SAM Is A Wireless Electronics Kit That Wants To Make Coding Connected Objects Super Simple

TechCrunch

Meet SAM, a wireless electronics kit that’s aiming to make it easier for kids or indeed anyone with an idea for a connected project to get building — using a series of Bluetooth connected pieces and a drag and drop software interface for linking the hardware together.

And also easier to integrate connected objects with other digital apps and services, like social networks or email — so you could, for instance, build a real-world connected object using SAM that notifies you when you get an email from a particular contact. Or link your small business’ Facebook like button to an LED interface that flashes every time you get a new like.

Kids today are getting pretty spoiled for choice when it comes to cutting their teeth learning to code and/or hacking around with bits of hardware designed for the purpose of play. Only this weekend Kano shipped its first batch of coding kits, which combine the Raspberry Pi microcomputer with…

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A Wearable Drone That Launches Off Your Wrist To Take Your Selfie

TechCrunch

“Oh man, this would make a great picture. I wish there was someone else here to take our picture for us so we didn’t have to take a selfie!”

Has this ever happened to you?

Of course it has. You’re a human being in the 21st century who reads tech blogs.

The Nixie aims to solve that. It’s, as crazy as it feels to type this, a wearable selfie drone. A flying wristband, with a camera built in. When you’re ready for your close-up, it launches off your wrist, reorients to frame you in the shot, and then hovers back over for you to catch it.

The bad news? It’s… still pretty conceptual. It looks like they’ve got a prototype that can launch off your wrist and float away — but it’s still early days. They have a long way to go (this thing looks about as fragile as can…

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Big banks invest $13.5M in machine learning startup Context Relevant

Gigaom

Context Relevant, a Seattle-based company pushing a set of specialized machine learning applications, has added to its series B round of venture capital with $13.5 million from Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Formation 8, New York Life, and Bloomberg Beta. In a world of data science and open source libraries, Context Relevant’s approach of focusing on a select set of algorithms, and making them easy to implement, is pretty smart. It certainly seems to have struck a chord with financial services customers, which has historically been a lucrative market for software vendors.

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AlchemyAPI now recognizes famous faces (and can learn yours, too)

Gigaom

AlchemyAPI, the cloud computing company that uses deep learning to analyze text and images, has added facial recognition to its portfolio of services. The company released its first computer vision service in May.

Using the company’s face API, users can now process their collections of images and tag the set of 45,000-and-growing famous people on which AlchemyAPI’s system has been trained. Users can also train the system on their own corporate networks or other internal systems in order to recognize faces within the organization. Faces the system doesn’t recognize, because it hasn’t trained on labeled images of them, still receive tags for gender and age range.

For famous people that the system recognizes, it will also provide a knowledge graph of information about the person culled from other sources on the internet.

The way the face API trains itself, AlchemyAPI Founder and CEO Elliot Turner explained, is by crawling the…

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What $1 Million Won’t Buy You

TechCrunch

What’s the value of talent today in Silicon Valley? This year, a startup with revenues of $10 million wanted to find a new chief executive following its Series B raise and offered $450,000 in compensation (5% of revenues). Another startup, quickly growing and approaching an IPO, did a search for a CEO to lead it onto the public markets. In addition to a hefty compensation package, the board of the company is willing to put up a signing bonus of $1 million, to be delivered in two tranches over a year, for a vetted candidate willing to step up and sign the paperwork.

Their offer is turned down.

These are just some of the battle stories relayed to me from Brad Stadler, founder and managing director of True, a data-driven executive search firm. “We haven’t seen anything like this since 1999,” he told me, noting that signing bonuses for execs…

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