TIME Innovation

Are “Micro-Schools” the Future of Education?

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Are personalized “micro-schools” the future of education?

By Anya Kamenetz at NPR

2. Millions of Americans get tests, drugs, and operations that won’t make them better.

By Atul Gawande in the New Yorker

3. Can bacteria help us fight the ravages of climate change?

By Esther Ngumbi in Scientific American

4. Here’s a drone you can fly with your phone, from the designer of the Roomba.

By Jessica Leber in Fast Co.Exist

5. What’s killing the growth of mobile banking?

By Herb Weisbaum in NBC News

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Apple watch

Third-Party Apple Watch Bands Are About to Be a Huge Thing

Apple Watch Goes On Sale At Handful Of Boutiques Around The World
Chris McGrath—Getty Images Shimada shows off his newly purchased Apple Watch outside boutique store, Dover Street Market Ginza on April 24, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan.

Apple launched an official program for strap makers

Third-party Apple Watch bands were on the market even before the smartwatch launched last month — but now Apple is pulling in strap makers with a new developers’ program.

Apple launched the “Made for Apple Watch” initiative on Monday, which provides third-party accessory developers with precise smartwatch specifications, according to the program’s new website.

Like the similar “Made for” programs for iPhone, iPad and iPod (“MFi”), the Apple Watch specifications are intended to ensure the accessories comply with Apple performance standards. For Apple Watch bands, that means using the appropriate sizes and materials compatible with its features and environmental regulations. It also means following the company’s ban on integrated magnetic chargers.

There’s no mention of integrating accessories with Apple Watch’s hidden diagnostic port, a possibility many developers are hoping will be added in the future. That could allow faster charging or even battery straps, though other developers argue that the port is hidden for a reason.

Read next: 7 Most Surprising Things About Owning an Apple Watch

TIME

Check Out McDonald’s Revolutionary New Takeout Bag

Happy Meals get happier

McDonald’s has invented a new takeout bag.

Behold, the aptly named “BagTray,” a joint development from the geniuses at McDonald’s Hungary and the ad agency DDB Budapest. The paper bag transforms with a single tear of a perforated strip into a detachable serving tray.

The reinforced cardboard tray at the bottom of the bag keeps the meal and the inevitable grease-stained wrappers in a tidy little package — so tidy, in fact, that you can supposedly place a Happy Meal on your lap.

No word on whether they’ve been released or will be in the U.S., but fans can cross their greasy fingers for now.

[Gizmodo]

TIME Innovation

Why the Next Leader of the U.N. Should Be a Woman

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. After 70 years of men in charge, the next leader of the U.N. should be a woman.

By Gillian Sorensen and Jean Krasno in the Washington Post

2. Here’s how to design a better Monday.

By Studio 360 and IDEO

3. What brought some cities back from the economic brink? Making peace with their suburbs.

By Nancy Cook in the National Journal

4. There’s an app to document and salvage Nepal’s cultural heritage.

By Annette Ekin at Al Jazeera

5. Elon Musk just made growing weed easier.

By Wes Siler in Gizmodo

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

How to Feed 9 Billion People

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Here’s how we feed nine billion people. And why.

By Madeleine K. Albright in the Aspen Journal of Ideas

2. Hate your bank? With an open banking platform, developers could build better financial institutions.

By Noel Peatfield at Open Source

3. There’s an upside to war-torn heritage sites.

By the University of Leicester

4. Americans are trading the ballot box for the mailbox.

By Sean Green and Kyle Ueyama at the Pew Charitable Trusts

5. Could a knee brace power an artificial heart?

By Mike Williams at Rice University

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Companies

Microsoft’s Crazy New Tech Totally Explains Why It Bought Minecraft

Key Speakers At The Microsoft Build Developer 2015 Conference
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images The Microsoft Corp. HoloLens augmented reality headset is demonstrated during a keynote session at the Microsoft Developers Build Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, April 29, 2015.

The $2.5 billion acquisition makes more sense given the HoloLens

Microsoft’s whopping $2.5 billion acquisition of Mojang, the game maker behind Minecraft, left a few analysts scratching their heads last year, but that was before they had laid eyes on — or in — Microsoft’s HoloLens, an augmented reality headset that can transform Minecraft’s virtual worlds into eye-popping 3-D holograms.

Microsoft offered a second demonstration of the game in holographic form at its annual Build developer’s conference this week. It revealed how easily players can take a landscape or a building they’ve already designed in the the game and convert it instantly into a 3-D floating hologram. Microsoft employees showed how one such design, a replica of Seattle’s Space Needle, made the leap to 3-D without a hitch, enabling them to scale the hologram to any size, turn it in the air and rest it on a real-world shelf, Business Insider reports.

The demonstration showed how Microsoft could convert Minecraft’s die hard fan base into HoloLens addicts. With more than 100 million active users, each with their own pre-fabricated designs, that’s a mighty big pool of potential customers for the new platform. Little by little, Microsoft’s vision for the $2.5 billion Minecraft acquisition is snapping into focus.

TIME Innovation

Meet the Inventor Behind Tech’s Weirdest New Product

Satya Nadella Launches Microsoft Build Conference
Stephen Lam—Getty Images Alex Kipman, technical fellow, operating system group at Microsoft, speaks on stage during the 2015 Microsoft Build Conference on April 29, 2015 at Moscone Center in San Francisco, California.

Microsoft's HoloLens is an impressive augmented reality headset

Alex Kipman, Microsoft’s chief evangelist for the HoloLens, once again stole the show at Microsoft’s Build conference on Wednesday, urging developers to “move beyond devices, to move beyond screens and pixels and to move beyond today’s digital borders.” In a word: move to holograms already.

Hardly 100 days have passed since Kipman first emerged from a windowless lab beneath Microsoft’s Visitor Center and unveiled a new virtual reality headset to a stunned press corps. The HoloLens effectively projects 3-D holograms directly in front of the user in a seamless blend of fantasy and reality.

“We’ve worked on this program for years,” Kipman said at the time, “hiding in plain sight in the Microsoft visitor’s center.” In an instant, Kipman was vaulted from relative obscurity to one of Microsoft’s single most interesting employees.

The Brazilian-born software engineer joined Microsoft shortly after graduating from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2001. He bounced from division to division before landing a career-defining role as “director of incubation” for the company’s Xbox department. There, he oversaw the development of Xbox Kinect, a motion-sensing device that turns the gamer’s body into a controller. It was an instant success, selling 1 million units in the first 10 days of its release in 2010. Kipman, barely past the age of 30, earned an honored place in TIME’s “Top 25 Nerds of the Year.”

Kinect cemented Kipman’s reputation as one of Microsoft’s resident fantasists, perpetually dissatisfied with the current state of computing. “Alex has a certain naiveté about what’s not possible,” said long-time colleague Peter Loforte in an interview on Microsoft’s official blog.

With his shoulder-length hair and penchant for graphic t-shirts, Kipman bears a passing resemblance to a new age guru. He calls programmers “dreamers” and draws inspiration from the Burning Man festival, “as cleansing creatively as you can get,” he told Fast Company. But in that same interview, he revealed an unrelenting work day, beginning at 7:00 am, bookended by several hours of “create” time and finishing anywhere between “10:00 pm to done.”

Kipman has railed against the way users interact with screens. “They have started to disappear into their devices,” he said in 2012, “real life is passing them by and they don’t even know it!” At that moment he was also overseeing a secret program at Microsoft to develop a holographic headset, codenamed “Project Baraboo.”

It was five years in the making, Kipman told Wired, and he summed up the effort as a very elaborate trick of the eye. “You essentially hallucinate the world,” he said to Wired, “or you see what your mind wants you to see.”

For more on Microsoft’s HoloLens, watch the video below:

TIME Innovation

Why Read Hamlet When You Can Play It?

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Why read Hamlet when you can play an immersive time-traveling video game version instead?

By Jess Joho in Kill Screen

2. Here’s how to attract female engineers.

By Lina Nilsson in the New York Times

3. Everyone is losing in Yemen’s war.

By Adam Baron in Foreign Policy

4. Google and Facebook could save — or consume — journalism.

By Emily Bell in the Columbia Journalism Review

5. We know how to dramatically reduce teen pregnancies, but we don’t. Here’s why.

By Nora Caplan-Bricker in the National Journal

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Careers & Workplace

How Steve Jobs Trained His Own Brain

Steve Jobs gestures during a conference in San Francisco on June 6, 2011.
Paul Sakuma—AP Steve Jobs gestures during a conference in San Francisco on June 6, 2011.

He was far ahead of his time in the technology of the mind

Inc. logo

Steve Jobs is one of the two or three greatest icons of high tech, rivaled only by Bill Gates and perhaps Mark Zuckerberg. He’s mostly known for his legendary ability to create innovative, groundbreaking products.

What’s less known, though, is that Steve Jobs was a pioneer in what was once a rather esoteric “mind technology”–the use of Zen mindfulness meditation to reduce his stress, gain more clarity, and enhance his creativity.

As the Financial Times recently pointed out, Jobs was quite specific about how he went about practicing this “discipline” (as he called it). Biographer Walter Isaacson quotes Jobs as saying:

“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things–that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before.”

What Jobs described in that passage is readily identifiable as a specific type of meditation, usually called “mindfulness,” that’s taught in Zen Buddhism and its Chinese antecedent, Taoism. When Jobs was talking to Isaacson not long before he died, he had been practicing such meditation for many years.

I know that for certain because, by coincidence, in the early 1990s, I had a brief one-on-one conversation with Jobs about how Zen related to computer programming. (That’s a story for another post.)

In any case, it’s now clear that Jobs was as far ahead of his time in the technology of the mind as he was in the technology of computers. According to no less an authority than Scientific American, the latest neuroscience research proves that meditation techniques that have been around for thousands of years have beneficial effects on both your mind and your body.

The mind technology of meditation has since gone mainstream. According to a recent article in The Atlantic, companies as diverse as Target, Google, General Mills, and Ford have begun to teach their employees the same kind of mindfulness that Jobs embraced decades ago.

While the idea of corporate-sponsored meditation sessions strikes me as a bit creepy, you don’t need corporate sponsorship to get the benefits of mindfulness. I learned mindfulness meditation from world-renowned martial artist Yang, Jwing Ming. From what I can tell from Jobs’s description of his meditation, Yang’s method is either identical or closely related to Jobs’s own practice.

Here how the technique was taught to me as far as I recall it:

  1. Sit cross-legged in a quiet place, preferably on a low pillow to reduce strain on your back. Take deep breaths.
  2. Close your eyes and listen to your inner monologue, the thoughts that spin through your mind all the time: work, home, TV, whatever. Those thoughts are the chattering of your “monkey mind.” Don’t try to stop it from chattering, at least not yet. Instead just observe how it jumps from thought to thought to thought. Do this for five minutes every day for a week.
  3. After a week, without trying to silence your monkey mind, during the meditation, shift your attention to your “ox mind.” Your ox mind is the part of your brain that thinks slowly and quietly. It senses things around you. It doesn’t try to assign meaning to anything. It just sees, hears, and feels. Most people only really hear their ox mind when they experience a “breathtaking moment” that temporarily stops the monkey mind from chattering. However, even when your monkey mind is driving you crazy with rush-rush-rush and push-push-push, your ox mind is still there, thinking its slow, deep thoughts.
  4. Once you’re feeling more aware of your ox mind, ask it to start quieting your monkey mind down. What worked for me was imagining the monkey mind going to sleep due to the slow walking of the ox as it moves patiently along a road. Don’t get upset if your monkey mind keeps waking up. It’s a monkey, so it can’t help acting like one. However, you’ll find that, despite its protests, your monkey mind would rather give it rest and stop making all that tiring and tiresome noise.
  5. As your monkey mind calms down, continue to shift your attention to your ox mind. Each breath will seem to take a long time. You’ll feel the air on your skin. You may feel your blood flowing through your body. If you open your eyes, the world will look brand new and even rather strange. A window, for example, becomes just a square thing that full of light. It doesn’t need to be opened or closed or cleaned or repaired or anything else. It’s just there. You’re just there.
  6. While it can take a while to get there, you’ll know you’re doing the exercise correctly when it seems as if no time has passed at all between when you started the timer and when it goes off. When you succeed at that, gradually increase the amount of time you spend each day. Weirdly, no matter how long you practice, it will seem as if no time has passed.

In my experience, daily practice of mindfulness has three valuable results:

First, it completely eliminates stress. While the stress may return, it’s starting from scratch and thus has less chance of snowballing into something unmanageable.

Second, it eliminates insomnia. When I was practicing this regularly, I was able to close my eyes and go to sleep within two or three seconds. That alone is worth the effort, in my view.

Third, and most important, it allows you to think more clearly and more creatively about everything happening in your own life. In my case, I used the sense of calm to extract myself from an unhealthy relationship and a job that made me miserable.

So, while I can’t promise that practicing mindfulness will make you as creative as Steve Jobs, I can promise from my own experience that mindfulness will create positive change in your life.

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article above was originally published at Inc.com.

More from Inc.com:

TIME technology

This Is How Microsoft’s HoloLens Could Boost the Race to Colonize Mars

Microsoft's Lorraine Bardeen demonstrates the new Microsoft HoloLens headset in Redmond, Wash. on Jan. 21, 2015.
Elaine Thompson—AP Microsoft's Lorraine Bardeen demonstrates the new Microsoft HoloLens headset in Redmond, Wash. on Jan. 21, 2015.

The HoloLens display could allow scientists to 'work virtually' on Mars

Ever wonder what it’s like to walk on Mars? You’re not the only one.

Take billionaire futurist Elon Musk, for example. Like so many other earthlings, he wants to die on Mars, “just not on impact.” He thinks colonizing the Red Planet is humanity’s best shot at survival, which is precisely why he founded SpaceX.

Now you, and Musk, can have a better sense of what it’s like to physically walk on Mars’ surface. Enter virtual reality and high-tech holograms. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced that it is teaming up with Microsoft to bring both nascent technologies and Mars exploration together to simulate what it would be like to actually walk on the planet, perhaps our future home.

Together, the two entities are developing software called OnSight that will allow scientists to “work virtually” on Mars using Microsoft’s head-mounted HoloLens display.

The HoloLens virtual reality headset is a goggles-style gizmo that makes 3-D holograms and other digitally simulated stuff appear to float in mid-air in the real-life space around you. Sounds otherworldly enough for a virtually manned mission to Mars, right? Not to mention a marked improvement over eyeballing 3-D stereo views of Martian terrain on a boring, flat computer screen, which is mainly what scientists have had to make do with up to this point.

The big idea is to provide scientists with a better means to plan and conduct Mars Curiosity-aided operations on Mars. Well, virtually. For example, instead of merely inspecting images of Martian rock from a distance via the rover, the HoloLens will enable them to crouch down and take a closer look at land formations, etc.

“OnSight gives our rover scientists the ability to walk around and explore Mars right from their offices,” Dave Lavery, of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, said. “It fundamentally changes our perception of Mars, and how we understand the Mars environment surrounding the rover.”

Will this NASA-Microsoft cutting-edge tech collaboration help Musk and other wanna-be Martians eventually arrive and survive on Mars? While not a giant leap for mankind, it could be a small step in the right direction.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.

More from Entrepreneur.com:

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com