Archive for July, 2013

Patch makes you invisible to hungry mosquitoes

July 30, 2013 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Innovation In The News

English: A female mosquito of the Culicidae fa...

Just in time for the summer bug season comes this news about a patch you may one day wear to shield your identity – from mosquitoes! The Kite Patch was developed by Olfactor Laboratories, and works like DEET — blocking mosquitoes’ carbon dioxide receptors. Researchers say the chemicals used are so safe they are considered “food grade flavors” by the Food and Drug Administration.

Here is the rest of the story from Business Insider:

Mosquito defense may have a new secret weapon.It looks like a nicotine patch, but the little diamond-shaped Kite Patch is laced with a very special sauce that its developers claim can protect whomever wears it from mosquito bites for up to 48 hours.

For many, mosquitoes are merely annoying, but in many parts of the world they spread malaria, a deadly disease that is far more dangerous than many health authorities had previously guessed.

The average mosquito has long-range sensors that can sense the carbon dioxide humans emit through their breath from up to a half-mile away. The mosquito’s sensing organ, the maxillary palp, contains a neuron called the cpA neuron that pings the mosquito’s brain when it senses CO2.

The active ingredient and most effective commercially available mosquito repellent is DEET, which works by confusing these

Via Olfactor Laboratory

Via Olfactor Laboratory

sensors. But some research suggests it can be toxic, especially to children. It is also a bit too expensive for everyday use, especially in the poorer countries stricken with mosquito-borne diseases. Oh yeah, and it melts plastic. Yikes.

Read more:

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Vending Machine Rewards Yawns With Free Cup Of Coffee

July 27, 2013 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Crowdsourcing

Imagine stumbling into your kitchen in the morning and activating your coffee machine – with a yawn! For me, anytime innovation marries coffee experiences, I pay attention.

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...

I recently saw an article about coffee roaster Douwe Egberts  trying out the yawn-activated technology on unsuspecting, tired airline passengers at an airport vending machine. The machine dispensed a cup of coffee to reward fatigued folks, all via facial recognition.

The marketing campaign that came with this event was pretty innovative as well. Says Business Insider:

Confident that a single taste would convert coffee drinkers to their brand, the company devised a clever way to spread the word. They built a vending machine that sympathetically dispenses a free cup of coffee to anyone who yawns in its presence.

210 potential customers in South Africa’s O.R. Tambo International Airport did get the free coffee, and had a great story to tell their friends (which no doubt is inspiring a social media brand boost that money can’t buy!) I’m hoping this will be something we can have in our homes in the near future. Here is the video:

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Diversity and collaboration are great ways to foster innovation!

July 23, 2013 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Culture of Innovation

NIU Business student team

As we work with leaders across industries, we hear a strong focus on diversity as a way of encouraging innovation from many sources. Open innovation and strategic partnering are two proven ways to add to diversity in your organization.

Open innovation, a concept that was formalized at an academic level by University of Cal-Berkeley professor Henry Chesbrough in 2003, encourages and solicits ideas from outside an organization in a systematic way. Ideas and capabilities are received from suppliers, vendors, universities, existing partners, and yes, even individual inventors or entrepreneurs. Experience has shown that the commitment to collaborate can help better define the marketplace opportunities and gaps in unserved (or underserved) segments and expand into new geographies, markets, channels and categories.

Strategic partnering, or successfully finding and engaging the right partners, is not easy, but time and time again we see benefits from reaching out and creating collaborative relationships to deliver growth. If the relationships are appropriately structured and nurtured, they can often extend the capabilities of the company into new-to-the-company or new-to-the-world areas, increase speed to market with new technologies, products, services and business processes, and lower overall levels of risk.

One of the most important elements of a company’s successful innovation and growth strategy is its people. Your team members’ and partners’ different backgrounds, experiences, attitudes, personalities and ways of thinking are often the most critical factors in creating a dynamic culture, developing a robust knowledge bank and spurring innovative thinking.

More global organizations are learning that in order to create a competitive advantage, they have to make sure their people are working and relating to peers and customers effectively. Embracing diversity and leveraging “soft skills” or people skills are important components of a progressive organization and an innovative culture.

One challenge many of leaders are facing is that their team members are more comfortable working within their often closed innovation environment with their current network of suppliers and academic connections. These leaders need to find ways to encourage their research development and engineering departments to seek ideas from outside and actively explore strategic partnerships and minimize their fears about job security.

Organizations and leaders need to be aware of events and systems that silently shut down innovation by leaving innovators feeling skeptical, estranged, distrustful, or upset with the organization. “Breaking the will to share” or the loss of trust is a silent killer of innovation.

Employees or other participants in the innovation community simply go through the motions and look like they are on board, driving innovation, when in fact they may have undetectably become disinterested. In many cases, they hold back or save their best ideas for another opportunity.

“Not Invented Here” syndrome is one of the most common barriers facing innovators and it occurs at many levels. It can be an organizational or process issue, but often it is a behavior issue such as an individual’s unhealthy human pride. While “innovation” remains the mantra, only familiar kinds of innovation from insiders or trusted allies are welcome. Communicating and demonstrating open innovation’s ability to ease the workload by providing a diversity of ideas and perspectives to specific problems and challenges can help overcome fears and concerns.

Recognize and reward team members for embracing open innovation, collaborating and sharing their ideas and solutions and you will start to see a diversity of sources start to contribute to your innovation pipeline.

Human-Powered Helecopter earns Toronto students top award

July 20, 2013 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool videos
Atlas at the peak of its historic flight on June 13th, 2013. (Photo courtesy of Martin Turner –

Atlas at the peak of its historic flight on June 13th, 2013. (Photo courtesy of Martin Turner –

University of Toronto engineering students and alumni have won a $250,000 Sikorsky prize for the world’s first human-powered helicopter.

Says the AeroVelo website:

We’re very excited for the world to learn about this exciting milestone in aviation history. At AeroVelo we hope to inspire people to take on great challenges and accomplish the impossible. We would like the public to understand that with innovative engineering and creative design we can find sustainable and environmentally conscious solutions to many of the technological challenges facing our generation.

The epic flight had to meet three criteria: be airborne for more than 60 seconds, exceed 3m in height, and remain within a 10m x 10m box.

Check out this video!

Inventor hacks his microwave to accept iPhone and voice command programming

July 15, 2013 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Innovation

Courtesy of Nathan Broadbent (inventor)

Imagine taking a kitchen appliance and adding  an online database to control it from anywhere in your house.  I came across this story recently of a man who decided that simply microwaving food was not palatable for him as far as user-friendly and custom control commands, so he took the standard design and made it better. Much better! Here is the story:

Tired of keying in commands for his microwave to follow, Nathan Broadbent decided to program his so it could accept voice commands — as well as scan product barcodes to determine how long they should cook.

Broadbent is a Ruby On Rails developer in his professional life, as well as his personal life. These skills combined with the hacker’s favorite micro-computer (Raspberry Pi), was what allowed him to turn a regular microwave into something special.

A couple of the Raspberry Pi Microwave’s features include voice commands, a clock that updates itself using the Internet and even custom sound effects for those who don’t find the factory-set beep all that palatable.

The most impressive of these, however, is the barcode scanner that can pull cooking instructions from an online database, meaning you don’t even have to set the microwave half the time. What’s more impressive is the fact that there was no such database in existence, so Broadbent decided to build one of his own.

While it would have been enough to include all these custom features, Broadbent also made it possible to control the microwave using your phone.

Read the rest here.

App helps inventors meet influencers for coffee talk

July 11, 2013 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Crowdsourcing
Via Mashable

Via Mashable

A new smartphone app is allowing inventors and entrepreneurs to meet and network with key influencers in their own geographic locations. The “influencer of the month series” is a free iOS app from HereOnBiz, and features a geo-location service that helps bring together like-minded professionals.

Influencers simply select a city in which they want to meet, then all of the users in that city receive a notice of that influencer’s availability. I’ve learned that it isn’t too invasive because the influencers pick when they want to meet and with whom, after the app sends them possible candidates.

Once the two sides are linked up, it’s on to a 30- to 45-minute coffee session. This could be a very useful tool for networking, and who knows where these connections could lead? I am looking forward to hearing success stories!

Here’s more:

The program soft launched last month in Pasadena, Calif. Porter Gale, the former CMO of Virgin America and author of Your Network Is Your Net Worth met with Evan White, a PR professional, and former core member of the social video site Viddy.

“It really was an awesome experience being able to sit down, drink an iced latte, and have a conversation with Porter,” he says. “I feel like I not only made a business connection, but a friend.”

This month’s big fish is Scott Minerd, the global chief investment officer of Guggenheim Partners, who manages more than $180 billion in assets, and is a special advisor to the Federal Reserve.

The next 14 months are lined up with a list of big names, including California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, tech blogger Robert Scoble, TechStars’ founder Brad Feld, Keith Ferrazzi, the former CMO of Deloitte and best selling author, and Charles King, an agent and partner at the William Morris Endeavor talent agency.

It’s a way “to show our community that we exist to help them never miss an opportunity,” Smoot says. “It’s not a first- or second-degree network, but an opportunity they never realized they had.”


Fresh air drives fresh thinking

July 8, 2013 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool videos

Here are some national health statistics that should frighten you out of your chair:

  • Our western sedentary lifestyle is responsible for an estimated $24 billion in direct medical spending.
  • Physical inactivity is responsible for almost 200,000 or 1 in 10 deaths each year.
  • Diabetes accounts for more than $98 billion in direct and indirect medical costs and lost productivity each year.   (source)

Now for the good news:  Walking 10,000 steps a day causes a 90% reduction in heart attacks (American Heart Association), a 30-70% reduction in cancer rates (American Cancer Association), a 50% reduction in type 2 diabetes (American Diabetes Association), and a 70% rate of stroke reduction (American Heart Association). But does exercise have to come at the expense of a productive work day at the office?  Nilofer Merchant doesn’t think so. Her recent TED Talk speech gave the audience something to think about: Taking our meetings outside the board room and hitting the streets — literally.

“Sitting has become the smoking of our generation,” she said, telling her listeners, that instead of having the typical work meeting, we could take our meetings outside — and we might just be surprised by how easily fresh air can drive innovative, out-of-the-box ideas.

The future of vision

July 4, 2013 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool Inventions and gadgets

Check out these “telescopic” contact lenses. Could they be the vision of the future?

(Credit: Optics Express)

Researchers are developing these contacts  that can let you see much farther than the human eye was designed to do:

The lens experiment came about through DARPA-funded research into vision enhancement devices for soldiers. What the researchers developed could become a solution for people suffering from age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness for older adults. The goal is to improve vision with an unobtrusive device.

The contact lens can be switched between normal and telescopic vision. The researchers from the University of California San Diego, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, and the Pacific Science & Engineering Group published their work under the title Switchable telescopic contact lens in the Optics Express journal.

The lens, which is just over a millimeter thick, is equipped with tiny mirrors that act as magnifiers. “The magnified optical path incorporates a telescopic arrangement of positive and negative annular concentric reflectors to achieve 2.8x magnification on the eye, while light passing through a central clear aperture provides unmagnified vision,” the researchers say.

The lens doesn’t work on its own. It needs to be paired with a modified set of 3D television glasses. A polarizing filter allows the switch between telescopic and regular vision. The researchers tested the experiment through computer modeling and by attaching a prototype lens to a optomechanical model eye.

The researchers aren’t ready to pop this creation onto any real eyeballs just yet. There is still a lot of work to do with refining the technology and improving the image quality, but the work holds a lot of promise. “The ideal is really for magnifiers to become unnecessary,” says co-author Eric Tremblay. Until we get there, however, contact lenses may provide a way to make AMD a little less debilitating.”

Story and more photographs here: