Boston Tech Watch: Apple, Lyft, BU, Astral Capital, Cengage & More

It’s time to catch up on the latest Boston-area tech headlines:

—People can now ride around Boston’s Seaport neighborhood in a self-driving vehicle, thanks to a pilot program launched this week by ride-hailing company Lyft and NuTonomy, the autonomous vehicle software startup now owned by Aptiv. (Aptiv is the name of the autonomous vehicle business formed this week when Delphi Automotive split into two companies.) But despite such milestones here and in other U.S. cities, it’s very early for self-driving vehicles, and a lot must still get figured out, including regulations and business models.

—Apple launched a study with Stanford University and Boston-based American Well that will use data from the Apple Watch to try to identify irregular heart rhythms, including those stemming from potentially dangerous heart conditions. When an irregular heartbeat is detected, patients will be able to connect with a doctor on their phones via American Well’s telehealth software.

Astral Capital, the venture capital firm led by former Accomplice partner Jon Karlen, raised $48.9 million from investors, according to an SEC filing first spotted by BostInno. Astral’s early investments include PillPack and Klaviyo, according to reports by Fortune and BostInno, respectively.

—Boston University and a group of alumni will spend $20 million over the next decade to try to boost innovation on campus. The [email protected] initiative includes turning a former RadioShack store into a 6,000-square-foot tech hub that will host hackathons, accelerator programs, classes, shared work spaces, and more.

—ZeroTurnaround, a Boston-based developer of Java software tools, was acquired by Rogue Wave Software, based in Louisville, CO. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. ZeroTurnaround had raised at least $7.7 million in equity funding, SEC filings show.

—Elsen announced it raised $2.4 million in funding led by Hyperplane Venture Capital, with contributions from Accomplice, Launch Capital, and individual investors. The Boston-based fintech startup has raised a total of $2.9 million from investors. With the new investment, Hyperplane managing partner Jack Klinck, a former executive at State Street and BNY Mellon, has joined Elsen’s board.

—Boston-based textbook publisher Cengage announced a new subscription service that gives students unlimited access to its entire digital library of higher education course materials—more than 20,000 products across 70 disciplines—for about $120 per semester. The new service launches in August 2018.

The move is part of Cengage’s efforts to shift its focus from print to digital products; the company also pitched the new service as an attempt to make course materials more affordable, as students face rising education costs. Read more about those efforts in Xconomy’s recent interview with Cengage CEO Michael Hansen.

—Circulation added Lyft’s ride-hailing service to the list of transportation options available to its users. Boston-based Circulation’s software coordinates non-emergency medical transportation for patients, many of whom are elderly, disabled, or low-income. The company, which raised $10.5 million from investors earlier this year, already had a partnership with Uber.

—Boston-area 3D printing startup Rize hired a new CEO, Andy Kalambi, according to a press release. Kalambi was previously an executive at Dassault Systèmes. Rize was previously led by Frank Marangell, who is now president of U.S operations at BigRep, a Germany-based 3D printing company, according to his LinkedIn profile.

—Boston cybersecurity startup Pwnie Express named Matthew Williamson as its chief technology officer. Williamson was previously at vArmour, Rethink Robotics, and Sana Security.

Pwnie’s founder and original CTO, Dave Porcello, transitioned to an advisory role last year, and its next CTO, Artur Adib, is now working at Vermont-based Beta Air, according to his LinkedIn profile. Meanwhile, Pwnie appointed board member Todd DeSisto as CEO last week; he took over for Paul Paget, who shifted to the role of executive vice president of strategy.

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