Attendees at the Viva Technology conference in Paris. It’s one of Europe’s largest tech shows.
PARIS — Now in its fourth year, the Viva Technology conference has become one of the largest tech trade shows in Europe. And it’s not been short on weird and wonderful innovations and gadgets.
This year’s event saw everything from robot helpers upon arrival to the Batmobile and air taxis. CNBC takes you through some of the coolest — and weirdest — things that featured at Viva Tech 2019.
A robot helper at the Viva Technology conference in Paris.
It wouldn’t be a major tech expo without a few robots. And Viva Tech was chock-full of them. As soon as you enter the Porte de Versaille venue, these mobile helper bots can be seen.
The robot seemed to be able to detect a person who was approaching or walking past it. Visitors that approached it were presented with a touch screen that they could interact with to find their away around.
VR camera drones
Camera-equipped drones that let you see what they record with a virtual reality headset on display at Viva Tech.
Drones also made an appearance at the event. A few by French energy firm Vinci Energies’ exhibition stand came equipped with cameras that people could see through, by using a virtual reality headset.
An electric air taxi developed by French firm HOVERTAXI makes a showing at the Viva Technology conference in Paris.
Air taxis are getting increasing publicity, not least because of companies like Uber deciding to get into that space. That was no secret at this year’s Viva Tech, where German start-up Lilium unveiled a prototype of its electric aircraft designed to take passengers for rides in the sky.
Another zero-emission air taxi made by French firm Hovertaxi, pictured above, could be seen on display on the upper floor of the conference venue.
An air purification robot roams the floor at France’s Viva Technology expo.
This robot, which was roaming around the conference floor, is designed with the environment in mind. Called Diya One X, it purifies the air as it wanders about a building, while managing to avoid bumping into visitors.
Developed by French start-up Partnering Robotics, CEO Ramesh Caussy explained at the firm’s stand that the device collects data that can help map out the quality of indoor air as well as humidity and lighting.
SoftBank’s humanoid robot Pepper features at the Viva Technology conference in Paris.
SoftBank’s Pepper is a four-foot-tall robot with a tablet screen attached to its chest. Chatting away with attendees, the humanoid machine is aimed at recognizing basic emotions and assisting people in different settings, such as health and retail.
When tapping a “Health” icon displayed on the screen, Pepper will ask if a visitor has a social security card. Say “no,” and it’ll take you through the process of applying for one.
The Batmobile making an appearance at the Viva Technology conference in Paris.
Last, but certainly not least: the Batmobile. It might seem a bit out of place at a trade show dedicated to tech and innovation, but there is a simple reason behind it’s inclusion.
The caped crusader’s famous vehicle was showcased at AT&T’s stand, the telecommunications giant having recently bought Time Warner, which owns the rights to DC Comics characters like Batman.
US-China trade, oil, currencies in focus
Stocks in Asia Pacific were set to trade mixed on Wednesday following developments on the U.S.-China trade front.
Futures pointed to a higher open for the Nikkei 225 in Japan, with the Nikkei futures contract in Chicago at 21,680, as compared to the index’s last close at 21,620.88.
Shares in Australia, on the other hand, were set to see opening declines. The SPI futures contract was at 6,691.0, as compared to the S&P/ASX 200’s last close at 6,724.60.
In corporate news, Japan’s Mitsubishi Motor is set to release its earnings for the first quarter later on Wednesday.
Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 177.29 points higher at 27,349.19, while the S&P 500 also gained 0.7% to finish its trading day at 3,005.47. The Nasdaq Composite added 0.6% to close at 8,251.40.
On the trade front, in-person trade negotiations between the U.S. and China will begin next week, sources told CNBC. They said White House officials are looking at a longer-term timeline.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is set to be the U.K.’s next prime minister after winning the ruling Conservative Party’s leadership race on Tuesday. Johnson has previously stated that the U.K. must leave the European Union by the October 31 deadline “do or die, come what may.”
The British pound last stood at $1.2432, after seeing a high of $1.248 yesterday.
“In our view, Johnson’s desire to push for Brexit, deal or no deal, increases the chance of an early general election and some possibly nasty GBP outcomes,” Rodrigo Catril, senior foreign exchange strategist at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.705 rising from levels below 97.5 yesterday.
The Japanese yen, widely viewed as a safe-haven currency, traded at 108.20 after weakening from levels below 108.0 yesterday. The Australian dollar was at $0.6993 after declining from levels above $0.702 in the previous session.
Here’s a look at some of the data set to be released in the day ahead:
- Hong Kong: NagaCorp earnings
- Japan: Leading index at 1:00 p.m. HK/SIN, Line earnings for the second quarter, Mitsubishi Motor earnings for the first quarter
— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.
Snap earnings Q2 2019
Snap shares surged more than 12% in after-hours trading on Tuesday after the app developer reported quarterly results that soared past analysts’ estimates.
The company, which is the maker of Snapchat, posted a slimmer-than-expected loss for the second quarter while exceeding expectations for user growth and revenue.
- Loss per share: 6 cents vs. 10 cents forecast by Refinitiv
- Revenue: $388 million vs. $359.7 million forecast by Refinitiv
- Global daily active users (DAUs): 203 million vs. 192.4 million forecast by FactSet
- ARPU: $1.91 vs. 1.84 forecast by Refinitiv
“The growth in our community, engagement, and revenue is the result of several transitions we completed over the past 18 months,” said Snap CEO Evan Spiegel in a statement. “We look forward to building on our momentum and making significant ongoing progress in each of these areas.”
Snap’s user base grew to 203 million daily active users. This was the second quarter in a row of growth for the company, which saw its user base shrink from 191 million daily users in the first quarter of 2018 to 188 million the following quarter.
The company reported revenue of $388 million for the second quarter, up 48% compared to a year prior. Notably, the company reported a gross margin of 46%, a vast increase from the 30% gross margin reported a year prior.
“We continue to make significant progress in driving down our underlying unit costs over time, including the cost to deliver a Snap, the cost to deliver an impression, and other key drivers of infrastructure costs,” said Snap Chief Financial Officer Derek Andersen in his prepared remarks.
After a rough 2018, Snap has bounced back in 2019. Its shares have rocketed more than 180% since hitting a record low of $4.99 on Dec. 21.
The stock climbed past $16.50 after the report. Should Snap’s stock open at this price on Wednesday it would be the highest since March 2018. The stock debuted at $17 in 2017.
The company said it expects third-quarter revenue of $410 million to $435 million, which is better than analysts expected. Snap also said it expects between 205 and 207 million daily users for the third quarter, ahead of the 195.5 million analysts expected, according to FactSet.
Snap’s turnaround has been driven by CEO Evan Spiegel’s decision to stop trying to attract all users and instead focus on the company’s core base of younger consumers. Advertisers have flocked to Snap largely because of its augmented reality technology, which has led to improved engagement with users by letting them experiment with selfies and group photos.
In 2019, Snap replicated the past success of its puppy face and rainbow lenses with a gender swap lens that showed users what they’d look like as a person of the opposite sex and a baby face lens that showed them as babies.
“The popularity of these Lenses drew millions of people into our rebuilt Android application, where they experienced the new and improved Snapchat that led to increased engagement,” Spiegel said in his prepared remarks to investors. “The enhancements we have made to our advertising business and self-serve platform meant that we were better able to monetize this increased engagement, leading to accelerating revenue growth.”
NSA says election trolls gaining traction
Nation-states are still active on social media and working to influence public opinion and create rancor, even as companies like Facebook and Twitter have tried to put controls on foreign trolls, said Anne Neuberger, lead investigator on election fraud for the National Security Agency on Tuesday.
Neuberger, speaking at the International Conference on Cybersecurity in New York said the continued increase in availability of cryptocurrencies combined with the emergence of comprehensive social media “influence packages” have given foreign actors new avenues of influence on popular platforms. Neuberger was also named to lead a new cybersecurity directorate established at the NSA on Tuesday.
The specifics on many social media influence packages are often hazy but they can include mentions by high-ranked influencers or the ability to purchase large numbers of fake followers.
Neuberger said the NSA has observed that “foreign adversaries” are today, like prior to 2016, “more focused on driving divisive issues, including inciting people against one another,” both at in-person events and online. Today’s trolls have similar goals to past ones, namely “Making people in a democratic nation question whether democracy is the best way” forward.
The NSA is taking a three-part approach to handling the continued onslaught of elections interference in advance of 2020. Neuberger said the NSA is doing the following:
- Ensuring the NSA maintains insights into attempts to influence upcoming elections, including partnerships with other countries that may be similarly effected.
- Finding new, better or more creative ways to share classified information with state and local entities, as well as technology companies that are involved in elections.
- Working with the FBI, on the influence side, to continue enforcing integrity of elections.
For 2020, Neuberger also said that while the cybersecurity agencies within the federal government are focused on election security, “a big part of that integrity is that each American … is ensuring we educate ourselves, and being aware of what we read online.”
On the voting equipment side, Chris Wlaschin, vice president of systems security for Election Systems & Software, one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of voting equipment, said his company and others have been working closely with the Department of Homeland Security and intelligence agencies to ready for upcoming elections.
He said the diversity of voting equipment throughout the country, given each state’s independence in making purchasing decisions and selecting equipment and methods, is a strength. That’s because the equipment is not interconnected, Wlaschin said, and elections systems today are unable to connect to the wider internet.
Wlaschin also said that he expects mobile voting technology to be adopted in the near future for states that are demanding the option, and that developers are focusing on security of this new technology. “We are working hard to support that,” he said.
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