Pittsburgh Tech Report

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

When the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announced it would bring the smash hit musical "Hamilton" to the Benedum Center, leadership knew they were in for the biggest sale in their history. But they also knew that Hamilton tickets were among the most lucrative for scalpers: according to the New York Times, resale prices for Hamilton tickets can climb up to $10,090.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 


San Francisco-based company Affirm has announced Pittsburgh will be the location of its second flagship office.

Sarah / Flickr

The Peduto administration wants to connect all of Pittsburgh’s roughly 40,000 street lights to the internet, which it says will save money and energy.

Most of the city’s streetlights are high-power sodium bulbs, designed to turn on automatically when there’s a lack of sunlight. The technology is more than 60 years old.

Farm Jenny

More than one million farms in the United States bring in less than $10,000 per year, meaning most of those farmers need a day job to pay the bills. Farm Jenny, a Pittsburgh startup, wants to give farmers a way to monitor their animals while they're away.

Bryanna Johnson / Prototype

Five Pittsburgh nonprofits are banding together for a free workshop series on tech and entrepreneurship skills. The program, called the City as our Makerspace, is specifically aimed at women of color and is a collaboration of Prototype PGH, Black Unicorn Library, A Peace of Mind, Ujamaa Collective and Flower House.

UPMC

Doctors often ask patients to rank their pain on a scale of one to 10, and responses inform prescriptions, diagnoses and help physicians monitor progress. But University of Pittsburgh assistant professor Charles Jonassaint says this isn't a very effective way for doctors and patients to communicate, because there are different types of pain and not everyone has the same tolerance for pain.

Entertainment Technology Center / Carnegie Mellon University

A new game developed by Carnegie Mellon University students is helping elementary schoolers understand what life is like for kids on the autism spectrum. 

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

“We’re still hiring humans” proclaims a billboard situated just east of the 31st Street Bridge near Lawrenceville. On the sign, a coy, Pixar-looking automaton beckons engineers and programmers to apply to nearly a dozen positions at Carnegie Robotics.  

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Every minute, 1 million plastic bottles fly off store shelves and into the hands of consumers. More than 90 percent of these are not recycled, winding up in landfills or waterways. Thread aims to help reduce the amount of cast away plastic bottles by using them to make fabric.

Jakob Lazzaro / 90.5 WESA

In the movie The Martian, actor Matt Damon's character is stranded on Mars. He’s been left for dead during an evacuation from a dust storm. Unable to communicate with his crewmates, Damon's character is forced to survive alone on the planet for more than a year before he's rescued.

Damon's predicament could have been solved much sooner, however, with help from a new self-healing electrical circut developed at Carnegie Mellon University's Integrated Soft Machines Lab.

Schell Games

High school chemistry lab can be a dangerous place. There’s potential for spilled chemicals, fires and broken glass. A Pittsburgh-developed virtual reality game aims to bring chemistry to life in a safer way.

 

HoloLAB Champions is set up as a vibrant, animated game show. Using two handheld controls, players pour liquid, scoop powder and read measurements – skills useful in a real chemistry lab.

 

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Kids from the Homewood-Brushton YMCA recently explored outer space – by journeying to a Bridgeville business park.

The space-themed, three-day field trip was hosted by DDI tech workers, a leadership consulting company. They invited kids from the Y Creator Space program, which teaches, “innovation, collaboration, and problem-solving skills through projects involving 3D printing, robotics, graphic design, circuitry, engineering, and more," according to the program's website.

Jakob Lazzaro / 90.5 WESA

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s collection of plant specimens is housed in rows of tall, dusty metal filing cabinets on the building’s upper floors. When researchers want to study one of the collection's specimens, they have to request it through the mail sight unseen and wait to see if it's what they need.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

For the first time, scientists have discovered the source of a vanishingly tiny particle called a neutrino that came from outside the Milky Way, with the help of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.

The center's powerful computers helped trace the particle's origin to the collapse of a supermassive black hole nearly 4 billion light years away.

About 100 trillion neutrinos pass through your body every second. They're invisible to the eye, but when they react with water molecules at a high speed, they eminate a bluish light.

Sue Ogrocki / AP

A new algorithm created by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University could help geneticists understand the DNA replication process and how it varies from organism to organism. 

NASA.gov

Astronauts often use zip-ties for quick fixes on payloads and hardware outside the International Space Station, but cutting them can be tricky and create debris.

Angela Washko

The aesthetic of “The Game: The Game” couples lurid fluorescents with hazy shadows to create the same disjointed feeling of standing in a loud, dark bar.

While the player's character is femme-presenting, the other avatars are all men. The goal of the game is to navigate a bar that's been infiltrated by a group of so-called "pick-up artists."

Carnegie Mellon University

Robots are able to perform a wide variety of tasks, from providing companionship to senior citizens to searching for survivors in the rubble of an earthquake, but they can't always reflect on how well they performed. 

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

Robots are becoming increasingly important in our lives, but robotics research can be time-consuming and expensive. A local company wants to offer flexibility for researchers in the field and help them test ideas more quickly.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

A new facility on Pittsburgh's North Side is seeking to help local startups keep their first rounds of manufacturing in the Steel City.

In the past, many startups have gone overseas to have those small batches manufactured, said Bernie Lynch, founder of Factory Unlocked. Lynch said, historically, larger manufacturers in the U.S. haven’t had much interest in early stage companies. Smaller facilities like maker-spaces aren’t really equipped to pump out batches of 100 or 200 at a time.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

People want their electronics to be increasingly small and powerful, but keeping those devices running at high speeds can be a challenge.

Keith Srakocic / AP

For college students, finding the right tutor at the right time isn't always easy.

Using an approach similar to that of companies like Lyft and Uber, two faculty members at the University of Pittsburgh's electrical and computer engineering department are hoping their app can help bridge that gap.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh can be notoriously difficult to navigate. The city's hills and valleys, bridges and tunnels, lack of  street grid, one-way streets and constant construction make getting around a feat, even in a car. 

Rodney Grubbs / NASA

Since 1997, the United States has sent four rovers to Mars, but we haven't sent one to the moon in more than four decades.

Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Wearable technology like Fitbits and Apple Watches can measure physiological signals and track a user’s location.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

Most people associate ultrasound technology with pregnancy and the little heartbeat on the monitor. A researcher at the University of Pittsburgh has a slightly different application in mind.

Nitin Sharma, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Pitt, recently received more than $500,000 from the National Science Foundation to develop algorithms that could measure muscle function in patients with partial paralysis due to spinal cord injuries — just by looking at ultrasound images of affected areas.

Pat Sullivan / AP

A researcher at Duquesne University has developed anti-inflammatory pain medication that could be more effective than current options — while also using far smaller doses.

The "nanomedicine," created by Jelena Janjic, co-director of Duquesne's Chronic Pain Research Consortium and associate professor of pharmaceutics, and colleagues, is able to effectively target specific, affected areas of the body. Common anti-inflammatory drugs are distributed indiscriminately throughout the body via the bloodstream after being ingested.

Ketki Jadhav / Wabbit

A mobile game prototyped by Carnegie Mellon University students recently finished as a finalist in a National Geographic competition. The augmented reality app is designed to help patients in stroke recovery complete physical therapy tasks.

Thomas Altany / University of Pittsburgh

Last week, the University of Pittsburgh celebrated the launch of a new makerspace at its Manufacturing Assistance Center in Homewood with a small ceremony.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

It turns out a knitting machine can work a bit like a 3-D printer.

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