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GE Lighting adds smart thermostats, security cameras and other bright ideas

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GE Lighting, a Savant company, today expands its smart home lineup with a smart thermostat, a temperature sensor, a suite of security cameras and a crate of new lighting products. The company also teases it’s got a lot more home-smartification gadgets in the pipeline, all tied together with the Cync app.

After the company’s lightbulb moment of selling off its GE Lighting division to Savant back in 2020, the increasingly confusingly named GE Lighting (a Savant company) is continuing its innovation spree at CES in Las Vegas, with a slew of new product announcements in the smart home space, under its brand Cync, which used to be called C by GE. The naming alone is making me wonder how many names a product/company needs, and whether a “keep it simple” memo got lost somewhere in the steam pipes underneath the company’s headquarters. Luckily the product lineup is less confusing than its nomenclature, and the new set of products reinforces GE Lighting’s determination to take on the Philips Hue and Nest ecosystems of the world.

“The ‘smartest’ smart home consists of a network of reliable products that work together seamlessly and are easy to install and use, for the ultimate in convenience, comfort and security,” said GE Lighting’s VP of Experiences, Paul Williams. “Our new products give consumers the ability to bolster their Cync smart home with new whole-home capabilities that are hubless and can all be controlled by a single app or voice.”

Cync Smart Thermostat installed in a hallway (Image: GE Lighting)

The new Cync smart thermostat comes with all the features you’d expect from a smart thermostat, but adds a few nice touches, too. Unlike certain other leading thermostats (I’m looking at you, Nest), it can be installed without a common wire, which means it can easily be used to make older apartments with pretty much any type of thermostat leverage the power of smart home tech. The thermostat product will start shipping now-ish, and will cost $120 or so.

The thermostat can be paired with the company’s $30 Room Temperature Sensor to keep an eye on individual rooms, too. For people with central air, that might be an opportunity to finally get the vents opened the right amount; for example, if your bedroom always runs 4 degrees warmer than every other room in the house, adjusting the forced-air vents accordingly might help resolve that problem. Whether you need an actual smart temperature sensor to figure that out is a question for another day, but at least now you have the option.

Cync smart home camera (wired version). Battery-powered versions and an additional, optional, solar panel are also available. (Image: GE Lighting)

Cync launched an outdoor camera a little while back, and today announces a couple of additions to that lineup as well, with a wired or battery/solar-powered option for the Cync Outdoor Smart Camera. Packing 2K/1280P high-definition video feeds and night vision, and a “digital swivel head” (i.e. the option to change the crop of your video), at least on paper the cameras seem like a pretty solid choice. The cameras also have options for increased privacy and security, with cloud and local SD card storage options available. The wired version costs $100, the battery-powered version is $120, and for an additional $45 you can add on a solar panel to keep those eyes a-peepin.

GE Lighting’s Decorative White Exterior Bulbs show that smart bulbs don’t have to look boring (Image: GE Lighting)

The bright sparks in the GE lighting labs have been busy little bees, with a flurry of new products to spruce up the lighting design options for your pad. At CES, the company adds 11 new products, including smart decorative filament-style bulbs in various shapes and sizes, such as candelabra and globe, and an additional lineup of “general purpose bulbs” that took like, er, light bulbs. The new lineup of bright ideas is offered in both white and full-color options. The lights come equipped with Wi-Fi — of course, they wouldn’t be very smart otherwise — unlocking a range of features, including voice control, scheduling, scenes and more — all controlled from the Cync app.

Cync’s app is, of course, controllable by Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home and Apple’s Home Kit.

Source: Tech

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Clean energy firm Husk signs UN energy compact as it begins solar mini-grid expansion in Nigeria, rest of Africa

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Husk Power Systems, a clean energy company that has been at the forefront of fueling rural electrification since 2008, is planning to launch 500 solar mini-grids in Nigeria over the next five years.

The renewable energy firm revealed the plans today when it announced the signing of a voluntary commitment with the United Nations to grow its energy market in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The commitment is contained under the 24/7 Carbon-free Energy Compact, by leading energy buyers, suppliers, equipment manufacturers and governments. The compact represents a global effort to accelerate the uptake of carbon-free electricity as a way of averting the perilous effects of climate change.

The startup currently has operations in Nigeria, Tanzania and India (Uttar Pradesh and Bihar), where it has the ambitious goal of installing at least 5,000 mini-grids by 2030 and in the process make 1 million connections – half of which will be micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. Husk launched its first six mini-grids in Nigeria November last year, and it’s looking to have 100 mini-grids operational in the country within two years.

“Husk is committed to powering households, but our focus is first and foremost on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and public institutions like health clinics and schools. MSMEs are the engine of economies in Africa, and powering existing small businesses and encouraging the formation of new MSMEs helps create the type of economic growth and social benefit that carries over to households by creating more opportunity and more jobs,” the company’s CEO and co-founder Manoj Sinha, told TechCrunch.

The renewable energy firm is planning to launch 500 mini-grids in Nigeria in a period of five years, and is eyeing the rest of Africa for expansion. Image Credits: Husk Power Systems

The firm is now exploring growth opportunities in the western, southern and eastern regions of Africa, while prioritizing the countries that have a “supportive regulatory environment” like its current markets. In Nigeria, for example, mini-grid operators are “largely free of permit requirements for either standalone off-grid mini-grids or interconnected mini-grids.”

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission Mini-Grid Regulation (2016) stipulates the transfer of assets and financial compensation for mini-grid operators in cases where the national grid finally connects the regions where private mini-grids are operational.

Husk is one of the companies participating in the Nigeria Electrification Project, which provides performance-based grants, a sort of capital subsidy, to mini-grid developers — part of the national effort to solve the country’s chronic power supply issues.

“In terms of policy frameworks and regulation, the states where Husk works in India (Uttar Pradesh and Bihar) have supportive policies. And the Nigerian mini-grid policy is actually based on those policies, with additional improvements. As a result, Nigeria is seen to have the most conducive policy in sub-Saharan Africa at the moment, which also includes their Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP), a program administered by the Rural Electrification Agency and funded by the World Bank to provide a capital subsidy to mini-grid developers and accelerate market development,” said Sinha.

The company plans to have additional technological and business model innovations, and the use of AI and IoT to remotely manage its fleet. Image Credits: Husk Power Systems

Nigeria and India are the company’s biggest markets at the moment. A supportive environment encourages investments from private players like Husk, and bridges the energy needs of households and small businesses, especially in rural areas.

Potential markets for Husk include Kenya, which at the start of this month, recognized mini-grid power systems granting them 50% tax allowance and other tax incentives enjoyed by large-scale generators.

“We welcome the Energy Compact commitments made by Husk Power and appreciate their leadership. It showcases the business opportunity presented by the global energy transition, and how private enterprises can drive accelerated action on ending energy poverty, expand renewable energy solutions for consumptive and productive load, and improve the adoption of energy efficiency solutions by end consumers,” said UN Energy programme manager, Kanika Chawla.

According to the World Bank, mini-grids have the potential to provide half a billion people with clean energy by the end of this decade (including those using overburdened grids) with the right policies in place. They also provide cleaner and cheaper alternatives of energy, which could transform the lives of millions of people living in darkness.

Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 75% of the world’s population with no access to renewable energy solutions and electricity. Countries like South Sudan, Burundi, Chad, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Tanzania are among some of the least electrified countries in the world, and could benefit from clean energy from solar or wind.

“For off-grid communities, where diesel generation is the default source of electricity, the savings to our customers are significant. Businesses can expect about a 30% reduction in their monthly energy costs by switching from diesel to solar mini-grid electricity,” said Sinha.

Husk has to date raised $40 million from investors, including the Shell energy company and the Dutch Development bank FMO. The startup, which also provides financing for household and commercial appliances, was recognized last year by the 2021 Renewables Global Status Report as the only mini-grid developer with over 100 community sites in operation.

Source: Tech

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Baidu’s electric car brand Jidu closes $400M Series A round

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Once an industry with long development cycles, the automotive space is being upended by China’s tech giants. One can hardly keep up with all the new electric vehicle brands that come out of the country nowadays. Jidu, an electric carmaking company founded by Baidu and its Chinese auto partner Geely only a year ago, said Wednesday it has banked nearly $400 million in a Series A funding round.

The new injection, bankrolled by Baidu and Geely, which owns Volvo, is a boost to the $300 million initiation capital that Jidu closed last March. The proceeds will speed up Jidu’s R&D and mass production process and allow it to showcase its first concept “robocar” — which it classifies as an automotive robot rather than a car — at the Beijing auto show in April. The mass-produced version of the robocar will launch in 2023.

Jidu’s chief executive Xia Yiping previously headed the connected car unit of Fiat Chrysler in the APAC region and co-founded Mobike, the Chinese bike-sharing pioneer acquired by Meituan in 2018.

The rate at which Jidu has moved forward is remarkable but could easily attract skeptics who question its tech’s viability. The speedy cycle, the carmaker explained, is thanks to its strategy of using a simulated prototype car to develop its smart cockpit and autonomous driving systems, rather than testing individual hardware parts in a mass-produced vehicle.

The carmaker said in as short as nine months, it has “tested and proven” the safety and reliability of its Level 4 (autonomous driving without human interaction in most circumstances) capabilities for urban and highway roads.

The EV startup is also putting a big emphasis on branding and fan community, something its competitor Nio is known for. In December, it started recruiting car lovers to join its “Jidu Union” to geek out about cars at online and offline events.

Moving forward, Jidu will be hiring and training talent specializing in autonomous driving, smart cockpits, smart manufacturing and other related technologies.

Source: Tech

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Resilience raises $45 million for its cancer care startup

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French startup Resilience announced yesterday that it has raised a $45 million (€40 million) Series A round led by Cathay Innovation. The startup wants to improve the treatment journey when you’re diagnosed with cancer so that you live a healthier and longer life.

In addition to Cathay Innovation, existing investor Singular is also participating. Other funds are joining the round, such as Exor Seeds, Picus Capital and Seaya Ventures. Finally some healthcare investors are rounding up the round — Fondation Santé Service, MACSF, Ramsay Santé and Vivalto Ventures.

I already profiled Resilience in March 2021 so I encourage you to read my previous article to learn more about the company. Co-founded by two serial entrepreneurs, Céline Lazorthes and Jonathan Benhamou, the company wants to help both patients and caregivers when it comes to cancer care.

On the patient side, Resilience helps you measure, understand and deal with the effects and side effects of cancer and cancer treatments. Users can track various data points in the app and find content and information about their illness.

But Resilience isn’t just an app that you use at home. It is also a software-as-a-service solution for hospitals so that they can better personalize their treatments. Resilience has been founded in partnership with Gustave Roussy, one of the leading cancer research institutes in the world.

Practitioners will be able to take advantage of all the data that patients have gathered from the app. This way, cancer treatment facilities understand the patient better and can adapt their care more quickly. Resilience has acquired Betterise to gain a head start when it comes to data-driven cancer care.

The long-term vision is even more ambitious than that. If you talk with a caregiver working for a cancer treatment facility, they’ll tell you they never have enough time.

And it’s even more difficult to keep track of new treatments that are becoming more and more specialized. Resilience doesn’t want to replace doctors. But it wants to help them overcome blindspots.

The result should be better care for patients, as well as more support through the Resilience app. Cancer care is a long and painful process, so anything that can improve this process is a good thing.

Source: Tech

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