TechCrunch: Lyft wants to bring AR/VR to ride-hailing passengers

Lyft filed two patent applications that suggest the ride-hailing company is working on providing augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) experiences for …

Brief:

  • Lyft filed two patent applications that suggest the ride-hailing company is working on providing augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) experiences for passengers, TechCrunch reported. One patent, filed in July 2017, describes a “virtual reality transportation experience” that would respond to real-world surroundings and incidents like sudden stops and turns as people ride to their destination.
  • The VR experience would provide passengers with headsets to immerse themselves in a computer-generated environment that could offer games and entertainment. Those VR experiences could be shared with people in other cars or those waiting for a pickup.
  • Another patent filing detailed how AR, the technology that overlays digital images on a real background through a mobile device, could provide information to passengers in order to expedite the pickup and drop-off process based on traffic patterns and location. Lyft would use AR overlays to show customers information including ideal pickup locations based on the passenger’s immediate surroundings.

Insight:

Lyft’s patent filings from 18 months ago indicate that the ride-hailing company has thought ahead about how AR/VR technologies could one day become key parts of the transportation services provided to passengers. The patents are likely tied to Lyft’s acquisition of AR startup Blue Vision Labs last year. One service Blue Vision offers is collaborative AR tech to let people in close proximity view the same virtual content.

As the price of AR/VR headsets declines and software developers create more interactive experiences for the platforms, ride-hailing companies like Lyft will likely be in a better position to add such services to vehicles. Those services eventually may include features like interactive shopping and streaming media, as the technology evolves and consumers grow increasingly accustomed to virtual media. Last week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Carmaker Audi showed off a prototype VR entertainment system for cars that would let passengers play a video game that responds to the car’s actual movements.

Lyft and fierce rival Uber continue to battle for market share in the quickly expanding ride-hailing industry, driving the companies to seek fresh ways to boost loyalty among passengers. Both companies last year introduced loyalty programs that provide incentives for repeat usage. Uber’s program lets passengers earn points to exchange for rides and food orders from its Uber Eats delivery service, while Lyft plans to offer points to redeem for trip upgrades or access to more experienced drivers. Lyft’s latest patent applications suggest that innovative technology is a key part to its strategy to boost loyalty.

However, AR adoption by consumers hasn’t grown as fast as many had anticipated, leading to recent bankruptcy filings, asset sales and layoffs among developers of the technology. AR headset developer Meta this week sold its assets to an undisclosed buyer after earlier attempts to drum up financing fell through, Variety reported. Blippar last month announced it had entered administration, a U.K. form of bankruptcy, as part of being liquidated after an investor dispute. While tech company Magic Leap last year released an AR headset after years of development, it mostly received lackluster reviews from the tech press.

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Uber introduce 15p ‘clean air fee’ to London journeys

Ride-hailing app Uber has introduced a 15p ‘clean air’ surcharge to journeys in London. The company first announced the plans in October as part of …

Ride-hailing app Uber has introduced a 15p ‘clean air’ surcharge to journeys in London.

The company first announced the plans in October as part of their Clean Air Plan, with ‘every penny’ going to its drivers as an incentive to switch to cleaner vehicles. The new charges came into effect on Wednesday (January 16).

According to Uber, the surcharge means that drivers using the app for around 40 hours per week could expect around £3,000 of support towards an EV in two years’ time and £4,500 in three years.

The app provider has an aim that all cars registered on the app will be fully electric in London by 2025. It anticipates that the first 20,000 drivers upgrading to electric vehicles to have completed the shift by the end of 2021.

The Uber app is used by an estimated 3.5 million people every year for journeys across the capital, with around 50,000 drivers registered upon the platform.

Uber has also pledged to work with charging point providers including BP ChargeMaster, EO Charging, EVBox, Franklin Energy, NewMotion, Pod Point and Swarco EVolt to assist drivers in installing home charging points to plug in their vehicles.

Another element of Uber’s Clean Air Plan is a diesel scrappage scheme aimed at removing 1,000 of the most polluting cars from London’s roads which will also launch this year. The first 1,000 people in London to scrap a pre-Euro 4 diesel vehicle and provide an official scrappage certificate will receive up to £1,500 of credit to spend on Uber or uberPOOL rides.

In December Uber commissioned a report that said a widespread take-up of shared e-bikes in London could reduce CO2 emissions by 184 tonnes a day. The tech giant recently acquired bike sharing app JUMP.

Speaking in October, Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, said: ‘The Mayor of London has set out a bold vision to tackle air pollution in the capital and we’re determined to do everything we can to back it.

‘Our £200m Clean Air Plan is a long-term investment in the future of London aimed at going all electric in the capital in 2025.

‘Over time, it’s our goal to help people replace their car with their phone by offering a range of mobility options – whether cars, bikes, scooters or public transport – all in the Uber app.’

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VVN (Safe Traffic Netherlands) wants to ban Uber after 4 lethal accidents in 6 weeks

Since Uber drivers enjoy less strict rules than taxi drivers who are connected to a regular taxi company. The traffic club wants the rules to apply to Uber …

VVN (Safe Traffic Netherlands) wants to ban Uber after 4 lethal accidents in 6 weeks

13:20 January 18, 2019

This article will take you 1 minute(s) to read

As reported by the folks at Telegraaf.nl, Safe Traffic Netherlands advocates for Uber ban in Amsterdam after a series of fatal accidents. In a span of six weeks time, four people were killed by accidents involving a Uber taxi.

Recently, a 9-year-old girl was seriously injured in a hit-and-run in Amsterdam on Thursday. Having said that, the driver turned himself into the police later that day. As per the report, the accident happened at the intersection of Admiraal de Ruijterweg and Jan van Galenstraat.

Since Uber drivers enjoy less strict rules than taxi drivers who are connected to a regular taxi company. The traffic club wants the rules to apply to Uber drivers as well hereafter.

In a statement to De Telegraaf, VVN spokesman Staphorst, said, “The fact that Uber drivers have to drive at very competitive prices leads to irresponsible driving behaviour.”

He also added, “These drivers are paid at very competitive prices per ride and they have to drive a lot to make a little money. That translates into fast and irresponsible driving behaviour.”

The Amsterdam traffic alder Sharon Dijksma says that Uber has already taken measures to ensure that drivers are no longer than a certain number of hours behind the wheel. She also added, “In the coming months I will stay in conversation with Uber but also with the other taxi branch because reckless behaviour also takes place with authorized taxi drivers.”

Photo: Shutterstock/By MikeDotta

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Uber, Lyft, Airbnb: Unicorn IPOs are coming in 2019

2019 is set to be an exciting year for IPOs. Some of the biggest floats in history are planned over the coming months. But the problem with IPOs is that …

2019 is set to be an exciting year for IPOs. Some of the biggest floats in history are planned over the coming months. But the problem with IPOs is that the excitement wanes quickly, as 2018 proved. Here’s a look at some of the most hotly anticipated stock market debuts planned for 2019 and the risks they face.

Uber

Ride hailing start-up Uber is set to hold one of the biggest initial public offerings in history this year. Analysts expect Uber to raise $20 billion when shares go on sale; it’s certainly achievable, considering the company managed to raise $20 billion through private funding recently. If the forecasts prove correct, Uber will have a market valuation in excess of $120 billion.

There’s a lot to like about Uber from the point of view of potential investors. The company dominates the domestic market, with a share of around 70% in the US. It has a presence in 70 foreign countries, and has applied its business model to focus on takeaway delivery and freight.

On top of this, Uber continues to innovate; the company is currently developing self-driving cars, and is even working on flying taxis.

Lyft

Uber’s main rival in the ride-hailing space, Lyft was the first of the two to confidentially submit its IPO filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company was valued at $15 billion in a private funding round in June and a source told Reuters the IPO may see that rise to up to $30 billion.

Uber may have the upper hand in terms of market share (70% to Lyft’s 30%), but Lyft is growing more rapidly. It is focussed only on the US and Canada, compared to Uber’s more global appeal.

Airbnb

Unlike Uber and Lyft, Airbnb will be able to go public as a profitable company – at least on EBITDA terms.

The company’s earnings before deductions topped $1 billion in the 3rd quarter of 2018, with CNBC reporting that Airbnb made $100 million profit on $2.6 billion revenue in 2017 and was heading for another year in the black. The company has otherwise kept its financials a closely-guarded secret.

Airbnb is valued at around $31 billion and had been considering a public offering in 2018, but the departure of chief financial officer Laurence Tosi in February and the struggle to find a replacement put a stop to those plans.

Pinterest

Visual search engine and image-sharing social network Pinterest could go public as soon as April. The company was valued at $12 billion in mid-2017 when it held its last private fundraising event, and has to-date raised almost $1.5 billion from its key stakeholders.

Pinterest’s image-based network has become a key tool for brands and the network has integrated several features that allow users to buy products they find directly in the platform. Active monthly users topped 250 million at the end of 2018, up 50 million year-on-year.

US government shutdown: a unique risk for 2019 IPO dreams

The US government is in the middle of an unprecedented shutdown, which poses a serious risk for IPO hopes. Without funding the US Securities and Exchange Commission is temporarily out of action, stalling progress on any IPO filings that have already been submitted.

Companies are still able to file for an IPO through the EDGAR system, and 160 companies have already done so for 2019. However, until the shutdown is over, there is no one to review the filings, leaving companies in limbo.

A lesson from 2018: the risks of IPO

IPOs offer investors the chance to grab a slice of exciting company, with hopefully a long future of growth ahead of it. Getting on board with the right stock can be highly lucrative, as people who bought Facebook or Netflix on their IPOs can attest.

But an IPO can also make a business seem more glamorous, and investors have to be braced for disappointment from the moment plans for an offering are announced.

One of the biggest risks is overvaluation. 2018 saw several high-profile IPOs debut with the stock price far below that originally targeted by the company in question. Sonos was initially expected to offer shares at around $18, but instead went public at $15. Aston Martin eventually went public at the bottom of its price range, £19, rather than asking for £22.50 per share.

So, while analysts think Uber may be looking for a valuation over $120 billion, the actual number could be significantly lower when the company announces its price range, and lower still when it floats.

The other main risk is that the gains traditionally seen on IPO day can quickly evaporate, leaving the new stock wallowing far below its initial offer price.

Aston Martin is particularly good example of the woes companies can face when they go public. The carmaker was hoping that there was still high demand for luxury carmakers following 2015’s Ferrari IPO in New York. However, shares fell on the first day of trading after a small bump, and the stock currently trades over 20% below its offer price.

Spotify is currently trending 11% below its IPO price, while Snap Inc is a staggering 67% lower than when shares first started trading.

The big question for 2019’s hottest floats is not whether they will generate excitement at IPO, but whether investor interest will remain in the long term.

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Uber, Lyft, Airbnb: Unicorn IPOs are coming in 2019

2019 is set to be an exciting year for IPOs. Some of the biggest floats in history are planned over the coming months. But the problem with IPOs is that …

2019 is set to be an exciting year for IPOs. Some of the biggest floats in history are planned over the coming months. But the problem with IPOs is that the excitement wanes quickly, as 2018 proved. Here’s a look at some of the most hotly anticipated stock market debuts planned for 2019 and the risks they face.

Uber

Ride hailing start-up Uber is set to hold one of the biggest initial public offerings in history this year. Analysts expect Uber to raise $20 billion when shares go on sale; it’s certainly achievable, considering the company managed to raise $20 billion through private funding recently. If the forecasts prove correct, Uber will have a market valuation in excess of $120 billion.

There’s a lot to like about Uber from the point of view of potential investors. The company dominates the domestic market, with a share of around 70% in the US. It has a presence in 70 foreign countries, and has applied its business model to focus on takeaway delivery and freight.

On top of this, Uber continues to innovate; the company is currently developing self-driving cars, and is even working on flying taxis.

Lyft

Uber’s main rival in the ride-hailing space, Lyft was the first of the two to confidentially submit its IPO filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company was valued at $15 billion in a private funding round in June and a source told Reuters the IPO may see that rise to up to $30 billion.

Uber may have the upper hand in terms of market share (70% to Lyft’s 30%), but Lyft is growing more rapidly. It is focussed only on the US and Canada, compared to Uber’s more global appeal.

Airbnb

Unlike Uber and Lyft, Airbnb will be able to go public as a profitable company – at least on EBITDA terms.

The company’s earnings before deductions topped $1 billion in the 3rd quarter of 2018, with CNBC reporting that Airbnb made $100 million profit on $2.6 billion revenue in 2017 and was heading for another year in the black. The company has otherwise kept its financials a closely-guarded secret.

Airbnb is valued at around $31 billion and had been considering a public offering in 2018, but the departure of chief financial officer Laurence Tosi in February and the struggle to find a replacement put a stop to those plans.

Pinterest

Visual search engine and image-sharing social network Pinterest could go public as soon as April. The company was valued at $12 billion in mid-2017 when it held its last private fundraising event, and has to-date raised almost $1.5 billion from its key stakeholders.

Pinterest’s image-based network has become a key tool for brands and the network has integrated several features that allow users to buy products they find directly in the platform. Active monthly users topped 250 million at the end of 2018, up 50 million year-on-year.

US government shutdown: a unique risk for 2019 IPO dreams

The US government is in the middle of an unprecedented shutdown, which poses a serious risk for IPO hopes. Without funding the US Securities and Exchange Commission is temporarily out of action, stalling progress on any IPO filings that have already been submitted.

Companies are still able to file for an IPO through the EDGAR system, and 160 companies have already done so for 2019. However, until the shutdown is over, there is no one to review the filings, leaving companies in limbo.

A lesson from 2018: the risks of IPO

IPOs offer investors the chance to grab a slice of exciting company, with hopefully a long future of growth ahead of it. Getting on board with the right stock can be highly lucrative, as people who bought Facebook or Netflix on their IPOs can attest.

But an IPO can also make a business seem more glamorous, and investors have to be braced for disappointment from the moment plans for an offering are announced.

One of the biggest risks is overvaluation. 2018 saw several high-profile IPOs debut with the stock price far below that originally targeted by the company in question. Sonos was initially expected to offer shares at around $18, but instead went public at $15. Aston Martin eventually went public at the bottom of its price range, £19, rather than asking for £22.50 per share.

So, while analysts think Uber may be looking for a valuation over $120 billion, the actual number could be significantly lower when the company announces its price range, and lower still when it floats.

The other main risk is that the gains traditionally seen on IPO day can quickly evaporate, leaving the new stock wallowing far below its initial offer price.

Aston Martin is particularly good example of the woes companies can face when they go public. The carmaker was hoping that there was still high demand for luxury carmakers following 2015’s Ferrari IPO in New York. However, shares fell on the first day of trading after a small bump, and the stock currently trades over 20% below its offer price.

Spotify is currently trending 11% below its IPO price, while Snap Inc is a staggering 67% lower than when shares first started trading.

The big question for 2019’s hottest floats is not whether they will generate excitement at IPO, but whether investor interest will remain in the long term.

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