Ideas

NASA funds small-business ideas ranging from AI medicine to plumbing for the moon

NASA says it’ll fund more than 400 ideas from small businesses, aimed at creating technologies ranging from plumbing fixtures suitable for the moon to AI-based medical assistants that can provide “an extra pair of trained eyes” for crews on Mars.

The contracts will provide about $51 million to 312 small businesses in 44 states and Washington, D.C., to support the development of technologies that could come in handy for space exploration or Earth-based applications.

“NASA depends on America’s small businesses for innovative technology development that helps us achieve our wide variety of missions,” Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, said in a news release. “Whether we’re landing Artemis astronauts on the Moon, sending rovers to Mars or developing next-generation aircraft, our small business partners play an important role.”

Six Washington state businesses are among the recipients of Phase I contracts under NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research program, or SBIR. Two more teams, pairing up businesses and universities, will receive Phase I contracts in the Small Business Technology Transfer program, known as STTR.

Each contract is worth up to $125,000. SBIR contracts last for six months, while the STTR contracts last for 13 months. Depending on their progress, Phase I companies could be win additional support during follow-up SBIR/STTR phases.

Here are the six Washington state proposals funded through SBIR:

  • Jeeva Wireless, Seattle: Developing protocols an ultra-low-power backscatter networking platform that can synchronize timestamping on a scale of microseconds between sensors and a wireless hub/aggregator. Such
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How email apps launched some of the most innovative ideas in software

Capiche is a secret society for SaaS power users, building a new community of people who care about software to make the SaaS industry more transparent, together. This article was written by Matthew Guay, Capiche‘s founding editor and former senior writer at Zapier.

The problems with email were there from the beginning.

You’d be reading documentation, see something to improve, and wish you could tell the author.

For MIT’s programming staff in 1965, that idea led to the invention of email. “A new command should be written to allow a user to send a private message to another user which may be delivered at the receiver’s convenience,” wrote the team. “This will be useful for the system to notify a user that … files have been backed-up,” presciently imagining email as a notifications inbox.

More fatefully, they continued: “It will also be useful for users to send authors any criticisms.”

We’ve been trying to escape those automated notifications and unsolicited feedback letters ever since.

The mail command in macOS Terminal
The mail command in macOS Terminal

Email was a simple enough concept, with a file name (what became the email subject), a user (what became email addresses), and the message. The MIT team’s proposal assumed “The proposed MAIL command can be written,” which proved true. Writing the MAIL command only took the summer of 1965.

Decades have passed, though, and email still hasn’t been perfected.

[Read: How SaaS reinvented shareware and killed piracy]

It’s not for lack of trying.

An email app

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Influencers live a pandemic-free fantasy, Quibi dismisses ‘YouTuber ideas,’ and what’s happening with Shane Dawson

influencers_gathering
influencers_gathering

Instagram/TikTok

Happy Thursday!

This is Amanda Perelli and welcome back to Influencer Dashboard, our weekly rundown of what’s new in the influencer and creator economy.

Before we get started, I want to first introduce a new reporter on BI’s business of influencers team: Sydney Bradley! You can reach Sydney and say hi at [email protected] and on Twitter @SydneyKBradley. She will be covering Instagram, TikTok, and all things related to the business of internet creators and influencers.

And now to the news.

This week, Dan Whateley and I wrote a piece on the influencers who are ignoring the coronavirus pandemic on social media, and how Los Angeles health officials want these creators to stop living a dangerous, mask-free fantasy. 

LA is bracing for a potentially devastating wave of coronavirus cases as COVID-19 transmissions and hospitalizations both spiked this week.

But for many of LA’s celebrities and influencers, it appears life has returned to normal, with some choosing to collaborate without masks in videos, host parties, and in some cases travel out of the country.

Here are some examples:

  • Influencer and MTV star Tana Mongeau threw a two-day birthday bash at a Beverly Hills mansion last week and documented the event on Instagram.

  • Music artist Jason Derulo, who has over 25 million followers on TikTok, has been appearing in group videos with other TikTok stars throughout June.

  • A Capitol Records exec hosted a birthday party over the weekend in Los Angeles. TikTok star Addison Rae Easterling (48 million followers), musician

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How can high school and college students fill their summer? We’ve got loads of ideas

Zachary Tabatchnikoff was looking forward to working with 9th- and 10th-graders at a Wisconsin summer leadership camp this summer.

But when the pandemic led to the camp being canceled, Tabatchnikoff, 19, was left finding ways to salvage his summer.

He had already spent about eight weeks of his first year in college at home and knew he couldn’t do nothing for several more months.

“I felt like a sloth,” he said. “I needed a schedule, something to keep me busy.”

Tabatchnikoff is not alone. With the pandemic canceling camps, limiting volunteer hours and reducing the amount of jobs available, teens across South Florida are trying to find ways to be productive, earn money or clock volunteer hours.

Volunteer and testing requirements for the class of 2020 to receive an award from the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program were lightened, but nothing has been decided for future graduating classes.

Tabatchnikoff got creative. He and a friend decided to team up to run an in-home camp of sorts for younger kids. They planned a full day of activities for five kids from age 3 to 6.

“It actually felt good getting up early,” he said “I felt accomplished.”

Zachary Tabachnikoff and Lindsey Greenstein ran their own in-home camp. Here they are pictured with Benji, 7, Lena, 5 and Cora, 3.
Zachary Tabachnikoff and Lindsey Greenstein ran their own in-home camp. Here they are pictured with Benji, 7, Lena, 5 and Cora, 3.

For Gabriella Bonwitt, 16, losing the opportunity to be a counselor in training at a North Carolina camp has turned into a chance to “get things accomplished.”

She found a job at

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