IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine | Year: 2014
It seems that scarcely a day goes by without some new announcement about wearable technologies. Although wearable technology products have been around for some time, the current high level of interest can be traced back to January 2014, with a series of announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. This prompted an article in The Wall Street Journal with the headline "Wearable Gadgets Put on a Show in Las Vegas," referring to new products from companies as diverse as Samsung and Pebble, Sony and Mimo, Qualcomm, and Archos. © 2014 IEEE. Source
Local fishermen working for a company contracted by Samarco mine operator, work on the clearing of dead fish found on the beach of Povoacao Village, near the mouth of Rio Doce (Doce River), which was flooded with mud after a dam owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd burst,... An Australian (2nd L) and a Brazilian (2nd R) flags are pictured on the entrance of the mine operator Samarco owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd in Mariana, Brazil, November 11, 2015. The debris of the municipal school of Bento Rodrigues district which was covered with mud after a dam, owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd burst, are pictured in Mariana, Brazil, November 9, 2015. Considered Brazil's worst environmental disaster, the burst tailings dam in the state of Minas Gerais killed 19 people, left hundreds homeless and polluted a major river. Of the total, Samarco [SAMNE.UL] will pay 4.4 billion reais through 2018 into a fund to cover the cleanup of the spill from the tailings dam. From 2019 to 2021, payments will be between 800 million reais and 1.6 billion reais. "We want to build new life on the rubble of an unprecedented tragedy," President Dilma Rousseff said at the signing ceremony in Brasilia. Beyond 2021, the amount will be decided depending on how much work remains to be done. The government estimates the total cost of the lengthy environmental plan, including replanting and dredging, will reach about 20 billion reais. The 20 billion reais figure was, however, noticeably absent from statements sent by Samarco, BHP and Vale. The obligations outlined by the companies instead came to about 12 billion reais over the first six years. The difference, the government explained, was due to estimates of amounts that can be only decided in the future. "This is not about a dollar amount, this about a program to remediate, to restore and where we can't restore to compensate and also to leave some positive legacies behind," Dean Dalla Valle, BHP's Chief Commercial Officer, told Reuters at the ceremony. "Besides straight remediation, we are talking about actions like sewage, landfill, reforestation, water treatment," he said. In the event Samarco is unable to pay its obligations, Vale and BHP would be responsible for covering the costs, the joint venture partners said in separate statements. Samarco interim Chief Executive Officer Roberto Carvalho told Reuters the company had enough cash to cover its obligations for this year, but would need its mine to restart in order to pay in 2017. Vale said the accord does not cover private civil suits, other public civil suits or criminal investigations. Investors drove shares in Vale up 8 percent and BHP Billiton up 6 percent, partly as the payments agreed were less than earlier speculated, but also on a rise in iron ore prices. Some highlighted it remained unclear what the final outlay would be. "It's a little bit better than perhaps the market was bracing for, but it's still a very material and somewhat open-ended issue," said Brenton Saunders, a portfolio manager at BT Investment Management. Dalla Valle said Samarco could be in a position to restart its mine in the final quarter of the year. The company has already taken the first steps to get its licenses in place to restart. "We will only start when it is absolutely safe, we will need to learn from the investigation. The way it will start won't involve the current tailings dams," Dalla Valle said.
News Article | March 9, 2016
The last time we encountered the hoverboard, it was pretty much dead. An effective ban by the U.S. government has made it more or less impossible to get a hoverboard here, and other embargoes from airlines, public property in major cities like New York City and other bans in places as far as Denmark seemed to put a kibosh on the entire enterprise. However, it seems that hoverboard manufacturers in China, the country responsible for the boom of the misnomered self-balancing scooter, are looking to fight back against myriad viral videos of exploding scooters by instituting industry-wide safety standards and restore the hoverboard to its former place of glory. As originally reported by Quartz, over 100 different businesses dedicated to the hoverboard industry — everything from sellers to suppliers to makers — have created a united front in a trade organization called the Hoverboard Industry Alliance. The Alliance, which met on March 3 for its second conference, plans to work with manufacturers in the U.S. to create a set of globally-standardized safety regulations. "For example, manufacturers preparing to ship their devices to the U.S. can turn to the association for guidance on how to apply for a UL certification, which most U.S. retailers require before they will sell any electronic devices. Or, a manufacturer looking to make hoverboards could ask the association how to obtain a patent license for the device in China." One of the Alliance's biggest incentives, however, might be its outreach goal with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) — the federal organization whose official investigation on hoverboard safety that launched in December 2015 led to a widespread purge of the two-wheelers from retailers like Amazon. The pull — as well as the CPSC's de facto ban of hoverboard sales in the U.S. — has put a sizable dent in the hoverboard market, so lobbying for a possible reversal is more or less imperative for the sustainment of the industry. As Quartz also pointed out, the association has started to collect data on hoverboard sales at home and abroad, and estimated that $4.6 billion was put in to the industry. While Quartz is unsure as to whether this year's sales will be a sufficient match, we have yet to see whether the Hoverboard Industry Alliance will be able to keep the market afloat for a 2016 to 2017 annual comparison. The hoverboard is dead. Long live the hoverboard.
News Article | March 17, 2016
The U.S. International Trade Commission has barred imports of hoverboards covered by a patent issued to Segway creator Dean Kamen. Segway, and Kamen's company DEKA Products, filed a complaint with the commission back in 2014, asking the commission to ban imports into the U.S. of hoverboards that the companies said infringed a number of patents covering Segway's iconic two-wheel transporters. And on Wednesday, the ITC, which has the power to restrict imports that infringe on intellectual property rights, announced it was issuing a ban on "personal transporters" covered by a patent on "control of a personal transporter based on user position." While Segway named 13 specific companies in the U.S. and China that it said were infringing its rights, it asked the commission to bar all infringing hoverboards, not just those from the specific manufacturers. "The Commission has determined that a general exclusion order for entry for consumption is necessary to prevent circumvention of an exclusion order limited to products of named persons and because there is a pattern of violation of [import laws] and it is difficult to identify the source of infringing products," the ITC wrote. Hoverboards, which are often made by fly-by-night manufacturers in China, have already been banned from several U.S. airlines, transit systems, retailers, and colleges over fears that their batteries could catch fire. In January, Amazon began offering refunds on all hoverboards sold through its site, in response to safety concerns. The Department of Transportation recently warned that of 32 cargo containers intercepted, more than 80% didn't have proper documentation that their lithium batteries were safe to transport. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has also warned of the danger of the devices, telling consumers that even hoverboards that claim to be UL certified may be dangerous, since the safety group doesn't actually certify hoverboards. "Have a working fire extinguisher nearby while charging or using these boards in and around your home," CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye advised in January.
When SunEdison went through difficult layoffs in October 2015, hundreds were let go -- but the folks in the C-suite were mostly left unscathed. As GTM's Stephen Lacey reported, "The cuts have reached all the way to the VP level, but not the executive level. Sources within the company expressed worry and surprise that the cuts didn't impact the architects of the Vivint acquisition." The other shoe has started to drop. Oaktree acquired asset management, operations and maintenance firm Solarrus and named Mark McLanahan as CEO. He was formerly VP of global services at SunEdison. Northern States Metals, a maker of extruded aluminum products and owner of Solar FlexRack, a ground-mount solar racking system supplier, named Jeff Gwinnell as CEO. Gwinnell was most recently CEO of Avtron, a manufacturer of engineered equipment and components. Gwinnell replaces Tom Meola, who resigned from the company after four years as CEO. Solar FlexRack has completed more than 1 gigawatt worth of solar racking installations. CLEAResult, a 3,000-employee firm that designs and implements energy-efficiency programs for utilities, named Aziz Virani as its new CEO. Virani joins the company from Avanade, a technology consultancy. Prior to Avanade, Virani was a partner at Accenture. Co-founder and interim CEO Jim Stimmel will return to the executive VP position and remain on the board. CLEAResult is part of equity firm General Atlantic's portfolio. Robert Scheuermann, SoCore Energy’s interim president and CFO, was officially named full-time president of the C&I solar developer. SoCore Energy is a subsidiary of Edison International Chris Beitel is now COO of battery-based energy storage firm SimpliPhi Power. Previously, Beitel was executive VP of global operations and planning at Silevo, playing a role in its $350 million acquisition by SolarCity. The company's battery technology uses a lithium-ferrous-phosphate chemistry. Tom Werthan was named CFO at Phononic, a solid-state cooling and heating technology startup. Previously, Werthan was CFO at Solid State Equipment, a semiconductor capital equipment firm sold to Veeco in 2014. The near-term applications for Phononic's thermoelectrics include high-end refrigeration for labs and medical facilities, as well as cooling for fiber optics and data servers. Phononic has raised more than $85 million in funding from investors including Eastwood Capital, Wellcome Trust, Tsing Capital, Venrock, Oak Investment Partners, and Rex Health Ventures. Jacqueline DeRosa was promoted to VP of emerging technologies at Customized Energy Solutions, a consultancy and energy market specialist. CES recently acquired the assets of demand-response startup Powerit. Sighten, a solar software provider, added Vivek Malipatil, previously with Verengo Solar, as VP of strategy and operations, and Mariya Nomanbhoy, previously with CPF, as VP of product. Sighten landed a $3.5 million round A of venture funding from Obvious Ventures late last year for its platform to drive down solar's soft costs. Karen Gados was promoted to chief of staff at SunShare Community Solar, a developer of community solar programs. Enertech Search Partners, an executive search firm with a dedicated cleantech practice, is the sponsor of the GTM jobs column. The firm has an active opening for a CFO: The client is an intelligent distributed energy storage system that captures solar power and delivers it when needed most. It combines batteries, power electronics, and multiple energy inputs in a UL-certified appliance controlled by software running in the cloud. The client is seeking a chief financial officer who will report directly to the CEO and will be responsible for all financial aspects of the company. In this role, you will provide guidance and support on financial and business matters, as well as growth strategy, business systems, human resources and financial and treasury issues. This role will also serve as the leader of a three-person team that includes the controller and the director of financial planning and administration. Premier Solar Solutions, a small solar sales and installation company based in Henderson, Nevada, eliminated 66 full-time positions. The move follows the decision by the state's PUC to eliminate solar savings for new and current solar customers, according to a release, which added, "Premier Solar Solutions is a family-owned and operated solar sales and installation company formerly based in Nevada." Tesla is delivering far fewer jobs than it promised for the Gigafactory. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is back to the grind this week, after a two-month paternity leave, according to website StrictlyVC. Isabelle Kocher was named CEO of French energy giant Engie (the former GDF Suez), becoming the first woman to head a Paris CAC 40 stock index firm (one of the 40 largest publicly held firms in the country), as reported in The Wall Street Journal.