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Offshore U.S. wind farm proposal uses Tesla batteries to store power

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Tesla’s energy business is focused in part on solar power generation, but a big component of the business hopes to use its Powerpack commercial storage batteries in tandem with renewable power generation to store energy until it’s needed. A new proposal, reports Bloomberg, by energy supplier Deepwater Wind would use Tesla’s batteries in a new offshore wind plant near Massachusetts for exactly that purpose.

The plan, which is one of the bids submitted to a request for proposals to supply power to the state of Massachusetts, would see a production facility with 144-megawatt capability build off the coast. The batteries from Tesla would then store the wind-generated energy at peak production times, and hold it in reserve for peak demand hours. It’s exactly how other Tesla Powerpack facilities function, including its Kauai energy storage installation, which opened earlier this year.

The proposed plan includes a 40-megawatt storage capacity, which is less than either 52 MWh facility on Kauai, or the planned 100 KWh set for construction in Australia. But the unique offshore installation would add yet another example of how Tesla’s battery storage can supplement a range of power generation methods, which would help with its larger goal of demonstrating how it can be applied to a wide variety of requirements.

Deepwater will still have to compete with other bids, but it’s already built the first ever U.S. offshore wind farm near Rhode Island.

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Gadgets

Nintendo nabs two-thirds of monthly game hardware sales thanks to Switch

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Nintendo has managed to lead the industry in video game hardware sales – by a wide margin – for September, which is a very promising sign going into the holiday shopping season. The Nintendo Switch helped this immensely, leading the industry as the top-selling console for the third straight month, and the fifth month overall since its introduction seven months ago.

Switch’s U.S. sales have now topped 2 million units, which is great considering that the Wii U sold all of 6.23 million units across North America during its entire time on the market. Nintendo Switch’s success was also bolstered by continuing 3DS device family sales, as well as Super NES Classic Edition sales, both of which helped it not only lead, but essentially dominate the video game hardware market.

Nintendo Switch is moving into some high-profile software releases for Switch that should help it gain even more consumer traction, including Super Mario Odyssey, which lands on October 27 and which has been widely praised by early players and critics, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which, despite being a port of a game that’s now nearly six years old, will still no doubt be a popular download.

Nintendo also just released a software update for the Nintendo Switch that allows data transfer between consoles, including saves, and I can confirm that this works as advertised from personal experience. It’s also added the ability to save and share video clips from certain games, which could help raise the hype factor around high-profile releases. Also, and again from personal experience, this console has basically had just a ton of great releases thus far, which makes me very excited about its future.
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Gadgets

Romeo Power unveils its first consumer power packs

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Romeo Power has just announced what looks to be the mobile charging device of my dreams.

Its wand-shaped “Saber,” using the company’s proprietary power management technology, is a compact little charger that seems ideal for keeping my three-year-old, busted-up MacBook running when I’m on the go.

My computer shuts down within five minutes if it’s separated from an outlet, which means I can’t reap the only benefit of my blogging existence… working from anywhere (Malibu beaches, I’m looking at you).

At least, that was the case until I saw my Romeo (power pack that is).

The company was founded by engineers and designers from SpaceX, Tesla, Samsung, Apple and Amazon, and the personal power pack they designed uses the same technology the company has raised $30 million to roll out for electric vehicles and stationary battery packs.

“Saber is like having a wall socket in your pocket,” touts Dion Isselhardt, the company’s chief design officer and the former senior director of design at Samsung’s Strategy and Innovation Center.

The charger offers 86 watt-hours of power, charges fully in two hours and can recharge most laptops two times. It can charge a tablet two-to-four-times and a phone more than 10 times, the company said.

In outlet-empty, coffee shop-rich cities like Los Angeles, where would-be scribblers would ideally like to spend hours tap-tap-tapping away on the next big screenplay, these chargers could be a blessing (for restaurants and coffee shops… not so much).

The only other battery packs I’ve seen come close are ChargeTech’s, which retail for $249 and are a little bulkier in design. Other battery packs offer a lot of the same charging capabilities, but size and the AC adapter (for Macs) set the ChargeTech and Romeo Power batteries apart (in my book).

The power pack features a Variable AC, USB-C and two USB ports for charging any device that’s less than 90 watts — anything from a drone to DSLR camera to a 15-inch 85-watt MacBook Pro.

The thing can also charge four devices at once with no other accessories required. It clocks in at a fairly hefty 2.2 pounds, but given the power it’s packing, that’s not a large price to pay for the convenience it offers.

As a bonus, the charger is FAA- and TSA-approved, dust proof and water-resistant (I’m looking closer at you, Malibu beaches).

There’s also the battery pack’s power management technology, which recognizes different devices and auto-adjusts output for rapid charging.

The device will come in blue, red, or black and retails for $299 with a pre-order price of $199.

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Business

Data is the name of the game, as Intel Capital puts $60M in 15 startups, $566M in 2017 overall

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Intel Capital, the investment arm of the processor giant, is today announcing its latest tranche of investments, a total of nearly $60 million going in to 15 startups that are working on solving different problems in the bigger area of big data (with a full rundown below). The investments come on the back of a big year for the group: In 2017 so far, Intel says that it’s invested $566 million in startups in its portfolio.

The focus on big data in this latest group of startups comes out of a new turn for Intel and how it’s been making strategic investments in recent times.

Intel Capital is one of the bigger names when it comes corporate tech investing. In total, it has invested $12.2 billion in 1,500 companies since 1991. But the operation went through a rocky patch in 2016 — where its parent considered selling its portfolio for $1 billion in 2016, yet instead opted instead to restructure.

Part of the outcome of that has been a lot more strategic focus for Intel Capital, where the investments are made to fit more closely with how Intel would like to position its wider business. And as Intel looks for new areas of business like connected cars and healthcare where it can carve out a position for its chipmaking operations, data is one of the pervasive themes.

“The world is undergoing a data explosion,” said Wendell Brooks, Intel SVP and president of Intel Capital, in a statement. “By 2020, every autonomous vehicle on the road will create 4 TB of data per day. A million self-driving cars will create the same amount of data every day as 3 billion people. As Intel transitions to a data company, Intel Capital is actively investing in startups across the technology spectrum that can help expand the data ecosystem and pathfind important new technologies,” Brooks said. (If you’re wondering about “pathfind” — this might help).

Another outcome has been a push for more diversity: Intel says that now 10 percent of its portfolio is led by women and other underrepresented groups in the tech industry. The cohort today meanwhile hails from the United States, Canada, China, Israel and Japan.

There have been other recent announcements that point to Intel’s more focused investing approach. For example, in September the company announced that it had invested over $1 billion in AI companies.

Intel’s making a bigger presentation about the investments in its CEO Showcase today. You can watch that event here. Here’s a rundown of the companies, and we have reached out to Intel to get an idea of the full size of the round for each, although generally Intel doesn’t break out its own individual investments. We’ll update as and when we learn more:

Amenity Analytics (New York, U.S.): text analytics platform to identify actionable signals from unstructured data using machine learning, sentiment analysis and predictive analytics.

Bigstream (Mountain View, California, U.S.): “hyper-acceleration technology” for performance gains on Apache Spark using hardware and software accelerators. Uses advanced compiler technology and transparent support for FPGAs. “Unlike other approaches, Bigstream requires no application code changes or special APIs.”

LeapMind (Tokyo, Japan): focused on improving the accuracy of neural network models and is researching and developing innovative algorithms to reduce the computational complexity of deep learning and original chip architectures for use in small computing environments.

Synthego (Redwood City, California, U.S.): genome engineering solutions. Products include software and synthetic RNA kits designed for CRISPR genome editing and research.  

AdHawk Microsystems (Kitchener, Ontario, Canada): focuses on human-computer interaction using a camera-free eye tracking system, aimed to be used in AR/VR experiences.

Trace (Los Angeles, U.S.): sports AI startup currently focused on soccer, mountain sports and water sports using sensors, video and AI to make performance insights and video highlights.

Bossa Nova Robotics (San Francisco, U.S.): autonomous service robots for the global retail industry.

EchoPixel (Mountain View, California, U.S.): 3D medical visualization software that allows medical professionals to interact with organs and tissues in a 3D space. Its product True 3D is in use at UC San Francisco, Stanford, Cleveland Clinic, Lahey Clinic and Hershey Medical Center.

Horizon Robotics (Beijing, China): integrated and open embedded AI solutions, designing “robot brains” for 1,000 categories of devices.

Reniac (Mountain View, California, U.S.): IO bottleneck solutions. Its Distributed Data Engine “is architected to benefit databases, file systems, networking and storage solutions while freeing more CPU resources to creating business value.”

TileDB Inc. (Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.): manages the TileDB project created at the Intel Science and Technology Center for Big Data, a collaboration between Intel Labs and MIT, focused on “managing massive, multidimensional array data that frequently arise from scientific applications.”

Alcide (Tel Aviv, Israel): network security platform for any combination of container, VM and bare metal data centers operated by multiple orchestration systems, aimed at cyberattacks. Startup is in stealth mode.

Eclypsium (Portland, Oregon, U.S.): technology for organizations to defend their systems against firmware, hardware and supply chain attacks, offering visibility for monitoring systems in their infrastructure for firmware threats and supply chain compromise.

Intezer (Tel Aviv, Israel): cybersecurity solutions for biological immune system concepts, applying a “DNA approach to code.” The world’s first “Code Genome Database” that maps “billions of small fragments of malicious and trusted software.”

Synack (Redwood City, California, U.S.): scalable, continuous, “hacker-powered” testing platform for uncovering security vulnerabilities. It’s hitting a lot of other buzzwords…. Its “on-demand crowdsourced” security platform offers practical insights, analytics and actionable data.
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