Pittsburgh Tech Report

Weekend Edit-A-Thon Puts Women In Wikipedia

Mar 8, 2016
Melinda Roeder / 90.5 WESA

A group of local women are taking on Wikipedia.

“The gender gap on Wikipedia really just boils down to most of the people who write on Wikipedia are men,” said Kelly Doyle, a librarian at West Virginia University and scholar on gender equality. "We're trying to ... get more women to write on Wikipedia and, as a result, have more articles and content about women."

Doyle drove to Pittsburgh on Saturday to join more than 100 participants in a day-long Wikipedia “edit-a-thon.”

4Moms

Pittsburgh-based 4Moms, which works to create innovative parent-friendly products for children, unveiled a new product to streamline the clunky process of installing a car seat.

For sale later this year, the self-installing car seat joins a battery of other user friendly products that harness technology to sterilize, self-fold and mimic a parent's touch.   

Mara McFaddon, director of product management, said it’ll be the safest one yet on the market.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Imagine if companies knew the probability of turning someone into a customer – and keeping that customer.

That’s exactly what Green Tree-based Othot thinks it can do. The start up’s current focus is higher education student recruitment, and Chief Technology Officer John Abbatico said there’s plenty of data to mine.

Melinda Roeder / 90.5 WESA

The makers of a new “smart plug” claim it can save companies and organizations millions of dollars each year on electric bills.

Boss Controls is a Pittsburgh-based company that produces the plugs. They’re designed to go directly into a wall outlet. But unlike traditional plugs, these gadgets are programmed to turn themselves on and off.

CEO Greg Puschnigg said they’re designed to reduce energy usage during times when devices, such as vending machines, copiers, coffee pots and computers, are not being used.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

A soldier in the field with little or no technical training could fix a piece of high-tech weaponry, seniors might use a complex health monitoring device and a newlywed couple can be coached through complicated IKEA instructions, all without the help of another human. 

Researchers at the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science are using wearable technologies like Google Glass to place an "angel" on a user's shoulder to do those types of tasks.

Melinda Roeder / 90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh-based company is aiming to make the fracking process safer for the environment with an innovative approach to water purification, by reducing the need to transport contaminated water and byproducts from drill sites.

In parts of Washington and Greene counties, residents in rural areas often hear the rumble of trucks traveling to and from fracking sites. Many of the trucks are used to haul water, which is an important element in the process.

Gordon Craig, of Epiphany Water Solutions, recently took WESA on a tour of an active well pad about 1 mile off of Interstate 79. The well is owned by Rice Energy, one of the companies now using Epiphany's new water purification systems.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

It’s not much bigger than a laptop and a set of ski goggles, but workers at Neuro Kinetics, located in O’Hara Township’s RIDC Park, said they’ve created technology that will help diagnose concussions.

It's called the I-Portal, and it's awaiting FDA approval. 

“This is not quite what Star Trek envisioned, because that is a little bit more smaller, easier, portable, but on the right sort of path,” said Howison Schroeder, president and CEO of Neuro Kinetics.

Highways England / flickr

They come with every new app or piece of software -- they are required to be there by law -- but who actually reads those privacy policy statements that pop up when you are trying to add something to your computer or smart phone?

“Privacy policies that we have at the moment, which are these long legal documents, are important and they play an important roll,” said Florian Schaub, post-doctoral researcher at the Carnegie Mellon University Institute for Software Research. “However, these privacy policies are typically not useful to users and are not meaningful to them.”

As Senior Centers Dwindle, Virtual Options Become Reality

Jan 4, 2016
Selfhelp Community Services / 90.5 WESA

The Jewish Healthcare Foundation allocated $240,000 over the next two years to bring a Virtual Senior Center to Pittsburgh through a computer-based program expected to teach live interactive history classes, gin rummy games, yoga and more.

The center will help seniors learn, build their social networks and have fun through technology, especially as the volume of traditional centers continue to decline, said foundation COO/Chief Program Officer Nancy Zionts.

CMU's RoboTutor To Teach Where Resources Are Sparse

Dec 15, 2015
Jennifer Szweda Jordan / 90.5 WESA

In many developing countries, teachers and classrooms are scarce.

In the poor rural village of Mugeta in Tanzania, Joash Gambarage grew up surrounded by children without access to education. While he’s moved on to graduate studies at the University of British Columbia, the picture in Mugeta hasn’t changed much. That’s why Gambarage founded a school that now has about 50 students.

“The kids were just staying home with their parents or with their grandparents selling eggs and stuff on the streets,” Gambarage said of his students.

Jennifer Szweda Jordan / For 90.5 WESA

University of Pittsburgh student Chuck Ward pointed at a map inside the Cathedral of Learning. Classroom G8, where his Dustin Hoffman film class planned to meet to watch a movie, eluded him.

“Where’s Bellefield, do you know?” he asked a stranger. Then another. Then one more. 

Students and visitors at Pitt’s iconic Cathedral of Learning have been baffled by its layout since the building first opened more than 80 years ago.

Altoona-based software company Rivendell Technologies is selling a technological solution.

Start Up Finds New Use For Medical Technology With Marine Life

Nov 24, 2015
Mussel Prevention Program / California Division of Boating and Waterways

 

  

Since boating began, sailors have been vexed by barnacles and algae that attach to ship hulls. The sea life puts a drag on movement through water.

Jennifer Szweda Jordan / 90.5 WESA

Smart home resident Michael Rankin loves his oven. 

“If you put your arm on it, you don’t get burned,” he said.

The induction stovetop, which works by heating only when certain types of pots or pans are on top, stays cool to the touch even when it’s being used. That technology is one of a myriad of clever features incorporated into a "smart home" in Aliquippa designed to cater to its four inhabitants all living with disabilities.

Researcher's Port Authority Sensors Help Smooth Your Ride Into Work

Nov 10, 2015
Jennifer Szweda Jordan / 90

If you've ever ridden a subway, you've probably experienced a bump in the tracks that could send your coffee onto another rider.

George Lederman, doctoral candidate at Carnegie Mellon University, wants to fix that, though you may never notice his work.

Piezoelectric sensors fixed to train cars with electrical tape are at the heart of Lederman's monitoring equipment. They measure changes in pressure, acceleration, temperature, strain and force by converting these changes into an electrical charge. 

Digital Dentistry: Tooth Fixes While You Wait

Nov 3, 2015
Jennifer Szweda Jordan / 90.5 WESA

Dental fixes are getting quicker as schools, private practices and the military add new in-office technology to create replacement teeth and crowns.

North Side Tech Company Thinks IT Can Fix Your Baseball Swing

Oct 27, 2015
Diamond Kinetics

A batter's swing takes, on average, two-tenths of a second -- less if you’re in the big leagues. So it’s not easy for a human coach’s eye to assess power, speed and control. 

Not far from PNC Park, Diamond Kinetics is working on the fix.

CEO C.J. Handron lifts his slugger and aims. The barely perceptible device strapped to the knobby base of the bat doesn't move, but it's picking up 15 metrics in real time

Citizen Internet Comes To Allentown

Oct 20, 2015
Jennifer Szweda Jordan / 90.5 FM WESA

Meta Mesh is making one Pittsburgh neighborhood one of the few places in the country with a free community wireless network--called a mesh network. By putting up what are called nodes--routers along with more substantial antennas--Meta Mesh offers Wi-Fi along Warrington Avenue in the Allentown business district.

Adam Longwill got the idea for Meta Mesh a few years ago when he was using a slow DSL connection. As he considered borrowing his neighbor’s Wi-Fi but instead he came up with a better plan.

 

“It got me thinking about, ‘How would I connect to my neighbors?’” Longwill said. “I would need a bigger antenna, a parabolic antenna. And I started looking at how radio frequencies work, and how I could get better range, better speed. And then I thought ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could have a whole neighborhood doing this?'”

Pittsburgh Psychiatrist Starts Telemedicine Company

Oct 13, 2015
Submited

A Pittsburgh-area doctor is going digital as part of a growing trend of psychiatrists offering their services online.

“Just log in on your phone, get a face-to-face video assessment on a HIPAA- compliant secure platform,” said Dr. Matthew Keener, who created Blackbird Health. “You don’t have to drive all the way across town, you don’t have to wait in a waiting room.”

The American Telemedicine Association says more than half of all U.S. hospitals now use some form of telemedicine.

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