Quantic’s Weekly Roundup

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup is a satisfying mix of the latest breaking news, business, STEM and social science stories. Here are your headlines for this week: 

The long road to red and blue: The most viral election map of 2020 was actually made by a Belgian man in 2019. Designer Karim Douïeb, who runs his own data visualization company, decided to update the map he was seeing in social posts. It bugged him because, like so many electoral maps, it framed thousands of miles of empty land as voting for Trump instead of representing the few people actually living in it. He created a more accurate representation, which depicted the actual count of red and blue votes in counties across the nation as simple circles, their size proportional to the number of votes.

Salt and lime not included: What started out as a Tesla April Fools joke became a reality… and is now sold out. The car company has created an agave-based tequila that runs buyers $250 a bottle. The spirit is sold in a bottle that resembles the shape of Tesla’s iconic lighting bolt logo. The tequila sold out within hours of being live on the website. 

What women really want: A London-based menopause startup secured £500K in funding to help support more than 13 million women in the UK. The menopause’ market potential largely remained untapped in the past, due to stigma and silence around it. With more startups now focusing on women’s health, the stigma surrounding menopause and other health matters has started to fade away. MPowder is an e-commerce startup that provides nutritional powders that tackle hormonal changes and provides women with insights, practices, and tools to empower them through menopause. 

A little “me time” and mediation: No matter where you live, it’s been a long week of US election and COVID-19 news. For those that need a mental health holiday, there’s an app for that. Whether it’s mediation, exercise, or better sleep, experts have designed platforms to calm our minds and reduce anxiety levels. Download one of these and start instantly de-stressing.

Five Questions for Free the PhD Founder, Vay Cao

Quantic Alum, Vay Cao, PhD, founded Free the PhD, a career development and advocacy platform for PhDs who want to learn more about the world outside of academia and kickstart an exciting career. You can check out their programs, talk to their advisors, and access their resources year-round.  Vay spoke with us about the initial inspiration and future goals for the program.

What inspired you to create Free the PhD? 

More PhD graduates are produced than there are traditional full-time faculty positions. This is a trend that has been happening for decades. The simultaneous shrinking of the academic faculty pool, especially in current times, has exacerbated an already stressful professional reality for many academics. Many who complete a PhD degree are not sure what they can do professionally afterwards. I was in this camp: not interested in continuing in academia, but not sure what else I could do.  After I made my own career transition, I was inspired to create Free the PhD because I didn’t want that experience to go to waste. 

How did you launch the platform?

It started off as a typical resume-editing service, but has evolved over the years into a platform where academics can do the important work of learning to shift their mindsets from that of only an academic, to a versatile professional. Free the PhD today is a supportive digital community. It’s a set of empathetic, practical online courses to assist academics in the career transition that’s right for them. There is personalized career guidance, provided by fellow PhDs. We teach PhDs how to free themselves from their own mental limitations and become independent job seekers, including guiding them on how to edit their own job applications and do their own interview preparation.

How would you like to see it expand in the future? 

The pool of PhD talent has so much to offer all sectors of society. I would love to continue reaching more PhDs interested in exploring and pursuing diverse career paths. Alongside our own career coaching, we have been doing workshops with different institutions and are piloting a joint career course with a UC university, which I hope might expand into other institutions that would like to work together to serve their trainees.

Why did you want to pursue your MBA? 

When I first began working outside of academia, I had no prior formal “work experience.” Joining a start-up out of grad school meant I was learning as I went every single day, trying new things and loving the experience. I realized I really wanted a comprehensive understanding of business, rather than this patchwork of information to make me a more effective and efficient professional. I enjoyed being in the business world, and wanted to ensure I was empowered to both deliver results and accelerate my career. 

What did you like about Quantic’s pedagogy method?

What I wanted from an MBA was to get the needed information in a streamlined, time-efficient, affordable, curated manner, all from a trusted source. Knowing that the people behind Quantic are proven in online education, and checking out the freely available Business Foundations courses on their app, helped convince me that this was exactly what I needed! Now that the Quantic MBA is officially accredited, I am even more convinced that I made the right decision in choosing Quantic.  

I have leveraged a lot of the business knowledge and frameworks from my Quantic MBA experience, both in my day job and constantly improving Free the PhD. Knowing that I have the fundamental knowledge needed to go out and make an impact in the world has provided me with the confidence that every professional and entrepreneur needs to succeed! 

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup is a satisfying mix of the latest breaking news, business, STEM and social science stories. Here are your headlines for this week: 

Mars is partnering with Acquia to create a digital spooktacular Halloween. Mars wanted to digitize the physical experience of Halloween trick-or-treating, but make it more engaging than a website. To build on that idea, the company held a one-week hackathon. Treat Town was created, which is a platform that can be experienced on the free app or through a browser. Candy-givers and trick-or-treaters sign up and create profiles. Candy-givers can design and decorate their virtual door, purchase candy credits from Mars, and decide whether anyone on Treat Town can visit their door (or friends and family only). People can even set different levels of rewards for friends and family and even donate to charities

Samasource, a training data and validation company based in San Francisco, believes AI technology can enhance human-centered work instead of threaten it. Artificial intelligence is an emerging force in the business world that has the potential to either replace humans in certain industries or empower humans with better tools, depending on how the technology is utilized. The company’s philosophy is to use artificial intelligence to empower the human workforce. AI will simply remove more mundane tasks, so that humans can focus on tasks that require higher cognition and focus on higher value areas of work.

The company, PORTL Hologram, has raised $3M to put a hologram machine in every home. PORTL’s projector can transmit images any time of the day or night with its “studio-in-a-box.” Anyone with $60,000 to spend and a white background can beam themselves into any portal, anywhere in the world. The company plans to create miniature versions that will be the size of a desktop computer and will be bundled with entertainment systems like Peloton and Mirror. 

Need something to read this weekend? Sports writer, Jon Bois, used his platform on SB Nation to write his latest multimedia story: 20020: What is the Future of College Football. This is the sequel to his 25-part fiction story about the future of America where football games last for thousands of years and span the continent. The digital science fiction piece explores what would happen if humans lived in a utopian meditation with endless time…and sports! 

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup is a satisfying mix of the latest breaking news, business, STEM and social science stories. Here are your headlines for this week: 

Robo-doping: The use of performance-enhancing algorithms to gain a competitive advantage in esports competition. Esports is a fast-growing field, and that has only accelerated in the midst of COVID-19. In digital competitions, there are no guidelines or rules against the use of simulation programs to enhance performance. Some factors that conspire to enable robo-doping include fast internet speeds, cloud-based platforms, and automation systems. These same factors can also manipulate technology we use in our day-to-day lives. 

Farming tech is getting a NASA-inspired upgrade. In increasingly tight, urban homes, we don’t all have room for gardens. The Rotofarm, by an Australian company called Bace, is a space-friendly hydroponic system, and it doubles as a beautiful sculpture in your home. With a circular design, which rotates plants like a Ferris wheel through the day, the Rotofarm is able to fit nearly five feet of growing area inside a countertop footprint of just 11 inches. 

The pandemic made almost 60% of consumers consider postponing high-value purchases. This lack of clear direction from consumers has put the next decade of growth and market share up for grabs. Some experts are saying the next era must be driven by true creativity and managed risk-taking, which is often inspired by customer obsession, but not defined by it. Expose your teams to new technology, new art, and new foods, and build a sustainable innovation capability to transform this inspiration into valuable new ideas.

Singapore-based smart electric motorbike startup, Ion Mobility, has raised $3.3 million in funding to launch its products across Southeast Asia, starting with Indonesia. Founded just last year, Ion Mobility aims to create more sustainable and affordable mobility alternatives for Southeast Asia’s large population of motorbike users. According to a Statista report, Indonesia alone had roughly 115 million motorcycles in use in 2018, which was about half of its total population that year. 

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup is a satisfying mix of the latest breaking news, business, STEM and social science stories. Here are your headlines for this week: 

It’s your show: A virtual video presentation startup, mmhmm, launched in May as “a kind of joke,” but recently raised more than $31 million in funding and already has a user waitlist. During the pandemic, most of our social and business interactions moved to video chat. This app allows users to change their virtual rooms, backdrops, feature Instagram photos, show content “over your shoulder,” and share immersive slides or live videos. With a simple gesture on a trackpad, you can move your face around the screen, shrink or enlarge your image, or disappear completely. Beyond video conferences, the app can be used for bigger opportunities, like helping creators record and stream more interactive content on YouTube, TikTok, and elsewhere.

Proper LAB attire: The US Army Research Laboratory has developed augmented reality goggles for combat dogs, designed to let them receive orders at a distance. Each set of goggles is specially fit for each dog, with a visual indicator that allows the dog to be directed to a specific spot and react to the visual cue in the goggles. The goggles themselves are not new – military dogs are already used to wearing them as protection in bad conditions or for aerial drops, but the augmented reality system is a new development.

Drive my car: A U.K. startup is creating augmented reality technology for vehicles in the form of holographic displays. The company, Envisics, brings together technologies like computer vision, machine learning, big data analytics and navigation to build hardware that integrates into vehicles to project holographic displays. This provides enhanced “dashboards” of information to drivers, with features like mapping, navigation guidance, and hazard warnings. The company announced yesterday that it has raised $50 million in a Series B round of funding.

What came first, the chicken or the vegan egg: A French startup is launching a vegan egg that looks, cracks, and tastes like the real thing. Les Merveilloeufs (a play on the French words marvelous and eggs), created this 100% plant-based egg that will launch across restaurants in Paris. Unlike its competitors, their version bears the distinct yolk and whites of the traditional appearance of eggs. 

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup is a satisfying mix of the latest breaking news, business, STEM and social science stories. Here are your headlines for this week: 

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a… Rolls Royce? Rolls-Royce has announced that the company has completed testing of the technology it plans to use in its line of electrically powered planes– one of which they expect will break speed records for electric airplanes. The new plane will be one of the core products of the company’s ACCEL initiative, whose main objective will be to produce zero-emission planes and engines for other plane makers, and to be net-zero by 2050.   

These boots were made for walking: The pandemic has changed everything from how we work, where we socialize, and what we wear. As people spend less time out in the world and more time daydreaming about when a vaccine will arrive, lifestyle shoes are only gaining traction. Comfortable shoe startups are seeing a big increase. Allbirds, a San Francisco-based maker of sustainable kicks, now has its product available in 35 countries and just closed on $100 million in Series E funding. 

Hey Mr. (A.I.) DJ, play me favorite song: Artificial Intelligence is playing the role of DJ across all top music-streaming services. The technology can learn everything from users’ listening habits, volume level choice and favorite genres. It even works to prevent “dead air” time in between tracks and can pepper in some new recommended tunes on that favorite go-to station. 

Future of farming: To help accelerate the future combination of farming and technology, Sunway Innovation Labs (iLabs) is launching Malaysia’s first urban farming innovation hub in November. It will bring together urban farming professionals, tech companies, researchers and up-and-coming professionals to create high-tech solutions for food and agriculture technology. Urban farms are not meant to replace traditional farms, which are typically in rural areas. Expanding urban farms will also reduce the country’s reliance on food imports. Malaysia currently imports about a quarter (24%) of its total food supply.

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup is a satisfying mix of the latest breaking news, business, STEM and social science stories. Here are your headlines for this week: 

Find your beach: As the Northern Hemisphere is gearing up for colder temperatures, some British tech workers are moving to warmer places. Many workers are working remotely, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Because of this, there has now been a recent spike in some tech workers moving temporarily to warmer countries, while others plan on visiting multiple locations and staying in Airbnbs. 

On today’s menu: Food tech startups in Singapore are serving up lab-grown milk and other edible products from natural ingredients. This type of cell culture technology is an effort to boost national self-sufficiency. Singapore imports 90% of its food, due to land scarcity, and is vulnerable to food shortages and price volatility. The situation was exacerbated when COVID-19 first struck. Efforts like this can reduce the island-nation’s import bill, as well as its carbon footprint.

Always home: Think you might’ve left the stove on or window open? Ring’s latest security camera is a drone that flies around the inside of your house when you’re not home. The new Always Home Cam is an autonomous device that can now give residents a perspective of any room, without needing multiple cameras. Once it’s done flying, the Always Home Cam returns to its dock to charge its battery.

Promoting diversity: Tech companies are looking to take concrete actions to improve diversity within their workplaces, and encouraging others to do the same. Two Seattle-based entrepreneurs, Michael Brown and Don Hyun, have launched Diversity Window: A platform that helps organizations make meaningful transformations around the culture of diversity and inclusion through surveys, tools, metrics, and sourcing. Companies can now analyze employee diversity data, set diversity hiring goals and create reports to share with employees and the public.

Active Learning: Giving Students A Leading Role in Digital Learning

The question of whether EdTech is effective is in fact, not a question about technology at all. Nor is it a question of learning design. Rather, the question ought to be rooted in outcomes: Are students learning the material and able to apply what they learn? Are they acquiring new skills as a result of the courses? 

The failure of digital learning to deliver on this promise, as I wrote about in a recent op-ed, is not about how we’ve yet to bear witness to virtual reality or some equally “futuristic” tech, as viable tools for remote learning. The point is that overwhelmingly, technology has thus far failed to deliver effective teaching practices to students learning remotely. The majority of online learning is being transmitted via the video professor lecture, and the lecture, in the classroom or online, has proven to be a less effective method of teaching. It’s the equivalent of watching TV, putting the professor in the spotlight while a passive audience, the students, sit back and soak in the broadcast. 

Active Learning on the other hand, is a method of teaching that gives the student a leading role. They are participatory actors, driving their learning forward, while the instructor provides feedback that individualizes the learning experience. This is Quantic’s method. Our platform prompts students to engage every 8 seconds and provides instant feedback based on their interactions. Only once they’ve mastered a skill do they move on to the next topic; they learn by doing. In this scenario, the student is the star and the outcome of their experience — whether they truly learned the material or not — is the key metric of efficacy. Investments in learning science alone won’t translate to better outcomes for students. Advancements in online learning must come from a two-pronged approach: using the right tech with the best pedagogy and only when the student succeeds should we deem it a success. 

Here’s more on how our process works:

To be clear, Active Learning is not new. Maria Montessori pioneered it within early childhood education, Berlitz with immersion language learning, and Suzuki within violin study. What is new is using this pedagogy in online learning in a way that’s effective and efficient (it’s also pretty fun, too).

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup is a satisfying mix of the latest breaking news, business, STEM and social science stories. Here are your headlines for this week: 

The private New Zealand rocket company, Rocket Lab, may beat NASA back to Venus to search for extraterrestrial life. The company plans to dispatch its own atmospheric probe to Venus to scout signs for living organisms. Rocket Lab has been working on its Venus mission for months. They plan to have a spacecraft eject an 80-pound probe that will enter the planet’s atmosphere at over 24,000 miles per hour. During its brief descent, it will sample the atmosphere and relay that data back to its Photon mothership before it succumbs to the brutal conditions near the surface.

Buon appetito! Spain’s traditional cuisine is beginning to see more innovative food tech startups appearing on the scene. The CEO of Europe’s biggest startup accelerator, Eatable Adventures, José Luis Cabañero, believes it is due to the presence of “strong biotech research centres in Spain.” From 3D food printing to transforming food waste to packaging, here is a roundup of startups that are changing the food tech landscape. 

Singapore says it will now start paying people to exercise with Apple’s smartwatch. The city-state announced Tuesday that it would reward residents with hundreds of dollars if they use the new Apple health to track working out, health check-ups and immunization appointments. Apple described the partnership as “the first of its kind.” 

“Singapore has one of the world’s leading healthcare systems, and we are thrilled to be partnering with them,” said chief operating officer Jeff Williams.

The business of edtech and digital learning has been booming. Billions of dollars have been invested in tools and platforms that promise to improve the learning outcomes and lives of students. But for all the investments, headlines and flashy IPOs, edtech has little to show in terms of transformative outcomes. What is it about digital learning that has schools so keen on reopening despite the health and reputational risks? Why hasn’t digital learning lived up to its promise? Quantic President, Tom Adams, speaks about the future of high-tech learning solutions and emerging changes in pedagogy.

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup is a satisfying mix of the latest breaking news, business, STEM and social science stories. Here are your headlines for this week:

We have contact: A new Covid-19 contact-tracing app will be launched across England and Wales on September 24, the government has announced. The app will let people scan barcode-like QR codes to register visits to hospitality venues and will implement Apple and Google’s method of detecting other smartphones. Businesses are being asked to display QR code posters to support the app.

Ticket to ride: The Irish e-mobility startup Zipp Mobility has announced that the UK Department for Transport has approved its e-scooter model for trials across the UK. This approval comes as part of a strategy to explore greener and more ‘socially distanced’ methods of urban transport due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The scooters also have nano-septic handlebar wraps, which the startup states reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission by 99.98%.

Out-of-this-world innovations: For more than six decades, space programs have been developing technologies and making new discoveries. Sometimes, this research is in service of solving hard problems we face on Earth, for instance, developing a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. Other times, astronauts spend their time with less mission critical endeavors: sneaker performance for commercial partners like Adidas. In either case, the discoveries made in orbit have applications that improve our Earth-bound lives. Read on to learn how space labs are hurtling toward the next big breakthrough.

(3D) picture perfect: A team of researchers at Google have come up with a technique that can combine thousands of tourist photos into detailed 3D renderings that take you inside a scene… even if the original photos used vary wildly in terms of lighting, or include other problematic elements like people or cars. It’s an advanced, neural network-driven interpolation that manages to include geometric info about the scene and could revolutionize how 3D renderings are created across all industries by allowing for much more variation in the source imagery.

Optimization in the healthcare arena: Quantic Alum and Vice President of Operations at Focused Software, Anne Michael, is working to streamline data entry, protect confidential health information and create overall efficiency, so that patient care can be the main focus.