VBT Newsletter

September 26th

Good morning!

Welcome to another Sunday edition featuring:

  • A Silicon Valley startup proposed a new transportation system for Fort Lauderdale

  • We are still out of chips

  • Researchers have created holograms you can touch

  • Microsoft uncovered a ‘Phishing-as-a-Service’ operation

  • And new features spread Twitter’s wings

It’s September 26, 2021.

1. South Florida Tech

Glydways proposes alternative transportation system to tunnels in Fort Lauderdale (Refresh Miami)

As cities are reimagining ways to bring alternative mobility solutions to traffic-clogged South Florida, another major player has thrown a hat into the ring- Glydways just proposed a roughly 4-mile mobility system that would run partially above and partially below ground in Fort Lauderdale.

Glydways’ public transportation system can reportedly carry up to 10,800 passengers per hour. Users hail a ride and are greeted by their own lightweight electric vehicle (no ride-sharing). These small vehicles have enough space for a few riders, plus bulkier items like a stroller or bike. The system has a net-zero carbon footprint, thanks in part to the solar panels Glydways installs on the roof that protects its vehicles.

Another key aspect of Glydways’ positive environmental impact comes from the efficiency of only deploying vehicles. This stands in stark contrast to busses and trains, which have to run even when they are empty. In keeping with their goal for accessibility, Glydways has committed to charging the same price for their services as currently available public options.

Glydways was interested in Fort Lauderdale because the project would initially have a relatively small footprint, but would have room to expand in the future. The startup says its system could serve the Fort Lauderdale route to the beach with above ground and underground transportation.

2. We’re Out Of Chips

Worsening chip woes to cost automakers $210 billion in sales (Bloomberg)

The cost of the semiconductor shortage has ballooned by more than 90%, pushing the total hit to 2021 revenue for the world’s automakers to $210 billion. That’s the latest forecast from AlixPartners, which predicted global automakers will build 7.7 million fewer vehicles this year.

Despite ongoing efforts to shore up the supply chain, semiconductor availability has worsened as automakers exhaust stockpiles and other industries have no more to spare. Automakers have begun warning the problems are metastasizing and could crimp third-quarter earnings.

Last week, IHS Markit made the biggest adjustment to its projection yet on auto output since starting to reduce estimates that have been falling all year due to the global chip shortage. Key supply centers in Southeast Asia have been hit with factory shutdowns as Covid-19 outbreaks spread and it now takes 21 weeks to fill chip orders.

Auto executives say the shortage could last for years. It began late last year when automakers underestimated demand as pandemic restrictions loosened. The crisis has defied resolution, thanks to acts of nature, fire, and Covid-19.

3. VR

Researchers have created holograms you can touch (TNW)

Today, holograms are being used in a variety of ways. However, scientists are still developing ways to use lasers, modern digital processors, and motion-sensing technologies to create several different types of holograms that could change the way we physically interact with them.

Scientists at the University of Glasgow’s bendable electronics and sensing technologies research group have now developed a system of holograms of people using “aerohaptics”, creating feelings of touch with jets of air. Those jets of air deliver a sensation of touch on people’s fingers, hands, and wrists.

In time, this could be developed to allow you to meet a virtual avatar of a colleague on the other side of the world and really feel their handshake. It could even be the first step towards building something like a holodeck. To create this feeling of touch the scientists use affordable, commercially available parts to pair computer-generated graphics with carefully directed and controlled jets of air.

Soon, scientists expect to be able to modify the temperature of the airflow to allow users to feel hot or cold surfaces. They’re also exploring the possibility of adding scents to the airflow, deepening the illusion of virtual objects by allowing users to smell as well as touch them. As the system expands and develops, scientists expect that it may find uses in a wide range of sectors.

4. Cybersecurity

Microsoft uncovers giant Phishing-as-a-Service operation (The Record)

Microsoft’s security team uncovered a massive operation that provides phishing services to cybercrime gangs using a hosting-like infrastructure that the OS maker likened to a Phishing-as-a-Service (PHaaS) model. The service is known as BulletProofLink, BulletProftLink, or Anthrax, and is advertised on underground forums.

The service is an evolution on “phishing kits,” which are collections of phishing pages and templates imitating login forms of known companies. BulletProofLink takes this to a whole new level by providing built-in hosting and email-sending services. Customers register on the BulletProofLink portal by paying a fee of $800, and the operators handle everything else.

These services include setting up a web page to host the phishing site, installing the phishing template itself, configuring domain (URLs) for the phishing sites, sending the actual phishing emails to desired victims, collecting credentials from attacks, and then delivering the stolen logins to “paying customers” at the end of the week.

Microsoft researchers said they also found that the service has also been stealing from its own customers by keeping copies of all the collected credentials, which the group is believed to monetize at a later point by selling the credentials on underground markets.

5. Social Media

New features spread Twitter’s wings (Axios)

Twitter on Thursday announced a slew of new product updates, spanning everything from a creator fund to live audio improvements and even Bitcoin tips. For years, Twitter made few changes to its product, instead relying mostly on ad innovations to grow its business. Now, it's adding new features faster than it ever has before:

  • Tips: Twitter rolled out its new tipping feature to every user globally. It will also allow users to tip with Bitcoin via the payment app Strike.

  • Creator fund: The company said it would launch a fund to pay live audio creators on its platform, although it declined to offer many specifics.

  • Live audio: Twitter said it would allow recordings of live audio conversations and events held via its "Spaces" feature.

  • Communities: Twitter noted it would begin testing its new Communities feature, which connects users with like-minded interests.

When Twitter launched over a decade ago, the idea that people should be able to quickly connect with their favorite creators online was novel. Today, it's table stakes for any social network.

6. Funding, IPOs, M&As

As always, please feel free to share questions, feedback, or requests for future newsletters.