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Friday Briefing: Curing Blindness With a Single Injection

As with every Friday, it’s time to bypass the lengthier tech articles and piece together a brief sampling of a few technology trends I’m following closely right now.

Remember to weigh in on the proceeding survey to let us know which story has you most tuned in.

Enough exposition. Here’s this week’s Briefing…

Tech Trend #1: Major Development for Google Wallet

Long-time Wall Street Daily readers know that we’re particularly tuned in to the mobile payments space. More specifically, technologies like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Wallet that use Near-Field Communication (NFC) to allow your smartphone to replace your credit card.

One of the biggest drawbacks of Google Wallet, however, was that it only supported direct purchases using a MasterCard (NYSE: MA) from Citigroup (NYSE: C). Everyone else was forced to put cash on a Google prepaid card before using the application. Compared to a competing app launching soon, Isis, which partnered with all major credit card companies.

Google must have realized this limitation, however, as it’s introduced a cloud-based version of the app that supports all major credit cards. The catch is that it stores your credit card information in the cloud, not on the uber-secure NFC chip. Although a special ID number that’s used by the app to facilitate purchases will still be stored in the chip.

Of course, the Isis players – Verizon (NYSE: VZ), AT&T (NYSE: T) and T-Mobile – are blocking the app. Surprise, surprise. But I’m sure there will be a way around that soon.

Tech Trend #2: Once Blind, But Now They See

I’m not someone who gets woozy around needles. But a needle to the eye? That’s enough to make anyone a bit jumpy.

However, it could be worth it for some people, since scientists have discovered an injection to the eye that could soon help restore sight.

Researchers at the University of California-Berkeley are testing a chemical called AAQ. Essentially, it can cause neurons to activate when exposed to light, something that could reverse some of the most common causes of blindness.

They tested the chemical on blind mice, and according to Popular Science, “Mice that received AAQ injections later shied away from light and their pupils contracted, which indicated their brains were receiving light signals.”

The only problem is that the effect only lasts a few days. Hopefully after further tests, scientists can figure out how to maintain sight a bit longer. (Because the only thing worse than an injection to the eye is multiple injections to the eye every week.)

Tech Trend #3: Cut $80 Off Your Smartphone Plan With Republic Wireless

Back in November, I discussed Republic Wireless’ move to revolutionize mobile networks. In short, it offers a $19 a month mobile plan that includes unlimited voice and data. It does so by asking users to rely heavily on Wi-Fi networks whenever possible. When there’s no Wi-Fi available, the user’s phone defaults to Sprint’s (NYSE: S) cellular network.

At the time, I was convinced that the super low price would attract a lot of attention. I was right. The company behind the service, Bandwidth.com, reported an overwhelming response to the beta test of the plan, saying that the initial inventory of phones sold out in hours.

Now the company has reopened the beta test to new customers. Only this time, it’s offering a newer, more capable smartphone – the Motorola Defy XT. So the company should have no problem attracting a slew of new beta users this time around, too.

The only catch? You need to pay $249 up front for the device. That’s a little steep, considering you can get better smartphones for less money. But there’s no contract with Republic Wireless. And at $19 a month, you can easily make up for the extra dough in a few months’ time.

Would you be willing to ditch your high-priced plan for a cheaper (albeit, new and experimental) mobile carrier? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook or Google+.

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That’s all for today. Have a great weekend!

Good investing,

Justin Fritz





Justin Fritz

, Executive Editor

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