Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sharing is Gaining - Knowledge Flow Acceleration by Crowdfunding

Since mid-June 80 participants are learning about exponential technologies. The group is not just diverse in terms of languages, or places of origin (from Germany to Italy, Israel, Brazil, and others) but also their educational, and work background. From PhD students to serial entrepreneurs all can be found.

What bounds them together is the PASSION to apply exponential technologies to address humanity's GREAT CHALLENGES.

The place where all this happens is far away for most of us, in Silicon Valley, at NASA Ames Research Center (NASA research outreaches right where new technologies are applied early on in their development), founded in 2008 by philanthropist Peter H. Diamandis, and inventor & futurist Ray Kurzweil.

Question stays, " Can we participate even though we haven't paid $25K+, and are not amongst the 80 lucky ones?"


YES WE CAN DO THAT




Back in early 2009, we had just started to conceptualize a similar project for Europe's semiconductor, nano and life science tech hub Dresden, LockSchuppen - FutureLab2056 - SingularAcademy - CollabSpace, we crowdsourced the translation into German of Ray Kurzweil's TED Talk "A University for the Coming Singularity. Now German speaking audience can follow Ray's speech with translated subtitles.

Five years, and four applications for the Graduate Studies Program later there appeared, more by serendipity than planned search, an opportunity to bring the insightful Twitter conversations from Sinuglarity University to a broader public. A year ago, Angela Incampo and myself got invited to become the social media team for the 26th International Cartographic Conference by the main organizer, Prof. Manfred Buchroithner. As conference proceeded, and the hashtag #iccDD2013 circled in the networks, we became aware of an event entry on Eventifier, a social media news aggregator and a startup themselves.

With the start of this year's #GSP14 the question arose, "Can we crowdfund the Basic Version of Eventifier to enable a possible future conversation with interested stakeholders who'd be interested to help to establish something similar as Singularity University in Silicon Saxony?"

Certainly a project well under the "waterline" of any serious investor, $99 sounding like everybody could pay it personally not needing a crowd (actually these were some of the comments I received from foreign, and local contacts who are active in entrepreneurship, and technology).

It started small with an initial post on this GSP-dedicated blog, now the first level ($99) has been reached with some overshooting funds.

Next level you can read about HERE, and with an achievable goal for #GSP15.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Green Tech Boost ...

... for your house, the car, the smart grid, ....

The possibilities are huge, yet we get our power still through mostly big power plants, often run by coal, nuclear power, or other.

Why not do it differently?

Scott and Julie Brusaw, co-founders of Solar Roadways had another idea: "paving" the roads (which are in there country in rather bad shape) with solar panels.

It was in 2007 when Scott Brusaw found his way into the summer edition of Penn State's "Material Research Institute Bulletin". Back then it sounded even more like a "crazy idea" than today. Nobody back than had a clue about new materials such as graphene, or other that play a major role in improving the efficiency of solar panels (not only for the roof). A Dresden-based spin-off of the Technical University Dresden, Heliatek, is taking the concept of solar panels from the roof into the window, currently ramping up from prototyping to full-production in 2015. Scott also presented at TED

7 years later, Julie and Scott Brusaw, started an even bolder experiment: crowdfunding for ramping up to bring their first full-scale prototype out from the lab into production.

The goal: 1$ Million USD within 6 weeks (from April 21, 2014 - May 31, 2014)

Mission completed (and extended till June 30, 2014 as Scott has recently shared on the Indiegogo page of the campaign).


What looks like an easy path to success wasn't clear five weeks ago, when funds only reached some 25k (May 5, 2014) and nothing much seemed to happen. But then an article appeared in Wired Maganzine (May 8, 2014), and things got into motion (FIRST LEARNING: a major respected and international magazine (online preferably) should capture and write about the project, drawing like-minded people into the crowdfunding process, either by contributing, or spreading the word). Just after a few days funds sprang up quite dramatically (SECOND LEARNING: once the campaign gets
traction other potential supporters join the crowd, and do want to be amongst the early movers). Of course the campaign is still some 95% short of the final goal and time is clearly running out - there is not doubt about that.

Over the days various supporters, especially ones who had the capability, and boldness not just to write once but several times about the up-dates, news about the campaign itself, or upcoming articles in magazines, and newspapers and to connect these across various social networks the "famous" Twitter hashtag came to use: #SolarRoadways (THIRD LEARNING: never stop telling about the advancements, and share in various networks, staying authentic and passionate what you share).

And then happened something which accelerated the process by no imaginable means: a video by some supporters from Canada "hit the road" or better Youtube.


(FOURTH LEARNING: two is news, three is a crowd, and dedicated, and passionate supporters around the globe is really what's fueling a visionary cause to bring into reality).

Per today, May 30, 2014  more than 1.6$ Mio have come together, and certainly closer ties to possible


collaborators, and companies bringing the pure vision of the two founders of Solar Roadways to a success (which will be certainly a step by step process, and will make most sense where need, and visibility of the new technology will be highest to bring forward the technology).

The learning lesson in one sentence for all entrepreneurs of different age, from teenager to senior is:

It's (a) never to late to go for a bold vision, (b) success may take time (in this case more than seven years), (c) don't stop bringing your dream into reality until you have finished.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Passion, Craftsmanship and Technology

"Forbidden Fruit" by Artist in Residence Chris Antemann currently at MEISSEN® ArtCAMPUS - what an amazing pulling force to learn more about one of the most amazing porcelain manufacturers in the world.

MEISSEN® - in operation since 1710 and famous for their blue swords

Can such a company compete in an era where robotics, digital technology and productivity is setting the pace and everywhere you hear the slogan, "Faster, cheaper, better - sell sell sell!"

Yes it can. It's driver being the PASSION of its people, who as we followed through the vast production areas across the historical buildings, as well as the quite new show rooms were more than open to share their insights in personal conversations. 

Part of "Forbidden Fruit" in the making
Seen at close distance how delicately fine drawings are put onto the porcelain let's one appreciate the craftsmanship that is necessary to fulfill such exquisite quality. Passion, patience and deep knowledge paired together making the necessary mold. It was not a daily offered show room visit but a genuine insight into the production almost a normal working conditions at a Saturday - one of two yearly Open Days the Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur MEISSEN® is offering to the interested public [next one is October 18, 2014 - don't miss when you are in the region]. 

What seemed to start like a 1-2 hour visit to a company turned out to become a day-long engagement and learning about one of the most amazing cultures of craftsmanship just a mere 25 km away from hightech center Dresden. Close to the end of the
Toscana - by Monika Zeinar
day the conversation with one of the artists, Monika Zeinar, who is very passionate about flowers made clear that passionate people don't stop where their daily (routine) work ends, but excel beyond. Her exhibition at Hafenstraße e.V. (open from 5pm, except Tuesday) a socio-cultural center on the right-bank of the river on flowers, and landscapes inspired to not only plan to come back for the upcoming Open Day in October but learn more about the history, and current paths of the PEOPLE of MEISSEN®.


Delft - by Monika Zeinar

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

#DATE14 - and what it has to do with the future

Over the course of five days in late March 2014 an elite group of people are meeting for a conference in a place that is not as prominent at Barcelona (home of the Mobile World Congress), Las Vegas (home of CES) or Silicon Valley (home of to numerous to name).

Do you remember #IEEETTM back in 2012 that took place also at this relaxed city on the River Elbe? Have a look on what I wrote back then here.

It's DRESDEN, a city on the edge and at the core of the emerging future. In the midst of Europe's hotspot for semiconductors, nanotech, biotech, life sciences and increasingly evolving adjacent application areas.

DATE stands for Design, Automation & Test in Europe - more to be found on Twitter #DATE14

What sounds at first sight not worth visiting to the non-tech guy, transforms more to a surprise of serendipity. Of course it is a conference focusing on very technical, pre-application developments in
FlashAir™
microelectronics, communication.

Surprises like the FlashAir™ by Toshiba, an up to 32GB SD-card with WiFi-ability are just among several serendipity encounters at this conference one would not expect.

Visit of the exhibition (which will be on also tomorrow, Thursday March 27, 2014, 10am-5pm) is free of charge.

Tomahawk 2 (photo credits: cfaed)
The Excellence Cluster Center for Advanced Electronics Dresden cfaed at the TU Dresden presents its new superfast microchip 'Tomahawk 2' which could play a more prominent role in the 'Tactile Internet' (presentation during the Johannesberg Summit) that its chair Prof. Gerhard Fettweis promoted just recently at the CeBIT.

Never doubt a smart crowd to teach you something extraordinary new. Go for the serendipity challenge that pulls new ideas into your head.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

#Io ... in every aspect of our lives. Why not?

Over the last two days #IoTEUsummit, a smallish but rather prominent summit on issues around the rising relevance of the "Internet of Things" in everyday life took place in Brussels.

What seemed to get slowly into the public discussion over the last few years still seems to lack common naming, and thorough explanation (rather than definition) in the real-world context by the various stakeholders. Research, politics, technology providers, application makers, users, organizations, .... all seem to have quite a different view, and understanding of the issue, and the adjacent fields.

In a way it feels like a "Little United Nations", or the Germany of the 19th century with hundreds of small and tiny kingdoms. What once started off as #IoT now has siblings called #IoX #IoE (Internet of Everything), Cyber-Physical-Systems, Industrie 4.0 (quite a German approach focusing on production use of IoT).

From a user's point of view the whole discussion could be reduced to the point, "Where does connected information make sense in the business/daily-life processes make sense, and brings added-value to the whole (process)?" instead of "Where can sensors be installed to make new business models create additional revenue?".

What became clear during the summit is that the #IoH* was clearly missing in the conversation, and yet brought value to the whole conversation in real-time, and online.

* #IoH - Internet of Humans

Monday, December 30, 2013

Innovation - Catching the Mystery

When in late August at the 26th International Cartographic Conference hundreds of experts on mapping flocked over the course of five days the conference rooms even an outsider of this "narrow", though in our connected times more than relevant, field could attach to the various sessions. The reason for that: everyone of us has had a map in his or her hand for sure (if not in paper, or computer screen then on a mobile device).

The theme of the conference was "From Pole to Pole" and Prof. Manfred Buchroithner laid out in a radio interview the specific aim was to bring regions outside the scope of easy reach into awareness. The use of latest laser technology, data transformation, and latest display technology (e.g. Plastic Logic) were the focus.

Could there come out real new and value creating innovation out of such a conference, which by definition is often bounded to experts only?

http://bit.ly/Kf5Lqe (Creative Commons)
In a WIRED article dated back in 2011 author Mark Brown laid out what the Robust Robotics Lab at MIT was working on in the field of UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), "Kinect-carrying drone automatically builds 3D maps of rooms". The project Archaecopter (filming archeological sites) jointly done together by the HTW Dresden and the Freie Universität Berlin shows a more recent application also for "indoor" use.

Singularity University Spin-offs Matternet and ARIA Logistics that focus more on the transportation side of this new technology innovation. However there is lots in common between the different application fields, especially in terms of technology (behind it).

Too often is technology best to be used in our close vicinity, and personal needs (nitty gritty things we encounter every day, or several times in our lifetime that we wish to faster and easier to happen), and yet it often seems to need the detour via some special purpose field from which the technology may come into general public use, and become a true innovation (other than just an invention). What one often encounters (as myself this morning proposing to an employee of a kitchen shop using autonomous UAVs for 3D indoor mapping for flats or houses) is an instant of fear that comes of the listener to new ideas. The instant reaction was, "Honestly I am not in technology. Actually we are using the traditional methods, that is sufficient. We don't need nothing new!"

That got me more than thinking (once again) in which way innovation can be brought into the world without triggering fear in the people's minds who will be in one or the other way effected by technology?

Edgar H. Schein's paper on "Kurt Lewin's Change Theory in the Field and in the Classroom: Notes Toward a Model of Managed Learning 1"may shed some light on why innovation is so difficult to achieve.

My personal TAKE AWAY:
It often comes to real breakthrough innovations when least expected (but the underlying forces, including timing and needs of stakeholders have come together in the suitable way). Most often what made the innovation become reality was a need, and a direct connection to the real-life experiences of the people who then make it possible.

Share your experience in the comments if you like.

Cheers, Ralf


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Engineering Reversed - Decision-Making Revisited

Following a lecture on social systems and the deeper forces behind it in an engineering context Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman once again came into sight.

In a world where exactness, concrete, plan, and measurable results are the essentials of the work ethics, it makes wonder how his thoughts, as it is touched on in "Abundance - The Future is Better Than You Think" in chapter three, come into play.

Decisions of engineers (not just the mechanical and electrical, but also the software and other subfields that are driven by hard facts, which also touch on doctors, architects, chemists, and physicists) tend to depend on clear facts, and the processes these generate.

Why can it then be that all too often decisions in these contexts are not as expected?

A resent example is the new Leipzig City Tunnel which has gone into operation today, December 14, 2013, should have been opened four years ago, and it overarched the projected expenses by almost two thirds. So there is evidence for improvement on how we make decisions.

Kahneman's advice for strengthening decision-making capabilities applies in many fields, including our own personal terrain.

All too often we are bound in our learned mental models which make it impossible to even question the most obvious (that could go wrong), and in the end we suffer by "unexpected" failure. Or put the other way round, even the most promising opportunities in the future are denied, as we (individually or as a group) are bound.

The advice for everyone out of the lecture first mentioned is to reflect on our own thinking (and the inherent mental models we carry on with our mind), and whether our assumptions about the world around us are "set in stone" (or just a mental model in our heads).