San Francisco’s Found Conference Proved Dog Tech is Big Business

Technology has gone to the dogs. In March, startup CEOs gathered at Digital Garage in San Francisco for Found, the first ever dog tech conference. The event was hosted by Pack, a local startup that provides a social network for dogs and their owners. Pack co-founder and CEO, Megan Casey, said the purpose of the conference was to discuss the growing industry of technology for dog owners. “We wanted to get a group of fellow dog startups that see the same type of opportunity and solutions together into one room to say this isn’t an underdog issue, this is something that’s actually a really big market,” she said. Guest speakers at Found included Aaron Easterly, CEO of Rover, a service that connects dog owners with dog sitters in over 10,000 US cities. Easterly discussed the trends he feels are driving pet tech, including an increased demand for pet products and the lower cost of tech startups. “When you have an increase in demand and an increase in supply, you get an explosion in pet tech,” he explained. Easterly said he sees a huge undeserved market in dog technology, and urged fellow startups to think big. “Don’t get overly stuck on …

Bay Area Boutique Uses “Magic Mirrors” to Merge Online and Offline Shopping

Like something out of Back to the Future Part II, the new “magic mirrors” at Rebecca Minkoff in San Francisco may be the future of shopping. The new technology was developed by eBay as a way to bring the online shopping experience into the real world. “People still want to use their five senses, not just the one sense you use when you’re doing e-commerce,” said Steve Yankovich, eBay’s Head of Innovation and New Ventures. “So physical retail, a showroom, I think will never go away.” Customers at Rebecca Minkoff can use “connected glass” walls to view the latest looks through pictures and video. When they want to try something on, they simply tap the item to add it to their dressing room. They can even order drinks, like champagne, which they can enjoy while trying on clothes. By entering their mobile number, the customer can receive a text when their dressing room is ready. The magic mirror experience continues into the dressing room, where the mirror uses RFID technology to recognize which items the customer is trying on. It also acts as a virtual stylist, suggesting accessories and other items to complement the customer’s selections. The customer can then ask …

AltSchool: New SF Bay Tech Startup is Creating the Future of Education

Altschool, a San Francisco Bay area startup founded by former Google product manager, Max Ventilla, is an innovative new school system that combines advanced technology with traditional education. AltSchool’s “micro-schools” are modeled after the one-room schoolhouses of the past. Students aged from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade learn together in classrooms with no more than 25 students and two teachers each. For a tuition of around $20,000, students study a curriculum focused on project-based learning and real-world lessons. “The point of education is to prepare our kids for the world that they’re going to actually experience as adults,” Ventilla explained. Students go on weekly field trips and complete activities like designing irrigation systems and building drones. Micro-schools have no principals or other administrators, but instead use technology to connect teachers with students and parents. Engineers and software developers work closely with teachers in their classrooms to constantly improve the AltSchool platform. “All engineers have ‘buddy teachers’ and study what’s going on in the classroom so they can learn about what’s most effective,” said Director of Education, Carolyn Wilson. “It lets us iterate very quickly and improve very, very quickly and validate for others that this is actually an approach that can …