CoralBeat Wins First NASA App Challenge in Hawaii

The threat that climate change and human activity poses to the world’s coral reefs was the focus of the winning entry in Hawaii’s first NASA Space Apps Challenge event.

CoralBeat won “Best Overall App” at the Honolulu competition, which was held at the Manoa Innovation Center from April 22-24. The diverse team included coders, scientists and science enthusiasts, and subject matter experts from NOAA and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.

CoralBeat is an app focused on coral bleaching in Hawaii, with an interactive map that displays years of NASA satellite data depicting sea surface temperatures observed over the entire globe. An animation in the app shows how the ocean has warmed during the most recent El Niño event.

Read more

KeckWatch App Fuels Fans of Astronomy

Today, W. M. Keck Observatory launched a new smartphone app to stoke the curiosity and wonder of astronomy. KeckWatch offers mankind’s collected knowledge of the cosmos on the screen of your iOS device.

In addition to being able to easily identify stars and planets with both conventional and Hawaiian names, it offers a unique glimpse through the gigantic eyes of the Keck I and Keck II telescopes, the two largest and most scientifically productive telescope on Earth. The app was built by First Light Design, the makers of category-defining app Distant Suns, and can be can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store today.

“Our work studying the cosmos these past two decades has led to remarkable understandings of our Universe and has placed Hawaii as the premiere location on Earth for astronomical research,” said Hilton Lewis, director of Keck Observatory.

Read more

Solar Impulse Extends Hawaii Stay through April 2016

The solar powered airplane of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will stay in Hawaii until early spring 2016, despite early efforts to repair the batteries which overheated in the record breaking oceanic flight from Nagoya to Hawaii.

Following the longest and most difficult leg of the round-the-world journey — which lasted five days and five nights (117 hours and 52 minutes) — Solar Impulse will undergo maintenance repairs on the batteries due to damages brought about by overheating.

“After checking what happened, we came to the conclusion that we preferred to change these batteries before going further in the flight around the world,” said Borschberg in a special interview with Bytemarks Cafe on Hawaii Public Radio that will air later today. “And it’s not so simple, it’s not like changing the batteries of a car, it’s a bit more complex, so it will take more time.”

Read more

Latest crew set for 8-month simulated Mars mission

The six astronaut-like crew members of the next Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) mission starting October 15 will be isolated in their dome habitat for eight months. This mission is twice as long as any previously completed at the Hawaiʻi site, and second only to Russia’s Mars500 experiment in total duration.

Also, for the first time, HI-SEAS will have a female commander. In NASA history, only two women have ever commanded the spaceship: astronauts Eileen Collins in July 1999, and Pamela Melroy in November 2007.

For true space flight, the commander role requires previous astronaut experience as well as at least 1,000 hours experience piloting a jet aircraft. For HI-SEAS, Commander Martha Lenio was selected based on feedback from fellow crew members and from instructors of the National Outdoor Leadership Skills course that both NASA and HI-SEAS require of their teams in training.

Read more

Energy Excelerator announces latest cohort

The Energy Excelerator selected 17 startups from a pool of high quality applicants to transform Hawaii’s energy system. Fifty percent of the new portfolio startups has principal team members with previous exits.

“We are excited to work with a new cohort of startups with a ton of experience in running successful companies,” says Dawn Lippert, Director of the Energy Excelerator. “These are really smart people that have vetted technologies and are eager to partner with our local businesses to help solve some of our most difficult energy challenges.”

The Energy Excelerator’s goal is to strategically address Hawaii’s energy challenges across many different sectors. The 2015 cohort consists of startups with innovative solutions for the State’s energy, transportation, water, and agriculture industries.

Read more

Three UH scientists selected for Mars rover teams

NASA has announced the selection of seven science instruments to be included on the Mars 2020 rover. Three scientists from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) — Sarah Fagents, Shiv Sharma and Anupam Misra — will be members on the instrument teams to conduct unprecedented science and exploration technology investigations on the Red Planet. The new rover will carry sophisticated hardware and instruments to perform geological assessments of the rover’s landing site, determine the potential habitability of the environment, and directly search for signs of ancient Martian life.

Read more

New Partnership Uses Technology to Assist Public with Legal Forms

The Hawaii State Public Library System will provide access to the Self-Help Interactive Forms on their 800 library computers and 250 netbooks statewide. Legal Aid kicked off their first training session for library staff on Wednesday, and will be providing similar trainings across the state to demonstrate how to navigate the new software. The software also includes a new chat feature to enable individuals to ask questions directly to Legal Aid about the self-help forms on its LawHelp website.

Read more

Honolulu happy hour app taps new beacon tech

Happy Hour Pal, a Honolulu-based startup, is the first business to deploy beacon technology into restaurants and bars throughout the state.

Happy Hour Pal is a searchable website and free GPS-based mobile app that allows people to save money while dining out, by locating happy hour specials in their area. Integrating beacon technology will make Happy Hour Pal even easier for users to identify nearby happy hour specials, and provide local businesses an effortless opportunity to engage directly with customers and increase awareness and sales during the most powerful internal promotion – happy hour.

Happy Hour Pal’s website and mobile app users can search for happy hour specials by food, drink, time, and location, and easily access happy hour menus and daily specials for each business. Users can share information via text message and email, and invite friends to join them for happy hour. Users can also earn points for rewards when they check in to a business on the app.

Read more

Leaf Doctor: UH plant expert launches third app

Fresh from his success with two widely utilized smartphone apps, plant pathologist Scot Nelson has created a new and more technical app, the Leaf Doctor, for a more specialized audience.

Nelson, who works at the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawaii, doesn’t anticipate that the Leaf Doctor will have the same broad, popular appeal as his Plant Doctor app. For many of those who will use the Leaf Doctor, though, it is likely to be a professional game-changer.

The Leaf Doctor focuses on the finer points of diagnosing plant diseases.

Read more

Hawaii hosts first VEX robotics state championships

Forty middle and high school VEX robotics teams from across the state will compete in the first-ever Hawaii VEX State Championship on Dec. 20-21, 2013 at Honolulu Community College. The event is free and open to the public.

“For the robotics teams and individuals, the state Championship is a brand new event comparable to regional Olympics in terms of the level of competition, skill and discipline required,” said Art Kimura of the VEX Steering Committee. “In this ‘sport,’ the students are using science, technology, engineering and math skills to maneuver their robots in a fast-paced, exciting game challenge to score points. While they are having fun, the students also are developing life skills that are vital to success in a 21st century global market.”

Read more

UH robotic vessel research earns new partnership

The University of Hawaii’s Unmanned Port Security Vessel (UPSV) is a robotic platform designed to support maritime missions in harbor and port environments including infrastructure inspection and incident response and recovery, and harbor surveillance. The UPSV was designed and built in Hawaii by UH researchers, students and contractors. UH Principal Investigator Brian Bingham demonstrated the vessel’s capabilities at Honolulu Harbor today.

Rapidly deployable, the vessel can be used to map the seafloor in high resolution, photograph critical infrastructure below and above the waterline, detect chemical leaks or spills, and relay real-time video—all at the same time. This made-in-Hawaii technology can provide critical decision support to first-responders and other maritime security personnel around the world. Interest in UH’s UPSV technology has led to a business development agreement with a global innovation leader Battelle.

Read more

Hawaii ‘Energy Excelerator’ gets $30M from Navy

The Navy’s Office of Naval Research, under the Asia Pacific Technology Education Program, announced today that it will invest $30 million dollars in the Hawaii-based Energy Excelerator. The new Navy commitment triples the funding that the program operated with over the past three years, showing that they recognize the value of Hawaii as an ideal place for new energy innovation.

The Energy Excelerator funds seed-stage and growth-stage startups with compelling energy solutions and immediate application in Hawaii.

Read more

Hawaiian Telcom to acquire datacenter firm

Hawaiian Telcom today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire SystemMetrics Corporation. The cash transaction is valued at approximately $16 million, according to Hawaiian Telcom. SystemMetrics is a Honolulu-based data center firm that currently generates annual revenues of approximately $8 million, and will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hawaiian Telcom Services Company.

Read more

Design community to focus on homeless

The local homeless population is incredibly diverse, and a unified visual language could help human services agencies and other community groups cross language barriers in reaching those in need. On Saturday, civic-minded geeks will come together to explore the creation of universal symbols to serve the homeless and those who work with them at Hawaii’s first IconLocal.

IconLocals are local design workshops supported by The Noun Project, an international movement to build a global visual language that everyone can understand. IconLocal events have been held in cities across the country with partners ranging from the American Red Cross to the New York Times. They have tackled topics ranging from energy to agriculture to human rights.

Read more

Local startup aims to help other startups

Is it possible to grow a bootstrapped tech startup in Hawaii? A new boutique solutions and product-focused tech business, Sudokrew Solutions, is looking to answer this question.

Sudokrew is led by local talent Jason Sewell and Spencer Toyama. Sewell is the former lead developer for Outrigger Hotels & Resorts, and Toyama is the former operations director of Kinetiq Labs and the Pele-Award winning Agency Collaborative.

“There are many incredible web developers and designers in Hawaii building the front-facing websites for our local community, and we really want to differentiate our services by focusing on development and enterprise solutions.” stated Spencer Toyama.

Read more