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Is this Niantic’s next game?

First came Pokémon GO. Then came Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Then came… Catan? It’s starting to look like the next property to get Niantic’s “real world game” treatment will be Catan — the namesake island from the popular Settlers Of Catan board game series. Late last month, the company behind Catan said during a board games conference in Germany that it was working on a “upcoming massively multiplayer location based game” (albeit with no mention of Niantic). Called Catan: World Explorers, they noted that it “transforms the entire Earth into one giant game of CATAN”. A website for the game has since gone up, and folks over at the Ingress subreddit (the unofficial homebase for fans of Niantic’s very first title) managed to uncover...

Karma’s new electric hinge-winged hypercar concept goes 0 to 60 mph in 1.9 seconds

Karma Automotive took the wraps off Tuesday of a new electric concept car called the SC2 that produces a heart-thumping 1,100 horsepower and can travel from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 1.9 seconds. The concept is a showpiece and an integral part of the Chinese-backed California-based startup’s new strategy to become a technology and design incubator that supplies other automakers. Karma Automotive also unveiled Tuesday at Automobility LA, the press and trade days of the LA Auto Show, a performance variant of its Revero GT. The new Revero GTS is similar to the Revero GT, but boasts more performance and several other new interior and tech touches. Meanwhile, the SC2 — with its eye-popping looks and performance specs — is meant to be show what Karma can do, not necessarily what it will do...

Hands-on with DJI’s Osmo Mobile 3

Hello, it’s your video-making friends at TechCrunch again. This time, DJI sent us the latest iteration of their mobile phone gimbal to try out for a couple of weeks. While I took mine to Budapest and Vienna, Gregory tested his demo unit all around the Bay Area.   With added tools like gesture control, story mode, Hitchcock dolly zoom and hyper-lapse, the Osmo 3 breaks up the monotony of regular footage and makes shooting more fun. It’s a great hardware design upgrade for DJI and a must-have for content creators, influencers and regular folks. For anal-retentive video makers like us, we just need a little bit more control.

BlueVine raises $102.5M more for banking services that target small businesses

When it comes to fintech plays, small and medium businesses are not often the target audience: they’re too small and fragmented compared to big-spending corporates; and they’re too demanding compared to mass-market consumer users. But as a sector, they account for over 99% of all businesses in developed countries like the UK and USA, and that means they cannot be ignored. Today, BlueVine, one of the financial services startups that has built a business specifically catering to SMBs is announcing a big round of funding, underscoring the quiet opportunity and demand that is out there. “We see a massive gap in the market, with most SMBs still using consumer plus accounts,” said Eyal Lifshitz, Bluevine’s CEO and co-founder. “That is the mission we are on....

Heliogen’s new tech could unlock renewable energy for industrial manufacturing

Last Monday a group of millionaires and billionaires took a trip to an industrial site in Lancaster, Calif. to witness the achievement of what could represent a giant leap forward in the effort to decarbonize some of the world’s most carbon intensive industries. For Bill Gross, the founder of Idealab and brains behind the excursion, the unveiling was simply the latest in a string of demonstrations for new technologies commercialized by his nearly three-decade old startup company incubator. However, it may be the most significant. What Gross is pursuing with his new company, Heliogen, offers a way forward for renewable energy to be applied to manufacturing processes for cement, lime, coke, and steel — some of the most energy intensive and polluting industries that exist in the w...

Playbuzz becomes Ex.co and expands its content marketing platform

Playbuzz, a startup that helps publishers to add things like polls and galleries to their articles, has rebranded itself as Ex.co. Co-founder and CEO Tom Pachys told me the name stands for “the experience company,” and he said it reflects the company’s broader content marketing ambitions. Ex.co will continue working with news publishers, but Pachys said there’s a bigger market for what the company has built. “We’re seeing businesses wanting to become publishers in a way, to interact with their users in a way that’s very similar to what a publisher does,” Pachys said. Playbuzz/Ex.co is hardly the first publishing startup realize that there may be more money in content marketing, but Pachys argued that this isn’t just a sudden pivot. Afte...

New York State Attorney General reportedly investigating WeWork

WeWork is reportedly being investigated by the New York State Attorney General. According to Reuters, the NYAG’s questions include if WeWork founder and former CEO Adam Neumann engaged in self-dealing. A WeWork spokesperson said in an email that “we have received an inquiry from the office of the New York State Attorney General and are cooperating in the matter.” TechCrunch also contacted the New York State Attorney General’s office for comment. WeWork is headquartered in New York City. This comes less than a week after Bloomberg reported WeWork is the subject of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry into potential rule violations related to its cancelled IPO. WeWork’s parent company, The We Company, announced on Sept. 30 that it was withdrawing its S-1 filing for a...

Earth is headed for its second warmest year in recorded history (the record was three years ago)

Data from the U.S. government sure seems to indicate that the Earth is warming (despite what the current leadership may say). Apparently, the globe just experienced the second-hottest October ever recorded and is on track for the second-hottest year to date on record, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Not only are we experiencing a run of hot Octobers (this is the tenth year that temperatures have hit recorded-history highs since 2003 and all five of the highest temperature years were in the past five years), but arctic ice has also shrunk to its lowest extent since satellite records began in 1979. Even as the Trump Administration enacts policies to reverse course on curbing the emissions that seem to be leading to a changing global climate, federa...

The coming fight over who controls digital health data

Spending for consumer digital healthcare companies is set to explode in the next few years; the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is currently reviewing the requirements for data sharing with the Department of Health and Human Services, and their initiatives will unlock a wave of data access never before seen in the U.S. healthcare system. Already, startups and large technology companies are jockeying for position over how to leverage this access and take advantage of new sensor technologies that provide unprecedented windows into patient health. Venture capital investors are expected to invest roughly $50 billion in approximately 4,500 startups in the healthcare industry, according to data from CB Insights. In all, there have been 3,409 investments made ...

This room-sized LED egg captures amazing 3D models of the people inside it

Capturing human performances in high-definition 3D is a complicated proposition, and among the many challenges is getting the lighting right. This impressive new project from Google researchers puts the subject in the center of what can only be described as an prismatic LED egg, but the resulting 3D models are remarkable — and more importantly, relightable. What’s called volumetric capture uses multiple cameras in a 360-degree setup to capture what can look like a photorealistic representation of a subject, including all the little details like clothing deformation, hair movement, and so on. It has two serious weaknesses: First, it’s more like a 3D movie than a model, since you can’t pose the person or change their attributes or clothing; The second is an extension of the...

NASA adds SpaceX, Blue Origin and more to list of companies set to make deliveries to the surface of the Moon

NASA has added five companies to the list of vendors that are cleared to bid on contracts for the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. This list, which already includes nine companies from a previous selection process, now adds SpaceX, Blue Origin, Ceres Robotics, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems. All of these companies can now place bids on NASA payload delivery to the lunar surface. This basically means that these companies (which join Astrobotic Technology, Deep Space Systems, Draper Laboratory, Firefly Aerospace, Intuitive Machines, Lockheed Martin Space, Masten Space Systems, Moon Express and OrbitBeyond) can build and fly lunar landers in service of NASA missions. They’ll compete with one another for these contracts, which w...

Pitch on stage at TechCrunch’s Robotics & AI show – March 3 at UCBerkeley

On March 3 next year, TechCrunch will host the fourth annual TC Sessions: Robotics + AI at UC Berkely’s Zellerbach Hall. This time around we’re adding a new twist to the incredible line-up of speakers, breakout sessions and Q&As: It’s a pitch off for early-stage companies in the robotics and AI space. How it works: The night before the event, ten startups, chosen through an online application process, will pitch at a private event with TechCrunch Editors, main stage speakers, and industry experts. A panel of VC judges will select the top 5 teams to then pitch the next day on the main stage at TC Sessions: Robotics + AI the next day. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for founders to get their company in front of the tier one leaders and investors in the industry as well as receive ...