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Tech News Reporter

Meet the startups in the latest Alchemist class

Alchemist is the Valley’s premiere enterprise accelerator and every season they feature a group of promising startups. They are also trying something new this year: they’re putting a reserve button next to each company, allowing angels to express their interest in investing immediately. It’s a clever addition to the demo day model. You can watch the live stream at 3pm PST here. Videoflow – Videoflow allows broadcasters to personalize live TV. The founding team is a duo of brothers — one from the creative side of TV as a designer, the other a computer scientist. Their SaaS product delivers personalized and targeted content on top of live video streams to viewers. Completely bootstrapped to date, they’ve landed NBC, ABC, and CBS Sports as paying customers and appear to be growing fast, having booked over $300k in revenue this year. Redbird Health Tech – Redbird is a lab-in-a-box for convenient health monitoring in emerging market pharmacies, starting with Africa. Africa has the fastest growing middle class in the world — but also the fastest growing rate of diabetes (double North America’s). Redbird supplies local pharmacies with software and rapid tests to transform them into health monitoring points – for anything from blood sugar to malaria to cholesterol. The founding team includes a Princeton Chemical Engineer, 2 Peace Corps alums, and a Pharmacist from Ghana’s top engineering school.

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Amazon announces an update to the $49 Echo Dot speaker with improved sound quality (Chaim Gartenberg/The Verge)

Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge : Amazon announces an update to the $49 Echo Dot speaker with improved sound quality   —  A new, fabric design and better sound comes to the other members of the Echo lineup  —  Amazon has just announced an update to its most popular Echo speaker, the Echo Dot, along with its larger Echo Plus model that it had introduced last year.

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Amazon introduces the Echo Input, its first Echo without a speaker

Amazon today introduced a new product it’s calling the Echo Input. This is a very thin, tiny version of the Echo Dot – and the first Alexa device without a speaker. The idea here is to offer a device that allows you to connect to the speaker you already own. On the back of the device is a line in and Bluetooth connection, and it sports a far field microphone array like other Echo devices. The small form factor, however, allows the device to fit in almost anywhere – you can drop them throughout the house, for example. Amazon says the product is designed also to be shipped in bundles with other speakers that people like – such as Bose, which is a first partner for this device. The Echo Input will be available later this year for $34.99 in the U.S., U.K. and Germany. more to come…

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Amazon FreeTime for Alexa adds routines, kids’ podcasts and audiobooks

Amazon today announced it’s rolling out new features for its FreeTime service for parents and children, which recently started working with Alexa,  allowing parents to control children’s experience with the personal assistant. Now, the FreeTime service for Alexa will also support routines – the combination of voice commands that can be kicked off with a single phrase. For example, parents could say, “Alexa, it’s bedtime” to have Alexa turn off the lights, lower the shades and play lullabies. The company said it’s also adding other features for kids, as well, including podcasts and over 1,000 audiobooks for kids. See our full coverage from the event  here .

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Amazon FreeTime for Alexa adds routines, kids’ podcasts and audiobooks

Amazon today announced it’s rolling out new features for its FreeTime service for parents and children, which recently started working with Alexa,  allowing parents to control children’s experience with the personal assistant. Now, the FreeTime service for Alexa will also support routines – the combination of voice commands that can be kicked off with a single phrase. For example, parents could say, “Alexa, it’s bedtime” to have Alexa turn off the lights, lower the shades and play lullabies. The company said it’s also adding other features for kids, as well, including podcasts and over 1,000 audiobooks for kids. See our full coverage from the event  here .

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Instagram app code shows new potential features like adding hashtags without including them in captions, geofenced posts, quiz stickers, and video…

Josh Constine / TechCrunch : Instagram app code shows new potential features like adding hashtags without including them in captions, geofenced posts, quiz stickers, and video tagging   —  Geofenced sharing, Quiz stickers, Stories Highlight stickers, and a separate interface for adding hashtags to posts are amongst a slew …

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Sources: UK plans Ofcom-like regulator with powers to enforce new regulations on legal content and behaviour online, fines for non-removal of illegal…

Alex Wickham / BuzzFeed : Sources: UK plans Ofcom-like regulator with powers to enforce new regulations on legal content and behaviour online, fines for non-removal of illegal content   —  Exclusive: BuzzFeed News has obtained details of plans being drawn up by ministers that also include a compulsory code of conduct …

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Eventbrite prices its IPO at $23 per share, at the top end of the range, raising $230M and valuing the company at $1.76B (Alex Wilhelm/Crunchbase…

Alex Wilhelm / Crunchbase News : Eventbrite prices its IPO at $23 per share, at the top end of the range, raising $230M and valuing the company at $1.76B   —  Morning Report: Eventbrite kept the IPO wave rolling by pricing its debut at the top of its raised range.  —  Eventbrite, a venerable technology startup, priced its IPO at $23 per share.

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Lunewave is pitching a new sensor offering better vision for autonomous vehicles

The investment arms of BMW and the Chinese search technology giant, Baidu, along with a large original equipment manufacturer for the auto industry and a slew of technology investors have all come together to back Lunewave , a startup developing new sensor technologies for autonomous vehicles. The $5 million seed round which the company just closed will serve as a launching pad to get its novel radar technology, based on the concept of a Luneburg antenna, to market. First developed in the 1940s, Lunewave’s spin the antenna technology involves leveraging 3D printing to create new architectures that enable more powerful antennas with greater range and accuracy than the sensing technologies currently on the market, according to the company’s chief executive John Xin. Lunewave was co-founded by brothers John and Hao Xin and is based off of research that Hao had been conducting as a professor at the University of Arizona. Hao previously spent years working in the defense community for companies like Raytheon and Rockwell Scientific after graduating with a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000. Younger brother John took a more entrepreneurial approach, working in consulting and financial services for companies like PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Liberty Mutual. Lunewave represents the culmination of nine years of research the elder Xin spent at the University of Arizona applying 3D printing to boost the power of the Luneburg antenna. With so much intellectual firepower behind it, Hao was able to convince his younger brother to join him on the entrepreneurial journey. “ He has a strong desire to commercialize his inventions,” John Xin said of his older brother.  “He wants to see it in everyday life.”  Image courtesy of Driving-Tests.org Now the company has $5 million in new funding to take the technology that Hao Xin has dedicated so much time and effort to develop and bring it to market.  “With a single 3D printer in the laboratory version we can produce 100 per day,” John Xin told me. “With an industrial printer you can print 1000 per day.” The first market for the company’s new technology will be autonomous vehicles — and more specifically autonomous cars. Lunewave is focused on the eyes of the vehicle, says John Xin. Currently, autonomous technologies rely on a few different sensing systems. There are LIDAR technologies which use lasers to illuminate a target and measure the reflected pulses with a sensor; camera technologies which rely on — well — camera technologies; and radar which uses electromagnetic waves to detect objects. Startups developing and refining these technologies have raised hundreds of millions of dollars to tackle the autonomous vehicle market.

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