Technology

Melinda Roeder / 90.5 WESA

Saint Bartholomew School student Daryl Jean, of Penn Hills said she can’t understand why more girls don’t get excited about science and technology.

“I feel like girls, they can like science and stuff, but they don’t understand it, and some boys can be intimidating,” she said. “But I think you should try your best, because there’s a lot of inspiration out there.”

The American Association of University Women tried to kick start some of that inspiration in young Pittsburghers last weekend with its “Tech Savvy” computer coding workshop at La Roche College.

Scott Barkley / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County school officials are considering taking a bold step – ditching textbooks.

Superintendents, curriculum directors and librarians from multiple districts met Thursday to discuss getting using new materials.

They're looking to follow in the steps of other schools around the country using open educational resources –- which are free and non-copyrighted, shared materials.

Melinda Roeder / 90.5 WESA

A doctorate project-turned-start up by two University of Pittsburgh students has grown from its days sharing a space at AlphaLab in East Liberty.

Kasey Catt and Noah Snyder first started InterPhase Materials with the intent of developing nontoxic coatings to be used inside the body for brain or dental implants. But after hitting roadblocks with the FDA, they refocused their efforts on coatings to keep marine life, such as mussels and barnacles, and mold from sticking to boats and buildings. 

Melinda Roeder / 90.5 WESA

As companies like Uber and Google work to make self-driving cars, a local company is working on another autonomous vehicle: forklifts.

Engineers and designers at Seegrid have spent the last decade perfecting technology that allows automated forklifts to travel through warehouses and move heavy product without a human behind the wheel. The machines roll about like robots, making noises that sound like beeps, bells and sirens as a means of communicating with one another and employees.

Mora McLaughlin / 90.5 WESA

Anyone who visits a Community Recreation and Healthy Active Living Center in Pittsburgh can meet with neighbors or grab a bite to eat. Now, they can also surf the internet with free Wi-Fi.

Citiparks and the Department of Innovation and Performance announced the installation of free Wi-Fi in 22 of its centers throughout the city.

The announcement was made at the Greenfield Healthy Active Living Center on Wednesday.

Margot Callahan

Margot Callahan, of Highland Park, is providing her voice for a stranger – literally. She’s one of thousands of people who have donated their voices to people with vocal disabilities, caused by a range of factors such as a stroke, cerebral palsy or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

VocaliD is collecting those voices and using them for voice software devices. The goal is to provide a more accurate representation of the actual person’s voice, rather than being stuck with a robotic generic one.

Melinda Roeder / 90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh-based company is finding new ways to use eye-tracking technology to help children with disabilities learn language skills at a younger age by playing digital games. Now the video gaming industry is taking notice.

Tobii Dynavox has been making devices to help nonverbal patients communicate with the help of computer-assisted voice technology. Many of their customers are stroke survivors and adults with degenerative diseases like ALS, in which sufferers lose muscle control. But the company is now looking to expand their devices to young children, and even toddlers.

Self-Driving Cars Are Coming, But They’re Not Ready For Pittsburgh Yet

Mar 4, 2016
Anita DuFalla / PublicSource

Ninety percent of car crashes are preventable.

As it stands, about 30,000 people die in car crashes every year in the United States, said Mark Kopko of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation [PennDOT]. “If you could reduce that by 90 percent, that’s huge.”

Autonomous cars have the capacity to do that.

In Allegheny County, that could mean a vast reduction in the roughly 12,000 crashes in 2014 — especially of those attributed to driver error, like drunk or distracted driving and speeding.

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

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.

'Scrubba' Designed To Clean Large Buildings, Like Giant Roomba

Jan 5, 2016
Jennifer Szweda Jordan / 90.5 WESA

Small, autonomous, robotic vacuums like Roomba, Botvac and others revolutionized tidying for the average at-home cleaner. Four inventors in Oakland want to do the same with an industrial-scale robotic janitor built to sweep and mop big spaces like malls and airports.

On a recent evening, Discovery Robotics’ inventors gave the boxy, blue, metal prototype a trial run as engineer Naman Kumar looked on. In his hand was a remote garage door opener programmed to start or stop "Scrubba" and its 300-pound heft.

Fighting An Airplane's Natural Enemy: Ice

Dec 23, 2015
Jennifer Szweda Jordan / 90.5 WESA

A Canonsburg-based company’s superfast computer simulations are helping airplane designers learn about something that the rest of us might not want to think about: how ice forms on airplane wings and engines.

Once an airplane takes off, it soars into hard-to-predict natural elements. One of the most dangerous of those elements is ice. A technology stalwart in the region called ANSYS is addressing this problem.

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.

Nanograms is 90.5 WESA's new technology and culture podcast. 

Season One, 'Borg in the USA, launched September 24, 2015.

Subscribe in iTunes

 

Episode #5: Heartstrings

Nanograms is 90.5 WESA's new technology and culture podcast. 

Season One, 'Borg in the USA, launched September 24, 2015.

Subscribe in iTunes

 

Episode #4: Little Brother Is Watching

Tiny, cheap cameras mounted on bikes and helmets have given us an entirely new -- and entirely harrowing -- genre of web video.

Nanograms is 90.5 WESA's new technology and culture podcast. 

Season One, 'Borg in the USA, launched September 24, 2015.

Subscribe in iTunes

 

 

Episode #3: Panopticon Highway

'Nanograms' Looks At World Of Tomorrow, Today

Sep 21, 2015
90.5 WESA


Premiering on the 24th, a new program will join the 90.5 WESA line up. “Nanograms” is a podcast created from the mind of Morning Edition host Josh Raulerson.  The show looks at technology and its impact on culture, or, as the show’s tag line reads “brief messages from the very near future.”

Implementing Accessible Technology Throughout Pittsburgh

Sep 21, 2015
Michael Coghlan / flickr

Handheld supercomputers, or, what we all know as smartphones, are increasing our access to information more than ever.  Pittsburgh is full of developers and engineers who want to tap into the abilities of that tiny device and improve the lives of individuals by delivering resources directly to their fingers. Representatives from PNC, Carnegie Mellon UniversityIagnosis, NoWait, Better Body ImageSavvior and Tagalong Tours share why the created their “apps” and what need they aim to fill.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

It's the last week of the Learn and Earn program, and Anthony Zabiegalski, a producer at Simcoach Games, is prepping his 26 interns to test out a video game they helped build. Over the last six weeks, the interns have worked alongside developers and designers.

The Carnegie Science Center has received a $614,000 grant to promote education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The two-year grant, from The Heinz Endowments, will benefit the Carnegie STEM Excellence Pathway, which offers schools resources to improve their STEM classes.

It is a familiar situation for many: either leave an event to go replenish the soon-to-be expired parking meter, or risk getting a ticket.

Pittsburgh-based MeterFeeder, Inc. has developed a smart parking system to avoid these situations, and the service will soon be available in Homestead.

To start, users must download the free application and enter their plate and credit card information, according to MeterFeeder COO Jeremy Moore.

Carnegie Science Center Talks STEM on Capitol Hill

Mar 19, 2015

With the number of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, jobs increasing at three times the rate of other industries, the Carnegie Science Center is encouraging schools and Pennsylvania lawmakers to focus on improving the way students learn about STEM fields.

During a Wednesday congressional briefing in Washington, D.C., science center representatives and educators outlined the Carnegie STEM Excellence Pathway, an initiative that launched in October to help schools evaluate and expand the way they teach math and science.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

University of Pittsburgh chancellor Patrick Gallagher calls the volume of healthcare data in the United States “staggering.”

“(It is) fast approaching a zettabyte,” Gallagher said, referencing the equivalent of one trillion gigabytes. “Even the terminology doesn’t make sense to many of us.”

Gallagher made the comments Monday at a joint news conference with Carnegie Mellon University and UPMC. The three institutions have announced a multi-million dollar collaborative initiative to harness vast amounts of health care data to “revolutionize healthcare and wellness.”

Flickr user Mary Helen Cochran Library

The Pittsburgh Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections has a nice little chunk of change—a bit more than $300,000—set aside for storage of records.

But the catch is the work must be done on microfilm.

The Microfilm Permit Plans Trust Fund was set up in 1986 with strict parameters about how the money could be spent, and nearly thirty years later, the city has finally decided it’s time to broaden those parameters.

The Comcast Foundation has awarded $617,000 to 30 nonprofits in Pennsylvania for promoting volunteerism and service, expanding digital literacy and building tomorrow’s leaders.

About half of the companies awarded were located in Pittsburgh. The biggest grant, $150,000 went to the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh. Other companies awarded included various Big Brother Big Sisters chapters, Boys and Girls Clubs chapters, Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania, and the Japan-American Society of Pennsylvania.

The Associated Press

While Pittsburgh’s economy has recovered from the recession that began in 2008, growth is slowing, and policy makers need to address that reality.

That’s according to a new report from the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program. The fourth edition of the Global MetroMonitor examined economic performance in the 300 largest metropolitan economies in the world. Pittsburgh ranked at #253 in 2014. That’s down from a ranking of #192 between 2009 and 2014.

Becky Stern / Flickr

The International Consumer Electronics Show, held in Las Vegas, is history for another year. Our pop culture contributor Joe Wos was one of the many people in attendance and had a front-row seat to see the next big gadgets that could be changing our lives.

OCHS

Pittsburgh has become a hub for technology and computer developments, thanks to institutions including Carnegie Mellon University and Google.

Local students who wish to one day join this field must learn at a young age the language of computers- coding.  

Last week students around the world took part in the second annual Hour of Code event in which they spent an hour learning computer code. The program was created by Hadi Partovi at Code.org to introduce individuals, not just students, to the coding process.

Oakland Catholic High School was one of the schools that participated in the event, and school president Mary Claire Kasunic stopped by Essential Pittsburgh to explain the significance of the program.

BNY Mellon and the BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania are teaming up with The Forbes Funds to help local nonprofits solve social challenges through technology.

The bank is putting up $500,000 and its foundation is investing $550,000 in a competition that will bring together nonprofits and private sector entrepreneurs to develop technological innovations.

Matt Zieger, executive-in-residence for social innovation at The Forbes Funds, said the nonprofit community is often held back from technology adoption because of underfunding.

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