4 promising startup ideas from MIT Demo Day

A personal temperature regulator, an “espresso machine” for diet supplements, a power meter for cyclists, and a satellite propulsion system were among the standouts at MIT Global Founders’ Skills Accelerator Demo Day.

Fear Factor, C-suite edition

With all the fear, uncertainty and doubt swirling about data security in the wake of Edward Snowden, Target breaches and so on, it’s important for C-level execs to act, not retreat, according to speakers at the MIT CIO Symposium Wednesday.


Retail’s reinvention: technology’s impact on today’s supply chain

Further growth of online sales is inevitable. This continued shift from brick-and-mortar retail shops to the online world affects everyone from the manufacturer to the distributor. Those looking to stay competitive must understand a new set of consumer wants and needs, new business models emerging, and those technologies that hold the most promise for the future.

MIT to release redacted Aaron Swartz documents

MIT will publish documents now under seal about the Aaron Swartz prosecution, but it will edit them to protect individuals’ privacy and the security of the school’s networks, according to MIT president Rafael Reif.

3 tech breakthroughs that will help boost our digital & online future

As we become more and more reliant on silicon and bandwidth, the need for fundamental technology breakthroughs has never been more acute. Scientists are working on those solutions and the marriage of optical and silicon is an area of immense focus. Here are three notable breakthroughs.

Here is why Cisco bought Meraki for $1.2 billion in cash

Meraki, a San Francisco-based company that came out of MIT Roofnet project, has been acquired by Cisco for $1.2 billion in cash. With $100 million in bookings for 2012, Meraki was reflection of the growing demand for WiFi in a smartphone & tablet infested world

Make your own rat-cell robot with a 3D printer!

If you take a 3D printer, fill it with hydrogel, add a few cardiac rat cells and a novel design, you’d get this University of Illinois bio-bot, a self-propelled robot that is about a quarter of an inch long and may be the future of engineering.

Content hackathons: the future of textbooks?

As the availability and awareness of open educational resources grows, educators and open-content publishers are experimenting with hackathon-style content collaborations among subject-matter experts to create high school and college textbooks over the course of a few weekends.

Meet Baxter, the “huggable” robot for your grandma

Sure, Baxter the Robot can pack boxes or maybe even assemble furniture. But he — er, it — may one day help senior citizens stay in their homes longer. Rethink Robotics’ Baxter made his public debut Wednesday at EMtech 2012 at MIT.

Rx for a carbon-warmed planet: Sulfuric acid?

Given the world’s inability to stem the flow of CO2 in the atmosphere — or even put a price on that flow — new scenarios to mitigate global warming are coming to the fore. Pumping sulfuric acid into the stratosphere could help, says Harvard’s David Keith.

5 ways big data is transforming everyday life

In photojournalist Rick Smolan’s latest book, The Human Face of Big Data, he shares more than 100 stories revealing the concrete, mind-blowingly powerful ways big data is changing how we consume energy, receive healthcare, monitor the environment and more. Take a look at five examples.

What does iPhone have to do with robots?

It is hard to imagine that it has only been five years since the smartphone revolution started in earnest. The sensor driven modern marvels are not only redefining how we interact with the world, but they are also having unintended consequences. Like helping make cheaper robots.

Is your carrier overbilling you for mobile data?

A new research study shows that carriers may be charging for mobile data that you don’t actually consume. A test of two U.S. mobile networks found that carriers count every byte they ship you even if your phone is incapable of receiving that data. expands to San Francisco, an up-and-coming Boston area health IT startup, is opening an office in San Francisco. The company, which grew out of MIT, will retain its Cambridge, Mass. headquarters but morph into a bi-coastal effort, according to CEO Anmal Madan.

Freemium has run its course

Freemium can only offer the hope that customers will fall in love with your product and be willing to pay for it later. This is a scattershot approach to monetization. Rags Srinivasan argues that it’s time to take a deliberate and more targeted approach.

Closing the academia-startup gap

The high-tech industry, heck industry in general, would be better off if academic researchers could bring the fruits of their labor to market faster. That’s an old argument, brought up anew in a blog by Matt Welsh, a software engineer at Google.

Feds give $54M to cut manufacturing energy use

Funding innovation and manufacturing (and job creation) is a big theme in this election year for Obama’s administration. The DOE announced Tuesday that it’s giving away $54 million to 13 projects for technologies that will help manufacturers reduce energy use and lower production costs.

Another reason you should learn to code: Python for Excel

Anyone who has used Microsoft Excel since 1993 has likely dabbled at least once with VBA, or Visual Basic for Applications. Now, a pair of MIT students have created an plug-in alternative to VBA called IronSpread, which uses the cross-platform Python scripting language.

Intel, MIT bring more big data mojo to Massachusetts

The greater Boston area’s bid to be the go-to big data hub will get a boost as Intel and MIT will announce the Intel Science and Technology Center for Big Data as well as bigdata@CSAIL, a research group for MIT academics and industry researchers.

Google’s head of news: Newspapers are the new Yahoo

In an interview about the future of the media industry, Google’s head of news products Richard Gingras said that newspapers are like old-fashioned internet portals such as AOL and Yahoo, and that unless they can adapt to the web instead of fighting it they are doomed.

Top 10 Phat Startups of 2012

We’ve heard an awful lot about lean startups lately. Now it’s time to focus on Phat Startups — companies willing to take big risks to solve big problems — like clean energy and nuclear waste remediation, according to Jamie Goldstein, general partner at North Bridge Venture Partners.

MIT and Harvard say open-source edX can educate a billion people

Charles River neighbors Harvard and MIT are working together on technology to power free, online coursework for students. The two schools will share ownership of the new $60 million edX initiative but the underlying MITx technology will be open-sourced for use by other schools.

Cool! MIT mimics the web to give chips a speed boost

The chip industry has a problem — can looking to the architecture of the web help? The tradeoff between faster performance and power consumption has led the chip industry to add more and more cores to each chip to keep delivering more speed and features to users.

MIT: We’re one step closer to self-replicating objects

We’ve seen 3-D printers that create previously designed objects, but what about smart grains of sand that self-replicate things? It’s not science fiction: MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory is demonstrating intelligent, 1 cm cubes that can assume any shape through magnetism principles and algorithms.

Health Datapalooza takes the pulse of mHealth

Curious about where mHealth and Health 2.0 innovations are headed? Check out the third annual Health Data Initiative Forum, aka Health Datapalooza, June 5–6. If the success of previous programs is any indicator, several hot new startups should emerge from this year’s event.

With this tool, even you can write Android apps

Tablets and smartphones are very personal devices, but software for them is built for the masses. What if you need a very specific app on your Android phone? You could build it yourself with the MIT App Inventor even if you have very little programming knowledge.

MIT’s new online courses target students worldwide

MIT next spring will launch a pilot of MITx online-only courses geared to reach prospective learners around the world. And, the university plans to open source the underlying technology coursework infrastructure for use by other educational institutions.

Greying consumers are a gold mine for VCs

Most venture capitalists obsess on the latest shiny object for youngish consumers. That’s remarkably shortsighted. The aging U.S. population is a potential gold mine for entrepreneurs that can build technologies to help this huge population remain active and stay in their homes as long as possible.

How to build a better electric grid

Efforts to modernize the U.S. grid in recent years have emerged as a hodgepodge of pilot projects, the installation of new technology and hefty financial backing from the U.S. government and private investors. How to plan for such a change is a daunting task.

Kleiner Perkins wants startups to net top-notch summer interns

Exclusive: There are lots of great summer internships at Silicon Valley startups. But top engineering students often pass them up for the money and name recognition companies like Google can provide. So Kleiner Perkins has partnered with InternMatch to attract top-flight students to its portfolio companies.

Tech entrepreneurs bemoan academia-industry barrier

Several of the young entrepreneurs at this week’s MIT Emtech 2011 conference were executives from established companies but many more were academic researchers who said the divide between “pure research” and commercialization is bigger than ever as the lengthy recession persists.

Working to plug the tech gap for the developing world

Most of the entrepreneurial pitches this week at MIT’s Emtech 2011 focused on elevating high-tech for markets that are already pretty tech saturated. Folks talked about smart vehicular networks that will allow cars to share information. Two entrepreneurs went the other way.

Vehicular network coming to a smart car near you?

Imagine if your car could know about a huge pothole just ahead. Or a traffic snarl. Or both. Would that be of interest to you? USC researcher Bhaskar Krishnamachari is working to enable a peer-to-peer network of “smart” cars that share information as they travel.

New-look robots kick butt, sort socks, scratch itches

The Jetson’s Rosie the Robot is not reality yet, but new-age robots are getting smarter and more adaptive given new toolsets, artifiical intelligence and good old-fashioned training, according to robotics experts at the Emtech 2011 conference at MIT this week.

MIT’s wormhole could make a window for remote workers

There’s nothing like a face-to-face conversation, but that hasn’t stopped businesses and technologists from bridging the distance that separates us using telephones, video conferencing, fancy robots, and now wormholes, to give the illusion of being there. So what do these services need to succeed?

Is it time to retire the 5-star rating system?

Thanks to the rating systems in place on such popular websites as Yelp, Amazon and eBay, many people are comfortable evaluating things in absolute terms: a two-star restaurant, a B movie and so on. But new MIT research says this approach is fundamentally flawed.

Can MIT’s Media Lab help to reinvent local media?

The Knight Foundation says it wants to help reinvent local and community-level media through the Center for Civic Media at MIT — the non-profit entity just announced new funding for the center, and a new director in online media pioneer and long-time Harvard University fellow Ethan Zuckerman.

Researchers make human animation less creepy

The “uncanny valley”– the quality of an animation or robot looking close to, but not exactly like, real life — may be set to get even smaller. MIT researchers have developed new computing techniques for reproducing the slight natural blur of moving objects in animation.

Bill Gates Backs Liquid Metal Battery

A buzzy startup working on a battery that sandwiches molten salt between two layers of liquid metal, has gotten seed funding from Bill Gates. The company is called Liquid Metal Battery, and it’s the brainchild of MIT Professor Donald Sadoway.

How Joi Ito Can Help MIT Media Lab Win Back the Future

MIT’s Media Lab is a hothouse of talent that helped usher in the digital revolution of the 1990s — but as the Internet has become dominated by large companies, its influence has waned. Now incoming director Joi Ito must help it regain its momentum.

MIT Builds an OS to Give Multicore Chips a Heartbeat

People are complicated organisms that have evolved systems of feedback and governance to ensure our minds and out bodies perform well. As computers gain more cores, MIT scientists are building an operating system to create a similar system of feedback to ensure the machine performs well.

1366 Tech Raises $20M for Cheaper Solar Wafers

Silicon wafer production has been in existence for decades, yet there is stil room for improving the process. That’s the thinking behind a new venture undertaken by 1366 Technologies, which has raised $20 million to take its new technology out of the lab and into the factory.

Google VC, Tumblr CEO Among the Top Innovators Under 35

MIT’s Technology Review magazine has released its annual list of the top young innovators under 35, a group that includes sociologist and Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd, Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp, telecom scientist Gabriel Charlet and David Kobia, co-founder of web-based emergency services network Ushahidi.


The Internet of Things: What It Is, Why It Matters

The “Internet of Things” (IoT) will likely be one of the most important technological advances of this century. The emergence of Cloud computing, meanwhile, has created the application and device management backbone needed to scale to and support billions of connected objects. Consumer, governmental and business trends are also pushing us toward the IoT. And despite inhibitors to growth, such as privacy issues and creating sustainable business models, we will see increasing benefits in our personal and community lives as the IoT takes hold.

Show Me the Display Innovation

While the web is moving to video from text and is increasingly becoming more personal, we’re still viewing it on a flat screen — sometimes two or three flat screens. What if we could also interact with what we’re looking at, and in 3-D?

MIT's Thin LCD Lets Your Fingers Do the Talking

MIT’s Media Lab today showed off a thin LCD screen that can respond to both touch and gestures. They call it a bidirectional screen, or BiDiScreen for short. The tech on display uses LCDs with built-in optics and new algorithms to allow for gesture control.

Daily Sprout

Mad for Mitsubishi’s iMiEV: Mitsubishi Motors rose the most in almost five months on the Tokyo Stock Exchange today after a report…

Carbon Capture Lite Could Cut Costs For "Clean Coal"

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say a shorter-term solution, with cheaper start-up costs, could help spread the use of carbon capture and storage at coal plants and still clean up a large amount of carbon dioxide.

Ubiquitious TAB

Firefox users may have seen the blog announcement from Mozilla Labs last month introducing Ubiquity. Ubiquity is an “experiment into connecting the…

5 Reasons to Move Your Startup Out of Silicon Valley

All tech startups need just a few ingredients to germinate: sophisticated money; first-rate technology universities; and a few template successes (a Google or a Facebook, and so on) to encourage founders to get off their duffs. Contrary to current wisdom, these ingredients exist in many communities outside of Silicon Valley –- in fact, they always have. Continue Reading.

A Quick Look at FolderShare

Like many people, I use more than one computer over the course of the day. Keeping my documents folder synced between machines…

Connexion, Disconnection?

Boeing, the big airplane maker is rethinking its in-flight WiFi access service, Connexion. According to The Wall Street Journal, the service is…

Hello Canada. This is VoIP

Mark Evans hopes Vonage’s marketing campaign is going to kickstart the VoIP business in Canada, but is not that optimistic. Local calls…

Mirra for Mac?

We have all seen Mirra, the connected storage drive, and some of us have liked it as well. And that despite the…