ABL-Tech Member News & Industry Trendletter * April 18, 2023
    These upcoming ABL ZOOM Tables will discuss "Remote Work & Culture - What Are the Keys?"

  • 5/04 - OC ZOOM Table - featuring Greg Hindson, President & CEO, Nortridge Software
  • 5/05 - SGV ZOOM Table - featuring Dave Berkus, U.S. Executive-in-Charge & CFO, iMediSync
  • 5/12 - WLA ZOOM Table - featuring Laith Pahlawan, CEO, The Orange Crew
  • Explore Membership in ABL's Executive Round Tables >>>
Alvaka (Oli Thordarson) Experiencing Record Quarter for Ransomware Case Billings

Oli Thordarson, CEO of Alvaka, recently shared an article with us - Ransomware Attacks Increased by More Than 51% in February, and he remarked, "I can corroborate. We are booked solid... it looks like a record quarter for ransomware case billings." (SGV)

CuraeSoft (Mark Parinas)'s coAmplifi Featured in LA Weekly and Yahoo Finance

CuraeSoft continues to be spotlighted in business media. In LA Weekly's article - CuraeSoft Launches New Platform coAmplifi to manage a hybrid workforce - CEO Mark Parinas says this platform will help organizations overcome the challenges of managing a hybrid workforce, including wage and hour disputes, productivity management, and communication gaps.
AND, Yahoo Finance's article - coAmplifi unveils online work platform for remote productivity and engagement - touts coAmplifi, noting that with 58% of Americans working both in a remote and hybrid environment more businesses should be offering such options as Americans continue to express their needs for different ways to work. (WLA)

Eckert & Ziegler (Frank Yeager) Receives Approval for Jintan Radioisotope Site + Will Supply POINT with Actinium-225

Eckert & Ziegler (EZ)'s fully owned subsidiary Qi Kang Medical Technology Ltd. (QKM) has recently received authorization for its Environmental Impact Assessment from the Department of Ecology and Environment of Jiangsu Province in China. The responsible authorities approved QKM's planned construction of a radioisotope production facility consisting of clean rooms for sealed and non-sealed radioactive material, and laboratories for quality control and microbiology. The ratified EIA also includes the installation of a cyclotron with a maximum proton energy of 30MeV.
AND, EZ and a subsidiary of POINT Biopharma Global Inc. have signed an agreement on the supply of Actinium-225 whereby EZ will provide predetermined amounts of GMP grade Ac-225 to POINT for use in the development of POINT's pipeline of next generation Ac-225-based radioligands. Actinium-225 is used as an active substance in cancer treatment. (SGV)

Envision Financial Systems (Satnam Gambhir)'s Digital Investor & Rep Portal Recognized for Web Accessibility

Envision Financial Systems has established an ongoing program to ensure digital accessibility of its online portal for investors and financial advisors to open accounts, process transactions and access shareholder documents. Envision's device-responsive investor and rep portal achieved Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 Level AA compliance in an independent review conducted by Level Access, a leader in helping organizations ensure accessible and legally compliant websites, mobile apps, software, and other technology. Envision now has a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template it can share with its clients. (OC)

Get Visible (Jason Ciment) Named Among Best Web Design Agencies

Get Visible was recently named one of the 12 Best Web Design Agencies in Phoenix, AZ, by Best in Phoenix. Among the criteria, Get Visible was evaluated for its demonstrated expertise in crafting creative, responsive, and user-friendly websites; adaptability to various industries; scope of services; and good response and reachability rates. (WLA)

Parasoft (Elizabeth Kolawa, Ph.D.) to Hold Automated Software Testing & Quality Summit on May 16

On May 16, Parasoft will present its 4th Annual Automated Software Testing & Quality Summit, a half-day virtual event which will showcase QA and development organizations from various industries. They'll share experiences and best practices on how to address software application challenges to achieve business goals. (SGV)

Project Insight (Thomas Leffler) Presenting Series on Managing a Successful Project

Project Insight (PI) has announced a 5-part series on Keys to Managing Any Project. The sessions will be held on April 19; May 31; June 21; July 19; and August 16.
AND, PI has made its recent "15-Minute Power Tutorials" available to watch on demand: Top-down Project Capacity Planning, which covers how to run what-if scenarios on your team's project capacity, and Turn Spreadsheets Into Project Plans. (OC)

Dave Berkus on: Importance of Generative, Strategic & Fiduciary Thinking Among Your Board of Directors

In So, what's a company board good for, anyway?, Dave addresses an ideal board's collective mindset. He discusses three important modes of engagement you should consider when forming a board. In summary, they are Generative, Strategic and Fiduciary Thinking. Dave stresses that we must leave enough time in a board meeting for such discussions. Which means reducing the time spent in routine reporting, delivering materials well in advance when possible, and encouraging participation from all. This is not easy. But the potential for great results leads to the board giving "macro governance" and not delving into the micro details that management deals with on a daily basis.
Other recent posts from Dave include: Nothing good happens after midnight! and How will you ride the next wave? (SGV & WLA)

Half Past Nine (Kenneth Shen) on: 5 Initiatives to Action in a Demand Contraction Environment

Kenneth Shen, CEO of Half Past Nine, has suggested "5 initiatives to action right away in a demand contraction environment." In summary, they are: Lock down retention; Expand customer value; Figure out what's actually working, with data and analytics; Improve your working-dollar efficiency; and Cut advertising if you need to, but as a last resort. He elaborates on each in his recent LinkedIn post. (WLA)

Instil (Adam Miller, JD) on: Reasons Why Nonprofit Tech is a Good Investment

In 4 Reasons That Nonprofit Technology Is a Good Investment, Instil shares four reasons why making the move to better software systems is a good investment. In summary, they are: Technology Can Make Fundraising a More Personal Experience; Intuitive Tools Can Improve Employee Morale; Modern Technology Can Increase Donor Trust; and Technology Allows You to Leverage Data to Drive Your Mission.
AND, Instil CEO Adam Miller is also a Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of several other companies: Profi has successfully closed an $8M seed funding round; Clovers has published Why you should care about recruiting compliance (and what to do about it); and Groundswell published Everything You Need to know about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the workplace. (WLA)

Greg Lebsack on: AI Ushering In a New Wave of Innovation

In his recent article - AI is Ushering in a New Wave of Innovation - Greg Lebsack notes that the semiconductor industry is a critical component of the AI revolution. AI relies on powerful computing processors, such as graphics processing units and deep learning processors, to process massive amounts of data and perform complex calculations. The demand for these chips has skyrocketed in recent years, as more companies invest in AI technology. Greg discusses AI's impact on the design and verification of ICs, the development of new types of chips and systems, and on semiconductor fabrication. Greg also examines AI other than ChatGPT in another recent post. (WLA)

Nortridge Software (Greg Hindson) on: Using Loan Servicing Software for Early Warning of Bad Debt

In Using Loan Servicing Software for Early Warning of Potential Bad Debt, Nortridge Software reports that early warning of potential bad debt is a critical aspect of loan servicing, as it allows lenders to take proactive measures to mitigate the risk and avoid significant financial losses. However, keeping up with payment schedules and monitoring for defaults can be a time-consuming and complex process. Loan servicing software offers a solution to these challenges, by automating many of the manual processes involved in managing a loan portfolio. AND, click here to read Other Nortridge blogs, including "How to Increase Performance with SMS Integration." (OC)

Orange Crew (Laith Pahlawan) on: How a Cyber Security Hacker Thinks

Laith Pahlawan, CEO of Orange Crew, recently posted How does a cyber security hacker/worker think?, in which he notes some common traits often associated with malicious hackers. He discusses curiosity, technical knowledge, persistence, creativity, and lack of ethics. Laith warns, "It's important to note that engaging in malicious hacking activities is illegal and unethical, and can result in severe legal and financial consequences. It's much better to use your technical skills for positive purposes, such as working in the cybersecurity field to help protect organizations and individuals from cyber threats." (WLA)

ProProfs (Sameer Bhatia) on: Creating a Stunning Knowledge Base & Best WordPress Live Chat Plugins

In How to Create a Stunning Knowledge Base for Your Business, ProProfs walks you through the essentials of a knowledge base, including what it is, why it is important, how it can be created, and more. By deploying a knowledge base, you can reap multiple benefits - from reduced tickets to increased customer satisfaction and a highly productive support team.
AND, in 13 Best WordPress Live Chat Plugins for 2023, ProProfs declares that to engage visitors on your WordPress site, your team needs to offer both instant support and personalization. With a WordPress live chat plugin, you can personalize the experience and support customers through the journey. (WLA)

The Joy Factory (Sampson Yang & Miranda Su) on: Empowering Frontline Workers in Manufacturing Environments

In How Manufacturing Efficiency is Enhanced with Cutting-Edge Connected Worker Hardware and Software Solutions, The Joy Factory reports on its collaboration with Augmentir to revolutionize the manufacturing industry by offering a comprehensive digital transformation solution that combines cutting-edge hardware and software. This joint approach provides everything a company needs to deploy tablets in the workplace, improving operational management through reducing training time and rework, increasing productivity and reducing downtime, and ensuring safety and quality - all while protecting vital digital assets. (OC & SGV)

Anthem Blue Cross (David Pryor, MD) Intro's Virtual-First Health Plans & Assists Underserved Regions

Anthem Blue Cross in California recently announced its Virtual-First health plans to eligible members in select commercial health plans. Virtual-First plans give individuals affordable access to virtual care options, including access to a symptom checker driven by artificial intelligence, routine wellness care, and chronic condition management, along with behavioral healthcare. Through Anthem's digital health platform, Virtual-First health plans can connect care data from various visits and providers throughout the healthcare system.
ALSO, Anthem has provided a new grant of $50,000 to California E-Consult Coalitions that will be distributed to Federally Qualified Health Centers, rural health centers, and tribal FQHCs in California's Central Valley, north rural and Sacramento regions, so the health centers can continue accessing e-consults with specialty providers to treat patients, regardless of whether patients have health insurance. Along with a previous grant, Anthem has invested $100,000 since 2020 to cover the cost of 1,000+ e-consults for uninsured patients. (LA)

Eitan Medical (Roger Massengale) Earns Impressive NPS Score + Writes About Optimizing Medical Equipment to Tackle Gridlock

Eitan Medical announced that its Net Promoter Score has increased year on year for a fourth consecutive year - they are honored to have the majority of their customers recommend the Sapphire™ pump and 90+% of users reporting they found the pump easy to use. ALSO, Eitan's recent article - Optimizing Medical Equipment to Tackle the Gridlocked Healthcare System - discusses that the UK's healthcare system is crushing under tremendous pressure, resulting in enormous backlogs in patient care. And while there are a myriad of issues in the healthcare system that have collectively created this situation, there are changes that healthcare systems can make to help ease this strain. A large portion of the backlog is patients awaiting surgery, and by utilizing advanced medical devices such as ambulatory infusion pumps for post-operative pain management, we can ease the strain by enabling faster recovery to free up beds. (OC)

El Camino Health (Cecile Currier) Lauded for Supply Chain Excellence + First in World to Adopt FloPatch

El Camino Health (ECH) has been recognized by healthcare supply chain leader Global Healthcare Exchange as a "Best 50" healthcare provider for the second year in a row. The award spotlights the top North American hospitals and health systems working to improve patient outcomes through supply chain automation and innovation. ALSO, ECH is the first health system in the world to adopt FloPatch, an innovative new technology that monitors blood flow in real time using the world's first wireless, wearable Doppler ultra-sound system that helps clinicians better manage IV fluid therapy earlier in the sepsis care pathway. The FDA-approved device provides a simple, fast, and consistent method for measuring changes in heart function. (SV)

LigoLab (Suren Avunjian) Details Tomorrow's Tech-Enabled Clinical Lab

In How to Prepare for Tomorrow's Tech-Enabled Clinical Lab, LigoLab discusses how future labs will become tech-enabled by partnering with LIS system vendors that build enterprise-level software solutions that are capable of supporting advancements in technology. One of the most significant changes will be the addition of more automation and laboratory robotics that improve efficiency and compliance by lowering the risk of human error. Integrations with AI and machine learning technology will help with sample processing and data analysis. Personalized medicine will continue to grow as the focus shifts to healthcare tailored toward an individual's specific needs with a greater emphasis on analyzing and interpreting the data. The use of telemedicine and remote monitoring devices will help in this regard. Additionally, clinical labs will be shaped by the development of new diagnostic tests and therapies to support other growing fields of study such as genomics and proteomics. AND, in LigoLab Offers DTC Portal Support for Provider Insurance Discovery & Eligibility Checks, LigoLab reports that its direct-to-consumer web portal, TestDirectly, now supports provider insurance discovery and insurance eligibility checks. This newly added auto-check verification feature is designed to give providers the ability to verify a patient's active insurance coverage and eligibility before accepting an online order and processing a lab test. (LA)

MedWand (Bob Rose) CEO is Visionary Spotlight Keynoter at Connected Health Summit

Bob Rose, CEO of MedWand, was the Visionary Spotlight keynote speaker at the recent Parks Associates Connected Health Summit; this LinkedIn post shares some of Bob's insights. Bob shared with us that he "did not use ChatGPT or any other AI to write this keynote." And MedWand shared that on the same day, their VP of Quality and Integration spoke at the World Hospital at Home Congress in Barcelona. (OC)

WestFax (Barry Clark) Cautions Against Using ChatGPT with Protected Health Info + Supplies Info on Business Associate Agreements

WestFax shares that the use of ChatGPT with protected health information could lead to stiff penalties in the U.S., noting that the creators of ChatGPT clearly warn against feeding their AI model with confidential information. WestFax has written an article - ChatGPT and HIPAA Compliance, that further delves into the subject. ALSO, in Everything You Need to Know About BAA, WestFax discusses business associate agreements, a legally binding document that establishes the terms of a working relationship between the covered entities such as medical practices and a third-party company that may come into contact with protected health information entrusted to them. MEANWHILE, WestFax announced that they have new capabilities to upload inbound fax documents to your Azure cloud storage automatically. (OC)

Wipfli (Jeff Johnson, Steve Rousso & John Dao) Achieves Recognition + Provides Resources

Following a year of strong strategic growth amid volatile economic and market conditions, Wipfli LLP has landed back among the top 20 national accounting and consulting firms in Accounting Today's newly released 2023 rankings. AND, Wipfli has won the Rising Star Award from Planful, a technology platform for financial performance management cloud software. MEANWHILE, recent resources from Wipfli include:
>> On-Demand Webinar: Answering your biggest tax questions around remote workers.
>> On-Demand Webinar: Leveraging modern, cloud-based accounting for healthcare.
>> Article: 5 ways data and analytics can help healthcare organizations prosper. (Bay Area)

Uncle Sam Wants YOU to Comment on How AI Could Help Shape the Future of U.S. Policy

Artificial intelligence policy has been a hot topic lately because of the massive popularity of AI tools such as ChatGPT, and the number of users they have acquired. To figure out the next policy steps in the U.S., the Biden Administration is seeking your opinion. The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) recently launched a request for comment (RFC) regarding AI accountability. Through the RFC, the public is welcome to share any thoughts, concerns, or feedback they have about policies regarding AI. Specifically, the NTIA is seeking insight that can support the development of "AI audits, assessments, certifications and other mechanisms to create earned trust in AI systems," according to the site. The RFC will close on June 10, 2023, 60 days after the initial announcement. All of the insights collected will be delivered to the Biden Administration by the NTIA to aid in the administration's development of policy that ensures user safety regarding AI. The NTIA's statement says in the same way that food and cars are regulated for safety, AI models should be too.

This follows President Biden's recent meeting with the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology where he discussed AI and the importance of making AI models safe for users. If you want to participate, visit the NTIA's site where you can find instructions on how to submit your written comments as well as more resources on the topic. (https://www.zdnet.com/article/the-white-house-seeks-your-opinion-on-chatgpt-and-ai-tools-for-safety-policy/ )

European Privacy Watchdog Creates ChatGPT Task Force

The body that unites Europe's national privacy watchdogs said it had set up a task force on ChatGPT, a potentially important first step toward a common policy on setting privacy rules on artificial intelligence. The move by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) follows a unilateral move by Italy last month to curb ChatGPT - a stance that Germany's commissioner for data protection said could be followed in Europe's biggest economy. Spain's AEPD watchdog said that it too would launch a preliminary investigation into potential data breaches by ChatGPT.

ChatGPT has grown to be the fastest-growing consumer application in history with 100+ million monthly active users, while raising questions about threats it may pose to safety, privacy and jobs. The source said member states were not seeking to punish or make rules that will affect ChatGPT owner OpenAI, but rather to create general policies that "are transparent." (https://www.reuters.com/technology/european-data-protection-board-discussing-ai-policy-thursday-meeting-2023-04-13/)

CIOs, Meet Your New Colleagues: Chief Data, Analytics & AI Officers

Companies are increasingly creating new C-suite roles with a focus on data, analytics or artificial intelligence - to the confusion, and sometimes chagrin, of chief information officers and others who previously had oversight of data. As the use of data, analytics and AI becomes a board-level concern, more companies are appointing chief data officers, chief data and analytics officers, and chief AI officers, who are often directly reporting to CEOs, said Ryan Bulkoski, global head of executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles' Data, Analytics & AI Practice. Mr. Bulkoski estimates that about 70% of companies in the Fortune 500 have someone responsible for data at the C-suite level or just below, and the trend has been picking up in recent years. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/cios-meet-your-new-colleagues-chief-data-analytics-and-ai-officers-af6b58b9)

How to Write Better ChatGPT Prompts

To avoid the garbage in, garbage out (GIGO) factor, your best bet is to write prompts that encourage the LLM (large language model) within ChatGPT to provide the best possible answers, according to a recent ZDNet article. The article discusses the following: Talk to the AI like you would talk to a person; Set the stage and provide context; Tell the AI to assume an identity or profession; More prompt-writing tips; What type of prompts work best with ChatGPT?; and What do I do if ChatGPT refuses to answer or I don't like its answer? (https://www.zdnet.com/article/how-to-write-better-chatgpt-prompts/)

ALSO, read this recent ZDNet article: Do you like asking ChatGPT questions? You could get paid (a lot) for it. As ChatGPT continues to shake things up, a new role has entered the workforce. (https://www.zdnet.com/article/do-you-like-asking-chatgpt-questions-you-could-get-paid-a-lot-for-it/)

Google CEO Sundar Pichai Says Search to Include Chat AI

Google plans to add conversational artificial-intelligence features to its flagship search engine, CEO Sundar Pichai said, as it deals with pressure from chatbots such as ChatGPT and wider business issues. He dismissed the notion that chatbots posed a threat to Google's search business, which accounts for more than half of revenue at parent Alphabet Inc. Google has long been a leader in developing computer programs called large language models, which can process and respond to natural-language prompts with humanlike prose. But it hasn't yet used the technology to influence the way people use search - something Mr. Pichai said would change. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-ceo-sundar-pichai-says-search-to-feature-chat-ai-2fa0f54c)

Top AI Mobile Apps Have Already Pulled In $14+ Million This Year

Consumer demand for AI chatbot experiences has been funneling millions of dollars into mobile apps advertising their association with ChatGPT or OpenAI technologies. According to a new analysis of the AI app ecosystem from analytics provider data.ai, consumers this year have now spent more than $14 million in the 10 highest-earning apps that advertise their use of ChatGPT or OpenAI technologies. In February 2023, these 10 apps combined accounted for nearly $5.9 million in global consumer spending, the firm says. And within the first 20 days of March, the apps were averaging $232,000 in daily consumer spending, up 11% from the average of $210,000 in February.
What's clear is that integrating "AI" features and references to things like ChatGPT or OpenAI has been helping drive demand, as the majority of the apps saw little consumer spend before their AI additions. For example, the same group of apps saw only $1.6 million in global consumer spending in December 2022, which grew 3.7x to reach February's total. Last month also represented a 55% increase from the $3.8 million spent in January 2023, the analysis indicates. (https://techcrunch.com/2023/03/22/the-top-10-ai-mobile-apps-have-already-pulled-in-over-14-million-this-year/)

AND, AI Tools Top List of Fastest-Growing Products, Software Marketplace Says: AI tools are the top three fastest-growing software products this year across G2, a software marketplace and review website, the company said, comparing 2,000+ categories. Jasper, an AI writing assistant, topped the list, according to G2. Within AI, chatbot software is the fastest-growing subcategory; the other 14 subcategories on the website include virtual assistants, data science, and machine learning. There was a 261% increase for chatbot software traffic from February 2022 to February 2023 on the G2 website. (https://www.ciodive.com/news/AI-software-G2-chatbots/646691/)

How AI and Facial Recognition Could Spot Stroke and Other Diseases

Patients at Johns Hopkins Hospital who are suspected of having a stroke might get an unusual request from physicians: Can we film your face? The doctors' goal is to identify stroke patients by facial characteristics instead of waiting for brain scans or blood tests, helping speed both treatment and recovery. The Johns Hopkins team is training a computer algorithm to recognize changes in the patients' features, such as the paralysis of certain facial muscles or unusual eye movements, that might indicate damage to the brain from a stroke as opposed to seizures, severe migraines or anxiety disorders. Meanwhile, other researchers at MIT are looking at facial recognition to diagnose the progression of ALS, a degenerative nerve disease that affects the muscles. And a Florida-based startup has developed a tool to help pediatricians diagnose rare genetic conditions by analyzing images of children's facial features. Early research efforts point to a future in which facial scans, perhaps embedded in a smartphone camera or even a bathroom mirror, might monitor our general health while picking up signs of long-term neurological ailments such as dementia. Some researchers believe algorithms might even be used to track how well a treatment or drug is working by detecting changes in a person's face. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/ai-and-facial-recognition-may-be-able-to-spot-stroke-and-other-diseases-6ac5d965?mod=hp_lista_pos1)

What is Auto-GPT? Everything to Know About the Next Powerful AI Tool

An even more powerful AI application has entered the scene - Auto-GPT. The application's promising, autonomous abilities may make it our first glimpse of artificial general intelligence (AGI), a type of AI that can perform human-level intellectual tasks. Auto-GPT is an experimental, open-source Python application that uses GPT-4 to act autonomously. This means that Auto-GPT can perform a task with little human intervention, and can self-prompt. Auto-GPT was posted on GitHub on March 30, 2023 by developer Significant Gravitas. However, the application is driven by GPT-4 which is OpenAI's latest and most advanced AI model. (https://www.zdnet.com/article/what-is-auto-gpt-everything-to-know-about-the-next-powerful-ai-tool/)

The U.S. Cracked a $3.4 Billion Crypto Heist - and Bitcoin's Anonymity

Law-enforcement agencies, working with cryptocurrency exchanges and blockchain-analytics companies, have compiled data gleaned from earlier investigations to map the flow of cryptocurrency transactions across criminal networks worldwide. In the past two years, the U.S. has seized more than $10 billion worth of digital currency through successful prosecutions, according to the IRS - in essence, by following the money. Instead of subpoenas to banks or other financial institutions, investigators can look to the blockchain for an instant snapshot of the money trail. Government investigators exploit a feature of bitcoin and many other digital currencies: Every transaction is stored forever in blockchain's online ledger and open for anyone to see. Authorities and private firms have compiled the equivalent of a blockchain address book to aid the IRS, FBI, and state and local authorities investigating cybercrimes. The blockchain-analytics company Chainalysis Inc., said it has mapped more than a billion wallet addresses, separating out legitimate and questionable holdings and identifying the exchanges where the cryptocurrency is converted to cash. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/bitcoin-blockchain-hacking-arrests-93a4cb29?mod=hp_lead_pos5)

Hackers Reportedly Holding Western Digital Data Hostage; Seeking Massive Ransom

Hackers who claim to have breached Western Digital have reportedly stolen around 10 terabytes of data from the company and are holding it hostage. TechCrunch spoke to the hackers who appear to have control over Western Digital's code-signing certificate, private phone numbers belonging to company executives, stolen SAP Backoffice data, and even managed to gain administrator access to Western Digital's Microsoft Azure instance. Western Digital reported a "network security incident" earlier this month that allowed an "unauthorized third party" to access data from the company's systems. The incident put Western Digital's cloud network out of action for 10 days, and the company only just managed to bring its My Cloud service back online last week.
TechCrunch reports that the hackers are trying to negotiate a ransom payment of a "minimum 8 figures" to not publish the stolen data. Western Digital declined to comment on the situation, and the company is currently coordinating with law enforcement authorities and working with outside security and forensic experts. (https://www.theverge.com/2023/4/14/23683081/western-digital-hack-data-hostage-report )

XPrize Dangles $11M Prize for Wildfire Technology

Marina Del Rey-based organization XPrize is getting set to launch a new prize, XPrize Wildfire, aimed at helping to tackle the increase in destructive wildfires. According to the organization, it is offering up an $11M, multi-year competition which will aim to spur innovation of wildfire detection and rapid response technologies, which it says will end destructive wildfires. The group says that "we need new firefighting solutions, supported by autonomous technologies, that can rapidly detect wildfires and help combat them quickly and at scale." (https://www.socaltech.com/fullstory/0083364.html)

Charging Stations Near You: 7-Eleven and Walmart Plan to Increase EV Charger Network at U.S. Stores

Walmart Inc plans to have its own network of electric vehicle charging stations by 2030 to tap into the growing adoption of EVs in the U.S. The new fast-charging stations will be placed at thousands of Walmart and Sam's Club stores, alongside nearly 1,300 it already offers as part of a deal with Volkswagen unit Electrify America. Walmart's 5,000+ stores and Sam's Club warehouses are located within 10 miles of about 90% of Americans. The U.S. has about 30,000 fast-chargers, which can top up a vehicle in an hour or less, with the particularly powerful models costing providers $100,000+. Walmart's plan comes as President Biden has committed to building a network of 500,000 public EV chargers by 2030. (https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/walmart-plans-own-ev-charger-network-us-stores-by-2030-2023-04-06/)

AND, Convenience store operator 7-Eleven said it will introduce 7Charge fast-charging electrical vehicle stations at its stores in the US and Canada that are open 24 hours a day and located on busy transportation routes. The stations, which will roll out at 7-Eleven, Speedway and Stripes stores, are compatible with a range of EVs and can charge up to 80% in around 30 minutes. (https://progressivegrocer.com/7-eleven-aims-build-largest-fast-charging-ev-network-retail)

MEANWHILE,, Tesla is launching a new feature to help homeowners with rooftop solar to charge their Tesla vehicles with excess solar power: A new update to the Tesla mobile app showed new code revealing a feature focused on allowing Tesla vehicles to charge from excess solar power. The feature is not showing on the consumer-facing side of the app yet, but the code talks clearly about optimizing charging for owners with solar power. It makes it sound like you can link your car to a specific solar site, and when plugged in at the site, Tesla will monitor when the car can charge from excess solar - likely meaning that the car won't be prioritized, but if there is excess solar, it will charge. (https://electrek.co/2023/03/16/tesla-launches-feature-help-solar-homeowners-charge-excess-solar-power/ )

How New Robotics Could Help Those with Motor Impairments

A growing number of robotic devices could soon revolutionize the lives of people with motor impairments. Remotely operated manipulators are a popular choice for individuals with disabilities. The manipulators can help with daily activities, but many existing technologies, like hand-operated joysticks or web interfaces, require a user to have fine motor skills. Now, researchers at Carnegie Mellon have developed a new device equipped with a hands-free microphone and head-worn sensor that allows users to control a mobile robot via head motion and speech recognition. The Head-Worn Assistive Teleoperation (HAT) is meant to be easier to use than other interfaces. The Carnegie Mellon invention is only one of many robotic devices available for people with disabilities. (https://www.lifewire.com/how-new-robotics-could-help-those-with-motor-impairments-7371518)

People Are Sick and Tired of All Their Subscriptions

For two straight quarters, cancellations have outpaced new subscriptions for digital memberships, food-of-the-month clubs and a host of other purchases, according to personal finance app Rocket Money. Streaming services have been particularly impacted, with cancellations for Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max and others up 49% in 2022 from the previous year, according to subscriber-measurement firm Antenna. Meanwhile, a new proposal from the Federal Trade Commission could make it simpler to break up with your subscriptions. The consumer watchdog wants to require merchants to make it as easy for customers to cancel as it is to sign up, often with just a single click. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/people-are-sick-and-tired-of-all-their-subscriptions-cbee7e03?mod=hp_trending_now_article_pos5)

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