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Bulletins

It's lidar's world, and we're all just living in it

Aeva Inc raised $200 million in new funding ahead of a SPAC merger, one of several lidar startups to go public recently.

It's lidar's world, and we're all just living in it

Waymo recently opened its self-driving fleet in the Phoenix suburbs up to the public.

Aeva Inc., a lidar startup founded by ex-Apple engineers, raised $200 million in new funding, according to an announcement on Monday. In total, the company has raised over $560 million.


The news comes as Aeva prepares to go public via a SPAC merger with InterPrivate Acquisition Corp. It also comes amid a burst of interest in startups that specialize in lidar, technology that at its core uses lasers to measure distance. Fellow startups Velodyne and Luminar also went public through a SPAC, and Ouster recently said it would merge with Colonnade Acquisition CLA and begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The surge is in-part due to the advancements in autonomous driving. Waymo recently opened up its self-driving fleet to the public in the Phoenix suburbs; Cruise said in December it would begin putting fully driverless cars on the road in San Francisco (the company previously had safety drivers in the vehicles). Apple is also said to be developing a self-driving car slated for unveiling in 2024.

While lidar is often discussed in the context of autonomous vehicles, the tech has broader applications for the automotive industry and beyond. Apple, for example, is rumored to be including a lidar scanner on all new iPhone models moving forward, according to Digitimes. It's currently available only on the iPhone 12 Pro.

Big Tech benefits from Biden’s sweeping immigration actions

Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai praised President Biden's immigration actions, which read like a tech industry wishlist.

Newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden signed two immigration-related executive orders on Wednesday.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Immediately after being sworn in as president Wednesday, Joe Biden signed two pro-immigration executive orders and delivered an immigration bill to Congress that reads like a tech industry wishlist. The move drew enthusiastic praise from tech leaders, including Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai.

President Biden nullified several of former-President Trump's most hawkish immigration policies. His executive orders reversed the so-called "Muslim ban" and instructed the attorney general and the secretary of Homeland Security to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which the Trump administration had sought to end. He also sent an expansive immigration reform bill to Congress that would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented individuals and make it easier for foreign U.S. graduates with STEM degrees to stay in the United States, among other provisions.

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Emily Birnbaum

Emily Birnbaum ( @birnbaum_e) is a tech policy reporter with Protocol. Her coverage focuses on the U.S. government's attempts to regulate one of the most powerful industries in the world, with a focus on antitrust, privacy and politics. Previously, she worked as a tech policy reporter with The Hill after spending several months as a breaking news reporter. She is a Bethesda, Maryland native and proud Kenyon College alumna.

Power

Microsoft wants to use AR to see through fog and smoke

Apple autonomous cars, AI coffee orders, emailing help and other patents from Big Tech.

See what isn't there.

Image: Microsoft/USPTO

It's beyond dark out at 5:30 p.m. these days, so perhaps, as you're stuck at home with nowhere to go, you're tempted to log off your bad screen and onto your good screen a little earlier than you should. Perhaps that's what happened over at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, as this was a bit of a fallow week for patents from Big Tech.

That being said, there were still a few neat ones out there: Microsoft is looking into using AR to actually augment what you see; Apple is hard at work on autonomous vehicles; and Facebook, for some reason, is very concerned about the longevity of magnetic tapes.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

Power

Microsoft wants you to live on as a digital chatbot

Drone blimps, emotional video editing, better Apple Watches and other patents from Big Tech.

Is this the future of customer service or a really creepy way to honor loved ones who've died? Maybe both!

Image: USPTO

Hello patent roundup readers! It's been a while since I've brought you the latest Big Tech filings from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Blame Thanksgiving and the latest Protocol Manuals. But never fear: We're back now, and there were some truly great patents from the last few weeks. Amazon wants to edit content when it thinks you're sad and blanket the world in drone blimps; Apple is thinking about making long-living wearables; and Microsoft wants to digitally resurrect your dead loved ones.

And remember: The big tech companies file all kinds of crazy patents for things, and though most never amount to anything, some end up defining the future.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

Power

How Syng wants to take on Apple’s HomePod

Key former Apple employees are helping the secretive startup build spatial audio speakers.

A new patent application features highly detailed renders of a speaker product in development at the secretive audio startup Syng.

Image: USPTO

Secretive audio startup Syng has a plan to take on smart speaker giants like Apple, Google, Amazon and Sonos: It's building immersive audio speaker technology that's meant to replace your 5.1 living room setup, make you feel like you're on stage with the band, and one day supply the soundtrack for apps running on your AR glasses.

Word of Syng's existence first surfaced in May, when the Financial Times reported that the company was helmed by longtime Apple designer Christopher Stringer as well as key HomePod engineer Afrooz Family. Now, a newly filed patent application reveals not only how Syng's technology works but also shows detailed renders of what may well be Syng's still-unannounced first product.

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Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

Power

Why AWS is bringing Apple’s MacOS to its cloud

Developers writing software for billions of Apple products need to test that software on Apple hardware, and now they can run those tests on AWS.

Given that Apple doesn't license its operating system to companies to install on their own hardware, the Mac Mini has been the cheapest option for a long time. AWS will likely add Mac Minis based on Apple's M1 chip at a later date.

Image: Apple

AWS is now an Apple customer.

Apple developers will be able to use AWS-managed Mac Minis to test their Mac and iOS applications, AWS announced Monday evening on the first day of the virtual re:Invent event. The new Mac instances, based around Intel's Core i7 processors, will allow AWS customers to run Apple developer tools like Xcode alongside other AWS services such as Elastic Block Storage and Virtual Private Cloud.

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Tom Krazit

Tom Krazit ( @tomkrazit) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering cloud computing and enterprise technology out of the Pacific Northwest. He has written and edited stories about the technology industry for almost two decades for publications such as IDG, CNET, paidContent, and GeekWire. He served as executive editor of Gigaom and Structure, and most recently produced a leading cloud computing newsletter called Mostly Cloudy.

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