microsoft’s recently acquired Nokia hardware assets.

Taking into account the first set of 12,500, the second cut of 2,100 and today’s 3,000, 400 more firings may remain. That figure…

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Windowless planes could be here in 10 years—and they look amazing

Originally posted on Quartz:

The commercial flight cabin as we know it may be on its way out.

That’s according to a new report from the Centre for Process Innovation, a British technology research company, which projects that in 10 years the industry will be ready to offer passengers a richer visual experience than what a small, fogged-up plastic window allows.

In the CPI design, familiar rectelliptical airplane windows are replaced with giant OLED displays lining the inside of the plane’s fuselage. (OLEDs, organic light-emitting diodes, are the same technology behind recent light, ultrathin, high-end televisions.)

Here’s a video introducing the design:

The screens could be used to display images of the exterior of the airplane, as well as information relevant to passengers. CPI said that the technology necessary to manufacture the displays for the same price as current displays is just five years out.

Here are a few more renderings of the (for now rather speculative) windowless plane:

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