Issuu on Google+

WORLD’S FIRST ONLINE NEWS AND ENGINEERING COMMUNITY FOR YOUNG ENGINEERS

DECEMBER 2016 ISSUE NO. 010

Solight Design: Delivering Light In Our Hands

Exclusive Insight Story From The Founders EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS:

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Doki Technologies

An Engineer's Guide on Christmas Shopping and Giving Back

Technology Will Save Us TROBO Aran Blocks IronBot MuuseLabs Tinitell AppyKids Awesome Shield

What To Give An Engineer and The Unfortunate This Christmas Charitable Companies Engineers Must Know About One for One: Buy a TOMS Product and Help the Less-Fortunate Why Everyone Must Support BuyOne/Give-One Products

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

1


GINEERSNOW TEAM Ems Bagatsing

Sales & Marketing Director Ems@LincolnMartin.com

Robert Bagatsing

Editor-In-Chief editor@GineersNow.com

Engr. Alice Hernandez John Vauden

Senior Editor-At-Large

Hina Sapra

Engr. Dion Greg Reyes

Senior Editor Asia-Pacific Senior Editor South Asia

Therese Matheren Senior Editor North America

Goran Ćulibrk

Charity Bagatsing Senior Editor North America

Raymond Gerard del Valle Lauren Lloyd Del Mundo

Junior Editor

Engr. Cielo Panda Junior Editor

Contibutor North America

Aaron Kesel Contributor North America

Amanda Pelletier Margaret Banford

Afsana Alam

Engr. Emmanuel Stalling

Video Editor Creative & Layout

Contributor North America

Newsletter Specialist Contributor Middle East

Junior Editor

GineersNow is a subsidiary of Lincoln Martin Strategic Marketing Level 14, Boulevard Plaza Tower 1 MBR Boulevard, Emaar Square, Downtown Dubai, UAE P.O. Box 334036, Dubai, U.A.E. Mob: +971 50 4289684 www.LincolnMartin.com

Contributor United Kingdom

Patricia Eldridge Contributor United Kingdom

Disclaimer: The publishers regret that they cannot accept liability for error or omissions contained in this publication, however caused. The opinions and views contained in this publication are not necessarily those of the publishers. Readers are advised to seek specialist advice before acting on information contained in this publication, which is provided for general use and may not be appropriate for the readers' particular circumstances.

The Copyright Law of the United States of America, Chapter 1, Subject 107, called the “Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use” states that, “Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include— (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.”


Editor's

Note

It’s been a crazy year for all of us. Leonardo di Caprio finally won an Oscar, Donald Trump surprisingly won the US elections, amazing new technologies have been introduced to the public, PokemonGo made every gamer crazy and GineersNow was finally launched to engineers. Wow, this has definitely been an eventful year for everyone. Now we’re in the last month of 2016 and we’re about to celebrate the most famous holiday of the year: Christmas. Here in GineersNow, we have a lot to be thankful for despite the challenges we’ve met during our first year of publishing news and stories that cater to every engineer around the world. To make our first Christmas celebration extra special, we decided to focus on engineers giving back to the community. Featured in this month’s Christmas issue is Solight Design, giving us an exclusive insight story of the company’s quest in providing light not only to the environmentally conscious but also to those who have no access to light. The company’s founders share their experiences in developing a product that can light up a poor community’s houses without adding damage to the environment. We also have exclusive interviews with different companies that offer the public very interesting toys - toys that will teach kids valuable lessons about STEM.

Also included in the December issue are special feature stories that focus on buy one-give one products. With so many industries that only focus on earning more money from the public, these featured companies focus on helping those who are truly in need. You see, as engineers, we can help anyone around us - may that be a simple donation to a special charity or developing the most groundbreaking product that can change the world. Yes, engineers are capable of doing amazing things that can shape a nation’s future and change the world’s perspective on several important issues. Engineers must give back to the communities they’re in and this Christmas, it’s time we start doing so. GineersNow would like to thank everyone who has been with us right from the very start. This has been an incredible year for us and we have a long way to go. Everyday, we aim to deliver all of you amazing stories that inspire and guide every engineer in one’s life. Everyday, we search for news we can deliver to the curious engineer. We couldn’t make it if it weren’t for your support. Thank you! Wishing you a very happy christmas and an exciting new year ahead. Here’s to another year delivering you kickass stories all over the globe. It’s going to be an exciting 2017!


CONTENTS PAGE

06 14 20 21 22 26 28 29 32 37 38

TITLE COVER STORY

SOLIGHT: DELIVERING LIGHT IN OUR HANDS THIS JUKEBOX GIVES KIDS A MAGICAL MUSICAL EXPERIENCE THESE OBSOLETE DEVICES WON’T BE SAYING GOODBYE JUST YET

AWESOME TOYS GET RE-ENGINEERED

APPYKIDS: CREATING SMART FUN FOR EVERYONE

THIS MODULAR DRONE CAN TRANSFORM INTO DIFFERENT SHAPES AWESOME TOYS BUILT BY ENGINEER DADS FOR THEIR KIDS WHAT TO GIVE THE ENGINEER AND THE UNFORTUNATE THIS CHRISTMAS WHY EVERYONE MUST SUPPORT BUY ONE - GIVE ONE PRODUCTS

THE ENGINEERING BEHIND SANTA'S SLEIGH

WHEN ENGINEER FATHERS MAKE THE TOYS

PAGE

42 46 52 55 56 59 60 68 72 76 78

TITLE TINITELL: GIVING CHILDREN THE FREEDOM TO EXPLORE THE OUTDOORS SAFELY TECHNOLOGY WILL SAVE US: SPARKING KIDS’ IMAGINATIONS AROUND THE WORLD A ONE-MAN TOY STARTUP TO WATCH OUT FOR

THIS MAY BE THE WORLD'S SMALLEST ARCADE CABINET MEET THE ENGINEER WHO INSPIRED PHUNSUKH WANGDU’S CHARACTER IN ‘3 IDIOTS’

ONE FOR ONE: BUY A TOMS PRODUCT AND HELP THE LESS-FORTUNATE AWESOME SHIELD: THE COOLEST HANDS-ON CODING PROJECT FOR KIDS AGED 10 TO 100 NEVER LOSE SIGHT OF YOUR KIDS USING THE DOKIWATCH IRONBOT: THE ADVANCED TOY ROBOT THAT WILL MAKE CHILDREN LEARN STEM COOL CHRISTMAS TREE DESIGNS FOR THE CREATIVE ENGINEER CHARITABLE COMPANIES ENGINEERS MUST KNOW ABOUT THIS CHRISTMAS


COVER STORY

6

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas


SOLIGHT: DELIVERING LIGHT IN OUR HANDS Solight Design provides sustainability in its lighting products while supplying lights to those in need. DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

7


The consumption of fossil fuels along with the pervasiveness of extreme poverty in 90% of the world has compromised the well being of our climate, ecology, economy, and safety. Extreme poverty and climate change are inextricably linked. 1.6 billion people live without access to electricity and spend up to 30% of their income on kerosene to light their world at night. This toxic fuel gives off black carbon emissions, compromising the health of the world’s most vulnerable people while adversely impacting our environment, globally. In the last 50 years there have been 200 species of animals that have become extinct, which is in direct correlation to the exponential use of fossil fuels. Climate change effects have also exacerbated internal conflict in regions of extreme poverty, indirectly creating millions of refugees. To provide solutions to these problems, Solight Design™

Founder Alice Min Soo Chun invented the Solar Inflatable light and the Solar Light Assembly. Solight’s first product called the SolarPuff™, is the ideal solution for providing clean and affordable lighting to those living off the electrical grid as well as for the ecofriendly conscious in the First World. The beauty and elegance of this lantern has touted accolades from MoMA, Modern Museum of Art, the New York Times, and most recently the 2017 German Design Award for Lighting. Arguably the SolarPuff™ is the safest and most hygienic lantern available. SolarPuff™ is a patented flat-pack solar light with an adaptable, lightweight, and selfinflating design that emits zero carbon. The origami-inspired design allows for the quick pop-open function, resulting in a magic unfolding cube of light. There is no need to use your mouth to inflate, since

Climate change effects have also exacerbated internal conflict in regions of extreme poverty, indirectly creating millions of refugees"

the simple pull of the handles allows air to fill the expandable bladder in 2 seconds. Its Lithiumion Polymer battery is recharged with a thin solar panel, so there is no need for batteries. It charges in approximately 8 hours, giving light that lasts for 8 to 12 hours. The SolarPuff™ is only 2.3 oz. and flat packs to 0.25 in so there is major cost savings in shipping. You can fit 120 in a box vs 8 in a box of conventional bulky hard plastic lanterns. It is the perfect solution for emergency relief and refugees in plight, where the most important things are food, water, and light. Solight’s CEO Alice Min Soo Chun realized the need for alternative solutions to harness energy after the birth of her son, who had severe asthma. The number of children with asthma has been increasing so rapidly, in NYC alone; 1 out of 4 children have asthma which is 40% higher

8

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

than the rest of the country. The research shows pollution to be the underlying cause. As a species, the human gene pool should not be changing this soon, the reason has to be the environment. With the knowledge that solar energy is the most efficient source of renewable energy, Chun’s research then focused on innovations in harvesting solar energy. While a professor at Columbia University Chun received a grant to develop this research and started experimenting with photovoltaics and thin film substrates. At Columbia University in 2010, in response to the devastating Haiti earthquake, Professor Chun turned her class into an innovation studio to research and design solutions to help Haiti. Chun rightly pointed out to her class that Haiti was really a microcosm of the rest of the world, the country. Haiti was and


COVER STORY

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

9


Burning kerosene has harmful health consequences on humans as well as devastation on ecology" still is only 12% electrified. Most of the population was living on 3 dollars a day, and a quarter of humanity was spending what little money they had on deadly kerosene to light their world at night. It was in Professor Chun’s lab that the SolarPuff™ and the inflatable solar light were invented by Chun. Early prototypes were more like an inflatable pillow with a mouth nozzle to inflate, but Chun realized this was a dangerous detail for regions of poverty and for emergency response, due to lack of sanitation, and

10

the eminent risk of Cholera and Ebola spreading. She continued improving the design by eliminating the need for a mouth nozzle by using a folded method and finding the perfect material, similar to sail cloth, that was engineered for strength yet soft enough to fold flat. In 2010, she started a nonprofit with students called Focus Architecture Art and Making, FAARM. Early prototypes were distributed in the plateau region of Haiti and Chun was even invited by the Clinton Foundation for the Green Tech Expo, where

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

she had the opportunity to present her invention to Bill Clinton and Haitian President Martelly. Chun then distributed 500 SolarPuff™ lanterns as part of a pilot project. For 5 years, FAARM measured the quality, effectiveness, and demand for good design in products for the under privileged. She wrote a book from the research called Ground Rules in Humanitarian Design, Wiley Press 2015. Chun realized that in order to get the SolarPuff™ product mass produced, she had to build a for profit company that could work in tandem with FAARM. Today Solight Design likes to call their business a For-Purpose company. Chun was joined by co-founder Stacy Kelly who supported her vision and Solight Design, Inc. was officially established in 2014. In December of 2015, Chun was granted the Utility Patent for the Solar Light Assembly and has a Patent pending for Solar Inflatable Light with a priority date of 2010. Alice Chun is

literally on fire to change the world one SolarPuff™ at a time. She has become an unstoppable voice in the global solar energy community Solight’s lantern distinguishes itself from other solar lanterns because of the belief that design matters in the First world and Third World. Solight Design fosters the belief of SMART DESIGN FOR ALL. Most companies that sell to the underserved communities make products that are not designed with beauty, wonder or awe in mind. Solight believes design matters and design provides dignity to all people, no matter your socio-economic status in the world. Solight manufactures and distributes in 25 different countries worldwide and is working on micro-lending models for distributors in regions of need. This holistic model works to empower and incentivize the local community in creating and sustaining revenue models that


COVER STORY

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

11


eliminate the need for kerosene, create economic independence and grow and thrive with their own governance. The company motto is “Together We Hold the Sun in Our Hands.” Solight has created a giving model, where 10% of retail sales goes to their Non-profit Partner FAARM working to bring clean, hygienic light to regions of need. Solight also donates a light to FAARM automatically with every

12

sale of a 3 pack of the SolarPuff™, Solar Helix™, or Merlin™. In partnership with FAARM, and "world renowned" humanitarian, Alison Thompson, who also leads the global volunteer network, Third Wave Volunteers that is administered within FAARM, Solight delivers SolarPuff™ to "electricity poor" areas in need and provides training, aid, and kindness to marginalized communities. Solight and FAARM

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

have a common commitment to develop sustainable solutions to improve conditions for vulnerable communities around the world. The result has co-benefits among the Sustainable Development Goals for health, biodiversity, and energy security. Burning kerosene has harmful health consequences on humans as well as devastation on ecology. In India alone there are at least 30,000 documented house fires

each year. Kerosene lamps emit 270,000 tons of black carbon per year world-wide, creating climate warming equivalency of close to 240 million tons of CO2. According to the United Nations Development Programme “UNDP,” two million documented children die each year due to toxic kerosene fumes. New research findings by Independent Development Trust (IDT) as well as reports by the UNDP in SubSaharan Africa conclude that the wide scale use of solar powered lighting in rural communities offers many benefits including: positive health effects, enhanced safety, significant cost and time savings, and more school homework completed by "children a toxic free environment." Building infrastructure would take billions of dollars and years to execute. People in rural areas still would not be able to access a grid. Many pillage the hillsides for wood in order to cook and eat. The ravaged land is an adverse direct result and acerbates the planets ability to cool green house gases. Carbon emissions from light bulbs connected to an electric grid cause billions of tons of carbon emissions in the United states and Europe. Regular light bulbs used every day, causes over 11 million tons of carbon emissions per year. Solight through Chun’s inventions address and mitigate these negative environmental impacts that contribute to global warming. Solight takes the SDG, Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations, very seriously and is working with the United Nations, as well as other NGOs such as Operation Blessings, to mitigate negative environmental impact caused by climate change and poverty. We all have the power to hold the sun in our hands. Solight’s solution is an ecosystem of smart well designed individualized infrastructure, local economic development, and community collaboration. It can all begin with one light.


COVER STORY

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

13


14

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas


THIS JUKEBOX GIVES KIDS A MAGICAL MUSICAL EXPERIENCE DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

15


Marescaux: MuuseLabs is a tech startup with three founders. My co-founders Will (Moffat), an ex-Googler, and Pieter (Palmers), former team lead at Huawei, are two amazing engineers. We have Alan Munn as advisor, the former CEO of Tomy in Europe. He has also been a SVP at Hasbro and has over forty years of experience in the toy industry. Right now, it is just the three of us, based in Brussels, Belgium. We are currently hiring to increase the team. The first talent we are looking for is a digital marketeer, before further increasing the engineering fire-power.

Photo by InfoMine

W

hen we were young, we explored the beauty of listening to music using the CDs we played on the disc players we had. There were no smartphones back then to easily store a playlist and have easy access to whatever songs we love through the internet. The simple pleasure of listening to music on the radio was enough to keep us entertained the whole day. Though times are different now, the important family bonding of sharing the magic of music to each and everyone in the family is still important. This is why Théodore Marescaux designed a fun music player that everybody can use wherever they go, whenever they want - yep, even the youngest member can use it. Jooki is a fun figurinebased music player that uses

16

figurines instead of a screen to let its users choose what music they want to hear from its highquality speakers. It’s kid-proof so parents no longer have to worry about playing the wrong songs or stories. It’s definitely a fun jukebox designed for the youngest members of the family. In this exclusive interview with Théodore Marescaux, one of the co-founders of MuuseLabs, the company in-charge of Jooki, he shares his story on how he and his team developed Jooki, the challenges they had to go through for their startup company and his advice on how to mix engineering and business. GN: Introduce yourself. Marescaux: I guess I can be best described as a European; French citizen, born in Romania, living in

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

Belgium. The company is called MuuseLabs, and the product is called Jooki. GN: How many years have you been working in your industry? Marescaux: I have started my career as a researcher at IMEC (Leuven, Belgium), Europe’s largest independent nanotechnology centre and did a PhD in parallel at the TU/e (Eindhoven, The Netherlands). Then I did an MBA at Vlerick (BeNeLux’s #1 biz school) to re-orient my engineering career to a more business and strategy one. Then I joined Barco and had an amazing ride as product manager for digital cinema; Barco is the world’s leader in digital cinema projection. GN: Describe your company

GN: Describe your mission, vision and values. Marescaux: We believe technology is for everyone, whatever their age and technical qualifications are. But the technology is there to make a product truly magical, so we are striving to hide the technology to focus on the user experience. Our focus is primarily on children, and we believe in imaginative play as a very powerful means to have them excited and having fun experimenting and learning. This is one of the main reasons why we want Jooki to be a screenless experience. Screens are too cognitively-intensive and kids end-up passively staring at them. We want to use technology to enhance the imaginative play experience. GN: Where is this company headed? What are your future expansion plans? Marescaux: MuuseLabs is a family tech company. On a short term, we are preparing to launch


Jooki and expand/create a full ecosystem around it over the next few years. Our core is using technology to spark the magic enhancing imaginative play. On a long term, I see MuuseLabs continuing this trend to create a real toys-to-life experience, with deep AI to power holographic and robotic kids companions, who can share their play and learn experience and create bridges within the family to encourage yet more interactions with the parents. GN: What do you think is the future of the toy/gadget industries? Marescaux: I see the smart gadget industry taking over a significant portion of the more traditional toy industry in the coming years. The traditional simple toys are here to stay, but I see today’s ‘electronic’ toys being disrupted with a new generation

of toys-to-life products. GN: How will today’s toys and gadgets make a difference as compared to the ones from the past? Marescaux: The best toys, whether modern or traditional are those who engage the imaginative play in children, those who spark the magic and who can challenge the child. Some of the recent tech toys and gadgets are flashy and create a magical experience, but this may be short lived as they tend to be too directive or limited and fail to trigger that imaginative play. Many toys are played with only for a short period of time, I believe a new generation of smart gadgets is coming, a new generation that can truly engage as they adapt to the child and its environment. GN: Which toy/gadget from your

childhood made an impact on you while growing up? Marescaux: Without any doubt that would be Lego, but this was for the more simple bricks that one would want to combine and create own universes. Nowadays this has been shifting away from the imaginative play with very dedicated sets where one has to follow guides step-by-step. GN: What’s the inspiration behind your products? Marescaux: Jooki comes from a personal need. When my eldest daughter was three, she asked me to play a song for her (Queen’s - We will rock you :)). We don’t use CDs anymore, so I had to find that song on my mobile phone. Then she wanted me to play over and over again. Since I didn’t want her to have my phone, I realised kids nowadays do not really have any other options to truly listen to music &

stories. So I set to create a system where she could experiment with music and stories independently and screen-free. Jooki is much more than a simple jukebox, it is a truly connected object and we are developing it to be a kid’s companion to enhance imaginative play, but this is where it all started. GN: Which group is your target market and why? Marescaux: We are starting with 3-12 year olds as this is the initial target for Jooki, but we have many ideas for a broader audience. There are so many opportunities to make our lives more enjoyable and magical while fostering imagination and sharing in the family. GN: What are the future innovations that you and your company are pursuing? Marescaux: The very first step

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

17


is to make Jooki available for all. But without revealing too much, we are looking how to augment the experience with content and a whole smart peripherals ecosystem. GN: Do you think your product has made an impact on your costumers and in your industry? Marescaux: As we speak, we have been running a Kickstarter campaign and the product is still in its industrialisation process to be delivered in June 2017. The reactions we see from our backers on Kickstarter are really enthusiastic with people telling us that we are filling a true gap in the market. We also have regular basis public demonstrations and tests, it is very rewarding to see both adults and children experiencing Jooki, their reactions of surprise and joy are a real treat. What people like most are the independence and

18

screen-free aspects. GN: Where do you see your products heading 10 years from now? Marescaux: I see toys-to-life products where technology is present but hidden to enhance imaginative play. Deep AI companions are certainly one of the elements in transforming the way imaginative play is led. GN: What makes your toy/ gadget/product different from your competitors? Marescaux: Jooki is unique. It is the only 21st century music player that is kids-appropriate. GN: What challenges did your company face while developing your product? Marescaux: Starting a hardware company is easier than ever before from a technical standpoint, but it is still a challenge as most

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

investors do not yet understand them. In Belgium, the norm for tech startups is to be a B2B software startup. As a B2C hardware company we are a real UFO. This made it tougher to start and convince people, but it is now turning to our advantage as we are unique. Another challenge was to address the market, the toy industry is still quite traditional and the more advanced consumer electronics / gadgets do not yet fit well in that box. We ended up planning distribution in the consumer electronics industry, and that was fine. As a startup you need to find a fine balance between attempting radical disruption and moulding yourself to the existing industry. You are likely too small to disrupt a big industry on your own, and you can’t either 100% play by its rules because you don’t have a competitive advantage.

Finally, striking the right balance between functionality and product cost is not only difficult, but also critical to business success. GN: How did your company overcome these challenges? Marescaux: The answer is not engineering, but MARKETING… By creating the visual support for our product (the industrial design and prototypes) together with the story we could convince people to follow us and help us out. The Kickstarter campaign has been a fantastic tool to get engagement and build credibility. Finding the right distribution channel for our product has also been key. Different channels can have very different cost structures and business implications. ADVICE TO THE YOUNG ENGINEERS Marescaux: First of all, go for


it! Building products and sharing them with the world is a lot of fun and it is very rewarding to see your creations on the shelves in shops. As an engineer, you have an advantage in that you understand technology and can imagine how to build creative products. The maker movement is also making this easier than ever. At the same time, be aware of some of the biases that engineers tend to have and focus on those first before jumping to hack a product together. Who are you making this product for? What unique benefit is it bringing to them? What else could they use instead and why is your offering significantly better? Why will they want to buy it from you? How will they know about it? How many people will want to buy? How many will you sell? If you are planning a hardware product, be aware that there are many knowledgeable manufacturers in the world. They will greatly help you create and industrialise your products. They will not help you “invent� your product: you will have to specify what it does (and to some extent how it does it, as well as how it looks (the industrial design), but they will definitely help you in creating prototypes including as much of the electronics, software and mechanical design as you want. You probably want them to do the DFM (design for manufacturing) part. They have experience and often access to components you do not even know about. Do not hesitate to reach out to manufacturers early on. Last but not the least, you are not on your own. There are several hardware startup hubs and accelerators that can help. Check out the HardwareClub, Bolt, HAX and others they even have freely accessible resources on the web!

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

19


THESE OBSOLETE DEVICES WON’T BE SAYING GOODBYE JUST YET Everything around the world is getting an upgrade, yet why are these obsolete tech still laying around? Here’s a list of a few technological predecessors that refuse to kick the bucket. 3. Floppy disks Kids from the 80s and 90s still remember the need of floppy disks to play games but only the US Military has use of them now. Photo by RecycleNation

1. Vinyl Records These things have been here for ages but since gramophones are being modernized till today, it’s not going to go anywhere anytime soon. Photo by GoodWp

6. Windows XP A lot of people have died inside when the famous operating system’s updates got discontinued, but the US Navy is still paying to get extra updates on the software. Photo by Softonic

4. Fax machines Emails and Facebook seem more convenient but there are still a lot of corporate offices that require you to fax in information rather than email it. Photo by Wikipedia

2. Beepers Most of you probably think just having a cellphone is better but doctors find that these are the only communication devices that can penetrate thick hospital walls Photo by DaysofaDomesticDad

20

8. Travel agents Again, not tech, but they are getting obsolete with websites like Expedia or TripAdvisor available for the masses but business travelers and non-tech savvy people still use them for planning complicated trips. Photo by FredericGonzalo

7. Checkbooks While not really tech, we can all agree that this is already a little too outdated with the presence of online banking some people from the US still have use for this piece of paper. 5. Cassettes “Casse-what?” you might ask, but even though kids do not know the correlation between this and a pencil, some prison facilities still do. Photo by PutItOnVideo

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

Photo by wiseGEEK

9. Dot matrix printers This is the old and noisier version of the printers that we have today and if you think they’re gone, airlines, distribution companies, and kitchen workers are still using them today. Photo by Aux.tv Though you may thing that there are some better alternatives to these old tech, people who use them beg to differ. There are just some things you can’t shake off just to stay ahead of the times.


AWESOME TOYS GET REENGINEERED Are toys just for kids? Well not if you add lasers, highdefinition cameras and programmed chips! These DIY guys weren’t satisfied with their average toys, so they vamped them up using other gadgets and gizmos. Here are 3 hacked toys that will amaze you.

three motors: the first one to turn the laser on and off, another motor to guide the up and down movement of the laser and the third one to drive a turntable. With some awesome programming on his toy, he was able to use his Lego Laser Gun to carve “LEGO” onto a wooden surface.

DIY Death Ray Drone

Nerf Sentry Gun

This Attacknid, a spider-robot, was “toy-hacked” by Drake Anthony, also known as “The DIY Laser Guy”. With his alias, you can guess what kind of hack he did with this toy— yep, he added a laser to it. But that’s not the only feature he added, he also integrated his old digital camera and radio transmitter to the Attacknid, so that he would be able to aim and fire from another room. Whoa!

LEGO Laser Gun

David Neese has a lot of videos featuring his Legobased robots. Here, he used Legos to build a laser gun that I bet kids, (and kids at heart) would want to get their hands on! He installed

Jason Wright and Jeremy Blum are students who created the Nerf Sentry Gun as a final project for their Cornell University’s CS1114 MATLAB Robotics class. They created and programmed a Nerf Gun that reacts to motion, ask for credentials and then fire foam darts to students who left their ID’s at home. They mounted a Nerf Vulcan automated rifle above a motor which is secured by two napkin holders, and used a MOSFET to act as a trigger mechanism. The gun is then connected to their computer through a digital I/O device via USB.

Photo by Gearburn

Photo by Youtube

Photo by Hackaday

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

21


APPYKIDS: CREATING SMART FUN FOR EVERYONE

22

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas


“Designing for the future, and How big is your company? creating high-quality, innovative We are a team of 14 people edutainment content for young based in the UAE and India. Describe your mission, vision and children around the world.” In our technological world values. today, everything is becoming Our mission is to create Smart “smarter”—from smartphones, Fun for Everyone. Designing for Virtual Reality gadgets, the future, creating high quality wearables, and many more. All innovative edutainment content these tech are being developed for young children around the and improved everyday to help world. us perform different tasks faster Where is this company headed? and more efficient. For children What are your future expansion however, tech is usually used just plans? Describe briefly your strategic goals. for fun and entertainment. This is why a company named Our strategic goal is to create a AppyKids wants to merge the 360 degree edutainment solution entertainment side of technology that connects with children at with education. By doing so, every touch point. We started children will be able to play and with apps, but are growing our library to cover key sectors such learn at the same time. GineersNow conducted an as education, entertainment and exclusive interview with Dinesh retail. Lalvani, the founder and CEO of INTRODUCTION AppyKids. What do you think is the future of the toy/gadget industries? THE COMPANY AppyKids was founded in 2013. I think we will see a proliferation We are a team of game designers, of smart toys that help children illustrators, writers, musicians, play and learn. We will see filmmakers and developers technologies like AR and VR who work with distinguished playing a big role in creating educational technologists and new experiences for children. teachers to create high quality We will also see more AI being innovative edutainment content used in toys that try to “read for young children around the and understand” the child so they’re responding to the child in world. We have released a total of more customized ways, to keep sixteen interactive apps, which the child engaged and happy. have over 3 million downloads Traditional, tactile toys made with 375,000 monthly active from wood and cloth will always users. Two of our apps have been find a place with the little ones. awarded as “Apple Best of App” We’re hoping there will be less plastic in the toys of the future. winners. We recently launched the How will today’s toys and AppyKids Play School Smart gadgets make a difference as Kit and App, a fun interactive compared to the ones from the educational toy that bridges past? the best of digital and physical Toys that use smart technology play to offer an entertaining and are interactive. So there is an mechanism immersive learning experience input-response for children. Our Play School App which gives the child immediate just won the Broadcast Pro “App feedback. These technologies of the Year” award. We were also are getting smarter, which allows awarded a Forbes Middle East makers to deliver truly unique Most Promising Startup Award in products to children. Toy makers have a greater responsibility to October 2016. be more aware of what is good Our company has a board for children. Customization in which oversees company affairs, toys is gaining popularity and will corporate governance and continue to define production in the future. investor relations.

We will see technologies like AR and VR playing a big role in creating new experiences for children"

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

23


Which toy/gadget from your childhood made an impact on you while growing up? It wasn't as much a toy, but a computer that had the most impact on me when I was a child. My first computer was the Commodore 64. It was on this machine that I learned to program and design. I was always fascinated with how you can use technology to create art from a very early age. THE PRODUCT What’s the inspiration behind your products? How did you come up with these ideas? Our inspiration will always be our kids. They guide the creation process by showing us what kind of products they would enjoy. As a company, we have built a reputation for creating high quality products for children, notably our apps and cartoons. At one point, we thought, why not merge the two? The AppyKids Play School Smart Kit is a product of this merger. Which group is your target market and why? Our target audience is children

24

between the ages of 3-6. We believe this age bracket is the most important and sensitive in a child’s life because brain development happens at its most rapid rate between these ages. If we pay attention to what children learn between these ages, it can make a huge impact to their overall development. We believe every child deserves only the best quality products, and this holds true especially for children at this age. What are the future innovations that you or your company are pursuing? We already have a pipeline of smart products that help children write, learn and play music and improve their cognitive and problem solving skills. We want to merge cutting edge technology with traditional learning methods to help children learn and play better. Do you think your product has made an impact on your customers and in your industry? It’s still too early to tell, but the initial feedback from parents and teachers has been extremely positive and exciting. We hope

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

more kids will be able to benefit these challenges? from all the work we’ve put into By tweaking our internal processes as we were experiencing them. We this product. Where do you see your products remained as agile as possible, so we were quick to respond to glitches. heading 10 years from now? We aim to make toys smarter and We got excellent people hired on also offer a range of products to the ground in China who would children so that all their senses be as driven to ensure quality as we are. Our marketing team has are engaged well. What makes your toy/gadget/ been doing an amazing job with product different from your reaching out to the community and educating them about the competitors? Our approach to education; our product. Our retailers have been attention to detail; our in-house, our biggest supporters and have cloud-based technology; and our helped in getting the word about love for storytelling, all combine the product out into the market. well to offer a compelling product. ADVICE TO THE YOUNG ENGINEERS THE CHALLENGES & Please give advice and words of SOLUTIONS What challenges did your wisdom to millennial engineers who companies face while developing want to start their own companies and develop their own products as your product? Our main challenge was well. Any inspiring words that you manufacturing. Getting this done can share? in China while operating in Dubai Don’t be afraid to fail. Take risks. was a big task. We also had to The main thing is to believe in your invest in educating parents about product and your abilities. Never our product as learning through chase money, if you do a good Augmented Reality (AR) is still a job it finds its way to you. Always innovate, don’t emulate and most relatively new concept. How did your company overcome importantly, don’t give up.


Dinesh Lalvani, the founder and CEO of AppyKids, was born in the beautiful city of Dubai. He has an eclectic set of skills including being an entrepreneur, coder, musician, designer, photographer and father. It’s this last skill that has driven the vision for creating AppyKids, which is to create fun content that will educate, entertain and empower children. Lalvani has been coding since the age of 12 and has over 20 years of experience. Prior to founding AppyKids, he founded Flip Media which grew from a team of 2 people to Middle East’s largest digital agency employing over 150 professionals across the UAE and India. Flip was acquired by The Publicis Groupe in January 2012. It was in late 2012 that Lalvani began to develop children’s edutainment apps. It all started when he was searching for an app that could teach his son the Hindi language, but couldn’t find anything good on the app stores. AppyKids soon grew from there.

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

25


ws

tNe

er Exp V A yU to b

Pho

THIS MODULAR DRONE CAN TRANSFORM INTO DIFFERENT SHAPES Photo by TheVerge

26

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

If you’re the type of person who loves designing gizmos as much as playing around with one, then this new drone by Makeblock is the right toy for you! Makeblock has created a unique modular Lego-like drone, wherein you can build everything—a drone, a hovercraft, or anything that crosses your mind. They call this the Airblock. The Airblock is meant to be easily constructed and deconstructed, and it’s easily flown as well. It has eight modular pieces which can be turned into wheels, a

flyer, as well as a cup holder. This drone is controlled via Bluetooth, and is designed to be easy to use. Their designs are open-sourced as well, so all you design aficionados can create your own hardware around the Airblock as well! Imagine all the designs and new projects you could do with this drone. The possibilities are endless! They plan to sell their drone at a retail price of $149.


GET READY FOR NINTENDO SWITCH: NINTENDO’S NEW GAMING CONSOLE If you’re a gamer, you’ve probably heard a lot of rumors about Nintendo’s next home gaming system. Well, it’s here! They’ve named it the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo recently released preview trailer of the Nintendo Switch, for viewers to have a first look at the new gadget. Previously codenamed the NX, the Nintendo Switch was already being worked on last March

2015, but it is only now that they’ve shown the world a glimpse. The system looks like a home console or a portable console hybrid. It has a controller that connects to your TV for home use, and you can slide off the controller’s sides and attach it to the portable display so you can play on the go as well.

Photo by Polygon

You can also share a portable display with friends! After all, no gaming console is complete without multiplayer access! You and your friend can use the “Joy Con” which can slide off the portable console—or your friend can bring his own. Nintendo said that you can bring multiple Nintendo Switch units together if everyone wants their own screen.

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

27


AWESOME TOYS BUILT BY ENGINEER DADS FOR THEIR KIDS Having an engineer for a dad has a lot of awesome perks, they can help you with all your math homework, and you get to learn nifty engineering tricks from them. But one of the best perks of having an engineering dad is that they get to create awesome toys for you. Here are some awesome toys made by engineering dads:

GoodNite Lite Former software developer Adam Nelson created the GoodNite Lite, a device that teaches children to have proper sleeping routines. Parents set the times on the light to reflect night and day.

Photo by GoodHousekeeping

Photo by bunchoballoons Bunch O Balloons Filling water balloons is a tedious task, since you have to fill them up individually. Mechanical engineer Josh Malone has devised a solution for this task. He created Bunch O Balloons, which easily attaches to your garden hose and fills 100 empty balloons simultaneously in around 1 minute.

Photo by Foodiggity Pangraph Nathan Shields is a math teacher and father of two who created the Pangraph. The Pangraph is a spirograph that lets users create works of art with pancake batter. MacRide Glen Dobson is an engineer and mountain biker who found a safer way to include his two young children in his outdoor escapades. He created a lightweight, frontmounted bike seat for children.

Photo by MerkaBici

28

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

MorpHex KĂĽre Halvorsen is a Norwegian engineer and robotics hobbyist. He created the Morphex, a hexapod robot. This toy looks like a sphere and is fastest when rolling, but has siz legs that helps it walk.

Photo by YouTube


WHAT TO GIVE THE ENGINEER AND THE UNFORTUNATE THIS CHRISTMAS Here are some awesome gift ideas for your beloved engineer and some tips on how to give gifts to the unfortunate.

by Cielo Panda

The time for giving draws near as the yuletide season comes upon us. While not all of us celebrate Christmas, it’s not all that bad to receive gifts from people close to you. But if you’re in the ‘giving’ spirit this holiday season, particularly towards an engineer, here are some ideas on what you can get for your beloved this year.

Math Formula Tie If your engineer is leaning towards the corporate side, this might be a better option. This geeky, blueprint-style necktie is chuck full of formulas that only nerds would understand. A tie like this might just become a special gift to your math-inclined friend. This is a great choice for a professor, or an engineer working in an office-based environment. Photo by uncommongoods

Robotic Arm Edge This gadget-slash-toy is one of the best thing you can get for a gearhead this season. It’s freely controllable and is a joy to play with. Any engineer would be glad to get their hands on a tool like this, especially if they love to do robotics. An excellent choice for young enthusiasts and adults that are still kids at heart. Photo by amazon

Metal Inkless Pen This is an awesome gift for both engineers and astronauts alike. The point that it doesn’t need ink is a good enough reason to get it. But we know engineers like to explain how stuff work, so it’s good as a conversation starter as well. And need we say how cool this thing is? Photo by cmzone

Photo by amazon

Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction: Build Implements of Spitball Warfare We all know engineers love to tinker with stuff and this book lets them do just that. This book contains guides on how to build miniature weapons out of ordinary everyday items. Darts, catapults, minibombs, slingshots; you name it, it’s in there. Engineers will have loads of fun with this one. Great for office warfare. Don’t let it end at just giving to friends… It’s easy to get lost in the Christmas spirit, with all the presents you get and all. It’s also easy to forget that not everyone is lucky when it comes to life. There are some people who don’t even have food on their plates this time of year. So if you’re really in the giving spirit, why not spread some love to our less fortunate brothers and sisters, too? To get you in the right track, we’ve also included some ideas to help you do just that.

Donate old books and toys to charity Giving away preloved toys that you or your kids don’t play with anymore can bring smiles to the less fortunate. There are plenty charity organizations that take in old toys to give to children’s shelters and local shelters. If you don’t have any old toys lying around, then ask an engineer friend to make one for you. Photo by moneycrashers

Volunteer! No, we’re not talking about volunteering as tribute, we’re talking about real volunteer work. Simply helping out in food assistance programs can do so much for our less fortunate friends. Not only does it bring warmth to their stomach, it brings warmth to your heart as well. You can reach out to your local service organizations to see what you can do to help. Photo by hswstatic

Start a fundraiser If you want to be able to generate some funds for a charity you’re supporting, why not start a fundraiser? You can teach kids basic courses for a fee and give the proceeds to a charitable institution. Coding, STEM, Art, you name it! You’re in charge! You’re not just helping the less fortunate, you’re also helping young people dive into science and technology. Photo by blogspot

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

29


6 GADGETS MADE FROM LEGO BRICKS

If there’s one certain toy every engineer as a child loved to play with, I’ll bet it’s building things using LEGO bricks. When we play with LEGO, anything we plan to build are limited only by our imaginations. From a rocket ship to a bulldozer, from a simple robot to a skyscraper. While, our creations as children weren’t able to really do much, we were content with the simple joys of being able to create our first designs as young engineers. Now, we would like to show you some awesome creations made from our once cherished toys. These creations will bring you back to your childhood days and show you that it’s possible to create almost anything if you just put your mind into it.

The working LEGO camera This creation is a camera that was created to capture indelible images. Cary Norton, an Alabama-based photographer built this working 127mm f4.7 camera by using LEGO’s Digital Designer application.

The working LEGO printer Some years ago, a 14-yearold boy designed this working LEGO printer which moves a pen to write drawings and text. It’s called the LEGO Mindstorms NXT printer, or PriNXT.

The Prosthetic arm that gives kids LEGO abilities Carlos Arturo, a former LEGO intern, developed the IKO prosthetic arm. It was made especially for children, so they can create custom-built limbs. Torres was inspired by his childhood in Colombia, where many children lost their limbs during armed conflicts.

30

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas


The DIY LEGO 3D printer The LEGObot 3D printer was created by Matthew Kreuger. This is the LEGO version of the Makerbot, an inexpensive NXT-powered printer.

LEGO's Musical Beatboards This year, LEGO will be launching a new line called Beatboards, wherein anyone can use LEGO bricks to create original musical compositions. Touch sensors are built into the baseplate and it registers the resistance formed under the weight of the LEGO bricks and turns those messages into sound.

The PancakeBot This clever invention uses pancake batter to draw onto a sizzling griddle. It can create any elaborate shape you want. You’ll never see pancakes the same way again.

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

31


WHY EVERYONE MUST SUPPORT BUY ONE GIVE ONE PRODUCTS This Christmas, it’s quite common for all of us to rush into malls to buy gifts for loved ones and friends. When doing so, we pick out what seems like something they would be glad enough to have. But did you know that there are stores - specific companies - that have a buying concept such as buy one - give one? If you’re not familiar with this concept, it’s when you buy a product and the company you’re buying it from would give the same product to someone in need. If you really think about it, doing so allows you to do good in this world where everything is filled with bad news. These companies that follow a buy one - give one concept give out their products with every purchase you make to homeless people, shelter animals, poor communities and other charities. TOMS, Out of Print, Better World Books, The Company Store and WeWood are among some of the companies that are dedicated in helping those who are in need in different communities. These companies have been doing this for some time already, and so far, it’s been a successful attempt to earn and help as well. The buy one - give one concept has had good effects on several communities. For example, TOMS have donated shoes

to different communities for all the purchases made by its customers. In doing so, the company reports that over 2 million children were protected from hookworm with the medication and TOMS Shoes they’ve received. Several children were identified to be needing malnutrition care from the “shoe-integrated health screenings” in Malawi. Enrollment in schools in Liberia increased after the TOMS Shoe distribution program began. So it doesn’t really take too much effort to convince people why everyone of us needs to support buy onegive one products. By helping the people around us, the good deed goes a long way. We may not directly see how it can affect someone’s life but it does. This Christmas, all it takes for us to help is know which companies follow the buy one - give one concept and buy products we like from them. Not only will you be able to make a loved one happy, you could also help those in need even if you don’t know them. Christmas is, after all, a season of giving and sharing. For anyone out there with extra money to spend, support these companies and their noble pursuit of helping everyone in need.

AN ENGINEER'S GUIDE ON CHRISTMAS SHOPPING AND GIVING BACK Here are some tips on how to do your Christmas shopping wisely. by Cielo Panda The season for gift giving, holiday cheer, and long vacation is finally here! It’s also time for Christmas shopping. With all the presents you’re buying, it’s very easy to deplete your cash reserves. So here are some tips on how you can do your Christmas shopping wisely. Plan ahead, seriously Just hopping into a shopping center without a plan of some sort can lead you to spend excessively. If you don’t know what to buy for a specific person, don’t buy anything, yet. It’s very helpful to write gift ideas down on a list tied with a specific budget. This way, you’ll easily be able to monitor how much you’re willing to spend thus reducing the risk of overspending. Do some Googling Not all good deals are found in stores, some are just waiting to be found online. Checking for prices online can help in your planning, which can help lower your spending. Sales like Cyber Monday that happen after Thanksgiving are good sources of more affordable items for your holiday gifts. It’s also great to do some product research before buying. This allows you to sort out the good deals from the not. Do it yourself Every thrifty shopper knows that a gift made by hand is light on the pockets. If you think you have the crafty skill to create gifts on your own, do it. For some people, handmade gifts are more heartfelt, so it’s basically a

32

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

win-win situation. If you’re not confident in making stuff on your own, there are a lot of tutorials on the internet to help you out. When in doubt, Google it out. Buy early People often think of buying presents during a holiday sale, but that isn’t always the best way to go. Sometimes, you’ll come across items which would make excellent holiday gifts when you least expect it. If you see a promising item in the middle of the year, don’t wait too long to get it. Buying presents early will help in cutting down your holiday spending and also remove names from your list. Last-minute buying This is only applicable for online buyers. Some companies completely remove their shipping costs the closer Christmas day approaches. You can also do some research on retailers that do not charge shipping if you exceed a specific amount. This way, you won’t be forced to do some last minute shopping but still save on shipping fees.


WORLD’S MOST ENGINEERED CHRISTMAS TREE It has floating decorations! by Dion Greg Reyes Nobody knows where the first Christmas tree was made. Its origins are traced long before the advent of Christianity, where plants and trees that are green always had a special meaning. It was only in the 1890s that Christmas ornaments grew in Germany as accessories to the celebration of the birth of Christ. At the time, Christmas trees are still getting popular in the United States, which reach from floor to ceiling; and in Europe with only small trees about four feet in height. During the early years of the 20th century, Christmas trees were decorated with different designs. In America, they were placed mostly with homemade ornaments. The German-American sect used apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies to enhance their Christmas trees.

In no time, electricity was introduced to the tree. The bright lights made Christmas tree glow, completely redefining the ornament. That was the start of the flourish of the famous tree. It began to appear in town squares and plazas all over the world, which already became a December tradition. Since then, the Christmas tree has been updated so little. It’s still the same evergreen but with the varying colors, heights, and decors. The farthest innovation it got was it was stuck to the ceiling which made the tree in reverse. Not until Dyson, a British technology company that designs and manufactures vacuum cleaners, hand dryers, bladeless fans, and heaters, have developed an

engineered Christmas tree in 2015 that is out of the ordinary. Before it got to the firm’s reception area at Dyson's headquarters in Malmesbury, Wiltshire in the UK, the 12-foot futuristic Christmas tree was worked on by their eight researchers and designers. It was applied with aspects of Dyson technology and used the Bernoulli’s principle in fluid mechanics. The base of the tree is composed of transparent hoover tubes, while the body consists of nine hovering ornaments floating in the air. It has tubes which use jets of wind to have the foam decors suspend in midair – this is possible because of the said engineering principle. A senior fluid dynamics

engineer at Dyson explains, “The tree uses Bernoulli's principle to suspend baubles at the end of the tree branches. Swiss scientist Daniel Bernoulli demonstrated that, in most cases, the pressure in a liquid or gas decreases as it moves faster, this is why the baubles [stay] suspended in the air.” The Christmas tree is not complete without its star. Its designers had made a yellow foam ball ornament atop the tree. The world’s most engineered tree was not made overnight. Its creators said it took a month of creating the Dyson tree, with multiple iterations along the way before arriving to the final design. They had to consider a lot of factors including fluid dynamics, acoustics and model making.

Photo by Dyson Photo by Envirotect

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

33


GRUSH: THE SMART TOOTHBRUSH THAT MAKE KIDS BRUSH MORE

Tooth decay is the most notorious chronic disease. It even tops asthma and early obesity. This is due to the struggle that parents and dentists have when it comes to convincing the little ones to brush at least twice a day. Well, those problems are no more with Grush, winner of America’s Greatest Makers, who won the $1 million prize money on the show created by Intel and TBS. “So, what differentiates this smart toothbrush from any other toothbrush out there?”

34

you may ask. The Grush enables children to get goals with brushing by allowing them to immerse in real-time brushing games that appear on their Android or iOS device. A fun experience will create a good environment for kids to enjoy brushing on their own time. There are currently 3 games on the system for your kids to choose from: Monster Chase, Toothy Orchestra, and Brush-a-Pet, all of which are guaranteed to get your kids brushing.

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

Photo by Readwrite


Photo by Youtube

ES FIRE SOME SNOWBALLS USING THIS CUSTOM TOY MACHINE GUN Some former NASA employees have left the engineering part on their jobs and just live their lives like normal people (I’m not saying NASA engineers are not normal on the job). But when one is bored on a winter family vacation, why not use the engineering curiosity into something fun? Like a snowball-firing machine? This is what exactly happened to engineer Mark Rober, who realized that making and throwing snowballs with hands might be a little too imperfect. So he, together with his brother during the vacation, devised

a machine that will make it easier for snowball fights. Using only a leaf-blower and a plastic pipe the brothers got from a hardware store, they produced a snowball machine gun that can fire 13 snowballs in just half a second. The toy gun can be loaded with 15 snowballs at a time into the magazine, with a trigger that can control the snowball shooting airflow – either hard or soft. Who says the uncles cannot have some fun on winter vacation? Definitely not Mark Rober and his brother.

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

35


ENGINEERS DID THE MATH: SANTA CLAUS IS NOT REAL Sorry for ruining your Christmas, kids. by Dion Reyes

Photo by weknowyourdreams

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! December is just right around the corner and everyone is excited to experience the joy and warmth of Christmas again. People are coming home to their families, lighting up their houses with decors, exchanging gifts, and sharing their blessings. Perhaps this is the perfect time for everyone to relax after a year’s work. But not for Santa Claus. This only means that he should be working again in the North Pole with his reindeers mostly for the kids who are expecting him. All for the spirit of Christmas to be alive among the young ones. While most of us have entertained the belief that Santa Claus is just a figment of our imagination (kids, sorry for ruining that), engineers have further provided mathematical proofs here and there that the non-religious Christmas poster boy is just impossible. Or in this dimension of the universe, at least. Here are the conclusions that engineers have made when they think too much about Christmas:

36

The total number of children in the world is about 2 billion. Given that Santa only takes care of the Christians, this eliminates the Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jewish children in his list, leaving 15% of the total children population, which is more or less 378 million. On average, there are 3.5 children per household. There are approximately 8 million homes in all. Let’s settle with the notion that there is at least one good child in each. Reindeers do not have the capacity to fly. There are no reports that one of their species can be in mid-air. Perhaps only Santa has seen one and the rest of the world hasn’t. Science says that Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer is fake. Assuming Santa travels from east to west, this gives him 7 more hours to work with thanks to time zones and the rotation of the Earth. This means that he has 822.6 visits per second, giving Santa 1/1000th of a second to do the job in each Christian household having a good kid. Doing this includes parking, hopping out the sleigh, jumping

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

down the chimney, filling the stockings, leaving the gifts under the tree, going out, and proceeding to the next house. Let’s say that each of these 91.8 million homes are distributed evenly, the houses will be 0.78 miles per household. This gives Santa a total trip of 75 1/2 million miles – that’s without the bathroom breaks. Given these conditions, Santa’s sleigh should be traveling at 650 miles per second to cater to all the good Christian children in the world. That’s but 3,000 times the speed of sound. An average reindeer only runs at 0.00416667 mph. No human and reindeer has ever hacked time. Apart from the travel times of Santa, his sleigh’s payload is just as controversial. Say the average weight of gift to a child is medium-sized legos weighing 2 pounds. The sleigh should be carrying 321,300 tons for the gifts, not counting the overweight Santa. A reindeer can only pull no more than 300 pounds. Assuming that the flying reindeer could pull 10 times their usual capacity, Santa

will need 214,000 reindeers in all. This is an incredible weight for the reindeers to drag – 353,430 tons including them – more so fly the gifts to the households. That massive total weight creates a huge air resistance, which is comparable with the heat whenever a spacecraft re-enters into the Earth’s atmosphere. The reindeers that lead the bunch have to absorb 14.2 quintillion joules of energy per second each. Just imagine that. This ridiculous energy moves to the next pair, unto the next, and until the last because laws of physics say they have to combust spontaneously with that amount of heat. In just 4.26 thousands of a second, this can happen. As with Santa while in mid-air, he is subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times the force of gravity. Granting that Santa is 300 pounds, he might just be hammered to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.


THE ENGINEERING BEHIND SANTA'S SLEIGH If Santa were real, then what would his sled be like according to an engineer?

by Cielo Panda On Christmas Eve, millions of children all over the globe who believe in Santa Claus will be anticipating to open their gifts on Christmas morning. Just like the traditional Christmas tales, they would be expecting Santa Claus, his team of reindeer and his awesome sleigh to glide across the night sky and bring them their presents. Everyone has their own version of Santa’s sleigh, and if it were real, how do you think it would look like? Have you ever wondered how Santa’s sleigh flies? Also, how does he fit all those presents in just one bag? Surely, there’s more to it than just an ordinary sled and a team of reindeer. And since we engineers love demystifying even the most bizarre phenomenon, here’s how Santa’s sleigh would be like according to an engineer. Traditionally, we would imagine the exterior of the sleigh a traditional and rustic design, with its usual red hue.

The Interior

The sleigh would have a dashboard that is equipped with Santa’s own GPS navigator. The navigator being connected to his elves in the North Pole, wherein they would show millions of destinations that Santa would have to pass by. The navigator is also equipped with backup data of all the destinations the previous year, just in case the signal goes out. A touchscreen device that has all the kids of the world monitored whether they’ve been naughty or nice. This device checks every detail of the kids’ activities until the last few hours of December 24, and will determine if the child deserves a gift or a shiny piece of coal. On the left side of the dashboard, there will be a speedometer to monitor Santa’s flying speeds. On the right side, there will be a radio communicator wherein Santa will be able to communicate with Mrs. Claus and the elves to update him with weather report, toy inventory as well

as emergency news. Santa Claus could get bored or lonely during his solo flight, so to keep him company, we can imagine that his sleigh includes an installed iPod dock and a matching peppermint-designed iPod that plays Christmas songs for the entire night. His sleigh would also have a hot cocoa dispenser and carrots for the reindeer in the compartment.

Transdimensional Gift Compartment a.k.a. the Gift Bag

Okay, so how in the world does he fit his presents in one bag? We can call this a transdimensional gift compartment in a bag, which serves as a portal between the sleigh and the North Pole. Therefore, the bag is never really filled. You can imagine Mary Poppins bag, the theory may be similar.

Photo by BusinessWire

The Antimatter Propulsion Unit

In science fiction, antimatter is what is used to allow spaceships to travel at warp speed—they’re referred to as antimatter propulsion rockets. This may be possible in the real world in the near future. Currently, NASA is developing a spaceship that may get us to Mars within a matter of weeks. According to Live Science, “Antimatter is the opposite of normal matter. More specifically, the subatomic particles of antimatter have properties opposite those of normal matter. The electrical charge of those particles is reversed. Antimatter was created along with matter after the Big Bang, but antimatter is rare in today's universe, and scientists aren't sure why.” Santa’s sleigh would be special, it will have a customized antimatter propulsion unit. It would be small enough to be installed at the back of his sleigh and fast enough to be able to deliver all the presents to the children across the globe. If ever the rocket fails, his reindeer will be there to back him up.

Photo by GrabCAD

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

37


WHEN ENGINEER FATHERS MAKE THE TOYS by Dion Greg Reyes

Most fathers just take the responsibilities of providing for their family members while taking care of them. Nothing more, nothing less. They work hard and earn for the best interests of the mother and the kids. But there are just those who want to take it further – just like Chris Harden and Jeremy Scheinberg. The two are family guys who happen to be engineers. Chris is an electrical engineering graduate from Auburn University while Jeremy is a controls engineering alum at Penn. Out of their desire to provide their children with toys that stimulate young minds,

38

they used their expertise in engineering and founded a toy company called TROBO. There, Chief Product Officer Chris and Chief Engineering Officer Jeremy developed connected plush toys, named after the company, which could teach kids about science, technology, engineering and math. Through interactive stories, TROBOs serve as educational companions for kids age 2 to 5. We interviewed Chris and Jeremy through e-mail to discover how they put up the company, their challenges along the way, their goals and future innovations, and their product’s impact, among others.

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas


PRIOR EXPERIENCE How many years have you been working in your industry (private, engineering, NGO)? Chris: I’ve spent most of my career as a Software Engineer. I’m now about 18 years into my career. I’ve worked for a variety of industries – theme parks, mobile and embedded devices, and video games. Jeremy: I’ve spent most of my career in the theme park industry working for Disney, Universal, etc... I’m now about 19 years into my career. THE COMPANY Describe your company’s structure, brief history, board or advisers. TROBO has two founders, Chris Harden and Jeremy Scheinberg. We have a series of contractors hired to perform software and content

development. We use contract manufacturing for the product manufacturing. Our advisors are previous co-founders, investors, lawyers, and toy industry veterans. How big is your company? TROBO is somewhere around 7-9 people on average, and sometimes this grows to 12 or so. Describe your mission, vision and values. Our mission is to design innovative products and experiences that inspire children to learn about the science, technology, engineering & math (STEM) in the world around them. It is our vision to inspire children to make things that will change the world. Our company is anchored in these values: education,

quality, commitment, work/ life balance, and non-violence. Where is this company headed? What are your future expansion plans? Describe briefly your strategic goals. In 10 to 20 years, we want to have made TROBO an icon for early childhood STEM education. Strategically, this requires growth of not only the product SKUs but creation of more content. TOYS OF THE PAST MEET THE PRESENT How will today’s toys make a difference as compared to the ones from the past? Until recently technology was just too expensive to provide a value that families could afford in the toy market, so most toys have tech from the 80’s and 90’s. Now we are starting to see the benefits of IoT devices used in toys. The more connected, the more access to powerful systems that can bring more fun. Which toys from your childhood made an impact on you while growing up? Chris: For me, it’s Mario Brothers on the Nintendo NES Classic. Jeremy: In my case, it’s visiting theme parks while growing up in Miami.

What do you think is the future of the toy industries? It will continue to get more technically savvy as an IoT (Internet of Things) industry. THE PRODUCT What’s the inspiration behind your products? How did you come up with these ideas? Our children are our inspiration. Jeremy and Chris are both fathers. Jeremy has a 7-year-old girl and 5-year-old boy. Chris has a nearly 5-yearold boy and a 4-month-old daughter. We are engineers who see our country declining in the number of graduates from STEM programs. That drove us to help solve what is a macro problem for the country. On a micro level, as parents we didn’t see many compelling, STEM educational, non-violent products out there for our children’s age ranges (4 and 6 at the time of founding). Which group is your target market and why? Children age 2 to 5, who have access to mobile technology. TROBO is a connected plush toy. Plush has a fairly tight window of age where children are interested in it. Older children, up to about 6 or so, are interested in our STEM content.

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

39


What are the future innovations that you or your company is pursuing? We are pursuing further innovations in the embedded hardware and more value in the apps we make. Do you think your product has made an impact on your costumers and in your industry? Yes. Our customers tell us regularly how TROBO is their children’s best friend and they relay stories about how the child recalls some STEM knowledge learned while playing with TROBO.

older siblings. Once the content library and character stories are strong enough, we also have plans to license the brand and characters much like a Disney or Dreamworks. We’ll continue electronic story development for our mobile app, and we’ll also produce more hard books and products for our customers to enjoy. As far as the connected plush are concerned, the technological landscape for a connected toys should be immensely powerful compared to now, and we plan to absorb what value we can as we iterate on hardware.

Where do you see your products heading 10 years from now? The current content is compelling to younger children, and we are developing content for their

What makes your toys different from your competitors? We were the first to innovate in the market with a connected STEM toy, built by engineers and fathers who inherently

40

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

understand our target customers. Our dedication to STEM content that is nonviolent continues to set us apart from competitors who drift towards standard, more generic play activities such as cooking and play-fighting.

THE CHALLENGES & SOLUTIONS What challenges did your companies face while developing your product? Competing with entrenched companies like Hasbro, Mattel, SpinMaster, etc.is


tough as they have enormous budgets compared to us as a startup. We also had some problems getting our first run of units FCC tested which added delays to our internal delivery goals. However, having years of experience in manufacturing, we knew things may be delayed and thereby committed to a yearlong development cycle for our Kickstarter customers. That was the right choice, as we ended up delivering on that commitment about a month early. How did your company overcome these challenges? On competing with big companies, that is really just about finding your niche that they don’t address. On production, we’re very big on solid communications and planning for delays in things we can’t control, especially with new manufacturers and development teams. So we

over-communicated and padded estimates provided by our vendors. That’s pretty standard project management practice. ADVICE TO THE YOUNG ENGINEERS Please give advice and words of wisdom to millennial engineers who want to start their own companies and develop their own products as well. Any inspiring words that you can share? Read or listen to “Disciplined Entrepreneurship” by Bill Aulet. We’ve made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot of what he describes, the hard way. After that, read or listen to as many Marketing, Sales, and other Entrepreneurship books as you can; always be listening to a new book. Start trying to build a business as early as you can possibly afford to, while your expenses are low. Doing so allows you to fail cheaply, which allows

you to learn cheaply. Network like a machine, because successful startups are made up of teams, not individuals. Specifically your team is best positioned when you have someone who can technically execute, someone who is the subject matter expert, someone who is financially or operationally savvy, and

someone who can sell your product/service. If you are missing one, network some more. Launch a business around something you are absolutely passionate about. You’ll be doing so much of it, that you will rely on your passion to pull you through the hard times.

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

41


Photo by ABC 42

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas


TINITELL: GIVING CHILDREN THE FREEDOM TO EXPLORE THE OUTDOORS SAFELY “We don’t want to keep children online with a great new app. We want to keep children offline with a great new device.” Before the age of smartphones and Virtual Reality and even before there was PlayStation and Xbox, there was only the great outdoors. Children would run wild in the parks and play with their playmates. They would breathe the playground’s fresh air as they ran after each other in a game of tag, or explore different places to sneak into as they play hide and seek. Older kids would go to the local court and have a friendly game of street ball, and more daring kids would dash throughout the neighborhood in their skateboards. While these may sound nostalgic especially for 90’s kids (and older), many children nowadays prefer to play on tablets, smartphones or gaming consoles rather than play in the outdoors. Some parents choose to let them do so because of the possible dangers of playing outside. That’s why Tinitell, a new startup tech company, has created a wearable mobile phone and GPS tracker for kids, a piece of technology that encourages children to play outside more, since it makes it significantly easier for parents to stay in touch with them. GineersNow conducted an exclusive interview with Mats Horn, the CEO and founder of Tinitell.

THE COMPANY

Tinitell AB is a technology company based in Stockholm, Sweden, set to create a new future for simple and smart communication devices. After a successful Kickstarter campaign two years ago and substantial funding in research & development, Tinitell as a kids’ phone is our first product on the market. Extremely simple, fun and durable, Tinitell is a wearable mobile phone and GPS tracker for kids, a piece of technology that actually enables children to play outside more, as it makes it significantly easier for parents to stay in touch with them. How big is your company? Our main office in Stockholm, Sweden hosts the Operational and Software Development teams, currently counting more than 25 full time employees. The RnD team and the production facilities are located in China, Shenzhen. We have logistic partners in New York, USA, handling the North American operations, while the European ones are handled from Sweden. Describe your mission, vision and values. 
 The Tinitell team is passionate about technology and design. Our mission is to redefine the communication experience

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

43


in simple and creative ways. However, at the end of the day, our core philosophy is to encourage more kids to just go outside and play. We want more adults to appreciate the outdoors, without digital screens and technology in the way. While designing Tinitell as a mobile phone for kids our motto became: “We don’t want to keep children online with a great new app. We want to keep children offline with a great new device.” Where is this company headed? What are your future expansion plans? We are focused on perfecting a series of products that stem from our current design. In the long run, we are looking for solutions to simplify communication in everyday life, keep us connected to reality while making the most of the technological advancements. Voice recognition, voice interaction and AI are high on our consideration list, not only for the current product but also for future Tinitell IoT devices.

THE PRODUCT 


The idea originated three years ago, when Mats, the CEO and founder spent an evening at a friend’s house. His friend didn’t feel comfortable letting his child go out to play unaccompanied, but also had to cook dinner. The immediate (and unsatisfactory) solution was for everyone to stay inside. Mats decided then and there to create a better option for parents looking to stay connected without hindering their children’s freedom. Mats then moved back to Sweden and assembled an accomplished team of technology and design experts. The solution is an affordable, durable, and elegant GPS-enabled wearable phone, paired with a mobile app for parents.

About the CEO and Founder

Mats Horn, is a Swedish-American entrepreneur and the founder of Tinitell. He is looking at redefining the hardware/software (HW/SW) ecosystem with simple and creative solutions. He is an architect, "southern boy", arctic ranger, and free spirit in search of the perfect consumer tech product. After he graduated from Brown University, Mats moved back to Sweden. In 2013 he pulled together a team of telecom experts, designers, engineers and marketing professionals to form what has become known as Tinitell.

44

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

Which group is your target market and why? 
 Tinitell is the ideal first mobile phone for kids, from preschoolers to the age when they get their first smartphone – 5 to 12-year-old. It’s natural for parents and children to stay connected and Tinitell encourages this connection while offering kids more freedom to play and discover the outdoors.

What are the future innovations that you or your company are pursuing? 
 As mentioned earlier, voice recognition, voice interaction and AI are high on our list, not only for the current product but also for future Tinitell IoT devices. We are looking with interest at the evolution of Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and similar products that encourage an easy voice-driven interaction with technology. Do you think your product has made an impact on your costumers and in your industry? Definitely. We are among the first in Europe and we are opening a completely new market, of wearable mobile phones for kids. We have no industry benchmarks, no clear industry standards, we are actually setting them up. Where do you see your products heading 10 years from now? 
 We see how Tinitell can become a type of simple communication platform. We think of the development of voice recognition services, not as services, but as operating systems, like Windows or iOS. Those future operating systems, voice systems that are still just figuring out what they are, belong in hardware (HW) interfaces as simple as Tinitell, where the use of a screen is secondary at most. That’s Tinitell’s position in 10 years, where consumer voices meet the power of cloud. What makes your toy/gadget/ product different from your competitors? 
 The screen-free, wonderful simplicity of the device and the appealing Swedish design. And more than that the fact that we are highly focused on quality and performance. There are other trackers and “economical” competitors, but none of them have invested as much as us in RnD and in perfecting the software and the hardware functions.

THE CHALLENGES & SOLUTIONS

What challenges did your companies face while developing your product? 
 The largest challenge is what everyone says, “It’s called hardware because it’s hard”. We’ve experienced it all first hand,


and have had to change supplier 4 times in 2 years. Finding the right partner with the right knowledge and production capacity is like finding needles in a haystack, in a tumbler! How did your company overcome these challenges? 
 The 1 thing that has been the most helpful for us is our primary company value, “keep it simple”. It’s not a special phrase, but for us it makes a world of difference. Instead of developing many features for our device and smartphone app, we’ve developed a few simple functions, instead of developing different products for different 3G or 4G networks, we’ve developed just one device that works globally, instead of making a UI for a screen, we got rid of the screen. Small companies have to focus, and that’s what we’ve done.

ADVICE TO THE YOUNG ENGINEERS

Please give advice and words of wisdom to millennial engineers who want to start their own companies and develop their own products as well. Any inspiring words that you can share? The one thing that millions of people still don’t understand is that you have to go all in. Imagine if you told your day-job boss, “hey, I have this biz idea, but I’m not really sure if I’m ready for it…” (sounds like a convincing biz idea?) or if you told your partner, “hey, I think I like this other person, but I’m not really sure what to think...”. Doubt is extremely destructive, so don’t let it touch any worldimprovement ideas that come to you. It’s disrespectful to your idea, to the people you discuss it with, and most importantly, to the world.

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

45


46

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas


TECHNOLOGY WILL SAVE US: SPARKING KIDS’ IMAGINATIONS AROUND THE WORLD DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

47


W

hen Bethany Koby co-founded Technology Will Save Us, she wanted her company’s wide range of toy products to encourage children to learn and become creators of the technology in the future. Tech Will Save Us offers toys that were tested by children and loved by parents for the whole family to play with anywhere they want - may that be in the kitchen table, in the field or even in the classroom. Each kit gives a child an opportunity to unlock his/her creative potential, which will surely help one develop the skills needed to secure a brighter future. With products shipped in 97 countries around the globe, the company has sparked so many kids’ imaginations already. Awarded with so many recognitions like Best Hardware Startup of The Year (2016) at the Europas, Koby and her team plans to develop more inspiring products for more families to enjoy while learning. They do believe that “diverse, creative and empowered kids and families will save us and technology will be at the heart of how they do this!” Koby shares her thoughts and views on today’s toy industry, the challenges her company had to overcome and her company’s future plans in dominating the toy industry in this special interview with GineersNow.

THE PERSON / PEOPLE Introduce yourself I am a mum, CEO, designer, art director and artist interested in creating brands, businesses and experiences that help

48

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

imagine a more positive and collaborative future. I’ve been creating innovative relationships between brands and communities for well over 10 years both commercially and personally. In 2012, I co-founded Technology Will Save Us. Prior to starting TWSU, I was a design director and social impact specialist at the international branding and innovation company Wolff Olins. I have a BFA in Graphic Design from Rhode Island School of Design, a MSC in Responsibility and Business practice from Bath University and was also a scholarship holder at Fabrica in Italy.

THE COMPANY Describe your company In 2012, I co-founded Technology Will Save Us, a business that instigates 21st century learning - in the classroom and around the kitchen table - through its well-designed DIY Gadget Kits for everyday life. It was based on a radical premise: what if kids could build the technology they use, and learn more about technology in the process? We created the (now iconic) kits and the most accessible, fun way for kids, families, and educators to learn, play, and invent with technology. Our advisors, Matt Webb, Tracy Doree are invaluable to me and our business. They have been fundamental at all stages of Technology Will Save Us. Our London office houses a team of around 26 content creators, product specialists, sales gurus, production experts,


The toy industry is one of the most powerful industries in the world" educators, engineers, designers and developers. We also have two sales gurus in New York and one in Paris. Our mission is to inspire the creative imagination of young people with handson technology and to build the most accessible and entertaining brand for the creator generation. Being customer-focused and experience-obsessed is at the centre of everything we do. Where is this company headed? What are your future expansion plans? I plan on growing Technology Will Save Us into the most accessible technology company in the toy industry, creating the best experience for kids and empowering them with the ability to make, build and learn with technology. We are continually developing products for different ages, with different themes and different price points. We hope to build a real community of future makers with our online ecosystem of coding and programming tools.

THE TOY INDUSTRY What do you think is the future of the toy industry? The toy industry is one of the most powerful industries in the world. It shapes and moulds some of the most important

early years of people's lives through education, play and new experiences. Recently there has been a shift in the toy industry, brands are creating child-friendly iterations of adult tech - FitBits for kids, tablets that teach and faux-computers. We’re starting to see more and more brands trying to connect apps to everything in order to add “digital” to the experience. Despite this change, the toy industry still has a long way to go when it comes to adapting to new technology and catering to kids’ ever changing interests and needs. I think the future will be toys that prepare, empower and help shape kids’ futures. How will today’s toys and gadgets make a difference as compared to the ones from the past? Around 65% of children in school today will have a job that doesn’t currently exist, we want to equip them with all the tools they need to be prepared for these roles. The creative tech toy space finally offers kids the opportunity to make, code and invent with toys. Our aim is to spearhead this sector, Technology Will Save Us is dedicated to empowering kids with technology and unlocking their creative potential.

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

49


ways for young people to learn, it helped me become a happy, selfmotivated learner.

THE PRODUCT

Which toy/gadget from your childhood made an impact on you while growing up? My mother was a toy designer turned Montessori teacher and my Dad was a photographer so I was always encouraged to be hands on. I used to build model aeroplanes with my Dad, there’s

50

something really exciting and inspiring in something arriving in parts and being able to build and create it together. The toys and gadgets that really made an impact for me were the hands on montessori tools I was taught with. Learning by doing is one of the most empowering

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

What’s the inspiration behind your products? For us, design means putting users at the center of our product development process. All of our kits and digital tools are created with a user-centered process that involves kids and parents at every stage from ideation all the way through to home, park and play testing. We conduct extensive research projects funded by organizations like NESTA, Google and Mozilla, to understand what young people love doing and what skills they are learning in and outside of school. This helps us lead everything with what kids love to do rather than what the technology is capable of. This is especially true for our

latest kit, The Mover. After testing our prototypes with over 300 kids, we learned that kids love technology that is portable, reactive and open-ended. This allows them to be engaged and active while having fun. We used feedback from kids to define the form factor of The Mover, which after testing and iterating, became a wearable. The technology we chose - motions sensors, a compass and rainbow lights - gives kids a responsive and active product, they wanted to keep using it again and again. As we continued to develop the product, we got even more excited that this wearable was not a smart watch, not a fitness tracker and not about data in a cloud but about something very clear - kids learning through active play. Which group is your target market and why? Our kits are for people aged 4 -


100. We want Tech Will Save Us to be the gateway for millions of families to become creators of technology around the kitchen table, in a classroom, in a field, makerspace, after school club - anywhere and everywhere. There are so many wonderful resources cropping up, we think empowering parents to support the inner maker in their kid is hugely important. Giving young people and adults access to real practitioners and entrepreneurs in tech is really transformative. What are the future innovations that you and your company are pursuing? We have lots of exciting projects in the pipeline… Watch this space! Do you think your product has made an impact on your customers and in your industry? Absolutely! We’ve been awarded some incredible recognitions, the Museum of Modern Art in New York acquired our Gamer Kit for their permanent collection ‘Humble Masterpieces’. We were selected as part of the permanent collection displayed in the newly built London Design Museum. We’ve won Gold Parents’ Choice awards for 2 of our best selling kits, the Gamer and Electro Dough kits. Our newest kit, the Mover Kit, has already won a D&AD Graphite Impact Pencil and a Fast Company innovation by design award. Our company was also recognised as the ‘Best Hardware Startup of the year (2016)’ at the Europas. Where do you see your products heading 10 years from now? As part of the plan to grow Technology Will Save Us into the most accessible tech company in the toy industry, we plan to grow our toy range. We want to do this by launching products that are insight driven and vigorously user tests. Children’s toys tested by children, loved by parents. What makes your products different from your competitors?

We’re not a single product startup. We make an ecosystem of kits and digital experiences that support a tech learning journey though different ages and abilities. We’re also more accessible and priced in a way that allows all kids to get hands on creating with technology, all of our competitors are priced at over £100, our kits start at £25.

THE CHALLENGES & SOLUTIONS What challenges did your company face while developing your product? Global markets are really important to us from the beginning we’ve sold our kits globally, in the US, UK and in Europe too, we have now expanded to big retail stores in Australia too. What I think is really interesting as we grow and scale is the maturity of different markets. For instance, the maker movement, is really important to us. It is a movement that is much more mature in the US, so the opportunities to sell are greater as there is a lot more understanding of the product and services that we are creating. How did your company overcome these challenges? It’s extremely important to test, test then test some more. We use customer insights in every aspect of the company to help us better understand the markets we are dealing with.

ADVICE TO THE YOUNG ENGINEERS I would say that always remember this is a journey, not a destination. Make sure you surround yourself with examples, mentors, advisors who inspire you to be the kind of entrepreneur and person you want to be. Always keep learning.

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

51


A ONE-MAN TOY STARTUP TO WATCH OUT FOR

Behind the toys that kids now play with or place in their cupboard is a collective genius that made them happen. They are a product of a long, complicated process of design that went through different levels, starting from its concept to production. Every toy manufacturer operates like this – except one called Aran Blocks that is yet to enter the toy industry. Aran Blocks is a one-man startup by Dev Anand Dorasamy. Despite of his lack of experience in the toy industry, Australia-based Dorasamy was able to develop a product for about two years now largely thanks to his friend who was an automotive design engineer. The product, which is named after the startup, will officially go to market early next year. One would wonder how it is like to handle a one-man toy startup,

52

so we tapped Dorasamy for an e-mail interview to unravel how he got it all done by himself and what separates Aran Blocks from the rest. ARAN BLOCKS Tell us about your product. Aran Blocks is a patentpending building block that fits horizontally as well as vertically. While the vertical connection is basic, the way the block connects horizontally is unique and allows any structure made from it to be strong and able to bear weight. Meaning, it allows a user to make structures that can be used on a daily basis such as a bedside table, laptop stand or bookshelf, without any glues or reinforcements. Basically, Aran Blocks is what you would get if Lego met IKEA, fell in love, and had a baby. The entire system only involves

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas


2 shapes: a block and a cover. The blocks are 5cm across and fit on all sides with their counterparts. They also have a hole in the middle to allow the user to run a wire through it, for instance headphone or phone charging cables. It also has a small semi-circle opening at the bottom, so that structures remain flat even when run a wire through the base. The covers have 2 functions: one, they form a smooth surface for any structures you make from the blocks; and two, they help make the structure stronger due to the fact that they lock the blocks in place. What’s the inspiration behind your products? How did you come up with these ideas? I was driven to create these blocks when I was playing with my son Aran (yes they are named after him) and his Lego bricks. We have a ton of these at home but I didn’t like the fact that they fit only vertically. To build horizontally you needed to layer the way you would do with actual bricks. Also, I was not a big fan how easily Lego structures tend to break apart. So I set about trying to solve these issues. Which group is your target market and why? The blocks are easy to build with but are not as simple or intuitive as LEGO. As such we recommend it for ages 5 and up. That being said we find that adults love it too. What are the future innovations that you are pursuing? We plan to introduce more blocks shapes that allow creating strong that are more versatile. Also we will be adding modules such as lighting systems that can be added to your creation seamlessly. Where do you see your product heading 10 years from now? We would like to use the basic

design principle that allows it to make weight-bearing structures and apply it larger applications such as quick deploy bridges and disaster housing. What makes your toy different from your competitors? The most unique feature of the Aran Blocks building system is its ability to make structures that are able to bear weight. THE CHALLENGES & SOLUTIONS What challenges did your companies face while developing your product? Let me be the first to admit that I am no designer or engineer but allow me to tell you why that was a good thing. I truly believe that this is a design that could have only been imagined by someone with zero design skills such as myself. Had I any design skills to speak of at all, I may have explored some complex way to solve this problem. But having none, it forced me to look for the simplest solution to the problem. How did your company overcome these challenges? To get it into production though, I relied on a friend how was an automotive design engineer that helped tremendously. ADVICE TO THE YOUNG ENGINEERS Please give advice and words of wisdom to millennial engineers who want to start their own companies and develop their own products as well. Any inspiring words that you can share? If you have a problem and would like to solve it, just go ahead and try to do it even if you don’t have the necessary skills. Skills can be learnt or found in others to help you. All you need to do is try.

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

53


THIS TINY NES CLONE CAN PLAY ALL OF YOUR FAVORITE 8-BIT GAMES optimizes the games in such a way that lag times are reduced. The console also enables you to play the games directly on an HDTV without any problems. As an added touch, the console comes with your standard NES controller that looks exactly like what you had almost 30 years ago. If you want this console for your own nostalgic reasons, it comes in at around USD 500.00 and is almost always sold-out.

Photo by GizmodoAustralia

If you’re looking for a little nostalgia, you don’t need to bother getting a NES console that’ll probably be incompatible with your brand new flatscreen television. Clad in aircraft-grade aluminum, the Analogue NT makes sure that you’re able to play all the cartridges from your FamiCom and NES childhood that you might’ve stored in a box way up in your attic or basement. Not only does it allow you to play your old 8-bit games, it also

54

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas


THIS MAY BE THE WORLD'S SMALLEST ARCADE CABINET

If you enjoyed playing Pacman and other 8-bit games in your childhood days, then you may be interested in playing this. It’s a micro arcade cabinet with a screen that’s just a bit larger than your thumbnail. It was made by online hardware store Adafruit. According to them, it’s the world’s smallest arcade cabinet. MAME

(Multiple

Arcade

Machine Emulator) cabinets are the so called gaming boxes of the 90’s that house emulators that can hold a lot of classical games. Here’s a video of Adafruit’s tiny arcade cabinet.

Phillip Burgess, the builder of the cabinet, used a tool called Nanoscreen to be able to downsize the video game graphics so the size would be just right for the tiny screen.

Many MAMA enthusiasts love to build complex cabinets to house their emulators, this one included. This cabinet uses a .96-inch RGB OLED display and a Raspberry Pi Zero.

According to Adafruit’s blog post, the cabinet was great to play but very difficult to build.

Photo by Make, TechTimes

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

55


MEET THE ENGINEER WHO INSPIRED PHUNSUKH WANGDU’S CHARACTER IN ‘3 IDIOTS’

56

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

Photo by RolexAwards


Yup, that idiot is real, and his name is Sonam Wangchuk. Phunsukh Wangdu is perhaps the most admired character in the 2009 Bollywood blockbuster movie 3 Idiots. Played by Aamir Khan, the engineer has left us many great lessons about learning and excellence, making it one of the best movies ever for engineers. If you have come to like Wangdu, the odds are that you will also like the man who inspired the character. Yup, that idiot is real, and his name is Sonam Wangchuk. While the movie had focused in his college life, there’s more to the real-life Phunsukh Wangdu: he has an advocacy to transform the education style and produce projects that improve the agriculture sector where he’s from. He is an engineer turned educationalist and environmentalist. Sonam had his childhood years spent in a remote Ladakhi village with his mother. There, he climbed trees, helped his mom with chores, and learned to read

Photo by RolexAwards

and write Ladakhi, which was an opportunity he didn’t get at school. His father, Sonam Wangyal, a politician who later became a minister in the state government, was stationed in Srinagar. When Sonam was admitted to a school there, he was not like the others in appearance and in language. He was often misunderstood. Many adults have thought he is stupid because he rarely responds to them. Time came when Sonam couldn’t take it anymore. He fled to a Delhi school he knew about, and pleaded to the principal for his admission. He was successful. Sonam was able to enter into a free, residential, government-run school for children from the border areas of India. Being the bright and active young boy that he is, he shone in his studies and extracurricular activities. That is where his greatness started. Before he became an engineer, he opened a tuition center where he introduced new teaching methods that encouraged peer learning. From there, he discovered

Photo by FlameUniversity that the core difficulty in their education was with the language. A year after he graduated in mechanical engineering in 1987, Sonam, together with his brother and five peers, formed the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL). In this institution, he coached school students and offered vocational training courses to dropouts. This was his benchmark in transforming the educational institutions in Ladakh. Now, Sonam has adopted a three-tiered localization strategy to bring about educational reforms. In creating Village Education Committees, he has provided teacher training and introduced language and cultural reforms. Sonam hopes to build an educational model to improve Ladakh schools. Apart from this educational reform, Sonam, who is now 50 years old, has improved the agriculture sector in Ladakh through his engineering solutions. He built ‘ice stupas’ in the arid region of Ladakh, or the desert areas of the western Himalayas, which are conical ice mounds that act like mini-glaciers. They slowly

release water for agriculture and so far have significantly reduced the problem of water shortage. With farming as the primary source of income of the Ladakh people, this innovation is called for. It works by storing winter water in the form of 40-meter—high mountains made of ice. These act as glaciers during winter and supposedly provide up to 16,000 cubic liters of water, enough to irrigate 10 hectares of land. After two years of working at a 3,500-metre altitude, Sonam has enabled the desert landscape to turn green, with the level of groundwater in the area rising significantly. He told The Indian Express, “I’m not doing anything revolutionary. It is ninthstandard science put to use. We mountain people have to find new ways to work with nature, not against it.” With this effort, Sonam had earned the prestigious Rolex Award for Enterprise 2016, being one of those “who have reshaped the world with their innovative thinking and dynamism”. He is given with 100,000 Swiss francs, which he will contribute as seed money towards the establishment of an alternative university in Ladakh.

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

57


Photo by Kingofwallpapers

GINEERSNOW WILL SOON LAUNCH A GN COMMUNITY OPEN TO ALL ENGINEERS

This 2016 has been a great first year for GineersNow. For the past months, we’ve been sharing with you kickass engineering stories that make your jaw drop in amazement, inspiring stories that brings out the best engineer in you, and we’ve also been featuring amazing people and companies in the field of engineering that surely spiked your interest. Let’s not forget the funny jokes, memes and quizzes that brighten up your newsfeed once in a while! Now, as much as we love sharing new information and amazing stories with

58

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

you, we’d love to read what you have to share as well. That’s why we are introducing GineersNow Community. GineersNow Community GineersNow Community is the home for kickass engineers who want to share what’s happening in their daily lives as engineers, their work, and to share ideas or innovations with different engineers around the world. If you want to share cool gadgets you’ve found, insights or questions about any engineering topic, innovations, geeky videos or shows, inspirational stories,

your badass engineering j o u r n ey - fr u s t ra t i o n s - a n d triumphs, or just want to tell the world about how awesome Nikola Tesla is, then this is the perfect place for you. Imagine having a social media primarily for engineers. Stay tuned at our website www.gineersnow.com and our social media pages for further announcements.


One for One: Buy a TOMS Product and Help the Less-Fortunate Christmas is year-round at TOMS with their One for One philanthropic program. By Dion Greg Reyes Toms Shoes (TOMS) is best-known as a company which produces a variety of quality footwear for men, women, and kids. People from around the world wear the brand to have comfortable and stylish shoes, among the many products they manufacture. But little do the patrons know that this California-based shoe store has a philanthropic cause – and they are part of it. Called One for One, the promise is to provide for a person in need with every product purchased at TOMS. Other than shoes, the gifts provided by the company for the less-fortunate communities include sight, water, safe birth and bullying prevention services. The Gift of Shoes Since the company started operations in 2006, TOMS has given more than 60 million pairs of new shoes to children in need under the One for One program. They have provided different styles of shoes from the classic slip-on, wet-weather slip-on, to sports shoe which fit kids, toddlers and teens. This has allowed the recipient to have improved health, confidence, and more importantly access to education. The Gift of Sight Kids with eye problems are helped by TOMS whenever the company’s eyewear is bought. They are given with full eye exam by trained medical professionals and receive the necessary treatment. Common vision issues that they attend to are prescription glasses, sight-saving surgery, and medical treatment. So far, TOMS has helped restore sight to over 400,000 people in need. The Gift of Water TOMS takes part in solving the global water problem which affects more than 780 million

people in the world. The company works with water experts at Giving Partners to create sustainable water systems in seven countries. Through the collaboration, they provide 140 liters of safe water, which lasts for a week, to persons in need for each bag of TOMS Roasting Co. Coffee purchased. Over 335,000 weeks of safe water have already been given out. The Gift of Safe Birth By providing clean birth conditions and skilled attendants, nearly half a million of lives can be saved. This is what TOMS aims to do with their gift of safe birth, thanks for every purchase of TOMS bags. Safe birth services by TOMS, which include delivery of safe birth kits, training for skilled birth attendants, and healthy delivery for newborn baby, have already supported over 25,000 mothers all over the world. The Gift of Kindness One-third of the students in the United States aged 12 to 18 reports being bullied. TOMS believes that nobody ever deserves to be oppressed or burdened, this is why they are holding bullying prevention and response programs. It includes training school communities to create bully-free campuses and making it easy for students to report bullying and get the help they need. With the proper prevention and response techniques readily available to students, we can help reduce up to 90% of incidents of bullying. Christmas is right around the corner. People are sharing a piece of themselves to others by giving gifts. For TOMS, you can do this even not in December – they only need you buy their products and they will do the job of helping the less fortunate. Photos by TOMS

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

59


AWESOME SHIELD: THE COOLEST HANDS-ON CODING PROJECT FOR KIDS AGED 10 TO 100

60

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas


W

ith only a core team of three members, Awesome Shield has proven itself to make a difference in the toy industry in the past two years. The three founders of this startup company didn’t have any experience on setting up an educational startup before but they managed to launch a successful Kickstarter campaign and show parents that there’s a better way of teaching kids how to code at their own pace. Powered by Arduino, Awesome Shield teaches kids how to code for hardware. Offering parents and children 100 online video tutorials, a simplified code and a custom hardware, children can easily create hands-on projects. These tutorials teach kids the basics of coding with a touch of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, the simplified code guides the kids on the fundamentals while the hardware brings the code to life through its light, color, sound and sensors. By working on each project, children are able to develop important learning skills that will eventually help them as they get older. In this exclusive interview with the founders of Awesome Shield, they share their journey from starting this business to delivering their products after their successful Kickstart campaign. They’ve also expressed their thoughts on the future of the toy industry and shared their advice on how to make a difference in this world for young engineers. THE PEOPLE Introduce yourself The core Awesome Shield team consists of three founders, two Canadian brothers and a German. We’re registered in Germany as U.G. which is a simple type of limited liability company popular with small businesses and startups. How many years have you been working in your industry? None of us had direct experience with building an educational

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

61


startup before we created Awesome Shield but we’ve all had a tapestry of relevant professional experiences in the private sector. The three of us had collaborated on a startup and when that failed we knew the real magic lay in the team we’d created. Our CEO is an Engineering Chemist by training which gives us a solid science background for teaching grade school science concepts. Our UX Designer and and our developer each have over a decade of professional experience. THE COMPANY Describe your company (structure, brief history, board or advisers) Our company structure is quite flat. The three founders take on projects as their availability and skill sets allow. The CEO is full time the other two are part time. We’re a small team doing an ambitious amount of work, so there’s necessarily a lot of flexibility in terms of who does what. We’ve been working on Awesome Shield for approximately two years. We have been developing the learning platform and hardware through a series of workshops that we use to do testing and gather feedback. We ran a Kickstarter campaign in May 2016 and are delivering the hardware and our first learning videos in December 2016. We have several unofficial advisers that we consult with on an individual basis as needed – people with deep professional experience that compliment our team’s experience (in Marketing, Business Development, and Education). The core team, of three, is based in Berlin. We share a tiny office in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg neighbourhood. We have also had the good fortune and pleasure of collaborating with a group of extremely talented interns, freelancers, friends, and family. Our manufacturer, Watterott Electronics, has also been a major asset,

62

generously sharing insights and expertise during preparations for manufacturing. Describe your mission, vision and values. Our mission is to equip kids (aged 10-100) with the skills to invent the world they want to live in. Our first product is a learning kit that teaches kids to code while building fun projects (a theremin, lock box alarm, candle, etc.). While kids build and code, they learn about the math and science behind their projects. Even though we’re a small team, we work hard to be inclusive, transparent, and act as what we view as a moral company. We strive to treat each other with kindness and understanding and we do the same for those we work with. Where is this company headed? What are your future expansion plans? The future is difficult to predict. That’s one reason why we focus on teaching deep skills and new ways to look at the world, rather than more prescriptive rote learning. Our feeling is that if you’re well equipped to understand and contribute to the world you can participate in the creation of the future rather than just being an observer or consumer. To that end, we’d love to grow Awesome Shield, while staying focused on our mission. The bigger our community is, and the more resources we have, the more kids we can empower. INTRODUCTION What do you think is the future of the toy industry? One trend we see a lot of is the consumerization of technology. Things are becoming more polished and “magical”. But technology isn’t magic. It’s engineering, science, maths, and creativity. We’ve seen educational toys move in that polished direction as well and while it has a place (and we certainly strive for approachability ourselves) we think it’s important to demystify

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas


tech for kids and empower them to become makers, instead of just consumers. How will today’s toys and gadgets make a difference as compared to the ones from the past? There’s a wonderful focus on coding that is developing. Especially in terms of teaching coding logic to really young kids – which is something that’s quite new and really exciting to see. Today’s toys and gadgets need to help kids learn about programming, and also explore making in an interdisciplinary way. As soon as you start inventing, you realize that it’s impossible to separate coding, science, math, art, and crafting. We see Awesome Shield as a new kind of educational kit that helps kids explore these areas holistically, while creating inventions. Which toy/gadget from your childhood made an impact on you while growing up? LEGO was a big one. It’s so customisable that you can really pour your imagination into it. It’s so important in learning to be able to make things your own. LEGO also helped us explore the power of iteration. Trying a design, testing it, identifying weaknesses, and then making improvements is a powerful process that LEGO helped us explore as kids. THE PRODUCT What’s the inspiration behind your products? Before we started Awesome Shield, we often spent weekends doing little hack projects – playing around with Arduino and Raspberry Pi – to build little tools and gadgets for our homes and office. Awesome Shield began two years ago as a major pivot from a previous joint project in which we were building a process monitoring and automation system for microbrewers. While testing different designs, we developed a simplified code

and hardware system that let us create and test prototypes very quickly. We realized that its simplicity could also make it a great tool for beginners. A big turning point was when we used it to explain coding to a cousin and realised that it had a tonne of potential as a learning tool. Since then we’ve been testing and adapting our teaching methodology, hardware, and software. Through many iterations, we arrived at Awesome Shield. Which group is your target market and why? Kids and Teenagers are our core market. We feel that you can have the biggest impact on a person’s life at this point. Also through our workshops and speaking with educators, we found that if you make an educational product for someone that’s 10 years old (and you don’t talk down to them), most people who are 10 and up will find the experience approachable and engaging. What are the future innovations that you or your company are pursuing? Right now we’re pretty laser focused on finishing our first product and are excited to hear from our Kickstarter backers what they think. We know we’re going to learn a tonne from them once we get the product into their hands, and their feedback will help us identify our immediate next steps towards improving Awesome Shield. Long term, our goal is to develop an ecosystem of learning kits around interesting invention themes like musical instruments, botany, games, and robots. The opportunities for learning by combining STEAM and building physical projects are myriad. Do you think your product has made an impact on your customers and in your industry? After two years of running workshops we’ve taught more than 600 people to write their first lines of code. There have been a lot of really special

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

63


moments in there where people achieved things they didn’t think were possible for them to accomplish. We’re looking forward to delivering on our Kickstarter and sharing that empowerment with even more people. We’re also very excited to have a standalone product. We can only reach so many kids through events. Having a kit that kids can use to learn at home will really help us reach even more people. What makes your product different from your competitors? Awesome Shield helps make coding hands-on through hardware and invention. This helps kids be more excited and engaged than they are with many purely digital learn-to-code products. Awesome Shield brings the power of Arduino (which is used by pros worldwide in everything from science experiments to art

64

installations) to kids who are 10 and older. We make this powerful tech fun and accessible. Many other products for this age group put kids in a sandbox and teach them to invent with tools that limit the scope of what they can accomplish. Awesome Shield makes it easy for kids to start using powerful tools right away which they can build on to create anything they can imagine. THE CHALLENGES & SOLUTIONS What challenges did your company face while developing your product? We’re doing what’s called “bootstrapping” in the startup world, which basically means that most of our team is working on Awesome Shield part time while we earn our living elsewhere. This lets us focus entirely on creating the company (rather than, for example spending time finding investors) but it also really limits

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

the resources (especially time) available to grow the company and build the product. It can often be frustrating not to be able to match the pace of our growth with our vision for Awesome Shield. But this also helps us laser focus on only the most important tasks which has resulted in a honed company and product. There was also a huge learning curve for us (and still is). When we started, we’d never registered a business, run an education company, or done a round of electronics manufacturing. How did your company overcome these challenges? We learned a lot by asking experts for advice and through loads of trial, error, and iteration. In the educational space, we ran workshops, spoke with educators, and did a bunch of reading and thinking to discover an educational approach that folks

really love. On the hardware front, we kept the product simple and then just started making things and reading and again talking to experts. A brilliant electrical engineer that does freelance work with us and our manufacturer both helped to fill in the gaps here. And our CEO really stepped up to the plate and did a tonne of learning. ADVICE TO THE YOUNG ENGINEERS You can do it. Pick something you’re interested in or solve a problem you see in the world. And just start chipping away at it – learn while you go and don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know yet. Find some other folks to collaborate with who compliment your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to try new things, and iterate on your ideas. Pretty soon you’ll be blown away by the impact you’ve had on the world!


DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

65


Photo by Leggilo

Photo by PowerPinoys

MEET THIS 4-YEAR-OLD MATH PRODIGY FROM CEBU, PHILIPPINES He could teach you how to solve for the total resistance on a parallel circuit. Miko Secillano is probably the smartest kid you’ll ever meet at his age. Well, if you know any other smart 4-year-old that can calculate the square root of numbers 1 to 30 in 3 minutes, you can tell us otherwise. The young Cebuano is a child prodigy when it comes to his very intelligent brain. If you think that’s not impressive, he also memorized all the 118 numbers and symbols of the Periodic Table of Elements. A typical four-year-old would just be playing in the mud, or eating glue at that age. Miko had his intelligence measured this November and it wasn’t that surprising that he got a score which equated to him being “gifted”. That said, his dad Philip is sending over his results to MENSA, hoping to get that membership. For those of you that are unfamiliar with MENSA, it’s an international organization of whizzes and geniuses that have IQ scores above the 98th percentile. That means members of this group are smarter than 98% of the people in the world. The wonder child was first popularized by his video of solving the volume of a cube in the cutest way. He was saying everything he

66

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

was writing down, as if teaching a class. This viral video was so famous that it reached 29 thousand views in a small span of 3 weeks. Numerous people messaged Miko’s parents commenting that the child is pure genius. A math professor in Brazil even quoted that the child is “a fantastic promise” and that he’s nothing short of a prodigy. Miko’s parents are both Filipinos, but have been residing in the US for almost 8 years now. His dad, Philip, is originally from Albay, Bicol, while his mother, Imee, is originally from Cebu. They’re now residing in Florida but are still very close to their Filipino ties, frequently visiting the Philippines every two years. Philip always records his son’s math endeavors on camera and posts them on Facebook for everyone to see. Miko’s whiteboard and math skills, which his father personally taught him, are often the subject of all his videos. While Miko’s videos are fairly new, his gift is not. His parents have reported that his learning was very advanced and was apparent since he was 2 years of age. Philip said that Miko was already able to count from 1 to 100 at the age of 2, but still could not answer basic addition at that time.

Since then, Miko taught himself how to read, which was easy since the child was a huge fan of picture books. At age 3, Miko was into geography. Continents, countries, and cities were all basic for the young prodigy. Miko even had a video posted of his mom naming a country and him replying with the capital city. This is pretty surprising as the kid was able to name a total of 164 cities. If that wasn’t enough to impress you, did we mention that Miko only learned how to add at the age of 4? Yes, this child genius has just started math and he’s already doing geometry and algebra. The secret behind this is that his dad gives him a 5-minute tutoring lesson every morning to learn a new math concept. Any information retained after that is purely based on his ability to absorb information. Aside from that, like any other 4 year old, Miko loves to play and spends a lot of time with his friends. He practices karate on the side and also goes swimming with his play buddies. If asked whether his friends or teachers know about his math skills, Miko would just reply “No. We only learn the alphabet. We don’t have Math in Pre-School!”


THIS WOMAN TRANSFORMS OLD CONTAINERS INTO HER DREAM HOUSE Canadian Claudie Dubreuil created her dream house out of 4 old containers.

We’ve seen different architectural designs of houses, most of them unique and practical. But Canadian Claudie Dubreuil is taking uniqueness and practicality to a new level. Claudie chose to use four metal containers to build her dream house—yep, those huge metal shipping containers! She got the help of an engineering company and was able to find four shipping containers. In a short time of creativity and hard work, they were able to spruce up these old containers into a surprisingly beautiful home! Acquiring the containers were easy, then comes the hard part. They started off by wielding the containers together according to Claudie’s design.

Photo by Newsner

Photo by Newsner This is how the skeleton looked like. It doesn’t seem like much yet except that the structure is large, so let’s move one with the next photos. The transformation on the exterior of the housing skeleton looks awesome. As for the interior of Claudia’s dream house, here are the photos.

Photos by CollectionsDubreuil

The results were amazingly stunning, her design and creativity can inspire others to do the same. So, what about you, how do you want your dream house to be made?

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

67


68

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas


Never Lose Sight of Your Kids Using The How frightening is it to lose your kids when you take them out for a typical family day in the mall? Parents can’t really be with their children 24/7 and the thought of them being exposed to harm and danger is really their nightmare. So, is there a simple way to make sure the kids are safe wherever they go? The idea behind the dokiWatch started when Caspier Chien took his nephew out in a crowded shopping area. When he thought he almost lost his nephew, he came up with the idea that parents need a device that can easily keep track of their kids. So, he developed the first-ever smartwatch that serves as a GPS locator, a fitness tracker, a wearable phone and even an electronic pet to kids! Knowing that it is not advisable to give young children (ages 6 to

12) smartphones yet, Chien thought the dokiWatch can help bring families together through communication and safety. In this exclusive interview with Caspier Chien, founder and CEO of Doki Technologies, he talks to us about his plans for his startup company, Doki Technologies, his thoughts on the toy industry and shares his advice to young engineers on how to make it in the business world.

THE PERSON / PEOPLE

GN: Introduce yourself. Chien: My name is Casper Chien. I am the Founder and CEO of Doki Technologies. GN: How many years have you been working in your industry? Chien: Before starting Doki Technologies, I worked extensively in strategic marketing and product development at leading

innovative companies such as Adidas and Fitbit.

THE COMPANY

GN: Describe your company Chien: Doki is a fairly new company. We started in 2015 so it has been a rapid growth for us going from just having a product concept to the development and manufacturing, and now to retail in the span of 18 months. Doki Technologies is made up of a small but energetic team of 10 people. We’re a startup so the amount of manpower we have is limited. Our head office is based in Hong Kong but we also work with engineers and developers in Shenzhen, China. GN: Describe your mission, vision and values. Chien: I believe that the Doki team and I share the same vision of creating a world of seamless connectivity

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

69


between parents and their children. We aim to develop technologies that enhance and improve children’s lives, keep them connected to their parents, and ensure their safety. GN: Where is this company headed? What are your future expansion plans? Chien: The future is really open ended for us. I feel like we can take Doki into many different directions. Now we’re in the early stages of planning, but we hope to expand further into education, health, communications and safety. We also plan to gamify certain features for kids such as augmenting the dokiPet feature. dokiPet now is primarily a fitness tracker but I think we can take it further by making it into a fully interactive virtual pet that kids can feed and play with.

THE INDUSTRY

GN: What do you think is the future of the toy/gadget industries? Chien: I think as we progress technologically, kid’s toys and gadgets will focus very much on smart devices. It’s almost inevitable. There’s a lot of talk now about virtual or augmented reality. Maybe there’s a way to turn virtual reality into a learning tool for kids. GN: How will today’s toys and gadgets make a difference as compared to the ones from the past? Chien: It’s a very different world today than it was 10 or 20 years ago. Now, children’s toys, entertainment, and even educational tools have shifted very much to smart devices and IoT devices. The wants and needs of kids have significantly changed as well. Nowadays kids want that instant gratification and having unlimited information on their fingertips.

70

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

GN: Which toy/gadget from your childhood made an impact on you while growing up? Chien: When I was growing up, the one toy that I loved playing was my Super Nintendo and Gameboy. Those were the things that tech savvy kids at the time all had when I was growing up. When I think about it now and compare it with the dokiWatch, I know that kids will always be attracted to products that are the most innovative and advanced.

THE PRODUCT

GN: What’s the inspiration behind your products? Chien: The idea for dokiWatch really came from a situation that I experienced myself. I was walking with my nephew, and we were in a crowded shopping area, suddenly we got separated in the crowd and I couldn’t find him. I’m sure every parent can relate to this feeling, it’s almost frightening when this happens. Thankfully I found him safe and sound but it suddenly dawned on me that there is a real need for a device like dokiWatch. GN: Which group is your target market and why? Chien: dokiWatch is aimed at kids 6-12 years old. We want to target kids who are old enough to use a smart device but too young to handle the risk and responsibilities of having a smartphone. We understand that many parents do not want to give their children smartphones because of its limited parental control. GN: What are the future innovations that you or your company are pursuing? Chien: At this stage, we’re still working on perfecting dokiWatch. Our developers are constantly working on taking in user feedback and working on ways to improve


the firmware and user experience. We are also in the planning phase of our next product which will be another IoT device for kids. GN: Do you think your product has made an impact on your consumers and in your industry? Chien: I definitely think that dokiWatch has set a new standard for kid smart devices. There’s not really another product like dokiWatch on the market that offers that same functionality. We’ve also gotten tons of positive feedback from parents and even medical professionals and parents of special needs kids. From these comments, I feel that dokiWatch has certainly made an impression on the market. GN: Where do you see your products heading 10 years from now? Chien: Maybe in 10 years’ time, technology have already evolved and maybe smart wearables will be completely different from what we know now. But certainly, I want Doki to be a company that will adapt to the changing climate and still develop products that will ultimately bring families together through communication and safety. GN: What makes your product different from your competitors? Chien: dokiWatch is a completely innovative product. While there are other kid’s smart watches on the market, none of them are as

comprehensive as dokiWatch. It is truly a wearable phone. It has all the essential functions but without the risk and responsibility. Combined with GPS location and a fitness tracker, dokiWatch is on track to become a leader in kids IoT devices.

THE CHALLENGES SOLUTIONS

&

GN: What challenges did your companies face while developing your product? Chien: One challenge we’ve had to face is finding a manufacturer who is willing to be our partner and work closely with us in bringing a concept idea to fruition. GN: How did your company overcome these challenges? Chien: The relationship between Doki and our manufacturer is extremely important and was key for our rapid growth. We are very lucky to be working with Wherecom, a manufacturer that worked alongside us to create a truly innovative and high quality product.

ADVICE TO ENGINEERS

YOUNG

Chien: When you think of a new idea, make sure that it is marketable and commercially viable. Engineers tend to think only of development and the technicalities of the product, but that’s really only half the battle. I would recommend engineers to partner with someone who is strong in marketing and business development.

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

71


IRONBOT: THE ADVANCED TOY ROBOT THAT WILL MAKE CHILDREN LEARN STEM Boys love to play with robots. They are naturally attracted to these futuristic figures given all the cartoons they watch or the books they read. Once they realize that they could demand things to their parents, they could go as far as bugging the elders for a toy, amid the different ways that these kids could be immersed with the world of robots. Some parents have no choice but to give in. Lots of robots are available in toy stores all over the world. Toy manufacturers barely upgrade their robots and stick with old designs – except a few, like IronBot. The brainchild of Xiamen

72

JornCo Information technology Co., Ltd., IronBot is a 3-in1 educational robot kit for 8 year olds and up. This toy redefines learning science and engineering through interactive robotics. We talked with Tab Chiu, the ‘captain’ of the company behind IronBot. He shares how he got interested with robots, how the product came into life, and what sets their robot toy different from the rest.

THE COMPANY Describe your company’s brief history. JornCo Information technology Co., Ltd. is based in Xiamen,

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas


China. It is established by four founders who became teammates in the US-China Young Maker Competition. In the 2nd session of that contest, our invention, which is a mobile phone robot, stood out in the over 400 entries from China and US. It won sixth place in the final round. We were all motivated by this experience. As public innovation and mass entrepreneurship increase in China, we founded Xiamen JornCo Information technology Co., Ltd. with the expectation of converting our works into products. In June 2016, we gave our first generation of mobile phone robot called IronBot to Vice Premier Liu Yandong and United States Secretary of State Kerry as a maker gift in the 7th session of US-China High-level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange. The following month, IronBot was crowdfunded in Indiegogo through an overseas platform. It was brought to 25 customers in several countries around the world. Come November 2016 when IronBot was awarded as the Optimal Innovation and Creativity Prize in China Hightech Fair Entrepreneurship Night. How big is your company? Our team presently has 10 members. Describe your mission, vision and values. Xiamen JornCo Information technology Co., Ltd. devotes to setting up establishment, innovation realization and sharing platform. RoboSpace is for children’s robot modularization, which, just like the four-wheel drive, can enable each child to have his/her own robot through DIY. We aim to become their unforgettable childhood memory and even turn into a brand affecting an entire generation. Where is this company headed? What are your future expansion plans? Describe briefly your strategic goals. We are confident that developing a robot suite is the fastest method of helping each child to have his or her own DIY, so we also take it as our primary task.

After releasing IronBot, we were extensively recognized by the public because the children and their parents admire our robot. Parents usually spend a weekend to assemble our robot together with their children, which they enjoy. I believe it will become an unforgettable parent-child memory for them. We want to continue bring this memory and happiness to more children and their families in the future. In the near future, we will research and develop more robot suits which are suitable for children. Our online RoboSpace community enables children to understand and learn robot related knowledge, as well as share their own robots. Ten or twenty years later, we hope that our product becomes the LEGO of robots.

INTRODUCTION What do you think is the future of the toy industries? Instead of being independent small toys, all toys in the future will become intelligent and can already connect to Internet. Children should also be able to operate, program and control their toys. How will today’s toys make a difference as compared to the ones from the past? Both mobile internet and Internet of Things have developed greatly in the last 10 years. In the future, everything will be connected to the Internet including auto, air conditioning, and toys. Compared with previous toys, many toys when connected to internet, can give more extensions and functions. For example, a children’s story-telling device can download stories from Internet. While this will become a common trend, of course, there will be many differences like studying from playing, and modularization, etc. Which toy from your childhood made an impact on you while growing up? When I was young, my most memorable toy is a mini fourwheel drive, which not only I played a lot with but also let me learn about structural design and

All Photos by CodelcoViaMining.com

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

73


simple circuit. By using all the components of the four-wheel drive, I refitted it into a paddler steamer. It left deep impression with me because I enjoyed playing it, learned, and achieved applications as well as expansion.

THE PRODUCT What’s the inspiration behind your products? How did you come up with these ideas? The robots in my university laboratory are expensive, which are thousands to ten thousands Yuan. This is why I did not seek for these robots anymore after graduation. However, since I always hold high passion for robots, I have myself this, “Is it possible for me to make my own robots using available materials?” One day, I found the answer by changing my mobile phone into a robot. When one of my teachers came to see my robot after completing, he was interested in it. We discussed whether it is ideal to help students make such a robot through DIY. We agreed and implemented a winter camp to teach children to make a smart robot from a steel plate. We didn’t expect that the winter camp will be well-received and the children and their parents all liked it. That is where we started to produce robots commercially. Which group is your target market and why? Our major target market groups are kids, teenagers, and parents. We have robot products catered for such ages. At the same time, we always encourage parents to assemble robots together with their children for the experience. It is a pity for me since I had not come into contact with a robot not until I entered college. Instead of being complicated and profound as others think, everyone can make his or her own robot as long as one holds the curiosity or interest. IronBot at present mainly aims at children over 8 years. Later, we plan to release different versions of DIY robot suits and accessories so that children can possess more

74

space to make their dream robots. What are the future innovations that you or your company is pursuing? Our current goal is to establish a DIY platform RoboSpace for children so that each child can make his or her own robot. If you want to DIY your own robot, just register at RoboSpace. Do you think your product has made an impact on your costumers and in your industry? We hope that our robots can play the role just like what four-wheel drive did to me. We like to think that children can understand our robot, learn STEM-related knowledge and apply these to other applications. Where do you see your products heading 10 years from now? I hope that our robots can be everywhere in children’s hands, homes and school. What makes your toy different from your competitors? At present, there are many other robot DIY suits in market, but these are all similar with those produced 10 years ago. When information technology is in rapid development in the previous decade, they failed to be applied with these products. IronBot is born in such market situation. Its mobile terminal (mobile phone) perfectly combines the new technology. For instance, we introduce Google and Microsoft advanced artificial intelligence technologies, and then pack it into independent programming modules. This is so the children can use and operate these advanced artificial intelligence technologies personally. Therefore, I always name IronBot as smart robot, while other robot suits mostly are teleoperators. One of our customers from Taiwan who played many other robot suits before was surprised that our toy was advanced. This is the interactive effect brought by application of new technology!

THE CHALLENGES & SOLUTIONS What

challenges

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

did

your


companies face while developing your product? Our challenges are how to apply those advanced artificial intelligence technologies to our APP programming environment and enable the children be interested with programming. This method can help children understand these new artificial intelligence technologies. We set up a programmable artificial intelligence procedure in our APP we named Isaac. We named it Isaac to commemorate Isaac Asimov, a famous American science fictionist, writer and literary critic. His robot novels brought endless imagination and happiness to children! How did your company overcome these challenges? Fortunately, we possess experienced software developers. In the past year, we kept discussing, making progress and upgrading our software framework. One month ago, we successfully released our software. Sometimes the difficulties will be readily solved

if we hold a patient and positive attitude.

ADVICE TO THE YOUNG ENGINEERS Please give advice and words of wisdom to millennial engineers who want to start their own companies and develop their own products as well. Any inspiring words that you can share? Entrepreneurship is important since whether products possess certain advancement or solve market shortcoming are decisive. Thus, at the initial stage, it is necessary to make market survey, summarize data, and dace up to reality rather than being confused by temporary “innovation or creation�. When determining what to do, we shall persist and keep exploring. When moving towards the right direction, everything will be smooth; if it progresses slowly, the direction might be wrong. So watch out, observe market and customers’ reaction, collect feedback, and adjust timely!

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

75


COOL CHRISTMAS TREE DESIGNS FOR THE CREATIVE ENGINEER If you’re an engineer who already makes his own money, you know you want to celebrate Christmas and make the most out of the holiday. There really is nothing as special as having your family and friends come over and spend quality time with you at home. Christmas is after all the season of bright lights and quality time with the family. So you make sure that you have a list of people you’re obliged to give a gift to, you already know what you’ll be cooking for the holiday and you already have Christmas lanterns prepared for the entire house. But what about your Christmas tree? Year after year, you have the same Christmas decorations

for the tree that you only take out of the closet every December. Doesn’t that get a little boring especially for engineers like you? With an engineer’s creativity and the passion to have the most wonderful-looking tree among your circle of friends, you know you have to come up with the most brilliant designs for your Christmas tree. You want to make your design exquisite - something you, your family and your friends can take pictures of and then post on your Instagram accounts. You want your design to be the best and you want your creativity and skills as an engineer to be shown in your tree. The list below shows Christmas

This is a four-story Christmas tree at the Galleries Lafayette in Paris. The lights will definitely cost you a fortune and the electricity may be too high for you this December.

76

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

trees one can find all over the world. Each tree did not only take a few people to work on it. Given its length and size, the people behind each tree planned the design really well to make sure that all the lights are working, the foundation of each tree is strong enough and each tree will attract thousands of tourists who visit the areas. In this list, you might get the perfect idea for the next design of your Christmas tree this year. It will be a design where you can apply your knowledge and skills as an engineer. It will be a tree that would look awesome that people would love to visit your place to see it in person.

The Trafalgar Square tree in London will give you an idea on how to make your tree a little extra tall. Lights are vertically-oriented so when you look up at your tree, you’ll think your tree is just “wow”.


If you want a design like this one from Edinburgh, make sure that the background of your christmas light will perfectly blend well together with your tree.

This Christmas tree was the centerpiece in Germany’s Dortmund Christmas Market. With over 48,000 lights, and 1,700 individual fir trees, with a height of 45 meters tall, you know this tree is really extravagant. Would you like a design like this?

Or if you feel like recycling glass tubes, you could follow this Murano Glass Christmas tree design in Venice.

Would you consider having your Christmas lights crisscrossed in your tree? Looks like a good idea if you see the pattern from this Red Square Christmas tree.

Or would you like to put a wonderful centerpiece in the Christmas tree like the star they used in this Christmas tree in Tokyo?

Of course a list wouldn’t be complete without the iconic Reckefeller Center Christmas tree where people all over the world visit every Christmas to get a glimpse of its beauty. If you want a design like this, we wonder how much it will cost you to fill your entire tree with Christmas lights? You might be inspired to make your tree bright red with this tree from Melbourne.

If you want to have a non-traditional Christmas tree design, this tree from Kuala Lumpur may inspire you to deviate from the norm.

Found a design you’re interested in? Already got an idea what to do for your Christmas tree this year? Whatever the design will be, don’t forget what truly matters is you spending quality time with the people you love. So go ahead, design a Christmas tree only an engineer can think of then have the people you love decorate your tree with you! Merry Christmas!

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

77


CHARITABLE COMPANIES ENGINEERS MUST KNOW ABOUT THIS CHRISTMAS Christmas is all about giving and sharing what we have to the people around us - may they be members of the family, friends or just strangers who look like they’re in need of what you have. This is what makes Christmas special and as we fill our shopping list with all the people we plan to be giving gifts to this holiday, we also shouldn’t forget to give back to our communities. Did you know that there are several companies that have a noble mission of helping out poor communities? Each company has come up with an easy way of involving their costumers in helping several people just by buying their products. With every product you purchase from these companies, you get to donate another product to people in need. In case you’re feeling charitable this season, you may want to consider buying from these companies: Photo by CowleyAssociates

Better World Books

Good Spread

One book you buy from them For all the peanut butter means one book for Books for lovers out there, do a good Africa or Feed the Children. deed by purchasing a packet or jar from Good Spread. One World Play Project A malnourished child will If you need a ball for your receive “therapeutic food” in siblings, you may consider exchange of your purchase. buying one from One World Play Project. The beneficiary Hand In Hand for this charitable work will be Because we all know the poor youth from different sanitation is important for communities. everyone, Hand in Hand offers to donate a bar of soap People Water and a month supply of clean We all know how scarce water water for kids in need when is for some countries so how you buy a bar or bottle of its about buying a reusable water company’s soap. bottle from this company? They;ll donate an equivalent Yoobi amount of water to those in There are so many poor need. schools in the US, so Yoobi decided to donate school Roma supplies when someone buys A pair of boots and some their colorful office and school school supplies will be given to supplies. children in need for every pair of Roma boots you buy!

78

DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

TOMS

this company. Their designs They are famous for their buy are printed with covers of one - give one charitable deed. classic books. They sell eyeglasses, boots along with the company’s Twice as Warm classic canvas shoe model. Give the gift of winter clothing to a local shelter when you Skyline Socks buy a clothing item from Each pair of socks is designed Twice as Warm. with a skyline from a major American city. When you buy Smile Squared one pair, expect someone in We all want to see children need will receive one too (with with their bright smiles so help the same design as yours). a child in need have healthy teeth by buying a toothbrush The Company Store from Smile Squared. One You know it’s going to be cold toothbrush will be donated to this season, so if you buy a a child for every purchase. comforter from The Company Story, you may provide BoGo Bowls warmth for a homeless child If you want to help shelter in the US. animals, every bag you purchase from BoGo Bowls Out of Print means the company will If you want to donate books donate a bag to shelter to Books for Africa, you may animals as well. consider buying a shirt from


SOLIGHT DESIGNS Together We Hold the Sun in Our Hands DECEMBER 2016 Engineers Give Back This Christmas

79



December 2016 Issue No 010