There were lots of interesting happenings in the world of tech this week. Several funds were raised, employees were sacked, products were launched among other things.
Here is a quick roundup of some of the major stories you might have missed.
Facebook acquires Giphy
Facebook continues to build its social media conglomerate as it acquires Giphy, the web-based animated GIF search engine provider. The company which offers its library of GIF clips to Facebook and its competitors like Twitter and TikTok will now join the Instagram group under Facebook’s group of companies.
Facebook did not disclose the terms of the deal but Axios reports that it’s worth around $400 million. This deal marks the 6th major acquisition by Zukerberg’s Facebook in the last decade.
Google’s ‘smart braid’ headphone
Google has unveiled an interesting new interface called the “I/O braid”. The I/O braid is a smart textile interface that lets users control electronics by pinching, patting, squeezing, or swiping a fabric cord.
Experimented in a smart braid headphone, the braid uses an AI called “helical sensing matrix” to register commands from users and distinguish between different types of touch. Google says its software is able to recognize different gestures with around 94% accuracy.
With the braid UI, users can tap to pause and play a song, twist to increase or decrease the volume of music, double-tap to change songs etc. One of the possibilities this brilliant UI could bring is the creation of touch-sensitive drawstring of a hoodie to connect to your phone and control your music.
New products and updates from Microsoft’s Build Developers Conference
This week, Microsft held its 2020 Build Developers Conference Virtually and it was arguably the first truly big tech company event on this level since the pandemic started. During the event, the company announced several updates, products launch and acquisitions.
Let’s start with the most consumer-friendly, Microsoft Teams which has bloomed during this pandemic was updated with new automation, scheduling tools, and NDI support for broadcasting. Also, new tools for building fairer machine learning models in both the Azure cloud and Microsoft’s open-source toolkits was launched.
Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella confirmed that the company has acquired Softomotive, a software robotic automation platform and it will become part of Microsoft’s Power Automate platform.
The company also unveiled a built invoice and text chat for its real-time collaborative code editing in the Visual Studio IDE and the Visual Studio Code editor.
African tech companies are still raising funds despite COVID-19
Despite the harsh economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, tech companies across Africa still raised a considerable amount in funds this week.
Nigerian agric company, Tomato Jos raises €3.9 million for irrigation of farmlands, processing and distribution of tomato products. Also, Peach Payments, a SouthAfrican payments platform for entrepreneurs, SMEs and large enterprise businesses raised an undisclosed amount in growth funding to drive its expansion into Africa.
That not all, South Africa’s agri-tech business Aerobotics which provides insights such as tree counts and the identification of missing trees also raised a $5.5 million from Africa’s top serial investor, Naspers.
Similarly, Kenya’s Apollo Agriculture raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Anthemis to boost the output and earnings of smallholder farmers in the country.
Samsung’s Smart window that mimics natural sunlight
Samsung backed startup, Sunnyside has unveiled an artificial smart window “SunnyFive” that mimics the appearance and benefits of natural light.
The window produces a full spectrum of sunlight with the angle of the projected light changing throughout the day to create the feel of sunrise, dawn, dusk and sunset.
Samsung believes that the device will help users synthesize vitamin D while they are indoors or in low-lit places without having to worry about skin ageing or sunburn. However, with the lockdown and shelter in place around the world, the tech would do more good in helping people gain mental and physical wellness with the constant feeling of natural light.
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