Thursday, May 7, 2015

Friday Thinking, 8 May 2015

Hello all –Friday Thinking is curated in the spirit of sharing. Many thanks to those who enjoy this. J

the effect of …. digitized footsteps may be to make the entire idea of separate city departments obsolete. The delivery of city services, the maintenance of engaged relationships with citizens, and the planning of new city structures can all be understood from the citizens’ perspective: horizontal processes leading to desired outcomes rather than occasions for vertical, departmental control. This can be very good for public employees, because a city that sees itself this way can allow professional, responsible civil servants to provide when-needed, as-needed, individualized services.
Susan Crawford - The City of the Future is in Ohio

In the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, one new force changed everything. Today our world is undergoing an even more dramatic transition due to the confluence of four fundamental disruptive forces—any of which would rank among the greatest changes the global economy has ever seen. Compared with the Industrial Revolution, we estimate that this change is happening ten times faster and at 300 times the scale, or roughly 3,000 times the impact. Although we all know that these disruptions are happening, most of us fail to comprehend their full magnitude and the second- and third-order effects that will result. Much as waves can amplify one another, these trends are gaining strength, magnitude, and influence as they interact with, coincide with, and feed upon one another. Together, these four fundamental disruptive trends are producing monumental change.
The age of urbanization
Accelerating technological change
Getting old isn’t what it used to be: Responding to challenges of an aging world
Trade, people, finance, and data: Greater global connections
These four disruptions gathered pace, grew in scale, and started collectively to have a material impact on the world economy around the turn of the 21st century. Today, they are disrupting long-established patterns in virtually every market and every sector of the world economy—indeed, in every aspect of our lives. Everywhere we look, they are causing trends to break down, to break up, or simply to break. The fact that all four are happening at the same time means that our world is changing radically from the one in which many of us grew up, prospered, and formed the intuitions that are so vital to our decision making.
The four global forces breaking all the trends
The world economy’s operating system is being rewritten.

Here’s a 30 min video - that may be interesting for all of us Boomers .. well probably for everyone.
David Sinclair - Close To Reversing Aging
Scientists are close to finding the elixir of youth. New understanding and technology mean we can turn back the clock and live longer. The 2014 Dean’s Lecture features two of the world’s leading researchers in ageing, Professors David Sinclair and Stephen Simpson. Their work promises to enhance health and happiness into old age for individuals and reduce the huge cost burden on health systems currently imposed by aging populations. Excerpt from UNSW Medicine's Deans lecture 2014.

Sinclair is Co-Director of the Paul F. Glenn Laboratories for the Biological Mechanisms of Aging at Harvard Medical School. Sinclair obtained a Bachelors of Science (Honours Class I) at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, and received the Australian Commonwealth Prize. In 1995, he received a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics then worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Leonard Guarente.
Since 1999 he has been a tenured professor in the Genetics Department of Harvard Medical School.

Sinclair has received over 25 awards including The Australian Commonwealth Prize, A Helen Hay Whitney Fellowship, the Nathan Shock Award, a Leukemia and Lymphoma Fellow, a MERIT Awards from the National Institutes of Health, the Merck Prize, the Arminese Fellowship, the Genzyme Outstanding Achievement in Biomedical Science Award, an Ellison Medical Senior Fellow, the Bio-Innovator award, the Bright Sparks Award for Top Scientists under 40, The Denham Harman Award in Biogerontology, a medal from the Australian Society for Medical Research, and a TIME 100 honoree, TIME magazine's list of the 100 "most influential people in the world" (2014).

Speaking about aging here is an interesting research project about memory.
What is MEMO?
MEMO is a Multifaceted Examination of Memory and its Origins. In essence, MEMO is one of the most detailed investigations of memory ever undertaken.
As we all know, some of us have really excellent memory while some of us struggle with remembering - but why? What are the reasons for these individual differences? Very little is known about this, so one of MEMO's main goals is to understand why and how this variance in memory ability occurs. We will then combine the findings from MEMO with those from our other work which involves studying patients who experience loss of memory following brain injury or disease. In this way we hope to build a more complete understanding of how memories are formed, represented and recollected by the human brain, with a view to doing more to help memory-impaired patients in the future.

MEMO is being conducted by researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London. The Centre is a world leader in using brain imaging to investigate how the brain supports complex cognitive functions such as memory. MEMO is funded by a research grant from a medical charity called the Wellcome Trust.

MEMO is looking for 300 healthy adult volunteers to come and have their memory tested in numerous fun ways, and to have some brains scans. Follow the links on the left to find out more about MEMO and how to take part. Thanks, we hope to see you and your brain very soon!

Here’s a great start to the smart city - take this approach and integrate Big Data from sensors, people, things - and now it’s no longer about measuring outputs as proxies for outcomes - but one of homeostatic responding to real-time shifts in real-time conditions.
The City of the Future is in Ohio
Cincinnati has nothing to lose by adopting a data-savvy governance model that turns tradition on its head. The results might start a national trend.
Outputs: the stuff a business or institution produces. Outcomes: the changes in the world produced by the outputs. Outputs are easily measured — and easy to put a pricetag on. Outcomes are fuzzier but ultimately more important. As Deborah Mills-Scofield wrote in the Harvard Business Review a few years ago, the difference between outputs and outcomes is “fundamental and profound.”

In medicine, rewarding outputs can lead to unnecessary testing that robs patients and the entire healthcare system of time and money. Reforms to Medicare enacted this month will shift doctors’ focus from outputs — the number of tests carried out, the number of patients seen — to outcomes in the form of patient healthiness and improved quality of care. It’s long overdue: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) says the current formula for paying doctors is “horrendously flawed.” The variable dictating whether or not tests are ordered before cataract surgery? The eye doctor, not the patient’s characteristics: A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine says that 36 percent of eye doctors ordered possibly unnecessary tests for three-quarters or more of their cataract patients, and a determined 8 percent of doctors ordered tests for every single one of those people.

Outputs are what we can measure. Outcomes are what we really want.
So what would happen if a city’s services were managed, top to bottom, to focus on outcomes rather than outputs?

We’re about to find out in the great state of Ohio. Cincinnati, the Queen City, whose population is expected to grow to more than 300,000 in 2020 (following years of population flight) is determined to make the crucial shift.

Here’s something that should be more than a ‘weak signal’ for government approaches to IT.
DoD grants new security approvals to 23 cloud providers
The Defense Department announced security approvals for nearly two dozen cloud computing products on Monday, showing modest progress in DoD's slow advance toward commercial cloud adoption and making good on a promise to put more of its trust in the cloud security process used by the rest of the government.

All 23 of the cloud offerings the department approved for use by military departments and defense agencies had already met the "moderate" security baseline under the governmentwide Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP).

In January, DoD announced via a new security requirements guide that it would accept the FedRAMP standards as sufficiently robust to allow its own vendors to host and process data up to what the department defines as "level 2:" information that's already been cleared for public release, or that needs only rudimentary security controls.

Under the Pentagon's new approach to cloud security, the approvals the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) issued Monday are an important part of the process for cloud vendors who wish to sell their products to DoD components, but they are only the first step.

Imagining the future of the smart city involves reimagining everything about it. Here’s another ideas about the use of solar energy.
Solar power plant floating on wastewater hailed for multiple environmental benefits
A field of solar panels floating atop a wastewater pond in South Australia is being hailed as an environmental breakthrough that could even prove a hit with tourists.
The plant, hailed as the first of its type in Australia, has been built at a wastewater treatment facility at Jamestown in the state's mid north. Sydney-based Infratech Industries developed new solar technology for the site, at a cost of $12 million.

Company director Felicia Whiting said the water cools the panels, making them more efficient. "Solar panels don't really operate when they're at a high temperature, so we get a longevity of the panels and also the solar rafts can shade the water," she said.
"We actually get a cooling of the water which is beneficial for water treatment.

"We can get about 57 per cent more efficiency than a land-based solar system."
Ms Whiting said the plant also boosted water conservation by preventing evaporation and cutting blue-green algae outbreaks.

"For a one megawatt plant, that's about 70,000 kilolitres a year. That's a big saving and it's also a revenue for any host water utility to save that water and on-sell it."

In case some people missed it - this is Elon Musk -of Tesla fame - in his announcement for his new batteries and new battery plant. This is worth the view - just for the visuals about how little land would be required to provide all of the US electric power needs.
Elon Musk Debuts the Tesla Powerwall

Is the city about to begin a huge transformation? This could be considered a ‘weak signal’ for the next decade in transforming how we produce and consume electricity. And what is this going to do to accelerate solar energy in the developing world?
With 38,000 battery buyers in 1 week, Tesla may need bigger Giga
So many people have ordered Tesla Motors’ new home-based battery packs — unveiled by the electric automaker just last week — that the company may need to expand its $5 billion battery factory now under construction in Nevada, CEO Elon Musk said Wednesday.

Tesla has received 38,000 reservations for the new Powerwall home battery, Musk said, with some people ordering more than one. The battery, the smallest version of which sells for $3,000, is designed to help homeowners with solar arrays store energy from their panels for use at night.

In addition, Musk said 2,500 businesses have placed online reservations for Tesla’s new Powerpack batteries, capable of storing far more energy than the Powerwall. And most of those businesses ordered multiple Powerpacks.

“There’s no way we could possibly satisfy this demand this year — we’re sold out for the first half of next year,” Musk said, during a conference call with Wall Street analysts. “It’s crazy, off the hook. It seems to have gone super viral.”

Demand for the batteries is so strong that Tesla may need to expand its Gigafactory taking shape outside Reno, Nevada — although Musk emphasized that hasn’t been decided. Already planned to be larger than any battery factory in the world, the Gigafactory was designed primarily to build batteries for Tesla’s electric cars, using its massive scale to slash costs. But the company’s new energy storage business — dubbed Tesla Energy — may alter plans for the plant.

Speaking of new forms of power - this is utterly fascinating and bear watching as whole new science may open up from this. Apparently it has been shown to work - but they still don’t quite know how it can be possible.
Evaluating NASA’s Futuristic EM Drive
A group at NASA’s Johnson Space Center has successfully tested an electromagnetic (EM) propulsion drive in a vacuum – a major breakthrough for a multi-year international effort comprising several competing research teams. Thrust measurements of the EM Drive defy classical physics’ expectations that such a closed (microwave) cavity should be unusable for space propulsion because of the law of conservation of momentum.

EM Drive:
Last summer, NASA Eagleworks – an advanced propulsion research group led by Dr. Harold “Sonny” White at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) – made waves throughout the scientific and technical communities when the group presented their test results on July 28-30, 2014, at the 50th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference in Cleveland, Ohio.

Those results related to experimental testing of an EM Drive – a concept that originated around 2001 when a small UK company, Satellite Propulsion Research Ltd (SPR), under Roger J. Shawyer, started a Research and Development (R&D) program.

The concept of an EM Drive as put forth by SPR was that electromagnetic microwave cavities might provide for the direct conversion of electrical energy to thrust without the need to expel any propellant.

And speaking about sourcing our food locally - here’s a great innovation.
World’s largest vertical farm opens this year in the US
And it’s 75 times more productive than an open field farm.
A 21,031-square-metre vertical farm will open in Newark, New Jersey later this year, and is expected to grow close to a million kilograms of pesticide-free produce annually. Made out of an old steel factory, the farm will not only be 75 times more productive than a farm of a similar size spread across a flat, open field, but it requires far less to run.
Built by AeroFarms, which is a US-based company intent on creating more environmentally friendly farming solutions, the facility requires zero soil, 95 percent less water than traditional farms, and because it’s pesticide-free, doesn’t cause any harmful run-off to the environment surrounding it.

The farm also uses recyclable materials, and a lighting system that conserves energy by facilitating more efficient photosynthesis.

"Plants rooted in reusable microfleece cloth and stacked in modular planters will be sprayed by a nutrient mist and illuminated by LED lights. … The company is 'targeting specific wavelengths of light for more efficient photosynthesis and less energy consumption. LEDs can also be placed much closer to the plants, enabling greater vertical growing for even greater productivity per square foot'."
Here is the link to the AeroFarms web site  

Here’s something that can give every 3m/3m square on earth it’s own easy to remember address. While a person can be anywhere - they always have to be somewhere.
Giving everyone in the world an address
"Where the streets have no name," sang Bono on one of U2's biggest hits.
But out in the real world, about four billion people on the planet actually live in places that have no street names, no house numbers - in fact, nothing that constitutes a proper address.

And without that, they're off the map. They can't get a bank loan, they can't run a business, they have no voting rights or access to public utility services.
"Most of Africa, Asia and South America have this problem," says Chris Sheldrick, 33, founder and chief executive of what3words, a small UK-based company that has come up with a radical new approach to the addressing system.

"Trying to do a census with addresses like 'fourth lamp-post down the road' is really very inefficient, and we're coming in to say, 'No, you can do this differently'."
In the past, countries without a proper set of addresses have tried to change facts on the ground by mapping out the area, and copying the developed world's way of doing things, such as adding street names and numbers.

What he did was to divide the world up into 3m-by-3m squares, and assign each a unique combination of three words.
He says: "With 40,000 dictionary words, you have 64 trillion combinations, and there are 57 trillion squares."
If you want to find your own three word address - go to there web site
type your address into the search box (and press enter)
You can move the pin to grids next to each other to find a three word address you might like better.

Speaking about mapping here’s a new innovation.
New inexpensive centimeter-accurate GPS system could transform mainstream applications
Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a centimeter-accurate GPS-based positioning system that could revolutionize geolocation on virtual reality headsets, cell phones and other technologies, making global positioning and orientation far more precise than what is currently available on a mobile device.

The researchers' new system could allow unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver packages to a specific spot on a consumer's back porch, enable collision avoidance technologies on cars and allow virtual reality (VR) headsets to be used outdoors. The researchers' new centimeter-accurate GPS coupled with a smartphone camera could be used to quickly build a globally referenced 3-D map of one's surroundings that would greatly expand the radius of a VR game. Currently, VR does not use GPS, which limits its use to indoors and usually a two- to three-foot radius.

Remember the big moral panic about ‘the Digital Divide?’ here’s one way to envision the question that is more interesting than ‘what about the …..divide?’ The question of ‘what will change when everyone has ….?’ This is an awesome kickstarter.
CHIP - The World's First Nine Dollar Computer
C.H.I.P. is a computer. It’s tiny and easy to use.

C.H.I.P. does computer things. Work in LibreOffice and save your documents to C.H.I.P.’s onboard storage. Surf the web and check your email over wifi. Play games with a bluetooth controller. With dozens of applications and tools pre-installed, C.H.I.P. is ready to do computer things the moment you power it on.

C.H.I.P. is a computer for students, teachers, grandparents, children, artists, makers, hackers, and inventors. Everyone really. C.H.I.P. is a great way to add a computer to your life and the perfect way to power your computer based projects.

Here are a couple of articles about the impact that crypto-currencies are having on mainstream world of exchange.
Ripple plans to wash away currency exchange
New Ripple Labs Asia Pacific CEO Dilip Rao is pitching its blockchain-based technology to replace cross-border and central bank settlements.
The new Asia Pacific head of US start-up Ripple Labs, Dilip Rao, is pitching a version of Bitcoin's blockchain ledger technology to Australian banks in a push to replace the centuries old global currency settlement system with a real-time network.

Ripple is focused on using its version of blockchain to create a market that will allow anyone with idle cash sitting in multiple jurisdictions to earn a margin on it by instantly transferring cash around the world for banks and their clients. Mr Rao said the start-up is not trying to eliminate banks as a middle man, but its technology could replace the "messy and error prone" global "correspondent bank" system, which is a significant source of revenue for some banks.

In its submission to the ongoing Senate inquiry into digital currency, the Reserve Bank of Australia said distributed ledgers are an important innovation that could have "implications for a wide range of systems" including clearing and settling of shares and bonds.

Ripple wants to replace the correspondent bank system with a market for the trillions in currency exchanged every day, where "market makers" bid to transfer the money at least cost. "It is a new operating model that says somewhere somebody has liquidity - we need to find a more efficient way to bring liquidity providers into this market place so that they can fund these payment transactions, and if they do it should increase the speed of these transactions and the cost of doing them."

Here’s an innovation in the world of people-centric distributed currency and exchange.
Abra: Innovation in Remittance
I’m really pleased to announce First Round Capital’s investment in Abra, the first global peer to peer cash money transfer network using the Blockchain/Bitcoin technology for secure low cost transfers.  As their founder, Bill Barhydt says “our mission is to replace bank driven financial inclusion with consumer driven financial inclusion.”

We have been looking at the Bitcoin space for a number of years, and trying to find the right models to invest in.  Better security and useful applications will be the key to widespread adoption.  Abra has found an important space in the $500 Billion remitted globally each year, mostly with very high fees paid by those who can ill afford it. By storing digital cash directly in the phones  of Abra Tellers ™ (via a Bitcoin wallet), which lets them take cash from workers and empowering the tellers to transfer it Abra Tellers™  who can dispense cash in the recipients home country, Abra creates a peer to peer global network of players for moving money around the world.  The tellers can charge a fee, and abra gets a small portion of that fee.  Because of the easy liquidity of Bitcoin, even amounts of less than $10 can be remitted, with most of the remittance going to the intended party, rather than being lost in high fees.

Another innovation is that while the value of Bitcoin in the teller wallets will fluctuate, Abra can guarantee the home currency value for the first 72 hours, making the transaction free of Bitcoin fluctuations  in dollars or other local currencies.
Here’s the Abra site - for more information -clearly and easily grasped -no techno-speak.

How about the smart workplace - or at least being in two places at once? This is about robots in the workplace - but not about eliminating your job.
Telepresence Robots Bring More Face Time to Remote Workers
Working remotely offers a great deal of flexibility and benefits. It can mean not having to uproot your life for a job, or commuting long distances. It can mean working in your pajamas, or more importantly, spending more time with your family.

But not being physically present in the office can make you feel isolated from your co-workers — even with all the different ways of staying connected online. When I work from home, I definitely miss the social interaction with my colleagues, and I have a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out).

To address some of the downsides of telecommuting, a number of tech companies have introduced telepresence solutions that are designed to bring more face-to-face interaction and a physical presence for remote workers. I’ve been testing a couple of the products over the past several weeks, and I see their potential. But they’re still far off from being mainstream products.

There are also a few new etiquette rules to keep in mind for office robots, which we explored in the 3 min. video

And here’s more robots - these ones aiming to augment or replace humans.
A Warehouse Worker’s Best Friend—or Replacement?
Robots that work alongside warehouse workers could make online shopping even more efficient and eventually replace human employees altogether.
As Melonee Wise walks toward a row of shelves packed with crackers, bars of soap, and other packaged goods in one corner of her workshop, a squat, wheeled robot carrying a plastic crate glides along behind, like a dog following its owner.

There’s something cute about the way the knee-high robot diligently keeps a pace or two behind Wise as she varies her pace, turns, or stops, but this is a working robot, not a toy. Wise’s startup company, Fetch Robotics, designed the robot, called Freight, as a coworker for people in warehouses. She’s demonstrating it in a fake warehouse in a corner of Fetch’s offices. But at a dozen companies working with the startup to test its idea, humans will be teaming up with Freight robots in real warehouses in the next few months.

Freight is designed to help shelf pickers, who walk around warehouses pulling items off shelves to do things like fulfilling online shopping orders. As workers walk around gathering items from shelves, they can toss items into the crate carried by the robot. When an order is complete, a tap on a smartphone commands the robot to scoot its load off to its next destination.

However, Wise’s company is also working on a second robot designed to be good at that, too. It has a long, jointed arm with a gripper, is mounted on top of a wheeled base, and has a moving “head” with a depth camera similar to that found in the Kinect games controller. This robot, named Fetch, is intended to rove around a particular area of shelving, taking items down and dropping them into a crate carried by a Freight robot.

On the AI front we are soon to say goodbye to all those scenes where people have water running in the background or meet in a high noise environment to share secret conversations.
Deep Learning Machine Solves the Cocktail Party Problem
Separating a singer’s voice from background music has always been a uniquely human ability. Not anymore.
The cocktail party effect is the ability to focus on a specific human voice while filtering out other voices or background noise. The ease with which humans perform this trick belies the challenge that scientists and engineers have faced in reproducing it synthetically. By and large, humans easily outperform the best automated methods for singling out voices.

A particularly challenging cocktail party problem is in the field of music, where humans can easily concentrate on a singing voice superimposed on a musical background that includes a wide range of instruments. By comparison, machines are poor at this task.

Today, that looks to be changing thanks to the work of Andrew Simpson and pals at the University of Surrey in the U.K. These guys have used some of the most recent advances associated with deep neural networks to separate human voices from the background in a wide range of songs.

Their approach showcases the huge advances that have been made in recent years in machine learning and neural networks. And it paves the way for a more general solution to the famous cocktail party problem which should allow, among other things, the vocals to be easily separated from the music they accompany.

Here’s where the capability of deep learning is going - the memristor should be a familiar concept now - this article is a great explanation that let’s us understand the paradigmatic changes in computing concepts will make computers more powerful in a way that is beyond Moore’s Law.
A Better Way to Build Brain-Inspired Chips
An electronic device called the memristor could be our best hope of making practical chips that borrow design points from the human brain.
Memristors, exotic electronic devices only confirmed to exist in 2008, have been used to create a chip that borrows design points from the brain. The prototype chip did not learn to do anything more difficult than recognize extremely simple black-and-white patterns. But larger, more complex versions might make computers better at understanding speech, images, and the world around them.

The circuitry of the chip, built by researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Stony Brook University, processes data not with digital logic circuits but with elements that mimic, in simplified form, the neurons and synapses of biological brains. When a network like that is exposed to new data, it “learns” as the synapses that connect neurons adjust the neurons’ influence on one another.

….Many transistors and digital circuits are needed to represent a single synapse. By contrast, each of the 100 or so synapses on the UCSB chip is represented using only a single memristor.

“A [biological] synapse is an analog memory device, and there is really no good way of implementing that in a compact, energy-efficient way with conventional technology,” says Strukov. “Memristors by themselves are an analog memory device; it’s a perfect match.”

Self-driving cars - may be a bit farther than we think - but partially self-driving cars and driver assistance capabilities are looming. This is a great 5 min video - the car as part of the digital lifestyle.
EN | Bosch User experience for automated driving
Welcome to Bosch's vision for a highly automated car and its unique driving experience. The concept vehicle shows how the interaction between an automated vehicle and its driver could work. Accompany Philip, a young professional, on his journey to the airport, and see how the user interface of his vehicle handles different phases of manual and automated driving – making Philip's journey safe, relaxing, productive and entertaining.

NOTE: The vehicle shown in the movie is a concept vehicle (not in series production).

Now this is not self-driving delivery - but maybe it will begin to disrupt the incumbents enough to ease the transition to drone delivery services.
Uber Is About to Change Dramatically
The company looks to be planning a massive same-day delivery program
Uber’s evolution from a car-hailing service to a delivery operation appears to be underway.

The San Francisco, California-based company is in talks with hundreds of big-name retailers for a same-day delivery program, TechCrunch reports. Some of the high-end brands talking to Uber about same-day delivery include Louis Vuitton, Tiffany’s and Hugo Boss. The service would allow for quick in-city deliveries from retail locations to customers; it wouldn’t involve warehouse shipments.

Uber has experimented with rapid order delivery in the past, but now it appears for the first time to be working on a dedicated app for the service. Eventually, Uber plans to allow drivers to pick up human passengers and merchant cargo all from within the same app.

Uber is best understood not as a ride-hailing service but as a logistics platform for short-haul trips, powered by big data and intelligent algorithms. It’s also investing heavily in driverless car technology, which could help it cut human drivers out of the equation entirely. Uber, then, is well-positioned to compete with the likes of UPS and FedEx when it comes to quick in-city deliveries.

Here is something for the gadget lover and there is a list with links to 60 gadgets.
60 Smart Gadgets – Power Without an Outlet
If you are among those who can’t live without your gadgets while out enjoying the nature or traveling or for any other reason, these smart gadgets are here to juice them up off-grid.

Speaking of gadgets - this space is moving so fast - I wonder what we will take for granted in a decade. Well worth the view, the 1 min video is exciting.
VoxieBox Displays 3D Images Just Like R2D2’s Message From Princess Leia
Voxon, chosen out of the Hardware Alley to do the ‘wildcard’ pitch during TechCrunch Disrupt NY, demonstrated a truly amazing technology today. Imagine the scene from Star Wars where Princess Leia is projected in 3 dimensions recording a message to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Well, Voxon’s VoxieBox product does just that.

Its unique combination of hardware and software, developed over 30 years of tinkering in a New York garage, literally ‘prints light’ in three dimensions, not unlike the way a 3D printer would print in plastic. But this does it thousands of times a second, thus tricking the human eye into thinking it’s seeing a 3D image, thanks to their proprietary algorithm.

The VoxieBox does not require goggles or glasses to view the image, meaning it’s extremely user-friendly. Because you can display any image (moving or still), you can thus move and revolve around objects and see an object from many different angles, collaboratively.

Furthermore, the VoxieBox could be used in classrooms, allowing children to manipulate, for instance, a blood cell in biology classes without being exposed to dangerous materials.

Speaking of smart gadgets - here’s something that hints at future gadgets.
World's thinnest transistor promises ultrathin electronics and next generation solar cells
A three-atom thick transistor has been developed that scientists believe could herald a new generation of ultrathin and flexible electronics, solar cells and displays.
Researchers at Cornell University created the transistor using an experimental material called a transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD).

The research, published in the journal Nature on Thursday, details how the process used to create the transistors is stable enough to produce them commercially.

"The electrical performance or our materials was comparable to that of reported results from single crystals of molybdenum disulfide, but instead of a tiny crystal, here we have a 4-inch wafer," said Jiwoong Park, associate professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Cornell.

Creating ultrathin sheets rather than single crystal formations has been the biggest barrier to reaching the ultimate goal of using the transistors in actual devices.

And another advance anticipating the forthcoming transformation in manufacturing.
Microsoft Unleashes the 3MF File Format for 3D Printing, Launches 3MF Consortium
It’s been a long five days since we initially broke the news that Microsoft would be unveiling details about a new 3D Printing Consortium as well as file format which will make 3D printing easier for those running the Windows 10 operating system and beyond.

To start, the new consortium is called the 3MF Consortium (A Joint Development Foundation project) and will initially be made up of the following seven companies: Microsoft, HP, Shapeways, Autodesk, Dassault Systems, netfabb and SLM Solutions. The consortium, we are told, will not be limited to membership, and has set out to spread the use of a unified file format which closes the design loop. What this means is that from design to print, only one file is required, and there will be no loss of information what-so-ever in the process. The consortium will work to define this file format that will allow ‘full-fidelity’ 3D models to be sent to other applications, services, platforms, and printers, eliminating issues found with current file formats like .STL. It will allow companies and designers to concentrate on innovation rather than interoperability issues.

And thinking about 3D vision and robotics - here’s some interesting progress.
3D Expands Vision Applications in Industrial Automation
Machine vision is a well-established technology in industrial applications such as automated inspection, but the advent of relatively inexpensive 3D image sensors is opening doors for many new vision applications. From automating truck loading to enhancing factory safety, depth perception is empowering new vision opportunities in industrial automation. The upcoming Embedded Vision Summit will highlight some of these opportunities and the technologies behind them.

"The use of 3D in vision applications has been evolving for a while," said Jeff Bier, founder of the Embedded Vision Alliance, in an interview with EE Times, "but in the last year or so it crossed a critical threshold. Multiple suppliers are now offering 3D vision modules at low cost, making it practical in industrial applications where it wasn't before." Bier noted that five years ago 3D imaging required large, expensive equipment but now the cost is being driven down by consumer-oriented modules for smartphones and the like. He pointed to Intel's RealSense and SoftKinetic's DepthSense offerings as examples of 3D image sensors coming out of the consumer space.

Bier pointed out that this expanding availability of 3D vision technology and options will prove a boon for factory automation. For example, today's production lines might use a robot for assembly and a separate vision system further down the line to inspect the results. But if a vision system is on the robot, that vision can detect (and potentially correct) problems as they occur rather than have them propagate down the assembly line. With 3D vision the robot could, for example, be able to readily identify individual parts, their shapes, and their relative positions, which would allow it to correct for such things as misalignments and incorrect sizing. Likewise, a 3D vision system on a transport robot that moves parts around a warehouse would be able to navigate a relatively unstructured environment, bypassing obstacles and avoiding collisions, rather than requiring clear, pre-defined pathways.

Now lets take 3D printing a little further.
BioBots Is A 3D Printer For Living Cells
U.S. biotech startup BioBots sits at the intersection between computer science and chemistry. Its debut product, a desktop 3D printer for biomaterials, which was just demoed on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt NY — printing Van Gogh’s ear in replica, no less — combines hardware, software and wetware. It’s the latter area where the core innovation sits, says co-founder Danny Cabrera.

Biofabrication, the process of artificially building living tissue structures, is not a new field — there is more than a decade of research in this area already. But Cabrera and his co-founders believe they have spotted an opportunity to overhaul expensive (circa $100,000+), large, complex legacy devices — taking inspiration from the small, low-cost desktop 3D printers being used by the maker movement to extrude plastic.

Instead of plastic, BioBots’ 3D printer uses a special ink that can be combined with biomaterials and living cells to build 3D living tissue and miniature human organs. The use-case at this point is for research and pre-clinical screening, such as drug testing (as a replacement for animal testing). It’s not about 3D printing replacement organs from a person’s own cells — albeit developments in this area are heading (incrementally) in that direction. More near term future potential for the tech is to help foster bespoke disease therapies, according to Cabrera.

Here’s something about using a living being to produce new material - all part of the journey toward domesticating DNA.
Spiders Ingest Nanotubes, Then Weave Silk Reinforced with Carbon
Spiders sprayed with water containing carbon nanotubes and graphene flakes have produced the toughest fibers ever measured, say materials scientists.
Spider silk is one of the more extraordinary materials known to science. The protein fiber, spun by spiders to make webs, is stronger than almost anything that humans can make.

The dragline silk spiders use to make a web’s outer rim and spokes is amazing stuff. It matches high-grade alloy steel for tensile strength but is about a sixth as dense. It is also highly ductile, sometimes capable of stretching to five times its length.

This combination of strength and ductility makes spider silk extremely tough, matching the toughness of state-of-the-art carbon fibers such as Kevlar.

So it goes without saying that the ability to make spider silk even stronger and tougher would be a significant scientific coup. Which is why the work of Emiliano Lepore at the University of Trento in Italy and a few pals is something of a jaw-dropper.

These guys have found a way to incorporate carbon nanotubes and graphene into spider silk and increase its strength and toughness beyond anything that has been possible before. The resulting material has properties such as fracture strength, Young’s modulus, and toughness modulus higher than anything ever measured.

The time for truly personalized medicine is getting closer and this Nature article explores some of the research implications.
Personalized medicine: Time for one-person trials
Precision medicine requires a different type of clinical trial that focuses on individual, not average, responses to therapy, says Nicholas J. Schork.
Every day, millions of people are taking medications that will not help them. The top ten highest-grossing drugs in the United States help between 1 in 25 and 1 in 4 of the people who take them (see 'Imprecision medicine'). For some drugs, such as statins — routinely used to lower cholesterol — as few as 1 in 50 may benefit1. There are even drugs that are harmful to certain ethnic groups because of the bias towards white Western participants in classical clinical trials.

Recognition that physicians need to take individual variability into account is driving huge interest in 'precision' medicine. In January, US President Barack Obama announced a US$215-million national Precision Medicine Initiative. This includes, among other things, the establishment of a national database of the genetic and other data of one million people in the United States.

Classical clinical trials harvest a handful of measurements from thousands of people. Precision medicine requires different ways of testing interventions. Researchers need to probe the myriad factors — genetic and environmental, among others — that shape a person's response to a particular treatment.

Studies that focus on a single person — known as N-of-1 trials — will be a crucial part of the mix. Physicians have long done these in an ad hoc way. For instance, a doctor may prescribe one drug for hypertension and monitor its effect on a person's blood pressure before trying a different one. But few clinicians or researchers have formalized this approach into well-designed trials — usually just a handful of measurements are taken, and only during treatment.

If enough data are collected over a sufficiently long time, and appropriate control interventions are used, the trial participant can be confidently identified as a responder or non-responder to a treatment. Aggregated results of many N-of-1 trials (all carried out in the same way) will offer information about how to better treat subsets of the population or even the population at large.

For Fun
OK this marks me for the old hippie I am. Work …. is love made visible.
Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet Official Trailer
Inspired by the classic book by Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet is an animated feature film written and directed by Roger Allers (The Lion King), with animated “chapters” from award-winning animation directors from around the world, and featuring world-class musicians, singers, and composers.

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