<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Tech News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/tech http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.comen-usSun, 23 Oct 2016 22:59:29 -0700Sun, 23 Oct 2016 22:59:29 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Creators of Vomit-Inducing Bike Lock Hope to Deter Thieves]]> Fri, 21 Oct 2016 18:43:08 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1021-2016-SkunkLock.jpg

The creators of SkunkLock want crime to make people sick – literally. The San Francisco-based startup is trying to fight crime by developing a special lock that sprays a gag-inducing odor if bike thieves cut into it.

“The smell can be best described as vomit,” SkunkLock co-inventor Daniel Idzkowski said. “The lock needs to fight back in some way. There needs to be some other deterrent other than being big, heavy and strong.”

Like thousands of others in the Bay Area, Idzkowski and his business partner Yves Perrenoud had several of their own bikes stolen. According to NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit, more than 700 bikes have already been stolen this year in San Francisco alone.

The two created a lock that sprays a pressurized gas made of food-grade chemicals.

“It’s not designed to be harmful. It’s purely designed to be a deterrent,” Idzkowski said.

The odor is so strong they have to store it on their office balcony.

“I’ve probably got four Ziploc bags around it, and my hands still smell,” Perrenoud said.

Cyclists think it’s a cool idea.

“I would buy something that would squirt somebody in the face with poison, or mace or whatever. I would definitely buy that just for the satisfaction of knowing that could happen,” bike messenger Jamie Lee said.

While other cyclists say bike thieves are so clever, they may still figure out a way.

“They might try to freeze it and freeze the lock off especially if they know and the professional bike thieves do know how to use different approaches to get through different locks,” said musician Garrett Smith.

Idzkowski and Perrenoud say shields and other methods won’t protect thieves from the aerosol.

However, there is still time for feedback, as they are still developing the lock. They expect to have it on the market in June 2017 for about $150.

Meantime, they are offering it for a discount on their Indiegogo crowdfunding webpage.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[After Major Outages, 3rd Cyberattack 'Has Been Resolved']]> Fri, 21 Oct 2016 15:53:42 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/map-outage.jpg

A third wave of denial-of-service attacks on a key piece of internet plumbing was resolved by late Friday, said the company that was targeted.

Internet infrastructure company Dyn Inc. told CNBC earlier in the day that the third wave was underway, causing more disruptions after dozens of the world's most popular websites were taken largely offline Friday morning. 

The White House said it was aware of the situation and that the Department of Homeland Security was looking into it; a senior law enforcement official told NBC News that the FBI has been investigating as well. U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News Friday afternoon that they did not know who was responsible for the attacks, though one source said involvement by North Korea had been ruled out.

Dyn, which runs domain name servers, said on its website that it was subject to a distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attack. Domain name servers translate website names to the numeric Internet Protocol addresses behind them. Dyn, headquartered in Manchester, New Hampshire, is one of the larger companies in that business. 

Major internet services including Spotify, Twitter, Paypal, Reddit, the PlayStation Network, Netflix, SoundCloud and a number of media websites were difficult or impossible to reach early Friday.

DownDetector.com, a popular website for checking internet outages, showed a sharp and simultaneous spike in users reporting sites being inaccessible just after 7 a.m. ET and again around noon. 

Service providers including Comcast, Cox, Time Warner Cable and AT&T were also affected. 

Dyn told CNBC that it was being hit by "tens of millions of IP addresses" Friday afternoon, around 4:15 p.m. ET. They said one of the sources of the attack is devices like DVRs, printers, and other appliances that are connected to the internet, collectively known as the "Internet of Things."

Dyn said normal service was restored just over two hours later. But on its website it reported a new attack as of 11:52 a.m. ET that was still underway a half hour later.

"(We) have begun monitoring and mitigating a DDoS attack against our Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure. Our Engineers are continuing to work on mitigating this issue," the company said on its status update page. 

Later Friday, Dyn released a statement saying the third attack "has been resolved."

The extent of the effect was not clear as the attacks unfolded — Twitter experienced partial outages throughout the day. 

"The earlier issues have resurfaced & some people may still be having trouble accessing Twitter," the company wrote on its support account at 12:55 p.m. ET. "We’re working on it!"

After four and a half hours of problems, Twitter reported that Dyn had mitigated the attacks and that Twitter was once again available to all its users. 

Dyn said it was "still investigating and mitigating the attacks on our infrastructure," though a monitoring issue was resolved, it tweeted shortly after 3 p.m. ET.

On social media, people reported renewed difficulty accessing Spotify in Europe, as well as problems with photos and video on Twitter. DownDetector showed fresh spikes in outage reports for sites including PayPal, Netflix and Pinterest. 

The attacks immediately renewed fears about the security of the Internet's core infrastructure, particularly with the presidential election - already the subject of hacking concerns - less than three weeks away.

(Comcast is the owner of NBC parent NBCUniversal.)

Photo Credit: DownDetector.com
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<![CDATA[NBA to Offer Virtual Reality Broadcast]]> Fri, 21 Oct 2016 12:50:12 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/nextvr.jpg

The NBA wants to bring fans closer to the action. The league announced Thursday that one game each week would broadcasted in virtual reality.

This makes the NBA the first professional sports league to offer this option, working with NextVR to produce games in the regular season. In order to watch games in this format, fans will need a subscription to NBA League Pass and a Samsung VR headset.

The broadcasts will offer multiple camera angles, instant replays, graphics and commentators exclusive to VR.

This also points to the international following that the NBA has, NBA vice president of global media distribution Jeff Marsillo said to USA Today.

“We broadcast our games in over 210 countries now, and these are passionate fans,” he said. “But for most of them, they’re not able to attend a game in person, let alone sit courtside.”

The multiyear commitment deal with NextVR will change that.

A free trial of this experience is offered on Oct. 29 for the Sacramento Kings vs San Antonio Spurs game.

Photo Credit: AP Images for Cynopsis Media]]>
<![CDATA[Pediatrics Group Lifts 'No Screens Under 2' Rule]]> Fri, 21 Oct 2016 12:32:41 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-135280995.jpg

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued new screen media guidelines for parents with infants and young children, amending its previous recommendation that outright banned screens for children under the age of two.

In its policy statement released Friday, the AAP says it’s OK for children under the age of 18 months to Skype or Face Time with grandma and grandpa, and for older children and teens to do some of their socializing, learning and playing online – as long as they put down their devices long enough to sleep, exercise, eat, and engage in rich offline lives. 

The nation's leading group of pediatricians recommends children under 18 months, with the exception of video chatting, should avoid screens. Children between 18 months and 24 months should only be introduced to digital media that is high-quality and parents should watch it with their children in order to help them process what they’re seeing.

For children ages 2-5, digital media use should be limited to one hour a day. The guidelines again recommend high-quality, education media suited for children, such as Sesame Street and PBS.

Overall, parents should avoid using media to calm a child or replace physical activity. Parents are also recommended by the AAP to have media-free time with their children and media-free zones in the house. Parents should also have conversations with children about online safety and respecting people both on and offline.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Our Robot Future: Shopping and Chatting]]> Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:36:22 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1020-2016-Robot.jpg

It dances, it shops, it engages you in conversation.

It’s Pepper, and it’s a robot you have to see (and listen to) to believe.

We met Pepper at Santa Clara’s Internet of Things Convention, and she was the unquestioned star, attracting young and old fans like a rock star.

“It mimics us,” says Softbank’s GM of Robotics Steve Carlin. “It creates empathy with its arms and gesticulations.”

And those gesticulations are smooth and believable. They (along with Pepper’s impressive vocabulary) are why this robot is coming to a store near you. It’s comfortable to be around the 4-foot robot. Not like a used car salesman, but more like a friend.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Zuckerberg Upholds Thiel's $1.25 Million Trump Donation]]> Wed, 19 Oct 2016 14:06:10 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/thielzuckerbergsidebyside.jpg

Despite shaking up the Silicon Valley political landscape by donating $1.25 million to support Donald Trump's race to the White House, venture investor and Facebook board member Peter Thiel has received support from the Menlo Park company's CEO, according to The Verge.

Thiel is the only high-tech guru to support the Republican nominee, according to The New York Times, but Mark Zuckerberg sent a memo to his employees notifying them that Facebook stands by Thiel's right to political expression.

"We can't create a culture that says it cares about diversity and then excludes almost half the country because they back a political candidate," Mark Zuckerberg told his employees in a letter obtained by The Verge.

Zuckerberg understands his decision may be contentious, but he maintains that Facebook is a platform that promotes diversity and open discussion.

"I know there are strong views on the election this year both in the (United States) and around the world," he wrote. "We see them play out on Facebook every day. Our community will be stronger for all our differences -- not only in areas like race and gender, but also in areas like political ideology and religion."

Y Combinator, a successful startup incubator that employs Thiel as a part-time adviser, lost a non-profit partner after the investor's political decision became public, The Verge reported.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Catching Lies Through a Person's Eyes]]> Tue, 18 Oct 2016 14:19:51 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/090223+eyes.jpg

A new type of lie detector test scans the eyes, to determine whether someone is lying or telling the truth.

Eye Detect is one of the crime fighting technologies on display this week at the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention in San Diego.

The test works on the premise that when you lie, it requires more mental effort.

A small, infrared eye-tracking camera looks for things like changes in the eye, size of the pupil and blink rate.

All of that then goes into an algorithm that helps determine truthfulness.

"Unless you really know the person like a mother talking to their child, it's really difficult to know whether they're lying based on where they're looking or their facial expressions," said Todd Mickelson with Converus, the company that makes Eye Detect.

"So we're measuring things that only a high powered infra red camera can measure, that can't be seen with the naked eye basically."

The detector claims to be 85 percent accurate.

Right now it's used for job screenings by a number of law enforcement agencies.

However, manufacturers say it's not as effective when used in a specific line of questioning such as a police interrogation or in identifying an unfaithful spouse.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LAPD to Test Tesla as Patrol Car]]> Sun, 16 Oct 2016 12:37:40 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/lapd-tesla-101516.PNG

Just months after adding 100 electric cars for non-emergency duty, the Los Angeles Police Department plans to test a Tesla sedan as a patrol car, a department official said Friday.

The large battery capacity of the Tesla sedan, affording it both high performance and longer range, sets it apart from the smaller electric cars on the market. However, the cost of the batteries puts the Tesla in the realm of luxury cars.

Both Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck have pledged themselves to a goal of reducing reliance on fossil fuels by expanding use of electric vehicles, which also offer potential savings in operational expenses.

The deployment of the fleet of BMW i3 electrics has gone well, said Vartan Yegiyan, who oversees LAPD's vehicles as assistant commander of the Administrative Services Bureau.

The unmarked i3 cars are intended for administrative travel, but in many cases are driven by sworn officers to crime scenes or in the course of investigations.

The total cost of operating the cars is projected to be 15 percent less than the traditional vehicles they replaced, Yegiyan said.

Assigned an electric car for his work in the officer representation section, Sgt. Mark Kelly praised the i3 as better suited than the traditional car it replaced.

But patrol duty places far greater demands on a vehicle, including faster acceleration and longer range than the i3 can provide.

The Tesla Model S is larger both in size and battery capacity.

Capable of accelerating from 0-60 mph in as little as 2.5 seconds, and with a range of up to 300 miles or more, the Tesla's numbers--apart from price--make it a candidate for patrol work.

Earlier this year, Tesla loaned LAPD two Model S sedans. One was painted in LAPD black and white livery and has appeared at numerous community events as the police car of the future.

However, despite its appearance, the car has never been retrofitted with the police equipment needed for patrol duty.

An agreement is in the works with Tesla to equip the second Tesla, all black and as yet unmarked, in LAPD's garage.

"They will have an active role equipping this vehicle," Yegiyan said.

Once fitted with radios, a computer, custody cage, locking shotgun rack, and other equipment, the Tesla will be put to the test in the field by an on-duty patrol sergeant, who will be driving to emergencies and possibly even taking part in pursuits, according to Yegiyan.

But regardless of how well the Tesla handles the rigors of police duty, there is one big obstacle to its future as a patrol car: its six figure price tag, far above the thirty thousand dollar range for the traditional police vehicles built by Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge, and far higher even than the $40,000-plus BMW i3.

LAPD is not alone in expecting the cost of electrics to come down as battery technology improves. When it gets to an affordable price range, Yegiyan wants LAPD to be ready, both with charging infrastructure, and with the testing experience to reduce uncertainties.

The department projects five years before it begins replacing traditional patrol cars with electrics.  The next big step is the testing expected to put a Tesla on duty as soon as next year.

LAPD indicated willingness to share what it learns with other police agencies.

From a business standpoint, law enforcement contracts represent a multi-billion dollar opportunity for electric car makers with vehicles that can meet the standards.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on the LAPD testing.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[New Tech Makes Driving Safer, More Convenient]]> Fri, 14 Oct 2016 05:44:53 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/TechTalker1013_MP4-147644722202600001.jpg Some of this season's new models boast cameras and sensors for blind spot warnings, forward collision alerts and even automatic brakes. From in-car vacuums to smart phone parking, car owners are in for a whole host of new technology that is helping to drive them into the future.]]> <![CDATA[Periscope Extends Beyond Phones as Twitter Ups Ante on Video]]> Thu, 13 Oct 2016 18:59:58 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/twitter+generic+logo.jpg

Twitter is taking the smartphone shackles off its live-video service Periscope in its latest attempt to broaden its audience.

The Periscope Producer feature announced Thursday will let media companies and other users pipe live video feeds directly into Twitter, without using a smartphone to record the images. Since its debut early last year, Periscope had been confined to live video feeds taken on a smartphone.

During Producer's testing phase last week, a Florida television station showing live video on its website used the new tool to redistribute the same feeds on Twitter. To start, Producer will be limited to a small group of media companies such as Disney's ABC News and major brands such as Louis Vuitton. Others can apply for approval at http://t.co/periscopeproducer .

Periscope CEO Kayvon Beykour said Producer will be available to all comers soon, something that he acknowledged could lead to unauthorized redistribution of live video. Piracy has been an issue dogging Periscope since people began using the service to broadcast live video of movies and TV shows with their smartphones.

The Periscope extension ups the ante on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's bet that the increasing popularity of online video will help widen the messaging service's appeal.

Twitter already has been streaming more news, entertainment and sports events, including the National Football League's Thursday Night games for 10 weeks during the season. Twitter hopes to build a following beyond people who rely on the service to tweet their thoughts and keep tabs on what's happening around the world. Dorsey sees Twitter evolving into the go-to place for watching live video in a digital town square where people can share their opinions with each other.

Internet companies young (Snapchat) and old (Facebook) are scrambling to get on the live video train, though there are no easy ways to make advertising money off of them yet. That's coming, though. Some companies are already experimenting with livestreaming for marketing purposes. Automaker General Motors, for example, launched out its electric Chevy Bolt EV using Facebook Live earlier this year. Media outlets, meanwhile, are livestreaming coverage of the presidential debates in ways not seen in any previous election.

With the latest move, Periscope joins other livestreaming services such as Twitch and YouTube that allow for broadcasts from sources beyond users' smartphones. Facebook, meanwhile, has so far stuck to a mobile-only strategy. But even with Periscope's expanded capability, Facebook has an advantage with a larger audience.

Since the end of 2014, Twitter has picked up just 15 million monthly users to expand its audience to 313 million people through June. During the same stretch, Facebook gained 319 million users to extend its reach beyond 1.7 billion people.

In an effort to distinguish Twitter from Facebook, Dorsey has been trying to position it as the "people news network" - though with little success since he replaced Dick Costolo as CEO 15 months ago.

Things have been looking so bleak that Twitter's board last month hired investment bankers to woo suitors that might be interested in buying the San Francisco company, according to published reports that cited unnamed people familiar with the matter. The prospective bidders included Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., as well as Apple Inc., Salesforce.com and Walt Disney Co.

The possibility of a sale tantalized investors until other media reports made it seem unlikely that Twitter will strike a deal soon. With a sale apparently off the table, the company's stock has dropped by nearly 30 percent in the past week. The shares fell 20 cents to $17.85 in early afternoon trading Thursday.

<![CDATA[Brain Chips Help Paralyzed Man Fist-Bump President Obama]]> Thu, 13 Oct 2016 15:58:49 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_16287736330662-obama-robotic-hand-fist-bump.jpg

A man who's been paralyzed for more than a decade got to show off how much progress he's made by fist-bumping President Barack Obama Thursday with a robotic hand, NBC News reported. 

Nathan Copeland can feel his fingers for the first time since a 2004 car crash left him paralyzed from the chest down, thanks to chips implanted in his brain that also control the hand.

When he met Obama at a science event organized by the White House in Pittsburgh, the president told Copeland, "Let's see what you got." Then the robotic hand moved with input from Copeland's brain.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is behind the brain interface, which is letting Copeland once again "feel just about every finger."

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[San Jose is 'Place to Be' for Electric Car Startup]]> Thu, 13 Oct 2016 19:02:07 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/IMG_7073.JPG

North San Jose is staking its claim as the next Motown.

LeEco moved in earlier this year, Apple is rumored to be building a car-oriented facility there, and today, NextEV opened up shop.

NextEV is a China-based company working on electric cars. Not only is it generating new jobs in North San Jose — 250 so far, close to 1,000 planned over the next several years — but also its leadership is generating a buzz.

Topping the team is CEO Padmasree Warrior. A longtime Cisco executive, Warrior says she was inspired to join the team because of Bay Area traffic.

"I think any major industry — and maybe I’m biased — starts in Silicon Valley," she said.

To that, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo added: "This is the place to be, right?"

No cars to show yet, but an ambitious plan to take on the likes of LeEco and Tesla.

"You’ll see us testing our cars in the streets” soon enough," Warrior promised

Scott tracks EVs on Twitter: @scottbudman

Photo Credit: Scott Budman]]>
<![CDATA[Co Co County Teacher of the Year Raises $500K]]> Wed, 12 Oct 2016 19:14:00 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Teacher+of+the+Year+200.jpg

When you walk into Shauna Hawes’ classroom at Valley View Middle School in Pleasant Hill, it’s almost impossible to feel anything but optimistic. Everywhere you look, there seems to be a motivational poster of some sort. “Be Fearless! This is your time,” says one. “This is my happy place,” cries another. 

A personalized letter from President Barack Obama hangs on another wall, thanking the teacher for her work with students. 

These notes set the tone for a classroom culture that is both inclusive and warm, much like Hawes herself. A teacher for almost 20 years, the computer wiz was recently awarded Contra Costa County’s Teacher of the Year Award for her efforts to boost STEM curriculum across not only Valley View, but also the entire Mount Diablo Unified School District. She succeeded, pulling in more than $500,000 in grant money and spearheading several programs, including a STEM lending library that allows teachers to check out the latest gadgets and gizmos, and a camp that focuses on helping young girls learn to code.

Students in her computer literacy classes are learning how to build websites, make web graphics, use robotics and DSLR cameras, and even operate 3-D printers. With Hawes at the helm, they are also learning how to be kind to one another, a lesson that they pick up through collaborative work and undoubtedly through her example. Always patient, she stops at every student’s computer terminal and paces back and forth around her large classroom, following the hands that sporadically rise into the air. When she arrives at a desk, it’s rarely without a smile. 

Although several students said they felt lucky to be in her classes, it’s Hawes who claims to be the lucky one. 

“I get to see kids who are not artistic do beautiful work; I get to see students who have never been good at math suddenly do coding and robotics and be really proud of themselves for things,” she said. “I get to watch kids create things that they thought were never possible…That’s why I love what I do. “ 

Math and science were never Hawes’ passions when she was a student. She said she dreaded math, but always had an appreciation for curriculum that gave students an opportunity to learn practical, “hands-on” skills. That appreciation intensified after she had her own children and noticed that college-bound students were being advised against taking practical courses, apparently because they didn’t fit university admissions criterion that historically prized English and arithmetic.

“My biggest concern is that our students are losing hands-on access to things that make sense,” she explained. “When my son was going into high school, I wanted him to take an auto mechanics class. It didn’t fit the A through G requirements, and the counselors tried to dissuade me from having my son take it. I thought, don’t college-bound kids’ cars break down too? I feel like we’re missing out on what education is supposed to look like, because they’re not getting practical skills when they’re walking out of the classroom.” 

As woodshop classes across the country shutter, including the one at Valley View, Hawes is hoping her computer literacy courses will provide a 21st century alternative.

“She has a lot of real life applications in her computer class that the kids can see practical use for in the future, and it engages them,” explained Crystal Stull, a vice principal at Valley View. “There’s a lot of recognition for her (as teacher of the year). It brings a good climate to this school.”

The students seem to agree. During their lunch break, Hawes teaches a special course called “Mouse Squad,” which has iterations across school campuses nationwide. At Valley View, it’s composed of a small group of students who applied for the course, hoping to get more of the hands-on experience that the teacher touts as “essential.” 

Jazmine Cano, an eighth grade Mouse Squad member, is working with her group on a drone that has a camera attached. Like something out of an elite lab in Silicon Valley, it can be operated through a smart phone or tablet and is fitted with special landing hardware. The tech used in the project was funded through a grant that Hawes applied for on her own time. 

“It is all about technology and what you love about it,” explained Jazmine. “We help different teachers with how to fix their computers or projectors, so whenever they need any help or any have technical difficulties, we can go and help them.”

Jazmine and fellow student Miles McCall said Mouse Squad is one of their favorite classes, partly because Hawes trusts them with technology and allows them to learn from it. Echoing yet another aphorism plastered to the classroom wall, they say they are encouraged to “just go for it” from the start.

“She’s incredible, like one of the best teachers ever,” Jazmine said. “She always takes into consideration what we know or what we have difficulties doing. It’s like a big family. We all understand each other and try things together.”

Gillian Edevane covers Contra Costa County for NBC Bay Area. Contact her at Gillian.Edevane@NBCUni.com.

Photo Credit: Gillian Edevane]]>
<![CDATA[Google Opens Coding Lab to Teach Comp Sci]]> Tue, 11 Oct 2016 16:17:14 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Code+Next+3b.jpg

Google opened a brand new coding lab in Oakland's Fruitvale neighborhood last week as part of an effort to bring computer science education to a diverse group of disadvantaged students.

The Code Next initiative aims to get black and Latino students involved in coding and computer science, hacking and tinkering.

The 1,500-square-foot hacker space is a home for Google's outreach efforts aimed at young people and partners with local schools and organizations like Black Girls Code.

The goal is to "create 'aha!' moments that connect computer science to students' everyday lives," said Nilka Thomas, Google's director of Diversity and Inclusion.

The curriculum which was first tested at another temporary location in downtown Oakland starting in January. The students met twice a week and now the program is "ready for prime time," Thomas said.

Google consulted with MIT Media Lab, The Unity Council and Kurani design to build the space. The company plans to open a similar facility in Harlem, New York in 2017.

Thomas said Google selected Oakland and Harlem based on density of the target student population and partner organizations committed to computer science education. Middle schools and partners can nominate students to participate in Code Next.

"Long term, our goal is to open-source the curriculum to educators everywhere," she said.

Google hired Gallup to study computer science education last year. The report and other research informed the company's recommendations to improve access to computer science education and make it accessible to all students. The report found that black students and students from low-income families reported less access to computer science classes and clubs at school.

"Without this access, students are unable to discover an interest in computer science or be inspired by the possibilities that come along with it," Thomas said.

According to Claire Shorall, computer science manager for the Oakland Unified School District, 2,853 OSUD students are taking computer science classes this year, up from 685 in the 2015-16 school year.

"Instead of simply broadening the pipeline, the Oakland Unified School District has dug an entirely new trench, thus laying the groundwork to teach all students computer science — an agency-creating course necessary for access, sustainability, and choice in the 21st century," she wrote in a post on Medium last month.

The district is also working with Salesforce and Code.org to expand offerings in middle schools and across the district. Google opens coding lab to teach about computer science in Oakland's Fruitvale neighborhood.

Photo Credit: Google]]>
<![CDATA[John Kerry Talks Cyber Security in Silicon Valley Visit]]> Mon, 10 Oct 2016 19:14:37 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1010-2016-JohnKerry.jpg

Secretary of State John Kerry visited the the Silicon Valley Monday to discuss online security in the wake of cyber hackings being more commonplace.

Bank, e-mail and even election computer hacking have all made recent headlines, and Kerry said part of the reason he is in the Bay Area is to get answers.

"That's where we need all of you," Kerry said. "This is a conversation we need to have. I do not come here with all of the answers because a lot of this is uncharted territory."

Kerry and other Silicon Valley Internet leaders spoke at the Virtuous Circle conference. The event continues Tuesday with industry leaders, including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Arianna Huffington.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Silicon Valley Adds to Relief Efforts for Hurricane Matthew]]> Fri, 07 Oct 2016 18:26:50 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bay-response.jpg

Add tech companies to the list of how the Bay Area is stepping up its efforts to help those affected by Hurricane Matthew.

Local tech companies are working on drones to provide phone and wireless service to areas affected by natural disasters.

"So, instead of the cell site planted on the ground, which is our traditional way of doing business, we've lifted the equipment into the belly of this very small aircraft, and placed it over the affected area," said.

Bay Area tech executives are working to raise money together to help victims.

Meanwhile, Red Cross relief workers from all over the Bay Area are heading out to affected areas to help provide care and shelter.

"When the water starts rising, there's nowhere for the water to go," 

Relief workers plan to stay in the affected areas for as long as three weeks.

Other tech companies stepping up include Google, which is donating $500,000 to the relief effort and Airbnb, which is offering free rentals to those displaced by Hurricane Matthew.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Companies Providing Space Funeral Services]]> Fri, 07 Oct 2016 07:50:00 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SPACE_AP_16225354180398.jpg

Space funerals are no longer a thing of science fiction. Companies such as Celestis and Elysium Space offer space funerals, NBC News reported.

Celestis, a subsidiary of Houston-based aerospace company Space Services, offers an array of options for those who want to launch human remains in space. And these voyages range in price, depending on how far in the celestial heavens you want to go.

Its most popular services, which place remains into payloads on third-party commercial rockets, are Earth Rise, where cremated remains are transported suborbitally for a cost of $1,295 and returned to Earth; and Earth Orbit, where remains travel around the Earth and then released into space for a fee of $4,995.

It also plans to offer a DNA service for those who don't choose cremation next year. The company will take a person's DNA sample and bond it with a silica-type agent to create a fillable capsule that can be transported into space.

Photo Credit: AP ]]>
<![CDATA[Flying Frozen Yogurt Delivered by Drone]]> Thu, 06 Oct 2016 05:41:15 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-2016-10-05-19h27m57s228.jpg A drone delivered frozen yogurt to college students in Holland, Michigan, Tuesday. Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt did a test run delivering the froyo to students at Hope College. The service, which is a part of a pilot delivery program, officially started by appointment only. It took about 15 minutes to travel a little under a mile.

Photo Credit: WOOD-TV]]>
<![CDATA[$4 Million Raised at Dreamforce for Fight Against AIDS]]> Thu, 06 Oct 2016 10:10:36 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/N5P+DREAMFORCE+AIDS+PRESSER+SOTVO+-+00001217.jpg

Salesforce joined the fight against AIDS on day two of its annual Dreamforce convention in San Francisco.

Marc Benioff, the company’s chief executive officer, is seeing “red” and so are San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The charity, named Red, has the ambitious goal of ending AIDS.

Until recently, the group had hoped to raise $1 million, partnering with Dreamforce.

“But then Marc and Lynn Benioff graciously said [they] would match that, and then Bill and Melinda Gates said they would double match it,” said Red’s Chief Executive Deb Dugan.

U2, whose front man Bono co-founded Red, capped the day with a performance at the Cow Palace.

"I think everybody knows they don't do events like this," Benioff said, referring to the band. "This is really a gift that they're giving to San Francisco for the love of our city and the love of our children."

For one night only, the venue was renamed Cloud Palace in a nod to Salesforce.

Benioff said Wednesday's events raised $11 million for UCSF Benioff Children's hospitals.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Theranos to Shut Down Facilities, Lay Off 340 Employees]]> Wed, 05 Oct 2016 17:55:21 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_241410476392.jpg

Blood-testing startup Theranos says it is shutting down its facilities and laying off about 340 employees.

In a statement to stakeholders, CEO Elizabeth Holmes says the company will focus on rebuilding after several investigations into its practices.

The Palo Alto-based company developed what it claimed was the first blood test that could diagnose diseases from a single drop of blood.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Bezos' Rocket Is 1 Step Closer to Safe Space Travel]]> Wed, 05 Oct 2016 14:26:05 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/blue-origin-moment-of-separation.jpg

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is inching closer to sending humans into space, after a rocket booster and emergency escape capsule made by one of his companies safely landed during a test on Wednesday, NBC News reported.

Bezos' company, Blue Origin, is testing the New Shepard rocket to determine if space tourists can safely get out of a spacecraft that's gone up in flames.

Despite predictions the test in Texas would fail, the rocket booster separated as planned. Safely evacuating passengers is key in order to send humans into space.

Just last month, Bezos shared his plans to introduce a new rocket family that could send humans and satellites safely into space by the end of the decade. This is the fifth time since November that the rocket launched, went into sub-orbit and landed its booster.

Photo Credit: Blue Origin
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<![CDATA[Tony Robbins Energizes Tech Disruptors at Dreamforce]]> Wed, 05 Oct 2016 15:15:44 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/Tonyrobbinsofficial.jpg

There was no fire walk or Oprah Moment, but Tony Robbins did unleash his trademark hunger and energy to thousands on the opening night of Dreamforce, technology’s biggest event in San Francisco, dissecting everything from relationships to software to Donald Trump’s tax returns.

The king of self-help had the crowd of 7,000 inside Moscone Center yelling, laughing, dancing, hugging each another in joy, crying even, as he imparted life lessons during his three-hour keynote session: “The Power to Break Through: Your Ultimate Edge.”

The massive four-day Dreamforce conference was expected to draw at least 170,000 attendees this year and will also feature appearances from Mark Cuban, Melinda Gates and U2.

Even before Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, himself a huge Robbins fan, welcomed the celebrity life coach on stage, the crowd was already energized, giddy with excitement for what lay ahead.

“How many of you have a relationship with a human?” Robbins asked, as he bounded up on stage in his signature black shirt and trousers, his 6’ 7” frame billowing over the audience in almost superhuman fashion.

Robbins, who went from being a janitor to advising billionaires such as Warren Buffett and Carl Icahn, and considers Richard Branson among his good friends, spent a good part of his session, or “event,” as he likes to call them, dissecting human relationships – what works, what doesn’t, who is engaged, who is disengaged, etc.

Robbins even used Donald Trump’s tax return leak as a case study for engagement levels at workplaces. “Somebody at his company was obviously disengaged,” Robbins said, while discussing how the documents were sent to a reporter at the New York Times.

As the giant screens in the room lit up with thousands of faces – nuns, monks, billionaires, geeks – it felt as if you were in a church listening to a sermon, in this case the Church of Tony Robbins.

“What is your idea of an extraordinary life?” Robbins asked the audience. “Some people’s extraordinary life is a billion-dollar company, some people’s extraordinary life is writing poetry, and some people’s extraordinary life is helping people in the Tenderloin.”

His talk was peppered with remarks like, “Reality TV is bull___,” and to a fan sitting right in front: “Come here little ba_____, I want to hug you.”

Robbins went over the history of modern technology, what worked (Apple), what didn’t (Yahoo), trying things like body shaking and jumping to get everyone pumped up about the future.

In a series of rapid fire interactions with the audience, Robbins discussed the pros and cons of innovation, marketing, social media, advertising, basically everything that makes a business tick in this day and age.

"Feel the energy - yes or no?" He asked the crowd. "Make sure the person next to you in the chair has as much energy as you now."

He didn’t make anyone walk on hot coals, but he did make the audience work. “Stand up, sit down, shake your body,” and then every 15 minutes: "Who's with me on this? Say aye."

Earlier this year, Robbins was in the news when about 30 people suffered injuries after walking on hot coals at one of his sessions.

At one point, Robbins asked everyone, “Who in this room has failed?” and proceeded to answer his own question: “We've all failed.”

With the help of crowdsourcing, Robbins listed some of the most common reasons for failure on a giant screen:


  • Fear
  • No Time
  • Didn't take action
  • Lack of money
  • Lack of technology
  • Lack of education
  • Not enough research
  • Terrible people


And then he left everyone with these famous Tony Robbins words of wisdom: “Failure is never a lack of resources; it's a lack of resourcefulness.”

<![CDATA[Yahoo Doesn't Deny Email Scanning, Calls Story 'Misleading']]> Wed, 05 Oct 2016 11:13:58 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/yahoo5.jpg

Yahoo responded again Wednesday to a report that it scanned incoming email to hundreds of millions of accounts for the U.S. government.

In a carefully worded statement that stops short of a denial, the company said a Tuesday Reuters report is "misleading," saying that "the mail scanning described in the article does not exist on our systems."

Reuters reported that Yahoo built custom software for the scans. Yahoo's latest statement does not say whether it has conducted such email scans in the past, or whether that software might exist outside its systems.

On Tuesday, Yahoo said only that it complies with U.S. law. On Wednesday, it said it interprets every government request for data "narrowly" to "minimize disclosure."

Yahoo is currently selling its online operations to Verizon for $4.8 billion.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tony Robbins, Melinda Gates, U2 Headline Dreamforce in SF]]> Tue, 04 Oct 2016 14:27:48 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/tonyrobbins1.JPG

Salesforce’s annual customer conference kicks off Tuesday in San Francisco, and if you thought TechCrunch Disrupt and Oracle OpenWorld were big, Dreamforce is, well, just massive. In fact, it can easily be called the mother of all tech conferences in the Bay Area.

Around 170,000 attendees are expected at the four-day event, which will host big names such as self-help guru Tony Robbins, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Mark Cuban, will.i.am, Melinda Gates, and U2, who will perform at the “Cloud Palace” Wednesday to raise money for pediatric care and research at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals.

Locals can expect traffic in downtown San Francisco, especially around Moscone Center, the convention venue, to be heavier than usual. Bus lines will be impacted, and some roads around the Cow Palace will be shut down for the concert.

Last year, Salesforce rented an entire cruise ship to entertain guests. This year, there’s a “Shark-Tank-like” “Dreampitch” session – where startups can pitch to billionaires Cuban and Chris Sacca for up to $150,000 in investments. There will also be monks at hand to help with daily mindfulness sessions.

Robbins, who was in the news this year after 30 people suffered minor burns when they walked on hot coals at one of his sessions, will be delivering Tuesday’s keynote, titled “The Power to Break Through: Your Ultimate Edge.”

Like last year, gender equality is expected to be a big theme at Dreamforce once again. Sports icon Billie Jean King, and Academy Award winner Patricia Arquette, who talked about the wage gap last year, will be speaking on the topic. "Just like we have been the company that has pioneered cloud networking in the technology industry, we want to pioneer this to make it a serious part of who we are," Benioff, himself a big supporter of wage equality, told NBC Bay Area last year.

One of the biggest draws of the convention is U2. Tickets, which start at $1,000, are currently available for the 7 p.m. show on Oct. 5 at the Cow Palace in Daly City.

In keeping with the theme of giving, Salesforce is encouraging its customers to help raise a million dollars for the global (RED) Foundation, which was founded by U2’s lead singer Bono to fight AIDS.

Salesforce chief philanthropy officer Suzanne DiBianca told VentureBeat this year’s campaign is “a perfect example of how Salesforce’s 1/1/1 model plays out. When talking about giving [a piece of] your product, time, and resources, (RED) is an example of what it means.” The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged a 2-to-1 dollar match of all donations made to (RED) during the convention.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[At Zume Pizza, Robots Make the Pie]]> Mon, 03 Oct 2016 15:22:00 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000019206002_1200x675_778276419832.jpg Zume Pizza in Mountain View says it's the only restaurant in the world to have robots making its pizzas. It's the "next generation" in technology. But the CEO says there's no need to fear. "Robots won't be taking away jobs - instead these robots are just being used for squirting and spreading marinara sauce. Zume restaurant still has people who toss the dough and add toppings to the pizza.]]> <![CDATA[World's First MotoBot Wows at Robotics Convention]]> Fri, 30 Sep 2016 19:07:44 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/184*120/robobusiness.JPG

“Finally, the enemy has been defeated,” a toddler-sized robot announces to a captive audience inside the convention center in downtown San Jose as it enacts a scene from Star Wars.

A few seconds later, it dances to "Thriller," takes a tumble, but gets back on its feet and belts out a song. It’s a social robot, one that will even read you your email, and make cute conversation if you want it to.

Nearby, the world’s first MotoBot, or motorcycle robot, perched on a Yamaha YZF-R1M, does a great job of making regular motorcyclists seem pretty insignificant. Even as it sits still. Next door, crowds gawk at a sea drone bot and a $75,000 military tank robot that can be deployed to fight wars.

Welcome to RoboBusiness, billed as the most important robotics conference in the world. If there’s a robotics trend you want to see, show off or geek out on, this is the place to be.

Everyone and everything from DARPA to NASA to AI showed up at the two day event that took place from Sept. 28 to 29 in Silicon Valley, itself the birthplace of many of the incredible new technology on display on the expo floor.

According to Tom Green, editor-in-chief of Robotic Business Review, 2017 to 2020 might be the most important years in robotics history. Sales of Industrial robots were at an all-time high in 2016, and the amount of venture capital pouring into robotics research has tripled since last year.

This year, highlights included personal robots, exoskeletons, sensors, and pretty much autonomous everything – including of course the MotoBot, a joint venture between Yamaha and SRI International.

“It’s the first time anybody’s created a humanoid robot that can ride an unmodified sport bike,” said Thomas Low, SRI’s robotics program director. “Together we are trying to create speeds that will be competitive with the world’s top motorcycle riders.” And capabilities that are beyond human.

The best part, MotoBot can ride any motorcycle. It works just like a human rider, and controls the brake, clutch, throttle and the shifter with its internal sensors.

The MotoBot’s top speed is 187 mph, and it has already conducted test laps at the Alameda naval base, with spectacular views of the Bay Area serving as the backdrop. MotoBot’s creators have more than autonomous driving in mind – they envision it becoming a tester for high-speed bikes, measuring performance. “As MotoBot learns how to race very very quickly, it begins to feel things,” Low said.

SRI isn’t divulging how much one of these will cost — yet.

A few booths down, AMS was displaying how their sensors work on Nao, a social robot. AMS’s magnetic sensors help robots with motor control, so that they can move like humans. As Nao danced to Michael Jackson’s "Thriller," a small crowd gathered around it and started clapping. It’s safe to say that one day in the not-so-distant future, people will be lining up and paying big bucks to take Nao and his brothers home.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Gonzalez
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<![CDATA[Baby Monitor? There's an App for That]]> Fri, 30 Sep 2016 07:36:30 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BabyMonitor0930_MP4-147523889415700001.jpg Tech companies are trying to help parents breathe easier knowing that their newborns are doing just fine. Devices like the "Owlet Bootie" can track your child's breathing, making sure you know if anything happens. "So, if a baby stops breathing in the middle of the night, an alarm will go off," says Ben Fox Rubin of CNET. Rubin admits that he was skeptical before trying some of the devices on his own children, but soon found that every parent can use a little help on the side.]]> <![CDATA[3D-Printed Artificial Bones Could Help Heal Injuries]]> Wed, 28 Sep 2016 19:49:03 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/3d-skull-H.jpg

A new type of artificial bone shaped with a 3-D printer can repair deformed bones and help heal some spine, skull and jaw injuries, researchers say in a new report printed in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

When the bone material was tested in a monkey, the bone fused to the animal’s skull and new blood vessels grew into it, NBC News reports.

“Within four weeks, the implant had fully integrated, fully vascularized with the monkey’s own skull,” researcher Adam Jakus said. “And there is actually evidence of new bone formation.”

The hyper-elastic bone can be shaped with a 3-D printer to customize individual implants. Scientists hope to be able to test the implants in humans within the next five years.

Photo Credit: Adam E. Jakus, PhD]]>
<![CDATA[RoboBusiness Convention Shows Off Cool Tech]]> Wed, 28 Sep 2016 18:42:44 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/20160928-RoboBusiness-1.jpg

Photo Credit: Jennifer Gonzalez/ NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Aetna to Subsidize Apple Watch]]> Wed, 28 Sep 2016 12:46:27 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_16229419820877.jpg

Aetna announced that it will be making Apple Watches available for large employers and individual customers during open enrollment season.

The health care services company said the new initiative will revolutionize the customer's experience by, "combining the power of iOS apps and the unmatched user experience of Apple products including Apple Watch, iPhone and iPad with Aetna’s analytics-based wellness and care management programs."

Aetna said it will be the first major health care company to subsidize the cost of Apple Watches for customers by offering monthly payroll deductions. The Hartford-based company serves an estimated 45.3 million and will provide free Apple Watches to 50,000 of its employees. 

Apple will work with Aeton to create "deeply intergrated" health apps that will allow customers to manager their health, Aetna said.

“This is only the beginning - we look forward to using these tools to improve health outcomes and help more people achieve more healthy days,” said Mark Bertolini, Aetna Chairman and CEO.

Aetna's new health apps will offer features, such as:

  • Care management and wellness, to help guide consumers through health events like a new diagnosis or prescription medication with user-driven support from nurses and people with similar conditions.
  • Medication adherence, to help consumers remember to take their medications, easily order refills and connect with their doctor if they need a different treatment through their Apple Watch or iPhone.
  • Integration with Apple Wallet, allowing consumers to check their deductible and pay a bill.
  • Personalized health plan on-boarding, information, messaging and decision support to help Aetna members understand and make the most of their benefits.
The solutions will be available early 2017.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Elon Musk Outlines Plans to Go to Mars]]> Wed, 28 Sep 2016 03:44:46 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_16271781854596-elon-musk-mars-spacex.jpg

It was a press conference with a little bit of everything — space travel, science, technology and the offer of a kiss.

Welcome to the world of Elon Musk.

Musk spoke at the International Astronautical Congress about SpaceX's plan to take us to Mars.

Spoiler alert: It's going to take some time, and there's no guarantee of a return trip.

Musk was honest about the speculative nature of it all; it will be very expensive (at least at first), and very time consuming.

Also, he was fairly honest about the fact that it's just not yet possible.

He showed a "timeline," admitting (a nod to Tesla deliveries) that "I'm not very good at these."

He also addressed whether or not he himself would travel to space, saying that "I may die, so I'd want a succession plan in place."

A crewed mission to the Red Planet could come in 10 years "if things go super well," Musk said, as CNBC noted. The spaceship would have to fit around 100 people and come with everything needed to build a colony: "iron foundries, pizza joints, you name it."

During a surreal Q&A session, Musk was asked if Mars was like Burning Man (he's not sure), and if someone could come up to the stage and give him a "good luck kiss."

He demurred.

With NASA, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and others talking about space travel, Musk laid out more detail than we've heard before. You can see his whole talk here:

Scott scans the skies on Twitter: @scottbudman

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Labor Dept. Sues Silicon Valley Tech Firm for Discrimination]]> Tue, 27 Sep 2016 04:23:03 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/karp.jpg

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit accusing a high-flying Silicon Valley software company of systematically discriminating against Asian job applicants over the last five years.

Palantir Technologies was co-founded by prominent tech financier Peter Thiel, with backing from an investment arm of the CIA. The Palo Alto, California, company makes data analytics software used by the U.S. military and law enforcement agencies, along with banks, insurance companies and other private clients.

The lawsuit claims Palantir routinely eliminated Asian job candidates during the resume-screening and telephone-interview stages of the company's hiring process. The claims are based on a statistical analysis conducted by federal officials responsible for making sure government contractors comply with anti-discrimination rules.

Palantir denied the allegations, saying the government's analysis is flawed.

Palantir's chief executive is Alex Karp, who also co-founded the company.

Photo Credit: Getty Images file]]>