Xconomy Report: Corporate Eyes Are Watching You

By   |   Friday, February 10, 2012
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Feb. 10, 2012

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The next time you’re on a video conference call, you might want to check who else is watching. Many video conferences — including sensitive boardroom discussions — are susceptible to corporate spying, according to Rapid7, a Boston software company that is helping organizations guard against this threat. Rapid7 is part of a growing cluster of Massachusetts security companies. The firm raised $50 million in venture funding last year and has grown to 240 employees.
On the life sciences front, Celgene continued its recent streak of deals with Boston biotechs, with a $15 million investment in Acetylon Pharmaceuticals, a startup funded by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Under the heading of “companies looking to go public,” Cambridge-based Radius Health, which is developing a treatment for osteoporosis, has filed for an $86 million IPO. Meanwhile, fellow Cambridge firm HubSpot, which makes Web marketing software, has hired Akamai’s former chief financial officer as it too makes a push to join the ranks of the publicly traded.

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The weekly roundup of business, technology and life science news from our partners at airs every Friday on 89.7 Boston Public Radio.

Watching The Super Bowl Online: A Review

By Danielle Dreilinger   |   Tuesday, February 7, 2012
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Dec. 7, 2012

According to the Associated Press, Super Bowl XLVI was the most-watched television show in U.S. history, with an estimated 111.3 million viewers. But for geeks, the big excitement was outside the TV. For the first time, NBC live-streamed the entire game online. Along with the sports, NBC promised social media and the chance to watch the famous commercials.
So, how did it go? The response on Twitter lined up with what this reporter experienced at a Super Bowl party in Somerville, Mass. that had all the traditional fixings: chili, six-packs, giant flat-screen and squabbling cats ... just no television.

In short, the streaming video quality was remarkably high; however, the juiced-up online peripherals didn't live up to the hype. Sure, you could watch all the commercials — but only after they aired. Between drives, web watchers were subjected instead to a short roll call of ads that played over and over again. (Hey, did you know the Navy SEALs show features real Navy SEALs?)

The Twitter connection was restricted to two pre-selected NBC stars' accounts. Dear Jimmy Fallon:  If you know NBC will be displaying your Twitter feed to its web viewers for the entire game, you might want to tweet more than once an hour.

And most painfully — as we followed along on the non-restricted Twitter — we knew exactly how great a show we were missing when Madonna took the stage on the television ... but not online.

madonna show like kim il sung birthday party tweet

At least there was one consolation left: At the depressing end of the game, we had the fun of watching the halftime show. On YouTube.

Note: We asked NBC for traffic stats and an explanation for the different commercials and the lack of the Madonna performance. No response yet.

The State Of Biosensors And The Super Bowl

By Cristina Quinn   |   Friday, February 3, 2012
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Feb. 6, 2012

BOSTON —  There’s no need to relive the crushing defeat of the Patriots in Sunday's Super Bowl, but if anything, the game was testament to the emotional roller coaster many of us experience during large televised sporting events. Although it’s just a game, many people take their sports very seriously … to the point of endangering their health.

There’s even a study in the "Journal of Emergency Medicine" that found that significantly fewer people go to the emergency room during the Super Bowl. Massachusetts General Hospital saw an average 17 percent drop in the number of ER visits during the 2005 and 2008 Super Bowls.
So that means even if someone is experiencing some potentially life-threatening symptoms, that person is willing to sacrifice his health just so he can watch Brady throw a Hail Mary pass to Gronkowski. I mean, how sick is that?
It's a question of "intentional focus," said Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a professor of psychology at UMass Amherst, where a dozen people's "focus" led to arrests after the game. "When you’re engrossed in an emotionally compelling situation, you’re going to ignore what’s going on inside your body."
Although most people don't realize it, sports games are actually "kind of high on the stress scale of life events," she said. "The more intensely affected you are by the game and the more your identity rests on the game, the more it’s going to be as if it were an actual stressful life event in your own life."

LISTEN: WGBH News' Bob Seay talks about the loss with Carl Beane, "the Voice of Fenway."

With a record number of viewers expected last night for the Super Bowl, that meant millions of people all over the country sitting around their televisions would be screaming or cheering at the same time. WGBH News was curious to learn how to measure those fluctuating emotions, so we went to Rich Fletcher, an MIT research scientist and an expert on wireless sensors and mobile health. He makes biosensors that monitor people’s emotions. They work through galvanic skin response, he said, "which we call electro dermal activity, which measures what your skin is doing. And your skin — the pores in your skin, specifically the sweat glands, are tied to what’s known as the sympathetic nervous system."

The sympathetic nervous system affects the parts of our body and brain that we can’t consciously control, like heart rate, perspiration and goose bumps. The way the biosensor works is similar to a lie detector. By monitoring heartbeat, temperature and skin resistance, it tracks how we respond to certain situations.
WGBH thought, what better place to get the pulse of a true Patriots fan than in the town of Foxboro, Mass, home of Gillette Stadium.

George and Fran Bell decorated their home in honor of the Patriots. From the helium-filled Patriots balloons, to the folding metal chairs and table they brought inside for full tailgate effect, to the red-silver-and-blue bead necklaces that served as festive good luck charms, no one could argue: This is the home of true Pats fans. WGBH strapped the biosensors onto the left ankles of the Bells and two guests, Paul and Sean. Inside the black bands were the sensors, which were wired to the two metal buttons that came into contact with the skin.

From there, the data was sent wirelessly via Bluetooth to this reporter's smartphone. So when Paul shouted at the screen in the tense third quarter, the graph on the phone spiked up.

super bowl sensor data

SENSOR DATA: The last five minutes of the 2012 Super Bowl, as experienced by Paul Taylor.

Now, this wasn't the first time biosensors were used during the Super Bowl. Advertisers have been using them in experiments for the past few years to see how people respond during the commercial breaks.  But Fletcher saw the potential for using this technology in healthcare.

"Another very important area, which is an area that I’ve been pushing very hard on is using mobile phones and the internet to create therapy. Not just measure when you’re stressed, but to do something about it," he said.

Fletcher is managing a program at the VA Hospital in Bedford where he works with patients who have PTSD and drug addiction. "We built a system where they have a sensor that they put on their ankle and they carry around their phone," he said. "And when they’re feeling stressed or aroused, the phone will pop up a message, and the idea is to create some therapeutic messages that will help them think about their drug craving and hopefully help resist taking drugs."
The messages might be text, a picture, etc. The idea is for the patient to learn how to cope with feelings of stress and anxiety. A doctor could prescribe particular messages or images instead of prescription drugs — or someone could use this application to treat himself.

"The sensor bands make your physiology much more visible and it makes you more aware of what you’re doing and how you’re feeling," Fletcher said. "Over time, once you learn to recognize that on your own, you won’t need a sensor band anymore. You can still carry around your phone, but you won’t need to phone to automatically feed those messages to you when you’re feeling stressed."
While we may not need a biosensor to tell us when we’re excited during the Super Bowl, it might come in handy when someone like Paul, completely losing it during the fourth, needs to be reminded that it’s time to take a deep breath and relax. 

If you’re still reeling from Sunday's loss, Whitbourne said, "Put it in perspective. It hurts. Everybody knows it hurts. There’s no getting around that fact. Life will go on. There’s next year. And consider taking it slow today, she said. "They’ve done studies to find that the day after a team loses, you make poor decisions, so maybe don’t make any decisions that could backfire — even at work. Your cognitive function is worse after a game where you’ve lost."

So forget about the intentional grounding, the 12 men on the field, Brady getting sacked. There’s always next year, but if it’s too soon to say that, well … pitchers and catchers report to spring training in 13 days.

Xconomy Report: Finding The Next Facebook

By   |   Friday, February 3, 2012
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Feb. 3, 2012

mark zuckerberg facebook

Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg greets a crowd at Harvard on Nov. 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Rose Lincoln, Harvard University)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — While most of the tech world is analyzing Facebook’s impending IPO, a new effort at Harvard University is trying to find the next Facebook — and keep it in Cambridge. The Experiment Fund, an unusual partnership between the university and venture capital firm N.E.A., will make seed investments in student-led startups across software, energy and health care. The aim is to support the best young talent while contributing to the growing early-stage funding ecosystem in Boston.
In life sciences news, the FDA this week cleared three drugs developed in part by Boston-area biotechs: a treatment for cystic fibrosis from Vertex Pharmaceuticals, a once-weekly diabetes injection from Alkermes and its San Diego partner Amylin Pharmaceuticals and a skin cancer drug developed by Curis and Roche unit Genentech.
Finally, iRobot announced it has backed inTouch Health to the tune of $6 million, in a move aimed at breaking into the health care market. InTouch makes robotic devices that allow physicians to care for patients from afar. 

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The weekly roundup of business, technology and life science news from our partners at airs every Friday on 89.7 Boston Public Radio.

Cars That Fly, Fold Up And Drive Us Forward

By Kara Miller   |   Saturday, January 28, 2012
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The Transition, from Terra Fugia, takes off. (Courtesy Terra Fugia)

How can we adapt cars to a world that's rapidly industrializing, urbanizing, and straining to meet its energy needs?

A video shows the prototype for the CityCar.

We're joined by experts who's answers range from a car that folds up, so it's easier to park — to a flying car that blurs the line between land and air travel.


Innovation For An Energy-Hungry World

By Kara Miller   |   Friday, January 27, 2012
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What it will take to generate the energy and fuel for a planet that just hit 7 billion and isn’t done growing?

The old gas-and-coal-powered grid is changing. Germany now generates 20% renewable energy, but America has lagged — and our next guest says that’s got to change.


About the Authors
Danielle Dreilinger Danielle Dreilinger
Danielle Dreilinger is an author and news producer for

Kara Miller Kara Miller
As a radio host, Kara Miller has interviewed thinkers from E.J. Dionne to Howard Gardner, Deepak Chopra to Lani Guinier. She is a panelist on WGBH-TV's "Beat the Press," as well as an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Her writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The National Journal, The Boston Herald, Boston Magazine, and The International Herald Tribune.

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