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12.15.16 | 12:14 pm

Wedding registry platform Zola just snagged $25 million

The company, which launched in 2013, is a hybrid of an e-commerce site and a marketplace. This model ensures that it avoids many of the costs of traditional department store registries, such as inventory holding costs and high return rates. 

It just raised $25 million in Series C funding, led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. Besides allowing couple to register for gifts, experiences, and funds, Zola's technology allows users to personalize their registry with notes and pictures. 

03.29.17 | an hour ago

The glaring economy: These U.S. cities have the most jobs in solar

Finally, a jobs report that looks on the sunny side. The Solar Foundation has new data on the areas of the country that had the most jobs in the solar industry last year. California is a leader in the field, with over 100,000 solar jobs last year, but Rhode Island actually had the most solar jobs per capita. The chart below shows the top 10 metro areas and their growth compared to 2015. The data is part of the foundation's latest "Solar Jobs Census" report. Read the whole thing here.  

Photo: Flickr user Justin Elliott

03.29.17 | 11:58 am

You can now open your Samsung phone with your face

With the launch of the Galaxy S8, Samsung has introduced facial recognition as a biometric feature for safeguarding your phone. I'm at the event in NYC where they just showed off the feature. To open your S8, you hold the phone's front-facing camera up to your face and wait for it to recognize you and navigate to the home screen. If the actual experience is anything like the presentation, this should happen instantly. 

03.29.17 | 11:47 am

Samsung glossed over its battery issues at the Galaxy S8 launch event

"It has been a challenging year for Samsung," said D.J. Koh, Samsung's president of mobile communications, at the top of Samsung's Galaxy S8 debut event today. No doubt, Koh is referring to the Samsung S7 exploding battery disaster and subsequent recall. He said this last year was full of lessons that have helped Samsung tackle product design in a fresh way. 

But when it came time to talk battery, the event's speakers seemed to gloss over its past woes. SVP of Product Justin Denison noted vaguely that safety is incredibly important to the company, adding that they've updated their testing to an eight-point system—beyond what regulators require. What I'd like to know is, what exactly is different? How do we know this new battery isn't going to explode in our hands? It would have been nice to see them sweeping up the mess rather than stepping over it. 

03.29.17 | 11:16 am

Are you seeing a mysterious rocket ship icon in your Facebook news feed?

Facebook has apparently been testing a new feature that would let users experience an alternate news feed—one that draws from content beyond their own networks. TechCrunch reported on the experiment earlier today, noting how some users had spotted a "rocket ship" icon in their mobile apps that took them to the alternate feed. Read more about it here.

03.29.17 | 11:14 am

The first full trailer for Luc Besson’s “Valerian” is as wild as you’d expect

Luc Besson has loved the Valerian and Laureline comics since he was a kid. Now, after wearing its influence on his sleeve in The Fifth Element, the French director has finally brought his first love to the screen. And it looks like an eye-popping mix of Star Wars (the comics pre-date George Lucas's space opera by more than a decade, and the influence is obvious), Avatar, Guardians of the Galaxy, and, as Besson himself described it, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith in space." Whew. After you watch the trailer below, read all about how Luc went about bringing his passion project to the screen

03.29.17 | 11:10 am

The USA women’s hockey team has finally reached a deal over equitable pay

Earlier this month the U.S. women's hockey team announced that they would not play in the upcoming world championship due to unfair compensation. Now, the team has reached a deal with USA Hockey, meaning they will begin playing in the tournament this week, reports the Associated Press

At the heart of the matter was the team's claim that the league exploited its female players and provided them with measly wages and support as compared to their male counterparts. Now a resolution is in place to which both sides agree. 

Per the A.P., here are some of the details:

Coming off making just $1,000 a month for six months around the Olympics, this contract pays players roughly $3,000 a month, with annual compensation surpassing $70,000 when combined with contributions from the United States Olympic Committee.

03.29.17 | 10:37 am

Blue Origin’s 10-minute space ride could cost $200,000—but there will be leather seats

Today, Blue Origin released illustrations of its suborbital space tourism vehicle, dubbed New Shepard. The capsule will have six leather seats arranged in a circle that will offer a large window view and a small screen to track the flight. 

Blue Origin hasn't yet put a price tag on the 10-minute space flight, but experts say that it will cost between $100,000 and $200,000. For about 10 seconds, passengers will experience up to 5Gs during the descent. 

Here in the FastCo News room, we've been wondering what laws will govern the passengers on the flight. The Outer Space Treaty, which was first ratified in 1967, covers such issues such has how different countries should collaborate on scientific experiments. But it doesn't cover many interpersonal issues that happen in space. For instance, what would happen if a sexual assault or a murder happened on board? What court would be responsible for trying such a case? Hit me up at if you have any answers for us. 

03.29.17 | 10:24 am

We need more doctors and nurses. Maybe this online Harvard Med School course can help

The U.S. is facing a major shortage of medical professionals—by some estimates, we will be short 90,000 doctors and more than a million nurses by 2025. 

Harvard Medical School says it wants to help. Today the institution unveiled a certificate program called "HMX Fundamentals," delivered entirely online and designed for prospective clinicians. The full program includes coursework in physiology, immunology, genetics, and biochemistry and costs $1,800.

The school's goal in creating the certificate, says associate dean Michael Parker, is to "encourage the passion and intellect of those considering a medical career."

03.29.17 | 10:15 am

The next Windows 10 update will arrive with a hard sell for augmented reality

Microsoft has set a release date for the next major upgrade to Windows 10. The "Creators Update" will launch on April 11 with an assortment of new features and improvements for PC users, but what Microsoft seems most jazzed about is its push into 3D and mixed reality. The update will include a new 3D Paint app, which lets users create artwork from scratch or with help from pre-made objects. Later this year, users will be able to view those objects in the real world through augmented reality headsets from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo, priced as low as $299.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft's CEO, has been candid about how the company slept through the smartphone revolution, and how Windows 10 could help jump-start the next big thing. But with other tech giants like Apple starting to show interest, Microsoft might not have much time left to get ahead.

Image: Microsoft

03.29.17 | 9:06 am

BuzzFeed could finally go public next year: report

The viral hitmaker has been rumored to be gearing up for an IPO for a long time, and now it looks like that might happen in 2018. That's according to Axios's Mike Allen, who reports that BuzzFeed will emphasize its hybrid business structure (part media company/part tech platform) in its pitch to investors. The company got its second round of NBCUniversal cash late last year, to the tune of $200 million. Said to be worth about $1.7 billion, BuzzFeed is one of three media companies on the unicorn list compiled by CB Insights—the other two being Vice Media and Vox Media.

Photo: Flickr user TechCrunch

03.29.17 | 8:37 am

It’s very convenient timing for the first “An Inconvenient Sequel” trailer to arrive

Under the guise of "eliminating federal overreach" and "job-killing regulations," President Trump signed an executive order yesterday to diminish Obama's policies against climate change. There could be perhaps no better time to release the first trailer for Al Gore's new film, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, which stresses how the need for action on global climate change has only grown more urgent in the 11 years since the original film's release.

03.29.17 | 6:33 am

Domino’s will deliver pizza using sidewalk robots in Germany

The pizza giant has teamed up with the Estonian-based ground robot startup Starship Technologies to begin delivering pizzas in Hamburg, reports Recode. Dominos will use the company's six-wheeled robots that move at about four miles per hour (so, walking speed) and weigh about 40 pounds. The robots will begin delivering pizzas from select Domino's—but only within one mile of those stores—in the next two months.

Image: Starship