The future of lumber is … plastic?

Construction, in particular concrete, is a major contributor to Co2 emissions. Cutting down trees to use as lumber doesn’t help either.

Spotify stops (well, slows down) the music

Streaming music service Spotify’s aim is to “make music on-demand available to all.” However, changes announced today on Spotify’s blog mean there will be less music available to all, or at least to those using Spotify Free.

Is your city ready for electrical vehicles?

Ford has identified the 25 most electric vehicle (EV) ready cities in the U.S., based on the company’s latest research. The 25 cities are dotted all over the country from Hartford to Honolulu. A previous Pike research report highlighted 6 cities expected to be early EV adopters: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas and Houston.

Does social media marketing actually work?

Fewer than 1 percent of website visits come directly from a social media URL according to research just released by customer satisfaction analytics experts ForeSee Results.

Twitter predicts performance of individual stocks

We recently wrote about a study from Pace University that showed that the popularity of a company in social media can predict its daily stock price. Now economists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have launched a website that predicts individual stock trends based on Twitter chatter.

Handbags at dawn: Tesla sues TopGear for libel

TopGear is a wildly popular motoring show made by the BBC. An episode in 2008 showed the show’s host Jeremy Clarkson test driving electric car maker Tesla’s roadster.

The U.K. gets a $60 million early stage fund

U.K. early stage investment firm Passion Capital just raised its first investment fund of $60 million. The fund is a private-public hybrid, with the U.K. government contributing $40 million of the total.

API downtime: Who’s asleep at the wheel?

Many popular applications use the application programming interfaces (APIs) of other services, from your favorite Twitter client to Facebook apps. So downtime on the most popular APIs has a serious knock-on effect on other services and (up)time is money.

Facebook “likes” Seedcamp and European startups

Seedcamp, a seed fund that is best described as Europe’s version of Y Combinator, just announced a partnership with Facebook that will give Seedcamp’s teams access to product, technical, and design support as well as early access to beta products and programs on Facebook Platform. This means that Seedcamp’s teams will get a head start on other startups when it comes to integrating new Facebook features.

Airport seating charges your phone with PowerKiss

Finnish startup PowerKiss builds wireless chargers into furniture. The company just announced a partnership with airport seating supplier Zoeftig that should result in mobile users being able to charge their phones while they wait to board a plane or train. Zoeftig already makes some seating with mains power built into the armrest.

Social media popularity can predict stock prices

A new study conducted by a doctoral student at Pace University, in association with Famecount (which tracks how popular brands are according to social media) concludes that social media popularity can reliably predict daily stock prices.

Movie special effects shop The Foundry is sold

The Foundry makes digital visual effects software that has been used in motion pictures like Tron Legacy 3D, Avatar, Harry Potter and many others. Private equity firm The Carlyle Group just acquired a majority stake in the Foundry from Advent Venture Partners and other stakeholders. The details of the transaction have not been made public.

AltoBridge lands $12 million to bring mobile to emerging markets

Altobridge makes it cheaper to provide mobile coverage to communities in emerging countries, from an African village to a remote oil drilling site. The company just closed a $12 million third round of funding with Intel Capital and the International Finance Corporation (an offshoot of the World Bank).

Dublin: Europe’s next startup petri dish?

Startup Bootcamp, a European startup accelerator network and Techstars affiliate, just added Dublin to its existing locations of Copenhagen and Madrid. London and Berlin will follow in 2012.

DEMO: News360 takes personalized news feeds mobile

News360 is one of 53 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Spring 2011 event taking place this week in Palm Desert, Calif.. These companies do pay a fee to present, but our coverage of them remains objective.

DEMO: Heystaks makes searching social

Heystaks is one of 53 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Spring 2011 event taking place this week. After our selection, the companies pay a fee to present, but our coverage of them remains objective.

Frog Design’s Jan Chipchase on how the poor can least afford bad design

You could call Jan Chipchase the Indiana Jones of product design. He lives in Shanghai, has a Japanese wife and just returned from a research trip in the north of Uganda, an area recently controlled by the notorious military group the Lord’s Resistance army.

Grameen IT CEO on how technology transformed Bangladesh

Kazi Islam describes his job as “implementing the future”. He is the CEO of Grameen IT which runs the IT services of Grameenphone, Bangladesh’s biggest mobile carrier. Islam grew up in the U.S. become returning to his home country.  “I lived in the future. I went back into the past. My job is to implement the future” he says. Islam is convinced that emerging countries like Bangladesh will determine which technologies survive and dominate in that future. I talked to him about how technology has transformed his country and why tech companies need to pay attention.

TAT co-founder on how technology turns us all into replicants

Hampus Jakobsson is no Luddite. As a co-founder of interface design firm The Astonishing Tribe (TAT), which was acquired last year by RIM, he has worked on some of the most cutting-edge, mobile interface technology. Yet he says that technology, as it exists now, is turning us into replicants by forcing us to interact according to its rules.

Mobile Baby gets babies online before birth

Great Connection, which puts medical scans like X-rays and ultrasounds into the cloud, just announced that its Mobile Baby service will be used in a pilot project in Egypt to perform remote diagnostics on pregnant women. Great Connection already has deployments in maternity clinics in Saudi Arabia and Sweden.

Twitter CEO: We need to be everywhere — like indoor plumbing

Twitter, according to CEO Dick Costolo, needs to be like indoor plumbing: simple, instantly useful and always present. Twitter users should not have to relearn an interface when they switch between devices. To this end, the company is pursuing deep integrations with various mobile OEMs and carriers

Anti sleep pilot keeps you awake at the wheel

ASP Technology just launched its Anti Sleep Pilot iPhone and iPad application to help prevent fatigue-related driving accidents. The app calculates a your fatigue level in real-time, maintains your alertness via reaction tests, and alerts your when it is time to take a rest break.

Augmented reality helps you fix your printer

Augmented reality (AR) company Metaio will show a demo at next week’s Mobile World Congress in which AR on your mobile phone shows you how to change a printer toner cartridge.

Why we break up… with a brand

A new study just released by ExactTarget and CoTweet finds that more than 90 percent of consumers have “broken up” with at least one brand via Facebook, email or Twitter.

Wireless pill cap makers Vitality bought by pharma billionaire

Vitality, which developed a wireless, Internet-connected pill bottle cap to remind patients to take their medication, has been acquired by Patrick Soon-Shiong M.D.  Soon-Shiong recently sold his second multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical company in three years and was already an investor in Vitality.

Ex-Skyper shakes up currency exchange

Taavet Hinrikus, one of Skype’s first employees, recently launched a new company called Transferwise, which enables cheap peer to peer currency exchange.

An insider speaks on the cult of Etsy

Handmade marketplace Etsy was never a conventional tech company. Started in 2005 by a ragtag bunch of musicians, artists and makers who wanted somewhere to sell their own creations, by 2010 it was handling $400 million in sales and had yearly revenue of $40-$50 million. I talked to Matt Stinchcomb, Etsy’s European director and one of its first employees, about marketing, micro-enterprise and sheep.

How secure is the smart grid?

What if a burglar could browse data which reveals which houses in an area are empty, or a cyberattack could create an electricity blackout? What if you unwittingly paid for your neighbour’s electricity, or a hacker could hijack control of your washing machine?