Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Startups that Make a College Student’s Life Easier

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

“Baby, you can drive my car….” P2P car-sharing company Wheelz launched at Stanford last fall.

Kevin Hsu is a sophomore at Stanford studying electrical engineering. An avid tech enthusiast, he regularly reads technology blogs because they inspire him to think about how current technology can be applied in new ways.  Kevin writes for TheDishDaily.

Visiting home this Thanksgiving break has reminded me how grateful I am for my family and friends. Being a college student in an increasingly technology-driven world, I would also like to extend my appreciation to the following companies, for delivering on the promise of technology in making our lives easier:

1)     Spotify: I still remember the days when I manually managed my music libraries. The music-streaming program Spotify has made that a thing of the past. With Spotify, I am able to listen to almost any song I want for free, and the emphasis on playlists makes organization easy. I maintain different playlists for different moods I am in, like studying and relaxing. The ability to share and receive songs with friends, and discover new songs makes this the only music program I need. Because I usually have my laptop with me on a Wifi-blanketed campus, I am currently not paying for Spotify Premium. Over the summer when I was interning in the Bay area, I did subscribe for offline music during my commute.

2)     Amazon: Living on a college campus, I turn to Amazon for most of my shopping needs. I used to dread online shopping because of the long shipping times, but free two-day shipping has all but erased that. What started out as a student trial of Amazon Prime turned into a subscription, and I don’t regret it at all. I am able to quickly receive items without ever having to step foot off campus. The ability to create recurring shipments for my frequently used items is especially useful. I have snacks, tissues, and toothpaste automatically arrive once every few months; that’s one less thing I have to worry about.

3)     Wheelz: I don’t keep a car on campus, but for the times when I want to go off campus, I use Wheelz. This car sharing service enables me to rent a car and grab a bite or go on spontaneous adventures with friends at any time. My favorite thing about Wheelz is the variety of cars it offers. Sometimes, I like renting a Toyota Rav4 because I used to drive one, and it brings back nostalgic memories of outings back home. Other times, I try out a car I have never driven, or rent a larger car if I want to take more people. Good customer service, a well-designed mobile app with remote unlocking, and low prices make Wheelz my primary car-rental service.

4)     Lastly, I appreciate the companies working to bring futuristic technologies into today’s society. As technology becomes increasingly advanced, I believe that the future lies in unobtrusively integrated devices that make our lives easier. Google’s Project Glass and driverless cars, and a new wave of wearable sensor and home automation products from companies such as FitBit and Electric Imp, are doing just that, and they have me excited for what the future of technology holds. Maybe one day, we will be able to seamlessly interact with the vast amount of information on the Internet, or self-driving cars will completely eliminate traffic– now there’s a dream.

The Smartphone Expectation

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

A few days ago, the iPhone turned 5 years old. Since it first hit shelves, Apple has released just as many versions of the phone as years it’s been sold. Even though it’s an inanimate object, many news outlets across the country decided to acknowledge this turning point for the device. The iPhone, of all the smartphones, has probably led the charge in making these devices seem like a cool, sleek, vital part of any modern person’s life. It’s helped create the illusion that not only should everyone want a smartphone, but that everyone needs one.

It's ironic how the iPhone 5 will actually be the 6th version of the phone released. (credit:

I think this has created a smartphone expectation. This idea that even though this is not the case right now, the connectivity features and access to app stores found in some phones will eventually be the norm for all devices. From your mp3 players to phones to tablets, everything will be connected to the Internet and life will be amazing. Considering so many students’ reactions to the Three Books choices – it appears that we understand that smartphone ownership isn’t a requirement to be a full participant in academia or life in general. (If you haven’t read it, I think there was a fair explanation from Dean Julie about UAR’s choice published about a week later.) But some may say that Stanford’s campus is the poster child for owning a connected device. With wifi seemingly floating through the open air, our campus encourages people to stay connected wherever they are. Although we understand the divisive problems this may cause when students initially come to campus, owning a smartphone eventually seems like the norm.


Stanford Proposes $2.5 Billion NYC Campus

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

A model of Stanford's proposed NYC campus on Roosevelt Island.

With Big Apple-sized ambition, Stanford submitted today its proposal to build a $2.5 billion, 1.9-million-square-foot tech campus called StanfordNYC, responding to Mayor Bloomberg’s request for proposals to turn New York City into the world’s next great high-tech hub. Stanford is proposing a “world-class applied science and engineering campus” on Roosevelt Island, with an emphasis on turning research in engineering, technology, and entrepreneurship into viable businesses. The campus would be at the graduate level only.

So how would all of this come to pass? Here’s how Stanford breaks it down in its 600-page proposal:

If all of this did happen according to plan, Stanford expects some wild results, including the creation of 7,000 construction jobs for New York and over a 100,000 new jobs created within the first 20 to 30 years of the campus. Stanford’s chief competitor is Cornell, which has also submitted a proposal for a Roosevelt Island campus. The deadline for submissions is October 28, and while Stanford expects to hear an answer from the city by the end of the year, the mayor’s office has stated that a decision will likely come in 2012.

This proposal is unquestionably bold, and the job numbers are preliminary at best. But is it quixotic? Stanford’s administration certainly does not think so, and it is ramping up the heat against Cornell to compete for the city’s attention. Cornell cited its already-strong connection to New York through its medical campus as one its big cards, whereas President Hennessy, a native New Yorker, told the New York Times, “We know how to get young people involved in start-ups. Cornell’s disadvantage is all its start-ups put together are smaller than Google.”

Stanford is already a global research institution, and as a student studying abroad in Madrid, I can confirm that its brand has already reached some very far corners of the world. How much more of a presence do we need? StanfordNYC is an intriguing concept, but I would like to see and hear more from Stanford’s administration about why it would be the best use of a major chunk of Stanford’s resources in the upcoming decades. The proposed campus may be far, but the money and manpower will hit pretty close to home.

Stanford goes to Court….

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Future site of the IP smackdown

…and not just any court.  The Supreme Court.

Just this morning, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review an intellectual property case between Stanford University and Roche, a company that focuses on diagnostics and drugs for infectious diseases.

The case, entitled “Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University v. Roche Molecular Systems, Inc.,” will profoundly influence the way America assesses patent rights with regard to university and government funding.

Holodniy's work on PCR for HIV testing are the root of the controversy

The controversy stems from developments in HIV testing using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology conducted by Stanford fellow Mark Holodniy in the late 1980s.  Holodniy’s team relied substantially upon generous research grants provided by Stanford University and the National Institutes of Health, a federal agency.  When Holodniy joined Stanford as a Research Fellow in the Department of Infectious Disease in 1988, he signed a “Copyright and Patent Agreement” (“CPA”) that obligated him to assign his inventions to the university.  The next year, Holodniy began collaborations with local biotech company Cetus Corp.