Can this app cure depression?

It may be time to sack your therapist. The researchers conducting the world’s first clinical study on the use of smartphone apps to treat depression have given VentureBeat a preview of the results. 73.5 percent of depressed participants who used an application called Viary, were no longer considered to be depressed by the end of the study.

LinkedIn Co-founder joins Berlin-based EarlyBird Ventures

Have cash? Looking for tech talent? Go to Europe. So says Konstantin Guericke, co-founder of LinkedIn and newly minted venture partner in Berlin’s EarlyBird Ventures. EarlyBird recently raised $100 million for its fourth fund, focusing on European, and in particular German startups.

Movie backed by Irish tech investors is nominated for an Oscar

Are you an early-stage, technology investor? Is there a certain lack of glamour and red carpets in your life? Then follow in the footsteps of early-stage tech investors Lough Shore Investments who partly funded a short film called “The Shore”, which has just been nominated for an Oscar.


Worst press release titles of 2011

Nobody sets out to write a bad press release or pitch email, or at least we hope not, and yet we still receive quite a few at VentureBeat. Actually, I would be quite sad if we stopped getting them entirely. They brighten my day. gets $455,000 to transfer your files faster is a browser-based, file transfer service that today announced an investment of €350,000 ($455,000) from Atomico, the venture capital firm of Skype founder Niklas Zennström. The Copenhagen-based startup will use the cash to hire new staff.

Prezi lands $14 million to save us from death by Powerpoint

Zooming presentation tool Prezi just landed an investment of $14 million from Accel Partners and previous Danish investors Sunstone Capital. Prezi is one of those rare startups which actually has revenue. The company has been cash flow positive since 2010.

Tobii keeps an eye on distracted drivers

The most dangerous part of any motor vehicle is the driver. Swedish eye-tracking pioneer Tobii just announced a platform to detect drowsiness and distraction in drivers.There are 41,000 road traffic fatalities a year in the U.S. according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. An estimated 25 percent of all fatal accidents are caused by driver fatigue and, if you add in distracted drivers, that figure is probably even higher.”The eyes tell it all,”  says Tobii’s OEM manager Jan-Erik Lundkvist. “You can see this by observing a sleepy person. It is not difficult to see when he is falling asleep. You can also very accurately see what a person is paying attention to. Our platform is just a technological means to do the same thing.”The Tobii platform consists of two camera sensors, placed at different angles, and operating at near-infrared frequencies to eliminate interference from external light. The system can distinguish whether the driver’s eyes are open or closed or if the driver has turned his head. The sensors work even when the driver is wearing glasses or sunglasses.Distraction is detected by registering the direction of the driver’s attention using head pose algorithms and eye tracking. Eye openness and blink characteristics such as blink speed and blink duration, and the ratio between them, indicate whether the driver is sleepy.  Tobii claims that its current system can detect distraction in 95 percent of cases and that it expects to achieve 99 percent accuracy by the time the system is on the market. Rival driver assistance technologies use steering wheel input, lane departure sensors or brake assist control based on an individual’s driving pattern to draw conclusions about distraction and sleepiness.[youtube]Tobii’s platform covers detection only. It does not inform drivers about their level of sleepiness or distraction. It would be up to car manufacturers to integrate Tobii into an existing safety system or provide a sound or a visual alert on the dashboard of the vehicle. We previously reported on a Danish startup, whose Anti Sleep Pilot iPhone and iPad application calculates the driver’s fatigue level in real-time, maintains alertness via reaction tests and alerts the driver when it is time to take a rest break.”We are confident that this type of system will be integrated in high volume vehicles within 5 years,” said Lundkvist. “Many Tier 1 suppliers to the automotive industry, and car brands themselves, have shown significant interest in Tobii’s technology. The technology will not affect the price of the vehicle significantly. However, the price and package is a question for the manufacturers.”Currently, eye tracking is mainly used in research, including market, usability and scientific research, where eye trackers collect and analyze gaze data, and assisted communication, where eye tracking is used to control and interact with a computer. “In the next year or two this will change greatly,” insists Lundkvist. “Eye tracking will add gaze interaction to mainstream computers to give the user an interface that can be directly eye-controlled but that is also adaptive to your gaze, preferences and attention.”  Earlier this year, Tobii introduced a prototype of the world’s first eye-controlled laptop in partnership with Lenovo.Tobii is located in Stockholm, Sweden, has 330 employees and was founded in 2001. The company has raised $30 million in funding from Investor Growth Capital, NorthZone Ventures and others.

Do you need a data scientist?

Some of the world’s biggest tech companies from Google to Facebook are data-driven, but few startup founders have any idea what a data scientist does, never mind whether they should hire one. Here is VentureBeat’s guide to data science for startups.

TrialBee could save lives by bringing drugs to market faster

Big pharma still uses manual methods to recruit participants for drug trials, and that costs the industry money. Lots of money. The pharma industry loses $4.2 billion per year due to drug trial delays and $250K in lost sales per day that a new drug’s market launch is postponed. More importantly, delays in the approval of new treatments can also cost lives.

Redeem&Get pulls in $200K to manage daily deals

Suffering from Daily Deal fatigue? Dublin startup Redeem&Get aims to make the process of redeeming a deal smoother for customers and more profitable for merchants. The company just won the Spark of Genius competition at the Dublin Web Summit, with prizes that included 40,000 EUR ($56,000) in cash and a 100,000 EUR ($141,000) termsheet from ACT Venture Capital.

Farmers turn grass into cash with the Grassometer

The well-dressed dairy farmer may soon be sporting a new gadget clipped to his Wellington boot — the Grassometer. The device just landed 50,000 EUR ($70,000) in funding from Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund. The Grassometer uses ultrasound to take up to 200 measurements of the length of grass in a field as the farmer walks around it. The measurements are triggered by an accelerometer, mapped with GPS and sent to the farmer’s smartphone using Bluetooth.

In Tesla vs. Top Gear, car maker loses libel case

A UK high court today ruled that it would not uphold the libel claims brought against the BBC TV show TopGear by car maker Telsa. For those of you not familiar with TopGear, it features a trio of badly dressed men of a certain age engaged in a series of ever more zany challenges involving cars.

Cory Doctorow: Tech companies exploit the way we undervalue privacy

How much is your personal data worth? Will photos you post on Facebook or your Foursquare check-in data get you into trouble in five years’ time? In one of the standout talks at this week’s O’Reilly Strata Summit, author and Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow explained why people undervalue their privacy and how data-driven companies exploit this mis-pricing of privacy.

Independa snags $1.6 million to help seniors live independently

Independa’s service allows family and other caregivers to monitor the well-being of their elderly relatives, and gives the elderly easy access services they need. The company just closed a $1.6 million round of funding from private investors and Southern California venture capital firms Miramar Venture Partners and City Hill Ventures.

People analytics: How Google does HR by the numbers

Google offered some insights yesterday into its innovative, data-driven HR process. “All people decisions at Google are based on data and analytics,” said Kathryn Dekas, a manager in Google’s “people analytics” team, speaking at O’ Reilly Strata. Those decisions cover compensation, talent management, hiring and all other HR issues. Google’s data-based HR may become a key factor in the company’s future success.