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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up October 30, 2020

Lux Research
October 30, 2020

Every day our experts comb through the top innovation headlines and provide their analysis on important updates, trends, and developments across industries. Our experts evaluate news based on potential importance ranking the developments from Truly Disruptive to Ignore.

Each Friday we highlight our Lux Take on the news for the week. Check out our thoughts on the latest emerging technology and innovation news for the last week of October below.

Identifying viruses from exhaled breath is promising but may not be available before end of COVID-19 pandemic

Lisheng GaoLisheng Gao, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"Imec has started developing a new COVID-19 testing tool that can identify COVID-19 virus particles in patients' exhaled breath. The new method, if it works, will allow faster and more comfortable testing than the incumbent PCR and antigen tests involving nose swabbing and blood draws. Imec aims to bring the new tool to clinical trials in mid-2021. Frequent, fast, and on-demand massive testing is the first step to control the pandemic, making the new technology promising at first glance. However, manufacturing and logistics could be challenging and may not be accomplished before the epidemic ends. Nonetheless, these sensors may pioneer future testing methods for respiratory diseases."

Tesla Energy Plan launches in U.K. to build residential VPP in partnership with Octopus Energy

Hernandez, Jessica

Jessica Hernandez, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

"Starting on Monday, October 26, 2020, homes with rooftop solar and Tesla Powerwalls can join the Tesla Energy Plan to be a part of Tesla's Virtual Power Plant (VPP) in the U.K. The plan offers 100% renewable electricity and the most attractive electricity rates in the U.K. – flat import and export rates of £0.08 ($0.1) and £0.11 ($0.14) for Tesla vehicle and non-Tesla vehicle owners, respectively. In addition, the plan removes the daily standing charge, which translate in an average saving of £75 ($96) per household per year. The latter in combination with the low import and high export rates will translate into considerable electricity bill savings. In the U.K., Tesla is moving fast to offer compelling bundles of products and services."

Some safety features for the Porsche Taycan will be behind a paywall

Arij-van-Berkel-Lux-900px-squareArij van Berkel, Ph.D., Director, Research | @aivanberkel Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"The Porsche Taycan is the lowest vehicle in the Porsche product line (except for some RS models). It needs to lift its nose at certain speed bumps if one doesn't want to crawl over them. Fortunately, the car offers the capability to do this, and it can be linked to the GPS system, so it will do it precisely when needed. Such a service requires constant updates, however. The maintenance of existing models has become much more labor-intensive for OEMs with over-the-air updates and updates of maps and roadside traffic information. To cope with the costs, car manufacturers are introducing subscription fees for advanced features, including safety features. Porsche is just one OEM announcing such plans. The company will charge €19.50 per month."

Bacardi to PHAse out conventional plastics with Danimer Scientific partnership

12599-thumb-square-1Kristin Marshall, Senior Research Associate | @KMarsh4Bio Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"Bacardi is not the first alcohol brand trying to find more sustainable packaging solutions for its spirits. It is, however, the first to target polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs). The company plans to have its 100% biopolymer bottles on shelves by 2023, which will replace 3,000 tons of conventional plastic every year. PHAs are higher-cost than incumbent plastics and are not accepted in current recycling streams, but Bacardi is prioritizing fossil-free carbon inputs and is betting that the demand for plastic alternatives and ability to market new materials outweigh such drawbacks. For a truly circular solution, however, Bacardi must work with partners to ensure its bottles have a more favorable end-of-life."

Lux Research - Newsletter Research


Robust Intelligence raises $14 million to secure machine learning models from attacks

12191-thumb-squareCole McCollum, Analyst | @cmccoco Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"As we've previously discussed, machine learning models can be vulnerable to adversarial attacks, which are techniques that fool models by supplying deceptive input data or by manipulating the training data, among other approaches. Robust Intelligence is currently offering two products to help companies secure against these attacks. The first is a product that acts as a firewall by scanning models for contaminated data. The second product stress tests models by inputting mistakes and adversarial attacks to gauge their performance. Those interested should expect Robust Intelligence's approach to gain traction, as AI systems are increasingly used in applications with direct financial or safety consequences." 

L'Oréal, LanzaTech, and Total launch cosmetic plastic bottle made from industrial emissions

drishti masandDrishti Masand, Research Associate | @DrishtiMasand Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"The three companies launched the world's first packaging made from carbon emissions; LanzaTech converts waste emissions (presumably carbon monoxide) into ethanol, which Total then converts to polyethylene using a proprietary process co-developed with IFP Axens. The polyethylene is a drop-in replacement for its fossil counterpart, but there are still unanswered questions in terms of the carbon footprint, energy consumption, and waste of the production process. As this venture scales and establishes proof of concept, CPG companies should monitor this solution as an alternative to petroleum plastics."

Standard wearable sensor platform shortens development time of wearable sensors

Lisheng GaoLisheng Gao, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"Maxim Integrated Products released its new ready-to-wear wrist form factor reference design for wearable biosensors. The platform reduces the time required for developing wearable biosensors by at least six months, significantly expediting building the devices from scratch. Developing biosensors is difficult and time-consuming; integrating them into wearable devices further burdens the developers due to the interdisciplinary complexity. Maxim's standard platform reduces the technology barriers and simplifies and shortens the process of turning prototypes into wearable devices for the consumer health market, but it still faces competition from Sony's mSafety platform, although Sony heavily focuses on clinical applications."

BMW plans to charge subscription fee for "apps" in the car like heated seats

Arij-van-Berkel-Lux-900px-squareArij van Berkel, Ph.D., Director, Research | @aivanberkel Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"
New cars support over-the-air (OTA) updates, which means that new software features can be added on the fly (at least theoretically). Car manufacturers are looking for ways to support those updates financially. This has triggered subscription models for certain car features. BMW announced that it is contemplating a subscription fee for some features of its new models. The hardware for features like heated seats and steering wheels is already present in the car, but one would pay a monthly fee to enable it. New software features like different engine sounds or improved adaptive cruise control may also be sold as a subscription in the future. OEMs need more intense support for their models, and it seems this is the price to pay."

TerraCycle's Loop is partnering with fast-food brands to expand reusable packaging

drishti masandDrishti Masand, Research Associate | @DrishtiMasand Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"TerraCycle's Loop platform is expanding to many fast-food restaurants, including McDonald's, Burger King, and Tim Hortons, with reusable containers and will work on a deposit-based system without any digital markets or gamification tactics. Reusable packaging for fast-food brands makes sense, as they are massive polluters, but post-pandemic, it is unclear if consumers will be willing to adopt shared containers for the sake of sustainability or prefer single-use for hygiene reasons. Lux is skeptical of the adoption of reusable packaging in the current climate; those interested should monitor the progress of these initiatives for consumer reaction to reusable packaging."

The Chemical and Materials Company of 2040


Honeywell reveals its newest quantum computer and roadmap for future development

Lewie Roberts Lux Research

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


"
Honeywell is one of the main quantum hardware developers focused on ion-trap qubits along with its main competitor IonQ. Honeywell claims that its newest hardware features a 128 quantum volume, a holistic measure of quantum hardware performance, compared to IBM's recent quantum volume of 64. The company plans to go from the current 10-qubit system to a 40-qubit one in the first step of its timeline, which shows a progression over the next 10 years with the goal of achieving some error-corrected hardware by 2030. Details are lax, so like IBM's recent quantum roadmap, companies should not take the roadmap as absolute truth but rather use it to monitor the goals of these major quantum hardware developers."

Australian startup V2food eyes Asian market with $55 million Series B funding for its plant-based meat

hariniHarini Venkataraman, Ph.D., Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance


"This round was funded by existing investors including Sequoia Capital China and new investors like Temasek, investment bank China Renaissance, and food company Esenagro. After a successful deal enabling a retail launch across 600 Woolworth outlets in Australia, V2food now looks to complete its production facility in Wodonga and expand to Asian markets. Asia has been a hot market for plant-based meat, with a number of recent developments, including the announcement of Eat Just's facility in Singapore and Beyond meat’s manufacturing facilities in China, giving fierce competition to V2food. Companies, the Asian market is getting gradually crowded with several well-established companies as well new entrants catering to local consumer preferences."

Mileutis receives $20 million investment for bringing antimicrobial peptide solutions to market

Krishfield, LauraLaura Krishfield, Research Associate | @LKrishfield Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance


"Mileutis is developing antimicrobial peptide (AMP) solutions to treat and prevent bovine mastitis. The company recently signed a $20 million deal with NovaQuest to bring its first product, Imilac, to market. Mileutis is currently awaiting regulatory approval for Imilac, but because Imilac contains casein hydrolysate – exempting it from needing a maximum residue limit – attaining registration for the animal health market appears straightforward. Nonetheless, the cost of using Imilac is unknown but will be a key factor in offsetting the economic loss of mastitis, especially when used regularly as a preventative. Those interested should note the investment toward the development of AMPs, but scalability and cost remain challenges for these products."

Making Sense of Sustainability


Altair incorporates materials data into product simulation tools

457-thumb-square

Michael Holman, Ph.D., VP, Research | @MichaelHolmanLR Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Following its acquisition earlier this month of materials property database supplier M-Base Engineering + Software, Altair has now launched its "Altair Material Data Center" to provide engineers and designers with range of polymer, metal, and composite material attributes to incorporate into their simulations. Those developing new materials should make sure their products are incorporated into these databases to encourage product designers to choose them – particularly as systems will progress toward making customized materials recommendations to designers as well."

Microbiome startup Solarea Bio raises $11.2 million Series A for "food as medicine" applications

hariniHarini Venkataraman, Ph.D., Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance


"This funding round was led by S2G Ventures and Bold Capital Partners. By leveraging bioinformatics, Solarea develops synergistic combinations of bacteria, fungi, and prebiotic fibers with anti-inflammatory capabilities by studying microbial populations colonizing healthy foods. The company will use this funding to further the development of its functional cocktail for the dietary management of the metabolic processes that cause musculoskeletal conditions. Solarea's research shows that microbiome research is fast expanding beyond just gut health conditions. As outlined in our report, companies seeking to thrive in the future should look to act on opportunities within the realm of "food as medicine," which will become increasingly important."

Daimler and Waymo partner for autonomous trucking work

Lewie Roberts Lux Research

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


"
Daimler Trucks will design and develop a custom Freightliner chassis for Waymo to integrate its AV stack into. The initial announcement does not indicate any kind of pilot scale, but companies should recognize that Daimler previously acquired Torc Robotics to develop autonomous trucks. It's likely that Torc and Daimler have made some progress in autonomous truck development and will build upon it with Waymo, which has far more resources and experiences on the autonomy front. Those interested should monitor the partnership for any results, as a number of other AV companies ranging from Aurora to TuSimple are also vying to be the main AV provider for trucking."

Did you miss last week's news round-up? Check out the blog here. Make sure you never miss a headline by subscribing to our newsletter.

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