Massachusetts high-tech startup hopes to change biking PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by RODRIQUE NGOWI, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 07:11

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts startup is launching a new device that transforms almost any bicycle into an electric-hybrid vehicle using an app on a smartphone.

The device, called the Copenhagen Wheel, is installed as part of a rear hub of a bike wheel and is packed with a proprietary computer, batteries and sensors that monitor how hard a rider is pedaling and activate an onboard motor whenever support is needed. The device uses wireless connectivity to communicate with the biker's smartphone to track distance traveled, elevation gained, share with friends the number of calories burned and lock the wheel remotely as soon as the owner walks away from the bike.

"The motor integrates itself with the rider's motion very, very seamlessly," said Assaf Biderman, who co-invented the device at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's SENSEable City Lab, where he is associate director. "It's almost like having a riding companion riding together with you, making the ride easier, simpler."

U.S. homebuilder confidence surges in December PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by ALEX VEIGA, AP Real Estate Writer   
Tuesday, 17 December 2013 11:57

U.S. homebuilders' confidence bounced back strongly this month, a sign that construction and industry hiring may pick up in coming months.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Tuesday climbed to 58. That was up from 54 in November and matched an eight-year high reached in August. Readings above 50 indicate that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor.

In addition, builders' view of current sales conditions jumped this month to the highest level in eight years. And their outlook for sales heading into next year's spring home-selling season also improved.

The index has stayed above 50 now for seven straight months after being below that level since May 2006. This month's reading is 11 points higher than a year ago. It reflects a U.S. housing market fueled by steady job growth and still-low mortgage rates.

The latest index suggests that builders remain optimistic that the housing recovery will endure even though mortgage rates have risen in recent months.

Employer groups oppose pension fees in budget deal PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by SAM HANANEL, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 07:02

WASHINGTON (AP) — Employers that still offer workers traditional pension plans are in line for hefty insurance premium increases under the budget agreement struck in Congress.

It's the second time in two years that lawmakers have turned to those plans to help finance spending deals.

Business groups warn that the increases will only encourage more employers to freeze their pension plans or close them to new employees. The increases would come on top of a $9 billion boost in pension premiums that Congress approved last year.

The estimated $8 billion in new premiums would go toward reducing deficits by a government agency, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., that covers pension payments to retirees when bankrupt companies can't.

Supporters of the fee increases say they're crucial to keeping the agency solvent.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AT&T selling Conn. wireline operations to Frontier PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 17 December 2013 09:03

DALLAS (AP) — AT&T has agreed to sell its Connecticut wireline operations to Frontier Communications Corp. for $2 billion as it continues its transition to unwired operations and a cloud network.

Shares of both companies rose in Tuesday premarket trading.

The deal includes wireline network assets and consumer, business and wholesale customer relationships. Frontier said that it will also acquire AT&T's U-verse video and satellite TV customers in Connecticut.

AT&T will receive the $2 billion in cash for its subsidiaries The Southern New England Telephone Co. and SNET America Inc. About 2,700 wireline workers that support AT&T's Connecticut operations will transfer to Frontier when the transaction closes. Frontier currently has more than 200 employees at its headquarters in Stamford, Conn.

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