Raspberry Pi Foundation launches Compute Module 4 for industrial users

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is launching a new product today — the Compute Module 4. If you’ve been keeping an eye on the Raspberry Pi releases, you know that the flagship Raspberry Pi 4 was released in June 2019. The Compute Module 4 features the same processor, but packed in a compute module for industrial use cases.

A traditional Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer with a ton of ports sticking out. Compute Modules are somewhat different. Those system-on-module variants are more compact single-board computers without any traditional port.

It lets you create a prototype using a traditional Raspberry Pi, and then order a bunch of Compute Modules to embed in your commercial products. “Over half of the seven million Raspberry Pi units we sell each year go into industrial and commercial applications, from digital signage to thin clients to process automation,” Eben Upton wrote on the Raspberry Pi blog.

Some things are strictly similar between the Raspberry Pi 4 and the Compute Module 4, such as the 64-bit ARM-based processor with VideoCore VI graphics. This is going to represent a huge upgrade for previous Compute Module customers.

In particular, you get much better video performance with 4Kp60 hardware decode for H.265 videos, 1080p60 hardware decode for H.264 videos, 1080p30 hardware encode of H.264 videos. You can also take advantage of the dual HDMI interfaces to connect up to two 4K displays at 60 frames per second.

Another big change with the Compute Module 4 is that there are a ton of options. You can choose compute modules with or without wireless technologies (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth), with 1GB, 2GB, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, with 8GB, 16GB or 32GB of eMMC flash storage. There’s also a model without any eMMC flash storage in case you want to use external eMMC or the SD card interface.

You can mix-and-match those specs to keep your costs down at scale. The result is that there are 32 different versions of the Compute Module 4 ranging from $25 (no wireless, 1GB of RAM, ‘Lite’ eMMC) to $90 (wireless, 8GB of RAM, 32GB of eMMC).

The form factor has changed compared to the previous Compute Module, which means that you’ll need a new Compute Module IO Board to take advantage of all the interfaces and start developing. It costs $35.

Image Credits: Raspberry Pi Foundation

Luxury watch maker Breitling issues digital certificates on the Ethereum blockchain

Breitling is partnering with Arianee to issue a new kind of certificates of authenticity for its luxury watches. Instead of relying on physical certificates, the watchmaker gives you a unique digital passport that certifies the origin of the watch.

Behind the scene, Arianee is using non-fungible tokens compliant with the Ethereum’s ERC-721 standard (remember CryptoKitties?). By using a blockchain-based solution, Breitling ensures that its digital passports remain future proof and can’t be altered — due to consensus mechanisms between nodes, nobody can connect to a centralized database, change some values or remove some data.

If you buy a Breitling watch, you get an guarantee card that you can scan. After downloading the Arianee wallet app on your phone, you can add your watch to your digital wallet. You can see the serial number and the activation date of the digital warranty.

As you may have guessed, those digital certificates can be helpful when you’re trying to sell your watch. A feature lets you prove the authenticity of the watch. You can also transfer the certificate to another owner.

Breitling can also add information over time. For instance, you can imagine a timeline of repairs with timestamps so that you can keep track of the whole story. Soon, the brand could also offer insurance products through this new channel.

When it comes to privacy, the certificate isn’t tied to your name, email address or other personal information. Your wallet address is the only unique identifier associated with you.

Arianee proves that non-fungible tokens can provide some interesting use cases in the luxury industry. Breitling also works with Dentsu Tracking to track its supply chain. With digital certificates, end customers also see the benefits of supply chain regulation.

WizVille Local Monitor helps small shops track Google Maps ratings of competitors

French startup WizVille is launching a new product called Local Monitor to help restaurant owners, haircut places, bakeries and all kinds of small shops track their Google Maps ratings and the ratings of their competitors.

While there are plenty of ratings services to compare places around you, such as Foursquare, Yelp and Tripadvisor, Google Maps has slowly been showcasing ratings more prominently. And chances are you’re now checking ratings on Google Maps more than ever before.

“I’ve been working for ten years in customer ratings. There’s something huge happening right now — Google and Google Maps are taking over the customer relationship with small shops,” co-founder and CEO Timothée de Laitre told me

And yet, many small business owners don’t pay attention to their Google My Business rating that customers can see on Google Maps and above Google search results. WizVille thinks this is most important metric you can track. And it’s also important to know how your competitors are doing.

When you add your business to WizVille Local Monitor, the company displays other places around you that provide the same products and services. You can choose up to five competitors from that list.

After that, you receive a report with your rating, your competitors’ ratings and the evolution over time. This way, you know how you rank compared to your competitors. The service sends you a new report every month so that you can track your progress.

Google Maps ratings are really not that smart as the company is calculating the average of all your ratings to determine your overall rating. You could have opened your business ten days ago or ten years ago — all your reviews will matter.

If you have more than one shop or you need more features, you have to switch to the full-fledged WizVille customer experience management service. For that service, the startup works with bigger clients, such as Total, Etam, Naturalia and Schmidt.

Image Credits: WizVille

Apple launches new ecosystem of accessories and wireless chargers with MagSafe

Apple just announced the iPhone 12, and it features some new capabilities hidden in the rear of the phone. Thanks to alignment magnets, you can snap accessories to the back of your phone. And the company is releasing new accessories that work with this magnetic back, including new cases, a wireless charger and a card holder.

There are many layers tucked in the back of the device, such as a magnetometer, a copper-graphite shield, two shields, multiple layers of magnets, an NFC antenna and more.

But the company isn’t just adding magnets for the sake of adding magnets. It opens up a whole new ecosystem of accessories, including Apple-branded accessories.

Apple is introducing two wireless chargers. This is the second time the company is announcing a wireless charger. But Apple had some production issues with its previous attempt, the AirPower charger.

The new MagSafe charger is a simple wireless charger that magnetically attaches to your phone. The MagSafe dual charger supports both your iPhone and Apple Watch at the same time. It folds up when you travel.

Image Credits: Apple

The new iPhone 12 cases will snap on the back of your device. Apple will release silicone, clear and leather cases using MagSafe. They don’t need to wrap around the screen as they’re magnetically attached.

You can add a case and use wireless charging or any other MagSafe accessory, such as the Apple-branded cardholder that lets you put cards on the back of your device without buying a separate case.

Third-party accessory manufacturers are already working on MagSafe accessories. Belkin will releaase a car mount and a multi-charger dock soon.

Image Credits: Apple

Devialet announces wireless earbuds

High-end speaker manufacturer Devialet is launching its first pair of earbuds called Devialet Gemini. The in-ear earbuds feature active noise canceling and cost £279 in the U.K. — they will be available in the coming weeks.

The Devialet Gemini are completely wireless, which means that there’s no cord between each earbud, like on Apple’s AirPods. The company has developed three new patents for the product.

They feature cascading decompression chambers, which means that they should stick in your ears and provide adequate pressure. In-ear earbuds require a good seal.

Image Credits: Devialet

There are two microphones in each earbud for the active noise cancelation feature and a dedicated microphone for calls and other voice interactions. Like on the AirPods Pro, there are multiple ANC modes. You can remove background noise altogether or activate transparency modes so that you can hear what’s happening around you.

You can choose between three levels of ANC and two levels of transparency mode. The company is releasing a mobile app so that you can control those settings. There’s also a touch button at the rear of the earbuds that you can use to control music playback, noise cancelation or voice assistants.

The earbuds automatically adjusts the audio signal when the earbud moves. It uses a microphone to detect a change in frequency. The app can also tell you if you’re using the right tip for your ear.

The company promises 8 hours of battery life without ANC and 6 hours with ANC activated. The case provides 3.5 charges and works with wireless chargers using the Qi standard or a USB-C cable.

Image Credits: Devialet

Lydia partners with Tink to improve open banking features

French fintech startup Lydia is going to work with financial API startup Tink for its open banking features in its app. Lydia started as a peer-to-peer payment app and now has 4 million users in Europe.

Lydia’s vision has evolved to become a financial super app that lets you control your bank accounts and access various financial services. In France, you can connect your Lydia account with your bank account using Budget Insight’s Budgea API.

Over the coming weeks, Lydia is going to switch over and use Tink for most clients going forward. If you have a bank account in a small French bank, Lydia might still use Budget Insight for those accounts.

“It’s going to be a progressive rollout and we’ll use the best service depending on our users,” Lydia co-founder and CEO Cyril Chiche told me.

Open banking is a broad concept and covers many different things. In Lydia’s case, we’re talking about two features in particular — account aggregation and payment initiation.

In the app, you can connect your bank accounts and view the most recent transactions. This feature is important if you want to become the go-to financial app on your users’ home screen.

As for payment initiation, as the name suggests, it lets you start a SEPA bank transfer from a third-party service. For instance, you can transfer money from your bank account to your Lydia wallet directly in the Lydia app. You can also move money between multiple bank accounts from Lydia.

Tink provides a single API that manages all the complexities of the information systems of European banks. An API is a programming interface that lets two different services talk and interact with each other. Tink does the heavy lifting and translates each banking API into a predictable API that you can use for all banks.

Since 2018, banks have to provide some kind of API due to Europe’s DSP2 regulation. It’s been a slow start as many French banks still don’t provide a usable API. But it’s slowly evolving.

Tink’s API supports 15 financial institutions in France, including major banks, N26, Revolut and American Express. And it covers a dozen European markets, which is going to be important if Lydia wants to grab more users outside of its home country.

“At first, it’s not going to add new things to the app. But it will allow us to provide features in a very stable environment and at a European scale,” Chiche said.

“We want to have the most uniform product across different markets,” he added later in the conversation.

Pay with your card or with your bank account

When you first install Lydia and want to pay back a friend, you associate your debit card with your Lydia account. The startup charges your card before sending money to your friend.

If open banking APIs become the norm, you could imagine grabbing money from someone’s bank account directly instead of paying card processing fees. But this sort of features is nowhere near ready for prime time.

“What made us choose card payments is that it’s a stable system with widespread usage — and it works every time. When you’re dealing with payments, it has to work every single time,” Chiche said.

Lydia isn’t changing anything on this front for now. But you could imagine some changes in a few years. “We are the beginning of a new system that is not going to be ready within the next 18 months,” Chiche said.

Cards also provide many advantages, such as the ability to chargeback a card. And card schemes have been trying new things, such as the ability to transfer money directly from a card to another card. So you’re not going to ditch your Mastercard or Visa card anytime soon. But Chiche thinks there will be some competition in Europe between DSP2-ready banks and card schemes. European consumers should see the benefits of increased competition.

In other news, Lydia usage dropped quite drastically during the full lockdown earlier this year. But transaction volume has bounced back since then and reached all-time highs. The company processes €250 million in transactions every month and it is currently adding 5,000 new users every day.

Embedded finance might represent fintech’s future

The fintech industry is on a tear. Popular consumer services like Robinhood to Coinbase and Revolut have managed to attract millions of customers, but the most interesting trend right now is embedded finance.

Tech companies that don’t necessarily provide financial services can embed services from fintech companies directly in their products. At the same time, fintech companies can find a new distribution channel by providing financial products outside of their main product. They don’t necessarily need a consumer product anymore.

At TechCrunch Disrupt, we talked about this trend and the most important changes in the fintech industry with three experts — Hope Cochran, a managing director at Madrona Venture Group (and former King CFO), Ruth Foxe Blader, a partner at Anthemis, and John Locke, a partner at Accel.

Banking as a service: Every tech company is potentially a fintech company

We started the conversation by talking about banking as a service. For entrepreneurs hoping to launch a fintech company, there are many regulatory requirements and it can take a while to set up the infrastructure.

“If the intention is to offer something else and it happens that you need fintech infrastructure, then it makes no sense to build it yourself,” Cochran said. “They should utilize the banking-as-a-service model. But maybe their intention is to create a true fintech and the secret sauce is to build it.”

Even in the latter case, it doesn’t mean that founders shouldn’t consider banking as a service for the very beginning of their company, as it can serve as a bridge before switching to their own infrastructure.

“But the problem with building it yourself is that it takes years to get it out there and get through the regulatory hurdles and you can’t see if your product and idea are actually working. So if you want to get to market much faster and iterate and see if you’ve hit upon something that will work on the market, I think banking as a service is a really important tool,” Cochran said.

Locke doubled down on that idea and described banking as a service as a massive opportunity for an entire wave of entrepreneurs, but if you don’t launch your product fast enough, another entrepreneur will find a way to enter the market more quickly.

Plaid improves its account linking flow

Plaid, the company building a universal banking API that lets you connect an app or service with a bank account, has updated Plaid Link. Plaid Link is the interface that you see when you add your bank account to any app or service that uses Plaid, such as Cash App or TransferWise.

Given that 3,000 apps have been using Plaid, chances are you’ve seen Plaid Link in the past. According to the company, one in four people in the U.S. have used Plaid to connect their accounts.

And today’s update is all about using Plaid with multiple apps. The first time you connect your bank account, you search for your bank, you enter your credentials and you log in.

The second time you need to add your bank account, Plaid shows you previously added bank accounts. You don’t have to scroll through a list of financial institutions and you don’t have to enter you user ID. Plaid might ask you for your password again or a one-time code.

Image Credits: Plaid

When you buy something on an e-commerce platform, you can save your card so that you don’t have to enter your card details again. With today’s update to Plaid Link, the company is doing the same thing with bank account information.

Payment cards thrived in part because it is much easier to pay with your card than connecting to your bank account to send money. Polishing Plaid Link could slowly make it easier to skip the card and use money from your bank account directly.

Plaid also says that Plaid Link is a bit faster. Each panel loads 30% faster. The list of banks now changes depending on your location. Local banks appear closer to the top of the list so that you don’t have to scroll as much.

Once you’ve added a bank account, the original app receives a Plaid token to query your bank account through Plaid.

Coinbase lets you withdraw funds to your debit card

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is adding a new way to withdraw funds from your Coinbase account. If you’ve added a compatible debit card to your account, you can transfer USD, EUR or GBP to your bank account nearly instantly.

There are some drawbacks, and the main one is that you’ll pay a lot of fees. In the U.S., Coinbase deducts 1.5% from the transaction, or a minimum $0.55 if it’s a small transaction. In Europe and the U.K., you pay 2% in fees or a minimum fee of £0.45/€0.52.

You also need to have a compatible card. Not all debit cards support incoming transfers. You need to have a Visa card that supports Visa Fast Funds. In the U.S., you can also use a MasterCard card with MasterCard Send.

It’s hard to know whether your bank or card issuer support those features. The best way to figure it out is probably by adding your card to Coinbase and see what Coinbase says.

Coinbase isn’t removing other withdrawal methods. For instance, if you’re looking for a cheaper way to withdraw your funds in Europe, a SEPA bank transfer costs €0.15 per transfer. And Coinbase supports instant SEPA transfers if your bank has enabled that.

The company also lets you link your PayPal account with your Coinbase account. Your funds should hit your PayPal account within a few seconds and there are no fees on Coinbase’s side.

As you can see, there are many ways to move money from your bank account to your Coinbase account. Some of them are slower than others, some of them are more expensive than others. Crypto-to-crypto transactions are a bit simpler by comparison as you only need your recipient’s wallet address to send tokens.

Image Credits: Coinbase

eFounders unveils its next batch of enterprise SaaS startups

Since 2011, European startup studio eFounders has launched 27 companies with a focus on software-as-a-service companies trying to improve the way we work. Some of them have been quite successful, such as Front and Aircall.

And the company is working on its next batch of startups. “We're particularly inspired by the new wave of productivity tools, that is ever more collaborative and flexible,” eFounders co-founder Thibaud Elziere said in a statement

In exchange for financial and human resources, eFounders keeps a significant stake in its startups. Ideally, startups raise a seed round and take off on their own after a year or two.

Here’s what’s coming up from eFounders.

Canyon

Canyon is a product for legal teams that want to ditch Word, PDF documents and emails. It starts with a central hub to hold all your drafts and documents. This way, you can track progress, get the latest document version and see the context around a document. Given that it is tailored for legal teams, it should work a bit better than a shared Dropbox folder.

You can create templates to reuse them later, see related emails directly in Canyon’s interface and invite other people so that they can have a look at what you’ve been working on.

Image Credits: Canyon

Kairn

Kairn is a task manager that tries to get out of the way as much as possible. When you’re working on your computer, you can add tasks directly from the app that you’re already using.

For instance, you can imagine adding a task by starring an email conversation in Gmail, forwarding a message to a WhatsApp bot or starring a message in Slack. There’s also a quick add window that you can trigger with a keyboard shortcut.

Read my full article on Kairn:

Image Credits: Kairn

Crew

Crew is focused on new hires and job applications. Given that many companies are actively looking for interesting candidates, Crew isn’t just a way to passively collect applications.

It lets you create automated workflows and handle everything you’d expect from a recruitment platform.

Image Credits: Crew

Collective

Collective is a product for freelancers who want to work together and form groups. It should make it easier to send a contract to a client that involves multiple freelancers working on the contract. Collective will make it easier to remain legally compliant.