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MIT researchers developed a super-thin, bendy material that converts WiFi signals into electricity, reports Ian Sample for The Guardian. “In the future, everything is going to be covered with electronic systems and sensors. The question is going to be how do we power them,” says Prof. Tomás Palacios. “This is the missing building block that we need.”

Fast Company

MIT researchers have found that it’s easy to reidentify anonymized data compiled in massive datasets, reports Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan for Fast Company. The findings show that urban planners, tech companies and designers, “who stand to learn so much from these big urban datasets,” writes Campbell-Dollaghan, “need to be careful about whether all that data could be combined to deanonymize it.”


A new study by MIT researchers provides evidence that compiling massive anonymized datasets of people’s movement patterns can put their private data at risk, reports the Xinhua news agency. The researchers found “data containing ‘location stamps’ – information with geographical coordinates and time stamps – could be used to easily track the mobility trajectories of how people live and work.”

The Daily Beast

In an essay for The Daily Beast, researchers at the MIT AgeLab explore the extent to which driving is a “secondary” activity when piloting a vehicle, and caution that automation on its own cannot protect drivers from distractions. “While these technologies can nudge us in a safer direction, the decision to practice safer phone habits ultimately lies in the hands of drivers,” they write.


The “One Laptop Per Child” project, originated in the Media Lab, was the subject of a study that revealed the importance of having a laptop in the home for “access to information, educational games, and tools for self-expression.” In an op-ed for Mashable, Sandra Nogry calls on educators to encourage the use of technology for learning in developing countries.


Wired reporter Liz Stinson writes that researchers from MIT and Google have developed a new algorithm that can automatically retouch images on a mobile phone. “The neural network identifies exactly how to make it look better—increase contrast a smidge, tone down brightness, whatever—and apply the changes in under 20 milliseconds,” Stinson explains. 

New York Times

A study by Prof. Tanveet Suri shows that a mobile-money service called M-Pesa had a long-term impact on poverty in Kenya, writes Tina Rosenberg for The New York Times. The researchers found that M-Pesa “helped women graduate from subsistence agriculture to small business, perhaps because having an M-Pesa account gives a woman her own money…and a greater sense of agency.”

Boston Globe

A report released by MIT startup Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT) shows that one in four drivers were using a smartphone just before an accident occurred, reports The Boston Globe’s Matt Rocheleau. Prof. Samuel Madden, founder and chief scientist at CMT, explains that the study shows “people are using their phones a lot, and that’s playing a role in the accidents.” 

The Wall Street Journal

Melvin Konner writes for The Wall Street Journal about new MIT research that shows mobile-money services helped lift at least 194,000 Kenyan households out of extreme poverty. The researchers found that the services significantly helped women, and estimated that mobile banking “induced 185,000 women to switch into business or retail” from farming, and increased saving. 

The Washington Post

Robert Gebelhoff writes for The Washington Post about a study by Prof. Tavneet Suri that shows mobile-money services helped reduce poverty in Kenya. The study “offers good evidence that having a place to put money that’s safe and easily accessible can make the lives of poor people considerably more efficient than cash-reliant economies,” Gebelhoff explains. 


Nurith Aizenman reports for NPR on a new study that shows mobile banking can help lift people out of poverty. Prof. Tavneet Suri says she was “blown away” by the study’s results, which showed that women-led families with access to mobile-money services, “set aside 22 percent more in savings between 2008 and 2014.”

Popular Science

Popular Science reporter Kate Baggaley writes that a new study by MIT researchers shows that mobile money services helped two percent of households in Kenya rise out of poverty. “Women especially have benefitted from the spread of mobile money, which has helped many move from farming into business,” writes Baggaley. 


Prof. Tavneet Suri has found that mobile money services helped lift almost 200,000 Kenyan households, many headed by women, out of poverty, reports Neda Wadekar for Reuters. Suri explains that when mobile payment systems “came to an area, women shifted their occupations and their savings went up."

Boston Globe

To encourage safer driving in Boston, Mayor Martin Walsh has announced a competition that uses a smartphone app developed by MIT startup Cambridge Telematics to reward driver performance, reports Dante Ramos for The Boston Globe. The app gives motorists “star ratings if they stay off their phones; drive at reasonable speeds; and brake, accelerate, and turn carefully.”

Fortune- CNN

David Morris writes for Fortune that researchers at the MIT spinoff SolidEnergy Systems are developing a longer-lasting lithium metal battery for smartphones and wearables. Morris writes that the battery has “about double the energy density of today’s standard lithium-ion battery.”