technology

Author Brian Dear talks about the amazing PLATO computing system

Before Xerox Parc there was PLATO. This amazing computing system came to life in 1960 and by the 1970s was running a number of graphical terminals well before the rise of Xerox PARC and the Alto. This wild little system used some unique hardware and software to create true early educational computing projects and author Brian Dear has written an amazing book on the project. Called Friendly Orange Glow: The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture, it is available now. In this week’s Technotopia I talked to Dear at length about the project and the future of cyberculutre. It’s a cool discussion with someone who knows his stuff. Technotopia is a podcast by John Biggs about a better future. You can subscribe in Stitcher, RSS, or iTunes and listen to the MP3 here.

With $250 million, Peter Diamandis’ new startup is all about taking stem cells from placentas

Stem cells derived from a human placenta hold the key to unlocking a myriad of potentials in regenerative medicine and are the focus of X-Prize and Singularity University founder Peter Diamandis’ new endeavor. Called Celularity, the startup is a spinout from Celgene, a global biopharmaceutical company creating gene therapies. Diamandis teamed up with Dr. Robert Hariri, the founder of Celgene, to create Celularity in the hopes of using stem cells found in the human placenta to quickly regenerate tissue and organs needed to treat cancer and other diseases. The idea is these types of cells can do a better job of helping us live longer, fuller, healther lives in the future. It’s a wild proposal and, seemingly, the stuff of science fiction often tossed around in certain Silicon Valley circles —...

Blockchain engineers are in demand

Demand is off the charts for blockchain talent, and the capital is waiting to back it up. More than $3.7 billion has been raised through ICOs in the United States alone. Blockchain-related jobs are the second-fastest growing in today’s labor market; there are now 14 job openings for every one blockchain developer. And as Nick Szabo, the developer who coined “smart contracts” pointed out there is an extreme “$/knowledge” ratio in the blockchain space, where capital by far outpaces talent. Today, Toptal, a marketplace for on-demand tech talent, is publicly launching their blockchain engineering talent vertical out of private beta. In today’s software development landscape, Toptal represents about 50 percent of on-demand engineering labor by revenue. Requests for on-demand blockchain talent a...

Orbi Outdoor Satellite adds Wi-Fi coverage to your back yard

I’m a big fan of the Netgear Orbi line of mesh access points and now there’s more to love. Netgear is now shipping the RBS50Y, a new satellite that is weatherproof and allows you to add coverage to your back yard or garage without worrying that your access point will short out in the rain. The new device requires an Orbi Router — the RBR50, RBR40, RBR20 or SRR60, specifically — and connects to your home network via an easy-to-use app. The outdoor router adds up to 2,500 square feet of extra coverage and it increased my Wi-Fi coverage in the back of my house from about -80 dBm to -51 dBm, a marked improvement. This means we have better access to the Sonos indoors as well as to the camera in the back yard. Overall the Orbi is an excellent hardware solution for whole-home Wi-Fi, and I’m pleas...

What LG Twinwash does for consumers during winter

By Tare Youdeowei Managing Director, LG Electronics West Africa Operations, Mr. Taeick Son has declared that LG has in stock innovative user-friendly products designed to cater for their individual and collective needs during the winter season and thereafter. He made this known in a bid to allay the fears of consumers on how they would cope with the winter season. “We boast of eco-friendly products suitable enough for smart homes, that is what we are offering our highly esteemed consumers during this season. LG Twinwash and Styler solutions would be very useful during winter as it provides viable alternatives to professional clothing care. LG Styler “It is that time of the year when consumers make more use of thick coats, wool sweaters and loads of thermal underwear me...

Particle announces the Mesh board, an easy way to make your DIY talk to itself

Particle – which used to be called Spark – has released the third generation of their tiny, networked computing boards. Their new product, called Mesh, allows you to connect either to a Wi-Fi or cellular network but also allows you to create a mesh network between multiple Mesh devices. This lets you create a mesh network similar to popular IoT devices from Nest and Netgear. The system, called Thread, lets you select which network you’d like to use – Wi-Fi, LTE, or even Bluetooth Low Energy – and then offers programming via OpenThread technology. There are three models, the Argon, the Boron, and the Xenon. The Boron, $29, supports LTE while the Argon, $15, connects to Wi-Fi and the $9 Xenon connects only via Bluetooth. The Particle Mesh essentially allows you to create large mesh networks ...

Dbrain pitches a new token paying users crypto to train artificial intelligence

One of the continuing challenges that artificial intelligence programs face is how they receive and process the information they need to take actions. While the algorithmic tools that developers have harnessed to automate a dizzying number of different processes are incredibly good at processing information, these machine learning programs need to be taught what information to process — and for now it’s up to the humans that AI will eventually replace to train them. Dbrain, is a new startup that’s aiming to make sure that if people are going to be replaced by machines, they can at least get paid to train their replacements. With a pitch that “Dbrain makes AI happen”, the company is offering to pay users of its service in a cryptocurrency for the privilege of teaching machine learning-based...

Apple and Android are destroying the Swiss Watch industry

In Q4 2017 – essentially during the last holiday season – market research firm Canalys found that more people bought Apple watches than Swiss watches. Two million more, to be exact. Brian Heater has more data but this news is quite problematic for the folks eating Coquilles St-Jacques on the slopes of the Jura mountains. The numbers are estimates based on market data but they still point to a trend. In Q1 2016 Apple shipped 1.5 million watches to Switzerlands 5.9 million. The intervening quarters were about the same until the launch of the Apple Watch 3 in September 2017, just in time for holiday shopping. The boost of a new phone and a new watch at the same time meant a perfect storm for upgraders, driving the total number of Apple Watches sold past the Swiss watch sales numbers. This swi...

Cybex starts selling its $330, app-enabled car seat made for safety geeks

Normally, I wouldn’t be writing about a car seat for for TechCrunch but as I’ve been in the market for such an item lately (and have been hit up for all things baby tech as my due date nears) the high-tech Cybex Sirona M with SensorSafe 2.0 stood out. Cybex is manufactured in Germany and is a mostly European brand that’s gaining momentum in the U.S. market. Its newest carseat in the family (the aforementioned Sirona M) is made to give parents and caregivers peace of mind using technology. Some of the techy features include Bluetooth monitoring and an app to alert parents when a caregiver may have left the kid in the car, the kid has unbuckled their seatbelt while the car is moving or if their baby is in danger of overheating. Parents will get an alert in the form of a chime though an insta...

Aurora will power Byton EV’s autonomous driving features

Aurora, the self-driving startup founded by Google self-driving car project alum Chris Urmson, along with Tesla Autopilot developer Sterling Anderson, CMU robotics expert and Uber vet Drew Bagnell, and a team of industry experts, will be making the autonomous smarts for Byton’s forthcoming electric vehicle. Byton, a startup that had a splashy debut at CES earlier this year. Byton’s Concept electric SUV is a car with a lot of interesting tech features, aside from its all-electric drive train. The vehicle has a massive, dashboard-covering display that incorporates information readouts, entertainment options and vehicle controls. It’s a screen that seems somewhat ill-suited for the task of paying attention to the road while driving, and the Byton car also has front seats that swivel towards t...

World’s biggest rocket soars toward Mars after perfect launch

The world’s most powerful rocket, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, blasted off Tuesday on its highly anticipated maiden test flight, carrying CEO Elon Musk’s cherry red Tesla Roadster toward an orbit near Mars. China launches first commercial Rocket Mission: (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) Screams and cheers erupted at mission control in Cape Canaveral, Florida as the massive rocket fired its 27 engines and rumbled into the blue sky over the same NASA launchpad that served as a base for the US missions to the Moon four decades ago. “The mission went as well as one could have hoped,” an ecstatic Musk told reporters after the launch, calling it “probably the most exciting thing I have seen literally ever.” “I had this image of a giant explosion on the pad with a wheel bouncing down the roa...

Financial inclusion: Inlaks targets the unbanked with solar powered mobile branch

By Prince Osuagwu The over 46.9 million unbanked Nigerians need empowerment, they need to communicate and transact businesses just like other Nigerians, otherwise the touted financial inclusion, would only remain a mere rhetoric. However, financial technology solutions provider, Inlaks, is paving the way with a solar powered mobile  branch solution, which it claimed could eliminate the constraints associated with brick and mortar bank branches. The mobile bank branch solution is totally self-contained for power and security, as a mobile unit is an integral part of a bank’s disaster recovery plan as well as an enhancement to a bank’s existing ISO 22301 (BCMS) certification. Some features incorporated into the mobile unit include a CCTV camera positioned at strategic pos...