We know you’re busy. That’s why we curate this monthly roundup of the top news stories in Atlanta tech. Hosted by Titania Jordan, TechCONNECT is where tech leaders of the southeast can turn to stay up-to-date on all things business and tech.
Top Tech Stories from January 2020
Freezing in the Office? This Bracelet Could Help
Sweating in the office? According to Allison Duncan, of the Wall Street Journal, the Wave Bracelet can help. Three MIT scientists formed Embr Labs and developed the Wave Bracelet. It’s a battery-powered bracelet that instantly cools or warms the temperature-sensitive skin inside of your wrist. The cool or warm sensations activate a body and mind response, providing overall comfort. For a cool $299, the Wave Bracelet can be yours.
Gaming Chairs Reinvented
The expected annual growth rate for flashy, video game chairs is 30% over the next several years. These special seats were in high demand this holiday season. Resulting in a year-end total of around $400M in sales. Gamers are purchasing the chairs to prove status within the gaming community. They are also benefiting from the exceptional level of comfort the chairs provide. For the average gamer in the U.S., this is important, as they are now spending an average of 13 hours a week playing video games. Learn more about why gamers are now spending hundreds of dollars on chairs by clicking here.
New Era of Work Clothes
Touch-screen jackets and mood sensing sweaters are just a few items of clothing that are expected to make their way to our office wardrobe in the coming years. Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman, head of a consulting firm specializing in wearable technology and smart textiles, explains that much of this smart apparel already exists in the military, medicine, and sports industries. It will be available to blue and white-collar employees soon.
New Tactics Punch Holes in Big Tech’s Ad-Fraud Defenses
Readily available technology is allowing fraudsters to mimic human behavior and generate fake ad traffic, boost online search rankings, and create shopping reviews. Subscription-based browsers give cybercriminals the ability to commit one of the most popular types of online fraud. Spoofing traffic to online ads or social media profiles, which increases the value of those pages by making them look more effective than they actually are; however, these tools are being used for legitimate purposes as well. They are helping tech firms look for vulnerabilities and test their own defenses. This technology is expected to negatively affect marketers to the tune of $5.8 billion. To read more, click here.
The Office of Tomorrow
The Wall Street Journal interviewed architects, consultants, and entrepreneurs to build a model for how offices can transform over time. The office of tomorrow includes technologies that already exist or are in development, while others are more theoretical. Some notable features include fully autonomous vehicles that double as workstations, deep work chambers where employees can perform intense work, free of distractions, and full-body power suits that would help workers lift hundreds of pounds. You can take a tour of the office of tomorrow by clicking here.
FBI Warns Deepfakes Might Become Indistinguishable from Reality
The FBI warns that deepfake technology is becoming so advanced that it will soon be a national security threat. Deepfakes use AI to overlay a person’s likeness onto existing images or videos. Therefore, depicting people saying or doing something they never said or did. In addition, combining AI with other emerging technology can result in physical threats. For example, modern 3D printers can be combined with AI models to copy someone’s fingerprints. At this time, the FBI examiners are still able to tell the difference between real and artificial fingerprints, but that is likely to change in the future.
Atlanta Funding News
Cox Enterprises Invests $50M in Clearcover
Cox Enterprises has invested in a $50 million round for Clearcover, a Chicago-based startup aimed at changing the way people buy car insurance. Clearcover’s platform makes car insurance cheaper by making operations, marketing, and distribution more cost effective and then passes along the savings to customers in the form of lower-cost, higher-quality car insurance. Clearcover says it will use the new financing to continue building out its tech, double its current headcount across its product engineering and data science teams and launch in new markets and states throughout the U.S.
Makeswift Inc. Raises $1.5M
Makeswift Inc., an Atlanta-based landing page builder, recently raised $1.5M. The startup joined the state’s tech incubator ATDC last year. Founded in 2015, Makeswift is the brand new experience created by the team that built Landing Lion. Makeswift allows users to build highly customized websites from scratch and without coding. To read the full story, click here.
Curricula Raised $3M
Curricula recently announced that they raised $3 million to support the rapid growth of its security awareness training platform. The new funding will allow Curricula to expand their sales and marketing strategy, enhance their platform capabilities, and begin expansion into the MSP channels. Curricula’s unique product trains employees how to defend against real-world phishing tests, but makes the experience more fun by adding memorable characters to the storylines. The company also announced that as a result of the transaction, Kevin Hatch, Partner at RCP Equity and former CFO at AppRiver, has joined Curricula’s Board of Directors.
Venture Capital Firm Atlanta Seed Company Raising $30M Fund
According to a January 6th filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Atlanta Seed Company is raising a $30 million fund. This Venture Capital Firm has a platform that matches high-net-worth individuals with early-stage venture opportunities and its portfolio includes metro Atlanta companies such as Bark, Illuma, PatientCo, Sudu Logistics, uBack, and VeriSolutions. The primary focus of the fund will be to invest in seed stage companies located in secondary markets such as Portland, Tampa, Chicago, and New York. Read the full story here.
Companies and People on the Move
Scooter Startup, Lime, Cuts Jobs
The popular electric scooter startup, Lime, recently announced that it will be pulling out of 12 markets across the globe, including Atlanta, Phoenix, San Diego, and San Antonio. This decision will result in 14% of its staff, approximately 100 people, being laid off. Since Lime helped pioneer the scooter industry in 2017, they have wrestled with several obstacles, including vandalism of their scooters, bans from city officials, and fierce competition from rideshare companies Uber and Lyft, which launched their own electric scooter option. Ultimately, Lime was forced to leave a dozen markets because of an unprofitable business model. The company says they hope to reintroduce Lime back into these communities in the future. Read the full story here.
Samsung Promises a New “Age of Experience”
Samsung rang in the new decade by announcing the “Age of Experience” during the opening keynote at CES. The company shared its plans to focus on human-centered technologies and experiences by showcasing new products such as a personal care robot named Ballie, an AI-powered home complete with a Bot Chef and a virtual personal trainer, and a smart city driven by IoT and 5G in order to cut down on emissions and improve sustainability. H.S. Kim, President and CEO of Samsung’s Consumer Electronics Division, concluded his keynote address by highlighting three key areas of importance for the company going forward: security and privacy, technology for good, and citizenship. Read the full story here.
Mergers, Acquisitions, and More
New Name for SunTrust Park has Been Revealed
Big changes have been made to the youngest stadium in Major League Baseball this year. According to Eric Jackson at the Atlanta Business Chronicle, thanks to a $66 Billion bank merger between SunTrust Banks Inc. and BB&T Corporation, we now have Truist Financial Incorporation. They have unveiled that the new name for SunTrust Park is Truist Park.
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