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Updated: 1 hour 18 min ago

Rebooting the Automobile

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 00:05

Automakers and tech companies are racing to bring safer and more useful smartphone-style interfaces to cars. Can any of them go further and reprogram vehicles completely?

“Where would you like to go?” Siri asked.

The Wait-for-Google-to-Do-It Strategy

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 00:05

America’s communications ­infrastructure is finally getting some crucial upgrades because one company is forcing ­competition when regulators won’t.

It’s too often said that some event “changed everything” in technology. But when it comes to the history of broadband in the United States, Google Fiber really did. Before February 2010, when Google asked cities to apply to be first in line for the fiber-optic lines it would install to deliver Internet service to homes at a gigabit per second, the prospects for upgrading Americans’ wired broadband connections looked dismal. The Federal Communications Commission was on the verge of releasing its first National Broadband Plan, which stressed the importance of affordable, abundant bandwidth and the need to spread it by “overbuilding”—stringing fiber to houses and businesses even if they already had service over cable and phone lines with relatively low capacity. Yet at the time, as Blair Levin, executive director of the broadband plan, told me, “for the first time since 1994, there was no national provider with plans to overbuild the current network.”

50 Smartest Companies 2015

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 00:05

These companies are shaping the technology landscape, in everything from massive solar panel factories to human stem cells.

Sometimes we hear that technology companies have lost their ambition. Too many great minds are pouring their energy into the next app for the affluent, the argument goes. Where is the daring?

China’s Climate Challenge

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 00:05

Rapid industrialization and rising standards of living have made China the world’s top emitter of carbon dioxide. Preventing a runaway increase will require the country to keep per capita emissions at a relatively low level.

The Struggle for Accurate Measurements on Your Wrist

Mon, 06/22/2015 - 00:00

Wearable devices are getting more advanced, but can today’s technology really measure our health?

Until recently, I didn’t know a thing about how my roughly 25-minute bike commute across San Francisco—or any other part of my day, really—affects my body, other than that I inevitably arrive at work sweaty and a bit out of breath when I’m in a big rush. How high is my heart rate? Do my sleep habits affect it? How many calories do I burn?

Injectable Implants Could Help Crack the Brain’s Codes

Fri, 06/19/2015 - 00:00

A new type of flexible electronic device shows promise for long-term brain mapping and could be a more effective way to provide therapeutic stimulation.

To understand how the brain works—or doesn’t, as the case may be—depends on deciphering the patterns of electrical signals its neurons produce. Recording them requires inserting electrodes into the tissue. But the rigid devices traditionally used to record these signals, or to therapeutically stimulate certain regions, can damage the brain and elicit an immune response, and they tend not to work for very long.

Biotech’s Coming Cancer Cure

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 00:00

Supercharge your immune cells to defeat cancer? Juno Therapeutics believes its treatments can do exactly that.

When Milton Wright III got his third cancer diagnosis, he cried until he laughed. He was 20 and had survived leukemia twice before, first when he was eight and again as a teen. Each time he’d suffered through years of punishing chemotherapy.

Soft Robotic Glove Could Put Daily Life Within Patients’ Grasp

Wed, 06/17/2015 - 00:00

The latest in assistive technology is a lightweight glove that helps patients with limited mobility grab and pick up objects.

Engineers at Harvard have developed a soft robotic glove that allows people with limited hand mobility to grasp and pick up objects. The device could help the estimated 6.8 million people in the United States who have hand mobility issues, whether from a degenerative condition, stroke, or old age.

Who Will Own the Robots?

Tue, 06/16/2015 - 00:00

We’re in the midst of a jobs crisis, and rapid advances in AI and other technologies may be one culprit. How can we get better at sharing the wealth that technology creates?

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of articles about the effects of software and automation on the economy. You can read the other stories here and here.

Smartphones (and Motorcycles) Fuel Hyperlocal E-Commerce in India

Mon, 06/15/2015 - 00:00

Entrepreneurs using couriers and mom-and-pop shops hope to outmaneuver Amazon with ultrafast deliveries in India’s big cities.

The heat wave gripping India on a day in late May feels particularly intense in the booming Delhi suburb of Gurgaon. Temperatures have soared to 109 °F by 12:30 p.m., and they aren’t done rising. Lizards are looking for shade. A profusion of new office parks, roads, and malls has obliterated any vegetation that might have preserved a little of the previous night’s coolness. And yet Albinder Dhindsa is smiling as he looks out his window, because this sort of weather is perfect for business.