Plug and Play’s new accelerator wants to make the fashion industry less wasteful

Textile manufacturing takes a heavy toll on the environment, from the pesticides used to grow cotton to the polluted water created by dye runoff. Fashion’s short retail cycle also results in millions of tons of waste every year.

Plug and Play hopes that its new accelerator, called Plug and Play-Fashion for Good, will solve some of these issues by connecting textile startups with large retailers. The program, a partnership between Plug and Play, Fashion for Good, a global initiative founded by C&A Foundation, and luxury conglomerate Kering, whose brands include Gucci and Alexander McQueen, launched last week in Amsterdam.

Its first batch includes companies that create organic dyes from microorganisms (Pili-Bio) and cleaners from carbon dioxide to reduce water waste (Tersus). The full list of startups is: Agraloop, Amadou, Dragon, Dropel, ICA Bremen, MySource, MycoTex, Pili-bio, RePack, Sundar, Tersus and Tipa

Like Plug and Play’s other programs, the textile accelerator’s goal is to build relationships between startups and corporations, says Plug and Play founder and CEO Saeed Amidi. In this case, these include Walmart and Target, in addition to C&A Foundation and Kering.

“Technology can find a better way to dye clothes or a better way to grow cotton or reuse end-of-life clothing,” says Amidi. “We think the same process of accelerating software startups can be applied to fashion.”

Michael Olmstead, Plug and Play’s vice president of corporate partnerships, adds that the accelerator’s goals is to take innovation in the apparel industry beyond e-commerce companies.

“Fashion is one of the most polluting industries and we’re looking to really accelerate the transition to a very circular industry,” he says.

Some of the startups in Plug and Play—Fashion for Good’s first batch are developing new types of textiles made from plants. For example, Mycotex and Amadou both create leather substitutes from mushroom fibers, which are not only biodegradable, but may also help reduce methane emissions from livestock and pollutants from the tanning process.

Other companies, like ICA Bremen, focus on accountability in the manufacturing process. ICA Bremen uses nano-technology to create tiny tracers that allows manufacturers to keep track of how much organic cotton fiber a piece of fabric contains, an important criteria for organic certification.

One incentive for retailers is that young consumers are willing to spend extra on brands that cultivate a reputation for environmental responsibility.

“If you look at a generation that is really conscious of sustainability, it’s millenials,” Olmstead notes, “And they are obviously the ones who are spending money.”

Featured Image: Sinan Saglam/EyeEm/Getty Images

Tesla cuts the starting price for Model S by $5,000

If you’re thinking of buying the entry-level Tesla Model S, we’ve got good news for you: Not only is it cheaper, it also comes with some free extras. 

The changes, which went live Monday, are as follows: Tesla Model S 75, which comes with a 75kWh battery, and the all-wheel drive variant 75D, are now $5,000 cheaper and cost $69,500 and $74,500 (before incentives), respectively. 

Furthermore, both variants now come standard with automatic rear liftgate and a glass roof.

The changes in pricing come a month after Tesla discontinued the 60 and 60D versions of Model S, which were are little cheaper at launch than the freshly priced 75 and 75D. 

There were changes in pricing further up Tesla’s Model S lineup, but these are a little less straightforward. The 90D model got cheaper as well, and it now costs $87,500 before incentives (a $2,000 decrease). However, the top-of-the-line models, 100D and P100D, will actually become more expensive starting April 24, at $97,500 and $140,000, respectively. 

And for those who recently purchased a Tesla Model S 60 and are now thoroughly enraged by these pricing changes, Tesla has a pacifier as well: Upgrading from the 60kWh to the 75kWh battery on the 60 now costs $2,000 instead of $9,000. For owners of the 70kWh Model S, the upgrade to 75kWh costs $500 instead of $3,500. 

These changes likely have to do with Tesla’s upcoming Model 3, which should start shipping later this year with a base price of $35,000. Tesla recently posted a little explainer on its website, reminding potential buyers that Model S will remain the company’s flagship model and the longest-range car it offers. But most importantly, the highest battery capacity for the Model 3 will be 75kWh — right where the Model S now starts. 

Tesla also tweaked the prices of its electric SUV, the Model X. The changes were less dramatic: The 75D variant now starts at $82,500 before incentives and 90D costs $93,500. Top models are getting pricier: 100D will jump to $99,500 and P100D will go to $145,000 starting April 24. 

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Logitech’s customizable Pop buttons can now be connected to Apple’s HomeKit

The wonder of smart homes is being able to connect and automate all your devices, but it’s still important to have physical switches that can turn things on and off as you come and go throughout your house.

Logitech’s Pop buttons were introduced last year as one way to do that, and today they’re getting a major upgrade with the addition of HomeKit support. HomeKit support is enabled through a new Hub for the Pop buttons, which will be available exclusively through Apple at launch.

Hooking into HomeKit expands what the buttons can do in a huge way. They’ve always been programmable, so you can go into the Pop app and make them send commands to a variety of different connected devices. But they only worked with a subset of gadgets and lighting systems until this point. Now, with HomeKit, they’re able to control any device inside Apple’s growing smart home ecosystem.

A single Pop button can do three different actions: one with a single press, one with a double press, and another with a long press. That could let you set up a single button to turn devices on and off, activate a specific command, and trigger a preset that controls multiple devices.

It’s unfortunate that the Pop buttons require a hub, because that makes getting started with them a bit harder than being able to link them directly to an iPhone — a bit more expensive, too. The hub sells for $59.95 and comes with a single button, and additional buttons sell for $39.99. The Pop buttons aren’t changing at all as part of this announcement, so existing units can gain HomeKit support by being connected to one of the new hubs.

Verizon’s surprisingly compelling Wear24 smartwatch will launch May 11

Why it matters to you

Verizon’s first smartwatch boasts a laundry list of features many others can’t match, which could make it a promising candidate for a wearable.

In February, Verizon unveiled an exclusive smartwatch called the Wear24. Built by Taiwanese firm QDM Quanta, which has produced devices on contract for HP, Dell, and Lenovo, the Wear24 was slated for release in March. But that day never came and consequently, the watch slipped out of the public eye — until now. Verizon will launch the Wear24 on May 11, the company announced.

Now, while it is easy to write off most carrier-branded products, the Wear24 surprisingly has quite a bit going for it. For starters, it’s launching with Android Wear 2.0 in tow — which many smartwatches from better-known tech companies are still waiting to receive. With Wear 2.0 comes the arrival of Google Assistant, as well as a variety of new complications, which place information like fitness goal tracking, stock prices, or calendar appointments right on the watch face for immediate viewing.

Further, the update adds a variety of ways to respond to messages from your favorite chat apps, from dictation to handwriting to selecting an emoji that describes your feelings. Google Fit also figures prominently into the new version of Android Wear, with support for pace, distance, heart rate, and rep tracking.

But what makes the Wear24 even more exciting is on-board Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity. With it, the device can make and receive calls and texts, browse and download apps, and access the internet without the need of a paired phone. The watch features a 450mAh battery — large for a smartwatch — to help keep that radio from quickly running the juice dry. NFC means you can use it for payments, too.

Finally, the Wear24 is IP67 rated, allowing it to withstand being submerged under 3.3 feet of water for a maximum of 30 minutes. The combination of all these features creates what is — on paper at least — a very versatile and complete smartwatch, with fitness-minded features that could make it a compelling alternative LG’s Watch Sport.

The Wear24 comes in three colors: gunmetal black, stainless steel, and rose gold. It will be available for either $350 outright, or $300 with an agreement to a two-year contract with Verizon. The carrier notes that subscribers will be able to add the device to their existing plan for an extra $5 per month.

Here’s everything we expect to see at Facebook F8 so far

Facebook’s big conference for the year is right around the corner, and while it seems like the hype has been a little subdued this time around, we’re expecting some pretty big announcements to come from the show.

F8 will start on Tuesday, April 18 with a keynote presentation at 10 a.m. PT, however different sessions will follow throughout the day. Another keynote will take place the next day at the same time, with more sessions to follow — so there’s plenty to be announced, even if it is largely developer-focused.

How to watch

How can you keep up with all these big announcements yourself? Thankfully, Facebook is live-streaming the majority of its sessions, including the big keynotes. As mentioned, the conference itself will start on Tuesday April 18 at 10 a.m. PT, and will run a full two days.

To watch the keynote and the sessions, you will have to register on the Facebook F8 website, but when you do you’ll be able to live-stream the event, and watch sessions on-demand. You can also join the “F8 Online Experience” Facebook event page for updates on F8, as well as live-streamed video and more information.

The event is hosted by the Facebook for Developers page.

What to expect

The announcements will cover a variety of Facebook products and services, from the Facebook app and Messenger, to the company’s other interests — like virtual reality. While not too much has been announced about the show so far, here’s everything we expect to see.

Group bots

Chat bots were a big focus at F8 2016, and it looks like that might shape up to be the case again this year. This time around, however, Facebook might expand its bots platform to groups — that’s to say, instead of bots only being able to help individuals, they could help groups keep up to date with news, sports games progress, e-commerce, and more.

The news, reported by TechCrunch, isn’t surprising. Facebook mentioned it would be expanding bots to work in group chats a while ago, and since then we haven’t seen that actually happen.

An offline version of Instagram

This one could be pretty helpful for Instagram users with spotty internet connections. A session called “Building Offline Experiences for Instagram” has been posted on the Facebook F8 schedule, suggesting that the platform will get at least some more offline features. It would make sense — Facebook has had quite a lot of success with Messenger Lite and Facebook Lite, which currently sits at 200 million users.

The Camera Effects Platform

Another session on the F8 schedule is called “Introduction to the Camera Effects Platform,” and it could signal a way for developers to submit their own filters and photo frames. The idea here is simple — Facebook’s team is excellent at building great frames and filters, but they can’t make everything. If more developers make filters and frames, the company could potentially outdo Snapchat.

A virtual reality headset

Virtual reality is seriously gaining steam, and Facebook is a major player in that happening. The company launched a 360-degree camera at F8 last year, and now recent rumors from Variety suggest Facebook could also launch its own VR headset — or at least the specifications for a VR headset that other companies could go on to use.

We’ll be on the ground in San Jose at F8, so follow our site for continuing coverage and updates. You can follow us on Twitter at @DigitalTrends. We’ll keep this page updated with all the F8-related info as we hear it, so stay tuned.

Liveblog: Get the Latest News From Facebook F8 as It Happens

On Tuesday, April 18, in San Jose, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers his keynote at the F8 conference, Facebook’s biggest public event of the year. F8 is a developer show, so expect lots of talk about new code releases and tools for building things for Facebook. Of course the annual event generates a ton of news for regular folk too as the company outlines new features and capabilities for the nearly two billion people who use Facebook regularly. That’s the meat of F8, the stuff to get excited about.

Zuck’s keynote starts at 10 am PDT (1 pm EDT) and runs for 90 minutes. We’ll be liveblogging the whole thing. Sure, you can live stream F8 as well, but we’re going to liveblog it anyway. Why liveblog something you can just watch for yourself? Well, because we love liveblogs of course! We’ll have WIRED writers David Pierce and Brian Barrett posting live updates and offering their analysis of each bit of F8 news: why it matters, who it’s for, and what to expect from Facebook going forward. We recommend joining the liveblog and leaving it open as a compliment to the live video feed. You’ll get Zuck’s smiling face in one window, and all of that brilliant WIRED insight in the other.

Join us right here on Tuesday morning. We’re going live at 9 am PDT, one hour before the event starts.

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Uber loses another executive as self-driving program lead quits

As Uber continues to make the headlines for the wrong reasons, it also keeps on losing executives. The latest big name is to quit is Sherif Marakby — its vice president of global vehicle programs, and one of the orchestrators of its self-driving vehicle program.

Marakby was poached just last April from Ford, where he had spent the previous 25 years, rising to the rank of director of global electronics and engineering. In a statement issued at the time, Marakby said that he was focused on safety, explaining that auto accidents were the most common cause of death among young people.

He went on to oversee the creation and launch of Uber’s ongoing self-driving vehicle initiatives, but apparently decided to cut ties with the company before it reached the next phase of its plans. “Self-driving is one of the most interesting challenges I’ve worked on in my career, and I’m grateful to have contributed to what will soon be a safer future for everyone,” he said in a new statement that confirmed his departure, but didn’t offer a reasoning.

Uber, too, didn’t offer an explanation for Marakby’s departure, but told TechCrunch that “Sherif’s deep experience and knowledge of the automotive industry have helped us tremendously in working to make self-driving cars a reality.” In leaving, he follows Uber’s vice president of product and growth, its head of communications, and head of AI labs — all of whom quit in the last few months alone.

What to Expect From F8, Facebook’s Huge Annual Show-and-Tell

You can pinpoint exactly when Facebook stopped being a social network for hip youngsters and started becoming the giant all-consuming, many-tentacled internet behemoth it is today: During its first F8 developer conference.

On that day 10 years ago, Mark Zuckerberg introduced the social graph, Facebook’s complex map of the connections between everybody on the planet. He also announced he’d be giving developers access to that data and to Facebook as a platform. Big stuff. In the years since, Zuck and Co. have used the annual conference to map out where the social network is headed, and how it will continue to rule your life.

Think of the F8 keynote as a heatmap for Facebook, a signal of what the company cares about—and doesn’t.

When Zuck takes the stage at F8 Tuesday in San Jose, it won’t feel anything like that first conference. He’s a better speaker, for one thing. He’s long since swapped the college-bro North Face for that trademark gray shirt. But most of all, he’s got a lot more to talk about. He’ll mention the “Big Blue App,” of course. He will almost certainly address the video of a murder that was posted to Facebook this weekend. But you also can expect updates on Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus, Facebook for Work, Facebook Lite, and the rest of the company’s portfolio that collectively serves an audience pushing five billion people. It’s going to be busy.

Say Cheese

Facebook spent a good chunk of the past year making your camera the centerpiece of all your online experiences. That meant ruthlessly copying Snapchat’s Stories format across nearly every product, giving you a way of posting disappearing selfies no matter where you are. It’s also focused on creating filters, lenses, and the same sorts of proto-augmented reality tools that make Snapchat so much fun. Expect more of that at F8, and expect it everywhere: in Facebook Stories, Instagram Stories, Messenger Day, WhatsApp status, and probably six or seven more places we don’t even know have Stories yet. A listing for a “Camera Effects Platform” session at the conference also makes it sound like developers will soon be able to build even more new things (and ads, oh so many ads) to go around your face.

Real News

As Zuck And Friends continue grappling with Facebook’s role in the distribution of information online, you can bet they’ll talk all about company’s plans to combat fake news, curb the sharing of hate speech and violent videos, promote news literacy, improve its tools for verifying people and stories, stop revenge porn, keep users safe from surveillance, and more. Facebook has been reluctant, even unwilling, to accept the responsibility that comes with the power it wields with regard to what the world consumes and how they understand it all. But Zuckerberg seems to have had a change of heart lately, and F8 could bring it to the forefront.

Not only that, Facebook recently started quietly testing an entirely new experience for finding stuff. A few users have been seeing the so-called Explore tab’s rocket icon for the last few months, showing them pictures and videos from outside their friend group and comfort zone. This might be a brief test for a cool feature no one else will ever see, but it feels like the right product for the right time on Facebook.

Messenger looks like Facebook’s favorite new plaything, and seems due for some changes. Last year’s big bot experiment didn’t go as planned, but Facebook still wants to know how it can insert itself into your conversations. Expect to hear more about the new M Suggest feature, and about more things the M assistant can do. And messy rollout and user frustrations be damned, that bots platform ain’t going away.

With Oculus VR, change comes bigger and faster. You can bet virtual dollars to virtual donuts Zuckerberg dons a Rift at some point to show everyone the latest in VR. That headset might be the much-hyped standalone Rift Zuckerberg teased last fall, but it’ll likely still be in prototype form. He’ll almost certainly have newly social things to do, as the Oculus crew keeps working on what life looks like once everyone’s in VR.

Keep Liking

Just as interesting as what comes up at F8 is what’s left unsaid. Think of the keynote as a heatmap for Facebook, indicating what the company cares about. Word has it that live video hasn’t taken off the way Facebook hoped. Will the company turn away from convincing people to go live? Instant Articles created friction with publishers. Will Facebook stop pushing them so aggressively? The company’s renowned for declaring something The Future, only to abandon it months later, sometimes to the frustration of partners and users.

Facebook’s reach is such that even small changes feel massive because they affect so many people. As it tries to figure out what users want, and define how they’ll live on the internet, F8 is as much an annual check-up as anything. WIRED will liveblog the keynotes and cover the conference as it happens, and you don’t want to miss any of it. Think of it this way: Don’t you want to be watching when Zuck announces he’s running for president? We’re not saying it’ll happen, but we’re not saying it won’t.

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Master Facebook Messenger with these helpful tips and tricks

More than one billion people use Facebook Messenger every month to stay in touch with family and friends. The app is packed with functionality, which isn’t always obvious. New features, that you might not be aware of, are being rolled out all the time. Check out our tips and tricks below to find out if you’re making the most of Facebook’s popular chat service.

Before we get started…

The first thing you need to do is make sure that you have the most recent version of Facebook Messenger, which can easily be done in iOS and Android.

If you’re an iOS user, open the App Store and tap the Updates tab on the far right. Afterward, tap the Update All button in the top-right corner or the Update button directly to the right of Facebook Messenger, if available.

If you’re an Android user, open the Google Play Store and tap the three horizontal lines in the top left. Then, tap My apps & games from the resulting menu and you’ll see a list of possible updates. Find Facebook Messenger and update it as needed, or just tap Update all at the top.

iPhone 8 could be delayed because of this cool feature

Image: Xu Kangping/VCG, Getty Images

A shiny new iPhone is expected on the device’s 10th anniversary—but a new report hints there could be delays.  

One of the features expected in the upcoming iPhone 8 is a fingerprint sensor placed under the phone’s glass exterior. The result would be an even sleeker, seamless design and, presumably, more space for the iPhone’s display. 

However, according to a new Pacific Crest Securities analyst report, surfaced by Investor’s Business Daily, the virtual home button may be giving Apple component partners trouble. Because of this, there are now concerns that the feature may cause a delay or be eliminated so Apple’s device launches on time. 

Say goodbye to the home button?

Say goodbye to the home button?

Image: mashable/lili sams

“The anticipated move to a full-screen OLED panel in the coming iPhone 8/X eliminates the physical home button, which necessitates a move to a virtual home button and an optical fingerprint sensing solution to read fingerprints through the OLED panel,” the report, released Sunday, states. 

“At this point, we do not believe Apple’s optical fingerprint module provider has firm orders for production, which suggests Apple does not have functionality of the optical fingerprint sensor ready. Additionally, we believe Apple has evaluated Synaptic’s (SYNA) optical fingerprint solution, but that it has not been qualified.”

Of course, as usual, any and all iPhone rumors (especially this far out from release) should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. Apple always has a few surprises up its sleeve, and almost never confirms or denies iPhone rumors, whether they’re positive or negative. 

Nevertheless, the Pacific Crest Securities analyst note also warns, “While this creates some risk of production delays, at this point we do not believe it materially threatens volume through the coming iPhone cycle.”

This is just the latest iPhone 8 rumor hinting at a possible delay, with previous rumors mentioning possible issues with the device’s OLED panels and a separate 3D-sensing system.

Apple’s new iPhone is expected to be revealed in September. 

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