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Frzr injects frosty, sub-zero air into your gaming laptop to eke out those extra frames per second

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Line is a regular staple at CES, showing off its high-end milled-aluminium docking stations. This year, the company is back in Las Vegas with an accessory aimed squarely at the gamers among us. Line Frzr is a thermoelectric active cooling device that pre-cools the air before it goes into your gaming laptop.

Traditional laptop cooling solutions might increase airflow into the laptop, but Line’s solution takes that strategy a couple of steps further. The Line Frzr cools the air from room temperature to mid-winter frost that a freezer would be proud of, -5°F (or -15°C), before injecting the freezing cold air into the laptop. The theory is that this keeps the computer’s CPU and GPU much cooler, enabling them to run cooler, and therefore at a higher clock speed with greater performance, for longer.

The cool-looking tech is using thermoelectric cooling, but instead of bonding the Peltier elements directly to the processors (which is a well-documented awful idea), Line’s team came up with a different approach — pre-cooling the air with a pair of little cooling towers, and blasting it into the laptop from there. The design relies on the most common design architecture for gaming laptops, the company tells me. The battery lives underneath the keyboard, and the laptop is lifted up on little feet for maximum air circulation, typically with two air-thirsty fans.

“Electronic components have recommended operating temperatures; the same goes for thermal paste on CPU/GPU, and most importantly the battery,” explains Nancy de Fays, co-founder at Line, explaining why blasting the laptop with sub-zero temperature air won’t harm it. “The Line Frzr does not freeze the entire laptop: it blasts sub-zero temperature air into the laptop air intake. Said air then flows into the fan and finally through the heatsink radiator; laptop fans are rated at subzero temperatures, and on top of that, the system is regulated by infrared sensors monitoring the laptop temperature. When the GPU/CPU drops below 50°C, the system stops cooling.”

The Line Frzr prototype at CES. The holes are designed to align with the air intakes on a gaming laptop — and the little three-pointed star is the temperature sensor. Image: Line, Inc.

“We blow the air into the fans, not into the electronics of the laptop. The Frzr itself isn’t meant to be portable — it is meant to add a huge amount of extra cooling to your gaming laptop when you’re playing at home, and you can harness the power of a real desktop computer,” explains Quentin Malgaud, CEO and co-founder at Line, Inc. “We actually started working on this concept when we were working on the original Indiegogo campaign [in 2017], but we put it on the back burner because it wasn’t efficient enough to be battery powered. In our tests on this bad boy [Malgaud is gesturing at the technical prototype at the company’s CES booth], we saw an up to 25% CPU score improvement.”

“We wanted to create a gaming look, which is why our design has these little cooling towers,” de Fays explains.

I was mildly skeptical as to whether this product is a good idea in the first place. As a layperson, rapidly heating and cooling components that have different thermal properties could cause issues. The company assures me that my worries are unfounded, however, preventing any issues by using the infrared thermostat system that monitors the temperature of the laptop placed on top of Frzr. This automatically activates cooling if and when required, without the need to install drivers. The device takes care of the cooling independently by averaging data from the temperature sensors.

Line demonstrated how well its cooling system works on its functional prototype — in this case, cooling the air surfaces to -13.5°C (7.7°F). Image: Line, Inc.

The company has a patent on the IR sensors that observe the laptop’s temperature, and it has a slew of additional patents in the pipeline.

The product does not have an official price tag yet, but Malgaud suggests that end-users should expect a sub-$300 price tag, and that the company is hoping to get the price down to under $200 by the time the production version is finalized. The company is expecting to start shipping it to eager semi-mobile gamers in October this year.

Source: Tech

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Paack pulls in a $225M Series D led by SoftBank to scale its E-commerce delivery platform

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By now, many of us are familiar with the warehouse robots which populate those vast spaces occupied by the likes of Amazon and others. In particular, Amazon was very much a pioneer of the technology. But it’s 2021 now, and allying warehouse robots with a software logistics platform is no longer the monopoly of one company.

One late-stage startup which has been ‘making hay’ with the whole idea is Paack, an e-commerce delivery platform which a sophisticated software platform that integrates with the robotics which are essential to modern-day logistics operations.

It’s now raised €200m ($225m) in a Series D funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The capital will be used for product development and European expansion.

New participants for this round also include Infravia Capital Partners, First Bridge Ventures, and Endeavor Catalyst. Returning investors include Unbound, Kibo Ventures, Big Sur Ventures, RPS Ventures, Fuse Partners, Rider Global, Castel Capital, and Iñaki Berenguer.

This funding round comes after the creation of a profitable position in its home market of Spain, but Paack claims it’s on track to achieve similar across its European operations, Such as in the UK, France, and Portugal.

Founded by Fernando Benito, Xavier Rosales and Suraj Shirvankar, Paack now says it’s delivering several million orders per month from 150 international clients, processing 10,000 parcels per hour, per site. Some 17 of them are amongst the largest e-commerce retailers in Spain.

The startup’s systems integrate with e-commerce sites. This means consumers are able to customize their delivery schedule at checkout, says the company.

Benito, CEO and Co-founder, said: “Demand for convenient, timely, and more sustainable methods of delivery is going to explode over the next few years and Paack is providing the solution. We use technology to provide consumers with control and choice over their deliveries, and reduce the carbon footprint of our distribution.” 

Max Ohrstrand, Investment Director at SoftBank Investment Advisers said: “As the e-commerce sector continues to flourish and same-day delivery is increasingly the norm for consumers, we believe Paack is well-positioned to become the category leader both in terms of its technology and commitment to sustainability.”

According to research from the World Economic Forum (WEF), the last-mile delivery business is expected to grow 78% by 2030, causing a rise in CO2 emissions of nearly one-third.

As a result, Paack claim it aims to deliver all parcels at carbon net-zero by measuring its environmental impact, using electric last-mile delivery vehicles. It is now seeking certification with The Carbon Trust and United Nations.

In an interview Benito told me: “We have a very clear short term vision which is to lead sustainable e-commerce delivers in Europe… through technology via what we think is perhaps the most advanced tech delivery platform for last-mile delivery. Our CTO was the CTO and co-founder of Google Cloud, for instance.”

“We are developing everything from warehouse automation, time windows, routing integrations etc. in order to achieve the best delivery experience.”

Paack says it is able to work with more than one robotics partner, but presently it is using robots from Chinese firm GEEK.

The company hopes it can compete with the likes of DHL, Instabox, and La Poste in Europe, which are large incumbents.

Source: Tech

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Infermedica raises $30M to expand its AI-based medical guidance platform

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Infermedica, a Poland-founded digital health company that offers AI-powered solutions for symptom analysis and patient triage, has raised $30 million in Series B funding. The round was led by One Peak and included participation from previous investors Karma Ventures, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Heal Capital and Inovo Venture Partners. The new capital means the startup has raised $45 million in total to date.

Founded in 2012, Infermedica aims to make it easier for doctors to pre-diagnose, triage and direct their patients to appropriate medical services. The company’s mission is to make primary care more accessible and affordable by introducing automation into healthcare. Infermedica has created a B2B platform for health systems, payers and providers that automates patient triage, the intake process and follow-up after a visit. Since its launch, Infermedica is being used in more than 30 countries in 19 languages and has completed more than 10 million health checks.

The company offers a preliminary diagnosis symptom checker, an AI-driven software that supports call operators making timely triage recommendations and an application programming interface that allows users to build customized diagnostic solutions from scratch. Like a plethora of competitors, such as Ada Health and Babylon, Infermedica combines the expertise of physicians with its own algorithms to offer symptom triage and patient advice.

In terms of the new funding, Infermedica CEO Piotr Orzechowski told TechCrunch in an email that the investment will be used to further develop the company’s Medical Guidance Platform and add new modules to cover the full primary care journey. Last year, Infermedica’s team grew by 80% to 180 specialists, including physicians, data scientists and engineers. Orzechowski says Infermedica has an ambitious plan to nearly double its team in the next 12 months.

Image Credits: Infermedica

“We will invest heavily into our people and our products, rolling out new modules of our platform as well as expanding our underlying AI capabilities in terms of disease coverage and accuracy,” Orzechowski said. “From the commercial perspective, our goal is to strengthen our position in the US and DACH and we will focus the majority of our sales and marketing efforts there.”

Regarding the future, Orzechowski said he’s a firm believer that there will be fully automated self-care bots in 5-10 years that will be available 24/7 to help providers find solutions to low acuity health concerns, such as a cold or UTI.

“According to WHO, by 2030 we might see a shortage of almost 10 million doctors, nurses and midwives globally,” Orzechowski said. “Having certain constraints on how fast we can train healthcare professionals, our long-term plan assumes that AI will become a core element of every modern healthcare system by navigating patients and automating mundane tasks, saving the precious time of clinical staff and supporting them with clinically accurate technology.”

Infermedica’s Series B round follows its $10 million Series A investment announced in August 2020. The round was led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and digital health fund Heal Capital. Existing investors Karma Ventures, Inovo Venture Partners and Dreamit Ventures also participated in the round.

Source: Tech

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KKR invests $45M into GrowSari, a B2B platform for Filipino MSMEs

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A sari-sari store owner who uses GrowSari

GrowSari, the Manila-based startup that helps small shops grow and digitize, announced today that KKR will lead its Series C round with a $45 million investment. The funds will be used to enter new regions in the Philippines and expand its financial products. The Series C round is still ongoing and the startup says it is already oversubscribed, with the final composition currently being finalized. 

Before its Series C, GrowSari’s total raised was $30 million. TechCrunch last wrote about GrowSari in June 2021, when it announced its Series B. Since then, it has expanded the number of municipalities it serves from 100 to 220, and now has a customer base of 100,000 micro, small and mid-sized enterprise (MSME) store owners. 

Founded in 2016, GrowSari is a B2B platform that offers almost every kind of service that small- to medium-sized retailers, including neighborhood stores that carry daily necessities (called sari-saris), roadside and market shops and pharmacies, need.

For example, it has a wholesale marketplace with products from major fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands like Unilever, P&G and Nestle. It partners with over 200 providers, like telecoms, fintechs and subscription plans, so sari-saris can offer services like top-ups and bill payments to their customers. 

Sari-sari operators can also use GrowSari to launch e-commerce stores and access short-term working capital loans to buy inventory. The startup’s other financial products include digital wallets and cash-in services, and it is looking at adding remittance, insurance and loans in partnership with other providers. 

The new funding will be used to expand into the Visayas and Mindanao, the two other main geographical regions in the Philippines, with the goal of covering all 1.1 million “mom and pop” stores in the Philippines. 

Source: Tech

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