30 April 2010

D-Lab Showcase 2010 ~ 26 Projects @ MIT 5/8

The Spring 2010 D-Lab Project Showcase is next week Saturday 8 May at the MIT Museum! To kick things off, the students from 6 D-Lab classes -- Design, Dissemination, Health, Energy, Wheelchairs and Prosthetics -- will give brief presentations of their projects. Then the 26 total projects will be on display and all the working prototypes demonstrated!

29 April 2010

Domestic Transformer ~ Hong Kong Apartment!

Thanks to Sarah Wood for spotting Hong Kong architect Gary Chang's 344 square foot Domestic Transformer apartment!

MIT IDEAS Competition ~ Finale Mon 5/3 7:30p

The MIT IDEAS Competition is hosting its finale Awards Ceremony this coming Monday 3 May 2010 at the Stata Center at MIT. Keynoted by Carl Bielenberg, founder of Better World Workshops, the night features entries including...
  • PieceMeal Vendors ~ Modular carts for street vendors in Thailand;
  • Rubble Rousers ~ Rubble reuse in post-earthquake Haiti;
  • Komera ~ Sanitary solutions to the developing world;
  • Sanergy ~ Sanitation and Energy in Kenya;
  • Handwave ~ Communication tool for nonspeaking autistics;
  • PerfectSight ~ Smartphone app for eye prescriptions;
  • Konbit ~ Talent-finding network for NGO's to employ Haitians;
And nearly two dozen others. Highly recommended!

28 April 2010

Carrie Stalder ~ MIT SDM and Venture Café!

Very cool to have MIT grad student Carrie Stalder join me on MaximizingProgress.tv tonight. Carrie shared a bit of her background and current experience building up the new Venture Café in Kendall Square, Cambridge. This venue is currently in alpha prototype phase every Thursday afternoon in the Cambridge Innovation Center at One Broadway. Their goal? No less than dialing up the connectivity and serendipity and vitality of the entrepreneurial ecology in Kendall Square! Not easy, but quite needed! After her undergrad studies in engineering and applied science at CalTech -- MIT's west coast spinoff school;-) -- Carrie first got herself into astronomy, then construction, and then the defense electronics sectors! A self-described "extrovert among introverts" she's a great addition to MIT's grad student population as an SDM'er -- System Design and Management.

NextLab Event ~ Spring 2010 Finale Tues 5/11

Check out the projects in MIT's NextLab this Spring at finale event on Tues 11 May 2010 including...
  • m-Billing ~ Mobile payment and billing system.
  • SmartLink ~ User credibility management and job matching.
  • Mobilizers ~ Shipping route optimization and planning.
  • Trakken ~ Package and courier tracking and tracing.
  • MoMa ~ Mobile marketing and advertising service.
  • Cloud Maestro ~ Cloud platform for open source mobile logistics and services.

27 April 2010

D-Recipes! ~ MIT's DIY Instructions & Curriculum

With NCIIA support, MIT's D-Lab releases DIY build instructions and curricular materials for shared use! Anyone can pick from a growing set of open recipes for making useful artifacts, for starters, both agri-waste charcoal processing and hand-held corn shellers. The materials include...
  • Backgrounders ~ Context, history, status
  • Build-Its ~ Basics plus teaching notes
  • Do-Its ~ Simple drawings for field-use
Very useful Tools for Mass Construction!

Visualizing Complexity ~ Mapping Causal Links...

The NYTimes stupidly slams this graphical visualization... ...in Elisabeth Bumiller's piece We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint. Her ill-considered screed mistakenly confounds the make-work of assembling briefings for the hard-work of systems dynamics and analysis required to understand the complexities of counter-insurgency and nation-building in Afghanistan. That graphic by PA consultants attempts to capture all the causal links in a way no written briefing, no PowerPoint list of bullets, and none of the Generals or responsible politicians have yet been able to.

26 April 2010

Robo Subs ~ Tackling Harsh & Hazardous Tasks

The BP-Transocean oil rig incident in the Gulf of Mexico is demanding the latest in environmental remediation methods as noted in the BBC's piece Robot vessels used to cap Gulf of Mexico oil leak...
"BP is using submersible vehicles, equipped with cameras and remote-controlled arms, to try to activate a blow-out preventer - a series of pipes and valves that could stop the leak. However, this was a "highly complex task" and "it may not be successful", said chief operating officer of BP's exploration and production unit, Doug Suttles. If the attempt fails the alternative is to drill a "relief well" intersecting the original well, but Mr Suttles warned that this might take months. BP has also brought in more than 30 clean-up vessels and several aircraft to spray dispersant on the oil floating on the surface. Bad weather forced the operation to be suspended at the weekend."

25 April 2010

PLAYsentations! ~ Toy Product Designs on 5/11

Toystar Barry Kudrowitz shouts that the 2010 Toy Product Design PLAYsentations are on Tuesday May 11th from 8-10p in 10-250. Definitely come check out the 15 toy prototypes finale presentations by MIT student teams!

PerfectSight ~ Eye Prescription Smartphone App

Check out the PerfectSight project from the Camera Culture group at the Media Lab! The team is in our Imaging Ventures and Media Ventures class jointly, are Semifinalists in the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, and are an MIT Global Challenge candidate! As they describe...
"Over 153 million people around the world suffer from uncorrected refractive vision problems and 87% of them -- 133.11 million people -- reside in developing nations. [The] team developed an eye care technology that allows for the early, extremely low-cost, mobile, fast, and automated diagnosis of the most common refractive eye disorders: myopia (nearsightedness), hypermetropia (farsightedness), astigmatism and presbyopia (age-related) [and] consists of an Android-based app and a passive optical phase plate on top of the cell phone display. The patient looks in close range and aligns image patterns. The lens prescription is computed automatically based on the displacement needed in the alignment task. The tasks takes less than 2 min. Our system can greatly scale the diagnostic services available in developing countries and help to significantly improve the quality of life for those suffering from these conditions."

23 April 2010

MIT Latin American Conference ~ Panel Sat 4/24

The 13th MIT Latin American Conference is this Saturday, 24 April 2010 in MIT's 10-250 around the theme of Building Bridges to a Sustainable Future. I'm moderating the Opportunities at the Bottom of the Pyramid session in late morning with great panelists...

20 April 2010

D-Lab Innovators Night ~ Panel @ MIT Wed 4/21

I'm moderating what promises to be a truly remarkable D-Lab Innovators Night panel this Wed night 21 April 2010 from 7-9pm at MIT in 6-120...
"Hear the amazing stories of 5 innovators who are blazing trails on the ground in India, Tanzania and Uganda. Get their insights on how to take action on societal issues in creative and effective ways. This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to meet 5 unique leaders and change agents in one room!"
Visiting us and speaking on this panel organized by several D-Lab colleagues and sponsored by the MIT International Development Initiative are:
  • Fatuma Acan ~ Uganda ~ Director of MADE (Mobility Appliances for Disabled Women Entrepreneurs) and the Pan-African Wheelchair Association, wheelchair rider from childhood polio and the first woman in Africa to train as a wheelchair technologist;
  • Suprio Das ~ India ~ Senior Adviser to Aqua Welfare Society and an independent inventor of water treatment and power generation devices;
  • Harish Hande ~ India ~ Co-Founder and Director of SELCO Solar, a social enterprise that provides sustainable energy solutions and services to under-served households and businesses;
  • Ralf Hotchkiss ~ US ~ Co-Founder of Whirlwind Wheelchair International and a wheelchair rider who has over 35 years experience working in 42 countries teaching people who need wheelchairs how to build and maintain them for themselves;
  • Bernard Kiwia ~ Tanzania ~ Head of Technology for MIT $100K D-Track winner Global Cycle Solutions and a prolific inventor of pedal-powered devices, including a pedal-power hacksaw and mobile phone charger
All fascinating and prolific people. I'd go to see any one of them speak and we've got them all! P.S. Here's the archival video...

19 April 2010

Custom Earbuds ~ Etymotics @ Apple on WSJ...

Thanks to MIT alumco Lantos co-founder Shahid Azim for spotting this WSJournal piece by Courtney Banks on Etymotic's Noise-Isolating Earphones. The mass-personalization of such essential wearables is an emerging super-movement...

Accelerated Orthodontia ~ Toothful Timelapse!

Thanks to UniqueDaily for spotting this great orthodontal timelapse! I suffered with braces for years -- it was worth it, but bloody hell I wish it could have taken just 60 seconds;-)

Gates of Hades ~ Images From Eyjafjallajökull

The Big Picture delivers images of Eyjafjallajökull...

Baraka ~ Blessings of Humanity, Nature, Reality

Thanks to Mike Cassidy for highlighting the Baraka trailer...

Reenactors ~ More Fun To Play The Bad Guys!

Today is Patriots' Day here in Massachusetts and Maine, and as Joanne Rathe and Andrew Ryan note in their 2008 Boston Globe photo-essay Being British on Patriots Day, for those reenactors of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, "it's more fun" to play the bad guys! (This is despite the outcome of the Revolution and all that followed;-)

18 April 2010

London 2014 ~ Bid Promo for Hosting WorldCon!

Thanks to Miss Cellania for spotting the London in 2014 promo video bidding to host the science fiction WorldCon convention! How many SF movies do you recognize?

Roadmap 2050 ~ Envisioning Low-Carbon EU...

Thanks to Architecture Lab for spotting Reinier de Graaf from OMA's thinktank AMO showing visualizations for Roadmap 2050, a project proposing a European low-carbon power grid by 2050...

LEGOtecture ~ Building Buildings with Blocks;-)

Building buildings out of LEGO blocks? Of course, there's LEGOland... But what about in the "Real World"? Well, here's fixing buildings with LEGO bricks... How about a whole table of LEGOs... Even a full-on LEGO house (since demolished)... And now you can build furniture out of human-scale LunaBlocks...

Action Governor ~ Babatunde Fashola in Lagos

Al Jazeera's Mark Eddo reports from megacity Lagos, Nigeria about Babatunde Fashola, the Action Governor who is tackling the poor infrastructure and healthcare and generally transforming this sprawling, giant central-west African commercial hub for the better...

17 April 2010

The Infidel ~ A Comedy of Ethnic Proportions!-)

Thanks to the LondonTimes for spotting a new indy film -- The Infidel -- about Mahmud, a Muslim family man who discovers his birth certificate which shows he was adopted and he's Jewish! Check out his subsequent comedic identity crisis here in the trailer...
A comedy of ethnic proportions!
At the UK premiere, writer David Baddiel hosts the finale of the Which Religion is Funniest? competition, featuring two joint winners Nabil Abdulrashid and Pardis Parker, who cracks me up...

Extraordinary Singapore ~ Lee on Charlie Rose

Singapore is a city-state small in size but huge in ambition and strategic sophistication. From founding new universities (and multiple partnerings with MIT) and building stunning greenscrapers and playing a key role as crossroads in the ASEAN community and between India, China, Australia+NZ and in the Commonwealth, this is a key country. Several years ago, I was especially impressed with From Third World to First: The Singapore Story, the reflections of founding leader Lee Kuan Yew. And see here the current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Charlie Rose this past week, for a conversation which included...
"The whole of our system is founded on a basic concept of meritocracy; we built up our institutions so that you have a government which people can trust and is competent; we have no safety net and we can always fail if we get it wrong; we’ve got to be extraordinary!"

Raskar's Hexagon ~ How to Invent! X --> neXt

My MIT Media Lab colleague, head of Camera Culture group, and co-instructor of Imaging Ventures class, Professor Ramesh Raskar shares his Idea Hexagon -- a strategic exploration of how to invent, how to go from X to what's neXt!

R.I.P. CK Prahalad ~ Strategy, Ventures, & BOP

Very sad to hear that strategy guru and proponent of bottom of pyramid business mindedness CK Prahalad has passed away at 69. Famous for his strategy and innovation scholarship, I got to know him because of The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profits and his talk at the Harvard Kennedy School for the International Development Conference several years ago. He was co-founder of Praja Inc -- "Praja" meaning "everyday citizens" -- and active board member of TiE and professor at University of Michigan.

A Town Like Alice ~ Epic Romance; Book + TV...

I just read again Nevil Shute's A Town Like Alice! What a lovely WWII-and-beyond vintage romance story laced with business vigor! The key protagonist Jean Paget is an entrepreneur after my own heart. She seeks out her beau Joe Harmon in Australia and ends up starting a shoe factory, ice cream store, general store, swimming pool and other money-making catalysts boosting Willstown from hick town in the styx to a mini-boom zone! The book is just wonderful and the TV mini-series captures the magic too. See here just a wee scene (among several online)...

16 April 2010

NuVu ~ Innovation Center for Young Minds

Just saw MIT's Saeed Arida update us on his new education studio -- NuVu -- which is being prototyped this semester...
"NuVu is a place of innovation where middle and high school students join together with experts from MIT and Harvard to create new views of the world. Every semester we focus on a different topic, such as “the Future City”, “Games and Magic”, or “Science Fictions”, and encourage students to explore, design, invent, and get messy in a studio environment designed for and by the kids."

Camera Aquaculture ~ Octopus Likes Imaging;-)

Tom Phillips of the Metro UK writes Octopus steals diver's video camera -- while it's recording. See here New Zealander Victor Huang's saga in the sea...

PlayPower ~ Derek Lomas on $10 PC at PopTech!

Thanks to Raj Saxena for spotting Michael Trucano's piece The $10 computer for education? on the WorldBank's EduTech blog about on PlayPower and a PopCast of Derek Lomas talking about this low-cost PC project...

12 April 2010

Bogotá Change ~ Story of Mockus and Peñalosa

Check this documentary about Cities on Speed! Bogotá Change...
"...is the story of two charismatic mayors, Antanas Mockus and Enrique Peñalosa who, with unorthodox methods, in less than 10 years turned one of the world's most dangerous, violent and corrupt capitals into a peaceful model city populated by caring citizens. With Mockus and Peñalosa and key members of their staff as first hand witnesses, the film uncovers the ideas, philosophies and strategies that underlie the changes in Bogotá and which are now being exported to cities worldwide..."
What fantastic heroes! Urban crusaders who transform their city for the better. They're an existence-proof that this is possible. Epic!

Disciples of Reality ~ Ultimate Dinner Guests!

Rational Atheist Hemant Mehta spots the ultimate dinner party!
"Each of the people in this picture has accomplished more for humanity then any of the guys in that other painting. [...] considering science usually has to drag religion kicking and screaming into the 21st century what exactly did those guys in that other picture do? Oh yeah, they caused a lot of wars."
But who are these humanist heroes, these disciples of reality? Rational Crank supplies list...
  1. Galileo Galilei
  2. Marie Skłodowska Curie
  3. J. Robert Oppenheimer
  4. Sir Isaac Newton
  5. Louis Pasteur
  6. Stephen Hawking
  7. Albert Einstein
  8. Carl Sagan
  9. Thomas Edison
  10. Aristotle
  11. Neil deGrasse Tyson
  12. Richard Dawkins
  13. Charles Darwin
Intellectual and scientific giants, all! (I have a minor quibble against putting Tyson and Sagan in there, but as popularizers of science, they too rule!-) I personally would have added Leonardo da Vinci and Ben Franklin as citizen-scientist-artist-engineers...

Big Worry ~ Enriched Chances for Destruction

The BBC spots one of my biggest worries...

The Blind Painter ~ Turkish Artist Esref Armagan

Thanks to MIT alumna Maria Kellis for spotting this clip of congenitally blind Turkish artist Esref Armagan who smashes many assumptions of vision science! He...
"...has no eyes, and has never seen anything in the physical world. Yet he can paint pictures with very high precision for a blind man."

11 April 2010

From The Heart ~ Bill Warner on Startups 4/15

From 2:30pm to 4:30pm this Thurs 15 April 2010, MIT alumnus serial entrepreneur Bill Warner hosts his Build Your Startup From the Heart workshop in the Cambridge Innovation Center 11th Floor...
"In this 2-hour, highly interactive class and discussion, we'll cover how build your startup from the heart. After the class, stay for drinks and networking as part of the Venture Cafe's Alpha test within the Cambridge Innovation Center"
Sign up now! He says, "maximum class size of 35 attendees allowed" which is rather constrained, I must say, but doubtless worth it!

Human Rights ~ For Liberty, Prosperity, Vitality...

Thanks to Anne Liu and Kayvan Zainabadi for spotting this History of Human Rights short spotlighting the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an epic document dating back to post-WWII founding of the United Nations. In the final analysis, however, such rights have little meaning or endurance or application unless they are fought for and practiced and protected by us all, starting with me and you...

Rape of Europa ~ Dealing with Artrocities of WWII

Thanks to NHPTV for showing the Rape of Europa, a powerful documentary film about artrocities of war. Special focus is on the Monuments Men of World War II, including heroic art historians and museum curators who fought to preserve what could be saved and to rescue millions of lost treasures thieved by the Nazis throughout Europe. War is hell, but in the end beauty and humanity can triumph over horror. Watch the trailer...

Sega Silicon Valley ~ Elmendorp Spots ICT Impact

Thanks to Videojournalist Ruud Elmendorp for his latest story -- on Sega Silicon Valley -- the efforts by Kenyan expat entrepreneur James Ofwona and colleagues to bring ICT connectivity to his home village and region...

Young Superheroes ~ Kristof on Zimbabwean Kids

NYTimes Op-Ed columnist Nicholas Kristof offers poignant first-hand reporting from Zimbabwe in his piece, Young Superheroes in a Hut, those in the photo...
"Abel, a 10th grader, with the four younger children he cares for in rural Zimbabwe. The children, from two different families, live on their own, having moved in together after both sets of parents died. The boy on the left is Diego Maradona. Their main hut is on the left, and the one on the right is their kitchen."
PS Big brother Abel's biggest immediate wish is for a bicycle to get around faster than by walking -- smart kid! Kristof writes that people are lining up to donate and reminds us that there are millions of Abels. He notes World Bicycle Relief as one channel for such aid.

Natural-Born Scientists ~ Kids @ Cambridge Fest!

Geoff Edgers writes today in the Globe about the Cambridge Science Festival that it...
"...isn’t just for kids, but the event, now three years old, features plenty of hands-on exhibitions designed to capture a child’s attention. “Kids are all natural-born scientists,’’ says MIT Museum director John Durant, who oversees the festival. “They’re curious, and curiosity is the fundamental driver of science.’’ This year’s festival, which runs April 24 through May 2, kicks off with a daylong Carnival in tents outside the Cambridge Public Library. There will be 89 booths with science demonstrations, including many activities of particular interest to children."
Every child is born naturally curious -- let's help them stay that way into adulthood!