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Mall at Robinson leads the charge for the electric car

On a roof across from Houlihan’s, The Mall at Robinson in Pittsburgh has a hidden surprise: solar panels that will power free electric car charging stations the shopping center unveiled last week.

Though the effort may seem small, it could make a difference to forward-thinking car buyers seeking to purchase eco-friendly vehicles including hybrids and electric cars. These cars once cost significantly more than projected savings, but as Chevy, Ford and Mitsubishi roll out lower-end consumer models, owning an electric vehicle is possible for more people. The government has also extended rebates to consumers who buy these cars new. 

However, in order to sell electric vehicles, charging stations need to be readily accessible. Right now, they are not as common as gas stations and take more time to utilize, since electric cars are like phones and don’t get juiced up with a single jolt. “We have a mall walker who comes in every day and charges his car in the morning while he walks,” says Shema Krinsky, spokeswoman for the shopping center.

While malls are not usually the first places that come to mind for sustainability initiatives, this mall has been working for years to reduce its carbon footprint and wants to offer visitors a little education along with their consumerism. A kiosk installed in the food court this week will let shoppers monitor energy created by the solar panels and see the impact of the shopping center’s progress first hand

It's mall manager Beth Edwards' hope that upon seeing the energy savings, visitors will be inspired to examine the impact of their own personal choices on the environment.
 
Over the past eight years, the mall has reduced its kilowatt usage by 43 percent by switching to LED holiday lights among other things, according to its website. Between 2008 and 2013, the mall reduced water usage by 54 percent by switching to low-flow toilets along with other efforts.

And like your hippie friend who wanted to convert an old Mercedes into an eco vehicle, the mall collects used vegetable oil from its restaurants and makes biodiesel, which is distributed for commercial and residential use. Guests drop off used books in a collection bin in the parking lot near JCPenney and Macy's to benefit Robinson Township Library as part of Better World Books, and energy efficient hand dryers installed in all public restrooms have eliminated paper towel waste. The Mall recycles cardboard, metal, plastic, paper, cell phones, printer cartridges and wood pallets. Guests may drop off phones and ink and toner cartridges at each entrance to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and paper in the Abitibi container in Service Court 3 to benefit the American Heart Association.

According to Edwards, The Mall at Robinson has been committed to sustainability since day one. In the past nine years, the mall reports it has saved timber resources equal to 21,893 mature trees, 4,732 cubic yards of landfill airspace, 596,397 gallons of oil, 9,014,600 gallons of water and enough electric power to supply more than 466 homes for an entire year.

What have you done lately? Maybe its time to look into that electric car. 

Nebulus brings musicians together in the cloud

For musical collaboration, just look to the cloud and you will find Nebulus, a new website that allows for virtual collaboration without having to store large data files on your home computer.
 
Created by musician and Carnegie Mellon computer science graduate Robert Kotcher, the site allows users to record and edit audio online and add on to tracks that have already been recorded. Kotcher says Nebulus is like a mixture of Google Docs the online document storage and editing application, Apple’s recording software Garage Band, and the popular music-sharing site Sound Cloud, “Except there are no local files you need to store,” he says.
 
Anyone who has a large iTunes collection knows that audio files can take up a huge amount of space on a computer, often slowing down its functionality.

“We are all musicians,” Kotcher says of his startup team, “we all have different musical backgrounds and we’ve all had the same problems, where we go and record our tracks, save it locally, send it to the next guy and eventually you end up with 10 different versions on your computer,” he explains.

If users want to download the final track from Nebulus they can, but they don’t ever have to store the rejected recordings and they can work together to edit the piece like users can in Google Docs.
 
Before cloud computing—yes I said it—musicians would all have to go to the same studio to record a song, creating scheduling problems and requiring travel. If anyone remembers, that great band The Postal Service (circa 2001, hits such as The District Sleeps Alone Tonight) got their name because the band members would actually send eachother recordings in the mail in order to collaborate on songs, because the Internet couldn’t store huge files. Welcome to the future!
 
“What we wanted to do was to emulate what musicians do in the studio through the layering recording process, where one player records a track and then another person comes and records a track over them,” Kocher says. He and his partners are all musicians and they’ve had a great time playing together while perfecting the software.
 
Nebulus is allowing us to share its link with you for the first time publicly, so use it wisely and record your next greatest work at Nebulus.io

Who's hiring in PGH? Deeplocal, Penguins, Pabst, Adam and Eve

Each week, Pop City brings you exciting job opportunities in Pittsburgh and this week, we also bring you a job party invite. You're welcome. Contact us @popcitypgh and let us know if we've helped you snag the job of your dreams at the party or elsewhere! 

Deeplocal is hiring for a variety of positions including: Machine Shop Manager, Admin Assistant, Account Manager, Controller/Finance Director and Developers, Designers and Copywriters. They are also looking for a hybrid software/hardware engineer who has motion capture experience, enjoys hacking and tinkering and traveling for several weeks in Sept/Oct. They are inviting all interested applicants to rub elbows with company members on Thursday July 31, from 6-8PM at Bayardstown Social Club, 3008 Penn Avenue. If you are too shy for such socializing, apply online at http://deeplocal.theresumator.com/

If you like beer, Pabst is looking for a craft beer specialist (hold the jokes). This person will mostly be responsible for marketing beer and planning beer-related events to drive sales. "A minimum of 5+ years’ experience in Beverage with DSD and 3 tier understanding (preferred)," if you understand what that means, you should apply. 

Nothing goes with beer like hockey. The Penguins are hiring an associate producer for "In the Room," a behind the scenes TV show that has aired on the NHL network. The show is an all access, behind-the-scenes documentary of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team. They are looking for someone to help with logging, editing, shooting and writing each monthly episode. Should be experienced and proficient in video editing, interviewing and writing scripts.

Technology Publishing Company is looking for an editor-in-chief for one of it's B2B publications. We admit, this is vague. The magazine is about construction and design and the job isn't yet listed online. In addition to standard editor-in-chief duties and experience, the ideal candidate will take a lead role in developing the educational program for a new conference under the same (undisclosed) brand. Email careers@technologypub.com by Aug. 8, 2014.

The Women and Girls Foundation is looking for a program associate to serve as the lead project manager of WGF’s civic engagement and youth advocacy program for high school girls. The foundation's goal is to achieve equality for women and girls, and really what could be better?

Pittsburgh fashion leader Mod Cloth is looking for part-time photo retouchers to make their clothing look even better in pictures and a digital content producer to work closely with all members of the marketing team, collaborating closely with members from photography, video, social media, community, marketing operations and merchandising. This person will curate and create engaging branded content for the ModCloth Blog, social channels, and beyond. 

Adult store Adam and Eve is hiring for some full time and part time sales positions at their Ross Township and Dormont locations. This job will most likely not be boring and will definitely be a conversation starter...or stopper? Either way, not boring. 

And if you are trying to gain more experience before applying for one of the upper-level jobs above, Chemistry Communications is looking for a paid fall intern. You could create press releases, social media content, client reports, research industry trends and earn $10/hour doing it. To apply for this part time position email your resume and cover letter to Kim Mouser at  kim@createareaction.com.

Got a job you'd like us to post. Email us here.

Easily choose art with Easely

Pandora picks music, OkCupid gives okay dating suggestions and now, Pittsburgh-based start-up Easely will predict which art you will like.

The art vending website was devised after co-founder and CEO Ashwin Muthiah saw how difficult it was for his girlfriend to make ends meet as an artist. He decided to use his computer science background to attack the problem, and came up with a business that will launch this month. Easely uses visual and textual questionnaires to determine which artworks to send to which users in a process that is part data, part psychology and part gut instinct, according to Muthiah.

Users must tell Easely how much space they have to devote to a work of art and can also let the website know which color palate they prefer. Like the popular glasses website Warby Parker, Easely then lets users try until they buy, mailing ready to hang artwork to your door. "If you don't like what we send you, we’ll go back to the drawing board, literally" Muthiah says.

His goal is to "reinvigorate the social prominence of art" and make it as easy to purchase as other media, which can be obtained by the click of a button.

"A lot of people out there who love art don’t know how to get it or have tons of money to get it," Muthiah says, offering up his site as a solution to the problem.

The art available on Easely is nowhere near as expensive as art purchased through most galleries, giving it a broader appeal. It's Muthiah's hope that by making art accessible, new artists will be able to support themselves and find a market for their work. The website accepts submissions from artists and uses a team of curators to asses the work accepted into its collection. Artists earn 25 percent commission if the work sells.

"I see a lot of young artists turned away from art based upon the market," Muthiah says, explaining why he pays above average comission to artists, "we want to get everyone reengaged with artwork."
 
Fun Fact: Muthiah came to Pittsburgh from Atlanta to join AlphaLab, our friendly neighborhood startup accelerator. He says he will be hiring a software engineer and a business development person soon.

Carnegie Mellon computer magic used to understand autism

Autism is a mysterious condition. Talk show host Jenny McCarthy wrongfully says it is caused by childhood vaccinations and others blame environmental factors, but with a team of researchers, a professor of statistics at Carnegie Mellon University has confirmed genetics outweigh environmental risk, according to the university.

Kathryn Roeder and her team sifted through data provided by 3,000 Swedish subjects including autistic individuals and a control group, in what the university is calling "the largest study of its kind to date."

Using all the machine learning magic Carnegie Mellon is known for, Roeder says her team discovered “Most of the risk for autism comes from gene variations that we all have. We all have some of the bad variants, but the question is if you have enough to put you over the edge.”

For example: some people are predisposed to being tall, some people are short. Whether you end up on either end of the spectrum depends upon your ancestor's genes, not upon whether your parents had you at a young or older age.

While it was previously accepted that autism might be caused by a variety of factors, for many years it wasn't known if nature (genetics) or nurture (environment) were more responsible for it's progress. Roeder says this particular study was powerful because it drew from a broadly sampled population, allowing results to be more ironclad than they would if participants were sought out specifically based upon risk factors for autism, which might skew the results.

In the study published in the journal Nature on July 20, Roeder's team tried to better understand the genetic map of the condition so that scientists may pick out more specific risk factors in the future. It’s Roeder’s hope that the team’s research may lead to the development of a genetic risk score, so that people can take a test to determine their particular risk for autism.

Additionally, she says the research methods employed could be used to learn more about other mysterious illnesses including schizophrenia.

“I am sure they are going to try this method right away,” she says of her fellow scientists studying the mental disorder.

Thrival Music + Innovation Festival tickets on sale now

You can now buy tickets for Thrill Mill’s second Thrival Innovation + Music Festival The lineup features two full days of music Sept. 13-14, and boasts big name acts including Portugal. The Man, Moby, Talib Kweli, Phosphorescent, Motion City Soundtrack and Mayer Hawthorne.

The festival has grown in size over the past three years from its former iteration as a barbecue, to a now weekend-long concert attracting big-name national acts. This year Thrill Mill expects around 2,500 people a day to join them at Bakery Square II for the event.

In addition to the aforementioned national bands, local Pittsburgh musicians that will be performing include 1,2,3 and The Red Western.

Thrival is the annual funding mechanism for Thrill Mill, a startup incubator based in East Liberty. It’s also a pitch competition; eight to 10 startups will present their business plan and the winner will be awarded $25,000 furnished by PNC.

Thrill Mill CEO Bobby Zappala says that the festival is about showcasing Pittsburgh’s startup scene and notes that a number of events will be taking place throughout the week leading up to music festival.

“We’ll host a series of workshops and conferences ranging from coding workshops to a leadership symposium to a gaming roundtable,” Zappala says.

Ideally, other organizations around the city will seize the opportunity and the publicity to put on more cool events surrounding innovation and entrepreneurship.

Tickets are available via Showclix and range from $45 for a day pass to $350 for a VIP two-day pass. Learn more about the schedule and lineup here.

Who's hiring in PGH? Anthropologie, Carnegie Museums and more!

Today's mantra: you can find a job! Each week, Pop City brings you exciting job opportunities in Pittsburgh. Let us know @popcitypgh if we've helped you snag the job of your dreams!

The Pittsburgh Business Times and a publication on the Northside are looking for editors. The Pittsburgh Business Times seeks an assistant managing editor, while the Northside publication is looking for a managing editor. For both positions you should have experience with InDesign as well as solid journalism skills. If you like running the show on the production end and occasionally bossing people around for their own good, this could be the job for you. 

Get creative at Anthropologie? Yes you heard that right. The clothier is searching for just the right person to make their store displays pop. So if you've got pizzazz and know how to arrange scarves like no other, step out of the office and into the window and show this store what you've got as a visual merchandiser. You should have prior experience in retail and ideally in this capacity.

If you need a part time gig, add meaning to your life at the Carnegie Science Museum teaching science and math to young girls as part of the STEM program. The part-time instructor will implement and design hands-on science lessons for under served, middle school girls in an after school environment. This position involves at least two days per week Monday through Thursday, 2PM to 5PM plus Saturday and selected dates/times for special outings.  

Mount Washington Community Development Corportation is looking for a Communications and Outreach Coordinator. The coordinator will manage social media for the group, develop a newsletter and communicate with diverse audiences among many other responsibilities.

Cook food for ballet students. The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is looking for a chef to work 30 hours per week to feed 21 students from 1PM to 7PM. The candidate should be able to pass a background check and must have what it takes to run a clean and healthy kitchen. Get to see some behind the scenes Black Swan action, and keep on your toes in the kitchen, whipping up whatever keeps them doing pirouettes.

If you are young enough to work for housing and a stipend making documentary films, why not do it at a hospital in Haiti for HAS Hopital Albert Schweitzer. The videos will be used for online fundraising and personalized donor communications, and will document the work of the hospital and community health workers. The ideal candidate is willing to spend at least three months on location in central Haiti, with possible extension. Get out of town and do something meaningful, it's summer and Haiti is in the Caribbean.

Have a job you'd like to list? Email us here.

Machines--They're Just Like Us! Robots take over Wood Street Galleries

How would it feel to see a robot beg? Would you give it a few dollars, or just walk away? These are questions curator Murray Horne hopes to answer in the exhibit “La Cour des Miracles,” on view at the Wood Street Galleries July 11 through September 7. 
 
The art show features robots in various states of distress, interacting with and soliciting empathy from visitors.
 
“The robots are in these contorted gestures that are humanistic, sort of the way a dancer might evoke emotions using a certain gesture,” Horne says, “but it’s interesting that it’s a robot that’s connecting with us, not a human.”
 
Visitors to the show will encounter six different robo-characters, created by artists Bill Vorn and Louis-Philippe Demers: “The Begging Machine,” “The Convulsive Machine,” “The Crawling Machine,” “The Harassing Machine,” “The Heretic Machine,” and “The Limping Machine.” The robots lack emotions and none are truly more sympathetic than others. But, if a robot could fake an ailment to gain pity, would it in some way be more real, because it would seem to have intention? Artists in “La Cour des Miracles” are exploring this idea through their work.
 
The exhibition’s title and subject matter draws on historical fraud that took place in Parisian slums in the 1600s, when beggars in areas called “cour des miracles” or “court of miracles” faked ailments to gain alms, only to rise from their crutches and walk away, miraculously healed. By pointing to acts of human fakery which we may at times believe, the exhibition suggests faked human behavior and “real” robotic behavior—which is always fake—may not be so different.
 
Usually, machines are created to make humans more comfortable and present us with our best qualities, they enable luxurious lifestyles or provide us with a false sense of security—“that’s why I like Siri, she always responds in the affirmative,” Horne says of the mechanized helpful voice inside the iPhone. The artist’s robots may not be as likeable, but they will certainly be as human.
 
In addition to the six robots, Vorn has created “DSM-VI,” a robot that mimics the behaviors of a person suffering from mental health problems. Horne says the entire installation is presented as a labyrinth, reminiscent of the cages of a zoo or the corridors of an insane asylum.
 
“I think it’s one of the most intense visual arts experience you can have,” Horne says, “there will be robots, lights and fog machines all at the same time.”

Source: Wood Street Galleries

LiveLight software cuts through video trash, highlighting video treasure

The future is here and we can record everything, but no one has the time to sort through all that footage. Thankfully some computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon are on the case, hoping to turn our endlessly boring security cam footage into YouTube treasures—remember this?
 
Eric P. Xing, professor of machine learning, and Bin Zhao, a Ph.D. candidate in the machine learning department have developed LiveLight, a program that clues users in to the important parts of videos—like when your cat saves your son from a wild dog, as in the award winning film above.
 
Zhao says the technology will soon be available as an iPhone app, so users can sort through phone videos and separate the weak from the wild. He has been working on LiveLight for three years, and says that at this point, the program can even catch slightly unusual behavior, including people lurking suspiciously in subway stations. Zhao says he and his professor have created a startup in Pittsburgh where they plan to monetize their invention.
 
While it sounds like magic, Zhao assures us that the miracle of LiveLight is an algorithm running tirelessly, not a group of video elves. He explains that LiveLight works as videos are being made, picking out the most interesting moments in quasi-real-time. At the end of filming, users are presented with a trailer where they can see the most riveting actions from their videos in a short compacted segment. Zhao and his professor made an example of the way the technology works here.
 
“The motivation for us doing this project is that there are a lot of security cameras but people don’t have time to look at videos. It’s only after something happens that people go back and look at the videos,” Zhao says. “With LiveLight, the algorithm captures highlighted moments so the user isn’t missing anything interesting.”
 
Most importantly, a cat might save your son, and who would want to miss that?

Source: Bin Zhao, Carnegie Mellon University

Who's hiring in PGH? Deeplocal, Mattress Factory and more...

Each week, Pop City brings you exciting job opportunities in Pittsburgh. Let us know on Twitter if we've helped you snag the job of your dreams!

The Kingsley Association is hiring a community outreach specialist with a passion for effecting social change through community organizing. The ideal candidate will have a degree in social work or urban studies and knowledge of community building and sustainability models. And hey, when you've finished reaching out, the Kingsley Association has a pool in their recreation center, employee perks!
 
Steeltown Entertainment is looking for a youth media program manager to oversee teaching staff and form meaningful relationships with other regional non-profits. Who knows, the job may also introduce you to the next generation of Hollywood stars.
 
Two positions are open at installation art museum the Mattress Factory, where they are hiring a weekend coordinator and office coordinator to help with administrative functions.
 
Designers, photographers or videographers looking for a challenging new gig may want to apply to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where they are searching for a multimedia manager to coordinate visual storytelling for the paper.
 
Deeplocal is looking for a creative technologist with 3-7 years of experience working at a startup or agency, to develop product ideas and code them into reality.  The job requires that 50 percent of your time be spent in northern California, and 50 percent in PGH. The listed job description uses the words, “Hacker at heart.”
 
Finally, the most interesting job openings this week just might be: brand ambassador for Zipcar, where you get to run all over town shouting the company’s praises and gameday producer for the Pittsburgh Steelers, in which you get to control the scoreboards and “execute all supporting elements of in-game presentation,” including music, live elements and special effects: cue fireworks!

 
Have a job to submit? Email us here.

IBM's Watson? CMU will develop an app for that

This fall, students at Carnegie Mellon University will have unprecedented access to IBM’s Watson cognitive technology, which famously beat Jeopardy! champions in a 2011 on-air showdown. Students in a new computer science course will develop mobile applications for the artificially intelligent computer that processes information more like a human than a computer—by understanding natural language, generating hypotheses based on evidence and learning as it goes.
 
The IBM Watson Group is working with CMU and six other universities to offer cognitive computing courses this fall that will give students the technical knowledge and hands-on experience needed to create new applications for the system.
 
The new course, Intelligent Information Systems Featuring IBM’s Watson, is open to both undergraduate and graduate students and will focus on mobile applications of Watson. Eric Nyberg, a professor in CMU’s Language Technologies Institute (LTI) in the School of Computer Science and a leading researcher in question-answering computer systems, is one of the course’s instructors.
 
“The home run we’re looking for is to add our vision to IBM’s technology to create an application that is useful and worthy of being spun off as a product,” says Nyberg.
 
Nyberg and his students began working with IBM on Watson in 2007 and have collaborated with IBM on the Open Advancement of Question-Answering Initiative. The effort created system architectures and methodologies that support systems like Watson that can understand questions as expressed by people and search through massive databases to respond appropriately.
 
Applications undertaken by the class may be related to healthcare or energy, but Nyberg says he is interested to see what other ideas might be hatched by students in the course.
 
The initiative is part of an ongoing effort to expand and strengthen student skills and understanding of big data and analytics in order to meet the growing demand for highly skilled analytics workers.
 
“By putting Watson in the hands of tomorrow’s innovators, we are unleashing the creativity of the academic community into a fast-growing ecosystem of partners who are building transformative cognitive computing applications,” says Michael Rhodin, senior vice president, IBM Watson Group. “This is how we will make cognitive the new standard of computing across the globe: by inspiring all catalysts of innovation, from university campuses to start-up offices, to take Watson's capabilities and create."

Emplified takes the guesswork out of employee retention

Right now the workforce is experiencing a major shift as baby boomers begin to retire and Millennials move in. With this shift comes a disconnect between traditional top-down management and employees, which has led to turnover and lost productivity across the board. Pittsburgh-based startup Emplified is breaking on to the scene with its employee-led retention solution for businesses that brings workforce engagement into the modern era.
 
“There’s a huge disengagement in the marketplace,” says Emplified founder and CEO Alex Gindin. “Only 30 percent of employees in the knowledge workforce are actively engaged in the market. The largest portion of disengagement belongs to Millennials right now because companies don’t know how to work with them.”
 
Gindin founded Emplified on the belief that workforce engagement is not something that can be delegated from the top-down through surveys and periodic performance reviews. 
 
“[Workforce engagement] must be cultivated and nurtured from within the organization and driven from the bottom up,” says Gindin. “It needs to show the context and impact of individual efforts on the organization and clearly reinforce individual career paths. This is where Emplified comes in. We elevate employees above their routine for a few moments each day in order to let them capture and curate their professional development, business impact, personal accomplishments and individual needs.”
 
This seems like a tall order, bur Emplified provides this service through its secure online platform and facilitates regular dialogue with individual employees to uncover critical blind spots, navigate career paths and help them take control of their employment.
 
“We empower employees to manage up by amplifying their skills, accomplishments and needs and provide managers with critical insights needed to grow, shape and retain their people,” says Gindin.
 
Emplified is looking to work with companies in the small-medium business market in high volatility turnover fields like technology, sales, marketing and advertising.
 
“Most of those companies don’t have HR capabilities themselves, or if they do, HR is not their core expertise or core competency,” says Gindin.
 
Gindin first had the idea for Emplified about seven years ago when he managed a team of employees at Morgan Stanley in New York. As a young manager, he says it was hard to understand what his employees actually wanted in an economy where it was difficult to retain talent.
 
Using a model that employs a framework rooted in cognitive psychology, Emplified elevates people above their day-to-day routines or workloads to give them a perspective of where they actually are, where they are heading and their progress toward getting there.
 
As the former director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Pantherlab Works in the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, Gindin has solid experience launching products and technologies and bringing them to the marketplace. Emplified recently completed its alpha phase and is streamlining the platform and addressing scalability this summer with plans to release a full-featured version in September.

Who's hiring in PGH? WESCO, Pitt, Robert Morris University and more...

Each week, Pop City brings you exciting job opportunities in Pittsburgh. Read on for this week's roundup.

Recent job openings at the University of Pittsburgh include web application developer in the biomedical informatics department, a charitable relationship associate in the institutional advancement office, an admissions counselor, a network engineer and a network security engineer, a director of development in the law school, and a director of young alumni and student programs.
 
Alcoa is hiring an entry-level communications specialist to provide support to the communications department at the Alcoa Technical Center.
 
K&L Gates LLP is hiring a public relations and communications assistant to assist in developing and executing strategic media/public relations activities for the firm, including press releases, interview opportunities and bylined articles.
 
WESCO is hiring numerous positions, including global accounts manager, category analyst, project specialist, pricing coordinator, supplier relations manager, buyer, investor relations manager, senior accountant, financial services director, financial analyst, director of region operations, director of e-commerce, and human resources project manager.
 
Robert Half Technology is hiring a SQL database administrator, a systems engineer, a UI/UX designer and a software engineer.
 
Diamond Kinetics is hiring a lead software developer, a cross-platform mobile software engineer, a product and community manager and a digital and social marketing manager.
 
Expedient Data Centers, a managed IT solutions provider, is hiring a web application engineer.
 
BeCause LLC, a platform that connects audiences and helps them better understand one another through an interactive polling and commenting application, is hiring a chief technology officer/lead architect.
 
The Sprout Fund is hiring a program assistant for catalytic funding to contribute to the overall strength of the organization through the development and successful implementation of Sprout’s programmatic activities and its supported projects.
 
Robert Morris University is hiring a campaign director with a minimum of 5-7 years of experience in development, an associate programmer/programmer analyst, a benefits and payroll specialist and a digital marketing specialist.
 
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy is hiring an office coordinator for the Frick Environmental Center. 
 
Amizade Global Service-Learning is hiring a marketing and social media coordinator to begin work as soon as possible at The Global Switchboard.

Engineering better baseball players

Diamond Kinetics is a Pittsburgh-based company aimed at improving the performance of baseball and softball players of all ages and skill levels by collecting and analyzing motion data. Founded in 2012, the company builds upon intellectual property developed at both the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan and combines engineering talent, innovation and a love of sports to bring these tools to market.
 
William Clark, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the University of Pittsburgh, founded the company after years of coaching youth baseball and softball. He saw how reliant skill assessment and performance improvement were on the “eyeball test”—essentially trusting the human eye to understand and diagnose performance improvement opportunities in a swing that takes about a quarter of a second. As an engineer, Clark know there had to be a better way, and so he took matters into his own hands and began developing the technology behind the Diamond Kinetics product SwingTracker.
 
“SwingTracker is being built to serve the specific needs of amateur baseball players of all ages and their coaches—whether they are just getting a taste of the sport in their local recreation league or are at the highest levels of amateur competition,” says CEO and cofounder C.J. Handron.
 
The technology behind SwingTracker uses an inertial measurement unit, or sensor, to capture position and movement in space on a real-time basis and then sends it via BlueTooth to a paired mobile device. Using proprietary tools and methods, the data is then analyzed and presented in an easy to understand interface so players and coaches can understand the swing, compare it against relevant benchmarks and identify specific areas of improvement. There is also a Diamond Kinetics online community where players can connect with their coach, compare and analyze swing data at a deeper level and access content to help them improve their performance.  
 
“The data is captured at over 1,000 data points per second, so there is a lot of information with which to work.”
 
Pre-orders for SwingTracker will be accepted beginning in July for players and coaches who want to “bat leadoff” and have first access to this technology. Beyond the SwingTracker for baseball, Diamond Kinetics plans to expand into fast pitch softball and into other areas of both sports where motion capture and analysis can help players and coaches improve performance. The company has also identified a number of ways to apply the technology at all levels of professional baseball.
 
“The technology and what we are building with it will truly take the mystery out of motion in baseball,” says Handron.
 
Diamond Kinetics is looking to expand its team; job openings can be found on its website.

Locally created, handsfree smartphone mounts rival GoPro

David Rost lives an active lifestyle and like many others in this digital age, he enjoys documenting his adventures and sharing them with friends and family via social media. The problem is that with hands tied up holding cameras and other technology, it can be difficult to fully enjoy the experience.
 
Several years ago, he was skiing in Colorado and wanted to film the beauty of the landscape for his kids. Not interested in spending $300-400 on a GoPro, he opted to use his iphone 4, holding the phone in his hand while skiing. This gave him the idea to develop something that would allow him to use his devices handsfree. Using elastic, clips, a few cases and his smartphone, he developed an early prototype for a chest harness. Since then, Rost launched a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $28,000 and developed a variety of mounts under the name READYACTION.
 
In addition to the chest harness, Pittsburgh-based READYACTION offers mounts for bike handles and ski poles, helmets and cars and motorcycles. And new to the collection is the "office" chest harness that allows for handsfree use of tablets, which would be useful for such professions as teachers and home inspectors, says Rost. All products are priced at $50 and under.

There are many everyday uses for the mounts, too. The ski pole and bike attachment can be used in the back of cars so kids can watch movies and the car and motorcycle mounts are perfect for using the GPS function on smartphones.
 
Rost says his products "are just making all your devices easier and more fun to use."
 
iPhone Life Magazine recently reviewed the READYACTION catalog of products and gave them a rating of four and a half stars out of five, praising the lightweight construction, easy on/off design, customizable brackets to fit any size smartphone, and secure fittings that hold devices safely in place, allowing for high-quality video footage.
 
Last week, READYACTION went from a provisional patent to patent pending in the United States and has an international patent pending as well.
 
"If we are able to get a patent on this marketplace, we will be a market leader and perhaps the only one in the market. That means we can license our products all over the world, country by country."
 
READYACTION products can be purchased through the company's website, and Rost is hoping to get them on the shelves of retailers in the not too distant future. 
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