Archive for February, 2013

Smart wristwatch alerts the deaf to sounds around them

February 28, 2013 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool Inventions and gadgets

I’m excited to see the technological possibilities that open new doors for people with disabilities. In this case, a new smart wristwatch can alert people who are hard of hearing to the sounds around them.  The watch is from South Korea-based Moneual, and it’s called the SCS1000.

Here is the story from

Showcased at the 2013 CES recently, the Smart Care System device is able to identify different noises being made in the vicinity of the wearer. When it detects a sound that needs to be responded to – whether a car horn, doorbell, oven timer or crying baby – the watch vibrates and displays a message on the screen.

The device could help make the lives of the deaf easier, while also helping them remain safe in potentially dangerous situations. Indeed, it also features an emergency function, which sends out a request to relevant services. The video below from DeafTechNews (presented in sign language) shows the SCS1000 in action:

World’s first 3D pen inspires ideas

February 27, 2013 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool videos

3Doodler image via WobbleWorks

This innovative gadget will be sure to find uses for anyone who draws their ideas on napkins.

3Doodler is the “world’s first 3D printing pen, and lets you draw three-dimensional structures in midair.

WobbleWorks Toy and robotics company invented the pen, and it is actually affordable.  While most 3D printers can cost thousands of dollars, 3Doodler is available for $75.

It’s not available yet, but shoppers are preordering the pen on Kickstarter.

The quick-setting plastic solidifies in an instant,  but the pen’s metal tip heats to 518 degrees Fahrenheit, using the same material found in many 3D printers. Here’s a video from WobbleWorks showing how it works.

Nike Debuts First 3D-Printed Football Cleat

February 25, 2013 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Disruptive Innovation
Image courtesy of Nike

Image courtesy of Nike

A new shoe from Nike designed to help athletes maintain optimal traction on football turf is the first to feature a 3D printed plate.

The cleats are on the market as the Nike Vapor Laser Talon, weighing in at just 5.6 ounces. Designers worked with trainers as well as long time partner and gold medal sprinter Michael Johnson.

According to Nike, the plate uses selective laser sintering (SLS) technology, a system of high-powered lasers that fuses small particles of materials into a 3D shape. The new technology allows designers to engineer shapes that aren’t even within the realm of possibilities on traditional machines. And any design updates that need to be made can now happen within hours instead of months.

New Glasses Correct Colorblindness

February 21, 2013 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Culture of Innovation

I came across an incredible story of two inventors, Mark Changizi and Tim Barber, who turned their research on human vision and blood flow into colorblindness-correcting glasses you can buy on Amazon for $300.

Here is the story from

Students experiment with the glasses in anatomy class

About 10 years ago, Mark Changizi started to develop research on human vision and how it could see changes in skin color. Like many academics, Changizi, an accomplished neurobiologist, went on to pen a book. The Vision Revolution challenged prevailing theories–no, we don’t see red only to spot berries and fruits amid the vegetation–and detailed the amazing capabilities of why we see the way we do.

If it were up to academia, Changizi’s story might have ended there. “I started out in math and physics, trying to understand the beauty in these fields,” he says, “You are taught, or come to believe, that applying something useful is inherently not interesting.”

Not only did Changizi manage to beat that impulse out of himself, but he and Tim Barber, a friend from middle school, teamed up several years ago to form a joint research institute. 2AI Labs allows the pair to focus on research into cognition and perception in humans and machines, and then to commercialize it. The most recent project? A pair of glasses with filters that just happen to cure colorblindness.


O2Amps:  2AI Labs

Changizi and Barber didn’t set out to cure colorblindness. Changizi just put forth the idea that humans’ ability to see colors evolved to detect oxygenation and hemoglobin changes in the skin so they could tell if someone was scared, uncomfortable or unhealthy. “We as humans blush and blanche, regardless of overall skin tone,” Barber explains, “We associate color with emotion. People turn purple with anger in every culture.” Once Changizi fully understood the connection between color vision and blood physiology, Changizi determined it would be possible to build filters that aimed to enhance the ability to see those subtle changes by making veins more or less distinct–by sharpening the ability to see the red-green or blue-yellow parts of the spectrum. He and Barber then began the process of patenting their invention.

When they started thinking about commercial applications, Changizi and Barber both admit their minds went straight to television cameras. Changizi was fascinated by the possibilities of infusing an already-enhanced HDTV experience with the capacity to see colors even more clearly.

“We looked into cameras photo receptors and decided that producing a filter for a camera would be too difficult and expensive,” Barber says. The easiest possible approach was not electronic at all, he says. Instead, they worked to develop a lens that adjusts the color signal that hits the human eye and the O2Amp was born.

Read the rest of the story here.


A robot helps second-grader attend school

February 19, 2013 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Disruptive Innovation

VGo Communications surrogate robot at #TEDMEDI first noticed this amazing innovation during the Superbowl in an ad for VGo, a robot that helped a young boy with life-threatening allergies attend his school. The boy’s name is Devon, and yes, he is real. So is the robot! Here is the story from FastCompany:

A robot best known for its appearance in widespread commercials is making life for one elementary school student just a little easier. As the Associated Press reported, Devon Carrow has used “VGo,” a white skinny robot, to be able to attend elementary school in West Seneca, N.Y. The second grader is unable to physically attend school because he suffers from severe allergies where a brush with peanuts, milk or other allergy-inducers could send him immediately into anaphylactic shock syndrome. He also suffers from eosinophilic esophagitis.

But using the robot, Devon can interact with his classmates and learn–just like other students. As his teacher told the AP: “”We don’t treat him any differently,” Voelker said. “He still has to turn in his homework. He still has to have his mother sign notebooks. He still has a job in this classroom–he’s the greeter. And he still has to pay attention–although there’s times I look and he’s off, the cat’s coming in the room.”

Virgin America launches in-flight gallery

February 17, 2013 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Innovation
Photo via SpringWise

Photo via SpringWise

What do you think about companies that go the extra mile to enhance their customers’ cultural experience? That’s what Virgin America Airlines has done, by adding an in-flight art gallery for passengers in business class. Passengers are able to view and purchase paintings with the click of a button from the comfort of their seats. Here is the story:

It was only a few months ago that Virgin America launched its in-flight voter registration program, but just in the last few weeks we’ve come across another notable venture from Virgin. The spotting this time? None other than an in-flight “art gallery” for culturally minded passengers.

Throughout the month of February, Virgin Atlantic’s ‘Gallery in the Air’ gives Upper Class passengers flying between New York and London the opportunity to view and purchase one-of-a-kind paintings by renowned British street artist Ben Eine, both at Virgin Atlantic’s “clubhouses” at JFK, Newark and Heathrow, where the works are currently hung, and through a virtual tour from the comfort of their seats onboard. Special videos on “the making of” and a behind-the-scenes look, meanwhile, are being featured on the in-flight entertainment system. Eine’s paintings reflect his own experiences of Virgin Atlantic, New York and London, and feature words and phrases including ‘Virgin on the Impossible’, ‘Great Adventure’ and ‘Man and His Machines’. Paintings can be purchased just like any duty-free item; pricing ranges from USD 4,000 to USD 24,000.

The Gallery in the Air with Ben Eine is set to be the first in a series of unique onboard collaborations with renowned artists, Virgin Atlantic says, and is part of a recent upgrade to the airline’s Upper Class service. Airline and hospitality entrepreneurs: one for inspiration?        Source

Reflections on CoDev and Open Innovation

February 16, 2013 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Culture of Innovation


The 2013 edition of CoDev Conference took place this week in San Diego. This conference is the premiere gathering for those who are developing cutting-edge open innovation partnerships. Here innovation leaders from all over the world learned from each other how to find new ways to define their business models to deliver growth through Open Innovation.

For many years I have chaired this conference and this year was as interesting and educational as any previous. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to sit down with keynote speakers and business innovators Kevin Hartley, vice president of Corporate Strategy for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Jay Rogers, CEO and Co-Founder, of the customer-driven automobile microfactory Local Motors in Phoenix, Arizona. I wanted to hear these forward thinkers share how they meld innovation strategy and open innovation, and how their unique innovation models differ from traditional innovation practices.

No one model fits all companies, and they discussed how their models are continually evolving to meet the needs of consumers in an ever-changing economic climate. These leaders told us how, more than at any other time, they are finding incredible opportunities outside of their traditional boundaries with the discovery of fresh ideas, technologies and intellectual property.

More businesses are also integrating across functions to drive commercialization, and are finding new ways to foster collaboration with customers, suppliers, end users and employees. Add it all together, and you have companies represented like Nestle, Green Mountain, Kraft, Campbell’s Soup, Procter & Gamble and many others pursuing growth and new revenue sources.

Along with many international companies, business leaders in Northeast Wisconsin joined the conversation as well, including Mark Herzog, President & CEO of Holy Family Memorial in Manitowoc, Vicki Updike, President of Miles Kimball Company in Oshkosh, and Ann Liebeskind, physician and previously Clinical Program Director of the Heart and Vascular Center at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital here in Appleton. Together we agreed that there are several succinct “Do’s and Don’ts” for achieving optimal success.

First we should always strive to choose our open innovation partners very wisely. You don’t want to rely on unproven partners and high risk opportunities to fulfill next year’s growth goals. But you will definitely want to experience the journey and the many alternative paths that you can explore to get to a win for everyone. And when those twists and turns along the way happen, there are the opportunities to experiment, be creative, and stretch your flexibility.

And last, but not least, do not underestimate how important alignment and culture are for forward movement. Make sure that you understand and practice the three C’s of any partnership: Communicate, communicate, communicate!


Get ready!

February 9, 2013 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Events

IE iStock_000010361620XSmallI’m making final preparations for a big week in San Diego, where some of the top thought leaders in innovation will join me for CoDev2013: Forging Collaborative Capabilities & Relationships to Accelerate Innovation. The three-day event i actually in nearby La Jolla, and kicks off Monday with a workshop that will help innovators built trust to create a competitive advantage.

We know that more innovation leaders are growing weary under the fatigue of tighter budgets and uncertainty as the economic burdens grow heavier.  But as those who are forward thinkers will tell you, don’t let the uncertainty of the future  cause you to table plans for growth in your organization. Now is the time to pursue new strategies and develop partnerships to capitalize on the trends and customer needs that true innovation can fulfill!

Stay tuned for more updates from CoDev2013!

Scientists record the first video of thoughts forming in the brain

February 1, 2013 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool videos
What do thoughts look like? Here is a fascinating video of how Japanese researchers recorded a real-time video of thoughts forming in the brain. This brain is of a live animal called a zebrafish — a species with a translucent head — as it was stalking its prey.   The scientists used a fluorescent protein that lights up when single neurons are activated.

The study was recently featured in Current Biology, about the team of researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Genetics in Shizuoka Prefecture. Here is the story from

In order to create the visual effect, the scientists used green fluorescent proteins (GFPs) which light up when calcium concentrations arise. Scientists typically use custom-made GFPs to create an image of cellular activity in real time — but until now, it hadn’t been attempted on live fish as they freely move about.

Once the GFP was developed (a genetically engineered protein called GCaMP7a), the team tested it on genetically modified zebrafish larvae, that were between four and seven days old. At this stage in their life they are still transparent, allowing the scientists to peer non-invasively into their brains.

The researchers were particularly interested in the zebrafish’s optic tectum, the area where its visual processing takes place. The researchers created a special transgenic zebrafish that expresses the protein in this particular region.

Once the fluorescent microscope was set up, the scientists conducted a series of different experiments designed to stimulate the fish’s visual processors. The first experiment involved a dot on a screen that the fish watched move back and forth, and the second involved a paramecium — a tiny organism that the zebrafish preys upon.

When the fish watched these stimuli move, the neurons flashed like waves across the brain — a pattern of lights that the scientists say corresponds to the neurological activity linked with visual processing.

And in fact, when the paramecium was motionless, the scientists recorded no activity. Incredibly, the scientists were able to track these patterns when the fish were immobilized — and also when they were allowed to freely swim around searching for prey.

Moving forward, the scientists hope to observe and map the neural activity across the entire brain, including the areas required for learning and thinking.

Check out the entire study here.