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Related articles:What Can We Learn from the Business License?Regulations on Maternity Leave and Allowances in ChinaThe Protection of Trade Secrets in ChinaIncorporating a company in China has become easier and faster now, but despite the governments recent efforts to try and simplify the procedure, shutting down a company remains complicated and time consuming. Some foreigners think they can just give up their companies without annual inspection procedures and tax settlement. However, this is a grave mistake and they are extremely wrong by trying to simplify the process this way. Such an approach will only lead to more problems later on.
1. Legal consequences of not conducting annual inspectionsa) Direct consequencesA direct consequence of not conducting the annual inspection procedures and tax settlement is that the business license of the company will be revoked and the company cant do business anymore, but it doesnt mean all obligations with regards to the company will cease. Many liabilities including taxes, government fees and employee salaries are still to be born. More importantly, the company will be put on a blacklist.
b) Personal liabilityFirst of all, the legal representative, directors and shareholders of the company will be put on a blacklist which will be issued to all SAIC offices in China, and to the border control authority of the PRC. Usually, people on the blacklist will not be permitted to do any investments or managing a company in China for three years. Furthermore, their entry to the PRC will be denied if they want to revisit China someday. Moreover, if the company owes taxes, fees, salaries or other debts, the legal representative and directors could be prosecuted by PRC authorities.2. ABC Always be closing but properlyTechnically, based upon the PRC bankruptcy laws anyone who does not have enough funds to operate the company can file for bankruptcy with the court. However, it seems that few companie are going through this procedure, likely because it is complicated as well as time and money-consuming. Most investors choose to deregister their companies with their local AIC.
3. The specific procedure is as follows:1Pay all debts, especially all debts to employees (salaries) and to the government (taxes);2Hire experienced accountants to review your books within three years till the final closure before you go through the drawn-out government audit. They will do an initial audit for you and will help to assess your tax risk and provide an opinion accordingly. If you are working with an experienced accountant, then congratulations! They can do it for you.3) Only after aforementioned steps were taken you may finally start the winding-down procedures officially:a) Make all required social insurance contributions and close the companys social insurance account;b) Go through a tax check and settlement and close the tax account;c) Put a deregistration notice in the local newspaper and wait for 45 days;d) Deregister your company with local AIC;e) Close all your bank accounts.
4. ConclusionThe entire process could take 3 - 6 months or more. The most important part or tricky part is the tax settlement, and its mainly up to you- if your accountant has done a good job for you in the past. Thats why lawyers always say you should work with an experienced accountant instead of a cheap one.
Considering all aforementioned points, its strongly recommended that you do it rather sooner than later and have a sound plan with regards to both timing and funding of the entire winding-down procedure.


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Close Your Company Properly - Dont Just Run Away!

 


 

 

Buttonwood

Bridges to somewhere

A unique set of problems calls for solutions from the world of distressed lending

 





Mar 26th 2020 | words 867

 

 

 

Editors note: The Economist is making some of its most important coverage of the covid-19 pandemic freely available to readers of The Economist Today, our daily newsletter. To receive it, register here. For more coverage, see our coronavirus hub

 

TAKE YOURSELF back, if you can manage it, to a more tranquil timeJanuary, say. Imagine a smallish restaurant chain that had a bad Christmas. Its owner borrowed heavily to expand only to find its new outlets were slow to attract customers. The chain cannot meet its interest and other costs. A consultancy says $10m is needed to tide the firm over until its problems are fixed. The bank says it will forgo interest payments worth $5m, if the owner kicks in $5m of equity capital. A deal is struck.

 

Fast-forward a few weeks and imagine a similar chain that is temporarily shut down because of the covid-19 virus. The firm has no revenue, but it still has fixed costs. The hypothetical January deal is a template for dealing with the problem. But in a broader crisis, things are always trickier. The banks balance-sheet is stretched to the limit. The stockmarket crash has taken a bite from the owners wealth. And she is reluctant to sell a stake in the business.

 

An alternative is to turn to specialist private-credit funds. These are vehicles backed by long-term investors, such as insurance firms, sovereign-wealth funds and university endowments, which lend directly to companies, much as a bank would. Some will have discrete distressed-lending or special-situation arms. Many more are prepared to put up capital when others wont. And everything is a special situation now. So the mindset and methods of these specialists will need to be broadly applied.

 

What might they offer our hypothetical restaurant chain? One option is a payment-in-kind (or PIK) loan. This affords the borrower flexibility. If the shutdown is protracted, it can roll up missed interest payments into the outstanding debt (ie, pay them in kind). Once the business gets back to normal, it can make interest payments in cash again. A PIK loan has two advantages, according to Mark Attanasio and Jean-Marc Chapus of Crescent Capital, a private-credit firm. It gives immediate relief, and it leaves the capital structure largely intact, so the owner retains control. The lender, in essence, says to the borrower you take a spring break on interest payments; we believe in your recovery.

 

Of course, the interest on any loan granted in a distressed situation will be steep. The opportunity cost to a lender is the double-digit yields now on offer in the high-yield bond market. A way to reduce the risk to the lender, and thus the cost to the borrower, is to secure a loan on fixed assets. Last week United Airlines agreed a one-year loan with banks backed by aircraft and other collateral, according to Bloomberg News. Part of the loan was then sold on to Apollo, a leading private-capital firm. More deals like this seem likely.

 

Not every business in need is a big airline. A lot of medium-sized firms, like our hypothetical restaurant chain, do not have many tangible assets. Property and equipment are leased. The firms worth is in intangibles, such as its brand. There is no value for a lender to recover if the company is liquidated. And in complex situations, such as this one, it is difficult to estimate the severity of the short-term damage and how quickly a business will recover. The ideal solution is an injection of equity capital. But shareholders are reluctant to issue equity in recessions, when stock values are depressed, as it dilutes the value of their stake. Convertible loans offer a way around this. These carry a lower rate of interest than a conventional loan, but give the lender the possibility of converting it into equity when thingsrevenues, profits, asset valuesreturn to normal.

 

In our ideal world, there is one lender and one owner. The real world is messier. Lenders to firms in distress expect to be paid back before other creditors. But the company may have covenants on its existing debt that rule out a new lender pushing to the front of the queue. A unique situation calls for flexibility. The right paradigm is a natural disaster, says Jonathan Lavine of Bain Capital. More than ever, banks, shareholders and other lenders will have to work together.

 

The goal should be to keep healthy firms intact. There are some specialists that buy the debts of troubled companies in the expectation they will be forced into bankruptcy, wiping the shareholders out and leaving the debt-holders as owners. A change at the top is sometimes necessary. But in general, it makes sense only if the management has screwed up. That does not apply to the vast majority of companies now in distress. It will need a lot of ingenuity and capital to tide them over. It will also need a fair bit of goodwill.

 


 





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Economist | Bridges to somewhere


The Wicked Barbers Plight



As we all know, Birbal was not only Emperor Akbars favorite minister but also a minister dearly loved by most of the commoners, because of his ready wit and wisdom. People used to come to him from far and wide for advice on personal matters too.  However, there was a group of ministers that were jealous of his growing popularity and disliked him intensely. They outwardly showered him with praise and compliments, but on the inside, they began to hatch a plot to kill him.


One day they approached the kings barber with a plan. As the barber was extremely close to the king, they asked him to help them get rid of Birbal permanently. And of course, they promised him a huge sum of money in return. The wicked barber readily agreed.


The next time the king required his services, the barber started a conversation about the emperors father who he also used to serve. He sang praises of his fine, silky-smooth hair. And then as an afterthought, he asked the king that as he was enjoying such great prosperity, had he made an attempt to do anything for the welfare of his ancestors?


The king was furious at such impertinent stupidity and told the barber that it was not possible to do anything because they were already dead. The barber mentioned that he knew of a magician who could come of help. The magician could send a person up to heaven to enquire about his fathers welfare. But of course this person would have to be chosen carefully; he would have to be intelligent enough to follow the magicians instructions as well as make on-the-spot decisions. He must be wise, intelligent and responsible. The barber then suggested the best person for the job the wisest of all ministers, Birbal.


The king was very excited about hearing from his dead father and asked the barber to go ahead and make the arrangements immediately. He asked him what was needed to be done. The barber explained that they would take Birbal in a procession to the burial grounds and light a pyre. The magician would then chant some mantras as Birbal would ascend to the heavens through the smoke. The chanting would help protect Birbal from the fire.


The king happily informed Birbal of this plan. Birbal said that he thought it a brilliant idea and wanted to know the brain behind it. When learning that it was the barbers idea, he agreed to go to heaven on condition that he be given a large sum of money for the long journey as well as one months time to settle his family so that they had no trouble while he was gone. The king agreed to both conditions.


In the duration of this month, he got a few trustworthy men to build a tunnel from the funeral grounds to his house. And on the day of the ascension, after the pyre had been lit, Birbal escaped through the concealed door of the tunnel. He disappeared into his house where he hid for a few months while his hair and beard grew long and unruly.


In the meantime, his enemies were rejoicing as they thought that they had seen the last of Birbal.  Then one day after many, many months Birbal arrived at the palace with news of the kings father. The king was extremely pleased to see him and ready with a barrage of questions. Birbal told the king that his father was in the best of spirits and had been provided with all the comforts except one.


The king wanted to know what was lacking because now he thought he had found a way to send things and people to heaven. Birbal answered that there were no barbers in heaven, which is why even he was forced to grow his own beard. He said that his father had asked for a good barber.


So the king decided to send his own barber to serve his father in heaven. He called both the barber and the magician to prepare to send him to heaven. The barber could say absolutely nothing in his own defense as he was caught in his own trap. And once the pyre was lit he died on the spot.


Nobody dared to conspire against Birbal again.


Previously Shared Stories, 

Enjoy Reading;


| Bond of Love and the Truth

| The Circle of Good Deed

| The Seven Wonders

| The Frog in Hot Water

| Your Chance of a Greater Good

| The Bridge

| Your Chance of a Greater Good

| Act of Kindness and Goodwill

| Happiness and Sorrow

| Developing a Relationship

| Dont let anyone steal your dreams.

| The Needs and Desires

| The Ant and The Dove

| The Lion and a Clever Fox

| Sometimes Just let it be

| Choose Your Words Wisely

| Hundred Gold Coins & Birbal

| Farmers Well & Witty Birbal

| Tenali Rama and the Brinjal Curry

| How long can you keep hatred in your heart?

| Appreciation of Hard Work

| Little Boys Meeting with God

| 100 Percent Love

| An Old Man Lived in the Village

| A Kings Painting

| This was bound to happen

| Wealth without a Value

| Learn to Appreciate

| Fox and The Goat

| The Golden Egg

| Who is Happy? The Peacock and The Crow

| The Three Questions

| The Old Man and the Three Young Men

| The Bear and The Two Friends

| Think Before You Judge

| Georgie Porgie

| A Wise Old Owl

| Baa Baa Black Sheep

| Beg Your Pardon Mrs Hardin

| A limit of your Kindness

| The Man and The Little Cat

| The False Human Belief

| Making Relations Special

| The Monkey and The Crocodile








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| The Wicked Barbers Plight

It's a wonderful time for laptop gaming. With the launch of new silicon from Intel and Nvidia, a number of manufacturers are refreshing their gaming notebooks to include Intels 10th-gen H-Series processors and Nvidia's new GeForce RTX Super mobile graphics cards.


The result? Acer, Asus, Lenovo, MSI, and Razer are all launching new, slim gaming laptops that pack in better performance for playing games, creating content, and staying productive on the go.


Of the dozens and dozens of refreshed or new gaming laptops that have been announced, here are the five that look the most exciting.


Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15

Let's start with the most unique gaming laptop announced. The ROG Zephyrus Duo is a brand new laptop, featuring one of the most interesting second-screen implementations we've ever seen.


As suggested by the Duo part of its name, Asus' ROG Zephyrus Duo comes with a 14.1-inch 4K secondary display built right above the keyboard alongside a 15.6-inch main screen, giving gamers more flexibility and control. The ScreenPad Plus technology that debuted on the ZenBook Pro Duo brings a Touch Bar-like experience, allowing you to display apps, game controls, and more on the secondary screen while freeing up the main display for a more immersive gaming experience. When you open up the lid, the ROG ScreenPad Plus tilts up to a maximum of 13 degrees, which not only makes using it more ergonomic, but the lifting design also increases airflow by as much as 30% to keep the powerful silicon inside cool.


Under the hood, you're getting Intel's 10th-gen Core i9 processor alongside Nvidia's top of the line RTX 2080 Super mobile graphics. Gamers will also benefit from the 300Hz refresh rate main display if they opt for the FHD model. If you need more pixels, the 15.6-inch 4K UHD configuration comes with support for 100 percent of the Adobe RGB color space, which makes this a versatile laptop for content creation.


In addition to the all-metal Zephyrus Duo, Asus also announced the ROG Zephyrus S15 and S17, ROG Zephyrus M15, and the ROG Strix SCAR 15 and 17. All these laptops will be landing in the second and third quarters this year, though pricing information was not immediately available.


Lenovo Legion 7i

Though it might not boast fancy extras, Lenovo's Legion 7i is perhaps the most advanced gaming notebook coming out of this initial refresh. Like some of its high-end peers, this laptop boasts a slim Max-Q design for maximum portability. Powering the setup is a 10th-gen Intel Core H-Series mobile processor paired to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super GPU, and the configuration allows it to handle AAA games with ease.


Lenovo's Legion 7i and its mid-range Legion 5i sibling makes use of Nvidia's Advanced Optimus technology to help deliver better battery life without foregoing G-Sync. If you're gaming or working on GPU-intensive tasks, Optimus engages Nvidia's discrete RTX graphics for better performance, but when you're working on lighter workloads, Optimus switches over to Intel's integrated graphics for better battery life. These Legion laptops are currently the first laptops to use Advanced Optimus.


The Legion 7i starts at $1,199 with an RTX 2070 GPU (but can be configured up to RTX 2080 Super. The Legion 5i starts at $999 with an RTX 2060 GPU when it launches later this year.


Acer Triton 500

Acer is putting power to the metal with the Triton 500 laptop. Not only does this gaming beast top out with Intel's 10th-gen processors alongside Nvidia's GeForce RTX 2080 Super mobile graphics, but it also comes in a sleek all-metal design complete with Acer's innovative all-metal fan blades to help boost airflow. With the custom Acer Vortex cooling system, this year's Triton 500 gains a 33% boost in cooling compared to last year's model, and the metal fan blades help to keep noise levels down.


Other features sure to appeal to gamers include a 300Hz refresh rate with 3ms response time for responsive gaming performance, 7.5 hours of battery life, and G-Sync support for tear-free gaming. The display can also handle 100% of the sRGB space, making the Triton 500 a versatile system for on-the-go content creation as well as gaming. All this is packed into a 4.63-pound package thats 0.7-inch thick.


The laptop is expected to land in May starting at $2,199. In addition to the Triton, Acer also refreshed its Nitro 5, which pairs Intel's 10th-gen Core i7 processor and Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1650 Ti graphics for a starting price of $749 when it becomes available in May.


MSI GS66 Stealth

If you want more understated aesthetics on your notebook, MSI's GS66 Stealth trades in the flashier designs on most traditional gaming laptops for a sleek, matte sandblasted core black chassis. The laptop packs in Nvidia's RTX 2080 Super graphics in a Max-Q design alongside Intels 10th-gen Core i9 processor.


With all that performance, you'll want a display that can keep up with your gaming action, and thankfully the GS66 Stealth packs in a 15.6-inch FHD IPS screen with a 300Hz refresh rate. Youre getting all this in a package that measures just 0.71-inch thick.


If you want to trade in the muted black aesthetics of the Stealth for something a little flashier, the GE66 Raider is equipped with similar specs and comes with LED lighting in a sleek aluminum casing. The Stealth is available for preorder from Newegg for $1,599 and will land at Best Buy on April 15. The $1,799 Raider will be available on April 15.


MSI is also refreshing its Creator 17 laptop with a mini-LED display that covers 100 percent DCI-P3 color space, a larger GS75 Stealth, and GE75 Raider with Nvidia's Super graphics.


Razer Blade 15 Advanced

Like the MSI Stealth, the appeal of Razer's new Blade 15 is in its understated aesthetics, and this laptop's aluminum-clad all-black design houses some powerful specs under the hood. You wouldn't know it by looking at it, though, as the Max-Q design allows this GeForce RTX 2080 Super-equipped laptop to stay as slim as an ultrabook.


Inside, you now get Nvidia's best mobile graphics (up to RTX 2080 Super) alongside Intels 10th-gen eight-core Core i7-10875H processor that can reach up to 5.1GHz clock speeds.


Other features include Wi-Fi 6 Gig+ connectivity for lag-free gaming along with a 15.6-inch FHD display with 300Hz refresh rate for tear-free action. It also now comes with a full-size SD card slot and can charge fully via USB-C.


The Blade 15 Advanced is the sole Razer model getting refreshed, and it starts at $1,599 when it goes on sale in May. Razer has made some changes to its configurations. The Base Model now comes with a 144Hz and an option for the 4K OLED display.


Resource: digitaltrends.com

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Dozens of powerful new gaming laptops just launched

Bluetooth location beacon startup Estimote has adapted its technological expertise to develop a new product designed specifically for curbing the spread of COVID-19. The company created a new range of wearable devices that co-founder Steve Cheney believes can enhance workplace safety for those who have to be co-located at a physical workplace even while social distancing and physical isolation measures are in place.


The devices, called simply the "Proof of Health" wearables, aim to provide contact tracing in other words, monitoring the potential spread of the coronavirus from person-to-person at the level of a local workplace facility. The intention is to give employers a way to hopefully maintain a pulse on any possible transmission among their workforces and provide them with the ability to hopefully curtail any local spread before it becomes an outsized risk.


The hardware includes passive GPS  location tracking, as well as proximity sensors powered by Bluetooth and ultra-wide-band radio connectivity, a rechargeable battery and built-in LTE. It also includes a manual control to change a wearer's health status, recording states like certified health, symptomatic and verified infected. When a user updates their state to indicate possible or verified infection, that updates others they've been in contact with based on proximity and location-data history. This information is also stored in a health dashboard that provides detailed logs of possible contacts for centralized management. Thats designed for internal use within an organization for now, but Cheney tells me he's working now to see if there might be a way to collaborate with WHO or other external health organizations to potentially leverage the information for tracing across enterprises and populations, too.


These are intended to come in a number of different form factors: the pebble-like version that exists today, which can be clipped to a lanyard for wearing and displaying around a person's neck; a wrist-worn version with an integrated adjustable strap; and a card format that's more compact for carrying and could work alongside traditional security badges often used for facility access control. The pebble-like design is already in production and 2,000 will be deployed now, with a plan to ramp production for as many as 10,000 more in the near future using the company's Poland-based manufacturing resources.


Estimote has been building programmable sensor tech for enterprises for nearly a decade and has worked with large global companies, including Apple  and Amazon . Cheney tells me that he quickly recognized the need for the application of this technology to the unique problems presented by the pandemic, but Estimote was already 18 months into developing it for other uses, including in hospitality industries for employee safety/panic button deployment.


"This stack has been in full production for 18 months," he said via message. "We can program all wearables remotely (they're LTE connected). Say a factory deploys this we write an app to the wearable remotely. This is programmable IoT.


"Who knew the virus would require proof of health vis-a-vis location diagnostics tech," he added.


Many have proposed technology-based solutions for contact tracing, including leveraging existing data gathered by smartphones and consumer applications to chart transmission. But those efforts also have considerable privacy implications, and require use of a smartphone something Cheney says isn't really viable for accurate workplace tracking in high-traffic environments. By creating a dedicated wearable, Cheney says that Estimote can help employers avoid doing something "invasive" with their workforce, since it's instead tied to a fit-for-purpose device with data shared only with their employers, and it's in a form factor they can remove and have some control over. Mobile devices also can't do nearly as fine-grained tracking with indoor environments as dedicated hardware can manage, he says.


And contact tracing at this hyperlocal level won't necessarily just provide employers with early warning signs for curbing the spread earlier and more thoroughly than they would otherwise. In fact, larger-scale contact tracing fed by sensor data could inform new and improved strategies for COVID-19 response.


"Typically, contact tracing relies on the memory of individuals, or some high-level assumptions (for example, the shift someone worked)," said Brianna Vechhio-Pagn of John Hopkins University's Applied Physics Lab via a statement. "New technologies can now track interactions within a transmissible, or ~6-foot range, thus reducing the error introduced by other methods. By combining very dense contact tracing data from Bluetooth and UWB signals with information about infection status and symptoms, we may discover new and improved ways to keep patients and staff safe."


With the ultimate duration of measures like physical distancing essentially up-in-the-air, and some predictions indicating theyll continue for many months, even if they vary in terms of severity, solutions like Estimote's could become essential to keeping essential services and businesses operating while also doing the utmost to protect the health and safety of the workers incurring those risks. More far-reaching measures might be needed, too, including general-public-connected, contact-tracing programs, and efforts like this one should help inform the design and development of those.


Resource: techcrunch.com

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Estimote launches wearables for workplace-level contact tracing

Chances are, if your job can be done at home, you'll be doing exactly that right now. Unless, of course, you're still rearranging the furniture as you hone your procrastination skills ahead of starting work for real.


The pandemic that is COVID-19 has seen countless workers around the world swapping their regular office for a home setup, causing a rush on key items such as desks, laptops, and monitors.


With working from home the new normal, an increasing number of webcams are also being fired up for online meetings between co-workers using tools such as Zoom, Skype (Microsoft Teams), and RingCentral.


Spotting an opportunity, smart home company Wyze has just released a firmware update that lets you use your Wyze Cam v2 or Wyze Cam Pan security camera as a webcam for teleconferencing.


"With everybody working from home while practicing social distancing, webcams are in huge demand," the Seattle-based company said in a message posted online.


Noting that some of the better cameras are currently hard to find, it added: "Our engineers took on the challenge of creating a firmware version that would turn Wyze Cam into a webcam so that you don't have to make an extra camera purchase. You'll just need a microSD card to download the firmware. You'll also need to track down a USB to USB cord."


Testing by Wyze engineers has confirmed that the firmware works for Mac OS 10.13, as well as Windows 7 and 10. It may work with other operating system versions, too, it's just that Wyze has only tried it on those listed here. The solution also works with Zoom, GoToMeeting, BlueJeans, Google Hangouts, Skype, and Cisco, the company said.


Wyze has created a set of step-by-step instructions to help you transform your security camera into a webcam for teleconferencing.


Resource: digitaltrends.com

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Wyze tweak lets you use its security camera as a work webcam

NASA  and SpaceX  are moving ahead full-steam with the Demo-2 launch of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft the first launch from American soil to carry astronauts to space aboard a private launch vehicle. The Falcon 9 rocket that will propel the Crew Dragon to space will include a NASA logo that has been technically retired from active duty since 1992.


The 1970s-era "worm" logo is a take on NASA branding that has, for more than 20 years now, been relegated to souvenir status. You've probably seen it adorning caps, sweatshirts, stickers and other swag, but it hasn't graced an official NASA spacecraft since its retirement from use. The NASA "meatball" logo that the agency does use on in-space assets today actually predates the "worm" and was developed in the late 1950s but the latter's tubular simplicity still has a more "retro" feel.


That vibe returns to active use with the SpaceX Demo-2 mission, which is currently set for launch some time in early-to-mid May, and which will carry NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to space, and to the International Space Station, for the final step in certifying Crew Dragon for regular use in operational astronaut transportation missions.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL AUGUST 10: NASA's "meatball" logo displayed on the vehicle assembly building at Kennedy Space Center. (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)


NASA shared an image of the red "worm" logo emblazoned on the side of the Falcon 9 rocket currently being readied for that mission in Florida, and the agency also said that it's likely not the last time you'll see it in official, active mission use. Don't worry, fans of the meatball classic: The agency says that one's still its primary symbol, even if the worm has poked its head out of the ground.


Resource: techcrunch.com

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NASA and SpaceX add some retro flair to the Falcon 9

Ikea, the Swedish home furnishings and decor giant, has been one of the leaders among retailers when it comes to adapting to tech innovations that impact its business, being one of the first to launch augmented reality applications, partnering with others to develop smart home devices and launching a business unit to build that out further, investing in relevant startups, and even picking up of logistics startups to expand its reach. Today, it's taking another step in that trajectory with a tech acquisition: the company, by way of Ingka Group (founded by the founder of Ikea, and the primary franchisor of Ikea and owner of Ikea.com), has acquired Geomagical Labs, an AI imaging startup based out of Mountain View.


Geomagical Labs has not had a lot of fanfare, but quietly it's been developing a number of computer vision-based technologies. Its first product which allows a user to quickly scan a room using any smartphone, render that into a panoramic 3D picture in a few minutes, remove all the furniture in it, and then, in the words of Geomagical's founder and CEO Brian Totty, "play dress up" by adding in new items to scale will be implemented by Ikea into its website and apps to let people start to create more accurate visualisations of their spaces, and how they would look with Ikea pieces in them.


To be clear, Ikea already had developed an AR-based visualisation tool, as one of the first to use Apple's AR developer kit a few years ago, but this represents a far more accurate and useful development on that, besides also giving Ikea the tools to build more features and tools in the future in house.


(That is the kind of technology that is always useful, but perhaps especially right now, when physical stores are being shut down in many countries around the world to stave off spread of the coronavirus.)


"We're excited because the user can really play around with this and see how something would fit immediately," said Barbara Martin Coppola, Chief Digital Officer, Ikea Retail, in an interview. She added that Ikea decided to acquire the startup rather than just partner with it for "a lot of different reasons, with the first being that the tech is exceptional and groundbreaking." The app and online experience that Ikea is developing will be free to use, and for now, there are no plans to offer the tech as a service to other retailers, a la an AWS model, she added.


Terms of the deal which technically is being made between Geomagical and the Ingka Group, which is also the company that acquired Task Rabbit and made other investments under the IKEA  brand are not being disclosed, the companies said. But Totty a serial entrepreneur who was an early Groupon exec (by way of acquisition of a previous startup) as well as one of the founding employees of Inktomi (remember them?) said that the startup and investors were "very happy" with the terms.


Those investors and how much it had previously raised is also not fully disclosed but they included Totty himself, Andrew Mason (Groupon's cofounder and former CEO) and a number of other individuals.


From what we understand, the startup had been talking to a number of other interested parties, including other retailers and a couple of large tech companies. (For some more context, computer vision has been a very hot area for acquisition, both to pick up products and talent, and Apple and Google are among those that have been aggressively acquiring in this area in recent times to expand their own platforms.)


The reason why Geomagical Labs went with Ikea versus a tech exit, Totty said, was because the company was keen to make sure that its technology saw the light of day rather than potentially get subsumed into a bigger tech machine that might or might not use it, or instead choose to redeploy the team (which includes six PhDs, including Totty himself) on something completely different, experience Totty would know given his track record.


"There has been so much progress in cell phones and AI, finally giving us this dream of waving your camera in front of you and to do cool things," he said. He described going to Ikea as "a great bird in the hand" play.


"You plan all your options and you could decide to wait, but you don't always have the ability to get partnerships of this kind. The question for us was, do we raise another round of funding, or do a 50 or larger percent acquisition? I don't really want to talk about scenario planning but I believe what we've built is broadly valuable to all of the industry right now. And the challenge of a general purpose tech with a special product is that your domain of applicability is lower. We didn't want to be talented people with a little technology but a game changer."


Before Ikea, Coppola spent her entire career working for big tech companies, including many years at Google, as well as Samsung and others, and she sees this acquisition as an essential move in focusing the retailer even more squarely on its technology opportunity, by not just adopting new innovations but by owning the IP and building the technology itself.


"Ikea has spent more than $200 million investing in or acquiring 23 companies to date," she said, "both to make a positive contribution to the sector and fulfill Ikea's vision. This will continue to be the case. Acquisitions and investments will not stop and will increase."


Resource: techcrunch.com

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Ikea acquires AI imaging startup Geomagical Labs


In this time of world crisis, our true heroes are the frontliners who are risking their lives to care for Covid-19 patients. 


Without them, theres no way these patients are able to survive this disease. And while most of us are staying home to help our doctors and nurses, there are some infected patients out there who refuse to cooperate and start lashing out in violence instead.


According to ZaoBao, a 47-year-old Covid-19 patient in Guangzhou, China refused to cooperate with the treatment procedures and assaulted a nurse who was attending to him.


The patient identified as Okonkwonwoye Chika Patrick, is from Nigeria who entered Guangzhou on 20 March and tested positive for Covid-19. He was admitted to the hospital for treatment on 23 March and still tests positive at present.


On 1 April, the Guangzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau received an alert saying that a patient at the isolation ward of Guangzhou No.8 Peoples Hospital was not cooperating with treatment and wounded a nurse.


The nurse had asked to take a blood test from the patient, but he refused it and tried walking out of the isolation ward. The nurse tried to stop him from leaving, but he beat her and bit her face.


Injuries were found on the nurses face, neck and waist which were identified as minor injuries.


Currently, the police have opened a criminal case to investigate the matter while the hospital has strengthened the security in the isolation ward.


The suspect is also undergoing isolation and treatment under the supervision of the police. 


When the treatment is over, the police will immediately take measures and punish the suspect according to the laws and regulations of the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases Law, Criminal Law and the Exit and Entry Administration Law .




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Chinese Nurse Gets Assaulted & Bitten On Face by a foreigner


Shenzhen has become the first Chinese city to ban the sale and consumption of dog and cat meat.


It comes after the coronavirus outbreak was linked to wildlife meat, prompting Chinese authorities to ban the trade and consumption of wild animals.


Shenzhen went a step further, extending the ban to dogs and cats. The new law will come into force on 1 May.


Thirty million dogs a year are killed across Asia for meat, says Humane Society International (HSI).


However, the practice of eating dog meat in China is not that common the majority of Chinese people have never done so and say they dont want to.


Dogs and cats as pets have established a much closer relationship with humans than all other animals, and banning the consumption of dogs and cats and other pets is a common practice in developed countries and in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the Shenzhen city government said, according to a Reuters report.


This ban also responds to the demand and spirit of human civilization.

Animal advocacy organisation HSI praised the move.


This really could be a watershed moment in efforts to end this brutal trade that kills an estimated 10 million dogs and 4 million cats in China every year, said Dr Peter Li, China policy specialist for HSI.


However, at the same time as this ruling, China approved the use of bear bile to treat coronavirus patients.


Bear bile a digestive fluid drained from living captive bears has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine.


The active ingredient, ursodeoxycholic acid, is used to dissolve gallstones and treat liver disease. But there is no proof that it is effective against the coronavirus and the process is painful and distressing for the animals


Brian Daly, a spokesman for the Animals Asia Foundation, told AFP: We shouldnt be relying on wildlife products like bear bile as the solution to combat a deadly virus that appears to have originated from wildlife.


A wildlife market


In February, Chinese authorities banned the trade and consumption of wild animals.


The move came after it emerged that a market in Wuhan selling wild animals and wildlife meat could have been the starting point for the outbreak of the new coronavirus, providing the means for the virus to travel from animals to humans.


News of this led the Chinese government to crack down strongly on the trade and on the markets that sold such products.


There are now close to one million confirmed cases of the virus worldwide, and more than 47,000 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.


In China alone, there are 81,589 confirmed cases and 3,318 deaths, said the National Health Commission.


Scientists and researchers are still no closer to finding out what the source of the virus is and how it could have spread to humans.




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Shenzhen becomes first Chinese city to ban eating cats and dogs

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Bodysphere announced today that it has begun distributing its 2-minute testing kit for diagnosing COVID-19 after receiving FDA emergency use authorization (EUA).


The Los Angeles-based companys two-minute testing kit uses antibodies in blood to test for current or past infection with a 91% clinical specificity rate and a 99% clinical sensitivity rate, according to a news release. The test delivers results on-site in as fast as two minutes.


Bodyspheres test is a lateral flow chromatographic immunoassay to detect antibodies (IgG and IgM) for the coronavirus in human whole blood/serum/plasma. It is only for administration by medical professionals.



The company said its test kits have already been successfully used in multiple states where large rollouts are in the works for combating the spread of the virus. Bodysphere added that it is working with federal agencies and states to quickly deploy test kits where they are needed.


Bodysphere said it has contracted cargo planes to deliver the product to the front lines and touted its capability of having millions of test kits reach those front lines within weeks.


When we realized we had the ability to step up and fight this pandemic at a critical point, we focused all our resources on bringing the rapid test kits, masks and other critical supplies to the front lines as soon as possible, Bodysphere CEO Charlton Lui said in the news release. Thankfully when our perpetual quest for improving health put us in a position to deliver this lifesaving product it became quite clear what we had to do.


Source: https://www.massdevice.com


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FDA Clears Bodysphere 2-minute COVID-19 Test