This $99 AirPower knockoff is available for order now

There are a number of key differences between Apple’s AirPower and lookalike knockoff, AirUnleashed. The most pertinent one, however, is that one of the two is actually available for purchase.

Apple gave up the AirPower ghost back in March, after having gone silent on the product for some time, citing an inability to “achieve [its] high standards.” The company released little additional information, but most reports came down to engineering problems with densely packed charging coils that could ultimately have caused the product to overheat.

Plenty of companies were no doubt planning their own off-brand take on the product, but Apple’s decision to pull out of the category ahead of launch has opened an AirPower-sized hole in the wireless charging mat market. And there are plenty of products waiting in the wings to fill it.

AirUnleashed is pretty shameless in its approach, right down to a minimalist white box that takes more than a few cues from the Cupertino design department. That’s doubly the case with the pad itself, which retains the same pill-shaped form factor, albeit with an off-white (cream? ivory?) coloring.

There are also two plus symbols flanking a small concave circle. The product’s designers designated three distinct spots for the three Apple products (iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods). Rather than the numerous overlapping charging coils AirPower was said to have, this one sports three, with different wattages for the different devices (7.5, 2 and 5, respectively).

You can use these interchangeably to some degree, but for all sorts of reasons, it’s best to use the allotted wattage for the device category intended. Because the device uses the Qi standard, however, it’s compatible with a pretty broad array of wireless devices.

Both the iPhone and AirPods 2 started charging as soon as I placed them on the pad. The Apple Watch was a no go. I reached out to the company about that one — turns out it required updating to the last version of watchOS, which did seem to fix the issue. The fact that the pad just sports the three coils means you’ve got the position the devices correctly, and even after the OS update, I still had trouble getting the watch in the right spot.

At $99, it’s $50 cheaper than the rumored AirPower price. Weirdly, that doesn’t factor in the price of a wall charger, which is going to set you back another $14 if you decide to go with AirUnleashed’s version. Though given the fact that you’re already dealing with an Apple knockoff, I do’t see why you would.

A cursory look at Amazon finds a number of other AirPower-esque charging pads at a fraction of the price, and all appear to use a similar three-coil solution. I can’t vouch for those, but after a few hours, at least, AirUnleashed seems to be working reasonably well.

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An open letter to Google and Apple: Stop hindering Iranian entrepreneurs

To the executives of Google and Apple:

I am Persian. In 1979, when I was just two years old, revolution upended Iran and permanently altered the country’s foundation. His vocation as an academic made my father a direct target of the new regime, and so — like so many other families — we fled Iran and began again in the United States. That was exactly 40 years ago. Today, I am a father, a husband and an entrepreneur with a deep love of America, but I think often of the country to which I have still been unable to return.

Iran is a land of strong-willed people. It is a land of grit and of hard-earned success. I see that most clearly in its emergent generation of entrepreneurs, birthed from the country’s 30+% unemployment rates. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that Iran’s entrepreneurship sector is skyrocketing; in 2018 alone, the country moved up 13 spots on the Global Entrepreneurship Index. And the goals driving these new businesses are equally as impressive — things like improving women’s education, sustainability, urban waste management, advocacy of the arts. Forbes has said that Iran could become an entrepreneurial powerhouse, “if nothing gets in the way.” Unfortunately, Google and Apple are doing just that.

Two years ago, under the guise of complying with American sanctions against Iran — sanctions that have existed for decades — Apple started removing Iranian apps from its platform. Today, the App Store is completely unavailable to Iranians. Google’s Play Store followed suit. Access to software systems can be (and regularly is) cut off without notice, like Google’s Firebase, a platform for creating push notifications. For young businesses, these programs can be the difference between life and death, function and failure.

Take away my toolbox and ask me to be a carpenter; this is what you ask of them.

As many people much smarter than me have pointed out — like The New York Times’ Thomas Erdbrink and Vindu Goel — the timing of these decisions doesn’t make much sense, and neither does the reasoning behind it. Take DigiKala for example, one of Iran’s biggest e-commerce sites, or Snapp and Delion, Iran’s wildly popular cab-hailing and food delivery apps, respectively. These companies, along with almost every single one of Iranian app creators, transferred to an internal payment system called shaparak in early 2017 in order to comply with U.S. sanctions against online business transactions. But it turned out this was all for naught: less than six months later, Apple removed them all from the App Store.

As a serial entrepreneur myself, I identify with these young app developers. Like me, they have ideas. Like me, they execute. But unlike me, they are profoundly and increasingly disadvantaged by an entrepreneurial environment that restricts them right from the get-go and denies them a viable marketplace. As a result of Google and Apple’s actions, they are required to operate as entrepreneurs without the resources innately necessary for the job. Take away my toolbox and ask me to be a carpenter; this is what you ask of them.

Admittedly, you are not solely to blame. Much of this is a political game being played high above our heads. But your decision has a distinctly human impact. It is a direct threat to the livelihoods of tens of thousands of young people in Iran. As leaders in your industry, you have both the capacity and the responsibility to correct this practice. Your potential for impact here is substantial, and the same is true of Iranian entrepreneurs if they have the right tools — tools that you can and must provide. So what is a credible first step? Let’s start with an open conversation. Let’s sit down at a table together and brainstorm ways to align our interests, American executives and Iranian entrepreneurs alike.

There’s a concept called homophily. It posits that we as humans build networks with those similar to ourselves. It’s the very foundation of our species. Take a minute to remember your roots and I think you’ll see some similarities between Iran’s entrepreneurs and your own founders. What would our world look like today, if Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Steve Jobs never got their shot?

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Atlassian’s co-CEO Scott Farquhar will join us at TC Sessions: Enterprise

Few companies have changed the way developers work as profoundly as Atlassian. Its tools like Jira and Confluence are ubiquitous and over the course of the last few years, the company has started to adapt many of them for wider enterprise usage outside of developer teams.

To talk about Atlassian’s story from being a small shop in Australia to a successful IPO — and its plans for the future — the company’s co-founder and co-CEO Scott Farquhar will join us at our inaugural TechCrunch Sessions: Enterprise event on September 5 in San Francisco.

Farquhar co-founded Atlassian, together with Mike Cannon-Brookes, in 2001. It wasn’t until 2010, though, that the company raised its first major venture round ($60 million from Accel Partners). Even by that point, though, the company already had thousands of customers and a growing staff in Sydney and San Francisco.

Today, more than 150,000 companies use Atlassian’s tools. These range from the likes of Audi to Spotify, Twilio and Visa, with plenty of startups and small and medium businesses in between.

It’s no secret that Farquhar and Cannon-Brookes consider themselves accidental billionaires and so it’s maybe no surprise that in 2015, ahead of Atlassian’s successful IPO that valued it at well above $10 billion, he also signed on to the 1% Pledge movement.

Today, Farquhar also makes his own venture investments as part of Skip Capital, which he co-founded.

TC Sessions: Enterprise (September 5 at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center) will take on the big challenges and promise facing enterprise companies today. TechCrunch’s editors will bring to the stage founders and leaders from established and emerging companies to address rising questions like the promised revolution from machine learning and AI, intelligent marketing automation and the inevitability of the cloud, as well as the outer reaches of technology, like quantum and blockchain.

Tickets are now available for purchase on our website at the early-bird rate of $395 and student tickets for just $245.

We have a limited number of Startup Demo Packages available for $2,000, which includes four tickets to attend the event.

For each ticket purchased for TC Sessions: Enterprise, you will also be registered for a complimentary Expo Only pass to TechCrunch Disrupt SF on October 2-4.

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Careteam aims to unite patients and healthcare providers with a platform approach

How best to untangle the Gordian knot that is navigating your own healthcare? It’s a tricky question, and one that seems to have become only more complicated as technology improves, in many regards – systems don’t necessarily speak to one another, and it’s still hard for an ordinary patient without specialist knowledge to make sense of everything. Careteam is a Canadian startup hoping to address that, looking to replicate the kind of advances made possible by technology in industries like ecommerce and enterprise software.

Careteam co-founder and CEO Dr. Alexandra Greenhill has experienced the frustration of being a tech-savvy person in a world of healthcare that can seem technologically inept – both as a practicing GP, and as someone who depends on the healthcare system as both a patient, and a relative of patients with more sophisticated medical needs.

“I spent more than 15 years innovating within the healthcare system,” Greenhill told me in an interview. “I computerized hospitals, helped doctors adopt electronic medical records and other types of innovation practices. And then for the last eight years, I’ve been in tech, trying to figure out how to build the kind of technology we need in health, and especially digital health.”

All that experience led Greenhill to the realization that while there were many companies building specific solutions for real, but relatively narrow problems, that didn’t reflect how most people experienced care. Greenhill and her team of three other co-founders (Jeremy P. Smith, Robert I. Atwell and Kevin Lysyk) had all had unfortunate, but eye-opening experiences with family members in need of treatment for major diseases.

“You step in and you discover that cancer care, palliative care, post-surgical care – there’s so many things that would have gone wrong if we dint’ have the expertise ourselves,” Greenhill said. “But in the meantime, you end up being sort of pulled into multiple directions and saying ‘this makes no sense.’ You know, I can purchase stuff online in my private life; I can use all kinds of tools in the business world, and yet it’s back to paper in voice in health, which matters most.”

Careteam CEO and founder Dr. Alexandra Greenhill

What Careteam provides is collaboration for care – true collaboration, designed to span patients, their doctors and other healthcare pros, their families and anyone that matters to them in the course of pursuing their care. It provides the ability to communicate instantly, build care plans that integrate all aspects their tailored health plans, receive custom-configurable notifications and measure progress towards specific goals set by patient and health care providers.

Part of the reason this process has become opaque or difficult is precisely due to innovation: Greenwood takes issue with the prevailing narrative that the healthcare industry is somehow allergic to innovation.

“There’s this sort of perception that healthcare doesn’t innovate, but it’s also almost insulting to the healthcare system, because we have innovated – we save people from cancer, where we couldn’t” she noted. “We cure HIV, in some cases, and we prevent it from being transmitted to unborn babies of mothers with full-blown aids and things that in my working lifetime, were impossibilities; it was science fiction to help someone with HIV. And, and we’ve managed to do all of that, and it’s a success story. We’ve created complexity, we’ve created people who live with 12 conditions for many, many years and take complicated drug regiments.”

In addition to advances in treatment, Greenhill notes that she and her team couldn’t have build Careteam five years ago, because cloud storage wasn’t secure and everything had to be done on a site-specific instance, and that would’ve been cost-prohibitive to build. In other words, technology has been applied to, and vastly improved, healthcare overall, regardless of the general perception of the industry as an innovation laggard.

That’s why Greenhill’s startup doesn’t shy away from complexity – they embrace it. Careteam is designed not to try to and normalize and standardize the varied and highly specialized landscape of healthcare solutions and providers through anything like a one-size-fits-all API. Instead, the company’s tech development is cleverly designed to be flexible when it comes to integrations, and

“We collectively spent $1.9 billion in Canada, to try and digitize the healthcare system, create standards and create some exchange between data,” Greenhill said. “The NHS tried the same, big U.S. hospital systems have created their own little sort of islands, including Kaiser and Mayo and others. And the conclusion of all of that is standardization in healthcare just doesn’t seem to catch on.”

Careteam’s approach has been instead to integrate specific clinics, and let the benefits that practitioners and patients derive benefits and help spur the adoption of the platform to their companion organizations and clinics. It’s a sort of rhizomatic approach that starts with a node central to a patient’s care and spreads through the healthcare professionals and members of the patient’s support network that the product helps. And integration is made possible without technical demands on the part of partners thanks to the work of CTO Lysyk, according to Greenhill.

The Vancouver-based startup is working with the Centre for Aging + Brian Health in Toronto, Ontario in a validation program announced last year, and also raised an initial round of funding in January led by BCF Ventures with participation from Right Side Capital, Globalive Capital, Atrium Ventures, and angels Barney Pell and Ajay Agarwal .

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JDK 13 reaches Rampdown Phase One

JDK 13 has entered Rampdown Phase One, signaling that the new version of Java is just weeks away based on the timeline of previous iterations. The overall feature set is now frozen so further JEPs will be targeted toward the next release.

RELATED CONTENT: The rise of Kotlin

Here is what you can expect from JDK 13:

The new version of JDK includes text blocks, a multi-line string literal that avoids the need for most escape sequences, automatically formats the string in a predictable way, and enhances the readability of strings in Java programs that denote code written in non-Java languages. It is available as a preview.

“The need to denote short, medium, and long blocks of text in a Java program is near universal, whether the text is code from other programming languages, structured text representing golden files, or messages in natural languages,” Jim Laskey, senior development manager for Oracle wrote in a post.

Also, extended application class-data sharing will allow the dynamic archiving of classes at the end of Java application execution. This will eliminate the need for users to do trial runs to create a class list for each application.

JDK 13 reimplement Legacy Socket API which will make it easier to work with user-mode threads known as fibers. The ZGC heap will return unused heap memory to the operating system.

Additionally, ‘switch’ can be used either as a statement or an expression. These changes will “simplify everyday coding, and prepare the way for the use of pattern matching (JEP 305) in ‘switch’,” according to the JDK team.

JDK 13 is expected to enter Rampdown Phase Two next month. The final release candidate is aimed for the end of August while general availability should be sometime in September.

A full list of features is available here.  

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For pen testing firm IOActive, security is cultural not transactional

IOActive may not be a household name but you almost certainly know its work.

The Seattle-headquartered company has been behind some of the most breathtaking hacks in the past decade. Its researchers have broken into in-flight airplanes from the ground and reverse engineered an ATM to spit out gobs of cash. One of the company’s most revered hackers discovered a way to remotely shock a pacemaker out of rhythm. And remember that now-infamous hack that remotely killed the engine of a Jeep? That was IOActive, too.

If it’s connected, they will bet that they can hack it.

IOActive has made a name for itself with its publicly reported findings, but its bread and butter is helping its corporate customers better understand how they approach security.

Since its founding more than two decades ago, the penetration testing and ethical hacking company now serves customers mostly in the Global 1000 largest companies to help assess and test their security posture.

“You can have the absolute most sophisticated alarm in the entire world, and I guarantee our team can break in,” said Jennifer Steffens, IOActive’s chief executive, in a call with TechCrunch. “But if you left your front door unlocked lock, hackers are going to walk right through”

“Don’t pay us to show you how to break into the alarm before someone learns how to lock the door,” she said.

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Probably Genetic helps families identify genetic conditions early with AI and DNA tests

Children on the autism spectrum often suffer from other medical conditions. As many as one-fifth of those diagnosed with the neurodevelopmental disorder, which affects communication and behavior, have epilepsy, for example, according to research on the subject.

Probably Genetic, which recently graduated from the startup accelerator Y Combinator, wants to test the DNA of children with autism to provide them early diagnoses of more than 15 severe genetic diseases that are often grouped under the initial autism diagnosis. Using machine learning and direct-to-consumer DNA tests, Probably Genetic hopes to provide families of children on the spectrum with more complete and correct diagnoses and a path to appropriate treatment and therapy.

“There is really low awareness still in the medical community for a lot of these diseases,” Probably Genetic co-founder and chief executive officer Lukas Lange tells TechCrunch. “The actual testing happens really really late in the process … Even once you decide that you want to get your kid genetically tested, that process itself is really difficult because if you don’t have a physician in favor of it, patients spend months lobbying to get the test done.”

The startup, which plans to launch this summer, is backed with venture capital funding from Khosla Ventures, TenOneTen Ventures, the Oxford Angel Fund and angel investors. Lange, a current PhD candidate in bioinformatics and genetics at the University of Oxford, said the company is keeping the precise amount of capital they’ve raised private, citing a focus on building the best service for special needs families.

“We measure ourselves by how many families we’ve helped, as opposed to how much money we’ve raised,” Lange said.

Unlike 23andMe, which similarly provides genetic testing direct-to-consumer, Probably Genetic is patient-initiated physician-ordered testing, meaning a physician is in the loop throughout the entire process and a DNA test must be deemed “medically necessary” by a Probably Genetic physician — the company partners with several doctors — before it can be ordered.

Probably Genetic performs whole-exome sequencing, a process that can cost upwards of $5,000, to test for genetic disorders in children already diagnosed with autism. Lange said the team is still determining the price of its genetic tests, but assures it will fall under $1,000, or significantly less than other options on the market. Unfortunately, the tests will not be covered by insurance.

The company doesn’t perform genetic sequencing in-house, rather, it partners with a U.S.-based clinical sequencing provider accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and certified through Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA). Probably Genetic also partners with a bioinformatics service provider that’s plugged into the lab for data analysis purposes.

Parents of children with autism oftentimes have difficulty having their children tested, as Lange mentioned. Not only are these tests costly and infrequently covered by insurance, but they are also not offered by general care practitioners. A family has to receive a referral from their doctor to visit a specialist who will then have the test ordered. Using Probably Genetic, Lange and his co-founder, chief technology officer Harley Katz, hope to create a one-stop shop for complete and early diagnoses, access to genetic counseling services, and information and resources for families of people on the spectrum.

The genetic counseling services, which exist to help families better understand the results of their genetic tests, will be offered through an external service provider initially. In the long-term, Lange said, Probably Genetic will consider hiring their own full-time counselors.

Lange met Katz, a PhD in theoretical astrophysics from the University of Cambridge, six years ago. The pair quickly realized a common interest in accurate diagnosis, or lack thereof, before they decided to focus on autism and its associated conditions.

“We initially thought we are going to build a catch-all for 7,000 different rare diseases,” Lange said. “Pretty quickly we realized a whole lot of people coming to your door have undiagnosed diseases but not all are genetic in nature so if you try to build a catch-all you wouldn’t be able to help a lot of people. So we decided let’s focus on one area that has a much higher likelihood that the patients that come through your door actually have something genetic.”

According to a 2018 report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 59 children is diagnosed with autism. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls.

“There’s a big opportunity here to focus on a category that we know already genetics plays a huge role but still an opportunity to find kids who don’t ‘just have autism’ but where there is actually something bigger at play and autism is only a part of their disease presentation.”

 

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Tesla is turning its showrooms into arcades

Tesla might not engage in traditional advertising. That doesn’t mean the automaker isn’t keen on getting new customers and retaining the ones it already has.

Most of Tesla’s methods have focused on leveraging its existing customer base to attract new buyers. And that strategy has continued. This time, the company is turning its showrooms into arcades and inviting owners to bring their family and friends to try it out through June 30.

Tesla sent out an email earlier Tuesday with the promotion that invites people “to experience the new Tesla Arcade.” People who are interested are asked to RSVP to their local showrooms via this link.

The showroom promotion — and a video posted Tuesday on Twitter and Instagram showcasing its newest game Beach Buggy Racing 2 — is part of a bigger push to draw attention to one of Tesla’s funner features — an arcade app. The app is a bundle of games that were first added last August via a software update. The initial games included Missile Command, Asteroids, Lunar Lander and Centipede.

The video games can be accessed through the touchscreen and played if the vehicle is in park. Games now include Atari Missile Command, Asteroid, and kart racing game Beach Buggy Racing 2, which started rolling out Tuesday.

Other games have been added the initial rollout, including 2048 and Atari’s Super Breakout. The company has also created a new “toybox,” basically an easy-to-find location on the display where all of the games are housed.

Todd Howard, the director of Bethesda Games, said last week in an interview with CEO Elon Musk at E3 that the company’s “Fallout Shelter” game could be coming to Tesla displays.

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premium Empathy drives software experience design

The acceleration of technology has directly influenced the digital customer’s behavioral patterns, driving enterprises to develop products and services that continue to meet constantly changing demand. Software companies and ISVs cannot afford to take a business-centric approach to push products into the market. It is imperative to fully integrate the customer into the design process and build systems that directly address consumer needs.

In an age of rapid acceleration and virtually endless and competing digital priorities for consumer attention, how will enterprises of the future design these systems?

Empathy is the ability to understand another person and his or her position—it is the key to designing and developing truly remarkable experiences. With empathy, experience design (XD) is not driven by the mind of a software developer, product manager, or business owner, but rather, by the customer.

Backward thinking
Most enterprise on-premises legacy systems that drive platforms and interfaces used by consumers today were installed at the turn of the century. These systems and their software required a great deal of investment in implementation and support—precluding the need or even the ability to replace it. Developers of these systems were focused on providing features and functionality over the customer experience. Customers were forced to learn and adapt to the technology, however cumbersome it proved to be.

With the rise of the on-demand customer, software companies and ISVs must adapt to their needs—and providing a high-quality user experience is imperative. Salesforce reports 76 percent of consumers expect businesses to understand their needs, and 67 percent are willing to pay more for a great experience.

Creating compelling experiences requires development teams to shift perspective and see through the customer’s eyes. Design thinking (DT) is an empathetic, human-centric methodology, allowing businesses to understand and conceptualize problems from the customer point of view. Experience design (XD) uses DT principles to create solution-driven user experiences, tested through an iterative process. By integrating the customer’s mental, emotional, behavioral, and environmental factors into the XD process, companies can create higher-quality software experiences and increase ROI.

For example, a software company wants to assist customers in home food delivery. DT methodology helps to step into the shoes of the customer to understand the problem from their perspective. Who are these customers and what are their needs? What are their technological capabilities? Collaborative ideation of DT process allows for a wider range of perspectives in finding the best solution and, for example, will take the customer’s requirements of easily and quickly finding, selecting, purchasing, and receiving food. The company can then use this information to ideate on the most fitting solution—in this case, the simple and accurate ordering of a wide variety of food items through multiple channels and with prompt delivery. An empathetic and iterative approach of such design process will help to create the ideal experience and means to enable this solution, integrating vendors, delivery services, and devices into the process. The company creates the application based on a thorough understanding of the customer’s preferences, and tests prototypes of this application with customers, applying feedback iteratively.

Empathy through collaboration
Design thinking uses an empathic and collaborative approach to gain a deep understanding of human problems and the current environment. Through empathy, businesses can create the look, feel, and use of a product from a customer point of view. By adopting a “beginner’s mindset,” software

designers, developers, and other stakeholders can perceive a situation with a fresh eye, without presumptions based on the past or conjectures about the future. The result is a higher quality product experience for the customer—and increased profitability for the business.

Empathy also increases team collaboration and retention by creating more meaningful work experiences for employees. By focusing on and caring about the customer’s needs, teams involved in the software’s product development are encouraged to work across departments for greater effectiveness. Stakeholders throughout the company should work collaboratively and transparently, sharing learnings to positively influence the process.

Relevance
Experience design revolves around a customer focal point—not the designer, developer, or the business itself.

Finding and solving the root problem, rather than simply reacting to symptoms presented by the customer, must also drive the XD process. If a system is not customer-centric and fails to remove the cause of ongoing challenges, the design process has little chance of success.

Experience design identifies future state scenarios with experiential insight. Through internal and external focus groups and interviews, teams can increase perspective and garner new insights.

Development teams are challenged to adopt a beginner’s mindset, moving from “I know the methodology because I have created 100 similar applications,” to “I never created any tool for a particular group of people. I should understand the customer and their problems before constructing a solution.”

Empathetic questions to ask during the design process include: Does the product directly solve a customer problem? Does the performance meet a standard of excellence? What will be the customer learning curve? Is the product easy and simple to use?

These and many other questions must be answered in the empathetic design process. Qualitative and quantitative research is required to successfully uncover the answers.

Quantitative and qualitative research
Design and development teams must combine quantitative, data-driven research with qualitative user information in order to create a holistic understanding of the customer. Qualitative research in the context of experience design involves directly identifying key usability problems through field observations and first-hand customer feedback. Quantitative research is used to confirm if a hypothesis arrived at from qualitative research is valid.

Empathy mapping must be applied in qualitative research to gain a granular understanding of a user’s overall emotional state. For example: by mapping out user likes/dislikes/hopes/fears, businesses can create an empathy framework based on these key emotional dimensions. This knowledge can then be used to understand the user’s needs and from that understanding, create a solution to meet those needs.

Experience design: A case study
An example of how experience design can be effective can be found in the following issue plaguing a large retail chain: siloed management. This included 1,500 managers spread across the country who were managing locations in disparate silos, with widely varying communications, systems, and processes. The legacy approach to communicating a singular vision nationwide was facilitated via email.

The solution that fixed this root issue was to empower corporate leadership with greater visibility and proactive direction by allowing back-end designations of management requirements and desired outcomes. These presets ensured that flags were raised when issues arose, so that challenges were prioritized appropriately, and addressed efficiently.

In the end, each manager knew the process to follow when making decisions about budget, time, user needs, and the technology.

User experience design follows suit with the evolution of digital technology. Software development teams can implement empathy within experience design to understand end-user needs, and create a future state, and products and services to improve the process of getting there.

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VidAngel ordered to pay $62.4M for copyright infringement

The VidAngel story seemingly ended in late 2017 when it declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. But the bad news wasn’t over for streaming service, which promised to edit all of the dirty bits out of other people’s films.

This week a federal jury in California ordered the Provo, Utah-based startup to pay $62.4 million to studios over copyright infringement. That amounts to $75,000 per film, paid out to studios including Disney and Warner Bros.

“The jury today found that VidAngel acted willfully,” the studios said in a statement issued after the ruling, “and imposed a damages award that sends a clear message to others who would attempt to profit from unlawful infringing conduct at the expense of the creative community.”

VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon is naturally not thrilled with this latest bit of bad news for a site purporting to offer sanitized versions of popular films. The executive promised to fight back with an appeal.

“We disagree with today’s ruling and have not lessened our resolve to save filtering for families one iota,” Harmon said in the company’s own statement. “VidAngel plans to appeal the District Court ruling, and explore options in the bankruptcy court. Our court system has checks and balances, and we are pursuing options on that front as well.”

VidAngel’s primary streaming offering shut down in late 2016, but the startup continues to operate a service for skipping “unacceptable” parts from Netflix and Amazon Prime.

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