Morning Brew - ☕️ Model trains

Plus, a farmer embraces the great indoors.
Morning Brew November 14, 2022

Emerging Tech Brew

Happy Monday. On Friday, Julien’s Auctions auctioned off an item only a true Apple superfan could love: Steve Jobs’s four-decade-old Birks.

The sandals were apparently yanked from a pile of trash at one of Jobs’s homes in the ’80s and have since been displayed in a number of museums and store exhibitions in the US and Europe.

Anyway they sold for the low, low price of $218,750. And yes, the new owner received an NFT of the Birks, too.

In today’s edition:

How startups plan to reinvent city transit
Why an outdoor farm moved to the tech-enabled indoors
Coworking

Hayden Field, Jordan McDonald, Dan McCarthy

SMART CITIES

Not model trains, but train models

Not model trains, but <em>train models</em> Illustration: Morning Brew, Photo: EschCollection/Getty Images

If you took the subway recently in New York City, your train probably arrived thanks in part to a nearly 118-year-old signaling technology developed during the early days of the New York subway system.

  • The train operator likely used the same signaling technology to know which track to take to drop you off at your destination and when it was safe to proceed along to the next section of the underground system.

But...Advanced as this tech was upon its installation, it’s a bit dated in our modern times. As New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority wrote on its website, “With our legacy signal system, all we know is that some part of a train is in some part of a section of track—these sections can be over 1,000 feet long.”

And New York is not alone in needing tech upgrades, at least according to a handful of companies working on next-gen train tech. We spoke with the startups looking to remake the hardware and software that helps subways shuttle people around cities. Keep reading about the startups looking to remake subway systems.HF

This story is part of our new package exploring smart cities—click here to view the full interactive series.

        

FROM THE CREW

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FOOD TECH

Embracing the great indoors

Embracing the great indoors Soli Organics

Growing food is a tough business, and growers, whether they are tilling fields or managing lighting schedules in a warehouse, can face difficult choices on how to conduct their business.

Virginia-based Soli Organic, which claims to have a ~35% share of the US herb market, is familiar with such choices: It announced a rebrand from Shenandoah Farmers to Soli Organic in 2021 and has been slowly retooling its operations to grow almost entirely indoors.

  • More than a decade ago, the company began a slow-burning shift from the great outdoors to the great indoors as the costs of controlled environment agriculture fell.

The goal? It aims to transition the “bulk of its business” over the next year and a half to its tech-enabled indoor setup, as part of a larger plan to move 90% of its production indoors, according to Matt Ryan, CEO of Soli Organic.

“Converting field-grown to indoors for us is all about profitability. It’s hard to make a dime right now in the outdoor field-grown herb business,” Ryan told Emerging Tech Brew.

Keep reading about Soli’s indoor embrace here.JM

        

READER SPOTLIGHT

Coworking with…Krista Polikaitis

Coworking with…Krista Polikaitis

Coworking is a weekly segment where we spotlight Emerging Tech Brew readers who work with emerging technologies. Click here if you’d like a chance to be featured.

How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t work in tech?

As a software engineer at Akasa, I am responsible for building tailored services for health systems to help them automate and optimize back-end operations, i.e., the financial and administrative side of healthcare—ultimately allowing them to reduce healthcare staff burnout and improve the patient experience.

What emerging tech are you most optimistic about? Least? And why?

I am most optimistic about products that offer sustainable practices, such as compostable toilets, water recycling systems, and alternative energy sources.

I am most skeptical of autonomous diagnosis for medical specialties such as internal medicine and radiology. I know how AI can be extremely useful in these scenarios, but I believe that we have a long way to go before we can fully automate these specialties. I’m not just saying this because my husband is about to become a radiologist.

What’s the best piece of tech-related media you’ve read/watched/listened to?

The most exciting tech-related media that I have watched recently would be astronomer Sara Issaoun’s talk at PyCon about how the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration was able to use technology to produce the first-ever picture of a black hole in space. The process they took to get the image was so fascinating and exciting, and I definitely recommend watching it!

One thing we can’t guess from your LinkedIn profile?

My sport of choice these days is long-distance trail running! I have participated in four ultramarathons (three 50k races and one 50-mile race) and hope to eventually try a 100-mile race.

        

TOGETHER WITH WORKIVA

Workiva

Teamwork makes the ESG dream work. With changes looming for publicly traded companies, your ESG and finance teams need to be totally in sync. Workiva outlined everything you need to know about creating the data dream team and leveraging tech to produce accurate, timely, audit-ready reports. Learn more here.

BITS AND BYTES

ASML chip-making equipment is loaded onto a plane ASML

Stat: ASML, which dominates the market for advanced semiconductor equipment, raised its 2025 revenue guidance from €24–€30 billion to €30–€40 billion as it expects the chipmaking industry to bounce back from its recent challenges.

Quote: “There is no soul behind it.”—NYT deputy editor, food, Genevieve Ko on the dishes featured in a GPT-3-generated Thanksgiving menu

Read: Big Tech has big dreams for augmented reality. Will they come true?

WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • Figma’s CEO goes in-depth on its sale to Adobe.
  • John Deere is rolling out a private 5G network in its move toward wireless factory infrastructure.
  • EV startups like Rivian and Lucid are running through money amid rising raw materials and production costs.
  • DeviantArt, a popular digital art community, released an AI image generator built on Stable Diffusion.
  • SpaceX just bought a big ol’ ad campaign on Twitter.

TRIVIA

News quiz branding Francis Scialabba

Last week was a newsy doozy (sorry). Let’s see how well you remember what went down.

Click here to play.

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Written by Hayden Field, Jordan McDonald, and Dan McCarthy

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