Category: Technology

Technology

In the “ Start-up-Check! “We regularly examine the business models of start-ups. Who is behind the company? What makes the start-up so special and what is there to criticize? Today: ChargeX.

Start-ups. That sounds like inventiveness, future technologies, new markets. But in reality, many of the start-ups unfortunately often turn out to be a mixture of an e-commerce idea, haphazard founders and shaky future prospects.

They certainly exist: the pioneers who tinker with the big problems and revolutionize business models. Finding and presenting these is the task of the Start-up-Check format. Today: ChargeX from Munich.

Who is ChargeX?

The need for charging options for electric cars is increasing continuously. This applies to fleet operators, car dealers, large companies, hotels and parking garages. But of course also for private households.

Charging stations usually have to be cabled in a complex manner. They are also very expensive. It becomes particularly difficult if several parties want to charge their vehicle at the same time. Because then it can happen that the power grid is quickly overloaded.

ChargeX from Munich has developed an intelligent solution with the so-called Aqueduct that solves this problem. The system consists of a modular, expandable charging station that works like a multiple socket and automatically distributes the charge with a time delay.

The vehicles are thus infected. The integrated load management then controls the charging process over a longer period of time. Behind the start-up are Tobias Wagner, Michael Masnitza and Johannes Engeln, who started developing their charging station concept in 2017.

The idea itself arose from everyday life with an electric car. For example, there were very few charging points available at a previous employer. An expansion would have been very expensive and time-consuming.

The founders were convinced that they would not be the first to face this problem. From the idea of ​​developing a kind of multiple socket for e-cars, today’s Aqueduct was created after several prototypes.

ChargeX has already applied for a patent for the system. However, so far the confirmation is missing. According to the founders, the product itself has been in use since mid-2019. The cost: 3,999 euros for the starter kit consisting of four modules. An expansion module is available for 999 euros.

In August 2020, the founders had already sold 300 modules. Thus they were able to generate almost 350,000 euros in sales. A calibration-compliant Pro version can currently also be pre-ordered.

The Aqueduct is also well received by automobile sizes. In 2018, the founders successfully completed their first station at the Gläserne Manufaktor in Dresden, the Volkswagen Group’s incubator.

The young company’s idea was first put into practice at the Volkswagen site there. At the same time, the start-up concluded a business angel round with a mid-six-figure sum.

At the end of August 2020, ChargeX took part in the TV show ” Die Höhle der Löwen “. Unfortunately, the start-up was unable to negotiate a deal there due to the lack of a patent.

However, interested parties can currently participate in an ongoing crowd funding campaign on the online portal Green Rocket. So far, 720,800 euros have been collected here.

In the next five years, the founders plan to scale their charging solution and install charging points across the board. ChargeX should develop into the leading provider of flexible charging infrastructure that charges electric cars in harmony with the power grid.

What does ChargeX do?

With the Aqueduct, ChargeX provides the first modular complete system for setting up several charging points for electric cars – while relieving the load on the power grid and exactly where there is actually a need.

ChargeX also offers a digital intelligent assistant for load management. This determines the needs of each driver and distributes the charging time of the e-cars accordingly.

So if three colleagues want to charge their vehicles in the underground car park of their office complex, but they have different working hours and routes, the system determines the charging requirement and distributes the electricity so that everyone can get to their destination without any problems.

What makes ChargeX so special?

To put the system into operation, all you need is a connection to the house supply. The electrician only installs the starter module. The expansion modules can be integrated without specialist knowledge.

The plug-and-play principle avoids the lengthy installation process and the laying of cables from the main line to each individual wallbox.

The integrated safety system ensures that there is no overload of the power grid. Another advantage: If a module is defective, only this device has to be replaced. The system itself continues to run without failures.

Load management is optimized by loading according to individual needs. That means: more cars can be charged per connection than with conventional solutions.

Depending on the power grid and which vehicle should drive again when, the electricity is distributed to the individual vehicles over the time available until departure.

The system is also self-learning and recognizes potential for modular expansion. It thus supports customers in assessing future needs.

Each user can also receive an individual charging pass on request. He is then authorized to start the charging process. Users can also store further information about the vehicle and the charging profile. The charged energy is billed automatically in the background.

With the so-called Priority Pass, customers benefit from a range of around 100 kilometers (20 kilowatt hours). These are given priority in the electric car. The process can be repeated up to five times.

The Charging Assistant, which should be available from the end of 2020, supports customers on longer journeys or special departure times. It not only shows the current amount of energy, but also helps with route planning.

Are there any points of criticism?

ChargeX definitely has great potential. On the one hand, the global market for charging infrastructures is valued at around 4.5 billion euros this year. 2025 even with 16 billion euros.

On the other hand, controlled charging over several hours is ideal for use at airports, Park & ​​Ride car parks, in shopping centers or large companies. So it’s no wonder that the ChargeX team has already won over major customers such as Volkswagen, Thüga and Veolia.

However, you have to take into account that only one vehicle is charged at a time. This is due to the usual capacity of the main connection. The real limiting factor in the system is time. If enough time is available for the charges, eight charges are also possible.

Aqueduct should also be around 50 percent cheaper than the competition. What sounds good at first, can be seen in relative terms, however, as the price ranges of the wallboxes are very large – depending on their functionality.

Of course, companies still benefit because, compared to other manufacturers, they avoid the high and complex initial investments thanks to the modular concept. There are further plus points, as the system can be expanded as required.

Conclusion

With their innovative smart charging concept, the three founders want to actively shape the energy transition, reduce emissions in the transport sector and make the electric car accessible to everyone with a comprehensive charging infrastructure.

They follow the motto: Every parking space is at some point a loading space. That alone deserves a big thumbs up.

I keep my fingers crossed for ChargeX that they can build on their previous success in the future and thus make a valuable contribution to our environment. And of course it remains to be hoped that their concept will soon be patented.

Apple is tightening data protection in the App Store. In the future, developers should easily break down in their Apple apps which user data they collect and what they use it for. Two clearly structured tables should help.

Apple wants to help its users to better understand the tracking and thus also the data protection in the App Store. Because if we download an app, with a little effort we can get an overview of which user and device data is being collected and used.

So far, however, it has not been easy for every user. Therefore, with the new iOS 14 operating system, Apple is asking developers to explain to us in detail which data their apps are accessing.

In future, Apple apps will show you which data they collect from you

In a blog post , Apple explains exactly how this should look. Accordingly, developers have to disclose their data collections in two clearly structured tables.

Developers can no longer hide behind cryptic data protection texts. Instead, they have to enter information for data collection in an easily legible manner and ensure that it is always up to date.

The developers should then transmit the information to Apple. However, you are not only obliged to state what data your own code collects.

However, they must also show what information they are collecting through third-party codes that may be embedded. This includes, for example, software development kits from Facebook and Google.

This is what the tables look like

The new regulation applies to Apple apps on the iPhone, iPad and Mac. The information about the data collection should be available to users in the App Store before it is downloaded.

The tables are similar to the nutritional value labels of foods. The first overview clearly shows in various categories which detailed data the respective app collects and passes on.

So, as we can see, the table also tells us whether an app is collecting health and fitness data, financial data, location data, and other information.

The second overview then provides information on how and for what the developers use this data.

Here we also find out whether our data is used for advertising by third parties, advertising by the developer himself, analysis of app usage, personalization of products and more.

Developers must also specify whether an individual user can be traced back from the data and whether tracking takes place – i.e. whether they also use information to create a profile of the user for advertising purposes.

What Apple has not yet explained is whether the company will check the information provided individually or only intervene if there are complaints.

Apart from that, the new table system sounds like a very user-friendly change. So Apple actually seems to want to give us more information about what is happening to our data.

And as the company has already announced, full tracking protection for users will come in 2021 . Apple had originally planned to deactivate the preset tracking with iOS 14 in autumn 2020.

But because Facebook and Co. had expressed strong criticism, Apple postponed the change to a later date. As we reported earlier , tracking protection could ultimately transform the digital advertising industry from the ground up.

In WhatsApp chats, a “creepy message” has been shared for some time that completely crashes the application. But what tricks do fraudsters actually use and how can you protect yourself against such WhatsApp spam? We’ll tell you.

Perhaps you have already come into contact with it: At least since 2017, WhatsApp chats around the world have said that a so-called ” scary message ” has been going around, which contains a complete jumble of letters.

If you open this message, your app will crash immediately – in such a way that it cannot be opened again afterwards.

You will have to reinstall WhatsApp afterwards if you want to use it again. So you could say that the spam message destroys your chat history. They’re gone if you haven’t made a backup in advance .

WhatsApp spam: these are the tricks that scammers use

WhatsApp spam like this is not uncommon. Sometimes it is of the harmless kind and just forces you to reinstall the app. But it can also cause more damage and infect your smartphone with viruses, for example.

In the case of the “creepy message”, for example, the fraudsters used characters that WhatsApp cannot read. That’s why the app just crashes when you open it. The bug can also occur if the message lands on your smartphone as a virtual contact file (VCF).

But there is another way. In 2019, for example, fraudsters lured people with free data . In truth, there was a clickbait trap hidden behind the seductive offer. The masterminds wanted to achieve a higher reach for a website.

In the same year, Android users were also confronted with the “ Agent Smith ” virus , which used popular apps such as WhatsApp to secretly install fraudulent software on users’ devices.

This is how you can protect yourself against WhatsApp spam

WhatsApp spam doesn’t get to us just like that. If we are careful, we can protect ourselves well from him.

Ideally, we ensure that dangerous spam messages do not even get onto our device. To do this, we should activate the setting in WhatsApp so that not every account can add us to groups.

To do this, go to ” Account ” in the WhatsApp settings and then navigate further. Under “ Privacy ” you can specify in the “ Groups ” category that you only add your own contacts to groups.

If a suspicious message consisting of random combinations of characters still appears on your device, you should definitely not open it. Instead, it is advisable to start the web version of WhatsApp and delete the message there.

In addition, we shouldn’t – and this is especially true for Android users – hang around in third-party stores and download unofficial apps. Otherwise we run the risk of catching a virus like “Agent Smith”.

The heating system listens to your word, the security camera reports visitors on the smartphone: The connected home is a big topic at IFA – but not yet for many consumers. How the providers want to convince you.

Summer is not ideal for the tests. Who wants to turn on the heating when it’s more than 25 degrees outside? Christian Deilmann grins when he thinks back to the last few months – the sweaty work has paid off: His company Tado has developed a new heating thermostat just in time for the IFA electronics fair and for the approaching autumn. It can be controlled via the app and by Apple’s voice assistant Siri. It is an important step for the start-up from Munich to conquer the mass market.

Tado is not alone in these ambitions. At the IFA in Berlin (September 2-7), numerous manufacturers of home appliances and home surveillance products will focus on the networked capabilities of their new devices – in the hope that a gimmick will become a must for the average user. Whether heating, stove or washing machine, door lock, security camera or smoke detector: Everything becomes smart.

The market for the connected home has been small so far. According to figures from market researcher GfK , the market share of networked home appliances in Europe is just three percent, for example. However, this is only a snapshot: “In five years at the latest, all devices will be networkable,” says Peter Schnaebele, who heads the Bosch Smart Home division. Because that is technically feasible and, in view of falling component prices, will soon no longer be expensive.

Five terms about IFA

In competition with the technology giants from overseas, German companies such as Tado, Bosch and Elgato see themselves as having good opportunities. However, you have to convince the customers in several ways: that it is easy to use, that the investment is worthwhile – and that privacy is preserved in view of all sensors and cameras. What they are working on and how they argue: a tour of the fair.

Tado for all of Europe

Tado is one of the pioneers in smart heating technology. Co-founder Christian Deilmann did research on fuel cells during his studies and learned that the efficiency of energy generation is already largely exhausted. Together with some friends, he developed the idea that saving heating energy would bring more to lower emissions. They founded the company eight years ago.

First, Tado developed a control that is installed directly on the boiler. The start-up claims that heating costs can be reduced by up to 30 percent. Now, in autumn, a device will be added that can regulate the temperature of individual radiators, regardless of whether residents have access to the burner or not.

“Starting this week, all households in Europe can use Tado, unless there is a charcoal stove there,” says Deilmann. This is the prerequisite for selling the product in the mass market – and becoming profitable. A financing round of 20 million euros, completed in April, should help with the expansion.

Waiting for Apple and Google

With the new software version, which should be available to all users, Tado is also introducing a new type of control: the heater listens to voice commands. Siri can receive commands on the iPhone, and the start-up also wants to support the networked audio player Alexa from Amazon when it is available. The command sounds something like this: “Siri, heat the bedroom to 21 degrees.”

It is not yet clear which standards Tado will support. “We believe that there can only be a few platforms worldwide,” says Deilmann. After all, the effort for technical development and marketing is high. The start-up will observe which these are.

Bosch wants to build a platform

Bosch wants to set up one of these platforms. The Swabian group has developed its own smart home standard. Now he is looking for partners who can adapt their devices to this. There is great interest, assures Peter Schnaebele, managing director of the smart home subsidiary. Bosch initially wants to win partners for all important fields, such as entertainment, shading and mobility, and later expand the range.

Schnaebele sees this networking of various manufacturers as an important sales argument: “So far, the smart home has not caught on because more than 80 percent of the products are individual solutions,” he is convinced. Bosch wants to establish the connection with its own software – and guarantee with the familiar name that the technology will still work in a few years.

Many of your own devices can already be integrated, from security cameras to extractor hoods. However, this has its price: the new smoke detector costs a hefty 150 euros. Even if it can measure air quality, many consumers will think twice about whether to spend the money. The same applies to the Eyes outdoor camera.

“The great benefit arises from the networking and multiple use of the devices,” emphasizes Schnaebele. The smoke detector can be used as an alarm system – if a window sensor detects unexpected movement, the device can emit a warning tone. And the camera doubles as an intercom that can be operated from anywhere, provided there is an internet connection. “There is no such thing as one killer application, diversity makes it.”

Elgato is hoping for the new iPhone system

The Elgato company focused on networking the house early on. When Apple announced the Homekit platform, the developers immediately got to work. Some devices have been on the market since 2015, such as a room thermometer and a socket. At the IFA, the Munich-based company is showing, among other things, a smoke detector that can be combined with other devices to form a network – if, for example, the window sensor detects a break-in, it emits an alarm.

However, the early investments have only paid off to a limited extent. The smart home business contributes at least ten percent to sales. “But there is much room for improvement,” says company boss Markus Fest. For this, however, stronger support from IT companies such as Apple and Google is required . They are not only able to build and maintain a platform over the years, but also to make it known with their large marketing budgets.

So far, however, this has been lacking. The Google Nest system is technically advanced, but it takes a comparatively long time to develop, Fest observes. Apple left itself behind for a long time after announcing the Homekit platform. And you hardly hear anything from the Samsung subsidiary Smartthings.

Score with low prices

But something could happen now: In September, the iPhone manufacturer will be launching the new iOS 10 operating system, which contains its own app for the connected home. “We hope that Apple is now beating the drum and the demand increases,” says Fest. “But it will take a while until the topic reaches the mass market” – for example, until Google is ready.

In addition to powerful marketing, lower prices could also help spread the technology. Medion, for example, relies on this: The Lenovo subsidiary is launching three packages, the cheapest one costs around 200 euros. “When you think of the term smart home, you think of techies and people with money,” says Medion manager Sandro Fabris. “But we believe that the topic is suitable for the mass market.”

The five big trends of the fair

The company offers various smart devices, such as a door sensor, a motion detector and a security camera, as well as a heating thermostat and a radio-controlled socket. The connection is established by a radio module, the control runs via an app. Medion markets these devices in three packages, called “Security”, “Comfort” and “Energy”.

Fabris does not want to comment on the prospects. But: “With our prices and our distribution channels, we can sell a relevant number of devices.” The Aldi partner initially sells the packages through its direct sales force. A short time later, the sets should also be available from other well-known e- and retailers.

This little robot from Japan cannot do really practical things. The Kirobo Mini is practically a modern successor to the teddy bear and should make its owner smile or entertain.

The leading Japanese car company Toyota is making a new attempt to use robots to address customers outside of the classic vehicle market. Toyota will start selling the Kirobo Mini robot in Japan next year, as the company announced at the Ceatec electronics fair in Ciba, near Tokyo. At the Toyota booth, there was a long line of visitors to the fair who wanted to see the little social robot in action.

The approximately ten centimeter tall companion should have the intelligence of a five-year-old and be able to read the state of mind of its owner from the facial expression. It will hit the market in 2017 for 39,800 yen (350 euros). There is also a monthly subscription fee of 300 yen (2.60 euros).

In 2013, Toyota had already presented the Kirobo, a small talking robot that, among other things, could transport the Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata to the International Space Station. Kirobo was already able to recognize and react to human gestures and facial expressions. The Kirobo Mini now recognizes, for example, whether a car driver is driving too briskly and shouts “Oops!” When the car is braked sharply. On a longer journey, it also reminds the driver to take a break.

What robots can already do today

The Kirobo Mini is equipped with a camera, microphone and Bluetooth. It connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth. The robot should be able to locate human voices and turn its head towards the speaker. However, the little robot cannot distinguish between different people. Toyota assumes that the Kirobo Mini is assigned to a single person and is not shared by multiple users.

Fuminori Kataoka, the responsible manager of the Kirobo project, said the Kirobo Mini does not have a mind that can be described as artificial intelligence. The robot primarily serves as an emotional connection exception. “It’s about having someone there to talk to.” A soft toy cannot talk even though people are talking to it. “Wouldn’t it be better if it could answer?”

These automakers have the most satisfied customers

Toyota produces the Kirobo Mini together with Vaio, which was spun off from the Japanese electronics giant Sony . The former Sony factory in Nagano prefecture used to produce the robot dog Aibo. Aido was discontinued by Sony in 2006, despite fans in Japan and around the world vehemently advocating further development of the robot.

Toyota is looking for new business areas

Like other automotive companies, Toyota is looking for new business areas outside of its core business. In Japan, car sales are projected to decline over the long term because the population is shrinking due to aging. In addition, many young people are no longer interested in buying their own car.

At Ceatec, the Japanese electronics group Sharp also presented a further development of its robotic smartphone RoBoHoN. The robot can not only make phone calls, but also dance, conduct dialogues and display videos with a built-in projector. After the takeover of Sharp by the Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn , observers had expected the project to end because RoBoHoN had not been commercially successful so far.

A version of RoBoHoN that also understands English and Chinese was shown at the fair. In addition, functions have been added to the smartphone so that it can also be used as a robot in the reception area of ​​companies.

“Safe, easy, fast”. With these words Commerzbank advertises the use of photoTAN in online banking. Scientists from Bavaria have now discovered a weak point in the process.

According to a report in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, two IT security researchers have managed to crack the photoTAN procedure used in mobile banking on manipulated Android smartphones. After the two researchers from the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg installed malware on the devices, they were able to redirect online transfers or create them themselves. However, the transactions could only be manipulated if the banking app and photoTAN app are installed on one device.

According to the researchers Vincent Haupert and Tilo Müller, the attacks could target the financial institutions Deutsche Bank , Norisbank and Commerzbank . “For us it is no problem at all to hide the actual transfer afterwards,” said Hauptert. As long as a customer conducts his banking transactions on the move, the manipulation remains undetected.

A one-time password is generated with the photoTAN. When the process was introduced, an image of approximately three by three centimeters was generated on the PC monitor from small dots that contains the transaction data. In this variant, this graphic is scanned with the smartphone or reader. After the photoTAN has been decrypted, the transaction data (amount and name of the recipient of a transfer) and a seven-digit transaction number with which the transfer can be approved can be seen on the screen for checking.

Apple in numbers

From the researchers’ point of view, it is critical if the banking application and the photoTAN app are on the same device and the two-way authentication that is actually intended is undermined. The researchers still consider the use of a photoTAN on the PC with an external reader to be safe. The attack by the two security researchers requires that a virus-infected app must already be installed on the victim’s smartphone.

“That makes the attack more difficult, but not impossible,” says Hauptert. This is indicated by malware such as “Godless” and “Hummingbad”. This made it into the official Google app store and would have worked on 90 percent of all Android smartphones. Ten million devices were affected.

What the new 5G mobile network should achieve

The attack scenario was demonstrated using the Google Android system. In principle, an attack is also conceivable with the iPhone system iOS. The iOS malware Pegasus showed that not only Android smartphones could be attacked. However, the security model of the Apple software is more restrictive, so that compared to Android there is less chance of catching malware.

When asked, press spokespeople from Deutsche Bank and Norisbank point out that security is being taken very seriously: “When used correctly, all legitimation procedures are secure.” Customers decide which procedure suits them best according to their own preferences. In an answer, Commerzbank will reimburse the full amount in the event of damage. The bank gives customers security instructions on its website. The bank is not aware of the attack carried out by the researchers.

Angela Merkel was impressed by a 360-degree camera at the CDU party conference in Essen and asked what kind of device it was. The answer to the Chancellor’s question and what else you should know about it.

What kind of device is that?

As the cameraman explained to the Chancellor, the device that is causing so much enthusiasm is a 360-degree camera. Unfortunately, neither the answer nor the video shows which device and which technology the CDU works with.

How are 360-degree videos created?

Basically there are several options, which differ mainly in the number of their lenses. In the variant with a lens, the lens “looks” upwards, so to speak. There is a mirror there that directs the light rays into the lens. Next to the lens there is another mirror that guides the light, and thus the image, towards the first mirror. This allows the camera to generate a panoramic image of its surroundings, even though it is “looking” upwards

Another possibility is in cameras with two lenses. Two so-called fisheye lenses are used. These wide-angle lenses can each cover a field of view of 180 degrees. Together, the images then result in a panoramic view. There are also cameras that have even more lenses, each of which then covers a smaller field of view.

Virtual reality glasses

Diving goggles for the virtual

Whether Oculus Rift, Playstation VR or HTC Vive: All virtual reality glasses work on the same principle. A screen shows the virtual environment in the field of vision, lenses are supposed to provide an all-round effect. The image is adjusted with every movement of the head – sensors measure every change, the computer calculates the new image at lightning speed.

Oculus Rift from Oculus VR

Founder Palmer Luckey assembled the first data glasses from smartphone components. In the meantime, the Facebook subsidiary has refined the technology so that a first consumer version of the Oculus Rift will be ready in 2016. Oculus has set the price for the long-awaited 3D glasses at 699 euros in Europe, higher than expected by experts.

Gear VR from Samsung

Samsung already offers the Gear VR data glasses as an accessory for the smartphone – it is pushed into the holder and serves as a display, the two lenses in the glasses ensure the 3D optics. This means that the system is not as powerful as competing products, but it is mobile. Incidentally, the technology comes from Oculus VR.

Vive from HTC and Valve

The electronics manufacturer HTC is developing its virtual reality glasses Vive together with the games specialist Valve. In order to determine the position of the player as precisely as possible, two laser sensors are installed in the room, which are permanently in contact with the sensors on the device. A special feature: users can use it to move around the room. Introduction: end of 2015.

Cardboard from Google

Virtual reality doesn’t have to be expensive: With Cardboard, Google has developed a foldable cardboard construction into which users can slide their smartphone. An app prepares the images appropriately. The other systems are technically superior, but Cardboard gives an idea of ​​the possibilities.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different techniques?

For technical reasons, cameras with only one lens cannot produce images and videos with a perfect all-round view. You leave out the area above and below the cameras. With this technique, you don’t have to combine several images into one. This is exactly what you need for cameras with multiple lenses. Depending on the resolution and number of videos, putting them together can require a lot of computing power. In addition, unsightly transitions can occur when assembling

What other technology do I need?

Many 360 cameras come with an app for smartphones. This allows you to look at the image that the camera is currently taking. The videos can also be viewed with virtual reality glasses.

How expensive is such a camera?

As is often the case, this also depends on the requirements the device should meet. For a fancy video from your vacation trip that you can use to impress your friends on Facebook, you have to spend less money than the PR agency that produces videos for companies. Inexpensive entry-level models start at 190 euros. Expensive models can also cost over 2000 euros.

 

The Google parent Alphabet brings the development of technology for self-driving cars into an independent subsidiary under its corporate umbrella. Her future boss Jon Krafcik announced her name will be Waymo. “We are a company that deals with technology for autonomous driving,” he emphasized. Even before, Google managers kept repeating that they don’t want to become a car manufacturer themselves, but that they are looking for deals with established manufacturers. As early as 2009, Google put the first cars with technology for autonomous driving on the road. Since then, over 3.2 million kilometers have been covered, said Krafcik. Initially, they were converted Toyota vehiclesand Lexus, meanwhile Google is also testing cars from its own development. In one of the small electric two-seaters, a blind man was transported to Austin, Texas in October 2015 without an additional person on board. According to Google, it was the world’s first trip of its kind where the computer was completely on its own.

At the same time, according to a media report, the development of one’s own self-driving Google car without a steering wheel and pedals is not to be further advanced for the time being. Instead, the Silicon Valley industry service “The Information” wrote on Tuesday that there should be more cooperation with automakers for more traditional vehicles.

This gives rise to hopes of launching a commercial driver service with self-driving cars as early as the end of 2017, it said, citing informed people. The schedule depends on the development of the prototype with Fiat Chrysler . According to earlier announcements, 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans will initially be converted to accommodate Google’s robotic car technology in the vehicles.

There are still many hurdles for self-driving cars

Fiat Chrysler is the only known major auto company to consider using Google technology in its robotic cars. Otherwise the industry preferred to develop its own solutions. Large manufacturers are working on it themselves, and the suppliers Delphi and MobilEye have teamed up to sell the manufacturers a cheap technology for it. Also Volvo and the supplier Autolivwant to offer their developments to others. Google had introduced the small electric two-seater from its own development in 2014. It was said that in the future, the cars should be controlled completely by the computer and get along without a steering wheel or pedals. The prototypes that are currently on the road in Google’s hometown of Mountain View and in Austin, Texas, still have both, among other things because the traffic regulations require it. In industry circles it was said that the Internet group had an offer from the industry to build vehicles according to the concept.

Krafcik, a former top manager at the South Korean car maker Hyundai , had last led the project. Outsourcing to a separate company had been expected for some time. Long-time head of development Chris Urmson, who left the project in the summer, wanted to continue working on his own cars, wrote “The Information”. According to information from the tech blog “Recode”, Urmson now wants to set up his own start-up for robot car software.

After the image damage caused by the burning batteries of the Note 7 model, Samsung needs an innovative hit. The market leader from South Korea took a month more than usual for its new Galaxy S8 model.

Smartphone market leader Samsung wants to present a new top model on Wednesday and thus step out of the shadow of the debacle over the burning batteries of the Galaxy Note 7. Samsung’s next flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S8, is to be presented at an event in New York (from 5 p.m. CEST).

According to media reports, it should have an even larger screen, can also be controlled with gestures in some cases and can be unlocked with an eye scan. In addition, Samsung’s new personal assistant “Bixby” will be integrated into the device, as the South Korean company has already announced.

The Galaxy S models are traditionally the toughest competition for Apple’s iPhone, which leads in the business with expensive smartphones. According to previous reports, Samsung wants to bring some innovations to the market earlier, which are expected from the next iPhone in autumn. The display should fill almost the entire front of the device, with only small bezels. The Chinese provider Xiaomi showed how this can be technically solved last year.

This also allows the screen to be made larger without having to expand the housing accordingly, as was previously the case. According to information from the website “WinFuture”, the Galaxy S8 will have a display with a diagonal of 5.8 inches (14.7 cm) in the standard version – and with 6.2 inches in the “Plus” version . The current iPhone 7 is 4.7 and 5.5 inches respectively.

Five billion euros in damage

For Samsung this time it is also about leaving the fiasco with the battery fires of its Galaxy Note 7 behind last autumn. The Galaxy S8 is presented about a month later than usual because Samsung took more time after the debacle.

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The double recall of the Note 7 and the industry’s first discontinuation of a smartphone model for security reasons resulted in considerable damage to the company’s image and a financial burden of the equivalent of five billion euros.

In addition, Samsung’s plan to counter Apple’s iPhone 7 with a fresh top device during the important Christmas business failed. According to calculations by analysts, Samsung’s share of the smartphone market fell from almost a quarter to the 20 percent mark – and Apple is likely to have pushed itself to the top in the Christmas quarter . For the year as a whole, Samsung can hold the crown of the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer thanks to the cheaper models. At the same time, the South Korean company is getting new competition from Google in the high-price area with its Pixel model.

The NRW consumer advice center has issued warnings to nine providers of fitness apps. The accusation: violations of data protection regulations. It’s about sensitive numbers about the health of users – in a booming market.

Pedometers, sports watches and fitness apps on mobile phones are much more than a private pleasure. Behind this is a huge growth market, as this number alone shows: The major sporting goods manufacturers Under Armor, Adidas and Asics have invested more than a billion US dollars in fitness apps. This is the result of research by the Statista Digital Market Outlook (DMO).

The downside of the boom: billions of data buzzing wildly through the world. The North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advice center is now pointing out precisely this aspect of this growth market. The trend around wearables and fitness apps promises more control over one’s own body. But consumers often no longer have control over their own data.

“The sporting goods manufacturers demonstrate that they have recognized the potential of digitization,” say the Statista market observers. The purchase of apps such as MyFitnessPal or Runtastic (more than 70 million registered users) strengthens the company’s mobile presence and enables access to an audience of millions with a sports affinity.

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What is interesting for the companies is that the group of possible customers is getting bigger and bigger, because the digital fitness market is booming. By 2020, the number of users of paid fitness apps in Germany is even expected to rise to around ten million. In the USA it could even be 35 million users.

But consumers who make intensive use of all these new options should be aware that the majority of devices send a large amount of information about the fitness behavior of users to providers. What then happens to the data is not further explained or remains unclear. This is confirmed by the new study by the market watchdog team at the consumer advice center in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The consumer advocates took a close look at twelve wearables and 24 fitness apps. The problem with small computers on the body is that sports wristbands, smartwatches and fitness apps no longer just count the steps of their users: the inconspicuous everyday companions also constantly collect data such as the pulse and calorie consumption of their wearers. Or show how long and how well you sleep.

Not everything works as smoothly as expected with this data. The consumer advocates found violations of the applicable data protection laws and therefore warned nine large providers. That doesn’t mean the problem is over.

How providers trick with data

“Information in sports apps allows conclusions to be drawn about the fitness and health of consumers,” warns Ricarda Moll, a consultant for the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer center in the project Market Watchdog Digital World. A survey showed that this is a perspective that many users find bad. The majority are annoyed by having no control over the personal information they disclose online (78 percent).

Based on their legal analysis, the market watchdog experts come to the conclusion that the providers examined often leave users in the dark about what happens to the collected data: three providers only provide their data protection notices in English, and only two provide information about the particular sensitivity of the data collected Health data.

The consumer advocates found out that only one provider can obtain separate consent for the processing of this sensitive health data from the users. Another critical point is that six providers allow themselves the opportunity to make changes to the data protection declarations at any time and without actively informing the user.

Wearables for managers

Five providers even kept it open to pass on the personal data of their users in the event of a merger or takeover by other companies. The conclusion of the consumer advice center in North Rhine-Westphalia is: “We can now say ‘rightly’: Providers collect numerous – sometimes sensitive – data and often leave consumers in the dark about its use. We don’t want to accept that, ”explained Ricarda Moll.

Kai Vogel, Head of the Health and Care Team at the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv), concludes: Consumers need secure information about the specifically proven benefits of apps and how their personal data is handled. “This can be remedied by a public, national online platform that lists high-quality health information and independent reviews of digital products in order to better inform consumers,” says Vogel.

And so that private health insurers and health insurance companies do not even come up with questionable ideas, Vogel added: “The consumer advocates categorically reject health insurance tariffs that combine financial incentives with the ongoing, permanent obligation to disclose data.”