Monthly Archives July 2018

In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.


The Surprising Power of Questions

Questioning is a uniquely powerful tool for unlocking value in organizations: It spurs learning and the exchange of ideas, it fuels innovation and performance improvement, it builds rapport and trust among team members. This article draws on insights from behavioral science research to explore how the way we frame questions and choose to answer our counterparts can influence the outcome of conversations. [HBR]


Heat-Conducting Crystals Could Help Computer Chips Keep Their Cool

As consumers demand smaller, faster and more powerful electronic devices that draw more current and generate more heat, the issue of heat management is reaching a bottleneck. Researchers at UT Dallas and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created a potential solution: crystals of a semiconducting material called boron arsenide that have a thermal conductivity of 1000 watts per meter-kelvin, second only to diamonds. Boron arsenide’s semiconducting properties are very comparable to silicon. [SCIENCE DAILY]


A Group of People with an Amphibious Life Have Evolved Traits to Match

A group of people in the Malay Archipelago, the Bajau, spend the majority of their lives at sea, and historical evidence suggest they have been living this way for at least 1,000 years. Unsurprisingly, their diving abilities are prodigious: they sometimes descend more than 70 meters and can stay submerged for up to five minutes. By studying DNA samples from the Bajau and comparing it to the DNA of closely-related, land-living neighbors, scientists have uncovered natural selection at work on modern humans. [THE ECONOMIST]


Sweden Builds First Ever Electrified Road for Charging Vehicles as They Drive

Around 1.2 miles of electric rail has been built into a public road just outside Stockholm, and plans are in place to expand the project throughout other parts of the country and the world. The electrified road works by transferring energy from the rail through a moveable arm on the bottom of an electric car or truck. Those behind the initiative estimate that only the major routes – around 3 per cent of the total road network – would need to be modified to considerably cut carbon emissions. [INDEPENDENT]


7 Striking Maps that Visualize the Human Footprint

Humans have changed the face of the planet. Our impact has been so profound, in fact, that many have declared the dawn of the Anthropocene epoch, or the age of human influence, a term that is not without controversy as can be seen here or—hilariously—here. This ambitious graphic from Reldresal looks at the human footprint from a number of different angles, some expected and others creative. [VISUAL CAPITALIST | BBC | REDDIT | WINNER]

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In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.


What Leaders Need to Do to Boost Innovation

A short, to-the-point post by Alex Osterwalder sharing four elements he believes are crucial for leaders who want to make innovation a reality at their companies. Alex is a clear thinker with deep experience and doesn’t mince words: “Leaders who don’t invest at least 20% of their time into innovation, don’t care about innovation.” [LINKEDIN]


Exploring the Claims of an Electronic Bandage

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are a growing and deadly problem. A company called Vomaris Innovations has developed an electric bandage they claim could beat these pathogens. Although the bandage is about a decade old, recent research has shown the technology can destroy hardy, antibiotic-resistant biofilms in pigs. Soon, the makers hope to prove the bandage’s efficacy in human clinical trials, and they also have their eyes on other commercial applications, including sportswear that fights odor-causing bacteria. [C&EN | INTERESTING ENGINEERING]


Multifunctional Surface Flips from Sticky to Slippery On Demand

Surfaces are usually designed to have a certain topography, and you’ll usually have to choose if they’re sticky or slippery depending on what you need. But now, Harvard scientists have led an international team to develop a new surface that can reconfigure its shape, stickiness or slipperiness on demand, through the application of a magnetic field. [NEW ATLAS]


The Megatrend Everyone Ought to Be Talking About

McKinsey says the combination of automation and IA will displace 38.6 million US workers by 2030, and Bain pegs the number only slightly lower at 32.5 million. The numbers in many other parts of the world are even more dire. Certainly some of these workers will migrate to other employment, but this shift is going to have a greater employment impact on the world than the Industrial Revolution. We’re used to thinking of automation as something that will make our businesses more efficient, and that’s certainly true. But we also need to be thinking about what this massive shift will mean for our customers and the world. This piece from The Conversation does a good job laying out some of the questions we should be asking and reviews what history might be able to teach us. And this recent piece in The New Yorker describes how the job-loss wave is reviving a very old idea: universal basic income. [MCKINSEY | BAIN | THE CONVERSATION | THE NEW YORKER]


Why the Marine Corps Ditched the Best Offense in History

The Marine rifle squad may be the most brilliant tactical formation devised by any team in the last half-century. But evolving technologies and evolving threats can suggest a need to change even the most successful strategy, whether in the military or in industry. The question is: do you have a leader confident enough to make the call? [WALL STREET JOURNAL]

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