Looking Beyond The Horizon

Innovative Technologies & Services

Archive for February, 2007

Let there be vision – And there were Retinal Implants

Posted by evolvingwheel on February 28, 2007

People who turned blind from retinal degeneration have got a recent improvement in their ability to see. An improvement in the implants have allowed scientists to embed four times more electrodes in the chap implant from before – and thus a 4-fold increase in resolution. The device, developed by Mark Humayun and his colleagues at USC consists of an array of hair thin electrodes in a tiny chip that is implanted in the retina. The scientific breakthrough has been with stacking the large number of electrodes in the tiny chip bed.

There are few important technological aspects of this development. One is the wireless transmission of the visual data to the chip after the video is processed by an instrumentation clipped to the belt on the waist. The electrical impulse is then transmitted to the electrodes that send electrical stimulus to the retinal cells. However, the hurdle is not just with the packing of thousands of electrodes but making the impulse work identical to the effect of light on the retina. How do they do that? May be they will soon find ways to tweak electrical signals that may trigger stimulations on retinal cells similar to that of light. Guess more research needs to be done on the behavior of the retinal cells, their properties, and their behavior. What type of cellular protiens are located over there and how do they behave to light?

Then comes the packing of electrodes. Nano electrodes may be. How do they stack them though? I have to do a bit more research on the video processing side too. Can something be done on the algorithm side? If more information can be sent by using optimized processing algorithm. Read the article [here].

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Posted in Innovation, Medicine, micron, nanotechnology, optics, robots | Leave a Comment »

Have you heard of Zyvex?

Posted by evolvingwheel on February 21, 2007

Let’s say we are in a time machine and I am able to go back 10 years and had the opportunity to invest on VOIP technology. Today, I would be sitting (like few others) on a gold mine. Now again I am sitting on a forward moving time machine and I see Zyvex. Well, is it so dramatic? Not sure. Just came across this company while browsing for nanotech assembly plants on the web.

Considering the dynamic of the nano-component and nano-material industry, the necessity of a massive parallel assembly infrastructure providing a high precision but fast implementation platform is imperative. As new patents, technologies, and scientific methods spew out from university labs and research institutions, a successful entry to the market and eventual infusion to the consumer’s lifestyle will require mass scale production. Now the capital investment for manufacturing such micro and nano level components is enormous. In a fast paced and an extremely short time-to-market, time is the essence. Outsourcing the manufacturing aspect to a highly sophisticated, reliable, and dependent partner will be a critical consideration.

[Go to Zyvex]

Posted in nano assembly, nanotechnology | Leave a Comment »

Guess this innovative method

Posted by evolvingwheel on February 21, 2007

Look at the youtube video below. This is a new method introduced by a startup. Will write more about this soon.

Posted in Innovation | Leave a Comment »

A New Facelift for Lithium Ion Batteries

Posted by evolvingwheel on February 20, 2007

Battery and portable power sources have been a special interest of mine for a while. However, my eyeballs have focused more on the adaptability of a new technology and the subsequent business developments around it – whether in the core industry or the supporting industry. The following article on a new type of lithium ion battery has drawn a considerable interest from both the core portable power industry as well as from the tools and consumer products side.

[Read Article] Chiang, a material science researcher from MIT has developed a new compound (lithium iron phosphate) that is capable of providing more than twice the power of conventional lithium ion batteries but with less than one fifth of the weight. Furthermore, the battery is claimed to withstand 10 times more recharging, The material also carries iron, which could be an inexpensive replacement for cobalt – a cheap value proposition. Now what could be the implications of this new product to the market?

  1. Existing battery companies (Duracell, etc.) adopt a similar version of the new technology and displace the new company eventually?
  2. A123 systems innovate the product, patent its different components, and partner with a large tool maker of heavy-duty product company to thwart any competitive overrun
  3. The tools market evolve. The tools industry new innovation to the products, which they couldn’t because of the power constraints.
  4. Hybrid auto industry implements the new batteries and thoroughly tests the feasibility of sustained power extraction, safety, recharge, and disposal.
  5. Digital consumer equipment manufacturers adpots the new technology and configures their product lines, designs, and ergonomics accordingly.

 There are tons of other stuff that could be done, thought of, and implemented.

Posted in Energy, Innovation, materials, nanotechnology | Leave a Comment »

Sweating for Valentine’s Day? Good for you!

Posted by evolvingwheel on February 14, 2007

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have figured out the secret – the chemical in male sweat that turns their counterparts ON! Androstadienone, a derivative of testoterone and a musky smelling compund does the magic. [Read the article]

Now lets say we have artificially created different flavors of the compound. First a company does a standard genetic classification of different types of males – athletes, artists, alcoholics, smokers and analyzes their sweat samples under different physical circumstances. The permutations will be pretty high. Then they control the amount of Androstadienone and mix with other synthetic elements to enhance and diversify the exposure of the compound.

Next the manufacturer can embed the sniff-sample to the clothing isles, stationary isles, fashion stores… this will indeed revolutionize the shopping experience of women in malls, boutiques, and women specialty stores. Ideas are abound. They could even attach thin sample films in greeting cards (targeted for HERs) and time the exposure with mechanics of opening the card!

Well.. that might be too much 😉

Posted in Environment, Media | Leave a Comment »

LED to replace Fluorescent lights? Is this a begining of the end?

Posted by evolvingwheel on February 12, 2007

Raleigh, N.C. is trying to replace a part of their fluorescent public lighting with light emitting diode based lights. I was reading the article and thinking about the facts. Approximately 22% of the electricity consumed in U.S. goes towards lighting. I am not sure how the following facts can translate to realistic implementation soon, but the numbers are outrageous: LEDs can last 75,000 hours or longer and consume far less power than standard incandescent bulbs. Only about 5 percent of the energy that goes into conventional bulbs actually turns into light; the rest gets dissipated as heat. If 25 percent of the light-bulbs in the United States were converted to LEDs putting out 150 lumen (a measure of light output) per watt–higher than the most current models–the country as a whole could save $115 billion in utility costs cumulatively by 2025, according to University of California Santa Barbara professor Stephen DenBaars.

Product ImageNow, if that’s the case, then the utility expenditure in putting up fluorescent lamps, powering them, and maintaining them will reduce drastically. The immediate question that comes to me is if the LEDs last for upto 75,000 hours, then where will go the light bulb industry? Basic demand-and-supply. Where’s the demand for the lights now? If the fixtures last for 5 years in public areas and residential homes (eventually), what kinds of industrial players will evolve? What will be the displacement of that area of the business? Obviously the LED will not be installed with a single Big-Bang.. so we shouldn’t worry that all the bulbs will go out together.. but still, the demand factor will shift. Now, once the LED is there (down the road), how do the manufacturers diversify their product to place it in any type of perpetual revenue generator model?

I like to think about this becuase the pattern is applicable to other industries, products, and services as well! Its more like what if the ink cartridges of a printer went out only after 100 million prints? Where will Epson and HP make money from?[Read The Article]

Posted in Environment, Innovation, investment, optics | 1 Comment »

Oxycyte™ – Just another invention or a better substitute for blood?

Posted by evolvingwheel on February 8, 2007

Oxycyte™, a proprietary perfluorocarbon (PFC) therapeutic oxygen carrier and blood substitute has been in the recent news headlines with highly promising claims. The chemical is not exactly a blood substitute – white in color and with a soymilk texture – but appears to perform a very crucial function of blood and 5 times more. The liquid PFC is capable of carrying a huge amount of oxygen at a much faster rate to injured organs. The artificial blood is currently under clinical trials and have shown exciting results on trauma victims.  [Read PopSci Article] 

However, the fluid has certain requirements. Currently, once infused with the liquid, the patient needs to be administered with a high concentration of oxygen and needs to wait for few hours before the fluid starts pumping O2 through the injured cappillaries. Such high exposure to Oxygen has its own problems. Nevertheless, studies show that the treatment significantly increases the chances of recovery for extreme trauma due to severe blood loss from accidents.

If the PFC is successful and is commercialized, what changes can we expect on the horizon? Will there be a drastic shift in oxygen carrier pharmaceutics over the recent years? How promising is the invention in context of new medical developments in trauma treatments? How will the insurance industry react to a cheaper treatment for high impact ER processes?

[Picture courtesy Popular Science/John B. Carnett]

Posted in Innovation, Medicine | 2 Comments »

A New Era of Delivering Digital Media? Part – I

Posted by evolvingwheel on February 7, 2007

Is independent video making going to create a whole new genre of knowledge contributors? I guess YouTube and Google saw it coming. However, the trajectory has several orientations and directions. As claimed by the article, there are millions of video makers using cell phone camcorders to record stories and then posting it in blogs and other channels (MySpace). The discussion revolves around new video editing software. However, I feel this new method of posting and sharing digital video will not only open the doors for a slew of applications but will also re-define methods of channeling information. [Read the Article]

But where will this lead to? Who are going to benefit from this? How will the blogosphere change perceptions and develop a brand new content delivery model? Will it be independent media? Its already out there I guess. Several first-hand news items nowadays are first revealed in the blog world. Amateur online videos show sensational elements in war torn regions where conventional media would dare to venture out. May be that is the new definition of information sharing. Let me toss around few ideas of how this trajectory could evolve:

  1. Open Source Marketing: Companies could leverage the local blogs and videos (country, society, and ethnicity dependent) to generate unique but high-reach ideas for their product or service marketing campaign.
  2. Live Independent News Feed: Online and paper media can both gather content from independent sources across the world. Blog feeder cells can deliver live content from device (camcorder/phone) to platform (web) in no time.
  3. Global R&D Sharing Model: Researchers from universities and educational institutions can share knowledge across a network that could be leveraged for profit as well as non-profit goals.

Video content could rapidly alter the dynamics of any global event. Over the coming years, numerous applications will develop that will be able to identify news and video by surfing intelligently through the blogosphere. Currently, the search methods are limited to category tags. May be Google is already working on it. A method that reads content and matches with a specific search in a more cognitive way. I strongly believe that there is a whole new world evolving around digital content, the speed of delivery, and the medium of channeling that information.

P.S. A blog entry from DV Guru discussing about 10 different Online Video Sharing sites. Ten video sharing services compared.

Posted in Communication, Innovation, Media | 1 Comment »

What a game – Brazil 0 Portugal 2 (off-track)

Posted by evolvingwheel on February 7, 2007

Watched the international friendly on Fox Sports – Brazil versus Portugal. What a game. The speed of the entire 90 minutes duration was enthralling. It was a night game. The lush green field with yellow-green (BRA) and red (POR) jerseys appeared like a paradise. Well.. that what matters to me 🙂

The game was right on the spot from minute 1. However, it seemed that Scolari did a great job in bringing strategic planning into tactical moves. The Portugal team showed both talent (Ronaldo, Deco) and team game in the midfield and above the half line. I loved watching them all through the game.

My favorite has always been Brazil. However, the team lacked the Samba touch yesterday. This is Dunga’s first international exposure as the national team coach. Ronaldindo and Robinho were not present. Kaka seemed a little off though. This team didn’t show the individual talent that I am habituated seeing. I guess they need a bit more work. However, some of the touch plays in both the halves showed what we mean by Brazilian soccer.

Hey, by the way, Diego is a newbie! And he looked great in the field. His ball control was amazing too.. that’s a talented individual. I will keep on watching him more closely.

(ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images)

Posted in Brazil, Soccer | Leave a Comment »

Immigrant Entrepreneurs – Innovating from limitations

Posted by evolvingwheel on February 6, 2007

Americas.. the land of opportunity! Hundreds of thousands of immigrants deserting their homeland in search of a better future in the promised land. However, several social and economic limitations enforce a different kind of lifestyle on these immigrants. The following article puts forward a story rendering the entrepreneurial aspect of the people who want to work their way through a landscape often buffeted by isolationism and ignorance.

http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~sullivan/sdsis/Photos/

I have often come across friends and acquaintances who have started businesses around my neighborhood after migrating from Asia and Africa. What sometimes incites my excitement is the simple innovations in practices these individuals try to implement to override the political, municipal, and social difficulties in a foreign land. Determination also enables these people to keep on trying through different hardships. The article details an interesting perspective where an entrepreneur figures that what he needs more than money is knowledge – a key element for evolution.

Read The Article

Read the rest of this entry »

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