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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up November 1, 2019

Lux Research
November 1, 2019

Every week our experts gather the biggest headlines and provide their expert analysis and opinions on major developments. Our researchers evaluate news based on potential importance ranking developments from Truly Disruptive to Ignore. Check out our experts' thoughts on the top emerging technology and innovation news and trends from this past week below.

Each Friday we will highlight our Lux Take on the news for the week

Volkswagen includes dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) chip in its new Golf lineup

13558-thumb-squareJosh Kern, Analyst | @josh_kern_ Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"The move represents the first large-scale deployment of vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology in production vehicles beyond niche luxury cars. The NXP chip will allow cars to directly communicate information like hazardous road conditions with each other. Volkswagen's decision should be seen as concerning to the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA), a consortium of automotive OEMs and Tier 1s working together on testing and lobbying for cellular V2X (C-V2X), a competing standard with DSRC. Proponents of DSRC argue that the technology is ready and automotive OEMs should not wait for 5G chips. With the Golf being Europe's most popular compact car, companies should see this as evidence that DSRC will see some adoption before all cars move to 5G."

Mobvoi's newly launched smart earbud TicPods 2 may expand the options of human-machine interaction

2908-thumb-squareJerrold Wang, Analyst | @JerroldWang Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"TicPods 2 integrates Mobvoi's voice recognition and NLP technologies to act as a virtual assistant. Users can use TicPods 2 to take and check notes by voice, such as to check their schedule or parking spot. When paired with a smartphone, the product offers real-time translation between Chinese and 19 foreign languages, in which TicPods 2 and the smartphone are the input channels of Chinese and the foreign language, respectively. Though TicPods 2 only serves Mandarin-speaking users and its translation accuracy is still unproven, companies should pay close attention to this product launch, as it signals that more wearables and consumer devices have potential to become the user interface as long as they have human-machine interaction abilities."

BASF integrates senseFly's scouting UAV into its digital ag platform in Brazil

12744-thumb-squareJoshua Haslun, Ph.D., Senior Analyst | @JHaslun Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

The partnership fits the trend of digital innovation across ag. SenseFly's (acquired by Parrot) eBee X fixed-wing drone will expand data inputs for Xarvio. Xarvio previously relied on satellite imagery and mobile device imagery for scouting and mapping capabilities. SenseFly's fixed-wing platform brings strong broadacre scouting capabilities with its 90-minute flight time and compatibility with a number of high-resolution cameras, including 3D, RGB and thermal IR, multispectral, and those for darker conditions. Scouting remains the low-hanging fruit for ag drone applications but still faces beyond line of sight (BLOS) challenges. Now is the time to develop well-rounded digital ag platforms as the agrichemical industry experiences change."

Sandoz breaks up with Pear Therapeutics to rekindle old relationship with R&D

13261-thumb-squareDanielle Bradnan, Research Associate | @DBradnan Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"Sandoz, which is currently undergoing major restructuring in light of profit erosion due to lowering pricing of generics, terminated its co-commercialization partnership with Pear.  Unfortunately, rather than leaning more into digital therapeutics (which are increasingly important, as they support the emerging healthcare paradigm of preventative and decentralized healthcare), Novartis is going back to its old ways and looking to focus on new drug R&D. This move will cost the company, as it chose a challenging strategy with increasingly fewer returns rather than adopting more adaptive solutions. And Pear? Just fine, either with current commercialization infrastructure or by going the route of Kaia and eschewing pharma altogether."

Equinor and Saft join JIP alongside the OGTC, Total, and Taurob to advance autonomous offshore robot

holly havelHolly Havel, Research Associate 
Lux Take: Very Important

Building on the 18-month pilot project launched in April 2018, the OGTC, Total, and Taurob welcome Equinor and Saft to the JIP to advance technology development for a second-generation autonomous offshore robot, which will expand on existing inspection capabilities with active manipulation tools to carry out light intervention tasks like turning valves and lifting objects. As part of the project, Saft will contribute advanced Li-ion battery technology to improve charging and maintenance cycles, and Lux speculates that Equinor will provide development expertise given the company's involvement with Eelume since 2016. In contrast to Euqinor's subsea interests, however, companies can expect the development focus to remain on offshore rigs."

New type of digital-to-analog (DAC) and analog-to-digital (ADC) converters significantly reduces the cost of IoT sensors

Lisheng GaoLisheng Gao, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

"The Green IC research group of the National University of Singapore invented a new type of DAC and ADC converters with digital architecture. The new type of converters reduces the consumption of single-crystal silicon, thus lowering the cost by at least 30 times compared to that using traditional analog architectures. In addition, the converters are designed entirely via an automated digital design methodology, reducing the turnaround time from months to hours. Cost is a sensitive issue for IoT sensors, especially when it involves mass implementations. Any cost-lowering capability can benefit the IoT sensor industry. Companies should follow and engage with this research and watch for potential spinoffs and licensing opportunities."

Google's parent company is eyeing a Fitbit acquisition

13275-thumb-square (1)Nardev Ramanathan, Ph.D., Analyst | @Nardev_R Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"Alphabet, Google's parent company, is reportedly in talks to acquire Fitbit. In a recent case study, we noted that Fitbit's Asia-focused strategy is more likely to succeed if it forms strategic data partnerships. It is likely that Alphabet sees value in Fitbit's data assets as well, to the point of an outright acquisition. By marrying Alphabet's deep analytic capabilities with Fitbit's massive datasets, Alphabet is well-placed to provide actionable recommendations to its users, building stickiness for future health offerings. Companies should expect to see more such developments and should identify suitable data partnerships that augment existing capabilities or enable the building of new ones in this rapidly shifting health ecosystem."

NC State develops nanostructural adhesives using novel liquid nanomanufacturing method

14215-thumb-squareTiffany Hua, Research Associate | @tiff_hua Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"NC State's nanomanufacturing platform could fulfill a need for low-temperature, no-VOC, and bio-based adhesives. What is unique about the institution's "liquid chaos" process is its claimed scalability and versatility, as it can be used with most polymers. While this technology is in research stages, it is a technology with high potential and is worth monitoring."

Evonik invests in 3D printing workflow optimization software developer Castor

XIAO ZHONGXiao Zhong, Ph.D., Analyst | @conanxzxz Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"As we wrote in a primary research-based snapshot, Castor's software automatically determines a part's printability, material, cost, and lead time. It can consolidate parts for 3D printing as well. While the investment could indeed bring in broader adoption of 3D printing for Evonik, the demo we saw last year was somewhat primitive. We think Castor will need to develop (or might already have, hence the investment) a new method to scale up its part assessment process to help Evonik with mass 3D printing adoption."

Shiru raises $3.5 million seed round to develop protein production platform


Thomas Hayes, Analyst
Lux Take: Low Importance


"Lux Capital led the round, joined by S2G Ventures, CPT Capital, and Y Combinator. Shiru is looking to produce proteins via fermentation that impart specific functionality to foods. This is very similar to the approach employed by Motif FoodWorks. Both are honing in on functionality, as opposed to sustainability, as this provides a direct consumer-facing benefit. Shiru has an uphill battle to topple Motif FoodWorks, though, with the latter raising $117.5 million to date and having backing from Ginkgo Bioworks. Given the bounds of "natural" protein production via fermentation, don't anticipate a flurry of new entrants to follow Shiru. Already seeing the overlap between Shiru and Motif FoodWorks corroborates this."

Hyundai testing autonomous vehicles with safety drivers in California

Lewie Roberts Lux ResearchLewie Roberts, Senior Research Associate | @roberts_lewie Ico twitter
Lux Take: Low Importance

"Hyundai is launching a ride-hailing app called BotRide (built and managed by Via) that will allow users to request autonomous vehicles (AVs) in Irvine, California. The electric vehicles are provided by Hyundai and fitted with AV hardware and software from This expands Hyundai's testing on consumer preferences with AVs, as opposed to the company's relationship with its new AV partner Aptiv, which is focused on technology. Companies should recognize that this announcement is more about understanding the customer experience in an AV era, not about any new technology developments."

Facebook rolls out a new digital health tool – but is the social media giant fighting a losing battle?

13275-thumb-square (1)Nardev Ramanathan, Ph.D., Analyst | @Nardev_R Ico twitter
Lux Take: Ignore

"Facebook has had an eye on healthcare for some years. However, the Cambridge Analytica fiasco rattled its healthcare ambitions. Now, Facebook has launched a tool called "Preventive Health" that nudges its users to get regular checkups and connects them to health providers, without collecting user data. But it’s unlikely that users can move past Facebook's negligence in handling data. Also, Facebook's tool offers nothing novel in a highly saturated market of digital health platform providers. In fact, it adds friction to the user experience in liaising with a third party outside its app. The odds of seeing any type of traction in the health space are heavily stacked against Facebook; clients should ignore this development for now."


- Blog: Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up October 25, 2019

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- Case Study: Will Asia be Fitbit's magic bullet in regaining market dominance? (Members Only)

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