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5 Innovations in Assistive Technology to Keep on Your Radar

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In recent years, several innovative advances have emerged at the hands of tech companies and university programs. While all technological breakthroughs can send a current of electric excitement running through communities at large, techies, inventors, accessibility advocates, and consumers, in particular, have every reason to celebrate as accessible assistive technologies roll out in unprecedented numbers. The right assistive technology may be the difference between some individuals gaining access to the internet, career-advancing software, social media platforms, and virtual recreation tools or lagging behind their tech-savvy counterparts. As such, the advances certainly warrant the hype. If you’re interested in watching the future of digital accessibility unfold, keep your eyes on these five groundbreaking innovations in assistive technology.

Elderly-friendly computers

While senior citizens are often wrongfully associated with technology incompetency, elderly adults have embraced the digital age in more significant numbers than ever. As the COVID-19 pandemic raged, telehealth medical appointments and virtual socializing evolved into adaptive tools that many older adults had no choice but to navigate. In the post-COVID era, gone will be the days where grandma and grandpa can turn their backs to web surfing or socializing via Facebook.

Of course, when it comes to technology use, interest isn’t everything. Many seniors are eager to learn but experience difficulties operating computers and phones on account of disabilities or health-related impairments. Since a significant percentage of elderly individuals suffer from visual and hearing impairments, and an even larger number faces a learning curve that a lifelong lack of exposure to technology inflicts, many older adults feel barred from using a computer.

Enter senior-friendly computers like these. Assistive computers designed for use by elderly adults offer large touch-screen monitors, simple text zoom features, and highly user-friendly applications. With the help of technology tailored to older adults’ needs, bridging the digital gap between technoid teens and struggling seniors are possible.

Assistance devices for visually impaired users

While the Amazon Echo dot impressed many upon its release, its new “Show and Tell” feature boasts a life-changing accessibility option for its blind or low vision users. Those who are visually impaired can hold an object to a built-in camera. Upon asking, “Alexa, what am I holding?” the Echo dot will verbally identify the object. The Echo executes object recognition features through advanced computer vision technologies that Amazon developed to assist with visual accessibility, early childhood learning, shopping, and more.

Naturally, Amazon isn’t the only corporation to incorporate object identification into its accessibility model. Apps like iDentifi, which employ the customer’s cellphone camera to identify objects, are growing in popularity, and Microsoft’s Seeing AI interprets and narrates an individual’s surroundings.

Accessible gaming tools

Studies estimate that over 170 million adults in the United States regularly enjoy playing video games. Unfortunately, while the number may seem large, a disappointing amount of teens and adults with mobility-related disadvantages are still missing out. Video games that ask players to participate by operating complex hand-held tools or require verbal communication with other players present challenges to those who may not move their hands, fingers, or mouths quickly, comfortably, or effectively.

Since those with sensory-motor or fine-motor disabilities may struggle to enjoy video games that require manual dexterity to operate hand-held gaming controls, Microsoft set out to develop a suite of video games driven by eye movement only. As such, Microsoft’s “Eyes First” game suite was born. Employing technologies like Windows Eye Control, the games use eye-tracking devices to allow for hands-free gaming. Most eye-tracking gaming tools track eye movement by emitting infrared light and measuring the eyes’ reflection. Some “eye first” technologies enable users to use eye movement to supplement and complement hand-held controllers.

Sign language-speaking robots

Over six percent of the world’s population struggles with a disabling hearing loss of some kind, but the proportions of sing language interpreters leave something to be desired. When a team of graduate students at the University of Antwerps noticed the need to compensate for a global shortage of sign language interpreters, they developed a robotic one. The engineers’ humanoid robot hand can communicate in highly accurate sign language after scanning and reading written text. Individuals who are deaf or hearing impaired can use the robot to read the text and convert what it has read into signed words, letters, and numbers.

Following suit, engineers at the University of California, San Diego, developed a low-cost alternative to sign language-translating gloves, which tend to be highly expensive otherwise. While the team hopes to one day implement its visual recognition features in virtual reality games or programs, the robotic gloves currently convert American Sign Language letters into text with the help of a computer or smartphone. Once the hard-of-hearing communicator puts on the gloves and signs, sensors on the finger pads process the American Sign Language words. Then, the gloves convert the words or phrases to text and send it in a message that appears on a smartphone or computer screen.

Smart glasses

Social interaction can pose a challenge for children and adults who identify on the autism spectrum and contend with developmental or learning delays. While all individuals on the autism spectrum possess unique strengths and setbacks, autistic children and teens tend to note that social interactions feel less intuitive and more confusing. Challenges surrounding facial recognition and the ability to make eye contact can make attempts to perceive emotion-related nonverbal cues difficult. For those who misunderstand facial expressions and body language, making friends, connecting with peers, navigating social situations, and maintaining professional relationships can feel like an impossible feat.

Fortunately, companies like Brain Power recognized the opportunity to assist and have since developed smart glasses, encouraging users to practice socially interactive behaviors while wearing the glasses. The technology measures eye contact maintenance and rewards the user with points each time the user maintains eye contact for a socially appropriate amount of time. Users can also win virtual recognition like stars or stickers under the condition that they accurately intuit the emotion associated with another person’s facial expressions.

In conclusion

There’s still plenty of work to be done when it comes to accessibility. Still, as groundbreaking assistive technologies continue to blast off, a larger spectrum of individuals can access the knowledge, connection, and creative potential offered by digital tools (and that’s something to celebrate). Luckily, the end is nowhere in sight.

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Source: https://www.techpluto.com/5-innovations-in-assistive-technology-to-keep-on-your-radar/

Start Ups

The Briefing: CARS24 Raises $450M, Airwallex Closes On $200M At $4B Valuation, And More

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Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

Subscribe to the Crunchbase Daily

India’s CARS24 raises $450M at $1.84B valuation

CARS24, an India-based e-commerce platform for used vehicles, announced it has raised $450 million in fresh funding at valuation of $1.84 billion.

The financing consists of $340 million in Series F equity and $110 million in debt.  DST Global, Falcon Edge and SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led the Series F equity round for the 6-year-old company.

—  Joanna Glasner

Airwallex closes on $200M valued at $4B

Melbourne-based Airwallex, a global payments company, has raised $200 million led by Lone Pine Capital, fast on the heels of a Series D extension earlier this year. Airwallex customers set up accounts to accept international payments in preferred currencies to reduce fees.

This brings its total funding to $702 million and values the company at $4 billion. New investors G Squared and Vetamer Capital joined the round as well as existing investors  1835i Ventures, DST Global, Salesforce Ventures 1 and Sequoia Capital China.

— Gené Teare

Heartcore closes $250M consumer fund

Heartcore, a Copenhagen-based venture fund that invests in consumer-focused startups in Europe, raised $250 million for its newest fund. The firm invests around the thesis of “making people happy” through tech-enabled consumer businesses. The fundraise consists of a $200 million Fund IV and a $50 million vehicle to make follow-on investments in existing portfolio companies.

—  Joanna Glasner

Fintech

Flobiz raises $31M: India-based mobile billing startup Flobiz has closed on a $31 million Series B led by Sequoia Capital India and Think Investments. Flobiz helps small businesses with payments and inventory management and works online and offline. Its customers included wholesalers, manufacturers, retailers, distributors and merchants. Existing investors Elevation Capital and BEENEXT participated in the round as well as many angel investors

— Gené Teare

Logistics

Altana AI snags $15M for supply chains: Altana AI, developer of an artificial intelligence-powered platform for navigating global supply chains, raised $15 million in a Series A funding led by Google‘s GV.

—  Joanna Glasner

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-9-20-21/

Continue Reading

Start Ups

The Briefing: CARS24 Raises $450M, Airwallex Closes On $200M At $4B Valuation, And More

Published

on

Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

Subscribe to the Crunchbase Daily

India’s CARS24 raises $450M at $1.84B valuation

CARS24, an India-based e-commerce platform for used vehicles, announced it has raised $450 million in fresh funding at valuation of $1.84 billion.

The financing consists of $340 million in Series F equity and $110 million in debt.  DST Global, Falcon Edge and SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led the Series F equity round for the 6-year-old company.

—  Joanna Glasner

Airwallex closes on $200M valued at $4B

Melbourne-based Airwallex, a global payments company, has raised $200 million led by Lone Pine Capital, fast on the heels of a Series D extension earlier this year. Airwallex customers set up accounts to accept international payments in preferred currencies to reduce fees.

This brings its total funding to $702 million and values the company at $4 billion. New investors G Squared and Vetamer Capital joined the round as well as existing investors  1835i Ventures, DST Global, Salesforce Ventures 1 and Sequoia Capital China.

— Gené Teare

Heartcore closes $250M consumer fund

Heartcore, a Copenhagen-based venture fund that invests in consumer-focused startups in Europe, raised $250 million for its newest fund. The firm invests around the thesis of “making people happy” through tech-enabled consumer businesses. The fundraise consists of a $200 million Fund IV and a $50 million vehicle to make follow-on investments in existing portfolio companies.

—  Joanna Glasner

Fintech

Flobiz raises $31M: India-based mobile billing startup Flobiz has closed on a $31 million Series B led by Sequoia Capital India and Think Investments. Flobiz helps small businesses with payments and inventory management and works online and offline. Its customers included wholesalers, manufacturers, retailers, distributors and merchants. Existing investors Elevation Capital and BEENEXT participated in the round as well as many angel investors

— Gené Teare

Logistics

Altana AI snags $15M for supply chains: Altana AI, developer of an artificial intelligence-powered platform for navigating global supply chains, raised $15 million in a Series A funding led by Google‘s GV.

—  Joanna Glasner

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-9-20-21/

Continue Reading

Start Ups

As Investors Pivot To Seed And Growth, Who Is Left Leading Series A?

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Series A funding round sizes have grown significantly in recent years.  

Subscribe to the Crunchbase Daily

Over the past decade, the average global Series A round increased from less than $6 million to more than $18 million, Crunchbase data shows. The median has grown from $3 million to $10 million over the same time period. 1

However, the trend is clear. 

Series A funding still shows a wide range, but with both the median and average up more than threefold through the decade, raising a Series A funding round has become a high bar for startups to clear.

General partner Mark Suster of Upfront Ventures wrote in a post earlier this month on the changing venture landscape that “A-Rounds used to be $3–7 million with the best companies able to skip this smaller amount and raise $10 million on a $40 million pre-money valuation (20% dilution). These days $10 million is quaint for the best A-Rounds and many are raising $20 million at $60–80 million pre-money valuations (or greater).”

Global Average Series A funding from 2012 to August 2021

Over the last decade, we have seen an expansion in fund managers at seed, alongside the early-stage funds that used to focus at Series A, repositioning to seed.  

“What used to be an ‘A’ round in 2011 is now routinely called a Seed round,” Suster wrote, “and this has been so engrained that founders would rather take less money than to have to put the words ‘A round’ in their legal documents.”

Upfront Ventures’ earliest-stage investment is about 70 percent seed and 30 percent pre-seed, he said. “We’re very unlikely to do what people now call an ‘A Round.’ ” 

Who is investing at Series A?

Given these changes in the venture landscape, who is investing at Series A?

We looked at leading investors at Series A in both 2021 and 2020 to get a sense of how the venture climate has shifted in just over a year. 

What we found: Insight Partners, Andreessen Horowitz and Tiger Global have invested the most dollars at Series A in 2021 to date. 

Insight Partners led 28 of these fundings with an average of $47 million and a median of $20 million, per Crunchbase data. Andreessen has led or co-led 29 Series A rounds this year to date, at an average much lower than Insight Partners at $24 million. And Tiger Global is the third-largest investor with 11 deals averaging $46 million. 

Among the investors listed, those with the lowest averages are Craft Ventures, Canaan Partners, Sequoia Capital India, Accel and Spark Capital, each with an average Series A round below $20 million. 

The majority of the firms on our list of Series A leaders have a median funding size below $20 million, Crunchbase data shows. 

Active venture and private equity investors in Series A in 2021

In 2020, leading investors at Series A were GV—which invested heavily in health care—GGV Capital and Andreessen Horowitz.  Overall, the averages and medians were lower last year among investors who put the most money to work leading Series A fundings when compared to 2021. 

Active venture and private equity investors in Series A in 2020

The barbell

Crunchbase data shows that Series A funding globally is up significantly year over year—though, of course, that’s also the case with every other funding stage this year. Even with four months to go before the end of 2021, Series A funding will exceed the record set in 2018. 

We also looked at the number of deals, and found that funding counts of at least $3 million are down a bit since 2018. 

Series A venture funding from 2012 to August 2021

Who leads?

The most active firms at Series A today are multistage venture firms with deep pockets, along with some newer entrants from growth equity firms. 

But when reviewing year-over-year deals for leading firms, not every firm saw an increase in average or median size in 2021. This confirms that at Series A, there are still a wide range of deal sizes to be done — and opportunities. 

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the average Series A for Insight Partners in 2021.

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/investors-pivot-seed-growth-leading-series-a/

Continue Reading

Start Ups

As Investors Pivot To Seed And Growth, Who Is Left Leading Series A?

Published

on

Series A funding round sizes have grown significantly in recent years.  

Subscribe to the Crunchbase Daily

Over the past decade, the average global Series A round increased from less than $6 million to more than $18 million, Crunchbase data shows. The median has grown from $3 million to $10 million over the same time period. 1

However, the trend is clear. 

Series A funding still shows a wide range, but with both the median and average up more than threefold through the decade, raising a Series A funding round has become a high bar for startups to clear.

General partner Mark Suster of Upfront Ventures wrote in a post earlier this month on the changing venture landscape that “A-Rounds used to be $3–7 million with the best companies able to skip this smaller amount and raise $10 million on a $40 million pre-money valuation (20% dilution). These days $10 million is quaint for the best A-Rounds and many are raising $20 million at $60–80 million pre-money valuations (or greater).”

Global Average Series A funding from 2012 to August 2021

Over the last decade, we have seen an expansion in fund managers at seed, alongside the early-stage funds that used to focus at Series A, repositioning to seed.  

“What used to be an ‘A’ round in 2011 is now routinely called a Seed round,” Suster wrote, “and this has been so engrained that founders would rather take less money than to have to put the words ‘A round’ in their legal documents.”

Upfront Ventures’ earliest-stage investment is about 70 percent seed and 30 percent pre-seed, he said. “We’re very unlikely to do what people now call an ‘A Round.’ ” 

Who is investing at Series A?

Given these changes in the venture landscape, who is investing at Series A?

We looked at leading investors at Series A in both 2021 and 2020 to get a sense of how the venture climate has shifted in just over a year. 

What we found: Insight Partners, Andreessen Horowitz and Tiger Global have invested the most dollars at Series A in 2021 to date. 

Insight Partners led 28 of these fundings with an average of $47 million and a median of $20 million, per Crunchbase data. Andreessen has led or co-led 29 Series A rounds this year to date, at an average much lower than Insight Partners at $24 million. And Tiger Global is the third-largest investor with 11 deals averaging $46 million. 

Among the investors listed, those with the lowest averages are Craft Ventures, Canaan Partners, Sequoia Capital India, Accel and Spark Capital, each with an average Series A round below $20 million. 

The majority of the firms on our list of Series A leaders have a median funding size below $20 million, Crunchbase data shows. 

Active venture and private equity investors in Series A in 2021

In 2020, leading investors at Series A were GV—which invested heavily in health care—GGV Capital and Andreessen Horowitz.  Overall, the averages and medians were lower last year among investors who put the most money to work leading Series A fundings when compared to 2021. 

Active venture and private equity investors in Series A in 2020

The barbell

Crunchbase data shows that Series A funding globally is up significantly year over year—though, of course, that’s also the case with every other funding stage this year. Even with four months to go before the end of 2021, Series A funding will exceed the record set in 2018. 

We also looked at the number of deals, and found that funding counts of at least $3 million are down a bit since 2018. 

Series A venture funding from 2012 to August 2021

Who leads?

The most active firms at Series A today are multistage venture firms with deep pockets, along with some newer entrants from growth equity firms. 

But when reviewing year-over-year deals for leading firms, not every firm saw an increase in average or median size in 2021. This confirms that at Series A, there are still a wide range of deal sizes to be done — and opportunities. 

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the average Series A for Insight Partners in 2021.

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/investors-pivot-seed-growth-leading-series-a/

Continue Reading
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