The Hyperloop – by Leesa Shapiro

The Hyperloop — a rapid-transit project proposed by entrepreneur Elon Musk two years ago — may be edging closer to reality. Musk intends to set up a test track in California, and a company called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has similar plans. “We’re not going to get up to 760 miles an hour, but we believe we can actually break the records that are existing right now, and it’s a necessary phase before we go and build a full scale, full length model,” said HTT’s Dirk Ahlborn in a recent interview with Leesa Shapiro.

Customize Your Audio Experience – by Leesa Shapiro

Doppler Labs, which is developing earbuds that allow users to customize their audio experience, has brought in $17 million in a Series B round. The earbuds could enhance the live-music experience by allowing listeners to fiddle with bass levels or audio effects. “Live music is inherently imperfect and suboptimal,” said the company’s CEO, Noah Kraft in a discussion with Leesa Shapiro.

Before the Emoji – by Leesa Shapiro

On Sept. 19, 1982, artificial-intelligence researcher Scott Fahlman created the smiley-face emoticon as a way to indicate what was a joke and what wasn’t on early electronic message boards. He commemorates the event each year with a plate of smiley-face cookies and says he’s startled at the independent life his invention has taken on. “Sometimes I know how Dr. Frankenstein felt,” he said in an interview with Leesa Shapiro.

Innovations Weren’t Properly Appreciated Until Later Years – by Leesa Shapiro

The Wright brothers’ 1903 flight and many other inventions and innovations weren’t properly appreciated until years later, writes Morgan Housel. “This process can take years, or decades. It always looks like we haven’t innovated in 10 or 20 years because it takes 10 or 20 years to notice an innovation,” Housel said in a recent interview with Leesa Shapiro.

Data May Paint A Different Story – by Leesa Shapiro

You might assume that employees are satisfied or that customers value your product, but the data may paint a different story, writes Asha Saxena, president and CEO of Future Technologies. Combining your intuition with the data available to you will make you a more effective leader, she said in a discussion with Leesa Shapiro.

The Bucket Program – by Leesa Shapiro

Facebook named the “Ice Bucket Challenge” one of the past year’s top social-marketing campaigns for helping the ALS Association reach 440 million people without paying a cent.  The Facebook Awards, timed to coincide with the Cannes Lions festival, also recognized Procter & Gamble’s #LikeAGirl campaign, Kia Motors’ viral video game and Mercedes’ “Build a GLA” feature on Instagram, according to Leesa Shapiro.

Make an effort to follow through – by Leesa Shapiro

Some crowdfunded projects fail to materialize, but a recent move by the Federal Trade Commission suggests that project creators must at least make a good-faith effort to follow through.  According to Leesa Shapiro, the agency is taking action over The Doom That Came to Atlantic City, a board-game project that failed to deliver despite raising about $122,000. The FTC determined that the project’s creator spent the money on moving and other things unrelated to the board game.

Helping farmers with their water – by Leesa Shapiro

A startup called PowWow combines information gained from aerial imagery and other sources to help farmers manage their water use. The company has brought in $3 million through grants and angel investors. “Our job during the grant project is to show we can do it not only for 20 farms, but to scale as a software business to sign up to 20,000 farms,” said CEO Olivier Jerphagnon in an interview with Leesa Shapiro.