|From: Julius Wong||7/8/2019 8:42:31 PM|
|The Car Engine of Tomorrow: Cleaner, Lighter, With One Moving Part |
Aquarius Engines is developing a super-efficient, 22-pound gasoline engine, as startups, auto makers and researchers reimagine the more than century-old technology
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|From: Glenn Petersen||7/12/2019 10:56:45 AM|
|Iconic brands lose their luster|
July 11, 2019
From Oscar Mayer and Campbell's to Clairol and CoverGirl, some of America's most famous supermarket and drug store brands are losing market share as consumers' tastes and shopping habits change.
Why it matters: The challenges facing well-loved brands reflect shifts that aren't likely to swing back in their favor. As older companies scramble to keep up with upstart competitors, they are introducing more modern product lines, like ones with plant-based ingredients.
Driving the news: Legacy brands are concentrated within a handful of huge corporations that are losing money on various business lines as their products fade in relevance and popularity.
-- Kraft Heinz said this year that the value of its Oscar Mayer and Kraft brands — with products like Oscar Mayer hot dogs, Jell-O and Kraft Mac & Cheese — were worth $15 billion less than it had previously stated.These companies' "standard prescriptions for defending" their brands "no longer seem to be yielding results," Carol Phillips, founder the Brand Amplitude consulting firm — which counted Campbell Soup as a client — tells Axios.
-- Coty, which purchased the Clairol and CoverGirl brands from Procter & Gamble 3 years ago, recently wrote down the value of those brands by $3 billion, following a previous writedown of $965 million.
-- Sales of Campbell's namesake soups have fallen in 8 out of the past 10 fiscal years, per the Wall Street Journal.
-- "The tough thing about these products is they are really hard to improve on," she says.What's happening: Consumers are piling into nouveau and generic brands — like Kylie Jenner's Kylie Cosmetics and Brandless —some of which aren't even sold in physical stores.
-- "About the only thing you can do to it is change the package."
-- Newer brands captured 31% of revenue share growth within the last four years — an increase from 27% in prior years, according to a recent Bain & Co. report.Between the lines: The companies that used to set the trends are now the followers. Desperate to remain relevant, old-line companies — already late — often jump into the fad of the moment.
-- "The barriers to entry and the cost of launching a new brand have never been lower," the Bain report said
-- Amazon has hundreds of its own brands across nearly every product category, according to research firm Marketplace Pulse.
-- Coty is reportedly in talks to take a stake in Kylie Cosmetics.With plant-based foods so popular these days, a lot of companies are embracing the trend.
-- General Mills, struggling to lift sales of its cereals, yogurts and snacks, purchased Blue Buffalo, buying into the high-end organic pet food craze.
-- Conagra, which owns brands like Slim Jim and Hunt's ketchup, bought Pinnacle Foods (the maker of Bird's Eye, Hungry Man, Duncan Hines and others) in an attempt to cash in on demand for convenient frozen food. But months after the purchase, CEO Sean Connolly told the WSJ that Pinnacle's portfolio was “more negative than any of us anticipated it would be."
-- StarKist is hoping that a deal to feature its tuna fish in Home Chef's meal kits will help re-spark its relevance among consumers, it told the Wall Street Journal.
-- Tyson Foods, well known for its chicken nuggets, plans to roll out plant-based nuggets.These strategies are "a total crapshoot," says Robert Passikoff, founder of the consultancy Brand Keys.
-- Conagra will "tap into the plant-based meat-alternative opportunity," Connolly told analysts last month.
--Campbell Soup said it would introduce a “plant-based cooking platform."
The bottom line: What is a setback for the companies that once dominated store shelves is a boon for consumers, who have more options than ever.
-- “They have more choice and better products," Phillips says. "Finally, choice has proliferated.”axios.com
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|To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (2563)||7/13/2019 10:19:25 AM|
|From: Glenn Petersen|
|A digital breadcrumb trail for deepfakes|
July 12, 2019
Altered image: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
There is a pitched struggle underway between the makers of fake AI-generated videos and images and forensics experts trying desperately to uncover them. And the detectives are losing.
Why it matters: Their effort is the leading edge in a massive scramble to stave off a potential landscape in which it's impossible to know what's true and what isn't.
Experts are developing methods to verify photos and videos at the precise moment they're taken, leaving no room for doubt about their authenticity. This portends a cynical future in which media must leave a detailed digital breadcrumb trail in order to be believed.
-- Some worry that if authentication becomes the default, people without access to verification technology — or who can't give up sensitive information about their location — will lose out."My concern is that if they actually achieve their end-state goal that they describe, that might work against people who are already marginalized, and might perpetuate data surveillance," says Sam Gregory, a program manager at the human-rights nonprofit WITNESS.
-- One possible outcome: a bifurcated world in which some photos and videos, published by those who can afford the tools and visibility, are accompanied by a green checkmark — but other media languish in obscurity and doubt.
Where it stands: The consensus today is that detecting deepfakes after they've been created is a stopgap — not a permanent solution.
-- With billions of photos now uploaded to social media every day — and deepfakes becoming increasingly easy to make — catching forgeries needs automated detection tools, which are unlikely to ever catch even the majority of fakes.What's happening: The main alternative is to verify a photo or video at the source, using unique information about the specific camera that's taking it.
-- "I don't believe forensics can work in the long run," says Pawel Korus, a professor of engineering at NYU. "It was never reliable enough to begin with, and it's starting to break as cameras are doing more and more interesting things."
-- The ultimate vision is a universal indicator of veracity to accompany photos and videos on Facebook, YouTube, and other social media.Several startups are working on this nascent technology.
-- But in this future, the all-important imprimatur of truth may not be in everyone's reach.
-- "The people who will be de facto excluded in a system of authentication will be people who are in the Global South, use a jailbroken phone, probably are women, probably are in rural areas," Gregory tells Axios.
-- TruePic, a venture-backed startup, wants to work with hardware manufacturers — Qualcomm, for now — to log of photos and videos the instant they're captured.What's next: All three companies told Axios that a widespread built-in verification system is still years away. For now, they are working with industries that need to be able to trust incoming videos and photos — TruePic with insurers, Amber with body camera makers, and Serelay with media companies.
-- Amber, a small San Francisco startup, sends an encrypted record of photos and videos to a blockchain, so viewers can check if clips were later altered.
-- Serelay, based in the U.K., saves about 100 phone sensor readings every time you snap a photo — GPS, pressure sensor, gyroscope, etc. — to check its veracity.
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