Google's Ross LaJeunesse on Freedom in the Digital Age

Feb 27, 2014

The internet is used globally by over 2.7 billion people. In the next decade it’s expected that 5 billion people will come online, continuing the change in how we communicate with each other, as well as who controls the internet.

Google Head of Free Expression and International Relations Ross LaJeunesse joined us for a discussion of freedom and power in the digital age.

Mariano Real Pérez / flickr

As the devices we use on a regular basis become more advanced and intuitive to use, they’ve also become easier to personalize. As a result, consumers wield more power over their own technology.

Matthew Casebeer Computer Scientist for MAYA Design, a consulting group that’s focused on simplifying devices and data. He finds that open source  design benefits all who share information through their devices, not just computer scientists that work on fixing problems for large groups of users.

He's interested in creating user-friendly authoring tools that allow consumers to write their own code.

It’s no question that technology has changed the world over the last few decades, from how we shop to how we share our lives. In the U.S., many public school districts are in the process of making major changes thanks to technology. Leaders in education and technology are hoping schools get it right because a lot is at stake.

In the not-so-distant past it was pretty commonplace to be taught solely out of a text book and worksheets in the classroom – maybe you’d get a video on a sub day. Today, there are many more options thanks to computers, tablets and other smart devices.

What's the Big Deal About Big Data?

Nov 15, 2013

Day in and day out, we generate data through credit card transactions, mobile Apps, even when we’re commuting to work, we’re generating data. And all of that data has potential uses for the private or public sector.

This week, some of the leading minds in what’s now called big data gathered in Pittsburgh to talk about ways to utilize this information.

Jerome Pesenti, Chief Scientist of big data at IBM, Pittsburgh DataWorks board member and co-founder of Vivisimo, says he wants to make big data more accessible and make it possible to draw more insight from the data generated.

Katie Blackley / 90.5WESA

At the Carnegie Mellon University Technology Consulting in the Global Community program, students are matched with worldwide non-governmental organizations to assist these humanitarian groups with technological support.

Dr. Alexander Hills, senior adviser for the program, has compiled a book of five essays by these young professionals. The book Geeks on a Mission: In Their Own Words, reflects the students amazing experiences and the impact on the global communities they aid.

“Yes, we help people and that’s a good thing, but what it does for the student is really, really impressive,” he says.

Innovative Concussion Evaluation Technology

Sep 25, 2013
GENuine 1986 / Flickr

According to the Center for Disease Control, almost 2 million people each year suffer from concussions and other traumatic brain injuries.

In the sports world, concussions have been in the limelight as athletes come forward with reports of lasting affects from the brain injuries they sustained while playing. As a result, the sports community is becoming increasingly aware of how important it is to properly treat a concussion and gather as much data as possible close to the time of impact.

C3 Logix is a new, innovative concussion evaluation technology that provides on site data collection at the time of injury, to better aid physicians in diagnosis and treatment. The program is loaded into an iPad and before the season starts, athletes perform a series of neurocognitive tests. The program tracks the athlete’s visual reflexes and their ability to focus on moving objects. Results of these baseline tests can then be compared to data logged in incident reports at the time of suspected brain injury.

Unequal Technologies

According to Rob Vito CEO of Unequal Technologies, his company mission is to protect soldiers and athletes from severe blunt force trauma. The idea began ten years ago when, as a professor at Penn State, a student asked Vito, “What if you could make a kevlar vest lighter, thinner and more flexible?”

Since then, Vito and his company have designed Unequal gear for high profile celebrities such as Sidney Crosby, Troy Polamalu, Michael Vick, Tony Romo and even Tom Cruise. When their material is placed inside a helmet or layered into protective apparel, Vito says it may reduce the severity index of impact by 50 percent.

Somenametoforget / Flickr

Startup incubators provide entrepreneurs with opportunities to grow their ideas in an affordable space, with resources, mentoring and sometimes funding. They’ve sprung up all over Pittsburgh, especially in East Liberty. 

The Thrill Mill and its incubator space, the Hustle Den, is one of the new kids on the block. And while many incubators are focused on technology, Thrill Mill is supporting some diverse innovators.

For Bobby Zappala founder of the Thrill Mill, it all started when he moved back to Pittsburgh from Washington D.C. in 2006. He says he and his friends wanted to connect with other young people who had interesting business ideas. He says they host regular gatherings which became very popular.

State lawmakers want Pennsylvanians to be able to contact 911 via Skype on their computers or Facetime on their smartphones, but they haven't figured out how to pay for it.

A hearing on Tuesday will bring county emergency responders into the mix as lawmakers discuss how to change the funding mechanisms for the statewide network of county-run 911 response centers.

Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Delaware) said the scheduled end of one revenue source for the centers is prompting the evaluation of the overall funding model.

App Certain: Internet Security On Mobile Devices

Jun 28, 2013
Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Many parents find it’s important to monitor their child's screen time on the home computer.

But they may not consider the fact that mobile devices such as smart-phones and tablets are swiftly becoming our most prominently used computers.

Spencer Whitman, CEO of App Certain says most parents don’t realize what their kids are doing on mobile devices, especially when it comes to apps.

So App Certain gives parents a window into the behavior of the mobile apps their kids are downloading.

Pop City Innovation News

May 21, 2013
Pop City Media

Innovative product development and manufacturing is not new in Pittsburgh. Each week, Pop City tech and innovation reporter Deb Smit has a plethora of companies and concepts to choose from when reporting on the next big thing.

A study completed at Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville could lead to physical therapy sessions being replaced with a device you would use in your home.

The study was done to see if electrical muscle stimulation, or EMS, is as effective as standard physical therapy in helping patients recover from joint replacement surgery.

Dr. Michael Levine, the principal investigator, said he wanted to have an alternative treatment for patients.

Carnegie Mellon University

Imagine this situation: There is a fire in a warehouse creeping toward explosive material.

But instead of the fire department sending in firefighters, a robot saves the day by moving the material to a safe location.

A robotics team at Carnegie Mellon University is working to create that robot.

The team says the robot looks like a monkey and is named CHIMP (CMU Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform).

The machine is being built to work in human situations with tools normal responders would work with.

Deanna Garcia/90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania’s film tax credit program is lauded by state and local officials as a success, and one state lawmaker wants to implement a similar tax credit program for another entertainment industry – video games.

State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) has introduced the Video Game Tax Production Credit bill aimed at attracting game developers to the state. He said the video gaming industry is huge and growing.  

Gavin Newsom on Citizenville

Feb 28, 2013
Gavin Newsom / Facebook

WESA 90.5 reporter Kevin Gavin interviews California Lieutenant Governor and former Mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom about his book Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government. Newsom discusses how ordinary citizens can use new digital tools to dissolve political gridlock and transform American democracy.