October 23rd, 2014 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Health, Science & Tech | Comments Off

3D Printing and real robotic prosthetic arm

13-year old Sydney Kendall poses with Kranti Peddada, Kendall Gretsch and Henry Lather, the Washington University student developers of her pink prosthetic arm.

13-year old Sydney Kendall poses with Kranti Peddada, Kendall Gretsch and Henry Lather, the Washington University student developers of her pink prosthetic arm.


I came across this great article and video about some Washington University, St. Louis students who created the concept for a 3D printed robotic prosthetic arm. The concept assignment came in their biomedical engineering design course. But they took the project one step further, going from their computer design to actually printing the arm. The total cost of the arm was $200, versus a standard prosthetic cost of $6000 or more.

The arm allows the user to pick up objects using a simple shoulder movement of an accelerometer to trigger the arm and hand to open and close. It is quite dramatic in its simplicity. The development illustrates two major trends shaping the future – the application of 3D printing to real-world problems, and the fact that young people more and more are side-stepping long development or apprenticeship times to go direct to impacting the world now.



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October 22nd, 2014 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Business & Economy, Science & Tech, Transportation | Comments Off

Self Driving Cars are Coming

I came across an insightful blog on self driving cars from Peter Diamandis (entrepreneur, principle creator of X-Prize movement, etc.) He agrees that self driving cars are coming sooner than originally thought, and goes on to list several major implications…

  • Reduced deaths, reduced accidents: In the U.S. alone, there were over 33,000 automobile deaths in 2013. For those aged 5 to 34 in the United States, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death, claiming the lives of 18,266 Americans each year.
  • Saving LOTS of Money and Time: It’s estimated that AVs could save over 2.7 billion unproductive hours commuting to work. This in turn translates to an annual savings of $447.1 billion per year in the U.S. alone (assuming 90% AV penetration). This number was calculated by taking into account crash cost savings, congestion benefits, reduced travel times, fuel savings, parking savings, changes in total number of vehicles, and other factors.
  • Massive Fuel Savings: Today, a 4,000-lb. SUV spends less than 4% of its energy moving a 150-lb. driver around. Imagine if a car could be significantly lighter (because they don’t crash), getting four times the mpg?
  • No New Roads, Less Traffic: Autonomous vehicles packed with sensors can drive fast and efficiently at 8 times the packing density of today’s human-driven cars. This means no traffic jams and no need to build new roads. Plus, when they pack closely together, the reduction in wind drag alone could reduce fuel use up to 20 – 30 percent.
  • No Ownership – Just “On-Demand” Usage: Today your car is an unused asset 95% of the day. Why own a car when you can have access to whatever car you want, whenever you want it? On-demand car usage will change the future. (Who wins? You do. Who loses? Detroit). It is estimated that at 90% AV penetration, we could actually reduce the number of cars on the road by 42.6%.
  • No Garages, No Driveways, No Parking: In his book, Eran Ben-Joseph notes, “In some U.S. cities, parking lots cover more than 1/3 of the land area.” But what if you never need to park your car? What if it just drops you off and goes and does something useful? No need for parking garages, parking lots, driveways… Plus, one MIT study found that 40 percent of total gasoline use in cars in urban areas is spent while drivers look for parking.
  • No Mandatory Car Insurance: Self driving cars won’t crash and will disrupt the $200 billion auto insurance industry.

Check out this video of another entrant in the self driving car derby – this time Audi setting a speed record with a driverless vehicle – about 147 mph on a race track. Very cool.

To learn more about autonomous vehicles and the future, attend the MIT Enterprise Forum in Seattle on October 29, 2014, 5:30-8:30 PM. Information and registration here.

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October 21st, 2014 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Business & Economy, Millennial City, Science & Tech, Transportation | Comments Off

Self-driving car in mirror is closer than you think

Recently Elon Musk, leading global innovator, revealed that all Tesla autos coming off the assembly line for the last couple of weeks have the hardware for hands-free auto driving. As he notes, they have been able to accelerate the introduction of autonomous driving. The general consensus had been that true hands-free driving may be a decade away or at least a half-decade. Tesla is jumping the line.

The self-driving car will, I think, have a profound impact on the future of transportation. It is well known that young people in the U.S. have demonstrated a declining interest in driving and in auto ownership. Given a choice between a smart phone or a car, they will chose the phone. Millennials have contributed greatly to the global move to urban areas, where alternate transportation from transit to walking to Uber is more readily available. This generation notes that time spent commuting alone is generally time wasted, and would prefer to transport themselves in a way that enables continued productivity. Driverless cars, capable of at least taking over while a car is on the highway or freeway, will enable people to turn to their phones and their tablets and to continue working or to engage in socializing. Will this lead to more cars in the commute, and a return to a desire to own a car? Perhaps.

If you want to learn more about autonomous vehicles join us for an MIT Enterprise Forum Northwest on October 29, 2014 at the Impact Hub Seattle, 220 Second Avenue South, Seattle, WA from 5:30 to 8:30 PM. You can register here.

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October 20th, 2014 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Business & Economy, Science & Tech, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Ten Enterprise IT Trends

Tech Crunch noted ten technology trends changing enterprise IT yesterday. The list of ten enterprise IT trends has some old (by now) standards, and few new developments…

    1. Cloud computing
    2. Virtualizing everything
    3. New IT buyers – departments making their own purchases
    4. Rise of inside and web-based sales – fewer sales people
    5. Land and expand sales model – use of free trials, freemium pricing and the like allows customers to try you out
    6. Reimagining enterprise workflows – can you run your whole business from a smart phone?
    7. Security moves beyond the perimeter – you need security at internal points as well
    8. Data the new competitive advantage – InsideSales.com mined data to discover that a sales rep who responds within 5 minutes to a lead increases the sale rate by 10X
    9. Speed kills your competitors
    10. Consumer quality interfaces – employees expect internal interfaces to match the quality of their consumer experiences

Check out the full piece here for more explanation.

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October 13th, 2014 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Art & Society | Comments Off

Future of Population and U.S. Culture

Back in 2012 the U.S. Census bureau released numbers forecasting that, in the U.S., the non-Hispanic white population – the historical majority – will peak in 2024 at 244 million. That demographic group will then begin a slow decline in actual numbers while the former minority groups continue to grow, until minorities become the majority around the year 2043. This is a well known forecast, but the deeper meanings of this change for the country are under explored.

Paul de Lumen, Futuro Media Group photo

Paul de Lumen, Futuro Media Group photo

Right now, PBS is running an 8-episode series that digs into this impending demographic shift, called America by The Numbers. As the host, Maria Hinojosa notes, the standard media treatment of demographic change is that it is something to fear. But, she argues, “I think what we’re trying to do with our television series is in fact put a mirror up to our country. And if we are already in fact the country that is incredibly diverse — in many cities, already majority non-white — then why are we fearful for something that is already happening?”

I think the most fundamental question as this demographic shift takes place is whether and how the emerging majority will participate in the democratic process, both voting and running for office. Right now there are frantic efforts by the political right in the U.S. to discourage and where possible prevent people in the emerging majority from voting. If such efforts succeed for a while, then we may see much less political change than might be expected.

What do you think will be the impacts of this ongoing and fundamental change to a more diverse U.S. population?

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