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Spring 2019





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Charles Warner, Publisher/ Editor-in-Chief

“In a day and age when there are debates over climate change and repeated examples of mistrust towards science, this is the time to voice our opinions on what’s going on with the environment.”

Engaging the Planet and Purpose-Driven Marketing One thing I love about Innovation & Tech Today is the many subjects that we are able to explore. Business, STEM education, IoT technology, and outdoor gear have been cornerstones of each issue. However, one subject in particular is more relevant than ever: sustainability. In a day and age when there are debates over climate change and repeated examples of mistrust towards science, this is the time to voice our opinions on what’s going on with the environment. Because of this, we wanted to make sure that this issue focused on sustainable living. This is clear in the early pages of the spring edition, as our By the Numbers section focuses on the serious issue revolving around plastics. We’ve definitely seen this represented in the news, with some horrific imagery of animals being hurt by carelessly disposed pieces of plastic such as straws and plastic bags. However, the stats behind the plastic problem are not only disturbing, but also a little heartbreaking. It might not always be easy, but we need to keep these conversations going to make real, positive change. Every person can make a difference. And that’s the main theme of the spring issue of Innovation & Tech Today. This is best exemplified through our cover feature with Bear Grylls. An experienced adventurer, environmentalist, author, and television star, Grylls has seen firsthand the importance of maintaining our ecosystem. As he said himself in our exclusive interview, “We know it’s happening, climate change – the world is a lot different than it was even ten years ago. But people go on with their lives as if nothing’s happened.” But, while he maintains a realistic view of what’s happening with our environment,



he is a shining example of voicing positive change for a better world. We also wanted to touch on a number of sustainability-related subjects that don’t always become front page news. One example is our look at Impossible Foods, a company focused on providing meat-free alternatives to everything from hamburgers to meatballs with the hope of reducing the environmental impact of meat production. Additionally, this issue highlights how industrial chilling can combat climate change, the innovative new lighting additions by the Seattle Mariners, the brands that are attempting to spread a sustainable message, the renewable properties of paper products, an interview with blogger Allison Abbott on sustainable travel, and a look at the upcoming Sustainable Brands conference. We are proud to partner with organizations like Sustainable Brands and the Green Sports Alliance because they are the best in the business when it comes to sustainability and inspiring change. While it is only one of our many areas of coverage, sustainability is extremely important to us. We want to make sure we tell the stories of the innovators, disruptors, and progressive thinkers that are trying to make the world better. It won’t always be an easy conversation, but it’s an essential one. With that in mind, we are proud to bring you the spring issues of Innovation & Tech Today and Sustainability Today.

SINCE LAST ISSUE STORE 2.0 With all of the products we look to showcase in each issue of Innovation & Tech Today, it makes sense that we have a marketplace reflecting that. Our relaunched store, available exclusively on our website, is the sleekest it’s ever been, allowing you to check out a large variety of products hand-picked by our editorial staff. With gaming chairs, wearables, STEM kits, smart speakers, and more, the officially re-launched Innovation & Tech Today store matches the high quality of the publication that bears its name.


COMING TO A SMARTPHONE NEAR YOU While we have a large amount of diverse content on our social channels, from interviews and product reviews to event overviews and company spotlights, we’ve officially launched our newest series of videos under the name “Quick Bytes.” Much like the print section that the series shares a name with, Quick Bytes focuses on quirky, interesting topics in tech and science. Each episode, available on YouTube and Instagram, features a different host breaking down the topic in their own style, be it straightforward, humorous, or informative.


Dylan Rodgers


Anthony Elio Alex Moersen


John Gaudiosi


Michael Coates


Scott Jung


Patricia Miller Robert Yehling


Kyle Pogue Inga Shugalo Renee Yardley Steve Broback


Adam Saldaña



Evan Kelley Dave Van Niel


Mike Kelly Steven Higgins


Ray Baker


Dave Kester


David Marble


Curtis Circulation


Publication Printers

SPECIAL THANKS TO: Brian Boothe, National Geographic, CES 2019, Jennifer Plante, Winston Seto, Gary Chittum, Louise Thach, David Rodriguez, Tatiana Ryzhova, Daniel Shavrin This publication is dedicated to the dreamers, the innovators, the collaborators, and the doers – who can’t be bothered by those saying it can’t be done. Nicholas and Aria, the future is yours!

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84 Bear Grylls’ Newest Adventure By Robert Yehling

Cover Photo: National Geographic/ Tito Herrera

Departments 8 Event Wrap-Ups 9 By the Numbers 10 Quick Bytes 14 Dent Files 16 Esports 18 Security 110 Product Revolution 114 Events 115 Coming Next Issue 116 Lighter Side

20 Innovator Profile Tomas Pfister: An Artificial Vision of the Future

22 Connected Car Battery Breakthroughs on the Horizon 24 Cold Fusion: Still Alive! 26 A Contrarian’s View on Automotive Cybersecurity

28 Outdoor+Adventure Tech Olympic Gold Medalist Angela Ruggiero 30 How Technology is Changing Sports Training 34 Gear Guide

38 Health Tech How Deep Learning Hacks into Neuroradiology 42 Three Health Tech Trends from CES 2019

44 Gaming+Entertainment Zachary Levi: 14 Going on Superhero 48 Magic Leap & Mixed Reality 50 Brendan Fraser: From Encino Man to Robotman





54 Tech Zone Hot Economy in the Peach State

50 Brendan Fraser: From Encino Man to Robotman

56 Alpharetta’s Rise to Tech Capital of the South 58 Forsyth County’s Great Tech Adventure 60 The Film Industry’s Southern Home 64 A Quick Start Launching Pad Like No Other 65 A Different Kind of Four Seasons Comes to Peach County

66 Connected Life The 10 Best Things We Saw at CES 2019 68 Towards Tranhumanism 72 A  ARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins: Innovating Against Isolation

76 Business Innovations Daymond John’s Perfect Pitch

80 Blockchain Today Crypto and Blockchain’s Next Rise

84 Sustainability Today Produced in Partnership with Sustainable Brands

Bear Grylls’ Newest Adventure 92 Meatless: Impossible 94 A Bright Future for Stadium Lighting 96 The Best a Brand Can Get 100 The Circular Paper Economy 102 Greening Your Getaway 104 Delivering the Good Life: SB ‘19 Preview

106 STEM Today

Produced in Partnership with the USA Science & Engineering Festival

Celebrating Young Innovators: The Making of Science Fair 108 Barbie Has Hookworm Photo by Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc/Bob Mahoney



[ Event Wrap-Ups ]

CES 2019

Outdoor Retailer Snow Show Outdoor Retailer began the year with their Snow Show in late January, the second to be hosted in Denver, CO. Nestled against the Rocky Mountains, the event has grown in popularity due to its combined focus on outdoor and snow sports. Outdoor enthusiasts, retailers, professional athletes, and industry veterans all gathered in the Colorado Convention Center to see the latest in snow sport technology. From skis and helmets to snow boots and gloves, the Snow Show had all of the most popular products for this past winter season. Photos Scott Martin/Outdoor Retailer



Once again, tech enthusiasts, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and industry titans flooded to Las Vegas, NV for CES 2019. Featuring Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg and LG Electronics CTO Dr. I.P. Park as keynotes, this year’s CES revealed the newest trends in emerging technology. 5G, 8K, robots, and VR were just a taste of what the event had to offer. Everyone from Kanye West and Stevie Wonder to Wesley Snipes and Criss Angel were in attendance. Make sure to check out our “Top 10 of CES” on page 74. Photos I&T Today/Adam Saldaña

2019 Alexa Conference The future is voice, and voice is the future. Whether it’s in the car, at home, or anywhere else, people are constantly talking to technology, expediting tasks that would otherwise require the attention of typing. That is what makes the annual Alexa Conference such a vital addition to the tech industry. Featuring a number of industry experts, including Head of Alexa Voice Design Education at Amazon Paul Cutsinger, the Alexa Conference is on the forefront of the voice technology world and gave us a glimpse into the future.


by the

A look at the metrics shaping the technology market — and our lives From our food containers and cutlery to our bottles and grocery bags, we interact with plastic constantly on a daily basis. However, while the convenience of plastic is hard to argue, it comes at a definite cost. Visuals such as a sea turtle with a straw lodged in its nose, a seabird with a stomach full of plastic, or plastic found in creatures in the deepest ocean underscore the serious issues that arise when plastic ends up in our oceans. And, as shocking as those visuals may be, the stats themselves are equally difficult to comprehend. Let’s analyze the current epidemic of plastic’s negative effects on the ocean.

Global Plastic Production Expected to jump to

34 Billion Metric Tons by 2050 (Up from 2 million in 1950, 8.3 billion in 2017) Source University of Georgia Source European Commission


1) Caps/Bottles/Lids 2) Cigarette Butts 3) Cotton Bud Sticks 4) Candy Wrappers/Chip bags 5) Sanitary napkins/towels 6) Plastic Bags 7) Stirrers/Straws/Cutlery 8) Plastic Cups and Lids 9) Balloons/Balloon Sticks 10) Food packaging

of Plastic Ends Up Unrecycled



Coral is


Source Cornell University

Sou rce euro parl .eur opa .eu


to develop disease if it comes in contact with plastics

Top 10 Single-Use Plastics On Sea Shores


Single-Use Plastic








million metric tons of plastic in the ocean

plastic from fishing gear

4.8 TO 12.7

million metric tons added to the ocean each year Source European Commission

Source European Parlimentary Research Service

Graphics:,, and



QUICK BYTES 001001100100110010010011001

Not Down To Clown A recent study published in the Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine looked to see if clowns were effective in reducing both fear and pain involved with receiving an injection. This was done by testing those factors during administration of the botulinum toxin injection, both with and without the use of “medical clowns,” which is apparently an actual term. Unsurprisingly, the clowns were ineffective at properly distracting the children from having metal stabbed into them. In a related story, clowns are also ineffective at making people laugh, not scaring people, and not ruining children’s birthday parties.


Getting any kind of shot can be nerve-racking, especially for children. Many doctors attempt to reduce this anxiety with a promise of candy after the immunization is done, something that still works for many of us into our adult years. However, in news that should surprise absolutely no one, it appears one factor is not very effective in improving the process: clowns.

Immunity Ink

Tattoos have become the modern way to express individualism by picking a picture from a book of images to be imprinted onto your body forever. Oftentimes, people prefer to have a certain meaning for their tattoos. Well, for anyone looking for some extra justification for that Sonic the Hedgehog tattoo on your lower back, there’s now a scientific rationale.

However, because of the relatively small sample size of the study, there is still further research needed to conduct the correlation between getting ink and staying healthy. So, while it may seem like a good idea to get that dreamcatcher tattoo in order to cure your sniffles, you’re probably better off taking some DayQuil instead.


New research from the University of Alabama suggests that getting multiple tattoos can improve your overall immune system. The research even compares getting tattoos to working out, as both put stress on the body that can be strengthening. Going by this logic, that means that the buff guy at the gym with 96 percent of his body tattooed is the healthiest human on Earth.

One + Two = Bee Bees are undoubtedly an important part of our ecosystem. And, in addition to pollinating flowers, producing honey, and stinging me in front of the entire class in third grade, bees also have another skill many of us humans lack: the ability to do basic math. According to a study by RMIT University, bees have the capability to do basic addition and subtraction through memorizing colors, even allowing them to solve arithmetic problems. The bees were rewarded with sugar water for answering a correct question and presented a less tasty solution for a wrong answer, something that we should consider implementing into our own schools.




The fact that bees are capable of mathematics may have larger implications for tech as a whole, as the process can be applicable to rapid learning for artificial intelligence, something that would really be the bee’s knees for the technology. (Editor’s note: We’d like to apologize for the previous line and urge you to move on to the next story.)

100100110010011001001001100 QUICK BYTES

Get Sick Quick Scheme


You know when somebody sneezes into their hands and proceeds to initiate a handshake? Well, thanks to our society’s eagerness to be terrible with money, you can now have that very experience for a paltry $80. Vaev, a Copenhagen-based startup, has debuted a specialized tissue that helps you “get sick on your own terms.” The tissue, which sells for $80 per sheet, is intended to train the immune system in the same way that a musician develops calluses. Why pay that much for the experience of getting ill when you could just lick a doorknob or eat at Papa John’s? While it may seem like a strange idea, Vaev’s tissues appear to be popular, as they are sold out at the time of this writing. Additionally, the product could be a great inspiration for other business ventures, such as a fire extinguisher that sprays lighter fluid and a styrofoam bulletproof vest.

Refrigerator Romance Dating apps have become a major part of our modern society. Popular applications such as Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge have revolutionized dating, turning the all-important quest for a personal companion into swiping endlessly after drinking heavily. However, while those apps tend to match users based on interests, Samsung’s new dating application looks to match users based on the contents of their fridge rather than the contents of their hearts.


Refrigerdating, an app offered on the Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator, allows you to match with others based on a photo of the inside of their fridge. The idea gives users great conversation starters for their first date, such as, “Why would a grown adult only have Sunny D and half a taquito in their fridge?” And, because it’s also available through web browsers, Refrigerdating looks to unite even more couples that will most likely lie about how they met.

The Logic of LOL

Courtesy of Samsung

Satire is one of the cornerstones of comedy. Whether you prefer The Onion, The Daily Show, or the much higher-quality writing of Quick Bytes, there’s a good chance that you enjoy a hearty laugh at a well-crafted joke. “But what’s the science behind this comedy?” you’ve probably never asked yourself. During the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, researchers revealed how a simple shift of words makes a phrase more comical due to a structure they dub “false analogy.” This concept can be seen in satirical headlines such as “BP Ready To Resume Oil Spilling.” And, as we all know, learning the scientific reason behind what makes something funny makes it even more hilarious. This research could also mean that artificial intelligence itself could begin writing its own jokes, meaning that the hardworking writers of comedic quips could soon be out on the streets. Thanks a lot, science! SPRING 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY


Courtesy of Microsoft/Skype


QUICK BYTES 001001100100110010010011001

L’Eggo my Lego Legos are best known for highlighting the department store toy section, starring in new animated films, and really hurting whenever you step on them. However, they’ve also gained a brand new use in the scientific community: something to swallow. Is it possible that medical science has simply gone too far?

Skype for Slobs With the massive growth of remote employment, Skype has unsurprisingly grown into a vital tool for offices to keep in touch. However, there are some unfortunate side effects to this, as societal pressures have forced humankind into a fascistic reign of cleanliness and organization, meaning you still need to keep your living space clean during these video calls. However, there is good news for you, my fellow loafers, as Skype has introduced a new feature that allows you to blur out the background and cover your shame. This background-blurring feature, which is available on most laptops and desktops, utilizes AI that identifies human forms to focus in on people in a picture. This is undoubtedly great news for those of us who would like to continue being employed without the burdens of actually having to maintain a liveable abode. And, if this progress continues, we will hopefully have a feature in the future that allows us to blur out the entire screen so that we will also not need to put on clean clothes before an important video meeting. Image courtesy of Microsoft

A group of six physicians swallowed the small plastic toys to determine whether the toys can pass through the digestive system. A surprising amount of children end up ingesting inedible objects, which one participant admitted happens almost daily. While they did not reveal whether or not they taste better than Mega Bloks, the doctors did confirm that the Legos, to put it as delicately as possible, successfully made the journey through the digestive system. The experiment as a whole looks to quell the fears of concerned parents as, in most cases, anything non-toxic and dull will simply pass through the digestive system. Additionally, this experiment also explains the new sign on Legos boxes that reads, “Warning: Choking Hazard for Children and Professional Physicians.”

Courtesy of Amazon

Got 80,000 Skills and Voice Command is One



Amazon’s Alexa has become a household name, acting as a smart hub for homes across the world. This is for good reason, as Alexa has an incredible amount of skills, from answering questions and controlling lighting to changing music and stealing personal data. However, the unprecedented number of applications for Alexa has been revealed to be an incredible 80,000. This is likely due to the 10,000 employees working on the voice assistant as well as the 100 million Alexa devices sold. Hopefully, this success means that Jeff Bezos can afford the Beluga caviar fountain he’s been planning to install in his office. While the list of Alexa’s skills was listed as 70,000 as recently as December, that number has risen to the most recent 80,000 and will likely continue to grow. This is especially impressive as, while Alexa has learned 10,000 skills since December, most of us have simply broken our New Year’s resolution and succumbed to seasonal depression in that time. Image courtesy of Amazon

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Innovation, the Climate, and a Bias for Action By Steve Broback At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be much in common between Richard Browning, a former British military man with a background in oil trading, and Lisa Fetterman, a journalism major with a passion for the culinary arts. Upon closer inspection, you quickly learn they are both successful inventors and entrepreneurs. Browning created a jet engine-powered exosuit (think Marvel’s Iron Man) and Fetterman is the originator of the first home sous vide immersion circulator machine. We interviewed them recently at separate Dent gatherings, and learned of another significant similarity. Each has the key trait that Tom Peters and Robert Waterman refer to as “a bias for action.” In their best-selling book In Search of Excellence, Peters and Waterman ranked this attribute as number one out of their eight soughtafter excellence factors. Today, industry-leading companies like Amazon and Facebook formally list a bias for action as something they seek to foster in employees. For Fetterman and Browning, this trait manifested in the same way – a trip to the hardware store. When each conceived of the most basic notion of their respective inventions, both immediately went and purchased off-the-shelf parts that would allow them to build extremely rough (albeit nonfunctional) prototypes. For them, the plan was to build first, blueprint later. We recently co-organized a salon dinner in Washington, D.C., that included two dozen leaders from a variety of industries. Participants ranged from astronauts to senators, marine biologists to venture capitalists. The theme for the dinner was how the oceans are both affected by, and can serve as a potential realm for mitigating, climate change. Given the frustrations many feel regarding the inability for countries across the globe to execute on a common carbon plan, and the violent



response we’ve seen from thousands of people in France in response to carbon taxes, much of the conversation at the dinner revolved around CO2 mitigation and geoengineering. Several participants strongly believe that we can’t wait much longer, that it’s time to act. Besides, the barriers to employing these alternative types of solutions are relatively low. At the dinner we discussed the efforts of Harvard professor David Keith. Keith is pursuing a controversial yet inexpensive idea of stratospheric injection. The notion is that highaltitude balloons could spray small amounts of particulates such as calcium carbonate into the air, and the reflective nature of the spray would have a net cooling effect on the earth. The first phase of a practical test involving balloons could launch as early as this year, and for a cost much less than that of hosting a typical climate conference. Of course, while building a mitigating solution instead of blueprinting legislation at a conference

sounds like the perfect next step, there’s much to be wary of when experimenting with the climate, and many feel it’s not worth the risk. The question is, will we hit a point where policymakers and the populace get tired of waiting for action and independently pursue mitigation activities at scale? Seemingly, we are getting closer and closer to independent action. ■


Going All In on Esports Betting Checking the Odds on the Future of Wagering on Competitive Gaming By Anthony Elio

Unikrn (left) is a prime example of the future of esports betting platforms, attracting famous investors such as Mark Cuban and Ashton Kutcher. Meanwhile, offshore betting platforms such as Bovada (right) have already implemented esports wagering into their website alongside standard sports such as football and basketball.

It’s no secret that legalized sports gambling is on the rise in the U.S. As it stands right now, eight different states offer some form of legal sports betting, with all but eleven making some form of progress towards legalization. Much of this momentum is thanks to last year’s decision to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which had prevented the spread of legitimate wagering on professional sports. This has led to an increasing number of states, from New Jersey to West Virginia, allowing citizens to place wagers in a casino or online. But, while sports betting has long been associated with the gridiron and the horse track, games such as League of Legends and Counter-Strike look to have a place in the sportsbook. It still may not be on par with the massive numbers of the NFL or MLB in terms of sheer popularity, but competitive gaming (also known as esports) as a whole is on the rise. While this is partially due to the lack of a main competitive gaming “league,” awareness is rapidly increasing. 2019 looks to be a banner year in terms of



overall awareness of esports, with Statista reporting a projected 1.57 billion people aware of the genre (up from 809 million in 2015). Esports also has awe-inspiring amounts of prize money that reflect its current popularity. In fact, the 2018 Dota 2 International Championship prize of $25.5 million far surpassed that of the more “mainstream” Daytona 500 ($15.5 million) and U.S. Open golf tournament ($12 million). But do these numbers translate to actual chips on the table? The numbers say yes. A report by research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gamin and software analytics company Narus claimed that global wagering on esports, which had hit $5.5 billion in 2016, looks to climb to roughly $13 billion by 2020. Statista even projected that the total amount wagered on esports will hit $23.5 billion by 2020. Even fantasy sports are embracing competitive gaming, with DraftKings allowing for one-day fantasy esports leagues, leading to esports becoming their quickestgrowing sport in 2017. Another sign that esports betting is on the rise

is the big names surrounding it. While stars such as Magic Johnson and Alex Rodriguez are involved in teams themselves, both Shark Tank host/entrepreneur Mark Cuban and actor Ashton Kutcher have invested in Seattle-based startup Unikrn, whose token-based platform allows for esports betting. Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, clearly sees the symbiotic growth involved with legalized betting, voicing to CNBC, “I think everyone who owns a top four professional sports team just basically saw the value of their team double.” The stars seem to be completely aligned for esports to become a sports gambling phenomenon. With rising awareness, impressive prize pools, and the growing legalization of sports betting, placing a bet on Team Liquid may one day become as common as a wager on the New England Patriots. While the glitz and glamour of mainstream sports may seem far off from the once-obscure gamer culture found in esports, fans will likely be betting on everything from basketball to Fortnite more and more in the coming years. ■


Our U.S.-Mexico Border is Already Pretty Smart But Innovations From Autonomous Vehicles, VR, and AI Are Expected to Make It Smarter By Dylan Rodgers

Ground views of border wall prototypes as they take shape during the Wall Prototype Construction Project near San Diego County’s Otay Mesa port of entry. Photo by: U.S. Custom and Border Protection / Mani Albrecht

The U.S. border with Mexico is roughly 2,000 miles long. It snakes from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean through vast desert, wild mountains, and booming cities. Nearly 700 miles of border fencing separates the U.S. from Mexico. It starts near El Paso, TX and stretches into the Pacific Ocean off the beaches of San Diego, CA, leaving a few gaps open due to difficult terrain. The Rio Grande acts as a natural border for the rest. We also have a “smart” wall. For decades, border agents have experimented with available technologies. Today, high-traffic crossings are monitored using a complex web of seismic sensors, motion sensors, drones, and cameras. Unmanned surveillance towers and stationary blimps also provide 24-7, 360-degree video surveillance. But, thanks to advancements in virtual reality, autonomous vehicles, and artificial intelligence, the U.S.-Mexico border is about to get real smart, real fast. Quanergy Systems, a leading manufacturer of LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors, began a pilot with the U.S. Government in 2018 to explore how the same technology used for



imaging in autonomous vehicles can be used to stop illegal border crossings. LiDAR sensors use lasers to “see,” similar to how bats use echolocation, by firing pulses of light at objects and measuring how they’re different when they bounce back. Using this innovative imaging technology, border security agents can capture 3D imagery, map the location, and determine the velocity of people and animals with extreme accuracy during the day and night.

without its challenges. Their border security project came on the heels of disillusionment from investors after the company failed to meet production deadlines, continually shipped buggy products, and began cross-market ventures. There’s also some question whether Quanergy employees will protest the use of their products for border security, as Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce have all pulled out of defense contracts with the U.S. government due to employee unrest.

In fact, Quanergy CEO Louay Eldada told Forbes when they were first scoping this project out, “At 100 meters a human body might fill two image pixels, so very little detail. With LiDAR I can see what you’re doing with your fingers at 100 meters.”

To add to their challenges, the creator of Oculus, Palmer Luckey, recently launched a company dedicated to smart national security, Anduril. Luckey has combined VR with laserenhanced imaging and AI to create a comparable sensory dragnet to Quanergy’s.

Taking this a step further, Quanergy combined LiDAR with an AI framework for object detection, tracking, and classification. With this in place, border agents can focus their limited manpower on a more targeted strategy. And just to put this into context, USA Today reported that a physical border would cost some $24.5 million per mile. A smart border is “less than $500,000” per mile.

With all this development already in the works (and these are just the two companies leading the pack), the question is not if we should build a smart border, but when it will be made smarter. In fact, the U.S. government has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars on smart border technology in the past, but all you have to do is Google “SBInet” to see how these projects can go very wrong.

Quanergy’s venture, however, has not come

This time, however, things may be different. ■

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innovator profile

An Artificial Vision of the Future By Alex Moersen

Tomas Pfister is a leading researcher in AI technologies whose work has contributed to autonomous vehicles, facial identification, and translating sign language. He published Apple’s first research paper on AI, which then won the Best Paper Award at the Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition. He then cofounded Apple’s Central Research Group for Artificial Intelligence. Now, he’s working as a Research Lead and Interim Head of Research at Google Cloud AI. His work has contributed to the development of autonomous vehicles, Face ID in the iPhone X, facial microexpression detection, and sign language translation – it also landed him on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Science for 2018. With a vision that artificial intelligence can improve lives, Tomas Pfister has poured himself into AI research, hoping to have a positive impact on the world with this powerful technology. In this exclusive interview, Pfister discusses the origins of his scientific interest, what made his Apple paper so innovative, and his current research with Google. Innovation & Tech Today: What first got you interested in science and technology, specifically artificial intelligence? Tomas Pfister: As a child I was always fascinated by computers. I started early by playing various Nintendo computer games, programmed on Commodore 64, built my first website when I was 10, and started working as a system administrator when I was 12. What initially fascinated me was the seemingly infinite depth I could go with computers without any physical limits – the only seeming limitation of what I could achieve was my mind. At the same time, growing up, as a typical INTJ personality, I was always very observant of my surroundings, and particularly fascinated by human psychology and behaviors. One of my favorite activities was watching people’s faces and trying to guess what’s on their minds. These two passions, for computer science and psychology, led to my first foray into artificial intelligence in 2009 when I was studying computer science at Cambridge University. A professor, and now friend, there, Professor Peter Robinson, was working on recognizing emotions from facial expressions and speech using artificial intelligence. This application felt to me the perfect combination of my two passions. I went on to pursue that line of computer science/psychology



“W hen thinking of how to tackle a problem, one should not just think outside the box, but think like there is no box.” work for quite a few years, starting with recognizing emotion from speech, then recognizing normal facial expressions, and ending with recognizing facial microexpressions – very short facial expressions that reveal emotions we try to hide but are difficult for humans to detect… After these experiences, I went on to do my Ph.D. at Oxford University with Andrew Zisserman, a world leader in computer vision, an application area of AI focused on helping computers understand what they see. There, I applied my knowledge of AI to translating sign language to text to help the deaf communicate more easily and naturally. I&T Today: Could you describe what your award-winning research paper for Apple entailed? TP: Current AI systems need a lot of data to learn how to do the task we want them to do. For example, to train an autonomous system to understand what it sees on the street, the standard method would be to collect a large dataset of traffic situations, and then have human annotators annotate the different objects in those images, e.g. pedestrians and cars.

But these images from the simulator aren’t perfect, just like even the best computer games today don’t look perfectly realistic. This is problematic for an AI system, as it may learn to only detect ‘game-like’ cars and fail to detect cars in the real world. To prevent that issue, we developed a method that learns what real world images look like, and is then able to change the synthetic images so that they look more like real world images. In that paper, we applied this method to many real world problems and showed that AI systems trained on these synthetic images are much more accurate and robust. I&T Today: What does your current research with Google look like? TP: Rather than focusing on AI for consumer products such as Face ID or autonomous cars, I’m now leading efforts to develop AI for organizations that aren’t tech giants. Think small businesses, big businesses, universities, hospitals, non-profits, or even your local barber shop. These organizations require solving technical problems that are quite different from the traditional consumer product AI problems.

The issue is that to train an accurate AI system, the datasets must be very large (commonly tens or hundreds of millions of images) and diverse (different weather conditions, different car/pedestrian locations, different traffic situations), and having human annotators annotate millions of images is tedious and expensive.

The first problem I’m working on is what I call the “small data” problem. It’s common for the problems we’re tackling to only have small annotated datasets available. For example, in medicine, some rare diseases may only have a few examples to show the computer, and in other scenarios ample data is available but the organizations do not have the necessary financial resources to have humans annotate large datasets.

What we did in that paper was develop a method for training AI systems using synthetic data from computer game-style simulators. By generating images with such a simulator, the benefit is that it’s easy to place objects in various locations in the scene and artificially vary conditions such as weather and traffic, all while knowing exactly where the objects are located, so there is no need for human annotation.

The second technical problem I’m tackling is interpretability of AI systems. Many current AI systems are essentially “black boxes,” which output a prediction without an explanation. This is not satisfactory for generating trust between the AI system and the user, and could lead to biased predictions going uncaught. For example, a doctor would find it helpful not to just know whether a particular patient has

cancer, but also what led the computer to make that prediction. This has become a large barrier for non-AI researchers to apply AI to their fields, and it’s an important problem to solve. For both of these problems, any solutions we develop will be highly impactful across many industries and companies, and should help spread useful AI around the world. I&T Today: Do you have an ultimate goal for all of your research into AI? TP: The driving force behind all my work is developing technology to improve people’s lives. AI is an amazingly powerful and flexible technology that can be applied to help solve meaningful and important problems in almost every area of life. With whatever I do, I’m always trying to maximize for both scientific impact and realworld impact; conduct high-quality research that both advances the science of AI as well as is useful for solving real, meaningful problems. One such problem I’m currently very excited about and toying around with is AI for mental and spiritual well-being. I&T Today: You’ve worked for two tech giants now. What is one of the greatest things you’ve learned from being at those companies? TP: The greatest thing I have learned would probably be that AI, developed rightly and responsibly, can have such a significant positive impact on a variety of meaningful real-world problems. A more practical lesson is that when thinking of how to tackle a problem, one should not just think outside the box, but think like there is no box. Rather than starting with the constraints, I find it really helpful to first think what’s the best and most amazing thing we could possibly do, and then figure out how to do it given the constraints, or bend the constraints. ■




Battery Breakthroughs on the Horizon The Big Boys Signal Better Batteries Are Coming – Just Not Soon By Michael Coates

Toyota’s i-ROAD, a new concept urban vehicle that runs on electricity alone.

There are several rules for telling when an automotive technological breakthrough is real. 1. You recognize the name of the company talking about the breakthrough. 2. The breakthrough is not promised “as soon as funding – or government approval – is secured.” 3. Other major companies announce similar projects or join in on the one announced. Those rules are really critical when it comes to battery technology. As electric cars have progressed during the past three decades, we’ve seen a similar progression in battery technology. But the promises of battery advances have not always mapped to reality. Back in 1990, the GM Impact, progenitor of the modern EV, packed tried-and-true lead-acid batteries. Then came nickel-metal-hydride during the Prius generation, followed by lithium-ion, the current battery of choice (though it comes in a variety of chemistries and configurations). This now looks like a way station to the next generation of batteries – solid-state.



What’s Driving Change The battery changes are driven by the same quest – lower cost, greater range, and smaller form factors. Those needs haven’t changed over 30 years. The hope is to make the electric car an affordable, functional choice. The truth is that lithium-ion works well right now and continues to improve, delivering more than 300 miles of range in cars like the Tesla Model 3. Costs have dropped to the point where hybrids and some plug-in hybrids probably cost less to make than their retail price. That’s a big change in the EV world, but not enough.

nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries found in all kinds of electronics equipment, worked well for automakers (and remains in place for many hybrid batteries today). With NiMH, energy density increased, and they were durable, standing up to constant recharging.

Let’s start by looking back at how we got to this inflection point in the electric car world.

That first application of lithium-ion solidified the battery’s dominant position with a few keys: significantly greater energy density, lighter weight, lower self-discharges, and different form factors for easier packaging.

How Did We Get Here? GM’s 1990 Impact had 32 sealed, 10-volt, lead-acid AC Delco batteries running the length of the small two-seater. They worked and were cheap, but didn’t provide much range. When the production EV1 came out, it started with leadacid batteries as well, but quickly moved to nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) batteries. This formula, based on the common rechargeable

Even in those early days, at least one major manufacturer was ready to throw down with lithium-ion batteries – Nissan. The Altra EV wagon came in small numbers and only had a 62-kilowatt (kW) motor, but its Sony lithiumion batteries delivered a 120-mile range – quite good for the time.

Not that there aren’t some drawbacks to lithium-ion. It is sensitive to extreme temperatures (something in common with many batteries) and also can be subject to what the battery industry loves to call “thermal events.” The rest of the world calls them “fires.”


(Left) Hyundai’s 2019 Ioniq Electric Vehicle. (Bottom Left) Karsan Jest Bus and the BMW i3, which use the same high-voltage batteries and electric motor system. (Bottom) 2019 VW e-Golf.

A New Path The next step – by consensus of the auto and battery industries – is to move to solid-state batteries that feature solid electrodes and solid electrolytes. The promise is clear – another step-down in cost and a significant step-up in safety and performance, just the moves needed to bring electric vehicles into the true mainstream. The prospect is real enough that Toyota and Panasonic, two giants in their respective industries, pooled together to push solid-state prismatic battery development. Toyota hopes to start putting them in mass-produced cars during the next decade – with additional production being available to other manufacturers. Given the scale of production that’s envisioned, this looks like a multi-billion-dollar investment. For Toyota, these new batteries are what it feels are needed to launch EVs into the mainstream. Similar to the long-range approach the company took to hybrid and fuel cell development, Toyota disclosed it’s been doing fundamental research on solid-state batteries since 2010. Its target is a cost-effective, compact, lightweight, 500-mile range battery by 2030. The energy density will more than double the best current lithium-ion batteries at half the output density. Further, Toyota says the more compact construction possible with a solid-state

battery will make them less intrusive. In addition, they’re more thermally resistant, so they will not need the complex cooling systems of current batteries and will be less prone to fires. And they’ll charge faster, too.

niche electric cars, but also pledged to be the first to bring solid-state batteries to the public. Both of them are working quietly and say they’ll have cars with solid-state batteries on the road within the next two years.

While the Toyota-Panasonic group posits 10 years as the likely time horizon for solid-state batteries, Volkswagen thinks it can short circuit that timeline. The giant car company has teamed with a high-power startup that spun out of Stanford University, QuantumScape. They expect their $100-million investment to turn into solid-state batteries for the pantheon of VW EVs planned by mid-decade, though initial volumes may be low. Fellow German automaker BMW says it too plans on having solid-state batteries in its lineup by 2025.

Startups aside, teaming up does seem the way to attract this kind of hugely expensive, gamechanging technology. Hence, you have some of the largest companies in the world pooling resources and brainpower to attack what the consensus says is a solvable problem – it will only take time and money.

Not to be left out, another big automaker, Hyundai, is working with another startup, Ionic Materials, which is developing solid polymer electrolyte technology. Their system also allows the elimination of cobalt from the battery. Ionic predicts its materials could achieve 50 percent higher energy efficiency than lithium-ion batteries while costing less than $100 per kilowatt-hour (KWh). Then there are the wild cards: automotive startups like Dyson in England and Fisker in the U.S. have not only staked out their future on

All Talk So Far Before anyone gets too excited about all of the activity (financial and technical) being generated around solid-state batteries, it falls to us to remind everyone that no one has yet produced an automotive-scale battery, much less tested one in a car. An additional marker to note is that the incumbent lithium-ion technology is continuing to progress in performance while also lowering costs. The promise that will continue to drive industry forward is the goal of a cost- and performance-competitive battery on the same lot as the internal combustion engine (ICE) – same price, same range, same ease of refueling. It’s a dream that appears to be taking shape on top of the development of the solid-state battery. ■ SPRING 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY



Cold Fusion: Still Alive!


By Michael Coates

The key is to not call it “cold fusion.” The current most popular term is Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR). The new phrase avoids not only the so-far empty promise of cold fusion, but helps deflect criticism of what are perceived to be alchemy-like scientific pursuits. Thirty years after the disastrous FleischmannPons press conference at the University of Utah announcing a cold fusion breakthrough, true believers old and new soldier on – this time carefully coached in qualifying terminology – and this new energy technology may be inching forward toward commercialization. If wishing could make things true, we’d all have our homes heated by low energy nuclear reactors. Likewise, our cars would come from the factory with a mini-reactor that would run for three or four years, at which point it would need to be replaced or recharged. It’s the Jetsons vision of the future but people are still toiling to find a path to this vision. The promise of a lowcost, safe, renewable energy source still intrigues researchers around the world. The Most Recent Announcement A Berkeley-based startup, Brillouin Energy, founded in 2005, made a subtle announcement more than a year ago. A well-respected testing



company, Stanford Research International (SRI), had validated that the company’s hydrogen hot tube (HHT) technology could reliably produce more energy than was put into it. Since that initial low-key (made mainly to the LENR community) announcement, Brillouin has licensed its technology to two international companies. It sees licensing as the path forward to commercial. Founder, President, and Chief Technology Officer of Brillouin Robert Godes said, “By using standard industrial manufacturing processes for our reactor test systems, we have identified an engineering pathway for manufacturing Brillouin Energy’s HHT reactor prototypes.” Promise, but Still Waiting for Results So far, we’ve got lab experiments verified by well-known third party companies, but products still appear to be years away. A LENR group meeting more than two years ago had several experts predicting heat pump devices soon, followed by a full LENR power plant in a few years. However, the lack of government funding to advance this technology could make those timelines into less probable scenarios.

This is where the history of these endeavors comes into play. The science fiction vision of cold fusion has been around in popular culture for some time (think a less dangerous version of Star Trek’s fictional dilithium crystals). That fictional world appeared to cross over to the real one in 1980 when two respected professors/ researchers, Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, announced a breakthrough in this new energy field. The initial excitement dissipated when researchers around the globe failed in attempts to replicate the experiment. Governments and companies like Toyota continued to pour tens of millions of dollars into further research – all of which came up empty-handed. By the new millennium, any enthusiasm for this technology resided only in the true believers. The U.S. Department of Energy twice declared it a deadend endeavor, in 1989 following up on the Fleischmann-Pons announcement and again in 2004, when the Boston Globe reported that 100200 researchers continued to pursue the topic. Researchers will be researchers and the holy grail that is free energy continues to attract them. Hang on, cold fusion may yet find its way into your home or car. ■


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A Contrarian’s View By Michael Coates As the talk about connected cars, autonomous cars, flying cars, and other automotive advances escalates, the issue of cybersecurity is a constant side conversation. How do you ensure the security of all the data hurtling back and forth between the myriad sensors and cloudconnected entertainment systems and points within and outside the car? Concerns may be brushed off, but then hackers demonstrate the vulnerability of existing systems as in the remote Jeep takeover of a few years ago. Debates ensue. Innovation & Tech Today recently tracked down one of the foremost industry experts in automotive cybersecurity when he was speaking at a small conference held in conjunction with an auto show. Bryson Bort’s views may not reflect the conventional wisdom of the auto industry, but maybe they should. This is that small, sane voice quietly warning about the danger over the



horizon. The founder and CEO of Scythe, which does continuous vulnerability testing, Bort has consulted with many automakers. He’s got some stark analysis of the current situation and what needs to be done, along with a sobering prediction. He expects during the next three years that a security issue will disrupt the industry. He speculates it could be a ransomware attack where, upon entering your car, your infotainment unit tells you that, if you wish to start the car, you’ll need to transfer three bitcoins to an offshore account, similar to the computer malware attacks that appear regularly. Let’s take a look at Bort’s main points. Bort started off with a wake-up call: security isn’t the point! By this he means that the function of automotive software is what consumers (and the automakers providing the hardware carrying the software) care about. Functionality has to be first, Bort said, with

security second, because consumers in general don’t understand or care about security concerns. Of course, they don’t until they do care when there’s an issue. The point, though, is that an app or software feature in a car has to bring some value to a customer or security won’t be an issue because it won’t be used. The auto industry – and industries in general – are obsessed with metrics. They’ve absorbed the dictum that if you can’t measure it, you can’t make money on it. Bort contends that when it comes to cybersecurity, the response could be “what metrics?” The problem with security measures is there really is no way to measure their effectiveness. No issues can mean they’re working or just that there were no attacks. Similarly, comparing security products is problematic, Bort explained, because of this inherent conundrum. Bort mentioned that one chief security officer at a major auto company

confided in him that he, the CSO, “looked forward to breaches because that’s the only time we know anything works.”

This is standard advice of IT service desks, but it runs completely counter to the way people use computers.

The third point Bort made was that training works. He noted this doesn’t change the risk exposure, but it does provide a degree of stability in the response. As automobiles become truly critical parts of our electronically connected world, this kind of infrastructure support will become even more important.

Cybersecurity folks have to accept the operating dictum that users are idiots, Bort said. As referenced above, most computer users are just using the connected devices the way they are intended. That creates what Bort calls “an infinite exploitation space and a losing proposition” in the battle for cybersecurity. But he added that “psychology goes a long way” toward creating more secure systems. Companies can promote secure practices and keep diligent to enhance security. It’s not always a matter of stopping intrusions, he added, but identifying them and controlling them when they happen. “The question is what do you do next,” he concluded.


On the positive side, Bort insisted that asset discovery is key. The era we are entering is one of multiple devices in a heterogeneous environment. Mobile devices from consumers interact with hardware and software in the car as well as cloud-based and on-premise environments. “It’s serious,” he added, “and mind-numbing,” but having an inventory of authorized and unauthorized devices and software is the starting point to establishing a secure foundation for the network that is based around a car. Moving on to a situation common in office environments, but entering the automotive domain because of mobile device integration, Bort said one of the key security commands for an organization is don’t open attachments.

Bort added that autonomous cars are going to heighten security issues. He posited that security had to be controlled before they could safely be deployed because of the threats of vehicle hijacking and ransom situations. Finally, I asked Bort if a modern connected car could ever be truly secure. He smiled: “Nothing is unhackable. It’s more a question of motive.” ■

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Bringing Sports, Tech, and Data Together Gold medalist Angela Ruggiero discusses the importance of looking at sports through a technological lense. By Anthony Elio To say that Angela Ruggiero has had an impact on sports would be a massive understatement. Ruggiero is a four-time Olympic medalist, assisting the U.S. in winning their first-ever gold medal for women’s ice hockey at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games. Due to her success on the ice, she was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015, where she gave an inspiring speech on the encouragement she got in her younger days to follow her dream of playing professional hockey, even in a time when women’s hockey was not recognized by the Olympics. Even after hanging up her skates, Ruggiero has remained a powerful force in the sports world. As the co-founder and CEO of the market research firm Sports Innovation Lab, she looks to converge the massive worlds of technology and sports through machine-learning data processing. In this exclusive interview, Ruggiero discusses the story behind Sports Innovation Lab and modern trends in the sports world. Innovation & Tech Today: What was the inspiration behind the Sports Innovation lab? Angela Ruggiero: I’m a four-time Olympian and sit on the executive board of the [International Olympic Committee]. I was the Chief Strategy Officer of the L.A. Olympic bid for 2028, trying to make the most innovative games ever. And I could see a use case for how technology was making its way into sports when I was competing; how to understand your body, for example. But then on the business side of sports, it’s completely breaking apart the business model. So, I saw that tech changing sports won’t stop, and there was no one out there that I could turn to, to objectively help me



Ruggiero’s incredible career on the ice resulted in four Olympic medals, induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the distinction of being named the world’s best hockey player by The Hockey News.

Ruggiero’s connection with the Olympics doesn’t end with her medals, as she is currently the Chief Strategy Officer for the Los Angeles 2028 Summer Olympics.

understand those changes and who I should be thinking about working with. Josh Walker, my co-founder, comes from Forrester Research. He’s a serial entrepreneur, he’s built software before. He’s so good at making something confusing into something very simple and small. So, we combined my understanding of the market with his understanding of how to build software and how to create a research company. We think we’re helping the globe, helping the sports community, empowering them, at the end of the day, to make better tech decisions. That was sort of the emphasis. I knew the market needed it and Josh knew how to build a product that could support that need. Part of it is personal. I loved technology and data as an athlete. I was able to compete longer than any man or woman in U.S. hockey history. I was always analyzing myself, and more data, more technology, could help you have a longer career or perform better. I went back to Harvard business school, and really studied the business model of sports, worked in sports, and there wasn’t the same analytical approach on the business side. But now there is, because

technologies are disrupting the business of sports. It’s necessary to understand tech. You have to, or you’re going to be left behind. I&T Today: What is really trending right now in the intersection of tech and sports? AR: Sports betting is a new way to engage audiences; it’s going to create an enormous revenue stream for the industry, and it’s dependent on the technology. If you have poor latency, you can’t get stats in real time, or you can’t bet in real time, or the data that you’re looking at is inaccurate. I believe sports betting is going to be one of the single greatest accelerators of partial testing technology, making sure it’s accurate, and enabling fans to have a better engagement experience. If there’s money on the line, we need to ensure the data that we’re streaming is accurate, can get to everyone, and is accessible. I&T Today: Throughout your career, what’s an interesting way you used tech to maximize your performance? AR: If you understand your blood, you can understand a whole host of other ailments. In my case, before the 2010 Olympics, I did a

blood analysis for my diet, and I realized that this was my fourth Olympics and I was actually eating things that I was not necessarily allergic to but sensitive to, and I just thought that was normal; feeling a little lethargic, or clearing your throat, things that we just put up with. That was something that I saw an immediate impact when I got the information. I changed the way I was training, it had an immediate effect on my performance, and I felt better than I ever did in my fourth Olympics. So I loved, honestly, learning about myself. Think about what that can do for you and I, if we understand our bodies. Not just our steps, but our EKG and our heart rate and how much we’ve slept. That’s going to be pressure tested in sports. But the bigger market that they want to serve is going to be health care. So I get excited about it from that perspective because what we’re doing at Sports Innovation Lab is helping you identify the leaders that have that angle, that want to help the elite athletes, but they’re also really trying to create something pressure tested in that high-octane environment and service everyone. And that’s what I’m excited about, what sports can do for society. ■ SPRING 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY



Tech It to the House Tech is Reshaping Sports Training and Taking Sports Stars to the Next Level By Anthony Elio

(Left) Sense Arena’s VR hockey training platform utilizes over 50 different drills meant to improve decision-making, timing, and multitasking. (Right) Former New Jersey Devils All-Star Patrik Elias at CES 2019.

The competitive sports world is in a constant state of flux. With regular changes in rules, play styles, and even consumption, each generation brings a new coat of paint to the major sporting leagues. Technology has been responsible for many of these major shakeups, such as the introduction of instant replay, which led to much more accurate officiating. However, we’re starting to see that tech is just as responsible for changes off the field as they are during the games themselves. Two forms of technology in particular are shaking up the sports training sector: virtual reality (VR) and robotics. Given the current popularity of both, this makes a lot of sense. The economic impact of VR has tons of potential, with Statista predicting the industry to hit $20.4 billion in 2019 and balloon to $192.7 billion in 2022. Robotics, similarly, is on a clear upward trajectory, with the Robotics Industry Association reporting that a record 10,730 robots were shipped to the U.S. in the first



quarter of 2018, a value of $507 million. With the rapid growth of these technologies and their increased implementation into sports training, the analog training facility will likely soon become a thing of the past.

Virtual Reality Virtual reality once seemed like something better confined to the fictional worlds of VR Troopers and Ready Player One. However, years of technological innovation have resulted in VR having a large breadth of uses, from surgery practice in the medical field to immersive gaming experiences. One especially interesting use that is becoming more prominent is sports simulation, allowing for a simpler, and often safer, experience. Based in Prague, Sense Arena is just one company looking to bring this experience to athletes. Founded in 2017, Sense Arena puts a focus on working out the brain as well as the body. This is best exemplified with their VR hockey training platform, which utilizes over 50 different drills

meant to improve decision-making, timing, and multitasking. According to Sense Arena Founder and CEO Bob Tetiva, “What we invented is very unique. Actually, there is nothing else like it in the world; a very unique environment for training your hockey sense. You grip your hockey stick, you put the VR helmet on, you appear in the middle of ice rink, and you start training drills that you are used to doing on the ice.” And, if that’s not convincing enough, the technology is also being utilized by bonafide sports stars. Former New Jersey Devils All-Star Patrik Elias lauded Sense Arena’s technology at this year’s CES event. “I have used their product for the past two or three months. And, since I played hockey for many, many years from a professional level, I think it’s a great tool if you’re a kid, if you’re an amateur, or if you’re professional, to get better and focus on many drills that you can get better at.” Elias should know, as his 96-point season and Stanley Cup-


“With the CFX, all of us can eat healthier.” Packing for the road is an exercise in efficiency for Kelly Lund and Ally Coucke. With two large dogs tagging along, there’s only room for the necessities, like their Dometic CFX 40W and PLB40 battery. “What we eat on the road is very important,” Kelly says. “Prior to the CFX, we were cooking foods that were highly processed and now we’re using fresh produce and fresh ingredients for every meal.” Ally, a vegetarian, was uncomfortable with the way their perishables used to mix together after a few days in their old ice cooler. “Often we travel with temperaturesensitive food,” she says, “so it’s nice to be able to control that and know everything is safe and clean no matter how long we stay out.”

Kelly’s setup:

CFX 40W + PLB40 Fridge


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Tech it to the House

Patrik Elias lauded Sense Arena’s technology at this year’s CES event: “I think it’s a great tool if you’re a kid, if you’re an amateur, or if you’re professional, to get better and focus on many drills that you can get better at.”

winning assist are merely a few highlights of his amazing career. In addition to Sense Arena’s contributions to the space, we’re already seeing how virtual reality can revolutionize preparing for a big game. In 2017, The New York Times did a detailed analysis of Stanford’s virtual reality training, showing how kicker Jet Toner could practice a stressful field goal kick without even having to lace up his cleats. In fact, it’s Stanford’s own Jeremy Bailenson and Derek Belch who went on to form Strivr, a sports virtual reality company with such major clients as Vanderbilt University, the Dallas Cowboys, and the New England Patriots.

Robotics Much like virtual reality, the robotics sector is expanding rapidly. With robots that can assist industries from construction to manufacturing and even babysitting, robots are becoming a very real part of everyday life. And, much like virtual reality, robotics is looking to take sports to the next level. This fact was fully on display at CES this year, with one shining example in particular: FORPHEUS, the ping pong-playing robot. FORPHEUS, created by automation company Omron, has been shown off at CES in recent



years, and is designed to improve the performance of table tennis players. While many onlookers at the event considered it something to challenge, its creators emphasize that it is meant more as a teaching tool. According to Omron Director Mike Chen, “What we always try to do with FORPHEUS is match the player. It’s always trying to tutor the player to increase the number of rallies. The AI optimization algorithm is to increase the number of rallies, not decrease it.” He also detailed that, even if players attempt to increase the amount of spin on their ball, FORPHEUS will respond by spinning the ball right back. Tools such as FORPHEUS show just how sports training robotics can work, not as a competitive tool, but as a learning tool. And FORPHEUS is far from the only bot that’s looking to improve athletic performances. The Mobile Virtual Player (also known as MVP) was designed to stand in for a human

member on a football field in order to take vicious hits, reducing the chance of dangerous concussions. The robotic dummy is used by a large number of organizations, such as the Michigan Wolverines, Chicago Bears, and Pittsburgh Steelers. In fact, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin has praised the technology for improving his team’s practice regimen while reducing the risk of injury. This application is just one more example of how the rapidly improving tech world is helping athletes train harder, hone their skills, and most importantly, stay safe. ■

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How Deep Learning Hacks into Neuroradiology

By Inga Shugalo While neurological diseases seem sudden, striking out of nowhere, many of them are actually progressive. The brain develops such conditions over time, and the symptoms can be barely noticeable until it is too late. The secret to helping such patients in time is befriending technology.

specialists overcome human limits in visual data processing. Providers can see the structure of the brain and grasp the changes in brain activity at a higher speed and accuracy, finding subtle patterns and preventing severe health deteriorations.

Various types of image analysis software, mostly based on deep learning (a subfield of artificial intelligence) are being increasingly adopted in radiology due to their ability to automate image processing and segmentation, reducing the time on scan interpretation. According to a recent report, the forecast for the global medical image analysis market is set to reach $4.26 billion by 2025.

The best thing about deep learning is that it can be applied across the full spectrum of the neuroimaging cycle, starting from the initial examination, where the decision to order an MRI, CT, Angiography, or Myelography test is made; then, image acquisition itself and activities around image processing and interpretation – localization, segmentation, detection of lesions, and the following differential diagnosis. Each of these tasks can be improved with the help of deep learning.

Here, deep learning (in the form of recurrent neural networks) can streamline the protocolling process by introducing natural language processing to extract all free text and automating it. It will be relatively easy to enable since all prior test orders that were protocolled by human specialists make a huge database. This database can serve as a training set for neural networks to recognize the structure of protocols and grasp free text so that the algorithms would be able to handle protocolling themselves and free more time for radiologists on acquiring and studying patient images.


Prioritizing Image Reviews

After an examination, a health specialist orders a study, which is manually bound to a particular

A really promising application of deep learning is automated queuing of image reviews

In image analysis, deep learning is mostly represented by convolutional neural networks, multi-layered artificial neural networks specifically successful in image classification. These deep learning models help health



Oh, the Things it Can Do

neuroimaging protocol. Radiologists have to not only follow the protocol, but also pay attention to specific requests of physicians, which are most likely typed into the order history in free text.

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Health Tech Presented by

How Deep Learning Hacks into Neuroradiology

With automation in preliminary image processing and flagging of findings, the radiologists will focus their attention on confirming the diagnoses for patients in critical or even life-threatening cases. Cutting the time between image acquisition and its interpretation, providers will be able to provide well-timed medical assistance for the patients with acuities.

Simulating Scanning Results Additionally, some patients may have MRIincompatible implants or other health issues that make certain imaging tests impossible. Deep learning can help to fill in the blanks for these patients, recreating the missing data points. The only issue is that it requires multiple sets of medical images of patients from the same population. In this case, the neural network will be able to predict expected images for the patients that are unable to undergo an examination in a traditional way.

Lesion Localization and Segmentation While image segmentation and lesion localization are tedious tasks for human health specialists, they practically comprise the dream job for the deep learning technology. Lesion detection means identifying potential abnormalities, whereas segmentation allows radiologists to highlight and delineate the core segment and its subregions. These processes are highly important for treatment and surgery planning, as well as monitoring the lesion’s response to an already administered therapy. Since the lesion’s growth or reduction can come to 1-2 millimeters, it is a must to reassure in the precision of measurements. By supporting human radiologists in their complex daily activities, deep learning can truly save lives. For example, Stanford University researchers presented an algorithm for automated brain lesion segmentation based on convolutional




depending on suspected acuity. Since the algorithms can be trained to identify critical issues on images – e.g., tumors on MRI scans – it is possible to use these algorithms to also prioritize the radiologic review of most concerning images.

neural networks. This algorithm achieved 89 percent accuracy in tumor segmentation, spotting the lesion area, edema, enhancing and nonenhancing cores with higher precision than human radiologists, scoring 85 percent. Qi Dou and other researchers, published in IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, were able to train convolutional neural networks for detecting cerebral microbleeds on MRI scans and bringing in automated identification of infarcted brain tissue. Dou et al. achieved a high sensitivity of 93.16 percent with a two-step approach, where lesions were first localized by the network and then analyzed with the algorithm again to determine whether the abnormality was a true microhemorrhage or mimic. This approach is a promising way of reducing the damage for patients who suffered from an acute stroke.

classification decision. Therefore, prior to deep learning’s widespread adoption, it is crucial to form a solid understanding of the whys and hows in the neural network’s performance. Radiologists can’t just accept “because” as an answer to their question about why this brain lesion is malignant or benign, can they? Another challenge is rooted in annotated datasets needed for successful training of algorithms. First, these sets have to be large. Even though healthcare is all about big data, it is necessary to create manually annotated sets for each particular task, the area of application, imaging method, even modality. Additionally, providers have to keep both datasets and algorithms up-to-date, as source data and practice patterns evolve with time.

So, What’s Next for Deep Learning?

Of course, the first thing that bothers clinical stakeholders is that if deep learning becomes the go-to technology in radiology, it will entail work shortages due to automation of many current tasks that require more time and specialists. Moreover, even considering the great promise of neural networks and machine learning for automating complex and tedious tasks, there should be established processes for verifying the results.

With all these challenges in mind, we can confidently state that deep learning will likely be adopted across various clinical domains and, of course, neuroradiology in the next 5 to 10 years. It certainly won’t be able to replace human radiologists, because this technology requires continuous supervision, double-checks, and manual input from health specialists. But it is already capable of improving efficiency and accuracy in diagnosis confirmation, assisting providers in making well-timed decisions, and helping them to keep it cool even in acute situations. ■

Next, there is the black box problem of deep learning, meaning we know what a deep network can classify, but have little understanding of how exactly it comes to the

Inga Shugalo is a Healthcare Industry Analyst at Itransition. She focuses on Healthcare IT, highlighting the industry challenges and technology solutions that tackle them.

Challenges of Deep Learning Adoption in Neuroradiology

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Three Health Tech Trends from CES 2019 By Scott Jung

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has historically been the place to show off the newest TVs, smartphones, and computers. Over the past several years, however, there has been a growing presence of health, medical, and fitness technology companies. According to the Consumer Technology Association, the show’s organizer, this year’s CES had 25 percent more health technology exhibitors than in 2018. Here are three notable trends we saw this year:

translation for 27 languages and Amazon Alexa, making them a useful in-ear personal assistant. Oticon’s “Kaizn” hearing aids also incorporate AI to learn the wearer’s listening preferences, habits, and environments in order to dynamically adjust the sound levels and settings for a better listening experience. It does this by constantly collecting and analyzing data about an individual’s hearing aid use and listening environments. Upon initial usage, a notification from a smartphone app asks the user if the hearing aid’s settings should be adjusted when it detects that the user has entered a noisy environment. As Kaizn’s AI continues to learn about the user’s behaviors and listening preferences, it begins to adjust its sound settings automatically, giving the user the highest quality sound in any environment.

because they can have an impact on one’s blood pressure. The HeartGuide syncs to an iOS or Android app that can receive alerts and notifications, track trends, or send health data to a physician.

ECG Has Become Mainstream Ever since companies like Apple and AliveCor helped make electrocardiogram (ECG) measurements more accessible to the average consumer, it’s become a must-have feature on smartwatches and connected health devices.

Blood Pressure Measurements on Your Wrist

Artificial Intelligence in Your Ear Artificial intelligence is rapidly finding its way into all kinds of consumer technology, and at this year’s show, Starkey and Oticon, two leading manufacturers of hearing aids, both announced advanced assistive hearing products with built-in AI. Starkey’s “Livio AI” hearing aids aim to improve whole body health by incorporating AI with embedded sensors. A motion sensor tracks and analyzes steps and activity levels to calculate a personalized “body score” and can also monitor body position and movement to help detect falls. The hearing aids will soon feature a built-in heart rate sensor; according to Starkey, those with hearing loss often also have some level of cardiovascular disease. Livio AI also calculates a “brain score” to measure one’s cognitive health by analyzing the amount of talking it detects while in social environments. The hearing aids also have integrated language



Omron, a well-known brand in consumer blood pressure cuffs, announced the release of their HeartGuide monitor. What sets the HeartGuide apart from other blood pressure cuffs on the market is that it utilizes the clinically-validated and long-accepted inflatable cuff method of blood pressure measurement, but puts it in a smartwatch. This makes the device discreet and comfortable to wear all day and overnight. HeartGuide also does step counting, activity tracking, and sleep monitoring; these features are important

French health company Withings released a pair of health devices with built-in ECG. The first is a variant of its popular “Steel” series, fitness-oriented watches that endeavor to make the smartwatch a little more stylish by incorporating analog hands. Known as the “Move ECG,” this activity tracker can record an ECG on demand by simply placing your fingers on the watch’s case for 20 seconds. Withings also announced a blood pressure monitor called the “BPM Core” that can record your blood pressure, ECG, heart rate, and heart sounds on a single, wireless cuff. ECG also made an appearance this year in smart clothing. French startup Chronolife announced a vest embedded with sensors to help predict the onset of a heart attack. Hungarian company HeartBit announced a device that incorporates with into a fitness shirt to monitor for abnormal heart rhythms during workouts. ■

14 Going on Superhero Zachary Levi is officially a superhero in DC’s latest film Shazam!, playing a 14-year-old in a superhero’s body. By John Gaudiosi

While Levi fills out that suit with the muscles of an adult, the brains of the operation is guided by 14-year-old orphan Billy Batson (played by Asher Angel). That makes this the rare superhero story that infuses natural comedy, and a little bit of Big, as Levi must navigate the DC Extended Universe as a wise-cracking teenager who’s just coming to terms with his incredible powers. In this exclusive interview, Levi talks about this dream-come-true role of playing one of the superheroes he read about when he was a 14-year-old kid, as well as how he’s developing his own augmented reality app. Innovation & Tech Today: How did previous characters you’ve played, like Chuck and Fandral, prepare you for putting on this superhero suit? Zachary Levi: They were all building blocks, for sure. Chuck and Billy Batson have pretty similar hearts because they care and they want to do right in the world. Obviously, Billy is 14 so he’s a little more unholstered and he’ll try to figure out what it means to be a kid. He’s also a foster kid and trying to find his family, but their hearts are very similar and they’re both accidental heroes, so there was some correlation with that. And then with Fandral, getting to be an actual bonafide comic book hero in a big



Billy Batson (left, played by Asher Angel), is the 14-year-old alter ego to Shazam.

budget movie definitely helped prepare for what those stakes are like. But they’re also incredibly different characters. Not to get too philosophical, but really our whole lives kind of prepare us for wherever we’re at, wherever we come to, and so I think maybe every character I’ve played in some way helped me to find little moments here and there to bring Shazam to life. I&T Today: When it comes to superheroes, they’re everywhere in Hollywood now, with abundant TV shows and movies. Has all of that work that came before Shazam! helped at all with costume design? ZL: I mean, I certainly hope so. If nobody’s applying any of the lessons learned from actors being in these suits, that would be a real shame. Our costume designers have done a lot of different things in movies with superheroes, so I’m sure there has been a bunch of not just

Waner Brothers Pictures/Steve Wilkie

The Zachary Levi that’s on the big screen as DC superhero Shazam looks nothing like the actor who played nerd-turned-spy in the NBC hit show Chuck twelve years ago. For one, Levi has worked on a variety of projects over the years, including roles such as Benjamin in the critically-acclaimed The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Flynn Rider in Disney’s Tangled, Fandral in Thor: The Dark World, and even acting in a pair of Broadway musicals (First Date and She Loves Me). He also packed on 12 pounds of muscle to fill out that red Shazam suit.

stylistic choices but functional choices that apply. Unfortunately, they’re still kind of a pain in the ass, particularly when you want to go to the bathroom. But we’re going to keep working on that. If we are blessed enough to do another one of these movies, I’m definitely going to say, “Alright, how can we figure it out so I don’t need someone to help me go to the bathroom? I would really like that.” I&T Today: How much added pressure do you feel stepping in with Shazam! following the tidal wave of Aquaman’s box office success? ZL: I don’t, honestly. We’re very different movies. While some fans are obviously very up to snuff when it comes to what is Marvel and what is DC, I don’t even think DC fans are going to be expecting us to be Aquaman. They’re hoping probably that we’re not because we’re very different stories and very different

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

“I haven’t really seen much other than one action figure that is apparently on the shelves right now. It’s Thunder Punch Shazam, which I’m totally down for. I loved it.”

characters. As far as the success of their movie, I don’t feel pressure in that because I feel nothing but good can come from that movie being received as well as it’s been received … I think it’s nothing but positive. And if we don’t live up to a billion dollars, I mean, that’s okay. I’m not nearly as pretty as Jason Momoa. I totally understand – his eyes and pecs alone are going to make a billion dollars, right? I&T Today: Some of the most entertaining DC and Marvel superhero movies out there have had a lot of humor infused into their storylines, as compared to the super dark route that others have taken. What kind of line did you guys draw for Shazam given the nature of his character? ZL: That was the fortunate thing for us, that it’s just built into the character. We didn’t have to take an otherwise very adult or dark character and lighten it up. It’s a 14-year-old trapped in a

Mark Strong (left) portrays Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, the grim antagonist to Zac Levi’s child-like Shazam (right).

superhero man’s body, so that’s just naturally going to have heart and humor built into it. Really, more of the challenge was maintaining the stakes that are involved and having some grit and some edge to balance all of that. I think that David Sandberg, our director, was such an inspired choice for that very reason. He came out of the horror world, making stuff dark and creepy. So for him to take this type of a character and bring that background to it was really smart of New Line and Warner Bros. and DC. We had a ball working together and I got to be my goofy self, bringing a 14-year-old to life, which is a super weird but really fun challenge. I&T Today: A lot of people remember Tom Hanks in Big, but what is it like to step into a character like that and see the world from that perspective? ZL: Oh, it was so fun, man. I love a good challenge as an actor, and anytime you’re playing

a character you’ve never played before, there’s going to be challenge built into that. I think probably the biggest thing I had to keep reminding myself was, “don’t overthink it.” I would be looking at a moment in the script and breaking it down like, “Okay, how would I approach this or how am I going to do that?” Then I would catch myself and I’d say, “You’re thinking too much about this. 14-year-olds don’t think that much about this stuff.” They’re impulsive. They’re a little more emotional. What’s interesting is that when Tom Hanks did Big, I think 14-year-olds were a little more innocent. Now they have a little more edge to them. They’re growing up real fast, these kids. So it was a really interesting juggling act to keep him innocent as a 14-year-old but also knowledgeable enough that he’s a 14-year-old in this day and age and a foster kid who’s been on the street, so he knows a thing or two. It was a really, really interesting balancing act, but I hope



14 Going on Superhero

Waner Brothers Pictures/Steve Wilkie

With the help of his friend Freddy Freeman (played by Jack Dylan Grazer), Billy Batson, a.k.a. Shazam, learns how to use his newfound superpowers.

I pulled it off. I guess the proof will be in the pudding. I&T Today: How do you feel about being represented in a variety of superhero merchandise? ZL: I haven’t really seen much other than one action figure that is apparently on the shelves right now. It’s “Thunder Punch Shazam,” which I’m totally down for. I loved it. The only thing that’s bumming me out though is he’s got like 20 catchphrases or whatever. You can press a button and he says stuff, but it’s not even my voice. They got somebody else to do the voice. What? I’m available. Why didn’t anybody ask me? I totally would have done it. I&T Today: We’re just coming out of CES 2019 and I was wondering if you still keep a tab on cool gadgets and technology? ZL: I do. I typically keep tabs on cool technology with what I read online … And then recently, because I now live in Austin, Texas,



there’s a store out there called Beta and it’s awesome. It’s literally a store where you walk in and they have all these really cutting-edge new pieces of technology, whether it’s stuff for your home or for play or whatever. And it’s all on display where you can touch it and play with it and see how it works. So I just recently discovered that place and I’m super into that. Unfortunately, with a lot of technology, even at CES, it’s really hard to get your hands on something to see how well it works. What’s the UX and UI on it? Is it seamless? Is it clunky? What’s the application to my life? Do I need it? Do I just want it? But I’m definitely a futurist and a techist, if you will. I love technology. But as far as what I’ve been using recently, I’ve just been so pleasantly surprised and happy with my AirPods and my iPhone. The sound quality with those things is so great and I just love that we’re finally to a place with genuinely great wireless headphones with good sound quality where I

can bebop around town, because music makes life better. I&T Today: Apple is also pushing augmented reality and we’re seeing a whole new wave of content. What’s your take on XR? ZL: I’m a huge believer in both virtual and augmented reality. Unfortunately, a lot of people haven’t been able to crack the practical application for it just yet, but I actually am building an app currently that uses augmented reality in a very practical and useful way, and I’m hoping to get that to the market soon. I think augmented reality is going to start taking over way more than people are even comfortable with, because eventually we’re all going to be wearing contact lenses that have heads up displays. I don’t think people realize just how close we are to a Black Mirror future. People think, “Oh no, that’s so far in the future.” No, it’s really not. Technology moves exponentially, so it’s coming, bud. It’s coming. ■

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Mixed Reality & Magic Leap Talking Tech with Industrial Light & Magic Veteran John Gaeta By John Gaudiosi

From his Oscar-winning special effects work in What Dreams May Come to his invention of “bullet time” in The Matrix franchise, John Gaeta has been at the forefront of technology his entire career. While working on natural and human interfaces at Float, he helped Microsoft future media labs develop Kinect and HoloLens. He then moved to Lucasfilm to help Disney relaunch the Star Wars franchise, and then founded the Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic immersive entertainment division, ILMxLAB. Today, Gaeta serves as senior vice president of creative strategy at Magic Leap, the company that’s pushing mixed reality with its $2,300 Magic Leap One: Creator Edition goggles. Based in Plantation, Florida, the startup has raised over $2.3 billion from tech giants like Google and Alibaba with the goal of bringing light field technology to the mainstream. The mixed reality goggles project a digital light field into the user’s eyes to blend 3D computergenerated imagery with the real world across a variety of apps. Gaeta explained that Magic Leap has been built atop the foundation of video games, which



have been forging interactive stories for decades. “We stand on top of that, but it’s still quite different because inside the video game is a world of your creation,” Gaeta said. “Mixed reality incorporates the real world, which is unpredictable. There’s emergent gameplay in some of the new video games with experimentation where characters can learn and have forms of awareness that we haven’t seen before, but now if you’re in the real world, walking out on the streets, who knows what will happen with cars and people. So a new special computing mechanism has to be put in place in order to understand what’s happening out there.” In Weta Workshops’ new Magic Leap game, Dr. Grordbort’s Invaders, the real-world room you’re playing in has its walls ripped open by robots of all sizes. This shooter offers plenty of special weapons to rip limbs from robots or melt them into oblivion, as wave after wave of cartoonish 3D-animated invaders attempt to rule the world. This first-generation example of mixed reality gaming will get turbocharged in 2019 and beyond as the big wireless carriers launch 5G.

“With 5G you have really high-fidelity capabilities, allowing people to travel around the world without ever leaving their home,” Gaeta added. “With co-presence, you suddenly have changed the nature of communities because people can be in different places at once. VR is very isolating. Magic Leap allows families or friends to play together from anywhere and be volumetrically present together. There still will be online and VR games for exploring game worlds in a virtual fantasy universe, but mixed reality and facial computing will change the way developers think about universes that can couple with the real world, or make sense logicwise with the real world. As it becomes possible to house and serve persistent, adaptive content in the real world, there’s a whole evolution of that type of game and content that’s coming.” Magic Leap already has games like Angry Birds: First Person Slingshot, Luna Moondust Garden, and Seedling available, even though this early version is really for game developers and enterprise. Over time, as the price point drops, more developers will have different interactive experiences available that fuse the real and CGI worlds. ■

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Brendan Fraser discusses DC’s latest TV show, Doom Patrol, and his role as Cliff Steele, a.k.a. Robotman. By Alex Moersen



Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./Quantrell D. Colbert

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./Jace Downs

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./Bob Mahoney

“These aren’t superheroes. I hate to disappoint you … They’re just trying to get through the world which is very, very weird in their universe. They’d love to get a text message or something from Batman, if he even deigned to pay attention to them.”

The voyage Cliff takes is to see if he succeeds in becoming a better human being as a robot than he was as a human in a mechanical device, like his car. So we’ll see how he does along the way, but it’s a pretty fantastic voyage he takes. I can attest to that.

That is the gist of Brendan Fraser’s latest project, Doom Patrol, in which he portrays Cliff Steele, a.k.a. Robotman. While people may recognize him as a gem of the ‘90s and early ‘00s, with his breakout role in 1992’s Encino Man, Fraser has had a recent resurgence in a number of dramatic television shows such as Trust, Condor, and The Affair.

I&T Today: Riley Shanahan portrays Robotman on the screen, while you provide the voice. Did you find yourself collaborating with him directly?

Even with such a diverse career, Doom Patrol is Fraser’s first venture into the superhero genre. Although, he is quite adamant that the members of the Doom Patrol are in no way superheroes, making the point that, “This isn’t the Justice League.” Only minutes into the first episode, most viewers would agree that this is a very different “superhero” tale. We had the opportunity to discuss with Fraser the complexities of his character, the challenges of voicing an expressionless robot, and what truly sets Doom Patrol apart within the superhero genre. Innovation & Tech Today: What drew you to Doom Patrol and Cliff Steele as a character? Brendan Fraser: Everyone in this mismatched, misfit family that they are, they’re not so much a team. Anything bad that could have happened to them already did before we meet them. Of course, subsequently, we learn what happened. They’re not heroes, they’re not crime fighters, they’re not squeaky clean. This isn’t the Justice League. They’re actually quite anti-hero. They disdain heroism, but not as much as they secretly care for one another.

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./Jace Downs

Brendan Fraser portrays Cliff Steele (top) and provides the voice for Robotman (bottom) after Steele’s conciousness is transferred to a new robotic home.

I like the idea of the journey of a man who has lived a risky, daredevil, racecar, high-octane life making dubious choices along the way. He finds, for his misdeeds, hubris and fake ketchup when he puts his car off the road with his family in it and is reincarnated – well, most of him, that is – in the body of a curious tin man of sorts that scientist and father-figure Dr. Niles Caulder gives him, as he says, “The gentle place to land,” and really a second chance.

BF: We had open, fraught conversation about this. “How are we going to do this?” What it came down to was really trusting that performances are always going to win out over a CGI treatment for the characters. How are we going to portray this? Beyond a mandibular shape in the steam shovel jaw that the character has and some blinking red eyes that he can swivel left and right on the occipital bone hinge, there’s little to work with. That’s a good thing. That means we have to be better as an actor in the suit, we have to be better as a voice performer to lay that in. So yes, I agree with you. There is a collaboration that needed to take place between myself and Riley, for sure…. I’m not trying to be vague here, but what I can tell you is that we did have to pay attention to one another. And overall, we just had to trust that the writing is strong enough that, when everything is said and done, and overthinking and hand-wringing and pearl-clutching is done, the final result is a performance that Riley gives that presses right through the mask and right through the viewer’s screen – or whatever conveyance we’re using these days – to just get the organic and visceral performance right across. I&T Today: Because of Robotman’s lack of facial expression, a lot of his emotion has to come from his voice and your voice work. Could you talk about the extra challenge that provided? BF: I can go even further than that. This is going to get really theoretical-sounding and nerdy, from leftover college days’ lore. We studied Lecoq theory; Jacques Lecoq was a French instructor and he taught a school of acting that was known as “neutral mask.” That essentially took the actor’s face away from them. SPRING 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY


Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./Jace Downs

From Encino Man to Robotman

Fraser used lessons learned from his college days to voice Robotman in Doom Patrol. He collaborated with Riley Shanahan, who physically portrays Robotman.

It was as simple as putting papier maché masks on actors with flat expressions.

to, that X-Men was conceived of maybe a little after Doom Patrol came to print…

So it takes away the reliance that actors have on their faces to get the point across. It demands that they use what you would want to see apart from just looking at someone making expressions or even mugging, and see how they breathe, see how they move, where are they centered, what are the kinetics of their body, how do they relate to gravity, a zillion and one things. I know this is all very goatee, beard-scratching, theoretical actor talk, but it comes in handy and it’s a wonderful coincidence that both Riley and I have the same training. Physical comedy and combat, dancing essentially is what it is, and giving a broad, but specific, performance is really what’s needed to tell the story of how this character thinks and works.

I don’t think there’s any impropriety because a good idea is a good idea is a good idea. How does it differ? I don’t know if it has since those early days apart from Doom Patrol have always maintained that they are quite vigorously antihero and they’re not squeaky clean. They’re not fighting villains, they’re not out to right the wrongs of the world. They have more psychologically-based foes. The villains in the world around them attack, really probe, the dark psyche of who they are and what they do. And that’s the appeal.

We’ve taken away those expressions and, like I said earlier, my job is to match pitch with the physical choices that the actor is making. Or, even add to them. It’s a process that takes a team. I’m standing on the shoulders of giants. I’m not on an island in playing this character, believe me. You’re kidding yourself if you say that. I’d be fraudulent to say that, “Yeah, this is all my doing.” No, no, no. This takes many, many people. I&T Today: The amount of superhero media is so abundant. What does Doom Patrol bring to the genre that’s different? BF: There are similarities in most everything. Let’s not forget, depending on who you’re talking



It does stand apart, not to say that it’s the only one, the only entity that’s taken that approach in comic book lore, but it does not deviate from that original model. That’s a tall order. But what I’m telling you is that it has remained faithful to the really broad and unrelenting choices that this seemingly innocent comic book story has taken and made best efforts to bring it to the screen. Its popularity may not have been ... I was not aware of it. Many, many people weren’t. But that’s just a testament that it’s new, and we could cheapskate and do whatever we wanted to, but we haven’t. We’ve stayed true to what the source material was in more than one way, which is not just to keep the storylines complete, but to also represent the comic book world through the use of all the technology available in CGI and all the visual imagery that we have available now on a level that succeeds in upstanding that comic book sensibility and world.

I&T Today: Looking at your whole career, you’ve played such a diverse array of characters. Is there something specific that makes Cliff Steele stand out to you? BF: Cliff Steele stands out to me because, as I said before, he’s done some questionable things. He’s lived a borderline amoral life, but he lives with huge regrets at the same time. And he gets a second chance at it, but in a real handcuffed way. Namely, he could have done a lot better as a flesh and blood, breathing man, but now his intellect is plopped into this bucket of bolts and he has to figure out how to be a better version of that. I’m still learning the character as we go along, to be honest. I don’t know if I know definitively how to say who Cliff is, aside from …he’s the everyman who is astonished by what’s around him, but his voyage is to reconcile his past. I&T Today: Now that you’ve gotten a taste for the superhero genre, do you have another comic book character you’d want to portray? BF: I know there are many of them that I’ve loved watching being brought to screen over the years. Some better than others. I’m pretty happy with the job I have right now. That’s a tall enough order and I don’t know if I’ll be shedding Robotman or Cliff Steele anytime soon in the eyes of the learned comic book fans. I think you get maybe one bite at the apple, but I’m happy with how shiny and crispy and tasty my apple is. ■


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Hot Economy in the Peach State



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For the past 25 years, Georgia has blossomed into the business center of the South – one that is growing fast. Here’s a look inside the industries, technologies, and innovators making it happen. Section Written By Robert Yehling

Decades ago, the legendary Ray Charles had Georgia on his mind – and regaled his audiences and fans about it. He likely thought of the people, culture, stunning nature, music scene, and the quiet life of this great jewel of the Deep South. Later, others might have thought of peanut farms, the Masters golf tournament, the Atlanta Braves and Falcons, rock groups like R.E.M. and the B-52s, or the historic ambiance of the gorgeous Savannah, which takes you back 200 years. Today, “Georgia On Your Mind” might as well be the anthem for the business, innovation, and technology scene. Or, to put it another way, the Peach State is a redhot participant in the national and global economy. Whether it’s Atlanta’s financial and retail centers, airport, and thriving aviation industry, the huge IT and 21st century technology presence in metro counties, the world’s No. 2 location for feature films, the automotive industry that Henry Ford started with the first Georgia plant in 1915, or tourism, Georgia is setting a torrid pace in all sorts of ways. The state touts several of the nation’s top technical schools (led by Georgia Tech and the Technical College System of Georgia) and STEM-centric high schools – which are tied in with area technology firms and manufacturers for direct and onsite career training. The state enjoys 1.1 percent population growth annually, among the top 10 in the nation. Its renewable energy industry and development has also just moved into the national top 10. At last glance, all of its top 25 industries are flush with success.


o/271221 iStockphot

How did Georgia go from the laid-back, bucolic, and genteel Southern state as portrayed in the 1989 film Driving Miss Daisy to one of the hottest places to relocate, expand, and grow business in America? A central reason is Georgia Quick Start, the nation’s leading workforce training program since 2005 (see story on page 72). That’s 14 consecutive years, as awarded by Area Development magazine, which explains the highly trained teams and workers that now populate the state. Since this streak started, Quick Start has participated in the training of one million employees on 6,500 projects. Companies like Kia, Hyundai, Caterpillar, Starbucks, King’s Hawaiian, Baxter, Toyo Tire, Gulfstream, and Shire Pharmaceutical have turned to the company for assistance. “For more than 40 years, Quick Start has provided the kind of cutting-edge, specialized training that companies need to be successful,” said former Governor Nathan Deal. “Its consistently high level of expertise and service have established its national reputation for excellence and contributed greatly to Georgia’s frequent presence among the top states for business, including this year’s No. 1 ranking.” As part of our ongoing Tech Zone series, Innovation & Tech Today takes a deep dive into Georgia’s tech and innovation footprint through a variety of perspectives: Quick Start, the City of Alpharetta, CummingForsyth County Chamber of Commerce, and Georgia Tourism, Entertainment and Arts, which hosts the state’s thriving film production industry. ■




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Alpharetta’s Rise to Tech Capital of the South

Whether groundbreaking, opening sprawling tech facilities and data centers from companies based worldwide, hosting community festivals or innovating new products, Alpharetta bustles every day as one of the nation’s top civic tech centers. Middle photo: Matthew A. Thomas, Economic Development Manager at City of Alpharetta.

We’ve heard the recent excitement about smart cities, wiring up towns and cities to be completely (or almost completely) connected to a wireless infrastructure. What about a smart city whose focus is technology? One of the country’s greatest tech booms continues every day in the scenic north central Georgia landscape. Just up the road from Atlanta, in north Fulton County, Alpharetta welcomes a workforce larger than its population to do the technological bidding of Microsoft, LexisNexis, McKesson, Verizon Wireless, Equifax, HP, ADP, UPS, and more than 700 others. New companies large and small are constantly moving in; in late February, for example, biometric tech solutions manufacturer ZKTeco announced it was investing $5 million and bringing 40 jobs to the state. The city is known as “The Technology Capital of the South,” with very good reason. The breakdown on Alpharetta’s commitment to technology is both impressive and reflective of the large tech footprint growing out from it: ➠ There are more than 15 enterprise and co-located data centers, a measure of the growing need for metrics – and a collaborative approach to getting them.



➠ Alpharetta has drawn in the core sectors that drive technology globally. Of the 700+ tech companies operating within city limits, nearly 200 are IT service and consulting companies, more than 70 biotech, health, and medical tech firms, and 105 software development businesses. Together, the companies utilize a whopping 20 million square feet of office space – equivalent to 200 large Walmart stores. ➠ More than 25 percent of Metro Atlanta’s Top 25 employers are Alpharetta-based tech companies. ➠ Alpharetta features the Southeast’s most robust, redundant fiber and power fiber infrastructure systems, powering and supporting its massive tech footprint. ➠ Tech companies have joined to form TechAlpharetta, one of the most powerful business-driven initiatives to identify and pursue key investment opportunities and policy decisions. It was established in 2012 by the city. Besides the tech executives and city and economic development officials, who makes all of this happen? The workers. Amazingly, only 65,000 people live in Alpharetta in spite of 700

tech companies located within the city limits. However, nearly 85,000 people work in the city every day. Their skill and education set is the envy of any community or tech zone: more than two-thirds hold bachelor’s degrees and are trained in the highly prized areas of telecommunications, finance, technology, software development, and network solutions. IT makes up the leading employee skill. Put it all together, and the area north of Atlanta is now one of the nation’s premier tech zones. Bordering Alpharetta is CummingForsyth County (see story, page 66), also with a very large tech footprint for its modest population base – and the desire to expand as it works to create opportunities for specialists young and old alike. How did it happen? Georgia’s progressive tax incentive programs not only landed the state a thriving film industry (see story, page 68) but flung open the doors to draw in tech companies large and small. Alpharetta seized the initiative by adding on incentives of their own. A combination of job and work opportunity tax credits, R&D and investment tax credits, expedited permits and inspections, revenue bonds, tax abatements, and retraining tax credits has done the job. ■

Global Access Economy Infrastructure Workforce




Leadership Business Environment Economic Policie



SOURCE: AREA DEVELOPMENT: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 SITE SELECTION: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013

Georgia’s low cost of doing business, availability of skilled labor and global supply chain are just a few of the reasons why more than 440 Fortune 500® companies thrive in Georgia. Combine this with our unique culture of collaboration, cooperative and responsive state government, and favorable regulatory environment – and you have a recipe for success. Visit to explore some of our recent success stories.

We SPEAK Business Georgia Department of Economic Development

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Forsyth County’s Great Tech Adventure Typically, a county that sits near a metropolitan giant like Atlanta lives in the commercial shadows as a bedroom community. That is exactly what Forsyth County is overcoming – with great success. Forsyth County is Georgia’s most affluent county, and one of the 20 most affluent in the nation, with a median family income exceeding $100,000. More than half the residents are college educated, and the population is growing at a 4.2 percent annual clip – among the top 25 of counties nationally. The mix of highly educated professionals, engineers, tech experts, educators, and other business leaders and highly-trained specialists has made the county a leading business destination. Students are the highest testing in Georgia, and the county operates a real jewel in New Alliance High School, one of the most advanced collaborations between STEM-trained students and the business sector in the nation (see story in the summer issue of STEM Today). “Last year was a record year for us,” said Robert Long, VP of Economic Development for the Cummings-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce. “We had over 100 projects in development, and now have 60 active projects after [the first] two months of 2019 – more than the total in 2016. Most counties are seeing 60 percent expansion to existing business in their mix. We’re seeing 33 percent – the rest of our projects are companies being attracted to Forsyth County.” Furthermore, Forsyth County set a capital investment record in 2018, with $185 million spent and 1,150 jobs created. This is impressive enough, but consider the scope of the businesses Forsyth County is drawing from a few projects in which it is involved: • The hit Netflix series Ozark is filmed in Forsyth County; • Algae Tech has relocated an operation to export product to Brazil; • Scientific Games, the world’s largest supplier of scratch-off lottery tickets, now is



Robert Long, with the assistance of Scott Evans (both pictured above), and the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce have been driving forces in Forsyth County’s strong growth as a location for tech companies. Current projects under development already top the entire 2016 total — with far more than half the year to go.

manufacturing Las Vegas-style video games from the county; • Ciox, a healthcare tech company, expanded operations in 2018; • AV Stumpfl, an Austrian company, is building control systems for conference centers; • Lanza, a Swiss company, has expanded its plastics lab; • Tech-Long, a Chinese company, is manufacturing bottling machines. “One of the things we’ve done to broaden the appeal of Forsyth County is to set up a local executive tech group,” said Economic Development Director Scott Evans. “We meet monthly, providing a peer network and recruiting tool for tech companies coming into Forsyth. This has turned into a collaborative peer group.” To wit, the county is starting an active incubator for up to 20 companies – all of whom either specialize in Internet of Things,

blockchain, or artificial intelligence. It’s perfect timing, as all three areas are defining the present and future of tech use and commerce. “Scott’s probably the only Economic Development Director in the nation to be certified in blockchain,” Long said. “At first, it was intertwined with cryptocurrency; now, people understand blockchain is a better way to secure data.” The county is also defining its space as primarily industrial in the north, and tech and office complexes in the south. For instance, Halcyon is looking at a $370 million mixed-use development that includes a seven-story office building. “When it comes to the tech sector, we have a great case study to talk about,” Long said. “It’s an opportunity for us to create a way for people to live, play, and work in Forsyth County. Now, about 75 percent of our professionals work outside the county. We’re working to change that.” ■

tech zone


Southern Home The Film Industry’s

Ten years after passing a tax credit to lure the motion picture industry, Georgia has become the world’s second most popular location for shooting.

Blockbuster 2018 film Black Panther and the long-running series The Walking Dead both enjoy the location and economic advantages of filming in Georgia.

Georgia’s relationship to the motion picture industry is not new. From Gone with the Wind’s sweeping presentation in 1939 to Forrest Gump, Glory, Fried Green Tomatoes, Driving Miss Daisy, and Sweet Home Alabama in later decades, blockbusters have been filmed in the state for years.

and audio, film companies hire Georgians with skills in a myriad of support services including construction, catering, transportation, accounting and payroll, and post-production,” Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson said in a release.

“The film industry really took off here after 2008, when we passed a tax credit for production companies and crews,” Thomas said. “This is an open-ended tax credit – no sunset, which helps us assure long-term growth – and it’s also a credit, not cash. Credit is always a better way to go.”

Now it looks like an extended warm-up act. Georgia is operating on a higher, faster gear today. The state’s bustling film and television industry has resulted in the second busiest shooting location in the world. Nearly 92,000 people work directly and indirectly on film, television, and commercial productions in the state, paying out $4.6 billion in salaries, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. Furthermore, in 2018, the economic impact from the 455 movie, TV, and commercial projects filmed in the Peach State reached $9.5 billion – nearly double the $5-billion impact just five years ago.

How did Georgia move into this position? How did the state’s filmmaking footprint grow so much in the last ten years?

What a decade it’s been. Georgia has welcomed the production of The Walking Dead, Fast Five, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Blind Side, Zombieland, The Vampire Diaries, and Marvel’s superhero franchises – Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America, Ant-Man, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Ant-Man and the Wasp among them. Not to mention Academy Award Best Picture nominee Black Panther, as well as First Man, which just won an Academy Award for visual effects.

“The film industry creates jobs across almost every profession; in addition to camera, lighting,



Unpack the box, and two reasons jump out: a tax credit passed by the state legislature in 2008 and the tireless work of Lee Thomas, a former film student, location scout for the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Thomas, who has worked for the state since 1996, used her passion and knowledge of cinema and television entertainment to draw production companies into the state. Not only have they come back for more, but many have built soundstages for a more permanent presence.

The list reflects a couple of dynamics. First, Georgia’s exquisite location landscapes – mountains, swamps, coast, farmlands, and deep south community feeling – make it one of the most diverse places anywhere to shoot. Second,

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The Film Industry’s Southern Home

once producers scout out the state and locate a film there, they often come back for more. “Most of our projects today are from producers who have shot here time and again, a testament to Georgia’s strength as a location,” Thomas said. “We don’t have to spend as much time driving them to locations, because so many producers are happily familiar. What has become the driver for us is to promote incentives rather than location. We talk to legislators and the public on the value of the industry, something we’re now focusing on, since Georgia has a new governor and quite a few new legislators. Right now, our biggest worry is how many shows are in production here at the same time.” The growth of the industry’s presence is obvious. Pinewood (various Marvel franchises), EUE Screen Gems (Black Panther), Tyler Perry Studios (most of the Madea series), Eagle Rock, and Third Rail are among production companies that have built soundstages in the state. According to the Economic Development Dept., Georgia now houses 2.3 million square feet of purpose-built and retrofitted soundstage space – up from 40,000 square feet in 2009. Prior to the build-out, Thomas and her peers scrambled whenever a production company wanted to shoot in Georgia but couldn’t find a soundstage. The lack of facilities cost them the first Hunger Games movie; Thomas was determined not to miss out on the second. “We tried for a long time, but we just didn’t have the soundstage facilities in time for the first movie,” she said. “When trade show participation in general was down, we talked to the Georgia World Congress Center to move trade shows around, and that’s how we got Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” Besides the multi-billion dollar economy boost, thousands of well-paying jobs, and sharply increased tourism and technological growth, many of Georgia’s communities also have enjoyed the notoriety. All 159 Georgia counties have a hand in the industry. “This started off as 12 counties when we launched our Camera Ready Program in 2010, but by 2014, all 159 counties were aboard,” Thomas explained. “We’ve since seen counties offer incentives on top of state incentives; the



(Clockwise from left) Deputy Commissioner of Economic Development Lee Thomas. Panel discussion with Jeff Stepakoff (Exec. Director of the Georgia Film Academy), producers Will Packer and Gale Anne Hurd, and Thomas. Senoia went from a six-window downtown (shown in 1999) to a vibrant village (shown recently), thanks to The Walking Dead adopting it as the home locale.

counties are competing for these shoots because of the economic boom it creates.” For town growth fueled by a series, few examples can beat the relationship between The Walking Dead and its home base, Senoia, a rural town located 35 miles south of Atlanta. Prior to the hit series’ arrival, Senoia had six business storefronts. Now, it has 85, including The Waking Dead Café and Woodbury Store. “The town has been completely revitalized by the attention it’s gotten from the show,” Thomas said. Then, with a chuckle, she added, “ It’s kind of ironic, in a way, because it seems that, in our work with the film industry, we’re becoming the kings of the undead pictures here as well – The Walking Dead, Zombieland, The Vampire Diaries…” Georgia’s industry presence fulfills a personal dream for Thomas, who moved from Atlanta to enter the NYU’s Tisch School for Doctoral Arts program in film after graduating from the University of Georgia. Her journey, which brought her back to Atlanta in 1996, has inspired her to build a strong economic and jobgenerating backbone that keeps young aspiring

filmmakers and crew in-state, rather than moving to L.A., New York, or Vancouver. “So many jobs are attached to the film industry here, and we’re built to retain our young filmmakers who go through school, the Georgia Film Academy,” she said. “The Georgia Film Academy has a great program for young filmmakers. After six months there, you can become an intern with one of the films or shows in production. Imagine your internship is working on the Marvel franchise, or Ozark, The Hunger Games… From the internship, many go right into the workforce, making $84,000 or more right away. There’s a great economic incentive to stay home now.” ■



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A Quick Start Launching Pad Like No Other Georgia’s not-so-secret weapon to become a national and international force in manufacturing and technology is hotter than ever. Georgia Quick Start is a program within the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) that is offered as a discretionary incentive to attract qualified companies to create or retain jobs in Georgia. It has helped Georgia attract more than one million jobs and has delivered more than 6,500 customized training projects. Quick Start has achieved a top ranking by several workforce development magazines, including Area Development magazine. Site selection professionals have named Quick Start No. 1 in the U.S. for the ninth year in a row. Quick Start’s superiority lies in its approach. It designs and implements customized programs for qualifying businesses to train workers in aerospace, health sciences, agriculture, biotechnology, pharma, distribution and logistics, advanced manufacturing, IT, food and beverage, automotive, and nearly every other industry doing business in Georgia. “Quick Start is one of the major economic development incentives for attracting new jobs to Georgia,” said TCSC Commissioner Matt Arthur. “We’re very proud that we’ve been named No. 1 by site selectors for nine years in a row, and we thank our partners for recognizing us with this honor.” Quick Start has delivered customized training for numerous companies, both large and small. For example, recent Quick Start clients have included Starbucks, Briggs & Stratton, Kia, Gulfstream, Pratt & Whitney, Procter & Gamble, Caterpillar, Nordic, NCR, and Toyo Tire North America. In many cases, companies’ decision to relocate or expand in Georgia have not rested on economic incentives, but on Quick Start’s ability to deliver the workforce and assist with transition. “We didn’t come here to Carrollton by accident,” an official from Trident Seafoods said. “We looked at 75 to 100 locations for expansion over the last three years. I’d especially like to express my appreciation for the Georgia Quick Start program that facilitated the training of more than 100 of our local employees.”



What makes Quick Start such a crucial component to Georgia’s thriving manufacturing and technology environment? First, the program is one of the state’s discretionary programs to new and expanding companies. Quick Start’s expertise is free of charge to qualifying businesses. Then, Quick Start meets with a company’s leadership team to define, develop, and deliver workforce training solutions. To meet those goals, Quick Start built and operates training centers, such as the Georgia BioScience Training Center and the Kia Georgia Training Center. This spring, Quick Start will open the Georgia Advanced Manufacturing Training Center near Savannah, which will provide stateof-the-art equipment and training facilities for 21st century manufacturing techniques. Quick Start works with local technical colleges that are part of TCSG and the partner companies to achieve its goals. HOW DOES IT LOOK IN ACTION? A few examples: For Caterpillar, which recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of its Building Construction Products Division’s facility in Athens, GA, Quick Start designed and operated a training center that has since expanded to provide simulated work environment, classrooms, and a training lab, which are now used by several diverse companies in the area. For Kia, 40 hours of assessments were created, from written tests to assembling simple machines. Quick Start also designed and built the 70,000-square-foot Kia Georgia Training Center. Kia spent $1 billion in West Georgia in 2006 and hired 3,000 workers. In 2019, Kia began production of the Telluride at its Georgia facility. Nordic, a cold storage distribution leader, centered its efforts near Savannah, which has one of the nation’s oldest – and now fastestgrowing – ports. Quick Start has trained the workforce in dock and warehouse operations, communications, inventory control, and specific software applications.

(Top) Georgia BioScience Training Center. (Center/ Bottom) Part of Kia’s success in North America came in part with Georgia Quick Start’s help designing and building a training center to test and evaluate workers.

While Quick Start is the leading program for company-specific, customized training, the Technical College System of Georgia is a juggernaut on its own. TCSG’s 22 colleges have become Georgia’s top resource for skilled workers. The colleges offer world-class training in 600 associate degree, diploma, and certificate programs to students trained on state-of-the-art equipment by instructors, all experts in their fields. ■

tech zone


A Different Kind of Four Seasons Comes to Peach County

Think of it as new technology meeting your dinner plate. When Pure Flavor® sought out a new growing space in the United States, they turned to Peach County — not for ground alone, but to make it possible to produce vegetables for America’s dinner tables for all four seasons. The old rules of buy land and grow were out. In came an economic partnership with grow centers, infrastructure, and top-flight grow technology, on just 75 acres. The $105-million Pure Flavor® Georgia Greenhouse Facility, the company’s largest-ever investment, took first hold in fall 2018, one year after ground was broken. That is when the first 25 acres of tomatoes and seedless cucumbers were picked, the first harvest of what is now a year-round operation. It also culminated a joint effort between the Development Authority of Peach County (DAPC), Pure Flavor®, and Dutch builder Havecon to create the most sophisticated vegetable growing facility of its kind in the U.S. The highlight of the greenhouse technology is its environment control. It begins with some natural ingenuity: plants are grown in nutrient-

rich recycled coconut husks, not soil or peat. This adds to the nutritive value of the vegetables and saves water. As for the facility’s water, it is all recycled. In addition, the amount of water and heat are controlled, and they utilize integrative pest management. Also in fall 2018, Pure Flavor® announced it had broken ground on its third U.S.-based distribution center, a 60,000-square-foot structure just ten minutes from the greenhouse facility. The facility’s existence fulfills one of PureFlavor’s missions: to reduce or eliminate the seasonality of key vegetables in our food cycles. In working with the DAPC, Pure Flavor®, which began in Canada in 2003, has invested in both technologies and jobs, hiring local workers who are steeped in an agricultural tradition that dates back centuries. Pure Flavor’s presence is also creating new businesses to provide the specialized services that weren’t formerly available. Peach County is the first of what will be several strategically placed Pure Flavor® grow centers in North America. Pure Flavor® chose its

Fort Valley center from more than 300 sites due to the area’s growing potential, logistics and distribution advantages, and economic incentives. From the center, Pure Flavor’s produce can reach 80 million people within 24 hours, making its year-round line of tomatoes and cucumbers, along with seasonal peppers and eggplant, accessible to the entire southeastern U.S. “The strategic investment in Peach County is one that will not only expand our acreage but will also create opportunities to strengthen and grow our retail and foodservice partnerships across the southeast with Georgia-grown vegetables,” said Pure Flavor® President Jamie Moracci. “Having Pure Flavor® invest in Peach County is proof positive that our community is attractive to newcomers and major international companies,” DAPC Executive Director B.J. Walker said. “It is confirmation that we possess all of the necessary qualities and assets that are ideal for a business to succeed and grow, and we are thrilled and excited to welcome Pure Flavor® into the Peach County family.” ■ SPRING 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY


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The 10 Best Things We Saw at CES 2019

By Patricia Miller & Anthony Elio Every year, CES unites well over 100,000 exhibitors, members of the media, and industry leaders in Las Vegas to celebrate technological innovations and look to the future. This year seemed larger than ever, with new trends emerging, a diverse array of tech being shown off, and plenty of big names sharing their perspectives. With that in mind, here are the top 10 things we saw at CES 2019.

#1 A Sea of Big Stars Just like every year, there was no shortage of engaging personalities at the 2019 CES event. In addition to notable tech names such as keynote speaker and CEO of Verizon Hans Vestberg, big names such as Kanye West and Steve Harvey also made appearances. At this year’s event, we were able to speak directly with some of these personalities, such as Shark Tank host Daymond John, Olympic gold medalist Angela Ruggiero, and AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins.

#2 Eureka Park Unites the World of Tech Located in the Sands Hall, Eureka Park brought together startups from across the globe looking for the opportunity to form partnerships and acquire funding for their ideas. The massive hall saw an incredibly diverse array of people from different areas, with companies originating from Israel, France, Taiwan, Italy, Switzerland, and all across the globe. This perfectly represents the true meaning of CES: the world’s innovative thinkers sharing ideas and presenting technology that could change the world.

Hans Vestberg

#3 Robots, Robots, Robots! The number one trend of CES 2019 was, without a doubt, the robotics revolution. FORPHEUS presented the newest update to their ping pong-playing robot. Ling Technology showed off Luka, an owl-shaped robot that utilizes AI and cameras to read to children. Additionally, we went hands on with PromoBot, the very same type of robot that had been run over by a Tesla during the event. Don’t worry, it seems to have forgiven and forgotten.


#4 Amazing AI It seems everything was equipped with AI at CES, from AI suitcases to AI beds and AI companion bots to AI ping pong instructors, we saw every variation. The PromoBot mentioned above is AIequipped and capable of detecting emotions. The result is a very eager robot who will report your angry face to management before you even realize you’re upset. How about AI for pets? Petcube’s care service uses AI to monitor unusual pet behavior and report it back to the owner. The Meero was another AI offering, utilizing deep convolutional neural networks to automatically edit photographs en masse, freeing up valuable time for less tedious work. Meero

#5 Showstoppers Shakes Things Up Evening events throughout CES week are almost as exciting as the convention itself. This year’s Showstoppers, held at the Wynn Resort and Casino, featured some incredible products, tasty food, and a wide assortment of adult beverages. We spoke with the creators at PrimoToys about their newest invention, Pigzbe. The state-of-the-art electronic piggy bank teaches kids about cryptocurrency, international exchange rates, and financial planning. Meanwhile, the line to check out Lora DiCarlo’s Osé, a female-focused robotic sex toy which had its Innovation Award reneged, wrapped around the hors-d’oeuvre table. BOSS Audio premiered their new Alexa-enabled car stereo line and zSpace showcased their incredibly intuitive virtual reality laptop. The free drinks may have encouraged us to hand out more than our fair share of high-fives, but the tech on display was definitely toastworthy.




connected life TeslaSuit

#6 VR Revolution As you might imagine, virtual reality also had a commanding presence. In addition to a handful of addictive games, Fibrum showed off their ambitious VR music video, creating a truly immersive entertainment experience. TeslaSuit showcased their full-body haptic suit, the perfect pairing to VR training simulators. One of our editors had the pleasure of testing the suit’s “explosion simulator” which looked… painful. Augmented reality made an appearance as well, with a particularly unusual offering from Naughty America showcasing the latest in AR strip club technology.

#7 Practical Tech Reverie’s advanced sleep technology showed off the future of sleep (and gave our editors a chance for a quick nap). High-tech, full-body massage chairs were unsurprisingly popular again this year, as weary conference attendees shuffled from one impressive demonstration to the next. Mindfulness tech had its place at CES too, with products ranging from meditation-assisting headbands to full-immersion relaxation pods. Let’s not forget the wide array of television tech on display by presenters like LG, Samsung, Sony, and other heavy hitters. Let’s just say the 8K party was in full swing. LCDs, OLEDs, foldable, rollable, frameless, and ultra high-definition offerings made literal waves at LG’s booth, as dozens of spectators lined the walls to take it all in.

#8 … And Less Practical Tech While there was undoubtedly tons of practical technology at the event this year, there were also plenty of products that fell into the “fun” category. One example is Walnutt’s electric skateboard, an exhilarating experience that we were lucky enough to try out in the Convention Center parking lot. Adding a little retro flair, Arcade1Up showed off their portable, affordable arcade cabinets of classic games such as Mortal Kombat, Golden Tee, and Space Invaders. Sometimes, you just gotta enjoy yourself. Walnutt SpectraX

#9 Foo Fighters Rock the House

Foo Fighters

One of the greatest aspects of travelling CES as a media member is the amazing events you get to attend. This year, HARMAN International went all out at the Hard Rock Casino, with an incredible display of their sound equipment and a high-energy concert by the Foo Fighters. At one point, in the middle of a song, lead singer Dave Grohl chugged a beer and fell off the Hard Rock stage. Definitely not something you see at every CES.

#10 Vehicular Tech LiveWire

Automated and self-driving vehicles seemed to be present in every section of the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center. From self-driving supermarkets to gigantic helicopter-style taxi drones, the diversity in automated portability was impressive. Harley-Davidson showed off their electric motorcycle, the LiveWire, which is now available for preorder. Clarion, well-known for their car audio solutions, revealed upgraded driverless car accessories like AI driver monitoring, haptic feedback, and even one that can summon your car to pick you up curbside. ■



connected life

Towards Transhumanism Exploring the Latest Technologies in Bioengineering and Human Technological Enhancement By Alex Moersen For decades, comic books have told stories of super soldiers and cyborgs, normal people who, after being enhanced by science, became capable of extraordinary physical feats. While those tales have remained in the realm of fiction, technology, more and more, is interacting directly with our biology. Joint replacements, prosthetics, laser-eye treatments – there are innumerable ways that humans use medical technology to improve their physical prowess, or just make life more convenient. However, there is a mix of opinions on the extent humans should be directly enhanced by technology. In 2017, AARP surveyed 2,000 adults on their opinions on human-enhancing technology as it pertained to vision enhancements, joint replacements, and gene editing. When it came to joint replacements or vision enhancements to restore mobility or vision, 96 and 95 percent of those surveyed thought it was appropriate to utilize those procedures. However, when considering using those same procedures to improve ability beyond normal human capabilities, only 44 percent thought it would be appropriate for vision enhancements and 33 percent found it appropriate for joint replacements. For gene editing, 83 percent thought that it would be appropriate to use the technology in order to prevent or cure genetic disease. Only 32 percent thought it would be appropriate to use the same technology for the purpose of determining human characteristics. It’s clear that the public is still wary about these body-enhancing technologies, but that hasn’t stopped companies from developing exoskeletons, advanced prosthetics, and even microchips. While we’re still some way off from cyborgs and super soldiers, here are some



Ekso Bionics EksoVest

developments in tech that are bringing us closer to that ideal.

Exoskeletons Exoskeletons comprise an exciting, yet subtle, industry that is projected to experience significant growth in the coming years. In February, Research and Markets published that the exoskeleton wearable robot market was valued at $130 million in 2018. They then projected that the industry would reach $5.2 billion by 2025. An even more conservative prediction from Market Watch has the market hitting $2.5 billion by 2024. For now, their main appeal comes from the industrial sector, namely their application for

factory workers. Companies such as Ford, Siemens, and Panasonic have all introduced exoskeletons into their factories for their workers. While automated machines have started to make their way into these facilities, humans still play an important role in the production line. However, this role often involves repetitive tasks that can become strenuous over time. These tasks typically require being on one’s feet, and some even involve making repetitive arm motions up to 4,600 times a day. The exoskeletons in this case aren’t made so workers can be stronger, per se; rather, they are meant to alleviate pressure from neck and shoulder joints, for instance, to take some of the strain away.

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connected life

Towards Transhumanism

(Left) Evie Lambert models her Disney Frozen Hero Arm cover. (Right) In 2017, John Matheny, who lost his arm in 2005 to cancer, became the first person to live with a mindcontrolled robotic arm.

In Ford’s case, workers who have to reach over their heads many times a day were given EksoVests, built by Ekso Bionics. As the person reaches up, the vest offers additional assistance and support; the higher they reach, the more support the system adds. “It’s not a strength enhancer,” Marty Smets, Ford’s technical expert of human systems and virtual manufacturing, told Engadget. “It’s an endurance enhancer.” It shouldn’t be a mystery why exoskeletons that make employees work more efficiently is so appealing to factory- and production line-based industries.

Prosthetics Prosthetic limbs have come a long way from peg legs and hook hands. Modern prosthetics arms often have five fingers, multiple grips, and a lightweight build. For instance, the Hero Arm by Open Bionics is fully 3D-printed and comes with six different grips. But few prosthetics are as innovative as the mind-controlled arm developed by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab as a part of their Revolutionizing Prosthetics program. In late 2017, John Matheny, who lost his arm in 2005 to cancer, became the first person to live with this mind-controlled robotic arm. With 26 joints, 17 of them able to move independently, Matheny was able to control the arm completely



with his mind. Of course, as part of the testing period, it was not without its malfunctions, and doesn’t make him a superhero yet. He wasn’t able to get the arm wet, and it definitely didn’t give him super-strength. But, his everyday use of the arm gave Johns Hopkins the data they needed to improve software and hardware issues. Even though it might not turn people into “cyborgs” as we know them, this research marks a major step in how technology can assist those with missing limbs. “This is not just a prosthetic arm,” Matheny told Quartz. “This is my arm now.”

Microchips Surprisingly, microchips being implanted under people’s skin isn’t all that new. In 2013, Jowan Osterlund, a former professional body piercer, started his Swedish microchipping firm Biohax International. Since the founding, over 4,000 Swedes have adopted their very own chips. Osterlund explained the phenomenon to NPR: “Having different cards and tokens verifying your identity to a bunch of different systems just doesn’t make sense. Using a chip means that the hyper-connected surroundings that you live in every day can be streamlined.” While exoskeletons and prosthetics assist in users’ well-being, the microchip seems to be

more of a convenience, allowing users to more seamlessly move through their day. With a microchip, users could access their homes, offices, or gyms just by swiping their hands against digital readers. The chip can also store emergency contact details, social media profiles, and e-tickets for events or travel. Proponents of the technology say that it is safe and protected against hacking; however, issues around data privacy are still a major concern for some. It is yet to be seen, though, if the microchip trend will pick up in the U.S. as well. In 2017, a Wisconsin company started offering microchips to their employees in order to access the building and streamline purchases in the cafeteria. Almost immediately, questions about data privacy arose. Between data leaks and major corporation and government hacks, it may be some time before U.S. citizens trust technology enough to merge with it. However, these examples show that, out of need or convenience, humans are getting closer and closer to technology, and stories of cyborgs may be closer to fact than science fiction. In 2017, it was Elon Musk who said, “Over time, I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence.” He may not be far off. ■

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Innovating Against Isolation AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins is looking to improve the lives of people 50+ through socialization and technology.

By Anthony Elio

AARP employees gather in the Hatchery, the company’s innovation lab where team members collaborate with investors and startups on new ideas for improving people’s lives throughout the aging process.

Since its inception in 1958, AARP has built up to become one of the largest nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organizations in the U.S. With nearly 2,300 staff members and 60,000 volunteers maintaining the organization’s mission to assist their nearly 38 million members age 50 and over, AARP is an important organization that requires a passionate leader. Thankfully, that leader is Jo Ann Jenkins. Serving as the CEO of AARP since 2014, Jenkins has brought enthusiasm for positive



social change, emphasizing a better quality of life for our aging population. This passion is best exemplified in her bestselling book Disrupt Aging: A Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Every Age, in which she attempts to change how we societally look at the aging process and add a positive spin on the second half of our lives. In this exclusive interview from CES 2019, Jenkins discusses the importance of using tech to reduce isolation and what she hopes for AARP to achieve this year.

Photo © Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

connected life

Innovating Against Isolation

“We’ve been engaged at AARP in addressing the issues of isolation for many years, and we know that technology is one part of a total solution to help address this isolation.” Jo Ann Jenkins had a busy first time at CES, examining technology that will improve life for the aging population, highlighting the work of AARP Innovation Labs, and teaming up with Shark Tank’s Daymond John for the very first CES Pitch Competition.

Innovation & Tech Today: Is this your first time at CES with AARP? Jo Ann Jenkins: It’s my first time, but my colleagues in AARP have been showing up here at CES for a number of years and really showcasing and constantly engaging with companies who are creating new products and services that meet the needs of the 50-plus. I&T Today: What has AARP been showcasing at CES this year? JJ: AARP is here at CES excited to not only have our booth where we’re showcasing a number of new products that we’re putting in the market, but also really roam all of the exhibit floors to see what new technology is out there that might be usable by our 38 million members that we have all across the country. It’s been an exciting time to see autonomous vehicles and the new products around medication management and artificial intelligence. It’s been an exciting time for all of us. I&T Today: What is one type of tech that has caught your eye? JJ: I think one of the things that we’re most excited to see is all of the new technologies in the smart home. How people are being able to



live more independently in their own homes and the related technologies from Kohler and the new technologies around presetting the temperature of water so that when you get into that shower or you’re turning on that water in the faucet, they’re not scalded or you’re not too cold. We’re also excited about the new advancements we’re seeing in autonomous cars, because that’s going to help address isolation and allow people to move and perhaps even get some medical assistance while in this transport. But generally just looking to see what new, cutting-edge products are out there that help address isolation and help with connectedness around caregiving and medication management and health care. So there’s a lot of good stuff that we’re seeing this year. I&T Today: How has AARP been utilizing technology to help alleviate isolation among people over 50? JJ: We’ve been engaged at AARP in addressing the issues of isolation for many years, and we know that technology is one part of a total solution to help address this isolation. You still have to have that human touch and one-on-one communication, but technology goes a long way

in connecting that grandparent or friend to a loved one who might live across the country or somewhere else in the world. We can see how seriously companies are taking this issue of isolation, partly because they may have someone in their own family who’s experiencing some of these issues. We know that people who are isolated are more likely to have depression and more likely to have six or seven other major causes of disease, like obesity and hypertension and diabetes, than someone who is connected and has real meaning and purpose in their lives. I&T Today: What is one thing you most want to see AARP accomplish between now and 2020? JJ: I think one of the things that we’re so excited about at AARP is we’re really trying to be everyday innovators in aging. And so, CES is a great opportunity for us to come here and see what’s new on the market, to find the right partners for us to make sure that we’re at the cutting edge of not only what our members want today, but what they’re going to want in the future and how that’s going to help them stay connected to their families and friends. ■


5G Revolution The Solution to Your Dropped Calls Could Soon Transform Your City


here’s no denying it: cell phones have become indispensable around the world. According to GSMA Intelligence, more than five billion people had a mobile phone connection in 2017. By 2020, that number is expected to rise to 5.5 billion – more than three-quarters of the world’s population. Back up a bit to 1995, when Sprint aired commercials describing their network to be so reliable that “You can hear a pin drop.” Even with today’s 4G technology, that kind of network consistency simply hasn’t kept pace. Dropped calls and insufficient access to data are commonplace, usually due to system density and lack of bandwidth which can lead to “no service” zones. While this may be tolerable for consumers, dropped signals are unacceptable for the mission-critical data in smart city IoT deployments. Smart city technology is already beginning to make an important impact, especially in severely congested cities that must prioritize solutions for public safety, pollution, and parking. In 2018, a fire at a fitness club in the South Korean city of Jecheon killed 29 people — a disaster

partially blamed on illegally parked cars blocking access to emergency vehicles. Smart technology can present solutions that not only advance a city’s communications but help prevent these types of tragedies. Batteryoperated, low-maintenance parking sensors, for example, can be wirelessly connected to gateways that collect data and communicate with remote servers, triggering instantaneous alerts for parking infractions. Other information and communications technologies, connected via intelligent networks, can offer solutions for heavy traffic, street lighting, and flood control. While parking is far from the only application of smart city technology, this example specifically highlights how data collection, data analysis, and data distribution must all function in concert to be useful. Paving the way to these new technological capabilities is 5G. This next generation of cellular wireless technology isn’t available to the world yet, but it addresses many of the shortcomings in the present 4G networks — and it’s essential for applications in IoT market segments. “There’s more to 5G than high-speed capability,” says Fybr senior scientist Edwin T.

Horton. “It’s a fusion of technologies that will advance the overall system for both individual users and city-wide applications.” The key differentiator between 4G and 5G is bandwidth. When fully deployed, minimum expected download speeds will be 1,000 times faster than 4G. What’s more, the placement density of network nodes will be far greater than existing 4G deployments. This eliminates the location dependency we see today — meaning “no service” zones will become a thing of the past. Fybr is one solutions provider whose mission is to give cities an intelligent, flexible interface that’s capable of quickly and efficiently collecting and analyzing real-time data based on a city’s specific needs. Whether for transportation, water management, or parking, Fybr’s technology saves time and money and leads the way to a safer, more sustainable future for urban environments. While it may still be a while before we can tap into the power of 5G on our personal cell phones, the future of citywide IoT systems will rely on reliable data delivery — and 5G is primed to deliver. ■ To learn more about how Fybr is leading the way with end-to-end IoT solutions, visit




Daymond John’s

Perfect Pitch By Anthony Elio

Throughout the massive CES event in Las Vegas every year, the theme of entrepreneurship is everywhere. Over 4,500 exhibiting companies showcased their work in robotics, AI, gaming tech, and more at this year’s CES, each fighting for their chance to get recognized in a crowded tech space full of potential. If anyone understands this entrepreneurial spirit, it’s Daymond John, who hosted the first annual CES Pitch Competition, hosted by AARP Innovation Labs, in 2019.

Daymond John: I’ve recently partnered up with AARP and we were pitching today [at CES] about trying to reduce social isolation for people because, as much as we say we’re all connected, we’re really not that connected. We don’t get to touch and feel and go out with people anymore. We’re texting them. You don’t really get to talk to them. They’re trying to solve these types of issues as well as with the Baby Boomers and people my age, they all don’t want to necessarily retire.

Daymond John’s story is one that would inspire any aspiring entrepreneur. From waiting tables for a chain restaurant and taking out a $100,000 mortgage on his mom’s house to founding a billion-dollar company and establishing himself as a host on the popular program Shark Tank, John has experienced a journey most businessminded individuals dream of.

Yes, they have an answer for that, but so many of them want to become entrepreneurs as well. They dedicated so much time to somebody else’s dream and now they want to execute their own. I’m fascinated by a trusted organization like AARP, as well as by how much information I’m getting from them. And I’m learning to make myself a better investor as well.

The CEO and founder of FUBU, a global fashion company with over $6 billion in sales, John is the recipient of over 35 different awards, including Ernst & Young’s New York Entrepreneur of the Year and the Brandweek Marketer of the Year. He is also the author of a number of books, such as Rise and Grind, The Power of Broke, and The Brand Within, each presenting his motivational perspectives on the business landscape. In this exclusive interview from CES 2019, John explains the mistakes that many investors make when putting money into startups, how turning 50 will change his entrepreneurial style, and the type of company he’s most likely to invest in.

I&T Today: What would you say is one major trend at this year’s CES?

Innovation & Tech Today: What’s a company that you’ve done business with recently that you’re excited about?



DJ: The trend here at CES is really AI. It’s improving. Today at the AARP pitch, we’ve seen somebody who is taking care of World War II veterans, giving them that feel of being able to go out and see the monument that they have not been able to travel to. It’s actually increasing the brainwaves and potential to grow the way they process information. So much AI. Everything from gaming all the way to changing lives. I’ve even seen AI for acidic welding because, for acidic welders, it’s very dangerous, and you need to be able to practice enough so that you can hopefully secure a job without hurting yourself.

I&T Today: What’s a mistake that investors often make when looking at startups?

Photo The Shark Group

Shark Tank star and AARP brand ambassador Daymond John discusses common investment mistakes and startup genres that have him excited at CES 2019.



BUSINESS INNOVATIONS Daymond John’s Perfect Pitch

”Listen, Uber is still a limousine service, just with geotracking. Facebook is still a nasty chain letter. You think emojis are new? Those were just called hieroglyphics a million years ago. However if you know how to execute it and you know how to bring it to a new audience, make it lighter, faster, or stronger, then you’ve got a winner.” (Left) Daymond John presenting with AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins at CES 2019 (Right) John and Jenkins posing with the winners of the first annual CES Pitch Competition.

DJ: A common mistake that investors make when investing in startups is only thinking about the profitability that the company can potentially make and not thinking about the people running the company; the data behind the company. Just saying, “Oh they have a good product, and if they only have 10 percent of this type of market or five percent, then they’re going to make ‘X’ amount of dollars.” However, the execution is really the key to the profit.

I&T Today: To flip it around, what mistakes do startups make in the investment process? DJ: I think the biggest mistake that startups make is actually overfunding. They go out and raise $100,000 when they only needed a thousand dollars or two thousand dollars. They don’t build their community. They think they can have whatever they have and go and advertise and make sure that people buy more of it. But if you have something that’s really not great, well, then more inventory and more advertising is just going to highlight how bad it is.

I&T Today: Speaking of, I know you’re turning 50 this year. How do you think that’s going to change how you view companies that you’re considering investing in?



DJ: As I turn 50 this year and I’m thinking about the new companies I want to invest in, I think about what I want to do only for the next 10 years. Listen, hopefully I’m going to be around another 30 or 40, but I want those final ones for me to be relaxing. Before I was an investor at 25 or 30, I would think about the 30year plan in regards to investing. Now I think about just 10 years in regards to investing in startups and then I have my other investments that already have really taken care of me.

I&T Today: What do you think makes your personal investment style unique? DJ: I’m not sure my personal investment style is unique because I think [Shark Tank co-host] Barbara Corcoran and I share the same theory. We invest in people. You can have anything you want, but it’s the execution. Listen, I didn’t create anything new. I came up with a t-shirt and I put FUBU on it. There’s a million t-shirts out in the world. I happened to find the better way to execute it. There’s really nothing new in this world. I always say that everything is just a new delivery, a new customer. Listen, Uber is still a limousine service, just with geotracking. Facebook is still a nasty chain

letter. You think emojis are new? Those were just called hieroglyphics a million years ago. However, if you know how to execute it and you know how to bring it to a new audience, make it lighter, faster, or stronger, then you’ve got a winner. I&T Today: If you were to invest in a startup that you saw at this year’s CES, what type of a sector would it be in? DJ: I think it would probably be in the subscription sector, where somebody’s getting the product direct to them every month, every week, or every day. You’re cutting out the middleman because you no longer you have to pay the middle man. You’re cutting out all the advertisers and marketers because if somebody is getting it right away, they don’t want to hear about anybody else, and you know the data on that person. You know their age, their gender, what they like, where they live, if they like dogs, cats, if they’ve got dandruff – whatever the case may be. You can keep selling them and then you get the feedback from them on what they want to see tomorrow. Then you create that because, if you get a whole bunch of other people saying the same thing that they want to see tomorrow, you’ve got a hit. Make it for tomorrow. ■

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Crypto and Blockchain’s Next Rise An emphasis on technological innovation, more precise data tracking, co-located mining, and customer service are paving the way for the 2020s. By Robert Yehling

During this decade, cryptocurrency and blockchain technology have roared into being, creating two giant market surges – and falls – and enduring tough growing pains. After the wild ICO-led rise and retreat of cryptocurrency in 2017, which drew huge numbers of miners into the market and led to headline-grabbing spikes with Bitcoin, among others, we’re in one of those “growing pains” phases – which could be a good thing. It is a very good thing, according to crypto expert Ben Payne, owner of New School Mining, who views it as an opportunity to upgrade and implement new technology while focusing heavily on the areas of greatest concern to crypto miners and blockchain users – transaction speed, privacy, and customer service. “From a miner’s standpoint, we’ve seen a lot of



people getting out of it,” Payne said. “The margins aren’t there like they have been. From a customer service standpoint, though, I’m saying, ‘Hey, there’s stuff going on.’ Prices may be down, press excitement may be down, but the engineers behind the scenes aren’t slowing down, not the ones with the financial capability to continue. “What is going to bring crypto to its next high point is people seeing other applications for the technology. If I were to sum up 2017 and 2018, the market craziness was all because of ICOs. About $8 billion was invested in ICOs, which drove a lot of money in. Then it got press and hype, people came in to buy and hold coins, which drove the market price up.” Payne, a successful software engineer, and his wife and business partner Ava Payne started New School Mining in 2017 to focus on two

underserved areas – co-located mining and direct customer service. They’ve since staffed up with a team of experts in all operational facets. Like thousands of other miners, Payne grew weary of the shoddy response time to his inquiries to coin exchanges, as well as limitations on the technology and process to mine most efficiently. He saw a need for more efficient hardware and power usage in data centers, and to create affordable mining solutions. Customers can either use NSM hardware (cloud mining) or their own hardware located on site (co-location mining), or have the NSM team take care of the mining for them; they also consult on blockchain, cloud, and colocated mining. Today, NSM’s 8,000-square-foot center has more than 1,000 GPUs and is growing steadily. They mine Ethereum, Ravencoin, BitTube, and other coins.


“A number of people I’ve met are reaching limits with their setup,” Payne explained. “They’re trying to scale up their operations and need a place to go. That’s where co-location comes into play. They might have spent a couple hundred thousand dollars on mining equipment, then underestimated how much investment it takes to keep those things running. It’s easily an additional $100,000 to $200,000 investment to keep $200,000 of equipment running. However, that number goes down with scale, so the advantage in going with co-located, customer-owned hardware is they can take advantage of that scale. Co-location is an ideal solution.” It’s going to serve us well during this time of retrenchment, innovation, and growth. Payne and several other experts in the field see 2019 as a year of technology upgrading, market

steadying, and larger crypto coins co-opting and integrating superior technologies developed by smaller exchanges (which they can do, as most of the coding is open source). “If I had to sum up where things are going this year, we’re going to see a lot of technology innovation. A lot of mixing the pot,” Payne said. “If you think of all these ideas and the couple thousand cryptocurrencies that exist, they’ve all done their own little things. Now you’re going to start seeing the people with established userbases entice more users. They’re going to look at technologies that others have developed, the small coins, and integrate them. How? Well, they have to embrace and bring out something innovative. We’re going to see the top 20 coins start to do some innovative things.” One of which is already happening, bringing

us to the major topic of transaction speed. Right now, coin exchange speeds are a tiny fraction of what you see in a typical financial institution like a bank, credit card, or stock market operation. On that subject, Payne pointed to Mimblewimble, a curiously named technology, first white-papered in 2016, that increases scaling and transaction speeds and enhances privacy on personal information in wallets – a killer dual purpose badly needed in blockchain. “It’s named and themed after a spell from Harry Potter,” Payne said with a chuckle. “The guy who put out the white paper goes by a pseudonym, Judesor; the last name is French for ‘Voldemort.’ It’s an alternative to the general blockchain protocol that almost all cryptocurrencies use, and it addresses the scaling issue. Bitcoin can generally handle five to ten transactions per second, whereas Visa or




Crypto and Blockchain’s Next Rise

Mastercard can handle 30,000 to 40,000 transactions per second. The fastest blockchains can do maybe 200 transactions per second. “Mimblewimble’s [transaction] numbers will be significantly higher than the fastest blockchain, because it aggregates lots of transactions into bigger blocs. It allows individual wallets to direct-transact, but also protects your data and addresses the privacy issue. It nails the two biggest complaints about blockchain – transaction rates and privacy. When Litecoin announced they were going to start using this technology, the next day, they were up 30 percent, and brought all the currencies up 10 percent. A new coin has even been created around Mimblewimble, called Grin. “A lot of people are intrigued by this technology,” Payne went on. “There has been a priority in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space to tighten up privacy and speed up transactions – and get much improved customer service. When it comes to the currencies that have the most volume – Bitcoin, Ethereum – the issues need to be addressed in a major way.” Another core area in which Payne is driving industry improvement is customer service. As a software engineer and consultant, his relationship with customer service is basically do-or-die: if you don’t provide great customer service, you lose business. The crypto world has been notorious for shoddy, sometimes nonexistent, customer service. Reversing that, in an industry-leading way, has been central to NSM’s mission since day one. “The problem goes back to customer service,” Payne said. “Many websites are incomplete, they don’t have good messaging, company principals are unknown or unavailable to customers, and the business model doesn’t give you access to your hardware at all. Miners need to be comfortable in knowing companies like New School Mining are serving their best interests, and staying in touch. I need to be comfortable with the idea of sending $2,000 or $200,000 to the company for co-location, have the confidence I’m getting my hardware back if and when I ask for it, and that the company is reputable and looks out for my best interests as well as their own. That’s rare. It should be



Ava and Ben Payne brought their combined strengths – customer service and Ben’s decade of expertise as a crypto miner and software engineer – into New School Mining. NSM is changing the face of how crypto and blockchain service providers interact with their customers and their hardware as the industry innovates ahead of the next surge.

automatic; it’s customer service at a very basic, common-sense level.” NSM’s emphasis on creating an informative website with videos, newsletters, industry articles, Payne’s expert tips on coins and mining, and other customer-centric content sounds like basic business communication, but in the crypto space, it’s innovative – and customers are noticing. They also note the rapid speed of getting responses from executives that work with them individually to enhance their mining potential, rather than simply taking an online profile and investment in coins, and giving back little to no information. The Paynes see the type of information shared between company and customer as the next step forward – and it’s a big step, as Ben Payne explains, one that speaks to a future where we can track every bit of every transaction, and so can the host datacenter. “Our vision is to have a fully automated endto-end system, making sure the miners are running, monitoring them and keeping them running, whether providing hash power to a pool or solo mining,” Payne said. “Also, tracking payments, making sure we’re generating payments daily, hourly, from these mining pools to a wallet. We want to track these and measure directly what our actual yield from the mining is. That’s a difficult thing for most miners to do, actual yield, especially when you’re mining multiple currencies and changing currencies on a regular basis.” Ava Payne feels that personal, high-quality

attention is one of the biggest survival skills crypto exchanges and blockchain providers can adopt and excel at in the coming years. “Communication is a key point. Experienced people like Ben understand this technology, the exchanges, and customer service needs, and know how to communicate that. However, so many people have just jumped on this bandwagon as a novelty, the hottest new thing. Maybe they’re not as tech savvy. Communicating with them, keeping them in the loop, keeping them updated on their hardware and what’s happening in the larger industry, is very key. Companies that get it right … are companies where the customers are made to feel special. Whether you’re one of 100 customers or one of a million, doesn’t matter – everyone should feel special.” What will happen next to the cryptocurrency exchange market? What will move it from its hovering position into the next growth phase? Whatever it is, Ben Payne predicts we’ll see more of the organic growth we saw from 2014, when Bitcoin’s first big spike sent thousands into the market, until the second spike in 2017. “It will be interesting to see what moves the market,” he said. “If it’s a technology play, and it’s the wave of the future with this or that coin, I don’t know that it will necessarily drive in as much money so quickly. If it catches on as something useful, and you put $100 in, and another person puts $100 in, and it slowly and organically grows, then we’ll see a steady increase in value, not this spike we saw in 2017.” ■

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Bear Grylls pauses in Panama during filming of Hostile Planet’s “Jungles” episode Produced in partnership with

Bear Grylls’

Newest Adventure

The Man Who Has Entertained Millions with His Zest for Adventure Now Gives Us the Animal’s Perspective



National Geographic/Tito Herrera

By Robert Yehling

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Not many places frighten Bear Grylls – nor do many situations bring him to tears. His televised survival missions on Running Wild with Bear Grylls and Man vs. Wild, harrowing trips with celebrities, and thirst for adventure bear out a simple fact: he is one of the few people on Earth who can be dropped into any of the most hostile, formidable climates and terrains and make it out. His engaging personality, brilliant intellect, and quick wit further draw us into his world, a world he is more committed than ever to presenting and preserving. Our own innate sense of adventure keeps us there. The man knows how to keep us in our primal instincts, even while watching him on TV.

Meerkat pup, feasting on a scorpion

National Geographic/Holly Harrison

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In Grylls’ eyes, razor-sharp despite a week of shooting that began in the Arctic and ended in the Chilean desert, never has it been more important to expose us to the wilderness. In it, he says, we learn the keys to survival, adaptability, and growth as a species in these dangerous climate change times. Now, as the host of the new National Geographic Channel series Hostile Planet, which premiered on April 1, he’s going a step further, giving us the stories and perspectives of the greatest adapters of all – the animals making it work in a stressed environment.

Gelada, Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia

National Geographic/Miguel Willis

Nubian ibex, resident of steep terrains and cliffs

National Geographic/Matthew Wright

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“One of the things I’ve gained from traveling around the world for all of these years and doing all of these shows is that I have seen the hard, ugly end of climate change, and the effects it has not just on wildlife, but on the wilderness,” Grylls said, his eyes darting, ever alert to people and surroundings in all 360 degrees of a not-so-wild suite at Pasadena’s posh Langham Hotel. “I think Hostile Planet is smart because it really follows stories, rather than saying, ‘Oooh, look how lovely this is.’ It actually follows the hard reality of what these animals are going through, and the effects of having to live through these changing environments and changing terrains, more extreme droughts and fires and heat and all of that. It’s been a humbling process to not only work on this show with its team, but also just to be able to tell the stories of these animals. “We see so many people debating climate change. ‘Is it real? How bad is it, really?’ Obviously, the best way is to let the animals tell the stories. It’s heartbreaking – really heartbreaking. I don’t often have tears when I’m taking people out on the other shows, but to see these animals? Really heartbreaking.” To say Grylls is a champion of environmentalism, conservation, sustainability, and wilderness education understates his value to the planet. The 44-year-old British Special Air Service (SAS) honorary lieutenant SPRING 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY


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Bear Grylls’ Newest Adventure

colonel and former survival instructor is the world’s leading TV personality advocating the wilderness and the animals in it, thanks to the booming success of Man vs. Wild (2006-12), Running Wild (2014-Present), and his 2012 autobiography, Mud, Sweat and Tears, a runaway bestseller. His resume is so packed with feats it’s almost ridiculous: a second-degree black belt in Shotokan karate, taken to deal with relentless bullying at school (in Mud, Sweat and Tears, he famously quips, “And the bullying? It stopped.”). Then, he attended prestigious Eton College and spent four years as the SAS’ most elite survival expert, only to receive a medical discharge after breaking three vertebrae in a parachuting accident, and summited Mt. Everest. Produced in partnership with

After all of that, he turned 24. Since, he has mastered three languages, married his wife of 19 years, Shara Cannings Knight, circumnavigated the British Isles on a jet ski, hosted the world’s highest hot-air balloon dinner party at 25,000 feet, parasailed above Mt. Everest in 60 degrees below zero temperatures, climbed remote peaks in Antarctica, and embarked on hundreds of other adventures into which we were invited via TV. And he’s been the U.K.’s Chief Scout – the head of the Scouting program – for eight years.

A species of Cordyceps taking over a dead ant, Rio Claro Reserve, Colombia

National Geographic/Justin Maguire

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An ocelot, one of the most beautiful animals in the Peruvian Amazon

Now, he’s switching gears and delivering the stories of animals who must contend with the most hostile environment they’ve known for millennia, reminding us of the fragility of the planet – and the need for mankind, businesses, and technology to keep innovating and working tirelessly on behalf of it. “One of the reasons they asked me to get involved is that they know I’m going to understand a little bit the survival traits needed for these animals to survive what they’re now battling,” Grylls said. “That includes change in terrain, change in climate, and change in some of the predators. I’ve developed an appreciation for the value of



Sloth in a flooded Brazilian forest

National Geographic/Cristian Dimitrius

He started off with solo missions to the most forbidding places and climates, like Man vs. Wild and the aptly-named six-episode Escape from Hell. In Running Wild with Bear Grylls, he brought along some friends whose power in the world seemed to vanish when faced with survival challenges. Among them were President Barack Obama, tennis great Roger Federer, actors Kate Winslet, Ben Stiller, Michelle Rodriguez, and Michael B. Jordan, along with NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders.

National Geographic/Miguel Willis

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resilience and resourcefulness and adaptability as a survivor myself. It’s key. It’s powerful when you see animals. I watch them and think, ‘Wow, they are really, really thinking like a survivor.’ They’re probably not thinking; they’re instinctively adapting. That’s raw nature, isn’t it?” Produced in partnership with

Grylls’ love for the Hostile Planet crew is evident. He’s enthralled with their strippeddown, raw, unintrusive approach to filming animals. Unlike animal docs dating back to the famed Disney pieces of the 1950s and 1960s, there is no written script. Crews set up and wait for the shot that continues the story. They waited five weeks for a jaguar. They waited another six to film a crocodile snapping down on big prey. They watched hatchlings tumble over a cliff – and, in some cases, die. “One of our biggest rules is to let nature be nature; we do not interfere at all,” show producer-directorcinematographer Mateo Willis said. “Even though we want to save an injured chick, we don’t. We don’t want to do anything to impact the natural order. Produced in partnership with

Bear Grylls and the Hostile Planet crew present the stories of animals of all sizes, in all environments. The stars of the series include (top to bottom) an elephant herd in Amboseli National Park, Kenya; two bull hippos fighting for space in a shrunken watering hole in Katavi National Park, Tanzania; and an American bison during rutting season in Custer National Park, South Dakota. National Geographic/Tom Greenhalgh National Geographic/Tom Greenhalgh

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National Geographic

“We wanted to follow the lives of animals as they live in the modern world,” Willis continued. “Obviously, part of that is adapting to a changing world. We just want to show the reality. We don’t want to preach to people. We have a footprint, too, but we want people to engage emotionally with these animals, feel deep respect for the amazing ways they overcome the challenges of being in the natural world. By


National Geographic/Matthew Wright


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Bear Grylls’ Newest Adventure

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Part of the legacy of Bear Grylls’ work, and that of the Hostile Planet crew, is they will go to any extreme — and the world’s most extreme locales — to get the best shot. Left, NatGeo cameraman Tom Walker films meerkats in the rain-parched Kalahari Desert. Right, fellow NatGeo cameraman Cristian Dimitrius shoots immersive photography during the Amazon’s rainy season. Produced in partnership with

National Geographic/Holly Harrison

making that emotional connection through storytelling and dramatic scenes, we hope to encourage a deeper appreciation. We won’t be able to stop climate change, but we can all do something – even using one less plastic cup a day can help, and it gives you something to feel good about, doing something, instead of feeling hopeless.” While Hostile Planet isn’t a climate change show – it’s an animal show – Grylls and Willis feel the best way to vest themselves into the production is to present the animals’ lives in ever-toughening conditions, show the impacts of climate change, and let viewers sort it out through the eyes of the animals. Which is why they hired Grylls. “We know it’s happening, climate change – the world is a lot different than it was even ten years ago. But people go on with their lives as if nothing’s happened, most are doing nothing about it…. But again, watching the animals, they will change and adapt and do whatever it takes to survive, to carry on,” Grylls said. “But the heartbreaking thing is sometimes, even with all of their adaptation and survival skills, they just cannot adapt. Then you have extinction, which none of us want.”



National Geographic/Cristian Dimitrius

Beyond the physical aspects, Hostile Planet drives to the root of Grylls as a communicator. He loves to tell stripped-down stories that impact our instincts, intellects, and emotions in a compelling way. Not an easy task. Mud, Sweat and Tears is comprised of more than 125 such stories, all as crisp as a songwriter snapping off three-minute radio tunes – but a hell of a lot deeper. Now, he’s working on a series that takes him back to his childhood. “As a kid growing up, I used to be glued to so much of the natural history shows, like Planet Earth and Blue Planet, but it was always a kind of spectacle of, ‘Wow, this is beautiful...’ And that is how Hostile Planet is, and sometimes it works out, and it’s an amazing triumph,” he said. “And you’re rooting for them: ‘Go! Go! Go!’ And then sometimes it’s heartbreaking and really tragic. But that is the nature and the reality of the world of natural history. “We’re showing life on the edges. Not just the spectacular, beautiful stuff, but really on the edges and how hard it is for many animals – it’s often the unsung, the ones you don’t even think about, in the world – to work together as a family to survive. And we see so many of the traditional ones. There’s a lion going to hunt whatever. We’ve kind of flipped it. There’s the

gazelle, the little baby gazelles in the grasslands, where something like 50 percent don’t last longer than an hour, because they’re surrounded by hyenas and everything. Some of them survive – but how? Seeing it from that angle, for me, was mesmerizing,” Grylls added. Grylls is riding the peak of his incredible 21st century contribution to entertainment and education. Running Wild has just moved to NatGeo after five years on NBC. Hostile Planet is airing in April and May. He’s flying high in the ratings, and flying deep in humility, always looking for someone else to credit or another animal to feature, always looking out for others. Best of all, his most recent work has been soundly endorsed by the toughest audience in his world. “I have a family who are very cynical. I have three young boys, and my wife sees lots of our TV shows, and she’s a hard audience to please. And she’s been texting me – they’ve seen some of these clips – and they’ve just been going, ‘Unbelievable! And I haven’t cried watching a TV show for a long time.’ That’s a good sign.” ■ Robert Yehling is the Founding Editor and Senior Writer for Innovation & Tech Today, and the Executive Editor of Sustainability Today.

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Meatless: Impossible Produced in partnership with

How Impossible Foods made a healthier, more environmentally-friendly burger possible. By Anthony Elio I have been a consistent meat eater for the majority of my adult life. For any given restaurant run, it would be an absolute rarity if I ordered anything that didn’t contain some combination of beef, pork, or chicken. However, for the New Year, I decided to test my own abilities of self control and try out a vegetarian diet. While the first week of January went fairly simply, I had totally forgotten about the major event that would soon take place: a business trip to Las Vegas (a place not well known for self control). However, it was that very trip where I discovered a ray of hope for meatcraving vegetarians: the Impossible Burger. Produced in partnership with

Completely composed of plants, the Impossible Burger truly lives up to its name. The contents of a typical Impossible Burger are heme, sugars, vitamins, wheat protein, potato protein, xanthan, konjac, coconut oil, and soybeans. This combination has allowed for it to have the taste and texture of a typical beef burger, only with entirely different ingredients. Produced in partnership with

On the surface, the Impossible Burger appears to be a response to the many objections potential meat eaters may have. Two of the most common reasons you’ll hear when it comes to vegetarianism are ethical and health reasons, both valid in their own right. But, looking past those justifications, one must also consider the environmental effects of meat production. The Guardian has reported that every 100 grams of beef produced results in 105 kilograms of greenhouse gases, as opposed to tofu, which produces less than 3.5 kg. The Guardian also cited new research showing that while dairy and meat supply 37 percent of protein and 18 percent of calories, their production is responsible for 60 percent of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. It is this lack of sustainability that Impossible Foods, creators of the Impossible Burger, is looking to change. This mission is clearly paying off, as choosing an Impossible Burger over its beefy counterpart is the equivalent of saving 18 miles of driving emissions. And, thanks to the hard work of Impossible Foods founder Dr. Patrick O. Brown and his team, the Impossible Burger is growing in popularity, available in 5,000 restaurants spread out across the U.S., Macau, and Hong Kong. Even major chains such as White Castle have embraced the meatless burger trend, testing an “Impossible Slider” in certain locations. This popularity will likely continue to assist Impossible Foods’ sustainable trajectory. As Dr. Brown told TIME, “We’re not going to address the problem by telling people to change their diet – that’s never going to work. Instead, we have to produce foods that consumers prefer over what they’re getting today from animals.” While society’s carnivorous desires may make an entirely plant-based burger a hard sell, it’s clear that Impossible Foods is on the right track towards changing how we think about meat. With the hard work and scientific innovations seen with something like the Impossible Burger, vegan food (long the laughingstock amongst traditional meat eaters) has potential to make it to the mainstream. A healthy, sustainable Impossible Foods barbecue, complete with plant-based burgers and meatless chili fries might seem far fetched in our meat-loving culture. But it’s not impossible. ■




Cool Science How Innovations in Industrial Chilling are Helping Fight Climate Change Take a moment to reflect on your typical day. It might start with taking a shower, checking the weather app on your smartphone, and scheduling errands such as a routine doctor’s visit. You might hop in your car to drive to work, and later cook dinner using a sous vide circulator. It may surprise you to know that precision temperature control equipment plays a role in all those routines. From measuring the viscosity of your shampoo to cooling the injection molded plastic in your cell phone, to powering the equipment used in medical tests or prescription eyeglasses, the science of temperature control plays an essential part in most of our daily activities. “The need for temperature control can cross your day in so many ways,” says Philip Preston, President of PolyScience®, which manufactures liquid temperature control solutions from refrigerated circulators and recirculating chillers to probe-type coolers that are used in cold traps of vacuum systems. “It’s an extremely broad range of applications.” With so many industries relying on temperature control, the impact of this technology is equally as widespread. And that impact can be problematic. According to a 2015 report by Griffith University, refrigerant gases have a considerable Global Warming Potential (GWP), “about 140 to 11,700 times that of carbon dioxide.” PolyScience® is addressing this environmental issue with its latest industrial chilling technology, the DuraChill® line. This new series of chillers uses R290, a natural and non-toxic refrigerant-grade propane which exhibits excellent thermodynamic performance without the ozone-depleting greenhouse gases.

The DuraChill® line also provides improved maintenance control, thanks to a smart system that automatically changes its own filter once a month (or more frequently depending on the environment). “There’s enough filter material to keep the chiller happy for two years of operation,” Preston explains. What’s more, an innovative UV light system helps eliminate the need for algicide chemicals, another toxin associated with industrial chillers. “It is my personal belief that we should be an environmentally responsible company,” Preston says. “We’ve taken steps that have reduced our energy consumption annually while increasing production. And we formalized our commitment to environmental concerns through the achievement of the ISO 14001 certification.” That certification matters. The current American standard for coolant accepts the use of RH14, a potent greenhouse gas with high GWP. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 environmental management standards provide a stricter framework for environmental impact. And while ISO 14001 standards are not mandatory in the United States, PolyScience® has adopted them as a critical requirement. “I believe that we should not only provide the highest quality products, but we should leave a minimal footprint in doing so,” Preston says. With innovations like DuraChill®, PolyScience® is able to help businesses across numerous industries reduce their footprints as well. ■ To learn more about PolyScience®, DuraChill® and other innovations, visit



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A Bright Future for Stadium Lighting Produced in partnership with

In an effort to be more sustainable, the Seattle Mariners partnered with PlanLED to install LED lights in their home stadium.

By Charles Warner & Alex Moersen

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During The Seattle Mariners installation, PlanLED showed the comparison of the 1st base side with LED lights against the 3rd base side, which still had the old Metal Halide lights. Comparison was done with the outfield lights off.

With 150 years of history in the United States, baseball still looks and plays very similar to how it did when it first originated. With that kind of consistency, it may be surprising for such a traditional game to be a driver for change in the modern era. Enter the Seattle Mariners in 2015. That year, T-Mobile Park (formerly known as Safeco Field), where the Mariners play, became the first Major League Baseball park to install LED field lights. Working with PlanLED, who has since worked with a variety of other fields and stadiums, T-Mobile Park pioneered a new era of energy efficiency in sports. The decision was based on two main principles: improved sustainability and visual experience. However, it wasn’t a decision made without risks. “There was some hesitancy,” said Mariners’ Senior Director of Construction & Planning Ryan van Maarth. “I think everybody wanted to switch to LED field lights, but no club wanted to be the first ones to do it in fear of messing up or making a mistake or



compromising the play on the field. We stepped out on a ledge; we took a very objective approach to it. We had contingency plans in place, executed it, and we were the first in baseball. And since then, several others are following.” And following they are. The New York Yankees are among those that have also installed LED lights. Outside of the MLB, the Portland Trailblazers and the Denver Nuggets both collaborated with PlanLED to install LED lights in their arenas as well. This is clearly the direction sports stadiums are heading. “MLB is going that way, and we’re not the only company out there doing it,” explained Gary Chittum, VP of marketing at PlanLED. “There are a lot of sports companies out there and they’re doing almost every stadium. I would expect Major League Baseball, within the next five years, to be completely LED.” The benefits of this shift have been clear, at least in the case of T-Mobile Park, on the tiers of visual experience and sustainability.

Visual Experience LED lights have the ability to bring a much more natural lighting to the field, which enhances the experience of a night game for both the players and fans alike. “We went from our old system that had 3,700 Kelvin on the color temperature range to over 5,000,” van Maarth explained. “The color rendering index went from 60 to 80. So what that means is that the light that we have here in the ballpark is a better representation of more true natural daylight.” As any baseball fan knows, the game is one of superstition, where oftentimes players don’t like anything messing with their “mojo.” That was part of the concern with the initial idea to install LED lights. Would it adversely affect the player experience? Would players blame low batting averages on the lights? Would outfielders lose pop flies? However, so far the feedback has been positive. Chittim actually had the opportunity to speak directly with Mariners right fielder Nelson Cruz about the new lights. “He was

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(Above) PlanLED retrofitted Yankee Stadium in 2015, replacing 884 HID lights with 692 individually addressable GigaTera SUFA A LED fixtures. (Bottom row) The Seattle Mariners invited the Innovation & Tech Today team to T-Mobile Park (formerly Safeco Field) to see their innovative lighting solutions firsthand.

saying that for the first time in his career he could pick up the spin of the ball in a night game. In the daylight, he could always see the spin on the ball … We’ve tried to get as close to daylight as we can. The uniformity and the levels in here are as close as you can get.” Van Maarth confirmed: “All the player feedback we got from the new system is great … They feel like they can see the ball better. They feel like they just have a better opportunity to play more naturally.”

Sustainability While player and fan experience is important, the sustainability benefits of LED lights is really where they shine. When T-Mobile Park switched from metal halide lights to LED, the facility saved 60 percent energy consumption on gas use alone. Additionally, while the old lights only lasted a few years and ended up in landfills, LED lights are the opposite, lasting years at a time and being completely recyclable.

The fan experience, too, is enhanced. Not only can fans also see better with the new lights, the stadium can add different elements for different events. “There are event mode settings now,” van Maarth said. “Our lights are automatic on, automatic off. We can individually address them. They can flash and flicker with different events. When we win, the lights flicker and everybody celebrates – it’s great.”

“Almost everything is recyclable,” Chittim explained. “This is not gas in glass; this is not mercury that they’re pulling out that you have to treat and take to a landfill. And that’s what they had to do with the old lights that they had here … With the limited use that they have here, these lights will be the last set of lights ever bought; this will last as long as the stadium.” The sustainability efforts of the Mariners landed them the Green Glove Award in 2017,

dethroning the San Francisco Giants after a nine-year reign. As Mariners Senior Vice President of Ballpark Operations Trevor Gooby told, “We have worked hard over the years to make T-Mobile Park one of the ‘greenest’ ballparks in pro sports.” Along with their efforts to reduce waste via recycling and their “urban garden” which provides fresh vegetables and fruits to concessions, the MLB also cited T-Mobile Park’s energy-efficient LED lights as a reason why the organization received the award. T-Mobile Park is a shining example of the many benefits of LED lighting, even in energyintensive facilities such as arenas. With multiple organizations across multiple sports leagues adopting more energy-efficient practices that not only enhance player and fan experience but also help save money and energy, the future for LED lights in stadiums is bright. ■ SPRING 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY


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Are Brands Stepping Up to Make the Moral Statements That Our Country’s Leaders Refuse to Take a Stand On? By Patricia Miller Marketing is the business of calculated risks. A campaign needs to be impactful, familiar yet new, and it needs to get people talking about the brand. Of late, the most effective way to accomplish those goals is through “woke” advertising, a trend that capitalizes on popular social movements to sell products to a younger and more socially aware demographic. The only problem with embracing the counterculture? Brands run the risk of alienating the culture they’re rallying against.

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In 2019, Anheuser-Busch made some bold moves. The beverage giant spent upwards of $50 million advertising their different brands during Super Bowl LIII. One ad for Budweiser featured the company’s iconic Clydesdale horses hauling a wooden wagon through rolling wheat fields while Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind” played in the background. The song seems to ask us when things will change for the better, before the commercial implies that the change has already begun. As the view widens, we see the wheat field is also a wind farm, with towering turbines gently blowing in the breeze. It’s a lovely scene juxtaposing an iconic brand against a modern backdrop. It sounds like a great decision from a public relations standpoint: the brand supports environmental awareness. Conversely, the brand does not support coal or oil energy production, which could alienate consumers in areas that rely on those industries to fuel their economy.



During Super Bowl LIII, Budweiser doubled-down on their sustainability efforts, promoting their use of clean energy, namely wind, to brew their products.

In 2018, Nike partnered with Colin Kaepernick to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of their “Just Do It” campaign. The campaign was met with a lot of backlash. At the same time, Nike almost immediately sold out of their Kaepernick jerseys.

What if you’re a corn farmer and your favorite brand of beer boasts they’re no longer using corn syrup to brew their beverages? (Another Anheuser-Busch marketing move.) With so much room for controversy, why are companies willing to make these risky decisions? It’s part of a marketing tactic in which socially aware brands align their ideals with those of their “woke” customers (those who are more social-justice oriented). In a broader sense, it’s corporate sustainability. Companies have to use their resources more effectively to ensure there’s a future for their consumers, and more so, they need to ensure the company still exists to capitalize on that future. They’re using controversy to create conversations, build brand awareness, and illicit favor with younger demographics so they can stay in business. In 2018, Nike partnered with Colin Kaepernick to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of their “Just Do It” campaign. NFL quarterback Kaepernick is best known for refusing to stand during the national anthem as a show of solidarity with oppressed African American communities. “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” Kaepernick implores during one of his Nike commercials. The young athlete lost endorsements over his political statement



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and has accused NFL owners of colluding to keep him from being signed to a new team after his contract with the San Francisco 49ers ended in 2016.

conversations that children will have themselves, on playgrounds and around lunch tables. It’s phenomenal branding, but it’s also part of a deeper movement. Are brands stepping up to make the moral statements that our country’s leaders refuse to take a stand on?

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The NFL won’t touch him, yet Nike, a brand with huge ties to commercial sports, is willing to make him their spokesperson. It’s not Nike’s unending commitment to social justice that spurred the partnership, but rather a well-curated marketing campaign targeting their changing demographic. Not only is Nike’s audience more racially diverse than it used to be, it’s younger than it once was. Two in three Nike customers are under 35 years old, according to sports industry analyst Matt Powell.

Let’s talk about Levi-Strauss & Co. In September of 2018, the company announced they would partner with Everytown for Gun Safety in support of gun violence prevention. Translation (for some)? “Levi is anti-gun and anti-second amendment!” This despite their CEO being a former U.S. Army Officer who advocates responsible gun ownership. His support of criminal background checks on gun sales resulted in a serious backlash from gun enthusiasts.

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Produced in partnership with

It’s a move that’s paid off. Nike reported an immediate increase in sales after their campaign with Kaepernick. They released their “icon” jersey with Kaepernick’s name emblazoned on the back on February 20th. Ten short hours later, the jerseys sold out. Appealing to the next generation, known as Gen Z, is a smart move for advertisers. Those born after 1996 account for 61 million people, almost two-thirds the size of the baby-boomer population. Perhaps that knowledge also accounts for Gillette’s foray into controversial marketing, with the release of their online ad addressing toxic masculinity.


acknowledge that brands, like ours, play a role in influencing culture.” The company’s statement offers a glimmer of hope that beyond the lucrative nature of the ad is some semblance of self reflection. The brand which became famous for its “The Best a Man Can Get” campaign may have realized cultural attitudes about masculinity are shifting and to stay relevant they would have to change as well.

The two-minute commercial sparked considerable outrage from the online community, with many deeming it intentionally inflammatory and accusing it of piggybacking on the “man-bashing” #metoo movement to gain market share.

Gillette, for the first time in its 118-year history, will focus on removing sexist ideals from its marketing. They’re also asking men, collectively, to be more thoughtful about the decisions they make and the way they interact with the world and with each other.

The ad depicts news anchors denouncing sexual harassment and juxtaposes those voices against examples of sexism in mainstream entertainment, acknowledging the culture of misogyny that continues to shape our views on gender. By recognizing that gender norms aren’t the “norm” anymore, the company shines a spotlight on its own sexist past.

“As a company that encourages men to be their best, we have a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive, and healthy versions of what it means to be a man,” noted the company on their updated website.

In a statement on the company website, Gillette said of the advertisement: “It’s time we INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | SPRING 2019

But, that’s okay, because those people were not the company’s target demographic; it was the millions of young people participating in March for Our Lives. Levi-Strauss is targeting the kids who faced a record number of gun-related violent attacks in 2018, with incidents in the U.S. occurring, on average, once every eight school days.

Stella Artois, another Anhuser-Busch company, partnered with to provide clean drinking water to developing communities.

Are these social-justice themed advertisements meant to make a buck or change the world? Maybe a bit of both. These ads are starting conversations. They’re conversations that children will hear their parents having. They’re

Levi rightly assumes that young people who are dealing with the horrors of lax gun laws will soon have the power to vote and the power to buy. And who will earn their hard-earned dollars? Maybe the company that was openly sympathetic to, and engaged with, their cause. Not only does the campaign illicit more discussion around the topic, it strikes an emotional chord for people involved in the debate. Any successful marketer will tell you, rule number one for resonating with your consumers is creating an emotional connection. The young, racially-diverse, well-educated people listening to these conversations will shape the world with their buying decisions and with their ideals. It’s up to companies to decide whether they will be a part of that conversation or remain in silent ambiguity. And if they choose to remain silent, they may not remain for much longer. ■


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The Circular Paper Economy Produced in partnership with

By Renee Yardley With the omnipresence of media in our everyday lives, humans are more exposed than ever to their own environmental impacts. The most recent figures from the EPA show that Americans produce more than four pounds of trash per person per day.

Furthermore, paper collection and recycling are far more energy efficient than producing fiber from virgin sources, and paper is one of the most recycled materials on the planet. According to the most recent stats from the American Forest & Paper Association, 96 percent of Americans have access to communitybased paper recycling options.

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Considering modern consumers are more environmentally aware than their predecessors, many do care about living more sustainable and mindful lives. According to Nielsen’s recent global sustainability report, 81 percent of respondents feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment by implementing programs to this effect.

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Are Current Paper Systems Sustainable?

Circular Opportunities for Paper The impacts of human consumption on the environment have led many to advocate for a circular economy where use of renewable materials, re-use of raw materials, and recycling factor into manufacturing systems for new products. As opposed to a traditional “one and done” linear economy model, in a true circular economy, new products are created from old products and manufacturing requires fewer natural resources and has a minimal impact on the environment. As evidenced in a 2018 study carried out by the Swedish Environmental Research Institute on the environmental impact of various materials, paper has a comparatively lower environmental impact throughout its life cycle,



from raw sourcing to production to waste management. Responsibly sourced paper originates from managed forests which are replenished, and raw materials for paper products can also be sourced from recycling systems – post-consumer paper can be reused to create new paper up to 5-7 times. For instance, the full life cycle of Rolland’s Enviro line of paper products embodies the circular economy. A life cycle assessment (LCA) undertaken by research and consulting firm AGÉCO revealed Rolland’s manufacturing to have a lower environmental impact than other paper production processes in the North America.

Low biodegradability and an inability to be recycled efficiently results in synthetic materials having less “circularity” than materials like paper. Although paper systems do have less of an environmental impact than those related to synthetic materials, the bottom line is that recycling is a complex and evolving industry. Changes in government regulations, world markets, and recycling standards can all impact paper recycling (and by extension impact the sustainability of paper systems as a whole), but a high paper recyclability rate coupled with techno-economic innovations and paperfocused government initiatives (like REMADE projects aimed at improving manufacturing efficiency of paper) all suggest that paper systems are on their way to becoming sustainable. Renewable materials like paper should have an increased role in our consumption systems to contribute to a more sustainable society, and undoubtedly paper materials will be a part of humanity’s sustainable future. ■


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Greening Your Getaway Produced in partnership with

How Boston-based blogger Alison Abbott is helping travelers live a sustainable lifestyle while exploring exotic destinations. By Patricia Miller For designer and entrepreneur Alison Abbott, sustainability is more than a buzzword. She’s turned her passion for conservation into a successful career as a content creator and an adventurer who is always eager to share how she’s minimalizing her carbon footprint. What initially began as an eco-friendly home remodeling website quickly turned into a platform for conveying helpful travel tips to the eco-conscious explorer. Abbott’s ambition is to help travelers “renovate” their journeys and their lifestyles to reflect their passion for conservation. She encourages her readers to buy locally, reduce their carbon footprint, and make sustainability an integral part of their vacation planning. Produced in partnership with

Produced in partnership with

Abbott takes her advice a step further by encouraging travelers to avoid more popularized destinations and take a chance on lesser-known locales, so as not to strain over-saturated tourist ecosystems. We spoke with Abbott to learn about her journey and discover how she motivates her audience to live their lives in sustainable shades of green. Innovation & Tech Today: Green with Renvy offers more than just travel advice; it also offers tips for living a more sustainable lifestyle. When did environmental stewardship became such a core focus of your life? Alison Abbott: Well, I’ve certainly taken a circuitous route to get where I am today. After college, I started designing clothing and lifestyle items manufactured in the Philippines. That certainly was where I fell in love with travel because I was back and forth quite a lot to Asia. But I think when you have children, it sort of presses the reset button on beginning to think about everything that’s going on around us and certainly their future and what they eat and just how they’re going to develop. So, that was probably where I began thinking about all of this.



(Top Left) Alison Abbott with members of the Bio-Sierra Cooperative in Columbia. The Coop markets products for indigenous Colombian artisans. (Top Right) Peru’s Amazon Landscape. (Bottom Left) A woman bags cacao leaves in a market outside of Clalca, Peru. Abbott purchased the leaves to help reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness as she hiked the Lares Trail. (Bottom Right) A storyteller in the Halawa Valley on the Island of Molokai carries on the cultural traditions of the local people. His story was one of the many experiences Abbott enjoyed during a Hawaii Small Ship voyage from UnCruise Adventures.

My kids are starting to feather their own nests now, so that was probably 25-30 years ago. From there, I started renovating houses and looking into ways that we could do it sustainably. I wanted to get all these resources out to people and that was when I started Green with Renvy. It was an interesting process trying to learn all about blogging and the web because it definitely was not part of my background. I was more of an artist and designer. So that’s how that whole piece of it started.

I&T Today: What tips would you offer travelers to make their own journeys more sustainable? AA: Eco-friendly travel is a popular catchphrase right now and there’s a lot of greenwashing going on. I spend a lot of time on the internet researching different travel companies, looking at the hotels they use, if they employ local guides, seeing what’s local, and trying to eat the local foods. Traveling during the shoulder season is a super way to try and make

(Main image) Abbott loves vibrant colors and textures, as evidenced in this photograph she captured of a traditional Rajasthan dance during one of her Indian glamping adventures. (Bottom Left) Abbott receives a blessing for a master weaver in Peru’s Choquecancha. (Bottom Right) In this excursion along Alaska’s Inside Passage, Abbott traveled with AdventureSmith Explorations to navigate where larger ships dare not go.

your travel a little bit more responsible because it helps all these people that are operating restaurants, just to keep them in business yearround. There are also a few different apps I use. One of them is called Happy Cow, which is a really good food app for traveling. It gives you information about restaurants and what’s local in the area. If traveling in the states, there’s a company called Edible and they have magazines around the country that focus on the sustainability movement. Those are available online. So, usually if I’m traveling in the U.S., I’ll look to the closest city and see if they have an issue of the magazine. They feature lots of local restaurants and chefs and are a great resource for finding locally-sourced food and places to eat. I&T Today: You were recently designated as one of 2018’s Best Boomer Travel Blogs. What sets your site apart from the competition? AA: I think the adventure piece is definitely

unusual and the eco-friendly part of it is something that not everybody is doing. I also like to travel to places that are not on everyone’s radar. With over-tourism and the problems taking place right now in places like Peru and Barcelona, where you find people out in the streets protesting that tourists are coming to their destinations, the places I pick are with that in mind, and it creates an interest that I think people are curious about. A lot of the time, the first question everyone asks me is where I’m going next. I might not have the answer to that – and they are always a little bit surprised when I tell them. Because of that, they are interested in following where I’m going and seeing what I post and what the places are all about. Perhaps they’ll consider that destination in the future. I&T Today: How do you choose which place you want to visit next? AA: I do a lot of research, as I said. I love looking through cookbooks that are very heavily

story-oriented. I would be happy taking a cookbook to bed as my nighttime reading and often find places through them. Naomi Duguid wrote a cookbook, Burma: Rivers of Flavor, and I couldn’t wait to get to Myanmar after I read that because her photography was so incredible and the flavors sounded amazing. So, oftentimes, that’s one of the resources that I use to find places that are a little bit unusual. I&T Today: What is the main message you hope to convey to your readers? AA: I hope people will take the time to think about traveling responsibly. I think it’s something people can incorporate into their travel plans very easily just by doing a little research and supporting local artisans and makers, food growers and restaurateurs, and travel guides. Those are easy things to do when you travel, and I think they make a huge difference in the local economy and help these smaller places or indigenous cultures continue to survive and be sustainable. So, that’s the takeaway I’d like people to think about. ■



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Delivering the Good Life:

SB ‘19 Preview Produced in partnership with

By Robert Yehling A generation or even a decade ago, “the good life” often referred to money and status and the lifestyle our earnings and savings could provide us. In today’s climate and environmentally-threatened world, it takes on a different meaning: pursuing a more balanced, slower, simpler life focused on our community and social connections, with a common aim: to live more sustainably. Produced in partnership with

That will be the tone of Sustainable Brands 2019 when it takes place June 3-6 in Detroit. Thousands of CEOs, executives, entrepreneurs, drivers in environmental action and sustainability, exhibitors, influencers, and sustainable product and policy manufacturers and experts will be on hand. They come to the showcase event of Sustainable Brands, whose role in the world grows infinitely more vital during this climate change collision course on which we’re running. Speakers, panelists, and breakout session moderators alike will be spreading a simple message: it’s time for all sustainability plans to be executed, and it’s time to embrace community more, in business as in life. Produced in partnership with

SB ‘19 Detroit’s participants will offer a variety of ways to help brands and organizations realize a more sustainable future by equipping product and service innovation teams to “Deliver the Good Life,” the theme of this year’s event. The plan is for organizations to drive the theme through their operations, through marketing and communications, and into supplier relationships. Among the plenary speakers confirmed for the event are Jonah Sachs, the author of Unsafe Thinking, presenting on finding a path to higher performance and purposeful leadership in troubled times; Dune Ives, executive director of Lonely Whale, speaking



on the success of the #strawless campaign and tackling plastic pollution; Heidi Dangelmaier, founder of Girlapproved, on the hero’s journey, feminine intuition, and the lost vector of business growth; and Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer of Procter & Gamble, on the #BrandsforGood initiative. Breakout speakers include Renee Henze, global marketing director of DuPont Sonoma; Euan Murray, CEO of The Sustainability Consortium; Meredith Ferguson, managing director of Do Something Strategic; and Danielle Azoulay, head of CSR & sustainability for L’Oreal USA. In addition, conference tracks that will run throughout the week consist of Purpose Beyond Profit, Brand Influence & Engagement, Operations & Supply Chain, Product & Service Innovation, and Governance. The Innovation Expo will return with numerous exhibitors and sessions, focusing on the latest offers from a variety of brands practicing sustainability. Special events will include local impact projects, tree planting, local tours, sunrise activities to get attendees going, and both SB-hosted and brand-hosted evening parties and functions. Finally, a year after its reveal at SB ’18, the SB Brand Transformation Roadmap will again be featured. On June 3, Sustainable Brands Director of Knowledge & Insights Dimitar Vlahov will join Iron Mountain VP of Environment, Social & Governance Strategy Kevin Hagen to announce insights gained from the companies who used the Transformation Roadmap. They will also discuss real-world progress toward brand sustainability. “For the first time, we have a roadmap that demonstrates what happens holistically in each chapter of a company’s sustainability journey,” Hagen said. ■


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Celebrating Young Innovators:

The Making of Science Fair The NatGeo documentary prepares for global TV release after an award-winning run through festivals and theaters. By Robert Yehling


magine working on a science project for an entire year, or even two. Which, considering you’re a teenager, is ten percent of your life or more. Then you head onto the world stage. Setting your project topic aside, what would that feel like? How might it impact friends? Fellow students? The world?

clear: science is cool, a STEM track matters greatly, and the future is unlimited for those who pursue their passions.

For nine boys and girls whose 2017 International Science & Engineering Fair journeys were chronicled on NatGeo’s documentary Science Fair, the impact is huge. Ryan Folz, Harsha Palagudu, Abraham RiedelMishaan, and Anjali Chadha stepped out of their Manual High School classroom in Louisville, KY to become role models to students globally. Myllena Braz da Silva showed her fellow Brazilians that girls can excel in science. On it goes.

“It’s so great to see such ambition and confidence,” said director Christina Costantini, herself a former International Science Fair competitor. “The greatest thing that happened was being partnered with National Geographic. The outreach they have is incredible, giving us an audience we thought we’d never reach. It’s an international film with an international cast, so we’re excited to see how it does around the world.”

Their stories form the backbone of Science Fair. The 90-minute doc swept the Best of Audience awards at 2018 Sundance and SXSW, drew large theater crowds, and was beamed into 5,000 schools nationwide. Now, as Science Fair prepares for a TV run in 170 countries, the team is reflecting on the impact. Their messages are



Case in point: in 2008, a high school senior from the Bronx finished second in the International Science & Engineering Fair. Her name? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Science Fair has received accolades for its personal approach, rather than a more technical, follow-the-project angle. It’s been called an “ode to the teenage science geeks on whom our future depends.” In particular, it zeroes in on the victories, defeats, and motivations of young men and women changing their lives, and the world, through science.

“At premieres, kids will come up and go, ‘Can I have a photo with you? You’re a huge inspiration,’” Ryan Folz said. “That part’s really interesting. I’m not used to people being nervous about having a photo with me! I’m just a normal person.” Added Harsha Palagudu, one of his project work partners, “Most of the projects were portrayed pretty well, but the focus was more on our personal journeys … The focus of the film isn’t on the intricacies of everyone else’s project. They did a good job presenting what it feels like to be competing in the Fair.” A look at the Louisville team’s Science Fair project exemplifies what it takes to stand out against the world’s smartest and most innovative young scientists. They developed a 3D-printed stethoscope with automated diagnosis algorithms. “At first, we wanted to make a cheaper stethoscope design, but then we realized we wanted it to reach doctors in countries who couldn’t even afford a basic stethoscope,” Folz explained. Added Palagudu, “We decided to make it a fully immersive platform that included the front-end made by Ryan, easy for people with

Initially premiering at Sundance, Science Fair struck a chord with audiences and critics alike, with the film receiving awards at SXSW, the Fairhope Film Festival, and the Critic’s Choice Documentary Awards.

very little knowledge about technology, or science in general, to use the stethoscope. I made the algorithms that could figure out whether a heart sound was normal or abnormal, and push people to say, ‘Hey you might actually need to go to the doctor; there’s something wrong here.’” When hearing this, consider that Palagudu, Folz, Anjali Chanda, and Abraham RiedelMishaan were 17 and 18 when they presented the stethoscope. “I think our school [curriculum] helped us form the basis of the work, but once we identified our project, we learned skills and pursued them independently,” Folz added. “My brother got me an introduction to Android programming book when I was a sophomore. I learned how to make Android apps, more complex skills, then I took AP computer science classes that taught me how to code. Most of what we did utilized real-world computer skills you normally don’t get until third or fourth year of college; we had to learn on our own.” The required focus sets young achievers apart from dreamers, as fellow teammate Chanda

pointed out. “I try to make projects easy on myself, so I use two criteria when choosing: I want it to impact more people than myself; and I want it to be something that interests me so much, that when I get up in the morning, I’m excited to be working on it every day,” she said. With the film’s more personal focus, Costantini and her production partner, Darren Foster, addressed the cultural and professional gaps between STEM-educated boys and girls, their confidence levels, and the opportunities the science world affords to each. Chadha, a powerful and motivated young woman, minced no words. “So many young girls have reached out to me or spoken to me after showings and said this is one of the first times they really felt like there could be an even playing field,” she said. “I have to thank the filmmakers, because it’s a conscious choice to promote women’s self-confidence, equality.” One who really feels the pressure of being a young woman in science is Myllena Braz da Silva, who lives in Brazil, where women in career fields are often stymied. “I received a lot of comments from colleagues and teachers, saying, ‘Your place is not here.’ Even my partner,

Gabriel, was told, ‘Why don’t you choose a boy, instead of having a girl helping you?’ That’s the stigma – girls don’t do well as boys. I would like that to be different. I have a saying, ‘The place of the woman is where she wants to be.’” Featured teacher Dr. Serena McCalla of Jericho High School in New York elaborated. “On these projects, boys will do very well if you let them do what they want,” she said with a chuckle. “So I step back initially, then when they have something, I tend to be tough on them to make sure it matches their vision. Once the girls find their path, they run with it. The girls in this competition do know they’re good enough. Once the girls feel they’re supported, that they’re not alone, then they will soar.” Costantini and Foster are already thinking about a sequel, for a simple reason: the 17- and 18-year-olds in the movie are now 20 and 21, and their lives have changed greatly. “We’ve thought about a sequel five or ten years out, just to see how their lives were shaped by the Science Fair experience,” Costantini said. You never know. A certain young Congresswoman can attest to that. ■ SPRING 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY



Barbie Has Hookworm National Geographic is Bringing Barbie to Unexplored Territory By Patricia Miller When I was 13 years old, I sent an email to National Geographic asking what I needed to do to become a National Geographic explorer. My dream was to travel the world exploring unknown and under-researched places for the benefit of mankind. Ambitious, I know, particularly for a little girl. I had just watched one of National Geographic’s documentary series, this one entitled “Africa Extreme,” in which an intrepid explorer named J. Michael Fay took a 1,200mile hike across dense African jungle. He was living my dream: pulling hook worms out of his feet, facing wild animals, and arguing with armed poachers. But, aside from Carmen Sandiego, I had never seen a woman exploring the world. I was desperate for a female role model who wasn’t scared of exploring, of being on her own, of being a scientist or foraging a new frontier. Thankfully, the world of female role models has expanded dramatically since my pubescence, and there are examples of powerful women in nearly every field. But, that shift hasn’t been well reflected in the world of children’s toys. Recent forays into STEM for girls have cost some companies dearly, with big misses by some major manufacturers. Toy maker Mattel was among them, with offerings like their STEM kit, which gave girls the opportunity to engineer their very own… washing machines and shoe racks. “Now you can build your own devices of oppression!” I thought to myself as I watched the glittery, pink advertisement for the toy. When I heard about Mattel’s recent endeavor to bring Barbie to new heights by pairing with National Geographic, I was a bit skeptical. Upon deeper inspection though, I’m in love. I love the concept, I hope I’ll love the execution (the dolls will debut in fall of this year), and I



love the idea that other little girls who are dreaming of becoming world-travelling explorers will now have a toy that reflects their ambitions. The partnership promises to highlight careers with low female engagement and make them approachable to children. Careers in fields like wildlife conservation, astrophysics, polar marine biology, wildlife photojournalism, and even entomology will be represented by the new line. The best part? These weren’t created in a male-dominated vacuum; each doll and playset was approved by an advisory board of female National Geographic explorers. The move is part of the toy maker’s larger ambition known as the “Dream Gap project” initiated late last year. Mattel explained the Dream Gap in a press release: “By the age of 5, many girls are less likely than boys to view their own gender as smart and begin to lose confidence in their own competency. Cultural stereotypes, implicit biases, and representation in the media work together to further this issue.” They’re working with researchers at New York University to extend research around the Dream Gap and raise global awareness of the issue. When National Geographic responded to my 13-year-old inquiry, they told me that the field is incredibly competitive but, by studying photography and biology, and working hard in school, I had the potential to someday become a National Geographic explorer myself. Twenty years later, I may not be a world explorer, but I am a journalist and a scientist. And my hope is that when children play with Mattel’s new line, they’ll see themselves reflected in those tiny plastic faces and feel a bit more capable of achieving their loftiest ambitions. ■ Images courtesy of Mattel, Inc.

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Inlighten Revival Hoodie – Perfect for a concert or a wild night out, the Inlighten Revival Hoodie adds a little light to your life. A lightweight garment that lights up and even reacts to music, this is one piece of clothing that rocks out with you. $299



UbTech’s Mythical Series UnicornBot Kit – The first JIMU Robot with built-in color sensors, the UnicornBot kit comes with everything you need to create a buildable, codable robot unicorn. Plus, the Blockly coding platform provides an easy interface for kids to program a variety of cool code into the robot’s functionality. $119

PowerWave – This new, scientifically-proven, non-invasive PowerWave Technology can combat ED. The PowerWave uses the latest low-intensity, noninvasive sound wave technology to clear up plaque and encourage new blood vessel growth. Knock out dangerous pills and power up your performance right away, all without pills, injections, or surgery, comfortably in your own home. Go to or Call 1-888-763-4221 for pricing.

Smart Beat – The Smart

MantelMount MM540 Enhanced Pull Down TV Mount – Designed to be placed above your fireplace, the MantelMount MM540 Enhanced Pull Down TV Mount is this year’s premium TV accessory. A soundbar attachment makes it easy to incorporate top-quality audio, while heat-sensing pull down handles turn red if the heat gets too high. Hardware-hiding paintable covers ensure your walls stay clutter-free while showcasing your luxe entertainment center. $399

Beat is the latest in baby monitoring. With the ability to detect the breathing rate of your baby, the Smart Beat can monitor your child’s health, letting you know via app if an emergency arises or if they might be getting sick. With the addition of an HD video feed and movement monitoring, the Smart Beat will keep an eye on your baby so you can get some muchneeded rest. $249

Swann Wi-Fi Indoor and Outdoor Security Cameras – Offering 1080p Full HD with True Detect Heat-Sensing Night Vision & Audio, Swann Indoor and Outdoor Cameras allow you to be part of the action whether at home or away. Free secure cloud storage will preserve two days of footage, while local storage will save up to seven days of video clips. With two-way audio, you can interact with who you’re seeing in real time. Best of all, the cameras are voice-command capable so you can chat with your screen-equipped digital assistant to pull up live footage from anywhere in your home. $69-$99 SPRING 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY


Events 6-8 IndEx

Miami, FL

Missing your technology fix between issues of Innovation & Tech Today? We don’t blame you. Luckily, it’s not hard to find a gathering of innovative people in a city near you. Have an event you’d like us to include? Email

9Technology & Business Summit

13-15 Environmental Leader & Energy

22-23 ReWork Deep Learning Summit

29-30 CyberSMART, Fredericton, New

Toronto, Canada

20-22 Space Tech Expo Pasadena, CA

Boston, MA

29-30 Solar Power Southeast

Brunswick, Canada

29-31 Intelligence Analytics Summit

Atlanta, GA

Washington, D.C.

3-6 Sustainable Brands

31-June 2 Denver Pop Culture Con

Detroit, MI

Denver, CO

19-20 Green Sports Alliance Summit

6-11 E3

Philadelphia, PA

Los Angeles, CA

25-26 Pac-12 Sustainability Conference Seattle, WA

26-28 Directed Energy Systems Washington, D.C.

Manager Conference, Denver, CO

29-31 Advanced Lighting for Automotive Detroit, MI

5-6 Solar Power Texas Austin, TX

20-21 ReWork Applied AI Summit San Francisco, CA

26-28 5th Annual Cyber Security

for Defense 2019, Washington, D.C.

18-21 Comic-Con International San Diego, CA

You can’t be everywhere and we understand that. If you feel like you’re missing out, stay tuned to our website and social channels for premier event coverage.



coming next issue Personnel atop the 402-ft. Mobile Service Structure look back at the Apollo 11 spacecraft as the tower is moved away during a Countdown Demonstration Test.

Summer 2019 Gaming+Entertainment With E3 returning in June, we’ll be bringing you the latest in gaming innovations. What will be the biggest trends of 2019? What about the most anticipated reveals of E3? Gaming Editor John Gaudiosi will explore these questions and much more in the summer issue of Innovation & Tech Today. Plus, we’ll have even more celebrity features where we explore upcoming blockbusters and TV shows.

Tech Zone: Florida For our summer Tech Zone, we’ll be taking a trip to the Sunshine State, hoping they’ll show us why the sun is shining on this state’s burgeoning tech industry. The home of everything from Disney World to the Kennedy Space Center, Florida has a long history in innovation. Stay tuned to the summer issue to see why the eyes of the tech industry are turning toward the Southeast.

Outdoor+Adventure With summer in full swing, we’ll be exploring the great outdoors with you. When you’re done beating all of the games you learned about at E3, you’ll be ready for your next outdoor adventure, and we’re here to help. Our Gear Guide will let you know the products that you need for your next excursion. Plus, interviews with athletes and outdoor enthusiasts will give you inspiration to meet your fitness goals or plan your next trip.

STEM Today Celebrates Apollo 11’s 50th Anniversary Fifty years ago on July 20, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon. How did Apollo bring us much of today’s technology, how has our space program evolved, and how is Aldrin’s long-held vision of a Mission to Mars looking? On this, the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon mission, we dive deeper into the educational components of the space program — including interviews with tomorrow’s astronauts and scientists. How is NASA partnering with industry and schools to take us deeper into space? We also bring you more from our collaboration with the National Geographic Channel, and interviews with top STEM influencers. SPRING 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY


The Lighter Side

An Open Letter to


By Kyle Pogue

Technologists An Open Letter Hello, all you tech-savvy people out there! This letter is for all of you who are hungry to create, develop, and distribute the next big tech breakthrough to every corner of the globe. To each of you who firmly believes in the ideals of technological development: that technology shapes a better and brighter world for all of mankind. To all of you whose ambition and imagination are going to drive the tech future forward… Please stop. I don’t want this to come off as overly confrontational. In fact, I am not happy with having started this letter in the way that I have, but I only have 500 words to plead my case, and so I must cut right to the point. We have to stop developing technology. For the love of whatever robot god you believe in, just stop. Here’s the thing, I know that it all makes perfect sense to you. Your minds work this way. When the computer erases the document I’ve been working on for the last hour and takes me back to my desktop for no apparent reason, you know that the answers lie within the ones and zeros; that somewhere in that binary wasteland below the fancy typewriter I’ve been hammering away at, there are explanations that must simply be found and then all will be right again. But for the rest of us, these are nightmarish mysteries that will never be understood. Now, take this one example of high-tech mystification and run it nonstop, during every waking hour of every foggy, confusion-laden day. This cumulative befuddlement is more than I can bear, and I must insist that it cease, immediately. I’m not asking you to put anyone at risk. Please, continue to develop medical technology that saves lives and video game technology that saves nerds from the discomfort of talking to people of the opposite sex – but that’s it. Other than those two specific industries, all other technological development must cease. Just let me catch up. I finally felt comfortable with Myspace, and then Facebook takes over, and now I have deal with Instagram? There are so many different icons to understand. How do people have the time for this? And why is Facebook’s event page feature still so archaic? Hone your craft before moving on, technologists, that’s all I’m saying. There are other people in the world and you tech types are really coming off as bullies these days. I don’t need a back-up camera on my car, I can just turn around and look. I don’t need a better iPhone, mine is so incredibly capable and also wildly confusing. I don’t need one more invention of computerized wizardry that claims to make my life so much better, but in truth only makes it slightly, barely at all, just kind of a tiny bit better, but not even really, because all of the time and mental energy I have to spend trying to integrate it into my life is going to cause me a heart attack someday, I swear. Now, I assume that this letter is enough. I’m sure that I will wake up tomorrow to a world that moves slower, and with far fewer complications. Honestly, it’s my fault for not writing sooner. Thank you for all that you have done and all that will now stop doing, technologists. You are truly humanitarians. *sent from my iPhone*




Profile for Innovation & Tech Today

Innovation & Tech Today — Spring 2019  

Bear Grylls springs into action against climate change in this issue of Innovation & Tech Today. Brendan Fraser vibes on voice acting and we...

Innovation & Tech Today — Spring 2019  

Bear Grylls springs into action against climate change in this issue of Innovation & Tech Today. Brendan Fraser vibes on voice acting and we...