Less Bzz, more Buzz
Dunnhumby's Boston office moving out from the shadow of BzzAgent with new marketing technology
Photo via dunnhumby.com
In 2011, dunnhumby, a global marketing and advertising company headquartered in London, acquired BzzAgent, Boston-based social marketing and brand advocacy company founded by Dave Balter in 2001. Since then, BzzAgent and its "word-of-mouth" brand of marketing has continued to thrive as a part of dunnhumby, which is itself a subsidiary of multinational grocery and merchandise retailer Tesco. Read More
human-computer interactions
Siri, do you like being famous? Meet the woman behind Apple's iconic computerized voice
Siri, how does it feel to be famous?
When Atlanta resident Susan Bennett took on a gig to be the voice of a computer software program in 2005, she had no idea she would one day become the all-knowing voice of Siri in Apple's iPhone. Heidi Legg and Beta Boston sat down with Bennett — via Face Time, of course — to ask her how it feels to be a world-famous voice.  Read More
Just wingin' it
Soaring investment and lagging legislation — it's a Wild West for drones
The PARC drone from CyPhy Works is tethered to a controller by a microfilament cable that sends power up to the drone and downloads high-definition video. (Photo: Cyphy Works)
Andrew Kehlenbeck pulls up a shirtsleeve and exposes a few linear scars on his forearm. They’re slashes from the plastic propeller of a small drone — a very modern sort of workplace injury. Kehlenbeck is co-founder and lead engineer at Panoptes Systems in Cambridge, and he is designing a safety system to keep unmanned aircraft from hitting walls, ceilings, trees, and people. Panoptes is just one of the local companies hoping to benefit from a soaring hobbyist drone market and an expected surge in sales to businesses. Read More
Beta Testing
Confide: Keeping your messages truly secret
Photo "Discretion" via <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-101127469/stock-photo-discretion.html?src=pp-same_artist-121080262-XJMxjV5JF9SNnTNcwQXlTw-5&ws=1">Shutterstock</a>
My mobile phone pinged me recently with an interesting, yet ominous alert: “Someone has sent you a confidential message on Confide.” To read it I had to download the app, which I'd never heard of. But I did it anyway and quickly realized I was wading into “Mission: Impossible’’-style technology territory. Read More
Raked, bagged, and carted away
In restructuring, Heartland Payment slashes most of Cambridge-based Leaf team
LEaf payments
You may have encountered the technology from Leaf at local businesses like Voltage Coffee, Aceituna Cafe, or Garlic & Lemons: instead of a cash register on the counter, a small Android tablet sits on a pedestal. After the cashier rings you up by tapping the screen a few times, he swipes your credit card and asks you to sign the screen instead of a receipt. Leaf's software could provide merchants with reports on what had been selling well, and it also tracked workers' hours. Cambridge-based Leaf aimed to dramatically undercut the big sellers of registers (also known as point-of-sale systems), selling its tablet for $250 and the accompanying software for $50 per month. Read More
Thinking spring, Practice Gigs readying app to connect you with tennis partners
PracticeGigs co-founders Matt Neary and Toni Oloko.
This time last year, Toni Oloko was captain of the tennis team at Boston Trinity Academy, a small prep school in Hyde Park. While he got accepted by the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Oloko decided not to start college last fall. Instead, he has been working on a startup called PracticeGigs — and raising a seed round of funding from investors like Andy Miller of Constant Contact and Jeff Fagnan at FKA (the tech venture capital firm Formerly Known as Atlas.) Read More
Zoom Zoom Zoom
Zoombinis’ relaunch will target the iOS and Android markets
Image via Zoombinis
About 20 years ago, an educational video game called “Zoombinis” was launched to help children improve problem-solving skills. The game, from Broderbund Software, which was later acquired by a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt subsidiary, The Learning Co., ended up selling more than 1 million copies. Now the original creator, Cambridge-based TERC (for Technical Education Resource Centers) has teamed up with a Boston children’s media company, FableVision, and the Learning Games Network to launch an updated version of the game for Android, iOS and, eventually, a wide array of other devices. Read More
Boston Crunch
This year's TechCrunch Boston Meetup and Pitchoff features a roster of cool startups
(image via Mike Schneider -@schneidermike)
On Thursday evening, 10 local startups will take the stage at the Boston TechCrunch Meetup + Pitchoff to compete for a spot at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York City. TechCrunch's East Coast editor John Biggs and reporter Jordan Crook will be in town for the event, which is co-hosted by VentureFizz, NextView Ventures, and General Assembly, and will be held at The Estate. Read More
Crystal ball commute? 'DELAID' app hopes to predict delays on the MBTA
Commuters wait for the Red Line. (Wendy Maeda/Boston Globe)
When it comes to creating technology for cities and citizens, open-sourced data and hackathons and great, but there’s nothing like a real weather emergency to get the creative juices flowing. The recent spate of storm-related delays and shutdowns on the MBTA have sent local designers into a creative frenzy; the latest proposal to ease the daily commute for Bostonians is an app that can predict the chance for delays and train trouble on the way to work. Read More
Bridj over the Potomac
Bridj planning to expand its data-driven bus service to Washington, D.C.
Photo via Bridj
This morning, Boston-based Bridj, a transportation startup that aims to bring better, user-informed bus services to metropolitan areas, announced that it plans to expand its operations to Washington, D.C., this spring. Bridj initially started testing potential bus routes in Boston last June, and released its long-awaited mobile application in January. This most recent step is helping the company to get closer to its original vision of a data-driven transit service that meets the demands of citizens in neighborhoods lacking reliable public transportation. The service saw an influx in popularity in the wake of the recent snowstorms, particularly during some of the worst MBTA and traffic woes. Read More