Category Autonomous Vehicles

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.


This Improbable Membrane Could Block Germs While Allowing Surgeons to Operate Through It

In what might seem like science fiction, a team of researchers has engineered a reverse filter: it traps small particles and lets large ones through. The filter, held together by surface tension, is a transparent liquid membrane. Instead of sorting particles by size, it sorts them by kinetic energy—larger objects with more force break through, but lighter, slower objects do not. Once broken, the puncture self-heals instantaneously. [SCIENCE]


Should Companies Abandon Quarterly Earnings Reports?

In a tweet on Aug. 17, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to study whether it makes sense for publicly held companies to publish half-yearly earnings reports instead of the current quarterly mode. Many have argued that such a switch would help companies take a longer term view of the future to the benefit of both employees and investors. But watchdog groups and regulatory bodies worry that reduced oversight will lead to bad outcomes. This relatively short podcast (and comprehensive accompanying article) does a good job fleshing out the arguments on both sides of the issue. [WHARTON]


Gut Bug Enzyme Turns Any Blood into Type-O

By utilizing a promising new discovery, enzymes from gut bacteria, researchers believe they have found a reliable way to transform the different blood types into the universally accepted type-O. The future of blood donations could change for the better, if the next stage of clinical trials yields positive results. [BBC]


Autonomous Vehicles in 2025: Network Cost Outstrips AI Computing Cost

When they consider the cost of ADAS/AV (autonomous vehicles), many observers assume that the computing power required for AI processing is going to be the costliest element.“Not so,” according to Alexander E. Tan, vice president and general manager of Automotive Ethernet Solutions at NXP. He predicts that in 2025 in-vehicle networking will cost more than computing. [EETIMES]


Here Are Your 2018 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

Ever wondered if saliva is actually a good cleaning agent, or how good chimpanzees are at imitating humans? Or whether stabbing a voodoo doll representing your horrible boss could help reduce workplace tension? The winners of this year’s Ig Nobel Prizes have got you covered. Established in 1991, the Ig Nobels are a good-natured parody of the Nobel Prizes, honoring “achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.” [ARS TECHNICA]

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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.


Coolest Science Ever Headed to the Space Station

On May 21, NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory arrived at the International Space Station to explore a state of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), in which atoms shed their individual identities and crowd en masse into a single quantum wave. Long-predicted, but first observed in 1995, achieving the state requires chilling atoms to a fraction of a degree above absolute zero, even colder than the average temperature of deep space. Moving experiments to space solves a key challenge: being able to observe the BEC for more than 10-20 milliseconds after release from the magnets and lasers used to trap and chill the atoms. [SCIENCE]


Building a Better MVP: How to Say No to the Wrong Things So You Can Say Yes to the Right Things

The most persistent mistake companies make during product development is also one of the easiest to solve. In fact, post-mortem evaluations of over 100 startups revealed that the primary cause of startup failure—in 42% of cases—was “no market need.” How can this happen? Founders overwhelmingly said “they were more focused on solving an interesting version of the problem, rather than solving the real problem as it existed.” Don’t ignore the importance of deeply understanding the job-to-be-done: whether you are a start-up or a major corporation, get out and talk to the market. Again and again. [ALLEYWATCH]


Chemists Synthesize Millions of Proteins Not Found in Nature

In a DARPA-funded project, MIT chemists have devised a way to rapidly synthesize and screen millions of novel proteins from amino acids not used in nature; the proteins could be used as drugs against Ebola and other viruses. These “xenoproteins” offer many advantages over naturally occurring proteins: they are more stable, don’t require refrigeration, and may not provoke an immune response. Amino acids can exist in two different configurations, known as L and D, but cells can use only the L variant. As building blocks for their xenoproteins, the researchers used 16 “mirror-image” (D) amino acids. The program has already synthesized D-variant proteins that will bind to the influenza virus, the anthrax toxin, and an Ebola glycoprotein. [MIT]


Building Autonomous Vehicles is Hard

This New York Times piece describes how Apple—handicapped by hubris and a demand to control everything—has struggled to find a partner to help execute its autonomous driving ambitions. Tesla, on the other hand, is struggling with a different problem: too much vision and not enough execution. In this piece (and podcast) which originally appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Steve Blank compares Elon Musk to Billy Durant (the founder of GM who was fired twice before Alfred Sloan took over) and “wonders if $2.6 billion in executive compensation [for Musk] would be better spent finding someone to lead Tesla to becoming a reliable producer of cars in high volume – without the drama in each new model. Perhaps Tesla now needs its Alfred P. Sloan.”


Water Woes Lead EPA to Toughen Fluorochemical Rules

The EPA held an invitation-only forum in Washington last week to announce the development of tougher national regulations on the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs), and the related perfluorooctanoic acid, in an effort to keep these chemicals out of the drinking water supply. Administrator Pruitt said, “This should be and must be a national priority, and . . . we are going to be taking concrete steps as an agency to address that, along with you at the state and local level.” PFAs and PFOAs are known to persist in the environment and can pose health risks even at relatively low concentrations. Controversy plagues the EPA on this issue; it has been accused of suppressing a report suggesting the existing limits are too high and it did not open the May summit to affected community groups and activist organizations. New regulations will likely face opposition because of the importance of these chemicals across many industries. [PLASTICS NEWS]

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Throughout our work week, in the course of our research for clients across many industries and fields, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we deliver five interesting things we came across during the preceding weeks. And no filler.


Chinese Police Add Facial-Recognition Glasses to Surveillance Arsenal

China is already the global leader in deploying cutting-edge surveillance technologies based on artificial intelligence. Now, mobile facial-recognition units mounted on eyeglasses are expanding the reach of that surveillance, allowing authorities to peer into places that fixed cameras aren’t scanning, and to respond more quickly. Unlike many fixed-camera facial-recognition systems that remotely connect cameras to vast facial databases stored in the cloud, the police glasses are wired directly to a hand-held device that contains an offline database—allowing them to work more quickly. [WALL STREET JOURNAL]


How GE Got Disrupted

GE’s problems are no secret, but their source is interesting: they spent the last few decades cutting costs, streamlining operations and increasing efficiency, yet it’s hard to think of any major invention that’s come out of the company since the CT scanner back in the 1970s. Six Sigma will only take you so far if you stop exploring: until GE can learn to make new discoveries that lead to new markets, its future will be in question. [DIGITAL TONTO]

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