scorecardresearch Skip to main content
The Hive

At Boston gathering, a call to bolster global research

Bounce Imaging’s Francisco Aguilar has a working model of his firm’s safety device.MIKE STOTTS

Highlights from, Boston’s source for innovation news.

The IDEAS Boston conference at UMass Boston last week was full of, well, ideas on subjects ranging from three-dimensional printing to saving seafood.

( was a media sponsor.)

A couple of presenters who stood out: Seeding Labs founder Nina Dudnick, who collects and ships used lab equipment to developing countries, and Bounce Imaging founder Francisco Aguilar, whose baseball-size camera ball can be tossed into a dangerous area to give soldiers or police officers a view of whatever they face.

Last year, Seeding Labs hosted six scientists and researchers from Kenya, one of whom was a chemist, Mildred Nawiri, who is studying how certain vegetables that are indigenous to West Africa might help prevent cancer.


On Wednesday, Dudnick pointed to Nawiri’s research as an example of work that is unlikely to be done in the United States, because the vegetables she is studying do not grow here.

And whatever benefits she might discover could go unrealized without modern equipment. Before Seeding Labs, Nawiri was using techniques Western scientists employed in the 1800s, Dudnick said.

“What are we losing when we lose the contributions of scientists like Mildred around the world?” Dudnick asked.

“This talent really is everywhere. The problems that face us, like cancer, don’t respect boundaries drawn on a map, so why should our scientific community?”

Meanwhile, Bounce Imaging has a working model, called the Explorer, loaded with six cameras that snap hundreds of images when tossed into a dangerous place officers or soldiers might not be able to enter safely.

Corresponding software stitches the photos together to provide 360-degree views of the situation.

The Explorer also has a microphone and can be outfitted with sensors to detect hazardous chemicals.

Similar devices already exist, but “the problem is they’re generally way too expensive — certainly for a developing country — but even for a local search-and-rescue department,” Aguilar said. “And second, they’re pretty hard to operate.”


Bounce Imaging’s goal is to make its orb available for about $700 — inexpensive enough for police departments to purchase in volume.


Nuance R&D team locates in Cambridge

Nuance Communications Inc., a Burlington company whose speech-recognition technology has shown up in Apple iPhones, Ford automobiles, and Panasonic televisions, has opened a mobile innovation center in Central Square.

Consumers may also know Nuance for its Dragon Naturally Speaking software.

The center “is home to the expanding Boston-area segment of Nuance’s R&D team dedicated to advancing breakthroughs in voice recognition, natural language, and user interface technologies that are reinventing the relationship between people and technology,” Nuance said.

The center follows Nuance’s 2011 acquisition of Vlingo, which makes a voice-to-text tool and was based in Harvard Square.


For digital masters-in-making, a free class

Boston’s new District Hall is many things: event space, coffee shop, meeting room, restaurant. Add one more to the list: dojo.

No, Mr. Miyagi is not coming to South Boston.

But the city’s young grasshoppers will have a chance on Nov. 23 to learn what you might call digital karate: Web and mobile development, computer programming, and game design.

The one-day session will be led by the nonprofit CoderDojo, which runs youth computer clubs in 27 countries, and will be sponsored by Waltham venture capital firm Polaris Partners. It’s free for kids ages 10 to 14.

The sensei will be CoderDojo founder James Whelton, a teacher who started the organization two years ago with a single computer club at his school in Cork, Ireland.


Whelton launched the Hello World Foundation this year to support CoderDojo’s growing network of computer clubs, and Polaris has signed on as the foundation’s first corporate sponsor.

“CoderDojo is an investment in our collective future,” Polaris managing partner Dave Barrett said.

“Imagine the entrepreneurial power of a new generation that can thrive technologically in the same manner that our generation did in areas such as athletics and the arts.

“We are supporting something very special here.”