Internet of Things

An Affordable Robot for the Home?

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Rapid innovation in smartphone technology has given us a glimpse of how we will interact with digital tools that can understand and adapt to our preferences and tendencies. Now, an MIT professor is betting that people will welcome a more sophisticated digital personal assistant into their homes. Cynthia Breazeal, who has twenty years of experience working with technology that enables robots to respond to social cues, has created Jibo, an innovation that her company claims is the world’s first family robot. Priced at $499, Jibo is significantly more affordable than other similar robots on the market, but can do many of the same tasks, like order takeout, recognize and track faces, and make video calls.   More

Energy & Green Tech

Google Teams Up with Environmental Scientists to Map Gas Leaks

(Image via Shutterstock)

Google Maps Street View lets people discover any place in the world and explore it via the Web as if they were actually there. Now, the cars that take photos for Street View are using advanced sensor technology to search for gas leaks and faulty pipes in places like Staten Island, Boston, and Indianapolis. Google has partnered with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to pinpoint sources of pollution using methane sensors and data-crunching algorithms.   More

Global Tech

Shanghai Street View: Troubled Technology

(Image via Shutterstock)

This week’s Street View takes us to Shanghai’s rapidly aging Maglev train, which was once the city’s pride and joy when it first opened in 2004 offering the world’s fastest speeds in a commercial rail service. The Maglev celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, even as debate grows about a technology that has been overtaken by slower but less costly high speed rail trains in the last few years. More broadly speaking, the sputtering Maglev also shines a spotlight on Shanghai’s inability to become a leading center for technology development.   More

Global Tech Government

Paranoia Muddies Media’s View of Bitcoin’s Potential

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European financial regulators just took a positive step to engage directly with the disruptive effects of the growing cryptocurrency ecosystem, but you might not have realized that. The European Banking Authority (EBA) watchdog agency issued a report on Friday, July 11, titled “Opinion on ‘virtual currencies’.” It then received a great deal of media attention – most of it negative.   More

Healthcare

The Convergence of Medical and Consumer Health Apps

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Consumer healthcare apps linked to smartphones or wearable devices are growing in popularity, and forthcoming offerings from Apple and Google are likely to draw more attention to the field. These systems allow users to monitor a range of information—heart rate, calories burned, distance walked—but they don’t guarantee a change in behavior, much less an improvement in health.   More

Learning

A Class Discovery Platform: By Students, for Students

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Today, you can use an app to hail a cab or to have groceries delivered within an hour, but college students still use outdated academic services for even simple tasks like signing up for classes, arranging college housing, and paying tuition. Frustrated with such outmoded tools, three UC Berkeley undergrads created an intuitive application to solve a central academic challenge for students there (and at most schools): finding the classes that best suit them.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Individualized Cancer Treatment Coming—But Only If Underdogs Prevail

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Decades ago, “personalized medicine” meant “don’t give penicillin to the person who is fatally allergic to it.” Today, the phrase is shorthand for the ambitious but achievable concept of targeting medications to a specific group of people, based on genetic information, disease progression, biomarkers, and other factors. Still, there’s a small but growing force in the biomedical community that takes the notion of “personalized medicine” much further. For them the term is used literally—they aim for treatment options custom-crafted for the unique snowflakes that we are.   More

Global Tech

Facebook Moves Ahead in Beijing, Line Blocked

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Two of the world’s biggest social networking service (SNS) operators are in the headlines as the new week begins, starting with word that Facebook is moving ahead with its plans to open in China. Meantime, separate reports are saying Japanese-based mobile instant messaging service Line has been disrupted in China, perhaps for carrying sensitive content. These news bits may look different on the surface, but they’re really quite similar in broader terms. China is extremely wary of offshore-based SNS like Facebook, Line, and Twitter, because they are not subject to the country’s strict self-censorship laws.   More

Healthcare

Dutch Surgeon Successfully Implants 3D-Printed Skull

3D printing has gained popularity as the cool do-it-yourself way to manufacture your own art pieces, knickknacks, and playthings. But the technology is capable of so much more—printing everything from food to housing to combat supplies—and it's recently been making big strides in the world of medicine, too. This past spring, Dutch brain surgeon Dr. Bon Verweij achieved a medical breakthrough when he performed the first operation using a 3D-printed skull.   More

Security & Privacy

Ex-Intelligence Chief McConnell Fears Major Cyber Attack

Former National Intelligence Director Adm. Mike McConnell (now at Booz Allen Hamilton) notes in this interview at Techonomy's recent Data Security Lab that our democracy has traditionally made decisions and developed legislation in reaction to events. That is unwise now, though, he says, if we wait until a major cyber event before imposing regulations to demand good cyber practices from business. Sadly, though, he suspects that we won't act until such an event happens.   More

Finance Mobile

Kiva’s Julie Hanna on Tech as a Democratizing Force

Is technology the most democratizing force mankind has ever seen? That's how technologist and serial entrepreneur Julie Hanna sees it. We spoke with Hanna at a recent Techonomy dinner salon in San Francisco. She asserted that tech tools have leveled the playing field and "enabled globally fair access on a mass scale." But she says there's a lot more to do about what she calls "the global opportunity crisis we face, where half the planet's population is living on less than $2 a day."   More

Business E-Commerce

Alibaba Picks NYSE, Plays with Yahoo, Football

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It’s been two weeks since I’ve written a post exclusively about leading e-commerce company Alibaba, so I thought I’d end the week with a round-up of a few company news bits including its selection of the New York Stock Exchange for its highly-anticipated IPO. In related news, the company’s major shareholder Yahoo is reportedly in talks to reduce its planned sale of Alibaba shares in the offering. Last but not least, Alibaba has formally added its name to one of its latest acquisitions, a stake in one of China’s leading soccer clubs.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Techonomy Events

What We Learned at Techonomy Bio

From left, David Kirkpatrick, Floyd Romesberg, Stewart Brand, Jim Flatt, and Steve Levine

Techonomy's offices on Manhattan's West 22d Street have been buzzing ever since our half-day Techonomy Bio conference on June 17. We got an overwhelmingly positive reception for a meeting that brought leading researchers and experts in the life sciences together with IT and Internet thinkers and business generalists. Drew Endy, a Stanford professor who is one of the world's leaders in synthetic biology, on stage called the event "awesome" and said he had never seen such a collection of people in one place. "People in other sectors of technology simply don’t know very much about biology and biology’s economic impact," he said.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Techonomy Events

Citizen Scientists Accelerate Bio Progress

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As advances in the biological sciences expand, so does their influence on every facet of life. And the people powering that expansion are not just traditionally trained scientists-they’re also regular folks like you and me. The "Participatory Biology" at Techonomy Bio convened traditional scientists Ryan Bethencourt of Berkeley BioLabs and UC Santa Cruz professor David Haussler with Eri Gentry, a self-taught scientist who left the world of finance to co-found the Bay Area biotech hackerspace BioCurious.   More

E-Commerce Finance

Does Bitcoin Foreshadow a Decentralized World?

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Will we one day be able to trade stocks without a brokerage or pay for goods with a currency that has no central issuer? With Bitcoin, people can now do the latter. In the future, they may also be able to do the former, and much more, in a world where applications are open-source, commonly controlled, and operated without middlemen. This is the disruptive power of the blockchain, a revolutionary piece of software that can defy convention.   More

Bio 14 Bio & Life Sciences Techonomy Events

Building a Better Mousetrap

In this video from our June 17 Techonomy Bio conference, Jorge Soto of mirOculus gives a short presentation on building better tools for detecting cancer.   More

Bio 14 Bio & Life Sciences Techonomy Events

Engineering Biology to Address Global Challenges

In this video from our June 17 Techonomy Bio conference, Nancy J. Kelley, former founding executive director of the New York Genome Center, gives a presentation of the economic, social, and regulatory implications of biology.   More

Arts & Culture Mobile

Magisto’s A.I. Helps Anyone Produce Polished Video

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Magisto wants to do for video what Instagram did for photos—provide intuitive tools to edit and enhance them and make them easy to share. Founded in Israel in 2009 by two experts in computer vision and artificial intelligence, Magisto enables a user to simply select photos and videos on their smartphone, choose a visual theme, and automatically create a sophisticated edited product in minutes. There's a lot of computer science on the back end making that possible. Magisto launched in January 2012 at the Consumer Electronics Show, won an app competition there, and now has 20 million registered users worldwide, up from 3 million last year. With 30 employees, the company has offices in Tel Aviv, New York, and San Francisco. Techonomy sat down with Magisto CEO Oren Boiman for a wide-ranging talk about video, social media, and how people want to express themselves.   More

E-Commerce Learning

Got Audiobook? Audible CEO Katz on the Rewards of Listening to Literature

Since introducing one of the first digital audio players in 1997, Audible (now owned by Amazon) has become the biggest name in audiobooks. “It really is seen as a service now,” says Audible founder and CEO Donald Katz of the surging audiobook phenomenon. We spoke to Katz at the recent Venture for America Summer Celebration in NYC. He ticked off some of the benefits enjoyed by the growing legions of audiobook consumers: “They get to work smarter than the guy in the next cube; they have storytelling in their lives on a consistent basis.” Most importantly, he said, they’ve found a valuable way to spend the millions of hour per week Americans spend in traffic.   More

Bio 14 Bio & Life Sciences Techonomy Events

The Razor’s Edge

In this video, Todd Huffman of 3Scan explores how knife-edge scanning helps drive biodiscovery.   More