IPO implications?
HubSpot's head of product and VP of engineering will depart in September
HubSpot chief product officer David Cancel, in one of the Cambridge company's conference rooms. Photo by Scott Kirsner / BetaBoston.
Big news being announced this afternoon at HubSpot, the digital marketing startup widely regarded to be on the verge of an initial public offering: David Cancel, the Cambridge company's chief product officer, plans to leave in September, along with Elias Torres, an engineering vice president. The duo joined HubSpot in 2011, when HubSpot paid $20 million for their 20-person startup, Performable, in its biggest acquisition to date. Read More
Blink and it's gone
Home monitoring system Blink, surpasses goal, has raised close to $300,000 in a week on Kickstarter
Blink mobile app
Andover-based Immedia Semiconductor launched a Kickstarter campaign for Blink, an HD video monitoring and motion detector system, just last week. As of today, the company has raised close to $300,000 (far exceeding the original $200,000 goal) with more than 2,300 backers. Read More
Technology to bypass the sniff test
Like sound-cancelling headphones, kinda sorta, for odors
If you know how noise-cancelling headphones work, you may have wondered whether the same kind of technical trick — producing your own vibrations that exactly cancel out the "noise" vibrations — might somehow work with smells. Twin-brother scientists Kush and Lav Varshney spent some time noodling on that notion. (Thanks to Martin Gardiner for telling me about the Varshneys.) Kush (now at IBM, formerly at MIT) and Lav (now at the University of Illinois, formerly at IBM, and before that at MIT) have just presented a paper at a scientific conference — the IEEE International Workshop on Statistical Signal Processing — in Australia. They call their somewhat-refined idea "active odor cancellation." Smells don't really behave, physically, the way sounds do. Odor cancellaton would not really be the same physical process that happens in sound cancellation. The Varneys say, with only a touch, a whiff of poetry, that their proposed method has "some resemblance to active noise cancellation or vibration cancellation." They elaborate:
 Noise cancellation is a traditional problem in statistical signal processing that has not been studied in the olfactory domain for unwanted odors. In this paper, we use the newly discovered olfactory white signal class to formulate optimal active odor cancellation using both nuclear norm-regularized multivariate regression and simultaneous sparsity or group lasso-regularized non-negative regression. As an example, we show the proposed technique on real-world data to cancel the odor of durian, katsuobushi, sauerkraut, and onion. odor-cancel-detail
You can download the entire Varney-and-Varney odor-cancellation paper from Kush's web site at MIT. There may be importance and money in this idea, down the road, maybe, they muse:
By addressing one of the fundamental problems of signal processing, noise cancellation, this work opens up a new category of techniques for dealing with bad odors beyond masking, absorbing, eliminating, and oxidizing. The most important application is to indoor air quality.
Noise cancellation — in contrast to smell cancellation — has no maybe about it. It's straightforward engineering, based on long-understood mathematics and physics. It's quite real, and for quite a while now it's been quite lucrative. Probably the best known noise-canceling headphones are the ones made by Bose. Amar Bose, an MIT professor who died last year, and his company, the aforementioned Bose Corporation, patented several aspects of the technology. Bose Corporation, now owned in large part by MIT, is currently suing a competitor, Beats Electronics, about patent rights pertaining to noise cancellation. The basic scientific idea of noise cancellation has a noble place in popular geek culture. It was the intellectual centerpiece of the 1965 book Tom Swift and His Sonic Boom Trap, which you can find in the home library of many a quietly happy engineer. TomSwift-Sonic-cover  
Lunch Time Testing
How Clover crunches big data to take aim at reshaping fast food
For a few years now, there's been one startup in Boston that's been my unqualified favorite to watch, even though I haven't reported on them: Clover Food. In a deep profile for this weekend's Globe Magazine, Eric Moskowitz rightly describes it as what would result if a cafeteria mated with an Apple store. But there's one big cultural difference between Apple and Clover: Clover is obsessively open with how it operates. Read More
What's Next for Online Education
What’s wrong with MOOCs and why they aren’t working?
(Image via Shutterstock)
Not too surprisingly, Boston has become one of the epicenters of the next would-be education revolution: Online learning. Spearheaded by EdX, which gained backing from Harvard and MIT, the city that hosts some hundred institutions of higher education is also trying to reform it. Harman Singh, the founder and chief executive of WizIQ, shares where he sees the field stumbling. Read More