Staff picks for the week of Sept. 14, 2015

 In News, Staff Picks


Check out this week’s staff picks for some powerful and innovative applications of technology.

Staff Picks General

9 tech podcasts so addictive, your friends should start planning the intervention (Read by Camillia S.)

When did listening to non-musical entertainment become so popular? It’s a reassurance that all things old become new again in some way or another. Forbes contributor The Muse identifies nine tech podcasts that almost anyone — from the super fan to the tech novice – can enjoy. Podcasts are great to listen to while you drive and while you work, if you’re up to multi-task. I think I’ll get started on the list this week!

Restaurant of the future? Service with an impersonal touch (Read by Heidi B.)

Eatsa is doing to restaurants what self-checkouts have done for grocery store lines: replacing humans with technology. The San Francisco-based restaurant (or, rather “food delivery system,” as it prefers to be called) has replaced nearly every human in its system. Patrons view menu items on display screens, order and pay through iPads, and pick up their meal from cubbies, which block the view of the few remaining humans who are needed for food prep. Some see this as a negative, job-destroying transformation, while others appreciate its ability to provide faster, cheaper food as well as job growth in other industries. Although I love the social aspect of traditional restaurants, I could see Eatsa being a fun place to grab a quick bite.

Cancer patient receives 3D-printed sternum and ribs (Read by Heidi B.)

For the first time a surgery patient received a 3D-printed body part — a ribcage — to replace a section of his own that had been stricken by cancer. Using high-resolution CT scans of the patient’s chest, a Spain-based team created a 3D-printed implant matching the patient’s exact chest size and shape. This fascinating story shows just how much technology and medical advancement go hand-in-hand. One hundred years ago, who would have thought we would be able to create customized, functional body parts for those in need? It’s always refreshing to see how technology can improve and even save lives.

How smartphones are helping refugees in Europe (Read by Ed M.)

While waiting for a train in Amsterdam this past spring, I looked around Central Station and imagined how many people came to that very spot 70 years earlier hoping to meet returning friends and family members not seen or heard from since being separated by the events of World War II. That’s why I was fascinated to read how smartphones are allowing today’s refugees from countries like Syria, Afghanistan, and Eritrea to keep in touch with their family members and help them navigate unfamiliar terrain. One man was even able to alert Greek coastguards that his boat sank and use GPS to swim toward Lesbos. If you had to leave your home with the possibility of never returning, what would you pack in a single bag to take with you on a long and dangerous journey? For many of today’s refugees, a cell phone and charger top the list.

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