Looking Beyond The Horizon

Innovative Technologies & Services

Archive for April, 2007

Portable fetal monitoring device for home use

Posted by evolvingwheel on April 27, 2007

Even few years back expected mothers wouldn’t have imagined a mobile phone size device that could be used at home to monitor the heartbeat and the position of the unborn child. When my wife went through her first pregnancy last year, I was a part of that daily anxiety when she couldn’t feel any kick for days. And I always wished that I could have such a device! Finally, scientists from the University of Nottingham have developed a portable and affordable instrument, which can detect the fetal heartbeat and the unborn’s position at any time of the day… and the best part is – you do not need to go to the hospital.

What motivates me are the implications that any invention and its entry to the market have on the overall business ecosystem around it – locally, remotely, over a short span of time, and eventually over a long haul. The article talks about a venture capital funded effort to commercialize the device. The instrument will be capable of preventing still births and other pregnancy related emergencies. Here are my 2 cents on it:

1.      The device will enhance preventive care, which means that the insurance companies would love it. Less often will expecting mothers get panicked and end up in the ER in the middle of the night.

2.      The device is currently going through clinical trials for safety and electronic intervention, and has a wireless capability. The commercialization can trigger software development to visualize different diagnostic data right in one’s nearby desktop computers – however, this development is low-key and less impactful.

3.      The technology registers very low voltages, and may be the group can patent the technology, which could definitely be used in multiple signature recognition related devices in medical industry?4.      Easily accessible device accessibility should be considered for coverage by insurance companies. So the price tag on the device should be affordable.

Here’s a link to the [article]

Posted in hardware, Innovation, Medicine | Leave a Comment »

Solar cell reaching out to sunlight

Posted by evolvingwheel on April 20, 2007

A solar wafer with tower shaped micro-receptors that can absorb sunlight from all different angles. The outcome – the solar cell has high efficiency all throughout the day, not just the noon time when the sun is right on the top. That’s what Jud Ready at Georgia Tech came up with a new design for solar cells, where the sun goes in angles and the efficiency of the device increases. The solar panels (photovoltaic arrays) on this small yacht at sea can charge the 12 V batteries at up to 9 A in full, direct sunlight

The researcher and his team have designed a pretty nifty fabrication with carbon nanotube towers sitting on a substrate. For more details, please read the [article]. However, one element of concern is the efficiency of the device, which hovers around 7%. The researcher is also targeting towards space technology for commercialization. I would rather consider looking at the commercialization of the technology in consumer solar cells. Furthermore, the cycle time to get to the market looks pretty long. The way things are moving around the alternative energy market, there could be very competitive solutions with better efficiencies soon. So the innovator needs to find ways to bring his invention faster to conventional solar components. 

One other idea I have – how about increasing surface area for absorption depending upon the inclination and direction of the sun? Let’s say there is a nano substrate or base material which responds to thermal energy by expanding in micro scale. If the towers are standing on the base materials, which could be an array of granules that expand with heat, the towers will rise up and down depending upon the incidence of heat on its base material. It will look like a moving mountain or a wave that moves up and down and the towers protrude up or sink in accordingly.

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

Anyone going to EurekaFest..

Posted by evolvingwheel on April 13, 2007

Nice event to empower inventors, youths, and general mass from different communities to approach global issues and address problems. Seems like a nice platform to deliver messages. A good place to be I guess -:)

http://web.mit.edu/invent/eurekafest.html

EurekaFest

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A bank, a commuity portal, an innovation financier – A new model?

Posted by evolvingwheel on April 12, 2007

While browsing through some news items in TIME magazine, came across this bank. Interesting post. The article talks about Peter Liu, who started this bank that invests money in green technologies and innovative business solutions. Based out of San Francisco, the institution is strategically located near the Silicon Valley. You may check out details in their website as well [www.newresourcebank.com].

There have been several investment engines that range from personal investments, PE, and other instruments heavily inclined towards green technologies nowadays. However, a retail shop living off green investments is something worth considering. That would be a more mainstream option for mass scale engagement. Means, any John Doe can walk up to the bank and invest his checking and savings account towards socially and environmentally conscious opportunities.

There are links on the same website that educates the customer about Green technologies, recycling, government policies, etc. It’s more like a community portal. Its not only a bank but also a forum to share knowledge and drive awareness towards better, greener investments. Is this going to be a trend in coming years? How about retail banks that engage communities towards investing in avenues that positively change our lives and the world as well?

[Link to the article]

Posted in Environment, Innovation, investment | Leave a Comment »

Sugar powered battery – Will Minteer’s innovation find its way to mainstream consumers?

Posted by evolvingwheel on April 7, 2007

My good friend Mark forwareded to me this news article. The news published in Saint Louis University‘s website talks about one of their research scientists, Shelley Minteer, who presented a sugar powered biodegradable battery at the 233rd national meeting of the American Chemical society. The technology’s most promising aspect is its source of energy. The battery runs on renewable fuel sources such as sugar solution, soda, glucose, and tree sap. power-your-laptop-by-sugar-based-battery_9

Minteer claims that her version of the battery is superior to other similar new devices in terms of power and longevity. The technology mimics the operational model of our body. The human body unleashes energy from glucose and does that very efficiently. The sugar powered battery has similar enzymes that extracts juice out of glucose solutions. Minteer is foreseeing her invention to find its use in cell phone rechargers. The device will come with cartridges pre-filled with sugar solutions and she expects that people will use the recharger for juicing up on-the-go.

However, I would like to ask few questions regarding commercializing the invention for mainstream use:

§         How big will this cartridge pack be? What is the size-to-power yield ratio? An average consumer will not like to have a device that takes too much space in his/her briefcase or pockets.

§         The product definitely can’t be the best looking, sleek accessory for everyday use. Sugar solution is a liquid that needs some form of container – as it appears from the cartridge offering. And furthermore dipping a device in solutions or pouring solutions into it can be a cumbersome alternative – unless the refill takes place once in a month. Considering the proposition of pre-packed cartridges, which will be a recurring source of revenue, how long will these cartridges last? Usability in today’s consumer electronics is mandatory.

§         How will this product compete with current conventional alternatives? Metallic batteries are evolving too fast and inventions are trying to unleash the power of nano-materials. Inventors are also finding recycle methods that can break down the batteries into recyclable if not biodegradable components after processing.

Nevertheless, the product can find its usage in bigger and heavy duty applications like that in military and factory components. May be the researcher should focus more on such areas rather than miniature consumer applications… or may be she has all these questions addressed by now and the realization process will be a no-brainer![Read Article]

Posted in Energy, Environment, hardware, Innovation, materials, Medicine | 1 Comment »