Learning Manufacturing

Inventing Outside of the Box

Steven Norris, an editor at Gearburn—a Cape Town, South Africa website chronicling "the latest gadget news from around the world"—admits to being endlessly amused by "staggeringly cool technology videos" that reveal how designers transform ugly tech devices into "eye-pleasing shapes." As a favor to those who share his fascination, yesterday Norris shared 13 videos "of incredible inventions that show off their makers' insane intelligence." His picks? We agree they're all staggeringly cool, but suggest that their inventors are likely quite sane geniuses.   More

Internet of Things

Domesticating the Internet of Things

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In 2012, serial entrepreneur Alex Hawkinson launched SmartThings. The company’s signature product is a WiFi-enabled hub that connects gadgets to sensors, allowing users to monitor their devices, and allowing devices to talk to each another, all with the aim of making homes safer and smarter. If the pipes are leaking in your home, SmartThings technology can alert you via text message before significant damage occurs.   More

Analytics & Data Healthcare

Why Quantified Self Gear Will Go to Your Head

The iriverON headset monitors heart rate through the ears.

With your FitBit on your waistband and your smartwatch on your wrist, you might be wondering where else you can attach your quantified-self tools. Your ear is being considered as a worthy candidate. Steven LeBoeuf, president of Valencell, a wearable biometrics company, tells Technology Review that the ear is the next frontier for tracking heart rate, temperature, respiration rate, energy expenditure, oxygen consumption, calories burned, and other biological and physiological signals.   More

Business

The End of Industries

(Image via Shutterstock)

In my field of business journalism, writers have traditionally had "beats" that corresponded to specific industries. One might cover energy, autos, airlines, financial services, or media. Similarly, analysts on Wall Street have specialized along similar lines. Rankings and ratings of companies by industry continue to proliferate. But today such categorizations are increasingly an obstacle to understanding rather than useful demarcations for meaningful analysis. Many of today's most exciting companies do not fall neatly into a conventional category. Business in a technologized age has raced ahead to a new unbounded shape.   More

Energy & Green Tech Manufacturing

Panasonic Will Help Tesla Crank Out the Gigawatt-hours, but Where?

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Tesla Motors and Panasonic confirmed this morning that they will cooperate on the construction of a large-scale lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant in the U.S. Five states in the running to host the $5 billion Gigafactory expect an announcement of its location after the market closes today. Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, and Texas are the hopefuls to house the facility, which is expected to comprise up to 10 million square feet over 1,000 acres.   More

Business Global Tech

Tencent Beats Alibaba to Banking License

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Earlier reports of e-commerce leader Alibaba’s strong political ties appear to be overstated, following word that archrival Tencent has become the first of China’s major Internet firms to win a highly sought banking license. Both companies had been aggressively expanding into financial services over the past year, though each was reliant on partnerships with other companies that already had licenses to offer services in the highly regulated sector dominated by big state-run companies. But now Tencent will be able to offer many of those services on its own, following this ground-breaking award of a license from the nation’s banking regulator.   More

Energy & Green Tech

Obama Wants to Fight Climate Change with Lasers

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The Obama administration is arming cities across the country with lasers to help combat the effects of climate change. The lasers won’t be used, however, to blast tornadoes to pieces or to zap flash floods before they devastate a town. Instead, they’ll help spot potential climate change hazards before they become a problem. Earlier this month, the U.S. Geological Survey announced that it would launch a $13 million 3-D elevation program using light from lasers to create an advanced mapping system that could make it easier to detect potential flooding issues or find ideal spots for wind turbines and solar panels.   More

E-Commerce

Sharing Economy in Cities: Moving Towards a More Inclusive Urban Future

The 2008 economic crisis hit Greece hard, and the country is still struggling. The sharing economy could offer some solutions. (Image via Shutterstock)

The sharing economy makes headlines daily: from anti-Uber protests across Europe to Airbnb's recent $10 billion valuation, new start-ups entering the private sector are offering more things to share (or rent, swap, borrow or barter) and more ways to do so. Quietly and gradually, however, a parallel evolution is taking place in the public sector.   More

Healthcare

Palo Alto Startup Aims to Curb Childhood Obesity

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Can technology help kids shed pounds? Palo Alto-based startup Kurbo Health is betting it can, with an app that incorporates the best practices from adult weight loss programs. The company, which also offers in-person coaching programs, has raised $5.8 million to push a virtual coaching program that bundles tracking and feedback in a mobile app.   More

Media & Marketing

When It Comes to Sports Display Screens, Size Matters

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The latest arms race in professional sports is taking place not on the field, but above it. Spurred in equal parts by technological advancement, swelling coffers, and growing competition from at-home screens that bring better-than-being-there experiences into living rooms without all the challenge (and expense) of attending a game in-person, professional and collegiate teams are racing to install bigger, brighter, sharper displays that make old-school videoboards look pedestrian by comparison. “We see the living room as our biggest competitor. Our job is to help the venue manager with fresh content,” said Al Kurtenbach, co-founder and chairman of Daktronics, one of the premier display makers in the world.   More

Partner Insights

Your Computer Will Feel Your Pain

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What if your computer could empathize with you? The evolving field known as affective computing is likely to make it happen soon. Scientists and engineers are developing systems and devices that can recognize, interpret, process, and simulate human affects or emotions. It is an interdisciplinary field spanning computer science, psychology, and cognitive science. While its origins can be traced to longstanding philosophical enquiries into emotion, a 1995 paper on affective computing by Rosalind Picard catalyzed modern progress.   More

Global Tech Manufacturing

Electronics Manufacturers Bet Big on Vietnam

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Attracted by low labor costs and other advantages, global electronics manufacturers invested billions in Vietnam over the past few years. As they continue to build new factories in 2014, Vietnam’s economy will benefit from the influx of foreign capital, talent, and technology. A small player in the global electronics supply chain just a decade ago, Vietnam exported $38 billion in devices and components last year, according to data from the International Trade Center. Although this pales next to the $560 billion shipped by China, the world’s leading producer of electronics, Vietnam now ranks as the 12th largest electronics exporter in the world.   More

Energy & Green Tech

A Food Waste Reduction Movement Gathers Steam

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Americans today are paying closer attention to food waste, long a European concern. Helping them reduce that waste is an important new opportunity for food and restaurant brands. Like Ikea and EasyJet, who have made the spartan ethic trendy, food firms can make this an integral part of their brand story. It's a welcome development given that Americans throw away between 30-40 percent of our edible food every year. Mainstream food brands need to rethink policy and get creative to drive both internal and consumer food-saving behaviors.   More

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

Bio & Life Sciences Healthcare

Diagnosing the First Patient: Genomics to the Rescue

(Image via Shutterstock)

Nic Volker. Beatrice Rienhoff. Alexis and Noah Beery. If you happen to be a scientist or clinician in the genomics field, you already know the topic of this article just from those four names. Each is a child who suffered from a mysterious or even one-of-a-kind disease. Collectively, they endured years in hospitals, met dozens of doctors, took countless tests to achieve that precious objective: a diagnosis. And for each of these kids, DNA sequencing was critical to providing that answer.   More

Healthcare

Smartphones Could Help Mitigate Bipolar Disorder

(Image via Shutterstock)

People who suffer from bipolar disorder may soon be equipped with another line of defense in their battle against manic and depressive episodes. Not with more psychologists or prescriptions, but, surprisingly enough, with their smartphones. A new app from the University of Michigan is experimenting with using voice analysis to detect impending mood swings and alert doctors before an episode becomes a crisis, or worse, an attempted suicide. The app works by listening to a patient's' phone calls, and automatically recording, encrypting, and analyzing them to produce data sets.   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

Manufacturing

Innovation Hubs Are Accelerating American Manufacturing

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There’s a renaissance underway in American manufacturing. Even as rising wages and energy costs in China are leading more U.S. companies to bring manufacturing stateside, economic indicators point towards real industrial progress. The Institute for Supply Management's monthly Report on Business shows that 15 of 18 manufacturing industries grew in June, and a composite index based on five industry indicators shows a steady expansion in manufacturing for the 13th consecutive month.   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