Weekly Digital News Roundup: Mar 17 – Mar 22
Brussels residents open their doors to offer shelter after attacks
- According to Mashable, Brussels residents who live near metro stations and airports are opening their doors to people in need of shelter following the attacks that rocked Brussels on Tuesday morning. People are using the hashtags #PorteOuverte (open door), #ikwilhelpen (I want to help), #OpenHouse and #BrusselsWelcome to invite people who are stranded into their homes. People are also offering spare bedrooms to those who are affected by flight cancellations.
“If needed, #porteouverte #openhouse at Saint-Gilles. Coffee, tea and board games!”
“I live near Brussels Plasky/Meiser, very close to the Diamant stop. I can welcome people who are stuck outside,” reads one tweet.
Obama administration’s OK means Airbnb can open its Cuba bookings to all travelers
- According to the LA Times, online lodging service Airbnb is allowing travelers from around the world to book stays in private homes in Cuba after the San Francisco-based company received a special authorization from the Obama administration, Airbnb announced Sunday. Airbnb was the first major American company to enter Cuba after Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro declared detente on Dec. 17, 2014. The service handles online listing, booking and payments for people looking to stay in private homes instead of hotels. Cuba has become its fastest-growing market, with about 4,000 homes added over the last year.
- Airbnb had only been allowed to let U.S. travelers use its services in Cuba under a relatively limited Obama administration exception to the half-century old US trade embargo on the island. The expansion of that license gives Airbnb the ability to become a one-stop shop for travelers seeking lodging in private homes, which have seen a flood of demand from travelers seeking an alternative to state-run hotels.
- Also on Sunday,Marriott International Inc. said it had gained Treasury Department authorization to pursue a deal in Cuba. The hotel company, which is based in Bethesda, Maryland, said it is in talks with potential partners on the island. Its CEO, Arne Sorenson, is in Cuba with Obama’s delegation.
Former Apple exec launches at-home blood test startup
- According to TechCrunch, Bob Messerschmidt knows a little about health and wellness tech, having spent three years helping architect the Apple Watch platform after Apple quietly acquired his spectroscopy company, Rare Light, in 2010. (The terms were undisclosed.)
- Messerschmidt also knew when he left Apple to found a new company that it would again involve smartphones. After all, he reasoned, they’re starting to help us track not just our general wellness but also our responses to medicine and other treatments. The bigger question was which chronic condition he would tackle and before long, he settled on Cor, a now two-year-old, San Francisco-based, consumer-facing startup that helps measure heart health, all with just a tiny drop of blood.
- Before you start worrying that Cor is a young Theranos, the embattled blood testing company, it’s worth noting that there are many meaningful differences between the two companies. For one thing, Cor wants people to test themselves in their own homes, using an appliance the size of an electric toothbrush and disposable cartridges. Their blood chemistry information is then sent “into the cloud,” analyzed, and results are beamed backed to users within five minutes, along with helpful tips about how to improve them.