The Next Big Thing in Buying and Selling: Virtual Reality...

If you consider virtual reality options to be limited to gaming, you certainly aren’t alone. But the real reality is that this technology could soon help you to buy or sell your home. While 37% of adults have never left their hometowns, the majority of us have had to move to a new community at least once in our lives. If you’re moving to an entirely different state, the process of buying a home can be an expensive endeavor — and that’s before you even find one you like. The costs associated with traveling in and out of state to purchase a home can add up quickly. And if you’re in a whole new place, you’ll want to know what you’re getting into before you sign on the dotted line. That’s just one of the ways in which virtual reality technology can be helpful for homebuyers. Matterport, a San Francisco-based media technology company, provides real estate agents and brokers with 3-D cameras that will capture the entire interior of a home. Then, the company pieces the images together in order to create a complete walkthrough of the home. Matterport uploads this walkthrough to a cloud hosting service, allowing prospective buyers to view 3-D models of the property using a computer, tablet, smartphone, or virtual reality headset. Matterport is also experimenting with augmented reality elements in these walkthroughs. CEO Bill Brown says that “in addition to being able to walk through the space, people can mark in objects within the space, and they can annotate those objects.” That means that future buyers can make note of features they like, such as appliances with energy-efficient features or desirables like granite countertops. In highly competitive markets, having access to this technology can be a real asset. These...

New Drug Found to Slow Progression of Breast Cancer in Women...

Breast cancer is all too common in the United States, where about one in every eight women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. However, a recently approved drug has been found to potentially slow the progression of advanced breast cancer. The drug, palbociclib (Ibrance), was approved by the FDA last year for the treatment of ER-positive breast cancer, a specific strain of cancer fueled in part by estrogen. The approval for this drug came after a clinical trial that utilized two medications, a standard cancer treatment drug Femara, and Ibrance. Researchers found that patients who used both medicines in conjunction doubled the length of their remission, compared to only using Femara. In this latest trial, researchers randomly selected 666 women to receive the drug duo or just Femara. They found that in those who only took Ibrance or Femara , 44% and 62% had died or seen their cancer spread, respectively. However, the cancer of those who were prescribed both not only went into remission but didn’t spread to any other areas of the body. Among the postmenopausal women in the trial, the average length of remission was two years when taking Ibrance in addition to Femara. Ibrance is one of the first drugs that prevents two separate enzymes, CDK4 and CDK6, from spreading ER-positive breast tumors. The patient would take the tablet medication daily for three weeks, followed by one week off. Comparatively, Femara works by decreasing the estrogen levels in the body. Considering the fact that two-thirds of all breast cancer cases have receptors for estrogen and/or progesterone, the researchers on this trial are exceptionally happy with these results. “We found that the degree of clinical benefit was, again, remarkable,” said lead researcher Dr. Richard Finn, an...

Wal-Mart to Kick Off Cyber Monday on Black Friday This Year...

With Black Friday spilling over into Thanksgiving dinner, the “holiday creep” is already testing its limits this year. Wal-Mart, however, is taking it even one step further by starting Cyber Monday on Black Friday. The world’s largest retailer, eager to start making that holiday cash, won’t even wait for the weekend to pass before offering big online sales. In fact, they don’t even intend to wait until the turkey is cooked. Wal-Mart’s Cyber Monday will kick off at 12:01 a.m. EST on Friday morning; however, Walmart.com will start its online Black Friday sale at 12:01 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. By offering their Black Friday sales online on Thanksgiving, Wal-Mart is blurring the lines between the two sale-snatching celebrations Americans typically indulge in after Thanksgiving. Not only are they starting their online sales earlier than usual, Wal-Mart will also beef up its product offering from 8 million items to more than 23 million. “By tripling our online product assortment, we’re able to offer a lot more new brands and choices to customers all season long,” said Steve Breen, senior vice president of merchandising for Walmart.com. Every holiday season, retailers try to one-up each other in order to grab a larger share of consumers’ wallets earlier and earlier. Offering online deals is, undoubtedly, a smart move as more and more shoppers are making their holiday purchases online. Back in 2011, $1.1 trillion in sales were web-influenced, and even more sales can be attributed to the Internet today. In fact, global e-commerce generates over $931,000 every 30 seconds. The National Retail Federation estimates that about 137.4 million people will shop either online or in stores this holiday weekend. According to Adobe Digital Insights, Cyber Monday is poised to be the largest sales day of 2016, generating roughly...

New Startup Tackles Urban Blight With Shipping Container Homes...

A new not-for-profit is aiming to combat poverty, unemployment, and housing problems all at once with one simple solution: shipping containers. Urban designer and social entrepreneur Wanona Satcher founded ReJuve Corporation a little over a year ago with the intention of upcycling old shipping containers into the “tiny houses” that have become vogue for eco-conscious — but usually rural — home dwellers. ReJuve, however, wants to utilize these highly cost-efficient and practical living spaces for struggling urban communities that already have housing infrastructure in place but suffer from a lack of affordable developments. “Inner city communities are plagued by increased housing costs, cheap land due to blight, lack of jobs and no access to services, technological and entrepreneurial resources and too many systems to navigate,” reads ReJuve’s crowdfunding page. So far, the company has raised nearly $5,000 of its $20,000 goal to put its first project into action. “As cheap property is acquired and then developed into high market housing existing families that can’t afford to stay are pushed out of their homes with no equity, no resources, no jobs, no ownership and no sense of community.” The ready-to-go shipping container homes, what ReJuve calls “Plug In Pods,” are the ideal solution, Satcher says. With only 6 million of the estimated 17 million shipping containers around the world actually in use for trade, that leaves some 11 million containers that could be converted into homes for people in need of housing. In a recent interview with Forbes, Satcher revealed that she also plans to start a for-profit company to manage real estate development, landscape architecture, master planning, and urban design services for ReJuve. The company isn’t solely focused on urban blight, either; Satcher envisions containers as useful for building more affluent homes, as well...

Cybercriminal Group Targets Hotels, Restaurants With Malware...

Hospitality businesses should be on high alert for attacks from a notorious gang. But rather than doing physical harm, this group is attempting something much more sinister: they use malware attacks to steal countless credit card numbers. A 2013 study found that an average of 82,000 new malware threats occur on a daily basis. That number has most likely increased within the last three years, especially as more organized cybercriminal groups choose to orchestrate widespread attacks. A security firm called Trustwave confirmed that three of the company’s clients have fallen victim to malware attacks in the last month. Although not confirmed, the offenders behind the attacks are likely the Carbanak gang, which was blamed for stealing nearly $1 billion from numerous banks last year. The malware coding in these recent attacks matches that of previous onslaughts perpetrated by the group. The recent invasion has targeted the hospitality industry, including hotels and restaurants. The culprits will call a customer service line and pretend to be customers who are unable to access the business’s reservation system online. They will then send an email to the customer service representative. These emails have Word documents attached that supposedly contain their reservation information. Instead, opening these documents will allow malware to be downloaded to the computer system. These hackers are particularly persistent, as they seem to be doing a lot of research through sites like LinkedIn in order to sound more legitimate. “During the call, they’ll do some name-dropping to establish credibility,” says Brian Hussey, the global director of incident response for Trustwave. He says they’ll also insist on staying on the line with the rep until the document is opened. After the malware is installed on the computer, it turns vicious. The entire point of the attack is...