Gfycat looks to be a hub of content for AR experience development

If all goes well, some GIF creators may start seeing their GIFs show up in augmented reality experiences, based on a new deal that’s happening with Gfycat this morning.

Gfycat said it would be working with a company called Metaverse that, like many tools of its kind, is looking to make it easier to build applications in a more plug-and-play matter — this time for building augmented reality apps. Gfycat has more than 130 million monthly active users and in particular gears its tools toward creators, and this could be another step in helping those creators get their content out to the masses as activity in augmented reality starts to continue to pick up. It’s certainly not that pretty right now, but these small agreements can sometimes be the start of increasingly robust toolsets for developers.

To be sure, there’s a number of caveats. The most obvious one is that the GIFs created by those creators have to have a transparent background. After all, it would be weird for them to show up in the real world with a weird kind of background that blocks off the rest of reality and kind of sack the whole “augmented reality” concept. But at the same time, it does start to offer a kind of pseudo-home for creators that are looking to crack into AR as well as also offering developers looking to build games or other apps and opportunity to have easy access to content to get started.

We’ve seen from the explosion of games like Pokémon Go and others that augmented reality games are increasingly going to be A Thing. Niantic may have created a pivotal use case for that with a strong brand, but while looking a bit janky right now, it’s possible that a simple game developer might figure out some niche use case in AR that will actually blow up. That starts with having access to good content, and something like this would help get them started.

All this might be completely moot if Apple and others roll out an increasingly simple interface for AR app development like more robust tools in ARkit, where developers would just sidestep platforms like Metaverse in order to just build their own interfaces. But having a hub of content to start from is also an important step in figuring out where to even begin.

The GIF space is increasingly blowing up. We’ve already talked about how a bunch of these major platforms are continuing to grow with Giphy saying it has 300 million dai

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Showcase your country’s startups at Disrupt SF

Here’s a big TechCrunch global shout-out to all countries interested in showcasing their best and brightest technology startups. Come to Disrupt San Francisco 2018 on Sept. 5-7 at the Moscone Center West and join more than 1,200 early-stage startups in Startup Alley, the very heart of every Disrupt event. A country pavilion waits just for you.

We’re looking for delegations of international startup groups, government innovation centers, incubators and accelerators to claim a country pavilion in Startup Alley. Are you ready to step on a world stage, show off your emerging companies and be recognized as a world leader in tech innovation?

Startup Alley is prime real estate, where hundreds of founders from everywhere in the world — and investors looking to fund them — gather to meet, connect and network. And maybe even produce a unicorn or two.

If you want to exhibit in Startup Alley as part of a country pavilion, your delegation startups must meet one low bar: they have to qualify as Pre-Series A companies. If they do, we want to hear from you, so shoot our Startup Alley manager an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Tell us about your delegation and where you’re from, and we’ll provide more information about the application process.

Countries that have participated in previous TechCrunch events include Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Caribbean, Catalonia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Lithuania, Taiwan, Ukraine and Uruguay. We believe that innovation and great ideas know no geographical boundaries, and we strive to increase the diversity within our country pavilions at every Disrupt.

We’re so serious about inviting the world that we’re putting our money where our mouth is. Sign on for a country pavilion and you’ll receive a discount off each Startup Alley company’s exhibitor package, and you’ll get organizer passes to the event. Plus, if you book your pavilion before July 25, your startups will receive one additional Founder ticket to attend Disrupt SF. You’ll find ticket pricing info here.

And in case you haven’t heard, Disrupt SF 2018 is going to be the only Disrupt event in North America this year. Not only that, by moving to a new venue, we’re tripling our floor spa

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Peer-reviewed study shows Cardiogram and Apple Watch can accurately determine atrial fibrillation

Over the past year, Cardiogram and UC San Francisco (UCSF) have presented a series of findings on how well consumer wearables like the Apple Watch and Android Wear can detect medical conditions in their users, including diabetes as well as hypertension and sleep apnea.

Now, the startup is reaching a new milestone, this morning publishing the first large-N peer-reviewed clinical study showing that the Apple Watch and other wearables can detect atrial fibrillation with a high degree of accuracy.

The study, published in JAMA Cardiology, included 9,750 participants who used Cardiogram while enrolled in UCSF’s Health eHeart Study. The company collected more than one hundred million heart rate and step counts from users, and that data was fed into a deep learning model to determine whether a particular user had atrial fibrillation. Results from the study show that the condition can be detected at 97% accuracy (c statistic), with a sensitivity (true positive rate) of 98%, and a specificity (true negative rate) of 90%. The study is a continuation of earlier work that Cardiogram had previously presented.

One of the major aspects of the study that Cardiogram is highlighting is that their deep learning model, named DeepHeart, required significantly less training data than comparable models targeting medical conditions. Only 6,338 electrocardiograms (ECGs) were required to build the model, which was 8 layers. This is an important development, since ECGs are both expensive and time consuming to perform at scale. The company has published the methodology of their deep learning model on arXiv.

Discussing the study, Brandon Ballinger, a co-founder of Cardiogram, explained to me that “This is super important. Every healthcare company needs to be built on a foundation of hard, clear evidence.” Ballinger noted that medical journal articles like the one published today are the only mechanism for building trust among health care professionals. “So we are super excited to reach this milestone.”

One caveat of the study is that it focused on patients with a known risk of atrial fibrillation, and further research needs to be conducted to determine how well the company’s deep learning model can prospectively detect the condition in patients with no treatment history.

Cardiogram will continue to develop more studies going forward. “Just like Google invests in search quality, we are always going

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Dropbox boosts its price range for its IPO as it nears an 8B valuation

Dropbox said it would be increasing its IPO price range – the range for which it will sell its shares for its initial public offering — from $16-$18 per share to $18-$20 per share, giving the company a valuation that could reach close to $8 billion, according to an updated filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Including all shares offered from stockholders selling in this offering, the “greenshoe” and the actual IPO, Dropbox will have a valuation between $7.2 billion and $7.96 billion. It’s below Dropbox’s previous $10 billion valuation, but it’s still a signal that investors are interested in buying up Dropbox’s IPO, which will be the most well-known enterprise name to go public this year. Cloud security company Zscaler went public earlier this month and immediately saw a massive pop, but Dropbox will probably be lumped into a similar boat as Snap as a signal to whether investors are going to be interested in hyped startups.

There will indeed be some shareholders selling stock in this offering, though it looks like for the most part the ownership is going to stay the same. There are a lot of reasons to sell a stock beyond just getting liquidation, such as paying taxes for other share options and exercises, so it’s not clear exactly what the motivations are for some employees for now.

Dropbox has more than 500 million users, 11 million of which are paying users. While originally born as a consumer service, the company has sought to crack into the enterprise in order to help build a robust second line of business to tack alongside its typical consumer operations. Dropbox at the start had the benefit of spreading via word of mouth thanks to its dead-simple interface, but since then has started building out new tools geared toward larger businesses, such as Dropbox Paper.

It’s also what’s made this IPO a somewhat tricky one. The process for this is normally the same, with the company setting a price range and then throwing it out there to see who bites. If things go well, the range goes up. If things go poorly, like the case of Blue Apron, the range is going to drop. This could always change at the last minute, but you can take this as another step toward its eventual listing, which is expected to happen later this week.

Facebook Messenger gets admin rights for group chats

In this modern world, some days it can feel like everything is out of your grasp. So take stock on those thing that you can control. Like Messenger, Facebook’s increasingly feature-rich offshoot app, which now sports admin privileges for group chats.

The new feature is rolling out this week, giving users the ability to better keep group chats on lockdown. Admins can do your standard array of adminy-type things: adding and removing members and promoting and demoting users with admin privileges of their own. It’s enough to make a Messenger users downright mad with power.

Also new is the addition of joinable links — send them to a new person you want to join via email and voila, they’re on board. The new additions should help position Messenger as a more fully-formed Telegram competitor, as Facebook increasingly views the app as a standalone offering in its own right.

The company’s been rolling out features to the app at pretty steady clip over the past year, including mentions, reactions, group payments and customizable groups. According to the company, 2.5 million new group were created on the app every day last year. So a little added power goes a long way.

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