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California’s BPPE sets its sights on coding bootcamps (via stock)


Education is one of the biggest issues the younger generations are facing today. According to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), the US is lagging far behind other countries when it comes to the sciences, math and even reading (based on the 2012 PISA exam). These statistics will undoubtedly limit what jobs will be available to the students of today, a good portion of which will be in the technology sector with a focus on coding and programming. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for healthcare IT and mobile networks professionals will, in turn, promote an increased demand for programmers, systems analysts and support technicians to the tune of 22% of those currently employed by the year 2020. In an effort to keep those potential jobs from going offshore, the US government, tech companies and academic institutions have initiated several programs that bring the computer sciences to classrooms and other learning centers. Several nonprofits, including Code.org, Khan Academy and MIT’s Scratch have sprung into existence since 2012 to give kids a leg-up on the skills needed to land one of those tech jobs by providing the necessary tools online. The popularity of those programs has invaded classrooms all over the globe (programming has become part of the sciences in some schools) and as a result, has spawned a slew of independent programming and coding schools in the US. This also brought on the rise of ‘coding bootcamps’ where students get a crash course on programming in weeks rather than months or years. As those programs have risen in popularity among high school kids, it also caught the attention of regulators who have recently taken a closer look at how those camps are run and what classification they fall under as an academic institution.

 

In recent weeks, California’s Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) has issued ‘cease and desist’ orders to several coding camps, including Hackbright Academy, Hack Reactor and App Academy (along with a few others) in an effort to bring those institutions up to code. The BPPE is an offshoot of the California Department of Consumer Affairs (NOT the Department of Education) and is tasked at regulating private institutions of post or secondary education, which includes vocational schools and other academic institutions.  The problems seem to be that those programming bootcamps did not (or were not aware of the need to) register or apply for a license with the BPPE and are therefore not in compliance with regulations and guidelines set forth by the regulatory commission. Those bootcamps were issued the C&D orders, which stated either they comply with the guidelines or be forced to shut down and face a hefty fine of $50,000. To get a better understanding of the situation, online programs like Code.org are free to anyone who wants to learn the basics of programming while the coding bootcamps charge anywhere from $10,000 and upwards for a 10-week full-throttle course in specific programming languages. Regulation and oversight when it comes to that kind of money isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however the regulations set down by the BPPE are somewhat archaic in nature when it comes to the digital age. For example, if the institution offers a degree program (which most of those bootcamps do), they must have a library and other learning resources, complete with a professional librarian or information specialist. Suffice it to say, the Application for Approval to get those bootcamps up to regulation is staggering to say the least, which is putting those institutions under immense pressure as they attempt to continue to operate.

 

It should be noted that some of these programs incorporate diversity within their respective communities. For instance, Hackbright specializes in teaching women to code in an effort to gain a competitive edge in the job market. Bootcamps can also help many unemployed Californians find jobs, which could only bolster the state’s ailing economy. Many coding institutions in the state however, fear that they will become bankrupt and forced to close as the application process can take up to 18 months and during that time, no classes can be taken and prospective students cannot enroll, which costs the institutions their income. It should also be noted that those coding bootcamps usually have a job-placement program in conjunction with many of the top tech companies in the nation, such as Google, Facebook and even Microsoft, which many students will miss out on if these camps go under. Most of the institutions that received the cease and desist letters are working to comply with the regulations to get back to the business of teaching, which consists of a $5,000 application fee, course catalog and a performance fact sheet on student progress (among other things). While some may feel that these camps are being unjustly singled out, others feel that regulation is necessary in order to deter fraud, such as implying a ‘guaranteed job after graduation’ (only the military can do that). The question is, does this signal an end to the ever-growing coding camps or will it only serve to solidify their credibility and could that scrutiny transfer over to schools that have implemented their own coding courses?

 

C

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Promo pictures of the kit. Seems like a good idea. I wonder how durable the paint is over time... (via Tony Yu & Kickstarter)


While technology has brought us the glorious touch screen phone, it has yet to bring us gloves that work well with the illuminated screens. Around this time of year, with snow and cold part of the equation in many places, most people are begging for phones with buttons to make a comeback, as the dinosaur phones are at least glove-friendly. Fret no more. Introducing: a “paint” that can make almost any surface touch-screenfriendly.

 

Tony Yu, like most winterers and bikers, was frustrated with the lack of conductive gloves that really work, so he developed Nanotips, a type of liquid that can make just about any substance conductive. The “paint” is a conductive polyamide solution that can be applied to your favorite gloves to turn them into touch screen capable gloves, without the need for conductive thread or sewing.

 

The paint comes in two different versions – Nanotips Blue, which is a transparent shade of blue intended for fabric and Nanotips Black, which is stronger, black in color and intended for tough material, including rubber or thick fabric like leather.

 

The liquid is applied similarly to white-out. The user only need to paint the substance on the index and thumb of their gloves, wait for it to dry and let the fun begin! One bottle of Nanotips Blue can be used for approximately 15 fingertip applications, while Nanotips Black needs less coats, so a bottle can cover up to 30 fingertip applications. It can also be used on other items, such as pens, to create a DIY stylus.

 

Nantotips creates a conductive channel on the gloves, or any surface, that recreates the touch of human skin on the touchscreen. Nanotips Blue also dries relatively transparently, even on light colors, while Nanotips black is solid black; something to consider before coating your crème cashmere gloves.

 

The solution is ready for mass production and the product reached its Kickstarter goal of $10,500 in only four days. They finished off at $72,133 CAD! The product will be available on pre-order for $18-20, depending on the type. The full retail price will be $22 for either serum.

 

C

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Audience eS700 voice processing chips. (via Audience)

 

With the myriad of NSA spying scandals hitting the headlines on a weekly basis, it’s surprising that it hasn’t over-shadowed the legitimacy of using ‘listening technology’ for touchless interaction with mobile devices. In that regard, Audience has released their eS700 line of advanced voice processing chips for sampling, which should be incorporated into new mobile devices by the second quarter of this year. Just like the new Kinect sensor from Microsoft, the chip actively ‘listens’ for voice commands, even while the device is off, to interact with the mobile device and navigate/use applications hands free (touch interaction is so early 21st century). The key behind their new chips is the inclusion of VoiceQ, which enable the chip’s always on feature that actively listens for key voice phrases in its immediate surroundings without the need to siphon off trickling amounts of power (less than 1.5mA) to do so. The technology also eliminates the pause-breaks associated with other devices in regards to those voice commands. For instance, users can turn on their devices and have them proceed to the needed function or app simply by saying ‘power on and play music’ for example, without the need to separate those commands. Other features of Audience’s new eS700 line include noise cancelation (even in windy conditions), speech restoration to increase voice quality in noisy environments and full-band 48 kHz voice processing. It also features a new programming API that allows OEMs to create apps that takes advantage of the voice interactive features and incorporate them seamlessly into their next-gen devices. While various manufacturers are already sampling the chips, its unknown as to exactly which ones will feature them in their new product lines.

 

The NSA doesn't officially endorse these new chips but they like what they 'hear'.

 

C

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LG’s G Flex smartphone. It doesn't flex... but it is a curved panel. (via LG)


Flexible electronics are quickly becoming the rage for companies looking to capitalize on the bendy tech. Products are already flooding the market since their mainstream introduction back in the mid-20th century. Sony’s SmartWear (relays information from smartphones), Razer’s Nabu (relays social and fitness info) and flexible displays are already hitting the market like an unstoppable flood that can’t be stopped. Smartphones too are taking advantage of the flexible fad, with offerings from Samsung (Galaxy Round) and the more popular LG G Flex, with both featuring curved HD screens. While the round isn’t yet available to most of the world (limited to South Korea unless you buy it unlocked, hence: unpopular), the G Flex is widely available and cornering the ‘curved’ market in both Europe and the US. The phone features pretty much the same hardware as most ‘tier-one’ smartphones, with a Snapdragon 2.2GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of memory, 32GB of onboard storage running on a 3,500mAh Li-Polymer battery.

 

While those stats are impressive, the screen is the star of the show, with a 6-inch HD curved POLED flexible display (@ 245 ppi). The idea of the curved screen was to help cut down the reflections and glare normally found on flat phones when in adverse light conditions commonly found on sunny days. It’s also reportedly more ergonomic and better conforms to the human body’s many contours, especially the head. There’s also the ‘cool’ factor that comes with all new technology that gets released, but is it really that great or is it more of a gimmick or a proof-of-concept device? In a word, yes.

 

According to several online reviews, the screen does indeed cut down on reflections and glare and also allows content to be viewed in clarity from a variety of angles but the massive 6-inch screen only has a 720p resolution and is difficult to use and navigate with one hand. The screen sits under a plate of Gorilla Glass and can indeed flex to a flat position (when pressing down on the back) but it won’t fold-up into a convenient carry package of reduced size. Worst of all, the phone costs over $900, which will keep it out of most user’s hands, unless those hands reside in deep pockets. Still, the G Flex smartphone is more of a marketing model to get potential users interested in the design, which will undoubtedly be incorporated into next-gen phones in the near future. On that note, there are already rumors abound surrounding the G Flex 2 that will improve on the lackluster features of the first. The next phone will reportedly feature a flexible screen capable of ‘deforming’ or bend to 900 and that’s while it’s housed in the phones case, making it truly bendable in every sense of the word.

 

This represents the possibility that smartphones will one day be able to be folded into a ‘clamshell’ shape without damaging the internals. It will reportedly be released sometime this year (Fall perhaps?) but will it signal the fall of flat mobile devices? Perhaps not, unless it can overcome current limitations and feature a full 1080p screen with a greater ppi (Pixels per Inch) than that of the current G Flex. Only time will tell.

 

C

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Cabe Atwell

IBM makes graphene RF IC

Posted by Cabe Atwell Feb 17, 2014

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IBM Graphene RF IC. Read the full report in the following link. (via Nature)


Engineers at IBM Research recently announced that they have successfully built the world’s most advanced graphene-based RF chip to date, which may change the functionality of mobile devices as we know it. IBM sent the text message “I-B-M” to the chip, and it was received – a huge leap forward.

 

While it has long been known that graphene-based chips are theoretically faster than simple silicon molds, the manufacturing of the speedy chips has been a struggle, as graphene is fairly fragile and most manufacturing processes are too rough for the dainty technology. IBM did, however, recently discover how to successfully manufacture a chip that, in theory, is 10,000 times more powerful than anything currently on the market.

 

IBM’s design takes a standard silicon chip, manufactured using existing CMOS processes, and adds graphene transistors only after the silicon structure is complete, keeping the fragile material intact. The chip itself isn’t super innovative, as the only difference between IBM’s chip and a standard 200mm silicon chip is simply the graphene transistors. The seemingly insignificant difference does, however, drastically increase the capability of the device.

IBM grows the graphene by dropping a single layer of graphene on a heated copper foil in a furnace with a methane environment at 1,922 degrees Fahrenheit. The copper dissolves in a bath and the remaining graphene is scooped up using the newly manufactured silicon chip. The IBM team of engineers said while this is the easiest way to manufacture graphene, it isn’t necessarily the best and hope to develop a more efficient system soon.

 

The innovative graphene chip can theoretically function at a frequency of 500GHz, well above the capabilities of anything currently used in RF applications. There have not yet been any announcements of an upcoming graphene analog chip, but if the technology is harnessed, we can expect to see faster communication in mobile devices in the near future. Thanks, IBM!

 

C

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Bigger is not always better. Kinetis mini MCUs are a new category of Kinetis MCUs powered by ARM® Technology and available in a variety of tiny wafer-level chip-scale packages (WLCSPs), currently starting at just 1.9 x 2 mm2.

 

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OBsIV’s XIM4 console adapter... app based tuning is an important next step. (via XIM)

 

The XIM3 was amazing (see the tear-down)… does the XIM4 live up to the same standards?


Ask any gamer on the planet and they will tell you there are two factions that have been raging a debate with one another over the better part of two decades concerning which platform is the best for gaming, consoles or PCs. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, consoles such as the PS4 and Xbox One allow users to simply buy the game they want, pop it in and begin playing almost instantly with surprisingly good graphics. The graphics themselves however, cannot be changed to a higher resolution and players are restricted to using a limited set of peripherals and controllers. PC gamers on the other hand, buy the game, install it, download game patches, update hardware drivers and then roll the dice as to whether game servers are overloaded before they can play (Sim City anyone?). Not to mention the DRM that’s usually implemented requiring an online connection just to engage in single-player games. They are however, unrivaled when it comes to the game’s resolutions, which can be adjusted on a massive scale for ultra-realistic game-play.


PCs also have the advantage when it comes to input devices, controllers, keyboards and mice (as well as the Kinect) can all be used, which can give some gamers the advantage over others when playing against one another. In an effort to bring that particular advantage to console gamers, OBsIV developed a bridge of sorts that allows users to hookup a keyboard and mouse to their console flavor of choice. Known as the XIM (Xbox Input Machine), the device allows gamers to connect PC peripherals to their game consoles simply by plugging them in to the adapter via USB ports. Unlike the previous versions where a hardline connection to a PC was required, users can customize the controls to configure them for the game being played via an Android-based (running version 2.3.3) mobile device app. The reason behind the app is that console games have native input centered on the gaming pads, so in order for a keyboard and mouse to function correctly it uses new technology, known as Smart Translators, which requires a certain profile for said games. This includes the use of wireless peripherals as well, which can communicate with the console via a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection. Unfortunately for users that already own an older XIM device (XIM and XIM3) will not be able to use the new technology due to hardware limitations, however XIM Edge users will have limited availability with a reduced amount of configurations (or rather games). As it stands at this point, the XIM4 module is currently being tested for Xbox One users only and will eventually hit the market at some point this year. PS4 users will have to wait until the developers find a way to get the Smart Translators to work with the DualShock 4 controllers, which shouldn’t take too long.

 

C

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IoT connected mailbox... or is it just a package monitor? (via kickstarter)


The Internet of Things is fast approaching and many appliances and everyday objects are beginning to become connected to the internet. With the plethora of devices now available, making this happen is now easier than ever. Devices such as Arduinos have attracted people to programming and have brought more people into the do-it-yourself community, creating one of the largest communities in electronics. Due to the Arduino many other devices have been created following a similar ideology: easy to use, simple to program, and easy to interface with other devices. One such device has been the Spark Core.

 

The Spark Core has been made to be as simple to program as the Arduino and also provide an easy method of connecting to the internet. Using this many people have come up with their own way to connect devices to the internet. One example is the Mr. Postman mailbox. Beginning a crowd sourcing campaign on Kickstarter just as the Spark Core, Mr. Postman is a mailbox with Wi-Fi capabilities. Using its Spark Core, the mailbox can allow people to receive notifications when they receive mail or when mail has been picked up. For security purposes it also can be locked and unlocked through a single app that will allow users to monitor it from wherever they may be.

 

As mentioned, the main electronics used to make the Mr. Postman work is a Spark Core. A 0.6 Watt solar panel is used to power and charge the device on sunny days, and a 3.7 Volt battery is used for backup power. Various sensors will also come housed in the mailbox to detect when the door is open and to allow the door to be locked. Additionally, thanks to the Spark Core the device has a simple way of connecting to your home Wi-Fi network, and will also provide a very secure connection.

 

The mailbox comes in dimensions of 9.8” wide x 8.6” tall x 20.4” long. The mailbox has been made a little wider than the traditional mailboxes to accommodate common items such books, electronics, and toys and will be available in 3 different colors. It also has a recessed door to keep mail better protected from weather or any other outside elements. For $180 you can receive your own Mr. Postman for the next 29 days through their Kickstarter page. For more information check out Kickstarter.

 

C

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kobelo

Mr.

Posted by kobelo Jan 5, 2014
  1. help me to connect graphical display based on ks0108 controller to the arduino
  2. how to add libraries to the proteus version 8

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Geomerics’ Enlighten lighting engine featured in Battlefield 4. Mobile will be able to play games.. but the HMI is still lacking! (via ARM)


Gaming on mobile devices has come a long way in the last five years due to avalanche advancements in technology, which allowed us to go from playing Tetris to playing first-person shooters. There’s a good chance that the mobile device your currently using has an ARM processor in it, especially if it’s an Android-based device. Users that own one of those ARM-equipped Android smart devices and love to game on them should be overjoyed with ARM’s latest announcement regarding their acquisition of Geomerics. The UK-based company is known for their high-quality lighting effects in both the gaming and entertainment industries and will now be part of the mobile device market as well. For those who may not know what triple-A titles Geomerics has under their belt may be surprised to find that their ‘Enlighten’ global-illumination engine is featured in titles such as Battlefield 3/4, The Bureau- Xcom declassified and Need for Speed: The Run to name a few. It’s interesting to note that according to ARM, Geomerics will be able to retain and build upon their existing clients while helping ARM bring their technology to the mobile market. While it has not exactly known what ARM plans on using Geomerics technology for, one thing is for certain, with the new generation of Cortex processors (including Mali GPUs) on the horizon, they will most likely be coupled with some form of the Enlighten engine. Meaning, games will take on a completely new visual level on mobile devices in the near future. The future is shaping up to look very bright indeed!


C

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U.S. Supreme Court building... (via USGOV & wiki)

 

When it comes to software patents, the waters are pretty murky and there’s an obscure line between what can and cannot be patented. The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) has defined a software patent as a ‘patent on any performance of a computer realized by means of a computer program’, however there is no legal definition currently on the law books. In the US, current patent laws regarding software excludes ‘abstract ideas’, natural phenomena and laws of nature, which has been used in the past to refuse a few of those software patents.

 

In an effort to address the issue of patented subject matter, or lack thereof, the US Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case brought about by Alice Corporation Pty Ltd against CLS Bank International. Alice currently holds a number of patents for their computer system that implements financial transaction invented back in the 90’s, which they claim were violated by CLS Bank. CLS claims that four of those patents are invalid and several lower courts have favored them regarding those patents, however some, including some tech giants such as Google, Hulu and YouTube along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation found those judgments to be lacking due to the vague interpretation of current patent laws.

 

Those entities claim that the previous judgments were ambiguous at best with no clear terms for their basis, which would leave lower courts with no clear way of handling software patent cases, especially when it comes to ‘software patent trolls’ (companies who own the patents solely for suing other companies looking to expand on those patents). Hopefully the Supreme Court can come to an agreement over abstract ideas and finally layout specific guidelines regarding software patents so that companies can keep their property safe and secure without the need for frivolous litigation that would surely follow after being infringed upon.

 

C

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The standard USB is getting a facelift. Its USB 3.0 Promoter group recently announced development of a new USB cable port, called the USB Type-C connector. The new cable connector will be slimmer, reversible and will streamline virtually all electronic devices.

 

The new USB Type-C connector will be slimmer without losing its power. It will still rely on the fastest 10GB/S USB 3.1 standard technology, but instead of supporting clunky connectors, like that of the Galaxy Note 3, it will be slender and small, like that of the existing USB 2.0 Micro-B connector. While there are no photos of the new cable yet, it is expected to look similar to existing USB 2.0 Micro-B connectors and feature reversible technology.

 

The new USB Type-C connector will, for the first time, be reversible. This means users will not have to wonder which side is up and fumble with the cable before successfully getting connected. The cable will be modeled after Apple’s Lightning ports, in that both ends are identical, and will also make the user experience more streamlined.

 

The standard 2.0 and 3.0 USB ports support virtually all electronic devices since its release into the market in the 1990s. For this reason, not only will the cable itself be updated to feature a more slender look, but virtually all electronic devices will also be redesigned to support the new, slimmer port. This means laptops, desktops, phones, tablets, etc. will be redesigned with a technology that allows for more slender and compact electronic devices.

 

The new USB Type-C connectors are expected to make the user experience more pleasant, without sacrificing the power and speed of existing models. The new cable is expected to  be introduced in mid-2014. Updated devices that feature the Type-C connector are expected to be on the market shortly after that.

 

Reminds me a bit of this meme.....

 

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C

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littleBits Synth Kit (via Littlebits)


A while ago a tech startup, littleBits, designed and developed a series of electronic circuit board modules that can be connected together (using magnets) to perform any number of functions. The idea was to get children interested in prototyping and learning about electronics, which is why the devices require no soldering, wiring or programming. The initial release of those modules, which are still limited in scope, was a huge success and not only interested kids but adults as well. While some of those modules are capable of making noise, they cannot really make music, which is why littleBits has teamed up with Korg to release their new Synth Kit. Just like connecting the company’s first line of modules to create interesting projects, the Synth Kit functions in the same manner but instead allows users to create music. Just as the name implies, the Synth Kit functions much like an analog synthesizer. The soon to be released kit (available December 6) contains everything you need to create music, including a micro sequencer, keyboard, filter, mixer, oscillator, delay module, power supply and even a speaker (although you can hook-up your own as well). The modules are all color-coded depending on the function they perform, with blue representing power, orange for wire connections, pink for input and green for output. This makes it easy to find the pieces users need to connect together. If that was not easy enough, the magnets can only attach one way, which prevents users from connecting the modules in the wrong way, potentially damaging the module(s). The Synth Kit will retail for $159, which nets users a total of 12 modules, a 35-page instruction booklet, a battery and a connection cable.

 

C

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The Apple II, circa 1978. Its OS is now available... will it be ported? (via Computer History Museum)

 

Back in the 70’s, Apple was just a fledgling start-up created by a couple of guys named Steve and Ronald Wayne in an effort to bring affordable personal computers to the masses. The company released their first home-brew, known as the Apple I, computer back in 1976. It was sold as a kit consisting of a motherboard, CPU, RAM and a rudimentary textual video chip (for text only). A year later the company became incorporated, Ronald sold his shares back to the company (for $800- probably not a good decision) and released the Apple II to the market. Their next instalment was very different from their first offering, which came completely assembled and featured onboard sound, color graphics, motherboard expansion slots for RAM (up to 48k could be installed), gaming paddles and a BASIC programming language built-in. There were no hard-drives or disk-drives for that matter, as disk-drives back in the day relied on complex hardware and software combinations to run correctly. To solve that problem, Wozniak designed a disk controller (unveiled at CES in 1978) using several integrated circuits running emulation software to function. To gain access to organized data stored on the disk, Apple turned to Shepardson Microsystems’ Paul Laughton, who created Apple’s file manager, BASIC interface and utilities, which became known as ‘Apple II DOS version 3.1’. Shift forward in time by 35 years and Paul, along with the DigiBarn Computer Museum, finally released the 1978 source code for those who may be interested (for non-commercial use only). The site has also released source code for other popular software, including Adobe Photoshop along with Apple’s McPaint and Quickdraw.

 

C

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IBM researchers in Africa. Those are some heavy formulas! (via IBM)

 

IBM recently opened its twelfth global research laboratory in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, in an effort to tap local resources both natural and human to bolster the city’s community through technology. According to the company’s press release, the lab’s agenda is to help with the development of cognitive computing technologies to help the city address issues such as public health, education and agriculture. Current project initiatives include reducing traffic congestion through mobile phones using an application (Twende Twende) that take advantage of the city’s local camera systems to provide users with alternate routes. Digital advertising for small businesses is another initiative; small business owners can promote themselves through mobile phone advertising (77% of Nairobi’s population currently use mobile technology).

 

 

Finally, the research lab is promoting a new resident scientist program for universities in Kenya and other surrounding countries to work alongside IBM researchers to develop new technologies. It is estimated that in 20 years the city will have the largest population of young people on the planet, who will be seeking new and upcoming technology. Students looking to pursue carriers in the sciences can only help put Nairobi on the technology map to compete with those found in Asia, Europe and the US. Other companies have transitioned over to Kenya to establish regional headquarters or manufacturing plants, including GE, Google, Airtel and Cisco Systems to tap into the country’s burgeoning resources. Unfortunately, the country is ripe with poverty, corruption (specifically in terms of water and sanitation companies) and the onslaught of terrorism (for example the recent Al-Shabaab attack on Westgate Mall), which could have a negative impact for tech companies looking for long-term investment. Still, it gives those in one of the most prominent African nations the opportunity to become the continent’s ‘Silicon Valley’.

 

C

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