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U.S. House passes revised bill to ban TikTok or force sale | TechCrunch


The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill this afternoon that would require TikTok-owner ByteDance to sell the popular social media app or see it banned in the United States.

Efforts to ban TikTok go back to the Trump Administration, but the issue has been revived in recent months. The House already passed a similar bill in March — a bill that the Senate showed little interest in taking up. This new version expands the window for ByteDance to sell TikTok to nine months (compared to six months in the previous bill), as well as giving the president ability to grant a single, additional 90-day extension.

It sounds like the change has satisfied some Senate skeptics. Senate Commerce chair Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) told reporters Thursday that she’d suggested the extension, as it “assures that divestiture will more likely happen.”

The new bill was passed 360-58, with strong support from a majority of both Republicans and Democrats. It’s part of a larger package that includes foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, and was likely included as a way for House Speaker Mike Johnson to attract more conservative support.

The Senate could take up the package this coming week, and President Joe Biden has said he supports the bill and will sign it. If that happens, TikTok is expected to challenge the bill in court.

Biden’s administration has been briefing lawmakers on what it says are the national security threats posed by the app — both as a source of data on American users for the Chinese government, and as a channel for that same government to push propaganda to Americans. On the other side of the aisle, House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) described the app today as “a spy balloon in Americans’ phones” used to “surveil and exploit America’s personal information.”

When it became clear a TikTok bill was back on the table earlier this week, the company posted a statement arguing that the House is “using the cover of important foreign and humanitarian assistance to once again jam through a ban bill that would trample the free speech rights of 170 million Americans, devastate 7 million businesses, and shutter a platform.”

Civil liberties groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union and have also opposed previous attempts to ban the app.




Software Development in Sri Lanka

Robotic Automations

Odd Ball, the ball-shaped music instrument, is adding new gestures so you can become a house DJ | TechCrunch


Odd Ball is a company that makes fun electronic bouncy balls that let you generate MIDI sounds by tapping or bouncing them. The company is adding new gestures to its device — including spin, twist, move, shake and air throw — so you can generate sounds in a new way.

With the most recent app update, the company also lets you be the DJ at a house party with these gestures. It has included a DJ mode with some background tracks and on-screen instructions for gestures for that track. When you combine one or more gestures, the app will play sound effects on top of the track.

Image Credits: Odd Ball

The startup now puts gestures into two categories: Triggers (tap, shake, twist), which the company describes as akin to playing a note; and Modulators (move, spin, air throw), which the company thinks of as knobs on a console.

The intensity of the gesture also matters. The app will generate sound based on how hard or fast you spin or shake the ball.

Image Credits: Odd Ball

Pasquale Totaro, the founder and CEO of the company, told TechCrunch that the ball has a built-in sensor that the company was not using. But with the new update, the startup is now utilizing that sensor.

“The hardware originally had one motion sensor we did not use at all, it was just sitting there. The idea was to later push a new firmware that would bring it to life. That’s where we are now. It took a lot of R&D to unlock all the features. Imagine a trackpad that understood only taps… now it also has zoom, pinch, drag, pan, etc.,” Totaro told TechCrunch over email.

He mentioned that the team had to put a lot of effort into separating one gesture from another.

The company

Odd Ball started in 2018 with a Kickstarter campaign and the company began selling the first version in November 2020. Totaro said that the startup wanted to make the music-making process easy and fun. He said that playing with a ball, which comes intuitively to humans, was a way to make that happen.

“Everybody already knows how to bounce, shake and throw a ball, and all these actions are naturally already musical and rhythmical. This quality of the ball practically breaks down the initial learning barriers that a music lover has to overcome when they try to learn an instrument, a piece of equipment or software,” he said.

Image Credits: Odd Ball

The company has sold more than 25,000 devices, with kids and music lovers as primary buyers. While Odd Ball hasn’t raised any institutional money, it has some advisors on the board. These include Glass Direct founder and Google exec Jamie Murray Wells; Ali Mostoufi, whose startup me.com Inc. was acquired by Apple in 2008; former EMI and Warner Bros. Records exec Ted Cohen; and digital media company Mitu’s former CEO, Roy Burstin.

Totaro said the company is profitable and looking to expand its product line with two devices in the works. Odd Ball is working on a version of the ball with multiple RGB LEDs for a new interaction dimension.

Its gesture tech is adaptive and is also looking to extend to other form factors. Notably, Totaro said that Odd Ball is building the capability to have everyday objects become useful in the XR/VR sector.


Software Development in Sri Lanka

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