Cytera CellWorks aims to bring cell culture automation to your dinner plate

Cytera CellWorks hopes to revolutionize the so-called “clean meat” industry through the automation of cell cultures — and that could mean one day, if all goes to plan, the company’s products could be in every grocery store in America.

Cytera is a ways off from that happening, though. Founded in 2017 by two college students in the U.K., Ignacio Willats and Ali Afshar, Cytera uses robotic automation to configure cell cultures used in things like growing turkey meat from a petri dish or testing stem cells.

The two founders — Willats, the events and startups guy and Afshar the scientist, like to do things differently to better configure the lab, as well — like strapping GoPros to lab workers’ heads, for instance. The two came together at the Imperial College of London to run an event for automation in the lab and from there formed their friendship and their company.

“At the time, lab automation felt suboptimal,” Afshar told TechCrunch, further explaining he wanted to do something with a higher impact.

Cellular agriculture, or growing animal cells in a lab, seems to hit that button and the two are currently enrolled in Y Combinator’s Summer 2018 cohort to help them get to the next step.

There’s been an explosion in the lab-made meat industry, which relies on taking a biopsy of animal cells and then growing them in a lab to make the meat versus getting it from an actual living, breathing animal. In just the last couple of years startups like Memphis Meats have started to pop up, offering lab meat to restaurants. Even the company known for its vegan mayo products, Hampton Creek (now called Just), is creating a lab-grown foie gras.

Originally, the company was going to go for general automation in the lab, but had enough interest from clients and potential business in just the cell culture automation aspect they changed the name for clarity. Cytera already has some promising prospects, too, including a leading gene therapy company the two couldn’t name just yet.

Of course, automation in the lab is nothing new and big pharma has already poured billions into it for drug discovery. One could imagine a giant pharma company teaming up with a meat company looking to get into the lab-made meat industry and doing something similar, but so far Willats and Afshar says they haven’t really seen that happening. They say bigger companies are much more likely to partner with smaller startups like theirs to get the job done.

Obviously, there are trade-offs at either end. But, should Cytera make it, you may find yourself eating a chicken breast one day built by a company who bought the cells made in the Cytera lab.

Crazybaby’s Air 1S true wireless earbuds won’t make you look like a dork

crazybaby air 1s news head

Audio technology company Crazybaby — responsible for the mad Mars floating speaker — is back with another pair of great looking true wireless, in-ear buds that, unlike the original Air, hopefully won’t actually drive you crazy, baby, with incessant connection problems. The Crazybaby Air 1S share an almost identical design, which is a good thing, but with completely reworked connection tech. This is also a very good thing.

These are true wireless in-ears, so there are no wires to restrict movement, and unlike many other similar products they are not massive. The sleek, teardrop design means they are unobtrusive in your ear, and at 4 grams each, they are also very comfortable. The little buds are stored inside a cylindrical case that also keeps the tiny internal batteries topped up. Crazybaby says a total of 12 hours is possible. A selection of different sized tips come inside the package, along with a pair of covers with a built-in tip that wraps around the whole earbud.

crazybaby air 1s news case

Inside is a carbon nanotube diaphragm, just like the older Air models, with audio customization for more bass, a degree of noise reduction, and 3D virtual surround sound. Each earbud has its own power button with an LED inside to show the status, and they connect independently to your device using Bluetooth 4.2. Crazybaby says the Air 1S headphones introduce new-and-improved connectivity technology and promises a stable, reliable connection.

What makes these different to the previous Crazybaby Air true wireless headphones? Crazybaby is pushing them toward the fitness market, having worked to include an IPX6 rating to resist sweat and rain. Don’t expect any custom fitness tracking technology inside, though, because these are purely for entertainment when you’re at the gym or out on a run. Despite being light on features, the Crazybaby Air 1S should not be overlooked — these are very stylish, and extremely comfortable true wireless earbuds, which is something many will appreciate more than yet another way to count steps.

The price is also very reasonable. The Crazybaby Air 1S earbuds cost $160 and are available to purchase now through the company’s own website. If you really want a pair, pick them up quickly because if you’re one of the first 800 to place an order, the price is reduced to just $100.

Editors’ Recommendations

Square Cash expands bitcoin support to all 50 US states

Square has expanded bitcoin support in its Cash App to all 50 US states, the company said in a tweet on Monday. The expansion comes after Square revealed in its earnings report that bitcoin had a profit margin of $420,000 in Q2, after the company spent $36.6 million to gain bitcoin support on the app but only made $37 million back.

The Cash App let users make purchases with bitcoin starting in January, but it didn’t offer support in New York, Georgia, Hawaii, and Wyoming because those states have more restrictions on cryptocurrency transactions. States like Wyoming and Hawaii previously required cryptocurrency companies to hold cash reserves equal to the amount of cryptocurrency funds held for customers, which made it difficult for exchanges like Coinbase to operate. Wyoming removed the requirement in March, and Square quickly expanded bitcoin buying on its Cash App to residents of that state. Meanwhile, New York requires companies to obtain a “BitLicense” to operate within the state, which Square recently procured.

Georgia and Hawaii are the more recent additions announced on Monday. We’ve reached out to Square for comment on how it gained government approvals there.

It’s no surprise that Square maintains a positive outlook for bitcoin despite the fact that prices have dropped since its peak. CEO Jack Dorsey, who’s also the Twitter chief, said in March that bitcoin would be the world’s “single currency” in 10 years. Currently, bitcoin prices flounder around $6,000 compared to when it surged past $10,000 last November.

Twitter is purging accounts that were trying to evade prior suspensions

Twitter announced this afternoon it will begin booting accounts off its service from those who have tried to evade their account suspension. The company says that the accounts in question are users who have been previously suspended on Twitter for their abusive behavior, or for trying to evade a prior suspension. These bad actors have been able to work around Twitter’s attempt to remove them by setting up another account, it seems.

The company says the new wave of suspensions will hit this week and will continue in the weeks ahead, as it’s able to identify others who are “attempting to Tweet following an account suspension.” 

Twitter’s announcement on the matter – which came in the form of a tweet – was light on details. We asked the company for more information. It’s unclear, for example, how Twitter was able to identify the same persons had returned to Twitter, how many users will be affected by this new ban, or what impact this will have on Twitter’s currently stagnant user numbers.

Twitter was not able to answer our questions, when asked for comment.

The company has been more recently focused on aggressively suspending accounts, as part of the effort to stem the flow of disinformation, bots, and abuse on its service. The Washington Post, for example, said last month that Twitter had suspended as many as 70 million accounts between the months of May and June, and was continuing in July at the same pace. The removal of these accounts didn’t affect the company’s user metrics, Twitter’s CFO later clarified.

Even though they weren’t a factor, Twitter’s user base is shrinking. The company actually lost a million monthly active users in Q2, with 335 million overall users and 68 million in the U.S. In part, Twitter may be challenged in growing its audience because it’s not been able to get a handle on the rampant abuse on its platform, and because it makes poor enforcement decisions with regard to its existing policies.

For instance, Twitter is under fire right now for the way it chooses who to suspend, as it’s one of the few remaining platforms that hasn’t taken action against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

The Outline even hilariously (???) suggested today that we all abandon Twitter and return to Tumblr. (Disclosure: Oath owns Tumblr and TC. I don’t support The Outline’s plan. Twitter should just fix itself, even if that requires new leadership.)

In any event, today’s news isn’t about a change in how Twitter will implement its rules, but rather in how it will enforce the bans it’s already chosen to enact.

In many cases, banned users would simply create a new account using a new email address and then continue to tweet. Twitter’s means of identifying returning users has been fairly simplistic in the past. To make sure banned users didn’t come back, it used information like the email, phone and IP address to identify them.

For it to now be going after a whole new lot of banned accounts who have been attempting to avoid their suspensions, Twitter may be using the recently acquired technology from anti-abuse firm Smyte. At the time of the deal, Twitter had praised Smyte’s proactive anti-abuse systems, and said it would soon put them to work.

This system may pick up false positives, of course – and that could be why Twitter noted that some accounts could be banned in error in the weeks ahead.

Reached for comment, Twitter declined to answer our specific questions and said it could also not go into further details as that would give those attempting to evade a suspension more insight into its detection methods.

“This is a step we’re taking to further refine our work and close existing gaps we identified,” a spokesperson said. “This is specifically targeting those previously suspended for abusive behavior. Nothing to share on amount of accounts impacted since this work will remain ongoing, not just today.”

Updated, 8/14/18, 3:51 PM ET with Twitter’s comment. 

Samsung rebrands Gear app as ‘Galaxy Wearables,’ it now supports Android 9.0 Pie

Samsung wearable
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

In early August, Digital Trend reported that Samsung Gear owners were experiencing issues pairing their Gear S3 with their smartphone after downloading Android 9.o Pie. Since then, Samsung has responded with a solution. First spotted by Android Central, the company has officially rolled out an update for its Gear wearables.

Samsung was aware of the problem Gear S3 users were having — a spokesperson had even responded to related comments in Play Store reviews. The company made it clear that an update would be released for Android Pie as soon as possible.

The fix is part of the v2.2.21.18080361 update, and can be downloaded via the Google Play Store. Users will notice that in addition to releasing an update, the company also rebranded its Samsung Gear app to Galaxy Wearable — which is more in line with Galaxy Watch branding. For those who already have the app, make sure you’ve updated it to the latest version.

According to a thread on Reddit, one user wasn’t running into any issues until they tried to pair and use their Samsung Gear S3 with a Pixel after upgrading to Android Pie. Apparently, the Samsung Gear app will not connect to the wearable once the phone is running the new OS.

While attention was drawn to the issue the same day as Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event in Brooklyn, New York, one of our readers, known as “techiekeki,” pointed out the connectivity problems have existed for a while now. According to a thread on XDA-Developer’s forum, a user who goes by the name “skersh” reported the problem on July 7 after signing up for the Android P beta program.

A user on Reddit experienced the same issue — explaining that there weren’t any issues with the Gear S3 until after having upgraded to Android Pie. The Samsung Gear app wouldn’t connect to the wearable once the phone was running the new OS.

The app would open and begin to load, but would then crash a little while later. Even if your device was already connected prior to the update, Android P reportedly broke the connection.

Google launched Android 9.0 Pie on August 9. For now, the new operating system is only available on the Pixel, Pixel 2, and the Essential Phone, but will be released on additional devices in the near future. The OS comes with a slew of new features from improvements to Do Not Disturb to new gesture features, and more.

In addition to products like the Galaxy Note 9, Wireless Charger Duo, and more, Samsung also announced its Galaxy Watch at the event. The new smartwatch happens to be the successor to the Gear S3 and Gear Sport.

Updated August 14: Samsung rolls out a fix for its Gear wearables. 

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HQ Trivia hits Apple TV as downloads slow

HQ Trivia’s app store ranking has continued to sink the past three months, but it’s hoping a new version on your television could revitalize growth. HQ today launched an Apple TV app that lets users play the twice-daily live quiz game alongside iOS Android players. But that might not be enough to get HQ’s player count rapidly growing again.

According to App Annie’s app store ranking history, on iOS HQ has fallen from the #1 US Trivia game to #10, from the #44 game to #196, and from the #151 overall app to #585. It’s exhibited a similar decline on Android. The question is whether this is just a summer lull as people spend time outside and students aren’t locked in the schedule of school, or if HQ is in a downward spiral beyond seasonal fluctuations.

Meanwhile, new clones keep popping up. After the initial wave of Chinese live trivia apps, now US television studios are getting into the mix. This week Fox unveiled ‘FN Genius’ which looks and works almost exactly that same as HQ. There are also new 1-on-1 trivia games like ProveIt that let players bet real money on whether they can outsmart their opponent.

Fox’s FN Genius. Image via Deadline

With themed games, celebrity hosts, big jackpots, and new features like the ability to see friends’ answers, HQ has tried to keep its app novel. But it’s also encountered cheaters and people playing with multiple phones that make normal players feel like they’ll never win. While the live aspect adds urgency, it can also feel interruptive with time as users aren’t always available for its noon and 6pm pacific games. HQ may need to come up with some new viral hooks or ways to revive lapsed players if it’s going to make good on the $15 million its parent company raised in March.

Turkey is boycotting iPhones, but it hurts Turkey more than Apple

Image: LEWIS TSE PUI LUNG/shutterstock

Turkey President Tayyip Erdogan announced today that the country would boycott all electronics from the United States after President Donald Trump slapped new tariffs on the region that caused the Turkish currency (the lira) to hit an all-time low.

The announcement, which specifically targeted Apple, comes amid rising trade tensions between the two countries (and leaders), but it will barely touch the tech giant.

“If they have iPhone, there is Samsung on the other side. We have Vestel Venuüs in our country,” Erdogan said, referencing a Turkey-based smartphone manufacturer during the announcement to members of his national conservative Justice and Development Party.

“Together with our people, we will stand decisively against the dollar, forex prices, inflation and interest rates. We will protect our economic independence by being tight-knit together.”

The problem with Erdogan’s new strategy is that it will have a much greater effect on the Turkish people than any U.S. company. In other words, Turkey relies on Apple more than Apple relies on Turkey.

Only 2.08 percent of Turkish smartphone users owned a Vestel last December, while 17.41 percent owned Apple iPhones.

That means of the 41.09 million projected smartphone users in Turkey last year, 7.15 million of them used Apple, which is only 1.02 percent of the conservative estimate of more than 700 million iPhone users in the world.

Putting that into context, that means there are more than 8.5 times more iPhone users worldwide than there are people in Turkey.

The U.S. and China comprise Apple’s two biggest markets, so this would be a much bigger deal — for both Apple and America — if this electronics ban came from China. Of course, the U.S. is also feuding with over trade, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

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Y Combinator invests in HappiLabs to help scientists shop smarter

To create life-saving drugs or groundbreaking technological advancements, scientists first need the proper lab equipment. Everything from intricate and expensive specialized machines to beakers and rubber gloves must be sourced, price compared and ordered by a lab manager before even the first steps toward discovery can take place.

But, says Tom Ruginis, CEO and founder of the virtual lab manger startup HappiLabs, the process for finding the best and most cost-effective materials for your lab is far from a standardized process.

“The pricing aspect started catching my attention more and more,” Ruginis told TechCrunch. “The profit margin for lab supplies is extraordinarily large. Scientists don’t know that, and even if they know that it’s really hard for them to shop around. There’s nowhere for them to go.”

As an ex-PhD student and lab manager himself, Ruginis has first-hand experience with the struggles — and shortcuts — necessary to properly stock your lab. After leaving his PhD program in pharmacology, Ruginis took a job as a salesman for a scientific distributor and saw that even labs that were floors apart were paying drastically different prices for the same basic supplies.

Taken aback at how far behind scientific purchasing was from the rest of the retail world, Ruginis began compiling his own spreadsheet of pricing information and, with the help of his then-girlfriend (now wife) Rachel, began designing small price-comparison pamphlets for items like gloves and beakers to distribute to local labs to give them a perspective on the pricing space.

“I went to this one lab that I knew was paying too much,” said Ruginis. “I had data showing that a lab three floors up in their building was paying almost half the price. I went straight to [the lab] and showed [them] this. I asked ‘would you give me $10 for this info and if I kept bringing you more pricing info?’ They gave me $10 and in my head that was our first customer.”

Ruginis says the pamphlets grew from one page to eight and it wasn’t long after that labs began coming to him directly for purchasing guidance and outsourcing. And in 2012, with $20,000 raised from friends and family, he launched HappiLabs as a virtual lab manager for labs, spanning topics from biotech and brain research to robotics.

Since its launch, HappiLabs has grown to 14 employees — comprising six PhD virtual lab managers and eight support staff — and, after earning $1 million in 2017, this summer received a $120,000 investment from Y Combinator .

Actively working with 26 labs across the country, Ruginis says the company is ready to begin incorporating more software and technology into the company and is searching for a CTO to help it reach that goal.

“We’re building an internal software tool that’s strictly for lab managers,” said Ruginis. “What some other companies have done is they’ll try to build a tool and give it to all the lab managers on the planet, but what we’re doing is we’re building a tool for us [first]. We’re going to use it for a few years, make it awesome, and then we’ll end up selling that somewhere down the line as a lab manager software.”

Even further down the road, Ruginis says he imagines creating both hardware and software that can not only be installed in labs across the world (think Alexa for scientists) but even support scientific advancement in labs that are out-of-this-world for future scientists working on the red planet or the ISS.

MoviePass says those cancellation bugs have been fixed

MoviePass is about to roll out its new subscription plan, which will keep prices at $9.95 while imposing a new limit of three movies per month. But it seems that the transition hasn’t been going entirely smoothly.

The Verge reports that several users have complained about previously canceling their plans, only to receive emails from the service suggesting that they were still subscribed.

We reached out to a MoviePass spokesperson, who confirmed that there were “bugs” in the cancellation process, but said they’ve since been fixed:

On Monday, August 13th, we learned that some members encountered difficulty with the cancellation process. We have fixed the bugs that were causing the issue and we have confirmed that none of our members have been opted-in or converted to the new plan without their express permission. In addition, all cancellation requests are being correctly processed and no members were being blocked from canceling their accounts. We apologize for the inconvenience and ask that any impacted members contact customer support via the MoviePass app.

The company also said that all members are being given the option to either opt in to the new plan or cancel their memberships. If someone doesn’t respond by the end of their billing cycle, their subscription will be automatically canceled.

The new plan is part of a broader effort at MoviePass to try to get the company to profitability. In addition to capping monthly tickets, the company is also keeping big releases off the service for the first couple weeks — and apparently, forcing subscribers to choose between only two movies at a given time.

This cheap Squarespace alternative will help you build a slick website

Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission.

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