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A Legally Blind Founder's Mind-Controlled Zooming Device

The Beat is Back Having trouble viewing this email? Click here.
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Tag in, tag out. Billy's back from an out-of-town wedding, complete with an Elvis (sorta) in the flesh, but Brent's out, getting some R&R. 

Monday waits for no one though, so let's hit the Beat.

Billy: When Google Glass burst onto the scene in 2013, it was met with mixed reviews. It was the first time people could record video from their faces, take pictures and generally capture both the benign and significant of everyday life. People weren't big fans, calling those who sported it glassholes, but in reality it may have been too soon.

With cottage industries built around taking selfies and almost the entire population possessing a high-res camera with a few swipes of their phone, the expectation of privacy bar has been lowered a bit.

What does that have to do with anything? Well, Snap Inc. (formerly Snapchat) revealed their new Spectacles, and they're being met with quite a bit of fanfare. The not-as-ugly glasses can record up to 10 seconds of video with a touch of a button and have LED lights that show when they're recording.

Sure, it's just a few seconds of video, but Spectacles could beat out Google Glass for a couple of reasons. First, they're about 10X cheaper, coming in at ~$130. Second, they're going straight to end users so you won't see snooty devs wearing Google Glass talking about how awesome it is (and they are) while you don't stand a chance of ever getting one. Third, the way they're distributing it is amazing.

The company has exclusive vending machines, called Snapbots, that move around after 24 hours and are pretty dang simple to use. You can select which of the three colors you'd like to virtually try on using the camera and screen built into the machine. Finding one itself is an experience, and if you stumble upon one and have the chance of being one of the very first people to get your hands on this technology, chances are you're gonna fork over the money.

Does a new hardware product and a kickass product launch warrant a $25B valuation for an IPO? We'll see what the market thinks. But is this an exciting and innovative way to get more people to buy into wearables? Absolutely.

Billy: ArtCraft Entertainment, an Austin-based gaming company raised $611K, according to a filing. The company is behind the MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game Crowfall. They've also raised a bunch of funding through their site, with users and fans paying for specific builds and features.

And in the medical tech space, Ortho Kinematics brought in $6.5M. The company creates an x-ray machine that lets doctors measure spines in real-time. Instead of using static images to assess spine health, doctors can use Ortho Kinematics to detect lumbar instability.

Billy: Tonight, be sure to check out Pitch Black at Galvanize to see pitches from black founders, businesses and non-profits. The event is going to be emceed by Mikaila Ulmer, CEO of Me & The Bees, Shark Tank participant and most impressively, 11-year old. The event kicks off at 6 p.m. and features a founder I got to meet a few months ago at Urban Co-Lab's Diversity in Tech Reception.

Zuby Onwuta is a former IBM engineer whose company, ThinkAndZoom, has built hardware and a simple app that lets users free a bird from a cage by thinking about it. The device looks like headphones that slipped down your head a bit but helps the visually impaired concentrate on an object and zoom in using Google Glass or similar devices. 

Onwuta, who is originally from Nigeria, was declared legally blind in 1998 and was medically discharged from the U.S. Military, cutting short his aspirations to practice medicine. He returned to school at University of Illinois Chicago to study computer engineering and nearly flunked out after his 3rd year due to visual difficulties. After working at IBM for two years, he left to study at the Criss Cole School for the Blind in Austin before returning to IBM. His visual challenges continued, leading him to come up with ThinkAndZoom.

Onwuta is pitching at Pitch Black tonight, so be sure check out our Inno-Approved events post to learn more.

Billy: I'll take "Things I thought I'd never hear in my entire life" for $200, Alex.

"Answer: Next fall we expect to see dispensaries in the state of Texas."

That's according to Marijuana Policy Project Texas political director Heather Fazio in an interview with KXAN talking about medicinal marijuana laws. While Tuesday's elections were overshadowed by Trump's victory, many states passed laws decriminalizing marijuana and even approving it for recreational use, like Massachusetts.

And while it seemed extremely unlikely five years ago, here's my take: Texas will pass it recreationally. I'm thinking it passes (maybe not this session but the next) if you look at it as a resource play -- and if Texas businesses know anything about anything, it's how to build an entire industry around a single resource, like oil.

Texas has a ton of land, farming and infrastructure expertise and considering that Colorado made $44M in tax revenue, that money could be enticing when you're the only state not on the pot train. From a business standpoint, it makes sense. From an "f the fed" standpoint, it also makes sense. From a temperance standpoint however, not so much.

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