NASA’s Curiosity rover team is exploring Mars from home

Redefining the meaning of remote operations



People across the world are adapting to the work-from-home model due to the Coronavirus pandemic, including the team running NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. Well, we can’t say they’ve shifted to working remotely since the rover is inherently designed to work remotely.

But the difference now is, instead of being run from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, it’s now decentralized and scientists are running it from their home.

On March 20, the rover’s operations were timelined while the entire team worked remotely. Two days later, the instructions they had sent to Mars executed as expected, resulting in Curiosity drilling a rock sample at a location called “Edinburgh.”

For many of us, driving is a herculean task. Now imagine, driving a robot on a completely different planet where the terrain is unknown and any mistake could cost hundreds of millions of dollars as well as years of research. The space agency has revealed how its team is managing the robot from a work-from-home model.

“We’re usually all in one room, sharing screens, images, and data,” said team lead Alicia Allbaugh. She further added “I probably monitor about 15 chat channels at all times,” she said. “You’re juggling more than you normally would.”

Previously tasks that were accomplished on high-end workstations are now being done on laptops and web services. They also shifted to simple red-blue 3-D glasses that work well for planning drives and arm movements instead of the specialized googles at the lab

Curiosity launched in November 2011 and landed on Mars in August 2012. It is part of the four rovers NASA has sent to reveal new discoveries on Mars since 1997.


XTREME to launch new appliances and open more stores

Also plans to open 20 stores by end of 2020



XTREME — a Philippine home appliance brand — is going big this year. For 2020, the brand is expanding its portfolio of appliances. To mark the expansion, the brand also aims to open 20 more stores nationwide before the year ends.

Aggressive expansion plans

With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, most businesses are slowing down with their plans to expand. However, that is not the case for XTREME. The brand has been aggressively marketing its appliances through a series of promos on Lazada and Shopee.

Now, the brand is planning to expand even further by opening new stores nationwide. By the end of 2020, 20 concept stores will serve more buyers looking for affordable appliances. That is a huge jump from today’s five stores nationwide. However, it doesn’t stop there. The brand is actually targeting to open 50 to 60 stores by the end of Q1 2021.

With store expansion comes brand-new products from the brand. These new products will solidify the brand’s lineup of affordable home appliances. These include Android TVs, tower fans, baking ovens, rangehood, dishwashers, air fryers, pressure cookers, and air coolers. Some of XTREME’s product lineup has also received meaningful updates.

Appliances for everyone

XTREME really has a wide range of appliances for every Filipino buyer. The brand has managed to build on their products by selling them at affordable prices. Their product portfolio ranges from LED TVs to speakers, air conditioners, refrigerators, gas ranges, microwave ovens, multi-cookers, and electric fans.

All these appliances are available on all XTREME concept stores nationwide. For those who prefer to shop online, the brand has a Lazada and Shopee store as well. All product information is easily accessible from their website, so buyers have a clear idea of what they’re buying.

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Tencent will open its Asia hub in Singapore following India, US ban

They’re betting on ASEAN



Tencent Singapore

Chinese gaming, payment, and communication giant Tencent has announced it will pen a new office in Singapore. It will serve as the company’s regional hub for Southeast Asia. Rivals like Alibaba and ByteDance have also selected Singapore as their regional hub.

Tencent already has offices in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. With a centrally located Singapore office, the company can seamlessly manage all ASEAN operations.

The announcement also proves Tencent’s long-term ambitions and thirst for growth. It has made a massive investment in developing markets and despite the ongoing political instability between the US and China, it’s bullish about its future prospects.

Games like Arena of Valor, PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty: Mobile, CrossFire, and more rule the gaming market of Asia. All these titles are directly or indirectly managed or distributed by Tencent via a complex web of companies and subsidiaries.

“The Singapore office will also enable us to capture potential from the rapid pace of digitization and meet the demand for internet-based services and solutions in Singapore,” the company said in a statement.

Chinese companies are also facing hostility in the US and have shifted their focus in the recent future. The high-stakes sale of TikTok’s US operations and the ban on Huawei has severely hit Chinese investors and they’re reluctant of a commitment right now.

TikTok’s parent ByteDance is also planning to make Singapore its hub for the Asian region. According to a report, the company could spend billions and add hundreds of jobs over the next three years. The company has also applied for a digital banking license.

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Nvidia to buy chip designer Arm for $40 billion

Pending regulatory approval



Nvidia has confirmed it’ll be acquiring chip designer Arm for US$ 40 billion from SoftBank. The chip designer will continue to be based out of the UK and operate as a division of Nvidia. Most importantly, Arm will continue to run its licensing model and service all clients neutrally.

Arm was acquired by SoftBank just four years ago for US$ 32 billion. The company has taken a massive blow amid the Coronavirus pandemic and its prime investments like Uber, WeWork, and OYO have become an instant liability. Raising cash is a priority right now.

For Nvidia, the timing couldn’t be better. The pandemic has boosted the demand for gaming, indirectly improving the sale of graphics cards and other components. The company projected about 46 percent growth in revenue for the third quarter in its last earnings report.

According to the deal, Nvidia will pay SoftBank US$ 21.5 billion in shares, US$ 12 billion in cash, and US$ 2 billion on a signing. On the other hand, SoftBank’s Vision Fund will acquire a stake of 6.7 percent and 8.1 percent in Arm and Nvidia, respectively.

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said that Arm’s global clients will not be affected and Nvidia’s intellectual property will also be available for licensing.

However, many experts are concerned the deal will have a hard time getting a nod from regulators due to monopolization. Arm practically controls the modern computing landscape and its architectural design can be found in every modern smartphone, whether it’s Android or iOS. The deal is pending approval from the UK, US, as well as China.

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