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photo: Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon researchers have created an application that visualizes tabular data and lets users analyze it using hand gestures. It’s not the first attempt to rethink analytics for a mobile world, but it’s interesting and a sign of things to come. Read more »

In Brief

IBM has made another investment out of the $100 million it has set aside to fund companies using the Watson cognitive computing system, this time investing an undisclosed amount of money into a company called Fluid. IBM and Fluid are working on an application, called Expert Shopper, that will let consumers ask complex, natural language questions on retail websites and receive product recommendations in return. Fluid is IBM’s second publicly announced Watson-fund investment, with the first going to a health care startup called Welltok. Both were early partners in IBM’s cloud-based Watson service and API.

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On The Web

The New York Times Bits blog reports on the close of InBloom, a database for student data that became a privacy lightning rod. On the one hand, it’s a great idea: there’s a lot that educators and researchers could learn from analyzing this type of data across regions, demographics, etc. On the other hand, it’s probably not a wise idea to connect students’ names with sensitive or personal information. Objectivity is key, too. You’d like to measure attributes in a way that doesn’t lend itself to educators’ biases and reinforcement of stereotypes.

In Brief

Nike has let go most of the members of its FuelBand wearables unit and will stop developing new versions of the device, according to a report by CNET. The tech news site quoted an unnamed person “familiar with the matter” as saying that the firm has laid off 70 to 80 percent of its 70-person hardware division and will not produce a new version of the FuelBand, but will continue to sell the existing version. Some industry observers believe Nike has decided to align itself with Apple, which is expected to launch an iWatch or other wearable device that might run Nike’s Fuel software. Apple CEO Tim Cook is a member of Nike’s board.

In Brief

The Senate passed an amended version of the Data Accountability and Transparency (or DATA) Act on Thursday, nearly five months after the House passed its version 388-1 in November. The bill standardizes the process, platforms and formats in which federal agencies report how they spend their money. The bill had strong bipartisan support but faced opposition from the Office of Management and Budget. It could be a coup for certain technology vendors, including supporter Teradata, which stand to win more government deals as all that data becomes easier to store and analyze using commercial software.

In Brief

MongoDB has released version 2.6 of its eponymous NoSQL database, complete with some significant new capabilities around monitoring and management, search, indexing, performance and pipelines. The company (formerly known as 10gen) pretty clearly has the most widely used NoSQL database — especially among web developers — so now the push is to make it more palatable for large enterprises and other users who’ll actually pay for it. MongoDB looks like the one NoSQL startup poised for an IPO at some point, and a more-mature product could help shore up revenue to get investors excited.

In Brief

Sporting goods company Wilson is working with a Finnish startup called SportIQ to create a basketball that uses sensors and artificial intelligence to determine how far the ball traveled and whether the shot was made. It’s not the first application of sensors and algorithms into sports gear — we already have them in football helmets, soccer balls and basketball nets, for example — but the Wilson basketball is pretty unique in that it seems to target individual consumers, meaning anyone with the ball, a hoop and a web connection can start quantifying their game.

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