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Alibaba acquires Israeli VR startup Infinity Augmented Reality

Infinity Augmented Reality, an Israeli virtual reality startup, has been acquired by Alibaba, the companies announced this weekend. The deal’s terms were not disclosed. Alibaba and InfinityAR have had a strategic partnership since 2016, when Alibaba Group led InfinityAR’s Series C. Since then, the two have collaborated on augmented reality, computer vision and artificial intelligence projects.

Founded in 2013, the startup’s augmented glasses platform enables developers in a wide range of industries (retail, gaming, medical, etc.) to integrate AR into their apps. InfinityAR’s products include software for ODMs and OEMs and a SDK plug-in for 3D engines.

Alibaba’s foray into virtual reality started three years ago, when it invested in Magic Leap and then announced a new research lab in China to develop ways of incorporating virtual reality into its e-commerce platform.

InfinityAR’s research and development team will begin working out of Alibaba’s Israel Machine Laboratory, part of Alibaba DAMO Academy, the R&D initiative it is pouring $15 billion into with the goal of eventually serving two billion customers and creating 100 million jobs by 2036. DAMO Academy collaborates with universities around the world and Alibaba’s Israel Machine Laboratory has a partnership with Tel Aviv University focused on video analysis and machine learning.

In a press statement, the laboratory’s head, Lihi Zelnik-Manor, said “Alibaba is delighted to be working with InfinityAR as one team after three years of partnership. The talented team brings unique knowhow in sensor fusion, computer vision and navigation technologies. We look forward to exploring these leading technologies and offering additional benefits to customers, partners and developers.”

Lorde’s cancellation of Israel show sparks meeting request with its ambassador

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Lorde’s decision to cancel her performance in Israel has been suitably contentious.

Now Israel’s ambassador to New Zealand has requested to meet with the Grammy-winning singer following her decision to pull out of her Tel Aviv show in May.

In an open letter posted on Facebook Wednesday, ambassador Itzhak Gerberg called the decision “regrettable” and criticised the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for pressuring the singer into cancelling her show.

“Music is a wonderful language of tolerance and friendship, which brings people together,” the letter reads. “Your concert in Israel could have spread the message that solutions come from constructive engagement that leads to compromise and cooperation.” Read more…

More about Entertainment, Music, Israel, New Zealand, and Lorde

Three computer vision experts join TechCrunch’s Tel Aviv event

 Who’s going to be the next Mobileye? Computer vision is a hot topic for the tech industry, and especially in Israel. It seems like Israeli entrepreneurs are one step ahead when it comes to developing computer vision technology. That’s why we’re excited to announce that three computer vision experts are going to join us on stage to share their knowledge about this space. First… Read More

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Mike Pence's pro-Israel tweets really couldn't have gone worse

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Mike Pence is here to support Israel, so he’s…throwing up that Nicaraguan flag?

As the veep began his speech for the Republican Jewish Coalition on Friday, the @VP social media team decided to reiterate his pro-Israel stance by tweeting out its flag.

Unfortunately, they tweeted the Nicaraguan flag instead: not once, but twice.

Someone please tell the Pence social media team that’s the flag of Nicaragua, not Israel pic.twitter.com/6KpfsCOCV6

— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) February 25, 2017

As much as we’d like to find a “to be fair” caveat here, there really isn’t one. The flags both have blue stripes, we guess, but let’s face it: They just aren’t that similar.  Read more…

More about Israel, Twitter, Mike Pence, Watercooler, and Watercooler

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Cyberarms dealer's weapons used against Mexican soda-tax activists

NSO is an Israel cyberarms dealer, which buys or researches vulnerabilities in software and then weaponizes them; claiming that these cyberweapons will only be used by democratic governments and their police forces to attacks serious criminals and terrorists — a claim repeated by its competitors, such as Italy’s Hacking Team and Gamma Group.
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Secret Double Octopus nabs $6M for a stronger, easier alternative to regular 2FA

8093376393_713fb93477_k Israel is home to around 450 active startups in the field of cybersecurity, according to a recent report in Reuters. Now, the one with perhaps the most distinctive name of them all is announcing some funding for a novel approach to authentication. Secret Double Octopus — which borrows a concept from the world of nuclear launch codes to build extra-secure, but simple, keyless… Read More

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A breathtaking 1915 photo tour of the mountains of the Holy Land

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The reputed location of Abraham’s offering of Isaac on Mount Gerizim.

IMage: Oregon State University Visual Instruction Department

Mountains around the world often have deep spiritual significance to the cultures that emerge in their shadows, and the peaks of the Holy Land are no exception.

Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Palestine and Jordan are dominated by summits of Biblical import, from the cedar-covered slopes of Mount Lebanon, to the precipitous cliffs of Mount Arbel, to Mount Tabor, believed by many Christians to be the location of the Transfiguration of Jesus.

These lantern slides from the Oregon State University Visual Instruction Department offer a tour of the peaks and vistas of the Holy Land in the last days of Ottoman rule. Read more…

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