Mellmo Expands, Larry Smarr Talks Health, & More San Diego BizTech News

Contrary to what you might expect, the pace of tech news out of San Diego didn’t slow down much before the Thanksgiving Holiday. We still managed to round it all up, though, and our briefing begins here.

—As director of the UC system’s California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (CalIT2), Larry Smarr is an Internet pioneer who frequently offers his perspective on the future of IT technologies. Lately, however, Smarr has been providing a glimpse at the future of “quantified health” and digitally enabled genomic medicine. In a Q&A with Smarr, he told me he found he had one chemical marker (out of 60 that he regularly tracks) that was five times higher than the recommended upper limit—triggering a kind of detective story that illustrates the potential revolution in health IT and wireless health.

—In the U.S. Navy’s largest demonstration of alternative fuels, a decommissioned Navy destroyer refitted as a kind of ocean-going test facility completed a 17-hour transit from San Diego to Port Hueneme. The Spruance-class destroyer used a 50-50 mixture of standard Navy diesel fuel and algae-based diesel produced by San Francisco-based Solazyme.

—Mellmo, the four-year-old startup based in Solana Beach, CA, has been moving into overseas markets in Europe and Asia with Roambi, its Web-based business intelligence graphics service. Mellmo co-founder Quinton Alsbury also talked with me about Roambi Flow, a new service that enables corporate customers to wrap text around their Roambi graphics to produce magazine-quality reports for the iPad.

—The case of the 2010 murder of San Diego angel investor and retired life sciences executive John G. Watson came to a close when a San Diego jury convicted Kent Thomas Keigwin of first-degree murder, attempted grand theft of personal property, burglary, and forgery. The prosecutor argued that Keigwin, who was working as a financial advisor, used Watson’s personal information to transfer some $8.9 million from Watson’s accounts.

—San Diego-based Next Autoworks, which was once known as V Vehicle, withdrew its application for more than $320 million in federal loan guarantees, according to news accounts from Monroe, LA, where the company planned to establish its manufacturing plant. Company executives said Energy Department officials informed them their loan application would not be approved. In a press release, Next Autoworks said, “Recent defaults of other DOE-funded startups have caused the government to re-evaluate its appetite for loans to early-stage companies.”

—The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is providing funding for San Diego-based Critical Assets Labs for a cybersecurity R&D project called “Pin Pad Defender.” The amount of the grant was not disclosed, but the company said it is getting one of the first DARPA grants awarded under its new “Cyber Fast Track Program.” In a statement, Critical Assets CEO Matt Harrigan said, “the program establishes the ability for firms like us to do meaningful research under a federal program, which would otherwise not be possible.”

—NASA said the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft, including the new Curiosity rover, is on its way to the Red Planet following a successful liftoff Saturday morning from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Success of the $2.5 billion mission depends on a pair of digital cameras designed and built in San Diego by Malin Space Science Systems. The two cameras are intended to transmit images from the Martian surface from Curiosity, the car-sized rover.

—Kyobo, South Korea’s largest bookstore chain, and San Diego-based Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) said they are introducing a new e-reader that features Qualcomm’s Mirasol display screen technology. The Android-based touchscreen reader will sell in South Korea for the equivalent of $310. Technology Review magazine recently previewed the technology, and reported that the new Mirasol factory Qualcomm has been building in Taiwan for $975 million is expected to begin production in mid-2012.

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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