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Instagram is testing out adding tabs dedicated to Reels and Shopping in the app's navigation bar

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 7:23pm  |  Clusterstock
  • Instagram is looking at making changes to its home screen by adding dedicated tabs to its navigation bar for its Reels and Shopping features.
  • The platform is testing out three different layouts with users, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said in a tweet Wednesday.
  • The redesign would promote some of Instragram's most-touted features, including its newly expanded Shopping assets and Reels, Facebook's clone in an attempt to rival TikTok.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Instagram is considering giving precious real estate on the app's navigation bar to Shopping and Reels, the feature made to rival TikTok.

The company has started testing out a new layout for the app, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said Wednesday on Twitter. All three options for the horizontal menu would include the addition of two new tabs that would either replace existing icons or get added onto the bar.

The new tabs will be for two features Instagram has invested time and change into in 2020. Notably, the format change gives Reels, which was just released globally in August, center stage on the platform. The newly released Reels features are meant to rival the massive success of TikTok's short-form video model, offering users the same music-based, mashed-together clips found on — and often ripped directly from — TikTok. A recent survey from content company Whistle found that 87% of the TikTok users said Reels was "basically the same."

Meanwhile, the Shopping tab would serve as a homebase for the app's e-commerce features that allow brands and businesses to sell products on their profiles, which users can buy right from the app. Although these shoppable features have existed since 2018, Instagram loosened restrictions on Shopping in July to allow any user with a business or creator account to turn their profile into profit.

Adding the Shopping feature to the home page would allow Instagram to put even more emphasis on its attempts to attract retail business and capitalize on the rich industry of influencers on the platform selling merchandise, artwork, and other products.

The emphasis on Reels, however, comes as TikTok's future in the US is threatened and debated. Although it's likely the app will not be banned in the US, the app faces turmoil over its potential buyer and what a sale could mean for the app's coveted "For You" page algorithm.

An Instagram spokesperson told Business Insider that the platform will start testing these changes "in the coming weeks globally to a small number of people in our community."

—Adam Mosseri

Retailers are scrambling to find trucks amid the pandemic, generating record-smashing pay for drivers

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 7:08pm  |  Clusterstock
Truck drivers have fled the industry, but those who have stuck around are seeing red-hot rates.
  • A shortage of truck drivers combined with a surge in online and in-store shopping has made trucking unusually expensive. 
  • Retailers are spending around 30% more than they did last year to move goods via truck. 
  • The last time trucking rates soared this high, it forced companies like Amazon and XYZ to pass down the unusual transportation costs to consumers by raising prices. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

 

There's a reason the shelves at your local big-box retailer still looks barren, months after the coronavirus crisis forced manufacturers and retailers to pump out more toilet paper and cleaning supplies than ever. 

Tens of thousands — potentially hundreds of thousands — of truck drivers have left the industry since early 2019, experts say, leaving retailers scrambling to fill shelves and online orders. And mostly, that means paying drivers top dollar to make sure their shelves are stocked and your packages arrive on time. 

The on-demand, or spot, market in particular has gone "ballistic," said Truckstop.com chief relationship officer Brent Hutto. That's the sector of the industry in which shipping rates aren't determined by pre-arranged, long-term contracts, and accounts for about 20-30% of the industry.  

Spot loads cost retailers 29% more during the week of August 31 compared to the same period last year, according to Cowen data. Double-digit percentage increases have been the norm in August and September, and those sky-high rates are excellent news for truck drivers. 

Morgan Stanley's truckload freight index, which measures the supply and demand for semis, is at a decade high for this time of year, according to a September 2 update.

Truckstop.com's own market index has found the same unusually high demand amid a shrinking supply. "The incredible thing is the pressure in the market," Hutto said. "Since we've been measuring it, it's never been this hot."

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Truck drivers fled the industry last year, and might not come back

A slump in the trucking industry last year and this spring forced tens of thousands of truck drivers to leave the industry. Hundreds of trucking companies went bankrupt in 2019 in what some truck drivers termed the trucking "bloodbath," thanks partially to a major slump in manufacturing.  

Through the pandemic, truck drivers first saw a sharp increase in demands for moving consumer goods, followed by a crash. In the month of April, some 88,300 drivers lost their jobs

Trucker Ronnie Jackson, of Earlsboro, Ok., wears a face mask to walk his dog Shorty in Foristell, Mo., Sunday, April 5.

The market is recovering. Trucking and logistics companies have seen their stocks pop by 21.2% this year compared to the S&P 500 increase in 2020 of 8.6%, according to an August 27 Wolfe Research note.

But many of the truck drivers who left in 2019 and earlier this year aren't coming back, said Craig Fuller, CEO of trucking data company FreightWaves. Lots of them retired: The average truck driver is in their early to mid-50s. Another explanation: Industries with jobs that allow blue-collar laborers to stay close to home are booming, like food delivery and construction. 

"It doesn't seem that people are taking trucking jobs for some reason," Fuller told Business Insider. "We think that certain jobs — construction, Instacart, Uber Eats — all these other jobs are taking from the same labor pool of truck drivers."

Retail demand upticks amid trucking capacity crunch

Big-box retailers have seen demand soar this year, particularly online, according to Wolfe Research transportation analyst Scott Group. In the second quarter of 2020, major retailers spanning from Walmart to Nordstrom to Lowe's saw same-store sales tick up 11% and online sales pop 163%, compared to the same period last year.

But the surge in demand has met with a crunch in just how much inventory retailers have on hand. 

The run on everything from cleaning supplies to dumbbells still has retailers scrambling to stock up on the seemingly endless — and often unexpected — types of products that consumers are demanding during quarantine. Major retailers reported 12% less inventory from April to June of 2020 than the same period last year, Group said in his August 27 note to investors.

"And when sales are really good and inventories are really low and shippers need to restock, freight can be off the charts like we're seeing right now," Group wrote. He expects that it will take until at least early 2021 for retailers to fully restock.

The truck driver shortage might make just about everything more expensive

Right now, the truck driver crunch is decreasing product availability. But Truckstop.com's Hutto said the high cost of moving goods via truck may eventually make everyday products more expensive. That's because the big spike in spot rates seen right now will pass on to the larger contract market, and transportation costs comprise around 7% of a product's end price. 

In 2018, when a truck driver shortage most recently caused a massive rate spike, big names like General Mills, Hormel Foods, and Tyson Foods all had to increase prices. Even Amazon said in 2018 that increasing transportation costs forced them to jack up the price of a Prime membership by $20.

It's challenging to just bypass a trucking price jump by just shipping through pricey planes or sluggish trains. Ultimately, trucks account for 71% of all of the nation's freight movements.

And while that might stink for consumers, America's $800 billion trucking industry is enjoying its biggest surge in years, and the country's nearly 2 million drivers will continue to profit. "It's going gangbusters right now," Fuller said. "The market is on fire."

Are you a truck driver? How have rates changed for you this summer? Email rpremack@businessinsider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The designer of Lucid's $80,000 Tesla rival says it will be spacious enough to offer business class-like reclining seats

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 7:03pm  |  Clusterstock
Lucid Air.
  • Business Insider spoke with Derek Jenkins, the VP of design at Lucid Motors, about designing the company's upcoming Air EV. The Air officially debuted on Wednesday.
  • The Air was first sketched out in 2015 and the design team had to figure out what would still look futuristic by the time the car debuted in 2020.
  • Because Lucid compacted the size of the Air’s drive components, there was a lot of interior space that could be maximized.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

This might come as a surprise to you, but the new cars you see on the road weren't designed recently. In fact, most designs are conceived about five to seven years before the general public even gets a whiff of what the final product will look like. The minimalist and futuristic-looking Lucid Air EV is no different. 

"As a designer, you have to live five years in the future," Derek Jenkins, Lucid's VP of design, told Business Insider. Jenkins hails from Mazda — where he was responsible for the 2016 Miata, CX-5, Mazda 3, Mazda 6, and 2017 CX-9 — and Volkswagen, according to his company profile

Jenkins said the very first pieces of the Lucid Air, a car that debuted on Wednesday but won't be in the hands of customers until 2021, started coming together in late 2015. The priority? Shedding design elements associated with traditional internal-combustion engine cars.

"We wanted the Air to be fluid and sleek and have a lot of sculpture," Jenkins said. "Very minimalist and clean. We had to get into the mindset with features that will be accustomed to electrification and aerodynamics.

"Beyond that, I am a big believer in simplicity rather than complexity. If a design is simple, it will look bold. In cars, there's sometimes a pressure on designers to make something new and fresh — and that's confused with adding more lines and complexity."

Lucid Air.

The Air, as Jenkins told it, was designed from the inside out with a "relentless focus on platform architecture." By shrinking the drivetrain significantly, Lucid's designers were able to free up a lot of usable interior space. Once the team established the optimal interior, they designed the exterior around that.

Though the Air's exterior dimensions are comparable to the midsize BMW 5 Series or Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedans, Jenkins said the cabin space is more akin to a full-size 7 Series or S-Class sedan. This is despite the roof of the car being about 20 to 30 millimeters (0.8 to 1.2 inches) lower than a traditional internal-combustion car, Jenkins said. Exterior dimensions for the Air are similar to that of the E-Class, but Lucid has not yet announced interior measurements. 

At launch, the Air will have a fixed bench back seat. After about a year, however, Lucid will launch the executive seat package, where the rear seats can recline about 45 degrees. "The platform is designed to accept that reclining seat," Jenkins said.

The company also claims the Air has the biggest front trunk ever offered on an EV.

Lucid Air.

Inside, perhaps the most visually striking thing about the Air is its massive, curved driver information display. That screen is a particular point of achievement, Jenkins said, because a lot of effort went into finding one that worked. Automotive screen technology moves at a slower speed than screens on consumer devices because certifications on screens used in cars are far more demanding. There are standards and specifications to fulfill, temperature variants to withstand.

The Air's screen isn't just a big, pretty, screen, either. There's app flow: an interface that allows you to swipe an app from the top screen down to the lower, center screen. 

Jenkins said Lucid found that consumers deal with navigation, music options, and phone functions the most with quick touches. Thus, those were the apps selected for the app-flow capabilities, allowing passengers to use the bigger screen look through more detailed things like Spotify playlists and call histories. 

Lucid Air.

It's undeniable that the Air has the look of an electric car. It's sleek and futuristic in its sweeping proportions and gratuitous use of horizontal lines. It's an exercise in both form and function — EVs don't need traditional grilles cluttering up their front fascias because there's less stuff that needs to be cooled. Fewer open vents for cooling means less drag. Less drag means greater efficiency — which, for EVs, is the name of the game.

The Air's drag coefficient is a very slippery 0.21, which is less than the Porsche Taycan's 0.22 and the Tesla Model S's 0.23, respectively.

So, yes, the Air has the look. But as it is the first EV from a brand-new automaker, the Lucid Air has a couple of challenges ahead of it — namely, solidifying that look as something the public will instantly recognize as the face of not just another EV startup, but as a luxury EV brand that'll really take on Tesla in earnest. A luxury EV brand that won't fade as traditional automakers catch onto electrification, but one that'll be here to stay.

Lucid Air.

But will a look evolve into the look — the one that the public will come to recognize as the unique face of Lucid? 

"Every design has a shelf life," Jenkins said. "It's dependent on technology." 

In the coming years, how we understand aerodynamics and what legislation deems is safe for pedestrians will certainly change how a car looks. For now, though, the Air looks years ahead of its time. But in 10 years? Fifteen? Will it still look good? Fresh? Timeless? Immediately recognizable? That remains to be seen.

As for Jenkins? "I'm already onto the next thing," he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Lucid's CEO says he has 'more advanced technology than Tesla,' and wants to use it to lower the price of EVs

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 7:02pm  |  Clusterstock
Lucid Air.
  • Lucid CEO and CTO Peter Rawlinson doesn’t think big batteries are the key to efficiency.
  • He has plans to mass-produce the tech behind the Lucid Air and wants to see it in other cars.
  • He also said that Lucid’s tech is “more advanced” than Tesla’s.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Believe what you want about trickle-down as it applies to economics, but it's a tried-and-true method in cars. Lucid Motors, the new EV startup on the scene, isn't just bringing a new car to the market — it's bringing technology, with the hope of that technology paving the way for more affordable EVs.

On Wednesday, Lucid launched the Air sedan, its first EV that's aimed directly at the Tesla Model S. It boasts a 9.9-second quarter-mile time, super fast charging, and a 517-mile range

With prices starting at $80,000 ($72,500 after the US federal tax credit), it was heartening to hear Lucid CEO and CTO Peter Rawlinson speak about sharing the technology in other, more affordable applications, as most wouldn't consider the Air cheap.

"We want our technology to cascade into a more affordable product," he said during a virtual tour of the Air last week.

Prior to being appointed as Lucid's top dog, Rawlinson led vehicle engineering at Tesla and was the chief engineer of the Model S. Before that, he worked at Lotus and Jaguar. 

One of Lucid's top priorities when developing the Air was to make both the car and its manufacturing process as efficient as possible. Efficiency is Lucid's whole modus operandi, Rawlinson said during an interview with Business Insider. 

Lucid Air.

The idea of efficient packaging, especially as it pertains to EVs, is not new — Volkswagen also promises that its modular electric drive matrix platform, also known as MEB, will make EV production more efficient and hopefully cheaper. 

But for Lucid, efficiency is key. It's the secret sauce to the crazy range numbers that give the Air an advantage over the Tesla Model S. (Lucid attributes part of the range figure to the Air's super slick 0.21 drag coefficient, which is lower than the Model S's 0.23.)

In fact, Rawlinson seems to abhor the idea of companies stuffing fat battery packs into cars and calling it a day.

"There's this myopia about batteries and it's rubbish," he said, dismissing it. "Dumb range is a big battery. Smart range is through efficiency." 

Lucid Air.

Lucid's miniaturized its EV drivetrain — smaller but more powerful electric motors and revamped packaging — was developed in-house from the ground up. The more compact components are what gives the Air its spacious interior and also speak to Rawlinson's belief that efficiency is more than just a big battery pack. Per the CEO's estimates, the company's technology is 17% more efficient than its closest competitor.

"We've got more advanced technology than Tesla," he said flatly. Them's fightin' words.

What defines efficiency for Lucid manifests in two ways. The first is being able to achieve a high range output with a smaller drivetrain. The second is being able to mass produce it. 

"The technology is more mass-producible, not necessarily the Lucid Air," Rawlinson clarified. "We've put a degree of computer control into its manufacture, so there's no variability. Our designs are very consistent."

Lucid Air.

The Lucid battery pack is also more mass-producible "than anything else on the scene," Rawlinson said. That drives cost down, with the aim here to being able to eventually share the tech.

"Once all the costs are driven down, there's a multiplier effect for all costs going down," Rawlinson said. "I like to think that our technology can power all car companies."

This idea of automakers collaborating to produce EVs isn't new, either. Ford and Volkswagen are working together to do it. More recently, Honda and General Motors announced similar moves. It saves money on production costs, engineering, and research and development. 

Lucid's appearance in the industry would give existing automakers another option — with the resulting product eventually trickling down to benefit us, the consumers, hopefully at an affordable cost.

Lucid Air.

Lucid's Casa Grande, Arizona, manufacturing plant currently has a capacity of 34,000 cars per year, Rawlinson said. That is phase one for the company: to make and sell the more expensive Air before getting into mass production.

"It costs far more to set up mass production to build a smaller car at a mass scale," Rawlinson said. "We have to walk before we can run."

"Sure, we're going to come downmarket with a more affordable platform, but that's still some years out."

Basically, don't expect a cheap Lucid car anytime soon. But as for the plant, Rawlinson said the square footage is big enough to support an output of 360,000 cars a year, maybe 400,000.

"That's bigger than Tesla Fremont," he said. "Let me tell you, I want to max it out."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Lucid Motors just unveiled a new EV that starts at $80,000 and can beat a Tesla Model S on paper — check out the Air

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 7:01pm  |  Clusterstock
Lucid Air.
  • The Air is Lucid Motors's first, all-electric sedan that boasts a spacious interior and a long range.
  • The base Air starts at $80,000, while the range-topping, limited-edition Air Dream Edition starts at $169,000.
  • The Air will be available starting in spring 2021.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

In the world of luxury EVs, the Tesla Model S has largely gone unchallenged — until now. Now, we have the all-new, all-electric Lucid Air, which boasts incredible numbers, sleek looks, and a luxury price tag.

Lucid officially unveiled the Air, the company's very first all-electric offering, on Wednesday. Already, the claimed facts and figures are attractive: It'll run a quarter-mile in a claimed 9.9 seconds in its 1,080-horsepower setup, it can fast-charge and regain 300 miles of range in 20 minutes, and Lucid claims it has the biggest front trunk of any electric car yet.

With prices starting at $80,000 and going all the way up to $169,000 for the limited-production Air Dream Edition, the Air will be available in North America to start. The Air Dream Edition will be the first model available in spring 2021, the mid-range models will come around in mid to late 2021, and the base model will arrive last in 2022. 

Keep scrolling to learn more.

The Lucid Air is the very first car offered by California-based Lucid Motors. It's an all-electric sedan. Lucid Air. Lucid says its sedan can achieve a range of 517 miles after independent range verification. Lucid Air.

Lucid said FEV North America, Inc. conducted the test, applying the EPA's Multicycle Test Procedure.

In the optional dual-motor, all-wheel drive configuration, the Air can make a claimed 1,080 horsepower and achieve a 9.9-second quarter-mile time. Lucid Air. Lucid also says the Air will be able to charge at rates of up to 20 miles per minute when plugged into a DC fast-charger. Lucid Air. That can translate to 300 miles of range from 20 minutes of charging, the company says. Lucid Air. The Air has a 0.21 drag coefficient — which makes it more aerodynamic than the Tesla Model S and Porsche Taycan. Lucid Air.

The Tesla Model S has a 0.23 drag coefficient. The Porsche Taycan has a 0.22 drag coefficient.

The Air also has a rear trunk, but it opens as a regular trunk and not as a hatch, Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson told Business Insider. Lucid Air. Rawlinson said that despite hatchback models being more practical, they're not as refined. Lucid Air. There will be at least four versions of the Air available. Lucid Air.

The base-model Air will start at $80,000 and will be available last, starting in 2022. Lucid didn't provide much information about this model as of Wednesday's writing.

Next will be the Air Touring, starting at $95,000. With an estimated EPA range of up to 406 miles, it'll have a claimed 620 horsepower, a top speed of 155 mph, and will be available in Q4 of 2021.

After comes the Air Grand Touring, priced starting at $139,000. It'll make a claimed 800 horsepower, have a top speed of 168 mph, and have an estimated EPA range of up to 517 miles. It'll be available in Q2 of 2021.

Finally, there's the Air Dream Edition: a limited-edition halo to the Air range. Starting at $169,000, it'll make a claimed 1,080 horsepower and return either 465 or 503 miles of EPA-estimated range, depending on which wheel package you pick. It'll be available in spring 2021.

Lucid notes to customers that once they factor in the potential $7,500 federal tax credit, those prices could change. 

In particular, Lucid stresses that the Air's interior is incredibly spacious. Lucid Air. The company says that because its drive components were miniaturized, it was able to make the interior much roomier. Lucid Air. The Air is built on Lucid's Lucid Electric Advanced Platform (LEAP), which has a skateboard design. Lucid Air. The interior is meant to embody West Coast-inspired luxury, Rawlinson told Business Insider. Lucid Air. There's a giant, curved, 34-inch screen for the driver. Lucid Air. And there will be app flow, Lucid's VP of design Derek Jenkins told Business Insider. Lucid Air. That means you can swipe an app from the above screen down to the bigger, center screen below. Lucid Air. At launch, the back seats will be fixed. Lucid Air. But there is an executive seat package coming, which will let the rear seats recline up to 45 degrees. Lucid Air. Judging from these pictures, visibility looks great. Lucid Air. That big pane of roof glass will surely let in lots of light. Lucid Air. This little bear is so you don't forget you're driving something from California. Lucid Air. The Air will also come with DreamDrive, Lucid's advanced driver-assistance system. Lucid Air. Rawlinson said the car is Level 2 autonomous-driving ready. Level 3 capabilities will come with time via over-the-air updates. Lucid Air. Here's a graphic of all the radar and cameras the car has. Lucid Air. The Lucid Air will be available starting in Q2 of 2021. Lucid Air. Rawlinson said the company's flagship studio is located in Newark, California. Lucid Air. But more boutiques are coming. The cars will be sold through a direct-sales model, like Tesla. Lucid Air. The Airs will be built at Lucid's Casa Grande factory in Arizona. Lucid Air. Read the original article on Business Insider

A steel-and-glass observation deck that sits 10,000 feet in the air on top of a glacier in Italy just opened to the public — take a look inside Otzi Peak

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 6:22pm  |  Clusterstock
Ötzi Peak, designed by noa* architecture studio, opened to the public in August.
  • A brand new 360-degree-view observation deck that sits 10,600 feet in the air on a glacial ridge in the Italian Alps just opened to the public.
  • Called "Ötzi Peak," the steel and glass structure looks out over the place where Ötzi the Iceman, one of the world's most famous mummies, was encased in ice for thousands of years.
  • Ötzi Peak is a stone's throw from Glacier Hotel Grawand, one of the highest hotels in Europe and a popular ski destination.
  • Take a closer look at "Ötzi Peak," which appears to float above the ground, comes with a glass-walled viewing box, and is free to visit.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

 

Completed in August, 'Ötzi Peak' is a brand new observation deck located on top of the Val Senales Glacier in northern Italy.

Source: noa* network of architecture

Rising 3,251 meters, or more than 10,600 feet, above sea level, it offers sweeping views of the surrounding Alpine landscape, including an ancient UNESCO shepherd's trail and the Italy-Austria border.

Source: noa* network of architecture, Tourist office Schnalstal Valley

Val Senales is well regarded as a ski and hiking destination. It's also famously known as the place where Ötzi the Iceman, one of the world's most scientifically significant mummies, was discovered in 1991. A stone pyramid marks the place where Ötzi, a Bronze Age mummy, was discovered in 1991.

Source: South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, Tourist Office of Schnalstal Valley

To access the platform, travelers can take take a cable car from the the town of Maso Corto in South Tyrol up to the 36-room Glacier Hotel Grawand, one of the highest hotels in Europe.

Source: noa* network of architecture

From there, Ötzi Peak is a 10-minute walk. It is free to visit year-round, and accessible via a staircase with a guard rail.

Source: noa* network of architecture

Made of corten steel, the observation deck was built around the existing summit cross and appears to float above the landscape.

Source: noa* network of architecture

From the platform, visitors can "experience nature at its fullest: rugged, stony, with wind and weather – pure," architecture studio noa* writes in its project description.

Source: noa* network of architecture

Slotted walls serve as a guard rail while maximizing views.

Source: noa* network of architecture

Facing east is an angular viewing funnel that looks out toward the place where Ötzi was preserved in ice for 5,300 years.

Source: noa* network of architecture, Tourist Office of Schnalstal Valley

Written above its entrance are the words #IcemanOtziPeak3251m.

Source: noa* network of architecture

Emerging from the funnel, travelers can step out onto a deck with a glass railing.

Source: noa* network of architecture

Overall, noa* wanted to create an experience where visitors can "become one with the mountains and breathe in the freedom."

Source: noa* network of architecture

Read the original article on Business Insider

From robots to 3D printing, transformation in manufacturing has led to efficiencies, and also worries over future employment

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 6:20pm  |  Clusterstock

A collaborative robot, left, works alongside a manufacturing laborer on a chainsaw assembly line at the Stihl Inc. manufacturing facility May, 201
  • Robots, 3D printing, and drones are features of the new manufacturing world-order, which even a few years ago seemed experimental.
  • Financing these innovations can sometimes be challenging, however, as margins in manufacturing tend to be thin.
  • Innovation does cause concern over lost employment opportunities. Companies are looking at ways to reskill workers for a more automated future. 
  • 100 People Transforming Business is an annual list and series highlighting those across industries who are changing the way the world does business. Check out the full list for 2020.

The manufacturing industry is in the midst of a major shift to adopt next-generation technologies. "Digital twins" of aircraft and other assets enable companies to monitor parts for maintenance well before they break down, saving valuable time and money. Robots now routinely work alongside humans on factory floors handling mundane tasks, like transporting pallets.

Drones will soon start flying around large warehouses to help map out inventory and oversee other operations. And the prototypes organizations use to test out products before moving to large-scale production can now be 3D printed, an advancement that not only speeds the process up but enables more remote operations given that the files can be used anywhere a printer is available.

All this comes as the manufacturing industry in the US erodes. The country has shed hundreds of thousands of factory jobs in the past few years despite the Trump administration's efforts to turn the tide. Alongside renegotiating new trade deals with Mexico, Canada, China, and other countries, President Trump even floated the potential for tax breaks for those who bring jobs to the US from China. 

"It's been frustrating for me to see what's happened in the developed world relative to their manufacturing base," Ellen Kullman, the former CEO of DuPont and current CEO of 3D printing startup Carbon, told Business Insider.

The digital revolution could usher in a new era for manufacturers, one that's not predicated on blue-collar line workers but highly skilled technologists.

But while the sector is eagerly embracing digital tools, it's not at the pace of other industries like finance or retail. For one, margins in manufacturing tend to be much lower, which results in less available funding for tech upgrades.

"We have seen productivity decline in the industrial sector for years," said Colin Parris, chief technology officer at GE Digital. "Unless there's a problem, the finances don't suggest that you will invest the level of money you need to actually do these transformations."

And those financial pressures could be exacerbated as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. With the airline industry in turmoil, for example, fewer aircraft may need to undergo maintenance, and carriers are likely to delay or halt investments in new tech.

Innovation charging ahead

It hasn't stopped the pace of innovation. Startups like Carbon and Fetch Robotics are pioneering the future of the industry. And in some instances, those systems are already well established. Amazon, for example, has been using robots successfully in its warehouse for years.

That's a major change from even just a few years ago when the technology was viewed as transformative but still experimental. Kiva Systems cofounder Raffaello D'Andrea, for example, sold the robotics firm to Amazon in 2012 for $775 million when adoption of the machines was still in its infancy.

"Back then, it was science fiction to think that you could have a thousand mobile robots running around 24-7," he told Business Insider. "Now, of course, people are wanting to leverage it for not just distribution but for manufacturing."

Now D'Andrea is trying to pioneer the use of drones within warehouses with Verity Studios. The company does visual performances for artists like Metallica and Celine Dion and is expanding to work with enterprises.

Training the workforce

But as new technology becomes more ubiquitous among manufacturers, employee advocates worry the push could displace thousands of jobs.

"We have to have a worker voice upstream in the innovation process of a company," said Liz Shuler, secretary-treasurer at labor union American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. "Do we want to simply make money or do we want to have a better society? If we want to have a better society then we have to have everyone at the table."

Increasingly, companies are trying to upskill their workers to be able to effectively use advanced tech like artificial intelligence, opening up the opportunity to move low-wage employees to higher-paying positions. Amazon, Microsoft, and others are investing billions of dollars on retraining initiatives.

Others are trying to find ways to skill up employees who may not have four-year college degrees. Toyota also has run an apprenticeship program for decades that allows participants to work while going to school to earn an associate degree.

And the AFL-CIO is one organization trying to push the envelope. It recently renegotiated a labor contract with Marriott to include a notification period for any operational changes that could affect a person's job as well as funding for training workers whose jobs could be displaced by tech.

"We don't bury our head in the sand and say we can't embrace technology," Shuler said. "We have an opportunity to actually be proactive here. If you are going to make those investments, the company must think through carefully how those adjustments are made." 

Read the original article on Business Insider

An eerie orange sky has blanketed San Francisco and residents are comparing it to 'Blade Runner' and post-apocalyptic films

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 6:18pm  |  Clusterstock
San Francisco sky.
  • The sky over San Francisco was remarkably dark and orange on Wednesday.
  • Scientists say the color comes from smoke particles from wildfires across the state.
  • San Francisco residents took to social media to share the sky, comparing it to sci-fi films like "Blade Runner."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As California experiences one of its most severe wildfire seasons on record, the sky in San Francisco turned an ominous orange color on Wednesday.

"We are living in a world that has been influenced by global warming, and we're feeling the impacts," Noah Diffenbaugh, a professor at Stanford's School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences, said, explaining the causes and context of this unusual weather event. He told Business Insider that his research group recently found that the frequency of extreme wildfire weather in California has doubled over the last 40 years. 

—Jared Petty (@pettycommajared) September 9, 2020—Zneha (@mithrilmaker) September 9, 2020

 

Long term warming, the temperature's effect on the dryness of vegetation, and the ignition of strong winds lead to these extreme fires. The wind is also responsible for sending smoke towards San Francisco. The combined smoke flumes from fires around California have blanketed the Pacific coast, blocking sunlight and causing the eerie orange sky.

—Emily Dreyfuss (@EmilyDreyfuss) September 9, 2020—Jason Goldman (@goldman) September 9, 2020

 

Local news channel KRON4 reported that smoke particles can scatter sunlight in a way that it appears reddish-orange as they settle in the air.

Residents posted photos and videos of the unsettling horizon on social media. 

—Liz Kreutz (@ABCLiz) September 9, 2020—Sam Houston (@samhouston) September 9, 2020

Many found the sky scary, and a few even compared it to the sci-fi  "Blade Runner" movies that are set in a dystopian future Los Angeles.

—anaïs (@anaisisdrawing) September 9, 2020—gιℓєѕ (@Gi1es) September 9, 2020

 

Several people, including Bloomberg reporter Sarah Frier, noted that they had to manually turn off color-correcting camera features to capture the view.

—Sarah Frier (@sarahfrier) September 9, 2020

Diffenbaugh emphasized that that wildfires result from a confluence of conditions, and warming global temperatures are just one factor that people can consider in disaster prevention. He warned that with temperatures projected to increase three to five degrees by the end of the century, there will likely be fewer resources to fight many fires burning simultaneously. 

—Jungho Kim / 김정호 (@jkimphoto) September 9, 2020—Beth LaBerge (@bethlaberge) September 9, 2020—brian chorski (@brianchorski) September 9, 2020

 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Taboola and Outbrain called off their plan to merge — here's what happened to the proposed $2 billion company

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 6:02pm  |  Clusterstock

Hi! Welcome to the Insider Advertising daily for September 10. I'm Lauren Johnson, a senior advertising reporter at Business Insider. Subscribe here to get this newsletter in your inbox every weekday. Send me feedback or tips at ljohnson@businessinsider.com.

Today's news: What happened to the Taboola and Outbrain merger, Under Armour layoffs, and inside Spotify's bet on podcasts.

(L-R) Cofounder and co-CEO of Outbrain Yaron Galai and founder and CEO of Taboola Adam Singolda How Taboola and Outbrain's plan to create a $2 billion clickbait company fell apartRead the full story here. Under Armour CEO Patrik Frisk Read the memo where Under Armour's CEO lays out how the company is pivoting to a DTC model and laying off 600 in the processRead the full story here.

Spotify's Dawn Ostroff

Spotify's content boss explains her strategy to shake up the podcasting industry, from exclusive deals with the Obamas and Joe Rogan to ad-tech innovationsRead the full story here.More stories we're reading:

Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow! You can reach me in the meantime at ljohnson@businessinsider.com and subscribe to this daily email here.

— Lauren

Read the original article on Business Insider

TikTok may be trying to negotiate its way out of being sold at all

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 5:42pm  |  Clusterstock
ByteDance founder and CEO Zhang Yiming
  • The US government has for months tried to force ByteDance to divest from TikTok's business in the US, based on allegations that the company allows the Chinese government to access the data of American users.
  • Now, ByteDance and the US government are discussing "possible arrangements" that would keep the company from having to sell TikTok's US operations in full, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
  • September 15 has been floated as the deadline for an acquisition — with Microsoft and Oracle leading talks — but the deal has hit snags and remains in limbo.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

ByteDance may reportedly not have to sell off its TikTok US assets after all, following a tumultuous, monthslong power struggle between the US government and the China-based company.

The Wall Street Journal reports that ByteDance is talking with the US government about "possible arrangements" that would avoid a "full sale" of TikTok's operations in the US, where it has north of 100 million users each month. Such an option would put an abrupt end to months of speculation about which American company would take over TikTok's business in the US.

TikTok did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

The Journal reports that there are still "a number" of options on the table for ByteDance, and that discussions about avoiding a selling off all of TikTok's US operations have been under way "for months." Without a full sale, TikTok would likely still restructure itself somewhat to appease government officials, according to the Journal.

An announcement about TikTok's US buyer has seemed imminent in the last few weeks, a resolution that would address the US government's national security concerns and avoid Donald Trump's threat to ban the app nationwide because of ByteDance's headquarters in China. 

Talks about a possible sale of TikTok's US business trace back to July, before Donald Trump issued any executive orders threatening to ban the app nationwide. But the Trump administration's power to impose such a ban on TikTok or take action against ByteDance — as well as its national-security accusations — remains unclear. 

It's also unclear what will happen come September 15, the date employees have taken to calling "D-Day" that was first pushed by Trump and Microsoft as a deadline for a deal to be finalized. Trump's first executive order set a September 20 date for banning Americans from making "any transactions" with TikTok and ByteDance. However, a second executive order seemed to extend a deadline for a TikTok deal to November 12.

The race for a stake in TikTok's assets — a deal valued between $20 billion and $50 billion — has surfaced names like Microsoft, Oracle, Walmart, and SoftBank as potential buyers. The frontrunners in the bidding war have appeared to be two groups: a joint offer between Microsoft and Walmart that's backed by ByteDance's CEO, and another from Oracle, which has the support of President Trump and a group of ByteDance's US investors.

However, talks have stalled recently after China set new restrictions on exports of artificial-intelligence technology, requiring Chinese companies to get approval from the state government to conduct trade. The new rules could potentially give China the authority to block the export of TikTok's AI, which includes the vital algorithm that powers the app's addictive "For You" feed of videos.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Don't expect a coronavirus vaccine before the election — here's the likely timeline according to doctors, government officials, and analysts

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 5:35pm  |  Clusterstock
Nurse Kath Olmstead (right) gives volunteer Melissa Harting (left) the Moderna vaccine on July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, New York.
  • President Trump has suggested that a coronavirus vaccine may become available "right around" the election on November 3.
  • But public-health experts, financial analysts, and US government officials have said that timeline is unrealistic.
  • Most experts think there's little hope of a vaccine being ready before the end of the year.
  • Under the most optimistic scenario, drug companies like Pfizer and Moderna could release positive results from their human trials in October.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The answer to one of the biggest questions of the year — when a coronavirus vaccine be ready? — differs depending on who you ask.

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told public-health officials in every state to prepare for vaccine distribution by November 1. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, said the goal was to get ahead of the game, since the agency expects one or more vaccines to be ready by November or December.

President Donald Trump has also suggested that a vaccine may become available "right around" the election on November 3.

"We remain on track to deliver a vaccine before the end of the year and maybe even before November 1," Trump said during a White House news conference on Friday. "We think we can probably have it sometime during the month of October."

But public-health experts say there's little hope of a vaccine being ready before the end of the year, let alone before the election.

On Tuesday, the CEOs of nine pharmaceutical companies issued a rare joint pledge promising to put safety before speed when developing a vaccine. The companies vowed to only apply for emergency FDA approval after demonstrating that their vaccines were safe and effective through a phase 3 trial — a vaccine's final test before it can be distributed to the public.

Under the most optimistic scenario, drug companies could release positive results from phase 3 trials in October. Pfizer and Moderna have each said that's a possibility.

But when it comes to rolling out that vaccine, most experts agree that it won't happen until 2021. Here's the most likely timeline according to government officials, public-health experts, and Wall Street analysts.

What government officials anticipate: a widely available vaccine in mid-2021

The US is lining up an army of vaccine candidates. Through Operation Warp Speed, the government is funding the manufacturing of six promising candidates in large quantities while clinical trials are still ongoing. The program hopes to deliver 300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine by January 2021.

So far, three drug companies in that program — AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Pfizer — have shown in early data that their vaccines generated immune responses without causing serious side effects. But AstraZeneca just paused its phase 3 trial due to a potential adverse reaction in a UK participant.

Moderna and Pfizer's phase 3 trials both started in July and are slated to include 30,000 volunteers. As of last week, Pfizer said it had enrolled 23,000 people, while Moderna had enrolled more than 21,000.

Moncef Slaoui, the chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed, told NPR last week that it was "extremely unlikely but not impossible" for those trials to finish by the end of October. A more realistic estimate, he said, is that a vaccine would become available for high-risk populations, including healthcare workers and people 70 years or older, by the end of 2020. By that time, the US could have enough capacity to immunize between 20 and 25 million people, he added.

Dr. Barney Graham, Deputy Director at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, speaks with President Donald Trump during a lab tour on March 3, 2020, in Bethesda, Maryland.

The vaccine could then become widely available to Americans by the second quarter of 2021, Slaoui previously told Business Insider. By then, he added, the US might have already immunized around 70 or 80 million people. 

That's similar to the timeline put forward by Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

On Tuesday, Fauci said experts will likely know if a vaccine is safe and effective by the end of 2020. That could put the country on track to have tens of millions of doses available in early 2021, and hundreds of millions by the middle of the year. 

Fauci added that it's "unlikely" a vaccine would be ready before the election.

At a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Francis Collins, director of National Institutes of Health, also said he was cautiously optimistic that at least one vaccine would turn out to be safe and effective by the end of this year. 

"To try to predict whether it happens on a particular week before or after a particular date in early November is well beyond anything that any scientist could tell you and be confident that they know what they're saying," Collins said.

What public-health experts think: It's unrealistic to expect results this fall

Before a vaccine can be distributed to the public, the Food and Drug Administration must issue an emergency use authorization (EUA). EUAs require less stringent review than a full-fledged FDA approval.

FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn told the Financial Times last month that his agency would consider issuing an EUA for a vaccine before human trials are complete if a trial showed enough positive data to prove that the benefits of authorizing the vaccine outweighed the risks.

"If a vaccine is extraordinarily effective — let's say, more than 90% effective — it is possible that we would find out before all 30,000 people are enrolled in the trial," Luciana Borio, the former acting chief scientist at the FDA, recently wrote on Twitter.

But Fauci said in a recent Q&A with the Brown University School of Public Health that the chances of a vaccine being 98% effective are "not great." Scientists are hoping for a vaccine that's at least 75% effective, he added, though US regulators have said they'll authorize a vaccine that's 50% effective.

Many public-health experts are optimistic that at least one candidate will meet that standard, but they're less certain about it being ready before the end of the year.

Scientist Xinhua Yan works in the Moderna lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on February 28, 2020.

"Early fall is unrealistic," Ashish Jha, dean of Brown's School of Public Health, told MSNBC in July. "We just need the time to follow people to make sure they're not having adverse reactions."

Complicating the timeline further is the fact that both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require participants to get two shots.

Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told WebMD it would be "remarkable" if volunteers received their second dose in September. And after that, he said, they'd have to wait another two weeks to see if they developed an immune response. 

"I can't imagine we would have data on this by any earlier than early next year," Offit said.

Jha, similarly, told Business Insider that researchers should have "a lot more information" about a vaccine in January. He anticipates that a candidate could be ready to distribute in early 2021.

Dr. Naor Bar-Zeev, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, offered a less optimistic timeline to CBS Baltimore: He thinks a vaccine probably won't be widely available until the end of 2021.

What Wall Street analysts say: Pfizer and Moderna could have trial results by November

Moderna and Pfizer both remain optimistic about their timelines.

Last week, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said he expects to know whether the company's vaccine works by the end of October.

Getting results in October would be a "best-case scenario" for Moderna, the company's CEO, Stephane Bancel, recently told Business Insider. In the worst-case scenario, Moderna could be waiting until December or January.

In a research note to investors, analysts at Morgan Stanley predicted that both Moderna and Pfizer would produce trial results by mid-November. Goldman Sachs analysts, meanwhile, estimated that Moderna could know whether its vaccine candidate is effective by late November, while Pfizer's could be approved as early as October. That would put the company on track to deliver 100 million doses by the end of 2020 and 1.2 billion doses in 2021.

Analysts at Jefferies Financial Group, however, estimated that Moderna's vaccine wouldn't get emergency approval until early 2021.

It's not yet clear what effect AstraZeneca's trial pause might have on its timeline, but SVB Leerink analyst Andrew Berens predicted on Wednesday that the results could be delayed by weeks to months. The company had previously estimated that it could know whether its vaccine was effective as early as this month.

Even a widely available vaccine won't bring an instant return to normal, however. The first coronavirus vaccines might not fully prevent infection and will face enormous distribution challenges, which may mean Americans would need to continue wearing masks in public.

"I am pretty confident that we're not going to have a kind of vaccine that will somehow immediately get rid of the pandemic," Jha said. "We will have to continue to do these public health measures for a long time to come."

Andrew Dunn contributed reporting.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Apple created a face mask with a 'unique' look for its retail employees, designed by the engineering teams that work on the iPhone and iPad

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 5:33pm  |  Clusterstock
The Apple Face Mask (not pictured) was created for the company's retail employees
  • Apple's design teams have created a custom face mask for Apple employees.
  • The mask has a "unique" look, with large nose and chin coverage, according to Bloomberg, which first reported on its development.
  • Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Apple has worked to provide PPE like face masks and shields to healthcare workers.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Mac. The iPod. The iPhone. The iPad. The Apple Watch. AirPods.

And now, the Apple Face Mask.

The engineering teams responsible for the iPhone and iPad have designed a special face mask for Apple employees, as first reported by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman

Although images of the new mask have yet to be released, a report from Bloomberg says that Apple's Engineering and Design department created a mask with a "unique look," including "large coverings for the wearer's nose and chin," as well as "adjustable strings." It will have three layers can be washed up to five times.

Apple told Bloomberg it designed the mask with existing personal protective equipment supply chains in mind, taking care not to disrupt existing flows.

To the disappointment of some Apple fans, the masks have been made for Apple's corporate and retail staff, rather than the general public. Masks will be shipped to employees over the next two weeks. At present, it's unknown if Apple will attempt to distribute the mask more widely. 

Beside its custom-designed Apple Mask, the company is also rolling out a transparent surgical mask to employees, so that hearing-impaired customers can see employees faces and understand them more clearly. It's the first completely clear surgical mask to be approved by the FDA, according to Bloomberg.

An Apple-designed face shield for hospital workers.

This isn't Apple's first foray into the personal protective equipment game. In April, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, announced that Apple would donate 20 million face masks to health care workers across the US. The tech company also designed and produced face shields for hospital workers, with plans to ship 1 million per week.

Read Bloomberg's original report on the Apple Face Mask here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

25 times Trump downplayed COVID-19 publicly after telling Bob Woodward on tape it was 'more deadly than strenuous flus'

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 5:32pm  |  Clusterstock
White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, left, and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, both wearing face masks listen as President Donald J. Trump participates in a vaccine development event in the Rose Garden at the White House on Friday, May 15, 2020 in Washington, DC.
  • President Donald Trump in an early February interview told veteran reporter Bob Woodward that COVID-19 was deadlier than even the worst flu viruses. 
  • Meanwhile, Trump downplayed the threat of COVID-19 publicly. 
  • The US has the worst COVID-19 numbers in the world in terms of cases and fatalities, but Trump has consistently diminished the threat to the public.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

In early February, President Donald Trump told veteran reporter Bob Woodward that COVID-19 was deadlier than "even your strenuous flus." The conversation was recorded.

On February 7, as he downplayed the threat of the virus to the public, Trump said to Woodward: "It goes through the air. That's always tougher than the touch. You don't have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that's how it's passed. And so that's a very tricky one. That's a very delicate one. It's also more deadly than even your strenuous flus."

Weeks later, Trump told Woodward he was deliberately misleading the public on the true dangers of the virus because he did not want to cause panic. 

"I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don't want to create a panic," Trump told Woodward on March 19.

Trump has hardly shied from stoking fears during his presidency. He's threatened to deploy combat troops to American cities amid the nationwide protests over George Floyd's death in police custody and said that peaceful protesters are "THUGS." On Tuesday he warned in a tweet that "if Biden gets in, this violence is 'coming to the Suburbs,' and FAST."

25 times Trump publicly downplayed the threat of coronavirus after telling Woodward it was more deadly than the worst flus: 
  1. February 19: "I think it's going to work out fine. I think when we get into April, in the warmer weather, that has a very negative effect on that and that type of a virus. So let's see what happens, but I think it's going to work out fine."
  2. February 24: "The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA…Stock Market starting to look very good to me!"
  3. February 26: "Because of all we've done, the risk to the American people remains very low…When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. That's a pretty good job we've done."
  4. February 28: "It's going to disappear. One day, it's like a miracle, it will disappear."
  5. March 7: "It came out of China, and we heard about it. And made a good move: We closed it down; we stopped it. Otherwise — the head of CDC said last night that you would have thousands of more problems if we didn't shut it down very early. That was a very early shutdown, which is something we got right."
  6. March 9: "So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!"
  7. March 10: "It hit the world. And we're prepared, and we're doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away."
  8. March 12: "It's going to go away. … The United States, because of what I did and what the administration did with China, we have 32 deaths at this point … when you look at the kind of numbers that you're seeing coming out of other countries, it's pretty amazing when you think of it."
  9. March 23: "America will again and soon be open for business…Parts of our country are very lightly affected."
  10. March 26: "They have to go back to work; our country has to go back. Our country is based on that, and I think it's going to happen pretty quickly."
  11. March 29: "So you're talking about 2.2. million deaths — 2.2 million people from this. And so, if we can hold that down, as we're saying, to 100,000 — that's a horrible number — maybe even less, but to 100,000; so we have between 100- and 200,000 — we all, together, have done a very good job. But 2.2, up to 2.2 million deaths and maybe even beyond that. I'm feeling very good about what we did last week."
  12. March 30: "New York is really in trouble, but I think it's going to end up being fine. We're loading it up, we're stocking it up...And then by a little short of June, maybe June 1, we think the — you know, it's a terrible thing to say, but — we think the deaths will be at a very low number. It'll be brought down to a very low number from right now, from where it's getting to reach its peak."
  13. March 31: "It's going to go away, hopefully at the end of the month and if not, it hopefully will be soon after that."
  14. April 7: "It will go away."
  15. April 28: "This is going to go away. And whether it comes back in a modified form in the fall, we'll be able to handle it."
  16. May 5: "I think we're doing very well on the vaccines but, with or without a vaccine, it's going to pass, and we're going to be back to normal."
  17. May 8: "This is going to go away without a vaccine, it's gonna go away, and we're not going to see it again, hopefully, after a period of time."
  18. May 11: "In every generation, through every challenge and hardship and danger, America has risen to the task.  We have met the moment, and we have prevailed."
  19. June 15: "If we stop testing right now, we'd have very few cases, actually."
  20. June 17: "The numbers are very minuscule compared to what it was. It's dying out."
  21. July 1: "I think we're going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that at some point that's going to sort of just disappear, I hope."
  22. July 19: "It's going to disappear, and I'll be right."
  23. July 30: "Young people are almost immune to this disease."
  24. August 3: "They are dying, that's true. And you have — it is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it.
  25. September 4: "And by the way, we're rounding the corner. We're rounding the corner on the virus."

In fact, these are just a small sample of the number of times Trump has publicly downplayed COVID-19 and embellished about the US response. According to a Washington Post analysis, Trump had downplayed the virus 108 times

Public health experts have slammed Trump's handling of the virus, often zeroing in on the dangers of his nonchalant approach to the pandemic. 

The US has the highest number of reported COVID-19 cases (over 6.3 million) and confirmed fatalities (nearly 190,000) in the world. There were an average of 850 deaths per day in the US from the virus in early September, an uptick from July but below the peak in spring, per the New York Times.

More people have died from COVID-19 in the US than all of the Americans who died in combat in US wars since 1945 combined. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Volkswagen's chairman says Tesla Model Y is a 'reference' as it builds competing electric cars

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 5:20pm  |  Clusterstock
Herbert Diess, CEO of German carmaker Volkswagen addresses the media during the annual news conference at the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg

 

Volkswagen knows what it's up against when it comes to building electric cars.

After meeting with Tesla CEO Elon Musk and test-driving each other's competing cars, Volkswagen chairman Herbert Diess said the Model Y is a reference point as VW scales up sales of its electric models.

"Of course I also tested a Tesla Model Y — with my colleague Frank Welsch," Diess said, along with a photo. "This car is for us in many aspects (not in all!) a reference: user experience, updatability, driving features, performance of the top of the range models, charging network, range."

"Big advantage: Model Y was/is thought through as an electric car — as is the ID.3," he continued. "Many of our competitors still using their ICE [internal combustion engine] platforms. The result: They aren't getting the best EVs."

His comments come as Volkswagen races to catch up with Tesla after its own development of the ID.3 fell behind schedule. According to Reuters, the car is receiving negative reviews even as it comes close to a public debut. Germany's Auto Motor und Sport criticised the car's overall finish, including uneven panel gaps, and said the infotainment system leaves much to be desired.

By 2025, VW hopes to sell 1.5 million electric models on its platform that can be used for any of its brands, including Porsche, Audi, Bentley and more. That number would dwarf Tesla's 367,500 it sold in 2019.

But VW has struggled to get the program off the ground, something its own head of labor has lamented in the past. Tesla, meanwhile, is rapidly building a factory near Berlin to produce its own cars to sell in Germany and in Europe.

"Great trip to Germany," Musk said on September 3. "Support from government & people is super appreciated!"

—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 3, 2020

 

Read the original article on Business Insider

My puppy instantly loved the Casper dog bed — it's a comfortable memory foam bed that withstands digging

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 5:19pm  |  Clusterstock

When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

  • While all dog beds might seem the same, Casper put a lot of research into the design of their memory foam dog bed, and it definitely shows.
  • I got one of the beds when I brought home my new puppy, and he instantly loved it.
  • Update: This review was originally published in October 2018. Almost two years later, Murray is still sleeping on his Casper dog bed. It's held up well, even withstanding his penchant for digging. Murray now weighs 18 pounds, and the small bed is still a comfortable size for him.

Casper, the online startup that makes one of our favorite to-order mattresses, plus sheets, and even pillows, wants to help your best friend get a good night's sleep.

In addition to human beds and nap-sized pillows, Casper makes a dog bed, so that your furry companion can get as comfortable as you.

I recently got the small dog bed for my new puppy, Murray, and he's been absolutely in love with it.

Obviously dogs aren't quite as concerned with aesthetics as their human companions, but Casper worked to make the dog bed as sharp-looking as the rest of their furniture, like their nightstand and the stylish platform bed. It fits in well in the living room, and we get a ton of comments on it when friends come over — the Casper logo and look are pretty recognizable, and the bed definitely stands out.

I'll admit to being a cynic when I was first invited to test out the Casper Dog Bed. My dog growing up was never crazy about beds. At least, he wasn't big on sleeping on them — he loved trying to tear them to shreds. We tried a couple of flimsy beds from the pet store and it just never worked.

Murray's in love with this bed though, starting with the day we brought him home. We're crate training him, so he spends the night sleeping in his crate, but as he naps throughout the day, or settles down to chew on a bone, he always hops on the bed, first.

While all dog beds might seem the same — just fabric and padding — Casper actually put a significant amount of research into the product, including hundreds of hours of laboratory testing and even dog sleep studies.

Murray loves his Casper Dog Bed — although sometimes he forgets to leave enough room to snooze!

After more than 100 prototypes, Casper landed on a hybrid foam design, incorporating both memory foam and durable support foam to make a comfortable, yet sturdy, sleeping surface.

We ordered the small, since Murray is currently about 13 pounds, but we expect him to be around 25 to 30 when he's fully grown. It's a perfect size for him now — I was initially worried that it would be too small by next year, but Casper says that the beds are designed specifically to be a tight, cozy space for dogs, who tend to prefer small and tight shelters.

Although Murray loves to snooze on the bed, he's definitely rough on it, jumping on or off, or trying to dig into it. Fortunately, the Casper Dog Bed is designed to be ultra-durable, and is even intended for dogs to dig a bit when they settle down.

The bed ships in a cylindrical canister and takes about five minutes to assemble. The cover is removable and machine washable, and is easy to spot clean since its made of tight nylon fibers.

It's available in three colors and three sizes, and ranges in price from $125 to $225, depending on the size.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Lowe's underwent an online makeover just in time for the surge in home improvement spending by customers, CEO says

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 5:16pm  |  Clusterstock
Lowe's CEO Marvin Ellison has long championed revamping the company's e-commerce capabilities.
  • According to Lowe's CEO Marvin Ellison, the company has invested extensively in e-commerce since he took the helm in 2018.
  • That e-commerce overhaul — which saw the company prioritize its new store app and a shift to the cloud — couldn't have happened at a better time.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has seen consumers rely heavily on online shopping, as many look to complete projects around their homes.
  • Ellison and Lowe's CFO David Denton spoke Wednesday at the annual Goldman Sachs Global Retailing Virtual Conference.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Lowe's' long-awaited e-commerce revamp came at just the right time for the company to reap the rewards of the surge in home improvement spending during the coronavirus pandemic, according to CEO Marvin Ellison.

Upon taking the helm of the home-improvement retailer in 2018, Ellison said that he found the company lacked a "robust and dynamic e-commerce platform." Since taking on the role of CEO at the company, Ellison has been outspoken about improving Lowe's online capabilities, specifically Lowes.com.

"It was very obvious that the fundamental things that world-class retailers do very well were absent here," he said on Wednesday during Goldman Sachs' annual Global Retailing Virtual Conference  — citing the state of Lowe's e-commerce business in 2018.

Ellison told analysts that the company specifically was missing "an efficient supply chain, a robust and dynamic e-commerce platform, and having good operational mechanisms to manage labor effectively based on rate of sale."

"I was surprised how inefficient our e-commerce platform was and how it did not drive traffic or connect with the physical stores," Ellison said.

The CEO added that shifting the "decade-old" e-commerce platform to the cloud has been a top priority for the company. And the investments paid off just in time, as the coronavirus pandemic has sent home-improvement sales soaring. 

"Because of that, we were able to meet this increased demand," Ellison said.

Customers have made much use of Lowe's in-store app, curbside pickup options, and other omnichannel offerings.

In the company's August earnings, Ellison and CFO David Denton — also in attendance at the investor conference — reported that Lowes.com saw a sales spike of 135% in online sales year-over-year along with a "higher than expected" rate of downloads of the store's mobile app.

"We continue to prioritize investments in our omnichannel capabilities as our customers continue to shop more online," Denton said during the Goldman Sachs conference. "We've leaned in to push on e-commerce, and we're pushing in the supply chain to make sure that we can adequately support from a service perspective that channel more robustly and completely across the nation."

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best rowing machines

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 5:13pm  |  Clusterstock
  • A rowing machine allows you to reap the benefits of a high-cardio, low-impact, muscle-strengthening, and calorie-burning sport from the comfort of your home.
  • There are typically four variations of rowing machine: Water resistance, air resistance, magnetic resistance, and hydraulic resistance, each of which offers their own benefits and drawbacks. 
  • We've tested a variety of the top rowers available to find the best in each category (along with a budget pick) to help you decide which are suitable for your fitness goals and lifestyle. 
  • Our top pick, the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine, features durable construction, comfortable design, and a smooth-running air resistance flywheel. 

Rowing machines offer a full-body workout capable of burning hundreds of calories — depending on your weight — in just 30 minutes. If 30 minutes seems too long a session, slowly build up to it by gliding along while listening to a podcast or watching a video.

This low-impact, high-cardio exercise is suitable for people from high school and college competitors to retirees in their 60s, 70s, or 80s. So long as you know how to properly row, it can be a highly beneficial workout for almost anyone.

How to shop for a rowing machine

With many different kinds of rowing machines out there, it's important to examine each model to choose one that best fits your needs and keeps you motivated and injury-free. You'll want to consider features like:

  • Resistance: Different types of resistance include magnetic (electromagnets slow the erg's metal flywheel), air (wind from the spinning flywheel creates drag), hydraulic (resistance is created by hydraulic fluid in a piston or two connected to the erg's handles), and water (the flywheel pushes against water in a tank).
  • Size: The machine should be large enough for you to straighten your legs and maintain proper rowing form, yet small enough to fit into your workout space.
  • Maximum user weight capacity: Models vary in how much they support but many accommodate 220 to 265 pounds or more.
  • Foldability: Some machines (usually magnetic and hydraulic resistance) fold up for easy storage, while others (often air and water resistance) don't. 
  • Monitor: A monitor or computer tracks information like distance, duration, speed, and/or calories burned while rowing.
  • Seat: It should be contoured and large enough to keep your backside comfortable while allowing you to maintain proper form.
How we test

Each rower featured in this guide went through a testing process to gauge how well it performed across a number of categories (i.e. there's more to a rower than just sitting down and rowing away). Specifically, we wanted to see how the rowers compared across these four categories: Ease of use, experience, reliability, and value. Here's how each category factored into which rowers ultimately made the cut to feature in this guide:

  • Ease of use: Row machines have a naturally low learning curve. As mentioned above, the general idea is to just sit down and row — but we know there's more to it than that. Ease of use also refers to the process of setting up the machine set up in your home, how easy it is to get started, whether there's a companion app, and if that learning curve (however steep) dramatically impacts the following category: your experience.
  • Experience: Working out for fun may seem like an oxymoron but it is important to at least somewhat enjoy the sweat your breaking. Since a row machine delivers a full-body workout, you want one that won't feel like some sort of grueling game of tug of war. Ideally, a proper row machine offers smooth operation, an engaging platform (whether that means it offers digital feedback or is just fluid to use), and is comfortable to use. 
  • Reliability: If the row machine you invest in doesn't last longer than a few months, you'll likely be cursing whatever inclination you had to want to buy it. Put plainly, at-home workout machines aren't cheap and the one you ultimately end up spending a large chunk of money on should work, and work often. 
  • Value: Value is a mixture of the categories that came before it, as well as some attention to its actual sticker price — but this doesn't mean that more expensive models should be ignored. It's better to spend more money once on a machine that's reliable, easy to use, and delivers a fun workout than to struggle with a different cumbersome budget model every few months. 
Here are the best rowing machines:

Updated on 9/9/2020 by Rick Stella: Updated the section on how to shop for a row machine, included a rundown of how we tested each rower, updated the pricing of the Ergatta Rower from $1,999 to $2,199, checked the availability of all recommended products, and updated the prices and links where necessary. 

The best rowing machine overall The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine brings the gym to your home with its sturdy build, smooth gliding action, comfortable design, and superb quality.

The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine features solid aluminum front legs, steel rear legs, a flywheel with air resistance, and a maximum user weight capacity of 500 pounds, making it our top pick. 

Essential for executing powerful and uninterrupted strokes, the Model D 's flywheel has a damper for adjusting its air resistance, granting you complete control of the resistance yourself. The harder and faster you row, the more wind the flywheel generates and the more drag you'll feel.

With an air resistance rowing machine, you'd expect a bit of noise, however, the Model D runs fairly quiet. Although not completely silent, it's quiet enough for rowers to listen to music or watch television at a normal volume during workouts.

The easy-to-read performance monitor (PM5) tracks stroke rate, calories expended, distance, pace, and watts. It has several built-in programmable workouts and games to motivate you during a workout. The rower' also quick and easy to assemble and disassemble, and can be taken apart and rolled for storage.

Although the Model D isn't inexpensive, it's a worthwhile investment in your health and comes with limited five- and two-year warranties.

Pros: Smooth gliding operation, ease of assembly, large size to accommodate tall people

Cons: Pricey and requires a bit of space (9 feet by 4 feet) but worth it

The best budget rowing machine At a very reasonable price, the Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine offers a versatile workout with its independently moving arms and smooth hydraulic resistance for continuous rowing action.  

The Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine is small but mighty — and an excellent value at $120. Although it's compact and quiet, this hydraulic resistance rowing machine provides a big workout with a smooth-gliding padded seat and separate arms for a full-body workout.

What makes the BodyTrac Glider so special is its versatility in arm movements. Unlike many models where you pull a single handle attached to a chain or cord, this erg has two arms that allow for a full range of motion and mimic real boat-rowing movements.

This means you can row forward or backward, move your arms in circular directions, pull the handles close together for a conventional stroke, or hold the grips apart to exercise different arm, shoulder, and upper back muscles. Because the arms operate independently of each other, you're able to focus a workout on each arm individually. 

Sturdy with a steel frame and aluminum center beam, the BodyTrac Glider supports up to 250 pounds. It assembles easily and folds up for storage, as well. The single hydraulic piston/cylinder is located under the unit for convenient adjustment with a manual control dial.

The machine is able to maintain a variety of consistent levels of resistance for roughly 30 minutes of hard rowing. As with most hydraulic rowers, fluid in the hydraulic piston heats up, which decreases resistance. When this happens, you'll need to pause and increase the resistance setting. Always make sure you turn the control dial itself and not the heated piston/cylinder. Another downside to hydraulic resistance models is the chance of the piston leaking oil.

The BodyTrac Glider also has a simple and easy-to-use monitor, which features more functions than you'd expect on a machine this affordable.

Pros: Low price, independent arms for a full range of movement, and ease of assembly and folding

Cons: Resistance declines as piston heats up during long rowing sessions; short warranty (90 days for parts/one year for frame)

The best connected rowing machine The Hydrow Rowing Machine aims to be the Peloton of at-home rowers with an immersive content experience that delivers a complete, full-body workout.

Connected fitness equipment continues to grow in popularity — and for good reason. Not only does it provide an interactive method for keeping fit but the classes and streamed content itself serve as powerful motivation to push on. In the rowing space, one of the best to deliver the kind of connected content fans of NordicTrack and Peloton have come to love is Hydrow and its aptly named rower, the Hydrow Rowing Machine

Built with an aluminum and steel frame on a flat, anthracite polymer body, the Hydrow is a durable and sturdy rower. Attached to the front of the machine is an HD touchscreen where you're able to access its library of interactive workouts. These workouts include everything from on-demand routines, open swim-style free rows, whole body-specific workouts, and live classes.

The machine also comes with the ability to read your heart rate via an included monitor and features a whisper-quiet electromagnetic resistance. Hydrow does well to not only provide classes that highly motivate you to finish a row but it also creates a competitive environment where you can see how you rank with other global users or anyone else using your machine. 

With a sticker price of $2,199 and a recurring monthly fee of $38 for access to the classes, it's certainly not cheap — but few connected fitness machines of this caliber ever are. It's worth the investment. -- Rick Stella

Pros: Extensive library of motivating classes and rowing events, delivers a full-body workout, features quiet, electromagnetic resistance

Cons: Expensive

Read our full review of the Hydrow Rowing Machine.

The best high-end rowing machine The Ergatta Connected Rower combines the rush of video game racing with the fitness benefits of a full-body exercise to deliver one of the most interactive rowing machines available. 

Like similar smart fitness equipment from brands such as Peloton or NordicTrack, the Ergatta Connected Rower utilizes a giant on-board screen to display its on-demand workouts and exercises. But unlike its aforementioned peers, the workouts aren't led by an instructor belting out the next movement or exercise but are instead comprised of a series of video game-inspired routines that prove just as motivating as those high-energy classes.

What this means is that the Connected Rower pits you against the machine for its goal-based plans and interval workouts, while also allowing you to compete against other Ergatta users in simulated races. Regardless of the event, the software delivers an addictive experience that drives you to want to continuously do better. Fitness trackers found a way to gamify daily fitness and the Connected Rower follows the same path. 

The physical rower is an aesthetic wonder, too. Made of Cherry wood and featuring a traditional water rowing mechanism, Ergatta clearly intended for the rower to be more than just a means for getting fit — it wanted the rower to also pleasing both in terms of look and feel. The water rowers soothing swoosh of water adds to an already enjoyable experience, as well.

Perhaps its one downside is the fact the rower's not cheap. But since few interactive workout machines like are, this isn't entirely surprising. After an initial $2,199 price tag for the machine (and a $199 shipping cost), there's a recurring $27 fee for access to the library of on-demand classes (which is also par for the smart workout machine course). 

In all, the Ergatta Connected Rower delivers a full-body workout disguised as an interactive gaming experience — and it's one of the most enjoyable we've tested. -- Rick Stella

Pros: Motivating video game-inspired workout platform, beautiful design, features a folding design for easy stowing

Cons: Expensive 

Check out our review of the Ergatta Connected Rower here The best water resistance rowing machine The elegant WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine uses water resistance to make you feel like you're truly sculling on the open water.

For an indoor rowing machine, the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine comes closest to recreating the sensation of actual outdoor rowing as it features a flywheel that pushes through water in a heavy-duty tank. It even delivers soft and soothing swooshing sounds of water while rowing, too. 

In addition to controlling resistance through your strokes — the harder and faster you row, the greater drag the flywheel encounters — you can increase resistance by adding water to the tank. In essence, the more water there is, the heavier the drag on the flywheel, and the harder your workout.

Maintenance of the machine is easy, too. Just fill the tank using the included siphon pump and drop in a chlorine tablet every six months. There's no need to empty the tank, even before storing it. Although the machine doesn't fold up, it's easy to store upright and the weight of the water stabilizes the erg in an upright position.

You can assemble the frame without any tools, and the instructions come on an included DVD. Because wood expands and contracts due to environmental conditions, you may need to tighten the bolts every once in a while.

With a comfortable, stable seat that rolls smoothly along dual rails, you'll experience an excellent workout where you can keep track of distance, time, and calories burned as displayed on the S4 monitor. The rower comes with a three-year warranty on its parts, as well as a five-year warranty on the frame.

Pros: Gorgeous appearance, meditative whooshing sounds, and simulation of open-water rowing sensations 

Cons: Expensive, included monitor is fine but limited

The best magnetic resistance rowing machine Quiet, smooth, and stable, the Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine provides varying magnetic resistance levels for a wide range of workouts. 

The reasonably priced Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine offers quite a few convenient features: a comfortable, cushioned seat; anti-grip handles; an LCD monitor that tracks stroke counts, time, and calories burned; and eight levels of knob-adjusted magnetic resistance for various intensities.

Level two is good for warming up before progressing to levels three and four for a more vigorous workout. Levels five and higher are more intense, perfect for long cardio-building rowing sessions. Level seven is for endurance and all-out sprints while level eight offers the greatest resistance (and hardest workout).

Able to support up to 250 pounds, the Sunny's Magnetic Rowing Machine has a 48-inch-long rail in which the padded seat rolls smoothly and quietly. The rower is able to easily fold up for convenient storage and even has built-in wheels. It's easy to assemble and relatively compact, taking up minimal space when folded up and very little square footage when open.

Pros: Economical with eight levels of resistance, easy to fold and store

Cons: Only okay cord quality, rail might be too short for tall people

The best dual resistance rowing machine NordicTrack's RW900 combines the stimulation of instructor-led courses with the versatility of both air and digital resistance to offer one of the best at-home rowing experiences. 

Though NordicTrack may be more well known for its stationary bikes and treadmills, the company's offered high-quality row machines for quite some time — and its RW900 is the brand's crown jewel. Featuring a 22-inch HD touchscreen display, a library of interactive workout classes led by real trainers, and a fold-up design, this rower is worth every bit of its $1,699 price tag.

What makes the rower particularly impressive is its dual resistance. So, while rowing away during a class, an instructor has the ability to digitally adjust the resistance based on how they want you to row. But if it's either too much or you want to kick your workout up a few notches, there's the ability to manually adjust the air resistance. An easy-to-use air control is located on the wheel which allows for quick adjustments, even between strokes. 

Like any workout machine with a massive touchscreen attached to it, the RW900 shines with what it offers in terms of workouts via its iFit interactive platform. Be it in studio routines from its roster of iFit trainers or more calming sessions in real locations around the world, the options are incredibly versatile. There are even yoga and cross-training courses to mix things up a bit.

The rower also offers stat tracking which tells you how long you row each week along with calories burned and row wattage and allows for up to four different users on the same iFit profile. All new purchases also come with a free year of iFit (which is typically $468 per year or $39 per month), so you won't have to worry about a monthly recurring charge for access to the library of content for at least the first year. 

Pros: Interactive workouts, easily folds up, utilizes a dual resistance design

Cons: Expensive, iFit membership costs $39 per month (after the first free year)

How to row with good form

To get the most out of your workouts and avoid injury, remember that proper rowing form consists of an initial drive phase followed by a recovery phase. Here's how to execute it: 

  • For the drive, start first with your legs and once those are extended and your back is vertical, use your arms to pull the handle into your body. Your finished position should be your legs fully extended, the rower's handle pulled into your body with your wrists in line with your forearms. From here, you'll move onto recovery.
  • The first step of recovery is to straighten your arms and pivot your body from your hips, making sure to avoid hunching forward or bending backward. This fluid motion will then have your legs flexing in until your shins are completely vertical.

Finally, don't think of this exercise as a race. Focus on perfecting your form, not on how fast you can row.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best men's hiking boots

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 5:12pm  |  Clusterstock
  • Lacing up the right pair of hiking boots goes a long way toward making sure hikes are comfortable, no matter if you're out on a multi-day backpacking trip or just hitting the trail for few hours at a time.
  • The best hiking boots offer a long-lasting, comfortable fit, provide stability across diverse terrain, and are able to be quickly broken in. 
  • Our top pick, the Asolo TPS 520 GV hiking boots, gives you the support, water-resistance, and comfort you need to conquer any trail or mountain.

Choosing the right hiking boots means first considering the environment in which you'll primarily use them. Whether you're keen on days-long backpacking trips or prefer a multi-mile afternoon day hike, the right hiking boots do plenty to make sure you're comfortable and stable throughout. 

How to shop for hiking boots

Some boots are designed for use in snow and ice, making them ideal when paired with crampons or spikes. Others are light and breathable, designed to keep your feet cool even in the heat of the desert. You'll even come across boots that work well in wet conditions that repel water while wicking sweat.

Put plainly, no one hiking boot is perfect for all conditions, so it's important you choose a boot that's best suited to the environments you frequent (or plan to frequent).

Pay attention to material, tread pattern, weight, and design elements like the height of the rise and the lacing system. Every aspect of a boot either contributes to or detracts from its suitability for a given environment or activity, and only through a thoughtful assessment of planned uses and a close study of the boot itself can you be sure to find a proper pair.

If you're a serious hiker, climber, or camper, you're going to want to own a few pairs of boots. This is especially true if the seasons vary greatly in your area or if you travel for your treks.

How we test

Each hiking boot featured in this guide went through a testing process that consisted of more than just lacing them on and hitting the trail. Specifically, we wanted to see how they held up in a variety of conditions, and how well they did across these four categories: Fit, comfort, durability, versatility, and value. Here's how each category contributed to whether a boot made the cut or not.

  • Fit: The fit of a hiking boot can spell the difference between enjoying a 10-mile excursion through the backcountry and doing nothing but focusing on the budding blister starting to form on your heel. This also comes down to how true-to-size a boot fits. You don't want to buy a size 10 boot (because you normally wear a size 10 shoe) only to find out that it runs either too big, and doesn't provide adequate support or too small, and places into that blister scenario above.
  • Comfort: Like fit, comfort can make or break a hike. The best hiking boots are mostly comfortable out of the box but after a short break-in period, fit your foot like a sturdy glove. Even if you only plan on hiking for a few miles here or there, you don't want to be groaning during every step you take. A comfortable boot helps you enjoy the hike far better than you can imagine.
  • Durability: Spending upwards of $100 or more on a pair of hiking boots make shock your wallet but if you're buying those that come with the promise of durability, that investment will surely look great in a year or two. Hiking boots take an absolute beating, no matter where you hike, so the boots featured in this guide needed to be able to stand up to the constant abuse of a hiking trail.
  • Versatility: If you're only able to buy one pair of hiking boots, it'd be worthwhile if they were able to tackle a variety of terrain, weather conditions, and hike types. Of course, specialized boots, like our pick for winter, should only excel in winter, but other recommendations like the best overall or the best for any condition should have a level of versatility that allows them to stand out in a variety of use cases. 
  • Value: If a hiking boot carries an expensive price tag, you'd hope that it scores highly in all the aforementioned categories. In other words, value is less the actual sticker price and more so the sum of a boot's parts. After all, you're shopping and doing research in hopes of finding the best value for your money. 

To help make your search easier, we've field-tested options from top brands like Danner Boots, Columbia Sportswear, Salomon, and Merrell to find the best currently available. 

Here are the best men's hiking boots:

Updated on 9/9/2020 by Rick Stella: Updated the section on how to shop for hiking boots, included a rundown of how each boot was tested, checked the availability of each recommended hiker, and updated the prices and links where necessary. 

The best hiking boots overall The Asolo TPS 520 GV hiking boots are comfortable the first time you slip them on, no break-in period required, and they hold up even after thousands of miles of trekking in all conditions.

If you're a committed hiker, camper, or mountaineer, you know that at the end of the day, your hiking boots are your most important pieces of gear, so you should be ready to pay a decent chunk for them.

You could leave your tent, pack, sleeping pad, stove, and all the rest of it behind, but you need a solid pair of boots on your feet if you want to trek your way back out of the wilderness safely. If you want hiking boots that will be comfortable the first time you lace them up and that stay that way after tens of thousands of steps, slip your feet into the Asolo TPS 520 GVs.

With a rugged full-grain leather exterior and a waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex interior, the TPS 520s are ready for the elements, whether those elements include rain, rock, snow, mud, and more.

The solid Vibram sole is treaded for ideal grip in a myriad of conditions and keeps your foot supported whether you're scrambling through a boulder field, kicking steps into a snowpack with crampons attached, or just strolling through a grassy field. The boots' sturdy uppers protect your ankles against injury even when you roll a foot over a loose rock or catch a toe on a pesky root.

I recommend them because even after trying out six or seven other brands over the past fifteen years, I always choose my Asolos for any serious hike. They've carried me up and down Mt. Whitney, Mt. Rainier, the Grand Teton, and through the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains in Colombia, just to name a few of their many outings.

Pros: Instant comfort without break-in wearing, stellar water-resistance, great ankle and arch support, wicks moisture away from foot, easy and secure lacing system

Cons: Heavier and bulkier than many other hiking boot options, rather expensive

The best hiking boots for winter Unless you plunge them into water that's deeper than their rise, the Columbia Daska Pass III Titanium Outdry Extreme boots simply won't let your feet get wet.

When Columbia Sportswear began to release gear and apparel stamped with its OutDry Extreme certification several years ago, it changed the outdoor clothing industry. Simply put, if you see the OutDry label on a piece of apparel, count on that item to be 100% waterproof.

You can trust me on this, too; I've worn various pieces of OutDry gear in downpours in the middle of a South American rainforest, in knee-deep snow in the northeast of the United States, and in many places in between.

Also, the word Titanium is significant, too. That's the top-of-the-line stuff this world-renowned apparel brand makes. If you need to rely on a pair of boots to keep your feet dry and supported in wet or wintry weather, these are a safe bet.

The Daska Pass III boots are impressively lightweight for footwear that offers such superlative waterproofing, not to mention impressive insulation. Paired with the right socks, these boots keep your feet warm even in conditions well below the freezing point. And their tall, sturdy uppers keep your ankles safe from a sprain (or worse) even when you're trekking across unstable terrain, like a shell of ice frozen over looser snow, for example.

The boots have an outsole made from durable Vibram rubber and a poured polyurethane midsole that offers you some extra bounce in your step, almost like you might get from a running shoe. It's not quite the same level of rebound, but better than nothing!

Columbia's Daska Pass III boots are at a decent price point, especially considering their durability. While in many conditions, the aforementioned insulation is a great asset, it's also the main drawback of these boots. They are just too warm for use in some places and seasons. If you wear these boots on a low elevation summer trek, your feet are going to sweat so much the waterproofing won't matter.

Pros: Amazing waterproof rating, cannot be inundated even by standing in water, great insulation, ideal for use in cold weather

Cons: Too warm for use in hot climates and/or seasons

The best hiking boots for any conditions If you need one pair of hiking boots that will perform adroitly in the winter snow, the springtime mud, the summer's heat, or the frost of fall, then you should slip on a pair of versatile Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX hiking boots.

No one hiking boot is ever going to be ideal for use in all types of conditions. But, if you need to find the best possible compromise boot, whether for budgetary concerns or because you need to travel through various types of weather and terrain in a single expedition, the Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX hiking boots are a fine choice.

The exterior of the boots features a blend of leather and textile, with Gore-Tex waterproofing underlying both materials. The six-inch shaft rises more than high enough to protect an ankle against a roll, while the thick rubber toecap protects your toes against a falling rock or a hard stub against a stone, log, step, or anything else.

Now here are the compromises: The tread pattern isn't aggressive, as it's more akin to a trail shoe than a rugged boot suitable for the loose scree of a mountain pass. And although the exterior is water-resistant, it will eventually soak through if you stand in puddles or streams.

They might not be as warm as some hikers need, but they're suitable for all seasons when paired with the right socks and they even let your foot breathe and stay cool when you wear thinner socks. 

Pros: Versatile enough for use in many conditions, lightweight with flexible sole, breathable materials keep feet cool

Cons: Thin underfoot padding leads to foot fatigue, tread pattern not ideal for some conditions

The best hiking boots on a budget These Merrell Men's Moab Ventilator Mid Hiking Boots might cost half as much as many other options, but they're fine boots at a fantastic price.

For the outdoor enthusiast who goes for day hikes, weekend camping trips, or the occasional multi-day trek but who doesn't want to spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of hiking boots, the Merrell Men's Moab Ventilator Mid hiking boots are a great choice. These boots are reasonably lightweight, comfortable, and supportive, and have a tread pattern, water resistance, and breathability that make them suitable for use in most moderate conditions.

Are these the right boots to wear as you trek up and over the glaciers of Mt. Rainier? No, they're not. Having done that, I can speak with confidence. But are they a fine option for traversing miles and miles of graded trail or for wearing as you blaze your own path through a pine forest or rolling meadow? Absolutely.

The Merrell Men's Moab Ventilators feature a shock-absorbing air cushion under the heel and a flexible sole with no lugs under the arch. Those elements mean you could wear these boots for trail running if you really wanted, though they are a bit heavy for a long jaunt at speed.

While the Moab Ventilator boot is excellent at wicking moisture away from your foot to keep you dry, it's not all that water-resistant, so in heavy rains or the event you step in a stream, your foot is going to get wet.

Pros: Very affordable option, air-cushioned heel reduces impact effects, soles offer reliable grip

Cons: Limited water resistance, soles wear out rather quickly

The best stylish hiking boots Danner's hiking boots are some of the most stylish boots you can buy and they're extremely well made.

Danner has been making some of the most popular boots for outdoor enthusiasts for nearly a century. If you're looking for a pair of hiking boots that are somewhat less obtuse than the busy, flashy, high-tech boots that are so terribly a la mode these days, these are the boots for you.

Back in 1932, Charles Danner founded Danner Shoe Mfg. Company in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, where he sold his handcrafted work boots for four dollars a pair to the local loggers. He learned that, out west, loggers were paying upwards of $10 for a pair of calked logging boots — a small fortune back then — and moved the family and business out to Oregon to take full advantage of a lacking market.

Danner has come up with a lot of boots since those days, and the most popular of all has been the Danner Light Boots, which came out thanks to the then-new invention of Gore-Tex.

Despite rugged soles, Gore-Tex lining, and heavy-duty leather, Danner hasn't gone without its fair share of critics. Several esteemed publications have claimed that in the process of testing Danner boots, they found that the leather uppers and the seams at the miss let some water in. While I haven't personally experienced any seepage as of yet, one reporter at Insider Picks did notice the Danner Lights absorbing some water.

But, before you dismiss Danner boots entirely, consider this: These are still extremely sturdy, well-constructed boots using high-quality, full-grain leather. The soles are nearly indestructible, and if you do manage to damage them, they're built to be replaced.

The Danner Mountain Passes are a middle-of-the-road boot. They're not the most rugged, but they also don't feel like cinder blocks on your feet. The single-piece, full-grain uppers on this model will keep you good and dry unless you're trudging through absolute muck (in which case, just grab your wellies).

All in all, this is not your built-for-hell boot to take trudging through the mud or a mountain stream. If you want that kind of boot from Danner, rest assured that they make it. This, on the other hand, is more along the lines of a fair-weather hiking or hunting boot, though it's wonderfully suited for relatively dry terrain.

Hiking boots are always going to come with tradeoffs, and like many other things in this life, you'll really need about three or four of them to handle every kind of outing. If you find yourself in an urban setting more often than, say, trudging through a cranberry bog or a low country swamp, these stylish boots will keep you warm, dry, and of course, styling. — Owen Burke

Pros: Classic, timeless design, real leather construction, well made, can be resoled, fun collaborations with other brands

Cons: May not be perfectly waterproof, which won't serve in a torrent or muddy terrain

Read the original article on Business Insider

We followed the US Army's official esports team as it recruited gamers at a national video game convention

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 5:04pm  |  Clusterstock
Members of the US Army Esports Team.
  • The US Army has a 16-member esports team that livestreams video games like Call of Duty, Apex Legends, and Fortnite on Twitch.
  • The Army uses the esports team to recruit young gamers into joining the military branch, and has been touted as the Army's best recruitment tool as traditional methods have failed.
  • But the esports team has faced criticism for targeting young teenagers as well as for banning Twitch users who bring up issues like US war crimes.
  • We followed members of the esports team as they recruited gamers at a popular video game convention in San Antonio in January.
  • View more episodes of Business Insider Weekly on Facebook.

At a national video game convention in San Antonio, a team of gamers is showcasing the benefits of a military career to teenagers.

They're members of the Army's official esports team, a group of video game players who livestream games like Call of Duty, Apex Legends, and Fortnite around the clock in hopes of recruiting other gamers into the military.

The team of 16 gamers — chosen from a pool of 6,500 applicants — has a dedicated building with state-of-the-art equipment at the Fort Knox Army base. Although they previously served in other roles in the Army, gaming is now their full-time job.

In January, the team attended the Pax South convention in San Antonio, one of the world's top gaming expos, to interact with fellow gaming enthusiasts.

"A massive convention like this, we'll do several thousand leads over the course of a long weekend," Lt. Col. Kirk Duncan of the esports team said. "The numbers are really staggering."

At this convention, the team attracted interest from gamers like 18-year-old high school senior Argelio Arto Guajardo.

"It makes me want to join the Army because of the esports team," Guajardo said. "It's every gamer's dream to join a pro team, win, make new friends along the way. I'm hoping to get a good education there, good healthcare, pay the bills and that stuff," said Argelio Artie Guajardo.

But Guajardo adds that he would only join the army as a last resort.

"Oh yeah, I'm scared," he said. "I don't want to get shot. I don't want to blow up. It's kind of scary to lose a leg or a limb."

The esports team visits video game conventions like Pax South in San Antonio to interact and recruit gaming enthusiasts into the military. The esports team is streaming again after a five-week, self-imposed "pause" to review internal policy. The team faced heavy criticism in July when it started banning users who asked about US war crimes on its Twitch chat, a move some legal experts argued violated the users' First Amendment rights.

Earlier this year, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York introduced an amendment that would prevent the military from using esports for recruitment. Although the proposal was defeated, the Army has since introduced a new set of guidelines that includes limiting its Twitch channel to players who are 18 and older. 

"There are certain young people that game that we can't actively recruit because of their age," Duncan said. "But if we can build that interest in them when they are young, when it comes time for them to make decisions about what they want to do with their future, we hope that their experience interacting with the esports team will plant a seed that, hey, maybe I can be a soldier."

Esports team members stream practically around the clock on Twitch — in some cases a single shift is 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

"All we are doing is pulling the curtain away and showing you who we are as people," Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Jones, general manager of the Army esports team, told Business Insider Weekly. "Now we are actually telling you, hey, we're just like you. We understand one another. We're both gamers. We both live in this ecosystem that is gaming and esports, so why not have that conversation?"

The esports program started in 2018 after the Army missed its recruiting goal for the first time in 13 years. It became clear that old ways of recruiting — at college career fairs and by making cold calls to landlines — were no longer working.

The esports team has faced criticism for its recruitment of young teenagers. Now, the team travels to gaming events, colleges and high schools around the country. The recruiting goal for 2020 is enlisting up to 66,000 new recruits by September 30.

The team includes seasoned soldiers like Sgt. 1st Class Joshua David, aka "Strotnium," who has seen war up close. He served as an Army Ranger, dog handler, and sniper before joining the esports team. David is the Army's best Call of Duty player, and streams from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.

"Usually it would just be us talking" with their opponents during the livestream, David said. "We're like, 'Oh yeah, we are in the Army. And then they are like, 'You are in the Army and you are playing video games?'"

"Then it just kind of opens the whole floodgate — 'How? Why? Please tell us more, we want to know.'"

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the audience for esports has doubled on the streaming platform Twitch, which has 17.5 million daily visitors. And with 72% of men and 49% of women under 30 playing video games these days, the pool of potential recruits is growing rapidly.

"It's an opportunity to engage them in a platform where they are constantly day after day," Duncan said. "Someone who has the skills, the discipline, the desire, the communication, the ability to problem-solve. Those are all things that we are looking for in soldiers."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Twitter is trying to sublease parts of its San Francisco headquarters after telling employees they can work from home forever

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 4:54pm  |  Clusterstock
Twitter's headquarters in San Francisco.
  • Twitter has decided to sublease more than 100,000 square feet of its San Francisco headquarters as employees continue working from home. 
  • The space includes 878 work stations and is available to lease for up to five years. 
  • The decision was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • Twitter announced in May that its employees could work from home forever if they'd like, and CEO Jack Dorsey has repeatedly said that having a decentralized workforce has been the goal for several years.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Twitter is subleasing more than 100,000 square feet of space at its San Francisco headquarters as its employees continue working from home.

The San Francisco Chronicle's Roland Li was the first to report the news.

According to the Chronicle, Twitter is offering up 104,850 square feet, which includes 878 work stations, at its headquarters on Market Street in San Francisco. Leases are available for anywhere from two to five years, the Chronicle reports. 

The office, which spans 800,000 square feet in total, previously housed most of Twitter's global workforce, which numbers over 5,000. 

"Our focus on prioritizing decentralization has allowed us to flex our active leased spaces as needed," a Twitter spokesperson told Business Insider. "San Francisco is where a majority of our employees will be based for the foreseeable future, and we will continue to maintain our footprint here."

The company said it has no plans to close any of its offices and that its decision to sublease its space is part of its ongoing focus on supporting a distributed workforce.

Twitter's decision to sublease part of its headquarters follows the company's decision in May that employees may work from home forever if they'd like, even after offices begin to reopen. 

"Opening offices will be our decision, when and if our employees come back, will be theirs," a Twitter spokesperson told Business Insider at the time. "When we do decide to open offices, it also won't be a snap back to the way it was before. It will be careful, intentional, office by office and gradual."

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has repeatedly said he wants to "decentralize" Twitter's workforce, which the company had already been working on for "a year, if not two years" before the coronavirus outbreak. When he talked to startup founders these days, none of them are looking to have a Silicon Valley headquarters.

"No one wants to move to San Francisco anymore, no one can afford to live in San Francisco anymore, so they're hiring people all over the country, all over the world," Dorsey said on "The Boardroom: Out of Office" podcast in August. 

Dorsey said that having a distributed workforce was "the whole promise of the internet" to begin with. 

"It makes location irrelevant but yet here we are, an internet company, that's completely centralizing in San Francisco," Dorsey said. "We're not living up to the ideals of what the internet inspired us to be and what it can show." 

Twitter isn't the only company rethinking its approach to physical office space as a result of the pandemic, however. Last month, Pinterest announced it had decided to cancel a massive new office in San Francisco, saying that it was "rethinking where future employees could be based" and aiming for a more distributed workforce, according to the Chronicle. 

Read the original article on Business Insider


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