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Broadcasters are really, really scared of Aereo

Friday, 12 Jul 2013 | 5:01 PM ET
Source: Aereo

A weekly recap of the latest news on the CNBC Disruptor 50 companies upending the status quo in the markets.

Another Broadcaster Tries to Shut Down Aereo

Last month, internet television company Aereo expanded to Boston. This week, the Hearst-owned ABC affiliate in Boston, WCVB-TV, sued Aereo, the latest in a long line of broadcasters to use the courts as a venue for litigating Aereo off the air.

The Boston ABC affiliate claims copyright infringement, arguing that Aereo "intentionally induces and encourages its subscribers to directly infringe WCVB's copyrights by reproducing programming without authorization."

Aereo is already involved in litigation with several networks in New York.

The Boston channel claims that Aereo's service—which relies on each user being given a dime-sized antenna—is wholly unlike a roof- or set-top antenna and making the technology work requires copyright infringement.

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Google Already Taking the Waze Approach…

It hasn't taken long for navigation app company Waze to have an impact on Google, which bought Waze for more than $1 billion in June. Google has updated its Maps app in a way that takes a lead from Waze.

Users can now see reports of problems on the road and incident details. Waze's signature is its crowd-sourced driving alerts. The updated Google Maps app isn't actually using Waze technology—Google said at the time of acquisition that the two companies would operate independently—but the new Google Maps app feature does take a page out of Waze's book.

…While Challenging Foursquare

Another Google acquisition is also lending its Maps app a hand in trying to tackle some competition from disruptors. The updated Google Maps also takes aim at Foursquare. The updated Google Maps incorporates restaurant reviews from Zagat, which Google bought in 2011, so a spot's ratings will appear with the search. Users also can add their own rating and comments for a restaurant directly through Maps, giving it a slight edge over Yelp as users can stay in the same app.

Google is also going after Foursquare with its Explore feature, which, similar to Foursquare's, breaks down the function for finding nearby spots into categories. In Google's case, those include 'Eat,' 'Drink,' 'Sleep' and 'Shop.'

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Foursquare Finds New Location

Foursquare, meanwhile, is among the apps being featured in Nokia's latest smart gadget, the 1020 Lumia handset, which the company launched with much fanfare earlier this week—though details from the phone had been previously leaked.

Some of the first app partners to be featured on the Lumia handset are Yelp, Path, Oggl and Foursquare, raising the apps' profile in the Windows-based phone world.

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Nest, Opower: Frenemies?

Smart thermostat company Nest and energy efficiency partner to major utilities Opower are supposed to be in the game of getting consumers to use energy more wisely through different methods—Nest with its hip thermostat on your living room wall, and Opower by going directly to the utility industry players. With the introduction of Opower's latest demand response program, though, some energy market watchers argue that the two companies are starting to look more like competitors.

"At one point, Opower was simply crunching utility data and sending out paper alerts to customers about their energy use. And Nest had simply built a cool-looking smart thermostat that can glean the basics about homeowners' behavior.

But with Opower now deploying a smart thermostat with demand response capabilities and Nest building relationships with utilities to leverage demand response for its thermostat as well, the two companies' domains are starting to overlap," reports renewable energy news publisher Greentech Media.

Her Majesty's Uber

Rideshare app Uber, which last week began ferrying the one percent to the Hamptons by helicopter, has expanded its offerings in London. Previously, Uber only offered its UberLUX service with a fleet of Mercedes, Jaguars and BMWs. Now

it's launching the nonexecutive UberX service at a base fare of £3.00 and a cost of£1.75 for each additional mile—UberLux has a £5 base fare and £4 per mile. The company claims this is significantly cheaper than a traditional Black Cab (between 30 percent and 50 percent). The lower-cost UberX rides are the BMW 3 Series or Toyota Prius equivalent.

In news of interest to the CNBC Disruptor 50 companies:

First Commercial 3-D Printers Hit UK

3-D printers are being sold in stores in the U.K. for the first time, bringing the game-changing technology which enables users to print solid objects to the masses.

British electronics chain Maplin has seen high demand for the Velleman K8200 printer, which costs £699.99 ($1,047). It has already sold out online, and there is a 30-day wait for new stock.

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Drone Lands on Carrier

History was made Wednesday as an unmanned aircraft landed on an aircraft carrier for the first time.

The X-47B, built by Northrop Grumman, took off from Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland and was captured on the USS George H.W. Bush off the coast of Virginia.

The unmanned combat air vehicle is one of two Northrop built for the Navy to demonstrate the potential of using such drones from—and landing them on—aircraft carriers. Already, the X-47B has successfully been launched from the carrier and done so-called touch and goes, but Wednesday's landing marked the first time the aircraft was captured on the flight deck.

Rise of the Robots

The Pentagon unveiled this week its Atlas robot, a debut The New York Times hailed as ushering in the age of the "Robo Sapiens."

Honda's humanoid Asimo robot is already giving guided tours in a Tokyo museum. The Pentagon has more ambitious goals for Atlas. The government wants Atlas to work in disaster situations where humans cannot survive—think a nuclear disaster—while also performing a host of tasks that have applications in military operations, rescue operations and general business purposes, from shutting off valves to throwing switches, opening doors, operating power equipment and traveling over rocky ground.

—By Eric Rosenbaum, CNBC.com

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