It was bound to happen. People smarter, or more paranoid, than us have already pointed out how these always listening speakers are disasters waiting to happen unless their manufacturers quickly plug up holes and perfect their voice recognition systems. Nowhere has that warning been brought to its most comical conclusion than in a recent episode of South Park that has Amazon’s Echo devices going crazy everywhere. Fortunately this time for laughs rather than hair-tearing frustration. South Park messing with Alexa #SouthPark #Alexa pic.twitter.com/4qtJkwQJ6R— Moritz Wittmann (@MoritzWittmann) September 14, 2017 This is hardly the first time smart speakers have been violated by what’s on TV and, given how Alexa works, it might not be the last for Amazon’s personal assistant. The first recorded mishap was when a TV anchor caused Amazon Echoes all over the country to put in an order for dollhouses.Ever since then, this situation has become a running joke among tech circles or even late night shows that want to pull a hi-tech joke. Things took a rather sour turn when a Burger King ad tried to exploit that loophole, which was both hailed as advertising genius but also chided for its poor taste.Fortunately, South Park’s first episode in its 21st season is all in good humor, regardless of whether you take to the show’s brand of humor or not. Without spoiling anything, the show has Cartman using his own Amazon Echo, which, naturally, has every viewer’s Echo responding in the same way. Suffice it to say, don’t be surprised to find your shopping list populated with unwanted stuff. Fortunately, it won’t actually cause you to purchase anything. While it may be hilarious, it highlights the dire need for smart speakers, especially the Amazon Echo, to implement better screening of owners’ voices. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done and even Google only recently implemented multi-user support for the Google Home. It might be all innocent (or not so innocent) fun for now, but only time will tell when it turns into an actual liability.
Previously, Android Wear smartwatches used a dark grey background for the UI, regardless of the theme used. While it might look nice, it doesn’t give enough contrast against the white text or colored icons. In version 2.8 of the app, the background has been made to be nearly black, if not really black, to remedy that.As a side effect, it could also help prolong the battery life of some of the Android Wear smartwatches, at least those that use AMOLED or P-OLED screens. Black requires no power to display on such panels, so it would only sip from the battery to show the white or colored text.Google also added one more change to improve readability. The changelog says that notifications sport a new layout that gives more space to the actual message. When screen real estate is at a premium, the last thing you want is for unnecessary text or UI elements to take up space.AdChoices广告The 2.8 update is for the Android Wear app on the phone, which means users won’t have to worry about downloading and installing a firmware update. That said, the update is rolling out in waves and Google has not mentioned which smartwatches will get it and which ones won’t.SOURCE: GoogleVIA: Reddit One of the most basic uses of a smartwatch, which sets it apart from a fitness tracker, is that it can show you notifications and messages. That purpose, however, is defeated when you can barely make out what’s on the screen, especially in brighter lighting conditions. To help improve that situation, and perhaps marginally extend battery life, Google is rolling out a small update to the Android Wear app, now at version 2.8, to increase readability by using a darker background.
Rumors can sometimes surface and then be quashed with an incredible amount of speed, and today, the best example we have of that kind of turnaround involves the future of the country’s 5G networks. Over the weekend, rumors claiming that the National Security Council was considering building a nationalized 5G network began to surface. Now, the Trump administration has officially chimed in, putting those rumors to bed. According to Recode, it turns out that the documents that claimed such a network was being considered were old and outdated. Recode spoke to multiple White House officials who claim as much, noting that the possibility of launching a nationwide 5G network was merely floated by one NSC staff member.In other words, this isn’t something that’s been seriously considered by the NSC or the Trump administration, at least not at the time that rumor began to appear. Even if the National Security Council ultimately decided to recommend a nationalized 5G network to the president, there would be one major roadblock: the FCC. As FCC Chairman Ajit Pai made clear this morning, he doesn’t support such a move.In fact, Pai says that our existing 4G networks are proof that the market and the carriers that operate within it are better suited to usher in the 5G era than government ever would be. Still, the fact that such a network was even suggested shows that the National Security Council is indeed worried about cybersecurity threats from other countries. So, if a nationwide 5G network funded by the government was ever seriously considered – something that seems doubtful to begin with – it no longer is. For now, it looks like we’ll have to rely on the nation’s carriers to build out their 5G networks. A number of them have already started making promises about the arrival of mobile 5G, so hopefully the wait we have ahead of us won’t be a long one.
VR vs. AR, PC vs. Mobile, fake AR vs. real ARThe difference between VR and AR has been discussed to death, so we won’t repeat it here. Suffice it to say, AR superimposes digital objects on top of real-world ones instead of creating everything digitally. Augmented reality naturally has its fullest expression and potential on PCs, with devices like Microsoft HoloLens and the still to be launched Magic Leap. That power comes at the price of cost, system requirements, and mobility.With mobile AR platforms like ARCore and ARKit, you can just whip out your phone when and where you need to use an AR app. That has always been the case with the “old” AR apps, but those were crude and simplistic. They simply overlaid images on the camera viewfinder in very artificial and often unconvincing ways. ARCore and ARKit use both the phone’s sensors, like camera and gyro, as well as computer vision and algorithms to really make the objects look like they’re part of your world.Marketing and AdvertisingThe biggest potential mobile AR has, and also the most chance for profit, is in retail and advertising. We are already seeing apps from retailers, particularly home furnishing sellers, with AR features. These allow users to easily place a vase or a sofa on an empty spot in the room to see how well it will match the decor. It won’t be long before these apps will also be able to give approximate measurements so users can be sure the products will fit before they put in an order. Mobile augmented reality isn’t really new. Even before Oculus, Vive, and HoloLens, there were already traces of the use of AR on our phones, from the AR-powered Layar map app to the not so AR Pokemon GO game. With the arrival of Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore, AR has the potential to become even more widespread than it has ever been before. But what can augmented reality on a tiny screen really do? And does it have the potential to have use beyond stickers and games? We take a look at some of the practical applications of ARCore and ARKit apps to find out. AR won’t be used just for testing out products either. They can also be used to place advertisements in places and ways that would otherwise be impossible to do. From floating signages to interactive objects to promos for upcoming films, AR could increase customer involvement, at least while they’re new. And because users will have to take out their phones to view them, they won’t be as intrusive or in your face as other ads might be.EducationThere is only so much you can do inside a classroom, even with the power of the Internet. Augmented reality practically inserts a nearly infinite dimension to place interactive objects in. That old Project Tango dinosaur demo can easily be replicated now with ARCore. Museums can add AR experiences that can add more information than they can squeeze into physical material like paper. While virtual reality has the advantage of taking users to places they may never be able to reach, AR still trumps it when it comes to coming back to reality.Medicine and IndustryThe ability to overlay information on top of the right objects or right parts of objects is one of AR’s biggest strengths. This would allow users, for example, to view and identify different parts of a body or a machine and gain information about those. While this might be a case where an AR headset might be more practical, leaving the hands free to do work, even a smartphone can be a useful informational tool in a pinch. Someday, AR can even take the place of boring manuals that you either have to read like an e-book or, worse, like a physical book.EntertainmentOf course, ARCore and ARKit will be flooded with games and stickers. The tools make it too easy to let your imagination and whimsy go wild. That doesn’t mean that we won’t see more substantial ones in the very near future. The Star Wars AR Stickers were already a step up from the usual fare and there are already attempts at bringing a TiltBrush experience to phones. Do expect things to get out of hand first before they settle down. Wrap-up: mobile AR needs championsAugmented reality on phones definitely as a lot of potential. Especially because it turns every phone into an AR viewer, no headset required. Sadly, there still doesn’t seem to be any strong names yet that could represent this budding market. ARKit and ARCore need to grow fast because the window of opportunity for keeping users’ interests alive is closing fast as well. They need to make their case that AR isn’t just a whimsical fad and a cash grab for stickers and movie tie-ins. It has the potential to make a difference, but Google, Apple, and app developers need to turn that into reality soon.
Story TimelineHyatt hotels reveal malware discovered in payment systemsHyatt names dates and locations of credit card breachWestin, Marriott, and Hyatt hotels hit with payment malware Hyatt Hotels has launched a new public bug bounty program seeking vulnerability reports that’ll identify and squash issues before they arise. The new program comes amid Marriott’s ongoing investigation into a major hack that exposed customer data, including passport numbers. Hyatt has previously faced its own security breaches, including the presence of malware on its payment system, which was disclosed in 2015. An increasing number of large corporations have fallen victim to payment system malware and database breaches, the result often being the same: users/customers are left exposed and their personal information is potentially compromised by data thieves. In the most recent major breach, Marriott revealed that more than 300 million customers were impacted by a recent security breach.The bug bounty program, which is live now on HackerOne, seeks ethical hackers who will discover and report vulnerabilities related to Hyatt’s network. The company has invited security experts to test both its mobile apps and its websites.Hyatt claims it is the first company in the hospitality industry to utilize the “collaborative efforts” of a bug bounty program open to the public. The company requires researchers to submit their vulnerability reports through the HackerOne platform according to its submission requirements, also paying mind not to violate Hyatt’s rules.Vulnerabilities related to social engineering aren’t acceptable, and the company also requires security researchers to only mess with their own account or ones they have permission to test, among other things. Applicable, original, and appropriate reports will be awarded cash based on how critical Hyatt considers them. Low-tier reports will earn researchers $300, while medium reports are worth $600, high reports are $1,200, and critical reports are $4,000.
Story TimelineThis Volkswagen I.D. is the “electric Golf” for 2020Meet Volkswagen I.D. – The EV future VW is betting onVolkswagen I.D. BUZZ reboots Microbus as self-driving EVVW I.D. EV boast: We’ll hugely undercut Tesla’s Model 3 says exec It’s based on Volkswagen’s big new platform for the futureThe Volkswagen Group is big on “platforms”: common architectures that can underpin a surprising variety of cars. That’s why the Audi TT is based on the same underlying “MQB” architecture as the VW Golf and Tiguan. Common components and build processes simplify production, not to mention make things cheaper overall. The rebooted Microbus will use a brand new platform, which Volkswagen has dubbed the Modular Electric Toolkit, or MEB (the initials are taken from the German version of the term). It’s a matrix of common parts that VW started working on in 2015, intended to bring the same practicality and affordability of production to the mass-market roll out of electric vehicles. While it won’t replace the MQB, which will still be used for the gasoline and diesel models VW still expects to be making for the foreseeable future, it’ll be increasingly important as EVs gain market share. It’ll be practical-retroYou could make a convincing argument that the Microbus design is perfect for an electric vehicle. After all, VW’s MEB platform is intended to fill the wheelbase under the floor with batteries, while the motors are integrated into the axles front and rear. In the case of the I.D. BUZZ, that means all of the powertrain is effectively sandwiched into a slice underneath a massive, empty space.Indeed, VW is saying that you’ll get the interior room of a full-sized SUV, only with the overall footprint of just a midsize SUV. If the concept is anything to go by, they’ll be putting significant emphasis on making the cabin super-flexible, too. That means sliding, rotating, and removable seats, perfect for carrying up to eight people or a mixture of passengers and their luggage.What we do know is that there’ll be another version of the production I.D. BUZZ alongside the consumer one. Aimed at those wanting a zero-emissions way to carry cargo, the I.D. BUZZ CARGO will be targeted more at business users, particularly those working in dense urban spaces. This could be a seriously powerful MicrobusThe original VW Microbus managed 30 horsepower back in 1950. Volkswagen’s 2017 I.D. BUZZ concept, meanwhile, mustered a heady 369 HP. That’s courtesy of the MEB’s flexibility for which wheels are driven: the platform supports both rear- or all-wheel driver variations.VW isn’t saying what sort of horsepower or torque the production I.D. BUZZ will offer at this stage, though there’s room for a few possibilities. It sounds like AWD will be an option not the default, suggesting that there’ll be an entry-level model with RWD only, while those looking for more power and traction can step up to having all the wheels driven. That will also introduce a variety of horsepower levels.Range is the big questionEVs are known for their instantaneous torque, so the production I.D. BUZZ should be fairly perky from a standing start. Of course, the other big question about electrified vehicles is range. Again, VW isn’t saying much about the production Microbus, though the concept gives us a few hints of what to expect.All that wheelbase space allows the I.D. BUZZ concept to fit a 111 kWh battery pack, 11 kWh more than the largest-capacity Tesla Model X. That, VW has suggested, would be sufficient for “nearly 300 miles of estimated range” out on real roads. Of course, the Microbus concept, although drivable, probably hasn’t been put through that sort of production-level testing.The flip side to range is recharging. Volkswagen is putting its hopes in its fast-charging system, which will use a hefty 150 kW supply. With that plugged in, the promise is around an 80-percent charge in just half an hour. The reality will vary depending on just where you’re trying to recharge, mind: no home is currently set up for 150 kW. Expect that to – slowly – trickle out to public stations over time, but for most it’ll be a case of leaving the Microbus plugged in while it’s not being driven so as to keep the battery as topped-up as possible. The VW Group has plans for wireless charging too, though it’s unclear if the Microbus will be compatible. Even if it is, expect rates lower than what you’d get from a compatible plug-in charger. Don’t expect a self-driving Microbus… at least not at firstThe I.D. BUZZ wasn’t just VW’s attempt to bring the Microbus styling and powertrain up to date. It also previewed the company’s vision of autonomous driving, with a steering wheel that retracts into the dashboard allowing the driver to turn their chair 180-degrees and catch up with their passengers. Meanwhile, expressive “eye” headlamps help the AI that’s responsible for keeping the Microbus on the right track communicate with other road-users and pedestrians. That’s the theory, anyway. In reality, that vision of autonomous motoring – which Volkswagen has dubbed I.D. Pilot – won’t be ready for the I.D. BUZZ’s production debut. In fact, the automaker is hoping to have it ready for 2025. It’s unclear whether early models of the production Microbus will support upgrading to I.D. Pilot support, as Tesla is claiming its EVs will when its self-driving system is ready for prime time, once the technology is mature. Instead, the promise is Level 3 autonomy. That means the Microbus would be able to do “conditional automation” according to the SAE levels: think a step beyond the combination of adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping that some cars offer today. In short, the Microbus will be able to take over in some situations, but the person behind the wheel will have to be prepared to take over at any time. You have to wonder why it’s taken Volkswagen so long to reboot the Microbus, but come 2022 the iconic shape will return to the roads. This isn’t the same van that came to epitomize the swinging sixties, mind: previewed by the VW I.D. BUZZ concept, it’s an all-new interpretation of flexible motoring atop an all-new electric platform. That’s a lot to get excited about, so here’s what you need to know.
Apple’s 2020 iPhone could make a significant architecture change inside, adopting 5nm chips for the first time as the Cupertino firm refines its iOS platform. The current iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max use Apple’s A12 Bionic processor, which is built on a 7 nanometer process. Indeed, the chipset was the first mainstream 7nm processor to reach the mass market. It’s made for Apple, to Apple’s specifications, by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, or TSMC. Smaller processors typically use less energy, not to mention occupying less of a footprint in the space-constrained volume of a smartphone casing. As such, chasing smaller and smaller nanometer manufacturing processes is a big deal for device-makers. It’s neither a cheap nor an easy thing to deliver, however, and most of the smartphones we see over the next 1-2 years will be using 7nm processes for their chips. That could be upended in 2020, by Apple’s new iPhones, according to rumors. TSMC is apparently expected to win Apple’s orders for 5nm chips, DigiTimes reports, based on chatter from the industry in Taiwan. According to the report, TSMC has told investors that it is “making progress” in the shift toward sub-7nm process technologies, and as such is on course for moving to 5nm EUV process at volume by 2020. For Apple, the advantages of 5nm are clear. Reducing power consumption is a key goal of any new smartphone, particularly as screens have increased in size and thus become more energy-hungry. At the same time, the demand for slim devices means room for a large battery is constrained. Battery size is likely to be a key concern for the 2020 iPhone, too. After all, that’s when Apple is expected to add 5G to its flagship smartphone, having reportedly opted to sit out the first wave of 5G devices in 2019. While leaving that bleeding-edge to Android phone-makers may cost it in sales, Apple’s strategy is presumably intended to also ensure the Cupertino firm misses out on the inevitable glitches, hurdles, and coverage complaints that the earliest wave of 5G phones will suffer. Even holding off until 2020, though, 5G is still expected to be relatively power-hungry. That’s going to make battery management a key focus for the iPhone 5G, and anywhere else Apple can claw back some milliamps in the system will help deliver the essential all-day battery life it needs. The first generation of 5G-capable phones we’ve seen have packed in sizable batteries, after all. Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G, announced earlier this week but not expected to go on sale until the summer, has a whopping 4,500 mAh nestling inside. Story TimelineApple has problems and there’s no easy fixThe 2019 iPhone could have more useful wireless than 5G
Story TimelineTesla gives all existing owners free Supercharger use, as well as new referralsTesla urban Superchargers bring high-speed charging to citiesSuper-sized Tesla Supercharger stations go live Tesla has quietly increased the cost of using its Superchargers, with rates as much as doubling depending on state. The electric car manufacturer’s charger network is undoubtedly one of its key differentiators versus rival EV-makers; however, it also leaves Tesla at the mercy of local energy prices. It’s that which has prompted a shuffling in just how much some Tesla drivers will spend when they next use a Supercharger. Exactly how much the rates have changed will depend on where you charge up. In California, for example, the new rate is $0.26 per kWh. Previously, it was $0.20 per kWh. Other states have seen more dramatic increases. Supercharger costs in Oregon rose from $0.12 per kWh to $0.24, for instance. New York rose from $0.19 per kWh to $0.24. Not every Tesla owner will pay those amounts, mind. The automaker currently runs two different schemes: those who bought their cars before January 15, 2017 get unlimited Supercharger use at no cost. Anybody who ordered a Tesla after that point – including all Model 3 buyers, the reservations of which did not count as a purchase under the policy – is on a pay-per-use tariff instead. AdChoices广告Still, for new Model S or Model X buyers, there is a way to get around that. If you buy one of those two cars with a referral from an existing Tesla owner, Supercharger use is included free. Model S and Model X drivers also get 400 kWh-worth of Supercharging access each year, enough for approximately 1,000 miles of driving. Indeed, it’s the Model 3 – Tesla’s most affordable car – which will bear the brunt of these rate adjustments. Ineligible for the referral loophole, buyers of the car will always have to pay for their Supercharger use. While the news of the rate changes is unlikely to be met with particular glee, a Tesla spokesperson insisted to Electrek that the automaker still has no plans to turn a profit from Superchargers:“We occasionally adjust rates to reflect current local electricity and usage,” the spokesperson said. “The overriding principle is that Supercharging will always remain significantly cheaper than gasoline, as we only aim to recover a portion of our costs while setting up a fair system for everyone. This will never be a profit center for Tesla.”It’s also worth remembering that, for most Tesla owners, Superchargers aren’t the primary source of power. Instead, it’s far more common that drivers recharger their cars while at home or at work, typically on a Level 2 charger. That takes longer than a Supercharger might, but rates will depend on what tariffs local energy providers offer. In California, for example, electricity company PG&E offers off-peak charging for as low as $0.12 per kWh.MORE Tesla
Porsche’s all-electric Taycan will be priced to take on the Tesla Model S, the automaker has confirmed, settling fears that sales would be hamstrung by sky-high costs. Instead, Porsche suggests, the Taycan will actually slot in somewhere beneath the Panamera, the automaker’s existing sedan. Story TimelineHello Porsche Taycan: Tesla-rivaling Mission E gets its launch name6 things we found out about the Porsche Taycan todayPorsche Taycan specs include 600hp and 500km driving range Though the Taycan – formerly known by its Mission-E codename – is due to arrive at Porsche dealerships next year, the company has been playing exact pricing close to its chest. Previous hints have suggested a $80-90k price tag, prior to any incentives. With a 0-62 mph time of “well under 3.5 seconds” according to Porsche, though, there were concerns that the actual price tag could be considerably higher.That might have made competing head-on with the Tesla Model S difficult, something Porsche seems to have taken onboard. Full pricing for the car is yet to be confirmed and probably won’t be until closer to release in 2019. However Porsche execs are now telling us where, roughly, it will fall.“We’re expecting a price somewhere between a Cayenne and a Panamera,” Robert Meier, vehicle model line director for Taycan at Porsche, told Automotive News about European pricing. In Germany, including taxes, the Cayenne starts at 74,898 euros while the Panamera starts at 90,655 euros. What seems likely, therefore, is a sticker just north of 80,000 euros. That would work out to around $92k, though it’s always tough to directly convert European car prices to US figures. Not only are the taxes different, but US electric car incentives will play a huge role. In the US, for instance, a Cayenne kicks off at $65,700. The Panamera, meanwhile, starts from $85k. That might suggest a US Taycan coming in around the mid- to high-$70k mark. To compare, a US Tesla Model S 75D, the entry-level car in the line-up, is priced at $77k before incentives. Porsche clearly intends the Taycan to be a volume business, not some niche project. Production of the car is expected to hit 20,000 vehicles per year, though the automaker says it has the potential to add a third shift and expand that should demand be greater than predicted. There’s also plenty of room for more potent Taycan models. Execs at the company are apparently already talking about a performance version along the lines of a “Taycan Turbo S” which would be even more aggressive. They could come in as much as 200,000 euro, according to Lutz Meschke, the automaker’s chief financial officer. Initially, though, we’re expecting a single configuration. That will have an 800 volt lithium-ion battery that can deliver around 310 miles on the New European Driving Cycle test. US range figures have not been confirmed. As for charging, with a 350 kW fast-charger the Taycan will be able to add more than 60 miles of range in about four minutes plugged in. Porsche will use the growing Electrify America network that Audi has already tapped for the upcoming 2019 e-tron electric SUV, which has plans for a broad availability of high-speed charging stations across North America.
Windows and OfficeMicrosoft has always been a software company. Of course, it has tried to dabble in hardware, from portable media players to mobile phones but, until the Surface, it has always fallen back to delivering digital products. In practical terms, that means that Microsoft’s core products have always been the Windows operating system and the Office productivity suite, be it licensed software or subscription plans.Lately, however, the dominance of both products have started to slip. While Office does remain the household name in word processing and spreadsheets, the rise of Google Docs, Dropbox, and a new breed of software like Airtable have put dents in Office’s user numbers. And let’s not even start with how Windows 10 set off to a rocky start and continues to have problematic updates even after four years in the market.Enterprise and GovernmentWindows 10’s notorious updates have caused headaches for both consumers and, most especially, enterprise customers. The latter actually pay to have some special treatment when it comes to support and stability but are often subjects to the same broken software as any other. While the new “Windows as a Service” paradigm has indeed delivered updates and fixes faster than ever before, it has also delivered bugs faster, something that enterprise users just can’t afford.Despite those quality problems, Microsoft has started raising prices for its software licenses. This has caused many of its large customers to rethink their relationship with Redmond and look to open source alternatives. That’s especially true for governments where budget for software is low. Amusingly, Microsoft also revoked CERN’s status as an academic institution, causing the world’s largest particle physics laboratory to consider alternatives.Education and ResearchThe story with another lucrative market segment is a bit different. Microsoft still offers heavy discounts to academic institutions (except CERN) but it is still losing ground in other ways. This is one area where its biggest rivals, Google and Apple, have successfully pushed it down to #3.Despite the high costs of Apple products, the portability of iPads and especially the growing power of iPad Pros continue to appeal to schools and even some workplaces. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the cheaper hardware of Chromebooks, Chrome OS’ fine-grained controls, and Google’s pervasive G Suite is a combo very few can resist.CloudHaving failed its foray into mobile and sensing the downward slope of its traditional software business models, Microsoft reinvented itself and turned towards everybody’s favorite IT buzzword: the cloud. It’s not a fully cloud-based company the way Google’s main business is the Internet (and Internet ads). It’s no Amazon either and while its Azure cloud has plenty of high-profile customers, Google Cloud and AWS still remain the household names in that market.SurfaceMicrosoft somewhat hit gold with the Surface. While the first two generations struggled to find their place, the Surface Pro 3 and the parade of Surface-branded computers and accessories that followed turned Microsoft’s bad luck with hardware. The Surface tablets definitely received a lot of attention that the iPads finally got some competition, even if it got mistaken for iPads anyway.And yet it seems that the Surface gravy train is slowing down. Almost like MacBooks, Microsoft seems to be content on going with a proven design and simply iterate over them with internal upgrades year after year. On the one hand, it may suggest the maturity of a product. On the other hand, it also looks like Microsoft has run out of ideas.A new Microsoft, an agile MicrosoftMicrosoft’s problem isn’t exactly that it makes software that no one uses anymore. Windows remains king of the desktop and Office is still being taught at schools as if it was the only way to use a computer. It has also proven that, if it sets its mind to it, it can actually make great hardware that generates as much loyalty and fanboyism as an Apple device. Microsoft’s problem is probably best exemplified by its Windows 10 update track record. It’s a large company that is failing to move fast in a fast-moving world.Its Windows as a service mantra demands that it adopt agile processes and thinking but internal sources suggest it’s still applying decades-old mentality on a new system. The PC market has a high turnover rate and sorely needs fresh blood often and no one but Apple seems to be able to sit on the same design for that long. A few highlights in its history proved that Microsoft can change for the better but it seems to be content to sit on its new laurels. Once upon a time, when you talked about PC software, you could only think about Microsoft. Unless you were talking about games, in which case you’d still be talking about running them on Windows. These days, however, people and companies have begun asking what a computer is today and their definition doesn’t always include “Microsoft”, “Windows”, or even “Office”. In almost all sectors save for two or three, Microsoft has been slowly but surely losing its teeth and its market share. And if it doesn’t take swift action, it could very well find itself on the verge of becoming irrelevant once more.
Editors’ Recommendations It sure looks like Apple has big plans for Siri.Apple plans to hire 2,000 more employees for a new Seattle campus, the company announced Monday. A significant number of those jobs look like they’re focused on improving Siri and developing more advanced artificial intelligence.While Apple already has about 500 workers in the area, this marks a major expansion in Amazon’s hometown and is a sign that Apple plans to significantly invest in its artificial intelligence offerings. According to Apple’s jobs page, openings at the new campus include machine learning research scientists, senior software engineers dedicated to Siri, and natural-language processing experts.“Your work will advance and shape the future vision of our multilingual, multicultural Siri assistant, and Search applications used by millions across the world,” one job posting says.The 630,000-square-foot campus will be located just a block from Amazon’s headquarters. Both companies are fighting to dominate the virtual assistant space. Amazon’s Alexa is a direct competitor to Apple’s Siri. While Amazon continues to dominate the smart speaker market, Siri can live on an iPhone in your pocket.Seattle is quickly becoming something of a ground zero for the development of artificially intelligent voice assistants. Google, which has its own Google Assistant, plans to open a campus there this year. Right next door is Redmond, the home of Microsoft, which makes Cortana.“”These new jobs confirm what we already knew — we have the best talent and city anywhere,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a statement Monday. “Apple’s expanded footprint in Seattle is another example of the growing opportunity that exists for residents of Seattle and the economic powerhouse our city has become.”Smart speakers and other voice assistants have begun to evolve past easy ways to get answers to random trivia questions. Researchers at the University of Washington have developed an algorithm that lets your smart speaker or smartphone detect cardiac arrest in your sleep.Apple will likely charge its new Seattle hires with figuring out new ways to use these voice assistants. More importantly, it’s up to them to make sure that Siri just works, without being confused by how you phrase a question — all in multiple languages. That’s no easy task, but it certainly looks like it’s one that Apple plans to take on in order to convince you to choose Siri over Alexa. Hola, Alexa. Voice assistant will soon add support for Spanish speakers Survey says Siri and Google Assistant are the most used voice assistants Amazon’s Alexa adds email updates, plus a bunch of cool new routines LG’s 2019 TVs slide Alexa next to Google Assistant, with Siri on the way The best smart speakers for 2019
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Each week KHN reporter Christian Torres compiles a selection of recently released health policy studies and briefs.RAND: Skin In The Game: How Consumer-Directed Plans Affect The Cost And Use Of Health Care — Consumer-directed health plans, which feature lower premiums and higher deductibles than traditional plans, are designed to reduce costs by discouraging unnecessary care. This brief describes a study of more than 800,000 households that switched from a traditional employer-based plan to a consumer-based plan. Within the first year, families spent 21 percent less on care; about a third of the reduction was attributed to less spending per care episode, while two-thirds was attributed to fewer episodes total. Families also, however, sought less preventive care — including childhood vaccinations, mammograms and blood tests. The authors caution that if “patients skimp on highly valuable services that can prevent more costly problems later, the savings [from consumer-directed plans] may be short-lived” (Haviland et al, 6/28).Journal of the American Medical Association: Duplicate Federal Payments For Dual Enrollees In Medicare Advantage Plans And The Veterans Affairs Health Care System — The Veterans Affairs system is allowed to bill private health plans for the care it provides to enrollees, but it is not allowed to bill privately run Medicare Advantage plans. This sets up the potential for redundant federal spending as elderly veterans enrolled in an MA plan also visit a VA facility. Researchers in this study found that, from the beginning of 2004 until the end of 2009, more than 1.2 million veterans were enrolled for at least a month in both the VA and a Medicare Advantage plan, and VA spending for the dual enrollees totaled $13 billion. The authors encourage policymakers to “monitor the use of VA services among MA-enrolled veterans and modify payments to MA plans accordingly” (Trevidi et al, 6/26).RAND: Negotiation Strategies For Antiretroviral Drug Purchasers In The United States — Antiretroviral drugs continue to be inaccessible and unaffordable for many low-income individuals, and despite the government’s leverage through Medicaid and other programs, new strategies are needed for price negotiation with manufacturers. This report looks at several options, including improved price transparency and switching people dually eligible for Medicare Part D and Medicaid to the latter program, which pays less for these antiretroviral drugs. The authors also propose pooling individual states and groups to increase their drug purchasing power. With “greater consolidation of public programs and increased demand for drugs through universal coverage,” they note, “public programs might be in a better position to negotiate drug prices” in the future (Linnemayr et al, 6/29).Annals of Emergency Medicine: National Trends In Emergency Department Occupancy, 2001 to 2008: Effect Of Inpatient Admissions Versus Emergency Department Practice Intensity — Emergency department crowding can lead to lower patient satisfaction and adverse outcomes. In this study, researchers used federal survey data from 2001 to 2008 and estimated that the number of ED visits increased nearly 2 percent each year, and average occupancy increased more than 3 percent each year. One of the main drivers of crowding was intensity of care, with patients receiving more imaging tests and services, which significantly extended their stays. The data also showed Medicare beneficiaries had increasingly frequent visits, which could be attributed to poor access to primary care. Overall, the authors write, “ED crowding is probably getting worse, not better” (Pitts et al, 6/22).Here is a selection of excerpts from news coverage of other recent research:Modern Healthcare: Researchers Find Higher Costs For Medical HomesHealthcare payment reform is needed for the patient-centered medical-home model to be sustainable, according to a report published online by the Journal of the American Medical Association. The model leads to higher operating costs, and most of the savings generated though reduced hospital admissions and emergency-department visits benefit payers rather than providers, researchers concluded (Robeznieks, 7/2). Medscape: Dental Care Disparity Narrows For Black ChildrenBlack children now receive basic dental care at nearly the same rates as white children of the same age, although other racial disparities in oral health status, such as untreated cavities, persist, a new study reports. Inyang A. Isong, MD, MPH, from Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Child and Adolescent Health Research and Policy and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and coauthors report their findings in an article published online July 2 in Pediatrics (Henderson, 7/2). Research Roundup: Crowded Emergency Departments, Expensive HIV Drugs
Today’s headline highlight a number of developments from the presidential campaign trail and from the health care marketplace.Kaiser Health News: Hospitals’ Readmissions Rates Not BudgingKaiser Health News staff writer Jordan Rau, working in collaboration with The Washington Post, reports: “The nation’s hospitals are making little headway in reducing the frequency at which patients are readmitted despite a campaign by the government and the threat of financial penalties, according to Medicare data released Thursday” (Rau, 7/19). Read the story.The New York Times: Obama Visits Florida To Win Over Older VotersAfter weeks of focusing on Mr. Romney’s private-sector business deals, Mr. Obama turned to another front by attacking Republican plans to repeal his health care law and transform Medicare into a voucher program. Democrats have long used Medicare as an issue to galvanize older voters in Florida against Republicans (Baker and Gabriel, 7/19).Los Angeles Times: In Florida, Obama Attacks Romney Over MedicarePresident Obama broadened his attack on Mitt Romney on Thursday, using Medicare to draw a sharper contrast on key issues in this swing state. With an eye on seniors, Obama warned that Romney would undermine their federal healthcare entitlement program. In a speech after the early-bird dinner at a retirement community, he linked the program’s fate to Romney’s position on taxes, building on his campaign’s assertion that Romney would “end Medicare as we know it to help pay for his tax cuts for the wealthiest” (Memoli and Mehta, 7/20).The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama, Romney Seek Advantage On Health Care And The EconomyPresident Barack Obama is warning Florida retirees that Republican challenger Mitt Romney would undercut the new health care law and alter Medicare, a play for voters in one of the nation’s top swing states. Obama wraps up a two-day trip to Florida on Friday with stops in Fort Myers and suburban Orlando, where he is pressing the case that retirees would be hurt by Romney’s opposition to the health care law and by Republican-led efforts to turn Medicare into a “voucher program.” Romney is keeping his focus on the economy, charging that Obama remains more concerned about holding onto his own job than creating more jobs for Americans (7/20).The Wall Street Journal: Florida Poses New Worry For ObamaPresident Barack Obama revived his attack Thursday on Republican plans to overhaul Medicare, as he opened a two-day swing through Florida, a state he won in 2008 but which his aides say is now more of a challenge. The sour economy and housing market are creating problems for Mr. Obama in the state (Lee and Campo-Flores, 7/19).The Texas Tribune/New York Times: The Big Push On Medicaid FraudWhen it comes to finding cost savings in the state’s unwieldy Medicaid program, the Office of Inspector General at the Health and Human Services Commission gets high marks. … But O.I.G.’s dollar-recovery strategy — which includes an increased reliance on a rule that allows investigators to freeze financing for any health care provider accused of overbilling — has enraged doctors, dentists and other providers who treat Medicaid patients (Ramshaw, 7/19).USA Today: HHS: Hospitals Ignoring Requirements To Report ErrorsHospitals are ignoring state regulations that require them to report cases in which medical care harmed a patient, making it almost impossible for health care providers to identify and fix preventable problems, a report to be released today by the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general shows (Kennedy, 7/20).The Washington Post: Anemia Drugs Made Billions, But At What Cost?For years, a trio of anemia drugs known as Epogen, Procrit and Aranesp ranked among the best-selling prescription drugs in the United States. … Even compared with other pharmaceutical successes, they were superstars. For several years, Epogen ranked as the single costliest medicine under Medicare: U.S. taxpayers put up as much as $3 billion a year for the drugs. The trouble … is that for about two decades, the benefits of the drug — including “life satisfaction and happiness” according to the FDA-approved label — were wildly overstated, and potentially lethal side effects, such as cancer and strokes, were overlooked (Whoriskey, 7/19).The Wall Street Journal: How Fake Cancer Drugs Entered U.S.From the outskirts of Winnipeg, Kris Thorkelson’s Canada Drugs grew to become a vital link for American consumers stung by high drug prices. The Internet pharmacy had by the middle part of the last decade filled millions of U.S. prescriptions with low-cost, Canadian supplies of everything from Pfizer Inc.’s cholesterol pill Lipitor to GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s asthma treatment Advair. But as Mr. Thorkelson’s company grew into a larger enterprise spanning three continents, so did the risks of counterfeit drugs. In the final months of 2011, companies controlled by Mr. Thorkelson’s Canada Drugs Group of Cos. sold two batches of fake Avastin, a cancer drug, to U.S. doctors (Weaver and Whalen, 7/19).The New York Times’ Deal Book: After Health Care Ruling, Centene Is Cast As Takeover TargetSince the Supreme Court upheld President Obama’s transformative health care law last month, Wall Street has been wondering whether the decision would set off a fresh round of consolidation in the industry. One analyst says the Centene Corporation, a health care services company focused on Medicaid, could be a takeover target (Morrissey, 7/19).The New York Times: Walgreen And Express Scripts Reach DealWalgreen, the nation’s largest drugstore chain, agreed on Thursday to renew its relationship with the prescription benefit manager Express Scripts, opening the door for hundreds of thousands of customers to return in September for discounts and related benefits from their Express Scripts drug cards (Japsen, 7/19).The Wall Street Journal: J&J Penalty May Total $2.2 BillionJohnson & Johnson and federal prosecutors have reached a deal that would settle investigations into the company’s marketing practices for as much as $2.2 billion, including a roughly $400 million criminal fine for the illegal promotion of the antipsychotic Risperdal, according to people familiar with the matter (Rockoff and Lublin, 7/19).The Wall Street Journal: UnitedHealth Posts Higher Profit, Lifts OutlookUnitedHealth Group Inc.’s second-quarter earnings rose 5.5% amid rising membership in government-based health plans and signs that patients are still using health-care services sparingly following the recession. The company—the biggest managed-care firm in the U.S. by revenue and membership—raised its full-year earnings outlook as the quarterly results exceeded expectations (Kamp, 7/19).Los Angeles Times: UnitedHealth Reports Solid Second-Quarter Results But Shares DipUnitedHealth Group Inc. reported solid second-quarter results and raised its full-year profit outlook, but shares slipped in midday trading after the company projected a tough rate environment for its Medicare and Medicaid plans (Terhune, 7/19).Los Angeles Times: Report Calls For More Inpatient Treatment For The Mentally IllThe number of state hospital psychiatric beds dropped by 14% nationwide from 2005 to 2010, pushing the severely mentally ill into emergency rooms, jails and prisons, according to a report advocating for more inpatient treatment. The report, released Thursday by the Treatment Advocacy Center , lauded the decades-old goal of treating patients in community facilities whenever possible, rather than institutionalizing them (Romney, 7/29).The Wall Street Journal: Scientist Behind FDA Flap Sued Prior EmployeesAn FDA scientist whose complaints about the agency’s approval process for medical devices led to a controversial email monitoring program had filed lawsuits against two hospitals where he worked and also sued a dozen medical-device companies (Burton, 7/19).Check out all of Kaiser Health News’ e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. First Edition: July 20, 2012
First Edition: January 31, 2013 Today’s headlines include reports on a new health law final rule issued by the Internal Revenue Service eligibility and affordability standards for insurance subsidies.Kaiser Health News: Fed Economist Steps Into Dispute On Geographic Differences In Health SpendingKaiser Health News staff writer Jordan Rau reports: “An economist at the Federal Reserve has restoked the debate over the causes of regional differences in Medicare spending, and her analysis disputes some of the thinking behind a number of policy changes in the 2010 health law” (Rau, 1/30). Read the story.Kaiser Health News: Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital Is Back, But Changed, After SandyWNYC’s Fred Mogul, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: “When a ferry crashed in lower Manhattan earlier this month, ambulances took dozens of people to hospitals around Manhattan. Bellevue Hospital took in 31 passengers who all had minor injuries. Despite their bruises and bandages, something was missing: the most seriously hurt patients from the crash. Dr. Suzi Vassallo said that’s because Bellevue currently can’t handle serious traumatic injuries. Hurricane Sandy closed Bellevue, and it re-opened in December, but doing only partial duty” (Mogul, 1/30). Read the story.Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Some Families Will Be Ineligible For Insurance Subsidies Under Final Rule; A Wish List For MedicareNow on Kaiser Health News’ blog, Julie Appleby reports on a newly issued health law final rule: “But the rule defines the standard for affordability more narrowly than most consumer groups had hoped — as an amount less than 9.5 percent of household income to cover just that employee’s share of premium costs, not on what he or she must pay to cover their entire family, which is generally more expensive” (Appleby, 1/30).Also on Capsules, Mary Agnes Carey reports on what a group of Medicare experts consider to be their wish list: “The three experts want to see a permanent fix for the payment formula for doctors. That formula, called the sustainable growth rate, or SGR, has threatened large payment cuts nearly every year since being implemented and Congress has repeatedly stepped in to stop it. And all said it’s high time Congress confirms a CMS administrator” (Carey, 1/30). Check out what else is on the blog.The New York Times: Federal Rule Limits Aid To Families Who Can’t Afford Employers Health CoverageThe Obama administration adopted a strict definition of affordable health insurance on Wednesday that will deny federal financial assistance to millions of Americans with modest incomes who cannot afford family coverage offered by employers. In deciding whether an employer’s health plan is affordable, the Internal Revenue Service said it would look at the cost of coverage only for an individual employee, not for a family (Pear, 1/30).The Wall Street Journal: Workers’ Children Won’t Get SubsidiesThe decision, announced by the Obama administration on Wednesday, means some low-income Americans whose employer-plan premiums are beyond their means won’t be eligible for the main perk of the law. Several provisions are behind the wrinkle (Radnofsky, 1/30).The Associated Press/Washington Post: IRS: Some Families Who Can’t Afford Coverage On The Job Can’t Get Govt. Aid To Buy Health PlansSome families could get priced out of health insurance due to what’s being called a glitch in President Barack Obama’s overhaul law. IRS regulations issued Wednesday failed to fix the problem as liberal backers of the president’s plan had hoped (1/30).The Washington Post: Medicare To Adjust Payment For Dialysis Drugs After Overspending MillionsThe Medicare system is recalculating how much it will reimburse hospitals and clinics for the drugs used to treat dialysis patients after federal auditors found recently that the program could save as much as $880 million annually. An analysis by The Washington Post in August showed that the government was overspending by hundreds of millions for just one group of those drugs (Whoriskey, 1/30).The Associated Press/Washington Post: Medicare Expands Competitive Bids For Medical Equipment; Big Savings Seen For Some SeniorsSavings are also coming for many patients who rent home oxygen gear, hospital beds, wheelchairs and other equipment. Medicare deputy administrator Jonathan Blum said Wednesday its due to competitive bidding making inroads against wasteful spending (1/30).The Wall Street Journal: Some Unions Grow Wary Of Health Law They BackedLabor unions enthusiastically backed the Obama administration’s health-care overhaul when it was up for debate. Now that the law is rolling out, some are turning sour. Union leaders say many of the law’s requirements will drive up the costs for their health-care plans and make unionized workers less competitive. Among other things, the law eliminates the caps on medical benefits and prescription drugs used as cost-containment measures in many health-care plans. It also allows children to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26 (Adamy and Trottman, 1/30).Politico: Brady To Take On Medicare ChallengesCongress has done little but bicker over Medicare for the past few years, but Rep. Kevin Brady still thinks he has a shot at fixing the program now that he’s leading a powerful health panel. As newly installed Health Subcommittee chairman for the Ways and Means Committee, the Texas Republican is already working on two projects that lawmakers have pushed to the back burner for years because they were too contentious to solve (Cunningham, 1/31).The New York Times: Making ‘Every Patient Counts’ A Business ImperativeDrug companies are fond of saying that every patient counts, but in the world of orphan diseases, entire business plans are built around the idea (Thomas, 1/30).The New York Times: Federal Agents Raid Offices Of Donor Linked To Senator MenendezThe Federal Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday raided the offices of a prominent South Florida eye surgeon who is a wealthy Democratic Party donor with close ties to Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey (Robles, 1/30).USA Today/The Cincinnati Enquirer: Ohio Governor Weighs Medicaid ExpansionOhio could be among a growing contingent of Republican-led states leaning toward expanding Medicaid coverage for hundreds of thousands of low-income residents. In an interview with The Cincinnati Enquirer this week, Ohio Gov. John Kasich hinted he would call for expanding the joint federal-state health care program for poor and disabled in his pending two-year budget proposal, which is due Monday (Bernard-Kuhn, 1/30).Los Angeles Times: Beach Cities Are Getting Healthier, Data ShowA comprehensive effort to improve the health of residents living in the beach cities is doing just that, according to new data released Wednesday. Beginning in 2010, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach started making changes in homes, workplaces and schools to improve the well-being of people living in the region. They revamped restaurant menus, started “walking school buses” for children and created neighborhood gardens. Hermosa Beach passed an anti-smoking ordinance and the beach cities began working on adding bike lanes (Gorman, 1/30).Los Angeles Times: County Health Clinic To Open In Skid Row Apartment BuildingRecognizing the high cost of treating homeless patients, Los Angeles County plans to open a health clinic inside a skid row apartment building. Residents of the 102-unit building, scheduled to open this summer on 6th Street, will be carefully chosen based on their health needs and their regular use of the emergency healthcare system (Gorman, 1/30).Check out all of Kaiser Health News’ e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. A brief by the Dartmouth Institute finds that Medicare spending for chronically ill patients at the end of life went up more than 15 percent from 2007 to 2010. The Medicare NewsGroup: End-Of-Life Care Improves But Costs Increase, Study FindsImprovements in end-of-life care have occurred rapidly for Medicare patients but costs have increased, according to a new Dartmouth Institute brief that was released today. The study revealed that beneficiaries in their last six months of life spent fewer days in the hospital and that more patients received hospice services in 2010 as compared to 2007. However Medicare spending for chronically ill patients at the end of life increased more than 15 percent during that time period, while the consumer price index rose only 5.3 percent (Mitchell, 6/12).Los Angeles Times: Los Angeles Leads Nation In Medicare Spending On End-Of-Life CareMore money was spent in the Los Angeles area on chronically ill patients in their final years than anywhere else in the United States, according to new data on Medicare patients released Wednesday. Spending in the last two years of life was about $112,000 per patient in Los Angeles as of 2010, about 60 percent higher than the national average, the report by the Dartmouth Atlas Project showed (Gorman, 6/12). End-Of-Life Care: Study Finds Quality Improving But Costs Increasing
State Highlights: Mass. Legislation Could Undermine Health System Mergers; Wash. Gov. Signs Law To Expand Database Of Health Care Prices News outlets examine health care issues in Massachusetts, Washington, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, California, Louisiana, Connecticut, Texas, New York, Indiana and Maryland. Miami Herald: State Leaders Look To Pass Mental Health Reform — In 2016 The Boston Globe: MassHealth On Massive Hunt To Verify Eligibility The hospital industry in Massachusetts is sharply divided on proposed legislation that could make it harder for health systems to continue the wave of mergers and acquisitions that have been altering the medical landscape. (Dayal McCluskey, 5/14) The Associated Press: NY Hospital Pays $19 Million To Settle Medicare Lawsuit Starting July 1, primary care physicians in Kansas may see patients who pay them a flat monthly fee without fearing that such agreements are subject to state insurance laws. Josh Umbehr, a doctor who runs a Wichita practice that has gained notoriety for practicing under the no-insurance “direct primary care” model, pushed the Legislature to pass a bill that specifies such plans are not health insurance. Gov. Sam Brownback announced last week he had signed the bill. (Marso, 5/14) This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The Associated Press: CDC Study Of Indiana HIV Cases Shows Most Are Same Strain As they reviewed legislative issues affecting children, [Florida] lawmakers and state agency heads said this week they will push again in 2016 for two key bills that died in the abrupt end to this spring’s regular session. An overhaul of the state’s mental-health system and an upgrade of early-learning programs topped a list of legislative priorities at Wednesday’s meeting of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet in Stuart. (Menzel, 5/15) Kansas Health Institute: Direct Primary Care Not Subject To State Insurance Regulation Under New Law Connecticut doctors and hospitals have received close to $300 million in federal funds to adopt and use electronic health records, but the state still lacks a way to ensure they can be shared quickly and easily among medical providers. (Levin Becker, 5/15) The Associated Press: Louisiana House Backs Ban On Abortions Based On Gender The national right-to-die group Final Exit Network was convicted Thursday of assisting in the suicide of a Minnesota woman, after a Baltimore doctor who helped lead the organization and was present for the woman’s death testified against the group. Jurors, who deliberated for about 90 minutes, also found the group guilty of interfering with a death scene. The group faces a maximum fine of $33,000. Sentencing was set for August. It was the first time Final Exit Network has been convicted for its actions. (5/14) Community Access is not a bed and breakfast, although it feels that way when you walk through its unmarked door off Second Avenue on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Also known as Parachute NYC, this quiet seven-bedroom facility is one of four publicly funded mental health centers in New York City (located in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx) that provide an alternative to hospital stays for people on the verge of a mental health crisis. Parachute’s respite centers have no medical staff, no medications, no locks or curfews and no mandatory activities. They are secure, welcoming places where people willingly go to escape pressure in their lives and talk to trained “peer professionals” who can relate to what guests are going through because they are recovering from mental illness themselves. (Vestal, 5/15) The most prominent measure hanging in the balance would reauthorize $3.6 billion of annual taxes on medical providers that are due to expire Sept. 30. An extension is necessary to avoid punching a large hole in Missouri’s $9.4 billion Medicaid health care program for low-income residents. If the reauthorization fails Friday, some legislators suggested that a special session would be needed to try again to pass the bill. (Lieb, 5/15) The Connecticut Mirror: Can The State Build A Better System To Get Your Medical Records To Your Doctors? The Associated Press: Missouri Legislature Enters Final Day Of Session In Turmoil Supporters of greater transparency in health-care costs celebrated a victory Thursday with Gov. Jay Inslee’s signing of legislation that will expand a database of medical prices available to the public. The new law improves upon a measure passed last year that created the all-payer claims database by requiring for the first time that Washington insurance companies share their cost data. Previously the database had access only to limited price information. (Stiffler, 5/14) Louisiana would prohibit abortions based on gender under a bill that won overwhelming, bipartisan passage Thursday from the state House despite questions about whether provisions that allow for lawsuits and damage claims go too far. (DeSlatte, 5/14) Stateline: Keeping The Mentally Ill Out Of Hospitals Federal prosecutors say the Westchester Medical Center has settled a lawsuit that alleged it paid kickbacks for referrals and overcharged Medicare. The hospital in Valhalla agreed to pay nearly $19 million. The U.S. attorney’s office said the medical center helped open a cardiology practice specifically to generate referrals to the hospital, then maintained a financial relationship with the practice, violating kickback laws. (5/14) The Baltimore Sun: Right-To-Die Group Convicted Of Assisting In Minnesota Suicide Locate 1.2 million people. Find even the thousands of them who don’t speak English or don’t have a place to live. Get them to fill out a 26-page application. Process those forms. And get it done by the end of the year. (Freyer, 5/15) The Seattle Times: Inslee Signs Law That Sheds More Light On Medical Prices The Boston Globe: Hospital Industry Split Over Health Care Legislation The Baltimore Sun: University Of Maryland Medical System To Acquire Medicaid Manage Care Firm The University of Maryland Medical System is poised to enter the Medicaid and Medicare managed care market in the state with an agreement to acquire Riverside Health Inc. Timonium-based Riverside employs about 100 people and provides health coverage to 25,000 people enrolled in the Maryland HealthChoice program. (Cohn, 5/14) A genetic analysis of HIV samples taken from about half the people infected in the largest HIV outbreak in Indiana history shows nearly all of them have the same strain of the virus, a finding one health expert says is a sobering reminder of how rapidly HIV can spread among intravenous drug users. (5/14)
BYD increased plug-in electric car sales every month since June 2018In October 2018, sales of plug-in electric cars by BYD amounted in China to 26,066, which is a new record (over 1,000 more than in September) at an annual growth rate of 121%!BYD managed to set five straight records for sales and we wouldn’t mind seeing further increases – maybe above 30,000 monthly by the end of this year?Plug-in car sales for the second month in a row stand at 56% of total BYD car sales.See also Global September Sales: 200,000 Plug-In Electric Cars Sold Tesla Jumps To #1 In Global Plug-In Electric Car Sales In 2018 YTD Source: Electric Vehicle News BYD To Introduce Tang BEV And Song MAX PHEV By End Of 2018 Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on November 10, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle News BYD plug-in electric car sales in China – October 2018With 161,403 sales in China so far this year (up 102% year-over-year), BYD is on track to reach or even exceed the goal of 200,000 for 2018.BYD plug-in electric car sales in China – October 2018BYD offers six plug-in models. Two of those models are available in both BEV and PHEV versions, so a total of eight options.BYD sales breakdown:Tang PHEV – 6,037 (4rd full month of second-generation and 2nd straight new record)Yuan BEV – 5,803 (5th month on the market and 5th straight new record)e5 – 4,460 (a new record)Qin PHEV – 3,889 + 1,250 BEVSong PHEV – 3,160 + 1,078 BEVe6 – 389PHEV and BEVs are selling similarly:BYD plug-in electric car sales in China – October 2018
It will also deliver a 0 to 60 time of 3.2 seconds, a top speed of 180 mph, and weigh just 350 pounds. That’s true sportbike performance with a greater range than many gas-powered motorcycles provide. Vigo doesn’t reveal the secret sauce behind its batteries but does say it uses “a new battery technology which gives much higher battery density, lower weight, and higher loading and unloading speeds.” A rapid charger will put you back on the road in under 30 minutes. It even offers a “gas tank” storage compartment, much like the Honda NC700X.There’s one big problem with Vigo, though: funding. The IndieGoGo campaign set a goal of raising just over $300,000 to fund building a prototype and putting the bike into production. It raised $267. No, I didn’t forget any zeros—two hundred sixty-seven dollars. Campaigns to fund potato salad or launching a TARDIS into space raised far more money than Vigo did.Undaunted by financial woes and failed partnerships, the company is trying once again to fund the production of its electric sportbike that seems to tick all the boxes. This time Vigo is asking people to spread the word far and wide that it is seeking investors in the project. Unfortunately, the response has not been entirely positive.“The only way you’re going to raise funding for this bike is to build a prototype,” says one Facebook commenter. “Then get it out on the road and do range tests, and 0 to 60 mph tests, and record all the real world specs to show you have a product worth supporting. It’s hard to sell a bike with just concept art.” Indeed, all pictures and video of the bike so far are nothing but computer generated drawings.“Are you by chance a Nigerian Prince?” asks another commenter, reflecting on his perceived inability of the company to actually do as it promises. In the software industry, the term “vaporware” is commonly used to describe items that don’t really exist but the company talks about as though they’re already real. Despite Vigo’s efforts to build its bike, which could be revolutionary if its claims about it turn out to be true, so far it remains little except an idea in the world of computer-aided design. Maybe Vigo could appeal to fans of Doctor Who or potato salad to help. Is it real, or is it vaporware?While electric motorcycles offer amazing performance, the major strike against them is their limited range. It’s usually too short to be used for anything more than short trips, and it takes hours to recharge for another go. Vigo promises to change that, if only it can find the funding. Mad Max Motorcycle Road Rage Captured On TeslaCam Energica Unveils Stunning Bolid-E Electric Motorcycle Prototype More E-Bikes Jaguar Enters Electric Motorcycle Biz With Arc Vector Source: Electric Vehicle News Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on December 16, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle News
The EU made official its deal to cut CO2 emissions from new cars by 37.5% by 2030, which should force automakers to sell more electric vehicles in Europe. more…The post EU announces deal to cut emissions from new cars by 37.5%, giving a boost to electric cars appeared first on Electrek. Source: Charge Forward
Swagtron is best known as one of the most affordable electric bicycle, e-scooter and e-everything else manufacturers. And despite their sometimes surprisingly low prices, the Swagtron e-bikes and e-scooters that we’ve tested have been surprisingly well-built.Now the company is showing off their new product lineup at CES 2019 in Las Vegas. And the list is full of impressive and outlandish designs that you’ve just got to see to understand. more…The post Swagtron unveils new weird and wild electric bicycles and scooters appeared first on Electrek. Source: Charge Forward