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ELON MUSK: HOW GAMING INSPIRED A LOVE FOR SCIENCE ■ EV INFRASTRUCTURE ■ INNOVATOR PROFILE: SOLOMON ALI

The Curious World of

Jeff Goldblum

PLUS: Samantha Bee’s Late Night Resistance Smart Apartments? Fall 2019

NFL QB Josh Dobbs: STEM Superstar Tech Zone: Arizona is heating up How Streaming Subscriptions are Ruining… Streaming


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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Charles Warner, Publisher/ Editor-in-Chief

“Curiosity and optimism are two of the most vital traits in an innovator.”

The Quest for Answers Continues Every issue, our team weaves a certain subtle theme into the fabric of our publication. Our summer issue covered themes of balancing passion and escapism. In previous issues, we’ve dealt with themes such as the complexities of entrepreneurship, the evolution of ideas, and the urge we all have to make the world a better place. And, as I look through the collection of stories included in the fall issue of Innovation & Tech Today, I’d say that two words ring throughout: curiosity and optimism. Because our publication is consistently focused on innovation and exploration, curiosity is a cornerstone of our work. It’s hard not to see curiosity as the driving force that has made so many of our featured personalities such vital innovators. Our cover story reflects this theme perfectly, with the always-fascinating, alwaysenigmatic, always-positive Jeff Goldblum discussing his new program The World According to Jeff Goldblum, the very embodiment of curiosity. Throughout the discussion, his bright attitude and desire to continue learning more about the world shines through. Another piece that continues these themes is our exclusive interview with late night host Samantha Bee, where she explores the tumultuous political landscape of 2019. Though she’s eager to note, “the temperature in politics could not be hotter,” she is not without hope. Throughout the interview, she expresses confidence that the next generation will fight for

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2019

what’s right and relays her passion for working with refugee families should she step out of the spotlight. It would take me multiple letters to explain how this issue reflects both the quest for knowledge and the hope and positivity the tech, science, and entertainment worlds have going into the year 2020. Jaguars quarterback and STEM enthusiast Josh Dobbs reveals that, if they have a passion for both, children should pursue sports and science alike. We take a deep look at Elon Musk’s fascination with everything from space travel to video games taken from his exclusive discussion at E3 2019. Our Innovator Profile features Revolutionary Concepts CEO Solomon Ali, who discusses the necessity of supporting AfricanAmerican entrepreneurs. These stories, along with the rest of our issue, encapsulate the inspiring mission we’ve had since the very first issue of Innovation & Tech Today. Curiosity and optimism are two of the most vital traits in an innovator. And, as a brand new year shines on the horizon, there are plenty of reasons to continue learning, hoping, and collaborating. And so, I have just a few requests for our loyal readers. Keep learning. Keep asking questions. Keep inspiring. And, most importantly, keep innovating.


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SINCE LAST ISSUE

PUBLISHER/ EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Charles Warner cwarner@goipw.com ONE SMALL STEP… The summer issue of Innovation & Tech Today was a total celebration of the historic moon landing, which at the time of publication was nearing its 50th anniversary. With a cover story on Leland Melvin, a former astronaut at NASA and STEM advisor to President Barack Obama, as well as a Tech Zone feature focused on NASA, the issue was a reflection of one of the world’s greatest innovations. The official NASA Twitter account celebrated the official anniversary by tweeting out the original broadcast of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon’s surface, clocking in at over three hours. .

YEHLING SPEAKS (WITHOUT YELLING) Founding Editor Robert Yehling has been a cornerstone of Innovation & Tech Today from the start, from his earlier work with the publication to his current Tech Zone features, cover interviews, and event write-ups. A published author with an extensive portfolio, Yehling spoke at the recent Digital Book World event, where he noted that it was the 44th anniversary of his first newspaper job. In addition to discussing his history in publishing, Yehling discussed publication ecosystems, even getting into that of our very own Innovation & Tech Today.

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Shane Brisson shane@goipw.com

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Alex Moersen

ASSOCIATE EDITORS

Anthony Elio Patricia Miller

GAMING EDITOR

John Gaudiosi

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Michael Coates

HEALTH TECH EDITOR

Scott Jung

TECH ZONE EDITOR

Robert Yehling

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Steve Broback John Saltonstall Ian Pedersen Ryan Nowell

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Monica Stockbridge

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Adam Saldaña

VIDEO EDITOR

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Evan Kelley Dave Van Niel Steven Higgins

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2019


contents FALL 2019

46 The Curious World of Jeff Goldblum By Alex Moersen Cover Photo: National Geographic/ Pari Dukovic

Departments 10 Event Wrap-Ups 12 By the Numbers 14 Quick Bytes 16 Dent Files 18 Online Advertising 88 Product Revolution 94 Event Calendar 95 Coming Next Issue 96 Lighter Side

20 Innovator Profile Solomon Ali: Capital, Connections, and Community

22 Connected Car Who’s Got the Plug?

28 Outdoor+Adventure Tech The Summer I Almost Died (and the Gear that Saved Me) 30 Gear Guide

32 Health Tech How Medical Technology is Helping Ease the Pain 35 Flagstaff’s Growing Love for Biosciences

Photo National Geographic/Pari Dukovic

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2019


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contents FALL 2019

36 Gaming+Entertainment Samantha Bee Exclusive: Queen Bee 42 Kevin Smith: How Jay & Silent Bob Changed His World 44 Inside E3 2019

52 Tech Zone: Arizona The Nation’s Hottest Tech Zone 54 A Driving Force Behind the Greater Phoenix Business Boom 56 Finding the Perfect Fit: Innovation Zones at ASU 58 Mesa’s Launch from Aerospace to All Things Tech 60 The Mother Road of Innovation Runs Through Flagstaff 62 Tucson: From the Wild West to High-Impact Innovation 64 Pinal County: Mining a New Workforce – and Economy 66 Tempe: Sustainable Community Going Young & Urban 68 An AI Revolution in the Hemp Industry

70 Connected Life A-list Apartments for the Tech Generation 72 Are You Sure You Would Like to Unsubscribe?

76 Sustainability Today Produced in Partnership with Sustainable Brands

Teamwork is Making the Sustainable Dream Work 78 Investment Group: “Do More to Fight Climate Change”

80 STEM Today

Produced in Partnership with the USA Science & Engineering Festival

Josh Dobbs: Red Zones & Rocket Science 84 Elon Musk’s Vision Continues to Shape Ours

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2019


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[ Event Wrap-Ups ]

Rocky Mountain Audio Festival

E3 2019 For decades now, E3 has been the place to go to see the newest in hardware and software from the world’s greatest gaming companies. 2019 definitely kept this theme, with titles such as Cyberpunk 2077, Pokemon Sword and Shield, Borderlands 3, and Doom Eternal shining in the spotlight. In addition to our special looks at games such as Psychonauts 2 and Dragonball Z: Kakarot, as well as Microsoft’s Mixer streaming platform, our team aimed to capture the E3 experience with exclusive quotes from exhibitors and developers from the expo (pg. 50).

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2019

Making its debut at the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center in Aurora, Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Audio Festival continued the event’s theme of showcasing impressive audio technology. The show featured the most innovative audio brands from the world over, including Sony, Qobuz, Klipsch, Moon Audio, and many, many more. Unlike most other shows, Rocky Mountain Audio Festival featured unique converted hotel rooms, allowing attendees to test out state-of-the-art audio equipment in a more isolated environment.

CEDIA Featuring a keynote from educator and author Luke Williams, who was profiled in an exclusive interview for our sister publication Residential Tech Today, CEDIA 2019 hosted no shortage of innovators. In addition to the many awards given out at the show, such as Best Booth and the CE Pro Best Product Awards, CEDIA featured a number of different opportunities to learn and be inspired at the event’s CEDIA Talks, TechTalks, and TechBites, giving attendees the chance to see inspiring speakers and intuitive product pitches alike.


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With cable-cutting becoming a common practice, traditional television is seemingly becoming a relic of the past. The lost art of appointment television is now long forgotten in the era of Netflix and Hulu. However, it seems like one entertainment genre alone is keeping people from cancelling cable: sports. From the Super Bowl to the Stanley Cup Finals, major sporting events consistently rake in the live viewers thanks to their time-sensitive nature. From direct viewership numbers to the number of people desiring more streaming options, let’s take a look at the stats behind the sports.

50%

47%

What Sports Would U.S. Citizens Stream?

(Share of Respondents)

Source www.statista.com

40%

37% 37%

30%

26%

23% 22%

20%

19%

16%

10% 0

N FL

60% (Share of Participants)

32% 30%

52%

50%

e Colleg all b t o Fo

M LB

48%

40%

e Colleg ball t e k Bas

N BA

NHL

rts

e Colleg all b e s Ba

E-Spo

e Collegey k c Ho

e Colleg er c c So

Source www.statista.com

35% 34%

30%

30% 28% 20% 18%

20%

Use Social Chat/ message Media

Read emails

Read news

Play games

Stanley Cup average viewership

Online shopping

Biggest Sports Event Ratings

3.01

5 3.9 0

1

2

3

(2018)

4.6 4.9 5.2 4.6

4

5.8 5.6

6

Source www.statista.com

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2019

World Series

NBA Finals

million

million

million

71.8

70.3

Winter Olympics opening ceremony

Stanley Cup Finals

million

million

27.8

4.7 4.8 5

Super Bowl

103.4

of young fans get sports content from mobile devices

64

$ billion

22

Search Share Interact for info opinion on with online on what’s TV show content of a TV show on TV

(In Millions)

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018

65

%

Global over-thetop channel revenue

10% 0

of sports fans are interested in an all-sports over-thetop channel

(2021 predictions)

What do people do while watching NFL games?

42%

63

%

24

Source www.fool.com

$ billion All-sports, overthe-top channel revenue in U.S.

383 million

SUBSCRIBERS Source livestream.com


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QUICK BYTES 001001100100110010010011001

Take Me to Your Linguini

According to a study funded by a lesser-known organization by the name of NASA and published in Astrobiology, microbes that enjoy hot springs often create rock formations that tend to resemble strands of pasta such as fettucini. According to geobiologist Bruce Fouke, who authored the study, these formations may give us additional insights into extraterrestrial life, as the pasta-like appearance was an adaptation for microbes to survive rushing water. Interestingly enough, 98-percent of the microbes examined in the study were of the “sulfuri” species, similar to ancient life that may have existed on Mars. For more information, I look forward to hearing from the Chef Boyardee Memorial Scientific Institute. While the idea of aliens making pasta sounds more like a low-budget kids film than actual science, it is nonetheless fascinating that these pasta-like rock formations may be the clue to life in outer space. No word on which wine pairs best with the rocks, though.

iStockphoto.com/Ulianna

iStockphoto.com/YinYang

When you think of an alien, you likely think of green skin, large, buggy eyes, and that awful M. Night Shyamalan movie where they’re allergic to water. Additionally, you might think of some of the evidence of their existence, such as crop circles and UFO sightings. Well, dear reader, some of that evidence is actually more delicious than you may think. Allow me to explain.

Not Now, Mom, I’m Eating Vegetables! Being a teenager and acting rebellious go so hand-in-hand, they’re basically synonyms. For most of us, ages 13 to 19 are filled with raging hormones, confusing growth spurts, and being turned down by everyone you ask to the prom. Well, all that locking bedroom doors and blaring Linkin Park seems to have a hidden benefit, as rebellious teens may also have angst towards unhealthy junk food. In a study of Texas 8th graders, students were divided into a group that was given a basic nutritional lesson on the dangers of junk food while the others focused on the manipulative nature of junk food advertising. Records from the cafeteria showed that, while girls from both groups opted for a healthier diet, boys from the marketing-focused group purchased a third less junk food, replacing it with healthier alternatives. Now if we could just teach rebellious teens that doing their homework and respecting their elders was cool... Journalism professor Michel Pollan sees this as a definite positive: “The more kids learn about the tricks companies use to sell them junk food, the less likely they are to eat it.” If we were feeling rebellious in my day, we’d usually just take up smoking or get a tattoo instead of eating healthy.

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2019

iStockphoto.com/TracieMichelle

Judge a Bar by Its Wrapper A quick trip down the candy aisle will expose you to no shortage of bold fonts, colorful designs, and cartoony mascots meant to make you forget the words “high fructose corn syrup.” Whether you prefer the savory sweetness of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup or the tangy taste of Sour Patch Kids, everything has a distinct packaging associated with it. Well, as it turns out, our love of cavity-causing sweets may be largely influenced by this wrapping. According to a study published in Heliyon, participants forged a stronger emotional bond with the actual wrapper than the taste of the chocolate inside. Through a series of blind taste tests, the researchers found that packaging with positive descriptions such as “fun” and “bright” led to a middling correlation with the participants’ love of the chocolate inside. However, the researchers forgot to add that, no matter how it’s packaged, candy corn is still disgusting. According to the study’s co-lead investigator Sigfredo Fuentes, PhD, “An estimated 60 percent of consumers’ initial decisions about products are made in stores solely by judging the packaging. As a result, our findings offer important insights that can be used in product design and development to control product intrinsic and extrinsic attributes by enhancing the emotional attachment towards the food products.” This does go to show that, even subconsciously, packaging and marketing have a subconscious pull on us. After all, nobody would go to a burger restaurant with a creepy clown mascot, right?


QUICK BYTES 100100110010011001001001100

Tough Day at the Dog Park The day-to-day routine of a dog seems pretty great when you think about it. After all, an entire life revolving around eating, napping, occasionally walking, and avoiding responsibilities seems pretty great in my mind. Well, despite their biggest concern seemingly being where the Beggin’ Strips are located, the life of your four-legged friend may be more stressful than you think.

iStockphoto.com/SStajic

According to a new study published in Scientific Reports, a dog will reflect its owner’s stress level. The study, conducted by Linköping University, examined 33 Shetland sheepdogs and 25 Border Collies as well as their owners to find a possible stress connection through examining cortisol levels and personality questionnaires for dog and owner alike. Interestingly enough, they found that, while the dog’s personality did not connect to long-term stress, the owner’s personality had a substantial effect. Additionally, many of the dogs were quick to dodge the question of, “Who’s a good boy?”

iStockphoto.com/frank600

iStockphoto.com/Kirillm

Late Night with Robot O’Brien Artificial intelligence has fueled countless innovations, revolutionized customer service, and will probably someday take the job of the very person writing this sentence. (Editor’s note: Will write sentences for food.) However, one aspect of artificial intelligence we often forget to ponder is entertainment. Well, thanks to some recent developments, AI can also predict hand gestures based on speech. Not quite as jawdropping as flying cars, but still futuristic nonetheless. Utilizing a combination of 10 different individuals speaking, including five television hosts such as Conan O’Brien, John Oliver, and Ellen DeGeneres, researchers have created AI that replicates how an individual will gesture based on their voice and tone. This was showcased when a recreation was shown in combination with a clip from Conan, showing some nearly identical results. First he loses The Tonight Show to Leno, now he’s going to lose his own show to a robot. The tech itself looks to develop to also analyzing transcripts, being used for animations, naturally moving robots, and even debunking fake videos. And knowing its knowledge of television hosting, the robot could likely host its own show, which would still probably be better than The Pat Sajak Show, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, Lopez Tonight, The Chevy Chase Show, or The Magic Hour. Probably.

A Mosquito’s Favorite Meal Don’t you love sunny weather? The promise of poolside relaxation, delicious barbecues, and, of course, hours upon hours of scratching mosquito bites make for the perfect summer pastimes. And, while you’d think the buzzing little bloodsuckers would be equal-opportunity biters, they tend to play favorites when it’s time to chow down. Apparently, the simple act of breathing is enough to attract a horde of blood-hungry mosquitos, as the carbon dioxide we exhale acts as a giant “Come Bite Me” billboard. From there, mosquitoes choose their victim based on the chemical compounds from the microbes inside our skin. According to Wageningen University entomologist Joop van Loon, “Bacteria convert the secretions of our sweat glands into volatile compounds that are taken through the air to the olfactory system on the head of the mosquitoes.” Additionally, van Loon said that clothes may have something to do with mosquito attraction, adding that, “Mosquitos love the color black.” This does explain why all my goth friends got West Nile last summer. FALL 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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DEPARTMENTS / Dent Files

Ocean-Centric Tech Designed to Mitigate Climate Risks By Steve Broback

(Left) One ton of the mineral Olivine can absorb as much as 1.25 tons of CO2. Photo: iStock.com/Kerrick (Right) Located in calm, sheltered waters, near coastal megacities, OCEANIX City will be an adaptable, sustainable, scalable and affordable solution for human life on the ocean. Photo: OCEANIX/BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group.

The threats that man-made CO2 presents to the oceans have been well-documented. Prominent among the headlines we see are those quoting scientists who are witnessing significant damage to coral reefs thanks to rising acidity generated by carbon emissions. One small bit of good news is that, despite the surging levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the oceans, in part, seem to be stepping up to the task of absorbing their historical share of the additional carbon. As Science Magazine reported in March 2019, “The ocean is an important sink for anthropogenic CO2 and has absorbed roughly 30 percent of our emissions between the beginning of the industrial revolution and the mid-1990s.” Also, the current numbers are “consistent with the expectation of the ocean uptake having increased in proportion to the rise in atmospheric CO2.” Dent co-hosted a dinner a few months back in Washington D.C. where we focused on the oceans and climate change. Joining us were prominent scientists, policymakers, and thought leaders. At this gathering, many ideas, opportunities, threats, and solutions were discussed and shared. Our team has also been investigating some of the most intriguing ocean-based technologies being developed that intend to mitigate and prevent damage done by an overabundance of

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2019

greenhouse gases. Here are a few of the standouts. Olivine Olivine is an abundant (and beautiful) green mineral that Pam Wright of The Weather Channel says could be “climate change’s Kryptonite.” Olivine is interesting because one ton of the mineral can absorb as much as 1.25 tons of CO2. This absorption process is driven by the weathering of olivine, which an organization named Project Vesta says can be achieved at scale by the placement of the mineral on beaches throughout the tropics. Project Vesta has the ambitious goal of distributing olivine across two percent of the most tidally active shelf seas and beaches. Curbing Methane Emissions Legislators of late have been debating the role of methane emissions from cattle and how to limit these gases. In Australia there is a unique pink seaweed called asparagopsis taxiformis, which when added to cattle feed can reduce methane production by as much as nine percent. Dr. Nicholas Paul of the Seaweed Research Group at Queensland’s University of the Sunshine Coast, is now driving an initiative to supplement cow diets at scale with this seaweed. Hydrogen Fuel Hydrogen is known as a “zero emission” fuel, and there is a straightforward process for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. The challenge is that due to corrosion issues, current

separation methods rely on highly purified water. Sadly, the best water purification processes currently in play are expensive and require significant energy inputs. Stanford researchers Hongjie Dai, J.G. Jackson, and C.J. Wood now claim to have devised a way to generate hydrogen fuel using solar power, electrodes, and saltwater from the Pacific Ocean. Their core innovation is to coat the metal surfaces involved with layers rich in negative charges. This coating repels the chloride that raises the decay issues. Oceanix Perhaps the most sci-fi aligned approach comes from an organization called Oceanix. Their charter is to “design and build floating cities for people to live sustainably on the ocean.” That way, if oceans rise, the cities can rise with them. Oceanix has some high-profile endorsements. The MIT Center for Ocean Engineering worked with them on a concept blueprint, and UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed in reference to Oceanix stated, “Floating cities can be part of our new arsenal of tools.” These four examples barely scratch the surface of the work being done to offset the impact of humans on the atmosphere. Despite the general pessimism being felt today regarding the climate, we are encouraged by the passion and creativity being expended toward the issue. ■


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DEPARTMENTS / Online Advertising

The Strange, Vague World of YouTube Demonetization

A Look into the Unclearly Worded Reasons YouTube Can Refuse to Pay Ad Revenue By Anthony Elio “Content relating to cannibalism.”

In a widely reported study released by Harris Poll and LEGO earlier this summer, it was revealed that more U.S. children aspire to be professional YouTubers than traverse space as an astronaut. Interestingly, astronaut was far behind the rest of the pack, with teacher, professional athlete, and even musician all trailing the glamorous world of YouTubing. But there’s a reason that so many children aspire to become the next big YouTube star: it’s accessible, easy fame that can make you money. At least, that’s how it seems. Considering makeup tutorial expert Michelle Phan, baker Rosanna Pansino, and gaming streamer Seán McLaughlin ( Jacksepticeye) have all made millions off of the platform, firing up a webcam certainly seems more attractive than spending years perfecting your skills in science, music, or athletics. However, there are many reasons that starting a YouTube channel should be seen as a hobby rather than an employment option. In addition to an extremely crowded field of entertainers and the sheer amount of work and talent needed to produce and edit high-quality videos, YouTube’s issues surrounding demonetizing videos have mounted over the past few years. The massive website’s “advertiser-friendly content guidelines” lay out the rules on what can cause a video to lose financial viability, but the wording can often be a bit confusing. Let’s examine some of the vaguely presented reasons YouTube can deny paying content creators. “Content discussing intimate sexual experiences such as masturbation, intercourse, or other sexual acts.” Of course, YouTube has long had restrictions

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2019

Okay, so we can all agree that we wouldn’t want to watch someone do a live tutorial on how to cook human meat … at least that better be the case. However, if all content relating to cannibalism is demonetized, does that include a video talking about the history of cannibalism? Or a video advocating against cannibalism? Considering major network show Hannibal literally starred a cannibal, this seems like a strange rule. “Sensitive Events (War/Death and Tragedies) and Controversial Issues (Political Conflicts/ Terrorism and extremism/sexual abuse).”

iStockphoto.com/twinsterphoto

when it comes to showing sexual content, something that’s helped bring the platform to the mainstream. After all, there’s already HBO, Cinemax, and, well, the whole rest of the internet for that. However, the wording of this particular guideline means demonetizing any content discussing intimate sexual experiences. So does that mean sexual education content gets demonetized? What about a video trying to discuss the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases? Even the most squeamish of fans has to admit that this guideline seems a bit Puritanical. “Pimple-popping or in-grown toenail removal” While it’s difficult to see big companies like Pepsi wanting their brand associated with zits and ingrown hairs, the basic fact is that these videos get views. Look at Sandra Lee, MD (Dr. Pimple Popper), who not only gets millions of views on her online videos removing cysts and extracting whiteheads, but has her own program on TLC, a basic cable channel with advertisers. While it might make people uneasy, these types of videos are popular and definitely don’t intend any offense.

This one is especially interesting, as these particular guides don’t mention showing any of the aforementioned scenarios, but can literally demonetize a video for discussing these topics. This means that anyone doing an opinion piece on anything “sensitive” or “controversial” can be quickly stripped of potential earnings. So that means that a discussion on gun control, a look at the aftermath of 9/11, a history lesson on World War II, and a debate on how to reduce political violence can all be completely demonetized. And yet, you can flip through your cable channels and view all of this type of content, completely ad supported. While it’s interesting to look at these strange rules from the outside looking in, this really is an issue that continues to affect content creators across the world of YouTube. While many of the top channels will continue to thrive amidst the occasional demonetization strike, the creators just scraping by don’t have that luxury. The entire reason YouTube has become so popular is the amount of freedom awarded to its user base. Take that away, and creators will move on to the next big platform. ■


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innovator profile

Capital,Connections, andCommunity Solomon Ali: The Biggest Name You’ve Never Heard By Patricia Miller For African-American entrepreneurs, breaking into the technology sector can be a struggle. Accessing capital, making executive connections, obtaining patents, and ultimately marketing one’s IP is a costly and timeconsuming endeavor. That’s where Solomon Ali comes in. He’s sat on the board for one quarter of all publiclytraded, black-owned companies in the United States. His passion is connecting startups to capital and helping African-American entrepreneurs launch their businesses. He knows a lot about connections and capital. His energy company, NDR Energy Group, is one of the largest minority-owned companies in the United States and his latest initiative, SYS Smart Home Technology, is working to make smart home technology affordable for low-income communities. Ali is also the CEO of Revolutionary Concepts, which owns the rights to more than 60 home-tech patents. If you don’t recognize the name, it’s because they don’t make anything. They simply hold the patents to the technology that makes the smart home possible. Video doorbells, smart security cameras, and automated garage door openers rely on twoway audio/video communication triggered by a sensor. Well, Revolutionary Concepts owns that tech and sells the licensing rights to companies like Ring, Amazon, August Home, Chamberlain, HealthCo, LiveWatch, Skybell, and Door Bird. Now, Revolutionary Concepts is giving SYS the ability to put smart tech into people’s

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2019


“W hen a minority company is starting out – I strongly believe this – they have to stop making the same mistake most entrepreneurs make.”

homes for less than the cost of a cable TV subscription.

entrepreneurs fail. They fail to understand what the true cost to build something would be.

In this exclusive interview, Ali shares his insights on black-owned tech startups, his latest project, and the future of smart home systems.

I&T Today: What was your strategy when launching SYS Smart Home Technology?

Innovation & Tech Today: What are some barriers to entry that prevent black-owned technology startups from gaining ground? Solomon Ali: Capital, capital, capital. Access to capital. Access to the people who can help them tell the correct story, and their financial story, to get access to capital. When you’re in technology, it’s not like you have brick and mortar that you can use as an asset to borrow money, so it’s all dependent upon someone investing or believing that it can go from A to Z. Hiring the scientists or engineers to help you put everything together, and hiring attorneys to help you file your patents correctly so that you would be protected, if you are awarded these patents – both for the United States and abroad – that’s costly. When a minority company is starting out – I strongly believe this – they have to stop making the same mistake most entrepreneurs make. We’ve taken whatever resources we’ve had, whether it was from retirement accounts, equity, family, or friends, and we spend it in the wrong places. We think we are not going to need any more capital, not understanding that we’re going to need a lot more capital. In other words, we didn’t count the costs, because we didn’t know how to count the costs, and that’s where most

SA: With SYS, we wanted to create a marketing company, so we looked at the industry itself. The security industry is an $84 billion industry… So I said, “Let’s go after the market share, and if we can get 10 percent of the market share, that would be awesome. Probably won’t happen though, so if we get five percent, that would be great. Probably won’t happen. So if we can just get 0.5 percent to one percent, we win. Probably will happen.” I told my team, “We need to talk about a winning marketing strategy so that we can go out and grab households, because we’re not talking security systems anymore, we’re talking smart homes, we’re talking an extension of one’s self.” I can give my home a command, now it obeys that command: “Turn on the lights. Turn on my alarm system. Open the garage. Turn off my alarm system. Unlock my door.” See, all of that falls under our patents, and so what we have to do is go and educate. The first obstacle is, everyone thinks [these products] are so expensive, and it is expensive, but there are ways to get around it. So we said, “Let’s fellowship with the churches. They’re struggling now and local communities will benefit if we turn around and partner with them in providing the systems for free to those people within their congregations or ministries that they want to support.”

So, by doing that, we give them systems for free. Now that supports the different ministries; people just pay their monitoring fee and then we donate 20 percent back to the church so they can fund which ever ministries they wish to fund. So now, their people have control of their property value. We put a whole package together that includes the door lock, some floodlight cameras, some doorbell cameras, and the security system itself. All they would have to do is pay for the monitoring and we would give them the complete system for free – plus they would have TV too, so we are able to cut their costs. We decided to do something that no other competitor – such as ADT, CPI, or anyone else out there – is currently doing. I&T Today: How do you see the smart home technology market evolving? SA: I believe it will continue to evolve, well, to where it was in that cartoon my brother used to watch, The Jetsons. I can go to my smartphone and tell the lawnmower to cut the grass and it’ll cut the grass. I can turn off the water from anywhere in the country. In fact, I can cut the grass from anywhere in the country. I can unlock my doors from anywhere in the country. That will continue to evolve, and we’re excited about it, because whatever the mind can create, you will be able to tell and command your house to do it. And for us, to be on the forefront of that technology, and have companies license various pieces of that from us, is very exciting. ■ FALL 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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CONNECTED CAR

Who’s Got the Plug? EV Infrastructure is a Critical Part of the Segment’s Growth – and We’re Still Trying to Figure It Out as a Business By Michael Coates

Electrify America teamed up with Stable to deploy the first robotic fast-charging facility.

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The first question anyone asks when thinking of diving into the electric vehicle market is, “Where do I charge it?” The easy answers take care of most folks – at home at a 120-volt (Level 1) wall plug or a 240-volt (Level 2) “fast” charger – or if you’re lucky, at work, usually at 240 volts. But what if you venture out of the comfort zone of the home-work orbit? What if you want to take a trip beyond the range of a single charge? What if you want to use your EV the way Americans have traditionally used their cars?

journal Automotive News that “range anxiety has now been replaced by charging anxiety. A hundred years ago, gasoline was sold at pharmacies,” he said. “Today, we have 122,000 gas stations in the United States. It’s transformed from a bottleneck to a commodity. Electric charging is going to be exactly the same.”

This is not an isolated issue. A Volkswagen executive, Reinhard Fischer, told the trade

Building an extensive network of EV charging stations is both a matter of physically putting the

INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2019

As posed by this automaker – it’s a quantity issue. But he also noted another aspect: anxiety. That’s not always addressed by quantitative answers. If it were, there would be no fear of flying.

stations in place and also making sure folks know they’re there. The economic opportunity has garnered the attention of several companies, but some have chosen different paths toward the same goal. Then some are thinking on an even grander scale. One current legislative proposal that has yet to gain much traction in Washington, D.C., is for the country to commit to developing a nationwide fast-charging network. The prototype for such an action is analogous to President Eisenhower’s call to build the Interstate Highway System in 1956. Bills have been introduced in Congress proposing such an


Electric Car Charging Safety Some of the best-selling EV Charging Stations are not safety-tested and certified

A

fter deciding to buy a plug-in electric vehicle, often the next decision is to purchase a Level 2 charging station for faster charging at home. The technical name as defined in the National Electric Code for these products is EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment), commonly called charging stations. Safety might not be the first consideration when selecting a charging station, but safety is actually the most important thing to consider. The primary function of a plug-in vehicle charging station is to provide electrical safety for the operator and electrical infrastructure throughout the charging process and specifically to address the risks of fire and electric shock. The good news is charging an electric vehicle is actually very safe and easy when done with proper, independently safety-certified equipment. The challenge is that not all charging stations on the market are independently safety tested and certified. When a charging station manufacturer develops a new product, or makes even a minor change to an existing product, they should send samples to a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL), such as Intertek (ETL mark) or Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL mark). Safety engineers at these labs perform months of extensive safety testing that the products must pass before they can be safety certified and made available to the public for sale. Only products with these marks appearing on the manufactured product’s rating plate are safety certified. Look for these (ETL or UL) certification marks on the station itself when shopping for a charging station:

Do a quick experiment in your own home: look around at the electrical appliances purchased from a reputable source and you will see they are all marked with a safety label. If you find a product that plugs into the wall that is not marked, you might want to consider not using it.

Be Cautious of These Things:

Deceptive Markings - Some manufacturers use officiallooking marks such as the CE logo. If you only see a CE mark then the product has not been independently certified. CE is a self-certifying mark and it should not be trusted in the US, Canada, and Mexico. A CE mark in addition to the UL or ETL mark is acceptable. Do NOT use a product that only has a CE mark.

Uncertified Products are being sold by what seems like a reputable seller - Buying the product from what seems to be a reputable seller doesn’t mean the charging station has been safety certified. Most large home improvement retailer stores like Lowes and Home Depot have standards in place that require NRTL certification for electrical appliances. However, there are online retailers, such as Amazon, direct sellers, and sources from outside the United States that DO carry and sell unlisted products. Deceptive Claims - When selecting a charging station, if you are unsure about the NRTL certification status of a product, reach out to the product supplier and ask them to provide confirmation that the product you are interested in is NRTL (UL or ETL) certified. Non-Grounded Plugs - If you are purchasing a plug-in charging station, NEVER buy a station with a NEMA 10-30 or 10-50 plug. The NEMA 10-30 and NEMA 10-50 style outlets do not have an earth ground connection. There is NO possibility that a charging station delivered with one of these plugs is properly NRTL safety certified. One of the key safety functions of a charging station is providing an earth ground connection to the vehicle. This assures the vehicle body is safely grounded during charging. For more information: www.ClipperCreek.com/Safety

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CONNECTED CAR /

Who’s Got the Plug?

In addition to installing the chargers – mainly at destination locations like malls or on major highway locations – Electrify America has also signed a partnership with EVgo, another fastcharger installer, so that users of the two networks could pay without having to sign up for new memberships or payment plans. First, a little history. Many of EVgo’s DCFC chargers installed in California were done as a settlement in a lawsuit against EVgo’s parent company, NRG, going back to the Enron scandal of 2000. At least in part, the modern EV infrastructure is built on the backs of diesel emissions and energy trading scandals. Electrify America Ad

EV network, but so far they haven’t progressed beyond the talking stage. Meanwhile, private companies are diving into what they see as a growing market. Doing Good After Doing Bad Unlike the early days of gasoline, where Henry Ford had reduced the price of the automobile to where it was affordable by the masses and John D. Rockefeller and his allies had discovered economic ways of extracting and refining petroleum to power those vehicles, the number of EVs on the market is not going to guarantee the kind of return that will allow EV charging stations to hand out free dishes with every charge as a promotion (trust me, it’s a thing).

Electrify America is tasked with spending those penalty dollars on two related projects – building EV charging infrastructure and promoting EV sales. They’re getting some traction, focused on putting in DCFC’s (480volt, three-phase fast-charging capable of adding fresh juice in minutes rather than the hours it takes at the Level 1 and 2 chargers). That’s part of more than 2,000 chargers in 500 locations planned by the end of 2019. The company is also running ads promoting EVs as “normal now,” clearly addressing the anxiety called out by the VW exec.

The interoperability agreements between Electrify America and EVgo expanded on existing agreements the two networks had with other main charging networks – ChargePoint, Greenlots, EV Connect, and Sema Connect. Almost all of the EV charging world is moving toward a system where, like a gas station stop, your credit card should be able to ensure you get your battery filled. But it’s still not all the way there.

The whole idea of building a ubiquitous network of charging stations and making money on those stations may be at odds. Unlike their petroleum-powered predecessors, EVs can charge at home and work. Most current owners can do their daily commute without having to think about finding a charging station, turning refueling with publicly available electrons into an occasional operation. Enter Electrify America, a division of Volkswagen created as a result of two things: • Volkswagen being caught cheating on the emissions systems on its diesel vehicles and having to commit to spending billions of dollars to rectify the environmental damage done by those deeds. • Volkswagen realigning its future product plans to turn it into a major electric carproducing company.

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2019

Charging your electric vehicle is easier than ever, with charger networks that span the entire U.S. and innovative apps that help you find the nearest charger.


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CONNECTED CAR /

Who’s Got the Plug?

(Left) Scott Mercer, founder of Volta. (Right) Volta’s utilizes ad sales to help deliver free charging to the customer.

The lack of interoperability with EV charging doesn’t just apply to the different brands. Unlike the gas world, the EV world has three competing charging systems at the DCFC level (Levels 1 and 2 are standardized). DC goes some of the way toward making charging both fast – though still not the five-minute fill you get with gasoline or diesel – which is why they’re typically located near shopping, dining, or other places where an EV owner can spend a half hour while their car charges.

If you remember the numbers quoted by the VW exec – there are 122,000 gas stations dotting the countryside. At present, there are fewer than 40,000 public charging stations in the U.S. with almost one-fourth of them in one state: California. Not coincidentally, that’s where the most EVs are. The portion for DC fast-charging stations is even lower, about 10,000 – though Electrify America, EVgo, and Tesla seem determined to ramp up these numbers.

Still, it’s not so simple when it comes to an EV. The cars come in a couple variations – some can only charge at the L1 and L2 level; others can accommodate DC fast charging. But there are three different, incompatible types of DC charging – CHAdeMO, SAE CSS, and Tesla’s proprietary system. It’s a bit like the days of VHS and Beta tapes – for those old enough to remember that confusing era – with a third system thrown in for good measure. The good news is many of the DC fast chargers have plugs that can service both the CHAdeMO (mostly Asian EVs) and CSS (European and American) types. Tesla’s chargers don’t work with non-Tesla vehicles, but Teslas can charge at the other two with an adapter. The other good news is that non-Tesla drivers now have a network that is roughly equivalent to the widely touted Tesla Supercharger network. It may not be as identifiable (there’s that pesky anxiety issue again, based on lack of visibility).

Even though the network’s still thin, competition is building about the speed of charging (Electrify America is touting its faster chargers designed for the latest EV models coming out, and Tesla is also rolling out upgraded, faster versions on its network).

While car companies are careful not to attribute sales to things like a supportive infrastructure, it is a strong reinforcement to a purchase decision.

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2019

Finally, technology innovations like robot chargers designed to deal with coming autonomous electric cars may also been on the horizon. New Business, New Business Models Scott Mercer, a Cal Poly grad (the school model is “Learn By Doing”), worked his way through college doing classic car repair. He considered that as a potential career until realizing he wanted to change things in the automotive world. He flipped some disheveled classic cars to put together seed funds for Volta, his vision of providing EV charging that would maximize the “electric miles” of the growing plug-in fleet. His idea: charging should be free, paid for by advertising on the charging kiosks. Rent the

space for the chargers in the highest EV traffic areas, which in turn attracts more usage and leads to an expanded network. “We want to be where the cars are – and be free. It’s basic economics,” said Mercer. Volta is now working to add a reservation system that should serve to enhance the utilization of its chargers. “We are not trying to recreate the gas station experience,” Mercer added. “We want to match the wait time at the venue to the charge.” Their goal is to partner with venues where the station is used 80 percent of the retail day. The Government’s Role While the idea of a national EV charging network is being discussed in Congress and at competing private companies, at the state and local level the EV charging discussion takes a different twist. In California – ground zero for the current charging infrastructure – the state government is pouring its well-stocked treasury in support of an EV charging infrastructure that not only meets the needs of current EV purchasers (so far heavy on the relatively wealthy early adopters), but potential lowerincome buyers of used EVs, those who don’t live in the tiny coastal communities, and a justbeginning heavy-duty electric truck market. Right now, the EV infrastructure industry seems to be caught between “build it and they will come” and “how can we sell EVs if there’s no public infrastructure.” Charging station usage is solid in some areas while it lags in others. Business models are taking users and installers in different directions. If this were a roadmap for the EV future, it’s fair to say we’re at a crossroads. ■


BROUGHT TO YOU BY F YBR

Park Smart How intelligent parking impacts cities, communities, and your daily commute.

In today’s technology landscape, we hear a lot about smartphones, smart vehicles, and smart homes, but have you heard of smart parking? Smart parking is one way in which cities are taking steps to become more connected, automated, and advanced in their parking and transportation infrastructure. While most people find traffic frustrating, many don’t realize that up to 30-percent of all traffic is caused by drivers looking for a parking space or double-/ illegally parking their vehicles. A recent study by INRIX found that motorists in the U.S. spend an average of 17 hours a year looking for parking spots – the equivalent of over two business days of wasted time. This is also time that drivers are contributing emissions and wasting gas – adding up to an estimated cost of $345 per driver every year. More and more, city planners and their community members are demanding more sustainable, more efficient development. Fybr, an Internet of Things company in St. Louis, Missouri, has built an entire business around Smart City solutions that help communities operate more efficiently, reduce costs, and improve the quality of life for citizens. Smart parking is the foundation of their Smart City Platform for many reasons. By starting Smart City initiatives in areas that make

transportation more efficient, cities and communities can quickly reduce traffic, carbon emissions, and deliver tangible, highly visible benefits to citizens – all in an economically selfsustaining manner.

These changes not only help to better leverage all available parking, but they also help prepare communities for the increasing demands ridesharing and autonomous vehicles will place on curbside spaces.

“Community is one of the most subtle, but distinct differences we provide as a Smart City solutions provider,” says Matt Willenbrink, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Fybr. “While not specifically a city, universities, hospitals, and corporate campuses all have similar challenges and needs as cities, just on a smaller scale. At Fybr, our goal is to make life within a community – no matter what size – better and more efficient.”

“There’s a false idea that when self-driving vehicles become dominant, the need for parking spaces will disappear,” Willenbrink explains. “However, these vehicles will still need someplace to go during non-peak times or short idle times. We can’t just have a bunch of vehicles circling waiting for a passenger. The need for real-time parking availability information will be even more critical and beneficial than it is today.”

Just about any community can take advantage of Smart Parking opportunities. By placing a sensor in each parking space, community leaders can leverage real-time data to help drivers find parking spaces more efficiently while using long-term data to improve parking policies. When drivers can check an app on their phone or in-dash navigation system and know exactly where to park in real-time, they can help reduce traffic congestion and eliminate anxiety on the road. Intelligent parking aids public transportation as well, offering insights for commuters into the fastest, most effective strategy.

One of the most exciting aspects of a Smart Parking solution is its ability to fund additional Smart City initiatives while using the same communications infrastructure – creating additional cost and infrastructure efficiencies. For example, Fybr offers lighting controllers, air quality and environmental sensors, and watermonitoring devices, in addition to parking sensors – all of which communicate on the same network infrastructure. This allows cities to add additional Smart City functionality without the need for additional investments in communications infrastructure. ■ To learn more about intelligent parking solutions from Fybr, visit fybr.com FALL 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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The Summer I Almost Died (and the Gear that Saved Me) By Patricia Miller Kayak camping is one of my favorite pastimes. This summer, I decided five days along the upper Colorado river would be the perfect way to spend my vacation. After flipping my boat and losing most of my gear (albeit temporarily), I realized it was not the perfect way to spend my vacation; and more importantly, that my gear was woefully inadequate except for a few key components. On day one, my kayaking partner and I launched our boats and were immediately concerned about the swiftness of the current. It was running at 2700 CFS rather than 600. Before we had time to reconsider, less than an hour into our float, we heard the sound of whitewater. I tried to paddle the kayak to shore but the current was too strong and my boat too heavy, I was being pulled into Class III rapids and there was no way to stop. My boat flipped at the first big whitecap and I swam out, clinging to my kayak and five days worth of gear. After bashing my shins, knees, buttocks, and back on every boulder and submerged limb for a hundred yards, I saw the second set of rapids looming ahead of me.

noticed a torrent of gear washing past them and began collecting things. Two hours after I flipped, I discovered my kayak and nearly everything in it sitting neatly along the shoreline. After some cheers of glee at the recovery of my boat and a cursory inspection, I realized that most of my gear was soaked. Despite the dry bags and nearly everything being touted as waterproof, each item was sopping wet. Apparently, waterproof doesn’t mean submersion-proof. Once we were finally safely ashore with our gear, it was time to take stock of what had survived and what we would have to sustain us for the next five days. Beyond your standard personal flotation device, medical kit, and water filtration system, I found a few items that turned out to be essential for surviving the trip.

I knew I had to let my kayak go before it pulled me back into the current. I let go of the hard plastic and kicked with all my strength to reach the shoreline. Exhausted and bleeding, I pulled my body ashore and turned to watch my bright yellow kayak, heavy with gear and water, smash from one boulder to the next. It’s moments like these when you realize the importance of your equipment. Everything I had for five days of survival just washed away and left me standing with nothing more than my water shoes and some dried mango slices stored in my personal floatation device. Thankfully, some kind-hearted rafters picked me up and took me downstream where I found my boat. Apparently, a very alert tour group

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2019

at least half an hour and still worked perfectly. The lights recharge in just a few hours in direct sun and were indispensable. Our headlamps and flashlights filled with water and broke (despite being stored in a reusable storage bag within a dry bag), so all we had for the remainder of the journey were the Luci lights.

MPOWERD Luci Solar Lights These lights are waterproof, lightweight, buoyant, inexpensive, and provide ample light for the campsite. When I lost my kayak, we had four Luci Lanterns and one set of Luci Solar String Lights. We recovered two lanterns and the string lights. They had been submerged for

Quality Dry Bags This may seem obvious, but quality dry bags truly would have saved our lives had we been on a more remote section of the river when we flipped. Nearly all of our gear was stored in a variety of dry bags, ranging from inexpensive to top-of-the-line. Only two kept our gear completely dry. The Watershed Chattooga Duffel performed the best. It’s rated for up to 300 feet of submersion and it’s made of a durable, puncture-resistant material. It’s a pricey bag, but worth it. We stored our sleeping bags in this duffel, so they were warm and dry, unlike the rest of our gear. The other dry bag that outperformed the rest? A 14 dollar 40L Outdoor Products dry bag from Wal-Mart. Its contents remained completely dry despite being submerged and dragged along a river bottom for several miles.


Garmin inReach Explorer + When we were standing on the side of the Colorado river bruised and battered, we pulled out the water-resistant Explorer +. The inReach acts as a satellite communication device, enabling text, GPS, and emergency services. We stored it in several zipper storage bags (sandwich bags, essentially) and tucked it into the pocket on my partner’s personal flotation device. The zipper bags had not kept it dry during the long submersion and it was damp, but functional. Ultimately, we did not use the SOS feature and instead used it to send nightly texts back home to inform our families we were safe. It was reassuring knowing I had a way to communicate with emergency personnel as well as my family no matter where we were. A Poncho or Rain Jacket It may seem inessential, but when the adrenaline wore off, I was freezing. All my clothes were soaked, even those in dry bags, and there was an afternoon wind starting to whip down the river. The only thing that kept me

Associate Editor of Innovation & Tech Today Patricia Miller and her kayaking partner enjoy scenic views of the Colorado River a few minutes before capsizing in class III rapids.

Durable water shoes like these Christmas Island Booties from Orvis would have protected the author’s feet from jagged rocks, glass, and hidden dangers below the water’s surface.

from coming down with hypothermia was my 20 dollar rain jacket from Amazon. It was wet when I pulled it out of my dry bag, but after a few minutes in the breeze it was dry, kept my body heat in, and protected me from the wind. Quality Water Shoes with a Thick Rubber Sole Rivers are treacherous environments even at their most calm. That’s why a reliable pair of thick-soled water shoes is vital. The water shoes I wore that day were cheap, thin, and little more than bathing suit fabric stretched over my foot with a shoe insert on the bottom. By the time I dragged myself from the rapids, my toes were poking out of both shoes and I thought at least one toe might be broken. Make the investment

and buy a pair of shoes that will protect your toes from rocks and the bottom of your feet from glass and sharp objects. Ultimately, this is just a beginner’s list of river necessities. But, these items were among my most precious possessions for the next five days as we struggled to make camp with half of our gear either ruined or wet. Want to learn more about this trip and the gear I used to overcome the elements? ■ To read the full story, please visit innotechtoday.com/life-saving-gear

FALL 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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Gear Guide Therm-A-Rest Compressible Pillow – Created with the comfort-seeking camper in mind, the Therm-A-Rest Compressible Pillow will make you forget about your bed while you snooze in your tent. With a number of sizes and colors available, you can find the perfect pillow to accompany you on your outdoor journey. $25-35

Windmaster Stove – Cooking a hot, delicious meal can be a tough task when travelling outdoors. Thanks to the Soto Windmaster, which can boil two cups of water in less than 2.5 minutes and was designed to be used even in windy weather, that meal is easier to cook than ever. $65

Eno Skyloft – Allowing you to switch between “Sleep” and “Relax” mode, the Eno Skyloft lets you customize your post-hike experience. Easy to set up and pack up alike, the SkyLoft will feel as at home in your backyard as it will on your next camping trip. $130

LaCrosse Alpha Range Boots – Combining ZXT rubber for durability with an Active-Fit design for comfort, the Alpha Range boots from LaCrosse have the strength to stand up to any job you throw at them. Coming in a number of colors and designs, these boots get the job done and look good doing it. $120-160

Gossamer Gear Gorilla 40 – The ideal combination of durability and lightness, the Gossamer Gear Gorilla 40 is the perfect backpack for veteran hiker and trail newcomer alike. Allowing you to pack your gear without an uncomfortable hike, this pack will travel every mile with you. $215

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2019


Aeros Ultralight Pillow – The Aeros Ultralight Pillow truly lives up to its name, with the Regular size weighing in at only 2.1 oz. Taking only seconds to inflate and deflate, this pillow lets you get back to your outdoor adventures in a snap. $40-45

Rumpl Nanoloft Puffy Blanket – Composed of recycled materials in order to provide a synthetic alternative to down, the Nanoloft Puffy Blanket is a temperature-conscious blanket that’s conscious of the environment. With eye-catching designs such as Fire Fade and Winter Horizon, these blankets will give your camping trip some additional warmth and flare. $150

Sawyer Micro Squeeze Water Filtration System – Reusable and easy to travel with, the Sawyer Micro Squeeze Filter will help you get clean drinking water with ease. Helping you stay hydrated and healthy, the Sawyer Micro Squeeze Filter belongs in any adventurer’s backpack. $28

Corsa Ice Axe – Known as the lightest ice axe around, the Corsa Ice Axe will help you traverse the frozen tundra without weighing you down. Ideal for high altitude climbing and ski mountaineering, the Corsa Ice Axe will be a bright spot on your coldest adventures. $120

Laundreez – Allowing you to clean your clothes on the go, Laundreez lets you refresh your wardrobe without feeding quarters into the laundromat’s machines. Environmentally conscious and easy to use, Laundreez is the portable laundry system for the constant traveler. $30

FALL 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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Health Tech

How Medical Technologies Are Helping Ease the Pain By Scott Jung To Feel Pain is Human Pain is part of what it is to be human. In many cases, pain is normal and necessary, helping to diagnose a problem or signaling to our bodies that it’s been exposed to something potentially dangerous. But long-term pain, the kind of pain that persists beyond the time associated with natural healing, can leave a person feeling like there’s little to live for. The drug abuse epidemic that the United States is currently facing is fueled heavily by an overdependence of opioids, drugs legally prescribed by doctors to help treat this chronic pain.

Neurostimulators like Abbott’s ‘Proclaim’ SCS can help mitigate chronic pain.

Partly in response to the opioid epidemic, the management and treatment of chronic pain has become an increasingly popular medical specialty and subject of ongoing research. Pharmaceutical companies are actively researching non-addictive medications to replace opioid painkillers. However, these pharmacological treatments will likely still carry the stigma of opiates, as well as other potential side effects. Medical device and digital health companies have also developed several innovative approaches to managing chronic pain without the addictive properties or side effects of drugs. Why Does it Hurt? To understand how pain management technologies work, it might help to briefly see how the sensation of pain is transmitted through our bodies. We feel pain when some of the millions of sensory neurons in our body are stimulated or even damaged. The pain signal travels from these neurons to a section of the spinal cord called the dorsal horn. If the pain signal exceeds a certain threshold (by touching a hot stove versus a warm coffee mug, for example), the dorsal horn transmits the pain signal up to the brain, and the body reacts accordingly. Pain treatment works by either

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blocking the pain signals transmitted to the brain or by masking them with other signals. Zapping the Pain Away In ancient Egypt, it was believed that when a person experienced pain, an electric fish could be placed over the site of one’s pain and coaxed to discharge its electrical current until the pain subsided. This method of applying electricity to the body for pain relief, called neurostimulation, is still widely used today, but thankfully is delivered through electronic devices instead. One of the earliest neurostimulators still used today is a type of device called a spinal cord

stimulator (SCS). An SCS consists of a small, stopwatch-sized metal device called an implantable pulse generator (IPG), surgically placed just under the skin in the abdomen or buttocks. Connected to the IPG are thin cables that direct electrical pulses from the IPG to the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. These electrical pulses create a localized sensation known as “paresthesia” at the site of pain. Paresthesia is the tingling sensation akin to one’s limb “falling asleep,” but it’s effective in masking pain by altering the perception of it by the user. While an SCS is one of the more invasive of pain therapies and comes with some risks,


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Health Tech How Medical Technologies Are Helping Ease the Pain the amount of opioid medication requested from patients by an astonishing 39 percent.

Massachusetts-based NeuroMetrix has developed a device called Quell that also works using neurostimulation, but with a wearable cuff that is placed around the leg.

advancements in SCS technology has made them smaller, easier to use, and more effective in relieving chronic pain. Some systems, such as Abbott’s ‘Proclaim’ SCS, incorporate Bluetooth technology that allows patients to control the level of electrical stimulation via a smartphone app. Massachusetts-based NeuroMetrix has developed a device called Quell that also works using neurostimulation, but with a wearable cuff that is placed around the leg. Quell provides pain relief by stimulating the nerves in the upper calf that carry normal, non-painful sensations to your brain, which decreases the perception of pain. It can be used during sleep, and the accompanying smartphone app allows users to adjust the settings and track your sleep, activity, and pain levels. Quell is FDA cleared, and the device the technology behind it is backed by over 20 years of research.

While it’s evident that virtual reality can offer an alleviating distraction from periods of temporary pain, such as during a blood draw or childbirth, it’s somewhat impractical for those experiencing chronic pain to continuously be wearing a VR headset.

that virtual reality provides can effectively distract the brain from pain. Virtual reality for pain relief dates back as far as the late 1990s when University of Washington researchers Hunter Hoffman and David Patterson developed a game called SnowWorld, in which players throw snowballs at penguins while navigating a snowy environment. Though it might seem silly, a 2011 study showed a 35- to 50-percent reduction in pain in burn victims who played the game while receiving daily wound care, a level comparable to the effects of a medium dose of opioids. In another study, VR decreased

SnowWorld is a virtual reality game in which players throw snowballs at penguins while navigating a snowy environment. VR is one of many medical technologies now being used to treat chronic and acute pain.

Pain Relief is in Sight One of the hottest trends in tech is virtual reality (VR), a computing environment which completely skews reality with computergenerated imagery. Somewhat like a primitive version of Star Trek’s “holodeck,” this technology allows the user an escape from real life with immersive sound, lifelike visuals, and interactive, gesture-based interaction. Not only is it a great form of entertainment, but years of research have shown that the temporary escape

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Image by Ari Hollander and Howard Rose | ©Hunter Hoffman

Companies such as Los Angeles-based AppliedVR believe that VR can also be used as a tool to teach people to manage their pain in the real world. AppliedVR’s platform takes pain relief beyond mere distraction by offering immersive content on breathing techniques, mindfulness, and relaxation. Some of their modules even incorporate heart rate and breathing data to provide live, personalized feedback to the user. By teaching pain management techniques that can be used independently of the headset, users experience how truly powerful one’s mind can be in responding to pain. Virtual reality may not single-handedly solve the opioid crisis, but its non-invasive, nonaddictive nature and increasing quantity of positive scientific evidence make it a promising and attractive therapy for pain relief. Moreover, as VR continues to become more mainstream, its hardware costs will decrease, making the technology more accessible to patients in need of pain relief. Perhaps a VR headset will someday occupy a spot next the bottle of aspirin in the medicine cabinet. ■


Health Tech

Flagstaff’s Growing Love for Biosciences By John Saltonstall

The physical beauty of Flagstaff, Arizona, along with the elevation, can literally take one’s breath away. Once you catch your breath, you will quickly find you are in the right place – especially when it comes to biosciences. Flagstaff is 14 percent more specialized in biosciences than all other communities in the U.S. For a “charming mountain town,” that reality is surprising to visitors and to some residents. What businesses are contributing to this high concentration of biosciences? Axolotl Biologix, Poba Medical, T-Gen North, and W. L. Gore & Associates are just a few; these four businesses alone employ almost 2,500 Flagstaff residents.

founders of Machine Solutions, which specializes in building manufacturing and testing equipment for catheter and medical device manufacturers. Kasprzyk was also one of the founders of Symple Surgical, which uses controlled microwave ablation as a groundbreaking therapy to treat Barrett’s esophagus.

TGen is also on the forefront of a brand new field in medicine – the human microbiome – the billions of microbial organisms that live in and on our bodies and are critical to our daily survival. TGen scientists are leading the way in understanding how our microbiome effects, and is affected by, various states of health, disease, and recovery.

Axolotl Biologix is a biotechnology leader in regenerative medicine. The meaning of the word Axolotl (pronounced “ax-uh-lot-ul”) refers to a Mexican salamander with remarkable regenerative properties. Not only can the axolotl regenerate limbs, but also jaw, spine, or even brain with no scarring. The axolotl salamander inspired the team in Flagstaff enough to pursue the development of such capabilities for people. Noted Dr. Robert S. Kellar, Chief Science Officer for Axolotl Biologix, “By using donated placentas from cesarean sections, a mother is celebrating new life with her newborn while Axolotl is able to harvest stem cells to be used to create a regenerative fluid to encourage repair and regeneration in people.” In June 2019, the General Services Administration (GSA) added the complete line of Axolotl Biologix products to the Federal Supply Schedule (FSS). This allows physicians and staff from federal agencies – including the Veterans Administration – access to their products for the repair and regeneration of damaged tissues. These innovative regenerative medical technologies, made in Phoenix, give patients more treatment options to avoid surgery and reduce the need for dangerous narcotics prescribed to reduce pain. Poba Medical specializes in angioplasty-style balloon and catheter development. Poba is the third business born from the entrepreneurial heart and mind of Dan Kasprzyk, one of the

the human genome to create solutions for better health. TGen North focuses on diagnostic, analytic, forensic, ecologic, and epidemiologic research of microbes important to medicine, public health, and biodefense. TGen North has been the lead on numerous local, national, and international infectious disease investigations, using “genomic epidemiology” to help public health and safety officials to stop and prevent disease outbreaks. TGen has developed the only FDA-approved genomic test for Valley Fever, and now leads a first-of-its-kind air monitoring system for the fungus. It has even initiated early drug and vaccine development work.

Back to Poba. Poba Medical provides stateside prototyping capabilities for balloon and catheter needs to biomedical pioneers. Companies looking to explore the possibilities of solution delivery systems through new configurations find Poba medical to be an exceptional partner in their processes and outcomes. An ISO 13485 certified company, Poba also sponsors engineering students at NAU. TGen North is the home of TGen’s Pathogen and Microbiome Division, led by Dr. David Engelthaler and Dr. Paul Keim. Short for “Translational Genomics Research Institute,” TGen works to translate their understanding of

W. L. Gore & Associates began manufacturing products in Flagstaff in 1967. Since then, their Flagstaff operations have transformed into a biomedical powerhouse and largest private employer in Northern Arizona, employing more than 2,300. The company focuses on medical device research, development, and manufacturing to improve the lives of patients worldwide. Known for their innovation and distinctive team culture, they work together with healthcare professionals to solve some of the most complex medical challenges with minimally invasive products for a wide range of patients. Gore Medical produces therapeutic solutions to treat complex vascular, cardiac, and general surgery medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, ischemic strokes, peripheral artery disease, and aortic aneurysms. Globally, W. L. Gore & Associates also provides solutions to a variety of consumer and industry needs ranging from GORE-TEX fabrics to cables, electronic components, fabrics, fibers, filtration devices, sealants, venting, pharmaceutical, and biopharmaceutical products. ■ FALL 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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Sting Like Sam Bee

Full Frontal Host Samantha Bee’s Mission to Save the World, One Joke at a Time By Anthony Elio

“Obviously, the temperature in politics could not be hotter, people are so angry on both sides of the aisle. But I do think it’s just been a really potent wake up call, almost like smelling salts.”

Turner Entertainment Networks, Inc/Eric Ray Davidson

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Photos courtesy of Zach Schiffman/Full Frontal/TBS

W

“What we did was the democratic equivalent of installing an above-ground pool. Even if we’re lucky and it doesn’t seep into our foundations, the neighbors will never look at us the same way again.” This was said by Samantha Bee on her first episode of Full Frontal following the 2016 United States presidential election. The quote itself shows not only Bee’s unique comedic style, but her ability to weave political commentary with humor, even over some of the more contentious topics. This style could be seen throughout Bee’s long run as a correspondent on The Daily Show, where she spent twelve years before stepping into the spotlight herself. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, which debuted on TBS on February 8, 2016 (exactly nine months before Election Day), has kept this theme throughout its run, with segments such as “Roe V. Wade V. Everyone,” “Full Frontal Investigates: Is This Racist Racist?,” and “Flippin’ Off the NRA” tackling topics such as abortion, racial inequality, and gun control. In addition to her often scathing segments, Bee has found numerous creative ways to inspire political passion, as seen with her app “This Is

Interestingly, Bee didn’t intend on hosting a show directly after her departure from The Daily Show, expecting to instead work on scripted comedy with her husband Jason Jones.

Not A Game: The Game,” an experience meant to boost voter turnout for the 2018 Midterm election. With Full Frontal going strong and another presidential election looming in the future, Bee has an exciting (if stressful) year ahead of her. The electric host opened up about this upcoming year, as well as everything from climate change denial to her unique take on the late night formula, in our conversation. Innovation & Tech Today: Full Frontal launched in early 2016, many months into the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. How would you describe this political roller coaster? Samantha Bee: It’s like a freight train that’s running off the track. It certainly was a really good time to launch a political satire show, particularly at the beginning of 2016 when in no world did anyone think that he was even going to get the nomination, let alone win the presidency. We had the opportunity to be more lighthearted and whimsical, if you will. And it’s still a great climate for doing political satire. There’s just so much to talk about.

We wish that we could not address such perilous subject matter all the time. It just feels like the stakes are very high, so we do our best with it and try to try it out. It’s definitely a comedy show for sure. The jokes are great, it’s just that the context is pretty terrible a lot of the time. I&T Today: Can it be difficult to find comedy in some of those darker topics? SB: For sure. It’s really difficult to find a path through that difficult subject matter. The writers do a great job. Melinda Taub, the head writer of the show, is really constantly wrestling with big ideas. We all are. We made this choice to do the show this way, and I think it’s the correct choice. But it involves a lot of really careful research and really getting into a bunch of heartwrenching stories and material. Trying to find a comedy path through stuff that would be untouchable. It should probably feel untouchable. But I honestly feel, particularly at this time in history, it’s very important to plant a flag in what’s right and what’s just. So having the gift of this platform, I think we have to use it. For as long as we have it, we should absolutely use it so we can look back on this time and think, “Okay, I’m on FALL 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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Sting Like Sam Bee All of these people with really cockamamie theories about things just have a super loud megaphone right now and it’s going to take a lot. We’re going to have to grab that megaphone away. Posthaste. I&T Today: Last year, Full Frontal sent one of your correspondents to the Youth Climate March and it was packed with all these really intelligent young people that are passionate about the climate. Does that give you hope for the future?

Photos courtesy of Zach Schiffman/Full Frontal/TBS

SB: Yeah. You do actually see that people, especially the young people, are still engaged with the issues right now. Obviously, the temperature in politics could not be hotter, people are so angry on both sides of the aisle. But I do think it’s just been a really potent wake up call, almost like smelling salts. And that does give me hope, because young people are super involved, incredibly motivated, doing things that I never would’ve thought to do when I was young. Really, they are inspiring great change and taking up the mantle of change, fully understanding how older people have f***ed up the world completely. They’re actually just really agitated, really committed, really vocal. They understand social media, understand the tools of change. Full Frontal features numerous sketches throughout the show, such as her audition for the film Cats (Above), her meditation routine ruined by reminders of climate change, and a comedic office tour where she yells at onlooking cubicle employees, “Get back in your holes!”

the right side of history, and I’m proud of the work that we did during a time of great distress.” I&T Today: I remember the 2017 Full Frontal episode that focused fully on climate change in particular, complete with an environmentally themed song by Ingrid Michaelson. Do you see yourself tackling that topic in another full episode again? SB: I think we probably will. Obviously, issues of climate change come up constantly around our office, something we discuss all the time. It’s an interesting subject matter to wrestle with because the issues are so huge and it’s so hard to find a comedy way in, for sure. It’s weird to say this, but as much as we tackle tough material, we always like to find a landing point that feels at least helpful or “Here’s the thing you can do” or “Here’s the statement that you can make” or “Here’s how you get on the

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right side of it.” We always like to have an action item if humanly possible. And so, climate change is something we wrestle with a lot of if you think about it. I’m sure we will one hundred percent cover it.

The messaging is great and you can really get it out there now. It’s really great. It does make me feel good about the future. I know that when I step back from public life, people will take up that mantle. I’m really proud of it. For my own part, I did get a hive of bees at my house and I’m trying to put pollinators back in the world. I feel like it’s very on brand, and I just love bees.

I&T Today: Why do you believe climate change denial is such a prevalent phenomenon?

I&T Today: The late night format has changed so much over time. How do you believe Full Frontal stands out in this crowded late night field?

SB: Well it’s in this administration in particular, but a lot of people in public service right now are climate deniers in general. There’s a real fear and loathing of expertise these days. There hasn’t always been, but those people never had a megaphone as big, or the power to change laws that they do right now. So really big sweeping changes are being made, departments are being gutted. There’s going to be so much work to do when this administration is pushed into the sea.

SB: Well there was no change for a long time. Like, it stayed the same for a really, really long time. Now it has kind of opened up. I think we do things differently. For one thing, we don’t have to interview people. There’s a huge component of those other types of shows that we’re not required to do or are interested in doing, and that gives us a lot of space to do stories the way that we want to do them. We’re also different from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver because we are in a commercial format, so


Sting Like Sam Bee

“Everything feels like someone tossed a Molotov cocktail into your room through the window of your social media.” Photos courtesy of Zach Schiffman/Full Frontal/TBS

we have breaks built into the show, so we have shorter segments with which to wrestle material. The perspective of my show is unique for sure. I don’t think there are enough women in this space by a million miles; I’m really disappointed there aren’t any other shows helmed by women right now. But I do think the perspective of the show is unique. The way that we attack difficult material is unique. The point of view that we take is very direct and I’m really proud of that. I think we produce a show that really is quite unflinching in our view of the world and the risks that we take and that’s the joy of doing the show, honestly. I really wouldn’t want to do it any other way, and we always have opportunities within that to make just stupid comedy. We did a trailer for the Cats movie last night. There’s no purpose to it. It was just fun for us and we loved it. I think it turned out really well. So we have opportunities to just do ridiculous things too. But I’m proud of the way that we wrestle with material and make comedy on it. Really proud. I&T Today: We’re roughly a year away from the 2020 election. What do you see happening in that time?

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SB: I don’t think that we’re at a great place. I don’t foresee it taking on a better tone. I don’t really have a great answer for this question. It’s really ugly out there in the trenches. People are duking it out online at a level that is so heightened and is so hot and angry. I don’t see it improving over the next year at all. I don’t know what’s going to happen. It feels terrifying to me. That’s not really a funny answer, but it’s scary. I don’t know, there’s anger in the air.

The thing about it that I always say to people, though, is it’s not unique to us because we work on a topical political satire show. This is a shared experience for people in the country who are politically active. This was like if you are a news person or you’re just even remotely aware of what’s happening in the news cycle, you’re probably feeling it too. They don’t really know what to do, you don’t really know what the answers are.

I really don’t know. I don’t have a clear picture in my head. I think I’m just like, honestly, I think I’m fumbling toward 2020 just like anybody else. Just deeply paying attention to anything. It’s not like any of us are geniuses at following it, you know? We just feel very caught there right now. We feel incendiary. Everything feels like someone tossed a Molotov cocktail into your room through the window of your social media. I guess it doesn’t take much to set people off. People are very divided within the Democratic Party, between the two parties, within the Republicans. Talking about it makes me want to go tuck myself under a tree and take a nap and totally Rip Van Winkle to December 2020.

I&T Today: I’d read that if you weren’t hosting Full Frontal, you’d be working on a foundation that benefits refugees. Is that still something you envision for the future? SB: Yeah, I think about a plan for myself, I think about what will happen when I’m no longer hosting a television show because there’ll be a lot of living for me left to do. And the experience of refugees is just an issue that really is of great interest to me. I think there are ways that I very specifically could be helpful and I would like to, I think that I will pursue that once this work is done and I have more time on the schedule. In the meantime, I try to use this show as a tool for getting stuff done. So that is very valuable. ■


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Kevin Smith:

How Jay and Silent Bob Changed His World The director escaped death and used his heart attack to power the cameo-infused Jay and Silent Bob Reboot film in theaters. By John Gaudiosi Photos courtesy of Kyle Kaplan Kevin Smith is lucky to be alive. On February 25, 2018, he suffered a massive heart attack commonly referred to as the “widowmaker” because of its grim survival rate. With only a 20-percent chance of living, Smith was conscious and talking to the doctors at Adventist Health Glendale as they performed an emergency angioplasty to save his life. And yet what Smith was thinking about on that operating table was that he’d never be able to film his next project, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. Thankfully, this story has a happy ending. Smith not only lived to tell this story and direct Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (in theaters October 15), he also completely changed his life and got healthy. With Jay and Silent Bob back on the big screen, Smith took some time to reminisce on just how crazy it is that these two characters have made him and Jason Mewes rich, taking on a life of their own over the last 25 years across all media forms (yes, there’s even a video game in development). Innovation & Tech Today: What’s the secret to getting so many A-listers to appear in your Jay and Silent Bob movies? Kevin Smith: It’s easy. You have to nearly die like I did. If I didn’t have a heart attack, we wouldn’t have gotten two-thirds of the cast we got. But as it stood, I could call up people and most people were like, “Oh it’s Kev. Okay, especially cause he’s sick.” And some people were like, “Oh man, I can’t make it down to New Orleans to shoot for one hour. I’m sorry.” And then I’d be like, “You do remember I almost died, right?” So I’d guilt people into showing up. And it worked so well that we have way more cameos in this film than we had in Jay and Silent

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Bob Strike Back. But you only get one of those, right? Unless I’m willing to have another heart attack when I’m about to make a movie, but I’d rather not. It was something really positive that came out of that whole affair. We got a really good cast for the movie. I&T Today: What do you think it is about Jay and Silent Bob that have stood the test of time and so many films? KS: I never would have guessed it. I always thought of a them as a low-rent Cheech and Chong or Laurel and Hardy. When I wrote Clerks, I wanted to put Jason Mewes in it because he’s a true American original. Long before I knew I wanted to make movies, I always thought Jason would be funny on the big screen. So years later when I figured out that I wanted to make a movie, I wrote Jason into it because I knew he’d be funny to people beyond our

hometown. Since he’s always talking, I wanted somebody to be with him. But I didn’t want him to get into a dialogue situation because the stuff Jason says is so unique. So I just stuck this dude next to him as his muscle… I&T Today: How did you end up as Silent Bob? KS: I didn’t intend to play that part. I was going to play Randall, which is why he has all the best jokes. But then as we got closer to production and I was like, “I can’t do it.” And so I found Jeff Anderson for Randall and I took Silent Bob because I didn’t have to memorize any dialogue. Since Jason had never acted before, I also wanted to be able to stand there and work with him and let him talk to me. I&T Today: When did you know you had something with these two?


ago, but he’s affable as hell. Everybody knows Jay even if you’ve never met him. And that’s what I’ve heard for years about these movies. They’re like, “I knew a guy just like Jay, man.” Everybody has a Jay in their life. And so that character travels a lot further. I don’t think as many people have a Silent Bob in their life. But they like his presence. They like the fact that he’s always there for his guy, that he’s got Jay’s back no matter what. I&T Today: How did you end up owning Jay and Silent Bob?

Jason Mewes (Right) and Kevin Smith (Left) are reprising their famous characters Jay and Silent Bob. This comes after Smith had a heart attack earlier this year, which he discusses in detail in the spring issue of Cannabis & Tech Today.

KS: It wasn’t until we got to Mallrats that the reaction from fans was like, “Oh, Jay and Bob are back!” These guys are now like a Cheech and Chong kind of pair. And I never dreamed we’d be regarded as such. Every movie team that I ever saw growing up from Laurel and Hardy to Abbott and Costello to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, they’re not the main story, but they’re there and they help support the story. I never dreamed that they would take on like a life of their own. Like, that’s nuts that these dopey characters achieved that.

Cheech and Chong were cool and broke ground and created a world where even I could then go on and one day make stoner movies like that. Bill and Ted had this cool time machine and could go pull figures from history. But Jay and Silent Bob never felt all that special. But it’s due to Jason’s originality because there’s nobody like him. He’s what carried that forward all this time. I keep putting the characters in movies, of course, but it’s his vitality, his personality that’s given it life for 25 years. It could have ended a long time

KS: The way we wound up owning Jay and Silent Bob is weird. And it shows you how little anyone thought of the characters. When we sold Clerks to Miramax, I told my lawyer that I had written Jay and Silent Bob into Dogma and Mallrats because if I write Jason into movies, he gets paid and he stops borrowing money from me. So my lawyer asked Miramax about these characters and they agreed to let us own them forever. The official position from Miramax was the movie’s called Clerks and it’s about the two clerks inside the store. Nobody gives a s*** about the guys outside the store, so they let us have them. And because of that, me and Jason have had an umbrella our entire life. We don’t have to ask somebody for permission if we can do anything with Jay and Silent Bob… And then it became this little empire where Jason and I have lived off for the last quarter of a century. I have a house, Jason has a house, our kids eat because of Jay and Silent Bob. ■ For Kevin Smith’s full interview, visit innotechtoday. com/kevin-smith FALL 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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Inside E3 2019

We spoke to exhibitors at E3 2019 about their experience at the convention and perspective on the world of game development.

Mel Kirk, Vice President of Publishing, Zen Studios E3 Showcase: Star Wars Pinball, Castle Storm 2, Pinball FX Championship Edition What have been the biggest changes to E3? Well, it depends on which year we are in the console cycle, but we like to introduce new, fresh stuff. There are always huge games at E3, but every once in a while, every four years, we have new platforms at E3. And next year is no exception. I mean, you’ve got Stadia coming online, you’ve got all the streaming stuff going on; Xbox Scarlet announced, everyone’s speculating about PlayStation, so the whole industry’s in transition right now, which makes for some of the most exciting E3s. Of course, you’ve got the huge games as well. So it’s just an exciting time right now. What are you showing off at E3? So at E3 this year, Zen Studios has announced a brand new game, Castle Storm 2. It’s a sequel to our 2013 hit, and it’s taking everything you love about Castle Storm and putting basically an entire strategy game on top of it. That’ll be coming out later this year. We are also showing some pinball. We have Star Wars Pinball coming to Nintendo Switch in September, and that is

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the first Star Wars game on Nintendo Switch. It’s going to be a retail release and a digital release, which is really exciting. And finally, we’re showing Pinball FX Championship Edition, which is this crazy-looking machine, and this is our location-based, physical pinball product. This is something I’m totally excited about, it’s been in the works for many years, and it’s really cool to be finally showing it off. Where do you see Zen Studios at E3 2020? So Zen Studios and E3 2020 is an interesting thing. When we were here back in 2013, I think that is the last time we had a meeting room and a formal presence. This year, we looked at the landscape and we thought that there was more space. You have other companies not here doing what they normally do and we thought that someone needs to fill that space and we think that Zen had enough interesting stuff to talk about or to show that we could come here and fill some space and be a part of the industry in this way. It is a challenge – E3 is for the big boys, there is no question – but we are definitely ramping up. If you look at what we are doing this year, the games we are working on, the releases that we are doing, it is definitely time for us to be here and to start fitting in a bigger way. That is why we are here. That is what we are accomplishing this year.


Wojciech Lekki, CEO, EXOR Studios E3 Showcase: The Rift Breaker How did you get into game development? The company has existed for 12 years now, but initially we started as a modding group with seven guys. The company was founded by seven partners and we kept growing. Currently, the company’s like twelve people; we started doing mobile games and then that turned into PC and console game development.

Well, we hope that it will appeal to the StarCraft players, Diablo players. More of a hardcore audience. It is definitely not the casual “match three” game. What should we expect from EXOR Studios at E3 2020? Well, the game is scheduled for release in the second half of 2020. So we’ve got a lot of work to do still on the game. We’ve been developing the game for more than a year right now and we will be adding a lot of different biomes like deserts, lava fields, all kinds of different weapons to the game like flame

What kind of player would love The Riftbreaker?

throwers, different melee weapons. So still a lot of work ahead of us.

Jin Chan, Creative Director, Vanimals/Giant Games

That’s how we ended up with this idea. We thought that having this story of a mother and son would really ground our game in a unique perspective.

E3 Showcase: Undying What got you into game development? I have always loved games. I’m a really creative person; I draw comics as well. I want to be a creator, whether that’s in animation, games, or comics. My main focus, originally, was in comics. But I think the comics industry is really tough. So I ended up studying game design, game development, and 3D art, and then that led me to the path of actually working in the games industry. Where did the idea for Undying come from? The main idea was from Kun, who is the founder of Vanimals, and the main director on this game. He just loves zombie worlds. He loves The Walking Dead. Anything with zombies, he’s a sucker for it, so he wanted to make a zombie game. The previous game we worked on was a game called Eternity Warriors VR, Which is a VR action game, like Devil May Cry but in VR. He wanted to do something with less crazy action, and more with an emotional story to it.

What does the next generation of developers need? Patience and drive, basically. You have to really, really want it. For me, I started off in Australia. Once I finished my game development degree, I looked everywhere in Australia and I couldn’t find what I wanted. Instead of just giving up there, I just said I’m going to go to China. I can speak Chinese, I’ve had experience there. When I went there, I initially went there as an English teacher, because it was easier for me to get a visa. And I just kept going. I went to industry meets and stuff like that. How I ended up at this studio was because I interviewed for another studio, and they didn’t accept me, but their HR person knows the boss here. He was like, “I’m looking for somebody with Western experience, and can speak English.” And she’s like, “I know the guy.” And so we connected that way. So you’ve just got to really keep pushing yourself out there. You can’t expect things to fall into your lap, I think that’s the main thing. ■ FALL 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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COVER STORY

The Curious World of

Jeff Goldblum The generation-spanning star allows viewers to see the world through his eyes in his upcoming show on Disney+. By Alex Moersen

Within minutes of talking, Jeff Goldblum’s curiosity shone. Before I even got one question off, he began asking questions about my surname; how to pronounce it, what were its origins, etc. This is what it is like to spend time with Goldblum. One thought leads to another, one question to the next, sometimes related, sometimes not. For aspiring conversationalists, look no further than the man who has spanned generations of stardom. From 1986’s The Fly and 1993’s Jurassic Park to more recent appearances in Thor: Ragnarok and Isle of Dogs, Goldblum is a household name for people of all ages. His unique and charming demeanor, child-like sense of wonder, and decades of prominence created the perfect formula for The World According to Jeff Goldblum, a collaboration with National Geographic that will ring in Disney’s newest streaming platform. Each episode, by meeting the experts and learning about the history and technology, Goldblum explores indepth the things that he is naturally curious about: ice cream, sneakers, tattoos, denim, BBQ, gaming, bikes, coffee, pools, cosmetics, and jewelry. If you think these topics benign, then you might want to try seeing them through the curious eyes of Jeff Goldblum. In this exclusive interview, he details his favorite moments filming the series, where his natural curiosity comes from, and the coolest things he learned from filming. Innovation & Tech Today: How did The World According to Jeff Goldblum come together? Jeff Goldblum: They had – it was a couple of years ago now probably – that show for National Geographic on their network called Explorer, and they were fiddling with the format of that. They had several different people, from what I gather, host a few episodes, in my case, three episodes. I had a good time on that and I think some of the same people that were involved got this idea afterwards: “Hey, maybe Jeff and we should do something else.” And we started to talk about it. It sort of just got creative, by and by, and we started to find our way, and figure out what I could do, or what we wanted to do, and it just sort of found itself. National Geographic/Eric McCandless

FALL 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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The Curious World of Jeff Goldblum are probably not the first thing you think of for barbecue. We went to San Francisco; oh boy, that was tattoos. Very interesting and unexpected. I’d never heard of this aspect of this variation of tattoos before. Then still up in San Francisco, the Levi’s Center, and then Seymour, Texas. I’d never heard of Seymour, Texas, but I found myself on a cattle ranch there.

National Geographic/Martin Klimek

I kept saying to everybody around me on the crew, when would I ever get a chance to be here and be doing this? The answer was probably not ever, except for this show. I&T Today: You really covered the whole country! JG: Oh my gosh. Detroit we went to. Elkhart, Indiana, I’d never been before. Oh boy, I went to a wedding, but I can’t tell you why. I shouldn’t tell you what episode that went along with. Hey, we just got back from New Orleans. I’ve never really hung around the French quarter. I&T Today: Well, you’re a jazz musician so that must have been especially cool.

National Geographic/George Lange

JG: It was spectacular. I didn’t get a chance to see much; we kept our shoulders to the wheels there, nose to the grindstone. Is that the term? I think so. Hey, our new album comes out November 1st! Throughout shooting, Goldblum visited a variety of places, everything from athletic testing labs to tattoo conventions.

How about that? Then we’ve been filming for the last, I don’t know, six months or something like that. We finished – guess what – yesterday, last night! Yesterday was our final shooting day. I still have some voiceovers to do, but we’ve done all the on-camera stuff now. I&T Today: Did you have a favorite episode to film? JG: I loved them all. We went all over the country, and as you saw, they set me up with unexpected events and people; but boy, I had a good time. We went to Cleveland for that sneaker convention. We went to Las Vegas for [Nostalgia Con] that you saw in the “Ice Cream” episode, and you saw where we went to Portland for that

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wonderful guy, Tyler Malick. Then also Portland, you saw Paul Francis at the Adidas place. How about that? If you didn’t see the “Tattoo” [episode], I probably shouldn’t give everything away, but we went to Hawaii and met these people for tattoos. Also Baltimore we went to – wow, I’d never been to Baltimore. I’d never been to Burlington, Vermont, where we went to meet Ben and Jerry. Oh for Denim, we went to an old place where abandoned mine shafts are. I shouldn’t give away what happened there, but that was related to denim. For barbecuing, we stayed here in LA. Then we went to Austin, Texas. Oh boy, barbecue, oh boy. I shouldn’t even tell you, but we saw some things that we could barbecue that

Then we went to Houston. Oh boy. I met those people from NASA. That was a dream come true. I won’t even tell you which episode they had to do with, but NASA, that was something. So, that’s some of the places. How about that? It’s been an amazing six months. One of the more amazing summers of my life, I’ll tell you. Then yesterday, that was our last day, I won’t tell you exactly what we did, but my wife and two kids – my four year old boy, Charlie, and our two year old boy, River – took part in some of the filming, believe it or not. We were very careful not to exploit them. They hardly knew that they were being filmed I think, but they had a good time. I&T Today: It may be premature, but if a season two comes along, is there a new topic that you’re itching to explore? JG: Well, I’m appetized by very, very many things in the curiosity file, and I can imagine


COVER STORY

National Geographic/George Lange

“Many things have been done on all these [subjects], but we seem to go off of the beaten path and find some left turns to  take and unexpected places where my interests may lie.”

doing a whole bunch more. It is premature because nobody’s said that we’re going to do any more, but I think it might be very exciting to. I can think of several things. Let me see. Somebody was talking about the World of Magic, so that might be interesting. Many things have been done on all these [subjects], but we seem to go off of the beaten path and find some left turns to take and unexpected places where my interests may lie. So, that could be interesting. There are a whole bunch of things we could do on that. I&T Today: You came across a number of different technologies that are driving and revolutionizing these industries. Was there one piece of technology in particular that blew your mind? JG: That is so interesting. Well, you can imagine. We went to NASA, like I said. I met a lot of interesting people, including a couple of astronauts who are currently in training, and a couple of others who have been in space a few times. Then, believe it or not, I was on a call from the Space Station, and there’s a guy up

there named Mark Vande Hei. The connection was very clear, and I had a little conversation with him. How about that? Then there’s an aspect of tattoos where, and you’ll see in the show whereby, all sorts of systems within our bodies can get monitored, and even so-called hacked, by the people who may have your best wishes at heart, or not. As I’ve been reading, it was through this series that my interest was sparked, so while we were shooting I read all three of those books by Yuval Harari – Sapiens, Homo Deus, and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century – and he talks a lot about all sorts of things. Technology and the upcoming technological disruption, he calls it, where there’s an intersection of biotech and AI, and all the possibilities, and challenges, and risks that we may be facing. So interesting. So interesting … What a moment we find ourselves in, right now particularly. I&T Today: Have you always had this interest in science? Do you try to stay up-todate on the latest in science and technology? JG: Well, there’s so much to keep up on. You

can pick one avenue or another and start to investigate, but I was always more a performing arts and creative type, although I made good grades in school. But my dad was a doctor, and he was always a good science student and practitioner, and always kept upgrading, staying current with his resources, and was always excited when I asked a question about science. Then of course I’ve played Jim Watson, who discovered DNA, along with Francis Crick, and I’ve run into the real James Watson over the years. The last time was a couple of years ago on a cruise, as a matter of fact. So, we’ve been in touch. He’s getting older now. I think maybe in case it was the last time we saw each other, he said, “You know, I never wanted you to play me in that movie.” I said, “Wow, really?” I said, “So sorry. Why not if I may ask?” He said, “You know who I wanted to play me is John McEnroe.” I said, “Really? Oh, okay. Well, sorry. There you go.” Then that’s what I told [screenwriter] Tom Stoppard. He said, “Well I think he may have meant John MalKovich.” So, I went back to Dr. Watson, and I said, “Did you mean John FALL 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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COVER STORY

The Curious World of Jeff Goldblum

National Geographic/Eric McCandless

National Geographic/George Lange

something that all sorts of their bodies have to reacclimate in all sorts of ways, but the men, they got something with their retina that has happened, and never the left retina, it’s always the right one. The right male retina and he starts describing some condition and nobody knows why it happens. They’re investigating it now, but he thinks we’re in the same sort of set of circumstances as the sailors when they were just exploring the world, when they discovered, all these sailors were getting scurvy and nobody identified why. They didn’t know at that time even what vitamin C was or anything. They then of course started to suck on limes, and this and that. They fixed it, but they discovered it only after the fact. He says, “I think we’re set to discover all sorts of things about the human body based on these little things that happen as a result of being up there.” Isn’t that something? I&T Today: You’ve been in movies, you have your own TV show, you’re a jazz musician. What’s next for Jeff Goldblum? Stills from the “Tattoos” (Top) and “Pools” episodes (Bottom).

MalKovich?” He says, “No, I meant John McEnroe. You know, they had that scene,” and I hadn’t remembered it, “where you played me playing tennis as a young man, and I think he would’ve been much better at that.” I said, “Oh, I see what you mean. Yeah, I’m sure he would’ve.” Anyway, I played that part, and I did my due diligence when I played that part. I investigated it as much as I could. Likewise, amalgam, and chaos theory, and even the teleporter I’ve had to study for many other parts here and there, and so I have gotten interested in science and like to keep talking about it. I was on the show by Neil deGrasse Tyson this last year. Another NatGeo show. We had a fascinating – at least it was fascinating to me – hour long conversation on camera that I really enjoyed. I&T Today: In one of the episodes, you talk about how you have this child-like sense of wonder. Where do you think that comes from for you? JG: Well, that’s a good question. I think it’s kind of natural maybe in all of us. I see my kids and they’ve got not only ecstatic joy at their

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fingertips, often worn on their sleeves, but their curiosity and their sense of wonderment is right there too. I think picking something like acting, which I was passionate about from the start, and devoting my life to that over the last few decades has kept me feeling vigorous, vital, vibrantly curious, interested in all manner of things, you know? Now, having these kids, I must say, it is sort of a spectacular kind of rebirth and happening at the same time is this show too, which you know feeds into my curiosities. I do feel chipper and full of vitamin A. I&T Today: As you were diving into these 12 episodes, was there one fun fact or tidbit of information that really stuck with you? JG: Whoa. Well, I’ll tell you something. I had a nice talk with one of the astronauts who’s been up [in space], and he said that after being up for awhile, it was like six months in a space station or something, he said, and many people have been up there for an extended period of time. Astronauts – not the women who were up there, but only the males – come back and they have

JG: Just finishing this show as of yesterday, I’m still sort of buzzing with the overstimulation I had with the kids and everything, and our album coming out right around the same time. So, my plate feels full, but my appetite is inflamed. This movie came out this last month, called The Mountain, Rick Alverson directed it. I play a guy, based on the real guy, Walter Freeman, who introduced the lobotomy to North America in the 40s, 50s. That was fascinating. I learned as much as I could about that. So, now I’ve got a couple of new movies that I can’t formally talk about, because they’re on the slate for this next year. So, I’m really interested in that. It just seems to be a fertile period now and I’m happy with everything that’s happened. If nothing were to happen from this point on, I think I’d be satisfied. Although, having said that, I’m more eager than ever to plow forward. I&T Today: This final question was asked by one of our readers. If you could bring one piece of science or technology from any of your movies into reality, what would it be? JG: That is interesting. Well, teleportation would be fun I suppose. No TSA pre-check or anything like that, you just get in the machine and bingo, you’re at the Cannes Film Festival. ■


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tech zone

ARIZONA

ARIZONA: The Nation’s Hottest Tech Zone Written and Compiled by Robert Yehling Whatever your perception of Arizona – hot desert, Arizona Highways, retirement communities, Native peoples, rattlesnakes, the Grand Canyon – think again. All of these are true, yes, but a business boom has transformed The Grand Canyon State into the nation’s fastest-growing economic force. Since 2010, the state’s population has added one million people to now sit at nearly 7.3 million. Its largest county, Maricopa, is the nation’s fastest growing in both population and business. Furthermore, the workforce driving the state’s many industries is young, the opposite of how Arizona is traditionally seen. In Tempe, home to the nation’s largest university, Arizona State, the median age is 28.1 years. Statewide, that number is 37.4. “If you look at sheer growth, we’re growing at one million people per decade, a trend that is expected to continue,” says Chris Camacho, Executive Director of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC). “Our standard statewide business is augmented by tech, IT, software, manufacturing, and financial services, creating opportunity for young people educated here to access the job market. Our young, educated workers not only grow up in this market, but they want to stay here. “When a region gets hot, it becomes really contagious. That’s what we’re experiencing now,” he added. How diverse has Arizona become? Besides its long-held position in aerospace and defense (1,200 such companies in the state), Arizona is a driving force in numerous tech, new tech, biosciences, advanced manufacturing sectors, and more.

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PRESENTED BY

Population Ranks (AZ Commerce Assn., 2018): Phoenix – 1,660,272 Tucson – 545,975 Mesa – 508,958 Chandler – 257,165 Scottsdale – 255,310 Glendale – 250,702 Gilbert – 248,729 Tempe – 192,364 Peoria – 172,259 Surprise – 138,161

“Our state consistently leads the nation in establishing policies and initiatives that advance innovation,” says Arizona Commerce Association director Sandra Watson, “such as embracing the sharing economy, creating sandbox programs for the testing of new financial products and property technologies, and laying the foundation for 5G deployment. “This forward-thinking approach to innovation has propelled our state to the top of the list of locations for business success. We’re drawing visionary entrepreneurs and industry-leading companies from all over the world that are at the forefront of cutting-edge technologies including automated mobility, blockchain, the internet of things, and artificial intelligence,” Watson adds.

(SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, Estimates of Resident Population, July 1, 2018)

Employment by Industry: Trade, Transportation & Utilities – 18.5% Education & Health Services – 15.4% Professional & Business Services – 14.9% Government – 14.4% Leisure-Hospitality – 11.3% Financial Activities – 7.6% Manufacturing – 5.9% Construction – 5.5% Other Services – 3.2% Information – 1.6% Military – 1.2% Mining/Resources – 0.5% (SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018)

Highest Labor Force Participation, By Age Group 35-44 – 79.3% 25-29 – 79.2% 30-34 – 78.6% 45-54 – 75.0% 20-24 – 74.7% (SOURCE: U.S. Census 2017 ACS 5-Year History)

Low costs reign supreme statewide, especially for businesses and employees transplanting from high-tax, high-regulation states. From low taxes to favorable regulatory policies to relatively low housing and living costs, Arizona is a prime location. Factor in 300+ days of sunshine per year, and it gets even better. “When you look at what it costs to be on Central Ave. in Phoenix, it’s just a fraction of Silicon Valley,” Arizona Department of Economic Development Director Joyce Grossman says. “We have a great labor pool, the collaboration with ASU, housing affordability, airports near every major region, with tech at the center of this – and quality jobs tied to all of this.” GPEC is a sterling example of setting up a collective plan to feed an entire region – in this case, the 22 cities of Maricopa County (Phoenix is the county seat). GPEC receives requests or intentions from organizations looking to relocate, or build new offices or operations in the area. Camacho and his 28-member team put out calls to the cities, match responses to infrastructure and real estate resources, and connect organizations to their new locations. What they find is a young, highly skilled workforce versed in technology and manufacturing, old and new – and ready to make their difference. That goes for all the other regional tech zones featured in this special look: Greater Phoenix, Tempe, Tucson, Flagstaff, Mesa, and neighboring Pinal County. We also visit two of the state’s biggest collaborators and coordinators, Arizona State University and GPEC. “There’s a big pride factor in the state. The cities, their mayors, and economic development staffs have developed their own identities, which gives us as a menu of options for companies moving in,” GPEC’s Camacho says. ■ FALL 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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tech zone

ARIZONA

PRESENTED BY

A Driving Force Behind the Greater Phoenix Business Boom

Greater Together. These two words standing alone might not seem like much, but to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), they fuel transformation.

While business attraction is a cornerstone of GPEC’s operation, they are also committed to enhancing the competitiveness of the region. But they’re not doing it alone.

GPEC was founded 30 years ago on the foundation of regionalism, collaboration, connectedness, and innovation. Through collaboration of the region’s 22 cities and towns, Maricopa County and countless community partners, Greater Phoenix has become a force to be reckoned with.

“Representing 22 cities and Maricopa County, GPEC is a one-stop model for companies looking to relocate or do business in Greater Phoenix,” Camacho said. “When someone contacts our team about an expansion or relocation, we’ll provide a project scope to the cities, and interested communities will respond when they have the infrastructure and real estate

During Chris Camacho’s tenure as President and CEO of GPEC, he has seen the evolution of the region firsthand. Since 2010, Greater Phoenix has emerged as a model location for emerging technologies, including cybersecurity, blockchain, wearables, and autonomous vehicles. The region has also become increasingly attractive as a location for financial services, healthcare, and healthcare tourism. “Tech companies are evaluating locations where they can cost-optimize, access labor pools, and scale,” says Camacho. “Today, business expansion is about more than cost optimization, it’s about community building and quality of life. The companies we work with come to the table with broad sweeping questions about the market. They’re asking about our regional ethos and how they can partner with initiatives that matter to residents.”

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2019

available. We then coordinate a regional response and work with the state for additional resources. We’re continuously evaluating and strengthening the drivers of a competitive global region,” he added. A three-time recipient of the Mac Conway Award for Excellence in Economic Development by Site Selection magazine, GPEC serves as point of contact for businesses from around the world seeking to relocate to Greater Phoenix. When your economic development group has drawn more than (Continued on page 92)


tech zone

ARIZONA

PRESENTED BY

Finding the Perfect Fit: Innovation Zones at ASU

Collaborations between universities and businesses are nothing new. Neither are companies and academia joining hands on employee training or co-created curricula. However, what the Innovation Zones at Arizona State University have achieved borders on the remarkable. Scratch that: it is remarkable.

understand there is no one-size-fits-all approach to designing spaces where companies can thrive, grow and flourish. Our unique approach to partnering with corporates is to work in a symbiotic manner to ensure that we find the perfect fit.”

Innovation Zones at ASU are comprised of six distinct Greater Phoenix locations that offer companies of all sizes, from Fortune 500 to startups, the opportunity to partner with Arizona State University, a global leader in innovation.

“We create our Innovation Zones for companies to come in, interface and collaborate with our students, faculty, and researchers, and grow their businesses,” Managing Director Todd Hardy added. “We expose students to companies as a benefit of being part of the ASU ecosystem. You might have your future employees right there, ready to work with you.”

“ASU is actively reimagining the role of universities embedded in their surrounding communities by driving research, education, and workforce and economic development,” said Sethuraman Panchanathan, executive vice president of the Knowledge Enterprise and chief research and innovation officer at ASU. “We

ASU is a mighty force in Greater Phoenix, the nation’s fastest-growing business and technology region. The student body stands at more than 110,000 on-campus and online students, making ASU the nation’s largest university. It has also been named the nation’s most innovative school four years in a row by U.S.

News & World Report, ranking above MIT and Stanford. Nearly 90 percent of ASU graduates receive job offers within 90 days of graduation. ASU feeds Greater Phoenix’s collaboration with incoming and homegrown businesses. The Innovation Zones spread across six different locations in the valley on land owned by the state or city. ASU does not develop them, but is deeply involved in every phase. Space may be devoted to offices and manufacturing, university programs and research, and other commercial and community services. “The relationships we’re building give corporate partners opportunities and help students,” Hardy said. “They work on research projects and learn about the related industry before they graduate, receive internships, and companies can ‘test-drive’ students before hiring them. Our graduates enter the workforce with real-world experience.” (Continued on page 92)

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Location. Location. Innovation.

Welcome to Innovation Zones at ASU, a portfolio of co-location offerings at Arizona State University — named the country’s most innovative university by U.S. News & World Report. Companies benefit from direct connections with ASU students, world-renowned research, and nationally leading programs in engineering, bioscience, business, cybersecurity, health care and more. You’ll be surrounded by Fortune 500 companies as well as dozens of innovative startups. ASU offers you both location and innovation. View locations at innovationzones.asu.edu.


tech zone

ARIZONA

PRESENTED BY

Mesa’s Launch from Aerospace to All Things Tech

A few tech and manufacturing faces of Mesa (L-R): Sprawling campuses, Economic Development Director William Jabjiniak, biosciences, semiconductors, and the AH-64 Apache helicopter.

You could say the city of Mesa, Arizona enjoyed a great July. It went something like this: • July 1: Google announces a $1 billion investment project – the fourth Fortune 500 company to establish a strong presence in the city. • July 8: The city announces a 1.35 million square foot development to add badly needed Class A office space. The first tenant, WayWorks, leases 150,000 sq. ft. and announces it will provide 1,000 new jobs. • July 25: Another Fortune 50 company, AT&T, a presence in Mesa for 25 years, announces a $7.6 million investment that will add 500 jobs. Most cities would consider this a six-month, or even a year-long, period. Economic Development Director William Jabjiniak sees it as the latest in years of big business and technology gains, with plenty of work ahead for a city that has long been a vital base of operations for Boeing, Northrop-Grumman, Textron Aviation and other aerospace industry titans. “Mesa has always been strong in aerospace,” he said. “Now as we build on that strength, how do we merge technology with aerospace, bring in new forms of technology, and take advantage of innovations in healthcare, and so forth? We feel we’ve got a strong story to tell, but anytime you

can bring these Fortune 50 companies to light within your community, it tells a bigger and better story.” Spurred by constant new business and tech development, and the corresponding growth of office, industrial, and tech parks – plus wellplanned home developments – Mesa grew by 10,000 people in 2018 to its current population of 511,000. Jabjiniak projected it will grow by an average of 8,000 people annually through the mid-2020s. The city’s advantages are great. The sun shines 320 days per year, guaranteeing great outdoor testing conditions. Two major airports service the city, with more and more office, manufacturing, and tech space blossoming around them. At 140 square miles, a huge space, Mesa still has plenty of room to grow. Mesa is racing ahead into the 2020s with an eye on the young and future workforce. “The number one issue when you grow like this – where’s the workforce coming from?” Jabjiniak said. “The city has partnered with Arizona State to respond to this. We’re working with ASU on adding a downtown campus in Mesa that links directly to ASU’s main campus in Tempe. They’re going to build a $63 million facility to deliver tech programs – augmented reality, artificial intelligence with 3D design, virtual reality, medical, and aerospace. “We’re really focusing on young people by

cultivating and advancing new technologies, and entrepreneurship through LaunchPoint, our business incubator/accelerator. One company, Urbix Resources, came in with local roots, took space here, and has raised more than $3 million in funding.” One project tying together all priorities is an old Air Force research lab, now Arizona Laboratories for Security & Defense Research. AZ Labs is not a typical research lab, nor open to the public. The cybersecurity training and capability development lab is highly classified, using the same type of SCIF rooms used to view classified documents in the Pentagon. They also work with sensitive contracts, research and engineering projects, prototype evaluations, experiments, and much more. “We now can partner with educational institutions, large and active with their own cyber areas,” Jabjiniak said. “We can provide a trained workforce. We offer hands-on training to be used by companies and the world… there are so many unfilled positions in cybersecurity, and such a need. We’re inviting educational institutions to partner with the city in this secure environment.” The city’s presence is growing in multiple tech and business sectors, from driverless cars to wearables, next-gen aerospace to education, VR and AI to new technologies to advanced manufacturing. “We continue to get involved in (Continued on page 92)

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This is Flagstaff

PLA NET RIDE R FL AG STAF F LU NA R LEGACY Photo credit: USG S

photo P45, F96 547c

AXOL OT L BI OL OG IX POBA M E D IC A L

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tech zone

ARIZONA

PRESENTED BY

The Mother Road of Innovation Runs through Flagstaff By John Saltonstall

Flagstaff’s formidable presence in aerospace and manufacturing goes back to the Apollo era – but the city is rocketing forward with greater innovation in biosciences and transportation to create a major tech zone in Northern Arizona.

In Flagstaff, Arizona, Route 66 is still home to innovation. Whether you’re hitting the road, navigating the skies, or shooting for the moon, you will find technology in Flagstaff to get you there and back. Let’s dive right in by spotlighting a few highly innovative companies doing business today along the Route 66 corridor, in the heart of Grand Canyon Country and the Francisco Mountains: The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing is being celebrated around the country this year, and especially in Flagstaff. Every astronaut who stepped on the moon first set foot in Flagstaff, a great feat for the city. (In fact, the idea for the Clint Eastwood movie Space Cowboys first came from Apollo astronauts wearing cowboy hats to shield themselves from the plentiful sunshine during training.) As the first International Dark Skies Community, Flagstaff is an ideal location for all things astronomy. The Naval Observatory, Lowell Observatory, and 4.3meter Discovery Channel Telescope make Flagstaff home, as do the USGS (United Stated Geological Survey) and their astrogeology programs. In addition to the dark skies, the surrounding cinder cones made Flagstaff the ideal landscape to practice lunar travel. A couple of Flagstaff ’s forward-thinking

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companies celebrate the spirit of new transportation. Planet Riders are hybrid human/electric vehicles powered by the driver and innovative electric motor technology. They take you from home to work, school, or the grocery store and back. You can pedal for some exercise, then ride the rest. Fully enclosed, 2-axis tilt, lightweight battery, extra-compact parking footprint, and freeway capability are just a couple of the features that make Planet Rider a revolutionary indoor/outdoor way to travel. Novakinetics Aerosystems is an AS9100 certified company that creates custom solutions for aircraft systems. Design, engineering, and production occur in Flagstaff to produce high quality composites, aircraft seats, and ballistic protection systems, the latter in partnership with sister company Kinetic Defense. Another company, ATC Materials, delivers niche market expertise by developing ceramic and composite RF (Radio Frequency) materials. ATC Materials perfected the production of advanced ceramics manufacturing as it relates to extreme environments. These two companies have collaborated to develop a radome that is 94 percent efficient at allowing specific radio frequencies to pass in and out. What is a radome? A structural, weatherproof enclosure effectively transparent

to radio waves, with some type of antenna array behind it. This is critical when it comes to air travel for planes, rockets, missiles, re-entry vehicles, and satellites. All of this innovation is being developed in Flagstaff. Flagstaff remains a launching pad for future innovations. As NASA develops their nextgeneration space suits for orbital, lunar, and Martian exploration, NASA scientists and engineers move through astronaut classes at the USGS in Flagstaff. Such trainings help the space suit design engineers know how future astronauts will need to move to conduct geological studies and build habitats on the Moon and Mars. ATC has been developing a new composite material for use in space-based phased array antennas – a steerable antenna with no moving parts. This material, among others, is currently aboard the International Space Station as part of the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) program, which studies the effect of the space environment on materials. Innovation is everywhere! Take the Mother Road to the City of Innovation. Visit. Discover. Grow. Flagstaff, Arizona. ■ JOHN SALTONSTALL is the Business Retention and Expansion Manager, Economic Vitality Division, for the City of Flagstaff.


INTRODUCING MESA, ARIZONA:

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Consider City of Mesa for your corporate expansion or relocation. Mesa is a global hub for aerospace, defense, medical technology, semiconductor, and cyber security companies, including some of the world’s biggest players in technology and innovation. Employers enjoy a large, skilled workforce; low operating costs; abundant land; and a business-friendly community. Visit us online and tell us about your project. MESAAZTECHNOLOGY.COM


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Tucson: From the Wild West to High-Impact Innovation

The Wild West spirit remains alive and well in Tucson. It’s no longer like that portrayed by the many Westerns shot at Old Tucson Studios or nearby Tombstone. The spirit now draws people from entirely different walks: the ever-evolving technology-industry-business community; and the rich arts and cultural side. “I’ve worked at places that do not have what Tucson has – arts, culture, diversity, history, and openness; all of this makes business development easy,” Economic Initiatives Director Barbra Coffee said. “It’s certainly an exciting time to be in Tucson. We have an emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem, and the organizations who have done their groundwork to create it over the years are hitting their stride.” Defense contractor Raytheon, meet autonomous trucking company TuSimple. That’s how it is in this metro area of one million-plus, rimmed by the Catalina Mountains and encompassing much of Saguaro National Park. Speaking of TuSimple, autonomous trucking is one of the new industries calling Tucson home. TuSimple is testing autonomous (driverless) and

assisted-driver longbed trucks on Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson. They have forged a workforce development partnership with Pima Community College to create one of the first autonomous trucking certificates in the country. That’s not all. The three biggest community colleges in Arizona – Pima, Maricopa, and Central Arizona – are partnering on a shared curriculum for automated manufacturing, such as robotics and 3D printing. “The courses are offering more standardized training to use in places like Raytheon, Boeing, Caid … Now, their skills will translate right into these workplaces,” Coffee said. Here’s a deeper look at Tucson’s highly innovative deep dive into technology, advanced manufacturing, education-fueled initiatives, and workforce development: • With three huge projects in various stages of approval between Tucson and Phoenix, including the huge Rosemont Copper Project, there’s a new emphasis on advanced mining technology. Caterpillar has moved its global mining and technology headquarters to the area.

Various mining concerns are utilizing the most innovative equipment and practices in the world. • The photonic optical industry (mirrors, lenses, telescopes, cameras) has a vibrant home in Tucson. An astronomy haven, Tucson is part of Optics Valley, so coined by the Arizona Technology Council. Among other things, the University of Arizona is now building the world’s largest telescope. Also, Tucson-based Freefall Moving Data was recently featured in Wired magazine for its innovative, inflatable Terahertz Space Telescope, which resembles a beach ball. The 25-meter telescope is the brainchild of longtime UA astronomy professor Chris Walker, who first sent the idea to NASA Advanced Aerospace Concepts in 1989. • Pima Community College’s nationally recognized Aviation Technology Program has received $15 million to create the PCC Aviation Center, the state’s only maintenance and repair training facility for large transport commercial aircraft. It will break ground this fall and welcome new students in Fall 2020. (Continued on page 93)

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LIVE YOUR LIFE

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Tempe... Your workforce will love it here. INNOVATION AS A WAY OF LIFE MORE THAN 200,000 JOBS ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY

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Welcome to Tempe, Arizona: a creative community of changemakers, inuencers and pathnders in the center of the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area. tempe.gov/EconomicDevelopment Economic Development Director Donna_Kennedy@tempe.gov 480-858-2395


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Pinal County: Mining a New Workforce – and Economy

There’s a good reason entrepreneurs find Pinal County attractive, as the area offers economic incentive programs such as their pollution control tax Credit and commercial/industrial solar energy tax incentives program.

Over the years, Pinal County stood by as the two metropolises that sandwich it, Phoenix and Tucson, expanded along the I-10 corridor. While workers, tourists, and residents drove the two hours from Maricopa County’s business megacenter to Pima County’s economic power source, Pinal County wondered when the time would come to jump beyond its mining and agriculture roots.

It’s not surprising there would be spillover from Maricopa and Pima Counties, given the red-hot business growth climate. However, Pinal County has cashed in its chips by widening the county’s business profile. A few examples:

• Also in Casa Grande, European motorsports comes to the desert with the Attesa Motorsports Complex, a $4 billion project bringing hundreds of jobs. Drivers will race Formula 1, motorcycles, and trackside rallies.

• Republic Plastics, a plastic joists and foam company, relocated to Ely to tap into more available workforce.

Well, it’s here – with a flourish. Growth has arrived with a dynamic new economic development department, businesses and residents migrating out of more crowded and expensive climes, and an all-out workforce expansion.

• Severtson Screens, a global movie screens manufacturer, is relocating from Mesa to San Tan Valley for added space – a multimillion dollar construction project. Severtson builds everything from most IMAX and movie theatre screens to the screens for aircraft flight simulators.

• There are also nice community touches. In the desert mountain hamlet of Oracle, 3C Guest Ranch completed a $3 million remodel for its Old West theme. Also in Oracle, Arizona Zipline Adventures has expanded from 10 to 45 employees during its first four years.

“We’re on everyone’s radar,” Pinal County Economic Development Dept. PR director Joe Pyritz said. “We’ve become such a huge blip that Pima County is working with us as a region, not as two separate counties. We realize with companies like Nikola Motors and Lucid Motors that Pinal County doesn’t have the available workforce; through our partnerships, we can bring an outside workforce.”

• Two autonomous vehicle manufacturers, Case New Holland (driverless tractors and farm equipment) and Lucid (autonomous cars), are in the area. Lucid’s investment is $1 billion. • A BioGas facility has opened in Casa Grande, an $80 million complex expected to eventually employ 10,000.

How does Pinal County get the workers for these operations with much of their homegrown workforce already stretched out? “Through the state, we have a program called Pinal County@Work. Its sole focus is bringing in the workforce and getting jobs into the county,” Pyritz said. “We do job fairs, educational seminars, and studies on where people are coming from. With this, [Economic Development Director] Tim [Kanavel] can call and say, ‘BioGas needs 10,000 workers.’ They find the workers. (Continued on page 93)

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BUSINESS • COMMUNITY • TECH TUCSON,ARIZONA

Along with Space…We have the Trained Workforce

University of Arizona performs one-sixth of ALL astronomical research in the U.S.

University of Arizona is the only school in the U.S. to operate a radiotelescope and it has two

Pima Community College’s Aviation Program has a national & international reputation for excellence and there is a waiting list of over one year to get into the program

Pima Community College is planning an expansion of its Aviation Program that will double student capacity to help meet demand

University of Arizona is fabricating seven mirrors that will make up the world’s largest telescope

University of Arizona students and scientists have discovered more than half of known near-earth asteroids

Pima Community College is one of only two schools to receive two 727 aircraft donations to provide hands-on training (aircraft were donated by FedEx)

Besides the University of Arizona and Pima Community College, Tucson also has a large pool of military veterans that provide highly skilled employees

“As one of the State's largest private employers, Raytheon Missile Systems' success in Tucson over the past 67 years can largely be attributed to our access to the skilled workforce developed here in our own backyard. With our commitment to hire 2,000 employees during the next five years, our business relies on community partners such as the University of Arizona and DavisMonthan Air Force Base to help us reach that goal, as well as feed the technical talent pipeline we require for continued growth.” Allen Reid Vice President, Human Resources & Security Raytheon Missile Systems

MAKE CONTACT

City of Tucson Office of Economic Initiatives

Illustration Courtesy of The University of Arizona

Barbra Coffee, Director 520.837.4069 barbra.coffee@tucsonaz.gov


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ARIZONA

PRESENTED BY

Tempe: Sustainable Community Going Young & Urban

IT, advanced manufacturing, VR, financial services, and aerospace are among the cogs driving Tempe’s business and innovation engine under Economic Development Director Donna Kennedy (left) and Economic Development Program Manager Jill Buschbacher (right)

Drive along the I-10/I-17 corridor through Phoenix recently? You may have noticed that Tempe has risen high above the desert floor, a vital regional and national center for Fortune 500 companies, many forms of innovation, technology, and tourism. You want the future? Tempe’s mission to build an affluent, sustainable future reflects the median age of its 180,000 residents: 28.1 years. From the game-changing Tempe Town Lake, the city’s crowning residential-commercial development and manmade reservoir along the Salt River, to a diverse business and tech sector, a long and prosperous future lies ahead. “We like to think of ourselves as a sustainable community going urban,” said Economic Development Director Donna Kennedy, named one of Arizona’s Most Influential Women in Commercial Real Estate in Arizona in 2017 (AZRE). “Tempe today is the result of all the infrastructure we put into place to create quality of life for our residents and workforce. The biggest economic driver is Tempe Town Lake. Over the past 20 years, developers have invested $1.2 billion to develop Tempe Town Lake for both residential and business, bringing in 40,000

jobs since the lake’s opening 20 years ago.” They’re not done, either. “We have a light rail across north Tempe in proximity to the lake and downtown streetcar line coming in May 2021. We’re investing $77 million from the city, businesses providing their fair share and also getting federal aid,” Economic Development Program Manager Maria Laughner added. The mix of businesses that call Tempe home is vast: aerospace/aviation, medical devices, sustainability, healthcare, biotech/bioscience, solar energy, cybersecurity, financial services, advanced manufacturing, and tourism. “The three biggest areas are advanced business and financial services, advanced manufacturing, and bioscience/biotech,” Laughner explained. “State Farm Insurance came here a few years ago and brought 6,000 jobs – and they just announced they’re adding 1,000 more. Freedom Financial added 4,000 new jobs, and we have Bank of the West, Northern Trust, Silicon Valley Bank, and others.” The city’s educational and research hub is Arizona State University (ASU), the nation’s most populated campus. ASU is also among the

most effective at getting students ready for the new-tech, new-business world, being ranked Most Innovative University four years running by U.S. News & World Report. “In the past, ASU graduates thought they had to go to New York or California, but in the last six years, we’ve added more than 30,000 new jobs right here in Tempe,” Kennedy said. “With major corporations here, these graduates now find jobs and careers without leaving town. “Let’s face it – a lot of these businesses want to connect with and address the millennial population. Our millennials bring a new way to function as employers and employees. It’s the next generation of new products, services, and technologies.” Economic Development Program Manager Jill Buschbacher made clear the city’s priority to retain and grow the younger, more educated workforce by constantly innovating how they work with and within business. “We work with ASU, the community colleges, and University of Advanced Technologies (UAT),” she said. “Our Achieve 65 program sets a goal for 65 percent of our workforce to have (Continued on page 93)

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tech zone

ARIZONA

PRESENTED BY

An AI Revolution in the Hemp Industry By Ian Pedersen Artificial intelligence is everywhere these days, and nowhere is that more evident than in the hemp industry. Recently, I had the privilege of sitting down with the founders of CEAD, Royce Birnbaum and Adam Klaasmeyer. These two gentlemen have been hard at work developing AI applications for the hemp industry. They gave me a tour of their 40,000 sq. ft. cultivation facility in Northern Arizona and explained how their new technology is set to revolutionize the way we grow. CEAD technology is currently being tested at a hemp research and development center in Arizona. It’s able to monitor environmental systems, plant nutrition, growth rates, pest outbreaks, and all the movements made by the lead cultivator (i.e. feeding and pruning). Anything that happens with the plants in the development center, the growers know about it. This is critical for what we can do in the future. The machine learning takes advantage of all of the data and implements it into the operating system and protocols to continually learn and grow its own knowledge base. Once the machine begins to learn all operational aspects of the cultivation, it starts presenting and suggesting a list of options to the cultivator based on the data. This is then used in the prevention of a potential forecasted issue, based on both control data and the growing database of learned assumptions. Founder and CEO Birnbaum notes, “With the massive surge in the industry, one struggle most growers are facing is not only the need to differentiate themselves from the competition, but also to have successful continuous cultivation cycles without potential for deviation or disaster as we see so often in the industry.” With this technology, you, as a cultivator, are able to predict, from the moment a seed is first planted, the exact expected yield and harvest date of a plant. Furthermore, you can intuitively predict and hone in on many other aspects of cultivation that we all know can throw a wrench into a crop’s development and growth.

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iStockphoto.com/monsitj

This has extraordinary potential for future harvests. With machine learning, cultivators can now predict the exact future density of a particular crop by analyzing very specific data that’s being taken in. Forecasting at a very high analytical level helps prevent common issues such as mold and fungus resulting from specific environmental conditions. The comprehensive machine learning system uses available data to offer a potential solution to an issue that has not come up yet, ultimately preventing it from ever happening. As Birnbaum explained, “CEAD provides any grow operation an unparalleled ability to predict when to water, fertilize, and harvest. This will enable an upsurge in quality all while reducing the manpower needed to maintain each plant as well as give a comprehensive overview of all operations and outcomes related to hemp cultivation.” The CEAD system essentially acts as the hub

connecting the cloud AI platform to customizable sensors. The sensors monitor the fields, gathering data in real time on things like humidity, temperature, pH, air speed, and chlorophyll levels. Then, the data is analyzed, providing resultant metrics like harvest date, expected yield, and watering times. This knowledge gives cultivators a profound new level of control and data analytics for review, all from a friendly, easy to use interface. It provides access to information to interpret the extreme nuances and specifics of each of the thousands of different strains being cultivated. This makes it possible to further isolate the benefits of each strain. With the recent surge in hemp cultivation across the U.S., it’s no surprise that technology is being developed to meet the needs of cultivators. This type of technology will only work to benefit cultivators in the future, resulting in better yields across the board. ■


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Rainwater run-off levels are monitored to gauge infrastructure


connected life

A-list Apartments for the Tech Generation By Patricia Miller

Today’s apartments are more modern than ever, often boasting built-in smart tech and full amenities from gyms and pools to arcades and bowling alleys. But the luxury doesn’t have to stop there. New technologies are taking apartment living to the next level. Hate taking your trash to the dumpster? There’s a service for that. Cumbersome Amazon packaging filling your recycling? There’s a service to collect that too. Why do renters need dog yoga, smart lockers, or a chef pavilion when just a few years ago a pool and a gym were the pinnacle of apartment luxuries? Perhaps it’s related to the growing number of high-income renters. In 2017, more than 19 percent of Americans making six-figure incomes were renting their home. That’s an alltime high, according to Harvard’s Joint Center on Housing Studies. With all the demand for upgraded amenities, it’s no surprise developers are looking for appbased solutions to add value for their renters. Pet owners are increasingly using services like Wag! or Baroo to take care of their furry friends while they’re away from home. Other platforms like Dwello or Amenify offer the ability to pay one’s rent through an app or request cleaning services on demand. Home concierge services are also a popular option, offering a variety of home delivery services ranging from groceries and laundry to prescription drop-offs. Concierge startup Hello Alfred, for example, offers cleaning services, electronic installations, and pet care though one platform. Valet Living, a well-established concierge service, offers everything from garbage removal to in-home fitness classes. They’ve partnered with TV personality and fitness expert Jillian Michaels to bring fitness classes and app-based training courses into your home.

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Health and Fitness Spokesperson Jillian Michaels (top left) speaking at the Apartmentalize Conference in Denver, Colorado. Apartment concierge services like Valet Living offering services from dog walking to in-home fitness classes with just the tap of a button.

Michaels said of the company, “Fitness needs to be a part of our everyday lives, so making it available within the comfort of a multifamily development is a perfect fit.” She continued, “Valet Living Home is going above and beyond the standard gym amenity, bringing group fitness classes to communities that enhance the everyday lives of residents and help ease their busy schedules.” Other apps allow residents to view live video of their community so they can see if the poolside barbecue is available or check on their car in the parking lot (though this could raise some privacy concerns). One could also manage a visitor guest list, alerting the front desk to expected arrivals in real time. The front desk can also use apps to send notifications to residents. Whether it’s a package delivery or a facility closure, properties can

automatically alert everyone with just the push of a button. Another important feature many apartments are incorporating into their app-based services is the ability to place a work order. Residents can schedule repairs through their smartphone, eliminating double-bookings and unanswered maintenance requests. What if you need your car pulled around, or a guest’s car? Some properties even offer valet parking services with just a few swipes of the screen. The overall goal of these services isn’t just to make life easier for residents, it’s to encourage them to stay put. According to President and CEO of Valet Living Shawn Handrahan, “It’s driving community engagement; that’s the key. Amenities that don’t drive community engagement aren’t going to help retention. On


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one-size-fits-all. With the app, I can put all the DVDs in there and you can stream them. Then you can say, ‘Hey, I need a 20-minute workout. I want to do abs. I’m an intermediate level athlete. I have no equipment available.’ And I can customize everything for you: your meal plan and your fitness. So only technology allows us to do that now. I love it. I’ve seen it literally change my industry.”

Multi-family dwellings can choose to work with concierge services like Valet Living to provide everything from cleaning services to grocery delivery.

average, multi-family dwellings turn over at 53 percent… By providing 100 percent of the amenities residents want 24/7 on-call, we can provide this high-level of service to create an exceptional living experience.” Community engagement is increasingly important to renters. According to a 2018 Consumer Housing Insights Survey, 58 percent of respondents felt apartments should “provide helpful services and amenities for the surrounding community.”

inspired Jillian Michaels to speak about advances in fitness technology at this summer’s Apartmentalize conference in Denver. “[Fitness technology] has evolved in every way, right? Between apps and body metrics and devices that can give you an ECG, it’s amazing. For me in particular, I love it because of the customization.” She explained, “With my DVDs, for example, it’s like – here’s a workout, take it or leave it,

Personalized fitness programs, concierge services, and this extreme level of personalization are more than a luxury, they’re a lifestyle. Handrahan explains, “Lifestyle renters are the fasting booming segment. New development dollars are going into high- and mid-rise assets because people my age – I’m a 56 year-old man – don’t want to have the problems associated with homeownership and want to have walkability, so they move into these communities.” He continued, “But, people of means already have somebody cleaning their apartment, walking their dog, or doing their grocery shopping. Now, we have all of that in one platform where you can touch a button and whatever you need is taken care of.” Now if I could just get my landlord to fix the radiator and clean those mystery hairs out of the hot tub, I might stay in my complex forever. ■

The digital age makes many things easier, but face-to-face social skills aren’t always improved by new technology. That’s why many apartments are turning to outside companies to manage community events aimed at pulling people out of their apartments and into eachothers lives. Group cooking classes, karaoke nights, or movie screenings on the lawn can tempt residents to leave the safety of their abode and meet the neighbors. Some property managers are even taking it a step further and offering apps that allow residents to communicate, meet up, or even share services like babysitting or group fitness classes. The idea is to help residents connect and form a functioning community of people who know their neighbors and maybe even hang out together from time to time. Community and customization are at the core of these apartment apps. Those factors are what

More and more apartment-dwellers are looking for personalized services and amenities to suit their needs. Valet Parking and door-to-door trash collection are popular options.

FALL 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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Are You Sure You Would Like to Unsubscribe?

Between music, video, and now video game streaming, are we over-subscribed?

By Alex Moersen

iStockphoto.com/metamorworks

Picture this: It’s 2003 and your family has just finished arguing over which Netflix movies you’d be renting that week. They come in the mail and you watch them throughout the week before sending them back and ordering new ones. Then, fast forward to 2008, and you’ve started to watch some of your favorite TV shows on Netflix’s new platform. Around this same time, you learn about a new music streaming service, Spotify, and decide to look into it. Now, let’s come to the present. You sit down and want to watch something. You open up Netflix on your TV and scroll for a while. There are so many options it’s hard to decide on just one, so you flip over to Hulu to see if they have anything to offer. Then you check HBO GO. Finally, you check Disney+. Then you realize that you’re paying for four different streaming services, maybe more. While it’s nice to have more options, you find it harder than ever to make a decision on what to watch. What you’re experiencing is overchoice.

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The Burden of Choice

Over-Subscribed

In 1970, futurist Alvin Toffler predicted the overload of choices in his book Future Shock: “Ironically, the people of the future may suffer not from an absence of choice, but from a paralyzing surfeit of it. They may turn out to be victims of that peculiar super-industrial dilemma: ‘Overchoice.’”

Let’s return to Netflix. More generally, streaming. There are over 100 video streaming services available including, but not limited to: Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, Disney+, YouTube TV, ESPN+, Amazon Prime Video, RedBox, Fandango Now, and the list goes on. While music streaming isn’t as abundant, there are still quite a few, including: Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon Prime Music, Soundcloud, YouTube Music, Google Play, Bandcamp, and counting. Now, video games are starting to enter the streaming mix with Google Stadia on the way.

In 2000, psychologists Sheena Iyengar (Columbia University) and Mark Lepper (Stanford University) examined this idea further. In their experiment, one group of individuals could choose from 30 types of chocolate, while the other could only choose from six types. Subjects initially reported liking having 30 options, but inevitably felt more dissatisfied and regretful than the other group did. The point is this. Having choices is great, but there is a breaking point when too many choices can be overwhelming or breed regret later, a sort of fear of missing out if you feel you made the wrong choice.

The streaming world, at least to some, is on its way to getting out of control, with each service requiring its own monthly subscription. This year, Hub Research reported that 24-percent of those surveyed said they “already have too many online TV subscriptions.” In a different study, conducted by Deloitte Insights, 47-percent of participants were frustrated by the growing number of


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Are You Sure You Would Like to Unsubscribe?

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subscriptions and services available, and 48-percent said it was harder to find the content they wanted to watch when it was spread across multiple services. And that is just entertainment subscriptions. We haven’t even taken in account subscriptions like Microsoft Office, Blue Apron, magazine subscriptions, and email newsletters. There are innumerable toothbrush-, wine-, snacks-, clothes-, and whatever-you-want-of-the-month subscriptions. Even Nura has started a monthly subscription for their headphones. Subscriptions started out as a service of convenience, but now, the oversaturation may have become burdensome.

The Weight of a Thousand Services While streaming and monthly subscriptions, at one point, were a clear convenience, there is now some doubt. With only a few options, clearly having Netflix deliver movies to your door was more convenient than driving down to your local Blockbuster. But now it’s not so clear. There are some – including, of course, the services themselves – that believe customers will pay more to get the content they want. When asked by Residential Tech Today how consumers can navigate the oversaturated streaming market, Mark Cuban, Shark Tank star and owner of Magnolia Selects, said, “I happen to think that people will spend 40 dollars or more per household per month and jump between service to get the content they want.” However, statistics from Hub Research and

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Deloitte Insights show a growing frustration among consumers. Not only does the oversaturation of streaming result in confusing navigation, it creates a financial burden for the consumers. Let’s say you want to watch Stranger Things (Netflix Exclusive), The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu Exclusive), Game of Thrones (HBO Exclusive), and the upcoming Marvel TV Shows (Disney+ Exclusive). Viewers would have to pay nearly $50 a month to access all four of those services, meaning it’s not cheaper, and potentially more expensive, than cable. That’s not even including subscriptions to Amazon Prime, sports streaming services, Spotify, and anything else you may have. There are potential bundle packages that help alleviate the financial burden; however, they are usually horizontally integrated (i.e. Hulu and Spotify bundled together). It’s unlikely we’ll see competing video streaming services, like Netflix and Hulu, ever bundle together. But what is one to do, when today, the majority of Emmy-nominated TV shows aren’t being produced by cable channels, but are rather appearing as exclusives across these various streaming services. Barry, Game of Thrones, Fleabag, When They See Us, Russian Doll, Bodyguard, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Veep, Ozark, Succession, Cherynobl, Sharp Objects: all Emmy-nominated and -winning series that are exclusively on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or HBO.

A Bubble to Burst Apple is on their way to bringing their own

streaming service to the table. So is NBC. In 2015, FX CEO John Landgraf, in an interview with Vanity Fair, compared the proliferation of streaming services to a looming housing crisis. With only more options coming onto the scene, the overchoice may become too great for consumers to bear. With all of the popular content already in circulation, it’s hard to imagine viewers taking on even more streaming services (see Apple and NBC), and it’s possible that eventually some will falter – likely those with the least hardhitting originals. There is some hope in consolidation. For instance, HBO originals (after premiering exclusively on HBO) find their way to Hulu so subscribers can watch later. People cut their cords and went the streaming route because it was simpler and cheaper. Now, it’s just as inconvenient and difficult as cable was, if not moreso, and unless you’re limiting yourself to one service, it’s not cheaper. Streaming will survive because we’re in a Golden Age of Media and because each service is able to create high-quality originals. But Golden Ages don’t last, and bubbles tend to burst. Until the inevitable day that some product or service proves streaming obsolete, we must suffer the choices in front of us. The next time you are scrolling through Netflix, Hulu, or whatever, and the overchoice is killing you, maybe you should just go pick up a book instead. ■


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Teamwork is Making the Sustainable Dream Work Produced in partnership with

How mainstream brands and personas are working together toward a sustainable future. By Alex Moersen In our Spring 2019 issue of Innovation & Tech Today, we took an in-depth look at how brands were stepping up to make active, positive change in our society. From sustainability to positive portrayals of masculinity, brands from a number of industries were using advertising to tell stories; stories that could change one’s perspective on certain issues. Produced in partnership with

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Now, just some months later, we’re seeing many brands and mainstream personas go beyond just advertising and actually work to make positive change. We’re seeing companies partner together with concrete goals to improve the world we live in, and step up where governments are being slow to act. Two great examples of this are Brands for Good (sponsored by Sustainable Brands) and Robert Downey Jr.’s Footprint Coalition, two major coalitions focused on championing sustainability and using their influence to help curb climate change. As it says on their website, Brands for Good is “unleashing the power of brands to make sustainable living the good life of tomorrow.” Found members include major brands such as: PepsiCo; National Geographic; Nestle Waters; Target; Procter & Gamble; SC Johnson; and Visa, among others. These are brands that we interact with on a near-daily basis, and they are working together to be more eco-friendly and bring sustainability into the mainstream. The specific goals of Brands for Good are: Embed environmental and social purpose into the heart of their brand promise, products, and experiences. Use marketing, communications, and brand influence to make sustainable living accessible, aspirational, and rewarding.

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Work together to transform the field of marketing to shift behaviors and drive positive impact for people, communities, and the planet. Along with Brands for Good is Robert Downey Jr.’s Footprint Coalition. Launching in April 2020, the Footprint Coalition is striving to use technology and artificial intelligence – along with RDJ’s influence – to help curb climate change and clean up pollution. “Between robotics and nanotechnology, we could clean up the planet significantly, if not totally, in 10 years,” Downey Jr. said during his keynote at Amazon’s Re:Mars event this year. He had been given these insights by a roundtable of experts he had gathered. “God I love experts. They’re like Wikipedia with

character defects,” he added jokingly. Just how Tony Stark brought renewable energy to New York in Iron Man 2, it looks like Robert Downey Jr. is on a similar path. Downey Jr. was motivated by a “quiet sense of crisis” to form this coalition, even admitting his own role in contributing to climate change: “I am a one-man carbon footprint nightmare colossus.” However, he portrayed AI as a ground-breaking technology that gave him hope. And he has reason to hope. With front-andcenter stars like himself, scientific experts, and mainstream brands all working together, our sustainable future is only getting brighter. ■


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Investment Group: “Do More to Fight Climate Change” Produced in partnership with

By Robert Yehling By all accounts, it’s been a terrible year for the climate. Produced in partnership with

California’s fatal, destructive wildfires last autumn have been followed by multi-million acre burns in the Amazon and Indonesian rain forests. Massive storms fueled by warming waters continue to render places uninhabitable, such as the Northern Bahamas. The Trump Administration continues to disembowel environmental regulations in the U.S., ignoring the Paris Climate Accord while increasing the release of greenhouse gases and pollutants. On the record, they state it is to cut costs for corporations all too happy for the move. Produced in partnership with

There’s the rub. The top investors in those corporations are anything but happy about this destructive shakedown of the environment to appease bottom lines. In mid-September, a group of 515 investors who manage assets totaling $35 trillion (nearly twice the U.S. gross domestic product in 2018) sent a stark message to organizations and governments worldwide: Do more to fight climate change by complying with the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord “with utmost urgency,” according to a statement. It’s the exact opposite of what the Trump Administration – and leaders in Brazil, Indonesia, and other anti-climate change countries – have been telling businesses and citizens. “Much more needs to be done by governments to accelerate the low carbon transition and to improve the resilience of our economy, society, and the financial system to climate risks,” the investors said one week before the United Nations Climate Action Summit. The investors represent a wide swath of the global economy, from pension funds to corporate investment, equity funds, and

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international private investment. A few representative groups include Allianz Global Investors, Nomura Asset Management, UBS Asset Management, and the California Public Employees Management System. They control nearly half of the world’s investment capital. “With the immense power and influence that investors hold in our global economy, [governments and companies] have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to act at the urgent pace and scale required,” Mindy Lubber, CEO of sustainability nonprofit Ceres, said in the statement. In another direct rebuke of the Trump Administration, and other heavy fossil fuel producers, the group has urged governments to set a price on carbon emissions and reduce thermal coal power and fossil fuel subsidies. Currently, U.S. taxpayers support fossil fuel

producers to the tune of billions of dollars per year. The goal of the group is the same as that of the U.N. Climate Action Summit and the 2015 Paris Climate Accord: to cut greenhouse emissions by 45 percent by 2030, and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. After years of consecutive reductions, the U.S. reported a two percent increase in greenhouse emissions in 2018. Besides a fundamental shift in U.S. environmental policy back to the pre-Trump era, there is plenty of other work to be done. According to a second group of investors, the Transition Pathway Initiative, only 31 of 109 energy companies are aligned with the Paris pledges – most significantly, to limit global average temperature increase to below two degrees Celsius. ■


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Lions, Tigers, and Stem Cell Therapy How wide open spaces and modern technology are saving wild animals.

Think about Colorado wilderness, and you may envision whitewater rapids, craggy Rocky Mountain peaks, or pine forests. And yet, many people aren’t aware that Colorado is home to the world’s largest sanctuary for carnivorous mammals. With lions, wolves, bears, and tigers making their home on land not far from our state’s capital, the Wild Animal Sanctuary may be one of Colorado’s wildest places. The Wild Animal Sanctuary is no zoo. Its mission is to rescue and rehabilitate the more than 25,000 large carnivores rescued from people’s basements, garages, barns, and backyards. The organization has spent nearly 40 years getting states to pass laws prohibiting private ownership. Currently, the Wild Animal Sanctuary keeps more than 500 large carnivores at their facility in Keenesburg, Colorado. A second location, the Wild Animal Refuge, opened in southern Colorado just this year in order to accommodate the ongoing need for wild animal rescue and rehabilitation. Executive Director Pat Craig shared more

about the new location and some of the innovative technology that makes it possible. Innovation & Tech Today: Why was Southern Colorado chosen for the Wildlife Refuge location? Pat Craig: This facility spans 10,000 acres, and will not only provide more capacity for us, but will also create a new level of natural environment that is unprecedented in the industry. The Refuge is a completely forested landscape and has hundreds of miles of cliffs, canyons, and mesas to explore. This provides an experience as close to living in the wild as possible. All of the animals get plenty of food and great care. I&T Today: Why are the Wild Animal Sanctuary and the new Wild Animal Refuge so important? PC: The Refuge is the largest carnivore sanctuary in the world. It’s pretty amazing to have such a major player in the field of captive wildlife rescue and rehabilitation right here in Colorado. We find that many people here are

progressive and forward-thinking. That’s part of the success of it is to have people who want to make a difference. I&T Today: What interesting or innovative technologies are being used in the Wild Animal Sanctuary and the Wildlife Refuge? PC: We consider ourselves to be pretty hightech for an animal organization. We have super high-definition cameras looking everywhere, for security and to stream into the welcome center and connect people with the animals virtually. We also use high-definition, infrared drones and motion-capture cameras to check on the animals throughout the 10,000 acres of habitats. Additionally, we employ a veterinary specialist trained in progressive medical treatments such as stem cell therapy. A number of animals come to us needing medical attention, including one tiger who was quadriplegic and doomed to be euthanized before we rescued it. With stem cell therapy, we could regenerate its spine, and now it can walk and run. ■ To learn more about the Wild Animal Sanctuary, visit www.wildanimalsanctuary.org.

FALL 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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Red Zones and Rocket Science Jacksonville Jaguars Quarterback Josh Dobbs Reaches for the Sky By Anthony Elio

Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Steelers

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PRODUCED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH

sports and science are “Ifyour passion, I don’t think you should limit yourself to one. ”

Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Steelers

“With the 135th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select Joshua Dobbs, quarterback, Tennessee.”

detailed his recent NASA trip, the importance of STEM education, and his professional plans beyond the gridiron.

– both in the classroom and on the field. I learned that through my studies and then as I’ve progressed as a quarterback as well.

With this announcement on April 29, 2017, Josh Dobbs would begin a career like none other: playing quarterback for a historic NFL franchise. The opportunity to play for two playoff-built teams that thrive on competition, the Pittsburgh Steelers and, after a recent trade, the Jacksonville Jaguars, is the dream of countless young athletes.

Innovation & Tech Today: How would you compare the thought process of quarterbacking an NFL team versus aerospace engineering?

I&T Today: Tell me a bit about your offseason experiences with NASA.

Josh Dobbs has been fascinated with aviation from a young age, fondly remembering everything from fixating on planes at the airport to attending a Tuskegee Airmen camp in seventh grade. This strong interest, along with his substantial math and science skills, would inspire him to study aerospace engineering at the University of Tennessee, where he received The Torchbearer Award, the highest honor for a UT undergraduate. In our conversation, Dobbs

Josh Dobbs: When you’re an engineer, you’re a problem solver. So in college, you go to engineering class, they give you a problem, you figure out how to solve the problem, you get the most concise answer for the problem, you fix it, you repeat the process. When you’re a quarterback, it’s very similar. You’re given a play and then the defense presents you with a problem. Basically, you have to be an engineer. Critically think how to get your offense, your team, into the best situation and run the best play to attack the defense. So it’s similar thought processes; see a problem – figure out how to fix the problem, apply the solution, repeat process

JD: So for the NFLPA, I was supposed to do an externship this year with NASA, their daughter facility outside of Washington, D.C. So at the time of the externship, there was a government furlough, so it postponed those efforts. That externship was going to be very entrepreneurial. So you work with NASA, you see what they’re doing at that base, and then NASA works various technologies both in the aerospace world and in just the regular engineering world. So you’re going to take a technology that they have and figure out a way to apply it to real world problems. So, that was postponed. This summer, I had the opportunity to tour the Kennedy Space Center. I just spent a couple FALL 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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Red Zones and Rocket Science days down there touring the whole facility, both seeing the history of the facility, all the past launches, and then getting to see what’s next. It gave me a chance to see what NASA’s doing; got a chance to see what SpaceX is doing at their Dragon facility. I also got a chance to see what Boeing’s doing. So I got to see the past and what’s coming up in the near future in the space world. It was a really cool experience. I got to see the launch sites where they sent off all the Apollo test missions, and then the Apollo 11 mission, and all the shuttle launches. I got see the Atlantis shuttle, which they have down there on display. So it was a blast. It was a good couple days to spend down there with them. Very insightful. I&T Today: Some athletes, such as Lebron James and Drew Brees, have said that the next generation should focus more on science than a career in sports. What are your thoughts? JD: I think you can focus on both. If sports and science are your passion, I don’t think you should limit yourself to one. I think the way it’s set up, you’ve got to go to school. Not only high school, I’m talking about college. Go to college, especially playing football, you have to go to college. You’re on a scholarship. You’re given an opportunity to go to a prestigious university and learn and actually maximize your time there. So if you have interest and are excelling in the classroom, especially in a STEM degree, I think you can focus on both. There’s enough time in the day. You have enough brain cells to focus on both. But, of course, it’s hard work and you’re going to be different than the pack, and there’s not a lot of people that do it. But that’s what makes it even more special. So I think, yes, science degrees are amazing. Yes, playing professional football is amazing, and you shouldn’t be limited to only being able to pursue one of those fields, and I hope I can serve as an example of how to do that. I&T Today: STEM education is just such a big focus for young students these days. What do you believe is the best approach to inspire them to find a career in STEM?

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Despite starting his career with the Steelers, Dobbs was recently traded to the quarterback-needy Jaguars, who lost starter Nick Foles to a broken clavicle in Week 1 of the season. Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Steelers

JD: Well, I think a STEM degree and the STEM field present so many possibilities, whether it’s in aviation, or whether it’s in industrial engineers, or whether it’s in computer science. There are so many opportunities, so many fields that you can get into. At the end of the day, just follow your passion. Technology is changing every single day and growing and getting better, so no matter what field you’re going into, you literally have a direct impact on the future, on how people can interact with technology, how you can make people’s lives easier. So it’s a really powerful time to be involved in the STEM world, and I think if you just pursue your passions and find a degree that helps you pursue those passions and impact the world, then I think the sky’s the limit. And you’ll be able to tap into your passions, into something that you generally love and enjoy. I&T Today: What kind of athletic tech do you generally utilize for training? JD: I use several things. I guess your daily monitors, like I use my Apple Watch, I use my Whoop. So you’re able to get the sleep monitor, you’re able to get your exercise exertion monitor on everything that you’re doing. I’ve really enjoyed the vision training. I think that’s awesome. Strengthening your peripherals, strengthening your reaction time, being able to see and recognize objects and targets when your eyes aren’t really on them. That’s been phenomenal for me, especially at the quarterback position. There are some coverage recognition apps that

you’re able to use, where you’re able to quickly see defense and then be able to recognize what type of defense it is and get quizzed on that. So I think there’s a lot going on. Obviously, you don’t want to overload yourself, where you’ve got every possible monitor on your body. At the end of the day, you’ve still got to go play football. So you don’t want to take away from that aspect of it, but there’s several things that I do where I really do see the benefits, especially in the technology world and helping to make the game easier and helping your reaction time and really recognizing defenses. I&T Today: When you hang up your cleats for the last time, what do you want your next move to be? JD: During college, I kind of felt like I wanted to go into the design phase, whether it’s aviation or aerospace. But what I’ve kind of learned is that there’s so many opportunities, whether it’s in aerospace, whether it’s aviation, whether it’s in engines, which I got a chance to work on with Pratt & Whitney for a couple years. I would say my finger isn’t quite set on one thing because I have so many more learning opportunities coming up in the field to get a chance to fully see what I want to go into. So I’m kind of taking it all in. I’m learning as much as I can right now, trying to expand my mind, expand my ideas, so that whenever football is over, I’m able to know what I want to go into. So it’s a work in progress right now. It’s an evolution, but the opportunities I’ve had are definitely getting me prepared for it. ■


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Elon Musk’s Vision Continues to Shape Ours The creator of SpaceX and Tesla talks deep space, Mars, cars, and his obsession with video games at E3 By Robert Yehling

Courtesy of Double Forte | Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for E3/Entertainment Software Association

When Elon Musk shows up, you never know where the conversation will head. You know it will be fun, insightful, and informative – and offthe-wall at times, too. That’s the allure of spending time with this 48-year-old creative genius and technological wizard, the 21st century equivalent of Thomas Edison for the way his inventions and businesses have vaulted society forward. Musk was his lively self when he appeared at E3 in Los Angeles in June. He’d spent much of the year in the headlines, for reasons both good

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and bad. This included questions about the future viability of Tesla and SpaceX, two of the most progressive and visionary companies on Earth. However, when he sat for a panel presentation at the Microsoft Novo Theater, he was with his native tribe – video game enthusiasts. Musk’s first love, video game programming, remains an enduring passion.

nodded in appreciation. “You’re a space fighter,

“I’ve always been into video games,” he said. “The first time I programmed I was 10 or 11, but it was published when I was 12. It was called Blaster.” Attendees in their 30s, 40s, and 50s

Racing 2 and Fallout Shelter, in partnership with

blasting and fighting space aliens. I wrote the game, and did graphics and sound. There was no one else to do it, but it was a very simple game. I want to emphasize that.” Musk appeared at E3 to announce two video games coming to Tesla vehicles, Beach Buggy video game shop Bethesda Softworks. “I’ve been a fan of Bethesda Softworks games for a long time,” he said.


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Fallout Shelter will bring the popular Fallout series to Tesla screens. It joins the run-and-gun video game Cuphead and Beach Buggy Racing 2 as games in development. They will be available in every Tesla model with an over-the-air software update. Beach Buggy Racing 2 includes quite a feature – direct wiring to the car’s braking and steering. “If you have a racing game, and you have a steering wheel – sitting right there…” Musk teased. “The way we have it, the brake is wired in. The scroll wheel is wired to the gas pedal. Sitting on the brake if you’re stationary isn’t a problem; sitting on the gas might be.” There’s a catch: the games only can be played with the car parked. “The fun police make us park the car,” Musk chuckled. Attendees could see the very large child within him thinking, maybe one day backseat passengers can play from backseat consoles. “Our games come from a question we all ask at Tesla: ‘How can we make being in the car the most fun?’ If you’re just parked somewhere, waiting for someone, or on a road trip, it would be pretty cool to go to the car screen and play,” he added.

he reason I got “Tinterested in

technology was video games. They’re a powerful force for getting kids into technology.

The other topic squarely on Musk’s mind is space. For anyone who’s skeptically viewed his decade-long effort to make SpaceX a leader in commercial space delivery and exploration, time to take heed: he’s deadly serious and he’s producing results. The founder of PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX, and Solar City sits on the front lines of sustainable driving, space exploration, and green energy – and now is pushing the envelope on Moon and Mars exploration. SpaceX has been delivering goods to the International Space Station with his highly efficient fleet of rockets and vessels; the rockets now can land vertically on floating platforms in the ocean. This development alone will save billions as NASA, SpaceX, and the other commercial space ventures ramp up for Moon missions and habitation in the 2020s, and Mars missions hopefully by 2035-2040. “It makes no sense to spend billions on a multiple-stage rocket, use it once, and that’s it,” he said. “There’s nothing sustainable or efficient about that.” One-use, multiple-stage rockets were exactly what transported the Apollo astronauts on 10 missions to the Moon from

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Elon Musk’s Vision Continues to Shape Ours PRODUCED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH

Courtesy of Double Forte | Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for E3/Entertainment Software Association

roblem solving in video games “Ptransfers to a lot of software engineering skills, and demand is going to keep growing for that. ” 1968-72 (six resulted in moonwalks). “In today’s world, that would be viewed as unsustainable, a waste of resources, but back then, what they did was remarkable. They created technology out of nothing, made it a national effort with 400,000 workers putting those guys on the moon… and now, in the United States, we don’t even have a spacecraft capable of carrying anyone into Earth orbit. We need to get back into space.” One of Musk’s greatest qualities is his vision, his sense of the wider scope of things and how they might play out. Another is his unbridled optimism for the space technology now being developed – and the potential of humankind to explore other worlds to continue our species if, God forbid, our Earth becomes too hot to be habitable (sadly, a possibility within two or three centuries). “I honestly feel, with the technological capability we have today, and the potential for further development, we can make it to the Moon in two years and to Mars in four,” he said. Official NASA estimates for Project Artemis, its next lunar mission, call for a manned landing in 2024 – including the first woman on the Moon. The most optimistic date for a Mars mission falls in the 2035-2040 range. However, as he is wont to do whenever anything aspirational starts moving forward, President

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Trump pumped the brakes when he chastised NASA Director Jim Brandenstine at an Oval Office ceremony to honor Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on the 50th anniversary of their historic mission in July 1969 (the late Neil Armstrong, the first to walk on the moon, was represented by his widow, Carol). Not hard to see why Musk quit the President’s Economic Council. Musk has little tolerance for narrow minds standing in the way of humankind’s evolution or quest to imagine, create, and explore.

So far-forward is Musk in his thinking that he’s already married SpaceX’s development of Mars rockets and spacecraft to his boyhood love of video games. “We’re even looking at developing video game platforms for our space capsule, for crews going to Mars,” he said. “That’s going to be a long flight out there.” Musk’s lifelong love of video games and their many societal and developmental benefits is so profound that he feels they’re directly involved with the larger projects and technologies he’s developed in the past 20 years. “I thought seriously about creating video games as a career, for sure. Seemed like it would be sort of fun,” he recalled. “I even worked at a gaming startup, strangely enough called Rocket Science. Fate loves irony, right? I worked there programming games, about 25 years ago. “The reason I got interested in technology was video games. They’re a powerful force for getting kids into technology. The effects for kids, in this day and age, are far more positive than people realize. When we’re interviewing someone for a software engineering role at Tesla or SpaceX, we’ll ask, ‘How did you get started programming?’ More often than not, they’ll say, ‘video games.’ Problem solving in video games transfers to a lot of software engineering skills, and demand is going to keep growing for that.”

From video games, Musk moved into a love of cars; in particular, sustainable vehicles with futuristic qualities. As he discussed that point, one could almost view the Back to the Future movie franchise looping through his prodigious mind. “My original plan was to go to grad school at Stanford, and study the use of ultra capacitors on electric vehicles,” he said. “I always wanted to do electric cars, working on sustainable energy. Basically, I kept asking the same questions whenever ideas came up: ‘How can this be used in the future? Will this be good for the future?’ In order for the future to be good, we have to have sustainable energy. We need sustainable production and consumption of energy, making solar panels ubiquitous and making electric cars appealing. We want to continue to be an exploratory species, reaching out, so that brings in the rockets.” Within those hundred words, Musk gave everyone at E3 a good look at how he thinks and operates. He brought businesses and individuals into the online payment world with PayPal, took (and is still taking) sustainable and self-driving auto technology to a new dimension with Tesla, and now he eyes the heavens, both for exploratory and commercial purposes, through SpaceX. He’s one of those very rare souls who is both a great futurist and a great technologist – and one who will not be slowing down anytime in the next couple of decades. In the meantime, during his little bits of downtime, what can we find Musk doing? “I’ve been a fan of Bethesda Softworks games for a long time. I play the Fallout 3 game a lot. I’ve explored every corner of that game. I also play Fallout 4; that’s great,” he said to cheers from the E3 crowd. “[A couple years ago], I was having a birthday, and I wanted the statue of Vault Boy. I’m sitting there talking with someone about it, and it’s like two nerds knowing what the other is saying – but everyone else in the room is going, ‘What are they talking about?’ I liked that. Kinda cool.” He’ll also continue to keep himself somewhat mysterious… typical of a visionary and an inventor. ■


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Beddr Sleeptuner – Looking to improve life for the sleep-deprived public, Beddr is a wearable device that doesn’t just track your rest, but helps you improve it. Allowing you to track your heart rate, enhance oxygenation, and improve night time breathing, the Sleeptuner will help give you a much-needed good night’s rest. $150

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TitanHub – With a successful Kickstarter campaign, TitanHub looks to provide a simple docking solution for your desktop needs. Allowing you to toss your old hubs and adapters, TitanHub gives you all the ports you need for your Type-C Chromebook, MacBook, or Windows device. Price TBA

Arcade Belts – Functional, fashionable, and designed with movement in mind, Arcade Adventure Belts are ideal for adventurer and fashionista alike. Coming in such eye-catching designs as Cascadia, Commuter, and Pacer Slim, Arcade Belts offers a littany of useful, high quality belts. $26-29

Blue Ember XLR Mic – Whether you’re launching your first podcast or recording some demos with your acoustic guitar, you’ll need a highquality microphone. With superior design ensuring smooth, consistent sound, the Blue Ember XLR microphone will let your voice be heard. $100

Mixcder HD901 Bluetooth Headphones – Comfortable and easy on the eyes, the Mixcder HD901 Bluetooth headphones will let you rock out and look good doing it. And, with an 8-hour battery life, these headphones will let you listen to whatever you’d like throughout the full workday. $19

Superheated Steam Countertop Oven – Allowing you to cook your food with superheated steam without the need for defrosting or preheating, the Superheated Steam Countertop Oven will change the way you make your meals. Featuring five different cooking modes and up to an hour of steam cooking, this is one appliance that definitely belongs in your kitchen. $500

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Sharp Plasmacluster Air Purifier – Getting rid of all the microscopic pollutants a general filter will not prevent, the Plasmacluster Air Purifier is a health-conscious piece of tech. Built-in smart technology helps to not only clean the air of pollutants and allergens, but even humidify when necessary.

$221-554

Kent Wang Knox – Composed of advanced materials for additional durability and flexabiity, the Kent Wang Knox sunglasses will be the last straw for your cheap plastic sunglasses. Classy and functional, these sunglasses belong at formal events and casual outings alike. $55

EyeLights – Using your windshield as a display, the Indiegogo-funded EyeLights is a head-up display that keeps you from peeking at your smartphone. Compatible with Siri and Google Assistant as well as a number of apps such as Spotify and Waze, EyeLights will help you navigate and choose music while keeping your eyes on the road. Price TBA

Reverie App – Compatible with Reverie Connect to work with Reverie’s adjustable sleep systems, the Reverie Nightstand app allows you to further enhance your sleep experience. With the ability to set comfort routines and settings and activate a 3D-Wave Massage, a good night’s sleep is only a download away. Free

DROP Wireless Charger – Providing effective, fast charging for Qi-compatible devices as well as iPhone 8 and above, the DROP Wireless Charger gives you all the power without the tangled mess of cords. Preventing overheating and allowing for optimal charging speed, this device will battle ever-dwindling battery life. $60

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tech zone

ARIZONA

GPEC: A Driving Force Behind Arizona’s Business Boom 800 companies, nearly 150,000 jobs and $16.1 billion in capital investment in its 30-year history, companies tend to listen… and relocate.

only do we intimately know our market, we’re

With the business attraction efforts setting records for the organization, it’s no surprise that the Phoenix-metro area is touted as one of the hottest job growth markets in the country, continually adding 50,000 to 100,000 jobs annually.

working with targeted markets such as Seattle,

“We are a trusted advisor for this region. Not

also coming to the table with thorough data put together by our research and analytics team,” said Camacho. “With our vast experience San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose, New York, and Chicago, we understand the complexity of needing to reduce burn rates, increase top line revenue, and address risk. We’re here to be a confidential and reliable partner when businesses start considering scalability options.”

Finding the Perfect Fit: Innovation Zones at ASU Here’s a snapshot look at the Innovation Zones: • SkySong, The ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center: SkySong started on its Scottsdale location in 2008 with two buildings totaling 300,000 sq. ft. In August 2019, they opened their fifth office building, SkySong 5. Space now totals over 800,000 sq. ft., on the way to 1.2 million sq. ft. when the project is completed. Tenants include Starbucks, Canon, Ticketmaster, CenturyLink, Workiva, and many more. SkySong is also home to the ASU Smart City Cloud Innovation Center, powered by Amazon Web Services, which uses cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to address regional challenges. Ten other ASU centers and units, including ASU’s entrepreneurial and online education programs, add vibrancy to the ecosystem. That’s not all. SkySong is a jewel of mixed-use planning, boasting a 325-unit apartment complex, multiple restaurants, and the newly opened Element by Westin – an edgy, innovative hotel. “SkySong is projected to have

• Novus Innovation Corridor: Think of a smart city immersed in an academic, research, and business think-and-act tank. “I like to call it ‘SkySong Times Ten,’” Hardy says. Novus occupies a prime location in the middle of ASU’s biggest campus in Tempe. State Farm Insurance was the first arrival, building a 2 million sq. ft. campus for 7,000 employees. Eventually, Hardy said, the development will include more than 10 million sq. ft. of urban mixed-use opportunities. • The Arizona Health Solutions Corridor: The Arizona Health Solutions Corridor is a leading biomedical discovery hub in North Phoenix. “We have a longstanding, 15-year relationship with Mayo Clinic that is helping us advance academic and clinical collaborations in biotechnology, medical innovation, and similar industries,” Hardy explained. “The upcoming Health Futures Center within the Corridor will feature the Mayo Clinic-ASU MedTech Accelerator, research labs, nursing programs,

and an innovative education ecosystem.” • ASU Research Park: The business, research, and recreation park, complete with three artificial lakes, has been home to various corporates in the last 30 years. GoDaddy, Fox Broadcasting, Iridium Communications, and ViaSat, Inc. are among the more than 50 major firms in place. • ASU Polytechnic campus: On the east side of Phoenix lies the ASU Polytechnic campus, established for applied engineering, advanced manufacturing and robotics, wearables, and alternative fuel technologies. • ASU West campus: The campus lies in the heart of the West Valley’s distribution and logistics hub. It blends liberal arts education with 21st-century workforce preparation in collaboration with private industry. “This model and portfolio fits perfectly within the unique culture of ASU,” Hardy said. “Its diversity allows all sectors to be represented to maximize opportunities for knowledge creation and employment of our students.” ■

(Continued from page 58)

a new sector, commercialization of space, through AQST Space Systems and others,” Jabjiniak said.

million sq. ft. development in northwest Mesa.

Two major components are Class A office space, and residential developments wrapped in green space. In 2019, the city announced Gallery Park, a 400,000 sq.ft. Class A office space development near the airport; and Union, a 1.35

side of the valley, in neighboring Chandler,

INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2019

Behind all of this work is an economic development organization that runs like a startup. According to Camacho, every day is filled with accomplishments from a purposeful staff that stops at nothing to fulfill GPEC’s mission. “We are fearless, tenacious, and expect a lot from the staff,” Camacho said. “Our staff is motivated by the impact each job has on the employee, their family, and the regional partners that make up Greater Phoenix. This region truly is greater together and we invite everyone to come see for themselves.” ■

(Continued from page 56)

an economic impact of more than $30 billion over the next 30 years,” Hardy said.

Mesa’s Launch from Aerospace to All Things Tech

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(Continued from page 54)

New in town is Waymo, the driverless car manufacturer. After spending years on the other Waymo’s vehicles will be seen on test roads from their new Mesa complex. “People really see us as much more affordable

and appealing, in many ways, than the Bay Area,” Jabjiniak said. “We’ve planned and worked for this for all 12 years I’ve been here, and continue to plan ahead.” Most certainly, with the month of July 2019 framed as an example of how it looks when everything comes together. ■


PRESENTED BY Tucson: From the Wild West to High-Impact Innovation • The Banner-University Medical Center’s nine-story Patient Tower opened in April, adding 228 private rooms, 20 operating rooms, new diagnostic imaging and other labs, and $50 million in new patient-care equipment and computer technology. • The UA Tech Park, research and innovation facilities, occupies over 1,300 acres, providing 2 million sq. ft. of high tech offices, R&D, and lab facilities. UA will put its first innovation center at The Bridges, a 65-acre location; currently, GEICO has a headquarters there. Coffee said

The Bridges, when fully developed for mixed-

As with Maricopa and Pima Counties, the county’s primary educational institution – Central Arizona College – is integrally involved in workforce development. “The new president came in, looked at the

Tech Launch Arizona, focuses on creating

10,000 workers.

networks of people who can become supportive

Speaking of UA, much is happening to retain fresh graduates from the 43,000-student campus within the Tucson workforce. “The talent pipeline is here,” Coffee said. “What’s so

In addition, there are numerous high profile City-led projects. For instance, Kennedy spearheads the Innovation, Discovery, Education and Arts (IDEA) technology campus near the Tempe Center for the Arts, as well as the development of some of the last remaining City-owned property on the lake, Pier 202.

mentors for emerging companies. “With UA, we’re strengthening our network of mentors in community,” Coffee said. “It’s a very collaborative environment here.”

important is strengthening the industry clusters

Another launch pad, Startup Tucson, will

to keep these young engineers here when they

provide access to capital and connections for

graduate. We are expanding opportunities in

emerging businesses, with more than 17,000

many different ways.”

active subscribers in their network. ■ (Continued from page 64)

thousands of courses offered, and asked, ‘Is this course relevant? What about that?’ She revamped the curriculum to make it more relevant to what we’re doing in the county, without dismissing the needs of students moving onto four-year schools and other careers. There are more manufacturing, computer and tech classes, more career-tracked to what companies are looking for.” This new marriage of homegrown and outside workforce, old and new technology, and traditional and new approaches comes to life with Resolution Copper Mine, a 2,000-job project still in the governmental approval process. Copper mining has been part of Pinal

Tempe: Sustainable Community Going Young & Urban post-secondary certificates or degrees by 2030. Right now, we’re at 52 percent (the national average for all Americans is 33.4 percent). Another program we have, Career Ready Tempe, provides internships in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce, ASU, and high schools. Students complete eight-week hands-on paid programs to better understand what they need to be successful in the workforce.”

To that end, UA’s commercialization entity,

use and commercial, will employ 7,000 to

Pinal County: Mining a New Workforce – and Economy “We also partnered on a skills assessment survey. The type of workforce coming here involves, in part, a lot of people moving from Phoenix to Santan Valley and Queen Creek, where homes are more affordable. Those people currently drive to the East Valley to work. We want to give them a place here. We can show incoming companies the skill assessment, show them people they can employ.”

(Continued from page 62)

County since the late 1860s, but not like this: a massive mine stretching 7,000 feet underground, where the thickest deposits lie – and miners don’t have to physically dig them out. “I’m really excited about this mine and technology,” Pyritz said. “The interesting thing for me, as someone who was a miner in college, is that you don’t have to physically mine at 7,000 feet. It would be too hot. I’ve worked at 2,800 feet, and even bringing in water and blown air, it’s still 120 degrees. With this technology, someone can sit in England in t-shirt and shorts and dig remotely at 7,000 feet. It’s a perfect example of cleaner, safer mining that we can do now.” ■

(Continued from page 66)

The UAT programs are a millennial and techie’s dream. Founded in 1983, UAT combines core tech classes with 20 majors in such areas as innovation, video game design and programming, digital media, robotics, cybersecurity, and computer science. The school graduates hundreds of tech students each year. Not surprisingly, Tempe is a forward-thinking, two-year member of the Smart Cities Coalition, with a Sustainability Director and Climate Action Plan in place. “We looked over and beyond our (existing) code: how do we update for building materials, and work with the environment?” Kennedy said. “Every director in every (city) department is coming up with sustainability measures.”

Innovation has been Tempe’s forte since day one, according to Public Information Officer Kris Baxter. “There are places that simply have innovation from the beginning. We began (in 1867-68) when Charles Hayden built a ferry so people could cross the Salt River; it became the key river crossing and people started settling. Now, the Salt River becomes a river-lake with $1.2 billion in development surrounding it. ASU is spending millions on innovation, Fortune 500 companies come and invest here, and students graduate and stay.” “Our economic development approach creates an environment that allows businesses to attract and retain the millennial workforce an environment which we like to think keeps them ‘happy, healthy – and here,’” Buschbacher added. ■ FALL 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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Events T C O

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 submit@innotechtoday.com

C E D

V O N

2CEDIA Tech Summit

4-8 Microsoft Ignite

24-25 ReWork Deep Learning Summit

13-14 13-14 North America AI & Big Data Expo Blockchain Expo North America Silicon Valley, CA

2019, Santa Clara, CA

12-13 Solar and Energy Storage New

29 Southeast Technology & Business

14-15 Solar and Energy Storage

15-17 DREAMHACK Atlanta

13-15 MedTech Impact 2019

18-21 AutoMobility LA

19-22 Greenbuild International

Orlando, FL

Edinburgh, UK

Montreal, CA

Summit, Atlanta, GA

Midwest, Chicago, IL

Los Angeles, CA

8-11 ELEV8CON

5Mid-Atlantic Technology &

Las Vegas, NV

Business Summit,Hyattsville, MD

York, Albany, NY

Atlanta, GA

Conference & Expo, Atlanta, GA

Las Vegas, NV

To see our full calendar of events, visit innotechtoday.com/events/

Doing business in California?

We’ve got you covered in 2020 with three must-attend events. Kick-off 2020 with this solar and storage event premiere!

Registration Now Open! This popular expo returns, focusing on the southern California market.

Register now with code NOCAEXPO to claim your FREE inaugural Expo Hall pass!

events.solar/exposouth

events.solar/exponorth Jan. 16-17 | San Francisco, CA

May 14-15 | San Diego, CA

BUNDLE OFFER: Register for both California regional events and get 50% off an expo hall pass for SPI, ESI, and North America Smart Energy Week 2020!* www.smartenergyweek.com *Must attend both events in order to receive offer

September 14-17, 2020 | Anaheim, CA

EVENTS


coming next issue

Winter 2019 Top 50 Most Innovative Products In the annual tradition of Innovation & Tech Today, we are closing out the year by listing our Top 50 Most Innovative Products of 2019. And let us tell you, it has been an incredible year for tech products. Between connected technology, gaming devices, STEM toys, outdoor gear, smart home hubs, and much more, this has been a banner year for technology. While it will be tough to narrow it down to just 50, we’re excited to show our readers the tech that will take them into the 2020s.

5 Years of Innovation & Tech Today Five years ago, our team had a mission: to cover the worlds of technology, sustainability, and STEM education with an unbiased, honest perspective. Five years later, our publication has grown substantially, telling stories about the people, places, and technology that continue to innovate our incredible world. With this in mind, our winter issue will feature some of the greatest content our team has created over the five years of Innovation & Tech Today, with interviews and stories that reflect the expansion of our award-winning publication.

Looking Forward to CES As we are celebrating five years of covering innovation, it makes sense that our winter issue will debut at the most innovative event in the tech world. CES looks to be bigger than ever in 2020, and we are aiming to reflect that with our gigantic anniversary edition. While we’re going to be doing plenty of our own work at the event, we look forward to seeing attendees and exhibitors alike checking out our packed anniversary issue.

Cream of the Cover Crop Each issue, our creative team puts hours and hours of thought into who would be the best fit to represent our publication on the front cover. Over the years, we have had some extremely insightful perspectives from a diverse array of experts, including physicist Michio Kaku, superstar actress Scarlett Johansson, adventure enthusiast Bear Grylls, chart-topping artist Akon, sci-fi starlet Olivia Munn, Shark Tank hosts Kevin O’Leary, Daymond John, and Mark Cuban, motion capture master Andy Serkis, multi-talented star Neil Patrick Harris, and many, many more. In order to celebrate our big anniversary, we’ll take a trip down memory lane with our most unforgettable cover features.

FALL 2019 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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The Lighter Side My Playstation 5 Wishlist By Ryan Nowell

iStockphoto.com/bestdesigns

So the next generation of video game consoles is fast approaching, with the red hot gossip machine of this year’s trade shows spuming forth a mighty pahoehoe of tech specs and new features and whispered launch titles. To be clear, I hate this. I’ve always hated this. Every time we transition consoles, gaming media turns into a google-eyed Big Foot truther, chasing wild rumors and blurry photographs and first-hand testimonials from sweaty, unkempt men. Inevitably, the yarnand-corkboard web of intrigue culminates in the unveiling of a slate gray box with slightly nicer bits inside than the dark gray box before it had. Which isn’t to say that that information isn’t an important part of making smart purchasing decisions, it’s just that said decision is a year and a half away. I’m an American consumer – if I had long-term decision making skills, I would be seriously questioning the wisdom of being both of those things. The hype machine will continue unabated regardless of how hard I curmudge. Let’s get constructive and break down the features I would most love to see. Crappier Graphics I’m not going to sit here and tell you pretty things aren’t pretty. That’s not how visual media or sentences work. But one must consider the

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hidden cost of shiny things. The lovelier video games have become, the more money is sunk lobbing each new project over the uncanny valley. And with the industry throwing so much into visuals, publishers have gotten risk-averse, stunting variety and innovation. I want my nextgen console to handle graphics the same way British TV shows handle casting – beauty is not a super high priority. I’m not saying it should be ugly, mind you, just awkward and ungainly, so that time can be spent on more compelling strengths than just being pretty.

narcs, recording every whimsical Narnian jaunt we embark upon. If the manufacturers decide to sell Gary’s info to a dystopian cabal of targeted marketing firms, there’s not a lot he can do about it other than compulsively buy online goods he finds inexplicably irresistible. Which I guess isn’t appreciably different from me selling details about Gary to this magazine, but what can I say? Capitalism, baby! Daddy needs a new set of irresistible online goods!

Less Connectivity Here’s a question that’s rhetorical unless you’re Gary: Why does Gary – who I haven’t seen since sophomore Poetry 201, ten years ago – know when I get a trophy for getting ten Golden Derps on the first level of Derp Hunt 2: Origins? He doesn’t need to know that. He doesn’t need a time-stamped ledger that mathematically proves my life is empty. And yes, you can change the settings so your former almost-friends don’t get intermittent news briefs about how the depression is still winning. New question, then: Why do I know when Gary is up at two in the morning, wandering the Forgotten Wastes in Online Fantasy Romp 14? That doesn’t seem at all my business, does it?

No VR Don’t get the wrong idea – I’m rooting for VR. No one wants this more than we children of the nineties. We still want it despite nearly every movie where someone straps on a headset and floats around a screen saver inevitably ended in their brain melting or with someone getting framed for murder. Seriously, every time. And the thing is, real VR is dangerous, just not in the rad and sexy way depicted in your Lawnmower Men or your Johnny Mnemonic. Mostly it’s people yacking from motion sickness and running into furniture. And I’m sorry, this is not a dream anyone would’ve chased for so long if at any point Tron stumbled into the china cabinet and then spent the next 15 minutes chundering into a paint bucket.

And we’re the least of Gary’s problems. Modern consoles are basically squat electronic

So I guess my ideal PS5 is just another PS2. Huh. ■


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Profile for Innovation & Tech Today

Innovation & Tech Today — Fall 2019  

The world is a curious place and we at Innovation & Tech Today love nothing more than exploring its mysteries and discoveries. There is none...

Innovation & Tech Today — Fall 2019  

The world is a curious place and we at Innovation & Tech Today love nothing more than exploring its mysteries and discoveries. There is none...