technology | WABE 90.1 FM


Coca-Cola CEO, Muhtar Kent
Courtesy of Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola is the first Fortune 500 Atlanta company to come out against President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration.

Tech companies like Google and Microsoft responded loudly against the executive order this weekend.

But many of Atlanta's largest publicly-traded companies aren't talking about it.

Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent said he doesn't support President Trump's executive order and is working to help employees who may be affected.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Delta Air Lines' baggage claim area display banners saying bags are guaranteed to be delivered within 20 minutes. Delta Air Lines is the first to implement RFID luggage tags to track bags system-wide.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Your luggage tag may look ordinary, but if you’re flying with Delta Air Lines, it now has a microchip embedded inside. Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines is spending millions on new technology that allows its passengers to track their bags using a smartphone.

At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the headquarters of Delta Air Lines, Cynthia Tookes of Lithonia, Georgia, who flies once a week to sing with her church choir, said she loves the new feature that allows her to track her bags on the Fly Delta app.

Alison Guillory / WABE

If you have trouble hearing announcements by MARTA train conductors, you're not alone.

MARTA plans to spend $40 million to install 300 new display boards, add 500 more speakers and replace 4,000 older speakers to address complaints about its audiovisual system.

The new signs, which will double the number it currently has, will be larger than the current signs. And instead of a black backdrop, the signs will look like TV screens with ads, stock information, news and other updates.

Cobb County schools will build a new $29.9 million College and Career Academy in Marietta.

The academy will primarily target students who want to graduate from high school to a job, but Cobb County School Board Vice Chair David Chastain said it won't be your average vocational technical school of decades past.

"It's not just learning to use a skillsaw and making a cutting board that looks like a rooster or something,” Chastain said. “This is working with technology, maybe even learning coding."

Morehouse College freshmen Philip Rucker, Damon Redding and Tyree Stevenson use a programming language called Python to plot a map of weather stations in the United States.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Silicon Valley has a diversity problem: only one percent of technical employees at large tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google are African-American.

Industry leaders in Atlanta say tech companies here do a little better -- partly because there’s a more diverse pool of talent to draw from in the city. But those leaders also say there’s a still a long way to go.

Several groups in the Atlanta area are looking to change the picture.

Black Men Code

martha dalton / wabe

A California judge last week ordered tech company Apple to help the FBI open a locked iPhone used by a suspect in December’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. Apple plans to fight the order. The company’s supporters planned protests to show their support outside Apple stores in 50 cities Tuesday, including the Apple store at Atlanta’s Cumberland Mall.

Opening day riders on the Atlanta Streetcar.
Ryan Nabulsi / / for WABE

The city of Atlanta says, starting next month, there will be a new way to pay for the Atlanta Streetcar: a mobile app.

This is after a long delay in getting the app ready for riders.

Mayor Kasim Reed said last spring that one reason the streetcar would be free for all of 2015 was to allow for time to get a mobile payment app ready.

Dustin Farist uses his smartphone to pay for a shave at Gino's Classic Barber Shoppe in Atlanta.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Every time you swipe, tap or insert your card and even pay with your phone, there's a good chance the transaction will be processed here in Georgia.

That's because nearly 70 percent of all payment card transactions are processed here, and more than half of U.S. financial technology firms are based in the Atlanta area.

Tino Mantella, president of the Technology Association of Georgia, said you can expect to see more financial tech companies setting up shop in the Atlanta area in 2016.

Students at The Iron Yard
Courtesy of The Iron Yard

Software developers and programmers are in high demand in Atlanta, and a growing number of schools are expanding to address the shortage felt in Atlanta's growing tech industry.

One of Atlanta's popular private coding schools, The Iron Yard, is opening a second location in Sandy Springs in March. The school has worked with more than 185 students since it first opened a branch in downtown Atlanta in 2014.  Atlanta will be the first city to have a second branch of the boot camp nearby.

Virtual reality headset
Alison Guillory / WABE

Virtual reality is being used in a lot of new ways.

At Emory University, researchers are using virtual reality to treat veterans who suffered sexual abuse in the military and now have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Inside a dark room, patients wear a head-mounted display, headphones, hold a joystick in their hands and sit on a chair where they can feel vibrations.

As they move their heads, they can see anything above them – like the sky, if they look down, they can see their feet.

X-ray vision, a comic book fantasy for decades, is becoming a reality in a lab at MIT.

A group of researchers led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Dina Katabi has developed software that uses variations in radio signals to recognize human silhouettes through walls and track their movements.

Researchers say the technology will be able to help health care providers and families keep closer tabs on toddlers and the elderly, and it could be a new strategic tool for law enforcement and the military.

Varian Medical Systems opened its East Coast office in Atlanta on Monday.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

One of the world's largest manufacturers of cancer treatment devices and software, Palo Alto-based Varian Medical Systems, opened its East Coast hub in Atlanta Monday. The company plans to add up to 100 technical jobs.

The new office is meant to help an Atlanta start-up, Velocity Medical Solutions, which was bought by Varian in 2014.

Varian Medical Systems has had an office in Marietta since the 1980s.

Velocity was started by researchers at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and received early funding from the Georgia Research Alliance.

Credit Hi-Rez Studios

Most people know how movies and records are made ─ or have a good understanding. But that doesn’t always hold true for the design of video games.  

One company, just north of Atlanta, is Hi-Rez Studios. They produce a free, online game called SMITE, which ─ at any one time ─ could have millions of people playing it simultaneously. We stopped by their studios to see how a video game comes together.

Ga. Lawmaker Taking An In-Depth Look At The Rise Of Drones

Jul 22, 2015
"This drone has a Go Pro camera mounted underneath and can go anywhere. The pilot was practicing flying in the high wind. Amazing machine, but some concerns with that camera too."
Don McCullough /

As the new Ted Turner Drive was dedicated in downtown Atlanta this week, spectators were on hand snapping pictures of the ceremony. At the same time, a drone was hovering above the event doing the exact same thing. That's despite the state ban on flying a drone within five miles of the State Capitol or the governor’s mansion – which is just north of downtown.

Meanwhile, the federal government recently issued a clearance for drone flights to six movie and television companies for use in filming operations. That’s important in Georgia where the movie business is big business.

Ghost drones are displayed at an event with the Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) Coalition, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, at the National Press Club in Washington.
Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

During Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, retired Army Lieutenant General Russel L. Honore was commander of the Joint Task Force. He says drones could have saved lives in 2005.

"It would have gotten places that we had a hard time getting to, and it could cover more ground than two people walking down the street," Honore said. 

In this Oct. 16, 2014 picture, an unmanned aircraft flies near a tower carrying long-distance electric transmission lines near Boulevard, Calif.
Gregory Bull / Associated Press

Macon-Bibb County is considering using drones for use in emergency response situations. 

Georgia Tech

Trees Atlanta has a new tool to convince property owners to plant more trees.

"We would drive up and down the street and say, 'They don't have any right of way trees, they don't have any front-yard trees.' And then we look for a link – someone to establish a project there,” said Alex Beasley of Trees Atlanta.   

Beasley said now, convincing homeowners will be a lot easier thanks to a program at Georgia Tech.

Dan Raby / WABE

A local tech company, Clockwise.MD, is working on eliminating wait times at urgent care centers.

It's rolling out a mobile app and real-time monitors at pediatric urgent care centers – including the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. 

The app sends patients a text message when the doctor is actually ready to see them.

At Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Beth Gansel, an administrative resource nurse, says now there’s now more room to breathe.   

Tasnim Shamma / WABE

A United Kingdom-based software company, Sage, said it’s moving its North American headquarters from Lawrenceville to midtown Atlanta.

Sage also said it's adding 400 jobs, mostly in sales and marketing, and building a 75,000-square-foot innovation center at Atlantic Station.

“As a global technology company, we clearly looked at the San Francisco Bay area, Boston, Austin, etc.," said Mark Scheipe, Sage North America's chief financial officer.

Left to right: Chris Hart, David Hartnett, Allyson Eman, Tino Mantella, Cory Hewett, Evan Jarecki, and Amanda Hendley; winners of the 2015 TAG Business Launch tech start up competition.
Courtesy of Tech Association of Georgia

The Technology Association of Georgia, or TAG, sponsored a recent business tech start-up competition to help connect investors with new enterprises.

TAG is a leading technology industry association. The group’s president and CEO, Tino Mantella, says TAG is the “largest tech trade association in the nation.”

TAG is “dedicated to the promotion and economic advancement of the state’s technology industry,” according to the organization’s Facebook page.

President Luis Guillermo Solís, the President of Costa Rica, visits with Jim Burress
Brenna Beech / WABE

The president of Costa Rica is in the U.S. this week visiting several key “tech hub” cities.

That includes Atlanta.

President Luis Guillermo Solis said building on existing relationships between the Central American country and cities like Atlanta is key to his country’s success.

"That's why I'm here, seeking more investments," Solis said. "When the U.S. economy grows, the Costa Rican economy thrives. That's the overall lesson we've learned." 

A young child plays with a touch screen phone.
Clark Maxwell /

In the Information Age of the 21st century, toddlers and young children are exposed to technology at a very young age through the use of tablets, smart phones and computers.

A survey of parents by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association found more than half of those surveyed expressed concerns about their children's use or misuse of technology.

The survey also found parents are worried about whether high-tech gadgets can affect children’s hearing or speech and language development.

Haptic Mirror Therapy Glove at Georgia Tech
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Fashion designers, researchers and business executives are gathering at Georgia Tech this weekend to learn about the latest in wearable technology. 

This year’s focus was on making the tech look stylish.

Event organizer James Hallam spent six months trying to gather Atlanta’s fashion designers and programmers together.

“It opens up new ways for fashion designers to actually offer new products," Hallam says. "Sometimes you can put simple lights on them, but there’s also products out there showing whole video displays. That really changes what a dress is.”

Blueberries at UGA's farm in Athens
Stephanie Schupska / UGA

Blueberries are now the state’s No. 1 fruit crop. They even beat out Georgia’s peaches.

As farmers try to meet growing demand they’re also looking for ways to cut losses.

Researchers at the University of Georgia won a $2.37 million grant from the USDA to develop technology to help small to mid-size blueberry growers. 

During the harvesting process, a lot of blueberries get squashed. Machines do their best, but a lot of the time, they leave something to be desired.

Apple I computer at the Southeast Vintage Computer Festival
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

One of the oldest personal computers in the world, the Kenbak-1, will be on display in Roswell this weekend. It’s part of an exhibit at the third annual Southeast Vintage Computer Festival.

The PDP-8 turns 50 this year. PDP stands for Programmable Data Processor – and the PDP-8 was the first commercially successful minicomputer. It looks nothing like your modern day computer. It’s a large black box with yellow and orange switches.

Yasunobu Ikeda /

The Apple Watch has been on the market for less than a week. While many companies are still developing apps for it, airlines are already embracing the technology. 

That includes Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, which five years ago was among the first airline to introduce an iPhone app.

Spokesman Paul Skrbec says customers quickly adopted the technology.

Brenna Beech / WABE

Mayor Kasim Reed announced today that the Atlanta streetcar will continue to be free through the rest of the year.

“What I want is for it to become a part of our city’s culture and I think that if people ride it for a year and get accustomed to using it to get around as we have more than $800 million in new development coming within a five minute walk, then I think that’s probably the best outcome,” Reed said.  

Reed said tech firms have approached him about developing an app that would allow people to pay for the streetcar with their phones instead of the Breeze Card.

Atlanta's police Chief George N. Turner (shown with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed) is joining the executive board of a national law enforcement organization.
Michell Eloy / WABE

He is a 32-year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department, and some consider Chief George Turner a pillar of the community.

Under his leadership, and with strong backing from Mayor Kasim Reed, the Atlanta Police Department reached its goal of 2,000 sworn-in officers in 2013.

Roadbot prototype, GDOT
Jonathan Holmes / Courtesy of Georgia Tech Research Institute

Researchers at Georgia Tech and the Georgia Department of Transportation have spent more than 10 years developing a robot, called Roadbot, that can seal cracks on major roads and highways. 

Roadbot has lots of body parts – cameras, computers, a machine that melts asphalt and colorful LED lights. It latches onto the back of a pick-up truck.

Google Fiber Coming To Metro Atlanta

Jan 27, 2015
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, right, and Google Fiber Marketing Director Scott Levitan hold a sign announcing that Google Fiber is coming to Atlanta. Some HUD housing facilities will offer residents who qualify free Google Fiber service.
Brenna Beech / WABE

Google today confirmed plans to bring its high-speed internet service Fiber to the metro Atlanta area.

The announcement came as no surprise, as the tech giant had announced back in February that Atlanta was one of nine metro areas it was eyeing for its gigabit web service. Other area cities included in the Fiber network expansion will be Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, College Park, Decatur, East Point, Hapeville, Sandy Springs and Smyrna.