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September 30, 2009

RailsConf coming to Baltimore in 2010

Mike Subelsky tells us about a cool conference that's coming to town next June. Mark your calendars (if you've bought a 2010 calendar already).

RailsConf, an annual four-day gathering of Ruby-on-Rails enthusiasts, announced this week that their 2010 conference will be held in Baltimore. I've attended it for the past few years and always had a great time. Why is this a big deal?

1) Rails is an important web technology used to build web applications quickly and flexibly; the most famous example is Twitter.

2) This is the first time RailsConf has been on the East Coast (in years past it was held in Portland, OR and Las Vegas).

3) It's going to bring a couple of thousand smart technologists from all over the world to our region and will be a great opportunity to show off the city and state to people who might someday make a home here, start a business here or work for a startup here.

4) It will attract many programmers and entrepreneurs from the region to Baltimore who might not otherwise have a chance to be exposed to the cutting edge of web app development.

5) There's a pretty large group of Ruby and Rails programmers in the area, with regular meetups in Northern Virginia, DC, and Baltimore. This event will help put that community on the map!


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Liz Hacken at 12:00 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Events (Baltimore area)
        

What does our local tech culture need?

Our guest blogger for today is Mike Subelsky, an organizer with Ignite (which David Troy just wrote about in a BaltTech guest post) and co-founder of OtherInbox.com. Chime in with your ideas on what the Baltimore tech scene needs to thrive.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that Baltimore has a vital and thriving technology culture. We have many good companies, events and organizations in town in various stages of growth, and it's a very creative time for starting new things. The activation energy for a new tech culture project is getting lower all the time!

This is my attempt to add fuel to the fire: a list of things our tech culture would use. I don't claim ownership or authorship of any of these ideas, and I really hope someone will see one of these and get it going. If you do you'll find a great deal of support and encouragement from the whole scene!

My original inspiration is a great blog post called Nine Tips to Building a Local Tech Culture. Fortunately we are already doing many of the things Steve Spalding lists in that post, but it's a good read nonetheless.

• Office hours with investors. We should create opportunities for local, regional and national investors to meet informally with entrepreneurs to hear pitches, provide feedback and generally get to know one another. For example, every startup in Baltimore and DC should band together and invite First Round to do an office hours in this area; their managing partner lives near us in Philadelphia.

• New product contests like http://3daystartup.com - not as a way to create companies (though that would be a nice side effect) but more as a way to introduce entrepreneurs and technologists and designers. It would also be a lot of fun, and it would get new entrepreneurs a way to quickly develop their ideas into prototypes.

• Baltimore technology podcast: how about a podcast dedicated to the local tech scene? Every couple of weeks you could interview some local awesome person about their new awesome project. Or you could do wrap-up reviews of content from Refresh, SocialDevCamp, Ignite, TEDx, etc.

• Talent exchange: I once lamented on my personal blog that there were more people in Baltimore with software company ideas than there were developers interested in working for equity. Someone commented with this great idea: "Maybe we need an exchange to meet up for the sole purpose of equity projects. Business types can pitch the programmers and alternatively, programmers can pitch the business types."

• Create something like Philadelphia's Founder Factory (http://www.founderfactory.com/about-the-factory/), an "an annual event created by Philly Startup Leaders, meant to help foster growth of an ecosystem of entrepreneurs, mentors, angels, VC’s, students, schools and government groups within the Philadelphia area. As a collaborative and engaging event, the Founder Factor helps to unleash Philadelphia’s entrepreneurial potential." I think Bootstrap Maryland is headed in this direction, but it would be nice to have some more high level support for such initiatives.

• Mentoring and investment incubators a la YCombinator and Capital Factory: a great way to attract new talent to Maryland and expose people locally to the startup life

• Tech culture portal portal: if you just moved here and wanted to find other companies building tech products, where would you go? We could use a Web site that highlights all the events, the companies, and the resources we have to offer.

• Demo days: The Beehive has "show and tell" day and I'd love to see that extended to the whole region. What if we got a whole bunch of tech companies that each got 5 minutes to show off their crown jewels? I think that would be pretty eye-opening.

• Breakfast events: there's a lot going on at night in our tech culture; how about doing things in the morning? I'd love to get a "software breakfast" going where developers could get together and show off their work, exchange war stories, etc.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Liz Hacken at 7:00 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Big Ideas, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Geeks, Research, Startups
        

September 29, 2009

Ignite events help build regional buzz

Here's another dispatch from David Troy of Beehive Baltimore to shed some light on what Ignite is all about.

If you had 5 minutes on stage and 20 slides that rotate automatically every 15 seconds, what would you say? That's the question that 48 presenters will answer at three upcoming Ignite events in Annapolis, D.C., and Baltimore.

Ignite was started in Seattle in 2006 by Brady Forrest and Bre Pettis, and is overseen by the technology book publisher O'Reilly. Since the founding of the program, hundreds of five minute talks have been given across the world.

The first Ignite event in the area, Ignite Baltimore, was organized in October 2008 by local entrepreneurs Mike Subelsky and Patti Chan and was an immediate success. Held at the Windup Space on North Avenue, the event has attracted standing room only crowds, and the upcoming Ignite Baltimore #4 has been moved to The Walters Art Museum in order to accommodate more people. Ignite Baltimore #4 will take place on Oct. 22. Ignite Baltimore was recently named "Best Geek's Night Out" by Baltimore Magazine.

This week, the first Ignite Annapolis will be held at Loews Annapolis Hotel in their Powerhouse building. Ignite Annapolis is organized by Kris Valerio (Executive Director of Chesapeake Regional Tech Council, and local actress and theater director) and Jennifer Troy (local entrepreneur) and will take place on Thursday, Oct. 1. The event is sold out, but you may be able to get in if you show up early.

And next week, Ignite DC returns with its second event organized by Jared Goralnick (local entrepreneur and organizer) and Steve Lickteig (radio producer). That event will be held at Town Danceboutique, 2009 8th St NW and should feature several hundred people.

While a handful of well-connected area geeks will likely attend all three events, they are inherently local events designed to connect communities together, and really aren't all that geeky. Topics span everything from art, history, science, philosophy, and of course, some tech and social media. But Ignite is designed to emphasize that tech has become inherently cross-discipline and is no longer the domain of just infotech nerds. So don't be surprised when topics roam far and wide.

You can get a taste of Ignite by visiting http://ignite.oreilly.com/show/ and viewing some of the videos available there.

Upcoming Area Ignite Events

• October 1, 6:00pm - Ignite Annapolis, http://igniteannapolis.com

• October 8, 6:00pm - Ignite DC, http://ignite-dc.com

• October 22, 6:00pm - Ignite Baltimore, http://ignitebaltimore.com

Note that all three events are already sold out or close to sold out, so if you have not already registered, space will be very limited. However, you may be able to get in if you show up by 5:00. See the RSVP and waitlist policies for each individual event. And if you can't make these events, get ready for the next round of Ignites, which will be happening early next year. Ignite Baltimore #5 is planned for the first week of March 2010.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Liz Hacken at 11:16 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Events (Baltimore area), Events (DC/No. Va. area), Geeks
        

Startup Tuesday, featuring.... Earth Aid

Interested in submitting your startup for a feature in Startup Tuesday? Just follow the format below and email your info, with a photo of the founders, to me at gus.sentementes@baltsun.com.

 

* Company: Earth Aid Enterprises LLC

* Founders: Ben Bixby (pictured) & Greg O'Keeffeearthaidteam_ben.jpg

 * Number of employees: Six and a half, plus three undergraduate interns and two graduate student fellows.

* Headquarters: Washington, D.C. (14th & K Streets NW)

* Field/Industry: Green tech

* Product(s) and what it does:  Earth Aid's patent-pending web application makes it possible for you to link all your utility accounts (electric, gas, water) in one place to see the big picture, to identify opportunities to save, and to get rewarded for saving energy and water. Earth Aid automatically identifies all the federal, state, and local incentive programs in your area that you may be eligible to tap - and, in certain cities beginning on Sept. 8th, Earth Aid enables you to earn rewards points for saving energy and to redeem those points for exclusive discounts and offers from local businesses.

* Website/Twitter/Blog links: http://www.earthaid.net; @earthaid (on Twitter)

* The genesis of the idea for the company: EarthAid.net is a project over a year and a half in development, and the outgrowth of Earth Aid's original business as a creative online retailer of home energy efficiency products. We built EarthAidKit.com to be the first online store that offered dynamic, personalized calculations of the approximate impact of the products in a user's shopping cart. In measuring our impact in both the individual level and in the aggregate, we realized that we may well have missed the point - we may have known that a user purchased a more efficient lightbulb, but we didn't know if they ever used it, if they used it as we had expected, or if in fact they used it not to replace an inefficient bulb but for a completely new lamp. It became apparent that measuring by products (as so many individuals, companies, and even government programs tend to do) completely missed the point; often times, new products would result in an increase in energy consumption either because they're additional products or because the efficiency on the label lulls consumers into a sense of complacency. We knew it must be possible to measure on automated basis and at scale, and we built EarthAid.net as a free tool to do so - so individuals and communities alike can keep track of their actual impact, and can be incentivized on the basis of actual achievement, not just purchasing products.

* Most important local/regional resource you tapped to start your company: Without a doubt, the people. The Washington, D.C. area is filled with people who think differently -- as the course of history has shown from time to time, this isn't always a good thing. However, we've been able to put together the best of Washington's tendency to attract issue-driven, community-organizing, conventional-wisdom-challenging people to build a creative team that's brining new thinking to how the private sector can be brought to bear - and can partner with the public sector - to create meaningful, measurable change that benefits households, the environment, and the economy.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
        

September 28, 2009

Beehive Baltimore celebrates nine months of coworking

While Gus is on vacation, we'll be checking in on what the folks at Beehive Baltimore are doing. Today co-founder David Troy gives us a look at what the Hive's all about.

What if there was a place where freelancers, creatives, entrepreneurs and financiers could meet up to collaborate on up-and-coming startup ideas? That place exists today, and it's called Beehive Baltimore.

On October 1st, Beehive Baltimore will celebrate its first nine months of operation as a coworking facility, located in the Emerging Technology Center in Canton.

If you're not familiar with coworking, it's a shared workspace for creative professionals who might otherwise work at home or in a coffee shop. These days, anyone who works primarily via laptop and the internet is a great candidate for coworking!

Beehive Baltimore opened Feb. 1, 2009, specifically to cater to these kinds of professionals, and the Beehive community now has over 40 members including people in Web design, programming, marketing, public relations, finance and other information-based industries.

Last Thursday, we held an open house at the Hive for prospective members and others in the community to stop by, meet some of our members, and find out more about what coworking is all about.

Beehive is designed to be a community of peers, and does not aim to make a profit. Working in partnership with the Emerging Technology Center in Canton, Beehive aims to connect freelancers, seasoned entrepreneurs, and other professionals via long-term relationships that lead to mutual benefit – and possibly to new startups!

The Hive (as we call it) has also already given birth to multiple events and meet-ups that might not otherwise have a place to meet. Some of the groups that we either have hosted or have helped create include:

• Baltimore Angels (an angel investment group)
• Baltimore Hackers (a computer language study group)
• Baltimore/Washington Javascript meetup
• Baltimore Flash/Flex User Group (a group for users of Adobe's Flex platform)
• Refresh Baltimore (a web professionals group)
• Barcamp Baltimore (a user-generated tech conference)
• TEDxMidAtlantic (coming on Nov. 5)

On Oct. 1st at 12pm, Beehive Baltimore will host its first "Show and Tell" event, where participants are invited to share their projects, startups, or prototypes and get feedback from the group.

And on Oct. 15th, Beehive Baltimore will be recognized by the Maryland Daily Record as an "Innovator of the Year."

Several Beehive members and affiliates will be providing some guest posts for BaltTech over the next two weeks while Gus Sentementes is on vacation. So stay tuned for some voices from the Hive over the coming days!

Beehive Baltimore is part of a large coworking movement. Hundreds of cities all around the world from Los Angeles to Charlotte to Paris to Shanghai have implemented coworking facilities, and we see ourselves as connected to these communities.

And so coworking looks to be an integral part of the tech startup ecosystem – where entrepreneurs, creative talent, and angel investors can all come together to talk about the Next Big Idea.

To find out more about Beehive Baltimore, visit http://beehivebaltimore.org.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Liz Hacken at 2:54 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Startups
        

Optimism among angel investors and venture capitalists

Last week, I surveyed the startup scene in the Mid-Atlantic region, writing a story that showed how brutal it's been in the past year for entrepreneurs.

More recently, I got a heads up from the National Association of Seed Venture Funds that they conducted a survey at their annual conference in mid-September in Oklahoma City. There were signs of optimism.

* 54 percent of attendees indicated the companies they support are hiring again
* 73 percent felt the economy was improving
* 73 percent don't believe proposed health care legislation will slow entrepreneurs from starting businesses
* 87 percent believed more tax incentives to invest in early-stage companies will spur growth.

The three industries expected to attract the most growth: biotechnology, clean technology and health care. The industries that will have a tough time raising capital? Electronics, financial services, and manufacturing.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Venture Cap, Venture Cap
        

September 25, 2009

Some guest-posting to come

Hi folks,

I'm lucky enough to be taking a vacation for about two weeks. But the lights won't go dark here at BaltTech.

We'll still have Startup Tuesdays -- the short profiles on Baltimore area startups -- over the next two weeks. And, furthermore, we'll have some guest-posting from some local B'more technophiles.

So, stay tuned, support them, and be nice to them! I'm looking forward to reading their stuff while I'm doing my best to relax. We'll see how successful I am at that. :-)

Cheerio!


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 4:36 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Sticky situation: WhoGlue v. Facebook

whoglue_100.gif

By now, you may have heard about WhoGlue Inc., a tiny Baltimore tech firm, launching a lawsuit this week against Facebook for infringing on a key patent that essentially covers social networking and privacy features. (Here's my original story from yesterday.)

The patent at issue is titled "Distributed personal reationship information management system and methods," and was first filed in 2001 -- three years before Facebook was founded. It's worth noting that Facebook doesn't hold any patents currently.

In my interview with WhoGlue's founder, Jason D. Hardebeck, he made the point that much of what social networks now provide in terms of online privacy controls was something that his patent and technology has covered since 2001. The U.S. Patent Office issued the patent, after a lengthy review, in mid-2007.

So who is Hardebeck? At 44, he's a serial entrepreneur, meaning he's been involved with starting up a bunch of companies in his life. He was Maryland's first "entrepreneur in residence" in the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. And he's executive director of the Maryland Business Council.

His company, WhoGlue, has a big minority stakeholder: Siemens, the tech giant.

Hardebeck did his undergrad at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, where he was trained as a nuclear engineer. He later received a graduate business degree from Johns Hopkins. He's worked for Black & Decker in the past. In addition to running WhoGlue, which builds membership sites for associations and nonprofits, he's run market development for a Boston-based startup company called Ze-Gen.

"I pretty much keep my fingers in a lot of different pies," Hardebeck told me. 

On patents:

I spoke with Max Oppenheimer, a law professor and patent expert at the University of Baltimore, about the world of patents.  We talked about how sometimes, a technology becomes so widely used and accepted that it's hard to think that somebody may have a patent claim on it from years before. That's the case here with WhoGlue v. Facebook.

A patent filing can take 2-3 years to make its way through the system, and WhoGlue's seems to have been more complicated because it took 6 years. So, by the time the company was awarded the patent, the process and method that it had patented was being used by others.

"If the (patent) examiner looks at your application and thinks you have something new and nonobvious, then they're supposed to issue the patent to you," Oppenheimer told me. "By the time it comes out, it may be something commonplace."

Pretty messy, huh?

 


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:25 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers
        

September 23, 2009

Startups have it tough right now

If you want to get a sense of how startups are doing in the Mid-Atlantic region, the story is behind this chart on the right, which gives it to you in a nut shell: Venture capital investment is down, waaaaaaaay down. venturemoney.jpg And that has the effect of putting a damper on early stage investments that angels are making (or not making) in promising young startups. It's a trickle-down effect...and it's a drought, not a storm, of capital.

I wrote a story about this phenomenon today. Check it out here.

Times are tough out there for the poor startup. Entrepreneurs are knocking on doors, looking for angel investors and being turned away. About the only small companies that seem to get a little traction out there, generally, are biotech companies -- which benefit from a generous investment tax credit from the state of Maryland.

Banks are still tight with credit and lending. One angel investor told me of how a friend in banking refers entrepreneurs to him because the banker can't do anything for them.

What do you think is going on out there? Any startups wish to give us a first-person account?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Startups
        

September 22, 2009

Startup Tuesday: Introducing......Encore Path

Welcome to another edition of BaltTech's Startup Tuesday, where we highlight a fresh startup from the Mid-Atlantic region every week. If you're interested in having your startup featured, shoot me an email at gus.sentementes@baltsun.com.

Without further ado, here's today's featured company:

* Company Name: Encore Path

* Founder: Kris Appel

kris-appel.jpg

* Number of Employees: 2

* Location: Canton, the Can Company, Baltimore, MD

* Field: Medical devices

* Product: The Tailwind, a device for improving arm function and range of motion in stroke survivors with paralysis

* Website/Twitter: www.encorepath.com, @encorepath


* Genesis of the idea for the company: Kris Appel wanted to start a company but didn’t have an idea, so she looked at technologies that were available for licensing from Maryland universities that she could build a company around. Not having a background in stroke or rehabilitation, I nevertheless saw the Tailwind and immediately believed in it. It was invented at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, it had good scientific evidence, and she thought it was something that could improve the lives of millions of stroke survivors around the world. So Appel licensed it, developed it, brought it to market, and is just now beginning to sell it.


* Most important local resource Appel tapped into: There were three. First of all, the ACTiVATE program at UMBC – it develops technology entrepreneurship skills in mid-career women. Secondly, Appel was a recipient of Challenge Funds from the Department of Business and Economic Development – very critical to early-stage funding. And thirdly, she was generously supported by funding from TEDCO, which enabled me to hire an engineering firm to complete the product development.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:58 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Startup Tuesday
        

September 18, 2009

Google to Apple: You lie!

Okay, Google didn't actually call Apple a liar -- but you can tell some public pressure is about to get exerted.

In the flap over Google's Voice application getting turned down for the App Store, the FCC is still trying to make heads or tails over this brave new world of apps and telecommunications we live in.

AT&T has said they didn't have a hand in rejecting the Google Voice app from the App Store. Apple has previously said they have yet to officially reject the app. (The WSJ has the good backstory.)

But Google today, on its public policy blog, said they were told by some top Apple honchos that their Voice app and Google Latitude apps were being rejected because they duplicated core functionalities on the iPhone, and they didn't want to leave consumers confused.

Does Apple have some 'splaining to do here? Is Google Voice on the iPhone rejected or not?

Google allowed the FCC to make their explanatory letter public, and to include previously redacted statements made about their conversations with Apple. Here is a PDF of the letter.

This letter offers a rare glimpse at the high level talks that went on between Apple and Google on a couple Google apps for the iPhone. Hopefully we'll see more.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 1:18 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Boeing tries to control "swarm" of unmanned vehicles

boeingswarm.jpg 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Here's one straight from the "cool patents" file: Boeing filed a patent application earlier this year on a system and method for controlling a "swarm" of unmanned vehicles using body motions.

The patent filing notes that there's "significant interest in the use of remote, unmanned vehicles for various surveillance and exploration activities," including battlefield uses. It notes that current technology allows for the control of a single unmanned vehicle by way of a joystick.

But Boeing's approach would basically connect a human controller's body movements to the movements of more than one unmanned vehicle. Swarm technology has been a hotbed of R&D for the last few years.

"Body movements of the operator may be sensed to generate the operating commands. Wireless signals may be transmitted to the unmanned object that correspond to the operating commands that control operation of the unmanned object."

The diagrams filed with the patent depict little helicopter that presumably could be controlled through motion. Imagine a swarm of these little whirlygigs swarming around you. Yikes!

boeinghelicopter.jpg

Boeing's been doing research for DARPA on swarm technology and use in spacecrafts for the Pentagon's DARPA agency, according to this Gizmodo post from last year.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:15 AM | | Comments (2)
        

September 17, 2009

Venture capital dribbles into Johns Hopkins startups

I just had a good conversation about Hopkins startups with Aris Melissaratos, the former secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Department who is now a top senior advisor to Hopkins U's president.

Here's an interesting stat he tossed out: In fiscal 2008, Hopkins' researchers spun out 12 companies that attracted $76 million in venture capital. (Most of the investment came from VC firms in California and Europe.)

In the last fiscal year (July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009), Hopkins sprouted 10 companies. Not bad, considering the recession, right?

Well, take a look at how much money they were only able to attract? Just $3.2 million, Melissaratos said.

Ouch. Shorthand explanation: Blame the recession.

This is one of several facts I'm going to include in an upcoming story that surveys the state of the startup scene, in terms of investment funding availability, in the Baltimore area. Stay tuned.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 1:45 PM | | Comments (2)
        

Seeking: international travel tips for the iPhone

In a few weeks, I'll be taking a trip to Europe with my iPhone 3G S. I would like to be able to use my phone and an Internet connection while I'm traveling, without ending up owing AT&T something like $3,000. (You've read the horror stories?)

So, for all you experienced, cosmopolitan world travelers with iPhones out there, I'd like to ask your tips on what I should do to ensure I don't get stuck with absurd phone- and data-roaming charges while I'm fiddling with my iPhone on another continent.

Also, are there any good travel apps that are must-haves when you're traveling?

Help?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 1:40 PM | | Comments (2)
        

FYI: Facebook co-founder to give keynote in Maryland

Here's an FYI...

Chris R. Hughes, a Facebook co-founder, is slated to speak at a Tech Council of Maryland speakers' event in December. Hughes also founded My.BarackObama.com.

His talk will be titled: "The Success of Facebook and My.BarackObama.com: It Can't Get Any Bigger Than This."

Hehe. Modest, aren't we now?

The details: The event is at Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center on Dec. 2., from 8-10:30 a.m. To register, e-mail Wendy Dudrow at wdudrow@techcouncilmd.com.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:23 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Social Media
        

Four friends and a startup

biomarkerpic.jpg

Today, I wrote about BioMarker Strategies: how they got their start and how well they've been doing recently.

I love telling startup stories because it allows me to get close to people's hopes and dreams, and I see the passion that drives them forward each and everyday. (That's one reason I started the "Startup Tuesday" feature here on BaltTech.)

I saw this entrepreneurial spirit in CEO Karen Olson (middle front) and president Scott Allocco (right), when I met with them on Monday. They posed in a photo I took with three other researchers.

It's no small feat that they attracted the attention of Baltimore's Abell Foundation, which made a significant investment in their company recently.  

BioMarker wants to build a faster test for diagnosing cancerous tumors. Their test would take hours instead of weeks, and guide doctors on the best type of drug therapy to use for each patient. Pretty cool stuff.

Do you know a startup that's been doing well lately? Drop a note in the comments below!


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:02 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: BioTech, Startups
        

September 16, 2009

Mid-afternoon gripe: delayed voice mail on the iPhone

It's happened to me twice in two days now: a voice mail shows up on my iPhone 30 minutes to an hour after someone tried to call me. Though the call never initially came through.

Yesterday, a delivery person called me to say he was waiting in front of my house, and he sounded irritated that I wasn't there. "I left you a voice mail," he said. Well I didn't get it, I shot back. Did you call this number? I asked. 

Ten minutes later, while driving to the house, I got the voice mail. And I felt sheepish.

Then, just now, at 3:20 p.m., I got a sudden iPhone flash that I missed my wife's call and a voice mail popped up. The call was timed at 2:19 p.m. But I got the voice mail an hour later.

Apple and AT&T forums are rife with discussion on this topic. So, is this an AT&T problem or an Apple problem? Maybe someone from each of the companies can help clear this up for BaltTech readers??

(Hehe. Yeah, and monkeys will fly out of my ... whatever. You know.)


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 3:21 PM | | Comments (6)
        

Gadgets that save you money

netflix_player_by_roku.jpg With your help, I'd like this blog post and subsequent comments to be about electronic gadgets that are useful and save you money.

Here's what you can do: State the gadget and present your case for why you think it saves you money. Give realistic costs in your argument.

This post was inspired by OneFineJay's suggestion via Twitter a few days ago. I hope he shares with us what his most money-saving gadget is. Here's mine:

Last week was my birthday, and my wife shocked me with a gadget gift, of all things. I was expecting an electric razor ('cuz I'd asked for one) but the box instead held a Roku digital media player. (Thanks, dear. You know I'm always grateful for any gift that comes with yellow, white and red cables for plugging into other electronics equipment!)

The Roku is a small black box you hook up to your TV, and here's what it allows you to do: You can sync it with your Netflix account and use it to watch the "instant" movies from the rental service, straight to your TV. (Here's a good, recent USAToday story on the company.)

You can also sync it with your Amazon Video on Demand account to watch movies and tv shows from that service. Or, if you're a baseball net, you can get access (for a fee) to MLB.TV premium.

So, here's how the cost breaks down:

*Roku player: $99
*Netflix subscription: $9/month
*My monthly DSL bill: $23/month

So, for $32 a month, I can watch a lot of movies and TV shows, on demand, commercial free. Sure, it's not premium stuff, like HBO, but it's not bad either. I feel like I'm saving money vs a regular cable plan and that it is providing value to me.

For someone who eschews cable, I'm leaning toward thinking the selection, quality and the price point feels about right. Thus far, I've had Roku plugged in for less than a week and I've watched Wall-E, a Thomas Jefferson documentary, and Say Anything (my wife's favorite John Cusack film, I learned). I've got another 10 or so movies in my "watch instantly" queue.

Pluses: affordable startup and recurring costs, extremely easy to set up, good quality video. Minuses: Netflix needs to make more "watch instantly" movies available, Roku should partner up with more content services, like Youtube or iTunes, if it can, or allow you to tap into your own stored content on your home computer.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:05 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Gadgets
        

Would you pay for the mobile version of the WSJ?

The_Wall_Street_Journal_app_270x404.jpgI never understood why the Wall Street Journal, which charges for its online edition, launched an iPhone app (two, if you count All Things D) that gave away its content for free.

Now we know that free doesn't mean free forever.

The Journal's owner, Rupert Murdoch, said the news publisher plans to charge non-subscribers $2 a week for the mobile version (on BlackBerries and iPhones), and $1 per week for online-only subscribers.

Subscribers to both the print and online editions would get it for free, according to this <ahem> free report from Reuters.

I used to have a WSJ online-only subscription, until they more-than-doubled my rate over the course of two years.

I was stupefied they gave away their content on the iPhone for free. But now that experiment in free appears to be over.

And I, of course, wonder how many people who are not already subscribers will be willing to pay to read it on their smartphones.

The truth is, though it was free, I didn't really use the WSJ iPhone app that much. The content that was funneled through it was good, but not overwhelmingly special.

All Things D satisfied my tech itch, and I hope that stays a free app. But even if not, there are still numerous sources on the Web and on my iPhone that will fill the gap.

What do you think? Would you pay for the WSJ app now that you've had a chance to experience it for free for so many months?

(photo credit: Image of WSJ via CNET)


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:26 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Apps, Gadgets, Media, Smartphones, Web Dev & Apps
        

September 15, 2009

Startup Tuesday: featuring Enercient Systems Technologies

enercientSMALL.jpg

* Company name: Enercient Systems Technologies

* Founders: Sean Wright, Melanie Tindale, John Tindale (left to right)

* Number of employees: Three

* Headquarters: 6339 Ten Oaks Road Suite 301 Clarksville, MD 21029

* Field/Industry: HVAC, Wireless, Energy Management

* Product(s) and what it does: Our wireless system monitors energy usage in commecial buildings and helps owners obtain real-time metrics on energy use. We plan to provide and install them locally, and market them nationally to HVAC installing contractors and controls companies.

* Website/Twitter: http://www.enercient.com, http://twitter.com/johntindale

* The genesis of the idea for the company: We wanted to find a way to make energy monitoring more affordable, and more cost effective for property managers and owners. We found that existing controls and monitoring solutions were designed around older models of energy management, and we wanted to incorporate the latest data on energy savings methods.

* Most important local/regional resource tapped to start company: Control Cable from Baltimore, MD partnered with us, and was instrumental in helping us assemble our first prototype, and will provide packaging, assembly and other solutions for our devices as they are shipped out.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:26 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Startup Tuesday
        

September 14, 2009

The doctor is in...the next state

Have you ever had a doctor's visit where you ended up consulting with the doc by video conference? Or even via a robot?

This is the future, I found out for a recent story on how quickly telehealth will become part of our lives.

What do you think? Would you care to receive care long distance, via the Internet?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:19 AM | | Comments (1)
        

September 10, 2009

The Apple tablet revealed?

Straight from an Apple patent filing made public today, I found images of what appears to be a tablet-like gadget, described as a "portable multifunction device," that has a flat screen with touchscreen keyboard. appletablet1.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The patent application is for "selecting of text using gestures," and uses the device in the diagram to show how Apple would incorporate text-editing on a portable multifunction device.

You can see from the diagram that it's a device unlike the current crop of iPhones, Touches and iPods, and its scale in relation to a human hand is far larger than those small devices.

Is the much-rumored Apple tablet really in the works over in Cupertino? Many think so. 

The filing states that some of the functions of the device could include "telephoning, video conferencing, e-mailing, instant messaging, blogging, digital photographing, digital videoing, web browsing, digital music playing, and/or digital video playing."

Apple has been applying for a slew of touch-interface related patents for awhile now and it's clear the company is focused on touch-based operating systems for its portable products.

But what a long-rumored tablet may look like (a flat tablet? whoopee) is not as intriguing, I think, as how fluid and powerful is the operating system and touch interface that powers it. Enter this latest patent filing by Apple. appletablet2.jpg


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:45 AM | | Comments (6)
        

September 9, 2009

Apple announcement today at 1 p.m., but...

I won't be at my desk to live-blog it. Instead, I'll be in the studio at WYPR 88.1 talking about tech stuff with MidDay host Dan Rodricks. Catch the live audio stream here: http://www.wypr.org/listen.html

But we could get some interesting consumer-related news coming out of Apple today, with speculation rampant that there could be a new camera iPod, an upgraded iTunes, and maybe a newfangled AppleTV.

I'll try to find either a live audio or video feed to embed here in BaltTech, so you can get the news live as opposed to reading a live blog. If someone finds a good audio/video feed, feel free to shoot me an email with the link, gussentementes(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll get it up here ASAP.

Cheerio!


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:23 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Lack of security clearance shuts out Hopkins president from Applied Physics Lab

ronalddaniels.jpg Because Ronald Daniels (left), the Johns Hopkins University's new president, is Canadian, he can't be given classified clearance to oversee the nearly $1 billion in research that goes on at JHU's Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, according to a Sun article today.

About 70 percent of the lab's $845 million in annual funding comes from the Department of Defense.

The university, under its own policies, prohibits classified research on its academic campuses -- that's why it uses the APL campus as an outlet for its researchers to work on government-sponsored research.

We learn from Childs Walker's story that the university had to go through some lengths, over several months, to figure out a new way to keep some kind of oversight over APL without sacrificing government funding.

The solution: a limited liability corporation that will handle classified research, with oversight transferred from the president's office to the chairman of the university's board of trustees.

It is worth noting that this major university had to essentially rewrite its own rules on how classified research is handled because of Daniels' Canadian citizenship -- because the rules require the president AND the board of trustees to exercise oversight over APL and classified research. Under the new setup, it's effectively just the board of trustees.

The research that comes out of APL is often groundbreaking and game-changing in a number of industries. Though Hopkins officials seemed to downplay the impact that the change means for Daniels, the lack of access for him to some of the university's richest research capabilities must be a drag. Who, as a university president, wouldn't want to know all the wicked cool things your researchers are working on in top-secret labs?

From the article: "It [the LLC] effectively creates a wall between the part of the university performing research with access to classified information and the rest of the university," said Hopkins spokesman Dennis O'Shea. What do you think?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 7:31 AM | | Comments (5)
        

September 8, 2009

Reverse 911 for your television?

You've heard of "reverse 911" communications systems, right?

That's where a police department can mass-dial thousands of homes an hour to make a pre-recorded announcement about a safety hazard. Perfect for when a child has gone missing, for example, and they need a neighborhood's help.

Well, Sony is trying to take that approach one step further: to your television set.

The technology giant last year filed a patent application for "reverse 911 using a TV." The filing states that emergency communications are transmitted by television "broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite and radio service providers."

Sony believes it can do the same thing using the Internet and a networked television.

The company believes networked televisions, which will have their own IP address, will become more common. How will such an emergency broadcast system work?

The reverse 911 message will come over the Internet and across your TV display. If your TV is off, the message will have the capacity to turn the TV set on (yes), so you could be alerted even when you're not paying attention.

How about that? Do you feel comfortable with Sony potentially building TV sets that can automatically turn on  in your home thanks to a signal from the government?

Mind you, it's just a patent filing and such a system may never get built. But it is now possible to do.

sonyreverse911.jpg
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: For The Home, Gadgets
        

Startup Tuesday: featuring Hosted Solutions Inc.

Today is the first edition of Startup Tuesday, a weekly feature highlighting a tech startup in the Mid-Atlantic region! If you're a startup and are interested in participating, follow the guidelines here. Without further ado, let's get started:

 byronpatrick.JPG

* Company: Hosted Solutions Inc

* Founders: Byron Patrick (top right), Daniel Houle (bottom right) 

* Number of employees: 2

* Headquarters: Emerging Technology Center in Canton, Baltimore

* Field/Industry – Technology Outsourcing

* Product and what it does: TruCloud is the main product. HSI provides a complete "Infrastructure as a Service" to businesses by hosting their data and applications on its completely virtualized infrastructure. HSI then delivers the apps and data through a secure remote connection that is accessible from anywhere you have an internet connection and some type of gateway, PC, Mac, iPhone, etc. The company says it flips the “Break and Fix” model of technology support into an all-inclusive fixed price subscription agreement. It provides all Microsoft licensing, patch and upgrade management, all hardware in the hosted environment and both end user technical support as well as end user application support. HSI started in August 2008 and currently has 7 clients supporting nearly 175 users from Arizona to Florida to Maryland.

* Website/Twitter/Blog: – www.hostedsolutionsinc.com, http://www.goapss.us, danielhoule.jpghttp://www.goapps.us/blog, Twitter: @byron_cpa

* The genesis of the idea for the company: Daniel and Byron ran the IT department for a local CPA firm that, at the time, had over 100 people with 5 locations. While there, they created a similar infrastructure in-house which was very successful and became a strategic advantage for the firm. Once virtualization hit the market, they began working with it and eventually it became mature enough that they could run their platform off of it. They decided then that they could create an even larger infrastructure and host many companies out of it. With Byron being a CPA and Daniel working with CPAs for a number of years, their initial market is focused on the CPA market, but they can scale the technology for other markets. They also have clients in the nonprofit and construction sectors.

* Most important local/regional resource used to start the company: Baltimore ETC, M&T Bank and the Maryland Association of CPA’s


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:20 AM | | Comments (1)
        

September 4, 2009

Technology through the years: a photo gallery

Hey! You should take a look at the photos we compiled under the idea of "technology through the years."

Warning: It might make you feel old.

Remember the original Sony Walkman? Or an earlier pair of virtual reality glasses, circa 1993. We got the pics. You should bring your eyeballs. Something to peruse on your lunch break perhaps....

Click here to begin the tour: http://bit.ly/buUDU


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:21 AM | | Comments (0)
        

Innovation in Maryland -- through the eyes of Johns Hopkins business dean

If you haven't read it yet, then run -- don't walk -- to Jay Hancock's latest, most excellent column where he talks with Yash Gupta, dean of the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. yashgupta.jpg In it, Gupta (left) talks about the difference in the innovation economies and cultures of Baltimore and Southern California's Silicon Valley.

He makes some interesting points. And, it seems there's a call to action somewhere in there for our business and political leaders to wake up and smell the Old Bay right under their noses.

I may be oversimplifying it, but Gupta seems to say that entrepreneurs are overly dependent around these parts on the federal government as a cash cow for contracts. Such dependence can be both financially and professionally rewarding, but stultifying -- partly because the government market is a different animal than the consumer and business market.

It was also refreshing for Gupta to point out that California has high taxes and a tough regulatory environment, and yet its Silicon Valley is still synonymous with business innovation -- so the excuse that Maryland isn't tax-friendly to businesses may be just that: an excuse.

Yet, the other side is hard to ignore, when billions of federal dollars are staring your local/regional economy in the face.

In an interview I did awhile back with Christian Johansson, the state's secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development, he essentially noted that the federal government is the big gorilla in the room that businesses around here can't ignore.

If the Maryland companies don't take advantage of the steady spigot of contracts that are made available each year, than other companies in other states most certainly will.

What do you think?

 

(photo credit: JHU)


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech

September 3, 2009

Apple building an iPod/treadmill mash-up?

Hot off the patent application presses today: Apple has filed designs for what appears to be an integrated treadmill-with-iPod machine, which has a built-in display and touchpad.

The filing, which was made a year ago but was made public today, has a diagram of a treadmill with the display and touchpad, and a connection to a media player, a.k.a. an iPod. The market for workout machines that connect with MP3 players appears to be pretty hot. Companies other than Apple are building machines that can more tightly integrate with the iPod players. Perhaps Apple sees it as a lucrative market that they want to at least plant a stake in with a patent claim.

Some interesting details gleaned from the patent application:

* The filing suggests that Apple is customizing a workout machine (i.e. a treadmill) so that it can digital write workout and physical information to a media player. So the iPod won't just play music and videos on the built-in treadmill screen, it will also basically record your workout (i.e. miles run) and your vitals through the sensors on the machine.

* The data from your iPod will be able to then be uploaded to a computer or third party website for further use. So you can track your workouts over time.

* Perhaps the coolest: the machine will enable the user to partake in "real-time, head-to-head competition. These competitions may be between two or more people in one or more locations. Competition data may be shared and displayed to each user." A fully networked treadmill, eh?

Below is a diagram of the invention, per Apple:

 

appletreadmill.jpg
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 4:56 PM | | Comments (2)
        

New feature: Startup Tuesdays!

It's always good to get feedback from a community of smart, passionate people who care about tech in our region. You guys generated this idea:

Every week, I'll do a short profile of a start-up company you've probably never heard of before. The geographic parameters? From Philadelphia to Virginia.

Other requirements: The startup must be less than 3 years old; have less than 20 employees; and be connected to technology, software, cybersecurity, hardware, mobile, Web (design) development industries.

So, here's the information I'll be seeking -- in a total of 400 words or less. (Brevity is key, folks) I encourage start-up company leaders to submit the following information, along with a photograph of your key principals and an optional 1-minute-long "pitch" video, via YouTube, which I will include with the online article.

Here's the format:

* Company name

* Founder(s) name

* Number of employees

* Location(s)/Headquarters

* Field/Industry

* Product(s) and what it does 

* Website/Twitter/Blog links

* The genesis of the idea for your company

* Most important local/regional resource you tapped to start your company

 

So, companies can send me all this information to this email address: gus.sentementes@baltsun.com.

I will pull it all together every week and publish one or two on Tuesdays. We're gonna call it: Start-up Tuesdays! Yeahhhh!!!! W00t!


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 4:03 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Startups
        

Baltimore police with smartphones: a good idea?

Did you catch Justin Fenton's story about the Baltimore Police Department wanting to roll out BlackBerries to its 2,000 officers? It's an interesting one, talking about how Commissioner Bealefeld hopes cops will use these smartphones to check warrants, retrieve drivers license photos and stay better connected with each other.

Before the Baltimore Police Department decided to give BlackBerries to police officers to do their jobs, I was using my iPhone to do my job as a crime reporter.

The department's top brass can also use the phones' built-in GPS to track the beat cops as they're deployed on the street. Not a bad idea, one might think.

Before I started covering technology earlier this year, I was a crime and breaking news reporter, doing my time on the Sun's city desk for the previous four years.

I had used a mobile laptop and a video camera in the past to do my work from the field. But I really wanted an iPhone because I knew it would help me work faster, because I wouldn't have to wait for a laptop to boot up and I could transmit photos more seamlessly and instantaneously from the device.

So, here's how I ended up used a smartphone to report on crime in Baltimore: (hit the jump for the rest)

*) I found an iPhone app (FStream) that I could use to monitor Baltimore police and fire frequencies. Suddenly, we didn't have to spend $500 on a handheld scanner from Radio Shack. The app was free.

*) Using the iPhone's excellent Safari Web browser, I was able to access Maryland's judicial case information search network. This meant that while working on a breaking crime story, I could pull up the criminal records of suspects and even people I interviewed (to get a feel for their veracity) while on the street.

*) The iPhone's excellent web browser meant I could also access two awesome services that the Sun pays subscriptions for: Nexis and Accurint. With Nexis, I have access to archived news articles from thousands of news organizations. With Accurint, I could do robust background checks on people, including finding past addresses, phone numbers, relatives, bankruptcy records, criminal records, lawsuits and more.

*) In a breaking news scenario, where time was tight and I didn't have time to explain something to my boss by phone, I would just snap some photos and email them quickly. My boss could see with her own eyes what I was seeing, almost in real time.

*) I could monitor Twitter and my news competition, while on the street. Always important.

The police, I imagine, will find the smartphones incredibly useful because it means they don't have to sit in their cruisers to get information from a laptop. But they have to feel motivated to use them in innovative ways. They could, theoretically, use them in many different ways, i.e. sharing of suspect photos, taking video statements, investigative research tool and to help communicate more quickly with their colleagues.

Because of this, I would have to wonder if the department will have to start worrying about them as tools that could generate evidence at crime scenes, and to treat them accordingly. That's the funny thing about new technology: it can solve some old problems and generate new issues to ponder.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:32 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Government Tech, Smartphones
        

BaltTech survey: What do YOU think?

Things are humming along here at the BaltTech factory at good ol' 501 N. Calvert St. in Baltimore, Maryland. Life is good. Work is good. I'm finding that we're building a really good local audience and community of BaltTech readers. But I'm always itching to do more, to improve and improvise on the editorial product I try to offer you every week.


That's why it's important for me that you take a minute to just provide a few responses to the poll below. If you have an idea that you see is not covered by the possible answers, either leave it in the comments section or shoot me an email at gus.sentementes(at)baltsun.com. Thank you.

magnetphoto.jpgIf you vote, please shoot me an email with your name and address and I'll ship you a cool BaltTech magnet (see left) for your refrigerator!


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 7:57 AM | | Comments (9)
        

September 2, 2009

TedxMidAtlantic announces first batch of speakers

tedxmidatlantic.png

TedxMidAtlantic, a locally-organized conference, last night announced the first five speakers for the all-day event in early November.

The conference will take place at MICA, at Falvey Hall, on Thursday, Nov. 5. Something like 20 some-odd speakers are expected to be lined up: all smart people with something innovative to share.

The conference is organized around the theme of "the power of stories" -- so it should be an interesting day. You may wish to take the day off from work if you're planning to attend. Why not?

In case you don't know, TedxMidAtlantic is organized by local folks under a license from TED, the larger international conference. TED stands for technology, entertainment and design, but the four-day conference encompasses many more disciplines. The speakers and audience who attend these events usually interact closely.

TedxMidAtlantic is free to attend, but you have to fill out an application first.

Below are the speakers they've lined up so far:

* Tyler Cowen, economist, professor at George Mason University and author of Create Your Own Economy and Discover your Inner Economist, among others

* Bob Duggan, founder, Tai Sophia Institute, a leading educational institution for the study of wellness

* Rebecca Hoffberger, founder and director, American Visionary Art Museum, one of the nation’s premier museums celebrating art produced by self-taught artists

* Naomi Natale, TED Fellow, artist, and Founder and Director, One Million Bones as well as The Cradle Project

* Sonja Sohn, actress (played Det. Kima Greggs on The Wire) and founder, Rewired for Change, a nonprofit organization that works to empower young people living in the most underserved communities across the country through education, media advocacy, and street-based intervention.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 7:43 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events (Baltimore area), Events (DC/No. Va. area)
        

September 1, 2009

EBay sells 65% stake in Skype to investor group

The rumors are confirmed:skype.jpg Skype's president, Josh Silverman, moments ago put out an announcement saying that the Internet telephony company, owned by eBay, is being sold.

The investors, including a co-founder of Netscape, will get a 65 percent stake in Skype, while eBay will hold on to the rest.

Below is the full text from Silverman's announcement:

Today, Skype begins a new chapter. We’re spinning off from eBay to become an independent company once again.

This is very exciting news for all of us here at Skype, and I want to give all of you a brief overview of what’s happening.

A small group of venture capital funds have agreed with eBay to acquire a majority stake in Skype.

The group is led by Silver Lake Partners, joined by Index and Andreessen Horowitz Ventures. You may recognize some names – for example Danny Rimer and Mike Volpi (both at Index Ventures) who were some of the earliest Board members and supporters of Skype.

The new investors will buy approximately 65% of Skype, with eBay continuing to own 35%, in a deal valuing Skype at $2.75 billion US. It means we’re back to being a fully independent company again, but with a new group of owners who believe passionately in our mission and in the ability of our team to deliver on it. I can’t wait.

TechCrunch and the New York Times have been covering the deal closely over the past week.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:10 AM | | Comments (0)
        

Lockheed Martin's virtual reality simulator worthy of The Matrix

A recent patent filing by defense contractor Lockheed Martin gives us a peek into a portable virtual reality simulator the company is cooking up.

lockheedmartin1.jpg

The patent application is titled: "Portable immersive environment using motion capture and head mounted display." Basically, it includes head gear and handheld controllers and a powerful computer system that integrates motion capture, virtual reality, kinematics and computer-aided design.

A motion-capture camera system captures the users' motions and a virtual reality simulator then generates "scaled avatars within a three-dimensional virtual reality simulation." So not only are you viewing virtual reality, your motions can move your avatar through the virtual space.

Cue the virtual reality movie references..........now. The Matrix, anyone? 

One nifty trick the patent app cites: the simulator is able to scale a person's avatar in real time. For instance, a 5-foot 4-inch user of the device can be scaled in real-time to be a 6-foot 2-inch avatar, and the images that the person sees through their headset will be from the perspective of the taller avatar. Get it?

What's different about their system, the Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin notes, is that it integrates motion capture and virtual reality. People who use it can interact with both real and artificial virtual reality environments, according to the patent application.

And it's not just for one user -- you can get immersed in a virtual reality with a group of people, include a trainer in whatever training exercise you can dream up. Below are detailed diagrams of the headset and the portable computer system. 


lockheedmartin2.jpg

Such a system has all sorts of implications and applications, from military training scenarios to virtual gaming. Wonder if Lockheed Martin has ever considered putting out a kicking high-end video game system for consumers?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:30 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Gadgets, Government Tech
        
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About Gus G. Sentementes
Gus G. Sentementes (@gussent on Twitter) has been writing for The Baltimore Sun since 2000. He's covered real estate, business, prisons, and suburban and Baltimore City crime and cops. He was one of the first reporters at The Sun to use multimedia tools and Web applications -- a video camera, an iPhone -- to cover breaking news. He hopes to cover Maryland geeks and the gadgets and Web sites they build, and learn -- and share -- something new every day.

Gus has a wife, a young daughter and two feuding cats. They live in Northeast Baltimore.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
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