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+ - From Commune to Sharing Economy Startup->

gthuang88 writes: Willy Schlacks grew up in a conservative commune in Missouri without technology like phones or computers. At age 27, he and his brother left and started a construction business. That led to their founding a Web startup called EquipmentShare that helps contractors rent and share construction machinery. The startup went through the Y Combinator program and just raised $2 million from venture capitalists. The Schlacks worldview, coming from a communal society where they never owned property, fits in an interesting way with the digital sharing economy of Uber and Airbnb that’s seeping into other industries. But there’s one big difference. “I appreciate capitalism,” Schlacks says. “I definitely prefer it.”
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+ - Fetch Robotics Unveils Warehouse Robots->

gthuang88 writes: Warehouse automation has become a big business, with Amazon’s Kiva robots leading the way. Now a startup called Fetch Robotics is rolling out a pair of new robots that can pick boxes off of shelves, pass them to each other, and carry the goods to a shipping station. Fetch, led by Willow Garage veteran Melonee Wise, is competing with companies like Amazon’s Kiva Systems, Rethink Robotics, and Harvest Automation to develop dexterous, mobile robots for retail, distribution, and manufacturing.
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+ - More Broadband Competition for Comcast and Verizon->

gthuang88 writes: Just days after Comcast and Time Warner Cable abandoned their mega-merger plans, wireless Internet service provider Webpass is expanding to Boston, its fifth major market. The region can boast of MIT, a rich history in Internet and Web, and lots of networking companies---but very little in the way of broadband competition, until now. Webpass’s very high-speed service, which is currently available in the Bay Area, San Diego, Miami, and Chicago, should be up and running in downtown Boston in three or four weeks. The company joins NetBlazr, Monkeybrains, and other broadband tech companies that are finding a niche as more people opt to “cut the cord” from big cable and telecom providers.
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+ - MIT May Help Lead Bitcoin Standards Effort->

gthuang88 writes: With everyone from PayPal merchants to Rand Paul starting to accept Bitcoins as payment, the race is on to develop technical standards for the virtual currency. Now MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito is getting ready to unveil a plan for MIT to become an independent, neutral home for standards development. Ito is enlisting cryptographer Ron Rivest and economist Simon Johnson to help with the effort, which could provide an academic alternative to the Bitcoin Foundation for conversations about the currency’s future.
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+ - Rethink Robotics' New Robot Aims for Global Market

gthuang88 writes: Rethink Robotics has unveiled a new manufacturing robot called Sawyer. The robot has one arm, a gripper, and a head, and is equipped with new force sensors, actuators, and computer vision that make it more agile and precise than the company’s previous robot, Baxter. Founder Rodney Brooks says Sawyer is designed for two new market areas---electronics assembly and international factories in Europe and Asia. It also took only one year to build, as compared to almost four for Baxter. Still, the question is whether manufacturers are ready to adopt robots to work alongside people in factories.

+ - Testing New Digital Therapies for Mental Health->

gthuang88 writes: Startups and medical groups are testing new digital approaches to mental-health treatment, in efforts to clear clinical and regulatory hurdles. Pear Therapeutics combines drugs, apps, and virtual-reality software to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction. Akili Interactive Labs is using a video-game platform to diagnose and treat brain injuries, ADHD, and autism. And Partners Healthcare is running a 100-patient study of a tablet app that delivers cognitive behavioral therapy for depression. These efforts face big challenges in showing clinical results, but could point toward an eventual merging of drugs and digital therapies.
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+ - A Tech Rebellion Brewing?->

gthuang88 writes: Joi Ito is a rebel, but he’s also head of the MIT Media Lab and depends on funding from big companies like Fox, Intel, and Google. Anil Dash is a Web entrepreneur, but he wants the industry held responsible for its nefarious terms of service, poor civic track record, and lack of diversity. Ayah Bdeir runs a hardware startup, but she rails against blind consumption of apps and devices. A recent PopTech gathering shows tech leaders are wrestling with their role in society. It also uncovers a fundamental tension between rebellious startups and the institutions they seek to disrupt.
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+ - Companies Genetically Engineer Spider Silk->

gthuang88 writes: Spider silk is touted for its strength and potential to be used in body armor, sports gear, and even artificial tendons and implants. Now several companies including EntoGenetics, Kraig Labs, and Araknitek have developed genetic approaches to producing commercial quantities of the stuff. One method is to implant spider genes into silkworms, which then act as spider-silk factories. Another is to place the gene that encodes spider web production into the DNA of goats; these “spidergoats” then produce milk containing spider-silk proteins that can be extracted. There’s still a long way to go, however, and big companies like DuPont and BASF have tried and failed to commercialize similar materials.
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+ - What's After Big Data?->

gthuang88 writes: As the marketing hype around “big data” subsides, a recent wave of startups is solving a new class of data-related problems and showing where the field is headed. Niche analytics companies like RStudio, Vast, and FarmLink are trying to provide insights for specific industries such as finance, real estate, and agriculture. Data-wrangling software from startups like Tamr and Trifacta is targeting enterprises looking to find and prep corporate data. And heavily funded startups such as Actifio and DataGravity are trying to make data-storage systems smarter. Together, these efforts highlight where emerging data technologies might actually be used in the business world.
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+ - Microsoft's Missed Opportunities: Memo From 1997->

gthuang88 writes: In the 1990s, Microsoft was in position to own the software and devices market. Here is Nathan Myhrvold’s previously unpublished 1997 memo on expanding Microsoft Research to tackle problems in software testing, operating systems, artificial intelligence, and applications. Those fields would become crucial in the company’s competition with Google, Apple, Amazon, and Oracle. But research didn’t do enough to make the company broaden its businesses. While Microsoft Research was originally founded to ensure the company’s future, the organization only mapped out some possible futures. And now Microsoft is undergoing the biggest restructuring in its history.
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I know engineers. They love to change things. - Dr. McCoy