California Has 4 Of The 10 Most Innovative Cities In The US

So. Many. Patents.


In case there was any doubt that Californians are an inventive bunch, now there’s a list to prove it.

There are four Californian metropolitan areas in the U.S.’s 10 most innovative cities, according to a list compiled by 24/7 Wall St. based on data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area, which is home to Silicon Valley, tops the list, generating 14,618 patents in 2015, or 739 per 100,000 people.

Santa Cruz-Watsonville, which is home to the University of California at Santa Cruz, is fifth. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont is seventh while San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos is ninth. 24/7 Wall St. compiled its list from  U.S. Patent and Trademark Office data for the year 2015, the most recent year that data is available. Read more here.

Big Idea: A Tech Dividend For Californians

How can the Golden State spread its wealth beyond Silicon Valley?


California should consider a technology dividend to spread the wealth of the state beyond Silicon Valley, according to a leading academic. Such a scheme should be modelled on programs like Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend, which pays residents of that state an annual dividend funded by oil industry revenues.

Chris Benner, the Director of the Santa Cruz Institute for Social Transformation at UC Santa Cruz, argued in an editorial for the Mercury News that the dividend would be fair because of substantial public funding for technology. He cited the National Science Foundation’s grant that resulted in the creation of the algorithm that underpins Google’s search technology. Read more here.

Cali-Based Company Shows Genes Aren’t Always Destiny

New DNA discoveries show longevity might not be written in our genes.

DNA may not influence longevity.

Google-backed biotech and research company Calico— which is short for California Life Company— has discovered that a person’s DNA has far less influence on lifespan than previously thought. The results were published last week in the journal Genetics. The Silicon Valley-based company analyzed the data of around 400 million people who lived and died in Europe and America going back to 1800 from the genealogy firm Ancestry.

“The true heritability of human longevity for that cohort is likely no more than seven percent,” said a Calico scientist. Previous estimates for how much genes explain variations in lifespan have ranged from around 15 to 30 percent. Read more here.

Stuck Waiting At The DMV? Blame The 40-Year-Old Computers

DMV working to update “40-year-old dinosaur” computer system, but the going is slow.


If you’ve been to the Department of Motor Vehicles lately, you probably noticed that what was already an unsavory experience is now taking even longer than before. And one of the main reasons is the state’s decaying computer system.

Although the DMV cites a rise in customers seeking Real IDs for the 46 percent increase in wait times over the last year, it acknowledges that that its IT system is a “40-year-old dinosaur” that’s suffered dozens of crippling outages over the last 20 months.

DMV Director Jean Shiomoto has said it would take three years to modernize that technology and bring its systems into the 21st century. “Our system is an old, antiquated system. We are working to modernize that and are working on that project right now,” Shiomoto said at a hearing last month.

At the heart of that project is a new digital ticketing system, which in theory should help with customer flow but currently doesn’t play well with the DMV’s more analog processes. The California Department of Technology estimates the total project cost at nearly $18 million, according to the Sacramento Bee. You can read more about the DMVs aging-IT problems and proposed solutions here.

As Fashion Industry Embraces 3D Prototyping, It Finds Seeing Is Believing — And Buying


Virtualization has transformed the manufacturing sector. By creating 3D renderings of parts and testing them virtually, companies can design, prototype and mass-produce goods faster and and with smaller margins of error than ever before. And now the fashion industry is getting in on the fun.

As the Los Angeles Times points out, retailer Betabrand is making good use of this technique. Its designers create 3D renderings of products — detailed enough to give customers a good idea of what they’d be buying — poll their audience to gauge demand and then ship the designs off for manufacturing.

Not only can this method shave half a year or more off companies’ go-to-market timelines, according to the paper, it also gives them a better idea of whether a product will sell like hot cakes — or sit on the shelf until the next 50% off sale. “Retailers and brands who are embracing this are going to be winners of the future,” David Bassuk, managing director of consulting group AlixPartners, told the Times. “This is flipping the business model on its head.”

Read more about how digital techniques are transforming the fashion industry here.

The Millennial Dilemma: Too Many Smartphones And Not Enough Bandwidth


By Mike Montgomery

There is no denying that we live in a world dominated by “connected” technology. Since the internet was introduced to the public in 1990, the U.S. has been riding an unprecedented wave of innovation powered by the web.

It seems like a crazy concept at this point, but many Americans still remember using an encyclopedia instead of Google, plotting a road trip on a paper map instead of asking a virtual assistant for directions, and physically going to the bank to make a deposit instead of taking a picture on an app.

And while many of us still remember these “hardships” (wink, wink), explaining the “pre-internet” world to most millennials and Generation Z youths is equivalent to prior generations trying to explain to Baby Boomers what life was like before electricity – simply unfathomable.

Millennials are going to overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation in 2019 – officially making the millennial generation the driving force behind the US economy. This means that moving forward, the majority of the US population will have largely grown up in a world where connectivity has been an essential utility. The same way Baby Boomers have always expected the lights to come on when they flipped the switch, millennials and all future generations will expect to connect when they tap the screen of their smartphone.

The Pew Research Center says 100% of Americans age 18 to 29 own a cellphone, with 94% owning a smartphone. The numbers are nearly as impressive for those ages 30 to 49, where 98% own a mobile phone and 89% of those are smartphones. Further, nearly 30% of 18- to 29-year-olds have no internet connection at home and solely rely on mobile for internet access.

The frequency of use is also mind boggling. A separate survey from Pew found that 89% of smartphone users go online daily, while nearly four out of 10 18- to 29-year-olds go online “almost constantly.”

This insatiable appetite for connectivity has led to a 238% increase in data consumption over the last two years alone. Further, Cisco predicts that global mobile data traffic will increase to 49 exabytes per month by 2021 – a seven-fold increase from the average in 2016.

While the increased use of connected technology has certainly made our society more efficient, we are at a tipping point where our networks and infrastructure must be modernized to deal with the massive demand for data.

In short, our networks must be upgraded from 4G to 5G. 5G will be 20 times faster, handle 100 times the capacity and decrease latency 10 times compared to 4G. This increase in speed and efficiency will not only create a better smartphone experience, but also will ultimately allow 5G to enable innovations such as autonomous vehicles, drone delivery and more.

However, before 5G can become a reality, we must lay the foundation. 5G will require much denser networks and more connection points. Robust deployment of next-generation infrastructure known as small cells underpinned by fiber optic cable is a requirement for 5G.

In addition to serving as the foundation for 5G, small cells will help immediately relieve network congestion today, improving users’ immediate 4G experience. You may not know it, but if you have been to a major sporting event, rally, or concert and noticed your phone was still working despite the large crowd, you likely have already reaped the benefits of a small cell densification.

Despite being the adoption leader in mobile technology, the U.S. ranked 43rd in the world for mobile download speeds in the first half of 2018 – a big reason being slow small cell deployment.

Why is infrastructure deployment moving slower in the U.S.? As most things do, it starts at the local level. Far too many municipalities are actively impeding small deployment in communities with long wait times for permits, unreasonable fees and convoluted regulations.

The Federal Communications Commission took steps to speed up the permitting process earlier this year by streamlining the federal review process for installing small cells and voted again earlier this month to make additional spectrum available to support 5G networks.

But we need more help.

The FCC should move more aggressively to eliminate regulatory barriers to 5G and localities should do all they can to encourage 5G deployment by establishing a transparent and simple process for small cell deployment.

Getting 5G up and running as fast as possible and ensuring we have the best available 4G access in the interim is vital to the continued success of our country. The wireless industry alone contributes around $475 billion annually to the total U.S. GDP and supports 4.7 million jobs.

As our country continues to evolve and mobile-centric generations become the backbone of society, wireless connectivity will continue to grow in importance. As such, we must do all we can today to ensure we have the best available networks now and in the future.

Nike Goes Digital With LA Concept Store


Nike has always been excellent at marketing its Swoosh according to each generation’s whims. And now that Nike has launched a data-driven store in Los Angeles, the 54-year-old sportswear and apparel retailer just might be even more appealing to digital-age shoppers.

Curbside service, “swoosh texting” for immediate customer attention and NikePlus app purchases that are delivered to a locker are all part of this new concept store’s plan. The Nike Live concept store — called Nike by Melrose — will also organize its floor and stock its shelves according to real-time purchases and trending desires. “It certainly differentiates Nike, will generate lots of traffic and make their brand more valuable,” retail brands expert Denise Lee Yohn told the Los Angeles Times. “The future of retail is personal—customers want what they want, when/how/where they want it—and it sounds like Nike is using tech devices and data to help serve customers’ individual needs.”

Read more about the store opening, its digital perks and how it fits into recent retailer strategies here.

Do You Want Fries With That? Burger Bot Will Hook You Up.

The future we’ve been waiting for is finally here: a robot that makes burgers.


The future we’ve been waiting for is finally here: a robot that makes burgers.

The robot, developed by San Francisco-based startup Creator, is a transparent culinary wizard that makes customized burgers in a matter of minutes. It automates the process from start to finish: preparing the bun, grinding the meat, slicing the vegetables and melting the cheese — all made to order, for what Creator hopes will be the freshest burger available in a restaurant.

Creator is on the verge of opening its first robot kitchen in San Francisco, according to Wired. Until then, we’ll have to settle for watching (and drooling) from afar: