Tipping point
Kendall Square passes from tech center to biotech center
Shannon Pendergrast of Ymir Genomics isolates exosomes from biofluids at LabCentral in Cambridge’s Kendall Square. (Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)
The three-story brick building at the corner of Main and Osborn streets in Cambridge, on the edge of Kendall Square and the MIT campus, captures three distinct eras in the city’s innovation history. In the early 1800s, it was the site of Kimball & Davenport, the first builder of passenger railroad cars in America. Read More
cutting edge
'Descience' fashion show at MIT displays the glamorous side of science
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Glowing LEDS, geometric silks, 3-D-printed headdresses, and cage-like bras were on display at a science-themed fashion show at the MIT Media Lab this week, each a daring blend of science and style. The garments were the product of a mind-meld between teams of scientists and designers from across the world, as part of the first-ever Descience contest. Read More
The virtual view from Hollywood
A report from Oculus' first conference for virtual reality software developers
Oculus Rift inventor Palmer Luckey at the Oculus Connect event last month. Photo courtesy of IrisVR.
The virtual reality headset maker Oculus — now owned by Facebook — held its first conference for software developers last month. I bumped into Shane Scranton, a Vermont entrepreneur, the day before he flew out to Hollywood for the conclave, and asked him to share his impressions afterward. Scranton's startup, IrisVR, has been pitching investors and architecture firms on software that can take three-dimensional models of buildings and "translate" them easily and quickly for viewing on the Oculus goggles. It's an amazing experience: you can walk through and look around spaces that haven't yet been built. Read More
Us and them
The best machines are redefining what it means to be human
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We love technology. Many of us feel lost without the hard, comforting touch of our iPhones and computers. They've become almost a human-like extension of ourselves. But what happens when we allow technology to take over? What happens when the computer becomes the central processor, and we become the extra step? That's the question author Nicholas Carr asks in his latest book, “The Glass Cage: Automation and Us.” Read More
a fine line
Facebook reveals research guidelines after playing with users' feeds
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Back in 2012, researchers from Facebook and Cornell University altered the kinds of posts people saw in their Facebook feeds to study the way they responded to them. When Facebook users found out this year, they were mad. Now Facebook has responded, with its chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer publishing a response, laying out a set of guidelines by which research on Facebook will be conducted in the future. Read More
Putting up walls
Facebook apologizes to drag queens, but politics of online identity and privacy persist
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Two weeks ago, Facebook began suspending the accounts of members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a drag and community service organization. Members who'd been active on Facebook under their stage names were locked out until they registered with their legal names. For those members who wanted to keep their stage identities separate from the rest of their lives, at least online, Facebook's actions threatened to tear down a critical wall of privacy. After attempted discussions with Facebook, a whole lot of media (and social media) attention, and a Change.org campaign that's collected more than 36,300 signatures, on Wednesday Facebook's chief product officer Chris Cox apologized to the group. Read More
Seeking robo-supremacy
Robot makers and tech trade group hope to create new workspace for robotics ventures
Vgo Communications makes a videoconferencing robot that is used by Audi at some of its service locations.
Robotics entrepreneurs may soon have their own special place for bot-building. A group of robotics companies, research-and-development labs, and the tech industry trade group Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council are working to create a shared workspace for fledgling robotics ventures, dubbed Mass Robotics. Plans could be announced as soon as mid-October. The space may be located at Alewife on the far fringe of Cambridge, but that's still up in the air, as is a target opening date. Read More