Manufacturing

Rodney Brooks on Cars as Robots

How many people have operated their own robot? A lot more than you might think, Rethink Robotics founder and CTO Rodney Brooks would say. "I tell everyone, 'You're driving around inside a robot, and 10 years from now it's going to become an even smarter robot,'" Brooks told us at our Techonomy Detroit conference. "Cars are the epicenter, actually, of robotics." Brooks also elaborated on how easy-to-use robots are in a position to transform the manufacturing industry, making it more efficient, more localized, and less generic--a potential boon for cities like Detroit.   More

Learning

“Help Kids Dream Big,” Says Teach For America’s Annis Stubbs

A "prerequisite of being a kid" is dreaming big, says Annis Stubbs, executive director of Teach For America - Detroit. Our challenge is providing students with an education system capable of supporting their big dreams—a system that distributes resources equally, educates the child as a whole, and empowers students to execute on their ideas. At the Techonomy Detroit conference, Stubbs talked about her vision of a reinvigorated education system. "Everything starts with an idea," she said. "We need to help figure out how to ensure that our kids feel good about expressing their ideas and they feel confident enough to have these big ideas."   More

Business Cities E-Commerce

One Step Back for the Sharing Economy

In a setback for the sharing economy, the Office of the New York Attorney General has issued a subpoena demanding data about all Airbnb hosts in New York, The Wall Street Journal reports. Airbnb announced in a blog post that they are fighting this “unreasonably broad” demand from the Attorney General. The company recently made a commitment to clarify short-term rental laws, work with city leaders to ensure that the Airbnb hosts pay applicable taxes, and weed out the few “bad actors” among their community.   More

Media & Marketing

This Website Developer Leverages the “Engine of the Web”

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As CEO of the website creation company 10up, Jake Goldman is an evangelist for WordPress. He began using the open-source development platform in 2006 and started his company specifically to leverage its power. Today, Goldman and several engineers on his team are core contributors to the WordPress project and maintain some of the highest rated plug-ins in the official WordPress repository.   More

Bio & Life Sciences E-Commerce

This Entrepreneur Helps People Hear

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No consumer product is more ubiquitous than the earbud. Unfortunately for the youth of the world, hearing impairment is a closely-associated byproduct. According to a recent report, one in five Americans in their 30s and 40s are now hearing-impaired, and more teenagers than ever are suffering hearing loss. Couple that trend with the painful reality of an aging baby boomer generation, and you’ve got a major emerging market for another technology: hearing aids.   More

E-Commerce

NYC Startup Offers Software for Airbnb Hosts

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When Randy Engler and his wife started renting out their two homes using Airbnb, they soon realized it was hard to provide a high level of hospitality to their guests, especially while away. Engler, who has a background in Internet companies and an enthusiasm for the sharing economy, saw an opportunity: build an online service that takes care of cleaning, key exchange, and other rental logistics. The company he created, Proprly, supports rental markets for Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO in NYC and Brooklyn.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Five Challenges to Using Your Genome

Genetic puzzle image via Shutterstock

At last week’s 5th annual Consumer Genetics Conference, hundreds of scientists, clinicians, app developers, and analytical experts convened to talk about DNA analysis for healthcare and consumer applications. The good news: legions of clever, highly motivated people are working hard to make sense of the human genome and help the rest of us lead better lives. The bad news: major impediments stand in the way of free-flowing, useful genomic information. Here are the top five hurdles to be cleared before you will have ready access to your DNA information so you can improve your health and your life.   More

Cities Startup Culture

Inspiration and Entrepreneurship in New Orleans

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I first came to New Orleans in 2007, two years after Katrina, to enroll at Tulane University when I was 18 years old. There was still a lot to be desired, but the city never pretended to be anything other than what it was. What drew me to Tulane was not a particular career path, but a sense I had to be part of the impassioned rebuilding taking place throughout New Orleans’ communities.   More

Manufacturing

Roboticist Rodney Brooks on How Automation Helps Makers

Rodney Brooks, founder and CTO of Rethink Robotics, joined us at our Techonomy Detroit conference to talk about the intersection between robotics and the maker movement. Robots like Rethink's Baxter offer small industries a tool to make workers more productive. But because Baxter operates on a software platform, it also benefits from users who think of new functionality and specializations for the robot. "There's going to be some kids out there who come up with some ideas that we would never have thought of in a million years," Brooks said. Those users may in turn use Baxter for smaller scale, maker oriented production.   More

Cities

Etsy CEO Dickerson on Entrepreneurship in One Illinois City

What happens when you combine a Midwestern mayor with a leading-edge CEO and stir in a timely Tweet about building an entrepreneurial economy? You get "the Internet at its best," says Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson, who spoke with us at our recent Techonomy Detroit conference about the partnership that's creating new entrepreneurs in Rockford, Illinois. Where does the program go from here? The possibilities seem limitless. "It's really reconnecting with the idea that we can overcome cynicism, that literally we can do anything," said Dickerson.   More

Techonomy Events

What Happened at Techonomy 2012, and What to Expect This Year

Techonomy's David Kirkpatrick shares highlights from our 2012 Tucson conference, which was more business-centric than previous gatherings. As a place "where the suits meet the geeks," the Techonomy conference looks at the big issues changing retail, banking, money, international trade, and leadership, as well as how the trends of cloud, mobile, social, and big data impact business.   More

Business Manufacturing

Quirky Brings Innovation Expert Doreen Lorenzo on as President

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The Manhattan-based invention machine Quirky just became a little more inventive. Former frog design President Doreen Lorenzo joins the four-year-old product development company as president today. Lorenzo, known for transforming frog into a global innovation firm during her 7 years as president there, was a speaker at the Techonomy conferences in 2011 and 2012.   More

Business E-Commerce

A Big Victory for the Sharing Economy

One of the many New York apartments available to rent on Airbnb

A New York City Airbnb host has won an appeal with the New York City Environmental Control Board after being fined for renting out a room in his apartment, Airbnb reported on its Public Policy Blog. The Board reversed Nigel Warren’s $2,400 fine, delivering a major victory for Airbnb and the entire sharing economy. Airbnb is “a global community marketplace that connects travelers seeking authentic, high-quality accommodations with hosts who offer unique places to stay.” Unfortunately, many cities do not allow these temporary rentals. But Warren and Airbnb were able to successfully argue that as long as a permanent occupant is present during the stay, it does not violate New York law.   More

Business Cities

This Native Detroiter Feels the Pull of Home

From left, David Kirkpatrick, Jack Dorsey, Scott Moloney, Catherine Kelly, Alex Southern

In the days since Techonomy Detroit, I'm more hopeful about my hometown than I have been since I left for New York to go to Columbia University 30 years ago. Yet before I headed to the conference, when I joked with media and tech pals that I was on my way to “the Paris of Southeastern Michigan,” I’d get a laugh or a look of grave concern. In their eyes, a place I love was a disaster zone, a dear family member on the critical list.   More

Global Tech

Is China’s “Internet Concession” Too Late for Facebook?

In the land of the "world's biggest online population" Facebook has "almost zero" users, Reuters reports. Of course, that's because, since 2009, the Chinese government has blocked its citizens' access to the U.S. social media leader. Likewise, it has blocked Twitter. But when the ban is finally lifted in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone this weekend, crowds are not expected to rush on to either site.   More

Manufacturing

TechShop: Democratizing Manufacturing and Creating Personal Industrial Revolutions

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“It took the U.S. and Europe 150 years to go through the Industrial Revolution. Now, you can go through your own personal industrial revolution in 90 days.” At least that’s what TechShop CEO Mark Hatch told Yahoo! Small Business writer Adrienne Burke (also a regular contributor to Techonomy). TechShop is a membership-based DIY workshop with six locations around the country, each with about $1 million worth of advanced machinery and software. Members pay just $125 dollars for monthly access to a plethora of design, prototyping, and manufacturing tools.   More

Global Tech Internet of Things

Weibo, Hisense Explore Internet of Things

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Social networking apps have become the flavor of the day among Chinese Internet firms, especially in the mobile space, and it’s rare to go more than a week or two without reports of a big new move by a major player in the space. Amid all that chatter, I was intrigued to read the latest report of an interesting new tie-up between leading microblog operator Sina Weibo and appliance maker Hisense into the unlikely field of smart air conditioners.   More

Cities Internet of Things

Can the Internet of Everything Help Cities?

Michael Mandel speaking at the Techonomy Detroit 2013 conference.

Local governments are about delivering services and getting things done: Fixing highways, running buses, picking up trash, ensuring public safety, educating children. To do their job in an era of tight finances, what’s needed are technologies that make public services better and cheaper, and improve the quality of life for urban Americans without increasing costs. So far the Internet and the shift to digital has boosted the efficiency of smart local governments, increased transparency, and made it easier to communicate with local residents.   More

Business Manufacturing

TechShop Seeks Big Bucks Using JOBS Act

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With the public announcement of a $60 million investment offering this morning, TechShop is among the first to attempt to leverage eased fundraising regulations made possible by the JOBS Act. An 80-year SEC ban on general solicitation and advertising for certain offerings was lifted today as a result of the act. TechShop CEO Mark Hatch, who spoke at Techonomy Detroit 2012, told us Friday that the company is seeking $30 million in a Series B Preferred stock offering to support corporate overhead, and $30 million more in loans to fund construction of at least 11 new local TechShop facilities, support the new location in Pittsburgh, and relocate the one in Menlo Park.   More

Global Tech

Beirut’s Coders Convene for Community and Social Progress

LebGeeks founder Samer Nakfour (photo by Jo Baaklini)

AltCity is a co-working space tucked away from the hustle and bustle of one of Beirut’s busiest neighborhoods, Hamra. On a Friday summer night, a mostly male crowd is settling in for the second in a series of Programmer Talks hosted by LebGeeks, an online forum and community for Lebanese technophiles. The room is filling up fast and buzzing with Arabic chatter, before the English-language presentations begin. The small space boasts typical techie décor: bean bag chairs, neon painted pipes, concrete floors, white boards galore   More