5 Crazy/Cool Things That Happened This Week (April 28th, 2017)

by Srikar Kalvakolanu

Sergey Brin’s Secret Airship, 3D-Printed Buildings, and RoboBees

Big Incumbents and Small Disruptors alike, it’s a nice time to look back and see some of the weird, crazy, and cool things that transpired over the week in the world of technology.

1. Ne-Yo invests in the Holberton School for full-stack engineers.

Now, Ne-Yo isnt solely the reason why this is cool, but don’t worry, Ne-Yo didn't need this to be cool (‘So Sick’ is still featured in some of my Spotify playlists). This is really coming together at a time where public investments by celebrities are becoming more common: Jay-Z launched Arrive, Kobe went from the court to VC—and my personal favorite—Nas heads up QueensBridge Venture Partners. Investment in general is becoming much more of a part of the personal brand of the investors rather than just a simple side-business. If you think back to the 1990s, you rarely saw individuals be so publicly involved with investments, so it’s pretty neat to see a flurry of these come within the past year or so.

2. Amazon launches the Echo Look.

Amazon put a new banner on their homepage recently announcing a new product in their Echo Line: Echo Look. Basically, this functions as a full version of the Echo (Alexa), but adds a camera to take pictures of you to determine better style choices and to track your style over the month. You can go to Amazon and request an invitation to purchase one for $200—a $20 premium over the regular Echo. In the meantime, the feature currently sits on the iPhone Amazon App. I was messing around with the outfit compare feature at the office, and apparently my fashion sensibilities were always wrong—but hey, maybe Amazon knows something that I don’t.

3. Sergey Brin is building a massive airship.

Now, I’m glad I stumbled upon this one. This is quite possibly proof of the Illuminati or something like that. But apparently, Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google (now Alphabet) has a huge “airship” in the shape of Zeppelin inside Hangar Two at NASA’s Ames Research Center. Nobody is really sure what this is for or what it does, and Brin himself has not publicly commented about it.

4. MIT built a robot that can 3-D print a building.

This news follows a recent slew of media for Apis Cor—they’re awesome, and I highly recommend checking them out via their website or via YouTube. This sort of stuff is just incredible to imagine how much more efficiently we can create structures and buildings. I think the future of this revolves around building structures with reusable materials so people can move more often and to be able to augment current buildings (vertically) to make more efficient use of space.

5. RoboBees, City Sanctuaries, and Hot Hives.

So, we’re in a beepocalypse, and a ton of our bee populations are dying. That’s bad news because bees (outside of just stinging you) actually tend to help pollination happen for around 80% of consumable plants that are considered insect-pollenized (those make up about 1/3 of our diet). So, the logical solution to this problem is, make bees better or make it easier for them to survive. So bee keepers and farmers are using hot hives to keep bees safe from mites who are killing the bees. Now, this wouldn’t have made the list this week, save for Harvard having a thought experiment about having a world without bees completely. So, they built a robotic bee that’s hardier than the regular bees and accomplishes the pollination that’s critical to our lives as humans. Bravo!