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Five Coolest Things in Business This Week: 12 October 2018

Business · 4 min read

5 Coolest things in business this week

A US startup is helping to promote women in the tech industry, while Canada is expecting a major marijuana windfall. Here is our rundown of the five most exciting ideas coming out of the business world this week:

Advancing women in tech

The technology sector may be one of the most forward thinking industries in the business world, but it is still one largely dominated by men, particularly when it comes to the largest companies. US startup The Wing is aiming to bring more equality to the tech world with its women-focused shared workspaces. Its newest office, which opened in San Francisco this week, features state-of-the-art conference facilities, a cafe, a library with feminist literature, and a lactation room. They also host events with leading women in politics and business, including Hillary Clinton and Jennifer Lawrence. The Wing takes its aims seriously - the entire space was designed by female architects and features a majority female staff - and it has paid off. The company has raised over $40 million from investors to date, and plans to open another location in Los Angeles next year.

A different kind of smart shopping

Walmart may soon be taking the science of shopping to an entirely new level - that’s according to a patent filed by the retail giant that made the rounds in the media this week. The company is designing an internet-connected “biometric feedback” handle for its shopping carts. The device will be able to track shoppers’ heart rates, body temperature, grip and walking speeds, with the aim of measuring how people react to different stores. Additionally, Walmart says the device could alert its staff to customers in need of shopping help or even medical assistance. Ultimately, this kind of biometric data could provide invaluable insight into store planning, customer service, and shopping trends.

Move over Alexa

Facebook entered the AI-powered virtual assistant market this week with the launch of its Portal device. Unlike similar products from Amazon and Google, Portal is faithful to its social media roots and is centered around its group video chat feature. The device boasts a widescreen display, a smart camera capable of panning and zooming, and a four microphone-array that captures 360 degrees of sound. It even allows users to share their music and video playing in real time, making the experience “ feel less like a call, and more like you’re actually in the same room.” With the smart speaker market expected to double in value to nearly $30 billion by 2022, it seems Facebook picked a good time to unveil its first ever physical device.

Weed windfall

Canada’s newly-passed law legalizing marijuana goes into effect next week, and the country is expecting a major financial windfall. Canadians last year are estimated to have spent roughly $6 billion on cannabis-related products, and that was before it was legal. State governments in the neighboring United States have already seen huge financial gains from marijuana legalization - Nevada, for instance, made $70 million in taxes during the last fiscal year, 40 percent more than was expected. Canada, however, is the first G7 country to legalize it nationwide. But it’s not just the tax revenue - marijuana growers and sellers have countless jobs to fill and profits are projected to pour in. Investors are clamoring to get a piece of the pie as well. Canada’s success with legalization on October 17 could well serve as a model for other countries sure to follow in marijuana legalization.

Expanding care for those in need

Advancements are made almost every day in the field of medicine, but for many people in under-served parts of the world, access to even the most basic healthcare can be difficult. European-based Medical startup Ada Health has created an AI-powered app that lets users perform quick medical checkups and offers advice. Now a new Gates Foundation-backed initiative launched this week is aiming to help deliver it to millions of people in Africa, Asia and South America with limited care access. Experts will also be able to collect valuable information for understanding the treatment and spread of diseases in vulnerable areas. The initiative is a shining example of how regions with the resources to foster technological advancement can share their innovations with those that need it most.

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