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WILDLY INSPIRED CONTENT FOR INNOVATORS, DREAMERS & IDEALISTS!


WILDLY INSPIRED CONTENT FOR INNOVATORS, DREAMERS & IDEALISTS!

DIGITAL UNICORN© VOL. 1, ISSUE 1 | Q2 2020 PUBLISHER & CEO

Stephen Skura, MBA Publisher@DigitalUnicornMag.com EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Christine G. Adamo Editor@DigitalUnicornMag.com CONTRIBUTORS

Dylan A. Buckley Manny Frishberg Karla Lant John Sailors DESIGN

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Blair Stelle ILLUSTRATOR, COVER Luke Swinney ILUSTRATOR, PORTRAITS Baraschi-Ehrlich /////////////////////////////////

OPT IN: Subscribe@DigitalUnicornMag.com ADVERTISE: Sales@DigitalUnicornMag.com INQUIRE: Info@DigitalUnicornMag.com

Subscribe to our quarterly print publication Access bonus content at DigitalUnicornMag.com ///////////////////////////////////////////// Share your #NeonDreams with us @DigitalUnicornMag 2 | DIGITAL UNICORN Q2 2020


CONTENTS

4

EDITOR’S LETTER

Inside Digital Unicorn

6

CHASING UNICORNS

Data, stats, trends & more—verified!

8

BEACHES ARE TRANSIENT

Guest Essay By David L. Smith, PhD

12

WILDLIFE, ORPHANED

Species on the Brink By Karla Lant

16

THE EARTH’S CORAL REEFS Mobilizing by Air, Land & Sea By John Sailors

20

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ARE ELECTRIC VEHICLES ANSWER? The Hidden Impact of Electric Vehicle Batteries By Dylan A. Buckley

24

POWER FROM THE PEOPLE Human Effort Makes a High-Tech Comeback By Manny Frishberg

30

SMART INVESTMENT MOVES 5 Ways to Make Your Home More Sustainable By Steve Skura, MBA

32

BE WILDLY INSPIRED Innovators, Dreamers & Idealists Meet Ryan Herd

34

PUBLISHER’S LETTER The Legendary Final Word

16

20 DigitalUnicornMag.com | 3


EDITOR’S LETTER

Inside Digital Unicorn and by picking up a print copy of our magazine, you’ve proven that you believe in solution-oriented content and our collective ability to right what’s wrong. That’s pretty amazing. So is the fact that you believe, as we do, in:

POSITIVITY There’s always a solution.

FOR TOO LONG, as this month’s theme suggests, I’ve wondered: “What in the world is going on?” I think it pretty often. I say it out loud (albeit under my breath) even more frequently. You want answers, too? I knew it! Well, then, welcome to our world. Innovators, Dreamers and Idealists? Unite! Like me, you’ve dreamt of a better way but needed something to point you in the right direction. Digital Unicorn is that North Star. Get ready to freefall into the unknown, explore foreign lands, spy on wild beasts and fly above dark clouds for a clear view of the global landscape. By hitching your virtual wagon to DigitalUnicornMag.com

4 | DIGITAL UNICORN Q2 2020

IDEALISM Sustainability serves everyone.

FANTASY Big, wild dreams are worth chasing.

INDUSTRY Creators and innovators, lead the way!

As you read on, prepare to innovate, dream and inspire others along with us. This edition is filled with stats and content aimed at

setting the stage for a shift in perspective. From its beaches to its streets, the world is changing. We’ve unearthed all of it—from at-risk wildlife and coral reefs to the latest in EVB and human-powered technologies. Going forward, we’ll continue to answer today’s toughest questions by sharing rock solid data gleaned from the startup, tech and other sectors with you. We’ll also offer advice for chasing your wildest dreams while helping us heal the world. Are you ready? Your imagination’s about to light up like a neon sign fueled by insight and innovation. Here’s to running wild—together!

Christine

CHRISTINE G. ADAMO Editor-in-Chief, Digital Unicorn Editor@DigitalUnicornMag.com P.S. – Ask me how you can become a guest contributor or feature writer. Or simply tell me what matters to you when it comes to business, tech, the natural world, etc. And be sure to follow us online and become a subscriber.


CONTRIBUTORS

DYLAN A. BUCKLEY joined the Digital Unicorn team in 2019. A freelance writer and editor based in California’s San Bernardino County, Dylan has a passion for producing content in the self-development, blockchain and associated sectors. When he’s not busy writing, you’re certain to find him working on other creative projects. Write on, Dylan! Greater L.A.

KARLA LANT is a science and technology writer based in Arizona. This educator, researcher and fiend for knowledge holds a J.D. and numerous honors from Columbia Law School. She was also Administrative Editor for “Columbia Journal of Gender and Law.” Though we wonder where she finds it, in her spare time Karla enjoys gardening, vegan cooking and advancing the sustainable revolution. Southwest

JOHN SAILORS has worked as a writer and an editor in the U.S. and Asia. His love for technology and words has led him to find numerous ways to combine both. As a tech reporter, he’s written extensively on how technology can change industries and lives. John’s currently based in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley area, a true technology hub. Vive la tech et les mots! Silicon Valley

MANNY FRISHBERG was born just south of NYC and studied writing and journalism in Portland, Oregon. His byline has appeared in regional and national publications for 40 years. A founding member of the Northwest Science Writers Assoc., he’s received four SPJ awards. For non-writers, that’s the Society of Prof’l. Journalists. He practices photography and writes science fiction in his spare time … going where “no Manny” has gone before! Pacific Northwest

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CHASING UNICORNS Data, stats, trends & more—verified! Record population growth makes caring for water sources critical. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says 71 percent of the Earth is covered in water and 97 percent lives in our oceans. Overfishing and pollution (i.e., plastics, nonbiodegradable microfibers) threaten the vast, delicate ecosystem which, in 2017, supplied $5.4 Billion in seafood and feeds both humans and industries worldwide.

THE MARINE ECOSYSTEM FEEDS HUMANS & INDUSTRIES

6 | DIGITAL UNICORN Q2 2020

Earth’s oceans store more CO2 than its atmosphere

The WORLD’S OCEANS produce

50

%

of the air we breathe MEDICINES TO TREAT human diseases come from within our

oceans


SOURCE: NOAA

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BEACHES ARE TRANSIENT

BY DAVID L. SMITH, PHD

IF I WALK A SHORT DISTANCE FROM my home in Allentown, Pennsylvania, I can be standing on rocks made of small particles of quartz plus a few other minerals. These rocks are about 600 Million years old and rest directly on top of rocks which are over 1,100 Million years old. That’s a lot of missing history. After the older rocks spent half a billion years under the Precambrian sun, slowly wearing away as part of the ancestral North American continent, the appearance of

8 | DIGITAL UNICORN Q2 2020

the younger rocks represents a significant change. Their specific textures and layer sequences tell us that they are beach sands. Here, over an hour’s drive from the present shoreline, there is also a fossil beach. Whatever their age, beach sands mark lands’ end at that time. Roughly 600 Million years ago, the edge of the Iapetus Ocean could be found here in eastern Pennsylvania. Fifty million years later, 550 Million-year-old beach sands (also deposited on top of more than 1 Billion-year-old North

American rocks) show up in Ohio. That fossil shoreline is a solid day’s drive from the current ocean. On the other side of North America, in the Grand Canyon, there’s a similar beach sand of similar age on top of similarly old bits of ancient North America. This was the shore of another bygone ocean—the Panthalassic Ocean. Outside Colorado Springs you’ll find Panthalassic beach sand (slightly younger than the stuff in the Grand Canyon) also sitting on the ancient roots of North America. These fossil beaches track a shoreline moving inward across much of the continent. We see evidence of this on other continents, too. If I trade my walking shoes for deck shoes, hire a sonar-equipped boat and go out over the continental shelf offshore of eastern North America, that sonar would reveal canyons and gorges carved into the shelf. The resulting images would make it appear as if there are large rivers flowing under the sea but


these formations are not the result of undersea rivers. The canyons were formed by rivers flowing on dry land. As they haven’t been filled with sediment yet, they can’t be very old. Still, not very old to a geologist is as much as a few million years or so. This means that less than 1 Million to as little as 100,000 years ago the shoreline rested east of those canyons in a location that’s now far offshore. This happened when water was removed from the oceans and stored as massive ice sheets during

given time, any given beach is in the process of migrating inland or offshore. If this migration had been an obvious feature during our lifetimes, we would likely have a different relationship to our shorelines. Human life, however, is far too short to recognize migration at normal geological rates. We develop the incorrect but common sense notion that landscapes are fixed features. Europeans developed notions of property and economic systems

The effects of CO2 involve a stunningly simple relationship that has been known since the late 1800s: The more there is in the atmosphere, the warmer our planet.

the Ice Age. The shoreline trundled past us here in Allentown, 500 Million years ago, on its way into the interior. And a few million years ago the shoreline was well to the east of its current location. It’s moved inland and then offshore several times with each rise preserved in layers of beach sand in the geologic record. (Sea level fall leaves beaches exposed on land where they are eroded and not generally preserved in geologic layers.) What this record shows us is that beaches are always transient features of the landscape. At any

tied to this perception of stable landscapes. The geologically slow motion of coastlines and barrier islands would be significant over a few thousand years of civilization, though, as land masses emerge through glaciation or the world’s oceans slowly swell with the melt from enormous ice sheets. In the last 150 years, however, human impact has dramatically accelerated that process. By burning fossil fuels, we add gigatons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere each year. The effects of CO2 involve a stunningly simple relationship that

MEET THE EXPERT DAVID L. SMITH, PhD, is a geologist, an artist, a retired professor of geology and a former museum scientist with more than 30 years of expertise. He is an international STEM/ STEAM education consultant, having worked on STEM programs and curricula for schools in the U.S., Egypt and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

David currently lives in eastern Pennsylvania.

You can connect with DrDavidLeeSmith on LinkedIn or, more sporadically, on Twitter @DavidLeeSmith17.

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... we should be working on reimagining and restructuring our interactions with our shorelines so that human interests and natural processes are in greater alignment and less conflict with them.

has been known since the late 1800s: The more there is in the atmosphere, the warmer our planet. We have taken a planet that was already slowly warming, when humans first spread across Asia and into the Americas, and have pushed down the gas pedal. In this way, we’ve accelerated warming dramatically both literally and figuratively. Oceans rise because of the added melt. Water already in the oceans expands as it warms. Sea level feels a double whammy, its rise accelerating as well. Already we see acceleration in sea-level data from ports around the world, meaning rising oceans will move inland—as they always have—taking beaches and barrier islands with them at an ever-accelerating pace. As shoreline movement 10 | DIGITAL UNICORN Q2 2020

accelerates, our attachment to landscape as a permanent and economic feature will become even more problematic: Two blocks from the beach becomes beachfront. Then three blocks, four. It won’t be enough to freeze rebuilding efforts in the most vulnerable areas. It’s time for humans to acknowledge that it will become impossible to divide landscapes subject to increasingly rapid change into “lots” defined by fixed locations. Repeated inundation and resettlement is inevitable under that scheme. The question we should be considering is not whether to fortify or to flee. Rather, we should be working on reimagining and restructuring our interactions with our shorelines so that human interests and natural processes are in greater alignment and less conflict with them. There

are multiple landscapes where similar acceleration in change is occurring in the face of accelerated climate disruption. Most recently fire-prone landscapes, including places which have never burned before in human history, have grabbed headlines. Again the persistent question seems to be: “Will you rebuild?” But, just as sea-level rise and changing shorelines are inevitable in a warming world, changes such as more intense burning in our forests or more intense flooding of our rivers are inevitable. So, we need to move toward deeper inquiry: “How can humans live in the world without needing to constantly fortify our homes and businesses?” At its core, the question must be: “How do we get our feet off of the gas pedal—literally and figuratively?”


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WILDLIFE, ORPHANED Species on the Brink

As wildlife populations face endangerment and even extinction, new conservation models have begun to offer hope. By innovatively taking on poaching, bushmeat and exotic pet trade crises, teams of scientists and volunteers have ensured biodiversity while enhancing the survival rates of several species across the globe. Digital Unicorn began this discussion online with a spotlight on the rescue efforts of The Rhino Orphanage in northernmost South Africa. Here, the emphasis is on facilities in Vietnam, Canada and the U.S. which are working to save marine mammals, land animals and avian breeds.

12 | DIGITAL UNICORN Q2 2020

Pangolins, Red Listed Dramatic increases in both consumer taste for and the illegal trade of wildlife “trophy” items—particularly pangolin scale, rhino horn and ivory—have posed a major threat to endangered species worldwide. Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, a nonprofit, has taken on the battle in that nation with a focus on saving pangolins (aka scaly anteaters). Sunda and Chinese pangolins, for example, have long called Vietnam home. With an expected population decline of more than 80 percent across the next three generations, these species have been placed on Int’l. Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of criticallyendangered species. “This is a clear recognition of the immediate threat of extinction faced by pangolins,” commented Yen Truong, assistant to the director of SVW. “Illegal hunting for the wildlife trade is having a devastating

BY KARLA LANT

impact on their wild populations. Live pangolins, which are often traded and maintained alive until consumption, are routinely confiscated from the trade.” The pangolin specialist group serving on the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission found that pangolins have become the most trafficked mammal in the world due to demand for both their meat and scales. And the Convention on the Int’l. Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora has listed all eight known species of pangolins (four native to Asia and four to Africa) as endangered. Truong said demand for pangolinbased products has increased in recent years, exemplified by a spike in Vietnamese trends toward their use in traditional medicine, exotic food preparation and the luxury wine and beauty categories—largely as a way to reinforce social status or to cultivate and cement business


relationships. The SVW team has taken on this challenge in several ways, such as through: ■ Pangolin and biodiversity education ■ Anti-trafficking and -poaching training ■ Protecting species in Vietnam’s national parks ■ Helping rescue confiscated pangolins and wildlife ■ Ensuring species’ successful return to natural habitats ■ Increasing protection for wild populations post-release Truong added that Vietnam’s reputation as a biologically-diverse nation rests at the heart of SVW’s mission: “These rich resources have been indispensable to Vietnamese stability and development. However, many of (them) are now being depleted.”

Where Marine Mammals & Humans Meet Thanks to deep inlets and intricate shorelines surrounding numerous islands, the British Columbia coastline

stretches on for 3,139 miles. At roughly 151,019 miles total, the World Atlas identified the collective Canadian coastline as the longest in the world. This has put humans and marine mammals in close contact in the wild, more so as natural habitats shrink and waters swell with human debris. Sea lions are among the endangered, reported the World Wildlife Fund. In British Columbia, sea lion pups are often found orphaned— an outcome few laypeople expect. Veterinary Care Specialist Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, explained that the region’s extensive stretches of coastline cause humans and sea lions to cross paths fairly often. When female adult sea lions go out to forage, she stated, they sometimes leave their babies behind. If they do and then become injured, their pups are stranded. In addition, her team has estimated that more than 400 sea lions become entangled in human gear (i.e., fishing lines) every year. These situations can be fatal for animals and even dangerous for

humans. The aquarium’s MMRC has confronted concerns presented by these dynamics by providing a hospital for sick, injured and orphaned marine wildlife. That includes mammals, such as sea lions and whales, as well as sea turtles which face threats unique to the area’s ecosystem. MMRC efforts have included: ■ Researching specific species ■ Gaining insight into care and tracking ■ Providing clean-up and veterinary services ■ Quarantine, assessment, feeding and observation ■ Rescuing orphaned marine life from injury or death ■ Conducting outreach to educate others in safe interaction Akhurst said the MMRC team has continued to depend on the labor of dedicated volunteers and a network of professionals. While volunteers have allowed its core team to treat a greater number of marine mammal patients, working with other experts


has enabled the MMRC to expand its research efforts and workload.

Protecting Hawaii’s Skies

Pangolin populations are expected to

dwindle more than

over three generations

In the U.S., 7 of the 10 most endangered birds hail from Hawaii.

Amphibian, bird, fish, mammal and reptile populations have fallen

60

%

in the past 40 years

SOURCES: IUCN, HWC, WWF

The Nature Conservancy reports that the Hawaiian islands are home to 10,000-plus native bird species, more than 90 percent of which do not live anywhere else on Earth. Yet, while Hawaii is a hotspot for avian biodiversity, its native birds have been under stress—largely caused by habitat destruction and nonnative species. In 2015, the American Bird Conservancy cited the Hawaiian Islands as having “suffered more bird extinctions in recent centuries than any area of comparable size on Earth.” A related report put the native forests of Hawaii in the unfortunate No. 1 spot for most threatened bird habitat in the U.S. due to deforestation, invasive species and disease. IslandConservation.org reports that homo sapiens have begun to compound the problem, noting that 71 bird species went extinct and 24 more have become extinct since humans began arriving on the Hawaiian Islands. While 21 species of forest birds remain, two-thirds are either endangered or threatened. Seven of the 10 most endangered birds within the U.S., said the Hawaii Wildlife Center, are from Hawaii. The HWC team is working to protect Hawaii’s native species, especially those which take to the air. Its development coordinator, Rae

Okawa, explained further. “HWC specializes in the rehabilitation of all species of native birds,” said Okawa, “and the Hawaiian hoary bat. HWC is the only facility in the state purpose-built for native wildlife emergency response, i.e., response to large-scale disasters like oil spills or contaminant spills.” “Hawaii’s biodiversity is a part of the world’s biodiversity,” she added. “A loss of a species in Hawaii is a loss for the world.” The HWC team has assisted researchers with projects involving birds and bats native to the area and provides hands-on veterinary care for its patients, enabling most to return to the wild. Loss of biodiversity has become a worldwide concern. Orphaned wildlife, including those whose adult counterparts are targeted by poachers, are a grim sign that Earth’s ecosystems are under threat. The 2018 WWF Living Planet Report cited an “astonishing 60 percent decline” in overall population size among amphibians, birds, fish, mammals and reptiles in roughly the past 40 years. Rhinos and pangolins on land. Sea lions in the water. A rainbow of native Hawaiin birds in the air. Across the globe, all are being injured and orphaned. Those taking on this urgent challenge face it in their own ways, yet they share a common understanding: Endangered species hold intangible, quality of life and economic value which is irreplaceable.■


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THE EARTH’S CORAL REEFS Mobilizing by Air, Land & Sea

OFTEN CALLED RAINFORESTS OF THE SEA,

reefs are among the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet. It has been estimated that, globally, more than 500 Million people rely on reefs which have a collective economic value of $375 Billion per year. Yet, due to warming and other trends, most of the oceans’ reefs could succumb to environmental pressures in as little as 30 years. Their loss would be catastrophic, which presents a huge environmental challenge, but the call to reduce carbon emissions and slow ocean warming worldwide has finally been heard. Climate specialists, marine biologists and others have begun racing to find solutions. Creative technologies are coming to the rescue, too. As innovators aim to solve complex coral reef problems, everything from drones to submarines are playing a role in saving the planet’s coral reefs.

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BY JOHN SAILORS

Mapping Technology Mapping out the damage has not been easy. While the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association notes that the majority of reef-building corals are found in tropical or subtropical waters—and that most reef-building species are restricted to the euphotic zone, an ocean region still penetrable by light at roughly 70 m (230 ft.)— much of the Earth’s reef systems extend to where no one goes. Many have turned to technology, therefore, to get a clearer picture of what has or is about to happen. Satellites, imaging technology and novel data analytics are changing the way researchers study the planet, with drones sometimes diving in for a closer look. One company that has set its sights on assessing coral reef damage is DroneDeploy based in San Francisco. The firm’s mapping technology and software systems have become essential tools for disaster


responders. During the 2018 Camp Fire (named for its Camp Creek Road origins)—which destroyed nearly 14,000 homes in Northern California and was reported as “the deadliest and most destructive” wildfire in the state’s history by NPR and others— DroneDeploy software generated status, evacuation and other maps used by fire, police and other rescue teams battling the disaster. Since then, DroneDeploy has begun partnering on a project to help monitor the health of the world’s largest reef system and a true natural wonder, the Great Barrier Reef. Situated in the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland, Australia, that particular ecosystem is comprised of 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretched over 2,300 km. However, various technologies are required to address various and related ecological threats.

Local & Global Threats Reefs have been hit by threats both local and global, indicating a need for something more substantial than a generic solution. By far, the most immediate problem may be global warming. Still, other factors have contributed to the worldwide decline in reef health. Some of the biggest among them include human waste/ pollution, fishing and tourism. A 2017 UNESCO study found that 50 percent of the Earth’s coral reefs have died out over the past 30 years due to rising seawater temperatures directly related to global warming.

Far more pressing, perhaps, as much as 90 percent of those which remain could die off in the next 30 years if nothing is done to reverse that trend. The UNESCO and other studies looked into widespread “bleaching” of the planet’s coral reef systems, as well. Coral gets its color from algae which lives inside its tissues. That algae takes carbon dioxide from the coral and, in turn, nourishes it with oxygen. Stress from heat causes coral to expel the algae. This results in a bleaching effect which is harmful to the coral itself. Changes in ocean chemistry—another side effect of global warming—harm reefs even further, as atmospheric CO2 causes a rise in acidity levels. Moreover, since most reefs are located in shallower waters near a shoreline, they have become increasingly vulnerable to harm caused by human activity and pollution. The EPA and other agencies have reported that several types of

pollution are known to muddy coastal waters. Most frequently, they are identified as: ■ Sewage ■ Plastic waste ■ Agricultural fertilizer ■ Urban stormwater runoff ■ Pesticides, sunscreen, etc. Reefs also suffer significant physical damage caused by overfishing, destructive fishing methods and discarded fishing gear. According to the World Wildlife Fund, lost fishing nets themselves have been linked to the deaths of more than 300,000 marine mammals per year. Finally, while coral reefs help create and protect beach paradises, tourism has hastened their decline. Coral is harvested for use in jewelry or souvenirs. Swimmers carry harmful sunscreens and other human-grade “beauty” products into the water with them. And amateur divers or snorkelers cause unintended but irreversible damage.

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Coral Reefs in Numbers People benefit from and sometimes depend on coral reefs in numerous ways. So do other species. The value of coral reef systems, as a result, must be measured in terms which take into account the impact their existence and potential loss has on a number of advances and activities: ■ Shoreline health ■ Biodiversity ■ Sustenance ■ Economies ■ Medicine Though reefs’ impact on and importance to a variety of populations—and the planet they inhabit—is difficult to fully assess, what follows is an overview of the value they hold for humans, other species and industry. Shoreline health. In “Reefs at Risk Revisited,” the World Resources Institute summed up that reefs protect 93,000 mi. of shoreline in more than 100 countries. In that way alone, reefs defend against erosion caused by rising sea levels and everworsening damage caused by storm systems. Biodiversity. Coral reefs occupy less than 1 percent of the ocean floor but are home to 25 percent of all known marine species. NOAA has said reefs provide for more species per area than any other marine environment, supporting an array of plants (i.e., seaweeds, bacteria, fungi) and, in addition, more than 4,000 species of fish. 18 | DIGITAL UNICORN Q2 2020

Sustenance. Fish which live and grow around reefs are a source of food for more than 1 Billion people worldwide—and not just those who live near a coast. NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service put the commercial value of U.S. coral reef fisheries at over $100 Million annually. In many developing countries, though, reefs help stave off food scarcity itself. Economies. Economies around the world take in billions of dollars each year from beach-related tourism supported by reefs. Estimates have placed the annual economic value of reef-based recreation and related businesses at $9.6 Billion or higher to the benefit of, the World Resources Institute noted, some 96 nations and territories.

Medicine. Reefs’ biodiversity makes them a treasure trove of lifegiving applications. Per NOAA, “reef plants and animals are important sources of new medicines being developed to treat cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections,” viruses and other diseases. While biotech and pharmaceutical firms have bioprospected on land and in rainforests already, they view these counterparts in the sea as rich in possibility.

Repairing the Earth’s Coral Reefs One solution for repairing lost coral has been to encourage its replacement with new growth. In 2019, Coral Vita, Inc. (based in Grand Bahama), opened the world’s first land-based coral farm with the aim of breeding and transplanting it to locations where naturally-grown coral has been degraded or otherwise compromised. Founded by Yale alum Sam Teicher and Gator Halpern, the startup is developing strains both suited to their intended environments and more resilient to heat and higher acidity levels. By farming on land, as opposed to underwater, the company said it is able to fully control growing conditions. Tragically for Coral Vita, six months after its first coral crop began to grow, it came up against a major side effect of global warming: extreme weather, another problem healthy reef systems are known to mitigate. In September 2019, the Bahamas


PULL QUOTE SOURCE: WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE

Reefs protect 93,000 miles of shoreline in more than 100 countries. were devastated by Hurricane Dorian. Called the most intense storm on record ever to hit the islands, Dorian ravaged the region and resulted in at least 70 deaths, though scores remain unaccounted for. Coral Vita then turned its attention, for a time, to hurricane relief. Still, its efforts to breed climate-adapted strains of coral— an approach which has taken root elsewhere—were commendable. Ongoing and future advances in new growth, coral mapping and monitoring hold great promise. DroneDeploy, mentioned earlier, has helped the use of drones for mapping coral take flight in a relatively short period of time. Founded in 2013, its cloud-based software automates drone flight and creates data-rich maps using aerial images and modeling. These maps have provided detailed insights for use in construction, agriculture, mining and other industries. In Australia, the company has begun working alongside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to assist with the monitor and repair of its renowned coral system. (Drone-assisted monitoring of large swaths like this one is said to come at a much lower cost than aerial mapping.) For perspective, in the past three decades, 50 percent of

the area’s coral has been devastated or lost by bleaching and—in a sort of Aussie Godzilla story—by deadly starfish outbreaks caused by water pollution. Underwater, submarine robots have also been put the test. By 2015, the sleek yellow COTSBot could be found floating through the shallow waters of the Great Barrier region, battling swarms of those deadly starfish to get a closer look at the damage. Since the 1960s, fertilizers and other pollutants have hastened nearby outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish, aka Acanthaster planci, which significantly compromise reef health. Researchers at Queensland University of Technology first brought the COTSBot and then the RangerBot prototype to the rescue. The latter was an autonomous, cameraequipped, killer robot skilled in machine learning that was trained to recognize the starfish and inject them with lethal poison. The RangerBot has since been transformed into the LarvalBot—a tool designed to create rather than eradicate. The new device is loaded with coral larvae which are farmed and collected on an annual basis. It then transplants the larvae to spots where new coral growth is needed. The sub operates nearly autonomously with humans guiding

and monitoring its progress before triggering larvae release. Outside of seemingly sci-fi advances, what can be done? As for localized threats to coral reef and reef life, such as human-generated pollution, several companies large and small have begun bringing to market lines of “reef-friendly” shampoo, sunscreen and other personal-care products touted by travel magazines and guides which include the “Lonely Planet” series. As for fishing nets, one solution has been to give them new value through recycling or upcycling. The Swedish clothing company H&M has created what it calls sustainable collections of clothing made from fishing nets. Adidas, meanwhile, has begun using fishing nets and plastic waste in the manufacture of its footwear. In 2017 alone, it sold 1 Million shoes made of plastics recovered from the ocean. Underlying all of these efforts is a need to educate people around the globe about the value of coral reefs and the dangers they face. Only with widespread public support can the human population agree on how to best combat global warming and then develop and invest in viable solutions for protecting the Earth’s oceans—and the coral reef systems which help sustain them. ■ DigitalUnicornMag.com | 19


T

TH E

ARE ELECTRIC VEHICLES ANSWER? The Hidden Impact of Electric Vehicle Batteries BY DYLAN A. BUCKLEY

20 | DIGITAL UNICORN Q2 2020

ake a moment to imagine a city that has been completely enveloped by its own pollution. Imagine smog levels so thick that universities are forced to close their doors, pilots are unable to land at airports and citizens are advised to remain indoors for the sake of their own wellbeing. People who find themselves in contact with that toxic air then complain of burning eyes and airways. Of weakness and fatigue. Of chest congestion. Though that may seem like the premise for a dystopian novel, in truth, the scenario above is all too real. This is just a taste of what the people of planet Earth have been experiencing. According to Doyle Rice for “USA Today,” such conditions have become a daily reality for those living in New Delhi, India. As this piece was prepped for print, its air quality was characterized as so laden with toxins that people there find it hard to breathe, let alone see. Conditions like those are entirely inhospitable. That was an extreme example, right? Sadly, no. Plenty of stories like it hit closer to home. In writing for “Curbed: Los Angeles,” Elija Chiland noted that L.A. has attracted the attention of the American Lung Association—having topped its list as the smoggiest city in the U.S. for nearly 20 years straight. While L.A. has yet to fit the description of New Delhi outlined above, it would be a mistake to think of it as safer. Its unhealthy smog levels can also trigger asthma, cause permanent lung damage and lead to premature death in those who are exposed long term. When the effects of carbon emissions are weighed on a global scale, the planet and its populous face equally devastating consequences


PULL QUOTE SOURCE: NOAA

resulting from current consumption and transportation methods. NASA predicted that the Earth’s climate will experience a 6-deg. C (42.8-deg. F) temperature increase in the next century. On its own, this shift is expected to result in: serious hurricanes and storms; increased flooding in areas particularly impacted by the problem; and, stronger droughts and heatwaves in hotter regions. Too, that future has already become a reality for some. While flooding due to stronger storm systems is a notable concern, a “National Geographic� staff report showed that gradual erosion of coastal regions will begin to eat away at landmasses and force the migration of certain species. In turn, it is expected to damage entire ecosystems and wipe out nearby wildlife populations. While humans may continue to be highly adaptable, other life forms will not be so lucky. Beyond the damaging effects of climate change on land and land-based creatures, carbon emissions are known to pollute both air and oceans. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that the ocean absorbs a staggering 30 percent of airborne carbon dioxide. The result? Ocean water is then more acidic and inhospitable to those who call it home. Climate change and global warming crises affect the Earth as a whole. It will take concerted, collaborative effort to prevent further damage from taking place. All around, there have been signs of smaller efforts beginning to take root. From paper straws to recyclable grocery bags, those leading the way in the U.S.

have become increasingly aware of the impact human life is having on our planet and of the need for immediate change. Despite those efforts, it has become apparent that change needs to be implemented on a much larger scale. The biggest issue, NASA has argued, is that small changes like those mentioned already fail to significantly move the needle on carbon emissions and the irreversible damage rising CO2 levels result in. Change needs to begin with production methods and the way individuals and materials are transported. Fortunately, change is also on the rise.

30%

The ocean absorbs of airborne CO2. As it does, it becomes more acidic and less hospitable to marine creatures.

EVBs: LEADING THE CHARGE?

Fighting carbon emissions with a new strain of electric vehicle batteries is one proposed solution; one that has managed to show promise and gain traction over the years. After analyzing EVBs, the U.S. Department of Energy stated that the lithium-ion batteries typically used to power all-electric vehicles have substantial lifespans. This has allowed those modern vehicles to keep pace with traditional automobiles and offer plenty of mileage. Most importantly, perhaps, electric vehicles have been proven to eliminate carbon emissions once they are on the road.

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20

For nearly years, L.A. has topped the American Lung Association’s list of smoggiest U.S. cities.

22 | DIGITAL UNICORN Q2 2020

perpetuated by “AutoWeek,” “Bloomberg” and other media outlets—suggests that manufacturing is one of the least environmentally-friendly stages in the EVB life cycle. Andreas Radics at Berylls is oft quoted as suggesting that, despite the fact that an electric SUV is emission-free on the road, production of its near 550 kg (1,100 lb.) battery would emit up to 74 percent more CO2 than the production of one consumer-ready, gasoline-powered car built for efficiency in a fossil-fuel-powered factory. The raw materials used in production of lithium-ion EVBs have the potential to cause further damage if the companies extracting and/ or refining such precious metals (e.g., lithium, cobalt, nickel) use vehicles and tools powered by fossil fuels, suggested James Ellsmoor for “Forbes.” Additionally, if not properly recycled, those EVBs are then said to release harmful chemical byproducts which continue to impact the environment long after they have been disposed of. A GLOBAL GEAR SHIFT

What about the way power is delivered to electric vehicles? Mukesh Malhotra, in reporting for “Entrepreneur: India,” indicated that a number of power plants use fossil fuels to produce the electricity which is then used to recharge EVBs. As long as what drives these vehicles continues to rely on electricity generated in this manner, carbon emissions will continue to be a major problem. The impact electric vehicles have, as an otherwise sustainable option to traditionallyproduced automobiles, will be compounded. Aimed at positioning electric vehicles as a

STAT SOURCE: “CURBED: LOS ANGELES”

A prime example may be the Tesla Model S, which: has been clocked at reaching speeds of 60 mph in 2.4 seconds, is said to run an estimated 373 miles on a single charge and, by way of a supercharger connection, has shown an ability to “refuel” for up to 130 additional miles of running power in roughly 15 minutes. All of this has made the Model S a seemingly competitive marketplace option compared to traditional vehicles. The biggest question regarding these new products, however, has been whether or not they are an effective and sustainable solution to the current problem. One could easily assume that electric vehicles are the immediate answer to a world plagued by carbon emissions. To a certain extent, this has been found true. However, while switching to use of electric vehicles and EVBs may eliminate carbon emissions once these products are on the road, not all are proven to be as “clean” as was once believed. When it comes to EVBs, a report originating with Munich-based automotive consultancy Berylls Strategy Advisors—subsequently


viable solution to carbon emissions and other environmental concerns, those on the production side continue to innovate. One of the electric vehicle industry’s biggest players, Tesla, has set a goal of reducing or altogether zeroing out its carbon footprint by instead relying on renewable energy sources to produce the EVBs which power its vehicles. The shift is said to be underway at its Gigafactories in Nevada, Shanghai and New York. Sophia Ankel and Vegas von Vogelstein at “Business Insider” have added that an upcoming fourth facility will be based in Berlin. Tesla has asserted that all of these facilities will be largely powered by solar energy versus fossil fuels. Given its prior successes and the popularity of its products, Tesla may just succeed at making the transition a reality. EVgo is another company which has publicly committed itself to fostering innovation in clean energy production related to electric automobile power supply. The fast-charging network has set a goal of harnessing wind and solar power to be the first to supply 100-percent-renewable energy for electric consumer vehicle consumption. If it succeeds, drivers who connect with EVgo will be able to refuel without worrying about either expanding or leaving behind a sizable carbon footprint. Other major strides are being made in the electric vehicle industry, though some forward-looking innovators are developing solutions which move the conversation farther than others. Nsikan Akpan, reporting for “PBS NewsHour,” investigated a fuel source being

developed by chemical engineers at MIT which may have the potential to knock the wind out of any perceived competition. Rather than rely solely on electricity, the MIT “battery” would pull CO2 from the surrounding air to make electric vehicle and other energyconsumption processes even less toxic and more eco-friendly. While still a theoretical development not yet ready for market, the potential applications for this type of technology are exciting. The future health and well-being of planet Earth, of human beings and of other species rely on an ability to use emerging technologies to arrive at sustainable solutions which improve quality of life for all. By design, electric vehicles are thought to be one panacea to environmental crises—but are they? The potential impact new production, refueling and recycling methods may have in the transportation and other sectors is promising. If the path currently paved by innovators continues to be widened, our collective future may not be as bleak as we once imagined. ■

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POWER from the PEOPLE Human Effort Makes a High-Tech Comeback BY MANNY FRISHBERG

24 | DIGITAL UNICORN Q2 2020


I

n a future like the one conjured up by Lana and Lilly Wachowski in their visionary script for the 1999 film “The Matrix,” humans are kept in an artificial reality so that their AI overlords can harvest their bodies’ energy output.

Yet, given the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Science estimates that the average person’s energy production equals just about 100 watts, it would take something like 178,000 people to power a supercomputer like the TH-2, or 33.86-petaflops Tianhe-2, in Guangzhou, China. Knowing that, maybe the prospect of using human beings as energy sources may not be feasible. On the other hand—at times, literally—there are a few practical ways to harness human power which ingenious folk have put into use already. THE BODY ELECTRIC The line of thinking most outside the box in this respect, quite possibly, involves harvesting human power from inside the body. Pacemakers and other implants, however long they have been considered miracles of modern medical technology, have a problem though: Powering them requires electricity. At present, most implantable biomedical devices like them are connected to batteries via wiring systems which can result in complications ranging from pain or discomfort to infection. Moreover, those batteries have limited lifespans. That means they

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need to be replaced periodically, which can only be done surgically. Devices powered by harvesting sources of energy from within the body, however, have the potential to solve those problems once and for all. Not surprisingly, biomedical engineers have been trying to find ways to do just that. Enzymatic fuel cells utilize proteins which play a role in cellular metabolism, a function that acts as a catalyst for oxidizing glucose and other molecules. As with other types of fuel cells, a hydrogen ion is freed at one end: the anode. At the other end, known as the cathode, an enzyme called hydrogenase combines

26 | DIGITAL UNICORN Q2 2020

hydrogen ions with oxygen and electrons are released by the reaction which can then be harnessed as electrical current. In 2013, a “Scientific Reports� journal article noted that the first such device was manufactured in 2010, operated successfully inside a living rat for 11 days and produced more than enough power to keep a pacemaker running. Too, since 2012, researchers at MIT have been fabricating glucose fuel cells with the capacity to generate microcurrents derived from the same sugar that powers GFCs. Similarly powered devices could result in battery-free pacemakers, implants which monitor blood sugar levels automatically and glucosepowered implants which bridge severed nerves. Or, someday, Smart brain implants. In 2017, MIT announced a further breakthrough: a flexible glucose sensor on a hightemperature, synthetic resin base

which can also act as a GFC. Recently, in December 2019, researchers at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia unveiled an allpolymer biosensor that was also powered by glucose. NATURAL MOVEMENT More than simply chemical energy can be harvested directly from the body, by the way. Movement and pressure can be harvested similarly in connection with piezoelectric systems meant to capture human energy output. As defined by Technopedia.com, piezoelectricity is the electrical charge that accumulates in certain materials (usually crystals and some polymers) when pressure is applied to them. Actuators, sensors and oscillators have long utilized piezoelectricity to assist in the detection of voltages, sound waves, movement and pressure. Medical researchers have experimented successfully with stimulating the vagus nerve, which carries signals to the brain and tells it when the stomach is full, to assist people with weight loss. In late 2018, a pair of University of Wisconsin graduate students, Guang Yao and Xudong Wang, developed a vagus nerve stimulator powered by


In late 2018, a pair of University of Wisconsin graduate students… developed a vagus nerve stimulator powered by stomach movements. Beyond being battery-free, the implantable device is self-activating and is only powered on when the stomach is in motion.

stomach movements. Beyond being battery-free, the implantable device is self-activating and is only powered on when the stomach is in motion. In April 2019, “eeNews Europe”—a professional journal aimed at electrical engineers— reported that a piezoelectric transducer had been developed, by researchers at Dartmouth College and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, which showed promise of powering a pacemaker in rhythm with the heart’s own motion. Their approach? Use thin film materials and a structural design to convert the movements of a wire attached to a beating heart into electricity so that it continuously charges a pacemaker battery. SEEING THE LIGHT In low- and middle-income nations (Africa and Asia especially), power grid networks are either wholly unreliable or unavailable electrical energy sources. Affected populations then rely on burning fuel to meet their heating and cooking needs. The kerosene lamps they then use

as light sources, noted a 2017 study published by the international journal “Indoor Air,” throw off particulates which compound indoor air pollution and can cause long-term respiratory problems: acute respiratory infection, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, etc. According to the study, only 25 percent or so of households using open-wick kerosene lighting have what the World Health Organization would consider “acceptable” indoor air quality. Due to this, the search to find practical, low-cost alternatives those in developing nations can work, read or do homework by has been a focus of aide-providing and philanthropic organizations for years. In 2009, SolarAid—a nonprofit based in the U.K. which promotes solar power as a key to combatting both poverty and climate change— challenged Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves, consultants at Therefore Design in London, to create a solar lamp for less than 5 GBP (roughly 6 USD). Deciwatt, Ltd., was recruited to manufacture the fixture at a small factory in Kenya, as both solar panels

and batteries were deemed too expensive to fit the bill. Advancements in the LED industry were thought to be a better solution; one that might even help the designers harness gravity for a sustained, slow-release alternative that was neither dependent on weather conditions nor kerosene. Thus, the GravityLight was born. The kit comes with an adjustable lamp and a ballast bag. The consumer then fills the bag with heavy materials (i.e., rocks, dirt) and pulls a chord to begin the light cycle. Over the course of an estimated 20 to 30 minutes, uninterrupted lamp light shines on as the weighted bag slowly falls, simultaneously spinning the gears which generate power to it. Looking to improve on the original, Deciwatt developed and crowdfunded a new design in 2018. The nowlight, as it is called, was put to the test in refugee camps in both Uganda and Rwanda. That newer model, slated for a widespread roll out this year, would be charged by pulling a cord for one minute in exchange for 2 hours of DigitalUnicornMag.com | 27


power. It also comes equipped with USB and DC charging ports. GETTING A FOOTHOLD The Soccket, an innovative soccer ball that generates electricity while being kicked around, was the brainchild of Jessica Matthews and Julia Silverman. While they were undergraduates at Harvard University, the duo were given an assignment to combine art and science to solve a social problem. Their solution was to embed a magnetic induction system, similar to the kind used in a shake-to-charge flashlight, into a slightly heavier than regulation ball with a sort of pendulum mechanism inside. Both a USB port and a standard DC outlet are built into it. A DesignBoom.com write-up of the Soccket noted that the kinetic momentum generated during 30 minutes of playing could power a simple LED lamp for 3 hours. Another option proposed for the estimated 1.3 Billion people without reliable access to electricity is a pedal-powered generator which can charge a smartphone and a few small appliances. That was the idea behind the Hans Free Electric hybrid bicycle proposed by Manoj Bhargava, CEO of 5-Hour Energy. Instead of a standard bike frame, he envisioned a recumbent seat (the rider sitting back, as if on a recliner) mounted

28 | DIGITAL UNICORN Q2 2020

on a tube-steel frame with a large flywheel attached. The amount of useable energy a healthy person can produce via a stationary-bike-powered generator is estimated at 100 to 200 watts per hour—enough electricity to power an LED-bulb light and keep a small refrigerator running or to power a 44inch LED TV for five hours. Several companies which make pedal-based generators for charging deep-cycle batteries in emergencies or off-thegrid use dispense with the frame and flywheel in favor of compact boxes which sit on the floor. Pedal-driven, gear-and-chain systems can be used to power any number of devices. Those old enough to remember the 1960s sitcom “Gilligan’s Island” or who watch reruns on TV Land are no strangers to the castaways’ washing machine powered by a stationary bike made

SOURCE: DESIGNBOOM.COM

Kicking a Soccket for 30 min. could power a simple LED lamp for

3 HRS

.

of bamboo scraps. That and other contraptions like it were clearly not as absurd as the show’s scriptwriters thought. These days, blueprints for pedal-operated washing machines are even posted on Pinterest. Machines once common on the farm can be powered the same way and have experienced a renaissance, reimagined by both hobbyists and nongovernmental organizations. Maya Pedal has been recycling old parts to make bicimaquinas, or pedal-powered machines, since the early 2000s. Think water pumps, grinders, threshers and shellers. The Guatemala-based NGO now often incorporates flywheels into its designs to drive a variety of appliances. PEDAL TO THE METAL The most consequential invention in the history of human-powered machines may very well be the bicycle. An efficient means of selfpowered transportation, basic twowheelers can assist with everything from running personal errands to running backup generators and hauling cargo. A 2015 “Journal of Transport and Health” report estimated that they are a mainstay in 42 percent of all households globally, while the League of American Bicyclists found that, in 2017, there were more than 860,000


bicycle commuters in the U.S. alone. And, though 15 to 25 mph may seem pretty good when rush-hour commuters in cars are barely going that fast, human-powered vehicles are capable of far greater speeds. The world’s land speed record for a human-powered vehicle belongs Canadian design firm Aerovelo by way of its velomobile— an aerodynamically-sheathed, recumbent cycle. In 2015, the World Human Powered Vehicle Association announced that Todd Reichert had piloted a three-wheeled velomobile named Eta at 86.65 mph along a 200-meter stretch of ultra-flat Nevada highway. While vehicles like Eta are optimized for setting records, making a vehicle roadworthy is an entirely

25

%

of HHs using open-wick kerosene lighting have what WHO considers “acceptable” indoor air quality. SOURCE: “INDOOR AIR”

different matter. In those cases, pedal power alone is unlikely to prove feasible, which is where the idea of a human-electric hybrid vehicle comes in. Like a Prius, the HEHV Twike is fed by two distinct power sources but can run on battery power alone. Unlike a hybrid car, though, the Twike’s secondary power comes from foot pedals: one set for the driver, one set for the passenger. The three-wheeled car was conceived of by Fine Mobile GmbH, based in Germany, which is preparing to release the Twike 5 with a

claimed top speed of 190 kph (118 mph). The pedals drive the rear wheels, using a chain like those found on standard bicycles, and can expand the vehicle’s range by 5 to 20 percent according to Twike.co.uk. As the world’s population becomes pressed to find new ways to enter a carbon-free future, perhaps an allof-the-above strategy will become a practical necessity. In recent years, engineers have developed shoe soles capable of generating as much as 10 watts per shoe and backpacks with shoulder straps made from piezoelectric materials capable of harvesting enough energy to charge a cellphone or to light a flashlight just by hiking. The innovations mentioned here might sound like eccentric solutions for problems which may or may not exist already. But there is talk of making a few of them standard issue for soldiers in the field. Compared to wind, solar and other alternative energy forms (i.e., ocean wave power), the amount of useful energy to be harvested from unassisted human effort might seem minuscule. Still, enough energy can be harvested to make a real difference in certain situations and in the lives of underserved populations. If pedaling or kicking a ball around can shed new light on the topic, then, why not give them a whirl? ■

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SMART INVESTMENT MOVES BY STEVE SKURA, MBA

5 Ways to Make Your Home More Sustainable

J

anuary was a big month for conferences. The Consumer Technology Association’s 2020 CES trade show was among them. Knowing he was there absorbing new technologies set for roll out in 2020 and beyond, it made sense to reach out to Ryan Herd, aka the Smart Guy—author of “Join the Smart Home Revolution” and a leading influencer in the sustainable home space. “We are now at a place where technology can help us as humans,” said Herd. “LED and solar can (finally get us to) net zero.” With nearly 30 years of experience in the home technology sector, Herd has long used his knowledge of sustainable practices to help his clients reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprints; most recently as CEO/ Founder of Caregiver Smart Solutions.

30 | DIGITAL UNICORN Q2 2020

When asked what (5) investments consumers can make when it comes to increasing sustainability within the home, Herd recommended: ■ LED Lighting ■ Smart Lighting ■ Smart Shades & Blinds ■ Smart Thermostats/Controls ■ Phyn Smart Water Flow Sensors By adopting all five, consumers can reduce their energy consumption rates by up to 15 percent. That translates into savings, too, allowing consumers to pay down their mortgages more quickly or pocket extra cash after investing in time-, energy- and water-saving devices. In 2018, for example, Credit Donkey estimated that the average American paid roughly $200 per month for water and electricity. At a cost of

$2,400 per year, that could mean up to $360 in annual savings. LED Lighting Herd said that replacing incandescent bulbs with LED alternatives has the power to instantly reduce electricity costs associated with lighting by 50 percent. Initial cost would be $50 or so based on the average number of lights used in most households. More on LED lighting can be found online at USA.Lighting.Philips.com. Smart Lighting Smart lighting options work alongside home automation products to optimize how energy is utilized at home. A large living room might be outfitted with 10 lights total but rely on three of them most of the time. Smart lighting systems guard against wasted electricity by limiting


power supply to the remaining seven outlets. Overall cost for a system like this can total $600 but be recovered in a few years’ time. Herd suggested visiting Creston. com to learn about Smart lighting technologies. Smart Shades & Blinds Herd noted that shades and blinds help consumers make more efficient use of air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter. Smart products in this category automate the process for more efficient operation. In combination with home automation technology, Smart shades and blinds block out sunlight during the summer months and encourage sunlight in the winter. Cost is roughly $500 per window. One popular source for Smart shades and blinds is HunterDouglas.com. Smart Thermostats/ Controls Thermostats and temperature controls have become increasingly savvy in recent years, said Herd. Smart thermostats reduce energy consumption among HVAC systems by monitoring trends

in household usage in real time and then optimizing temperature settings. An initial $250 investment can lower electricity usage by 25 percent or so. Google, Honeywell and others make Smart thermostat and temperature controls which are available online or at local hardware stores. Phyn Smart Water Flow Sensors The four prior recommendations focused on reducing electricity use, whereas this last one is focused on reducing water use and the chance for flooding. A break in either a kitchen or a bathroom pipeline can cause hundreds of gallons of water to spill into other areas of the home—resulting in upwards of $10,000 in costly repairs. Phyn Smart Water Assistant flow sensor and shut-off systems or products like them can eliminate

a home’s risk for water damage by detecting leakage and stopping water flow automatically before a major break or flooding occurs. While protecting a home and its possessions, it also reduces the potential for water waste. To learn more visit Phyn.com. Of what he learned at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, Herd said, “it’s all about Smart tech in the home and the connected home.” Smart appliances and home products connected through automation reduce energy use and improve quality of living. One standout product by Moen, which he said can greatly assist seniors and people with disabilities, is a voiceactivated toilet flushing system. For 29 years, Herd has worked closely with manufacturers in the home automation and innovation sectors, establishing a reputation as a reliable resource for clients nationwide—whom he said have become increasingly concerned with sustainability. He suggested that consumers consult trade publications and industry association data when researching the topics covered here. ■

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Innovators, Dreamers & Idealists

MORE RESOURCE SAVING TIPS: Opt for HE & Energy Star. High-efficiency and Energy Star-rated appliances are designed to reduce energy and electricity use.

Thanks to Ryan Herd, pictured, who also helped us with “Smart Investment Moves” (pg. 30).

Go tankless. Tankless water heaters pull double duty by simultaneously reducing a home’s water use and electricity consumption.

Choose gas over electric. Coal-powered plants continue to be a major supplier of home electricity, though gas is considered more eco-friendly. 32 | DIGITAL UNICORN Q2 2020

Install a Tesla Power Wall or solar panels. Installing a Tesla Power Wall or solar panels can be costly ($20-25K) but can significantly reduce electricity use and carbon footprints.

? Have questions? Connect with Ryan on LinkedIn.

ILLUSTRATIONS: NOUN PROJECT VIA JAMES KOPINA (BULB), PHAM DUY PHUONG HUNG (TANK), ROCKICON (PANEL), SYMBOLON (HOME GAS)

4

Meet Ryan Herd


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PUBLISHER’S LETTER

The Legendary Final Word Dear Reader,

Tell us what you think of our print and digital content, what’s happening near you, which topics you’re most interested in and who you’d like us to connect you with—so you can grow alongside us...”

I’m excited to have you here as we launch Digital Unicorn—a print and digital lifestyle brand. I hope you enjoyed the content you just read in our first print edition. As our brand’s creator and publisher, it’s my personal goal to abolish negativity in the media by working with you (our audience) to promote positive, sustainable solutions to the world’s problems without getting bogged down by political and other issues. Over time, we’ll be producing more and more content that helps you connect with our team and the entire startup ecosystem. That means sharing new innovations with you, introducing you to some of today’s most creative dreamers and giving you direct access to exclusive content which then helps you leverage the latest: technologies, market trends, industry shifts, influencer insights, networking opportunities and more. Our big-picture approach means we won’t be focusing on one sector, one geographical region or one type of reader. We want to make this a global movement, though we know it’ll take a while to get there. That’s where you come in! Tell us what you think of our print and digital content, what’s happening near you, which topics you’re most interested in and who you’d like us to connect you with—so you can grow alongside us. Visit DigitalUnicornMag.com for more info and follow us on social media, too: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Kind regards,

STEVE SKURA, MBA Publisher & CEO, Digital Unicorn Publisher@DigitalUnicornMag.com 34 | DIGITAL UNICORN Q2 2020


Humanity’s first robot farmer for home

To learn more about drag and drop farming visit www.Farm.bot DigitalUnicornMag.com | 35


36 | DIGITAL UNICORN Q2 2020

Profile for Digital Unicorn

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