Government Shutdown Delays Launch of New Tech Products

It’s day 21 of the US government shutdown, and the tech industry is starting to feel the heat.

 

Tech lovers may see fewer cutting-edge gadgets hitting the market in the next few months.

That’s because the Federal Communications Commission, the Food and Drug Administration and other US agencies that certify the safety of consumer-electronics devices are closed due to the government shutdown, now in its 21st day.

And if the government doesn’t reopen soon, the shutdown could also affect the rollout of the next generation of wireless networks, built around 5G technology that promises to make them significantly faster and more responsive.

Trade group the Telecommunications Industry Association, which represents makers of telecom gear, said Friday that the shutdown is slowing the introduction of new connected devices that need certification from the FCC and that the closure could ultimately hamper 5G deployments.

The shutdown “comes at a vital moment when the US is competing to stay ahead of the world in the race to 5G,” said TIA Government Affairs SVP Cinnamon Rogers. If companies can’t get their required FCC thumbs-up, there’ll be a “serious and negative impact on the approval of new connected devices that are designed to enable both 5G deployment and the full ecosystem of next generation technologies that 5G will support,” he added in a statement.

The partial shutdown, which began Dec. 22 after the House of Representatives and Senate failed to come to agreement on President Donald Trump’s demand for $5 billion to fund work on a border wall, doesn’t look to be ending anytime soon. Neither congressional Democrats nor Trump show signs of caving to the other’s demands.

The impasse is having real economic consequences for 800,000 federal workers, who on Friday didn’t receive their first paycheck since the shutdown started. But the ripple effects are now starting to be felt more widely, including in the tech industry, where some device makers are being forced to put product launches on hold.

What’s being hit by the shutdown

The FCC officially ceased most operations Jan. 3 but kept some going, such as work on the 5G spectrum auction currently underway. But the agency furloughed more than 80 percent of its staff and shuttered several databases used by certification bodies authorized to work with product developers and labs.

The FCC requires most new devices that emit radio frequency energy to be certified to ensure that the energy doesn’t harm humans or interfere with other products or services that use radio spectrum. Almost all the actual testing is outsourced to FCC-authorized companies or Telecommunications Certification Bodies. For many products, though, the FCC must provide the final sign-off.

When the agency detailed its plans for the shutdown, it spelled out that these third parties wouldn’t “be able to upload applications for equipment authorization or issue grants of certification,” because they’d lack access to the necessary database.

“Any product with a transmitter in it is not getting certified until the shutdown ends,” said Ron Quirk, an attorney heading up the IoT practice for Marashlian & Donahue PLLC. “And if it’s not been certified by the FCC, manufacturers and equipment suppliers can’t sell it, or even market it, in the US.”

What kinds of products are we talking about? Think new phones, tablets, Wi-Fi routers and a host of internet-of-things gadgets, like the net-connected ball that watches your pets, the connected sensors for your home water system to combat leaks and waste, or the $400 internet-connected juicer.

And it’s not just FCC-certified devices. The shutdown could also impact some consumer-electronics products that’re considered medical devices and thus need approval from the FDA. That includes health care devices shown off at CES 2019 in Las Vegas this week: things like DIY sonograms, watches that measure your blood pressure, or vests that alert patients they’re in heart failure.

It’s unclear how many consumer-electronics products may be affected by the closure, since it’s hard to know where specific companies and devices were in the approval process when the shutdown started. Neither the FCC nor the FDA returned calls seeking comment.

But the list of new IoT devices needing FCC approval alone could be in the thousands, considering the number of new gadgets expected to flood the market over the next few years. In 2017, there were 8.4 billion connected devices. The volume should hit 20.4 billion by 2020, according to analyst firm Gartner.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel took to Twitter to comment on the sweeping effects of the shutdown on equipment makers.

“Go ahead, take a look at the back of the nearest electronic device,” she wrote in her tweet. “You’ll see an [FCC] number. The agency certifies every innovative mobile phone, television, and computer that emits radio frequency before they can head to market. Guess what is not happening during the shutdown?”

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The FDA’s policy for device certification during the shutdown is somewhat different than the FCC’s. The agency has said it’ll still continue to process applications submitted before the shutdown took effect, but it won’t process any new applications. Still, attorneys from the law firm Hogan Lovells, who shepherd clients through the FDA approval process, say the backlog that’s growing during the shutdown will be a problem once the government reopens.

“Depending on the length of the shutdown, medical product centers may well be looking at a sizable backlog of applications to triage when the agency is fully operational again,” they wrote in a blog last month. “Thus, if the current shutdown persists, industry should anticipate that certain agency delays will likely continue for some time.”

Smaller companies to feel the heat

Experts also point out that it’s smaller startups, rather than huge tech companies, that’ll suffer the most from the shutdown.

“It’s companies focused on creating a ‘unicorn’ business around one or two key innovative products that will be affected most,” said Marc Martin, a partner at Perkins Coie LLP, who heads the firm’s communications industry group. “They don’t have a vast array of products in the market to keep them going.”

By contrast, companies like Apple, Samsung, and Sony might not be happy about putting their plans on hold, but delaying a product launch by weeks or even months “isn’t going to bring down their business,” Martin said.

Still, Martin and Quirk say their clients aren’t freaking out just yet. The timing of the shutdown, over the holidays, has likely softened the blow, since it’s typically a slower period. But concern is growing.

“It’s one thing if the shutdown lasts a few weeks,” Martin said. “Everyone can take some delay in stride. But if it goes on another month or two months, I’m going to be getting some angry calls.”


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Author: Marguerite Reardon
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Four Industries That Will Boost Cryptocurrency Adaptation in 2019

Crypto traders and investors are always seeking different ways to build adaptation in the cryptocurrency community. As crypto lovers agree that the technology is still in its early infancy and will need to evolve well enough to be considered more than just a bubble, which will further ease the process of regulatory, adaptation comes to mind as the only factor that would make this happen.

The ideal world imagined by crypto fans is one where cryptocurrency becomes a universal currency and to achieve that, massive adaptation has to become a milestone that the cryptocurrency space achieves as often as possible. While cryptocurrency can function in any industry, these four have shown themselves to be not just some of the most effective 2018 but has also created a pathway for continuation in 2019.

Art/Entertainment

The entertainment industry has been one of the most flexible industries that shines the spotlight on cryptocurrencies. Most users declared that their knowledge of crypto was birthed from movies and comedic pieces that portrayed the unsteady movement of the cryptocurrency market. From as far back as 2014, the entertainment industry has been pioneering Bitcoin and crypto in general.

Visual art has also been a strong tool that deploys the swift and easy to use the technology of crypto to purchase iconic artworks. Earlier this year, a visual art painting of late Andy Warhol valued at $5.6 million was auctioned for sale via Bitcoin.

Luxury

The art of purchasing luxurious belongings through cryptocurrencies has been in the limelight since 2013 and this tradition is not slowing down anytime soon. Arguably one of the most promising ways to build adaptation in the crypto space revolves around this. It was earlier revealed that the Lamborghini has seen an upsurge in crypto payments, this comes as no surprise seeing that the Lamborghini is an emblem of wealth in the crypto space. Swiss watch brand also made a big move this year after releasing its $25,000 luxurious “P2P” wrist watch which was exclusive to BTC users. This trend will definitely boost user adaptability come 2019. Even CZ of Binance went on to commend Hublot’s marketing strategy, expressing his interest in having a watch for the Binance BnB token sometime later.

Tech

Seeing that 2018 began with leading tech companies boycotting cryptocurrency ads and ended with some of these very same companies going as far as developing their own coin, it is no doubt that tech companies are coming to terms with the usefulness of cryptocurrencies. In 2019, this growth is only certain to increase as more and more tech-related firms have continued to eye crypto. One notable trend of 2018 was the act of purchasing tech products via cryptocurrencies. HTC also fully adopted this pattern when it released its 2018 mobile phone flagship dubbed “Exodus 1”. Not only was it accompanied by the Zion digital wallet, but it was also exclusive to BTC and Ether users only.

Sport

It is still perplexing to know that even if sports remains one of the most lucrative industries for digital technology to thrive, cryptocurrency and sport is still largely limited to gambling, which is not the best route to gaining more users. However, this industry is likely to boost the crypto scene in 2019 seeing that exchanges and tokens are getting more involved in bridging the gap between crypto and sport. Recently, Tron’s Justin Sun had sparked rumors of merging Tron and Basketball when he revealed his guest appearance for the niTron event. Most recently, the Litecoin network is also partnering with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for the upcoming 232 matches.

Conclusion: As these industries continue to shape the path for massive adaptation in the cryptocurrency, diversification is becoming more than just a myth. And this goes on to prove that cryptocurrency is here to stay.


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Author:  Adrian Klent
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Google’s Founder Places Ethereum at the forefront of the “Computer Boom”

Sergey Brin, co-founder of one of the most successful company on earth, stated a boom in computing has led to an era he calls “technology renaissance.” In a letter to investors, Brin said:

“Every month, there are stunning new applications and transformative new techniques. In this sense, we are truly in a technology renaissance, an exciting time where we can see applications across nearly every segment of modern society.”

Ethereum has partly contributed, he said, by driving demand for better GPU processors, which in turn have allowed for more powerful machine learning.

“There are several factors at play in this boom of computing,” Brin said before citing Moore’s Law to further add:

“The second factor is greater demand… from the GPU-friendly proof-of-work algorithms found in some of today’s leading cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum.

However, the third and most important factor is the profound revolution in machine learning that has been building over the past decade.

It is both made possible by these increasingly powerful processors and is also the major impetus for developing them further.”

His main focus was machine/bot learning, otherwise known as artificial intelligence. Google runs what is probably the world’s most complex machine learning algorithm in organizing search results, but Brin says it is used in many areas, such as to:

  • Understand images in Google Photos;
  • Enable Waymo cars to recognise and distinguish objects safely;
  • Significantly improve sound and camera quality in our hardware;
  • Understand and produce speech for Google Home
  • Translate over 100 languages in Google Translate;
  • Caption over a billion videos in 10 languages on YouTube;
  • Improve the efficiency of our data centers;
  • Suggest short replies to emails;
  • Help doctors diagnose diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy;
  • Discover new planetary systems;
  • Create better neural networks (AutoML);
  • … and much more.

His letter opens with the classic “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” but it might be most notable for declaring a renaissance.

A number of technological advances during the past century are congregating to form a powerful set of tools that ultimately, in effect, extend man’s intellect.

In that they provide machines, bots, or any inanimate matter, with basic memory through computer chips, an ability to “feel” or be “aware” of surroundings through sensors, an ability to “communicate” through wi-fi, and then an ability to “act” through blockchain tech smart contracts which further give them “money,” thus allowing them to transfer value.

That, combined with a potentially peaceful global climate, might suggest we are about to enter a golden age of a kind, the human kind, has never previously seen.

 


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