Archive for May, 2017

How gravity can store electricity

We all know that wind turbine and other solar power is a fantastic idea, but many people fear its reliability. After all, we can’t make the sun shine or the wind blow. But what about storing that energy for cloudy or windless days?

ARES’ technology uses heavy rail cars that are pushed to the top of a grade using excess power from renewable energy plants or when electricity demand is low. Then, when the wind drops, the sun stops shining, or electricity demand rises, the rail cars are released back down the hill, generating electricity through regenerative braking.

Because the system doesn’t rely on the use of water like the aforementioned ocean-based systems, the company says the technology is suitable for a wider variety of areas with minimal environmental impact. The company says the system can also respond to increases or decreases in demand in a matter of seconds, boasts a charge/discharge efficiency of 86 percent, and can deliver constant power for periods of up to eight hours.

Here’s a neat video from ARES showing how excess energy from the wind turbines can be used to push heavy electric trains up a hill. It has to do with harnessing gravity, so that we can still enjoy and utilize electricity when we need it.

Tattoos that play soundwaves?

May 26, 2017 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool videos

Soundwave tattoos are the text big thing in ink trends. These innovative tattoos let you play and hear the recordings that you want memorialized. You can get inked with up to a minute of audio and play back using your mobile device.

The video below has gotten millions of views.  As soon as the video went viral, inventor Nate Siggard quickly filed a provisional patent for the first augmented reality Soundwave Tattoo and went into development on a commercial mobile application that would work for anyone who also wanted to get one. The tats are available in June.

The idea hails from Siggard’s ‘Skin Motion‘ company, and hopes to train artists all over the world to create these futuristic tattoos.

A “Twistd” new take on chips

May 24, 2017 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Food & Restaurant trends

Photo courtesy of Twistd

It’s a holiday weekend, and a lot of people are going to be consuming bags of chips at their cookouts. But here’s a new take to the crumply bag: Seasoned chips you season yourself. The idea is from the United Kingdom, and it’s a little “Twistd”:

Twistd’s potato chips and tortillas are packaged in small, portion-controlled tubes, which come with caps that allow snackers to choose their own flavor combinations such as Sea Salt & Seaweed, BBQ & Honey, Chill & Chocolate and Cheddar & Stilton—or a blend of these.

To emphasize the way in which these playful snack flavors can be mixed and matched, Hornall Anderson designed tube packaging for Twistd that has characters with features that can be mixed up to create entirely new personas. On this project, Design Director Anderson Gareth Ball says: “We were aiming for Millennial men who drink craft beer so the branding is designed to be clean and contemporary. There’s a range of unusual flavours populating the craft beer sector showing this demographic is adventurous.”

Check out the innovation background and more interesting photos here:


25 ways to infuse “high performance” in your team

May 23, 2017 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Culture of Innovation

When it comes to creating a culture of innovation and inspiring people, I like to keep it simple.  I came across an interesting article the other day about inspiring teams of people to be at their best – without the fortune-cookie axioms so many bosses plaster on their breakroom walls.

These are 25 simple ways to show your team members that you value their individual ideas as well as their corporate contributions to your business strategy.

1. Co-create and commit to a compelling vision.

2. Get completely clear about roles and responsibilities. Know who’s doing what. And by when.

3. Honor thy commitments.

4. If you realize that you cannot honor a commitment, inform your teammates ASAP and then renegotiate a new commitment.

5. Assume positive intent.

6. Communicate emotionally charged issues on the phone or in person, not in an email.

7. When someone speaks, listen deeply before gearing up to convince them of what you already think.

8. Share your successes with each other

9. Clear the air as quickly as possible whenever there is a breakdown

10. No triangulation! (If someone complains to you about someone else, encourage that person to work it out with the person they are complaining about.)

11. Give and receive feedback.

12. If you need help, ask for it.

13. Show up to meetings on time (and be prepared).

14. Routinely acknowledge and appreciate each other.

15. Be co-responsible. OK, maybe your team has a “leader”. Fine. But when the rest of team fails to speak up or act because “they are not the leader”, you got problems in River City. Everyone is responsible.

16. Share information freely. (Since, “information is power”, the withholding of information is a passive aggressive way in which people wield power over each other).

17. Speak your truth, without attacking or making anyone wrong.

18. Debrief “failures.” Together, find the silver lining in every cloud. In other words, learn from mistakes.


19. Create sacred time to have fun together.

20. Begin each day with a 5-minute “morning unity” meeting — a simple way to make sure everyone is on the same page.

21. Return calls and emails within 24 hours. (If you know you can’t return a call or email that quickly, let your teammates know by when you will be able to respond).

22. Share best practices and lessons learned.

23. Celebrate progress (small wins).

24. Be willing to say NO if there is something you are not willing to do (rather than seeming to agree and then, simply, not doing it).

25. Check for understanding before ending a meeting or phone call. Translation? Summarize what you think the agreement or action is — and invite others to either confirm your understanding or modify it in some way — so when you leave for points unknown you are all on the same page, not ruled by your assumptions or projections.

source here


Israel Creates Wireless Charging Roads for Electric Vehicles

May 16, 2017 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Green Innovation

Imagine using a wireless road technology that powers electric vehicles while motorists drive, eliminating the need for batteries and the necessity of stopping to charge. That’s actually happening right now, as an Israel-based e-mobility company ElectRoad has created a dynamic wireless power transfer (DWPT) system(click on the image to learn more)

The system shares energy between e-cars within a grid, removing the energy source from the vehicles, reducing the cost and weight of a battery in vehicles, and eliminating the worry of having enough charged power for a journey.

Wireless energy strips made from electromagnets and copper plates are integrated into special road lanes, and similar plates are installed on the underside of vehicles. A roadside power converter links to the charging beds carved into the road. Vehicles integrated with the sustainable technology can also drive in normal road lanes for up to 5km.

The company says its aim is to eliminate dependency on oil, and is working with city and country officials to do so.   The Israeli government is collaborating with ElectRoad to install a public bus route in its capital Tel Aviv, which is to be trialed this year. The technology will reduce CO2 emissions without comprising the fleet’s service.

Braille smartwatch for the blind captures a new market

May 11, 2017 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool Inventions and gadgets

A startup company named Dot has created an affordable Braille smartwatch not only for the vision impaired, but for those who are deaf and blind. The watch’s refreshable Braille display is made up of a series of dots which can project up to four Braille characters at a time. Dot keeps time, has an alarm, a messenger app, navigation and Bluetooth.

“Ninety percent of blind people become blind after birth, and there’s nothing for them right now – they lose their access to information so suddenly,” said Eric Ju Yoon Kim, Dot’s co-founder and CEO, in an interview with Colin Moreshead from Tech in Asia. “Dot can be their lifeline, so they can learn Braille and access everyday information through their fingers, which is the goal of Braille literacy.”

The product and its makers first captured attention on a Korean “Shark Tank”-like startup reality show a few years ago, and the team is finally now ready to retail it for under $300.

Check out this video of the Dot Watch:

Also in the works are a Dot Pad tablet and a Dot Mini education device targeted to developing countries.



Could robots save the art of penmanship?

AxiDraw V3 is coming out this month, and it is capturing penmanship, a writing skill many are thinking may fade into obscurity. Created by Evil Mad Scientist, it’s a pen-plotting robot that serves as a “personal writing and drawing machine.” The machine is $475.

Its website states:  “The AxiDraw is a simple, modern, precise, and versatile pen plotter, capable of writing or drawing on almost any flat surface. It can write with your favorite fountain pens, permanent markers, and other writing implements to handle an endless variety of applications. Its unique design features a writing head that extends beyond the machine, making it possible to draw on objects bigger than the machine itself.”

Check out the video:

South Africa unveils next generation biometric Mastercard

May 4, 2017 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Consumer "Identity"

South Africa is the first market to test Mastercard’s new next generation biometric card, combining chip technology with fingerprints to verify the cardholder’s identity for in-store purchases.

The demonstration happened two weeks ago at Absa Bank and Pick n Pay, a leading supermarket retailer.

MasterCard has also previously trialed facial biometrics for payments, launching a s”selfie pay” app last October which lets people authenticate an online payment by showing their face to their phone’s camera.

From the official press release:

Mastercard press image

The new card builds on fingerprint scanning technology used for mobile payments today and can be used at EMV terminals worldwide.

“Consumers are increasingly experiencing the convenience and security of biometrics,” said Ajay Bhalla, president, enterprise risk and security, Mastercard. “Whether unlocking a smartphone or shopping online, the fingerprint is helping to deliver additional convenience and security. It’s not something that can be taken or replicated and will help our cardholders get on with their lives knowing their payments are protected.”

How It Works

A cardholder enrolls their card by simply registering with their financial institution. Upon registration, their fingerprint is converted into an encrypted digital template that is stored on the card. The card is now ready to be used at any EMV card terminal globally.

When shopping and paying in-store, the biometric card works like any other chip card. The cardholder simply dips the card into a retailer’s terminal while placing their finger on the embedded sensor. The fingerprint is verified against the template and – if the biometrics match – the cardholder is successfully authenticated and the transaction can then be approved with the card never leaving the consumer’s hand.


Authenticating a payment transaction biometrically – in this instance via a fingerprint – confirms in a very unique way that the person using the card is the genuine cardholder.

Merchants can easily maximize the shopping experience delivered to their customers, as the card works with existing EMV card terminal infrastructure and does not require any new hardware or software upgrades.

For issuers, the technology helps detect and prevent fraud, increase approval rates, reduce operational costs and foster customer loyalty. Additionally, a future version of the card will feature contactless technology, adding to the simplicity and convenience at checkout.

Trials Underway

The recent South African trials mobilized employees from Pick n Pay and Absa Bank to test the potential ways convenience and security could contribute to the checkout process. Over the next few months, additional trials will be conducted with the biometric card. A full roll out is expected later this year.

Said Richard van Rensburg, deputy CEO of Pick n Pay: “We are delighted that this innovation has been trialed for the first time at Pick n Pay stores in South Africa.  Biometric capability will mean added convenience and enhanced security for our customers. The technology creates a platform on which we can further our strategy of personalizing the shopping experience in a meaningful way.  We have been extremely impressed with the robust and secure nature of the technology.”

For Absa, the biometric card forms part of the bank’s strategy to test and develop sophisticated technology capabilities designed to improve its payment operations and client service, reduce risk, and make banking easier and even more secure for its customers.

“We are very proud to be the first bank in Africa to test – in a real payment environment – the single-touch authentication technology that will unlock the benefits of biometrics,” said Geoff Lee, head of card and payments at Absa Retail and Business Banking. “The technology will effectively enable our customers to rely on their unique fingerprints to make payments in a face-to-face environment. Following the test period, we will make it available to our customers in a way that is affordable, reliable, and convenient and, most importantly, extremely secure.”

Additional trials are being planned in Europe and Asia Pacific in the coming months.

Read more here.