A Holiday Gift That Helps You Navigate an Electronic World


Thirty-one-year-old Ayah Bdeir wants to inspire a new generation of innovators, and she has the building blocks to do it—literally. Bdeir is CEO and founder of littleBits, a company that sells an electronic toolkit that can teach complex engineering concepts to kids and adults in a fun and simple way. LittleBits users get access to an open-source library of small electronic modules resembling LEGO pieces that snap together with tiny magnets to create fully-functioning devices. Each “bit” has a specific function—it might create light or sound, have a sensor or house a motor—allowing users to create anything from a flashlight to a fully operational robot.   More


Bitcoin: Bubble? Maybe. The Wave of the Future? Definitely.

(Image via Shutterstock)

Bitcoin. The world’s newest and hottest virtual currency. It has become the story du jour for a financial media hungry for stories, and its sudden surge in recent weeks, going from a price of less than $200 barely a month ago to $1,200 last week, certainly attracted attention. And of course, rarely do things gain so much so fast without a concomitant fall. A virtual currency only invented in 2009, with a limited number of units in circulation that sees its value quintuple in a matter of days to command a total market of more than $10 billion simply begs for the word “bubble.” But is it? Here’s where everyone has an opinion.   More


What Will the Energy Landscape Look Like in 2030?

(Image via Shutterstock)

In last week’s New York Times, Daniel Yergin gave readers three possible energy landscapes for 2030: a climate-friendly redesign, a renewable ideal, and a troubled, coal-reliant outlook. He admits that the rapidly changing energy industry makes it nearly impossible to predict our energy future. But scenarios “help to identify what seems to be predetermined,” he says, while also highlighting driving forces and big uncertainties. Which future would you like to see? And how do we harness the innovative thinking necessary to get there?   More

Media & Marketing Partner Insights

Action! Roll ‘em: Personal Video Poised to Take Off

Video has become as simple for ordinary consumers to create as snapping a photo. But while digital snapshots have become so ubiquitous that they have morphed from a kind of consumer "art" into routine day-to-day communication, that sort of transformation has yet to occur with video. The success on Twitter of Vine, which allows the creation of 6-second repeating videos, suggests such a transition may loom. Now Instagram, too, enables short videos. The raw materials are in place, and the consumer will to change behavior seems to be emerging. This new report from GigaOm research evaluates the factors that may enable the rise of more polished, convenient, everyday videos that could rival stills as a routine tool for consumer communication and expression.   More

E-Commerce Media & Marketing Partner Insights

What Shoppers Want: In-Store Shopping with Online Services

If the electronic commerce predictions of the late 1990s had come true, today's average 18-year-old may never have known what it was like to step in a store or participate in the whirl of shopping as millions of Americans will this holiday season. By today, he or she would have a phone or computer permanently attached to their hand, and anything they would need or want would be ordered online and then delivered directly to them. Who knows? Maybe some products were going to be transported—like Star Trek. But, we all know that has not come true.   More

E-Commerce Partner Insights

M-Shoppers Redefine the Mobile Shopping Experience

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Mobile-assisted shoppers (m-shoppers) used to strike fear into the hearts of retailers. Armed with a handy mobile device, a savvy consumer could easily compare prices on the Internet and find the best deal available. Brick-and-mortar doomsayers called it the end of their world. How could a business compete with that? But hold on. All the Doomsday speak may have been a bit premature. According to new research from the Columbia Business School and Aimia, a global leader in loyalty management, m-shopping may ultimately provide a retailing asset in two distinct areas.   More


In Chicago, It’s Hot to Study How People Interact Online

People who build technology want you to have the most simple—and emotionally satisfying—experience possible. That's why more and more students are studying UX, or user experience, design. There are many subtleties in how understanding how users interact with technology and how to create user-friendly products. The field of UX design is often described as how and why things work. And Chicago is becoming a hotbed for studying it.   More

Analytics & Data Bio & Life Sciences Business

23andMe’s FDA Battle Provokes Furious Debate

Andrew Hessel of Autodesk, shown here at the Techonomy 2013 conference,

Medical researchers, genomics experts, and industry pundits took wildly divergent points of view in a media storm that erupted last week over FDA’s stern letter ordering 23andMe to stop marketing its Personal Genome Service. The agency cited concerns about “the public health consequences of inaccurate results.” Others say public access to genomic information is just the beginning of ongoing disruption in healthcare.   More


In Kolkata, Wi-Fi Takes a Back Seat to Physical Infrastructure

Kolkata's "mobile paradise" is found in a small cyber-cafe, where the days of broadband and PCs are still alive.

I thought I would spend two weeks in Kolkata, India, sitting on my family’s patio backdropped by palm trees, leisurely writing away. But there was a fatal flaw to my plan: My family warned me upon my arrival that I would have to find an office building that provided public Wi-Fi access before I could get online. The inconvenient problem is city-wide. Annanya Roy, a college student in Kolkata, says she is starved of good Internet coverage on campus. “We are a community with the wants of Wi-Fi, settling for something far less contenting,” Roy says.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Partner Insights

Bedside Data Is Good for What Ails Us

litt photo

Amid the clamor in Washington over the Affordable Care Act, the medical community is trying to stay focused on improving outcomes for today’s patients—and those who will require treatment tomorrow—by finding ways to strengthen the quality of care. Whether it’s the receptionist who confirms patient identities by making sure every file contains a photo, or the surgical team that uses an evidence-based checklist to avoid infections, improving care is an effort that benefits from widespread contributions.   More


Aetna CEO Bertolini: The Middle East Will Have Technologized Healthcare Before the U.S.

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini isn't afraid to speak his mind about the American healthcare system—even when that means underscoring its many failures. Bertolini talked with us at our recent Techonomy 2013 conference in Tucson, Ariz., about his views on U.S. healthcare's "recalcitrance" in accepting technology, and his hopes for changing that. "We've got a lot of really good technology in helping people survive diseases and get well again, but we haven't really focused on how we create a healthy human being and a better society," Bertolini said. This puts the U.S. at risk of falling behind, he added, speculating that countries in the Middle East will achieve better, more technologized healthcare systems before we do.   More


As Government Support Tightens, Scientists Must Become Better Communicators

(Image via Shutterstock)

Nine months into federal budget sequestration, there’s no shortage of studies, articles, and speculation about how trimmed funding is having an impact on the U.S. There is far less work going into figuring out how to right the ship. One answer, painful to many scientists, is that they have to become a little better at marketing. Otherwise we will end up with less visionary science. In the life sciences, the sequestration cut 4.9 percent from the budget of the National Institutes of Health, a move that has already been felt at universities, research organizations, and medical centers around the country.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Business

FDA Tells 23andMe to Stop Selling DNA Tests

(Image via Shutterstock)

Citing concerns "about the public health consequences of inaccurate results" from its Personal Genome Service, the FDA on Friday told 23andMe CEO Ann Wojcicki in a stern Warning Letter that her company must "immediately discontinue marketing" the service "until such time as it receives FDA marketing authorization for the device." The Twittersphere responded with shock and some outrage.   More

Media & Marketing Partner Insights

How Marketers Can Use Data to Stay Employed

(Image via Flickr Creative Commons)

It's getting easier to follow users as they walk through the digital landscape. New data-driven marketing tools can extract increasingly meaningful and nuanced insights from peoples' footprints—including their credit card statements, web browsing history, and social media history. When I say nuanced, I mean nuanced: retail stores are even using customers’ phone GPS to track how long they stand in the yogurt aisle. This makes older techniques like retargeting—a cookie-based technology that keeps brands visible even after traffic has bounced—seem like a shot in the dark.   More

Techonomy Events

Immortality and Collaboration: Onstage at Techonomy 2013

The Saguaros were vibrating outside the hall in Tucson during Techonomy 2013 last week, such were the energy waves emanating from the stage. Or perhaps the foundation of business was shaking. I don't know. One thing that is clear is that the giants of old industry are really starting to think differently about how to conduct their business, organize their companies, and evolve their products.   More

Global Tech

Web Firms Flock to Routers, China Mobile Goes Global

(Image via Shutterstock)

First it was smartphones, then it was Internet TV, and now wireless routers have become the latest flavor of the day for Chinese Web firms, as everyone looks to drive traffic to their sites and services in the fast-evolving market. I previously wrote when security software specialist Qihoo 360 entered the router space in June, and now a new report says smartphone maker Xiaomi, search leader Baidu, and game specialist Shanda are preparing to enter the sector as well. Meanwhile, in a separate but related telecoms move, leading telco China Mobile is making a feeble move into the international market with a relaunch of its Jego service that it suspended shortly after an original roll-out earlier this year.   More

Internet of Things Partner Insights

True Stories of the Connected: Rural Healthcare in Northern Canada

The Internet of Everything is connecting people, process, data, and things every second of every day. In this episode of True Stories of the Connected, a Canadian doctor demonstrates the power of video and telehealth as he works to keep in contact with patients who are sometimes hundreds of miles away in a remote, tribal village. Amazing things happen when you connect the unconnected.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Techonomy Events

How the ’60s Counterculture Is Still Driving the Tech Revolution

From left, David Kirpatrick, Stewart Brand, Walter de Brouwer, Ina Fried. (Photo by Asa Mathat)

Every innovation starts with an act of insubordination. So said tech entrepreneur, futurist, and scientist Walter de Brouwer. “It starts with saying ‘no,’ with disrespect. If you respect and listen to everything, there is no innovation.” Does an insubordinate counterculture still drive innovation in today's cyberculture? It’s a question that a panel pondered at the Techonomy 2013 conference in Tucson last week. De Brouwer, CEO of health-tech company Scanadu, joined author Stewart Brand, tech journalist Ina Fried, and Techonomy's David Kirkpatrick for an after-dinner fireside chat about the culture that’s now driving IT’s evolution.   More

Techonomy Events

Tech Entrepreneurs Agree: It’s Time to Regulate the Internet Ecosystem

From left, Dan Elron, Michael Fertik, and James Cham. (Photo by Asa Mathat)

Among the crowd of optimists and cheerleaders for the transformative power of the Internet, Andrew Keen stands out as a contrarian. The Internet is transformative, all right, he says: It’s transforming humans into commoditized products—bits of sellable data. The subtitles of Keen’s two recent books sum up his point of view: “How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture,” and “How Today’s Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us.” Keen, who founded Audiocafe.com in 1995, joined a panel of fellow entrepreneurs and commentators at Techonomy 2013 in Tucson last week for a discussion on the theme, “Is the Internet for or Against You?”   More

Security & Privacy Techonomy Events

Why Microsoft’s Craig Mundie Worries About Weapons of Mass Disruption

David Kirkpatrick (l) and Craig Mundie. (Photo by Asa Mathat)

All the evils that can be done in the cyberworld fall into five categories, according to Craig Mundie: malicious mischief, crime, espionage, warfare, and terrorism. And there are three kinds of actors committing them: amateurs, pros, and governments. It’s a taxonomy that he says the industry only invented in recent months to give clarity to discussions about how to deter and defend against attacks. Techonomy’s David Kirkpatrick interviewed Mundie on stage at Techonomy 2013 in Tucson this week about cyber-insecurity and its impact on business.   More