Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every week The Job Shop Blog will bring you our 5 top science and technology news stories from around the web.
This week: Y Combinator is funding anti-aging companies, stem cell production just got easier and faster, Panasonic is building the city of the future, the top five transformative techs shown at CES, and Virgin Hyperloop One reveals details.
NEW Y COMBINATOR DIVISION YC BIO AIMS TO CURE AGING
Business accelerator Y Combinator is known for making intriguing and often wise investment decisions. They provided early support to now well-known companies, such as Airbnb and Coinbase, and have also backed smaller experimental ventures focused on everything from materials science to wearables for cows. On January 11, Sam Altman, Y Combinator’s president, announced YC Bio, a new experiment that will fund life science companies.
Due to the size of the biology field, Altman explained that Y Combinator thought it made the most sense to focus on one specific area at a time. He said the company has also found that “companies working in similar areas get a lot of value from being around each other.”
NEW FDA APPROVED PLATFORM WILL “MANUFACTURE” STEM CELLS
Up until now, any patient receiving stem cells for a medical treatment has had to wait months for their doctors to create enough cells to make multiple doses. But that could soon change: the FDA recently approved an automated bioreactor, developed by scientists at the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Regenerative Medicine, that can manufacture stem cells by the billions in a matter of days.
Stem cells have the unique capability to transform into any sort of specialized cell needed in the body, making them especially promising for medicine that replaces nonfunctional or dead cells. The Mayo Clinic’s new platform allows for the multiplication of stem cells harvested from bone marrow. Significantly, it can manufacture stem cells from a healthy donor as well as from a patient themselves, which could allow treatments even in cases when the patient’s own cells are not usable.
PANASONIC’S GRAND PLAN FOR A FUTURISTIC SMART CITY IS TAKING SHAPE
It was two years ago that Denver, Colorado announced it was partnering with electronics corporation Panasonic to turn a 400-acre stretch of land near the Denver International Airport into a “smart city” — a city that incorporates technology to improve infrastructure.
The Denver smart city project is part of Panasonic’s larger CityNOW initiative that aims to transform cities around the world into ones that are economically friendly, have fully embraced technology, and are overall better places for people to live. It’s the second smart city project following the one built in Fujisawa, Japan in 2015.
THE TOP TRANSFORMATIVE TECH TRENDS FROM CES 2018
At the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), technology companies from around the world unveil and showcase their latest and greatest inventions. This year, Intel announced a new 49-qubit chip, HTC released a new virtual reality (VR) headset, and Fisker revealed an electric car with a 644-km (400-mi) range. In addition, home assistants, health improvement gadgets, and domestic help robots dominated the scene in Las Vegas. CES is the genesis of many transformative tech trends, and 2018 is no exception.
NEW VIRGIN HYPERLOOP ONE DETAILS REVEALED
At the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the recently renamed Virgin Hyperloop One unveiled two products that show just how far the concept has come since its inception. The most notable reveal was a detailed look at the first generation design of the pod that will be used to ferry people and cargo. Officially called the Virgin Hyperloop One XP-1 pod, it reached speeds of 387 kilometers per hour (240 mph) during the company’s third phase of testing.
Virgin Hyperloop One intends to begin construction on a hyperloop route in 2019, with full-scale production tests to follow in 2021. However, we still know very little about how passengers will book their trips once the pods become operational. Will people be able to buy tickets online, or would they have to go to a hyperloop location?