Each week, we review the press, highlighting and responding to interesting and relevant articles in the news.


Let’s get Physna-cal

How do you search 3D? Can computers ‘think’ in 3D? Physna is trying to figure that out. The Geometric deep-learning and 3D search solutions startup, Physna, recently raised over $20M in Series B Funding, led by Sequoia Capital and Drive Capital. This critical funding will enable the startup to continue coding of the physical world. Combined with their 3D model search engine, Thangs, Physna is bringing complex geometric coding and algorithms to the public in order to "bridge the gap between the physical world and digital world of software."  An Ohio-based startup, Physna will allow us to go beyond the Google search, connecting our physical and virtual worlds with dynamic search ability. As the newest iPhone model boasts lidar, we are at the cusp of capturing the 3D world with spatial computing. It is also interesting to note that Sequoia Capital previously invested in Google back in 1999 before it was a household name. Can this predict Physna's role as a leader in 3D search technology?


Regulate Now, Pay Later

The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced regulations on the unsecured credit market, particularly focusing on the interest-free Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) sector. This budding sector is currently unregulated for the most part and includes startups like Klarna, Clearpay, and Laybuy. The FCA’s review claimed a need for regulations in order to protect consumers and provide debt advice. Frankly, Altio believes the regulation of the unsecured credit and lending market was inevitable. With all of us stuck at home during the pandemic, many turned to e-commerce for shopping needs, and usage of BNPL schemes skyrocketed to over 5 million users and over £2.7B in 2020. In an interview with BBC Breakfast, Alex Marsh, the UK Head of Klarna, noted the crackdown’s potential to create common standards across all BNPL products, claiming that while Klarna has “robust eligibility checks,” this was not true for all BNPL services. The FCA clearly recognises the debt problem that BNPL products seek to remedy. Hopefully their regulatory solution does not lose sight of the evident need for interest-free lending while creating common sector standards to protect consumers.

Source: Methuselah Foundation 2021.

The Great Martian Bake Off

While some of us may have enjoyed eating freeze-dried ice cream as kids, NASA and CSA are looking for new, self-sustaining ways of feeding its spacefaring crew. In January, NASA and CSA announced a joint international Deep Space Food Challenge to encourage innovation of sustainable food production viable in outer space. While astronauts at the International Space Station currently rely on frequent cargo shuttles with pre-prepared food, this supply is not sustainable or practical for long-term space exploration to Mars and beyond. Innovators are up for quite a challenge though, as space food production will require minimal resource input and maximal nutritional output. Importantly, the winning innovative solution could have an impact closer to home as the results may have the ability to tackle food insecurity and resource scarcity amongst the world's ever-growing population. This endeavour shows once again that space exploration, and the technology associated with it, is not purely a scientific curiosity or experiment in discovery. Rather, the pursuit of exploring our solar system has tangible and intangible critical impacts on our life down on Earth.