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Smile Innovation’s watch #22

Smile Innovation’s watch #22

Wow! What a 🏃‍♂️final sprint until the finish line of the year for us! It’s a long time without a Techwatch. Enough to made us lost count of exciting news, innovation and tools we wanted to share with you folks 😱!

So, let’s try to catch up, with a slightly redesigned newsletter. Please welcome our new categories system: 💡Innovation, 🗽Privacy and Freedom, 🔓Opensource Software, 😁Fun and WTF, 💰Merge and Aquisition, 🛠Tools, 🌱Sustainability and Society, and 📊Trends. We hope this new categorization will offer, all of you, meaningful content that help you keeping with the news on your daily business.

This content was sent on Dec. 18th via our Tech Watch Newsletter

💡 Innovation

This ‘robot lawyer’ can take the mystery out of license agreements

It’s called DoNotPay & DoNotSign and it’s a $3/month subscription-based service. They have an iOS app and a website and they launched by having an algorithm trained to contest a parking ticket. You can provide them a contract and the model will identify loophole in it, and issue warnings. You’ll be able to make a wiser choice regarding signing or not. It comes also with automated money collection from situation covered by insurance you don’t take advantage of like when you have multiple times covered baggage lost of something.

I took a ride in Waymo’s fully driverless car

Waymo, an Alphabet (Reads Google) company launched in 2016, which works on creating an autonomous driving car since, in Arizona. So far, they operate an Uber-like hailing service called Waymo One. Meaning, now, they are running without any trained safety driver or operator with a kill switch. Completely driverless.

Self-driving semi makes the first cross-country trip announced on Tuesday they completed a cross-country trip from Tulare, California to Pennsylvania to deliver a truckload (of butter for those who asked). It took a little bit more than 3 days of driving and it’s the very first level 4 self-driving system handled a commercial freight trip in the USA. And it was perishable goods! The only time a human was involved to remote control was during the legal pauses and refueling. Because yes, as the legislation doesn’t evolve as quickly as technology, the truck was mandated to stop by law

🗽 Privacy & Freedom

Armed drones, Turkey follows China, USA, and Australia

(Reads in 🇫🇷) Equipped with machine fun which can fire 200 bullets at 200 meters, and with a range of operation of 10kms, the “Songar” is developed in the country. With 2 cameras, it** still requires a pilot t**o operate in an immersive environment with an optical zoom of 30x. Australia also communicates about acquiring some other drone requiring human remote command, while the USA, already operating such devices, announce they will follow China and use now 100% automated drone, allowed to terminate people based on their judgment algorithm.

Massachusetts State Police is experimenting with Boston Dynamics Robot dog

For 3 months now, “Spot” robot docs are used alongside officers by the State Police, both on training scenarios and real-life accidents. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) isn’t pleased of course. They ask for more transparency about how the technology is deployed and used. Police answers they use it as “mobile remote observations devices”, just like bomb quad robots, but in a more general frame where the location might be hazardous or dangerous for human officers. Boston Dynamics just lease the robots to the Police and guarantee they are not used to physically harm or intimidate people. Our advice? Free data to train AI algorithms in real-life situations for Boston Dynamics. On public money.

India shut down AGAIN their entire internet access, at a country level

Last Wednesday, India’s government approved a bill to let minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh (but not the Muslims) apply for citizenship. It leads to protests, rises until setting fire to trains so the government sent troops and shut down the internet. In 2016, the United Nations recognized internet shutdown as a violation of human rights and freedom of expression. Of course, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and India, the country who are using this method the most, had suggested a few amendments to this resolution.

🔓 OpenSource

Netflix open-source Metaflow, their end to end machine learning lib to manipulate AWS

Think about Metaflow as the tool to help you orchestrate all you need on a machine learning project. Working both locally and remotely, it helps data scientists to work on dev (locally) then deploy on prod (on AWS so far) and scale. Made at Netflix, it’s now open source and everyone can use it free of charge 😀

🌱 Sustainability & Society

Tesla Virtual Power Plant is a strange but practical implementation of smart grid

Imagine you provide solar panels to most of your citizens (being a city), with a power pack (here a Tesla Powerwall). You have so hundreds, thousands of small energy producers. Connected to the grid. And we all know the grid is just a transportation layer right? That’s why we have meters at home. So if you have all those little producers, what prevents them to inject power into the grid? You’re right, nothing. Here comes Tesla’s virtual power plant. Metering the production and consumption of all the people, it can sell people unused power back into the grid and help prevent power outage due to coal power grid malfunction. And with only 2% of their virtual power plant installed, they already success to prevent several outages

Google has made a garbage sorting robot

In a total #tech4good spirit, Google is training robots to recognize then sort trash at one of their premisses. Contamination, the act of making a mistake into sorting trash, is about 20% in a real-world environment. We are human, we make mistakes. So X trained robots, first hundred of them in a virtual environment on cloud instances to identify then pick up trash and sort them. Then they move the model onto real robots in real life. Train them too. And share the result to the virtual robots. And do all of this again and again. Now robots are sorting trash at their offices and they are now under 5% of contamination. That’s a practical example of where AI and robotics can have a meaningful, positive impact.

Vice spoke with Uber drivers who have taken over the company’s offices in France

After trying to make their Uber-like app (with a very … substantial success), French “VTCs” drivers are now leading a series of protests against Uber. The least we can say is the time where VTCs are seeing Uber as a liberator from the Taxi system (where you’re nearly forced to contract a loan to buy a license because people can sell it to you and there’s a limit in terms of # of them on the market) is far. Funnily, between all their demands, where’s some sound very legit like better protection and identification as Uber drivers, we can find some of which sounds… very like they want to be a taxi driver without all the fuss of being a taxi driver. Including being paid for having to drive to a pickup, metered pricing and being able to cancel a ride if they don’t find it enough money worthy… But that’s not how the gig economy works and we can see it leads to more and more social crises in all the sectors it touches.

😁 Fun & WTF

Cows wearing VR headsets might produce better milk

They’re happier in virtual fields than confined farms. Using VR leads to improve their mood, so their milk production. The project subjected cattle to a simulated summer field with colors tuned for the animals’ eyes, giving them a decidedly more pleasing landscape than a plain, confining farm. And yes, the headsets were adapted to the “structural features” of cows’ heads so that they could see properly.


Air transportation pollution is a real struggle. And even with all the effort made to optimize the consumption, the regulation about how much fuel they can carry… it still a big pollution emitter. That’s why Anyone comes with this concept of a super-high-speed train, taking the idea of what would be Hyperloop, but removing the vacuum tube and use pylon instead. Making it easy to install between the existing infrastructure. They imagine a planetary transportation system. Nothing less.

Facebook gets into the meme-making biz with experimental Whale app

Launched in the Canadian app-store only so far, it’s part of Facebook’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) team. Kinda like a think lab where Facebook is experimenting with building new interaction with their social media empire. Meme making and viral video are a big trend. TikTok who launched outside of China 2 years ago totalizes 1.5 billion users now.

🛠 Tools


Diagrams. You always have to make some at some points in your work. You can do it on but maybe it’s not your cup of tea. Maybe you don’t like to spend time moving the elements and would prefer the auto-adjusting layout and being able to describe your diagram with an intuitive text. Meet Sequences, Flowchart, Graph, Onion layers, Tree Layout (even horizontal ones), System Layers, Layer stack, and timeline.


One-click database. No server required. That’s it. Perfect for rapid prototyping and hackathon. The database is yours for 24h for free, 72h if you make an account. If you need to keep it longer, it’s 7$/month.

Version control for databases: save, restore, and archive snapshots of your database from the command line

With this tool, you can very easily save, restore and archive snapshots of your database from the command line. It supports connecting to different database servers (for example a local development server and staging or production server) and allows you to load a database dump from one environment into another environment. For now, this is for MySQL only, but it could be extended to be used with other database systems as well.

That’s all folks!

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