Could Chrona Be the Key to Deeper Sleep? These Wash. U. Grads Say Yes

Categories: Bidness, Tech

Courtesy of Ultradia
Ultradia cofounders Ben Bronsther (left) and Zimin Hang think they've cracked the code to deeper, more restorative sleep.
Zimin Hang and Ben Bronsther didn't set out to improve sleep. Like many entrepreneurs before them, the young Washington University grads merely thought they could measure it better.

They wanted to invent a device that would allow sleep research to be conducted in the patient's own bedroom. Instead of intrusive caps that require study subjects to spend nights wired up in a lab, what about sensor sheets that could be tucked beneath their pillowcases to measure sleep patterns? Perfect the technology, and researchers would surely line up, checkbooks in hand.

"We spent so much time and money on a patent to protect the technology that would do that," Hang admits. "The technology literally doesn't exist yet -- but we have the patent."

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Obama Praises St. Louis, LaunchCode as National Example of High-Tech Job Training

Categories: Tech

Courtesy of LaunchCode
President Barack Obama praised St. Louis nonprofit LaunchCode for training and matching low-skill workers to high-paying tech jobs.
Before President Barack Obama touted her as an example of America's future tech workforce, LaShana Lewis was a college dropout from East St. Louis, Illinois, driving buses to make ends meet.

"I came back home [from college] with all of this computer knowledge but not a degree, and there was nothing for me to do," Lewis told Daily RFT in January. "Most people were looking for secretaries, not for a black girl from East St. Louis to do coding."

Lewis left East St. Louis to study software coding at Michigan Technological University, where she was the only black woman in her program, until her money ran out. When she returned home without a bachelor's degree, employers told her she wasn't qualified to work in coding.

Until, that is, she found LaunchCode, the St. Louis nonprofit that matches people like Lewis with coding internships at local employers, including MasterCard, Lockerdome and Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and LaunchCode's all-women coding meetup, CoderGirl.

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St. Louis Totally Won That Twitter War With Kansas City About Startup Weekend

Categories: Tech

Phil Leara via Flickr
Sorry, Kansas City, but St. Louis is forever the Gateway to the Best.
The battle is won, but the war is not over.

St. Louis and Kansas City are both hosting Startup Weekend EDU events later this month, where entrepreneurs turn their ideas into startups over 54 action-packed hours and compete to get funding. (Remember Invisible Girlfriend and Invisible Boyfriend? That was a Startup Weekend-winning idea.)

St. Louis' Startup Weekend EDU starts Friday, January 16, at the Cortex Innovation Community. And since Kansas City's is the weekend after, organizers thought they'd make the whole thing a little more interesting by introducing a wager: the city with the most attendees wins a sample of the loser city's best food, tickets to a professional indoor soccer match and, of course, bragging rights.

On Wednesday, Missouri's sister cities unleashed their sibling rivalry in a good ol' fashioned Twitter war. And while Daily RFT can admit we're biased in favor of the Lou, it's obvious to anyone and everyone that St. Louis totally won.

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Popular Mechanics Names St. Louis the No. 1 Startup City in America

Categories: Tech

kosheahan via flickr
St. Louis: the top city in America for startups.
Move over, Brooklyn and San Francisco. The second wave of the startup economy is here, and St. Louis is leading the way.

A new ranking from Popular Mechanics magazine names St. Louis as the top startup city in America thanks to the city's Arch Grants program, cheap rent, great restaurants and craft breweries, supportive elected officials and colleges, and recent revitalization.

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[VIDEO] How CoderGirl Helps St. Louis Women Learn Skills, Find Jobs in Tech

Categories: Tech

Courtesy of LaunchCode
CoderGirl gives women a weekly space to learn coding and computer skills that can lead to future jobs.
LaShana Lewis has the ambition, dedication and know-how to make it as a software engineer. But without a bachelor's degree, she had no chance of getting a job.

So when the money for Lewis' tuition at Michigan Technological University ran out, she came home to East St. Louis to look for a different career -- or at least a job to help her get by.

"I came back home with all of this computer knowledge but not a degree, and there was nothing for me to do," Lewis tells Daily RFT. "Most people were looking for secretaries, not for a black girl from East St. Louis to do coding."

Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville hired her to drive students from school to tutoring, though organizers eventually discovered her untapped skills and called her into the computer lab for help.

But Lewis knew she was capable of more.

"That's been my ambition is trying to get into the [computer programming] field, but that one thing was holding me back," Lewis says about not having a bachelor's degree.

All that changed when Lewis found CoderGirls.

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Coolest Final Exam Ever: Engineering Students Build, Race Motorized Couches [VIDEO]

Categories: Tech

Photos by Jon Silberhorn
This is what a final exam looks like at Missouri S&T.
While students in St. Louis were pouring over books and computer screens to prepare for finals, students at Missouri University of Science and Technology were doing something far more awesome:

Racing motorized couches.

Sophomore and junior students in Ryan Hutcheson's class, introduction to design and engineering, got to choose which group project they wanted for their final exams. Two groups built powered beer can crushers that Hutcheson called "ridiculously overpowered," and one team build a remote-controlled tank equipped with its own t-shirt cannon.

But the other three groups decided to go head-to-head in turning old couches into racers.

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Holiday Gift Guide: $30 Fake Girlfriend or Boyfriend Comes with Real Voicemails, Notes

Categories: Tech

geezaweezer via flickr
She doesn't, really, but she'll pretend to for $29.99.
It's the most wonderful time of the year...unless you're single and your parents/grandparents/cousins/annoying family members want to ask you a million questions about it.

Before the winter holidays start in earnest and the barrage of questions about your personal life is unleashed ("Why haven't you met someone? Is it because you dress like that? Don't you smile more?"), Daily RFT thought we'd share one of the most unique holiday gift ideas we've seen this season -- something conceived and built by a St. Louis startup.

Invisible Girlfriend and Invisible Boyfriend, the winners of the 2013 Startup Weekend St. Louis, are selling a "Girlfriend/Boyfriend-in-a-Box," a one-month subscription to the startup's fake love services -- including fake texts, voicemails and handwritten notes -- for $29.99. The startup partnered with Greetabl greeting card company, so every girlfriend-in-a-box comes with a special gift box and a handwritten message from the sender.

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High-Speed Fiber Internet Is Coming to the Loop

Categories: Tech

Photo by Mitch Ryals
The fiber-optic cable goes inside the blue tube, which will go under the streets.
Gigabit Internet is coming to the Loop, thanks in part to the $43 million Loop trolley line. The 1,000-megabit Internet connection should be available within the next eighteen months.

David Sandel, the program director for the Loop Media Hub, the nonprofit company that will bring one-gigabit fiber Internet to the Loop, helped implement a similar plan for the Google Fiber initiative in Kansas City. When he attended an economic impact meeting for the Loop Trolley four years ago in St. Louis, a light bulb clicked on.

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Six Things to Know About Bringing High-Speed Fiber to St. Louis

File photo
Is the sun setting on St. Louis' opportunity for ultra high-speed fiber?

Four years ago Google announced that it would test an ultra-high-speed fiber network in one United States city before exploring how to deploy similar networks across the country. With a speed of about 100 times faster than the standard Internet connection -- one gigabit per second -- Google Fiber in 2010 held the promise of revolutionizing productivity while increasing jobs and sparking an economic boom.

Naturally, St. Louis wanted a piece of that action. Mayor Francis Slay's office put together an application detailing why the Gateway City should be Google's guinea pig and even PC World backed St. Louis as a good candidate for high-speed broadband.

Alas, Google's fancy-pants network went to St. Louis' cross-state rival Kansas City, which has attracted new business to the region thanks to its newfound high-speed access. In fact, we didn't even land on Google's list of post-KC cities that would receive the fiber treatment. But that doesn't mean St. Louis has forgotten about the endeavor.

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Chicago Startup Moves to St. Louis, Helps Users "Dabble" in New Hobbies with Cheap Classes

Categories: Tech

Thanks to a $50,000 Arch Grant, Dabble is moving to St. Louis.
Ever wish you could learn a new skill, trade or hobby without shelling out the big bucks for a weeks-long class?

Or better yet, have you mastered a skill, trade or hobby so well that you think people should pay you to teach them?

Then you should know about Dabble. After three years and over 2,000 classes in Chicago, the startup that matches experts with students looking for cheap, one-time classes, has moved to St. Louis, thanks to a $50,000 Arch Grant.

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