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IoT meets agriculture, Intellistreets, immersive opera, and high-tech pencils

A backchannel look at what's on our radar.

The Radar team does a lot of sharing in the backchannel. Here’s a look at a selection of stories and innovation highlights from around the web that have caught our recent attention. Have an interesting tidbit to contribute to the conversation? Join the discussion in the comments section, send me an email or ping me on Twitter.

  • Pencil — FiftyThree’s new Pencil tool is a super cool gadget that exhibits interesting technology from a software meets hardware perspective. (Via Mike Loukides)
  • littleBits Synth KitlittleBits and Korg have teamed up to bring DIY to music with a modular synthesizer kit. From John Paul Titlow on Fast Company: “Hobbyists have been doing this for many years, either through prepackaged kits or off-the-shelf components. The difference here is that no soldering or wiring is required. Each circuit piece’s magnetized and color-coded end makes them effortlessly easy to snap together and pull apart … Notably, the components of the kit are compatible with other littleBits modules, so it’s possible to build a synthesizer that integrates with other types of sensors, lights, and whatever else littleBits cooks up down the line.” (Via Jim Stogdill)
  • Why Curated Experiences Are The New Future Of Marketing — From immersive opera to extreme kidnapping to a bungee-jumping car, companies are learning that the key to their customers’ attention (and wallets) lies in the experience. From Krisztina “Z” Holly on Forbes: “There is something about a moment in time that can’t be replicated, an experience that is your very own, an adventure with others that is deeply personal and memorable. It is something that can’t be achieved by a high-budget celebrity endorsement or a large ad buy.” (Via Sara Winge)
  • The Internet of things, stalk by stalk — IoT meets agriculture with Air Tractor planes that can change fertilizer mixtures in-flight and the Rosphere farm robot that monitors crops. From Paul Rako on GigaOm: “Sensors on the robot could monitor each and every stalk of corn. Those robots can communicate with each other over a mesh network. A mesh network is like a chat room for gadgets. They identify themselves and their capabilities, and are then a shared resource.” (Via Jenn Webb)
  • What happens in Vegas DOESN’T stay in Vegas — Vegas’ new wireless street light system, Intellistreets, can record video and audio. From the Daily Mail: “The wireless, LED lighting, computer-operated lights are not only capable of illuminating streets, they can also play music, interact with pedestrians and are equipped with video screens, which can display police alerts, weather alerts and traffic information. The high tech lights can also stream live video of activity in the surrounding area. … These new street lights, being rolled out with the aid of government funding, are also capable of recording video and audio.” (Via Tim O’Reilly)

Additionally, at the recent Techonomy conference, Tim O’Reilly and Max Levchin discussed “Innovation and the Coming Shape of Social Transformation” — have a look:

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