Editor’s note: WRALTechWire’s “Bulldog” is named after the old newspaper tradition of a “bulldog edition” for providing a quick and early look at news. We recently chose to relaunch the Bulldog as a way to incorporate local and other technology and life science news in our daily reports in a concise way so that we can provide more news to our readers.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – In our Bulldog blog’s tech and life science news update: Google’s X team meets with FDA amid medical device talk; Raleigh-based WebAssign adds exec; Twitter shares fall again; Islet Sciences bolsters board; Apple, Samsung to mediate phone dispute.

  • Google X Staff Meet with FDA; Medical Device in Works?

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Google has sent employees with ties to its secretive X research group to meet with U.S. regulators who oversee medical devices, raising the possibility of a new product that may involve biosensors from the unit that developed computerized glasses.

The meeting included at least four Google workers, some of whom have connections with Google X — and have done research on sensors, including contact lenses that help wearers monitor their biological data. Google staff met with those at the Food and Drug Administration who regulate eye devices and diagnostics for heart conditions, according to the agency’s public calendar.

As technology and medicine merge to give consumers more control over their health, innovators from mobile-health application developers to DNA analysis companies have struggled to meet the demands of federal oversight. The FDA ordered Google-backed 23andMe Inc. in November to halt sales of its personal gene test, saying it hadn’t gained agency approval.

Google, expanding beyond its core search-engine business, is investing in long-term projects at its X lab that may lead to new market opportunities, including the Glass devices, driverless cars and high-altitude air balloons to provide wireless Internet access. While some projects may not deliver significant profits and revenue, the company is committed to making bets on research and development, according to Chief Executive Officer Larry Page.

“Our main job is to figure out how to obviously invest more to achieve greater outcomes for the world, for the company,” Page said during a call with analysts last July. “And I think those opportunities are clearly there.”

  • WebAssign Names Chief Academic Officer

RALEIGH –  WebAssign, which works with schools and academic institutions to provide online instructional technology, has named Dr. Jack Narayan as its chief academic officer.

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Narayan to WebAssign,” said Alex Bloom, WebAssign president. “For many years, Jack has successfully integrated technology and hybrid instruction models in his courses. His studied and practical use of online tools and multimedia to improve education make him an ideal addition to the WebAssign team.”

Narayan is a Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Mathematics at SUNY Oswego, which he joined in 1970.

  • Netflix to Stream UltraHD

LAS VEGAS — Netflix says video streaming of its programming in ultra-high definition will work for buyers of new UHD sets from Sony, LG, Samsung, Vizio and others upon purchase.

That’s because Ultra HD models from those makers will include the Netflix app and chips that decode signals in the so-called High Efficiency Video Coding standard, or HEVC.

The chip is required to decode signals that Netflix Inc. will compress by more than 100 times and squeeze through the Internet at a speed of 15.6 megabits per second. That’s a download speed widely available from Internet providers in the U.S.

When the sets go on sale in the next few months, Netflix will be ready with Ultra HD programming, including some nature documentaries and the second season of its original series, “House of Cards.” Ultra HD streaming will be part of the standard Netflix streaming price of $8 a month, the company said.

Netflix showed off streaming in Ultra HD, or 4K, on the sidelines of the International CES gadget show this week. The format has four times as many pixels as standard HD and vastly improves the clarity of larger screens that measure 60 or more inches diagonally. Netflix videos that are available in the sharper format are labeled with the “Ultra HD 4K” symbol.

  • Twitter Shares Falls for Fourth Straight Day 

NEW YORK – Twitter Inc., the microblogging service that went public in November, fell for the fourth straight day Thursday as doubts rise about whether the company can deliver enough sales growth to justify its valuation.

The San Francisco-based company, whose shares closed at a record high of $73.31 last month, declined 3.8 percent to $57.05 at the close in New York. The stock has dropped 17 percent so far this week.

Twitter, which is still well above its initial public offering price of $26, was hit with analyst downgrades this week and Cowen & Co. initiating coverage of the stock with the equivalent of a sell rating. Twitter may not attract enough advertising dollars as customers see better results from rivals Facebook Inc. and LinkedIn Corp., according to Cowen’s note.

“Twitter is a popular social platform, but shares are too rich,” Cowen analysts John Blackledge and Thomas Champion said in the note yesterday.

Twitter now has the equivalent of 11 sell ratings, 11 holds and six buys from analysts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Facebook, Google Inc. and LinkedIn have no sell ratings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg

  • Islet Sciences Adds Piedmont Pharmaceuticals Exec to Board

RALEIGH – Islet Phmaraceuticals has added Dr. Eric Barnett, executive vice president at Piedmont Pharmaceuticals, to its board of directors.

“Dr. Barnett has deep experience in the life sciences industry and brings to Islet a multi-dimensional perspective as both a medical doctor and chartered accountant,” said James Green, Islet’s CEO. “As a medical professional with finance and business development experience, I expect Eric to make an immediate positive impact and I look forward to working with him as we continue to pursue our mission of translating great science into positive outcomes.”

Islet Sciences focuses on metabolic diseases.

  • Apple, Samsung Agree to mediation

NEW YORK –  Apple and Samsung Electronics agreed to a mediator in an effort to resolve their patent disputes over smartphone technology before their next trial in San Jose, California, set to begin in March.

Senior legal executives at the companies met Jan. 6 to discuss “settlement opportunities,” according to the agreement filed yesterday in federal court in San Jose. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh requested in November that both sides submit a settlement discussion proposal before trial.

The companies agreed to retain a mediator “who has experience mediating high-profile disputes,” according to the filing, which doesn’t name the person. The chief executive officers and three to four company lawyers, without any outside attorneys present, will attend the mediation before Feb. 19, according to the filing.

Apple and Samsung previously tried and failed to reach agreement in court-ordered settlement negotiations. In 2012, in their first patent-infringement case in San Jose, U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero handled negotiations. The companies also met at least twice in 2011 to discuss settling their dispute before the U.S. International Trade Commission, according to a company filing.

The world’s top two smartphone makers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees on claims of copying each other’s features in a global battle to dominate the market.