Wij willen met u aan tafel zitten en in een openhartig gesprek uitvinden welke uitdagingen en vragen er bij u spelen om zo, gezamelijk, tot een beste oplossing te komen. Oftewel, hoe kan de techniek u ondersteunen in plaats van dat u de techniek moet ondersteunen.

There’s literally a lot more stuff in space than there was last week – or at least, the number of active human-made satellites in Earth’s orbit has gone up quite a bit, thanks to the launch of SpaceX’s first 60 production Starlink satellites. This week also saw movement in other key areas of commercial space, and some continued activity in early-stage space startup ecosystem encouragement.

Some of the ‘New Space’ companies are flexing the advantages that are helping them shake up an industry typically reserved for just a few deep-pocketed defence contractors, and NASA is getting ready for planetary space exploration in more ways than one.

1. SpaceX launches 60 Starlink satellites

The 60 Starlink satellites that SpaceX launched this week are the first that aren’t specifically designated as tester vehicles, even though it launched a batch of 60 earlier this year, too. These ones will form the cornerstone of between 300-400 or so that will provide the first commercial service to customers in the U.S. and Canada next year, if everything goes to SpaceX’s plan for its new global broadband service.

Aside from being the building blocks for the company’s first direct-to-consumer product, this launch was also an opportunity for SpaceX to show just how far its come with reusability. It flew the company’s first recovered rocket fairing, for instance, and also used a Falcon 9 booster for the fourth time – and landed it, so that it can potentially use it on yet another mission in the future.

2. Rocket Lab’s new room-sized robot can don in 12-hours what used to take ‘hundreds’

Rocket Lab is aiming to providing increasingly high-frequency launch capabilities, and the company has a new robot to help it achieve very quick turnaround on rocket production: Rosie. Rosie the Robot can produce a launch vehicle about once every 12 hours – handling the key task of processing the company’s Electron carbon composite stages in a way that cuts what used to take hundreds of manual work hours into something that can be done twice a day.

3. SpaceX completes Crew Dragon static fire test

This is big because the last time SpaceX fired up the Crew Dragon’s crucial SuperDraco thrust system, it exploded and took the capsule with it. Now, the crew spacecraft can move on to the next step of demonstrating an in-flight abort (the emergency ‘cancel’ procedure that will let astronauts on board get out with their lives in the case of a post-launch, mid-flight emergency) and then it’s on to crewed tests.

4. Virgin Galactic’s first paying customers are doing their astronaut training

It’s not like they’ll have to get out and fix something in zero gravity or anything, but the rich few who have paid Virgin Galactic $ 250,000 per seat for a trip to space will still need to train before they go up. They’ve now begun doing just that, as Virgin looks to the first half of next year for its first commercial space tourism flights.

5. TechStars launches another space tech accelerator

They have a couple now, and this new one is done in partnership with the U.S. Air Force, along with allied government agencies in The Netherlands and Norway. This one doesn’t require that participants relocated to a central hub for the duration of the program, which should mean more global appeal.

6. NASA funds new Stingray-inspired biomimetic spacecraft

Bespin’s cloud cars were cool, but a more realistic way to navigate the upper atmosphere of a gaseous planet might actually be with robotic stingrays that really flap their ‘fins.’ Yes, actually.

7. Blue Origin’s lunar lander partner Draper talks blending old and new space companies

Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos announced a multi-partner team that will work on the company’s lunar lander, and its orbital delivery mechanism. A key ingredient there is longtime space industry experts Draper, which was born out of MIT and which is perhaps most famous for having developed the Apollo 11 guidance system. Draper will be developing the avionics and guidance systems for Blue Origin’s lunar lander, too, and Mike Butcher caught up with Draper CEO Ken Gabriel to discuss. (Extra Crunch subscription required)


TechCrunch

Facebook is buying CTRL-labs, a NY-based startup building an armband that translates movement and the wearer’s neural impulses into digital input signals, a company spokesperson tells TechCrunch.

CTRL-labs raised $ 67 million according to Crunchbase. The startup’s investors include GV, Lux Capital, Amazon’s Alexa Fund, Spark Capital, Founders Fund, among others. Facebook didn’t disclose how much they paid for the startup, but we’re digging around.

The acquisition, which has not yet closed, will bring the startup into the company’s Facebook Reality Labs division. CTRL labs’ CEO and co-founder Thomas Reardon, a veteran technologist whose accolades include founding the team at Microsoft that built Internet Explorer, will be joining Facebook while CTRL-labs’ employees will have the option to do the same, we are told.

Facebook has talked a lot about working on a non-invasive brain input device that can make things like text entry possible just by thinking. So far, most of the company’s progress on that project appears to be taking the form of university research that they’ve funded. With this acquisition, the company appears to be working more closely with technology that could one day be productized.

“We know there are more natural, intuitive ways to interact with devices and technology. And we want to build them,” Facebook AR/VR VP Andrew Bosworth wrote in a post announcing the deal. “It’s why we’ve agreed to acquire CTRL-labs. They will be joining our Facebook Reality Labs team where we hope to build this kind of technology, at scale, and get it into consumer products faster.”

CTRL-labs’ technology isn’t focused on text-entry as much as it is muscle movement and hand movements specifically. The startup’s progress was most recently distilled in a developer kit which paired multiple types of sensors together to accurately determine the wearer’s hand position. The wrist-worn device offered developers an alternative to camera-based or glove-based hand-tracking solutions. The company has previously talked about AR and VR input as a clear use case for the kit. Facebook did not give details on what this acquisition means for developers currently using CTRL-labs’ kit.

This acquisition also brings the armband patents of North (formerly Thalmic Labs) to Facebook. CTRL-labs purchased the patents related to the startup’s defunct Myo armband earlier this year for an undisclosed sum.

CTRL-labs acquisition brings more IP and talent under Facebook’s wings as competitors like Microsoft and Apple continue to build out augmented reality products. There is plenty of overlap between many of the technologies that Oculus is building for Facebook’s virtual reality products like the Quest and Rift S, but CTRL-Labs’ tech can help the company build input devices that are less bulky, less conspicuous and more robust.

“There are some fundamental advantages that we have over really any camera-based technology — including Leap Motion or Kinect — because we’re directly on the body sensing the signal that’s going from the brain to the hand.”  CTRL-labs Head of R&D Adam Berenzweig told TechCrunch in an interview late last year. “There are no issues with collusion or field-of-view problems — it doesn’t matter where your hands are, whether they’re in a glove or a spacesuit.”

Facebook is holding its Oculus Connect 6 developer conference later this week where the company will be delivering updates on its AR/VR efforts.


TechCrunch

Valkyrie Industries off-handedly refers to the current iteration of its VR suit as “Iron Man v. 1.” It’s a fitting reference. There’s a very “first half of the superhero film” vibe to the prototype. There are exposed wires everywhere and large, clunky 3D printed pieces that clip onto various body parts. In a more finalized version, it will probably look like something more akin to a wetsuit. For now, however, the wearable haptic product looks like a bit of steampunk cosplay.

We met with the London-based team at the Brinc accelerator in Hong Kong. I admit to being a bit wary at first mention of a haptic body suit for VR. We’ve seen a number of wearables throughout the years designed specifically to offer a more immersive gaming experience. Among the key places Valkyrie sets itself apart, however, is target market.

Rather than targeting the fairly limited world of VR gaming, however, the startup has its eyes on professional applications. This technology will almost certainly be cost prohibitive for the foreseeable future, making it something of a nonstarter for a majority of home users (the bill of materials for the current version is somewhere in the neighborhood of $ 1.5k). Big companies, on the other hand, would like be far more willing to invest in a technology that could simplify and streamline the training process, particularly for dangerous and otherwise complex positions.

The system utilizes electrical impulses to stimulate muscles, approximating resistance and touch. With the product still very much in the early stages (the three-person company is currently seed funded), we were unable to actually try out the product.

But Valkyrie has already demoed the product for a number of high profile companies and government industries, who are interested in the product for both training purposes and potential teleoperation, giving wearers the ability to control and manipulate objects at a safe distance.


TechCrunch

Created by R the Company. Powered by SiteMuze.