Pawsthetics Is 3D Printed Parts for Pets | Crunch Report


Apple buys motions capture company Faceshift,
Zenefits may have let unlicensed agents sell insurance, help fund 3D printed wheels for
needy pets, and more… It’s Wednesday November 25th and this is Crunch
Report. Happy holidays everybody! Apple just bought
another company… it’s called Faceshift, and it’s a startup based in Zurich that makes
technology to create animated avatars and other figures that capture a person’s facial
expressions in real time. There were reports earlier this year that Apple might buy Faceshift,
and of course Apple had no comment on that, but TechCrunch has learned that several Faceshift
employees are now working for Apple out of Europe. So, why does Apple want this technology?
Gaming experiences, where avatars are already a big deal… and also film, where animation
technology can be expensive and take forever to render.. and there’s also this little nugget
– Faceshift’s technology was used in the latest Star Wars film to make non-human characters
more human-like in their expressions. That’s good company. Cloud HR platform Zenefits MAY have let salespeople
illegally act as insurance agents in at least seven states.. this is according to a Buzzfeed
report, which claims Zenefits let unlicensed brokers sell health insurance dating back
to 2014, which has led to at least one investigation in Washington state. Zenefits has actually
been here before, The Utah Insurance Department previously looked into claims that the startup
was illegally giving insurance software away for free. Regulators at the time said that
violated local laws and that it was unfair to traditional insurance brokers… although
the complaint was eventually thrown out. As for this latest report, Zenefits executives
may have known about the violations, and may also have gotten sales agents licensed in
the state only after learning of the insurance commission’s investigation. State records
show 22 agents became licensed brokers just days after news of the state inquiry surfaced.
Zenefits has since launched a “license management system” to help track which sales agents
are properly licensed. Today, Uber’s launching a way to let drivers
to receive and accept nearby ride requests while they’re still finishing their current
ride. So if the closest Uber still has someone in it, but could finish their trip and get
to you more quickly than an empty car that’s further away, you can still hail that closer
driver. The company confirmed that after limited testing, the feature is now rolling out globally.
For Uber, the quicker it gets people to their drop off point, the faster drivers get back
into the vehicle supply pool. With back-to-back rides, arrival times get even shorter. But
for drivers it’s even better. Back-to-back rides mean less money spent for gas and more
rides overall…so even though Uber isn’t paying them a higher cut, they still earn
more. With so many Uber drivers now on the road looking to make this a viable career,
that’s really Uber’s biggest challenge. We told you back in October about Google’s
plans to speed up web browsing on mobile devices… since that’s where everybody browses these
days… and the company says we’ll start seeing the results of the Accelerated Mobile
Page Project – or “AMP” project – early next year. Thousands of publishers have already
shown interest in having their pages optimized..CBS Interactive, Al Jazeera America, AOL.. plus
a variety of ad partners like Outbrain, OpenX, DoubleClick, too. The project was first compared
to Facebook’s Instant Articles – a competitor program of sorts that hosts publishers’
content in the News Feed with quicker load times and richer media options while consuming
less mobile data, which eases up on prices for customers. Google says its AMP developer
community has grown to over 4,500, and the Project’s GitHub page over 250 pull requests
– contributions of new code, samples, and documentation. Until it launches in 2016,
you can give it a try at g.co/ampdemo from your mobile device, and search for a news
term. Snappy snappy! And now, the feel good story you’ve been waiting
all 5 minutes for. TurboRoo, a little dog born without his front legs but given a new
chance thanks to 3D printed wheels, has some pretty awesome parents, who’ve announced a
project called “Pawsthetics” to help all different kinds of animals with special needs
who could benefit from 3D printed parts. Their Indiegogo campaign is looking to raise $50,000
which would cover projects, designing, and the end result which is the prosthetics themselves,
including a 3 Legged Dog cart, with versions for other animals like bunnies and lizards,
Leg braces, and little wound covers. Turbo’s family says they receive 1-2 new requests
a week from people with special needs pets who want to help, but don’t have their own
resources. Give a little if you can for the furry friends… ? That’s the report for today and the week.
I’m Sarah Lane. Crunch Report airs every weekday at 7 pm Eastern,
4 pm Pacific, on techcrunch.com. We are taking the rest of the week of to enjoy the Thanksgiving
holiday but we’ll see you on Monday. Until then, you can find us on iTunes and on YouTube
as well.

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