February 28th, 2012
03:00 PM ET

A social entrepreneur in action

From his hometown in Western Kenya to the mega-slums of Nairobi, Dan Ogola has blazed a trail of opportunity in some of his country’s poorest regions. Using health and education as his tools, he’s launched new businesses, created jobs and inspired a generation to better their lives by taking better care of themselves.

Raised in poverty, Dan witnessed the connection between poor health and hopelessness from an early age. Dr. Hernando Garzon, Director of Global Health services for California’s Kaiser Permanente, sees it as well. “We learned a long time ago that if you have an unhealthy community the potential for economic development is less. So if people are out, sick days, if children are not attending school because of illness and high illness rates, the chances for economic development and prosperity are less.”

As founder and director of The Matibabu Foundation, an indigenous health and education initiative serving some 60,000 Kenyans, Dan's ability to recognize the talent often overlooked in poor communities has led to an economic boom in his hometown. But for this agent of change, success is about more than money. “ I want to communicate the health situation of my people with anybody,” Ogola told The Next List. “It’s something that I love, so I don’t need to force myself to see it. Anytime I meet you, I want to share with you, I’m Dan Ogola. I come from this community. And I don’t say it when I’m shy. I say it with a lot of vigor, because I love my community.”

“We are just trying to make a difference in our own community,” he adds. “The goodwill that we have, yes, those make Matibabu truly unique.”

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Filed under: The Next List • Video
February 28th, 2012
01:53 PM ET

Kinect-powered shopping cart follows you around, knows what you're buying

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - Here's a cool demo from a group called Chaotic Moon Studios:

In the clip, which a reporter from GeekWire filmed at a Microsoft event on Monday, a Whole Food shopping cart follows a shopper around and helps him complete his shopping list. The cart appears to be equipped with a tablet computer that's connected to an Microsoft Kinect motion-sensing camera.

The camera scans items as they go into the cart and checks them off of a shopping list. When the man in the demo finishes shopping, it says: "That completes the items on your shopping list."

It also knows a thing or two about the shopper's preferences. In the demo, a man puts a box of spaghetti into the cart only to be scolded by the talking machine.

"Note you have indicated you prefer gluten-free. This item contains gluten."

Then it helps him find a similar product that does not contain gluten.

Oh, and it's motorized. The camera senses your location and then - with a few hiccups, as the demo shows - follows you around the store. (This sounds awesome on its face but might be a nightmare on a crowded Sunday afternoon, when grocery stores can look like scenes from a zombie apocalypse).

It's unclear when if ever this technology will actually show up in stores. Libba Letton, a spokeswoman for Whole Foods, said the company provided the shopping cart and is interested in the technology but has no immediate plans to implement it.  "Whole Foods is always trying new stuff," she said.

She gave credit for the invention to Austin-based Chaotic Moon Studios, which has come up with all kinds of wacky and cool ways to use Xbox Kinect cameras. Check out this video clip of a mind-controlled skateboard, for instance. They call it the "board of imagination."

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Filed under: Design • Innovation • Tech
Future phones: packed with new features but 'hopelessly dorky'
February 28th, 2012
09:44 AM ET

Future phones: packed with new features but 'hopelessly dorky'

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - If you've been following Mobile World Congress, the tech show happening this week in Barcelona, Spain, you've heard a lot about the technical specifications of the new class of smartphones.

They're faster, bigger - and one has a 41-megapixel camera.

Lost in all of the talk of photo resolution and processing power, however, is a glaring trend: Phones also are getting super nerdy. FULL POST

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Filed under: Innovation • Smartphones • Tech