Ford’s new SmartLink connected upgrade for older vehicles will be available mid-2018

Ford is finally detailing availability of its FordPass SmartLink accessory, an OBD II plug-in device with Verizon 4G LTE on board which can add connected car features to model year 2010 to 2017 Ford vehicles that don’t already have native connectivity built in.

The FordPass accessory will be available across the U.S. sometime in the middle of this year, with dealer enrolment now open. Dealers will provide the device to end users, providing installation for the add-on hardware, which will then cost users $16.99 per month for 24 months to get telematics services including remote key fob (via smartphone), car location and vehicle health alerts. The Verizon 4G LTE hotspot feature is an additional cost, but users will get a free trial for 30 days or until they reach 1GB of data usage.

This is a way for Ford to build up its data business even on existing vehicles out in the market, even while it also aims to have 100 percent of its new car lineup shipping with connectivity built-in by next year. Data is the new oil, so to speak, when it comes to the automaker value chain, and having as many customers as possible feeding that funnel is the best way for car companies and anyone in transportation to prepare for the future.

On the consumer side, the value proposition is a bit more questionable. Owners of older vehicles are probably less likely to value connected features, and the ones that are included with the base $17 per month subscription fee over the course of two years (so $408 in total) include nice-to-have, but definitely not essential benefits. The Wi-Fi hotspot is the real carrot, but it’s an additional cost in monthly data service over and above the base fee.


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Waze Carpool expands to the entire state of Washington

Google -owned Waze is growing the footprint of its Waze Carpool product with a market expansion today to cover all of Washington state. That means Carpool is now available in California, Texas, Isreal and Washington following today’s launch. Waze also recently revamped its Carpool experience, which now includes new options for choosing what rides to tag along with, driver gender filters and other convenience tools that are designed to make the experience feel safer and more comfortable overall.

Waze says this expansion shows that it’s increasing its commitment to the Carpool side of its project offering, since it’ll now reach an additional 375,000 commuters in Seattle alone. The company also has the support of local government in Seattle, with officials expressing their support for new solutions hoping to mitigate traffic in a press release announcing the launch.

The Waze Carpool app is different from other offerings including Uber Pool, mainly because it doesn’t pay out all that much to drivers. In fact, the maximum earning a driver can make on any ride is $15 and that’s for longer commutes, as the fee structure is designed to help the driver pay for gas but not use it as a source of income. Waze’s aim is to link up multiple people commuting to work going in the same direction via its platform, per the company. This also means lower costs for riders.

Anyone interested in driving Waze Carpool in Seattle can pick up the standard Waze app now to gain access, and on the rider side you can download the dedicated Waze Rider app on either iOS or Android to get started.

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Mythic nets 40M to create a new breed of efficient AI-focused hardware

Another huge financing round is coming in for an AI company today, this time for a startup called Mythic getting a fresh $40 million as it appears massive deals are closing left and right in the sector.

Mythic particularly focuses on the inference side of AI operations — basically making the calculation on the spot for something based off an extensively-trained model. The chips are designed to be low power, small, and achieve the same kind of performance you’d expect from a GPU in terms of the lightning-fast operations that algorithms need to perform to figure out whether or not that thing your car is about to run into is a cat or just some text on the road. SoftBank Ventures led this most-recent round of funding, with a strategic investment also coming from Lockheed Martin Ventures. ARM executive Rene Haas will also be joining the company’s board of directors.

“The key to getting really high performance and really good energy efficiency is to keep everything on the chip,” Henry said. “The minute you have to go outside the chip to memory, you lose all performance and energy. It just goes out the window. Knowing that, we found that you can actually leverage flash memory in a very special way. The limit there is, it’s for inference only, but we’re only going after the inference market — it’s gonna be huge. On top of that, the challenge is getting the processors and memory as close together as possible so you don’t have to move around the data on the chip.”

Mythic, like other startups, is looking to ease the back-and-forth trips to memory on the processors in order to speed things up and lower the power consumption, and CEO Michael Henry says the company has figured out how to essentially do the operations — based in a field of mathematics called linear algebra — on flash memory itself.

Mythic’s approach is designed to be what Henry calls more analog. To visualize how it might work, imagine a set-up in Minecraft, with a number of different strings of blocks leading to an end gate. If you flipped a switch to turn 50 of those strings on with some unit value, leaving the rest off, and joined them at the end and saw the combined final result of the power, you would have completed something similar to an addition operation leading to a sum of 50 units. Mythic’s chips are designed to do something not so dissimilar, finding ways to com

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IBM brings its Power9 servers with Nvidia GPUs to its cloud

IBM is hosing its annual THINK conference to packed halls in Las Vegas this week. Given how important its cloud business has become to its bottom line, it’s no surprise that this event features its fair share of cloud news. Among today’s announcements it the launch of the third generation of Power Systems servers in the IBM Cloud. This comes a day after Google also confirmed that it is using these processors in its data centers, too.

These servers are designed around the recently launched Power9 RISC processor (which are themselves the latest generation of the PowerPC processors Apple once used) and Nvidia Tesla V100 GPUs. Thanks to their use of the high-speed NVLink interface, these machines are especially powerful when it comes to training machine learning models.

In addition, IBM is also bringing its PowerAI distribution to the cloud. PowerAI is essentially IBM’s deep learning platform that supports frameworks like TensorFlow, Torch and Caffe, as well as IBM’s own deep learning frameworks. Given that PowerAI has long been optimized for exactly the kind of Power servers IBM is now bringing to its Cloud (the AC922, to be exact), it’s no surprise that PowerAI will be available in the Cloud, too.

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Lydia launches Lydia Premium

Lydia launches Lydia Premium

French startup Lydia announces two new things today. First, the company is launching a financial hub with multiple new products. Second, Lydia is announcing a new premium subscription to access those new features.

“Today, we’re lucky enough to have you here to announce you the biggest thing we’ve done since Lydia’s launch,” co-founder and CEO Cyril Chiche said in a press conference. “We’ve been working on this for a while — and it’s not a challenger bank.”

Lydia is no longer just a peer-to-peer payment app with a few other features. The company says it is now building a meta-banking app, sitting above other financial products. So you’ll find and control a handful of financial products in the Lydia app.

“We didn’t want to stop at aggregating services,” Chiche said. “But we tried to think about people-centric, exclusive features that you can’t find anywhere else.”

The only banking app you need

Let’s go through the new features. There’s a new IBAN menu where you can add new recipients using a good old IBAN account. Lydia also asks you if you want to add specific IBANs to your own bank accounts. This way, instead of opening BNP Paribas’ app to copy and paste an IBAN into Société Générale’s app, you can add recipients from Lydia.

And of course, you can also send money to your recipient. You can use money from your Lydia e-wallet or from one of your own bank account. You don’t have to open your banking app anymore. Lydia leverages Budget Insight for this feature.

Lydia also supports recurring transactions. “It’s been the most requested features for multiple years,” co-founder and CTO Antoine Porte said. For instance, you can pay for your share of the internet bill every month using Lydia. The app sends you a notification every month to confirm the transaction.

Finally, there’s a brand new tab to get an overview of multiple accounts. You can see your bank account and Lydia sub-accounts. For instance, if you’re going on vacation with a few friends, you can create a Lydia sub-account and manage all your expenses from Lydia without any fee.

Interestingly, you

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