The digital interconnection of billions of devices is today’s most dynamic business opportunity.
As new and challenging as today’s IoT is, it offers a large and wide-open playing field. The companies that gain the right to win in this sphere will be those that understand just how disruptive the IoT will be, and that create a value proposition to take advantage of the opportunities (An excerpt from an article in Startegy+Business by Frank Burkitt).
Humanity has arrived at a critical threshold in the evolution of computing. By 2020, an estimated 50 billion devices around the globe will be connected to the Internet. Perhaps a third of them will be computers, smartphones, tablets, and TVs. The remaining two-thirds will be other kinds of “things”: sensors, actuators, and newly invented intelligent devices that monitor, control, analyze, and optimize our world.
This seemingly sudden trend has been decades in the making, but is just now hitting a tipping point. The arrival of the “Internet of Things” (IoT) represents a transformative shift for the economy, similar to the introduction of the PC itself. It incorporates other major technology industry trends such as cloud computing, data analytics, and mobile communications, but goes beyond them. Unlike earlier efforts to track and control large systems, such as radio-frequency identification (RFID), the Internet connection gives this shift almost limitless versatility. The IoT also opens a range of new business opportunities for a variety of players. These opportunities tend to fall into three broad strategic categories, each reflecting a different type of enterprise:
- “Enablers” that develop and implement the underlying technology
- “Engagers” that design, create, integrate, and deliver IoT services to customers
- “Enhancers” that devise their own value-added services, on top of the services provided by Engagers, that are unique to the Internet of Things
How will your company build value in this new world? That will depend on the type of business you have today, the capabilities you can develop for tomorrow, and, most of all, your ability to understand the meaning of this new technology.
Evolution and Opportunity
At present, the Internet of Things remains a wide-open playing field for enterprises. It’s young, heterogeneous, and full of uncertainty. Estimates of potential economic impact by 2020 (as tracked by the Postscapes information service) range from about US$2 trillion to more than $14 trillion. Companies small and large, old and new, are scrambling to stake out their territory. But the greatest long-term business value of the Internet of Things will involve getting to know customers—both consumers and businesses—more intimately, and providing new digital services and experiences to delight them.
Rarely, if ever, has a single technological platform combined this much complexity, speed of development, global reach, and novelty among customers. Consider the range of interconnected systems, products, and services the IoT will enable, from simple monitoring of home temperature and security to the “quantified self” (the tracking of personal health, diet, and exercise metrics), to fully networked factories and hospitals, to automated cities that respond to the movements and interests of thousands of people at once.
Yet for all its power, the IoT is still at the early-adopter stage; in the words of innovation theorist Geoffrey Moore, it has yet to “cross the chasm” into the mainstream. It thus behooves business strategists now to figure out the role they want to play, the capabilities they will need to move forward, and the types of innovation they should pursue.
Technologies of the IoT
To deliver these products and services requires a combination of five major types of technological offerings.
- Simple hubs
- Integrating hubs
- Network and cloud services
- Enhanced services
These five technological options, from endpoints to enhanced services, provide a menu of diverse opportunities for companies building IoT businesses. Some might start making stand-alone endpoints, and move up to producing hubs. Others might parlay their expertise at integrating hubs into providing network and cloud services—or vice versa.
With all these possibilities, companies run the risk of moving in too many directions at once—and thus being overwhelmed by more focused competitors with more distinctive IoT-related capabilities.
Your Company’s IoT Strategy
A wealth of opportunities exist for each of the three types of IoT strategy models: Enablers, Engagers, and Enhancers. Entering the fray, however, should not be undertaken lightly. The IoT market’s newness and heterogeneity will make it difficult to negotiate, even by those companies with the strongest capabilities and the clearest, most compelling value propositions.
Many challenging issues remain. Customer demands and expectations are still hard to discern, and the hardware and software standards for the IoT are still evolving. Billions of endpoints and intelligent devices must be integrated. The data they produce must be managed and analyzed. This is no small task, especially given increasing concerns about security and reliability.
If your company wants to stake a claim with the Internet of Things, you first need to develop a distinctive “way to play”—a clear value proposition that you can offer customers. This should be consistent with your enterprise’s overall capabilities system: the things you do best when you go to market, aligned with most or all of the products and services you sell.
With those elements in place, if you tread carefully and methodically, the time is right. To develop a strategy for the IoT, you could proceed by addressing, in order:
- Your own role in the IoT.Given your existing value proposition and capabilities, are you best suited to be an Enabler, Engager, or Enhancer?
- Industries and markets.Assess how your business environment is being (or could be) transformed by the IoT. If you are an Engager or Enhancer, what endpoints, hubs, and services are already being sold in your market? How are they expected to combine? What sense do you have of the demand for them? The more IoT activity that already exists in your industry, as it does in healthcare, automotive, manufacturing, and home-related sectors, the more rapidly you will have to move.
- Customer or business engagement.Because value in the IoT will be created through the transformation of customer experience, you need strong capabilities in experience design. Even if you are an Enabler, without direct customer contact, or if opportunities for engagement appear limited in your industry, the IoT could eventually transform your business. What capabilities do you already have in this area, and what will you need to develop?
- Connected products and services.Assess your current lineup of offerings to determine which can be enhanced through IoT connectivity, and what new ones could be developed expressly for the IoT. For new launches and innovations, take into account how connectivity will be established, how your company will analyze and use the resulting data, and which other companies you might collaborate with—all set against the proposed revenue model and income stream.
- An enhanced connection.Most Engagers will deploy an initial wave of basic connected devices and services. Then they will build further services by using analytics to gain insights from the wealth of new data that the IoT provides them. As these deployments unfold, Engagers will look for ways to increase value. This is where Enhancers will come in. What new business models might emerge? Would you want to develop any of them, or do you want to partner with other companies that can help serve this need?
- Your organization’s capabilities.Your company will need to distinguish itself in this space. What will you do that no other company does as well (or at all)? What improvements and investments will you need to make? Where will the necessary time, money, and attention come from; what activities will you need to divest or downplay so their resources can move here?
You may also need to develop some “table stakes” capabilities that all IoT companies must have. These include the ability to manage and analyze huge quantities of data, to integrate diverse portfolios of services, and to build business relationships with other IoT-related companies, some of which may have very different cultures. You probably already have innovation processes in place, but they may not be customer-centric enough. You may also need to foster more opportunities for people in your company to experiment and learn rapidly about what works and what doesn’t.
One virtue of the IoT is the degree to which companies lacking in technological expertise can lean on the devices and platforms that others build. Even so, the creation and delivery of IoT services will require you to design and prototype their new services, to manage them once implemented, and to analyze the resulting wealth of data.
To read the full Article: http://www.strategy-business.com/article/00294?pg=all
Research scientists at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have demonstrated a new technique for generating electrical energy. The new method can be used in harvesting energy from mechanical vibrations of the environment and converting it into electricity. Energy harvesters are needed, for example, in wireless self-powered sensors and medical implants, where they could ultimately replace batteries. In the future, energy harvesters can open up new opportunities in many application areas such as wearable electronics.
Research scientists at VTT have successfully generated energy by utilizing the charging phenomenon that occurs naturally between two bodies with different work functions. Work function is the amount of energy needed to remove an electron from a solid and it determines, for example, the well-known photoelectric effect. When two conducting bodies with different work functions are connected to each other electrically, they accumulate opposite charges. Moving of these bodies with respect to each other generates energy because of the attractive electrostatic force between the opposite charges. In VTT’s experiment the energy generated by this motion was converted into useful electrical power by connecting the bodies to an external circuit. This new energy conversion technique also works with semiconductors.
In many sensor applications and medical implants such as pacemakers, electricity is typically provided by batteries. Research into small energy harvesters that turn mechanical vibration into electricity has focused on piezoelectric and electrostatic devices. Unlike these devices VTT’s technique does not require an integrated battery, electrets or piezo materials.
VTT estimates that the new electricity generation technology could be introduced on an industrial scale within three to six years. Energy harvesters and new sensing solutions are among the projected megatrends of the near future. Energy harvesters can replace batteries and other energy sources in applications where maintenance is difficult or impossible.
The findings of the study were published in the Scientific Reports online journal.
I’ve just left IME, a family owned business, after more than a decade (almost 13 yrs).
My friends are struck dumb when they hear how long I’ve worked at IME. Even socialist-minded friends in France raise eyebrows.
In an era when everybody wants to be an entrepreneur, it’s inconceivably unsexy to work with the same company long-term. The automatic thought that people have is: What’s wrong with you?
So – as I depart, I’ve been pondering exactly what it could be that would make someone with drive stay in a company for longer than the next promotion.
I’ve come up with 3 things.
- Leadership. The Action, Not The Words.
As an employee, nothing has been more effective in generating innate loyalty than the confidence to act. And if people don’t have the confidence to act, they stop acting without being told what to do.
As Director of Installations M.E., I have provided the strategic, visionary leadership and management on behalf of the Company. I came from France about 14 years ago; I brought with me a profound knowledge of sales, marketing, technical expertise, strategic management and engineering to lead the Company to new and higher levels of achievement in every facet of business and the industry. I have achieved operational and cost efficiency, operational competitiveness and the delivery of outstanding shareholder value.
Opportunity – With Effort
My broad professional experience, my proven success in managing global businesses and my exposure to an international environment has enabled me to efficiently handle my divergent executive functions. Securing an enviable reputation with a proven record of success, my employment portfolio includes such distinguished positions as Director for Group Brink’s and commercial director of Group TAG. Playing an essential and pivotal role in the Company’s success, I was responsible for devising, defining and implementing new, innovative sales and marketing strategies and furnishing the vision and motivation that are geared to.
I’ve worked with and managed amazing people. I’ve built a great customer service, introduced RS brand to new markets, and launched platforms. I’ve been able to align my personal passions for content marketing and social media with the interests of the company.
But – I’ve also set my alarm to 4am for stretches of weeks at a time. I’ve worked more all-nighters than I’d care to remember. Opportunity has two sides, and the effort of moving up isn’t made on paper.
In the end I believe most people don’t want to be micro-managed. They want to do work they love, and make an impact. I love my work and believe in a culture that rewards merit over tenure, results over title.
3. Choose People Over Process
It’s been suggested to me that perhaps I’m not the easiest person to manage. Yet at IME I’ve always reported to people that might have not taught me something, but have shown respect and empowered me to succeed. On many occasions, I’ve challenged the way things are. No doubt, for the owner of IME that hasn’t always been easy – but never for a minute have I felt without support and I can only thank him for his wisdom after 40 years in this business.
It seems to me that people who are motivated long-term in companies are both a part of and apart from the organisation. You cannot act as a change agent without being accepted at some level by the company itself. But at the same time, there is a desire for improvement that makes you constantly restless and motivated to challenge the current reality.
My specialties: Creating an unrivalled ability to meet customer demands, my career success is attributed to professionalism, experience, integrity, stewardship, perseverance, commitment, keeping my feet firmly planted on the ground and an open approach in working with people. Being fluent in three different languages and maintaining a comprehensive international professional network have also contributed to my success.
In short, doing the right thing, being open to change, respecting people. I’m sure it will continue to shape who I am for many years to come.
Adapted from an article by Todd Wheatland.
Developed by the UK-based Raspberry Pi Foundation, the Raspberry Pi Model B+ is the third iteration of the credit-card sized computer, which has sold 3m units since launch in 2012.
It runs a variant of the free open-source operating system Linux, which powers many web servers and Android smartphones.
The Raspberry Pi Model B+ still sells for the same $35 and has the same application processor and amount of RAM (512MB), but here are a few other changes:
The Raspberry Pi Foundation says that even though it thinks the Model B+ is a better fit for most users, it also understands that lots of industrial customers have created specific setups for the Model B. As a result, it will continue making the Model B units as long as there is demand.
For more information, please visit the website at www.rs-components.com
Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who also has significant interests in Central Kentucky’s equine industry, has laid out plans for a sprawling real-estate project known as Mall of the World that will include the 8 million-square-foot mall, a climate-controlled street network, a theme park covered during the scorching summer months and 100 hotels and serviced apartments.
Other attractions planned for the site include a cultural and theater district drawing inspiration from New York’s Broadway, shopping thoroughfares based on London’s Oxford Street and a “wellness district” meant to attract medical tourists.
“The growth in family and retail tourism underpins the need to enhance Dubai’s tourism infrastructure as soon as possible,” Sheik Mohammed said in a statement announcing the project Saturday. “This project complements our plans to transform Dubai into a cultural, tourist and economic hub for the 2 billion people living in the region around us — and we are determined to achieve our vision.”
Sheik Mohammed owns the Darley Thoroughbred breeding operation, based at Jonabell Farm in Lexington.
Dubai Holding, a conglomerate controlled by the emirate’s ruler, is developing the complex. It gave no details on the cost or the completion date.
The complex will be built near the Mall of the Emirates, which boasts an indoor ski slope, and a short drive from the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, and the adjacent Dubai Mall. That shopping center is the emirate’s largest and has attractions including a dinosaur skeleton, an indoor ice-skating rink and a multistory aquarium.
Dubai has long used high-profile, big-ticket real estate projects to drive economic growth and establish itself as an international tourist destination.
Its ambitions were slowed significantly with a crippling financial crisis that came to a head in 2009, forcing the delay or cancellation of some of the most outlandish projects.
Dubai Holding was not spared from the financial turmoil, and some of its divisions sought new repayment terms from lenders on a debt pile that reached into the billions of dollars.
The emirate’s economy has rebounded strongly in the years since the crisis, driven by its trade, transportation and tourism-dependent economy.
Dubai is racing to develop additional infrastructure needed to accommodate a surge in visitors expected when it becomes the first Middle Eastern city to host the World Expo in 2020. Authorities expect the expo to generate $23 billion from 2015 through 2021, and estimate it will cost $8.4 billion to organize.
The new mall project alone is expected to create an additional 20,000 hotel rooms.
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/07/07/3326683/dubai-to-build-worlds-largest.html#storylink=cpy
Imagine feeling a slimy jellyfish, a prickly cactus or map directions on your iPad mini Retina display, because that’s where tactile technology is headed. But you’ll need more than just an index finger to feel your way around.
New research at UC Berkeley has found that people are better and faster at navigating tactile technology when using both hands and several fingers. Moreover, blind people in the study outmaneuvered their sighted counterparts – especially when using both hands and several fingers – possibly because they’ve developed superior cognitive strategies for finding their way around.
Bottom line: Two hands are better than one in the brave new world of tactile or “haptic” technology, and the visually impaired can lead the way.
“Most sighted people will explore these types of displays with a single finger. But our research shows that this is a bad decision. No matter what the task, people perform better using multiple fingers and hands,” said Valerie Morash, a doctoral student in psychology at UC Berkeley, and lead author of the study just published in the online issue of the journal, Perception.
“We can learn from blind people how to effectively use multiple fingers, and then teach these strategies to sighted individuals who have recently lost vision or are using tactile displays in high-stakes applications like controlling surgical robots,” she added.
For decades, scientists have studied how receptors on the fingertips relay information to the brain. Now, researchers at Disney and other media companies are implementing more tactile interfaces, which use vibrations, and electrostatic or magnetic feedback for users to find their way around, or experience how something feels.
In this latest study, Morash and fellow researchers at UC Berkeley and the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco tested 14 blind adults and 14 blindfolded sighted adults on several tasks using a tactile map. Using various hand and finger combinations, they were tasked with such challenges as finding a landmark or figuring out if a road looped around.
Overall, both blind and sighted participants performed better when using both hands and several fingers, although blind participants were, on average, 50 percent faster at completing the tasks, and even faster when they used both hands and all their fingers.
“As we move forward with integrating tactile feedback into displays, these technologies absolutely need to support multiple fingers,” Morash said. “This will promote the best tactile performance in applications such as the remote control of robotics used in space and high-risk situations, among other things.”
From Article at: http://phys.org/news/2014-07-brave-world-tactile-technology.html#jCp
Apple already has one, Microsoft and Google say they’ll build one, Minnesota will demand it from next year and it could soon be the law in California and maybe nationwide. The smartphone kill switch appears to be on its way to every handset sold in the U.S. so what’s all the fuss about? Here’s a look at the main points of the technology.
What is it?
For more than a year, law enforcement officials across the U.S. have been pressuring the telecom industry to do more to combat smartphone theft and the kill switch has been proposed as the answer. It’s a piece of software installed in every new phone that can disable a stolen handset.
The laws don’t target tablet PCs, basic cellphones or other devices will cellular connectivity.
Why is it needed?
In the last few years, the number of violent thefts of smartphones on the streets of major U.S. cities has been rising. Some estimates say 1 in 3 thefts in the U.S. involve a smartphone. Thieves snatch phones from the hands of victims as they walk down the street or sit on public transport and then dart away. A sizeable portion of crimes involve people being threatened with knives or guns, or victims are assaulted.
Police believe that if phones can be disabled, they’ll become much less valuable on the secondhand market and the incentive for theft will drop considerably.
How will it work?
If your phone is stolen, you or someone you have authorized will be able to call your carrier or use a website to send a “kill” signal to your phone. That signal will lock the device and, if you choose, will also delete personal data. The kill switch will “render the device inoperable on the network of any provider of commercial mobile service or commercial mobile data service globally, even if the device is turned off or has the data storage medium removed,” according to the federal proposal.
The only way to revive a locked phone will be with a password supplied by the phone’s owner.
When will it begin?
Minnesota’s law and the proposed California legislation both mandate a kill-switch for smartphones that are both sold in those states and manufactured after July 1, 2015. Pending federal legislation says Jan. 1, 2015, but that’s likely to be changed as it makes it way through committees.
In Minnesota, the software must be installed or available for download, in California it will have to be preinstalled on new devices.
How much will it cost?
The Minnesota law and the proposed legislation in California and at the federal level mandate it must be available at no extra cost to users.
Do I have to have it on my phone?
No. Minnesota’s law says it should be installed or available for download. California is mandating the software be on new phones but users will have the ability to disable the feature, but it must be enabled by default. By having it opt-out rather than opt-in, law enforcement believes many more people will leave it switched on and so the chance that any given smartphone will be protected will be much higher.
The deterrent aspect of the kill switch relies on this numbers game: If a phone is likely to have the software, thieves have less incentive to steal it. If it likely doesn’t, the chance it will be stolen goes up—or at least that’s the theory.
What about Find My iPhone or Google’s Android locator?
Built-in tracking services can help locate a phone and wipe its memory if the phone remains online, but all too often thieves switch off a stolen phone and reinstall the operating system. That wipes all personal information on the phone and your link to it. California’s proposed law says the kill-switch software must be resistant to such OS reinstalls.
What’s the industry doing?
For a long time, the telecoms industry was against the idea of a kill switch. Speaking through its lobbying organization, the CTIA, the industry said a kill switch would make phones vulnerable to hacking. But earlier this year, as legislation looked more and more likely, that stance changed and the CTIA now supports a kill switch.
But the industry is hoping to avoid legislation and make it a voluntary commitment. Previously, it launched a database of stolen phones that could be used to prevent them from being reused with new accounts. However, the database has limited reach outside of the U.S. and many stolen phones are sent overseas.
Will it work?
It’s too early to tell, although some early data from New York, London and San Francisco showed significant drops in thefts of iPhones after Apple launched its kill switch. However, the causes of crime are complex and it’s much too early to draw a direct link.
But it’s safe to say a kill switch won’t do anything to encourage smartphone theft.
So, can the government kill my smartphone?
California’s proposed law is the only one that specifically addresses this issue. It allows police access to the tool but under the conditions of the existing section 7908 of the California Public Utilities Code. That gives police the ability to cut off phone service in certain situations.
A court order is typically required, although an exception is made in an emergency that poses “immediate danger of death or great bodily injury.”
Article by Martyn Williams : http://www.pcworld.com/article/2367480/10-things-to-know-about-the-smartphone-kill-switch.html?google_editors_picks=true
A Qatar-based renewable energy company, Qatar Solar Energy (QSE), has announced the launch of the largest facility for the development and manufacture of solar energy panels in the Middle East and North Africa.
QSE’s innovative model combines the operations of research, technological development, manufacturing, project development and installation all under one roof. “There is an integrated production line, starting with the raw materials all the way to the consumer,” claimed Abbassi, “which allows the company to pursue continuous innovation as well as the integration of the latest technologies in its products.
While Qatar – the largest exporter of liquid natural gas in the world – is unlikely to trade fossil-fuel production for solar anytime soon, the time had come to focus on renewable energy. Qatar’s government plans to convert two percent of its power output to renewable sources by 2020.
The development of solar power has taken off in recent years around the world, but particularly in the Middle East, where a day rarely goes by without long periods of the sun beating down on the desert sands.
Over the past decade, investment in solar energy has soared, with $5bn spent in 2003 leaping to $93bn today, according to the Solar GCC Alliance.
Neighbouring Saudi Arabia has announced plans to produce 41gw of solar energy capacity to fuel its domestic needs by 2032, and has begun building massive solar power plants throughout the country. It is the largest proposed solar target in the world, however, it remains to be seen when production will commence.
A team led by Jacopo Buongiorno, an associate professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Wisconsin and the Chicago Bridge and Iron Company, is developing a new concept for an offshore nuclear power plant on a floating platform, much like the ones commonly used for oil and gas production.
The concept proposes a plant that can be built in a shipyard and towed on a floating platform to a site where it can be anchored a few miles off the coast in relatively deep water. There, it can be connected to the grid via an underwater transmission line. The plant would be unaffected by earthquakes and would also “ride out” tsunamis, which have low wave heights in deep water.
In addition to centralized construction these plants would provide easier siting and enhanced safety: Proximity to the ocean heat sink assures that reactor cooling can be maintained reliably and without external intervention, even during hypothetical accidents.
The group has launched an MIT wiki webpage to crowdsource design ideas for the new nuclear plant concept. The webpage describes the current design along with areas the researchers would like to address through crowdsourcing. These areas include any aspect of the design, strategies for dealing with ship collisions and possible underwater attacks, and proposals for any aspect that may not have been addressed by the current concept.
The group has announced a call for proposals and is encouraging students to contribute individually or in teams, and is offering prizes for winning ideas.
When it comes to shopping, more people are skipping the stores and pulling out their smartphones and tablets. Still, there’s more on the horizon for shopping than just point-and-clicking.
No one thinks physical stores are going away permanently. But because of the frenetic pace of advances in technology and online shopping, the stores that remain will likely offer amenities and services that are more about experiences and less about selling a product. Think: Apple Inc.’s stores.
Among the things industry watchers are envisioning are holograms in dressing rooms that will allow shoppers to try on clothes without getting undressed. Their homes will be equipped with smart technology that will order light bulbs before they go dark. And they’ll be able to print out a full version of coffee cups and other products using 3-D technology in stores.
“Physical shopping will become a lot more fun because it’s going to have to be”
Stores of the future will be more about services, like day care, veterinary services and beauty services. Services that connect online and offline shopping could increase as well, with more drive-thru pickup and order-online, pick-up-in-store services. Checkout also will be self-service or with cashiers using computer tablets.
Some stores are taking self-service further: They display clothing not in piles or on racks but as one piece hanging at a time, like a gallery.
Shoppers just touch their smartphones to a coded tag on the item and then select a color and size on their phone. Technology in these stores keeps track of the items, and by the time a shopper is ready to try them on, they’re already at the dressing room.
If the shopper doesn’t like an item, he tosses it down a chute, which automatically removes the item from the shopper’s online shopping cart. The shopper keeps the items that he or she wants, which are purchased automatically when leaving the store, no checkout involved.
“Once shoppers get used to the process, they’re hooked”
Some stores like British retailer Tesco and drugstore Duane Reade now are testing beacons, Bluetooth-enabled devices that can communicate directly with your cellphone to offer discounts, direct you to a desired product in a store or enable you to pay remotely.
For example, you can walk into a drugstore where you normally buy face cream. The beacon would recognize your smartphone, connect it with past purchasing history and send you a text or email with a coupon for the cream.
“The more we know about customers … you can use promotions on not a macro level but a micro level,” says Kasey Lobaugh, chief retail innovation officer at Deloitte Consulting. A store could offer a mother 20 percent off on Mother’s Day, for example, or offer frequent buyers of paper towels a discount on bulk purchases.
Within 10 years, 3-D printing could make a major disruption in retail, Deloitte’s Lobaugh predicts. Take a simple item like a coffee cup. Instead of producing one in China, transporting it and distributing it to retail stores, you could just download the code for the coffee cup and 3-D print it at a retail outlet or in your own home.
“That starts a dramatic change in terms of the structure of retail,” Lobaugh said. And while 3-D printing today is primarily plastic, Lobaugh says there are tests at places like MIT Media Lab and elsewhere with other materials, including fabric.
Right now a few stores offer rudimentary 3-D-printing services, but they are very limited. He predicts the shift will come in 10 to 20 years.
Steve Yankovich, head of innovation for eBay, thinks someday buying household supplies won’t take any effort at all. He says someday a connected home could be able to use previous customer history and real-time data the house records to sense when a light bulb burns out, for example, and order a new one automatically. Or a washing machine will order more detergent when it runs low.
“A box could show up on porch with this disparate set of 10 things the connected home and eBay determined you needed to keep things running smoothly,” he says. “It’s called zero-effort commerce.”
EBay recently bought PhiSix, a company working on creating life-size 3-D models of clothing that can be used in dressing rooms to instantly try on different colors of clothing or different styles. You can see 30 or 40 items of clothing realistically without physically trying them on.
EBay’s Yankovich says the technology can be used in a virtual dressing room as well, showing what the clothes look like when you are, say, walking down the street or hitting a golf club.
Some companies have been testing this already. British digital agency Engage created a Virtual Style Pod that scanned shoppers and created a life-size image onto which luxury clothing from brands like Alexander McQueen and DKNY were projected. The Pod was displayed in shopping centers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-05-future.html#jCp
Red Pitaya is a innovative single-board, open instrumentation and control platform which replaces many expensive laboratory and field instruments at a much lower price. Red Pitaya is a B2B product and RS has exclusivity for this product!
Agreement with RS will enable the test and measurement start-up company to deliver affordable open-source measurement instruments to the mass market; unique Red Pitaya technology provides simple user interface, accessible to all.
RS Components (RS), the trading brand of Electrocomponents plc (LSE:ECM), the world’s leading high service distributor of electronics and maintenance products, has signed an exclusive agreement with Red Pitaya, an important new contender in the test and measurement arena, to distribute the fledgling company’s first ground-breaking product: a single board, open instrumentation and control platform which replaces many expensive laboratory instruments at a price tag of less than $500.
Red Pitaya has seen incredible support from the wider engineering community following a Kickstarter funding campaign, where the target was achieved five-fold. The early interest in Red Pitaya can be attributed to the unique ecosystem approach, combining an Xilinx-based hardware platform with an open-source online repository of applications such as a waveform generator, oscilloscope and spectrum analyser.
The Red Pitaya Ecosystem consists of:
- A credit card-sized, reconfigurable instrument that performs signal processing on an onboard Xilinx Zynq™ system-on-chip (SoC) that combines the software programmability of a dual ARM Cortex™-A9 MPCore with the hardware programmability of an FPGA, to provide unrivalled system performance. The instrument features two RF analogue I/O, four lower-bandwidth analogue I/O, as well as 16 general-purpose digital I/O ports. It supports Ethernet and includes a Micro SD slot;
- The Bazaar cloud marketplace, a set of open-source test and measurement applications whose initial out-of-the-box instruments include an oscilloscope, a spectrum analyser, and arbitrary waveform generator, that can be accessed in most Web browsers from a tablet or personal computer;
- The Backyard – a repository of corresponding open-source code, instructions for use, and tools for further development, enabling the engineering community to share and collaborate on new applications.
“Red Pitaya is a truly innovative idea that is set to transform the test and measurement space”
Red Pitaya aims to stimulate independence and creativity, and make instrumentation open and accessible to a much wider cross-section of users spanning enthusiasts, ham radio operators, education and start-ups, in addition to established research and industry users.
The first commercial production of the Red Pitaya instrument and applications is available exclusively from RS since 28 April 2014.
Red Pitaya is based on the GNU/Linux operating system and can be programmed at different levels using a variety of software interfaces, including: HDL, C/C++, scripting languages, and HTML-based web interfaces.
Red Pitaya is a truly innovative idea that is set to transform the test and measurement space!
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It may be the best way to improve your organisation’s performance.
Control: It’s the essence of management. We’re trained to measure inputs, throughputs, and outputs in hopes of increasing efficiency and producing desired results. In a world of linear processes, such as in the factories of the Industrial Age, that made sense. But in today’s knowledge economy, where enterprises are complex, adaptive systems, it’s counterproductive.
The real problem is confusion between control and order. Control implies centralized control and hierarchical relationships. The person with control tells others what to do and whether they are successful or not. Order, on the other hand, emerges from self-organization. There may not be anyone telling others what to do, yet things get done—often with great efficiency and effectiveness. People know what is expected of them and what they can expect of others.
But how can this be true? Mustn’t an orchestra have a conductor? A dance troupe, a choreographer? A company, a CEO?
Not necessarily. Nature abounds with examples of what is known as swarm intelligence. Termites build intricate dwellings without the benefit of set of plans or engineers with advanced degrees. Birds migrate thousands of miles in formations where the lead position rotates to optimize their collective capacity. There are no marching orders or hierarchies dictating who leads. Massive flocks of starlings engage in intricate maneuvers known as murmuration with neither collisions nor confusion. There is order without overarching control. Indeed, our obsession with control helps explain why human-designed organizations fail to achieve such beautiful synchronicity.
Swarm intelligence was first described by Gerardo Beni and Jing Wang in 1989 in the context of cellular robotic systems. It relies on rigid adherence to simple rules about how immediate neighbors in a group relate to each other: If you do this, I do that.
The leaders of an enterprise need to identify the few core rules—thoughtfully developed and rigorously tested—that set the stage for success and mitigate the risk of failure in an operational context. Then they must give managers freedom to operate in the space between the rules. Too many regulations stifle the adaptive capacity necessary in fast-moving markets; opportunities are overlooked and threats spring up as surprises.
So how can you use simple rules and swarm intelligence to boost performance in your organization?
The first step is to embrace the inherent adaptive capacity of the individuals in your organization.
Trust is central to enhancing order. How much dysfunction has been spawned in your organization because sales doesn’t trust marketing, or because finance tries to micromanage operational decisions?
The essence of the order-centric mindset is to calibrate the exercise of control in service to order. Where it adds to order, control is beneficial; where it detracts, restraint is the wiser course. Where order prevails, there is clarity around the overall objective. Freedom of action is not only possible but encouraged. There is less concern about whether this is “my project” or whether “I” get the credit than whether “we” achieve our desired outcome.
Achieving alignment within the organization and across the value chain has always been a challenge.
Order is something we all generally seek, but few of us want to be controlled. Putting order ahead of control taps into these intrinsic impulses and unleashes initiative and innovation. It simply requires the courage to give up a little control.
Edited from the original Article by Eric j. McNulty at:
Abu Dhabi: The UAE will play a role in the next stage of space exploration as the industry moves from being government policy-driven to commercial development-driven, according to former American astronaut, Buzz Aldrin.
Aldrin, who was speaking at the Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, was one of the first men to land on the moon, along with Neil Armstrong on the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.
Aldrin said the UAE is showing a growing commitment to the space industry and that the country will be involved in future projects and industry developments.
Taking the lead
Aldrin reiterated throughout his address that it is time for the commercial sector to take the lead on space exploration, with the goal of reaching mars. He said that NASA might not be the right agency to exploit space exploration. However, other US agencies and the commercial entities could be.
Globally, companies such as Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and American-based SpaceX are investing in commercial space exploration.
Virgin Galactic is due to launch its first commercial spaceflight from Spaceport America in New Mexico later this year.
The US-based company has reportedly raised $80 million from passengers paying around $250,000 for a ticket.
Not just for the elite
On Monday, Virgin Galactic chief executive, George T. Whitesides, said that there have been discussions for Mubadala to supply parts to the commercial spacecraft fleet.
Prospective Emirati astronauts will not be the only UAE presence on board, with the spaceships sporting the logo of Abu Dhabi sponsor Aabar Investments, which has a 35 per cent stake in Virgin Galactic. Abu Dhabi government-backed Mubadala Development Company is looking at opening a spaceport to service the region.
On Monday, Virgin Galactic chief executive, George T. Whitesides, said that there have been discussions for Mubadala to supply parts to the commercial spacecraft fleet.
Earlier, Masood Sharif M. Mahmood, Yahsat chief executive, said that the UAE has nine indigenous satellites including future programmes and three homegrown satellite companies. He said Yahsat connects a billion people across the Middle East, North Africa and South West Asia.
Excerpt from : http://gulfnews.com/business/aviation/uae-has-role-in-space-exploration-buzz-aldrin-1.1316737
There certainly is a lot of interest in the Machine to machine (M2M) market. Telstra has proudly announced it now has more than one million M2M connections, and we hear similar success stories from around the world.
But what we are seeing is only what is happening on the surface. Most of the M2M activities are taking place unnoticed and their numbers are many times greater than those being put forward by researchers and services companies.
The reason for that is that M2M – or automation as it was called then – has been under development for more than two decades. The problem, however, was that the technologies were expensive and connectivity was difficult. Both of these issues have now changed – technology has become dirt cheap and mobile operators have opened up their networks and are offering services based on costs that make M2M deployment far more affordable.
In many situations including an M2M capability in a new product or service adds only one per cent to the cost. Retrofitting, of course, is a rather different matter.
So what we now see is that many organisations that have been involved in these automation processes for many years – and who therefore have a very good understanding of what they can do with M2M – are now speeding up their deployments. These include manufacturers, the mining industry, transport organisations, infrastructure organisations and so on.
Furthermore, all new electronic devices are now M2M devices. Tens of millions of smart meters have already been deployed by the electricity industry, with literally hundreds of millions of them in the pipeline. The recent acquisition by Google of NEST, the manufacturer of smart home devices such as thermometers, will see another explosion of M2M devices.
One of the fastest growing M2M markets is that of the smartphones and the tablets. All of these devices are connected and, as we can already see with the many apps that are available, they have an enormous capacity for a wide range of M2M applications.
So, if anything, it is likely that most of the research data you might read in relation to M2M is greatly underestimated. This truly is a revolution.
The challenge now is how to best interconnect these systems. In the past systems were built around certain questions that were asked, and this formed the basis for a system that would provide the answers. This is no longer the case. These systems are now interconnected and clever people are needed to look at all that big data, see what it tells us and take it from there.
Early adopters of such connected systems report daily about ‘wow moments’ – finding out things about their organisations that they did not know, and thus enabling these organisations to be more effective and efficient. Half of the costs of M2M projects is in relation to this system integration process; in contrast 10 per cent are network costs, with applications and management split roughly equally to make up the remaining 40 per cent.
This is an excerpt from a post originally published on March 24 by Paul Budde: http://www.buddeblog.com.au/frompaulsdesk/m2m-is-already-bigger-than-you-think/
Supply chain, as a business management practice, is now 30 years old, but we are just beginning. We have a bright future ahead of us if we can adapt.
Anyone that thinks that we have best practices, versus emerging practices, is not in tune with what is happening; the growth of the “internet of things” - The internet of things (IoT) is the term used to describe the growing network of physical devices that are internet connected.
Sure we have had logistics operations for centuries. No doubt about it, logistics was the difference between success and failure in many wars. (It is a litany that is too long to list here.)
But it is not about logistics. Instead, it is about the processes of source, make, sell and deliver as taken together and managed end-to-end from the customer’s customer to the supplier’s supplier. While many companies write about building end-to-end supply chains, they really are not. Instead, they are automating the enterprise.
Today, a huge increase in the number of devices making up the Internet of Things will have a significant impact on how the supply chain will operate. IoT connected devices will reach 26 billion by 2020, up from 0.9 billion in 2009 according to a report by analyst firm Gartner.
The rise of the IoT will transform supply chain to provide, “more differentiated services to customers more efficiently.” Supply chain leaders must design their processes to operate in this digital business world.
Digital marketing will benefit from increased customer data and the ability to segment audiences to a greater extent. Designers, meanwhile, will be required to find ways to embed technology into products that will enable them to communicate with other devices.
Supply chain matters. It creates economies and can save the planet. To move forward, we have to learn from the past 30 years, but we also need to unlearn some things to challenge ourselves how new technologies and processes can help us to do it better.
The future is bright, but we have to lift the shades to see the new horizon of possibilities.
This post is an excerpt from these related articles:
Solar panel satellites, built in space by robots that beam power down to Earth – sound like science-fiction?
Well, even the team behind the idea admit it sounds “nuts” but that’s not going to stop them trying.
US Navy scientists are developing the project which in theory could power entire cities- or military endeavours.
What the panels could look like
The solar panels will be made up of two types of “sandwich” module to form a one-kilometre wide satellite.
Each module consists of a photovoltaic panel on top to absorb the Sun’s energy, an electronics system in the middle to covert it to a radio frequency and a bottom antenna layer to beam the power back to Earth.
Dr. Paul Jaffe, a spacecraft engineer at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), said: “`It’s hard to tell if it’s nuts until you’ve actually tried.”
“People might not associate radio waves with carrying energy, because they think of them for communications, like radio, TV, or cell phones.
” They don’t think about them as carrying usable amounts of power.”
The implications of successfully developing the technology are profound. Obviously it could solve many of our energy needs in an efficient and green manner.
But it could also enable a giant lumbering war machine – like the US Navy – to conduct global operations without the constraint of transporting and refuelling traditional fuels.
When you consider the Pentagon is the world’s largest consumer of energy (excluding countries) this will be of particular interest to US military planners.
Dr. Paul Jaffe
The technology is promising and has even spawned new ways of testing materials for space conditions.
Jaffe said: “One of our key, unprecedented contributions has been testing under space-like conditions.”
Using a specialized vacuum chamber at another facility would have been too expensive, so Jaffe built one himself.
He said: “It’s cobbled together from borrowed pieces.”
The vacuum chamber is just big enough for one module. In it, Jaffe can expose the module to the simulated extreme cold of space and concentrated solar intensities (mimicked by turning on two powerful xenon lamps in the same spectrum as the sun).
By hooking the module up to a tangle of red and blue wires, he measures how well it radiates heat.
Jaffe says most solar panels orbiting with today’s satellites are never tested in space-like conditions because the technology is already mature: “But if you wanted to test anything under concentrated sunlight you would need something like the simulator we’ve put together here.”
Through trial and error, Jaffe has learned a lot. “The capability we’ve built up with the testing and vacuum under sun concentration is something that’s pretty unusual.
“And we’ve actually gotten a couple inquiries from people who may want to use this.”
Infrared: A Renewable Energy Source? Infrared energy emitted from the Earth into space may be potentially harnessed as a renewable energy source in the future.
Physicists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) proposed a device that would resemble a photovoltaic solar panel. But instead of capturing incoming visible light, it would generate electric power by harvesting energy from Earth’s infrared emissions into outer space.
The researchers proposed two possible designs (one macro, one nano) for an emissive energy harvester (EEH) to harness such infrared emissions.
The first design, a thermal EEH, would generate electricity by drawing the heat of surface ambient air through a cold plate that could radiate the energy into the atmosphere, with the flow of heat generating work.
Keeping the cold plate cooler than the ambient temperature would be difficult, but this device illustrates the general principle: differences in temperature generate work, the researchers said.
The alternative design uses rectifying antennas, or rectennas, warmed by ambient air as part of a circuit that generates direct current using temperature differences between electrical components.
“Today’s technology is not sufficient to make an efficient, cost-effective, optoelectronic EEH, but we have described a number of paths that could plausibly lead there over time,” the researchers wrote.
“Now that we understand the constraints and specifications we are in a good position to work on engineering a solution.”
Every truly disruptive technological advance leads to its own set of ethics standards
Making small talk based on information you just grabbed from the Internet is unethical because it implies that you care more about someone than you actually do.
Wearable technology is a human right: Many of us who use a wearable computer to augment our vision have come to rely on it as our normal way of seeing, understanding, and making sense of the world. As we get older, whether we become reliant on the technology through loss of natural function or merely grow further acclimated to it from many years of use, it becomes a part of our own selves in mind, body, and spirit.
These devices are not simply pieces of clothing or a variation on conventional eyewear. They have profound effects on how we see, understand, and remember the world.
As more people grow to depend on this technology in all facets of their lives (for example, as a memory aid or face recognizer), we must balance their rights with the desire to allow other people privacy and confidentiality. It is absurd to forbid people to remember things. Imagine an elderly gentleman being asked his whereabouts on a particular night, to which he replies, “I was not allowed to remember.” We can’t hold people responsible for their actions if we prevent them from doing what it takes to recall them.
Google is officially putting the users of its Glass headset on notice with a set of do’s and don’ts — not least among which is an unambiguous warning not to be “creepy or rude (aka, a “Gla**hole).” This is the first such document from Google.
Explore the world around you.
Take advantage of the Glass voice commands.
Ask for permission.
Use screen lock.
Be an active and vocal member of the Glass Explorer Community.
Rock Glass while doing high-impact sports.
Wear it and expect to be ignored. .
Be creepy or rude.
Respect others and if they have questions about Glass don’t get snappy… In places where cell phone cameras aren’t allowed, the same rules apply to Glass…
As wearable computers and cameras become more widespread, we will certainly need to adopt new protocols and social attitudes toward the capture and sharing of visual information and other data. But these protocols should not include discrimination against users of these valuable assistive devices.
In the old television version of “Mission Impossible,” Jim Phelps’ tape self-destructs after the voice says, “This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.”
Now if the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is successful, not only will the tape self-destruct, but the whole device will disappear.
The agency’s new Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) program aims to develop a new generation of devices “capable of physically disappearing in a controlled, triggerable manner,” rendering the devices useless to the enemy.
Efforts to build degradable electronics have tended to rely on polymeric or biological materials, and that has resulted in poor electronic performance and “weak mechanical properties,” according to the agency.
“DARPA has previously demonstrated that transient electronics might be used to fight infections at surgical sites,” says Jackson. “Now, we want to develop a revolutionary new class of electronics for a variety of systems whose transience does not require submersion in water”.
The project is still a long away from being deployed in a real battle, and will require years of research.
DARPA doesn’t have the manpower or resources to develop these kinds of electronic devices by itself, and so now it’s reaching out for help from industry experts.
In the latest contract for the program, announced on January 31, DARPA provided $3.5 million to IBM for a proposal to use a radio frequency to shatter a glass coating on a silicon chip, reducing it to dust.
The Palo Alto Research Center in California received $2.1 million to build devices with dummy circuits that would be triggered to “crumble into small, sand-like particles in a fraction of a second.”
Defense giant BAE Systems was awarded $4.5 million on January 22 and Honeywell Corporation won a $2.5 million contract on December 3 for more “vanishing” technology research.
And DARPA announced in December a $4.7 million contract for SRI International to develop “SPECTRE” batteries designed to self-destruct.
Read more at:
“Cancer” is still one of those words that can steal your breath, ring so loudly in your ears that your surroundings go silent, and simultaneously make your mind race and time slow to a crawl.
The disease crept into our home March 2013 when my dad was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic adenocarcinoma….
I’ll never forget the look on his face. Anger, confusion, sadness, and fear. Why did this have to happen to him? He didn’t deserve this.
Dad got four cycles of chemotherapy. The fourth cycle was probably the worst as I think the cumulative effects of the drug became apparent…. Lost all his body muscles, osteoporosis, 5 spine fractures… He was operated on 21st January for Kyphoplasty to ease the pain as morphine had no more effect… He was too weak to recover….
My dad passed away this January 23rd. It seemed really sudden, but at the same time, almost perfect timing. He stayed alive long enough to see my brother who came 2 days earlier from South Korea. I think at that moment he was finally content and happy, and he no longer felt the need to hold on. What is helping get through it though, is knowing that he is not suffering anymore, and remembering him for all the good he has done, keeps dad alive in our hearts and no person or illness can take that away.
Today, the incidence of cancer worldwide is growing at an alarming pace, and there is an urgent need to implement strategies to prevent and curb the disease, according to a report from the World Health Organization.
New cancer cases will skyrocket globally from an estimated 14 million in 2012 to 22 million new cases a year within the next two decades, the report says. During that same period, cancer deaths are predicted to rise from an estimated 8.2 million annually to 13 million a year.
The estimates and predictions are in a new report, from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO). The project is a collaboration of more than 250 leading scientists from more than 40 countries.
There’s a need for access to effective and affordable cancer treatments in developing countries, including for childhood cancers, which would significantly reduce mortality, the report says.
The total annual cost globally of cancer was estimated to reach approximately $1.16 trillion in 2010, which is damaging the economies of even the richest countries and is way beyond the reach of developing countries, the report says.
Do not adjust your computer screen—that’s not a typo in the headline. Your instinct may be to change that why to a what, but why is actually the right question for leaders to ask themselves about their business models. It’s this distinction between why and what that makes all the difference.
The essential questions leaders must ask themselves and challenge their teams with are all why questions: Why would a customer want to do business with us? Why would top talent want to come to work with us, and contribute their best to our efforts? Why would suppliers want to become our long-term strategic partners? Why would communities welcome our facilities? Why would institutional investors want to trust their money to us?
A what answer to any of these questions can disguise itself as a why: Customers choose us because we are the low-cost supplier. Talent is attracted to us because we offer a good salary. Suppliers had best stay in line or we’ll find others. Communities want the jobs. And investors will put their cash wherever they can get the best return.
How do you get the why right? One way is to challenge yourself to articulate how your company is going to change the world for the better. Not just increase revenues, but actually Change The World.
A second way to find the why is to begin with your values and work your way there. Almost every organization has a lofty statement of its values, but for too many firms, these values don’t actually guide daily operations. Ask yourself how each of your values is manifest for your various stakeholders. How can it be made more integral and more apparent in your products, services, and even your internal processes?
“Smart suppliers find ways to add value to their customers’ businesses beyond selling them things.”
The lessons are these: First, once you get the why right, the what will follow. Second, the what will change, but the why should transcend numerous strategic and tactical shifts. And, finally, the what is often easier to measure, but the why is more important to assess.
We do business in a turbulent world. Some firms, however, find a way to succeed amidst the tumult. They inspire and cultivate stakeholder loyalty. Look closely and you’ll see they do it by spending more time focusing on the why of their business than the what. Make sure you know why is right with your business model.
(An excerpt from an article by Eric J. McNulty). The full article:
Amazon has been awarded a patent for a new system that ships potential purchases to your area even before you’ve ordered them, based on your purchase history.
Amazon believes that, with your purchase history, it can predict your buying habits before you do — and can have your package in transit before you’ve even made an order. The company has been awarded a patent for a system designed to have your items in your hands at record speeds.
Called “Method and system for anticipatory package shipping“, the patent describes a system whereby the company anticipates your buying habits and sends your packages to the closest delivery hub, waiting for the order to arrive, or, in some cases, even shipping directly to your door.
To anticipate what you might order, Amazon will look at your purchase history and browsing patterns, as well as surveys and questionnaires you’ve completed, to determine your interests, cross-referencing to predict what items you’re likely to buy. Then, once interest has been determined, that item can then be offered at a personalised discount.
There is, of course, margin for error — for example, a package that gets shipped to the customer without the customer ever placing an order. In those cases, Amazon — rather than incurring the cost of having the item returned — may offer the item as a gift to valuable customers.
“In some instances, the package may be delivered to a potentially interested customer as a gift rather than incurring the cost of returning or redirecting the package,” the patent reads. “For example, if a given customer is particularly valued (according to past ordering history, appealing demographic profile, etc), delivering the package to the given customer as a promotional gift may be used to build goodwill.”
As we have already seen in the case of the Kindle e-reader, Amazon is willing to operate at a loss if it builds customer loyalty and repeat business. However, we have also seen that the company may be willing to overstate its capabilities in order to garner free publicity — so we’re not quite willing to bank on the arrival of anticipatory shipping just yet.
Original Article by Michelle Starr @:
Call centers can sometimes try our patience, especially when we are in a hurry, anxious for an answer to a problem, and all we get is a recorded voice telling us to press a number depending on our requirements, only to find we then have to push another number, and then another….
However, customer service cannot be packaged to simply sit on a shelf at our beck and call whenever we need it; everybody has to “get in line” with help from technical support, banks, credit card companies and stores.
Understanding caller patience is vital
For people who work in call centers, understanding caller patience is vital.
Professoors Che-Lin Su and Baris Ata from theUniversity of Chicago Booth School of Businesscarried out a study which was published in the journal Management Science. They say they offer a more accurate approach to modeling caller patience, which should reduce customer waiting time and will help businesses.
Su, a professor of operations management said: “Knowing when a person decides to hang up or hang on is vital to streamlining call center operations, minimizing caller frustration and maximizing each customer service encounter.”
Call centers can design better systems, or improve the ones already in use if they can predict caller behavior.
Understanding how callers behave and what triggers specific reactions is especially important when firms plan changes in their business, or launch a major marketing campaign that produces a surge in inquiries.
Bad call centers can undermine advertising campaigns
Ata, also a professor of operations management, said: “It’s no use spending millions on advertising a new product, service or event if your call center can’t cope with the customer response.”
An efficient and seamless call center that works rapidly makes everybody happier, including customers who stay calmer, phone agents who become less agitated, and business gets done more efficiently.
The authors add that these insights may also help businesses negotiate smarter contracts for outsourcing these services.
Ata explains: “Since the model produces more realistic results for how long a caller will stay on the line, it enables a more precise estimate for the number of callers who can be served per hour, day and month.”
The authors gathered and analyzed caller behavior data from 1.3 million calls made to a bank’s customer service center.
They tested their new model to determine whether previous research assumptions that caller patience never changes held true, even if the center improved call priority and routing systems.
Su explained: “The previous models used assumptions of caller abandonment that were easy to apply and analyze, but didn’t provide a reasonable picture of people’s patience.”
Caller patience is often overestimated
They ran four scenarios that simulated changes in call priority on both models, and found that the older-style assumptions were probably misleading, because they produce caller-abandonment predictions that were highly inaccurate.
In many cases, assumptions had overestimated how long a caller is willing to stay on the line waiting, or underestimated how much it would take for a caller to hang up.
Su concluded: “When a call center alters its discipline to improve speed and service, add agents, or change call routing and priority, we theorized those things should influence caller patience – and our model shows that such improvements do indeed make a difference in whether people decide to hang up or hang on.”
- Zeynep Akşin, Barış Ata, Seyed Morteza Emadi, Che-Lin Su.Structural Estimation of Callers’ Delay Sensitivity in Call Centers. Management Science, 2013; 59 (12): 2727 DOI:10.1287/mnsc.2013.1730
Scientists in Switzerland said Tuesday they can create electronic chips so flexible they can be wrapped around a human hair.
(Excerpt from Phys.org and world news)
The technique entails building an electronic circuit on top of a sandwich of polyvinyl layers perched on a hard base.
The wafer is then placed in water, which dissolves two of the polyvinyl layers and causes the base to be released, sinking to the bottom of the lab dish.
What remains is a circuit embedded on a light, transparent non-soluble polymer film called parylene that is just one micrometre, or a millionth of a metre, thick.
The transistors continue to work even when wrapped around a human hair, which is about 50 micrometres thick, according to the research published in the journal Nature Communications.
The ultra-bendable chip may have medical uses, and has already been tested on an artificial eye in the lab.
It was added to a contact lens to provide a monitor for glaucoma, in which pressure builds up dangerously in the eyeball, said the team.
The invention also has many other potential outlets, from flexible solar cells to wearable bio-sensors, they said.
The electronics “can be transferred on any object, surface and on biological tissues like human skin and plant leaves,” according to the study led by Giovanni Salvatore at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETZ).
Bottom Line: Consumers value a product more highly when they make it themselves—but only if the assembly procedure is structured in a way that allows them to make creative decisions throughout the process.
Still looking for that special last-minute holiday gift for your friends or family members? You might want to give them something they can make themselves. A new study suggests that under the right conditions, consumers value a product more when they have customized and assembled it themselves. But this DIY favorability boost arises only when the assembly procedure emphasizes consumers’ autonomous, real-time decision making.
This excerpt from an article by Matt Palmquist in Strategy+Business will be my last post for this year. My next post will be on Wednesday 08 January 2014. I convey to all of you my season’s greetings with all good wishes for the new year 2014″ – Georges Abi-Aad.
In theory, consumers should want to put their own spin on a product but avoid the time-consuming process of actually making it. And yet, in a variety of contexts, consumers seem happy to open the instruction manual, pull up their sleeves, and get down to work. And they may even pay more for the privilege.
But to really get consumers to love a DIY product, companies have to do a little more than just provide an instruction booklet and an Allen wrench. The more creative effort people put into their product, the more they would be willing to pay for the kit—but only when customization and assembly occurred simultaneously.
“The more creative effort people put into a project, the more they are willing to pay for it.”
Product customization and assembly can create value for companies, but the conditions have to be carefully manipulated to gain the approval of DIYers.
Marketers and managers are encouraged in any product category in which consumers have the ability to customize their options (think of coordinating clothing or purchasing electronics) to emphasize creative choices alongside practical considerations.
Sectors that are normally associated with supreme effort rather than inspiration could especially benefit. For example, gyms should allow members to incorporate their own choices into their live training sessions, a subtle way to let consumers creatively “build” their own experience.
Even the cooking industry could learn something from these findings. At first glance, a cookbook might seem like a strange place for DIY projects. But choices in ingredients, cooking techniques, tools, and plating all give a consumer creative control over the process. Indeed, instruction manuals could be improved immediately if they were formatted to emphasize a consumer’s creative choices throughout the assembly procedure, and not just at the beginning.
And if companies can appropriately structure consumers’ customized assembly tasks, they “should be able to charge consumers for the opportunity to assemble the customizable product,” the authors write. In other words, it’s a win-win. Companies can create less, charge more, and give consumers the satisfaction of a job well imagined and well done.
Source: A Lot of Work or a Work of Art: How the Structure of a Customized Assembly Task Determines the Utility Derived from Assembly Effort, Eva C. Buechel (University of Miami) and Chris Janiszewski (University of Florida), Journal of Consumer Research, Feb. 2014, vol. 40
- DesignSpark Mechanical: Free Edition of SpaceClaim 3D Modeller (adafruit.com)
- DIY for the holidays: Why do consumers enjoy gifts that require work? (eurekalert.org)
- RS Components Brings 3D Design Capability to all Engineers with DesignSpark Mechanical (hispanicbusiness.com)
- Your Toolkit Must-Haves for DIY Projects (rent.com)
The mind is a powerful thing. But almost all our mental processing takes place unconsciously; neuroscience suggests that as few as 5 percent of a person’s decisions are based on conscious, rational thought. Whether companies realize it or not, they’re constantly delivering clues that influence their customers’ unconscious thinking—shaping their impressions and ultimately, their actions.
Consider customer service. Chances are you have bailed on a company you’d been satisfied with for years because of a bad experience with its customer service department. But chances are you would have stayed with the company if its customer service reps had just made it easier for you to place your order or resolve your problem.
This doesn’t mean that customers expect to be swept off their feet by customer service reps. What they really want, explain Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman, and Rick DeLisi, is an “effortless” experience.
You can’t always say yes to every customer request. It would be great if you could, but there are many situations in which the thing a customer wants and the thing you have to give are not the same. Then what?
Well, of course, the opposite of yes is…no. So let’s consider the word “no” for a moment. How do you react when you hear that word? For most of us, “no” is a trigger that sets in motion an entire chain of negative emotions. Anger, outrage, argumentation.
That’s a lot of bad outcomes just because of one word. So, of course, it only makes sense that you’d want your people to avoid using it as much as possible. Reps need to find a way to both be truthful (because the answer in many cases is, unfortunately, still no), but in a way that doesn’t trigger the negative emotional reaction and all the bad outcomes that come along with it. This is where the use of positive language can make such a big difference….
So if you could just teach your reps how to use a simple response substitution when these situations came up, creating a positive conversation that moves forward rather than backward – instead of saying, “We don’t have that item in stock right now,” you could say “We will have availability on [date] and I can get that out to you immediately once it comes in.”
It’s a seemingly tiny little thing, but think about how these situations become amplified over thousands and thousands of customer interactions every day, mitigating the corrosive effect of negativity and its impact on customer loyalty. It all adds up and has a meaningful impact on customers.
Again, this isn’t just about being nice to customers. Nor is it just about using positive words. It is to be trained to react in the most common situations where we are very likely to be entering into the high-effort zone, since saying no (as well as words like “can’t,” “won’t,” “don’t,” etc.) is such a huge effort trigger….
Just because there’s nothing you can do, doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do.
—Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman, and Rick DeLisi
Original article :
- Stop trying to delight your customers (clientrelationshipmgt.wordpress.com)
- The Coming Customer-Service Revolution (robertringer.com)
- Does Your Company Really Have Great Customer Service? (craigwittblog.wordpress.com)
- Customer Service – Your most powerful retention tool or your competitors most powerful acquisition tool? (biznology.com)
A special reward was presented to me by RS Components at the end of the conference;
I am deeply honored to have been selected by RS Components for this special award. I am one of the leaders who have made their marks in RS Components business. I am sincerely grateful for the recognition from the RS Components Emerging Markets Channel which initiated the whole event.
I couldn’t have done it without you guys.
Thank you very much.
A new digital simulator can produce tastes right on a person’s tongue. The simulator, developed by a team at the National University of Singapore led by Nimesha Ranasinghe, uses an electrode to reproduce all four taste categories: sweet, salty, bitter and sour. (An excerpt from an article in Wall Street Insanity by Katherine Pilnick).
The recently discovered fifth taste, umami, has not yet been added. Also, the simulator doesn’t simulate smell and texture, important components of taste, although the team is working on ways to develop those features
The simulator works by sending an alternating current through an electrode touching the tip of the tongue. Combined with small changes in temperature, a person’s taste receptors are “fooled” into tasting a designated food.
The device is noninvasive but a bit large. According to New Scientist, Ranasinghe hopes that a redesign will allow users to keep their mouths almost closed while maintaining contact.
Applications Of Virtual Tasting
The applications of taste simulators are seemingly endless. The simulator’s informational video suggests commercial applications in games and other media. “The system will allow players to sample food in video games,” the narrator says. “Taste could also be used as a reward system: a sweet treat could be delivered for completing a level, while a blast of bitterness could be produced for a low score.”
Ranasinghe has larger dreams for the invention, speaking of healthcare applications. “People with diabetes might be able to use the taste synthesizer to simulate sweet sensations without harming their actual blood sugar levels,” he said on New Scientist. “Cancer patients could use it to improve or regenerate a diminished sense of taste during chemotherapy.”
Now, Ranasinghe’s team is working on other, similar devices. A so-called digital lollipop would give the experience of a continuous sugary taste without any actual consumption. The team is also working on TOIP, taste over internet protocol. The system would allow the easy transmission of data required to recreate different tastes.
- Simulator could let humans ‘taste the internet’ (cbc.ca)
- Get Your Chocolate Fix Without the Guilt: Electronic ‘Lollipop’ Can Simulate Any Taste (newsfeed.time.com)
- Electronic taste could allow television viewers to sample cookery show creations (telegraph.co.uk)
- Taste simulator makes virtual food taste like the real thing (mnn.com)
- Getting to the Bottom of a Digital Lollipop (bits.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Taste Simulator Lets You Try Virtual Food (Yes, Seriously) (huffingtonpost.com)
- This electric lollipop can simulate any taste (theweek.com)
Following the devastating earthquake and tsunami off the coast of japan in 2011 — a disaster which brought monumental nuclear accidents to affected cities — the country has had an increasing motivation to consider and exercise solar energy production.
A restructured fit program launched by the government stipulated the requirement of local utilities to purchase 100% of the power generated from solar installations of more than 10 kilowatts for a period of 20 years, a promotion for the use of renewable energy.
The major project that began in July 2012 has finally begun operation on November 1st, 2013.
‘Kagoshima Nanatsujima mega solar power plant’ sits off the coast of southern Japan, overlooking the ocean bay and grand Sakurajima volcano. Occupying 1.27 million square meters — roughly the same area as 27 baseball stadiums — the massive plant is comprised of 290,000 arranged panels.
An adjacent tour facility provides visitors, students, and tourists with expansive panoramas of the facility from a circular viewing room and relevant information about environmental issues, a stimulus in the understanding of renewable energy resources for the public sphere.
- Kyocera Opens Japan’s Largest Offshore Solar Power Plant (inhabitat.com)
- Largest solar power plant in Japan, operational (ecoseed.org)
- Largest Solar Power Station In Japan Opened By Kyocera (cleantechnica.com)
- Kyocera starts operation of Japan’s largest solar power plant (thegreenenergyblog.com)
- After Two Years of Nuclear Crises, Japan Opens Its Biggest Solar Park (gizmodo.com)
- Now that’s a solar plant – @Kyocera opens 70MW Solar Energy in 15 months (startup88.com)
- KYOCERA Starts Operation of 70MW Solar Power Plant (solardaily.com)
What if certain patients could get a bionic pick-up without undergoing the pain and lengthy recovery of surgery? University of Cincinnati researchers are working on just that idea, with the start of an exoskeleton to support people who – through age or injury – are limited in their movement.
Gaurav Mukherjee, a UC master’s student in mechanical engineering in UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS), will present the interdisciplinary research on Nov. 15, at the International Human-Centered Robotics Symposium, which will be held at UC’s Kingsgate Marriott Conference Center.
Working with a senior student design team in mechanical engineering, Mukherjee and Grant Schaffner, an assistant professor in UC’s Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, designed and built a spring-assisted leg exoskeleton that can help people stand and sit. Further research partnerships with Shikha Chaganti, a master’s degree student in computer science, and her advisor, Anca K. Ralescu, a UC professor of computer science, are examining how a brain-computer interface can interpret how to operate the exoskeleton with what the user wants to do.
Mukherjee says that a movement analysis study has been underway in the lab – using markers on the body to build a virtual model. The results of the experiment can help researchers design the exoskeleton to supplement the capability of the user.
Additionally, researchers are exploring muscle activity to produce a suit that will work in cooperation with the natural movement of the patient/user, rather than forcing a predetermined motion.
Mukherjee says the exoskeleton could hold promise for the nation’s aging Baby Boomer population, adding that as many as 3 million American senior citizens currently require some form of nursing supervision. The interdisciplinary research is hoped to one day benefit geriatric patients, patients affected by stroke and paraplegics, in gaining independence in movement.
The exoskeleton research is a collaboration with the College of Engineering and Applied Science’s Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computing Systems and the UC College of Nursing.
Future research will involve further development of the exoskeleton in building supports to enable movement of ankles and hips, as well as developing better fluidity in movement.
(Article by Dawn Fuller in Phys.Org, provided by University of Cincinnati)
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-11-block-exoskeleton-independence-elderly-video.html#jCp
- Paralyzed Army Veteran To Walk Again With Bionic Exoskeleton (patdollard.com)
- Titan Arm Assistive Exoskeleton Wins James Dyson Award (technabob.com)
- Dyson Award for wearable robotic arm (bbc.co.uk)
- This Amazing Robot Exoskeleton Helps The Paralyzed Walk Again (forbes.com)
- Bionic suit lets paralyzed vet walk (rss.cnn.com)
The space agency is working hard to develop laser-based space communications systems, which officials say are key to ensuring rapid and accurate transmission of information from spacecraft around the solar system. The agency’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration mission (LCRD), which is slated to lift off in December 2017.
Demonstrating Laser Communications
LCRD will launch to geosynchronous orbit as a hosted payload on a commercial communications satellite developed by the company Space Systems/Loral.
The experiment’s two optical modules will use lasers to send information to two ground stations, one in California and one in New Mexico, at rates of up to 1.25 gigabytes per second. LCRD will operate for at least two years, with the aim of demonstrating the long-term viability of a space-based laser communications system.
LLCD has already set a record, using a pulsed laser beam to send data 239,000 miles from lunar orbit to Earth at a rate of 622 megabits per second. The previous record from the moon had been 150 megabits per second, achieved by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), said Bernard Edwards, chief communications systems engineer at the space agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
The LLCD system is also more efficient than the radio-frequency approach employed by LRO and other spacecraft, requiring significantly less mass and power.
Excerpt from an article by Mike Wall, senior writer for Space.com
- NASA fires 622Mbps broadband LASER AT THE MOON – Register (theregister.co.uk)
- NASA Has a 622 Mbps Data Connection – to the Moon (nasa.gov)
- Historic demonstration proves laser communication possible (esciencenews.com)
- NASA brings broadband to the moon (geek.com)
Panasonic Corporation today announced that it will start selling a solar LED lantern that doubles as a charger for people living in areas without electricity. With a built-in rechargeable battery to store solar energy during the day, the lantern provides light at night and can also be used as a power source to charge small mobile devices, such as mobile phones. The company plans to bring the lantern to regions without electricity, starting from Asia and Africa in December this year. The functions of the BG-BL03 Solar LED Lantern, such as 360-degree illumination and a charging time of approximately 6 hours, make it practical and convenient for everyday use in these areas.
About 1.3 billion people, or approximately 20% of the world’s population, are still living without electricity. Many of these people use kerosene lamps for lighting. However, kerosene lamps not only fail to provide sufficient light but also emit toxic fumes and pose a fire risk. In addition, there are also problems with the infrastructure for charging mobile phones, which have become a popular communication tool in areas without electricity.
Panasonic’s new Solar LED Lantern, with a 3.5-watt output solar panel and a USB port, offers a clean and safe alternative as a light source as well as a power source for people living in areas without electricity. The portable lantern can be used in homes and various other locations including hospitals, schools, shops and outdoors. The lantern can be charged in about six hours to provide up to six hours of light at the maximum brightness setting.
The Solar LED Lantern will be launched in Kenya, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Malaysia, followed by other countries. Starting with the solar lantern, its first product for BOP markets, Panasonic will continue to accelerate the development of BOP markets and strengthen product development to help improve the lives of people in regions without electricity.
Last year, as part of its corporate citizenship activities, Panasonic launched the “100 Thousand Solar Lanterns Project”, with the goal of donating a total of 100,000 solar electric lights to people in regions of the world without electricity by 2018, the 100th anniversary of the company’s founding, through local social institutions including NPOs and NGOs.
1. Light suitable for everyday life with 360-degree illumination
The lantern contains five LEDs and is designed to emit light 360 degrees. This wide emission angle makes it suitable for use in everyday life such as at family dinners and for children studying. With a touch of button on the lantern, the brightness can be adjusted between High (100 lx), Medium (40 lx) and Low (6 lx). The lantern has a handle, which allows for flexibility in setting up the light. It can be hung in the room, placed on a table or carried with the user.
2. A 3.5 W solar panel which recharges the battery in approximately 6 hours, giving 6 hours of use
The Solar LED Lantern is designed to be fully charged in one day and last one night so that it is useful for everyday life in areas without electricity. With a 3.5 W solar panel, the lantern’s built-in battery can be fully charged in appoximately six hours under fine weather conditions. When fully charged, the battery run time is approximately six hours on High setting, about 15 hours on Medium and roughly 90 hours when set at Low.
3. Power source for mobile phones with a USB port
The Solar LED Lantern has a USB port, via which small devices such as mobile phones can be charged. A mobile phone with a 700mAh capacity battery can be fully charged in approximately two hours. The fully-charged lantern can provide enough power to charge such a mobile phone once or twice.
4. IP34- rated protection against dust and water
The Solar LED Lantern has been awarded the Good Design Award 2013, which is organized by Japan Institute of Design Promotion, and the IAUD Award 2013 which is organized by International Association for Universal Design.
- Panasonic to Release Solar LED Lantern for People Living in Areas Without Electricity (sys-con.com)
- Top Eco-friendly Products for the Office (directblinds.co.uk)
- Africa’s technology triumphs (highlife.ba.com)
- Solar grids for rural communities in Africa (nextbigfuture.com)
Dubai began operating the first in a series of solar power stations it plans as part of a push to diversify energy supplies in the United Arab Emirates, an OPEC member nation holding about 6 percent of global oil reserves.
The 13-megawatt photovoltaic plant is the biggest of its type in the Middle East and North Africa,Saeed Al Tayer, the head of Dubai’s state utility, said today at an inauguration ceremony in a desert inland from the Persian Gulf. First Solar Inc., the biggest U.S. solar-panel manufacturer, built the facility.
“This is the first part of Dubai’s plan to develop a solar park with 1000 megawatts of power by 2030,” said Al Tayer, chief executive officer of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority.
DEWA is seeking to reduce its use of natural gas as a fuel for power stations while boosting generating capacity to meet a 5 percent annual growth in electricity demand in Dubai, the U.A.E.’s second-largest sheikhdom. The government-owned utility plans to hire private companies to develop and run a 100-megawatt solar power plant as it expands further into renewable energy, Al Tayer said.
Dubai is targeting by 2030 to generate 5 percent of its electricity from renewable energy and 12 percent from coal, while buying an additional 12 percent of its power from nuclear reactors planned in neighboring Abu Dhabi. The remaining 71 percent will come from gas, according to a 2011 plan.
The U.A.E. is the fourth-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, with Abu Dhabi holding most of its crude reserves.
- U.A.E. Looks to Gas, Nuclear Power to Diversify, Minister Says (bloomberg.com)
- NUSACC and U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council Host DEWA Official in… (prweb.com)
- Springer: The true value of solar energy (vtdigger.org)
Electric current sufficient to light a string of LEDs, activate an e-paper display or even trigger action by a computer can be generated by tapping or rubbing simple, flexible generators made of paper, thin sheets of plastic and other everyday materials, researchers at Disney Research, Pittsburgh, have demonstrated.
This new approach to energy harvesting uses electrets, materials with special electrical properties that already are used in microphones and in tiny MEMS devices. This latest application, developed by researchers at Disney Research, Pittsburgh and at Carnegie Mellon University, could make possible new types of interactive applications involving books, posters and other printed materials that require no batteries or external power.
The design of a Paper Generator is simple: one approach is to sandwich a thin, flexible sheet of polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE – best known by the brand name Teflon –between two conductive layers, such as sheets of metallized polyester, that serve as electrodes. Electrical charge accumulates on the PTFE sheet when paper is rubbed against it. Then, if the electrodes are made to move relative to each other against the PTFE, a tiny, alternating electrical current is generated. This electrical current can be used to power a broad variety of devices such as LED arrays, e-ink displays, sound buzzers and infrared communication devices.
“Though the fundamental principles of operation remain the same, it’s possible to build Paper Generators that respond to a number of different gestures, such as tapping, touching, rubbing or sliding,” said Ivan Poupyrev, director of Disney Research, Pittsburgh’s Interaction Group. “We can imagine any number of ways to use this to add sights, sounds and other interactivity to books and other printed materials inexpensively and without having to worry about power sources.”
The researchers, who also include Mustafa Emre Karagozler and Yuri Suzuki of Disney Research, Pittsburgh and Gary Fedder of Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Robotics Institute, will present their findings at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST), Oct. 8-11, in St Andrews, Scotland.
Electrets are the electrostatic equivalents of permanent magnets, carrying a quasi-permanent electric charge. These dielectric materials include natural materials such as quartz as well as man-made materials such as PTFE. Other researchers have demonstrated that electrets could be used to convert finger tapping into power to light LEDs using expensive, microfabricated structures. The Paper Generators produced at Disney Research, Pittsburgh, by contrast, are decidedly low-tech and cheap.
“There’s nothing here that I can’t build by hand in five minutes,” Karagozler said of the Disney Research, Pittsburgh demonstration devices, which included a cartoon of a rocket ship outlined by a string of LEDs that light up when a paper button is tapped. The researchers also printed Paper Generators using conventional ink-jet printers equipped with cartridges with conductive ink. “That’s the future of this technology,” Karagozler added.
Though the current produced by the devices is low – measured in hundreds of microamperes – the voltage is high, up to 1000 volts. That is ideal for triggering e-paper displays, Karagozler said. One demonstration device, for instance, features cartoon characters of astronauts and friendly aliens; when the energy harvesting patch is rubbed, an e-paper display reveals H-E-L-L-O one letter at a time.
Running the alternating current through a small rectifier converts the power to DC to operate LEDs. The power also can be fed into store-and-release circuitry, enabling a buzzer to sound when enough power is stored, or to send an infrared signal to trigger action by a computer. Transmitting the current to an analog voltmeter produces mechanical motion of the needle.
“It’s very simple, it’s flexible and it’s printable using conventional printers,” Karagozler said. “It’s a technology with potential applications we’ve only begun to explore.”
- Disney Researchers Create Mind-Blowing Communication Device (theblaze.com)
- Paper generators: Harvesting energy from touching, rubbing and sliding (w/video) (nanowerk.com)
- Generating electricity from a sheet of paper [GigaOM] (gigaom.com)
- Disney’s Paper Generators Create Electricity Without Batteries (fastcodesign.com)
- Disney Research discovers rubbing, tapping paper-like material creates electrical current (eurekalert.org)
A head-mounted visor that will instantly translate any foreign language into your native tongue.
The country’s telecommunications giant NTT Docomo on Monday was showing off its latest development where cameras, computers and know-how combine to give the wearer a whole different view of what they are looking at.
One function of the gizmo overlays the wearer’s first language onto unfamiliar text, making signs and menus instantly understandable – a boon to travellers in Japan, where foreign-language menus are not commonly found off the tourist trail.
“Character recognition technology enables instant language translation for users travelling abroad and reading restaurant menus and other documents,” Docomo said in a statement, as it showcased the gadget at CEATEC Japan.
Another application turns any flat surface into a touchscreen, with a finger ring relaying positioning information to the device that lets wearers touch tags that only they can see, perhaps to perform an internet search.
Other uses include facial recognition that is intended to look up someone’s identity – and job title – from a smartphone’s directory.
Using a Vuzix M100 as the base model, carried facial and character recognition ability. Let us say that you are bad with names – wearing this smart glasses would be able to assist you.
Imagine walking around and seeing someone whom you want to talk to, but for the life of you, could not remember his or her name. This pair of smart glasses will check the person’s face against the employee manifesto, and relay other metadata such as position and department.
- Docomo unveils instant translator glasses in Japan (zdnet.com)
- Docomo’s answer to Google Glass will translate foreign languages in real-time (venturebeat.com)
- Augmented reality glasses ‘translate foreign menus as you read’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- Glasses that translate menus as you read showcased as Japanese tech fair (ctvnews.ca)
- Firm shows off translating glasses (bbc.co.uk)
How is it possible to walk through 3D virtual realities while staying in one place? Engineers from the Vienna University of Technology have solved this problem and are now introducing their “Virtualizer”.
Head-mounted devices, which display three dimensional images according one’s viewing direction, allowing the users to lose themselves in computer generated worlds are already commercially available. However, it has not yet been possible to walk through these virtual realities, without at some point running into the very real walls of the room. A team of researchers at the Vienna University of Technology has now built a “Virtualizer”, which allows for an almost natural walk through virtual spaces. The user is fixated with a belt in a support frame, the feet glide across a low friction surface. Sensors pick up these movements and feed the data into the computer. The team hopes that the Virtualizer will enter the market in 2014.
Various ideas have been put forward on the digitalization of human motion. Markers can be attached to the body, which are then tracked with cameras – this is how motion capture for animated movies is achieved. For this, however, expensive equipment is needed, and the user is confined to a relatively small space. Prototypes using conveyor belts have not yet yielded satisfactory results.
Tuncay Cakmak, a student at TU Vienna, had a much better idea; when the feet slide across a smooth low-friction surface, almost natural walking movements are possible without in fact changing one’s position. Together with some other students and virtual reality expert Hannes Kaufmann (TU Vienna), he developed the “Virtualizer”.
In the Virtualizer’s metal frame, the user is kept in place with a belt. The smooth floor plate contains sensors, picking up every step. Rotations of the body are registered by the belt. “Coming to terms with the low friction takes a little bit of practice”, says Tuncay Cakmak, “but soon one can run across the smooth sensor plate quite naturally.”
Run, look, duck, jump
The Virtualizer can be used with standard 3D headgear, which picks up the users viewing direction and displays 3D pictures accordingly. This is independent from the leg motion, therefore running into one direction and looking into another becomes possible.
Moving through virtual realities using a keyboard or a joystick can lead to a discrepancy between visual perception and other body sensations. This is a problem for the brain: “Many people become nauseous in such situations. This is called ‘cybersickness'”, says Tuncay Cakmak. In the Virtualizer, however, the displayed visual data is in line with one’s physical motion. The feeling of presence in the virtual world is stronger, and it becomes easier to assess distances and proportions. In addition, movement in the Virtualizer has an element of physical exercise.
Entering the market
The prototype developed at TU Vienna already works very well – only some minor adjustments are still to be made. The Virtualizer has already caused some a stir. “Some major companies have already expressed their interest – for us, however, it is important that the technological development remains in our hands”, says Tuncay Cakmak.
The Virtualizer is scheduled to enter the market as soon as 2014. The price cannot be determined yet. “Our first priority is to create a high quality product, but of course we want to offer it at the lowest possible price”, says Cakmak. “Our product should lead virtual reality out of the research labs and into the gamers’ living rooms.”
- Virtual Reality Gaming Gets Real with ‘EVE: Valkyrie’ on Oculus Rift (bloggerstech.wordpress.com)
- Hands-On with Oculus Rift: Virtual Reality Is Almost Here, Finally (entertainment.time.com)
- Virtual Reality (reptilianoverlords.wordpress.com)
- New device to revolutionize gaming in virtual realities (nanowerk.com)
- Sony developing virtual reality headset for PS4 (develop-online.net)
Free, fast and intuitive design software opens up new possibilities for engineers from concept design through to manufacturing. Introducing DesignSpark Mechanical, a new 3D solid modeling and assembly tool that is available to all – totally free of charge.
Great news for all the electronic and mechanical engineers, students and practicing: a free 3D DesignSpark Mechanical software that will enable conceptualization and rapid prototyping, reduce costs, and dramatically accelerate product development. In short, this software is like a “Gift of invention that will bring your ideas to life!”
To see this little beauty in action, feast your eyes on the following video and then return to this column to discover more.
From the above video, it’s easy to see that the DesignSpark Mechanical 3D design tool is applicable to every engineering student and practicing engineer on the planet. In fact, DesignSpark Mechanical is also of interest to non-technical marketing folks. In the case of today’s designs, it is no longer sufficient to create a mega-cool electronic system and then simply sling it into an “agricultural” package. Modern customers and end-users now demand products that are not only highly functional, but are also aesthetically pleasing to the hand and eye.
This “industrial-strength” software has been lovingly crafted so as to be easy to learn and use. You can quickly create 3D objects, manipulate shapes, grab and drag faces and/or edges, set levels of transparency (allowing you to, for example, see through a semi-transparent enclosure to the contents inside). You can combine/merge objects, fragment them, and perform Boolean operations on them. You can “Copy” and “Paste” within a drawing or between drawings. And you can perform unlimited “Undo” and “Redo” operations.
But wait, there’s more… You can create individual parts or full-blown assemblies. In addition to your enclosures, you can import 3D models of electronic components, electro-mechanical devices, circuit boards, and so forth. But where do you get these models? Well, the folks who are bringing DesignSpark Mechanical to us –Allied Electronics and RS Components — have 38,000 3D models as part of their online catalog. Each of these free-to-use models is available in 24 different formats, which means they work with just about every 3D design package in the known universe. Furthermore, the folks at TraceParts.com boast 100+ million 2D drawings and 3D models that can also be freely accessed and used in your designs.
Last but certainly not least, you may know Allied Electronics and/or RS Components as one of the world’s largest distributor of electronics and maintenance products. If this is all you know, you may wonder what they are doing distributing free 3D design software to anyone who wants it. In fact, you may also start to ask yourself, “What other amazing tools and technologies do these little rascals have up their sleeves?” Well, keep watching this space!
Excerpt from RS Press release and the following article at EEtimes by Max Maxfield :
- Structural 3D Modeling Is an ideal Technique – Outsource to obtain Benefits (pinebarrenspublishing.com)
- RS Components Brings 3D Design Capability to all Engineers with DesignSpark Mechanical (hispanicbusiness.com)
- New Free-to-Download DesgnSpark a CAD Tool for 3D Design (3dprintinginsider.com)
- DesignSpark Mechanical – The Gift of Invention (hackaday.com)
- 3D CAD Can Benefit Your Next Project (3dprintinginsider.com)
Think back. Reflect on your career and write down your top five leadership disappointments.
If your experience is typical, your list will include losing top-quality talent. The memory of “suddenly” losing one of your best and brightest never seems to fade. The story is always the same: They weren’t looking, but a great opportunity just fell into their lap (yeah, right). An excerpt from an article in Strategy+Business by Susan Cramm.
Hearing the news makes your heart sink and shifts your reality. It’s not just business; it’ personal. They aren’t just leaving the organization; they’re leaving you. In spite of all the time spent together making plans, overcoming adversities, and celebrating accomplishments, they have decided that your best efforts as a leader weren’t good enough. To cope, you rationalize: “People are responsible for their own careers.” You think to yourself: “They come and they go. Nothing I could have done. No one is indispensable. No big deal.
But it is a big deal. Losing high performers is painful, both personally and professionally. An estimated 25 percent of these high-potential employees plan on leaving their jobs within a year.
However, leaders can reduce the risk of losing the right people for the wrong reasons by working collaboratively with them to identify challenging assignments that tap into their passions and career goals.
Most leaders sidestep career discussions, buying into the philosophy that it’s not their responsibility. While this is fundamentally true, most people don’t have well-articulated career goals or feel comfortable talking with their supervisors about the type of opportunities that would help them develop. As a result, they find it easier to converse with a recruiter rather than their boss as they consider the future of their careers.
Customizing opportunities to each employee are important, and you should care. Know your people by meeting with them one-on-one for 90 minutes. When scheduling the meeting, let them know that you want to get to know them better and discuss their passions and career goals, requesting that they provide written responses along with their most current resume prior to the meeting.
Make the meeting all about them. Ask questions, reflect back what you hear, and be encouraging. Don’t provide feedback or advice—just listen and learn. Your people will leave the meeting feeling honored, respected, and energized, and you will have the insights necessary to help them define their development objectives and sculpt their future assignments in a way that synchs up with how they want to live and what they want to achieve.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of staying in close contact with your high potentials. You may have high expectations of them, but they also have high expectations of you. Make it hard for them to leave you by making sure you don’t leave them.
- Career at a crossroads? (reed.co.uk)
- Benefits of mentoring (reed.co.uk)
- The Talent “Four-Step”: Retain (leadershipstrikes.wordpress.com)
- 10 Reasons Your Top Talent Will Leave You (wheresthesausage.typepad.com)
- Hiring The Right People For Your Business (thehartford.com)
- 5 Leadership Lessons: Listen, Learn, Lead (thehartford.com)
Looking for a parking space for hours at a busy shopping mall or being stuck on roads jammed with cars releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide are all-too-familiar scenes for city dwellers.
A group of researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) recently developed a possible solution to such problems: a foldable, compact electric vehicle that can be utilized either as a personal car or part of the public transit system to connect major transportation routes within a city.
In-Soo Suh, Associate Professor of the Graduate School for Green Transportation at KAIST and his research team introduced a prototype micro electric car called “Armadillo-T,” whose design is based on a native animal of South America, the armadillo, a placental mammal with a leathery armor shell.
The research team imitated the animal’s distinctive protection characteristic of rolling up into a ball when facing with threat from predators. Just as armadillos hide themselves inside the shell, Armadillo-T tucks its rear body away, shrinking its original size of 2.8 meters (110 inches) down to almost half, 1.65 meters (65 inches), when folding.
Armadillo-T is a four-wheel-drive, all-electric car with two seats and four in-wheel motors. Since the motors are installed inside the wheels, and the 13.6 kWh capacity of lithium-ion battery pack is housed on the front side, the battery and motors do not have to change their positions when the car folds. This not only optimizes the energy efficiency but also provides stability and ample room to drivers and passengers.
Once folded, the small and light (weighs 450 kg) electric vehicle takes up only one-third of a 5-meter parking space, the standard parking size in Korea, allowing three of its kind to be parked. With a smartphone-interfaced remote control on the wheels, the vehicle can turn 360 degrees, enhancing drivers’ convenience to park the car, even in an odd space in a parking lot, the corner of a building, for example.
The concept car has loads of smart features on board, too: the cameras installed inside the car eliminate the need for side mirrors and increase the driver’s ability to see the car’s right and left side, thereby reducing blind spots. With a smartphone, the driver can control Armadillo-T and enable remote folding control. The car has a maximum speed of 60 km/h, and with a ten-minute fast charge, it can run up to 100 km.
Particularly, this car is ideal for urban travels, including car-sharing and transit transfer, to offer major transportation links in a city. In addition to the urban application, local near-distance travels such as tourist zones or large buildings can be another example of application.”
- Armadillo-T micro electric car folds to fit into compact parking spaces (video) (engadget.com)
- Parking’s a Breeze in This Foldable, Smartphone-Controlled Electric Car (gizmodo.com)
- KAIST Unveils Foldable Electric Vehicle (energypotentials.wordpress.com)
- Is This Foldable Car the Vehicle of the Future? (bloomberg.com)