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SA transport app gets £1.165m funding for API

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WhereIsMyTransport, a South African transport technology company, has announced an investment of £1.165 million from Goodwell Investments.

The investment has been secured to fund WhereIsMyTransport’s transit API, which launches today. The API offers a new open information platform which, for the first time, collates transit data for formal and informal (i.e. demand-based and relatively unregulated) services, and combines it with analytics capability and communication tools.

The journey-mapping capability the platform provides is taken for granted in the developed world, but it has the potential to transform transport in emerging cities where monthly commuting costs can be up to 46% of an individual’s monthly income, and where delays and changes to journey routes are common. The company estimates that transport uncertainty in South Africa alone costs the country $104bn every year.

The transit API has been built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, to leverage Microsoft’s Platform-as-a-Service solutions, and combines data on formal and informal transportation from static and real-time sources. This means that any transportation mode can be mapped and analysed through the API – whether it’s city buses, metro systems or privately owned buses and minibus taxis. The platform will support the development of journey-planning applications for websites and smartphones, fare estimators, analytics for more informed infrastructure investment and city planning, and messaging capabilities to help optimise journeys affected by delays and cancellations.

At launch, the platform contains formal transport information for South African cities Johannesburg, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, George, and East London. It also contains the data for the new Dar es Salaam BRT system, and the Cairo Metro. Informal transit modes are being added to the platform, starting with the matatu system in Nairobi, Kenya, with this capability to be extended to other cities and agencies over the coming months.

To date, WhereIsMyTransport has added almost 10,000 stops along 40,000km of routes to the platform, which has involved cleaning and plotting half a million data points. The API is designed to be intuitive (including a developer portal that makes it simple to get started), flexible (to accommodate individual developer needs), extensible (forming a sound base for developers to build on ) and scalable (capable of handling data from tens of thousands of agencies). It is a REST API, built in .NET CORE and uses OAuth 2.0 protocol and OpenID Connect.

Speaking of the funding round, Devin de Vries, co-founder of WhereIsMyTransport, commented: “The platform that we are launching today is the first open platform for integrated transit data in the emerging world. It creates a foundation for cities and innovators to bring much needed access and information about mobility to millions of people. It’s also just the beginning for us at WhereIsMyTransport as we work to empower people to get where they want to go.”

“We are delighted to welcome Omidyar Network to the WhereIsMyTransport family. Their experience and commitment to the social impact of innovation is inspiring and aligns with our own purpose. We also could not be happier that Goodwell Investments has joined us for another round, and now that we have launched our open transit data platform, we look forward to re-opening the round.”

Dave New, Solutions Architect and co-founder, added:

“We’ve focused intensely on every detail of the platform, its architecture, and its documentation to make it seamless and enjoyable to build on. As developers ourselves, we wanted to solve a significant problem, in a beautiful way. This is only the beginning of an incredibly ambitious project to lay a foundation to connect public transport across cities and countries around the world.”

“Having spent over a year tirelessly focused on every detail of our platform, we were obsessive about making this platform flexible and useful in the different contexts our users might find themselves in. Although this is a huge moment for us, we’re already looking ahead to what integrated transport data can enable in the future.”

Developers can sign-up and access full documentation and tutorials on the WhereIsMyTransport Developer Portal (developer.whereismytransport.com). The portal also contains the latest information on which services and cities are currently in the platform. For more information about WhereIsMyTransport please visit:  http://www.whereismytransport.com/

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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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