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SabineTek Showcases Innovative Wireless Microphone SmartMike+ at CES 2020

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LAS VEGAS–()–Sabine Technology (SabineTek), a leading innovative startup focused on mobile acoustics audio processing and communication, showcased its award-winning SmartMike+ at CES 2020 which just concluded on January 10 in Las Vegas. As an innovative wireless microphone, SmartMike+ is the best companion tool for individuals to shoot videos with their smartphones or cameras. It won two CES 2020 Innovation Awards in Headphones & Personal Audio and Mobile Device & Accessories categories.

At CES 2020, SabineTek was reported on by much of the media including Süddeutsche Zeitung which also did an exclusive interview with the CEO. During the 4-day event, SabineTek attracted a lot of visitors, especially many customers who wanted to be SabineTek’s distributors in countries including Australia, Germany, France, India, the United States, Spain, Thailand, Japan and the United Kingdom.

This time Sabine brought several products, among which SmartMike+ stood out. SmartMike+ is the world’s first true wireless microphone transmitted through Bluetooth, boasting features such as the mini size, the multi-device connection, the long transmission distance, and the automatic caption. Coupled with smartphones or SLR cameras, it can provide wireless capture of high-quality sound, as well as two-way transmission and sound mixing for videos, perfectly freeing vloggers and video amateurs from audio problems. SmartMike+ caused a sensation at CES 2020 as it overturned the public’s traditional understanding that video recording with HD audio must be done through external wired microphones or professional audio capture devices.

With its powerful features, SmartMike+ can be applied in many recording scenarios.

When recording an event, it is inevitable that two people will speak at the same time. In this case, simply turn on the smartphone Bluetooth and connect two SmartMike+ devices to enter the TWS mode. SmartMike+ will send noise-reduced sound back to the smartphone in real time.

For example, when recording a conference, one of the SmartMike+ devices can be used as a Bluetooth transmitter and the other as a receiver. The former can be plugged into the loudspeaker/camera through a 3.5mm conversion cable, and the other can be clipped on the speaker to real-time transmit the noise-reduced sound to the loudspeaker/allow the cameraman to record the sound from a distance.

When doing a live stream, the user can use one of the SmartMike+ devices as a Bluetooth transmitter and plug it into his/her smartphone through a 3.5mm conversion cable, and clip the other one on him/her to realize the real wireless Bluetooth live streaming. Distance and cable will no longer be trouble for streamers.

SmartMike+ weighs only 14g and can last up to 5 ~ 6 hours on a single charge. Its sampling rate is as high as 48KHz/16bit, comparable to CD sound quality. At the same time, it uses multiple digital noise reduction technologies to effectively filter air flow and environmental noises, restoring the most realistic sound source. For interviews, meetings, classrooms, or entertainment activities such as recording TikTok or doing live streaming, SmartMike+ can be of great help to the user.

Proudly, as a startup company, SabineTek has won the CES awards for the fourth consecutive year. In 2018, SabineTek SMIC won the CES Innovation Award. In 2019, SabineTek SOLO KTV won the CES Innovation Award again.

About Sabine Technology Co., Ltd.

SabineTek is an innovative technology company that gathers top experts in the fields of acoustics, communications and electronic engineering. As an important strategic partner of Qualcomm music and voice, SabineTek is known as the sound expert in the era of mobile Internet. SabineTek has demonstrated its global leading technologies in the field of mobile audio processing and communications with a series of its products that greatly enhance people’s experience in scenarios such as voice intelligence, wireless convergence media communications, online education, corporate meetings, content production & transmission, and medical health.

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Almost a fifth of small businesses ‘at risk of collapse within month’ | Business

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Almost a fifth of small businesses are at risk of collapsing within the next month as they struggle to secure emergency cash meant to support them through the coronavirus lockdown, according to research by an accountancy network.

The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has pledged unprecedented aid to companies to try to cushion the blow from much of the economy shutting down but businesses and politicians have raised concerns that there are gaps in the schemes.

Some 18% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) either probably or definitely will not be able to obtain additional cash from the government to survive for a four-week period, according to the Corporate Finance Network.

Its accountancy firm members estimated that almost a third of their 13,000 small-company clients from around the UK would be unable to acquire the cash needed to ride out an extended, three-month lockdown.

Rachel Reeves, the Labour MP who heads the business select committee, wrote to the chancellor on Tuesday outlining concerns with the schemes to support companies.

Income subsidies

Direct cash grants for self-employed people, worth 80% of average profits, up to £2,500 a month. There are similar wage subsidies for employees.

Loan guarantees for business

Government to back £330bn of loans to support businesses through a Bank of England scheme for big firms. There are loans of up to £5m with no interest for six months for smaller companies.

Business rates

Taxes levied on commercial premises will be abolished this year for all retailers, leisure outlets and hospitality sector firms.

Cash grants

Britain’s smallest 700,000 businesses eligible for cash grants of £10,000. Small retailers, leisure and hospitality firms can get bigger grants of £25,000.

Benefits

Government to increase value of universal credit and tax credits by £1,000 a year, as well as widening eligibility for these benefits.

Sick pay

Statutory sick pay to be made available from day one, rather than day four, of absence from work, although ministers have been criticised for not increasing the level of sick pay above £94.25 a week. Small firms can claim for state refunds on sick pay bills.

Other

Local authorities to get a £500m hardship fund to provide people with council tax payment relief.

Mortgage and rental holidays available for up to three months.

Those concerns included some banks’ use of personal guarantees in the form of savings and mortgages to secure lending to small businesses under the government’s hastily formulated business interruption loans scheme. She also said that some of the banks offering the government-backed loans were putting in place “punitive” interest rates that made it impossible for companies to borrow money.

“The challenge now is getting the money out of the door to support businesses before it’s too late,” she told BBC radio on Wednesday. “There are many businesses who if they don’t quickly access this cash they are going to go under.

“That will have huge consequences for employment and also our ability to grow the economy when this pandemic has passed. If businesses collapse they won’t be able to ensure our economy can recover. They will be lost for ever.”

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The banking industry body, UK Finance, has said it is running the schemes in line with the government’s design.

In her letter to Sunak, Reeves said the history of support to the banking sector meant they had to step up. The industry and regulators at the Bank of England have said that banks are well positioned to support the economy through the crisis. The banks on Tuesday night agreed to scrap dividend payouts to shareholders after Bank of England pressure.

“Banks were kept afloat by government and taxpayers during the financial crisis,” Reeves wrote. “I would urge them to play their part in helping small and medium-sized businesses through this crisis.”

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Texas ‘mom and pop’ business flooded with orders for helmet ventilators amid coronavirus crisis

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One month ago, Chris Austin was running a little-known mom-and-pop business in Texas that fielded a few dozen orders a week for his helmet-style ventilation devices.

He had five employees and a handful of volunteers from the family’s church who would pitch in at the workshop behind their home in the small town of Waxahachie.

Then the coronavirus epidemic hit.

Austin’s company, Sea-Long Medical Systems Inc., is getting thousands of orders every day, from America’s top hospitals to countries as far flung as the United Arab Emirates. Researchers say the device, which costs less than $200, could help hospitals free up ventilators for only the most critically ill coronavirus patients.

“‘Overwhelmed’ doesn’t scratch the surface,” Austin told NBC News.

Sea-Long Medical Systems helmets resemble crude spacesuit helmets, with transparent hoods sealed at the neck and two tubes extending from the base.Sea-Long Medical Systems

The demand for the Sea-Long helmet underscores the dire shortage of ventilators in the U.S. and around the globe fueled by a surge in hospital patients suffering from COVID-19.

In the last few weeks, hospitals have been flooded with patients experiencing respiratory problems so severe they need the help of a machine to help them breathe.

Governors have made impassioned pleas for more equipment. Companies like General Motors and Ford have redesigned their assembly lines to produce the lifesaving devices. And hospital executives are scrambling to snap up any equipment that might help ease the escalating crisis playing out inside their facilities.

The Sea-Long device doesn’t look the part of a lifesaving medical device. It resembles a crude spacesuit helmet, with a transparent hood sealed at the neck and two tubes extending from its base. The helmet was originally designed to supply oxygen to patients receiving treatment in hyperbaric chambers.

But doctors in Italy, where a version of the helmet has long been used to treat people experiencing breathing problems, found it to be effective in helping some COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Bhakti Patel, who has been studying the devices for four years, said they hold promise as an early intervention that could spare respiratory patients the need to be put on the more traditional — and costly and invasive — ventilators.

“I would love for there to be a silver bullet for this pandemic,” said Patel, a pulmonologist at the University of Chicago. “My best hope is that the way it changes the game is that maybe it shaves off the number of patients who need a ventilator — even if it’s 1 out of 3 or 1 out of 5.”

“If that is the case,” Patel added, “that would be a game changer when we’re seeing this tidal wave of patients who need a ventilator.”

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Patel led a first-of-its-kind study in 2016 that tested the Sea-Long helmet against an oxygen mask for a group of 83 intensive care patients suffering from acute respiratory distress. The researchers found that the helmet led to superior outcomes: Patients using them required ventilation 18.2 percent of the time, compared to 61.5 percent for the masks, and had a better 90-day survival rate, according to the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The trial was stopped early because the helmets proved more effective than the masks, resulting in a smaller sample size than originally intended. But Patel believes the device could lead to a sea change in intensive care units that have long relied on traditional ventilators. Those devices require doctors to fully sedate patients and insert a tube into their windpipes, a process that can cause pneumonia and other problems when used for extended periods of time.

“If we take away the ventilator — which comes with this package of sedating people, making them not move, making them sort of not have memory of what’s happening — perhaps we could spare some patients some long-term complications,” Patel said.

At $162 apiece, the Sea-Long helmet costs a tiny fraction of the five-figure ventilators.

The original devices were made to run through ventilators. But working with Patel and her mentor, Dr. John Kress, Sea-Long has modified the helmets so they can be hooked up to a hospital’s regular oxygen supply, keeping the ventilators free for those who need them most. They have also made another significant modification, adding a viral filter to prevent possible COVID-19 exposure to others.

This week, the team at the University of Chicago Medical Center used the helmet on one coronavirus patient and has gotten encouraging results, Kress said. The facility has received 20 of an expected 100 helmets and is planning to use them on additional patients, the doctors said.

Chris Austin, fourth left, says his team has been working around the clock for the past several weeks.NBC News

Other companies make similar ventilator helmets, but Sea-Long’s is the only helmet available in the U.S. that meets requirements of the Food and Drug Administration and has been validated in a clinical study for acute respiratory syndrome. No studies have yet been done, however, examining the effectiveness of the devices in treating COVID-19 patients.

Austin’s team has been working around the clock for the past several weeks. The workforce has at least doubled to more than 10 people, Austin said, and volunteers have been showing up in droves.

“We have people showing up that we don’t even know that say: ‘We’re here to help. What can we do?'” Austin said. “They don’t ask for anything. They don’t expect anything. They just say, ‘Whatever you want me to do, we’ll do it.'”

“It just about brings tears to my eyes,” Austin added.

The attention has led to some other acts of extraordinary generosity.

Austin said he recently got a surprised call from Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides offering to help him produce more devices.

“Chris, I saw what you do, and we want to help,” Whitesides said, according to Austin. “Whatever it takes.”

Austin told him he needed more machines to manufacture the devices but didn’t have the cash to pay for them. Later that day, Austin got a call from his New Jersey-based supplier.

“Somebody just paid your bill,” Austin said he was told. “They’ll be shipping tomorrow.”

With the four additional machines, Sea-Long expects to produce thousands of helmets a week. The goal is to produce 50,000 per week.

“This is the classic sort of American story,” Patel said. “It’s the little engine that could.”

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James Vanderploeg, Virgin Galactic’s chief medical officer, said the company is working with Sea-Long “to help them expand their capacity, helping with recruiting additional people and getting equipment in place and helping with the logistics and so forth — anything we can do to help them expand their throughput.” Virgin Galactic is also modeling potential prototypes for its own design of helmets used for ventilation, Vanderploeg said.

Major U.S. medical centers are now stocking up on the helmets, including Massachusetts General Hospital and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Austin said he’s also received orders from Canada, Mexico and several countries in Europe, including hard-hit Italy.

A Mass General spokesperson said the hospital has ordered five Sea-Long helmets but has not yet received them.

A Penn Health spokesperson confirmed that the hospital has ordered the devices.

With so much of the world in need and so many orders coming in at once, Austin has faced a difficult question: Whom to prioritize?

“We really look at where is the need,” Austin said. “We know New York has a stronger need. We know Boston. We know Chicago. … But we also know that we have to get what we can to Italy.”

For now, the company is shipping only a limited number helmets per order, “because we still can’t afford the volume of a huge order,” he said.

Amid the worsening pandemic, Sea-Long isn’t planning to raise the price in part because it doesn’t want to limit who has access to the devices.

“This probably sounds sappy,” Austin said, “but we think of what if that was our son or daughter or grandfather sitting there in that bed gasping for air and we have to explain to him: ‘I’m sorry. We don’t have anything for you.'”

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Small business loans could become target of fraud and a government watchdog is already trying to stop it

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Behind the scenes, conversations have begun with law enforcement partners around the country to ensure that the Small Business Administration’s expansion of loans is disbursed to the people intended to receive the funding, according to a spokesman from the Office of the Inspector General.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an interview with Fox Business Monday that the small business loans included in the stimulus package amounting in nearly $350 billion would become available as soon as Friday. And, as he’s pledged to get checks cut at “lightning speed,” the Inspector General’s office at SBA is working to try and educate consumers, lenders and law enforcement about what signs to look for to stamp out fraudsters.

But the sheer volume of the money going out the door is a challenge. For an agency that gave out $28 billion in 2019, doling out $350 billion in a matter of months will be an unprecedented scale especially given the tight timeline.

This week, the IG’s office released guidelines for consumers warning of ways the new loan program could be targeted for fraud.

“The Office of Inspector General recognizes that we are facing unprecedented times and is alerting the public about potential fraud schemes related to economic stimulus programs offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration response to the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic,” the document reads. “Fraudsters have already begun targeting small business owners during these economically difficult times.”

The document included a warning that small business owners should not have to pay anything upfront. And, “if someone offers a high interest bridge loan in the interim, suspect fraud.”

The office has begun work on a report that will lay out potential vulnerabilities in past disaster relief loan programs — and what clues they leave for investigators this time around.

Groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business are also educating their members about how to apply for the loans and instructing them on how to protect their assets from potential bad actors.

“It is a very scary and a real issue,” said Tom Sullivan, the vice president of small business policy at the US Chamber of Commerce. “It is our responsibility to tell small businesses: do not respond to an offer for financial help that is not initiated by yourself…If you don’t initiate the conversation, then be really, really careful.”

The $350 billion about to be disbursed through the Payment Protection Program will allow small businesses to apply for loans to keep staff on payroll. The money can also go to small business owners to pay rent and utilities. The loans can be forgiven if small business owners meet certain requirements including keeping staff on the payroll without reducing their wages.

From Capitol Hill, aides are working closely with the administration to ensure the infrastructure is ready to handle the challenge.

“There is work going on to head off any potential problems,” one GOP aide familiar with the buildup of the program told CNN. “Everything is massive in scope and everything about everything is unprecedented right now.”

In light of the urgent needs, Congress also allowed the SBA to expand eligible lenders who can participate in the program, meaning that banks that typically aren’t included on the SBA’s preferred lender list and don’t have experience administering SBA loans will now be allowed to.

“The balance here is speed vs. perfection,” Sullivan said. “You don’t have the time to wait for perfection to keep your doors open, the lights on and your employees paid.”

There are still questions as to whether $350 billion will even be enough. Business groups argue that need is only going to continue as stay-at-home orders continue throughout the country.

“There are very few who aren’t feeling the impact,” said Holly Wade, the director of research and policy analysis for the National Federation of Independent Business. “They are in desperate need of a cash infusion. The demand of these loans is huge. That will be the challenge in facilitating the massive demand.”

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