Friday, December 16, 2011

Google patents

Google, Inc.'s awarded patent for "Transitioning a mixed-mode vehicle to autonomous mode" here.

From a BBC News article here:

"Google believe it is a technology that is here and now and will start appearing in motorcars in the near future," said Professor Alan Woodward from the department of computing at the University of Surrey.

"We already have systems that park your cars for you and automatically brake - the next obvious step is to have cars take over the routine driving.

"Google has funded a lot of this work at universities. Not surprisingly, if they think it is going to be big they want to patent it."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Innovation through Corporate and Academic Engagement

Measuring innovation ROI when corporations work with academia can sometimes be difficult. While one is driven to provide revenue generating results measured on a quarter to quarter basis, the other has goals of pedagogy and scholarship.

Here is an example of a success between Boeing and University of Washington on the 787:

"The key innovation that the UW center supported was a way to make “compression molded” parts from carbon fiber composites for small parts. The method was far cheaper than the regular process of layering long carbon fibers used for air frame components such as hull and wing."

Details here.

Why P&G Remains The CPG Leader

"“Instead of making the easy, wrong choice to scale back our investments, we’ve made the difficult, right choice to continue supporting our innovation and expansion programs as we get pricing and cost savings in place to offset higher commodity costs. We do view this as a short-term choice,” P&G Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller said in an Oct. 27 conference call."

Read the details here.

IBM: Chips to Think Like Humans

Few years back I decided to get into learning electronics hardware implementations as in SmartGrid and firmware applications. I believe that the convergence of soft, firm, and hard-wares is the future and understanding and leveraging this convergence will be key to success for companies that use technology for enablement.

Here is just such an example coming out of IBM, "IBM training computer chip to learn like a human", details here.

"Synapse was designed to learn through experience, find correlations, create hypotheses and remember outcomes. As chips such as Synapse become smarter and smaller, it will be possible to embed them in everyday objects. That portends a future in which the interaction between computer and user is far more natural and ubiquitous."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Game Theory in Practice: Predicting Events and Action

Autonomy in Products: Sensors, Software, and Robotics

Cars, airplanes, and now farm equipment are autonomous, see details on farm equipment using robotics for autonomy here.

"The driverless system is fully controlled by advanced software and is capable of performing a complete workflow during the harvest process. This includes locating a moving harvester in the field, synchronizing with it, collecting its grain and delivering that grain to trucks near the field for transportation."

I believe the products designed for human control will fundamentally change when the human is not physically managing the system.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

IBM: Turning IP Into Software

"IBM, last week, announced the creation of the Services Innovation Lab (SIL), a new global lab of 200 technology experts from IBM, that aim to accelerate the expansion of real-time analytics and software automation."

Read detail here. SIL's focus areas will be:
  • Cloud Computing
  • Advanced Analytics
  • Service Delivery Automation
  • Enterprise Mobilization and Smarter Planet

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Energy Storage and Charging Innovations

Here are a few research and maturing technologies for commercialization into mass market.

From Fast Company here, "Batteries That Run On (And Clean) Used Toilet Water":

"Environmental engineer Bruce Logan is developing microbial fuel cells that rely on wastewater bacteria's desire to munch organic waste. When these bacteria eat the waste, electrons are released as a byproduct--and Logan's fuel cell collects those electrons on carbon bristles, where they can move through a circuit and power everything from light bulbs to ceiling fans. Logan's microbial fuel cells can produce both electrical power and hydrogen, meaning the cells could one day be used to juice up hydrogen-powered vehicles."

From Wired's Gadget Lab here, "Power the Stereo by Driving Through Potholes":

"By drawing energy from vibrations, tiny sheets of piezoelectric material can provide free power to anything that moves or shakes. The battery-less sensors can take the motion from a car on bumpy asphalt or a loaded clothes dryer, for example, to give supplemental energy to a device.

Piezoelectric technology has been around since the late 19th century and can be found in microphones and phonographs working under simple principles. Under kinetic stress, crystals on a sheet of piezoelectric material become electrically polarized, which produces energy.

From the NewScientist Tech here, "Metal droplets could put power in your step":

"The energy lost as heat while you walk is enough to power a small light bulb, but previous attempts at turning walking into wattage are too low-powered to be useful. Now an energy-harvesting technique based on the flow of microscopic liquid droplets promises much higher power levels, and could let you charge your smartphone with a stroll.

Tom Krupenkin and Ashley Taylor, engineering researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, based their new technique on the principle of electrowetting. Here, the shape of a liquid droplet sitting on a liquid-repelling surface is changed by applying voltage to the surface.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Farrokh Mistree - Outstanding Design Educator Award

Having had the honor of working with Dr. Farrokh Mistree for the past five years, what a thrill it is to see this come to fruition:

"(Dr. Mistree) is being recognized for lifelong dedication and numerous contributions to the engineering design community, particularly for instilling a passion for design in generations of students as an inspirational advisor and mentor. He will receive the Ruth and Joel Spira Outstanding Design Educator Award."

Details here.

I can personally attest to Farrokh being one of the few individuals I know who lives the concept of "Sharing to Gain". It was this passion of his that convinced me five years ago to join him in developing "Designing Open Engineering Systems" course at Georgia Tech, along with Dr. Jitesh Panchal, and Dr. Dirk Schaefer.

Farrokh continues to inspire and give of his time freely in sharing to gain!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Black gold holds a charge for green cars

From the New Scientist here, new invention may double the charge in a battery:

"In a standard battery, ions shuttle from one solid electrode to the other through a liquid or powder electrolyte. This in tur forces electrons to flow in an external wire linking the electrodes, creating a current. In Chiang's battery, the electrodes take the form of tiny particles of a lithium compound mixed with liquid electrolyte to make a slurry. The battery uses two streams of slurry, one positively charged and the other negatively charged. Both are pumped across aluminium and copper current collectors with a permeable membrane in between. As they flow the streams exchange lithium ions across the membrane, causing a current to flow externally. To recharge the battery, you apply a voltage to push the ions back across the membrane."

Monday, August 8, 2011

Stepping "around" constraints to "create" anew

An example of leveraging tools combined with unconstrained approaches to innovation.

From Popular Science "Students' Innovative 3-D Vision System Wins Prize" here. Jacob Ward writes:

"In the end, however, we chose the entry from Tsinghua University, China. Five students there built an entirely new 3-D imaging system. They conquered the classic glasses-or-no-glasses problem by simply stepping around it: instead of a conventional flat screen, they built a four-sided glass enclosure which displays the four sides of a simulated object. The system scans an object on a turntable, acquires the image data, and reproduces it by projecting the image with four projectors onto four panes of glass. Walk around the simulated object on display, and it’s like walking around it in real life. In addition, the system recognizes gestures, allowing you to rotate and zoom in on an object with your hands. You can imagine the implications for medical analysis, enhanced teaching, point-of-sale displays, and telecommunication.

The thing that blew my mind, however, was the sheer discipline of these kids in dealing with costs. They had developed several alternative systems, they told me, including one that used a rotating mirror and a high-speed projector. But they had given themselves the goal of keeping the thing cheap, and this was the cheapest workable solution.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Philips Builds a Highly Efficient Light Bulb

"The prize bulb uses just 9.7 watts to match the light output of a 60-watt incandescent, compared with 12.5 watts for the product currently sold. The new lamp is also brighter than the one marketed now, at 910 lumens versus 800 lumens. And it is closer in color to a standard incandescent.

Both lamps last 25,000 hours, compared with 1,000 to 2,000 for a standard incandescent."

Details here at NY Times Green blog.

Friday, July 22, 2011

US Grid Improvement to Incorporate Renewables

The New York Times reports that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission unanimously approved a rule Thursday that establishes guidelines "for planning and paying for new power lines, part of a long-term policy effort to help the nation's electricity grid grow enough to meet the demands of renewable energy and a competitive electricity market." The rule "is intended to push the organizations that manage the grid into cooperating with one another, so that developers can build power lines across several states and multiple electrical jurisdictions." However, it "does not specify what the formula should be for allocating costs, or precisely how new lines should be planned."

The Wall Street Journal published that FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff said Thursday that the new order will benefit wind and solar energy projects in particular, because they are often located in remote areas and lack access to existing interstate transmission lines. The rule will allow companies other than local utilities to take part in transmission projects, with the hope that the removal of such barriers will increase competition and lower costs.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

US Power Grid

“Let’s see if anyone complains if we eliminate it,” Joe McClelland, head of electric reliability for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

To accomodate the variability of renewable power sources like wind and solar, the FERC is considering frequency variations. Now, who keeps time by the grid?

"A lot of people are going to have things break and they're not going to know why," said Demetrios Matsakis, head of the time service department at the U.S. Naval Observatory, one of two official timekeeping agencies in the federal government.

Details here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chinese Goods and US Prices

"The Chinese supply 78% of the footwear imported into the U.S.; 71% of the ties; 55% of the gloves; roughly 50% of the dresses and baby clothing; and 90% of house slippers, according to Commerce Department data."

The article in Wall Street Journal this morning here. The following chart highlights the trend:

The article ends with a quote from Bernard Leifer, chief executive of SG Footwear:

""There's been a shift in who is holding the cards," Mr. Leifer says. "It used to be that the retailers would demand lower prices. Vendors like us would demand lower prices from the factories. And the factories would generally acquiesce. The whole thing has now flipped. The bottom line is the American consumer is going to end up paying more.""

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Innovation in cars

I met my friend Mr. Martin Ertl, currently CIO of Bombardier Transportation in 2006 when he was the Head of Innovation Impulses at BMW. He stated to me in one of our conversations that the innovation in cars will now come from the outside. A quote from Martin in "Sectoral Innovation Leaders Showcasing" here is apropos:

"To set itself apart from its competitors, BMW created a decidedly dynamic and sportive image for its products, claiming to build the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’. “A promise that has to be kept”, says Martin Ertl, Head of Innovation Impulses at the BMW Group Research and Innovation Centre (FIZ): “Without any doubt BMW sells lifestyle. But that’s only part of the story. Selling lifestyle doesn’t work without a product endowed with the appropriate technological substance.”"

Today, Martin's preemption at BMW helping it become the world's no. 1 luxury car brand, is going mainstream. RIM's PlayBook is getting integrated into cars. Cars are becoming an experience where there will be no discontinuity in comfort from home to car to office to car to dinning to car to home ...

See Wall Street Journal's article "RIM hopes cars drive PlayBook sales" here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

India: Brand overload

Quote from WSJ article:

"India's store shelves groan under the weight of consumer brands. About 900 new food and beverage brands alone have been launched there in the past two years. Yet while shoppers enjoy ever more choice, it is getting harder for companies such as Procter & Gamble and Hindustan Unilever to preserve profit margins."

Consumer Products Goods sector is going to be a very competitive market in this decade to create large values for investors. The winners will be ones who are Unique versus Distinctive. See my previous blog on the subject here, or win on price points.

Natural gas as automotive fuel

This is fascinating! From the WSJ, details here.

Friday, May 6, 2011

B2B vs. B2C Innovation Growth

More funding is going to consumer (soft) applications versus (hard) technology products. Who is making the product technologies today? Multi-Nationals like GE are taking the lead, see "GE Makes India a Lab for Global Markets" here from Wharton.

Are the breakthroughs like the printer and the personal computer no longer the domain of Silicon Valley?

From the Wall Street Journal "For Silicon Valley Start-Ups, Funding Boom Is Lopsided" here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

China Update

Via good friend Mr. Tony Tsai, CEO – BHG Retail Innovation Institute and EVP Operations – The BJ Hualian Hypermarket Co.:

"Zeng Peiyan urges establishment of free trade zone between China, Japan and South Korea to be accelerated
April 25, Zeng Peiyan, former vice premier of China, urged the establishment of a free trade zone between China, Japan and South Korea to be accelerated. He said that the three countries should enhance their cooperative partnership to deal with international risks and challenges. He made the remarks during the Northeast Asia Trilateral Forum in Hangzhou.

"China is the world's largest consumer of geothermal power
Guan Fengjun, head of the geological environment department at the Ministry of Land and Resources, said that China will further develop geothermal energy over the next five years as it steps up efforts to cut carbon emissions. China will increase the proportion of geothermal power in its energy mix to 1.7%, which is more than 10 times the current amount, by 2015. China is already the world's largest consumer of geothermal power. Consumption of geothermal energy in 2010 was equal to the consumption of 5m tons of coal

"Development Research Center of the State Council: China's GDP will grow by 9% in 2011
The Development Research Center of the State Council published a report on Monday. It predicted that China's GDP will grow by 9% year-on-year in 2011. China's trade surplus may be further reduced to $140b, or 2% of China's GDP, in 2011.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Natural Intelligence from Saffron Technology

Recently I wrote a response (see here) to a friend CIO at an analytics company's question on... What is transformative in the analytics space? What can work with entrenched platforms and systems while allowing for breakthroughs to occur?

Sounds like a familiar concern if you are a CIO of any company that deals with large amounts of data, hence, CPG, FMCG, airlines, finance, etc. The large investments in Oracle, SAS, SAP, etc. cannot be supplanted, yet they can be complimented.

I am on the Board of Advisor of what I consider the world's first data analytics company that unifies the transformation being desired, i.e. unification of semantics and statistics, in real time. Please see a set of video-logs that shares how Saffron is being used. With a bit of marketing, the examples will highlight the breakthrough.

See details here... enjoy!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Electric Cars - The Reality

From the Wall Street Journal:

"Electric vehicles have been with us for almost 180 years. The first, an electric carriage created by an inventor named Robert Anderson, made its appearance in Scotland in 1832."

"If you are looking for a car that makes good economic sense in these tough times, PEVs simply don't make the grade. Unless crude oil prices rise close to $300 per barrel and battery costs fall by 75%, a PEV is more expensive than a gasoline-powered vehicle."

See complete article here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

China and US Bonds

Via good friend Mr. Tony Tsai, CEO – BHG Retail Innovation Institute and EVP Operations – The BJ Hualian Hypermarket Co.:

"China has reduced holdings of US bonds for three consecutive months; China reduced holdings of US Treasury bonds by $5.4b in January: March 15, according to statistics issued by the US Department of Finance, China reduced holdings of US Treasury bonds by $5.4b in Jan. China has reduced holdings of US bonds for three consecutive months. China is still the largest holder of US bonds. China's holdings of US bonds were reduced to $891.6b by Dec. 2010."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

US Patent Changes!

Having written about patents in general, see here, here and here, the new changes USPO are creating excitement!

From Yahoo News, details here:

"The most substantial change brought about by the bill would be to switch the United States to a "first-inventor-to-file" system for patent applications used by all other industrialized countries rather than the current "first-to-invent" system. Supporters say the first-to-file system would put American innovators on the same page as their overseas competitors, making the process simpler, more certain and less expensive."

From The Hill, details here, the reader comments are enjoyable.

From The Wall Street Journal, details here:

"The Patent Office would also gain power to set its own funding, a move that is likely to mean higher application fees but also greater resources to process an application backlog that exceeds 700,000."

From The New York Time, details here:

"... the House is unlikely to take up a patent bill anytime soon, and people with an interest in the patent system say they expect its bill to be significantly different."

"Many smaller companies and inventors opposed the change, however, arguing that it favored companies that could hire legions of lawyers to quickly file applications for new permutations in manufacturing or product design."

"A consortium of technology and computer companies are already lobbying House members to resist addressing procedures to re-examine patents in their bill. The Information Technology Industry Council, whose members include Dell, Google, I.B.M. and Microsoft, said in a letter to Mr. Leahy earlier this month that it opposed the bill’s provisions to alter how patents could be re-examined, asserting that this would increase litigation rather than reduce it."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

US's competitive edge being lost

Paul Otellini, Intel CEO: "You see us investing in good times and in bad times when other people don't." Otellini, added NBC, "fears the country is losing its competitive edge to Asia. He blames high corporate taxes and an education system that's falling behind the rest of the world in math and science."

Monday, February 28, 2011

Ford - Flexible Manufacturing

I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Abid Ghuman in Pakistan at NUST ( During our conversation, it became clear that he was the key mind behind Ford's "Simplified Flexible Manufacturing". Though not adopted in the USA till the pain of economic downturn, now it is becoming the reason for Ford's success.

This article highlights the complexities of large corporations here. The loser of course first is the consumer, then the customer and finally the company. USA Today treats the subject in more recent terms here.

See Dr. Ghuman's patents on manufacturing and tooling here.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A New Way For Analytics

A good friend, executive at a large analytics company, asked me how I would articulate the next product in the space. Here is my attempt:

New markets require new analytics products that begin in a new fashion.

A generic and current example would be: We can dissect the consumer population into demographics (have schema), and run campaigns on them (poor distributions, hitting same consumer with many, at times conflicting messages).

New approach... Let's define the demographic we seek, and develop the application around understanding it.

For example, there is no analytics application that comprehends the Muslim Consumer in-depth. The new application has to be incremental in learning, i.e. it never stops learning; it has to comprehend the unseen, i.e. it is schema free, hence, leading to intuitive outcomes; it has to be real-time i.e. no more running the models for days to get an answer; it has to be built upon existing infrastructure i.e. it does not throw away the clients current spending on IT; it has to provide the unification of statistics and semantics i.e. no arm twisting to "try" to make "sense".

There is no such application in the market currently. Such a proposition is where insights into products for families living below $2/day can come from. This is where the analytics engine begins to develop a “memory” of the entity, may it be a consumer or a automotive.

This is NOT aspirational, this IS the “Near Tomorrow” (Copyright 2011 The RBR Group).

The execution requires for example for CPG/FMCG: (1) Understanding a client's goal for new market entry, (2) developing the ideal consumer (no, not digging within the existing, looking back at the past data, it was yesterday), (3) searching for the ideal consumer, (4) begin to consume all data on the closest matches in the method defined above, i.e. schema free, incremental, with statistic and semantic unification.

This delivers the consumer’s unstated needs, where the value is the highest for a product that fulfills it. Example, the consumer had no clue they wanted an iPhone. Keypads, smaller and smaller were fine too!

For the 21st century, analytics is the when predictive goes to forecasting to deterministic.

For a thought provoking look at engine technology that delivers the above, see Saffron Technology.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Most Innovative?!?!

MIT's Technology Review has declared 2011's 50 most innovative companies., see them all here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

How green was my Valley!

As the president of TIE Carolinas, an entrepreneurial non-profit, I engage with business men and women from across the world. A trend is clear and omniscient - the world at large, specifically Asia and Africa, have a populace that is aspirationaly committed to improving their lot... from the mother living in the Mumbai ghetto whose girls are working as data entry clerks to the Asian billionaires building the 21st century multi-nationals. I do not find it true of business men and women in the USA, where I have found the entrepreneur unable to "dream" for the past three years... dreams, which are essential to risk taking. Are things improving... they will and can though in a new paradigm yet to emerge.

Thanks to Financial Times for an excellent analysis of the reality of technology driven leadership and entrepreneurism in the the USA... Mr. Richard Waters writes in "A dip in the valley" - "Early stage investors appear to be losing interest in the painstaking work needed to sustain America's lead in the advanced industries that can generate many future jobs."

An example showcasing a macro trend in full swing (though it impacts micro economics as well) is: "When Massachusetts came up with $58m of incentives in 2008 to encourage Evergreen Solar to build a plant, it looked like the US state had found a new lease of life for a disused military base. Until last week, that is. Evergreen is shutting the facility with the loss of 800 jobs. The future location of Evergreen’s wafer making: a plant in Wuhan, China."

[Click to enlarge the graphic in the right.]

Again I am reminded of Gordon Moore's (Intel co-founder) lament that chasing returns has left a gap in invention in the USA. More strongly worded though is: "The belief that American individuality and creativity somehow assure future leadership is “a clear exposition of the arrogance of empire”, warns Michael Moritz, one of the Valley’s leading start-up financiers. Freed of “the debilitating effects of affluence”, he adds, “the need to succeed is far greater in the emerging economies”."

The article discusses US's inability to turn out enough engineers, decreasing share of its world R&D spending, sense of decline in the US, some of the existing invention's business being lost to Asia (ex: LED), etc. The article documents Mr. Moritz statement,"A company that loses its ability to develop its own manufacturing is on the road to oblivion."

And of course, such a conversation cannot end without evaluating current and desired policy - One area being talent, growing it, acquiring it and maintaining it: "Sophie Vandebroek, a Belgian engineer who moved to the US in the mid-1980s to train, says that at the time it was “the place to be – this was where the hot research was happening”. Ms Vandebroek stayed and eventually became chief technology officer at Xerox – in spite of the low status accorded to engineers in the US: “It’s kind of at the bottom of the professions.” Now, she and others warn, US immigration rules that make it harder for foreign students to stay, along with the availability of good jobs at home, are causing the country to leach much-needed foreign workers."

The second, the conduction of business: "If it is not to become left behind in businesses such as [solar, energy storage, green tech], the industry’s leaders say, it is time for a policy rethink. “Simply put, the US needs to decide it is ‘open for business’ and willing to compete in the global marketplace for factories and jobs,” says Paul Otellini, chief executive of Intel. “Costs are higher here, not driven by labour rates but rather by lack of incentives or tax credits that are available to US corporations in most other countries.” Without education reform, there will be a “critical engineering skills gap [that] will ultimately translate into fewer jobs and inventions in this country”."

The article concludes with the Valley still has a spark, "But for the country at large, it would not pay to take that much for granted."

See the complete article here.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Showcasing India

Very nice creative campaign highlighting Indian tourism by theIdeaWorks, see here.

eGFI - An Excellent Place for Young Engineers

I serve on the Board of Advisors for School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at University of Oklahoma. My engagement with university education has been in large part due to my tremendous unhappiness with the engineers I was trying to hire at P&G and my friend, mentor and colleague Dr. Farrokh Mistree since 2006.

This has led me deeper into engaging in engineering education, one result being co-developing "Product Innovation: Designing Open Engineering Systems" with Dr. Dirk Schaefer, Dr. Mistree and Dr. Jitesh Panchal, and teaching it.

Yet, what about engineering education through K-12, guidance and learning about the possibilites for the high school students. A good place is eGFI, see here:

"eGFI is proudly brought to you by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). We are committed to promoting and enhancing efforts to improve K-12 STEM and engineering education."

I found the sight to be delightful, easy, engaging and most importantly... intuitive.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Unique (first mover) Vs. Distinctive (competitive)

In all my commercialization efforts, from shampoo bottles to molecules to wireless antennas to software, I always look at whether there is an opportunity to have the first mover advantage, in some cases it is merely marketing based perception.

Apple has charged its app publishers 30% for AppStore (article here). Google is countering with 10% cut. Apple made 20% more by entering the market first and delivering a consumer value and winning them while earning from the customer and enabling the customer to reach the consumer.

Just to emphasize what this means, Apple earned 30% of $250MM AppStore sales in December 2010 only. Unique (or first mover) advantage $50MM!!

Please see the very nice work done by GigaOM folks here in detailing the number of AppStore users and their application buying behavior and data.

I have taken the liberty to publish their information graphic below. The comments to the article are insightful as well.

Click to enlarge

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

China Update

Via good friend Mr. Tony Tsai, CEO – BHG Retail Innovation Institute and EVP Operations – The BJ Hualian Hypermarket Co.:

"China reduces holdings of US Treasury bonds two months in a row; Japan may become the "biggest creditor" of the US: The US Department of the Treasury said on Feb. 15 that China reduced its holdings of US Treasury bonds two months in a row in Nov. and Dec. last year to less than $900b. Even though China is still the biggest holder of US Treasury bonds, the gap with Japan has narrowed to less than $8b."

"State Council publishes policies encouraging development of software and integrated circuit industries: The State Council publishes a series of policies encouraging the development of software and integrated circuit industries. The State Council reiterates that the software industry and integrated circuit industry are the state's strategic emerging industries and they are an important basis for the national economy and social informationization."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Intelligent Microgrid - Innovation Center for the Smartgrid

From the Vancouver Sun here, ""We keep talking about smart grid as if it's one set of technologies," Hassan Farhangi, director of BCIT's group for advanced information technology, said in an interview... "That's not the case. It's a collection of ideas that could have different variations and different characteristics based on where you implement them.""

"In order to be successful, "you need to bring together expertise in a wide variety of disciplines. You need individuals with backgrounds in information technology, telecom systems, power systems, business systems, consumer behavior, social sciences - and all of these need to work together," said Hassan Farhangi, director of BCIT's group for advanced information technology."

Very nice! The folks at Intelligent Microgrid here are building an "Innovation Center" as we termed them at Procter & Gamble... An immersive and experiential environment to not ask but to collaboratively co-create, test, try, observe, refine and transform.

"BCIT is designing and building a scaled down version of the Intelligent Grid - the Intelligent Microgrid. This will enable utility providers, technology providers, and researchers to work together to test and improve architectures, protocols, configurations, and models. This will in turn enable the evolution of the Intelligent Grid and chart a path from the lab to the field for innovative and cost-efficient technologies and solutions for British Columbia's Intelligent Microgrid."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Very Large Scale Visualization (VLSI)

At P&G I had the opportunity to work on VLSI, to comprehend massive statistical data. Just recently I discovered information on my early VLSI related efforts, back in 1995/6, at Delta's Operations Control Center (OCC). I did not think I could talk about it, though now of course there is a youtube video! Enjoy!

Friday, February 11, 2011

China & IP

From John Gapper's blog on China and IP

"[In China] a pattern is developing. One company cedes its intellectual property to a Chinese SOE and then all of them are then squeezed to the margins of China's domestic market, and face a new competitor. None of this is accidental, or a case of over-eager SOEs crossing the line. China wants to transform from being the factory of the world to an advanced economy and is using its market power to take a short-cut by "digesting" others' intellectual property. One State Council report called for the "absorption, assimilation and re-innovation of imported technologies.""

West's Decline & Mr. Gordon Brown's Insights on Recovery

It is always helpful to know what the leaders of nations are thinking during crisis, which may be driven by economics, climate, etc. What is even more interesting is to see the realization of the "what" into the "how", which usually is a bit farther away from the desired.

In his article "How the west can reverse a decade of decline" in the Financial Times here, Mr. Gordon Brown highlights an obvious fact - "Within a decade a richer Asia will be home to a middle-class revolution equivalent to the consumer power of two Americas, becoming the main driver of world growth... This shift can be the most effective exit strategy from the crisis, and help to rebalance the world economy – but only if Europe and America re-equip, and are able to export their superior innovations and global brand name goods to Asia’s new billion-strong middle class. Yet delivering these value-added, technology-driven, custom-built products and services will only be possible with high levels of investment."

Here is a fallacy - Western innovation is not superior, and if it is, for example, internal combustion engine, it is being leapfrogged as China is focusing on electrical vehicles and in a decades time frame will be delivering commoditized electric vehicles and/or their components to the world.

Mr. Brown though highlights a key consideration and this is where his "what" is right on, though the "how" to manage it is already looking like as he predicts - "The descent into trade and currency wars, bans on cross border takeovers, and excessive restrictions on skilled workers are also counterproductive, risking access to the world’s biggest new markets just at the time they could benefit us most. History will judge these newly fashionable orthodoxies as wrong as the false certainties of the 1930s."

Here is an example of how reacting to fear due to lack of knowledge, just like GM not adopting the electric vehicle option, gets popularized, and Mr. Brown's statement above may come to be:

As a senior South Asian diplomat friend of mine says, "But what to do??!!" :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Economist reviews Dambisa Moyo's "How the West was Lost"

The Economist provides good insights into new literature through its reviews of books.  Though, it has been a while, since I read such a blasting of a book in recent months.   The review "How the reader was lost" here of "How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly—and the Stark Choices Ahead" by Dambisa Moyo is worth reading as it corrects popularized misconceptions that tend to turn into perceived reality.

"Here are two predictions about the world economy. First, the West’s malaise and the rise of emerging economies will yield a mountain of books. Second, few of these are likely to be as bad as “How the West Was Lost”."

Friday, February 4, 2011

Innovation & Entrepreneurism in the West

I serve as the President of TIE Carolinas, see details on TIE here. Innovation and entrepreneurism, whether in-market, through corporations, within non-profits or government driven remains important to our membership.

Good entrepreneurs are known for one quality above all... they act on their belief. John Gapper's blog in the Financial Times "Educate or Import the New Entrepreneurs" here is a good read to highlight the current pitfalls that are only deepening for the aspirational mind who wants to create in the West.

Here is an interesting insight from the article:

"“The great American investment in the wellsprings of science and technology was justified to the public by the cold war,” says Bill Janeway, a managing director of Warburg Pincus, the private equity firm. Mr Janeway would like the US to try again on the basis that the private sector, left to itself, will not invest in such fundamental technologies."

Mr. Gordon Moore (Intel Co-Founder) was awarded the lifetime achievement award by The Marconi Society in 2006. He voiced his concern then that corporate R&D is moving away from the kind of fundamental research that wins Nobel Prizes and toward a narrow focus on business goals. "That's great for the company," he said, "but somebody has to fill the gap."

The article puts forth the key to success in the 21st century:

"The biggest innovation challenge for the US in relation to Asia is not financial but human. China enrols 15 per cent of the world’s university students and 40 per cent of new degrees there are in science and engineering, compared with only 15 per cent in the US. Meanwhile, 68 per cent of US engineering doctorates are now awarded to non-US citizens."

The reality is, it will not be like it was in the 20th century for us in the West. We have to invent a new now to turn it into a successful innovation for the future.

Teaching Sales for an Innovation's Success?

From a letter in Financial Times of Feb 3rd 2011:

"During my own executive MBA at Imperial College Business School (2008-10) there was the six-month IED (innovation, entrepreneurship and design) module – the idea behind it was to take a product or service from “just” an idea to the business plan stage. Interestingly (especially as Imperial College is in the FT top 10 for “entrepreneurship”) there was not one lesson on sales. I suggested to the course director that students should pick a product or service and during one weekend go out on the streets of London and sell as much as possible – the students would keep the money they made and the highest grades would be awarded to those who made the most money. I am yet to receive a reply."

See the article referenced here.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Monday, January 31, 2011

Technologically Closed Systems

Though in the 20th century closed systems could survive, in the 21st century, speed of capturing the customer's/consumer's hearts will be the key... I wrote about leaving the Apple platform here, specifically the iPhone. Now, Netgear's Lo states that the iPhone is "ultimately a closed system just can't go that far…If they continue to close it and let Android continue to creep up then it's pretty difficult as I see it." Read the rest here.