Building Homes for London

London has a housing problem.  Over the last eighty years it has failed to build the one million new homes that its growing population needs.  As a result, prices have sky-rocketed to the point that a first home costs up to fifteen times a joint salary.  On average, it now takes a couple around thirty years to save a deposit to get on the housing ladder.  By the time they’ve saved that, they’ll be in their early fifties, which means they’re unlikely to get a mortgage.  The dream of owning your own home is exactly that – a dream. 

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Bluetooth and Auracast are changing the way microphones are designed

Most people have a view about their speakers, earbuds and headphones.  They’ll happily enthuse about the audio performance, how well the noise cancellation works, their battery life and features like transparency.  But nobody talks about microphones.  The most you’re ever likely to hear is an exasperated “can you hear me” during a phone conversation, or a possibly muted oath about whether they’re muted and how to turn the mute on or off.

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Will 2024 be the year of Apple’s Vision Pro or Bluetooth’s Auracast?

It’s almost wo weeks since Apple shipped its first tranche of Vision Pros to around 100,000 lucky boys and girls (although I suspect the majority were lucky boys).  According to the New York Times, the average cost of a Vision Pro is close to $4,600 by the time you’ve fitted it out with the recommended accessories.  If you’re outside the US, there’s a significant premium on top of that.  So, the first tranche of sales of around 200,000 units will have netted Apple in excess of $1 billion.   That’s a staggering achievement, as is folding all of the tech into the product.  Bringing it to market is an amazing step.  The question is whether it’s going to impinge on very many people? 

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Why politicians fail at energy policy

This week, the UK’s opposition leader, Keir Starmer, outlined his plans for the United Kingdom’s energy policy, delivering his party’s national mission on clean energy.  The key plank of this is to do for oil and gas what Maggie Thatcher did for coal.  Margaret Thatcher had an ulterior motive, which was to try and break the power of the coal unions. Keir Starmer appears to have no ulterior motive, other than a desire for a glib soundbite.  In explaining the policy, he posited that stopping any new North Sea oil and gas exploration licences would let the UK concentrate on more renewables.  Explaining why he thought that was a good idea, he claimed that as renewable energy isn’t subject to global price surges, we would not be held to ransom when global demand causes costs to soar.  Instead, we would have a British energy company making British energy for British people.

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Arts Council England allocates £12.8 million for “HS2 – The Musical”

London.  1st April 2023.  Arts Council England has just announced its support for a new piece of music theatre, awarding £12.8 million for the development of “HS2 – The Musical”.  This commitment showcases the Council’s policy of funding the Arts in joining and levelling up the country, reflecting and capturing the ambitions of the Government’s flagship HS2 project.

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Do tech startups need patents?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any tech startup wanting success needs to acquire a patent portfolio.  Is that really true?  Or is it just a fiction?

Whether a tech startup needs patents and an IP portfolio is an entirely different question to “should a tech startup file patents”?  Unless you understand the difference between those two questions, you may waste hundreds of thousands of dollars, but today’s perceived wisdom is that it‘s money worth wasting.  That perception isn’t new.  When W. S. Gilbert penned the lyrics for Iolanthe, back in 1882,  he had a character describe a colleague, observing that “his inventions may have enriched him by degrees, but all his little income went on patent office fees”.  In the ensuing 140 years, the patent industry has worked very hard to perpetuate that status.

I’d argue that startups need to put far more thought into the value of patents and whether they really need them.  Rather than adding value to a company, in many cases they are just a drain on cash, which a startup could use more effectively elsewhere, not least because a company lives and dies on its cashflow, not its patent portfolio.  So, what’s the point of patents?

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