Amazon sold ‘millions’ of Alexa devices over the holiday shopping weekend


On the heels of news that Amazon may have accounted for half of Black Friday online sales, the retailer today announced that the Black Friday holiday shopping weekend – which it defines as Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday – was its best-ever, in terms of Amazon devices sold. The company historically doesn’t release hard numbers related to its device sales. Instead, it claims that “millions” of Alexa devices were sold during this time frame.

One notable item it did share was that its Echo Dot and Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote were not only the best-selling Amazon devices during this sales holiday, but they were also the best-selling products from any manufacturer in any category on Amazon.

Of course, that’s not too surprising given that Amazon gave its devices a big push this year, offering deep discounts to encourage shoppers to buy.

For example, Amazon slashed the price on its Echo Dot on Cyber Monday to $29.99 – the lowest price ever for the small Alexa-powered speaker. It also took advantage of its newly acquired brick-and-mortar footprint to market the device at its Whole Food stores during this sales holiday, which made the Echo Dot the best-seller at those locations, the retailer noted.

Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, meanwhile, was discounted $15 to bring it to $24.99 on Cyber Monday, vastly undercutting its closest rival, the Roku Streaming Stick with voice remote, which is $49.99. The retailer said customers purchased 2.7x more Fire TV Sticks than they did last year, which could also be an indication of the drive towards cord cutting and streaming, more so than the popularity of Amazon’s streaming stick in particular.

“Customers purchased millions of Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices this weekend, and Alexa devices were the top sellers across all of Amazon,” said Dave Limp, Senior Vice President, Amazon Devices & Services, in a statement. “We’re excited that tens of millions of customers around the world will be using Alexa to prepare for the holidays.”

That “tens of millions” is about as close as Amazon gets to talking about Alexa devices sales figures. It’s the same figure CEO Jeff Bezos dropped in Amazon’s Q3 2017 earnings release, seemingly a confirmation that Amazon has sold more than 20 million Alexa devices. That’s in line with earlier estimates of 16.1 million Echo devices sold through the end Q2.

Voicebot’s analysis of Bezos’ earlier statement estimates that Echo sales to date have totaled 19.5 – 21.5 million units, while non-Echo smart speakers with Alexa built-in were in the 1 million unit range through Q3 2017.

Note that Amazon didn’t announce “record” sales for this 2017 holiday shopping weekend, only record numbers of Amazon devices sold. That could mean that shoppers were spreading their dollars around among other online retailers. This year, shoppers spent a record $5.03 billion in Black Friday online sales in the U.S., and a record-breaking $6.59 billion in Cyber Monday online sales. Those numbers extend far beyond Amazon.

But don’t worry about Amazon – it made up its own sales holiday called Prime Day, which was the biggest sales day in company history in 2017 and the year prior.


Source: TechCrunch


Analysis, and Forecast Report of Automatic Capping Machine Market Size

ONE HEAD AUTO CAPPING MACHINEThe automatic capping machine is manufactured with a high quality of raw materials and by using the latest technology. The automatic capping machine is durable, flexible and works with different types of containers and caps. The automatic capping machine provides durable finish standards, rust proof, and flawlessly finished packaging. The automatic capping machines have a wide range of applications in several industries. The automatic capping machine is used in plastic and metal threaded caps, plastic snap caps and also used in some types of plugs and corks. The automatic capping machine caps is used for packaging of different varieties of bottles includes Glass and plastic bottles. Moreover, the global automatic capping machine is used in packaging of a variety of caps such as Ropp, screw, crown, corks and Snap-On-caps. The automatic capping machine saves the time of manufacturers for capping of the bottles of the product. The automatic capping machine has dual servo driven system control for bottles capping functions to ensure that caps are properly tightened so that product meet perfection when it is sent to the market for sales.

The global automatic capping machine market is mainly driven by a rise in food and beverage industry. An increase in demand for packaged foods leads to rising in automatic capping machine market. The automatic machine capping has a wide range of applications in many industries further leads to the growth of the market. The manufacturers of different industries use automatic capping machine which helps in reducing the time of packaging of capping for the products leads to a growth of automatic capping machine market Moreover rise in disposable income, a rapid rate of urbanization, adoption of different culture leads to rising in the automatic capping machine market. Developing regions such as Asia-Pacific leads to has a significant opportunity in the expected year owing to changes in food and beverage industries and pharmaceutical industry. Further, the capping is a usually difficult aspect in liquid packaging line due to several reasons includes a range of sizes of caps and bottles; therefore automatic capping machine components become expensive in the specific type of capping machines which increases the capital cost of machinery leads to restraining the growth of automatic capping machine. Owing to rise in the capital cost of machinery manufacturers prefer less of automatic capping machine.

Based on the geographic region, global automatic capping machine market is segmented into seven regions includes North America, Latin America, Japan, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Asia-Pacific excluding Japan, and the Middle East and Africa. The North America region has high CAGR in automatic capping machine market owing to technological advancement and demand of packaged food and beverages followed by Europe, Japan. Developing regions such as Asia-Pacific region leads to has an opportunity in forecasted period owing to changes in pharmaceutical and food and beverages industry which leads to a growth of automatic capping machine market in an anticipated year.

Having reliable capping machine is essential in liquid packing line. Taiwan KWT Machines System carries versatility capping solution for different scope of packaging line. All our capping machine can be involved in the capping process depended on the closure type and package shape.

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Russia hopes to launch its own digital currency


Russia has been talking openly about the prospect of creating its own cryptocurrency, and it looks like the country might turn those words into action. Local news outlets report that Communications Minister Nikolay Nikiforov has confirmed plans to launch a state-controlled digital currency. Don’t expect to generate virtual rubles with your PC any time soon, though. While it would use blockchain to decentralize control and improve trust, you reportedly can’t mine it — instead, it’d be issued and tracked like conventional money. This would theoretically let Russia boost its internet economy without tying the fate of its currency to other countries or third-party brokers.

You could readily exchange digital coins for conventional money, although officials would reportedly require a proof of origin if you wanted to avoid a 13 percent tax meant to discourage money laundering and other dirty tricks.

There’s no mention of a time frame for launching this money, but Nikiforov apparently believes Russia can’t afford to wait. If it doesn’t introduce its own currency, neighbors in Asia and Europe will make their own move “after 2 months,” he said. That’s clearly hyperbolic, but there are reasons for Russia to be nervous. China has been cracking down on cryptocurrency in part because it saw speculators selling off the yuan in favor of bitcoins — Russia probably doesn’t want to see that happen on its own soil. Officials have already called for tight regulations on existing virtual cash.

There are concerns that Russia would be effectively profiting from fraudsters with the 13 percent tax: hey, we’ll look the other way as long as you give us a cut. Short of an outright ban on competing currencies, though, there would be nothing to stop criminals from simply relying on a different currency instead. Rather, this would repeat a familiar strategy of keeping technology on a tight leash so that it can’t be used to undermine authority.

Source: Engadget

Survey of The Taiwan Machine Tool Industry

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The 2016 Taiwan survey of machine tools showed that production value will fall off with business recession on the export and home market. The production value in 2016 was US$3.71 billion, a decrease of 9.0% from the same period in 2015. The value of CNC machine tool production value in the same period of 2016 accounted for 67% of the total production value, or US$2.5 billion, a decrease of 9.0% compared with the same period in 2015.

Export and Import statistics announced by Customs indicate that the value of machine tool exports during 2016 was US$2.9 billion, a decrease of 9.0% compared with 2015. The value for machine tool imports was US$722 million, an increase of 0.3% compared with 2015.

The 2017 Survey of Taiwan machine tools showed that production value will grew up with business boom on the export and home market. The production value in year-to-Aug. 2017 was US$2.74 billion, an increase of 14.3% from the same period in 2016. Meanwhile, production value for CNC Machine tools share 69% to US$1.9 billion.

Export and import statistics announced by the Ministry of Finance indicated that the value of machine tools exports during this year up to Aug. was US$2.13 billion, an increase of 14.3% compared with the same period in 2016. The value for machine tools imports was US$565 million, an increase 19.9% compared with the same period in 2016.

Taiwan Machine Tool Statistics in 2016                                             (Unit:Million US$)

Year/Item 2015 2016 2016/2015
Change (%)
Production, Machine Tool 129,726 119,800 -7.7%
Exports 100,812 93,397 -7.4%
Imports 22,798 23,290 +2.2%
Consumption 51,712 49,693 -3.9%

Taiwan Machine Tool Statistics in 2017(Jan-Aug)                                (Unit:Million US$)

Year/Item 2016
Production, Machine Tool 2,396 2,740 14.3%
Exports 1,862 2,129 14.3%
Imports 472 565 19.9%
Consumption 1,006 1,176 16.9%



Source: Taiwan Association of Machinery Industry

E-Bike Market Share Expanding to Fifty Percent in Belgium

The popularity of e-bikes among Belgians has reached the highest level in Europe. “One out of every two bicycles sold today is an e-bike, while two years ago this was still one out of every three bikes,” said Philippe Decrock of national industry organisation Traxio.

Derock reported on these figures last Tuesday at a sustainable mobility congress of the Flemish government. He also said “The increased range to which e-bikes are nowadays capable of is an important reason for this remarkable growth in market share. Currently the e-bike is more often used to commute to work or school.”

No insurance required for speed-pedelecs

The vigorously growing Belgium e-bike market is also a reason for Traxio spokesman Philippe Derock to support new regulations regarding the liability insurance of e-bikes as suggested by Belgium’s Minister of Consumer Affairs Kris Peeters. He will soon propose new regulations regarding mobility products, including e-bikes and speed pedelecs. As a result an insurance will no longer be required for most e-bikes, including speed pedelecs. The general liability insurance should be sufficient in case of any claims. The only exception will be open throttle speed pedelecs with an which can drive faster than 22.5 km/h autonomously. For this L1e-A category, as mentioned in the EU regulation 168/2013, the insurance is still required.


Source: Bike Europe

Taiwan to host global bicycle trade shows

taipei cycle 2018The Taiwan External Trade Development Council is set to host its global bicycle trade shows in Taipei from Oct 31 to Nov 3 next year.

Called the Taipei Cycle (Taipei International Cycle Show) 2018, it is one of the top three trade shows which has been established since 1988.

The council’s project manager Andrea Wu noted Malaysia is ranked 7th as one of the highest figure of visitors attending the exhibition.

“It’s interesting because five years ago, there wasn’t a high percentage of Malaysian visitors. However, this has changed in the past three years.

“Through our research, we also found that there are no Malaysian exhibitors (although they) have business opportunities with the manufacturers in Taiwan.

We realised also in terms of the export side, the quantity is still growing. For instance, last year Taiwan exported roughly 7,000 units of bicycles to Malaysia. The average unit price is high – US$500 (RM2,114) per unit. But, Malaysians were purchasing US$680 (RM2,874) per unit.

“This means they’re willing to buy an expensive bicycle from Taiwan,” she said when met after a presentation of speakers here yesterday.

She agreed there was a purchasing trend as some European handmade brands’ frame could cost between €2,000 (RM9950) and €5,000.

Present also was Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board’s deputy director Hishamuddin Mustafa who noted that Taiwan has 22 bicycle manufacturers, making them the world’s largest producer.


Company Main Products Website
Shuz Tung Machinery Bicycle Production Equipment
Alu-Mate Metal Industrial High End Bicycle Frames
Maxway Cycles Mixte Frame
Asia Bicycle Trading Co. Complete Bicycle
Alligator Cables Brake & Control Cables for Bicycles
BEV International Bicycle Saddles
Fu Sheng Optical Industry Bike Goggles & Eyewears
Yeu Chueh Industry Hydro-forming Bike Tubes



Source: The Sun Daily

Manufacturing in US Expands at Fastest Pace in 13 Years

Robust order growth and healthy production pushed the Institute for Supply Management index to record levels.


Powered by robust order growth and healthy production, American manufacturing expanded last month at the fastest pace in 13 years, figures from the Institute for Supply Management showed on Oct. 2.

Factory index climbed to 60.8 (est. 58.1), the highest since May 2004, from 58.8; readings above 50 indicate expansion

Measure of new orders increased to 64.6, the strongest since February, from 60.3 Employment gauge rose to 60.3, the best reading in more than six years, from 59.9 Index of prices paid advanced to 71.5, the highest since May 2011, from 62

The strength of the advances in the ISM’s gauges partly reflects impacts from hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Harvey forced the shutdowns of Houston-area refineries and chemical plants. Many retail establishments, including car dealerships, were flooded in the storms and merchandise was destroyed.

Timothy Fiore, the ISM survey committee chairman, said that the most direct impact from the storms was in the supplier deliveries index, indicating slower deliveries; that gauge factors into the overall index.

Seventeen of 18 industries reported growth in September; only furniture makers showed contraction, according to ISM.

While increased factory bookings and production may also reflect a bounce-back from the storm, the nation’s producers had already been on firmer footing because of improving global demand and an increase in U.S. capital spending. The ISM also reported a pickup in its measure of exports as producers benefit from a U.S. dollar that’s weakened this year, making American-made goods more attractive to overseas purchasers.

Orders will probably remain strong in coming months as a gauge of customer inventories held close to a six-year low. What’s more, the ISM’s order backlogs index crept up to the highest level since April 2011, helping explain why more factories are stepping up hiring.

Other highlights from the report include:

  • The ISM production measure rose to three-month high of 62.2 in September from 61.
  • The measure of export orders climbed to 57 from 55.5.
  • The Gauge of order backlogs rose to 58 from 57.5
  • The Index of supplier deliveries increased to 64.4, the highest reading since July 2004, from 57.1. This figure shows longer lead times as producers have trouble meeting demand.


Source: Industry Week

European Manufacturers Promote Diesel Greenwashing Scheme

The diesel engine is like a religion in Europe. It was first promoted by governments as a way to fight back against the OPEC oil embargoes of the 1970s. Since then, taxes on diesel fuel have been lower than those on gasoline. Coupled with other economic incentives, the lower cost of driving means that 70% of all diesel-powered cars manufactured each year are sold in Europe.


The great Volkswagen cheating scandal of 2015 put a huge dent in diesel’s reputation. Volkswagen got caught, but it soon came out that virtually all the other companies who sell cars in Europe were doing much the same thing. Diesel sales have plunged and regulators now want to toughen emissions rules for diesel engine emissions.

Yet taxes on diesel fuel are still lower than for gasoline. The European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E) claims European governments lost more than $30 billion last year as a result of those lower taxes. But diesel cars have made a lot of money for the manufacturers over the years. Faced with the rapidly approaching age of electric cars, they would love to keep the diesel gravy train going just a little while longer. That desire has resulted in a concerted campaign of diesel greenwashing by the manufacturers and their principal suppliers.

Last week, the European Car Manufacturers Association (ACEA) weighed in on how it thinks diesel emissions should be regulated in the future. The head of the organization said diesels release 15–20% less carbon dioxide than their gasoline-powered counterparts. And who is the head of ACEA? Why, it is no less a personage than Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz.

ACEA’s pitch to regulators is the same as what is often heard on the other side of the pond from US automakers: Nobody wants to buy electric cars! And besides, there is no adequate charging infrastructure in place for them. Let us continue selling our diesel cars and we will meet your proposed goal of reducing emissions by another 20%.

Not so fast, says T&E. By their calculations, diesel cars actually emit 9.3% more CO2 than gasoline cars in real-world driving. And besides, what about the nitrous oxide emissions that diesels spew out of their tailpipes? The Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club known as the ADAC (think AAA for the autobahn) has tested 188 diesel cars recently. It’s findings are little comfort to the industry and are reflected in the chart below. All cars tested are supposed to meet the Euro 6 emissions standard in place since 2013.


BMW came out on top, with Renault in last place, but don’t start cheering yet. The BMW score was 0.141 grams of nitrous oxides per kilometer. The Euro 6 standard calls for no more than 0.080 grams per kilometer. In other words, none of the 188 cars tested were in compliance with the current rules. “A Renault Grand Scenic 160 dCi releases as much nitrogen oxides as about 240 BMW 520d cars,” claims the ADAC report. In testing, that particular model emitted 1,674 milligrams per kilometer.

The ADAC report suggests that all manufacturers will need to find ways to retrofit their existing diesel engines to bring them into compliance with existing regulations, never mind making them comply with stricter requirements due to take effect when the Euro 7 standard becomes effective.

Sorry, Dieter Zetsche, your diesel greenwashing is just so much hogwash. The sooner diesel cars are eliminated from Europe, the sooner Europeans will start living longer and enjoying better health during their lifetimes. Believe it or not, some things are more important that profits.



Source: CleanTechnica

Tiny robots will inspect and fix jet engines from the inside

Robotic mechanics can go anywhere


IF YOU are reading this while sitting in an aircraft and are of a nervous disposition, do not be alarmed, but the temperature inside the jet engines keeping you aloft probably exceeds the melting point of the materials that those engines are made from. That they do not consequently turn into a molten mess is a feat of modern engineering. It involves a combination of tough alloys and advanced production techniques, such as 3D printing, which allow components to be made with tiny channels through which cooling air circulates. Parts exposed to the most extreme temperatures, which can reach more than 1,300°C, are given additional protection with a coating of special heat-resisting ceramics.

New jet engines are designed to run hot because that results in a more complete combustion, which lowers fuel consumption and cuts emissions. Hot engines, though, need nurturing. Nowadays the three big aircraft-engine makers, General Electric (GE), Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney, usually include servicing as part of their sales, and many jet engines are leased on a “power-by-the-hour” contract. This means regular check-ups and maintenance are in the interests of airlines and producers alike. The difficult bit is inspecting an engine without dismantling it. That requires taking the aircraft to which the engine is attached out of service. And, with a power-by-the-hour contract, when a plane disappears into the workshop, it is not just the airline that loses money, but the engine maker, too. The hunt is therefore on for faster and more efficient ways to keep engines in tip-top condition.

Don Lipkin, a chief scientist at GE Global Research in Niskayuna, New York, and his colleagues Todd Danko and Kori Macdonald, think they have come up with one. They are developing tiny robots which can venture inside an engine to inspect its innards and carry out any necessary repairs. Eventually, these robots may be able to work while a plane is waiting at a gate between flights.

Send in the microbots
Dr Lipkin’s robots are being tested in a laboratory, but he hopes to have them ready to go inside operating aircraft by the end of the year. To start with, they will conduct inspections. Later, once techniques are perfected, they will begin making repairs. Such robots will also be used to inspect and repair GE’s gas turbines. These are jet engines used in power plants to generate electricity, rather than as propulsion devices. But they, too, would benefit from reduced downtime for maintenance.

Inspecting the fan blades that draw air into the front of an engine is reasonably straightforward, because those blades are large and visible. But things get harder the deeper you go. Following the fan are a series of closely packed blades that compress the air before it arrives at the combustion chamber. When the compressed air reaches that chamber, and is mixed with fuel and ignited, the resulting hot gases then blast out of the rear, providing thrust. Some of those gases are diverted through a series of stubby turbine blades near the back of the engine. These, via shafts, turn the fan and the compressor, and thus keep the whole arrangement running.

In a working engine, all of these components are so tightly packed together that sometimes the only way to peek inside is by inserting an endoscope (a camera on a flexible tube) through a hole in the engine’s casing. But the view is limited. The researchers’ robots, however, are small enough to navigate their way around all the various blades, photographing everything they see and relaying the pictures wirelessly to technicians. Then, once the pictures have been analysed, the robot itself can often effect a repair.

The team’s robots come in several varieties. One is about the size of a small envelope and is flexible. It runs along a sort of rack-and-pinion track that is inserted into the back of the engine. The track is made from a long strip of plastic which, with a twisting action, can be flicked between the blades. The robot is attached to the track and employs a toothed drive-mechanism which connects to a series of holes in the plastic strip and permits the device to propel itself along. Once it has arrived at its destination, it expands so that it is gripped between a pair of blades. The track is withdrawn and the robot hitches a ride on the blades as these are rotated manually by technicians. That way it can photograph internal surfaces adjacent to the blades as it passes. Once its job is done, it can be pulled out on a cord.

Another type of robot, a few centimetres square, crawls inside an engine on caterpillar tracks. A third version uses magnetic wheels. These let it grip surfaces made with specialised steels in the cold front section of ground-based gas turbines, and thus work upside down if necessary. All the robots are driven by a human operator using a tablet computer. To repair things, the machines are fitted with tiny arms that reach out and inject ceramic coatings from a cartridge of material to fill in any damaged areas. The robots can also carry small grinding tools, to smooth down ragged surfaces.

Such repairs may not be as permanent as those during a full rebuild, but they are good enough to extend the time an engine can operate between major overhauls. Moreover, data collected by the robots would be used by GE to update the engine’s “digital twin”. These twins are virtual replicas, held on a computer, and contain the latest operating data sent via satellites from sensors mounted inside engines. The twins serve as test beds for spotting problems before they get serious. This means preventive maintenance can be carried out and unscheduled visits to the workshop avoided.

Robots will allow much finer monitoring of an engine’s wear and tear. That varies, according to how aircraft are used—even by particular pilots, some of whom push aircraft engines harder than others do—and where in the world a plane most often operates. Airborne particles, particularly in polluted regions, can block the tiny cooling channels that help stop an engine melting. Wind-blown sand grains in places such as the Middle East subject blades to increased abrasion. Jet engines are already remarkably reliable, with the need for an in-flight shutdown now in the order of once in 20,000 hours of operation, which means a pilot may never experience a failure in his entire career. Tiny robots will make them more so.


Source: The Economist Newspaper


20 years of ups and downs for HTC


In the wake of news that Google has bought part of HTC mobile’s R&D division for US$1.1 billion (RM4.6 billion), it’s time to take a look back on the history of the Taiwanese manufacturer, which at one point was one of the world’s top-five smartphone producers.

For many years HTC was a major player on the mobile phone market until it was overtaken by a slew of Chinese companies and became mired in financial difficulties. But this didn’t prevent the Taiwanese manufacturer from innovating and occasionally causing a sensation with such launches as its waterproof RE camera in 2014 and its Vive VR headset in 2016.

HTC will be celebrating 20 years in business in 2017. Having worked with Microsoft on its mobile operating system, the company was quick to join forces with Google, when Android was launched in 2008. Thereafter, HTC became the preferred partner for the giant of Mountain View. It was, for example, HTC that built the first ever Nexus smartphone, which was launched by Google in 2010. Six years later in 2016, Google once again called on HTC to build its Pixel models. With its recent purchase, Google will have full control over the development of its own range of mobile devices.

In its days of glory at the beginning of the current decade, HTC was one of the world’s top-five smartphone makers. But little by little, it was overtaken by Huawei and a stack of Chinese manufacturers (Oppo, Vivo, etc.) who now share most of the Asian market.

In point of fact, Google is not acquiring much more than the branch of the manufacturer that already works on its products, the Pixel and its successors, as well as the right to make use of a range of registered patents. HTC is not about to totally abandon the world of smartphones and is expected to continue to produce new models under its own brand. The manufacturer is also expected to pursue its investment in virtual reality and the internet of things (the company’s catalogue already includes two fitness devices: a smart chest strap and bracelet).

It should be noted that HTC is not the first manufacturer to be partially bought by Google. This was already the case with the 2011 purchase of the Motorola, which was followed by a resale at a loss to Lenovo two and a half years later.
Source: Malay Mail Online