Innovation

Self-Driving Cars Alleviate Traffic Flow

This week New York became the fifth state after Nevada, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and California to begin accepting applications for self-driving cars. Autonomous cars are close to becoming reality and researchers have begun testing their effect on reducing traffic jams and congestion within population dense cities. What will be interesting to observe is how autonomous cars perform in New York City, which has the highest population density in the US.

Now, a new study out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign finds that autonomous vehicles on the road can also reduce the effects of phantom traffic jams. These instances occur when a car within a steady flow of traffic uses its brakes causing a ripple effect of stop-and-go traffic all the way down the line. Due to intelligent speed control, autonomous vehicles can reduce the amount of speed deviation of all cars in a phantom traffic jam by 50%. In turn, this reduces the amount of braking down the traffic line and can reduce fuel consumption by 40% through reduced braking and acceleration, which will save money and be good for the environment.

 What’s so intriguing is this study only included a single autonomous vehicle within a 20 car file. The car used for this study was also not as advanced as Waymo or the industry standards most companies are trying to achieve. The car was actually equipped with simple cruise control features, already available in most luxury cars.

Companies, such as Google, Tesla, Apple, and Uber are expected to start marketing their autonomous rides and test driving them in the empire state. Fans of these companies are already getting excited. Applications and the trial period will end April, 2018, but may be extended for an additional year barring any mishaps before then. Testing is prohibited near school zones and a $5 million insurance policy must be taken out on all autonomous vehicles.

In the rise of regulatory scrutiny, California is actually one of the states attempting to rewrite its autonomous vehicle laws. Cities like San Francisco, home to Uber and Lyft, and other smart cities across the California have benefited tremendously from ride sharing programs to alleviate traffic congestion and reduce carbon emissions.

This study comes after news that Mercedes was scrapping regulatory approval for the development of consumer diesel vehicles. While touted as more fuel efficient than standard gas powered cars, less than 1% of American car sales include diesel vehicles.

Globally, electric vehicle (EV) sales rose 42% during Q1 of 2016, signifying a sharp rise in consumer demand for hybrid cars. Ford, the maker of the Mustang and a long line of hemi trucks is the top manufacturer of ecoboost engines and within the top three car manufacturers in EVs/hybrids. Increased consumer demand for EVs comes in congruence with the increased demand for autonomous vehicles despite all of the doomsday paranoia and safety concerns.

Take GM’s purchase of Cruise Automation and Ford’s purchase of Argo AI as evidence that the future of automotive manufacturing is in autonomous vehicles. Simply pumping out more steel and concrete from a factory to fill the roads with standard cars is not a viable option.

There are currently 263 AI startups in the autonomous vehicle vertical alone. The race for the first and best autonomous vehicle to market has resulted in an intense legal battle between Google and Uber. Despite this, Google has announced it will be allowing hundreds of families in Arizona to test drive the Waymo. Google is also increasing the number of autonomous Chrysler Pacific Hybrids on the road to 600.

Mercedes has promised self-driving taxis in three years and Ford has promised self-driving cars by 2021. GM is even testing out an app for ordering the autonomous taxis. Seeing how each car will enlist different technologies and advanced features will be truly exciting. Uber is expanding its research of self-driving cars outside the US and Toyota has enlisted Nvidia’s Xavier processor for its intelligent vehicles. The future of autonomous vehicles is inevitable, but how state policy and our social concerns will interact with this awesome technology will dictate the how big of an effect autonomous vehicles will have in solving our city’s traffic issues.

89% of CIOs are investing more heavily in innovation due to uncertainty

Nine out of 10 chief information officers are investing more heavily in innovation, according to an annual survey by recruitment firm Harvey Nash Group and accounting firm KPMG.

Two-thirds (64 percent) of organizations are adapting their technology strategies in the midst of unprecedented global political and economic uncertainty, the survey found.

More than half of the respondents (52 percent) said they are investing in more nimble technology platforms. It is clear digital strategies have infiltrated businesses across the globe at an entirely new level. The proportion of organizations surveyed that now have enterprise-wide digital strategies increased 52 percent in just two years, and organizations with a chief digital officer have increased 39 percent over last year.

“From an organizational and cultural perspective, the CIO is now faced with a full transformation to digital, enterprise-wide,” said Harvey Nash president and CEO Bob Miano in a statement. “Digital is without question the CIO’s priority, but especially for legacy organizations, leading this change to a complete, unified digital strategy is top of mind. CIOs are responding by tackling this head-on with innovation and agility.”

To deal with that change, companies are increasing their demand for enterprise architects — the fastest growing technology skill this year, up 26 percent compared to 2016.

Cybersecurity vulnerability — as demonstrated by the latest ransomware case — is at an all-time high, with a third of IT leaders (32 percent) reporting their organization had been subject to a major cyberattack…

Whoever Says Creativity Is Inborn Is Just Giving Themselves an Excuse

What if I told you creative people are found to be more attractive by others? According to a study done by Christopher Watkins,

This may sound great, but there is more to the study than just this. Other factors that come into play include gender and physical appearance. Surprisingly, the effects of creativity are stronger for average looking people than people who are genetically gifted. Creativity is also thought to be more beneficial for men2.

At this point you may be thinking, “HOW DO I MAKE MYSELF MORE CREATIVE!”

Creativity Is Intelligence Having Fun.

What is creativity? Rollo May, the author of The Courage to Create said,

Creativity is “the process of bringing something new into being. Creativity requires passion and commitment. It brings to our awareness what was previously hidden and points to new life,”

As a matter of fact, creativity does not only make one more attractive; creativity also accompanies with many benefits. Below you shall see some of them:

  • Become a better problem solver: creativity allows one to overcome challenge with innovative methods.
  • Save Money: creativity yields inner fulfilment, which reduces the urge to consume.
  • Embrace Freedom: creativity helps one fully engage with him or herself, surpassing all detrimental self-judgement.
  • Relieve Stress: creativity invites us to fully utilise our mind, our hand, and our energy, which awards us contented happiness 3.

There Is a Big Common Misconception about Creativity.

Many people have a misconception about creativity — it is something inborn. If we aren’t born creative, there is no hope. This is not true. Demian Farnworth, a Senior Content Writer at Lutheran Church Extension Fund, says this is not only a…

Edible Innovations: Dr. Wichelecki Makes Good Sugar

From Singapore to the USA and all around Europe, Edible Innovations profiles food makers that engage in improving the global food system at every stage, from production to distribution to eating and shopping. Join us as we explore the main trends in the industry from a maker perspective. Chiara Cecchini of Food Innovation Program — an ecosystem with a strong educational core that promotes food innovation as a key tool to tackle the great challenges of the future — introduces you to the faces, stories, and experiences of food makers around the globe. Check back on Tuesdays and Thursdays for new installments.

In the United States there are over 29 million people who live with diabetes. Globally there are over 371 million people affected. With the numbers rising for both Type 2 Diabetes and obesity rates worldwide, scientists have begun looking to what people are consuming for the answers to these statistics.

These health issues can be traced back to excessively consuming sucrose and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). These two types of sugars have been harshly judged in the media before, and even publicly linked to some serious side effects. This resulted in fad dieting and quite a few individuals deciding to cut sugar from their diets entirely. However, internationally, people still crave the sugars that they are used to eating and cooking with.

Huge amounts of products are distributed and sold daily with sucrose and other sweeteners, and they are almost all very addictive. However, sucrose is not our only option. There are better products for us to consume. Dr. Daniel Wichelecki aims to provide the world with a sugar that is both higher quality and more affordable in comparison to sucrose.

Edible Innovations: Steven and the Californian Baking Movement

From Singapore to the USA and all around Europe, Edible Innovations profiles food makers that engage in improving the global food system at every stage, from production to distribution to eating and shopping. Join us as we explore the main trends in the industry from a maker perspective. Chiara Cecchini of Food Innovation Program — an ecosystem with a strong educational core that promotes food innovation as a key tool to tackle the great challenges of the future — introduces you to the faces, stories, and experiences of food makers around the globe. Check back on Tuesdays and Thursdays for new installments.

This is a crazy story of disruption — a disruption that has now been ongoing for more than 30 years.

Steven and Susie Sullivan founded The Acme Bread Company in 1983 to bake bread for restaurants and stores that wanted to offer better bread than was generally available on the wholesale market at the time. They saw a lack of good bread on a larger scale. “Good bakeries were small ones that were not able to serve restaurants “ says Steven, “that’s why everything started.”

Steven started working at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, along with Alice Waters (@AliceWaters). There wasn’t a big food movement going on at the time and “Silicon Valley” was still just known as the “Bay Area.” He was 18 the first time he went…

Edible Innovations: Common Garden Develops Open Source Farming Techniques

From Singapore to the USA and all around Europe, Edible Innovations profiles food makers that engage in improving the global food system at every stage, from production to distribution to eating and shopping. Join us as we explore the main trends in the industry from a maker perspective. Chiara Cecchini of Food Innovation Program — an ecosystem with a strong educational core that promotes food innovation as a key tool to tackle the great challenges of the future — introduces you to the faces, stories, and experiences of food makers around the globe. Check back on Tuesdays and Thursdays for new installments.

Whether it is a balcony garden or an expansive farm, managing the many components of a garden can often be quite difficult. Agriculture is one of the few industries left that stubbornly refuses to upgrade their old systems and practices to incorporate 21st century technology and information. Jake Hartnell (@JakeHartnell) did not like that, so he decided to make a solution. Hartnell’s company, Common Garden (@Common_Garden), uses advanced technology to help farmers and growers alike get the perfect crop, every time.

So, who is the man behind the machine and its intricate software? Jake Hartnell is a designer and engineer from UC Berkeley and an affiliate with Berkeley’s Swarm Lab. He believes in developing technology that can be distributed and shared in a communal way. He is also a publisher who has written a science fiction novel and worked at hypothes.is.

All of these experiences would shape Hartnell’s future work at Common Garden. The environmental concerns that inspired future events in his novel needed to be addressed and his work at Berkeley taught him the importance of open source technology.

Both the…

NASA Langley Celebrates 100 Years of Innovation at Hampton Roads Mini Maker Faire

Hampton, Virginia, is home to the oldest NASA/NACA field center, NASA Langley Research Center. Established in 1917 by decree of President Woodrow Wilson, just 14 years after the Wright brothers’ historic flight, NASA Langley, which was named after aviation pioneer Samuel Pierpont Langley, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. And what better way to commemorate a center known for so much innovation than by hosting the Hampton Roads Mini Maker Faire, collectively organized by folks from NASA Langley, the City of Hampton, and 757 Makerspace. The Faire takes place for one day only, this Saturday, May 6, at the Hampton Roads Convention Center, and is free to attend.

We spoke with NASA Langley’s Nancy Holloway, one of the co-organizers, to learn more. Holloway has been with NASA for 35 years, is currently the head of the Fabrication Technology Development Branch, is responsible for establishing the innovation fabrication “iFab” and personal fabrication “pFab” labs, and holds six U.S. patents related to sensors and advanced materials technologies. Inspiring!

1. How will the 100th anniversary of NASA Langley be reflected at the Faire?
In many forms including:

Welcoming Ceremony: We have a special “Welcoming Ceremony” that features Ed Healy, NASA Langley Engineering Director/Leadership; Donnie Tuck, the Mayor of the City of Hampton; and Beau Turner, producer of the Faire and owner of the 757 Makerspace. Healy and Mayor Tuck will share in their remarks comments about NASA Langley and the Centennial. They’ll discuss how making has been a part of the past, present, and future of NASA Langley Research Center and the Hampton Roads community.

Layout: The layout of the event is such that the makers are placed into groups of planetary clusters.

Center Stage: Throughout the day, NASA images and short videos will be played on the large center stage monitor in between talks/presentations.

Centennial Trailer: We’ll have the NASA Centennial trailer at the event. Visitors can walk through the inside and learn about the past, present, and future of Langley Research Center. We’ll even have an employee in an astronaut outfit walking around and taking photos and selfies with participants. We’ll also have a special photo booth called “Postcards from Space,” where people can take a photo with a special space background and print out a card. We’ll also have a large blow-up astronaut in the lobby of the Convention Center, along with large banners including a Langley Centennial and NASA banner. NASA banner flags will adorn the the outside area.

Langley Centennial Bags: Participants will receive a NASA Langley Centennial bag to keep the items they make while at the Faire.

And of course, NASA makers. Here are a few:

NASA Makers

Mars Habitat in VR
The Advanced Concepts Laboratory, NASA Langley’s digital studio, has worked with NASA engineers to create a Mars habitat in VR. You are able to walk around inside of the habitat and interact with objects. You get to be the first astronaut living on Mars!

Stratospheric Aerosol Gas Experiment (SAGE) III Virtual Reality Demo
SAGE III is a laser science instrument built and tested at NASA Langley and launched this past February 2017. It’s now attached to the International Space Station and is taking data of Earth’s atmosphere. In celebration of the successful launch of SAGE III’s instrument payload, users get to experience this state-of-the-art instrument in 3D virtual reality using the Oculus Rift Development Kit 2.

Game-Changing Robonaut R2 and Sphero Robotic Challenge Course
Learn what NASA is doing in the field of robotics and meet the agency’s first humanoid robot R2. Visitors will interact with and drive Sphero robots around an obstacle course. Visitors will also learn what NASA is doing in the field of robotics and meet the agency’s first humanoid robot Robonaut 2, or R2.

Mars Village Playscape
Children can make a number of NASA-related creations from recycled materials, including building a Mars Village from cardboard and recycled materials, fabricating Mars rovers from cardboard and powering them with balloons, creating NASA jetpacks from recycled plastic bottles and duct tape, and making astronaut helmets from card stock.

Vertical Wind Tunnel for Maker Experiments
Come check out an interactive exhibit where makers of all ages can use common materials to create their own model of a spacecraft to land on another planet and then test what they build in a vertical wind tunnel.

Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication (EBF3)
NASA Langley’s large-scale metal “3D printing” process, Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication, is being developed to build rocket nozzles, aircraft parts, wind tunnel models, and manufacture parts in space! See how these parts…

Edible Innovations: Raising Awareness About Ethical Seafood with Fishpeople

From Singapore to the USA and all around Europe, Edible Innovations profiles food makers that engage in improving the global food system at every stage, from production to distribution to eating and shopping. Join us as we explore the main trends in the industry from a maker perspective. Chiara Cecchini of Food Innovation Program — an ecosystem with a strong educational core that promotes food innovation as a key tool to tackle the great challenges of the future — introduces you to the faces, stories, and experiences of food makers around the globe. Check back on Tuesdays and Thursdays for new installments.

Loaded with lean proteins and stocked with omega-3 fatty acids for both your brain and body, fish and seafood act as an excellent source of beneficial nutrients. However, parts of the seafood industry is shrouded in mystery and unethical practices. It is not always mandatory to disclaim where or how seafood is caught, and this can make consumers think twice about purchasing it.

Within the last five years, documentaries about the disreputable capture of seafood have taken center stage and racked up quite a few awards. A desire for sustainably sourced seafood is now almost as popular among the average consumer, as it is around foodies.

However, healthy protein can be difficult to cook and season, as it is not usually a part of our weekly menu. Without practice, cooking seafood just the right way, and then flavoring it so that it is both tasty and healthy can be a challenge. Ken Plasse (@kplasse), CEO of Fishpeople (@fishpeoples), strives to bring further awareness to both ethical fishing practices and cooking and handling seafood. Fishpeople wants to make all your fish meals both delicious and responsible.

Ken joined up with Fishpeople in 2015, with over fifteen years of executive experience focused on new and leading consumer products. He wanted to create a brand that the customer could both trust and love. Not only would Fishpeople be a household name for sustainably caught seafood,…

7 Ways Makers Are Increasing the Care in Health Care

What if hospitals had in-house makerspaces so that doctors and nurses could modify off-the-shelf medical supplies for increased patient comfort? That would be amazing. What happens when makers collaborate with disabled people to design accessible, low-cost medical devices? Innovation. Increasingly, makers are lending their skill sets toward amping up the care in health care. For instance, MakerHealth is not only leading the charge in helping to create makerspaces in hospitals, but they’re also building a powerful network of health care providers sharing how-tos. And with maker-made innovations like the mouth-controlled input device that enables people with little or no hand movement to operate a touchscreen device, the future of health care is looking brighter every day. Read on to learn more about seven powerful ways makers are helping people live fuller lives. Then come on out to the 12th annual Maker Faire Bay Area, May 19–21, to meet these makers and get inspired.

Makers Making Change

B.C. Canada’s Makers Making Change connects makers to people with disabilities who need assistive technologies. Together they co-create access solutions. Makers Making Change offers a repository of open-source assistive technologies, and in January of this year, they held a 48-hour Access Makeathon, where each person with a disability was linked up with a team of makers who built an open-source solution that directly addressed a need of the person they were paired with. Makers got the chance to apply their skills to address a real-world and each disabled person left the event with a working prototype that improved their quality of life. One of their featured projects is called LipSync, a mouth-controlled input device that enables people with little or no hand movement to operate a touchscreen device.

LipSync is open source, affordable, 3D-printable, Arduino-based, Bluetooth-enabled, and wheelchair-mountable. It can be built in a weekend, employs easy-to-source hardware, and costs around $300 instead of $1,500 (for the off-the-shelf equivalent).

From their site:

The Lipsync is a mouth-operated joystick that allows a person to control a computer cursor with a minimum of head and neck movement. All the electronics are housed in the ‘head’ of the device so there are no additional control boxes, making the LipSync a good candidate for portable, wheelchair-mounted applications. The mouthpiece is attached to a precision miniature joystick sensor that requires only a very slight pressure on the shaft in order to move a cursor on the screen. The mouthpiece is hollow and allows a person to perform left and right mouse button clicks by alternatively puffing or sipping into the tube.

An estimated 1,000,000 people in Canada and the United States have limited or no use of their arms, meaning they are unable to use touchscreen devices that could provide access to helpful apps and services. While solutions exist for desktop computers, they can cost up to $3,000 and do not work well on mobile devices.

On Saturday, May 20, Makers Making Change cofounder Chad Leaman will be speaking in Expo Hall on the Make: Live Stage at 4:15 p.m.

Here’s Leaman demonstrating how LipSync works:

MakerHealth

Born out of MIT’s Little Devices Lab in 2008, MakerHealth originally began as part of an approach to reinvent the way MIT students were taught medical device design. The founders observed health care professionals around the globe creating their own modified solutions, and they recognized the potential positive impact of training these folks on the front line to go from from providers to prototypers. After all, these are the people who are most in touch with the direct needs of patients, many of whom are not served by off-the-shelf generic solutions. In a nutshell, Maker Health is out to revolutionize health care. They put it best, in their description that makes you want to jump up and say, “Let’s do this!”:

We believe everyone can be a medical maker. In a world where health care technology is increasingly black boxed and unaffordable, we found a stealth community of innovators working around the clock to make health better, by making their own devices to make us better. These are the health makers, the tinkerers and the explorers that inspire our team to create instruments, to rewrite medical education, and to build the invention infrastructure in hospitals around the world. Whether it’s a prototyping kit part of tomorrow’s doctor’s bag, or a MakerHealth Space laboratory dreaming up a prototype prescription, our global team is passionate about democratizing your ability to create and invent the things you can hold in your hand. These are the things that heal. And the things that our team is making sure you can make. We’re MakerHealth and you are a health maker.

Among their offerings is helping to start makerspaces in hospitals. The very first one of its kind is at…

Edible Innovations: FarmBot Helps Automate Small-Scale Food Production

From Singapore to the USA and all around Europe, Edible Innovations profiles food makers that engage in improving the global food system at every stage, from production to distribution to eating and shopping. Join us as we explore the main trends in the industry from a maker perspective. Chiara Cecchini of Food Innovation Program — an ecosystem with a strong educational core that promotes food innovation as a key tool to tackle the great challenges of the future — introduces you to the faces, stories, and experiences of food makers around the globe. Check back on Tuesdays and Thursdays for new installments.

As you get ready to prepare your favorite dinner dish, you may find yourself picking up fruit out of season, packaged meat that comes from a different country, and carbohydrates that have been processed in different states. A glance at the average shopping cart raises a few questions. Where does our food come from? How was it produced? In many big chain grocery stores, this answer has become elusive due to the rise of mega farms that create and produce our food by any means necessary.

Rick Carlino and Rory Aronson saw an inherent flaw in this ask-no-questions approach to food, especially in the wake of the growing statistics that proved environmental degradation and lack quality food accessibility. For most shoppers, the location of where their products come from is a mystery. For those unable (or unwilling) to buy food from large chain grocery stores, access to food is often scarce and unreliable.

Carlino and Aronson addressed this growing problem by founding a company called FarmBot.io (@farmbotio), which strives to create open-source, easy to use technology…