How Rebellion Defense, The $1 Billion Military AI Startup Hyped By Silicon Valley, Wound Up In A Nosedive

How Rebellion Defense, The $1 Billion Military AI Startup Hyped By Silicon Valley, Wound Up In A Nosedive

technology By Dec 22, 2023 No Comments

Back Print Video By Sagar Meghani – Associated Press – Friday, December 22, 2023

As children around the world eagerly await Santa’s arrival on Christmas, the military is ready to track him and see if he’s using any new technology.

Armed with radars, sensors and aircraft, the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado keeps a close watch on Santa and his sleigh from the moment he leaves the North Pole.

And it once again will share all those details so everyone can follow along as Santa travels the globe beginning Christmas Eve.

NORAD, the military command that is responsible for protecting North American airspace, has launched its website, social media sites and mobile app, loaded with games, movies, books and music.

And there’s a countdown clock showing when the official tracking of the sleigh will start.

The military will track Santa with, “the same technology we use every single day to keep North America safe,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Elizabeth Mathias, NORAD’s chief spokesperson.

“We’re able to follow the light from Rudolph’s red nose.”

Mathias says while NORAD has a good intelligence assessment of his sleigh’s capabilities, Santa does not file a flight plan and may have some high-tech secrets up his red sleeve this year to help guide his travels – maybe even artificial intelligence.

“I don’t know yet if he’s using AI,” said Mathias.

“I’ll be curious to see if our assessment of his flight this year shows us some advanced capabilities.”

PHOTOS: Military command ready to track Santa, and everyone can follow along The tracking Santa tradition began in 1955, when Air Force Col. Harry Shoup – the commander on duty at the NORAD’s predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command – fielded a call from a child who dialed a misprinted telephone number in a newspaper department store ad, thinking she was calling Santa.

A fast-thinking Shoup quickly assured his caller he was Santa, and as more calls came in, he assigned a duty officer to keep answering.

And the tradition began.

NORAD expects some 1,100 volunteers to help answer calls this year in a dedicated operations center at Peterson Space Force Base, in Colorado Springs, ranging from command staff to people from around the world.

“It’s a bit of a bucket list item for some folks,” says Mathias, calling the operations center “definitely the most festive place to be on December 24th.”

The operations center starts up at 4 a.m., MTS, on Christmas Eve and is open until midnight .

Anyone can call 1-877 HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) to talk directly to NORAD staff members who will provide updates on Santa’s exact location.

Copyright © 2023

The Washington Times, LLC.

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The holiday season is one of the best times to shop for a new TV.

While you can generally find great TV deals throughout the year, the prices we’re seeing right now will likely not resurface until 2024’s first major retail holiday in February.

So if you’ve been eyeing a new TV as a gift or for yourself, now’s the time to shop.

When it comes to pricing, it’s hard to beat Best Buy.

The retailer currently has smart TVs on sale from $64.99 .

The retailer also has 4K 50-inch+ TVs on sale from $199.

Below I’ve rounded up seven of the best TV deals you can get with expedited holiday shipping.

Note that delivery may vary based on your location.

However, many of these TVs can also be purchased online and picked up in-store.

Not sure which TV is right for you?

Make sure to check out our guide to the best TVs of 2023.

Alternatively, you can browse our guide to the five best OLED TV deals this holiday .

TV sale: deals from $64 @

Best Buy Best Buy has smart TVs on sale for as low as $64.

Keep in mind, the cheap TVs tend to be smaller, 1080p models (which are more suitable for a children’s room or guest room).

However, the sale also includes larger sets.

These are among the cheapest TVs we’ve seen from Best Buy.

By comparison, Amazon is offering a similar sale with prices from $64.

Price check: from $64 @ Amazon | from $88 @

Walmart TCL 55″ S4 S-Class 4K TV: was $299 now $269 @

Best Buy The S4 S-Class is one of TCL’s new budget TVs.

Yet despite its budget friendly price, it packs Dolby Vision/HDR10/HLG support, DTS Virtual:X audio, built-in Chromecast, and Google TV Smart OS.

You also get three HDMI ports, including one with eARC support.

Price check: sold out @

Amazon Roku 55″ Select Series 4K TV: was $349 now $299 @

Best Buy The Roku Select is part of Roku’s new line of TVs made in-house.

It features HDR 10 Plus/HLG support, Apple HomeKit/Alexa/Google Assistant compatibility, and four HDMI ports.

It also comes with Roku’s platform for all your streaming needs.

Sold exclusively at Best Buy, it’s on sale at its lowest price ever.

TCL 55″ Q6 4K QLED TV: was $499 now $348 @


The new TCL Q6 4K QLED TV is a budget TV with plenty of great features.

It offers Dolby Vision/HDR10+/HDR10/HLG support, DTS Virtual: X audio, built-in Chromecast, and Amazon Alexa/Google Assistant compatibility.

Although the display is just 60Hz natively, Game Accelerator 120 allows for 120Hz VRR at a lower resolution.

You also get Dolby Atmos and eARC support.

Price check: $348 @ Walmart | $349 @

Best Buy Hisense 65″ U6 Mini-LED ULED 4K TV: was $799 now $549 @

Amazon Hisense’s proprietary ULED technology is a step up from normal LED-based LCD TVs and offers enhanced color and overall better picture quality.

This Mini-LED QLED TV also features Dolby Vision/HDR10+/HDR10/HLG support, and built-in Google Assistant.

This is the cheapest price we’ve ever seen for this particular model.

Price check: $549 @ Best Buy | $548 @ Walmart Sony Bravia 55″ X80K 4K TV: was $699 now $578 @

Amazon The Sony Bravia X80K TV was already an excellent entry-level model, and at this discounted price, it’s now an even better value for money.

It packs solid picture quality with low input lag and an excellent Google TV interface.

It’s not an audio powerhouse, but it’s an excellent pick if you’re looking for a large TV at a relatively modest price.

In fact, we named it one of the best budget TVs you can buy right now.

Price check: $579 @ Best Buy Samsung 65″ Crystal 4K TV: was $627 now $579 @

Amazon The CU8000 is one of Samsung‘s budget 4K TVs.

However, despite its price it packs a lot of modern features, including HDR10+/HLG support and Alexa/Google Assistant/SmartThings compatibility.

It also uses Samsung‘s own Tizen operating system.

Price check: was $579 @ Best Buy

We use our smartphones for everything these days.

From texting to photography, to web browsing and online gaming, there’s really nothing an iPhone or Android can’t handle.

That is, until your phone’s internal storage is depleted.

When we refer to smartphone storage, we’re talking about the onboard gigabytes a phone uses to run applications, store photos, videos, music, and documents, install firmware and OS upgrades, and more.

If you’ve ever purchased a new phone, you’ve probably seen numbers like 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB featured alongside the model of the device you’re looking at.

These figures represent the amount of data storage that the phone’s manufacturer has included on the phone itself.

So when it comes time to buy a new iPhone or Galaxy smartphone, exactly how much storage space does the average person need?

And are there ways to add additional storage when and if you run out?

We’ve put together this helpful explainer to answer these questions and more.

When we think of the chart-topping amounts of RAM and internal storage that modern smartphones are known for, it may surprise you to learn that some of the earliest web-connected phones only contained a single gigabyte or less of storage space.

But as technology has evolved over the years, companies like Apple and Samsung have had to increase the amount of RAM and storage space available on smartphones.

Believe it or not, our smartphones actually utilize a portion of whatever internal storage is advertised to users.

This is because it takes more than just a solid processor and plenty of RAM to run mobile operating systems like iOS and Android .

These pre-installed platforms need a place to store and access crucial data for running your phone’s OS and whatever apps and software your device is running.

If you’ve ever seen a breakdown of your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy device’s internal storage, you’ve probably seen that a decent chunk of storage (usually somewhere between 5GB up to 10GB) is allocated to the phone’s OS.

And no matter how good you are at freeing up storage space on your phone (we’ll cover this more in a bit), you’ll never be able to reclaim the internal data your phone takes for itself.

Now that we’ve cemented the hard truth that iOS and Android are always going to utilize some of our phone’s advertised bytes, the data that’s left is taken up by whatever we, the users, decide to use our smartphones for.

For the average user, one major source of storage space usage is how many apps you have downloaded on your device, and what types of apps these are.

Considering there’s an app for just about everything these days, these mobile-friendly bundles of software are meant to support every kind of want or need.

If you’re a music fanatic, you may have a number of music-streaming platforms and music publication apps installed on your phone.

If you prefer using your smartphone to balance your budget, you’ll probably have a number of banking and credit card apps downloaded.

Then there’s all the social media apps and messaging platforms that we use to stay in touch with friends, family, and colleagues.

Some apps take up very little storage space, while others consume a whole bunch of your bytes, especially when you start getting into mobile games (which are also considered apps), editing workflow tools (think Adobe Creative Suite), and weather monitoring.

Yes, you’d be surprised how much data the Weather Channel app can use.

Another huge culprit when it comes to storage space harvesting is general media.

Photos, videos, and music are nice to look at and listen to, but by golly can they take up a ton of space on our smartphones!

To put things into perspective, Apple claims that a one-hour 1080p/30fps video, encoded as an h.264 file, takes up about 7.6GB on the average iPhone.

If you boost things up to 4K/30fps, you can expect to lose around 21GB.

As for Android smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S23 , Galaxy S23+ , or Galaxy S23 Ultra , Samsung claims that recording in 1080p (frame rate unspecified) for up to one minute uses around 100MB of data, and up to 300MB for 4K. That translates to about 6GB of data per hour in HD, and 18GB for 4K footage.

Fortunately, companies like Apple and Samsung know how much data your photos and videos take up.

Apple’s solution was the introduction of a new encoding called High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) with iOS 11 , which consumes about half as much data as an h.264 file of the same name.

And as for Samsung, many of the brand’s Galaxy smartphones allow for up to 25GB of expandable storage via microSD (more on this in a minute).

If you’re in the market for a new iPhone or Samsung Galaxy smartphone, you may be wondering how much storage space you should be shopping for?

That’s all going to depend on how you plan on using your smartphone.

To make things simpler, let’s look at a few different smartphone user types to better understand how much storage you should be seeking.

You’re the type of person who doesn’t let your phone run your life (good for you!).

Of course, it’s always a good idea to have your device handy in case of emergencies.

You also enjoy using your phone to search the web at the doctor’s office, and you also like snapping a few photos at the occasional family gathering.

And other than using your smartphone to set an alarm or two, that’s pretty much the extent of your device usage.

If this sounds like you, you’re probably not going to need very much storage space at all.

It’s always a good idea to go with the newest tech though, so if you’re Team iPhone, you’d probably want to check out the 128GB version of the iPhone 15 .

For Android fans, the 128GB version of the Samsung Galaxy S23 should be more than sufficient.

We expect most mid-range phones to offer 128GB as the base storage option, but it’s unacceptable for flagship caliber phones in this day and age with 128GB of starting storage.

You like being on your phone, and you like using it for everything.

You’ve always got a decent handful of apps downloaded to your smartphone, and a couple of them are usually high-performance games.

You also enjoy posting to social media on a near-daily basis, and you’ll snap a photo or video of just about anything cool you see out in the world.

We’ll call this the middle-ground between “a little” and “a lot” of needed storage space.

This type of user should look at the 256GB version of the iPhone 15, or maybe even the iPhone 15 Plus .

And over in Android Land, this user type should also invest in 256GB for the Samsung Galaxy S23, or the Samsung Galaxy S23+ .

You’re on your phone so much that you could be a phone (imagine that).

You typically download every single app you’re even mildly interested in, and you’re all about cutting-edge mobile gaming.

When it comes to social media, you’re posting every hour, to the point where your family wonders how you manage to have a life outside your screens.

You also like to take photos and videos whenever you get the chance, and you always export and save in the highest resolution possible.

This type of user needs as much storage space as possible, and a top-shelf phone to go along with the big bytes.

If you’re thinking of going with an iPhone, we’d urge you to consider the 512GB version of the iPhone 15 Plus.

For Android users, we’d recommend going with the 512GB version of the Samsung Galaxy S23+, or even the 1TB version of the Galaxy S23 Ultra .

Even if you’ve made the most data-conscientious buying decision you can for your smartphone, you may still run into situations where your storage space is nearing capacity.

Not to worry though, for there’s a number of things you can do to increase and preserve storage space on your mobile device.

First and foremost, we recommend looking into external storage options.

Traditionally, iPhones have never had built-in microSD card slots, but that’s not the case for Android powered smartphones.

If you’re running out of bytes for your go-to Android, you can always toss in a microSD card (assuming it’s offered), which should give you another 200GB or so.

You can also invest in a smartphone-friendly flash drive if you want to offload some of your existing media to free up space.

Cloud storage platforms are another excellent way to free up storage space.

While a majority of these platforms require some kind of monthly subscription, the most basic tiers of storage are generally inexpensive.

For instance, you can add up to 50GB of iCloud storage to your iPhone for as little as $1 per month.

You can also offload media and other files using tools like Google Drive and Dropbox .

Clearing app data and old downloads is another great way to free up memory.

This is usually as simple as heading into your phone’s settings and searching for a storage dropdown.

From here, you should be able to see how much data is being split between apps, media, and your phone’s OS.

If you’re using an iOS device, your iPhone will even give you the option of deleting old downloads, texts, and other content to add back some internal storage.

If you’re not overly concerned with every single photo and video looking crystal-clear, you can always choose to export media in lower-res formats.

And as for music, instead of downloading tracks and albums to your device, you can always opt for music-streaming services instead (although this will require an internet connection or cellular data).

However you choose to free up space on your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy device, we can’t emphasize the following enough: make sure you have enough available storage for software updates.

Every web-connected smartphone receives routine software patches from its manufacturer.

This ensures that your phone is running as efficiently as possible, while clearing up any bugs or glitches that may have impacted previous versions of the OS.

Some software updates may even allow your smartphone to use less internal storage to run apps and store media.

Smartphones are constantly evolving, which means that internal storage on newer models should continue to increase.

We wouldn’t be surprised to see 512GB as the base offering for a new iPhone or Samsung Galaxy device five years down the line, especially when you factor in new resolutions, frame rates, and OS processes.

And even if you don’t think you’ll need a ton of data for your apps and media, it’s never a bad idea to invest in extra storage, especially if the difference between 128GB and 256GB is only another hundred dollars or so.

While many new smartphones are being offered with 128GB as the base storage option, some of the most hands-off users may be able to get away with 64GB or less.

It may be hard to find these minimal byte quantities on newer phones from the likes of Apple and Samsung though.

Deleting unused apps and media, offloading content to external devices and cloud platforms, and choosing lower export settings are a few ways you can free up storage space on your smartphone.

It’s also a good idea to occasionally check your phone’s storage settings, in order to get a better sense of what apps and content are using the most data.


Your smartphone’s operating system and apps use a certain amount of non-RAM memory to download, install, run, and update.

In the event that you start to run out of storage space, certain app features may stop working.

If all your internal storage is depleted, you also won’t be able to download software updates for your phone’s OS.

As many security patches are made through software updates, not having enough data to download these updates could be damaging to your device and user data down the line.

Here’s a simple truth: where there’s a Dyson product , there’s a dupe, and none are more popular than the best Dyson Supersonic dupes.

When the brand first released the Supersonic hair dryer in 2016, it reinvented the blow dryer.

Seven years later, it remains the best hair dryer in the world, and it’s clear that Dyson’s beauty tech bet was more than a success.

While it’s an impressive product, you don’t need to pay upwards of $400 to get the home hair dry experience you desire.

The Supersonic first made waves because, in typical Dyson fashion, it gave an upgraded, futuristic design to an everyday product.

Dyson is known for this aesthetic, but the sleek look also has a function.

The ring-shaped head ditches the vented and coiled model of the traditional hair dryer and houses the tiny V9 motor in the handle.

The combination of the V9 motor and the Air Multiplier technology makes for a dryer that clocks in at only 1.8 pounds, yet still delivers a powerful airflow that’s notably quieter than the roar of a traditional dryer.

To minimize damage, the Supersonic also measures the air temp up to 20 times per second and uses a built-in ionizer to minimize static and give the hair a sleek finish, which brings us to a quick ionizer science lesson.

Ionizers are pretty common in higher-end air dryers.


Most work by blowing negative ions at wet hair to reduce static electricity by sealing the hair cuticle and taking down the power of that positive ionic charge (aka what’s causing that annoying frizz).

As negative ions make contact with hair, they’re also dispersing the positive ions of water, therefore cutting down on your drying time and reducing damage in the process.

Basically, it’s one of the reasons the Dyson Supersonic provides such quick and excellent results, and why hair dryers with ionizers will cost you more money — they do more than simply dry the hair.

Magnetic attachments designed to easily snap onto the blow dryer round out the futuristic feel of the Supersonic, with five included — a styling concentrator, a flyaway attachment, a diffuser, a gentle air attachment, and a wide tooth comb.

It’s a nice array of included nozzles even for high-end dryers, which might typically include three to four attachments at the most.

At $429, the overall package of the Supersonic is definitely an investment.

However, you’re paying for a high-end motor that’s built to last, multiple heat settings to protect hair, an innovative design, and of course, the ionic tech.

Other dryers from popular hot tool brands like T3, ghd, and Harry Josh boasting some similar features will run you anywhere from $150 to $350, but none quite capture the complete offerings of the Supersonic.

When I tested the Supersonic myself , I found that it had a luxe feel that still makes it stand out from other hair dryers.

Dyson also released an “affordable” version of the Supersonic, called the Supersonic Origin, earlier this year that retails for $399.99.

At only about $30 cheaper, I think the price-to-feature ratio is actually a much worse value than just going for the regular Supersonic, unless you can grab the Origin on sale.

At the same time, there are dupes out there that deliver similar features and elements of the performance at a much lower price.

There are a lot of options for luxury blow dryers out there and a lot of dupes that attempt to look like the Dyson but skimp out on quality.

While it’s not entirely feasible to find an exact one-to-one alternative for a fraction of the price, it is possible to find Supersonic dupes you’re more than satisfied with.

The trick is to identify what exactly draws you to the Supersonic in the first place.

For a deeper dive on how each of these blow dryers performed and info on where to buy them, read on for the best Dyson Supersonic alternatives — all tested by the Mashable team.

TL;DR: Through Dec. 25, get Pixilio The Ultimate AI Image Generator for just $19.97 — you’ll save 94%.

Everyone has that hard-to-buy-for loved one on their gifting list.

With time running out, you may be looking for a last-minute present that won’t require shipping but will still wow under the Christmas tree.

And if you happen to know someone who loves technology and/or content creation, or is simply intrigued by artificial intelligence, we have a great digital option that can be sent instantly to your inbox .

With Pixilio, you or your loved one can create images with the power of AI in seconds .

The possibilities are endless, as it can be used for work purposes or just for fun, and you can take advantage of holiday savings and gift them a lifetime subscription for only $19.97.

That’s $340 off the usual price as long as you purchase before December 25.

With this lifetime subscription to Pixilio The Ultimate AI Image Generator, your loved ones can tap into their creative side and bring anything in their imagination to life.

All they have to do is input the ideas they have, sit back, and watch what Pixilio whips up in just a few seconds.

Everything created will be considered original content that is 100% owned by them , so they can use it anywhere from marketing campaigns to social media to websites to art to hang in their home.

This lifetime subscription to Pixilio means the possibilities are endless, as they’ll have a lifetime to create stunning images generated by artificial intelligence with their exact parameters.

There’s no prior graphic design experience needed, all they have to bring to this tool is their unique ideas and concepts.

Give a unique gift with this lifetime subscription to Pixilio AI Image Generator , now just $19.97 (reg.

$360) until December 25 at 11:59 p.m. PT.

StackSocial prices subject to change.

Apple, as you may know by now, is at the heart of a health technology patents dispute with Masimo, a medical technology company—full details .

It centers on the blood oxygen monitoring capability found in the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 smartwatches.

Along with these being removed from sale, more details have now emerged—and they’re not good news.

Apple Watch Ultra 2, left, and Apple Watch Series 9.

As promised, Apple removed Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 from sale on its website.

Instore sales continue until end of business Sunday, December 24.

And you can also buy these models from other retailers, such as Amazon, Best Buy and Target, while stocks last.

The Apple Watch SE does not have blood oxygen measuring capabilities so is still on sale.

Apple Watch Nike and Apple Watch Hermes are marked as currently unavailable on

The ban is limited to the U.S., so sales outside the States continue as normal.

But the new details are subtle and, frankly, annoying.

According to , “Apple’s customer service teams were informed in a memo that the company will no longer replace out-of-warranty models going back to Apple Watch Series 6.

That means if a customer has a broken screen, for instance, they won’t be able to get the issue fixed by Apple.

The company will still offer help that can be done via software, such as reinstalling the operating system.”

This is a nasty sting in the tail.

Since some hardware issues routinely led to replacements rather than repairs, affected customers will now be told that, “they will be contacted when hardware replacements are allowed again,” Gurman says.

Until now, it had seemed that anyone who owned a Series 6, Series 7, Series 8, or Ultra would be blithely unaffected by the ban.

Now, only those whose Watches are still under warranty, can rest easy.

That means Series 8 and Ultra purchases made within the last 12 months, plus all Series 9 and Ultra 2 models, as these first went on sale on September 22 this year.

If your Watch is still under warranty, the replacement ban “aren’t affected by the replacement prohibition,” according to Bloomberg.

But there are still concerns, even if you’re buying the Watch instore today, for instance.

Supposing you’re gifting the Watch to someone and they would rather have a different color.

Bad luck, it seems.

Gurman explains, “After Dec. 25, Apple also won’t be able to exchange a watch purchased before the ban, say for a different color or size, during the typical return period.

Retail staff was told a product swap won’t be allowed, but Apple will replace accessories like bands.

Watches can still be returned for a refund.”

Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 are stunningly good products, way ahead of the smartwatch competition.

But right now, these restrictions make them tricky to recommend, at least in the U.S.

Like a circus strongman’s barbells, 2023’s year in VR has been heavily weighted toward either end.

The last twelve months were bookended with the launch of two excellent VR headsets (although only one is truly relevant to us PC gamers) and a whole bunch of great VR titles.

The summer, however, was the quietest I’ve known for a long time, to the point where I ended up playing two VR minigolf games in the absence of anything better to do.

Fortunately, the last few months have made up for it, providing enough fantastic VR games to feed us well into next year.

So it’s an unevenly weighted set of barbells, the kind that would give our moustachioed muscleman a slipped disk.

It’s also been a year of interesting shifts.

What was proclaimed the inevitable future of VR eighteen months ago – the Metaverse – is now dead in the water.

Or at least, it’s crawling weakly toward the ocean while our hero follows slightly behind, almost pitying the poor wretch, but still intent on drowning the malignant charlatan in the shallows.

Meanwhile, the headsets that have dominated this year point to the growing platform-based nature of VR.

Where a few years ago you only needed a headset and a PC to access the full suite of VR games, now you need the right headsets (and a PC).

It’s a trend that could have significant ramifications for PCVR in the future, although we’re not there quite yet.

This was handily demonstrated at 2023’s starting line by the launch of the PSVR2, Sony’s follow-up to its previous headset that’s designed to take advantage of the power of the PS5.

Whereas the original PSVR was a bit too weedy to draw PCVR gamers away from the Rifts and the Vives (which sounds like a 1950s rock ‘n’ roll band) the PSVR2 is a cutting-edge headset, and brought some tasty exclusives to boot.

Most notable were Horizon: Call of the Mountain, and an exclusive VR version of Resident Evil: Village.

Although, the one that really sticks in the craw is the recently released VR version of Resident Evil 4 Remake .

There are now two VR versions of Resident Evil 4, and you can’t play either of them on PC.


Meanwhile, Meta has spent the last few years buying up VR developers and signing either outright or timed exclusives its Quest headsets, meaning PCVR gamers have had to wait for some of its biggest hitters to land.

And even then, some of them landed belly first, such as The Walking Dead: Saints And Sinners Chapter 2, a disappointing sequel to one of the best VR games around.

There were some fun highlights from smaller developers in the spring, like the VR rogue-like The Light Brigade , and the charming perspective-based adventure Another Fisherman’s Tale , but by late summer PCVR‘s cupboard was starting to look pretty bare.

It was rumoured that the reason for Meta’s purchasing spree was so that those developers could make content for its Metaverse platform Horizon Worlds.

The Metaverse dominated headlines last year and was destined to be the future of VR, if you believed Mark Zuckerberg’s attempt to mimic the human emotion “enthusiasm”.

But the prospects for Horizon seemed flimsy from the start, and while Horizon Worlds is still theoretically in development, with Meta still pouring billions of dollars into it, the Metaverse has had its lunch thoroughly eaten by this year’s technological fad, AI.

As noted by the Verge , at this year’s Meta Connect, Horizon Worlds received significantly less attention than Meta’s AI initiatives, like a virtual assistant that can be integrated into chats across the company’s messaging platforms.

Oh well, at least everyone in Horizon Worlds has legs now .

Yet while Meta’s vision for the Metaverse remains more watery than American tea, the company’s still right at the forefront of VR headset design.

In October, Meta launched the Meta Quest 3, which offers a substantial hardware upgrade from the Quest, alongside improved passthrough and mixed reality capabilities.

The higher price and the lack of decent launch titles put me on the fence about whether it was worth the upgrade, but now it has a slew of games like Assassin’s Creed Nexus , Samba Di Amigo: Party Central, Lego Bricktales, and Asgard’s Wrath 2, it’s a much more viable proposition.

Indeed, VR gaming has saved all the good stuff for the last three months.

Alongside the Quest 3’s slightly-after-launch titles, we’ve seen PCVR releases for Arizona Sunshine 2, Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted 2 (which, like it or not, is a massive VR game), and the wonderful remake of ye-olde spooky puzzler the 7th Guest.

If you own a Quest 2 or 3, you’ll have access to nearly all of this because of Quest Link, making it one hell of a Christmas list for VR fans.

In short, 2023 has gone from being a pretty dry affair in VR land, to a bit of a bumper year right at the death.

But the quality of your harvest depends heavily on which headset you’ve got, and the big question going forward is how much further the existing VR platforms are likely to drift apart.

Right now, if you own a Quest headset, then you can access both the Quest exclusive library, and anything PCVR via Quest Link and Air Link.

But will that remain the case?

Meta has been pushing to make the Quest its own platform for years now.

At what point does the Quest sever its connection with the PC entirely?

I think this may well happen eventually, but it’s unlikely in the short term.

Alongside its baseline audience, the Quest also has a huge user base on Steam.

In fact, according to Steam’s own hardware survey , it’s by far the most popular PCVR headset, accounting for 40% of VR users between June and November 2023 (the Valve Index, by comparison, is the second most popular at 19%.)

Letting the Quest access Steam gives the headset substantially more functionality, and there’s no logical reason why Meta would want to stop that provided it can still sell exclusives on its own store.

And while Valve has its own headset it wants to sell, it also seems to understand the importance of Meta’s continuing presence in the PCVR scene.

Earlier this month, Valve partnered with Meta to update its Steam Link application to stream to Quest 2 and 3, a sort of reverse system to Quest Link and Air Link.

As well as providing further PCVR functionality for Quest, it points to a continuing overlap between Meta headsets and PCVR.

As for what else the future holds, the short answer is: more headsets and more games.

It’s likely we’ll see Apple‘s Vision Pro next year, possibly as early as January.

Apple‘s headset is unlikely to have much relevance in these here parts, but it’ll be interesting to see the response to it nonetheless.

More significant is Valve’s mysterious “Deckard” project, purportedly some kind of follow-up to the Valve Index.

There are no firm details about Deckard, although some cryptic word uttered to James by Valve designer Lawrence Yang hinted it might take inspiration from Valve’s work on the Steam Deck.

“Just like Steam Deck is learning a bunch of stuff from controllers and VR, future products will continue to learn from everything we’ve done with Steam Deck.”

My money’s on a Valve equivalent of the Quest, a standalone, inside-out tracking headset that can connect wirelessly to your PC (which, incidentally, Steam Link would be ideal for).

But let’s close out 2023 with a quick glance at what we’ll be playing next year.

Titles on the cards for 2024 include Bulletstorm VR , the cyberpunk detective sim Low-Fi , and the giant-smashing adventure Behemoth , from the creators of Saints And Sinners.

But by far the most exciting VR prospect for next year is Taskmaster VR .

Getting chewed out by a virtual Greg Davies for playing VR Jenga badly?

That alone is worth spend £500+ on some fancy goggles for your face.

and labor shortages worldwide threaten crop yields and food security, and ESG expectations add an extra layer of complexity for food producers—even in countries with abundant natural resources.

Brazil offers a valuable example of this.

Its land and climate, combined with some determined long-term vision and ambition, have made it a in a host of food and agricultural commodities.

However, even with all its natural advantages, Brazil is facing serious challenges.

Along with climate change and , it’s also encountering , changing consumer demands and demand volatility.

A particular challenge for Brazil is the deforestation of the Amazon, which attracts negative global attention.

Together, these factors pose a threat to Brazil’s sustained growth.

The Agri-Technologies Of Brazil Eager to continue their market expansion yet facing the same ESG and environmental challenges as other markets, Brazilian agribusinesses increasingly are turning to digital and genomic innovations to tackle these crucial challenges while heeding national and international calls to improve the sustainability of their operations.

Brazil now boasts more than startups that are developing innovative blockchain, artificial intelligence and drone technology looking for ways to improve competitiveness.

The big difference is that whereas in the past, the goal was simply to enhance productivity, the current generation of innovators offers ESG and sustainability features to the mix.

Here are examples of some of the technologies these innovators are using to get there.

Blockchain startups can improve traceability, efficiency and sustainability in the food supply chain.

They also provide the information customers, regulatory authorities and other actors in the food chain need to increase the transparency of ESG initiatives in Brazil’s food and agriculture supply chains.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is being applied to .

AI is also being combined with , allowing for better decision-making on the farm amid the climate and labor challenges.

This technology is helping Brazil advance sustainability practices in agriculture by optimizing water, fertilizer and crop protection, reducing waste and minimizing environmental impacts.

Even in a country that traditionally has benefited from cheap labor, recent worker shortages in the food chain increase the value of AI automation on farms and in food factories.

Drones are increasingly common on Brazilian farms.

The ability of drones in Brazil to collect information remotely is particularly critical in a country where the road infrastructure is challenging and where auditing sustainability metrics is increasingly crucial to the international customers of Brazil’s produce.

Lessons For Global Agtechs Food producers and farmers of the world should take note.

Home to some of the most productive land in the world, Brazil’s agricultural advancements aren’t just a boon for Brazil—they also contribute to global food security.

Traditionally, Brazil has focused almost exclusively on productivity for productivity’s sake, keeping the price down and the volume up.

However, today’s global —they also want assurance that the food is safe and has been sustainably produced.

Ultimately, Brazil serves as a model for other countries—particularly in Latin America and Africa—in how to develop sustainable, efficient and technologically advanced agriculture.

More importantly, it shows that agri-technology innovators worldwide can succeed by addressing more than productivity and performance: Developing tech that helps make the planet a better place to live can be a net positive, not just another challenge.

is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives.

The aviation industry, a cornerstone of the global economy, facilitates connections between people and businesses across continents.

Yet, it grapples with a critical issue: a shortage of skilled workers, ranging from .

One important way to address this challenge is for the aviation industry to recognize the untapped potential of skilled immigrants who can contribute invaluable knowledge and experience to the field.

However, the journey for immigrant workers in the aviation sector is fraught with challenges, some of which I have personally encountered.

In this article, I’ll explore the obstacles they confront and how their integration can yield mutual benefits for the industry and the broader economy.

Challenges Faced By The Immigrant Workforce Skilled immigrants have a diverse range of qualifications and expertise, often aligning with the demands of the labor market.

Unfortunately, many times, these workers land in not relevant to their expertise.

This misalignment not only impacts immigrants’ financial stability but also stifles the broader economy as valuable skills remain underutilized.

Drawing from my personal experience as an immigrant within the aviation industry, cultural and social assimilation issues loom large.

Earlier in my career, I was also rejected from positions in the aviation industry multiple times that were relevant to my experience due to my nationality.

One major concern for the aviation industry, in particular, is that qualified immigrant workers may face challenges when transferring the certifications and experience that demonstrate their qualifications .

Pilots have also faced , according to .

How Companies Can Help Immigrants Navigate The Industry

Navigating societal and workforce-entry challenges demands a multifaceted approach.

To overcome these barriers, the aviation industry must provide essential resources.

Tailored language programs can empower immigrants to overcome language barriers and enhance their professional opportunities.

Offering cultural sensitivity training ensures a smoother integration process, fostering a workplace environment that values diversity.

Industry-specific certifications can validate immigrants’ qualifications, ensuring their skills are acknowledged and utilized appropriately.

Moreover, addressing the aviation industry’s labor shortage requires targeted job training, networking opportunities and technology adoption.

For instance, job training initiatives should be customized to meet the unique needs of immigrant workers.

Technology also can play a large role here, especially large language models and other tools that can for non-native speakers.

The Role Of Government And Industry Realizing the full potential of skilled immigrants in the aviation industry requires concerted efforts from government and industry stakeholders.

For example, policies that facilitate the recognition of foreign qualifications are essential.

Industry leaders, for their part, must proactively cultivate an inclusive work environment that appreciates diversity and leverages the unique skills immigrants bring to the table.

Beyond supporting these workers, workforce diversity is closely linked to , making it a crucial aspect of a thriving aviation industry.

Conclusion Embracing skilled immigrants in the aviation industry is not merely a solution to the labor shortage; it’s a pathway to substantial economic benefits.

A growing and productive labor force will enable the industry to meet the and related services and can foster increased economic growth and job creation.

is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives.

Founder & CEO, .

Data is everything in modern healthcare.

Those who know how to operate it efficiently and securely—especially when it “travels”—have the best chance for success.

Introduced in 2012, Fast Health Interoperability Resources ( ) has become an omnipresent solution that facilitates data interoperability and security compliance.

Yet, there are too many things to understand about FHIR and how to introduce it into a company’s operational ecosystem.

Establishing an FHIR facade might be the most appropriate starting point.

However, there are also copious questions regarding its benefits and operational technicalities.

In this article, I will explore whether an FHIR facade is the solution you need when considering migrating to FHIR.

Do Not Confuse FHIR Facade With FHIR Repository Healthcare applications send and receive data in various formats; the underlying models differ to a certain degree.

Yet, standardizing the incoming and outgoing data formats is the linchpin of modern healthcare industry interoperability FHIR is the standard that ensures standardized electronic healthcare information exchange.

However, many healthcare organizations need help switching to an FHIR-compliant data exchange system because they find themselves confused—forced to choose between an FHIR facade and an FHIR repository, thinking that one option is somehow better.

Because of this confusion, let’s look at the difference between an FHIR facade and an FHIR repository, expanding on the most appropriate scenarios for choosing each option.

FHIR Facade Vs.

FHIR Repository The core difference between the two approaches is where they store the data, as by Smile Digital Health.

When opting for a facade (HAPI FHIR Plain Server or Smile Digital Health’s Hybrid Provider), you can work with data that remains in its source system.

Data queries are mapped to FHIR on the spot and delivered in real time from the data sources.

With FHIR facade: You can use an existing database, and no major technology revamp is necessary.

Nonetheless, the simplicity of having a single source of truth for data remains.

Your existing data-mapping scheme remains while you get the ability to preview the FHIR-based data output.

In the case of the repository model (HAPI FHIR’s JPA Server or Smile’s CDR), a separate asset for data copy storage is required—a so-called native FHIR clinical data storage or repository.

This strategy allows the data to be converted to the FHIR standard before any queries, which, in turn, allows for a connection to the newly built repository instead of mapping the backend data sources.

Here is the repository model in a nutshell.

This helps minimize data exposure by limiting the very date in the repository.

Smile’s CDR can help you maintain the extensive data set and keep it compliant with any upcoming FHIR compliance requirements.

It will take a lot of time to copy all the organization’s data into the repository.

FHIR Facade Implementation Options

So, what are the best options for implementing an FHIR facade into your organization’s operations?

Here are the two options to consider.

You will get a fully functional FHIR facade, but this approach requires an in-depth preliminary audit of your existing system to map your internal data model into the FHIR facade successfully.

Using a generic FHIR server for storing and managing data that will run through your API is a good idea.

You will still need to map your data, but as soon as you synchronize the data on your inner server with the FHIR server, that should suffice.

Pros And Cons Of An FHIR Facade

So, is an FHIR facade a friend or foe of a healthcare business?

Here are the pros and cons.

Establishing an FHIR facade is the easiest way to reach FHIR compatibility.

It is not solely a legal standard but a technology one that refines business proceedings with a single external API.

That lets your organization stay agile and up-to-date with the latest standards.

Working with a single external API saves your legacy backend from needing tedious updates every time a new data compliance standard appears in healthcare.

As a result, you get to cut costs on system support and maintenance.

With the FHIR facade, you can also enjoy a unified view of healthcare records with no further predicaments, as it can be connected to several backend systems simultaneously.

Imagine having several versatile backend systems as an integrated database with a unified interface.

Despite the many benefits, there are also significant disadvantages associated with introducing FHIR into your business processes.

First and foremost, legacy systems stand in the way—mapping the data within a legacy system to an FHIR “wrapper” might be challenging.

Establishing an FHIR facade might also be problematic pragmatically, as some companies have no required inner human resources and tech talent.

Furthermore, finding the appropriate experts in the outsourced software development market is an equally tall order.

Final Thoughts Developing an FHIR-compliant API from scratch is a noble intention.

Nonetheless, establishing an FHIR facade likely offers a faster and less painful integration with your legacy backend.

Here are the final steps you should consider before embarking on your FHIR facade journey.

1. Outline and analyze your business needs and make sure FHIR facade’s functionality covers them comprehensively.

2. Choose your implementation option, as the technicalities of the process will define the lion’s share of proceedings during the project.

3. Define your development approach: in-house versus outsourcing.

Either way, the process will require a team of experts who have already dealt with FHIR facade implementations.

Finally, do not forget to enjoy the result of your digital journey, as establishing an FHIR facade will deal just fine with your outdated data groundwork.

is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives.

Preparing for the Black Friday shopping rush at a Walmart store in Miami.

anaging supply chains is rough for any company, as the past few years have shown.

For a retailing goliath like Walmart — with its fiscal 2023 revenue of $611 billion — the task is herculean.

That’s why it was intriguing to see in late November that Walmart had signed a deal with a company with the unlikely name of Bamboo Rose to help streamline the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer’s supply chain.

The Bamboo Rose software is designed to make it easier for Walmart’s buyers and product developers to work with its tens of thousands of suppliers around the globe, improving quality, cutting costs and helping to reduce food waste.

Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but the companies said that Bamboo Rose software would be rolled out in both Walmart and Sam’s Club.

“What we’ve been known for is sourcing and purchase-order management, because if you get that wrong everything else falls apart,” Bamboo Rose CEO Matt Stevens told During the pandemic, snarled supply chains showed just how difficult it is for retailers to get the right products on their shelves at the right time.

Covid-19 highlighted the importance of what was once a back-office backwater and made it a focus for new technology.

Even without global lockdowns, the complexity of negotiating deals with thousands of suppliers, spread across the globe, for potentially millions of products can be daunting.

Getting sourcing right can have a decisive impact on a retailer’s profitability and on whether customers come away happy or frustrated.

Gloucester, Massachusetts-based Bamboo Rose has operated largely under the radar for the past 20 years in a space that’s crowded with competitors that include Oracle and SAP as well as scores of startups.

Today, it has some 220 customers in apparel, general merchandise and food, including big brands like Urban Outfitters, Home Depot, Kohl’s and American Eagle.

After a slow start, the firm now has annual recurring revenue (a metric that subscription software companies use that’s generally higher than annual revenue) of $50 million, and Stevens said that he hoped to reach $100 million in a few years.

“Even if I set aside Walmart,” he said, “it’s been a record year for the business.”

In 2001, founder Sue Welch, who had worked in retail, launched Bamboo Rose with Kamal Anand, the company’s chief technology officer today, under the name TradeStone to build out software to help companies manage their products and sourcing.

At the time, sourcing decisions were generally managed by endless email chains and clunky spreadsheets, costing retailers time and money.

The firm eventually created a marketplace where retailers, wholesalers and suppliers could all work together to speed up the process.

“Sue’s vision was to build a collaborative platform,” Stevens said, noting that the company targeted the biggest brands for its software.

“She focused on the upper end of the market where the messes are pretty ugly.”

“What we’ve been known for is sourcing and purchase-order management, because if you get that wrong everything else falls apart.”

For which has more than 880 global suppliers and 25,000 unique products, Bamboo Rose worked to shorten lead times and reduce changes to purchase orders.

For one U.S. (which Bamboo Rose declines to identify) with more than 2,300 stores, the software worked to keep shelves stocked, rotate seasonal items, cut the time to market by six weeks and increase profit margins.

Still, there are many different areas of supply chain, and over the past two decades Bamboo Rose has tried a lot of them.

In 2016, the company, which then had 80 retailers on board and was called TradeStone, as Bamboo Rose and added what it called a B2B marketplace for retailers, wholesalers and suppliers to its existing business in product lifecycle management software.

On employee review site Glassdoor, from 2017 to 2021 decry micromanagement, bottlenecks and lack of innovation.

“The company has gone through a lot of change,” said Lora Cecere, founder of research firm Supply Chain Insights.

“They’ve always struggled to find their niche.”

In June 2022, Boulder, Colorado-based private equity firm Rubicon Technology Partners bought an undisclosed stake and Welch left later that year.

Stevens, 62, who had previously been the founder and CEO of performance-analytics firm AppNeta, took over as CEO.

AppNeta, which had also been funded by Rubicon, was acquired by Broadcom two years ago, and Stevens hoped to work similar magic on Bamboo Rose with a new team of execs.

Over the past year, he’s acquired product-development firm Backbone PLM and supplier-engagement company Supply Pilot to add their capabilities.

Bamboo Rose CEO Matt Stevens In order to get the company ready for expansion, Bamboo Rose first had to unwind some projects it had done for specific customers that wouldn’t scale, he said.

“That’s been a little painful and rocky,” he said.

“But we’re through most of it, and every single one of those customers are still here.”

In 2019, Bamboo Rose started a project with Sam’s Club, Stevens said.

“Sam’s had a sourcing problem, mostly in the dimension of food,” Stevens said.

Food is “super, super complex,” he said, because spoilage can occur in transit, potentially causing health issues for customers.

As Sam’s rolled out its sourcing platform, Stevens said he began having conversations with Walmart, which had been testing a lot of different vendors for the larger brand, he said.

Walmart spokesman Payton McCormick said by email that the company “was confident that working with Bamboo Rose is the right choice for Walmart,” but declined to answer a question about its tests of other sourcing software.

“Walmart approached us in early 2023 and said, ‘We’ve done our due diligence and we don’t think you’re perfect, but we agree with Sam’s that it begins and ends with sourcing and we see a lot of benefits to our customers to having a global sourcing platform,’” said Stevens, who flew to Bentonville to meet with Walmart execs in person earlier this year.

Walmart’s McCormick said that the two started working together in February 2023 and expect to complete the rollout over the next 12-to-18 months.

“It’s a big challenge — a little scary,” Stevens said.

“We’ve almost built out a company within a company.”

The more stores, the more complexity, and the more variety — a hallmark of Walmart — the more difficult.

And after the supply chain snags of the pandemic, product sourcing continues to have a moment.

“I think it’s a good time for Bamboo Rose,” Cecere said.

“They’ve matured and the market has matured, and people feel more need for software because of what’s happening in the global markets.”

Love it or loathe it, mowing your grass is one seasonal task that can’t be avoided if you like a neat lawn.

It can be a tedious chore that cuts into your schedule when you’d prefer to be doing something else.

Robot lawn mowers give you back your precious time, save you from breaking into a sweat in the sun, and provide you with a lawn to be proud of.

It all sounds perfect, but there is a major drawback.

Robot lawn mowers come with a hefty price tag.

We weigh up what the future looks like for robot lawn mowers in 2024, ask if they are up to the task and whether homeowners should splurge.

Unlike their counterparts, robot vacuums, robot lawn mowers can’t compete on price, making them more inaccessible.

In comparison, our best budget robot vacuum – the iLife V3s pro – featured in our best robot vacuum buying guide comes in at under $80.

In contrast, an entry-level robot lawn mower will set you back in the region of $1,500.

A robot vacuum could be considered an impulse purchase, whereas a robot lawn mower needs more thought.

And if you thought an entry-level robot lawn mower was pricey, a top-of-the-range model with GPS tracking will set you back $6,000.

It’s a steep price to pay for a neat lawn, which would easily cover the cost of a ride-on mower.

When you break down the price, it’s cheaper to call a lawn maintenance service to do the job for you.

Paying $40 a week over 26 weeks, will cost $1,040, less than an entry-level model.

However, if you do opt for a budget mower, you will still make a return within two seasons.

Buy or lease With a steep cost, one choice is to lease a robot lawn mower from a company such as Automow – giving you the option to try before you buy.

Having tested various robot lawn mowers for Tom’s Guide, including the Husqvarna Automower 450XH EPOS , senior editor John Velasco believes the high price is partly due to a lack of competition.

Husqvarna is the dominant brand in the market, with few other companies making a mark, apart from Ambrogio, Worx and Robomow.

So, while other manufacturers play catch-up, prices will stay high due to a lack of competition.

But as more companies enter the marketplace, we would expect costs to become more competitive and affordable.

We’ll have to wait and see how this pans out in 2024.

Robot lawn mowers have traditionally struggled in terms of object recognition – crashing against garden furniture or tumbling into flower beds.

Identifying boundaries and obstacles has been an issue.

Having tested his first robot lawn mower five years ago, John says they have greatly improved, especially in terms of maneuverability.

And the latest robot lawn mowers now feature GPS technology, eliminating the timely task of marking out your boundaries with sensors.

Although wireless units mean you won’t have to stake out a boundary, they come at a premium price.

And if your yard is shaded by trees, or objects that will interfere with the GPS sight line, you might be best to stick with a wired unit.

Wired robot lawn mowers require a perimeter wire to work.

You can install this yourself, by placing the wires close to the ground, but you’ll find the wires quickly become covered in grass.

The alternative is to ask a professional to set up the boundary wires for you.

They’ll insert them into the ground between 3 to 4 inches deep.

Just like a robot vacuum, wired mowers move around a defined space and use the sensors to stop and redirect them when they collide with an object.

However, they move around randomly, rather than wireless units that mow in straight lines.

If you desire a striped or checkerboard pattern on your lawn , you’ll need to invest in a wireless mower.

So apart from how the boundaries are detected, how do the two mowers differ?

The difference is a system that connects to your phone through Bluetooth or pricier versions that connect through a cellular service and are equipped with GPS mapping technology.

You won’t be left entirely without any work to do.

Robot lawn mowers may cut your grass but they don’t trim the edges of your lawn for that perfect finish.

The blades on the mower are set back from the outer casing and even though the mower will reach the boundary, the blades will fall a little short.

John Velasco says he trims the edges of his lawn every couple of weeks to keep it looking neat.

If your yard has very steep inclines, you may find a goat is a better option than a robot lawn mower.

Most robotic lawn mowers, especially if they have a powerful motor, can handle 35% inclines.

But what about those bumps and ruts?

If you are in the market for a neat lawn, you’ve probably already filled in any challenging ruts to create an even surface, and your mower won’t need to negotiate any awkward holes.

However, if you have a playful dog that likes to bury bones, you’re best to choose a model with all-wheel drive, as it will cope with holes better than a two-wheel model.

Some robot lawn mowers can also be programmed to avoid any challenging areas, although, once again, this feature will add to the price.

Battery capacity could be an issue if you have a large lawn.

If this is the case, the best option is to go for a robot lawn mower with large battery capacity.

This will save the mower having to return to the base station to recharge during each cut.

If your lawn is on the small to medium size a lower cost mower will be adequate.

Robot lawn mowers are designed to mow grass every day or two, and therefore only cut away a small slither of grass.

In fact, the clippings are so short that you won’t notice them.

This fine material is left as a mulch to nourish the soil, providing you with a healthy lawn, while eliminating the task of raking up grass cuttings.

Robot lawn mowers have advanced over the last few years, but the cost remains high.

New models are now able to mow more complex yards and have added features enabling you to control and track your mower remotely, with some even having the technology to shelter from the rain.

Investing in a robot mower is great if you have a busy lifestyle and you don’t want to be spending a couple of hours each week mowing your lawn.

However, if you have a small yard and can mow your lawn without breaking into a sweat, save your money and stick to your manual or electric mower.

You’ll be able to pick one up at a fraction of the cost.

head of an all-hands meeting in March of this year, hundreds of Rebellion Defense employees had been anticipating good news.

There’d been a major military contract in the works for months, and the $1 billion AI startup’s leadership had assured them it was all but secured.

Potentially worth tens of millions of dollars, the deal with the Department of Defense was expected to unlock a new round of funding for Rebellion and solidify its reputation as one of the Pentagon’s biggest allies in the sprint to win the AI arms race.

Rebellion had hired dozens of engineers and other experts to work on the product: a tactical threat awareness tool, or “TTA,” that would use AI to make battlefield decisions.

The tool, which Rebellion was trying to sell to the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, according to two sources, was core to the company’s mission of modernizing warfare with sophisticated software, a vision that had attracted millions in investment from the likes of former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and media mogul James Murdoch.

But when CEO Chris Lynch — a tech entrepreneur-turned-Pentagon executive — faced staff at Rebellion’s Washington, D.C. headquarters in March, it was to deliver bad news: They hadn’t won the contract.

The following month, approximately 90 employees, many who had recently joined, were laid off.

By September, Lynch was gone as well, as were Rebellion’s U.K. operations.

“To our knowledge, this contract has still not been awarded today,” Rebellion spokesperson Gia DeHart told in a statement, characterizing it as an “example of the innovation adoption challenges faced by startups seeking to do business with the U.S. Department of Defense.”

Launched in 2019, Rebellion very quickly became one of the highest profile defense tech companies around.

But its ascent is difficult to track.

It had little proven record as a government contractor and never secured a large commercial market.

Meanwhile, its marquee product, Nova, had been unable to find widespread adoption.

“I just thought: they are a billion dollar company, they have to have [a core product], it’s probably just top secret,” a former Rebellion employee told .

“By the time I got into the company, people were like, well, we don’t really have one.”

And now it didn’t have that expected DoD contract, either.

While Rebellion presented a veneer of success and influence, with frequent visits from military brass to its flashy offices in D.C. and London, interviews with 18 former employees and advisors to the company, and public contracts reviewed by , suggest that it overwhelmingly benefitted from aspirational, investor-induced hype As CEO and cofounder, Lynch brought an outsider’s chutzpah to the mission of bringing AI to the military-industrial complex Earlier this year, Lynch had painted rosy projections for 2023 to some employees and the board, varying from $50 million to almost $100 million in total contract value, according to three former staff.

The actual figure, these people said, was closer to $20 million.

Multiple sources in position to know told that Lynch’s departure “to tackle new endeavors,” , was engineered by a board tired of his overstated financial speculations and failures to land key contracts.

Meanwhile, after it spent $430,000 lobbying the federal government on AI matters according to disclosures, government procurement records show Rebellion has received just $7.2 million from publicly listed contracts this year.

In 2022, that number was $6.2 million.

(Not all of its federal contracts may be public; Rebellion declined to comment on the scope of its government deals.)

“Rebellion was built to tackle some of the most audacious challenges for the defense of our country and allies, and that vision is more important now than ever before,” Lynch told in an email.

“At the start of the year, I stepped down from Rebellion after 4.5 years of building.

I was ready for incredible new leadership to scale the next phase of the company.”

Responding to a detailed list of questions about Rebellion’s revenue, contracts, management issues, Rebellion declined to share financial figures or comment on personnel matters.

Spokesperson DeHart would say only that the company had reported a 50 percent jump in its annual contract value this year.

“Like most defense start-ups, we had wins and losses as we worked to find product-market fit,” she said in an emailed statement.

“Over the last six months, the company took a series of deliberate steps to adapt and refine our strategy to ensure long-term sustainability.”

Incoming Rebellion CEO Ben FitzGerald, an investor and former executive chairman tapped for the new role earlier this week, conceded to that the company had faced a “number of management challenges,” along with “acquisition challenges that plague the Department of Defense.

But he said “Rebellion has since right-sized our business, and we have an incredible team in place.”

A Pentagon spokesperson declined to comment on the Department of Defense’s relationship with Rebellion.

Rebellion Defense co-founder and former CEO, Chris Lynch.

As CEO and cofounder, Lynch brought an outsider’s chutzpah to the mission of bringing AI to the military-industrial complex.

“I’ve run into so many people in my life who want to tell me about how we should be doing other things than working in defense, or investors who believe that we shouldn’t be starting companies in defense,” Lynch told in a 2022 interview.

“And it’s chicken shit.”

Prior to Rebellion, Lynch was a Seattle-based tech entrepreneur whose Celebrity Hookup, a hot-or-not app and website for attractive famous people, gifting site Thoughtful and Sparkword, an iPhone word game.

After getting a job with the U.S. Digital Service, he was later hired to lead a division within the Department of Defense called Defense Digital Service tasked with getting AI tech into the government at speed.

There, he met Nicole Camarillo from the U.S. Army Cyber Command’s talent team.

When an employee revolt forced Google to the Pentagon with AI tools that could label drone footage, Lynch and Camarillo saw an opportunity: if the tech giants wouldn’t supply the government with cutting-edge defense software, maybe they could.

In early 2019, the duo left their government roles to build Rebellion Defense, naming their new company after Star Wars’ Rebel Alliance.

They linked up with a former U.K. Cabinet Office official, Oliver Lewis, who had been focused on transforming digital operations for the British civil service.

He joined to lead a London Rebellion division with the goal of selling to the U.S. and U.K. simultaneously.

According to the cofounders’ origin myth, the trio wrote down their “Rebellion Manifesto” in a coffee shop, defining “why we would be different and why this matters,” Lynch previously told .

They landed on a mission to deliver AI technologies that “defended democracy, humanitarian values and the rule of law,” Lewis added.

(Camarillo left the company earlier this year.

She didn’t respond to a request for comment.)

Despite its original pan-Atlantic strategy, Rebellion’s U.S.-based leadership soon began to worry that its U.K. operations were a distraction from much larger revenue opportunities with the Pentagon More than a dozen employees joined Lynch from the Pentagon.

And his pitch seemed to land among defense leaders and Silicon Valley luminaries alike: the late former Defense Secretary Ash Carter joined the company’s board and Schmidt, the former Google CEO, backed its $11 million seed round with his venture fund novation/ target=”_blank”>Innovation Endeavors; the founders described Schmidt as a “founding partner” in .

(Multiple former Rebellion employees and DoD staff said Schmidt was a largely unengaged investor.

Schmidt declined to comment )

As Rebellion touted contracts with the , venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins led a $60 million series A funding round in April 2021, again joined by Schmidt’s novation/ target=”_blank”>Innovation Endeavors and other investors.

Just months later, Insight Partners led a $225 million funding round that valued the company at $1 billion.

Key to its investor pitch at the time was a suite of mission-oriented tools, which included a product called Nova.

An automated network bullet-proofing service

, Nova used white hat hackers to identify vulnerabilities and conduct recurring screenings to detect cybersecurity threats.

It had pilot contracts with the Department of Defense and the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense, but it didn’t immediately take off: of the contracts Rebellion inked with government agencies, many were free trials and ultimately discontinued, two sources familiar with the matter told .

In a statement, Rebellion said the trials were “incubation-type engagements” meant to “demonstrate our unique product offerings.”

Rebellion also faced the reality of government contracting, where payouts for startups can be small and incremental.

In one payment in 2021, Rebellion received $50,000 from the U.S. Air Force for a contract to detect cyber vulnerabilities; the agency paid $650,000 the following year for a contract related to traffic engineering, according to procurement records.

By the end of 2022, some contracts had generated payments around $1 million.

Despite its original pan-Atlantic strategy, Rebellion’s U.S.-based leadership soon began to worry that its U.K. operations were a distraction from much larger revenue opportunities with the Pentagon, two former employees told .

In late 2022, Lewis, with Rebellion COO Bob Daigle and another executive named Alex Burton, conceived of a new company that they hoped would preserve Rebellion’s U.K. mission in the face of looming cuts, by absorbing its U.K. contracts and London team, two sources with knowledge of their plans told .

Lewis approached an outside investor about the move, but when the board learned of his efforts to secure potential funding the project hit a wall, these sources added.

He left Rebellion in November 2022 along with Daigle and Burton.

Soon after, the company fired roughly half of its London office, according to multiple sources.

The details surrounding Lewis’ departure have not been previously reported.

Daigle and Burton didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Rebellion appears eager to close out its chapter with Lynch, who remains one of the company’s largest shareholders.

In a Dec. 18 announcing FitzGerald as its permanent CEO, the company noted that it had undergone “strategic restructuring” under interim CEO Barry Sowerwine, and had seen a fifty percent increase in annual revenue.

It currently employs about 100 people and an investor, who wished to remain anonymous, told that it has “multiple years” of runway at its current operation.

The U.S. Army a contract for Rebellion’s Nova product; government procurement records indicate the company received a $6 million payment as part of the contract.

Lynch, for his part, seems intent on remaining in the defense space, though it’s unclear how the veteran founder plans to reinvent himself.

“As for me, I am focused on what comes next and how our military utilizes technology to overmatch adversaries today and tomorrow,” he told .

“I can’t think of anything more important.”

Source: forbes

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