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Matt's Favorites: Cool New Student Pitch Event, Cool Dodge Tech, UM Startup And More

So it's midweek again, and we're all ready for a warmup. So put another Russian ice dancing judge on the fire and cuddle up to the day's top tech news, first the local and then the global...

* Yup, it's another statewide pitch contest: The Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize will award more than $100,000 in prizes on Feb. 14 to teams of students and researchers from across Michigan. In addition to dollars, it offers participants intensive startup training based on the National Science Foundation's Innovation Corps program. Launched in 2011, I-Corps is a seven-week startup acceleration program designed to help students and researchers identify and evaluate potential applications and business opportunities for their technologies. The new contest will be the first time the I-Corps curriculum is available to undergraduates. The curriculum is being taught by a team of experienced entrepreneurial educators, serial entrepreneurs and investors from across the state. More than 81 teams applied from more than 16 colleges and universities across the state. Judges interviewed teams and selected participants based on their technology, how they differentiate their venture in the marketplace, team experience and commitment. They selected 23 teams, including Safe Sense of Western Michigan University, a head-impact sensor to help detect concussions in football players; Carbon Cash, an app developed by Michigan State University students to help students reduce their carbon footprint;  and Savant, a U of M idea to mine individual patients' genetic information for clues about which cancer treatments would be most effective.  Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at 2 p.m. Feb. 14 at Stamps Auditorium on UM's North Campus. Six finalist teams will be chosen earlier in the day and they will pitch their ventures to the audience before the winners are announced. More at

* High tech congrats to Mopar: The 2014 Dodge Dart with its Uconnect system has received the 2014 Connected Car of the Year award from Connected World Magazine. The Dart's Uconnect system, with the largest- in-class 8.4-inch touch screen, was recognized for delivering communication, navigation and information in a manner that promotes a distraction-free environment. The car also features a 7-inch thin-film transistor LED instrument cluster, heated steering wheel, rear safety motion detection, blind-spot monitoring, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes on all models, an unsurpassed 10 standard air bags and more.

AlertWatch Inc., a University of Michigan startup, has gained U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance to sell its patient monitoring software to hospitals. AlertWatch helps anesthesia providers monitor patients in the operating room. The software aggregates data from physiological monitors, anesthesia records, lab results and medical history to produce a dynamic real-time display of a patient's condition. The system continually analyzes the data and helps determine whether things are normal, marginal or abnormal (green, yellow and red colored icons). Preliminary data from analyzing more than 17,000 surgeries at UM Health System comparing operations using AlertWatch with those not using it show promising results for the system. Ann Arbor-based AlertWatch was founded in 2012 by UM professor and anesthesiologist Dr. Kevin Tremper, chair of the Department of Anesthesiology.

* Merit Network Inc., the nation's oldest academic networking provider, is taking program proposals for its 2014 Merit Member Conference May 21-22 at the Marriott Ann Arbor Eagle Crest in Ypsilanti. Early registration pricing of $179 for Merit Members is available through March 28. Through Feb. 28, you can submit a proposal to become part of the program for this popular annual event. To register for the conference, submit a presentation proposal and learn more, visit Featured speakers will include John C. Dvorak, technology author, columnist and broadcaster. Registration for the Merit Member Conference is open only to Merit members, potential members from higher education, K-12, libraries, government, health care and non-profits, and event sponsors. Others may attend the conference only through special arrangement. Please contact for more information.

* The Ann Arbor New Enterprise Forum will celebrate 28 years of entrepreneurial support with its Feb. 20 meeting, beginning at 5 p.m. at Spark Central, 330 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor. NEF will also honor Jake Sigal with the 2014 NEF Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Showcase presentations will come from Arlyne Simon, vice president of technology development for diagnostic platform developer Phaseiq, and Katie Miller, creative director of Roomations, a crowdsourcing system for interior design.

* The Social Media Club of Detroit will present its series of social media education classes Tuesday, Feb. 25 from 9 to 10 a.m. at the Macomb-OU INCubator at Velocity Collaboration Center, 6633 18 Mile Road, Sterling Heights. Register at this link. Join Social Media Club and B4B Connect for an introduction to Facebook for Business 101. This presentation will be a guide for those looking to build a business presence using Facebook. In this presentation, Mike McClure, executive creative director of The Yaffe Group, will discuss best practices for setting up your page, ideal image sizes, creating events, scheduling posts and more. Learn about new features available to help you increase your reach and grow your fan base.

* Livonia-based Computer Networking Center announced several tech training sessions. Microsoft Office 2010/2013 training will be offered beginning on March 17, offering employees a much deeper understanding of the capabilities of Microsoft Office applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. The company will also offer new classes on computer security awareness training. The training covers e-mail security and protection, spam and phishing, malware and botnet attacks, antivirus and spyware protection, social engineering attacks, login and password security, and more. Training is available at Computer Networking Center's classroom at 38701 Seven Mile Road, Suite 285, or at client sites. Contact Sunil Ajwani at (734) 462-2090 or email to find about Automation Alley member discounts.

And check out these fun Ann Arbor Spark events:

Ann Arbor Spark Presents 'Starting Your Own Business'
Friday, Feb. 21: Looking to start a business? Join Ann Arbor Spark and our community partners from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 21 to learn about personality traits that impact entrepreneurialism, creating a marketing plan for your business, legal, accounting, and risk considerations, product development, business plans and financing options. Attendees have an opportunity to get advice from a variety of business experts and organizations that are available to support new ventures. The venue is Spark East, 215 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti. More at this link.

Ann Arbor Spark Presents 'Selling Smart'
Wednesday, March 5: Ann Arbor Spark will present its monthly Selling Smart Workshop on "Educating with Questions: The Socratic Technique for Sales" from 9 to 11 a.m. at Spark Central, 330 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor. Attendees will learn how to apply reversing strategies and softening statements to get more information, overcome stalls and objections or problems that they encounter with prospects. By using these strategies, they can gain deeper trust and subtly persuade prospects to open up and discuss the real problems they are trying to solve. More at this link.

Ann Arbor Spark Hosts Visual Storytelling: Breathing Life into Numbers
Thursday, Feb. 20: Ann Arbor Spark will host the Southeast Michigan Media Lab event, "Visual Storytelling: Breathing Life into Numbers" from 1 to 3 p.m. Feb. 20 at Spark East, 215 W. Michigan Ave. Ypsilanti. Data is big today, and understanding how to interpret it and share it, using a variety of new digital tools, will help you communicate better with clients, colleagues and a broader audience. Oakland Press reporter Charlie Crumm, who leads a data journalism team at 21st Century Media's Michigan Group, will present on the basics of data journalism and how to visualize numbers in a compelling way. More at this link.

And now, the national stuff. from CBS News, CNet and elsewhere...

* New clues are emerging about the mysterious streaks that appear on Mars' surface during warm weather, though scientists still can't say for sure that they're caused by flowing water. The marks, known as recurring slope lineae (RSL), snake down some crater walls and other inclines when the mercury rises on the Red Planet. New research finds seasonal changes in iron minerals at RSL sites, suggesting that brines containing an iron antifreeze may flow there from time to time — but direct evidence of water remains elusive.

* Closer to home but still in space, NASa is now accepting applications from companies that want to mine the moon.

* Flappy Bird has flown the coop, and its developer has revealed just why the app is no more. In an apparently hush-hush and exclusive interview with Forbes, 29-year-old Dong Nguyen blamed the app's addictive nature for its early departure.

* Astronomers have found what appears to be one of the oldest known stars in the universe. The ancient star formed not long after the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago, according to Australian National University scientists. The star (called SMSS J031300.362670839.3) is located 6,000 light-years from Earth and formed from the remains of a primordial star that was 60 times more massive than the sun. "This is the first time that we've been able to unambiguously say that we've found the chemical fingerprint of a first star," lead scientist Stefan Keller, of the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, said in a statement. "This is one of the first steps in understanding what those first stars were like. What this star has enabled us to do is record the fingerprint of those first stars."

* The U.S. government has picked a Google subsidiary to run and renovate a federal airfield that is frequently used for the personal flights of the Internet company's billionaire executives. The decision announced Monday clears the way for Google's Planetary Ventures LLC to take over management of the 1,000-acre Moffett Federal Airfield, a former U.S. Navy based 4 miles from Google's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. The airfield, which was built in the 1930s, has been managed by NASA's Ames Research Center for the past 23 years.

* Technological innovation can play a key role in winning Olympic gold. The bigger advances, like high-tech bobsleds and speed skating skins, are hard to miss. But there are dozens of lesser-known ways that technology will play a part in Sochi -- in the biathlon, curling, snowboarding, even figure skating.

* Well, if we humans succeed in really screwing up the planet, the joke has always been that cockroaches will take over. Nope. Scientists now say it'll more likely be giant rats.  Laugh if you like. I'll bet the velociraptors laughed at those stupid little mammals running around 70 million years ago, too.

* TV viewers increasingly are watching programs on their own schedule, according to a Nielsen company media study released this week. In the past year, time-shifting of television content grew by almost two hours, averaging 13 hours per month, the study found. Viewers averaged nearly 134 hours of live TV viewing a month in 2013, down nearly three hours from 2012.

* Nanosuits, powerful prosthetics, and brain-computer interfacing seemed far-fetched when the original Robocop movie hit theaters. Now, with a remake nearly three decades later, the plot is closer to reality than you may think.

* The U.S. military is giving big bucks to IBM, Xerox, and others to develop "Mission Impossible"-style tech that explodes or decomposes once it's served its purpose.

* Some people like having a signature perfume or cologne. Having someone recognize your distinctive scent could be flattering, or even romantic. But would you want to have your body odor be your ID signature as you walk through airport security? That's exactly the kind of possibility that the Group of Biometrics, Biosignals, and Security of the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid is researching. Based on analysis of a group of 13 people and using sensors developed by the Ili Sistemas company, the scientists found that there were "recognizable patterns" in a person's body odor that could be used to identify each one with an accuracy rate of at least 85 percent.

* Microsoft's Surface 2 has officially won Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval for all phases of air travel, the company announced on Monday. The FAA's authorization covers classes one and two for the Electronic Flight Bag. Historically, pilots have brought with them on flights a full flight bag consisting of everything from reference documents to checklists to carts. All of that paper used fuel on planes, prompting Delta last year to opt to deploy the Surface 2 to Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 pilots. Pilots of other airplanes will be added this year.

* The US military spends a lot of time and money training world-class snipers, which could be why it's started to look into the use of computerized rifles that can make anybody a sharpshooter. The Army has announced that it made its first purchase of six high-tech rifle kits from smart rifle-maker Tracking Point. The goal is to "begin exploring purported key target acquisition and aiming technologies," said Alton Stewart, the Army's Program Executive Office spokesman.

* Sigh. They're probably removing evolution from the science curriculum in South Carolina. And they wonder why we're so far behind in science.

* They're back and they're bigger than ever: The biggest ever recorded distributed denial of service attack hit the interwebs early Tuesday. 

* Verizon has dropped a $10-a-month home monitoring service for do-it-yourselfers.

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