Now that Google has reportedly agreed to buy Israeli crowd-powered navigation app Waze for $1.3 billion, many other “Silicon Wadi” startups are daring to dream big. Here are some others that could potentially follow in Waze’s footsteps:
Powermat:Battery drainage is one of the biggest problems faced by consumers as they increase their reliance on smartphones. EnterPowermat, whose wireless power solutions help millions charge their devices between home, car, and office.
Wibbitz:Wibbitz’s text-to-video platform uses advanced language processing to allow anything published online to be instantly turned into a video clip. Its publisher solution—which boasts a clientele of 50,000 websites and 17 million monthly viewers—will soon be available foriPhone.
Parko: Recent studies show that city drivers spend at least 20 minutes on average searching for a parking spot. Parko has developed a crowdsourcing solution for parking in a similar vein to Waze’s solution for traffic: It connects motorists looking for a spot with others about to leave one, while its algorithm identifies parking spots without users needing to remove their phones from their pockets.
The RoboRoach is a $99 kit consisting of electrodes, sensors, and a few batteries that allows anyone to drive their very own cockroach.
Attaching the electronic “backpack” to an unwitting arthropod is not for the squeamish. You must sand down the top of the critter’s head in order to attach a plug, “Exactly like the Matrix,” says Backyard Brains cofounder Greg Gage. Once installed, the system relays electrical impulses over a Bluetooth connection from your phone to the cockroach’s brain, via its antennae. The roach perceives each stimulus to its antennae as an obstacle, and changes direction. The same technique, applied to the cilia of the inner ear, is used in cochlear implants and during deep brain stimulation for treating a variety of disorders.
Greg Gage is an electrical engineer-turned-neuroscience student at the University of Michigan who, with his cofounder Tim Marzullo, started developing the RoboRoach three years ago."The reason why we started is because I was annoyed that it was so late that I found out about a career in neuroscience. We have one in five people with a neurological disorder and we have no cures—we’re kind of in the dark ages. We want to get kids to understand that this is a career, and you can do so many amazing things."
Meet our tech editor, Chris Dannen. Chris edits Fast Company’s software and media experimentation site, Co.Labs. Here are the three best things he found on the Internet this week:
1. The “McDonald’s theory of bad ideas” This isn’t entirely new, but I love how Jason Jones recasts it to apply to group collaboration. We probably know what we’d all want in an ideal world. But the hardest part is establishing a floor—what suggestion sucks so much that we’d never do it? Let’s start there and work our way up. The by-product is that we all reveal what we consider to be “self-evidently bad,” a process which, in and of itself, can help everyone question their assumptions.
2. Julian Assange’s take on the new book by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt The book is, he says, “an attempt by Google to position itself as America’s geopolitical visionary,” a notion I find alternately horrifying and inspiring. The piece strikes at the core of my ambivalence about Google, which is a subject of something I’m writing this week, two weeks after my trip to their big developer conference. I’ve never come across a company with such vision in some areas—try out a Chromebook Pixel—and such a sad lack of humanity in others—ahem, Google Glass. Never has such a bipolar company had so much power, so much money, and such an uncertain future as they wean off display advertising.
3. ElectroFur I spotted the founder of this company at Google I/O wearing a full-length, multicolored glowing faux-fur coat that absolutely blew my mind. We’ve been covering the right (and wrong) way to design wearable technology, and I’m convinced this sort of thing—while obviously a little ostentatious for everyday use—is hinting at the most inspiring future for fashion design and software you wear.
“I’ve planned my funeral. I sat and wrote down my ideas the day after I discovered the metastatic nature of my cancer…I envisage it as a real celebration of my life, lived to the full and with a sense of purpose.”
Dr. Kate Granger has terminal cancer, and she’s tweeting from her deathbed.
Apple has a problem: Social media chatter about it’s iPhone 5 has dipped, and so have sales.
From September to today, the number of conversations on social channels about iPhones has declined for two of the company’s target audiences: Baby Boomers and Generation Xers.Looking at two other lucrative consumer audiences—Millennials and teens— shows a similar pattern. Despite a spike in conversations around last Christmas, iPhone conversations have been consistently declining since the iPhone 5 launch in October.
Apple’s failure to tap into what’s being said through social insights and develop a data-driven marketing strategy is becoming an object lesson for businesses everywhere.
“That general license will allow both software and hardware to move forward to Iran and to the Iranian people so that they can have freedom to communicate with each other in ways that they don’t always have.”