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At-home blood testing startup Baze rakes in $6 million from Nature’s Way – TechCrunch

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By now, the venture world is wary of blood testing startups offering health data from just a few drops of blood. However, Baze, a Swiss-based personal nutrition startup providing blood tests you can do in the convenience of your own home, collects just a smidgen of your sanguine fluid through an MIT manufactured device, which, according to the company, is in accordance with FDA regulations.

The idea is to find out (via your blood sample) which vitamins you’re missing out on and are keeping you from living your best life. That seems to resonate with folks who don’t want to go into the doctor’s office and separately head to their nearest lab for testing.

Most health professionals would agree it’s important to know if you are getting the right amount of nutrition — Vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide epidemic affecting calcium absorption, hormone regulation, energy levels and muscle weakness. An estimated 74% of the U.S. population does not get the required daily levels of Vitamin D.

“There are definitely widespread deficiencies across the population,” Baze CEO and founder Philipp Schulte tells TechCrunch. “[With the blood test] we see that we can actually close those gaps for the first time ever in the supplement industry.”

While we don’t know exactly how many people have tried out Baze just yet, Schulte says the company has seen 40% month-over-month new subscriber growth.

That has garnered the attention of supplement company Nature’s Way, which has partnered with the company and just added $6 million to the coffers to help Baze ramp up marketing efforts in the U.S.

I had the opportunity to try out the test myself. It’s pretty simple to do. You just open up a little pear-shaped device, pop it on your arm and then press it to engage and get it to start collecting your blood. After it’s done, plop it in the provided medical packaging and ship it off to a Baze-contracted lab.

I will say it is certainly more convenient to just pop on a little device myself — although it might be tricky if you’re at all squeamish, as you’ll see a little bubble where the blood is being sucked from your arm. For anyone who hesitates, it might be easier to just head to a lab and have another human do this for you.

The price is also nice, compared to going to a Quest Diagnostics or LabCorp, which can vary depending on which vitamins you need to test for individually. With Baze it’s just $100 a pop, plus any additional supplements you might want to buy via monthly subscription after you get your results. The first month of supplements is free with your kit.

Baze’s website will show your results within about 12 days (though Schulte tells TechCrunch the company is working on getting your results faster). It does so with a score and then displays a range of various vitamins tested.

I was told that, overall, I was getting the nutrients I require with a score of 74 out of 100. But I’m already pretty good at taking high-quality vitamins. The only thing that really stuck out was my zinc levels, which I was told was way off the charts high after running the test through twice. Though I suspect, as I am not displaying any symptoms of zinc poisoning, this was likely the result of not wiping off my zinc-based sunscreen well enough before the test began.

For those interested in conducting their own at-home test and not afraid to prick themselves in the arm with something that looks like you might have it on hand in the kitchen, you can do so by heading over to Baze and signing up.



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LG enters fray with Google, Amazon, Roku for TV operating system dominance

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LG has announced that it will begin licensing its webOS TV software for use by other TV manufacturers. That will put webOS in direct competition with other platforms in use across TV brands, such as alternatives from Roku, Amazon, and Google.

LG says “over 20 TV manufacturers” have “committed to the webOS partnership” and names RCA, Ayonz, and Konka as examples. They’ll ship the OS in their TVs and, in so doing, gain access to voice control features, LG’s AI algorithms, and a fairly robust library of already built streaming apps like Netflix, YouTube, or Disney+.

For smaller manufacturers, this is more cost-effective than developing these features on their own or lobbying companies like Netflix or Disney to support new platforms.

At the annual Consumer Electronics Show this January, LG announced webOS 6, a major revamp of the interface that adopts a design language that more closely resembles what’s found in most other TV operating systems. However, licensees of webOS will at least for now be limited to an earlier version of webOS which has the old interface.

In addition to any licensing fees, LG will be able to leverage this larger install base to profit from a more robust advertising network and from larger-scale user data collection. The company will also put its LG Channels content operation on more TVs. Further, LG has bigger ambitions for webOS than just TVs, so this move aids the company’s efforts to make webOS more ubiquitous as the software expands into cars, home appliances, and other products.

Users may balk at the advertising and data collection, but there is one upside for them: a larger install base for webOS will likely lead to more frequently updated, higher-quality apps from content companies.

As is the custom, this announcement came with a published statement from a prominent executive at the company—in this case, LG Home Entertainment President Park Hyoung-sei, who said:

The webOS platform is one of the easiest and most convenient way to access millions of hours of movies and TV shows… By welcoming other manufacturers to join the webOS TV ecosystem, we are embarking on a new path that allows many new TV owners to experience the same great UX and features that are available on LG TVs. We look forward to bringing these new customers into the incredible world of webOS TV.

webOS for TVs as we currently know it dates back to 2014, and reviewers and users have admittedly responded well to it because it’s one of the nicer-to-use TV operating systems. Part of its ease of use stems from the Wii remote-like magic remote that comes with LG TVs; LG’s press release says that partners who license webOS will ship TVs with similar remotes.

LG previously released an open source version of webOS in 2018, and Samsung announced plans to make its Tizen TV OS available for licensing by other TV manufacturers back in 2019. But a year and a half later, we haven’t heard anything more concrete about the latter.

Listing image by LG

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Google Maps for Android officially gets dark mode support

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Google Maps has finally decided to support dark mode on Android 539 days after it officially launched Android 10. Google’s latest blog post says that dark mode in Google Maps is “soon expanding to all Android users globally,” making the feature official after lots of public experiments.

Google’s uneven rollout strategy makes it hard to nail down when any feature officially “launches.” Some users have had dark mode for a while, though, through various experiments and early rollouts. Google has been teasing a dark mode for Google Maps since October 2019, and experimental rollouts hit some users in September 2020. Google Maps has also been showing a dark-colored map in navigation mode for some time, but that’s not the same thing as a comprehensive dark mode for all the UI elements.

If Google Maps is following Android’s best practices, the UI should automatically switch over to the dark theme if your system settings have dark mode enabled. Google says you’ll also be able to find a new “theme” section in the Google Maps settings, where you can toggle the feature manually. The Google Maps dark mode that has been floating around for a while has been on a server-side switch. The code is already on your device, so there’s no version we can point to that will enable dark mode; you just have to wait for Google to flag your account.

With Google Maps finally on the dark mode train, that should cover all of Google’s major apps. The Play Store, Gmail, Google Assistant, Chrome, Calendar, Drive, Photos, and YouTube all support dark mode.

Listing image by Google

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Lenovo updates ThinkPad lineup with 16:10 screens and more

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Today, Lenovo announced a broad overhaul of its ThinkPad laptop lineup, led by the popular X13 and X13 Yoga.

Lenovo has added many features previously seen in its X1 Nano model to various other laptops across the ThinkPad line. Among those is a continuing shift to 16:10 displays, which most productivity users will greatly appreciate compared to the more media-focused 16:9 aspect ratio found in recent prior models.

There’s also human-presence detection; the laptops use a radar sensor to detect when you’re sitting down in front of them, and they wake up accordingly. And of course, like so many similar laptops in this day and age, you can get these machines with fingerprint readers built into the power buttons now.

As for specs, CPU options for the X13 and X13 Yoga include Tiger Lake (11th Gen) Intel Core chips with optional vPro, plus AMD Ryzen 5000 options. A big focus of this refresh is bridging the previously existing gap in features between the Intel and AMD configurations, now that interest is particularly high in AMD’s processors. We’re not 100 percent to parity, but we’re closer than before.

The X13 and X13 Yoga have 13.3-inch displays at either 1920×1200 or 2560×1600, Finally, the redesign includes wider touchpads, Wi-Fi 6E, and in the X13 only, optional sub-6 5G support.

Lenovo also overhauled the T-series lineup. The new T-series laptops still have 16:9 displays, though that admittedly makes a bit more sense for laptops that offer 4K Dolby Vision display configurations, discrete graphics, and other specs and features oriented around media consumption.

The T14 and T14s have 14-inch displays, and the 15 has a 15.6-inch display. CPU options offer 11th-Gen Core i7 CPUs (also with vPro options) or, alternatively, AMD Ryzen 5000 Pro. Intel versions of various new Thinkpad laptops have an “i” after the name—as in, Lenovo ThinkPad T14 i. The AMD versions don’t.

Across the T series lineup, you’ll find Wi-Fi 6 or 6E, 4G and 5G configurations, and FullHD webcams—though many features are optional or not default when you configure the devices. Here are the starting prices and availability dates for each of the T and X series laptops:

Model Availability Starting price
ThinkPad T14s i March 2021 $1,499
ThinkPad T14s May 2021 $1,279
ThinkPad T14 i March 2021 $1,379
ThinkPad T14 May 2021 $1,159
ThinkPad T15 March 2021 $1,379
ThinkPad X13 Yoga April 2021 $1,379
ThinkPad X13 i March 2021 $1,299
ThinkPad X13 May 2021 $1,139

Other updated products include the L14, L15, and PL14s, as well as a new monitor carrying the P40w label. If you’re interested in those models, you can learn more at Lenovo’s website.

Listing image by Lenovo

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