Digital

Square Launches Gift Card Service

Just in time for the holiday season, Square has launched a new service that lets anyone receive gift cards that can be used at one of the more than 200,000 businesses in Square’s mobile payments system.   More

The Arts

Print-on-Demand and the Golden Age of the Photobook

Chiloé-La Cruz del Sur by Brigitte Grignet, © 2012 by Brigitte Grignet, 17.78 x 17.78 cm, (Belgian/American, born 1968) Brigitte Grignet/L'Agence VU'.

Many critics are proclaiming this the new golden age of the photobook. The arrival of the digital offset press in the last decade made it possible for the first time to print books at relatively low cost in editions as small as a single copy. The photobook publishing industry has since expanded from a handful of commercial presses putting out a few hundred titles each year by, to anyone with an Internet connection and an impetus publishing hundreds of thousands of books annually.   More

Manufacturing

Apple to Revamp U.S. Manufacturing Efforts

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Good news for U.S. manufacturing: Apple is bringing some of its computer manufacturing back to the United States, Timothy Cook announced on Thursday. The company plans to spend $100 million in 2013 on producing one of its existing Mac lines in America. Apple is often criticized for outsourcing almost all of its factory work to Asia in the late 1990s.   More

Manufacturing Techonomy Detroit

How the “Connected Car” Will Change Detroit

As we approach a future of electronic, connected, and networked automobiles, will Detroit’s auto industry also evolve? Cars are relying more heavily on electronics (the market for electronic systems is expected to grow from $170 billion in 2011 to $263 billion in 2016), and R&D is adapting appropriately, SmartPlanet reports. The “connected car” of the future will feature entertainment and web connectivity, fuel economy features, and vehicle safety and efficiency improvements—including, for instance, the capability for cars to respond to changes in the environment and act automatically to protect their occupants.   More

Life Science

Genomics Pioneer George Church on Competing for the X Prize

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When genomics pioneer George Church recently announced that he and his team at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering will vie in a September 2013 competition to rapidly and accurately sequence 100 whole human genomes at a cost of $1,000 or less each, he did not say which technology they would use to do it. That’s because quite possibly it has not yet been invented.   More

Energy & Green Tech

Solar-Powered Plane Flies Through the Night

The Solar Impulse in flight over Switzerland, 2011 (© Solar Implulse - Jean Revillard)

Two Swiss inventors have developed the first solar-powered plane capable of flying at night. The Solar Impulse has already flown multiple overnight flights, including one 72-hour intercontinental journey, and by 2015 they hope to fly around the world in 20 days and 20 nights. The plane’s carbon fiber frame is super lightweight, and 12,000 solar cells make up the surface of its extra-long wings. The engines use almost all of the solar energy captured, with excess energy stored in batteries. One hitch that makes it unlikely that the plane will be used for commercial flights anywhere in the near future: its optimal speed is only 30 mph.   More

Digital

Can Lifelogging Devices Augment Our Memories?

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In one of the latest runaway crowdfunding success stories, the Swedish creators of the lifelogging device Memoto, hoping to raise $50,000 through Kickstarter, wound up raising more than $540,000 in just a month. Clearly, something about their project captured donors' imaginations. The stamp-sized camera clips to users' lapels and takes a high-res photo every 30 seconds. Built-in GPS and accompanying software enable users to see a timeline of their activity when they plug in the device to recharge. Memoto is the newest tool for acolytes of the growing "Quantified Self" movement, which aims to use technology to process the endless stream of data that is a human life. When Gordon Bell spoke about his lifelogging habits at Techonomy 2012, he was wearing a similar camera developed by Microsoft Research on a string around his neck.   More

Business Digital Management

Using Quantified Self Tools to Ensure Workers Are Engaged

That monitoring employees' every move will make them miserable might seem like Management 101, but an engineer and a psychologist say employers could have happier workers through surveillance. The idea is to apply the tools of the quantified-self movement to assess worker engagement and satisfaction throughout the day. In a story called "Can Technology Make You Happy?" in IEEE Spectrum's December issue Kazuo Yano, a nanostructured-silicon device engineer at Hitachi Central Research Laboratory, and Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at University of California, Riverside, along with PhD candidate Joseph Chancellor report on their collaboration to measure worker well-being with wearable biometric sensors   More

Manufacturing

Staples to Offer 3D Printing Services in Europe

Staples has announced a new service called “Staples Easy 3D” that will allow European customers to upload designs to the Staples website, and then pick up the printed objects at a local store or have them shipped. This is the first time that 3D printing is being offered to the mass market from a chain retailer.   More

Energy & Green Tech

Considering Solar Power, Post-Sandy

Solar panel and sun

In the month since Superstorm Sandy left millions in the dark, solar power has become an essential part of relief efforts, especially in ravaged areas of Brooklyn and Queens, New York. For instance, a coalition of energy companies called “Solar Sandy” has contributed renewable electricity generators to victims in hardest-hit areas. But can we use solar power to prevent similar blackouts in the future?   More

Digital Government

Can Syrian Government Starve Rebellion with Information Deprivation?

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Last year, a 75-year-old woman in the former Soviet republic of Georgia hacked through a cable with a shovel while scavenging for scrap metal, inadvertently crippling Internet service in that country and in neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan. Accidents like this have happened on a smaller scale in the U.S., and the loss of Internet connectivity in the wake of Superstorm Sandy had a paralyzing effect on businesses in New York and elsewhere. But, as Rachel Maddow pointed in the opening segment of her November 29 broadcast, governments are realizing that shutting off the Internet on purpose is a powerful political weapon.   More

Digital

Who’s in Charge of the Internet, and Who Pays the Bills?

The 12-day World Conference on International Telecommunications will convene representatives from 190 countries next week in Dubai. It's the first such assembly since 1988. Since then, the Internet has become a central driver of business and economic growth. Among the main topics of discussion: who maintains and pays for the Internet and what will become of network neutrality? As reported by Andrew Nusca of SmartPlanet, there are hints that Russia will seek to disrupt the established oversight of the Internet, posing a potential new threat to its apolitical expansion. Also at stake: extending Internet access to the 4.5 billion people in the world who don't have it. At Techonomy 2011, International Telecommunications Union Secretary General Hamadoun Touré asserted that access to broadband should be an international right. (See video.) Will the stakeholders that govern the Internet be able to broadly mandate this right?   More

Jobs Manufacturing

Skills Don’t Pay the Bills

What is the biggest threat to jobs in American manufacturing: robots or a skills gap? Many manufacturing jobs are vanishing because of computer-driven machinery, as discussed at Techonomy 2012, and nearly as many jobs have been outsourced. Thus, the industry’s future seems to lie in a new generation of highly skilled manufacturing employees who can run the computer that runs the machine. This means they must have a basic understanding of metallurgy, physics, chemistry, pneumatics, electrical wiring, and computer code.Some say there’s a skills gap, and employees with the right training simply do not exist. But that may not be the whole problem.   More

Life Science

Bio-Robots Swim, Swarm, Change, and Shed Light on Evolution

A TadRos predator hits prey

Talk of robots and robotics research tends to conjure worries about manufacturing and futuristic fantasies about the “singularity.” But new bio-robots are designed instead to help us understand our evolutionary origins, and are providing insights into biology. In a lab on the campus of Vassar College in upstate New York, biology professor John Long and his team are studying robots in a water tank as they fight for evolutionary supremacy. The researchers are using biomimetic autonomous robots to understand how fish-like vertebrates that lived 500 million years ago evolved into the fish of today.   More

The Arts

New Film Festival Software May Lead to Better Film Festivals

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As the 2012 film festival season generates buzz about the latest and greatest in cinematic creation, one producer stands out as a real industry game-changer, and it’s not a film producer. It’s a solution to the organizational and logistical nightmare known as “event management” that for years has governed small- and large-scale festivals.   More

Techonomy Tucson Video

Meet Baxter: The Robot That Will Take Your Job

Who’s your biggest competition for that new job? Turns out, it could be a robot named Baxter. This humanoid robot, created by Rodney Brooks and his team at Rethink Robotics, is easy to program and costs only $22,000. At the Techonomy conference in Tucson, Ariz., Brooks joined MIT research scientist Andrew McAfee to talk about how robots will change our lives.   More

Startup Culture Techonomy Tucson Video

Super Youth at Techonomy: What Drives the Tyle Brothers to Succeed

David Kirkpatrick interviews the Tyle brothers, Sujay (center) and Sheel (right). (photo by Asa Mathat)

How do you raise two sons who will make enough money by age 30 to ensure you have a very comfortable retirement? Tell them their youth is no barrier to achieving. Take them on vacations to developing countries where their imaginations can run wild with ideas for solving the planet’s greatest problems. And teach them to rebel in the right ways. Brothers Sujay Tyle, 19, and Sheel Tyle, 21, shared their short but impressive life stories with Techonomy founder David Kirkpatrick on stage at Techonomy 2012 in Tucson.   More

Energy & Green Tech Techonomy Tucson Video

Can Geo-Engineering Help Lower the Earth’s Temperature… And Cause War?

Just weeks after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the east coast, climate change was on the forefront of everyone's mind at Techonomy 2012 in Tucson, Ariz. In a session about geo-engineering, Harvard physics professor David Keith and Harvard Kennedy School research fellow Andrew Parker talked about the realistic possibility of reflecting sunlight away from the planet to lower the earth's temperature -- and, more pressing, the complicated political implications of this climate change quick-fix.   More

Digital Techonomy Tucson

Read All About It: The Facebook Effect

David Kirkpatrick (left) with Facebook's David Fischer and Sam Lessin (right). (photo by Asa Mathat)

The Techonomy 2012 conference outside of Tucson, Ariz. wrapped up with a session featuring two Facebook team members: Sam Lessin, Project Manager, and David Fischer, VP of Business and Marketing Partnerships. Together they explained an ideal future of Facebook where the newsfeed is a perfectly aggregated newspaper and advertising efforts do what traditional print newspapers cannot: make money.   More

Techonomy Tucson

Seeing the Business Opportunity in Malnutrition

Steve Collins, founder and Executive Director of Valid. (photo by Asa Mathat)

Leave it to a technology innovators’ conference to frame the relief of global malnutrition as a business opportunity. Other sessions at this week’s Techonomy meeting in Tucson described how technology is transforming developing communities and how mobile devices are already ubiquitous in Africa. But Steve Collins, an MD from Ireland devoted to improving nutrition in Africa, says think of it this way: People unaffected by irreversible brain damage—often the effect of malnutrition in infancy—are more likely consumers of technology.   More