Toto expands touchless bathroom tech and debuts a health-analyzing toilet at CES 2021

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The Toto Wellness Toilet is a concept that analyzes your waste.


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This story is part of CES, where our editors will bring you the latest news and the hottest gadgets of the entirely virtual CES 2021.

Toto is a staple in the bathroom fixture market, and this year at CES the company highlighted new models of touchless technology, as well as the concept of a wellness toilet that analyzes your, ahem, output. 

Wellness toilet

Let’s be clear, this toilet is anticipated to come to market “in the next several years” according to Toto, but the concept is intriguing even today. It’s definitely in development and probably not a far-fetched concept, now that smart toilets and health trackers are commonplace at tech events.

The Wellness Toilet is a Toto concept that senses and analyzes the user’s “body and key outputs” to provide recommendations on ways to improve their health. In a connected app, you’d be able to view your stats, and see those improvement recommendations. Toto gives the example of a recommendation to add more salmon to your diet.  

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Toto is working on a wellness toilet that analyzes human skin and waste with each use. 


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Toto also points to the unique combination of skin sensing (yes, butts) and human waste as the toilet’s advantage in the wellness landscape. If you’ve ever provided samples at your doctor’s office, you know there’s a wealth of information just waiting to be gleaned from fecal matter.

There aren’t many more specifics on the tech, data privacy or app security Toto is planning for the Wellness Toilet, but kudos to the nearly century-old company for such a forward-looking concept.

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Toto Washlet adds improvements for 2021.


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More touchless toilet tech

Kohler recently announced an expansion of its touchless toilet and faucet line, keen on helping people avoid germs as much as possible. Toto came to CES with a similar goal, announcing more touchless products. Unlike the Wellness Toilet, these are products available this year. 

Toto’s Washlet bidet and seat combination goes back to the 1980s, when it first came to market. Now, the company sells millions of units each year and just announced two new models of the Washlet and Washlet Plus. 

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Toto’s redesigned Washlets and Washlet Plus systems clean more thoroughly and look better.


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This year, the company is upgrading its entry-level Washlet C2 and slightly fancier Washlet C5 models. The two new units have a sleeker design and are easier to clean. Both models will also have what Toto calls EWater Plus, a system that cleans the bidet wand inside and out before and after each use. 

Both new Washlets can come as Washlet Plus models, meaning they connect to a Toto toilet and make use of Toto’s other cleaning technologies like premist, in which the bowl’s interior is sprayed with a fine mist of water to reduce mold and mildew’s ability to stick,

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2021 Mercedes S-Class Shows Exterior Design, Interior Tech On Camera



a car parked in a parking lot: 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class walkaround video lead image


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2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class walkaround video lead image

A month after the debut, how do you like the rear end?

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is all-new for the 2021 model year. On the outside, it may look like a simple evolution of its predecessor but the truth is it’s an all-new model underneath with many technological innovations. A new video from the Mr. Benz channel on YouTube takes a detailed look at some of the vehicle’s features.

Starting with the exterior, it’s interesting how the radiator grille is actually the same size as before but the larger headlights make the front fascia look more imposing. Also, the hood is longer, the wheels are sharper and larger, and the C-pillar flows more smoothly into the rear shoulder. 

Features such as the optional flush door handles and

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Columbus Day Sales 2020: 13 Tech, Furniture, and Kitchenware Deals To Shop This Weekend

Columbus Day sales, unlike Labor Day sales or even Fourth of July sales, aren’t really a thing. If you consider it for a second—and remind yourself that Christopher Columbus was a monster who didn’t discover anything—you realize Columbus Day shouldn’t really even be a holiday. This year’s “holiday,” which we will now only refer to as Indigenous Peoples Day, is even stranger, thanks to its proximity to a delayed Amazon Prime Day. The mega-retailer will flex its muscle with an onslaught of discounts literally the day after the occasion. Based on our initial scans, it seems like most of the other tech and home goods retailers are holding their sale cards close to the chest, waiting to unleash their best deals until Prime Day begins in earnest. But for now, there’s still some decent price drops available on a range of gear, especially home tech and furniture upgrades. Here’s some of the best sales we could find, all available to shop this weekend. 

Looking for Columbus Day sales on menswear? Here you go! How about mattresses? Yes, we’ve got you covered.

Tech

Apple: Apple isn’t running its own fall sale, but if you’re a student or educator you can get free AirPods with the purchase of a new Mac or iPad through the company’s Back to School offer.

Best Buy: Best Buy’s sale section is stocked with decent TVs, laptops, and appliances.

Walmart: The big box retailer doesn’t have a headline grabbing sale going on right now, but it’s still a good place to check if you’re in the market for a new laptop or robot vacuum. 

Kitchen and Cookware

Sur La Table: Sur La Table’s sale section is stocked with cookware and kitchen tools, including a bunch of gear from the Le Creuset.

Williams Sonoma: Take an extra 20% off most products in the clearance section with code “EXTRA.” That includes a bunch of cookware, accessories, and appliances. 

Furniture and Home Goods

Bed Bath & Beyond: Up to 50% off select bath, kitchen, storage, and holiday gear. 

Bloomingdale’s: Funnily enough, Bloomingdale’s is offering an extra 25% off items that are already 25% off. And everything on the site ships free this week. 

Blu Dot: During the company’s Annual sale, you get 20% off all Blu Dot designs. 

Burrow: Another long weekend, another sliding scale Burrow sale. Use code COZY to unlock 10% off everything up to $1,800. The code also gets you $200 off orders of at least that much, $250 if you crack $2,200, $300 if it’s more than $2,600, $400 if it’s at least $3,000, and $500 if you spend at least $4,000. 

Macy’s: 25-50% off a bunch of clothes, kitchenware, and bedding, with an extra 10-25% off with code FALL.  

Schoolhouse: The design company’s Summer Edit sale is gives you 15% off some genuinely lovely home accents. Ideal if you’re trying to prepare your bedroom for the Fall. 

Urban Outfitters: Take an extra 30% off sale items. 

Wayfair: Up to 60% off select holiday gear

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White House, Covid-19, election, Big Tech, China

California’s expansive August Complex Fire is now a gigafire — a term for a blaze that burns at least a million acres of land.



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Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. White House 

President Trump says he has ordered his negotiators to stop discussing a new stimulus deal until after the election. His announcement sent stocks plunging and sparked new uncertainty among people in particularly hard-hit industries, like airlines. While Congress has butted heads for months over stimulus proposals, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin seemed to be mounting a strong new effort to get a deal done soon. Now, experts warn of what may happen to the economy with further aid still on hold. Meanwhile, Stephen Miller, a top Trump policy adviser, is the latest White House official to test positive for coronavirus. The White House said it has completed “all contact tracing” for positive Covid-19 cases among its ranks, but given the confusing and sometimes contradictory information released by the administration about the recent outbreak, doubt remains. 





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2. Coronavirus 

Half of US states are now seeing an increase in coronavirus diagnoses, and the country just surpassed a cumulative 7.5 million reported cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci says the US could see 400,000 Covid-19 deaths by this winter if health recommendations continue to be flouted. “Pandemic fatigue,” so to speak, is also a problem in Europe, the World Health Organization warns. Amid this apathy, countries like Germany are seeing their highest number of cases in months. On the vaccine front, the FDA says it will want to see two months of follow-up data for any clinical trial that may lead to a coronavirus vaccine. That would make it difficult, if not impossible, for any vaccine maker to apply for emergency use authorization by Election Day.

3. Election 2020

The vice presidential debate between VP Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris is tonight at the University of Utah, and Covid-19 precautions are top of mind. After initially balking at the idea, Pence’s team has agreed to have plexiglass barriers on stage. VP debates are usually an undercard, but given that President Trump and Joe Biden are both in their 70s, Pence’s and Harris’ appearances seem to mean more this time around. While Harris’ team says she will likely focus on Trump and his record, Pence may face questions about the administration’s handling of the pandemic and his own role leading the White House coronavirus task force. Watch at 9 p.m. ET.

4. Big Tech

Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook hold “monopoly power” in key business segments and have abused their dominance in the marketplace, according to a 16-month congressional investigation into the tech giants. The House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel issued the strong condemnation, and said the companies’ anticompetitive conduct

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House Democrats propose antitrust overhaul to rein in big tech

But partisan disagreements over next steps may blunt the report’s immediate impact, despite a widespread desire to rein in Silicon Valley titans among both conservative and liberal lawmakers. Several of the committee’s Republicans, led by Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, endorsed some Democrat-backed proposals in a separate report unveiled Tuesday while warning that the majority’s more aggressive recommendations are “non-starters for conservatives.”

The investigation: The subcommittee issued Tuesday’s recommendations in a report that assailed the business practices of Silicon Valley’s most powerful companies, who lawmakers said have unfairly stifled competitors to the detriment of consumers. As part of the probe, lawmakers and staff have collected over a million documents, interviewed hundreds of witnesses and hauled in the companies’ CEOs to testify this summer.

Among other allegations, the panel investigated complaints that tech titans have trampled competitors by acquiring up-and-coming rivals and favoring their own products on the online storefronts they operate, such as Amazon’s Marketplace and Apple’s App Store.

“To put it simply, companies that once were scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons,” Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and subcommittee Chair David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said in the report. “Although these firms have delivered clear benefits to society, the dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google has come at a price.”

The proposals: The report calls for an array of changes, some of which boast bipartisan support while others have only Democratic backing.

Among them are Democratic proposals to ban major tech platforms from acquiring future startups or potential rivals and barring them from both owning marketplaces — such as Amazon’s sprawling e-commerce hub — and selling competing products on them.

The report also calls on Congress to grant federal antitrust enforcers new resources to police possible abuses by the major firms, despite decades of “institutional failure” where the agencies “failed to block monopolists from establishing or maintaining their dominance.” Recommendation include increasing budgets, allowing the Federal Trade Commission to seek civil penalties for violations and imposing stricter prohibitions on senior staff from the agencies doing work for the companies after their tenure.

Democratic subcommittee member Pramila Jayapal of Washington state said Tuesday that she expects lawmakers will quickly look to turn the policy recommendations into actionable legislation once Congress returns in 2021 — if not sooner.

“I do hope that we will have legislation introduced early in the session and we can ideally in a year move significant pieces of legislation,” she said in an interview.

Where the parties differ: Republican lawmakers said in a separate report Tuesday that they support boosting funding and staffing levels for regulators and some more modest proposals to change U.S. antitrust laws, but they balked at Democrats’ more aggressive proposals. They include what Cicilline has described as a Glass-Steagall law for technology platforms, a reference to the Depression-era law that split up commercial and investment

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House Democrats say Big Tech must be reined in

Democratic lawmakers are calling for the U.S. to rein in the power of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, as well as overhauling U.S. antitrust law, in a sweeping report on the the dominance of Big Tech.

The 450-page report, released Tuesday by the House Antitrust Subcommittee, details a range of anticompetitive practices, charging the four companies with acting as gatekeepers, stifling competition, charging “exorbitant” fees and eroding democracy.

“Put simply, companies that once were scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons,” the report said.

The panel calls for sharply curtailing tech companies’ power, including force them to spin off their platforms from their other lines of business. This can be done by either splitting up tech companies or by limiting them to a single industry, according to the report.  

Under current law, companies active across multiple industries can use their dominance in one area to undercut competition elsewhere. For instance, the committee found that Google’s ownership of the Android smartphone operating system gives it “near-perfect market intelligence” on companies who develop apps for Android, which allows the internet giant to easily create competing apps. 

Amazon also uses information on third-party sellers on its popular marketplace to develop competing products, the report found. 

“Each platform now serves as a gatekeeper over a key channel of distribution,” the report said. “By controlling access to markets, these giants can pick winners and losers throughout our economy.”


Big tech CEOs testify before Congress

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The lawmakers also call for the platforms to be required to offer equal terms for equal products and services for all users. That would prevent companies from favoring their own products on platforms they run, as Amazon has been accused of doing in its marketplace, and Google has been accused of doing in search.

The report proposes changing antitrust laws to impose a higher bar on the approval of tech industry mergers and acquisitions. Finally, it proposes doing away with so-called mandatory arbitration clauses in tech companies’ terms of service. These clauses have proliferated in recent years and prevent users from going to court or joining class-action lawsuits if they have a dispute, instead requiring them to resolve disputes individually in private arbitration proceedings.

Although the 15-month investigation was bipartisan, Republican members of the antitrust committee dissented from most of the panel’s recommendations. Republican members issued a competing report that disagreed with the suggestions to break up large technology companies. 

The GOP report alleged that Google and Facebook censored conservative content and decried the Democrats for declining to look into Twitter, which has also been accused of having an anticonservative bias.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

Source Article

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Impact Kitchen Relaunches With New Tech Suite and Ordering App

The new loyalty app enables customers to order, pay, and collect points while directly supporting Impact Kitchen

Toronto-based health food restaurant Impact Kitchen has reopened all four of its locations with the launch of its new and streamlined full tech suite and new customer loyalty app, Impact App. Known for their paleo, gluten free, keto, and vegan health food options, Impact Kitchen has grown a loyal community of Torontonians who keep coming back for the incredible service and quality ingredients.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201006005028/en/

The restaurants, which closed temporarily at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, reopened in July with updated restaurant technology from leading restaurant technology provider Givex. The new technology includes digital menu screens, Point of Sale systems, kitchen sequence systems, and online ordering. These systems are designed to create a contactless restaurant experience with the ultimate goal of enhancing safety, improving the customer experience and fostering the Impact Kitchen community.

“We’re thrilled to be back open and serving our community with a place to safely connect with one another while having access to the high-quality health food our customers were used to before we temporarily shut down,” said Josh Broun, Co-Founder of Impact Kitchen. “Before COVID hit, we were looking for ways to consolidate our tech suite so we would be well-poised for the aggressive growth plans we’d put in place. During our temporary shutdown, we saw a great opportunity to streamline our restaurant technology to enable Impact Kitchen to grow quickly once we reopened and create an even better experience for our customers.”

In addition to the new in-house technology, Impact Kitchen has also launched its first-ever loyalty app through Givex’s Customer WebSuite. The app enables customers to order directly from Impact Kitchen online, bypassing the third party delivery apps, and complete payment online, creating a completely contactless order and pay experience. With each purchase, app users are building up loyalty points that can be redeemed for monetary value and rewards.

“The launch of our app is improving the remote experience for our community while the enhanced technology in-house is creating a more seamless experience at our restaurants,” said Broun.

The updated technology has enabled Impact Kitchen to plan for significant growth in the coming months. Impact Kitchen launched a new business stream with the introduction of grocery delivery in July. The company is poised for growth in the coming months with plans to open additional locations within the next year.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in demand for contactless payment options since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Brittain Brown, President of restaurant technology company Givex. “We recently launched an app, which is now in operation with Impact Kitchen, that enables restaurants to connect directly with their customers, sidestepping the third-party delivery apps, and creating value for customers while serving as a contactless payment solution. The reception has been overwhelmingly positive and we look forward to supporting more restaurants with this technology.”

All four Impact Kitchen

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Interior IG Team Used Evil Twins and $200 Tech to Hack Department Wi-Fi Networks

Hackers gained unauthorized access to the Interior Department’s internal systems by breaching agency Wi-Fi networks using $200 homemade hacking kits. Luckily, the attackers were white hat hackers from the Interior Office of the Inspector General.

Earlier this year, the Interior IG’s IT audit team conducted several penetration tests at bureau offices, using easily accessible hacking tools to demonstrate the fragility of the agency’s wireless networks.

“We found that the department did not deploy and operate a secure wireless network infrastructure,” the team wrote in an audit report released Wednesday. “Specifically, the department’s wireless network policy did not ensure bureaus kept inventories of their wireless networks, enforce strong user authentication measures, require periodic tests of network security, or require network monitoring to detect and repel well-known attacks.”

To expose just how vulnerable the agency’s networks are, the pentesting work was done entirely by the IG’s in-house IT audit team, which constructed portable test units that fit inside backpacks and purses and could be operated using a smartphone. Auditors then set up in public areas near Interior offices—such as park benches—or got limited access to buildings and set to work infiltrating the agency’s networks.

Each kit cost less than $200 and used widely available open source software.

“These attacks—which went undetected by security guards and IT security staff as we explored department facilities—were highly successful,” the team wrote, noting they were able to intercept and decrypt network traffic at multiple offices.

The intrusion tests showed Interior’s poor Wi-Fi security, as well as other deeper problems with resilience.

At two locations, the team was able to go “far beyond the wireless network at issue” and again access to the department’s internal networks. The IG hackers were even able to steal the login credentials of an IT employee, gaining access to the internal help desk system and visibility into all of that employee’s open tickets.

“We also found that several bureaus and offices did not implement measures to limit the potential adverse effect of breaching a wireless network,” the report reads. “Because the bureaus did not have such protective measures in place, such as network segmentation, we were able to identify assets containing sensitive data or supporting mission-critical operations.”

The report outlines two types of attacks testers used to gain access to Interior networks: one in which the attackers deciphered the pre-shared key—like the single ID and password used to log on to a home network—and another in which they stole unique credentials using “evil twins” to access a more secure network.

In the former scenario, the team used the homemade hacking kits to eavesdrop on wireless network traffic, waiting for someone to log on or otherwise transmit encoded credentials. Depending on the quality of the password, the attacker might be able to break the encryption there on the spot. If it’s too complex, the “credentials can be transmitted to higher performance remote systems where additional efforts could be dedicated to breaking the encoding,” the report states.

“There is no control that can prevent

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House Antitrust Chair Says Big Tech Abuses Gatekeeper Power

(Bloomberg) — Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. abuse their power as gatekeepers of the internet, said the head of a House antitrust panel who’s poised to propose legislative changes to rein in the technology giants.

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“Each platform uses their gatekeeper position to protect their own power,” said Representative David Cicilline, who chairs a House antitrust panel that’s spent more than a year probing the dominance of the internet platforms. “By controlling the infrastructure of the digital age, they have surveilled other businesses to identify potential rivals — and ultimately bought out, copied, or cut off their competitive threats.”

Cicilline, who spoke Thursday during a hearing with experts on competition law, is preparing a final report recommending changes to the legislative and regulatory framework. That report is expected to be released as early as next week, according to people familiar with the matter.

Sundar Pichai, Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg testified voluntarily in July before the subcommittee. Cicilline criticized their testimony as being evasive and non-responsive and said “they raised new questions about whether they believe their companies are beyond oversight.”

Representatives from Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Cicilline’s remarks.

Among the recommendations that Cicilline has floated is a prohibition against running a platform and competing on it at the same time. That would potentially bar Google from bidding in the online ad exchanges it operates or stop Amazon from providing a marketplace for independent merchants while selling its own products.

Cicilline has said he wants bipartisan support for his ideas, but hasn’t revealed whether he has Republican support for his proposals.

The GOP typically views changes to antitrust law skeptically. Although some of the committee’s Republicans have been critical of some of the technology companies’ practices, not all agree that new legislation is necessary.

“We ultimately disagree on the future of antitrust laws,” said Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, who is the top Republican on the subcommittee. He suggested he wants to see improved enforcement of existing laws, but is opposed to changes that would prompt break-ups of the companies.

For decades, the internet giants have enjoyed laissez-faire regulation in the U.S., including scant antitrust enforcement of mergers. Still, they are coming under increasing attack in Washington over a range of issues including misinformation, hate speech, election meddling, and what Republicans decry as anti-conservative bias.

In addition to Cicilline’s investigation, federal and state antitrust enforcers are poised to file a historic monopolization lawsuit against Google, and additional cases could be in the pipeline, Bloomberg has reported. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is also preparing a possible case against Facebook. Amazon and Apple are also facing inquiries by federal antitrust authorities.

Witnesses at the hearing included Bill Baer, a former Justice Department antitrust chief under President Obama; Zephyr Teachout, a law professor at Fordham University known for progressive views on antitrust; and Rachel Bovard of the conservative-allied Internet Accountability Project.

Baer called for Congress to pass

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Nikola Pushes Back on Skeptics by Showcasing In-House Tech

(Bloomberg) — Nikola Corp. wants to put allegations of deception behind it with a push to showcase its own innovations and detail how it plans to get its clean-powered trucks to market.

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Executives at the embattled startup are talking to investors to rebut criticism it has no working prototypes and to clarify its business plans after the resignation of founder and former Chairman Trevor Milton. That effort includes highlighting technology with existing or pending patents, explaining the role partners will play and providing better milestones on efforts to start production.

“Our message is the same as it was before,” said Chief Executive Officer Mark Russell in an interview. “We have an ecosystem of partners that have validated what we’re doing. We believe we’re within three years of producing a fuel cell truck and one year of producing a battery-powered truck.”

Nikola executives will also use planned and direct communication to media and investors instead of the social media posts that Milton favored, according to people familiar with the company’s plans, who asked not to be identified.

The charm offensive is an attempt to counter investor skepticism about Nikola’s business model in the wake of a short-seller report last month that questioned the company’s capabilities and claims of progress. Nikola has denied misrepresenting itself, but federal regulators are reportedly examining the allegations against the company and Milton, who has been accused of unrelated harassment claims that he denies.

Shares of the company have fallen almost 50% from their price after going public in June through a reverse merger. The stock pared a decline of as much as 9.3% on Tuesday, trimming losses in early afternoon trading. The stock was down 6.2% to $18.10 as of 1:30 p.m. in New York.

Patents and Software

Nikola has forged technology-sharing relationships with automotive titans Robert Bosch GmbH and General Motors Co., both of which own stakes in the company. That helps underpin the company’s work — and potential value — as a systems integrator for its fast-track projects, including a battery-electric pickup truck and hydrogen fuel-cell semi trucks.

The Phoenix-based startup is also anxious to show investors in-house know-how, including six published patents in the U.S. for innovations such as a purpose-built frame for a fuel-cell truck. It also has several other U.S. patents pending for things like fuel-cell membranes and catalysts, hydrogen storage, fast fueling systems and system control technologies, according to a document seen by Bloomberg News.

While these patents represent future potential, they are many years away from commercialization, according to a person familiar with the matter. For the time being, Nikola will rely on Bosch’s fuel cells for prototypes to be built next year. GM’s fuel-cell technology is viewed by Nikola as more mature than Bosch’s, but it will take a longer time for the fuel cell’s packaging, compression and power management systems to be adjusted to fit the design of Nikola’s trucks, the person said.

Nikola plans to show investors its competitive edge in hydrogen-powered vehicles that

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