Page 1

WIKIPEDIA FOUNDER TAKES ON FAKE NEWS

WHAT YOUR WEARABLE KNOWS ABOUT YOUR HEALTH

WEIRD AL GOES INDIE

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

SPEAK NO EVIL STAR WARS’ ANDY SERKIS

HOW SMART IS YOUR HOME?

CUMBERBATCH VS. SHANNON

Adam Savage

Edison and Westinghouse Square Off inThe Current War

TAKES SCIENCE ON THE ROAD

SILICON SOUTHWEST: Fall 2017 Display until Dec. 26, 2017

Exploring Arizona’s Tech Zone


FROM THE PUBLISHER

Charles Warner, Publisher/ Editor-in-Chief

“Prepare for intriguing stories about all things tech and science. You want a smart home? You got it!”

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017

Join Us, and Together We Can Rule the Galaxy It is my honor to present you with the fall issue of Innovation & Tech Today.

By the way, if you haven’t been following the Innovation & Tech Today conversation online,

Whether you’re reading this on a tablet or in good old-fashioned print, we think you’re in for a treat. In this issue, we have assembled a tremendous collection of exclusive interviews, inspiring stories, event coverage, and, of course, amazing new products. Let’s not forget that we have the uber-talented Andy Serkis on the cover – which makes this our timely Star Wars issue. As a big Star Wars geek myself, I couldn’t be happier. Bring it, Supreme Leader Snoke!

then you’re missing out. We have unboxing

And how about the dynamic duo of Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon playing Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse in The Current War? With some of the most dynamic actors at the top of their game, it is no wonder this upcoming film has already garnered some early Oscar buzz.

few pages away in this edition’s “Since Last

Of course, we have a lot more than entertainment in this issue. Prepare for intriguing stories about all things tech and science. You want a smart home? You got it! Just make sure you check out everything you need to “educate” your home in our “Home Schooling” feature – giving you the perfect shopping list for making your neighbors jealous. Speaking of smart homes, you may be reading this at our pre-release at the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association show – the IoT extravaganza more popularly known as CEDIA. So, look for us to bring you the best of the best from that event in our upcoming winter issue and on our website.

place to purchase the cool tech and innovative

videos and product demos sure to interest the tech geek in you. Who knows? You may even get a few laughs. Our content is also available on Apple News – so make sure you follow us there and, of course, on social media. But, hey, everyone out there asks for that. Why follow us? Well, because we give away a lot of free gear from our advertisers, that’s why. In fact, pictures of our recent E3 Prize Pack winners are just a Issue.” Lastly, make sure you are subscribed to our newsletter, as each week we send out an award-winning package of features with some really cool tech, special discounts, and more giveaways – just for our followers. Have you seen our online store yet? That’s a products we bring to you, our subscribers and followers. And, if you’re a fan, you’re automatically qualified for special discounts. Alright, no more shameless plugs. I am going to get out of the way and let you dig into our finest issue yet. Enjoy, with our compliments.


CENSORED!

separate


PUBLISHER/ EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Charles Warner cwarner@goipw.com

Published by INNOVATIVE PROPERTIES WORLDWIDE, INC 3400 E. Bayaud Ave., #280, Denver, CO 80209 | (720) 476-4920 www.innotechtoday.com info@innotechtoday.com

SPECIAL THANKS TO: Chris Rosenbluth, The USA Science & Engineering Festival, Sustainable Brands, The Weinstein Company, Jay Levey, Nicole Quenqua, Celena Madlansacay, Tara Yant, Rose Wang, Wavegarden, Brian Smith, Rebecca Taylor, Jerry Schmitz, and Pat Ammons. This publication is dedicated to the dreamers, the innovators, the collaborators, and the doers – who can’t be bothered by those saying it can’t be done. Nicholas and Aria, the future is yours!

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017

All trademarks, service marks, photos, and logos contained within this publication are the property of their respective owners, and may not be individually identified in this publication.


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contents

FALL 2017

68 Capturing Andy Serkis By Alex Moersen Photo by John Russo

Departments 12 Since Last Issue 14 By the Numbers 16 Event Wrap-Ups 18 Quick Bytes 28 Women in Tech 30 Ag-Tech

32 Social Media 34 Science 36 Drones 144 Product Revolution 156 Events 158 Coming Next Issue 160 Lighter Side

38 Innovator Profile Jimmy Wales Takes on Fake News

40 Connected Car What Will Your Car Think of Next? 44 C  harged and Ready, But Why Can’t EVs Get Going? 46 Onboard and V2V Security

48 Security Cyber Threats vs. Nuclear Threats 50 Why Everyone Should be a Tech Guru 52 The Legacy of Leaked Media

45 Autoliv and Jan Carlson

54 Outdoor+Adventure Tech Gaming with the UFC’s Mighty Mouse 56 Getting Outdoors with the RBFF 58 Making Artificial Waves 60 Gear Guide

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017


62 Health Tech Smartphone, M.D. 64 Wearables and Health

68 Gaming+Entertainment 74 Weird Al Goes Indie 78 Cumberbatch v. Shannon: Genius at War 84 Voice Acting All-Stars 88 Interview: Janina Gavankar

90 Tech Zone Arizona, The Silicon Southwest 92 Phoenix, The Connected Place 94 Flagstaff’s Past & Present 96 Ethical Hacking in Sierra Vista 98 Mesa’s Aerospace Industry 100 Arizona’s Female Entrepreneurs

102 Connected Life How to Educate Your Home 110 Smart Realty 112 The Future of the Smart Home 114 Rise of the Home Tech Pro 116 Delving into Datamining

118 STEM Today

Produced in Partnership with the USA Science & Engineering Festival

Adam Savage Takes Science on the Road 124 School Nutrition’s Changing Menu 128 STEM & Beyond at Space Camp

78 C  umberbatch v. Shannon: Genius at War

130 Jobs of the Future, Jobs of Today Online Jobs and How Much They Make

134 Sustainability Today Produced in Partnership with Sustainable Brands

Adopting the Bug Diet 140 The Problem of E-Waste

150 Art & Tech Cuphead’s Hand-Drawn Adventure

FALL 2017 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

9


Complicated.


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M E D I A

S Y S T E M S


Since Last Issue

Top: Readers at E3 discover Golden Tickets in the summer issue of Innovation & Tech Today for our E3 Prize Pack Giveaway. Bottom left: Assistant Editor Anthony Elio poses for a backstage photo with Conan O’Brien. Bottom middle/ right: Social media shoutouts from summer cover star Robert Herjavec and Outdoor+Adventure Tech feature Callie Bundy.

Check out Innovation & Tech Today on social media!

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innotechtoday

innotechtoday

innotechtodaymagazine

INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017


NEW

. . y l e m i T So

FujifilmInstax.com; Facebook.com/FUJIFILM.INSTAX; @Instax; @fujifilm_instax_northamerica FUJIFILM, INSTAX and SHARE AN ORIGINAL are trademarks of FUJIFILM Corporation and its affiliates. ©2017 FUJIFILM North America Corporation. All rights reserved.


e NUMB RS

by the

A look at the metrics shaping the technology market — and our lives

One look at the social media feeds of 2017 and you’ll see how streaming video has drastically altered the norms of media consumption. Here are some of the astounding figures behind this growing industry.

$12.5 BILLION

Piracy

Over one billion users on YouTube (almost ⅓ of the internet’s population)

IN ECONOMIC LOSS YEARLY FROM PIRACY

category category

Public Public Torrent

Stream Rippers Stream

0 0 0 , 0 0 1,000,0 D S WAT C H E ON) HOUR (O N E B IL LI

D A ILY

Video Streaming Sites by Global Alexa Ranking YOUTUBE #32 NETFLIX #43 TWITCH.TV #123 DAILY MOTION

2,249,361,223

Torrent0

20

0

Music Streaming

20

40

60 56%

50

30 20

11%

10 20

11%

0 10 never

never

50

Paying Spotify Subscribers in Millions

about 1x/ week

about 1x/ week 39

40

60

8%

8% about 1x/ month

7%

10

10

0.5

1

1.5

2.5

3

4

5

12.5

6%

4%

4%

3%

15

6

7/10 3/11 6/11 11/11 1/12 8/12 12/12 3/13 5/14 11/14 1/15 6/15 3/16 8/16 9/16 3/17 SOURCES: Statista, YouTube, Spotify, Alexa

3%

1x every 1-2x few season season months or less

40

0

INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017

Stream Illegally

about 50 every 1x/ 1x/ 2-3 week month weeks or more

20

20

100

1x every7% 1x/ 6% every season 4%1-2x 2-3 week few 4% season weeks or more months or less

30

30

80

Percentage of Premier League of Percentage soccer Fans That Premier League Stream Illegally soccer Fans That

56%

50

0

14

179,549,999,693 Total visits 179,549,999,693 Total visits 40 60 80 100

40 30

SITE

#2

by category

7,873,380,913

Rippers

40

(as of this writing)

RANK

piracy sites by category

7,873,380,913

Private 2,249,361,223 Torrent Private

60

Global visits to

Global 29,600,229,153piracy sitesvisits to

29,600,229,153

Download

every minute.

BILLION

31,918,705,429

Web Web Download

of content uploaded to YouTube

$70.05

31,918,705,429

Torrent

300 hours

BY 2021, VIDEO STREAMING TO REACH REVENUES OF

107,908,322,972 107,908,322,972

Streaming Streaming

20

billion

hours of music streamed on Spotify in 2015

Image credits from left; Courtesy of YouTube via snap / Images courtesy of Vecteezy. com / Images courtesy of freepik.com / Images courtesy of Spotify.

Video Streaming


[ Event Wrap-Ups ]

Sustainable Brands

Hosting the newest innovations in environmental and social good, Sustainable Brands took Detroit by storm, featuring some of the most prominent leaders in sustainability. Speakers included everyone from the CEO and founder of Chobani, Hamdi Ulukaya, to the Lead of Sustainability for Google Inc., Kate Brandt.

E3 2017

E3 once again packed the Los Angeles Convention Center with the top names in the computer, video, and mobile game industries. With major announcements from Nintendo, Sony, Ubisoft, Bethesda, EA, Microsoft, and many more, it’s no wonder why E3 is the premier event for gaming.

Comic Con

The bacchanalia of nerdom that is the San Diego Comic-Con has drawn a lot of mainstream recognition. And now it seems that every major city has its own offshoot, featuring no shortage of celebrity appearances. This year’s festivities included the cast of Justice League, along with Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford from the upcoming Bladerunner sequel.

Photos Sustainable Brands

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017

Photos E3 Images

Photos Denver Comic Con and I&T Today/Paul French


www.z-wavealliance.org


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Revenge of the Two-Headed Worm

Getting superpowers in space is not an uncommon trope. From the Fantastic Four to Venom, science fiction generally portrays space as the origin of some interesting supernatural changes. Well, sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction, as a worm came back from its trip to space with an extra head. The flatworm, which was cut and sent to the International Space Station to study the effects of space on cell activity, returned to Earth with two heads after regeneration. Even stranger, after amputation, the worm continued to regenerate with more than one head, as if it had been reconfigured to have multiple noggins. While it may sound like something from a science-fiction film, the results of the experiment could give scientists insight into human cell changes in space. Wait, did we ever check how many heads Neil Armstrong came back with?

An amputated flatworm fragment sent to space regenerated into a double-headed worm, a rare spontaneous occurrence. Photo Junji Morokuma/Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University.

Real-Life Batman Cape Batman is most famous for his brooding presence, his strict moral code, and, of course, his gadgets. And now one of his most famous gadgets is closer than ever to becoming reality: the bat cape. Bruce Wayne was apparently way ahead of his time, as it has taken scientists years to figure out how much voltage dielectric membranes can take before they break. Dielectric membranes are lightweight soft materials that can deploy and stiffen when put under high voltage, which would allow Batman to glide through the city of Gotham. Now, researchers at Northern University of Ireland have discovered a formula that shows how much voltage is needed to activate dielectric membranes, without breaking them. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/ TM & (c) DC Comics

Laser Tractors

This technology could be applied to far more than chasing down The Joker. The applications for these materials could involve everything from artificial human muscles to smart clothes with electronic capabilities. But who knows? It may not be long before we see a shadowy figure flying through our cities.

Ah, weeds. Foe to many a green thumb, these insidious plants have prompted the use of hundreds of millions of pounds of toxic pesticides each year, and sometimes that still isn’t enough. So what’s next? Tractors with with laser beams on their heads? Actually, yes.

Pastrana and Wigbels hope that their idea will provide a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to many of the toxic chemicals in use today: “We will no longer need to use herbicides on our fields and the environment will be protected,” said Wigbels. Tim Wigbels (left) and Julio Pastrana (right) with their weed recognition software, detecting a plant and how the laser system is damaging its foliage.

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017

© Photo: Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn

Julio Pastrana and Tim Wigbels, two computer scientists at the University of Bonn in Germany, are currently developing an all-terrain robot (and tractor attachment) that will use cameras to detect weeds before killing them with short laser pulses.


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Robot Rock

“Can a robot write a symphony?” It’s the rhetorical question Will Smith’s character poses in the film I, Robot, set in the year 2035. However, given recent leaps in musical A.I., it’s also a question that could be asked today, and not so rhetorically either. Developed by Gil Weinberg, director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Music Technology, Shimon is a robot that can not only compose music but play it as well. When researchers supply it with “seed” music (everything from Beethoven to Lady Gaga), Shimon is able to use deep learning technology to create its own original songs and play them on the marimba. “We want to explore whether robots could become musically creative and generate new music that we humans could find beautiful, inspiring, and strange,” Weinberg explained. However, until it can write a song as good as Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok,” we’re not impressed.

20th Century Fox

R: Gil Weinberg

Urine For A Great Show While the food trucks and beer tents are popular stops for music festival attendees, the public restrooms definitely get their fair share of attention. However, unlike those others stops, the urinals at this year’s Glastonbury Festival did much more than just serve beerswilling headbangers; they also served a sustainable purpose. Powered by technology from the Bristol Bioenergy Center (BBiC), a 40-person urinal used over 1,000 liters of urine daily to power the music festival’s display signs. The technology, which utilizes bacteria located in microbial fuel cells, can turn organic waste into biochemical energy. Located close to the Pyramid Stage where the The National and Radiohead performed, the urinals showcased the BBiC technology, which can also provide lighting and even charge your phone. If that isn’t extra motivation for festival goers to stay hydrated, we don’t know what is. UWE Bristol

Pavlov’s Vows

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017

Pixabay

Keeping a marriage thriving and exciting is a challenge. But now there may be a simple – and extremely adorable – solution to improving those duller moments. The cure, as is the case with many of life’s maladies, is puppies and bunnies. A team of psychological scientists led by James K. McNulty of Florida State University has developed a program for helping marriages maintain their spark. Coincidentally, the initial experiment worked similarly to that of Pavlov’s canines. The goal was to repeatedly link a very positive stimulus (puppies and bunnies) with an unrelated one (your spouse). This continuous link creates a positive association over time. And, behold, the data showed that the conditioning worked. Participants who were exposed to positive images paired with their partners' faces showed more positive reactions to their partner over time, compared with those who saw neutral pairings. So, if your relationship is in a rut, there may be an adorable little friend who can help.


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QUICK BYTES 001001100100110010010011001

Butt Out of My Nest

Photos Dreamstime

A beneficial cigarette habit may sound like an oxymoron, but, for urban house finches, cigarettes help keep the nest parasite-free. For years, Constantino Macías Garcia at the National Autonomous University of Mexico has been studying the curious nest construction of these birds. Urban finches seemed to use cigarette butts in their nests to deter pests and insects. However, while nicotine does have anti-parasitic properties, it was not conclusive whether this was the birds' goal. So Garcia and his team experimented with 32 house-finch nests, adding live ticks to 10 nests, dead ticks to 10 nests, and leaving 12 nests tick-free. The adult finches were significantly more likely to add cigarette butts to the nest if it contained ticks. On top of that, the weight of cigarette material added to nests containing live ticks was, on average, 40 percent greater than that of the nests containing dead ticks. Although the butts can cause genetic damage to the finches by interfering with cell division, it is assumed that the benefits outweigh the costs. It seems that one person’s addiction is another bird’s pest control.

The Genetics of Geekiness

The results of a recent study conducted by King’s College London and the Seaver Autism Center suggest that a father’s age may play a role in the future academic success of his offspring. Researchers produced a “geek index” score for each of the nearly 8,000 12-year-old participants based on the results of online tests designed to measure “geeky” genetic traits, including non-verbal IQ, intensity of focus, and social aloofness. The average scores of children born to fathers 50 and older was 47 – a full eight points higher than the children born to fathers 25 or younger. Why this is the case is anybody’s guess, though current theories suggest that both genetic and environmental factors may be at play. Since a higher geek score was also predictive of scholastic achievement, it may be tempting for parents to have children later, though the researchers caution that because of the developmental risks of delaying parenthood, you probably shouldn’t.

Forgetting at a Snail’s Pace Do you ever wish you could forget that time you embarrassed yourself at the high school dance or when you accidentally Googled that one thing with the SafeSearch off? Well, after a recent scientific discovery, it might be possible to do just that. If you’re a snail, that is. A new study by the Columbia University Medical Center and McGill University researchers found that particular memories can be erased from the Aplysia snail. Most importantly, they found this could be done without altering any other memories stored in the same neuron. The results of this experiment could significantly improve the lives of those suffering from PTSD and anxiety, as the discovery could lead to the creation of certain drugs to remove unpleasant memories. And, if it can help you forget about the time you had to watch Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, all the better. Photo Dr. Leonid L Moroz./Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017


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Dreamstime

Happy 300,000th Birthday, Homo Sapiens

It was presumed that modern Homo sapiens evolved roughly 200,000 years ago, when two ancient humans fell in love by the ol’ tar pits and went home together. The rest, as they say, is history. A new find, however, suggests that date may have occurred much earlier. Archaeologists at a dig site called Jebel Irhoud in Morocco recently found the remains of several humans believed to be between 285,000 and 350,000 years old – about 100,000 years older than the current oldest remains. The location of the dig site in northern Africa also suggests that, contrary to previous beliefs, H. sapiens split from earlier Homo species in many places at once. “Our model is one where there was probably evolution of different populations of H. sapiens in different parts of Africa,” said anthropologist and co-author of the research Jean-Jacques Hublin to LiveScience. “When the environment changed…we think there were episodes of connection and exchanges between different populations.”

Heart of Spinach In addition to being the favorite vegetable of Popeye and the least favorite on most kids’ dinner plates, spinach could be the catalyst for a major medical breakthrough. Scientists have recently conducted a number of experiments in which beating human heart cells were grown on spinach leaves. The experiments were conducted by removing the plant cells using a detergent solution, turning the leaf completely clear. Following their use of spinach, the scientists replicated the experiment with sweet wormwood, parsley, and peanut hairy roots. While the addition of beating heart cells probably won’t make spinach any more appetizing, the results of the experiment create some interesting possibilities. This newfound ability to grow functioning heart cells could someday be helpful in treating heart attack patients. Now if only the scientists could find a way to make spinach taste like pizza… WPI (Worcester Polytechnical Institute)

Paint Power If there’s any criticism of solar panels, it’s that they can tend to stick out a bit. But what if there were a source of sustainable energy that wasn’t so obtrusive? Believe it or not, it may be possible to get clean energy through paint alone. Mixing titanium oxide particles with synthetic molybdenumsulphide, researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne were able to create a new form of paint that can absorb sunlight and water vapor in order to produce hydrogen, which, coincidentally, is the cleanest source of energy. “Our new development has a big range of advantages,” said lead researcher Torben Daeneke. “There’s no need for clean or filtered water to feed the system. Any place that has water vapor in the air, even remote areas far from water, can produce fuel.” This technology could be revolutionary. But, unfortunately, it won’t prevent couples from arguing over which shade of eggshell would look best on the garage door. RMIT Melbourne

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017


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Patrick Eccelsine/FOX

DEPARTMENTS / Women in Tech

The Sound of Science Ann Druyan, Producer of Humanity’s Most Important Album, Talks Voyager and Education

Golden disc images courtesy NASA/JPL

Forty years ago, Ann Druyan, along with future husband and famed astrophysicist Carl Sagan, set out to create one of humanity’s greatest legacies. Her mission? Developing a phonograph record to represent the entire planet. Nature, language, music – the essence of Earth was etched into the golden records affixed to the Voyager spacecrafts, with graphic instructions in the case of extraterrestrial contact. We got the chance to speak to this interstellar science communicator about Voyager, STEM, and American culture.

The Voyager 1 Golden Record is prepared for installation on the spacecraft.

Innovation & Tech Today: With the 40th anniversary of Voyager, do you feel a particular nostalgia for the project? I know it’s gotten a lot of attention in the press. Has it stirred up any memories for you? Any feelings? Ann Druyan: You know, there’s something about human beings that loves these round numbers, this false pattern recognition that seems to mean so much to us. So, yes, I do feel something special. I guess it’s spurred by the astonishing global outpouring of love and tenderness towards the project and its aspirations. I feel like our haunted little planet,

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017

NASA.gov

By P.K. French

so deeply troubled at this moment, is appreciating that some time in the not-toodistant past there was an enterprise which aspired to represent the whole planet in the best possible way we could. And so, yes, I feel it all the time, but I’m feeling it now more than ever. I&T Today: There’s been a growing awareness of the importance of getting girls and women involved in STEM fields. In your experience, what are some concrete steps we can take to involve young girls and women in STEM? AD: More movies like Hidden Figures wouldn’t hurt. More popular entertainment which tells the stories of some of the women who’ve yet to be celebrated for the roles that they played in helping us to better understand nature. There are many such figures who we’ve basically ignored coming to light. I see us as a story-driven species, and I also see popular entertainment, whether it be movies or television, as the place where you can change minds. You can open hearts; you can get people to see what’s right. I also think we need to take public education, which has fallen into the most reckless and destructive hands at this moment, and we need

The sounds of nature, language, and music are aboard the Voyager spacecraft. As this is written, Voyager 1 is approx. 13 billion miles away from Earth.

to wrest it back from the kind of people who are running [it] today. You know, Carl Sagan and yours truly were products of a first-rate public education, children of people who couldn’t afford to send us to private schools, and wouldn’t’ve even thought about it…I see that as the strongest single lever arm, besides popular culture, to turn people towards the scientific perspective, towards logic, towards reason. I&T Today: Would you say that science and anti-science are fairly balanced at this point in our culture, or is one side winning over the other? AD: In my opinion, I feel like there’s a coalescing global community of people who recognize the power of science, who prefer its awesome capability to reveal the stunning complexity of nature, who recognize that scientists around the world are sounding the alarm on climate change. I think more people are actually aware of the scientific perspective than ever before. I think the assaults on public education in our country since late January of this year are certainly reason for concern, but I think that there’s a general awareness on the part of the public, which if anything is greater than ever.


DEPARTMENTS / AgTech

Salinas Valley and the Future of Farming

By Alex Moersen

Traditional agriculture may be on the decline, but Salinas is providing a look at things to come. By the year 2050, it is projected that the world’s population will hit 9.1 billion, 34 percent higher than today. According to a Food and Agriculture Organization report, food production will need to increase by 70 percent to support these numbers. Population growth doesn’t just mean more people; it also means less land. Adding to this food production problem is a U.S. farm labor shortage – a result of an aging workforce combined with a decrease in immigrant workers. This has led to slower (and more expensive) production. Given all these factors, things are not looking good if the world wants to feed 9.1 billion in the next 30 years. Since farm expansion isn’t an option, people are finding new ways to produce higher and more efficient yields through agricultural technology. For new innovations in ag-tech, there is no greater place to start than Salinas Valley, California, charmingly known as “The Salad Bowl.” According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture 2016 Report, California was the sole producer (with 99% or more of the nation’s supply) of almonds, artichokes, dates, figs, grapes, kiwifruit, olives, pistachios, peaches, pomegranates, sweet rice, and walnuts. Not only is California the home of the country’s largest agricultural producers and exporters but it also hosts the country’s hottest tech hub, Silicon Valley. So, it is in Salinas Valley, just an hour south of Silicon, that California’s innovations in agriculture and tech converge. Home to agricultural giants such as Dole Food, Chiquita, and Driscoll Berries, Salinas Valley is changing the focus of its $9 billion industry. Historically reliant on human power, Salinas Valley is beginning to concentrate on information technology and automated farming. Andy Matsui, a Japanese immigrant who found success in Salinas, donated $2.9 million to start

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017

the Steinbeck Innovation Cluster (named after native author John Steinbeck), a three-year computer science program at Hartnell College and Cal State Monterey Bay. The program hopes to turn the children of farmworkers into the coders of the next generation. In downtown Salinas, the Western Growers Association for Innovation and Technology has set up shop in hopes to create the first major wave of ag-tech startups. The association currently hosts 37 startups working on everything from drone and satellite-based mapping, to soil sensors, solar energy, and appbased data management. What else has come out of Salinas Valley? How about an automatic lettuce harvester equipped with water knives? The machine uses ultra-high-pressure blasts that cut through lettuce and then sends the leaves to workers who trim and sort them. There’s also AgriData, which has created a machine that can be driven through fields, track fruits and vegetables, and predict yields. In California, where rain is a rarity, many farms are using soil detectors that monitor moisture content and allow for more efficient water use. In processing plants, machines do quality control, detecting undesirable fruits and vegetables and sorting them out of distribution. While the debate around automation may be

Top: A computer science class taking place at Hartnell College, developing the future agricultural coders of Salinas. Hartnell College Above/Left: HeavyConnect’s all-Latino, mostly female staff of engineers works on software development, including Bluetooth beacon research. Wexus, a WGCIT startup, offers an energy-efficient platform that tracks a farmer’s water and energy efficiency, translating into a simple, easy-to-understand format. Western Growers Association

heated, Salinas has worked to find the balance between a robotic and human workforce. These new opportunities in information technology and robotics are good news for a city where around one in five residents live below the poverty level. These new innovations will hopefully not only create more opportunity for the people of Salinas but also make food production more efficient for the world’s growing population. ■


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DEPARTMENTS / Social Media

How to Lose Your Job in 140 Characters Carly Crunk Bear @Crunk_Bear Baked as f*** grading these papers... Carly Crunk Bear @Crunk_Bear Baked as f*** grading these papers... By Hilary Cranford and Anthony Elio

Angry Cops @CopsNoMore Online privacy is an illusion. It Been using these great #workout #supplements doesn’t exist. All it takes is one Angry Cops @CopsNoMore and getting huge #gains and hitting new #goals !!! poor choice when making a social Been using these great #workout #supplements #evidence #coke #gym media post to destroy your and getting huge #gains and hitting new #goals !!! reputation and bring about a level #evidence #coke #gym Vine Day Afternoon of personal fame that you hadn’t Glee Extra A police officer was suspended@SpoilerAlert Carly Crunk Bear @Crunk_Bear planned for. The fact that all social The prom king and queen in the episode you without pay after his Vine webseries media posts are potentially public Baked as f*** grading these papers... Glee Extra @SpoilerAlert “Angry Cops” showed him, in full haven’t seen yet are Kurt and Dave! means that people can have access The prom king and queen in the episode you uniform, gleefully joking about Paging Mrs. CarlyCrunkBear to posts that you never intended a haven’t seen yetoutare Kurt and Dave! shooting a man because he was of Under the Twitter handle of “CarlyCrunkBear,” a 10th grade larger audience to see. This vacation days and stealing cocaine teacher was placed on academic leave after posting Tweets includes potential employers. Former Taco Bell Employee @Unemployed Angry Copsalong with @CopsNoMore from the evidence room. It’s just too about smoking marijuana a number of racy photos. There is a growing awareness of Guess where I work #nachobellgrande Been using these great #workout #supplemen bad we had to miss out on theBell Employee With such@Unemployed insightful tweets as “#SpliffManiac Nothings better Former Taco the role that social media plays in #pissolympics Carly Crunk Bear @Crunk_Bear conversation wherewhere the commissioner andmarijuana” gettingand huge #gains andwe hitting new #goa than medical “Naked. Wet. Stoned,” can someone’s professional livelihood, Guess I work #nachobellgrande Baked as f*** grading these papers... said, “Give me your gun, your badge, only hope Mrs. CarlyCrunkBear wasn’t heading up the English #evidence #coke #gym with debates arising about #pissolympics and your Vine password.” department. whetherCarly or not employers Crunkcan Bear @Crunk_Bear Didn’t Make it to Day 1 terminate workersas based on their Baked f*** grading these papers... @MiserableMillennial @SpoilerAlert AGlee Fatty,Extra Nonexistent Paycheck social media misfires. For instance, Didn’t Make it to Day 1 Cisco just offered me a job! The prom king and queen the episode you A 22-year-old UC Berkeley graduate didin something according to CareerBuilder, “37% @MiserableMillennial Angry Cops @CopsNoMore Now I have to weigh the haven’t seen yet Kurtmedia: andcomplain Dave! absolutely nobody ever doesare on social of companies use social networks Cisco just offered me aBeen job! these great #workout #supplements utility of a fatty paycheck using about her job. However, there was a slight twist to her illto research potential job Now I have to weigh the and getting huge #gains and new #goals !!! advised post, as she had not evenhitting started her first day at Angry Cops candidates. ” That said, here are @CopsNoMore against the daily commute utility of a fatty paycheck #evidence #coke #gym Cisco. The Tweet in question lamented her need to San Jose and hating using these great #workoutto#supplements some ofBeen the putrid posts, shameful Former Taco Bell Employee @Unemploy against the daily commute “weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily shares, and rancid retweetshuge that #gains and hitting the new work.#goals !!! and getting Guess where I work #nachobellgrande to San Jose and hating commute to San Jose and hating the work.” Looks like have led#evidence to people cleaning out #gym #coke Glee Extra @SpoilerAlert #pissolympics the work. her problem worked itself out. their desks.

The prom king and queen in the episode you haven’t seen yet are Kurt and Dave! Glee Extra @SpoilerAlert Didn’t Make it to Day 1 The prom king and queen in the episode you @MiserableMillennial haven’t seen yet are Kurt and Dave! Cisco justEmployee offered me a @Unemployed job! Former Taco Bell NowI Iwork have#nachobellgrande to weigh the Guess where Seriously, No Spoilers utility of a fatty paycheck The Glee fanbase was shaken one calm day in April 2011 when a #pissolympics Former Taco Bell Employee @Unemployed against the daily commute supporting actress did the unthinkable – she spoiled the identities of Guess where I work #nachobellgrande Would You Liketo Urine SanWith JoseThat? and hating the show’s prom queen and king, disappointing anyone who openly A TacoDidn’t Bell employee Tweeted a shocking the work. admitted#pissolympics to watching Glee. She was promptly fired from the show, Make it to Day 1photo of himself urinating onto a plate of nachos, utilizing the caption “guess where I work?” After he presumably after also informing people that Darth Vader is Luke’s @MiserableMillennial used the hashtags #nachobellgrande and #pissolympics, the employee’s father and Snape killed Dumbledore. Cisco just offered me a job! Didn’t Make it to Day 1 identity was uncovered by Anonymous and his information was shared Now I have to weigh the @MiserableMillennial with the general public. Now when will Anonymous uncover the identity utility of a fatty paycheck Cisco just offered me a job! of the guy who burnt my Crunchwrap Supreme? against the daily commute Now I have to weigh the to San Jose and hating utility of a fatty paycheck the work. & TECH TODAY FALL 2017commute 32 INNOVATION against the| daily to San Jose and hating


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DEPARTMENTS / Science

Deciphering Dolphins

Using VR to uncover the language of dolphins

Schnöller and his team utilize freediving in their research. “If you have to go in the water for three minutes, you have to equalize your oxygen. You have to be very smooth in the way you move, and very smooth in the way you think… You are not dangerous. You are not a threat.” Photos Fred Buyle/Nektos.net

By Alex Moersen Dolphins have long impressed and entertained off the bows of boats with their acrobatic feats and playful nature. But there may be more to their interactions with humans than we thought. In fact, dolphins have a very sophisticated form of communication and have even attempted to connect with people. Few researchers are more familiar with these animals than Fabrice Schnöller – French engineer, freelance biologist, and acoustic researcher – who has been studying them for 10 years. Schnöller’s unique use of freediving (diving without a breathing apparatus) has allowed him to get more intimate interactions than previous researchers.

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saying their name and nobody was answering.” If dolphins have been talking to us all along, is there a potential conversation to be had? Schnöller was skeptical, saying, “Conversation is the protocol of human communication.” Within a human interaction, both parties would introduce themselves and then alternate in speaking. With dolphins, it is quite different. “We are quite sure now that dolphins can do multiple communications at the same time with different animals…They are in a conference mode,” he said.

Schnöller’s research has proven to be very fruitful. One such example is the study of dolphin introductions. As he describes it, dolphins produce a kind of signature when they come towards you. In other words, they announce themselves. “If I was a dolphin, I would talk to you and I would say ‘Fabrice,’” he explained. He then elaborated:

Because dolphins use very direct, narrow beams of sound to communicate, it is easy for them to know that they are being addressed; they already know the message is for them. However, the source of the message is another matter. “They don’t know who is talking to them because sometimes the sound is coming from a transmitter and they don’t see it. So, if you were a dolphin, the protocol would be when you talk to me, you say your name,” he explained.

“You could interpret it and say, ‘Okay, they introduced themselves. This is its name.’ So, it’s interesting, you know, because maybe for thousands of years, people have been looking at dolphins…and all this time they have been

Adding to Schnöller’s research is his unique use of VR and 360-degree cameras to record dolphins in their natural habitat: “You need a camera in every direction, and you need an acoustic antenna so you can calculate and say, ‘I

INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017

am sure it is this one that made this whistle.’” The fact that dolphins don’t actually move their mouths when they produce sounds makes it difficult to track which message is coming from which dolphin. But, with a camera in every direction, it’s easier for Schnöller to find out who’s talking. Rather than having many cameras pointed in different directions, the team can use the latest 360-degree cameras to capture their subjects. All of this new information about dolphin communication may just seem like fun facts, but Schnöller thinks his research could improve conservation efforts. “You can give all the information you want about the number of animals that are dying and the trends of temperature and everything, but I don’t think people will change their behavior,” he said. “If you put in them emotion, they make a change.” Schnöller believes that virtual reality has helped facilitate this by allowing people to come face to face with the animals in a way they would not have been able to do otherwise. As a result, they can learn that these animals have a sophisticated language, one which shows that they are more like humans than previously thought. “That’s why language, for me, is the most important thing,” Schnöller said.


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DEPARTMENTS / Drones

Drone of All Trades By Everin Draper NASA Photo / Tom MIller

It may be hard to believe that drones are used for anything outside of military operations or Amazon deliveries. However, these unmanned vehicles have a variety of applications, helping people do everything from mapping landscapes to monitoring construction sites. Their maneuverability and convenience allow them to access places that would be too difficult or expensive for humans. Drones provide a unique point of view for a multitude of industries, and people are finding many creative ways to take advantage of this technology. That said, here are a few exciting, non-traditional uses for drones from around the world.

Storm Chasing Drones can easily go places that are too dangerous for humans. That’s why NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and global security company Northrop Grumman teamed up to use long-range Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to monitor storms as they evolve. The drones they use can reach and stay in stormy areas that would be hazardous for manned planes. UAVs allow the team to safely track storm evolution data in hopes of improving future prediction powers.

Search and Rescue With the use of thermal sensors, drones can be especially helpful while looking for missing persons. In Saskatchewan, Canada, a disoriented victim of a car accident had wandered off in a remote location. A ground search and air ambulance with night-vision gear failed to find him. However, after a cellphone call from the driver hinted at his whereabouts, a drone with thermal sensors was deployed and quickly found him, saving the driver from a potentially fatal night in subfreezing temperatures.

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017

STEM Education DIY drone kits are perfect for STEM education pertaining to engineering. For instance, the Drone Kit by Circuit Scribe allows the user to build their very own drone using cardboard. Using a a non-toxic conductive pen (the Circuit Scribe) to draw the traces from the hub to the propeller and make the electrical connections, builders can configure the drone, attach the propellers, access the controller app, and watch the drone fly away. The DIY kit allows students to build the drone in different ways to see what design flies best, providing some basic introductions to aerospace engineering.

Northrop Grumman/Terry Pfrang.

Precision Agriculture Agriculture has been using drones longer than most industries. The most prominent example is in Japan, where drones are used to monitor and tend to farms. The steep hillsides that host many of Japan’s plantations make them almost impossible to access with a tractor, while a drone can treat an acre in just minutes. The UAVs allow for precision application of pesticides, water, and fertilizers. Drones can also better identify exactly what resources are needed where, benefitting both the environment and the farmer.

Circuit Scribe

Wildlife Conservation Many government and conservation organizations use drones in wildlife protection efforts. It is especially helpful for animals that are difficult to track from the ground. The Orangutan Conservancy uses drones to identify the animals’ distribution and density in Indonesia and Malaysia. A process that would be slow, costly, and inefficient by ground due to the Orangutan’s thick forest habitat is made quicker and cheaper by the use of drones.

www.ConservationDrones.org

From top:The two yellow-and-black pods under the wings of NASA Global Hawk house atmospheric measurement probes. The Rotary-Bat , which is based on the Yamaha RMAX used for agricultural treatments, stands ready for any rapid deployment search and rescue, power line inspection, border patrol, and forest fire observation. (Middle) DIY STEM drone. (Bottom) A photo-collage of ~35 orangutan nests in SE Asian rain forests taken by cameras on board Conservation Drones.


innovator profile

I

Satire like the “Radiohead” example should be easy enough to sniff out (viral though that actual headline went). Even so, it’s fairly innocuous. But what about that defamatory “Man Who Discovered HIV” headline? What about stories of chemtrails, Pizzagates, and *shudder* giant space turtles carrying the earth? (Look it up…or don’t). I’ll spare you the Chicken Little sermon. If Google’s analytics on searches for “fake news” since last November are any indication, everyone’s aware of the wildfire. The problem is that, at least from a journalistic standpoint, watching the fourth pillar burn down can make one cynical about what a handful of well-meaning rags can do. How could the gumshoe fact-checking of hundreds of traditional newspapers and magazines possibly out-shout the thousands of clickbait content farms out there? Even as I write this, Snopes’ archive has collected several new fables. Apparently, a Fidget Spinner caused an Ohio teacher to lose an eye… Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is no stranger to the internet’s relationship with misinformation. After all, in its early days, Wikipedia’s reputation for mendacity preceded it – especially in college classrooms, where “Never Use Wikipedia” could be found tattooed on countless English 101 syllabi. This distrust was the result of the online encyclopedia’s editorial model. When Wales,

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017

ia Wikimed

nformation can now travel at the speed of belief. Take the adjacent headlines, all pooled on Snopes from various fake news sites – some blatantly dubious and others bearing all the trappings of an established purveyor. The notorious Denver Guardian, for instance, (responsible for spreading the rumor of an FBI agent killed after the Clinton email leak in 2016) even displayed the local weather in the top corner of its otherwise empty website.

om y via Flickr.c Donkeyhote

Pexels.com

m Pixabay.co

pik.com up via Free er mockNewspap

along with co-founder Larry Sanger, devised Wikipedia in 2001, he opted for an open platform, where anyone could contribute. This accomplished a few things. Namely, it allowed for the monumental task of composing each entry to be delegated to thousands of volunteers instead

of just a few people. For example, it took Denis Diderot and his editors 15 years to craft the Encyclopédie in the 1700s and it contained about 72,000 entries. The English Wikipedia, by contrast, has ballooned to 5,407,013 entries in roughly the same amount of time.


Spicer/Conway images donkeyhotey via Flickr.com

Today, Wales’ Wikipedia is an online titan. It’s the fifth most popular website in the world, ranked behind Google, YouTube, Facebook, and the Chinese Baidu. It is the number one article-based platform on the internet by a longshot – The New York Times, the highest-ranking member of the old guard on the web, sitting at #116. So, as many have discussed, if Jimmy Wales ever wanted to become an internet billionaire (he isn’t), he could do so by simply monetizing or selling Wikipedia.org (he hasn’t). Unlike many other online moguls, Wales is so obsessed with information that it practically obliterates cash incentives, which is perhaps why he’s comfortable venturing into a field with a perennial cash problem: i.e., journalism.

Of course, when anyone can contribute, there’s going to be some problems with editorial control – the open model leading to a comedy of unintentional and intentional errors where it wasn’t totally uncommon to find things like “Brad loves cake” embedded in the plot summary for Catcher in the Rye. However, though this problem persists to a degree, the sheer number of people currently contributing to Wikipedia has ensured that, if disinformation does rear up, it probably won’t last too long. As this is written, the site has over 31 million registered contributors (also called “Wikipedians”), with over 118,000 users making changes within the last 30 days. Wikipedia’s sourcing system also encourages every piece of information to be linked, so that if a reader doubts something on the website he/she can immediately discover its origin. Thus, during the five years I was teaching, I saw the maxim “Never Use Wikipedia” soften to “It’s okay to use Wikipedia as a starting point.”

It was earlier this year when Wales heard White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway utter the term “alternative facts” that he decided to make an effort to start his own news platform, WikiTribune, its name a portmanteau merging the old world with the new. “I think it is clear that the old business models aren’t working well anymore,” he wrote to me from the U.K., “and so that’s why I think the time is right for something innovative and new. People still…want quality journalism on the topics they love. So, it might be a bad time to start, or it might be a good time to start. In the end, that isn’t how I make decisions really. I just do what is interesting to me and, if other people like it, then I’m happy about that!” With a crowdfunding model (similar to Wikipedia’s donation system), WikiTribune will start with 10 professional journalists (initial funding already achieved) working to generate and oversee content from a combination of community members and part-time volunteers. Basically, as Wales has described it, the publication will be a more professionally moderated version of the parent wiki, with several processes distinguishing it from other

outlets. Aside from its hybrid crowdfunding model, for instance, WikiTribune will feature articles with transparent sourcing (akin to Wikipedia). Unlike other online news sites, where hyperlinks can often be arbitrary if not absent altogether, WikiTribune will have a policy of always ensuring that its sources are accessible to readers. This open format may help to reassure people skeptical of the lately reviled “MSM” (mainstream media). Furthermore, as Wales mentioned during our interview, with an open community of contributors there may also be less perceived bias, an accusation that has plagued more traditional organizations. “One of the things that is great about a wiki community is the ability to bring people together of widely different viewpoints and hammer out an overall view of the subject,” Wales said. “If we produce well-written high-quality news which represents fairly all viewpoints, I think people will appreciate that. People really do want, in my experience, to get out of their filter bubble. A neutral source can help with that.” Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Wales plans to keep WikiTribune ad free. As with Wikipedia, the funding for the site will come from its supporters – possibly making the Tribune like a techie version of NPR. This would help to keep the publication’s community independent from outside influence. However, even though the site’s initial funding has been met, Wales didn’t exactly preclude incorporating advertising in the future when I asked. “I’m launching WikiTribune without ads and hope to keep it that way,” he told me. “That’s about as far as I’ve thought on that topic.” Reservations may be warranted, of course. Nobody has ever attempted anything quite like this. One of Wales’ greatest assets in this venture, though, is that he doesn’t view it through the strict lens of dollars and cents. Again, it is his “interest” that he stakes, first and foremost, placing him in line with one of his favorite fictional entrepreneurs, Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark, who said, “The only thing that matters, my goal, my reward, my beginning, my end is the work itself. My work done my way.” ■

FALL 2017 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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CONNECTED CAR

WHAT WILL YOUR CAR THINK OF NEXT? The exciting near future of roadways dominated by autonomous vehicles.

the life’s work of computer scientists for over five decades.” Going after that frontier has engaged not only tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and Apple but traditional automotive companies like Toyota and Ford. Toyota laid the gauntlet

Courtesy of Ford

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in automotive applications is not open for debate. The only discussion right now centers on how quickly industries can advance this technology and truly disrupt all we have known about how both the car and the larger automotive world operate. This centers on autonomous cars but is much broader than that. Hints of AI and its impact are already appearing, but consumers should brace themselves for a much bigger change in the near future (as in the next generation of cars). Jensen Huang, CEO of NVIDIA, sets the stage: “For as long as we have been designing computers, AI has been the final frontier. Building intelligent machines that can perceive the world as we do, understand our language, and learn from examples has been

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017

Ford’s Fusion Hybrid autonomous development vehicle. The company has made a billion-dollar investment to kickstart its self-driving car program.

By Michael Coates

Courtesy of Toyota

down near the end of 2015, announcing that it would start a new company, Toyota Research Institute, and invest $1 billion over five years with the goal of accelerating R&D and bridging the gap between research and products. Toyota sees the implications of this technology in safety, enhanced vehicle access, and extended mobility for seniors. Ford likewise dropped $1 billion into Argo AI in a bid to speed up its autonomous vehicle program. It hopes to create a “virtual driver system,” a software “brain” that could potentially be licensed to other companies. Step Back for a Moment Consider this: cars used to be just appliances, created for one particular task. You got in and told them what to do but also steered them, stopped them, and were in control.


Top: Jensen Huang, CEO of NVIDIA , Bottom: Rendering of AI self-driving car computer under development by NVIDIA and Bosch. Photos courtesy of NVIDIA

Challenge winners making their own roads through the desert. However, this is an arduous challenge, as at that level the car must think like a human driver. In fact, it needs to think better than a human driver if it’s going to replace one. Deep Learning & Machine Learning Designing fast computers that can process tons of data is a vital step towards creating completely autonomous vehicles. The human brain processes thousands of bits of information instantaneously when driving. Nimble computers that could replicate this have only begun to appear, relying on cloud computing and other sophisticated techniques based on high-speed wired and wireless connections.

If you haven’t noticed, modern technology is chipping away at those time-honored practices, and it’s a good thing. A growing number of cars in all price ranges will now keep you in your lane if you drift, stop your car quicker than you can, and alert you to hazards. Of course, things like adaptive cruise control that can take over both the accelerator and the brake are getting to be old news. The next wave of self-driving cars will still have a human behind the wheel (we’ve got a couple of levels to go until we reach full autonomy). We’re at Level 2 on the five-level scale of autonomous driving. The technology now found in cars, such as adaptive/radar cruise control, lane-keeping technology, and related tech allow you to take your hands off the wheel and foot off the pedals. Many automakers are looking to skip Level 3 (a mixed bag of autonomy and driver assistance) and move right to the fully autonomous Level 4. Meanwhile, Level 5 is the Holy Grail achieved so far only by DARPA

But, as noted, the autonomous car has to do more than just track the road, maintain speed, and stop as needed. The car also has to react to unexpected interference – a cyclist swerving into the road, a jaywalker, a car drifting out of its lane, and any other unforeseen instances of human error. Humans react based on their experience and attentiveness. AI machines, according to NVIDIA Vice President Rob Csonger, “improve over time with additional training data and testing.” That’s with AI systems that Csonger says “have levels of perception and performance far beyond humans, and importantly, do not get distracted, fatigued, or impaired.” The keys here are deep learning and machine learning, two related concepts both dealing with computers’ ability to grasp certain concepts even if they haven’t been explicitly programmed to, hence the term “artificial intelligence.” Csonger’s company, NVIDIA, makes the graphic processing units (GPUs) that are the brains of AI machines, making them faster and smarter. NVIDIA currently works with the majority of automotive companies worldwide (225 in total), enabling the move to smarter “brains” for cars. The Brains of the Machine What allows the human brain to think? It’s not something we tend to spend much time contemplating, but AI scientists always focus

on it. They look at the neural networks processing information from a person’s eyes, nose, mouth, fingers, and skin. Of course, the human brain adds a layer of past experience and maybe some inferred knowledge based on something read or heard. Or sometimes a person can react non-linearly, suddenly deciding to take a different course because the road looks like it has lighter traffic or better scenery. Both tech and automotive industries see an inherent limitation if these smart cars are just cast out into the automotive landscape on their own. Yes, they may be safer and smarter than a human driver, but there will be plenty of human drivers on the road for some time to come. Because of that, a parallel push along with self-driving technology is for more Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Driverless parking in real-life traffic: Cars proceed without a driver to an assigned parking space in response to a command issued by smartphone, without any need for the driver to supervise the maneuver. Driverless parking is made possible by an intelligent multi-story car park infrastructure from Bosch in conjunction with the vehicle technology from Mercedes-Benz.

vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) connectivity and more vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications (more data for that computer brain to absorb). At that point the machines will take over, ideally ushering in an era of increased safety and mobility. All those connections raise issues beyond how the car will operate in the real world. Connected cars are vulnerable to hacking, as has been shown multiple times during the past several years. Here’s where AI may play another role. Eli David, an expert in computational intelligence and CTO of Deep Instinct, a

FALL 2017 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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CONNECTED CAR

security firm with roots in Israel’s defense industry, wants to use AI to even the odds against cyberhackers. In his interview with Michael Copeland, David explained that it “takes…about 24 hours in one day to train [the] artificial brain. Had we not run it on GPUs, it would have taken three months.” He hopes this training will give the security industry the upper hand against hackers as, according to David, one million new pieces of malware are created every day. Big and Small Companies Working Together All of this movement is taking place at the intersection of visual processing, highperformance computing, and artificial intelligence. The goal is to avoid a collision. And, to make sure that doesn’t happen, someone has to take charge. An example of the worst-case scenario was when California proposed new regulations for autonomous cars a few years ago. The proposed regulations called for the company requesting to test a selfdriving car on public roads to get permission from each area it passed through on its test path. Google led the pushback on the Department of Motor Vehicles, as they would have had to deal with more than a dozen different jurisdictions to run down the freeway from their headquarters in Mountain View to nearby San Francisco. The regulation was changed, but it highlights the potential problems of patchwork rules for this industry. On the other hand, the local jurisdictions are the ones who will be on the front lines when autonomous vehicles hit the road. Local cops, parking enforcement personnel, and law enforcement individuals will have to deal with any issues raised when the driver isn’t in control of the vehicle. It’s a prelude to what to expect when the driver may exit the vehicle completely, as was demonstrated by MercedesBenz and Bosch in a self-parking garage in Germany. In that demonstration, Bosch software and Daimler (Mercedes) vehicle technology were combined in a smartphone app that would take the car to its designated parking space on its own and return it when summoned.

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Uber’s modified Volvo XC90 sport-utility vehicle with autonomous capabilities.

The AI/autonomous world is further complicated by the alliances and affiliations that mark this new area. While tech companies have long been involved in the car business, the kind of arrangements now being forged are at a different level. For instance, Waymo-Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to get 500 autonomous minivans on the road in Phoenix. Uber has also formed an alliance with Volvo and Ford to deploy autonomous cars in Pittsburgh and San Francisco. Dozens of smaller tech companies are also finding encouragement, funding, and support from both auto companies and tech corporations as self-driving cars and technology march forward. Who Will Get There First and Does it Matter? The list of auto companies (and more than a few tech companies) pushing toward fully automated vehicles is long. Some have said they’ll be there in 2020, some in 2021, and others later in the decade. Tesla, not surprisingly, has said it already has the hardware installed in its cars to deliver full autonomy, although the enabling software is still under development. But Tesla has hinted it could roll out the software as early as next year. Cadillac will debut its Super Cruise system on the 2018 CT6 in fall 2017. GM describes Super Cruise as a program “where the car is doing the driving, and the human is overseeing it. It’s an explicitly hands-off system.” Audi’s justpreviewed 2018 A8 includes what it is calling “AI Traffic Jam Pilot,” another hands-off system

Courtesy of Volvo Car Corporation

designed to operate under 37 mph on divided highways. The company is also including automated parking that can park the car from a phone app without the driver inside. All this new technology may spur a competitive race, particularly among the luxury makes, that pushes full autonomy and its foundational AI technology into the mainstream sooner than expected. Regardless of when this technology launches, we should be anticipating major shakeups in the automotive industry’s future. ■

Courtesy of Cadillac

Soon, Cadillac’s Super Cruise function will be as easy as pushing a button.


Each year, Autoliv’s products save over

30,000 Lives autoliv.com


CONNECTED CAR

CHARGED AND READY, BUT WHY CAN’T EVS GET GOING?

We’re Seeing the Best Electric Vehicles Yet, But Sales Are Still Slow

Fiat 500e

Tesla 3

Chevy Bolt

Ford C-Max Energi

By Michael Coates, Automotive Editor The Tesla Model 3 is here, as is the Chevy Bolt. There is a 200+-mile Leaf right around the corner. Affordable, practical electric cars are on the market, and more competition is coming on both the high end and the low. By all rights, it looks like electric cars have done everything that was asked of them. •AFFORDABILITY — How about a Fiat 500e at $89/month? •RANGE — The new Tesla Model 3 will have a 330-mile range. •PERFORMANCE — 0-60 miles per hour in 5.6 seconds driving the Model 3. •FEATURES — Virtually everything you can find on a luxury car is also available on one or more EVs. •VARIETY — While the selection for full battery EVs is still dominated by smaller sedans,

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larger vehicles such as SUVs are creeping into the mix.

But there may be two even bigger issues creating headwinds for electric vehicles. First is low gas

Sales for the first seven months of the year seem like a promising trend – pure electrics are up 23.9 percent compared to last year, and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) are up 38.5 percent. But the actual numbers are low. The increase in EV and PHEV sales adds up to 14,000 units, which is dwarfed by a total market downturn over the same period of 300,000 cars.

prices, as the cost of petroleum has been relatively

Model selection remains the EV’s biggest hurdle. The $100,000 Tesla Model X is still the only choice if you want an EV that’s also a large SUV. Shift over to a plug-in hybrid and choices expand, but almost all of these are at the high end of the market. For the hottest segment – subcompact and compact SUVs/crossovers – the Ford C-Max Energi is the only option with a plug that touches affordability. Unfortunately, it will be off the market after this model year.

get around? This has also been fingered as one of

low over the past year. And, in spite of efforts by OPEC and others, it has remained stable and promises to stay as such for some time, potentially decades. Second is the increase of mobility options. Why would someone buy a relatively expensive electric car when they can use affordable ridesharing apps like Uber or Lyft to the factors behind the overall automotive market downturn. So, despite the pomp, the current EV market is a mixed bag. However, the obstacles are by no means insurmountable. After all, the cars are there – and they bring plenty of potential. But right now it seems they need more of that classic American success formula: better and cheaper.

Photos: Fiat 500e/Fiat Chrysler America, Tesla 3/Tesla, Bolt/Chevrolet, C-Max Energi/Ford Motor Company


[PAID CONTENT]

REAL LIFE SAFETY WITH AUTOLIV CEO JAN CARLSON Autoliv is the world’s largest safety systems supplier, and their dedication to saving more lives can keep you and your family safe on the road. Each day when Autoliv Chairman, President, and CEO Jan Carlson gets to the company’s headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, there is a single focus on his mind – safety. His 70,000 employees in 27 countries share the same commitment. After all, their products only get one chance to get it right. As a maker of passive safety systems (airbags, seatbelts, restraints, steering wheels) and safety electronics (radar, sensors, autonomous braking, vision systems), Autoliv has a big stake in the success of the future car, including autonomous driving. Innovation & Tech Today interviewed Carlson about how the company’s technology is shaping the vehicles of today and tomorrow. Innovation & Tech Today: What does it take to be a leading supplier in the automotive industry? Jan Carlson: Competition in autos has always been fierce, which means constant innovation and improvement are requirements, not options. Standing out is imperative when working within your core business but also with new challenges, such as dealing with the autonomous car. Autoliv rises above because we put quality first, and our R&D and engineering abilities are recognized by our customers, the

car makers. They are confident in our processes. We also have engrained an “It starts with me” mindset within our employee base, so everyone is keenly aware that they have a personal stake in the company’s success. That culture of working together towards a common societal goal of “saving more lives” provides a unique leadership advantage, in my opinion. Our growth and freedom to collaborate also keeps us motivated. I&T Today: Tell us about those collaborations and how they are bolstering Autoliv’s safety portfolio. JC: The role of artificial intelligence (AI) is now dominating how companies are transforming their business. Autoliv’s ability to be agile to respond quickly to ever-changing needs gives us valuable customer insight. That’s why we have recently partnered with NVIDIA to develop software solutions to recognize various driving environments. Zenuity, our joint venture with Volvo Car Corporation, is working on future system software for semiautonomous and autonomous vehicles while leveraging our safety heritage; Zenuity enables us to bring products to market quicker in the electronics software space. An agreement with Velodyne LiDAR, Inc. puts sensors for future

vehicles in the forefront, all of which are critical for the safe operation of an autonomous vehicle. I&T Today: What is “Real Life Safety?” JC: “Real Life Safety” means we are working and testing in scenarios that you experience in daily life, which is mostly reactionary and uncontrollable. As an answer to that, we developed our Learning Intelligent Vehicle (LIV), which unites human demands with a smart vehicle’s capabilities to foster trust and facilitate required safety. We strive to be proactive and control what we can, so you and your occupants stay safe at all times. Therefore, we’ve created sensors to help you remain in your lane and assist in emergency braking. We can even help drivers see people, objects, or animals in darkness, fog, or glaring lights with our Night Vision infrared technology. Autoliv’s airbags are mostly unseen, but you certainly want them to work if there is an accident. Same with seatbelts, the first line of defense. Bottom line is that we want to prevent accidents before they occur and protect in the best possible way should they happen. When you think about automotive safety, think about Autoliv inside and around your vehicle. ■ For more information, visit autoliv.com.


CONNECTED CAR

THE BATTLE AGAINST HIGHWAY HACKING By Everin Draper Dreamstime

How new tech is helping drivers stay secure on the roads There are many important safety precautions to take while driving: always be aware of your surroundings, keep your hands at 10 and 2, maintain the speed limit, etc. A good driver can easily stay safe on the road, but even the best of drivers may not be able to protect their car from hackers. In an era of autonomous vehicles, the more connected cars become, the more vulnerable they are. Car manufacturers and security experts began to take serious notice in 2015 when two researchers from Twitter and security consulting company IOActive wirelessly took over a Jeep. Using a laptop miles away from the vehicle, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek were able to cut the brakes and the transmission. The hackers used a bug in the entertainment system – which was connected to the internet – to tunnel into the secure internal cellular communications network UConnect. This sparked a worldwide recall of potentially affected cars and a new national dialogue on car security. Although the bug was eventually fixed, the hack brought a question to light: How vulnerable are our cars? Other factors need to be considered as well, outside of just internal communications. Cars may be susceptible to ransomware, and tampering with external

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sensors could make automated vehicles drive blind. With these new risks have come new solutions. We’ve had to rethink the way we protect our cars. For instance, V2V (Vehicle-toVehicle) Security developer, OnBoard Security, has worked diligently to make cars more secure. For the past 10 years, OnBoard has been helping automotive and Internet of Things (IoT) organizations stay ahead of the curve through superior cybersecurity. They pioneer technologies that protect the IoT, which now includes cars. Their Aerolink V2V communications security is used by virtually every Tier 1 supplier in the automotive industry to safeguard communications systems. “V2V is a new technology that will enable cars to talk and prevent accidents, saving thousands of lives. But this communication could also be used by hackers, so the car makers have entrusted OnBoard Security to protect those communications,” Gene Carter, vice president of products said. The security company specializes in Vehicleto-Everything (V2X) security. V2X incorporates communications to other vehicles, traffic infrastructure, pedestrians, and anything else the vehicle may need to communicate. As

former Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “V2X is the most important safety improvement since the invention of the seat belt.” It isn’t just communication systems that need protecting, but the sensors outside the car as well. OnBoard Senior Director of Research, Jonathan Petit, was able to prove this vulnerability by hacking sensors and then fooling them with a modified industrial laser pointer. It may be unsettling, but these discoveries are important for our future safety. Now, the U.S. Department of Transportation is conducting three major Connected Vehicle (CV) Pilot Deployments, in which the Aerolink security system will be applied. OnBoard was even recruited to design the security for the entirety of one of the CV Pilots in New York City. Unnerving as these discoveries may be, it’s important that these vulnerabilities are recognized and fixed. While hacking has long been a financial and privacy concern, its escalation into the physical realm puts an increased need on security. Luckily, there are top innovators developing strategies that will keep the roads safe, as we adjust to new technology. ■


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Giving Cyber Threats the Nuclear Treatment By Shawn Key

I

n the early 1940s, the world was facing an emerging threat: the atomic bomb. The United States and its allies believed the Germans were close to completing a nuclear weapon of mass destruction, something not seen before in human history. The first letter Albert Einstein wrote to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 provided support for the enrichment of uranium for national defense purposes.

The creation of Stuxnet continued to up the ante, as the virus was used against a nation state (Iran) during the Bush administration in the 2000s for the purpose of disabling nuclear capability. With this new form of assault, a nuclear facility was placed at risk along with all of its workers and the surrounding population.

However, Einstein wrote a second letter in 1945, in which he expressed his fear that the world was heading down a slippery slope. In other words, the 20th century’s greatest mind had foreseen what was in motion and it made him tremble.

It is widely believed that the Stuxnet code was re-engineered by other hacker groups, which created a potential threat to the very same nation (the U.S.) that created it as well as a host of others that had no dog in the fight.

Ultimately, America launched the only nuclear attacks in world history. Regardless of whether the decision was right or wrong, the results were devastating.

This once uncommon occurrence has led to a paradigm of global cyber warfare. It is a new era, with players working to create the most harmful code possible – the equivalent of a nuclear arms race. Unlike a nuclear missile, however, the tools created by nation states are not secured. Look at the recent NSA leak of state-of-theart malicious code (aka cyber weapons) now being reverseengineered by the very same hackers the code was designed to combat.

Seventy-two years later, and we’re facing a new pivotal era of weapons development: cyber warfare. Initially, hacking was a curiosity for a small group of computer experts with a unique skillset. The question was simply, “Can I break in?” This evolved

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over time, and the questions became more nefarious. “What can I access?” “What can I steal?” “What can I destroy?”

INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017

Dreamstime Hamed Saber via wikipedia.com


wikimediacom

(Top) A Siemens S7 PLC unit, using the same software targeted by the Stuxnet virus. (Bottom left) Anti-aircraft weaponry protects the Natanz Nuclear Facility in Iran.

Someone, somewhere, has created the cyber equivalent of “Fat Man” and “Little Boy.” In fact, there were devastating financial institution and electric power grid attacks transpiring in the Ukraine in mid2017. Despite the growing awareness of these threats, cyber warfare is still a wild west. There are not enough educated committees in government, commerce, or academia to properly make decisions as to the “rules of engagement.” This is problematic as even in “real” war, there are global agreements that outline such rules and the strict repercussions for breaking them. The International Atomic Energy Agency – the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations – exists for the purpose of keeping the world as safe as possible in this nuclear age. However, there is no international “Cyber Agency,” which leaves a void in an area in deep need of oversight. With rogue nation states increasingly conducting cyber warfare, the world needs global experts to ensure total chaos does not break out. And we need it now before the cyber equivalent of “Fat Man” is unleashed. It may seem like a stretch to some people to compare cyber warfare to nuclear capability. But we are in uncharted territory. There is no reason to think that if power grids, supervisory control and data

acquisition (SCADA) systems, and hydroelectric plants can be hacked, that it can’t happen to nuclear facilities, including silos. In my opinion, “The Internet of Things is the Internet of Threats.” If a device is connected, it is vulnerable. Period. Most information technology (IT) professionals struggle with asset management, much less truly understanding the security posture of their organizations. The underlying message here is that we don’t always understand our own infrastructure. And we don’t always understand the associated vulnerabilities and threats. As security professionals, we have to get it right every time. The hacker only has to get it right once. And if this singular incident happens to occur at a nuclear facility or silo, then we are up the proverbial creek. It’s up to computer scientists to start contacting and educating those responsible for formulating policy in this regard. Because, right or wrong, we are going down a dangerous path from which there may be no return. ■

Shawn R. Key is the CEO and President of 21st Century Technologies, Inc., a HUBZone certified, small business cybersecurity company based in Luray, Virginia. He currently heads the training certification program at Stratford University.

Dreamstime

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Why Even Non-Techies Should Become Information Gurus In the business world, information specialists are kind of like gold. They’re valuable, highly sought after, and incredibly hard to find. A small pool of talent is now “recognized globally as the single biggest issue standing in the way” of businesses finding success in their information technology and computer system strategies, according to tech research company Gartner. In the rush to find people with an understanding of how to wade through mountains of data and provide meaningful insight into what it means for them, businesses are mining every nook and cranny of the nation’s workforce. They’re recruiting from outside and training from within just to fill the gap of information technology. Here’s why you should consider a career in information systems, even if your bachelor’s degree is in another field.

2024. The demand is there; however, the supply is lacking. In the same year the nation was trying to fill 600,000 computing positions, fewer than 43,000 computer science students graduated into the workforce, according to Code.org. People who develop skills in areas such as data storage, analytics, and information systems are a hot commodity in not only today’s economy but tomorrow’s as well.

within the business world. In 2016, one in 131 emails was malicious, up drastically from the previous year, according to Symantec, which provides services for dealing with cyberattacks. In the same year, 689 million people around the world were victims of cybercrime.

Businesses are Focusing on IT In 2015, CNBC called data analytics the “sexiest job of the 21st century.” That’s because it is increasingly becoming the center of businesses’ information strategy. Numerous types of companies are employing this strategy, from small and large to public and private.

Industry Demand for Talent is Outpacing Supply In 2015 alone, there were more than 600,000 open computing jobs across the nation, according to a White House press release. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts another 488,000 of those jobs will be added by

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017

Dreamstime.com

By Curtis Wildfong

Companies are now using software systems, SAP as an example, to manage their business processes and make data-driven decisions. SAP — which stands for Systems, Applications, and Products in data processing — is the world’s largest provider of enterprise application software. Information specialists, with skills to navigate and interpret these systems, are valuable assets to any company.

Cybersecurity is Now on Everyone’s Must-Have List Cybersecurity is becoming increasingly vital

But it’s not just individuals who fall victim, it’s companies. The “WannaCry” ransomware attack in May 2017 infected more than 200,000 computers worldwide, hitting large companies along the way. Since 2012, companies like Visa, MasterCard, Target, Home Depot, and JPMorgan Chase have suffered data breaches. Companies are now spending top dollar in recruiting cybersecurity experts to defend themselves from attacks. The IDC, which studies the cybersecurity practices of U.S. businesses, predicts companies worldwide will spend $81.7 billion in security hardware, software, and services in 2017. Whether you’re an experienced techie, a newbie, or on the outside looking in, you can become the information guru everyone is looking for with the right training. ■ Readers can learn more about becoming an information guru by checking out the Information Systems master’s degree program offered by Central Michigan University at www.global.cmich.edu/ MSIS


Canada’s Epicentre for Cybersecurity As a leader in cybersecurity, CyberNB is proud of our collaboration with Blue Spurs and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development in the advancement of IoT training for high school students.

CyberNB congratulates Blue Spurs for winning the Global Amazon Web Services City on a Cloud Innovation Award.

Be a part of Canada’s Epicentre for Cybersecurity! To learn more, visit www.cybernb.ca


Spoiler Alert! Via EPK.TV / © 2016 CTMG. All Rights Reserved.

The ongoing epidemic of leaked media Secrets aren’t easily kept under wraps in the internet age. Whether it’s a behind-the-scenes political email or a celebrity scandal, we’ve come to expect information leaks on a near-daily basis. However, there are some unexpected consequences of a leak-friendly culture, especially when it involves the trillion-dollar entertainment industry that thrives on hype, buildup, and people actually paying for things. The growing amount of leaked content seems to have snowballed in recent years, with one of the most recent examples being the uberpopular show that people keep telling the author of this article to watch, Game of Thrones. The series is no stranger to illegal viewing, as 2016 marked the fifth year in a row in which the show was the most widely pirated on television. The seventh season especially has been constantly plagued by leaks, with full episodes and even scripts leaked before premiere. But it’s not just the destruction of hype that has the entertainment industry upset with these leaks. Piracy costs studios large amounts of money, with billions of dollars lost to illegal downloads. And, according to a survey by Irdeto, only 61 percent of U.S. consumers actually care

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By Anthony Elio

that these entities lose money to piracy. So there’s a 39 percent chance that you’re reading this and feel nothing for the struggling giant corporations. Even worse, the latest trend has taken the concept of piracy to a whole new level: holding the content for ransom. Earlier this year, a hacking group with the hacky name “The Dark Overlord” held an entire season of Orange is the New Black hostage, threatening to release it if they were not paid. However, even after being given $50,000, The Dark Overlord still released the content online, suprising approximately nobody. However, that doesn’t mean that these leaks happen without recourse. In addition to the recent arrest of the Game of Thrones leakers, legal action has taken place in a galaxy far, far away. In 2005, mere hours before the release of the film, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was leaked online after an employee had stolen a copy from a postproduction facility. A copy of the blockbuster eventually fell into the hands of Marc Hoaglin, who quickly uploaded the film online. He was quickly charged and even faced up to three years of incarceration at one point.

© Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

The new era of leaked media has forced Hollywood to become extremely protective of their intellectual property. Spider-Man: Homecoming actor Tom Holland went so far as to burn his film script to ensure no leaks or spoilers got out. On the set of Star Wars: Episode VII, Mark Hamill was required to wear a cloak when travelling from his trailer to the soundstage, in fear of drone cameras snapping photos. Clearly, major studios are working harder than ever to keep their creative works under wraps. And in an era where piracy is commonplace, information is constantly leaked, and stolen content is available on sketchy websites, can you blame them? ■


Cyber Security. Health Care IT. Big Data Analytics. Be a part of Arlington, VA’s tech community.

ArlingtonEconomicDevelopment.com


Game On, Mighty Mouse! The pound-for-pound UFC great on his growing fame as an eSports personality By P.K. French Zuffa (AP Photo/John Locher)

Don’t judge him by his size. Actually…go ahead. We dare you. At 5’ 3” and 125lbs, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson is one of the UFC’s greatest fighters of all time. However, strangely enough, this super athlete still has time for hobbies. With over 100,000 followers on the video game streaming platform Twitch, Johnson aspires to one day become an eSports competitor – after he’s done with his hallof-fame UFC career, that is. In this interview, Johnson discusses his life in gaming, and what it’s like to go directly from his couch to the MGM Grand Arena for some hand-to-hand combat.

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Innovation & Tech Today: It was your wife who told you that you should pursue playing video games for a living. Why was that?

I&T Today: What advice would you give to someone who wants to get started on Twitch or in competitive gaming and eSports?

Demetrious Johnson: Well, obviously, I’ve played video games since I was a kid. And even between my training camps, you know, I would log onto my Xbox…When I got introduced to Twitch, you could interact with fans on a different platform. It was the perfect bridge to make happen that my wife saw, because when it comes to mixed martial arts I don’t do these vlog series, you know, like Conor [McGregor] and Tyron Woodley. I’m almost kind of private about my training. Training, for me, is like my job…I like to go in there, work hard, and leave work behind, you know?

DJ: Get a good job. It’s just like mixed martial arts, you know? When I first started doing mixed martial arts, I wasn’t making big paychecks. My first fight I made $500 if I were to win…It barely paid your insurance for the month. So I always tell all athletes, or if you ever want to get into gaming, get a job that’s going to take care of everything. And then use gaming and all that stuff as a hobby because the chance of you actually making it in the eSports world or the gaming world is slim to none. I mean I don’t wanna sugarcoat it like, “Oh, you can do it. Follow your dream.” Follow your dream, but you’ve got to make sure there’s a reality.

But with video games, [my wife] saw it as an avenue for me to interact with my fans on a different level, on Twitch. So that’s how it came to be.

I&T Today: I know you’re big on interacting with your fans through Twitch. Would you say that a lot of them come from watching the


I think people come to my channel to interact with me. I think that’s what they’re coming for, for the experience, to ask me questions, and to see I’m a normal guy. So for me, it’s about interacting and playing different games and having fun with it.

Zuffa (AP Photo/John Locher)

Zuffa (Casey Rodgers/AP Images for Ubisoft)

DJ: You know, I’m not sure. I would say probably 85% of my viewership on Twitch is probably from the UFC, people knowing my background, and that’s what I think has made me so successful on Twitch. And me interacting with the chat has helped me tremendously because a lot of people that get on Twitch and start streaming, they really don’t interact with the chat.

Zuffa (Casey Rodgers/AP Images for Ubisoft)

Zuffa (AP Photo/John Locher)

UFC or is it the other way around? Do a lot of your Twitch fans start to watch your fights?

I&T Today: How much do you do late in training? Does it actually help? For instance, taking your mind off things when you’re trying to lose weight before a fight? DJ: Oh yeah. I remember when I was fighting Henry Cejudo, I was playing Dark Souls 3, fighting one of the damn bosses, and it took me forever to kill him. I lost about a pound and a half doing that. And then I remember jumping in the tub, made weight, jumped back out, went back, fought the boss. I was streaming it on Twitch and everybody’s laughing. I was streaming on Twitch before I walked across the street at the MGM Grand Arena. I said, “Alright guys, I’ll be back in about maybe two hours.” Went across the street, whooped Cejudo’s ass, walked back across the street, got back on Twitch, and started streaming. Don’t tell me that ain’t baller @#!#. There ain’t

nobody else in the online gaming community and in the mixed martial arts world, or professional world at all, who can stream on Twitch, walk across the street to the arena, whoop somebody’s ass, walk back across the hotel, jump back on the internet, and say, “Thank you fans. I’m going to the club, and I’ll do a shot of Patron for you.” Nobody. I&T Today: How emotionally involved would you say you get at your most extreme? DJ: I get really intense. People say I celebrate way more when I win a solo game than I do when I win my fights. So I get super involved and super intense with it, because it’s fun. I’ll never forget how intense the moment was when I was playing an invitational H1Z1 Twitchcon 2016. So intense. And I look forward to having more intense moments in the video game world. ■

“I was streaming on Twitch before I walked across the street at the MGM Grand Arena. I said, ‘Alright guys, I’ll be back in about maybe two hours.’” Zuffa (AP Photo/John Locher) Original © TerryToons

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Fishing for a Better Future

with RBFF

Believe it or not, fishing and boating have a profound impact on personal well-being. Time spent in the outdoors has been proven to lower anxiety, and boating is ranked in the top three stress-relieving activities. The fact that only 37.5 percent of Americans use the outdoors to help unwind presents a tremendous challenge and opportunity for outdoor organizations to increase participation in outdoor activities and help improve the health of the entire nation. Of course, with 3.5 million miles of rivers in the United States, there are plenty of opportunities to get out on the water. But the benefits go well beyond just personal health. Every time a fishing license or boat registration is purchased, the funds go directly toward conservation programs that ensure things like healthy fish populations. Additionally, an excise tax on fishing and boating equipment and small engine fuel also helps fund critical conservation programs. In all, anglers and boaters contribute around $1.5 billion to conservation programs annually. This unmistakable link between fishing, boating, and conservation means that sustaining and growing the number of anglers is critical to the future of fishing and boating. That’s why the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) has kicked off a campaign to increase fishing participation from the current level of 47

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million to 60 million anglers annually. This goal, known as “60 in 60,” is working to unite the fishing and boating industry to elevate the customer experience through effective recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) practices. On top of the conservation benefits, reaching this goal would mean an additional $35 billion per year being contributed by 14 million new anglers and annual spending of $10 billion being contributed by 7.5 million new boaters. Technology has become a big part of fishing – from fish finders to social sharing. And while RBFF’s “Take Me Fishing” brand promotes fishing and boating as a way for individuals, families, and friends to disconnect with technology and reconnect with nature and each other. RBFF also realizes tech is critical to learning how and where to fish and planning your outing. However, one of the main ways RBFF is working to achieve this on the consumer front is with the online Take Me Fishing #FirstCatch campaign. The national media initiative encourages consumers to reconnect with nature by going fishing and/or boating, and to share the experience with the

Photos Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation

By David Rodgers

The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) has kicked off a campaign to increase fishing participation from the current level of 47 million to 60 million anglers annually.

world. Whether it’s the first of the day, season, or lifetime, consumers are spreading the joys of fishing and boating with #FirstCatch throughout the United States. Because, while it’s important to decompress, RBFF understands the power of technology in today’s world. The great news is that RBFF is having an impact. Fishing is the number two adult outdoor activity behind jogging, and 2.5 million new participants tried fishing for the very first time in 2016. The future of fishing and boating is looking bright, but it will take a focus on the latest technology to keep anglers and boaters engaged for years to come. ■


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MAKING WAVES How one company’s artificial wave machines are revolutionizing surfing. By Alex Moersen

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Photos Wavegarden/Paco

N

othing quite beats an early morning surf session – waking with the sun, feeling the first shock of cold water on your toes, watching the sunrise reflect off the water. It all makes for a surreal moment. However, if you don’t live near the coast, it may be hard to paint this picture in your head. Or, let’s say you do live on the coast and your mornings have been increasingly interrupted by the bevy of surfers lining up to take your waves. It takes away from the magic, doesn’t it? Well, things are quickly changing for one of the world’s fastest growing sports. Surfers worldwide increased from 26 million in 2001 to 35 million in 2011. In 2012, former European surf champion Pete Jones claimed, “Surfing is not like golf. You can build more golf courses, but you can’t make more waves.” However, it was seven years earlier when Josema Odriozola began questioning that notion. The development of artificial waves is making surfing a more accessible sport. As Odriozola explained, “People who live in places where there are no waves or where the swell is not consistent will have the chance to improve their surfing more than what they can do in their

homes.” Now, you don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn or even live by the sea to hone your surfing. Artificial wave facilities will not only change the sport for amateurs but for the pros as well. The nature of surf competitions has always been fickle. Having to rely on chance for the perfect waves, surf competitions usually have long waiting periods. “Sometimes it’s just unpredictable and it’s just a matter of luck,” Odriozola said. For example, the 2020 Olympics in Japan will host the first ever Olympic surf competition. However, the event has a two-week window, in which officials will have to predict and decide when the waves will be best suited for competing. The use of wave pools would allow officials to have complete control over the competition: when it happens, what the waves look like, etc. Plus, not all future Olympic locations will have an easily accessible surf spot. As Odriozola said, “There are other places where there’s absolutely no chance of having waves. So, in this way, these facilities can help make surfing become an official sport" in future Olympics.

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But it isn’t all about fun and competition. One of the core concepts in Wavegarden facilities is sustainability. Co-Founder Odriozola described why this was so important: “We were asking ourselves in the beginning of this project, ‘Does it make sense to make artificial waves or not?’ To me, the answer was 'If we are able to create a facility that does not have a bigger impact on our environment, then why not?'” So, they set out to create facilities with the least possible environmental impact. The wave generating machinery is designed to reuse part of the energy created in the process. Currently, both of their facilities use rainwater to fill the lagoons. “I think the surfers want to enjoy the experience of surfing…surrounded by as much natural environment as possible,” he continued. “So trying to create something that is as natural as possible will help benefit the facility and the experience of the users.” ■ Wavegarden pools are perfect for all ages and abilities, whether you’re an experienced surfer (left), a beginner (top right), or just want to relax by the pool (bottom right).


GEAR GUIDE Nikon KeyMission 170 If you’ve got some ambitious outdoor adventures planned for the summer, you’ll want a way to capture every moment. The durable and lightweight Nikon Key Mission 170 will help you archive the action, taking 4K video from a firstperson, 170-degree view. $400

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GEAR GUIDE TomTom Spark 3 The TomTom Spark 3 mixes jamming out to music with your workout routine. Featuring the ability to store up to 500 songs and an integrated heart rate monitor, the TomTom Spark 3 helps you move to the music. $250

UCO Sitka Lift Lantern The UCO Sitka Lift Lantern is fully extendable, meaning you can adjust it to your outdoor needs. With the ability to provide up to 500 lumens of light, this lantern makes navigating the campground in the middle of the night much easier (and less frightening). $80

Voormi Men’s Convex Jacket With a water repellent exterior and woolly interior, the Convex Jacket by Voormi will keep you warm and dry through all your journeys. Because of its weather protective membrane, the Convex can easily stand up to any unexpected storms. $399

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FALL 2017 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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Health Tech

iPhone courtesy of Apple. Android/Windows phones courtesy of HTC.

How a Mobile Device Can Save Your Life By Scott Jung This year marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, a product that arguably transformed the way we communicate, create, and consume media. But the iPhone, and mobile technology as a whole, has evolved to be far more than the combination iPod, mobile phone, and Internet communicator Steve Jobs introduced in 2007. Even Jobs probably couldn’t have imagined how the smartphone would develop into a tool that can literally save lives. It’s true that if you own a smartphone, you already hold in your hand an advanced medical gadget. From the bedroom to the operating table, here are a few ways mobile technology is changing the way we approach health.

The Smartphone Physical One of the most famous gadgets from science fiction is Star Trek’s tricorder. The tricorder is a portable device that can quickly and accurately collect information on the patient being scanned

with little or no physical contact. While such a gadget doesn’t yet exist, the smartphone is steadily moving the tricorder from the realm of science fiction to science fact. With a large, dynamic display, battery, and multiple wired and wireless connections, the smartphone has become the perfect hub for an assortment of diagnostic tools formerly found in a doctor’s bag. Devices such as the One Digital Stethoscope by Thinklabs can allow doctors to not only hear but visualize the sounds of the body on the smartphone. Attachments can turn the phone’s camera into a powerful scope to examine eyes, ears, and skin. Wireless patches monitor and transmit body temperature and other vital signs to a mobile device. Patients themselves can even monitor their blood pressure and electrocardiograph (ECG) with devices that can be purchased over the counter. These measurements can be sent to a physician for further consultation.

Final Frontier Medical Devices’ artificial intelligence-based engine, DxtER, learns to diagnose medical conditions by integrating learnings from clinical emergency medicine with data analysis from actual patients. Final Frontier Medical Devices were winners of the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE.

XPRIZE

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ThinkLabs

Smartphones are also being used to research diseases and potential cures. Numerous research institutions are using location data, motion tracking, and sound recordings from smartphones themselves to study Parkinson’s, asthma, depression, and other diseases. For instance, the app mPower uses a smartphone’s sensors to track Parkinson’s symptoms, including tremor, balance, and gait. The app then stores the information and adds the data to ongoing research. These apps are especially helpful in rural areas, where portable sensors called “lab-on-chips” can quickly and accurately analyze a liquid sample and send the results via cellular connection to experts to determine the presence of a disease. But even without the extra gadgets, most smartphones by themselves are fully capable of carrying out many medical-related functions. Smartphone technology has reached a point where cameras are powerful enough to capture medicalgrade images and conduct video consultations from nearly anywhere in the world. Mobile internet access puts nearly unlimited medical information quite literally at the user’s fingertips. Of course, they’re good for contacting a doctor, too. The compact One Digital Stethoscope by ThinkLabs allows doctors to use headphones to produce a better sound quality and more accurately decipher patients’ internal rhythms.


Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have changed medical education. Using smartphone-based headsets, such as Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR, students can immerse themselves in the center of complex surgical procedures, looking around and focusing in on the doctor’s technique or the patient on the table. Additionally, detailed 3D animation can allow them to travel through different parts of the body and learn how the various cells, organs, and other structures work and fit together. Doctors are also using AR and 3D simulation for planning high-risk surgeries. CT (ComputerAided Tomography) and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans are capable of producing highly detailed images of the body. These images are loaded into a system that processes the data and creates an immersive 3D model. Like a pilot in a flight simulator, the surgeon can navigate through this 3D model and explore the anatomical features of the body part that will be operated on. During the actual surgery, a surgeon can view an overlay of the exact locations of critical blood vessels and anatomical features as a tablet is held over the patient’s body. The technology could make complex surgical procedures safer, reduce pain, and accelerate

FIGHTING WORKPLACE STRESS WITH THE LATEST TECH The workplace is no stranger to stress. In fact, the seventh annual Attitudes in the American Workplace survey showed that 80% of workers feel stress on the job and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage it. So what if workplaces started helping in the endeavor of stress reduction? Having relaxed employees isn’t only good for personal health, but for productivity as well. That’s why companies are beginning to embrace new strategies and focus more on corporate wellness. NuCalm, for instance, uses the latest

Courtesy of Ovusense

Patients aren’t the only ones who get to have all the fun when it comes to technology. Smartphones and tablets are also increasingly being utilized as learning tools for both medical students and practicing physicians.

healing, and in cases such as cancer, ensure that it’s completely removed from the body.

An App a Day to Keep the Doctor Away When getting over a sickness, we as patients can be difficult for doctors. We’re sometimes forgetful and neglect to take our medication. We choose to continue to live a lifestyle that doesn’t help to slow the effects of an illness or even makes it worse. Often, we simply decide that our doctor is unnecessary once we have the medication. Unfortunately, this is only making us sicker and costing us more in the long run. Thankfully, as the saying goes, “there’s an app for that!” According to some estimates, there are over 260,000 mobile health apps available. While not every app will be useful, and some should be viewed with a healthy level of skepticism, mobile health apps can perform a variety of useful functions. For example, the armchair physician (or hypochondriac) will find a variety of apps that provide a wealth of information on drugs and supplements, nutrition, medical conditions, and even 120 types of cancer. Moms and moms-to-be can download a fertility app like OvuSense that uses temperature recordings and sophisticated algorithms to track their ovulation cycles and predict their fertility status. Patients who find it difficult to juggle multiple medications on a daily basis can use a medication reminder app. Such apps not only remind you to take your

medication, but can track your progress, notify a family member if your progress is poor, and alert you when it’s time for a refill. Finally, the most sophisticated health apps are combining information collected from smartphones, complex data analytics, and wireless teleconferencing to help manage Type 2 diabetes and other conditions. Artificial intelligence provides machine-generated, but personalized, health advice, but can also connect patients to a doctor or wellness coach when a real expert is needed. As the adoption of mobile health technology continues to increase, patients will ideally become more informed and proactive about their health. Doctors will be able to better monitor the progress of an illness, while at the same time allowing their patients to remain independent. And, with the abundance of health data being generated through these tools, we move closer and closer to finding a cure to some of our biggest health problems. ■

technology to promote relaxation in the workplace. The first step in their process is the NuCalm supplementation. The supplement is a formulation of amino acids that interrupt the adrenaline response and prepare the brain for relaxation. Next is microcurrent stimulation. Neuropatches applied behind the ears send a sub-sensory microcurrent into the body, combatting the body’s natural stress response. NuCalm then utilizes neuroacoustic software with noise-cancelling headphones which can modulate brain wave function between Alpha and Theta frequencies – where healing, recovery, and restoration naturally occur. Finally, the application of an eye mask blocks all visual stimulation, helping to maintain a relaxed state. Using heart rate variability and quantum physics, scientists have proven that

Courtesy of NuCalm

Mobile Med School

this 20-minute NuCalm experience can be the equivalent of a 2-hour deep, restorative sleep. NuCalm is a great example of how relaxation technology can help increase productivity in the workplace. Even if you only have 20 minutes between meetings, technology is now there to provide you with the most efficient breaks possible. ■ FALL 2017 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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Health Tech

BEYOND STEP What Your Wearable Knows COUNTING About Your Health By Scott Jung, Senior Editor of Medgadget

The technology driving wearable health trackers has advanced significantly since their debut. While many believe these devices to be nothing more than a fashionable pedometer, the data being collected can uncover a whole host of medical conditions – going far beyond simply encouraging healthy habits.

“YOU’RE TOO STRESSED OUT!” If you’re an Apple Watch owner, you’ve probably received the calming, but eventually annoying, reminder to take a minute to breathe. That’s because deep breathing helps people calm down, and calmness is important for mental health. Poor mental health is a major concern, as it has been linked to weight gain, heart problems, and other chronic diseases. Even heart rate variability (HRV) is being investigated as an indicator of mental health. Some wearables, such as the

Spire, are able to measure your breathing patterns and provide personalized advice to help calm you down. Another device, called the Muse, is worn on the head and actually measures electrical signals from the brain, responding with sounds and guided prompts Courtesy of Apple

Courtesy of Fitbit

While wearable devices can never take the place of seeing a doctor, we’ve seen that the sensor technology already exists to make them more useful for patients. Perhaps, with just a little more time and research, they’ll help us manage and prevent some of our biggest health problems. Till then, here’s what your wearable can tell you about your health today.

he turned to Reddit. Upon seeing his note about strange data, one user suggested that his wife may actually be pregnant. After upgrading from an anonymous internet commenter to a medical professional, they discovered this to be the case. The Fitbit’s heart rate sensor was sensitive enough to detect that the woman’s heart was working harder to supply blood to the uterus and developing baby, and heart rate is one of the indicators that a woman is expecting. So next time your husband is snooping on your Fitbit data, not to worry. He’s probably just checking to see if you’re pregnant.

Courtesy of Spire. Courtesy of Muse

Personal healthcare is one of the hottest trends in tech. It’s so attractive that tech giants such as Apple, Google, and Samsung have all invested. But, to this end, just how useful are Apple Watches, Fitbits, and Android Wear?

“YOU’RE PREGNANT!” Last year, one woman’s Fitbit began to act funny. Her resting heart rate was abnormally high for several days, but she was feeling completely normal. At first, her husband thought the Fitbit was defective, so, of course, Wearables such as Apple Watches can help you track everything from pregnancy to illness.

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Health Tech “YOU NEED A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP!”

during meditation sessions. And, unlike your typical meditation instructor, this one won’t treat your maladies with rootmarm and crystal chanting.

“YOU’VE GOTTEN ENOUGH SUN!” Sunkissed skin may still be in fashion, but an abundance of sunshine and daylight means an increased risk of melanoma skin cancers due to too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation. To help remind users to seek shade or apply more sunblock, many new wearables are incorporating UV sensors. One upcoming wearable from skincare product manufacturer La Roche-Posay is a temporary tattoo-like patch that changes colors after a certain amount of UV exposure. More sophisticated wearables can pair with your smartphone and tell you exactly how much sun you’re getting with personalized advice based on your skin type. Whether it will tell you when orange becomes too orange is another matter.

“YOU’RE CATCHING A COLD!”

Courtesy of Google Play Store

The coughing, sneezing, and runny nose that we get during a cold are realities of life. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for this common, but annoying, illness. However, one new app called “Achu” analyzes data from your Fitbit and

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Courtesy of L'Oréal

symptoms that you log to track patterns in your body. As the app receives more data and you “calibrate” it by reporting symptoms (like a headache or fatigue) when you actually do feel sick, the app gets smarter and can eventually predict if you are coming down with something before it worsens. Similarly, researchers are investigating how data from wearables can predict the onset of infection, inflammation, and even insulin resistance. However, it still can’t warn you against high-fiving the guy who just sneezed into his hand.

You’ve probably seen sleep tracking as a feature on just about every wearable, but exactly how does it work? The same sensor that senses movement to count your steps, called an accelerometer, can also be used to detect non-movement during sleep. This method, known as actigraphy, correlates a productive sleep with a limited amount of unconscious movement. However, there are drawbacks when you monitor sleep from your wrist, especially if you constantly have dreams of being the next heavyweight boxing champion. Another type of sleep tracker instead uses a method called ballistocardiography. These trackers are typically a thin sensor strip that is placed across your mattress. When you lie on top of the sensor during sleep, it is able to detect not only your unconscious body movements but also your heart rate, heart rate variability, and the movement of your chest wall from breathing. Combined with sensors that measure temperature, ambient light, noise, and humidity, these devices can give you a very detailed look at your sleep duration, quality, and other factors. This might just be the device to help you overcome your loud neighbors, snoring spouse, and that cup of coffee you had at 5pm. ■


SERKIS

CAPTURING

ANDY

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By Alex Moersen

An obsessive cave-dwelling creature.

action roles. Throughout his career he’s

A giant gorilla rampaging through the

played an assortment of characters

city. A super-intelligent human-like ape.

ranging from the punk rock star Ian

A mysterious villain perched on a

Dury in Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll

throne. Behind each unique character is

to Nikola Tesla’s assistant in The

a man donning a skintight suit and face-

Prestige and, most recently, Ulysses

tracking dots. A man none other than

Klaue in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Andy Serkis, the master of motion capture. As one of Hollywood’s most multi-

Serkis has also expanded his already impressive career into directing. He helmed The Hobbit films as well as

faceted actors, Serkis enjoyed a long

2017’s Breathe. Currently, he is

career in the theater before moving in

directing his own adaptation of The

front of the camera. Since his

Jungle Book, set to release in 2018. He’s

breakthrough role as Gollum in Lord of

even done voice acting and direction

the Rings, Serkis has played major roles

work for a large collection of video

in a multitude of blockbuster franchises,

games. We had the opportunity to

including Caesar in Planet of the Apes

speak with Serkis about his extremely

and Supreme Leader Snoke of the

successful career in performance

newest Star Wars series. Though Serkis

capture, as well as some of the unique

found his niche in performance capture,

characters he’s played and his current

he has also participated in many live

work on The Jungle Book.

Andy Seriks/Caesar courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox. Supreme Leader Snoke / © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. Gollum courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

FALL 2017 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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A before and after look at the production of the current Planet of the Apes franchise, with Andy Serkis in the lead role of Caesar.

Innovation & Tech Today: Do you think you could briefly explain performance capture and how it works, at least on your end? Andy Serkis: Performance capture is the application within the entertainment industry, and that has grown over the course of the last 20 years. Basically, the nub of it is that it is a series of cameras which run alongside film cameras. So, traditional film cameras film the performance, but then you have another set of cameras, which are 360-degrees around the area that you are working on set. These cameras pick up information from markers on a suit that you wear, and the markers are basically tiny little three-dimensional tracking markers, which are essentially individual GPSs that track movements throughout your body very specifically. You wear also a head-mounted camera, and markers on your face – usually around 50-60 – and these track all of your facial expressions and the facial performance. It tracks the movement of the eyes, because of the definition of the eyelids, where the eyeballs move, and so forth. It’s another way of recording an actor’s performance. That’s it in a nutshell. I&T Today: Have you seen any major changes or improvements in performance capture, and have they changed your methods? AS: It’s important to state from our point of view that acting is acting. So whether you’re wearing a costume for that…or whether you use performance capture cameras to capture your performance and then the character is clothed in a way or made up with digital makeup afterwards. Because it affects the acting process, that’s still the same in terms of how you approach a role, how you build the psychology of a role, the character and the emotional

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content of the role, and how you play the themes on set with the other actors and the directors. That hasn’t changed. Nothing changed there, that’s just acting.

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.

EPK.TV / starpix©2016

Two or three major jumps along the way have been being able to work outside of a motion capture volume, which is typically a sort of black box theater with all these cameras, where you have proxy elements of set pieces that you work on to relate to the environment. Whereas now, for instance, on the last Planet of the Apes films, we were able to take that technology outside, shoot on location on real sets, out in the wilderness, in rain, snow, et cetera, et cetera. So, that is a technological improvement. That was really the way that the use of the markers has changed, from being retroreflective in the volume, as we call it, inside this black box space, to infrared pulsing markers that are tracked. So wherever you put the cameras, if they’re in the trees, or out on location, whatever. That has been a big improvement. The head-mounted cameras and the resolution of the cameras that track your facial expressions has improved, but that’s just the hardware, really. On the back end, the animators who work and take our performances that are put into the cut with the director, the cut and the performance that the director wants, the animators then sit down and translate performance on to the physiognomy of the apes. That process has really changed over the years, and that really has much to do with acquired skill. Obviously, their software has been invented for rendering fur, texturing eyes, skin, how snow falls on fur, how water falls off of the fur, et cetera. All that has changed over the years. And just, as they say, the acquired skillset of animators who have worked very closely, particularly WETA, the visual effects company

As part of so many beloved franchises, Serkis is a welcome addition to comic conventions.

that did this movie, who I have a long association with, who know my face from many, many roles, and know all the social expressions, where the muscle groups are, how my face deforms when I’m expressing a particular emotion. That has all improved…and the actor’s performance is clearly honored to a very high level. I&T Today: What has it been like to participate in so many different blockbuster franchises? Lord of the Rings, Planet of the Apes, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars. How do you handle being in so many different universes, playing so many unique characters? AS: I suppose it comes from my early days in theater. When I started acting, I was really lucky to be part of a repertory company, and my very first experience, and my education in theater,


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As Serkis discusses, performance capture is entirely different from motion capture, with the actor informing the character’s onscreen presence.

was rehearsing one play during the day and performing another at night. My first job I did 14 plays back to back, and it was…I suppose I really loved it, the notion of being able to get deeply into the character, but then also be working on something else. I’ve never hugely struggled with multitasking, but what has been incredible was working, when I did work originally on Lord of the Rings, [and] suddenly discovering this technology that allows you to completely disappear into the character, into a level of disguise, into a level of otherness and becoming something else which is unprecedented. That is why I’ve stuck with working with performance capture technology, that has led to this franchise, other franchises. Basically, at the end of The Lord of the Rings, I thought my life would go back to conventional live-action film acting and theater, but Peter Jackson asked me if I wanted to play King Kong, after having played Gollum, and I said, “Wow, this is extraordinary. This is about the end of typecasting as we know it. You can play anything.” I&T Today: So, a big part of developing any character, whether it’s live action or performance capture, is really developing the voice and how that character sounds. Gollum’s voice is so iconic. What is your process? How do you go about creating a voice for a character?

AS: The thing is, it’s all about character. You don’t just pick a voice and try that. You start to think, for instance, in the case of Gollum…he’s called Gollum because of the way he sounds, and that sound comes from a sense of the guilt he’s carrying for having killed his cousin, that guilt is trapped in his throat, which forces him to make this involuntary action every time he mentions his own name. So I was looking for something physical that ties into the voice. It’s not just a separate thing. For instance, with Caesar, I’ve had an extraordinary journey because, of course, I’ve played him all the way from being an infant chimpanzee to being an almost human-like ape. He has linguistically evolved over the course of three movies. In the early forms of Caesar’s speech, it was very prototype human language, based on urgency coming from emotion. When he’s first screaming, “No,” for instance, in the first film, it’s a particularly guttural ape sound, but it’s formed through human words. I&T Today: Speaking of Gollum, Caesar, and King Kong, you’ve played so many non-human characters, but you’ve been able to put so much emotion into them. What is that process? How do you put so much emotion into these creatures, and make them so complicated? AS: That really is the great thing about the

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.

technology. You can play in a very nuanced way. You’re not stuck behind a mask, layers of prosthetic makeup, where you’d have to fight through all those artifacts. You’re able to really play the internal creature, the character. It’s always about finding the human connection to them, how you choose to anthropomorphize those roles. You always look for the human connection, and you’re always putting yourself under the microscope, too. I&T Today: You’ve started to expand into directing. You directed the Hobbit movies, this year’s Breathe, and 2018’s Jungle Book. How have you enjoyed being behind the camera, rather than in front of it? AS: I adore it. I’ve been wanting to work as a director for many years. In fact, before I became an actor, I was a visual artist. I always had an appreciation for the overall aesthetic and beauty and storytelling from outside, as well as from inside, a single character. I really do absolutely love working with actors, and eliciting and helping them to elicit the performance. I love creating, supporting the drama through camera choices. I think very visually, so it’s very much a natural progression for me, really. I’ve been very lucky with the projects I’ve been able to work on. [continues on page 152]

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L A D R I E W e i d n i s e goe

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On the heels of a #1

Billboard record, Weird

Al is leaving traditional methods behind and going digital at the peak of his career. By P.K. French There’s a special place in the nerd pantheon reserved for this polka master. For over 30 years (yes, 30), Weird Al has been entertaining global audiences with a catalogue of parodies that, true to his name, defy mainstream expectations regarding what should and shouldn’t be popular. Who would have thought songs with titles like “White & Nerdy,” “Like a Surgeon,” and “Amish Paradise” would be charttoppers? Who would have thought that a high school kid who submitted silly accordion ballads to a local radio show would someday have his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? With four Grammy Awards to date, the parodist has a talent for transforming mainstream commodity into comedic oddity – his last album Mandatory Fun achieving the #1 spot on the Billboard charts. Despite this recent success (or perhaps because of it), Al has decided not to return to the traditional record label dynamic. Instead, he’s going all digital, with plans to launch his singles as he finishes them instead of all at once. In this interview, Weird Al explains why he’s made this move at the peak of his career, while previewing an upcoming tour and a final compilation, appropriately shaped like his famous accordion.

Innovation & Tech Today: Your discography is full of tracks that reveal that you’re not so “technologically impaired.” You often riff off of tech and the internet. How did these become staple Weird Al themes? Weird Al: Well, I guess you just write what you know. Back in the ‘80s, I wrote a lot of songs about television and food, because I could relate to subjects like that. But I got my first PC, I think it was, in 1992. After that, I got obsessed with a lot of nerdier themes. I became obsessed with the online world and I think my oeuvre, at that point, started to reflect that. I started to write songs that referenced online culture and the internet. What it means to be a nerd in today’s world. I&T Today: I know YouTube has been pivotal for you. As an old-school MTV alumnus, though, how would you compare the way you approach music videos then, as opposed to now? WA: Well, it is different in a lot of ways. The record industry has changed quite a bit. Back when I started out, MTV and radio were super important to recording artists. Because, if MTV put your song on heavy rotation, that could make or break you. Certainly, the same for radio. Back then, you would have one or, if you were lucky, two songs from your album that would be the singles. And you’d have videos for those and those would drive the train, promotionally, so to speak. So, you would put all of your effort and money and energy into those one or two videos. Nowadays, MTV has very little effect, radio has less effect, and, certainly for me, the internet is where my bread is buttered. I think that’s true for a lot of artists. I learned that, instead of focusing your energy on one or two videos, if I do a bunch of videos, that’s going to get more play and more attention.

Weird Al is known for his comical on-stage antics during live performances.

All images courtesy of Weird Al

The problem then is you have to be a little more creative with your funding. Because paying for eight videos is a lot harder than paying for two videos. So, there aren’t that many people that are doing half-a-million-dollar budget music videos these days. I think those days are pretty much over. Record labels are not prone to opening up their pocketbooks to that extent. I&T Today: You recently discussed how your upcoming compilation Squeeze Box marks the end of an era. Could you explain that? WA: Well, I signed my record deal in 1982 and I didn’t fulfill it until 32 short years later in 2014, with the release of Mandatory Fun. It wound up being a 14album contract. Which is hard to believe, but that’s that. It was a 10-album deal initially, which, in and of itself, was pretty ridiculous. Then, the contract was renegotiated twice and albums kept being tacked on. So, it wasn’t until three years ago that I fulfilled the deal. Looking forward, I’m not sure that I’m going to be putting out albums anymore. Which sounds weird, after coming off of a number one album and, ostensibly, the high point of my career. But it’s always been a bit frustrating to me that sometimes I’ll have an idea for a song and I’ll want to put it out immediately. But I can’t, because I need to wait until I have 11 more songs to go along with it so I can release a whole album’s worth of material at once. Not all of my material is topical and timely, but enough of it is that, going forward, I would really like to be able to just put out singles and tracks whenever I feel like it – instead of being tied to the old business model of, “You have to release a dozen songs, all at once.” I&T Today: You have a big tour coming up in 2018. Can you tell us what you have planned for that? Do you think your new digital release style will change the way you approach tours in the future? FALL 2017 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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cleanser, because every tour was getting bigger and bigger and more production and then crazier. Which is great, but at some point, we wanted to do one tour without the fat suits and the Segways. Just play like a band. We’ll get that out of our system next year and then, after that, I’m sure we’ll go back to doing the big shows. Every tour we did [in the past] was promoting a specific album, and we won’t be doing that anymore. It’ll just be…whenever we feel like it. I&T Today: What’s this resurgence of vinyl all about? Why is that happening right now? And do you think 30 years from now we’ll see hipsters listening to Squeeze Box on CD, as opposed to some future format? WA: Well, see, as a teenager, I collected vinyl. It was pretty much the only option. I mean, the others were cassettes and 8-tracks. But vinyl was king back then. No stranger to the arena scene, Weird Al will be doing a more intimate tour next year for dedicated fans.

But the comeback of vinyl? I think it’s really great. Personally, I don’t have my turntable hooked up. I still have it. My wife made me sell or donate a lot of my vinyl. I wish I still had it, but she was like, “Well, you already have the CD, why do you need the vinyl?” Which, you know, I don’t want go to on about that. But…I like vinyl. I know that a lot of audiophiles and hipsters appreciate the warm sound. I can’t fault it for that. I certainly miss the large art that goes along with the old LP album covers. That’s something I missed immediately when we went to CD format. I think vinyl has a bit more romance attached to it than a CD. I mean, a CD is digital, so it’s ones and zeroes. Vinyl is analog. I think that people will always have some kind of attachment to tangible objects. Digital files are very practical and convenient, but there’s something about being able to hold something in your hand.

WA: I hope to be touring as much going forward as I have in the past. It’s more important now than ever. Touring and merch is how most recording artists make their money. The albums are almost a loss leader now. The next tour, specifically, is not going to be a big moneymaking tour. It’s sort of a very small and very intimate tour, for the hardcore fans and for me and the band. It’s going to be basically a deep cuts and B-sides kind of tour. We’re going

to be playing all the tracks that nobody ever thought we’d play live. We’re doing it without costume changes, or film clips, or props. It’s just going to be very intimate. We want it to feel like we’re playing in your living room. So that’s not going to appeal to a lot of people. But, for the people it does appeal to, I think they’ll get a really big kick out of it. For the band, it’s something that we felt like we needed to do, for ourselves. A little palate

I just remember the joy I had whenever one of my new albums came out, and I would go to Tower Records and pick it up and I’d rub the shrink wrap against my face. But I think digital files are the way of the future. I’m not a futurist or anything, but I think, maybe 30 years from now, I’m guessing we’ll be listening to music on a chip that the government has implanted in our brains. That’s about as much as I can guess. I&T Today: You’ve witnessed a lot of changes in the industry. What were the most pivotal shifts in music consumption or production? How are you able to adapt? [continues on page 152]

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Genius at

WAR By Alex Moersen

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Images courtesy of the Weinstein Company


The actors playing two of history’s most inventive minds on how they approached the roles and this monumental rivalry. Competition breeds innovation. History is full of rivals who, by working against one another, continuously pushing to be better, have inadvertently contributed to the greater good. Apple versus Microsoft is one such example, paving the way for computing as we know it today. There’s Elon Musk’s SpaceX versus Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin – the modern day space race. However, few rivalries have changed the world as much as the War of Currents. It was a battle of entrepreneurial titans, of AC versus DC, of George Westinghouse versus Thomas Edison. With Edison’s new commercial applications of electricity, a debate ensued over the most efficient way to distribute power to the masses. Edison Electric Light Company represented the lowvoltage direct current (DC) argument, while Westinghouse Electric Company embraced the high-voltage alternating current (AC). As both parties began to establish their generators around the country, AC began to spread quickly since it was able to reach more people. However, it came under fire in early 1888 when Edison’s company made claims that AC was hazardous. Their claim was justified that spring when there were a series of deaths caused by pole-mounted high-voltage AC lines in New York City. In the end, AC would still win out in 1892 when Edison Electric merged with Thomson-Houston (forming General Electric) and began working with AC. That’s the importance of competition in business. Edison had a discovery, Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla improved upon it, and now a power that was once considered godly can be controlled by flipping a switch. Now, with The Current War, the story of this famous rivalry is coming to the big screen. The Sorcerer Supreme himself, Benedict Cumberbatch, explores the very real kind of magic in Thomas Edison’s use of electricity, while the versatile Michael Shannon plays successful businessman and entrepreneur George Westinghouse. Slated to release in November, The Current War explores this famous rivalry of the two titans of electricity. We had the opportunity to discuss with Cumberbatch and Shannon the various aspects of their characters and this historic conflict.

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Innovation & Tech Today: What did you do to prepare to play the man who’s been called “America’s Greatest Inventor?”

Benedict Cumberbatch is no stranger to playing scientists, with his Oscarnominated performance as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game.

Benedict Cumberbatch: Well, I read much as I could… There was an excerpt of his diary, which is a little known publication (I think out of print now) that production managed to get a hold of for me. That was a wonderful insight… I researched into specifics to do with his deafness, to do with the electric current and its distribution. I was speaking to people who know a lot more about these things, including our art department on the film itself in pre-production, who were pretty fantastic. I always find that leaning on some of the experts around you is an incredibly helpful thing to do. Then the book itself that it’s inspired by, [War of the Currents]. It’s an amazing story of three men, three titans of invention. I&T Today: Did you learn anything about him that the average person might not know? BC: I guess the regrets or the understanding of what he’d sacrificed with his family, how hard he worked and what cost that had on the intimacy that he had, and lacked, with his family. Not to judge the man, but I think he ended up repeating his mistakes, if they were mistakes. Or is it just his nature? But I think it still tortured him as well as being something he decided to do. That work always came first. That was an interesting thing

to explore... He was very fond of coffee. He’d often sleep in the laboratory and work through the night.

human element to that. It’s not all just good natured thigh slapping. There was a lot of hard work and a lot of spilled milk.

He was very fond of his men, he treated them honestly and truthfully and, at times, harshly, but there was a lot of celebratory machismo and backslapping, and it was a proper communal work environment in Menlo Park. That’s the first blueprint for the research and development departments we now have in a lot of industries in the Silicon Valley. There was a lot of comradery and I think there were certain pressure points in this race for the control of the current where he probably didn’t behave at his best. There’s a

How ferocious a reader he was, I didn’t know. I don’t know how general knowledge that is about him, but it’s gobsmacking. I mean volumes of literature all the time. He never stopped reading. A lot of the diaries, accounts of passages, fiction, as well as a lot of history, and of course science and nonfiction actual works. He’s extraordinary. He writes about books as mood enhancers as well, how they transport him. He writes about his daydreams and his dreams, and however racy they get. He touches upon a fantasy life as well. He’s just very funny, and takes great delight in the brilliance of other people as well.

Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse were like the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of the late 1800s, each competing for dominance in the lucrative electricity industry. Innovation & Tech Today: What initially drew you to this character and the script?

The Current War depicts the industrial feud between two of the greatest minds of the 19th century, with Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison.

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Michael Shannon: I didn’t really know anything about George Westinghouse. From the synopsis of the film, I wasn’t entirely sure it was something that I was even drawn to. I met with the director, Alfonso [Gomez-Rejon], and he was able to kind of illuminate what was so thrilling about the story. He gave me a little book about George Westinghouse, a very old book Images courtesy of the Weinstein Company


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that must have been very hard for him to find. There’s not much written about George Westinghouse. There’s not much to go on. Anyway, I read the book, and I was very touched by it. I decided that I would do the project.

George Westinghouse (played by Michael Shannon) was a proponent of AC power.

I&T Today: Did you learn anything about George Westinghouse that surprised you? MS: Well, I didn’t know anything about him, so everything I learned about him was new…I think what I was drawn to, really, was the spirit in which he conducted his business and the spirit in which he explored new frontiers. Not for his own glory or to aggrandize himself, but to actually try and help civilization. Him inventing the air brake on trains. That saved the lives of so many workers. He just seemed very benevolent and very kind. I&T Today: I understand that Edison and Westinghouse only come face-to-face a few times in the movie, which I imagine are pretty intense scenes. How did you prepare to face your rival in those scenes? MS: Well, Westinghouse didn’t want to be rivals with Edison really. Westinghouse was very intrigued by Thomas Edison. Westinghouse wasn’t really interested in being rivals with anyone. I’m just going on my impression of him. I can’t say I’ve ever met the man. He was always very willing to listen to other people and was always very curious about what other people had to say.

The brilliant mathematician Nikola Tesla was hired by Edison to help him transmit DC power. However, after Edison refused to acknowledge the inventor’s alternating current ideas and didn’t pay him properly, Tesla left his side. Westinghouse, however, saw the potential of AC and quickly bought Tesla’s patents, posing a new threat to Edison.

I&T Today: The Current War is revolved around this rivalry, specifically between Edison and George Westinghouse, played by Michael Shannon. How has it been working with Shannon as your rival, as your opposite?

Benedict Cumberbatch: Well, it’s a bit like the famous scene in Heat where the two rivals operate in such isolated opposition or polarity that they really are arguing two completely different cases. They don’t crossover much, that’s the great thing. Sadly, I only got two instances where Michael and I were on the same set, but obviously one of those is a big scene, a lot like the café scene that’s between De Niro and Pacino.

has such command of characterization, of how to achieve so much with seemingly so little, but inside he’s fearlessly intelligent and very heartfelt.

Michael is an extraordinary actor. I’ve been a huge fan of all of his work, and for a long time. He

BC: I think Edison obviously has an eccentricity: the workaholic nature, the excessive

I&T Today: Edison isn’t the first scientist you’ve played. You’ve also portrayed Alan Turing in The Imitation Game and others. How has this experience compared to that of Alan Turing?

[continues on page 154]

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Images courtesy of the Weinstein Company


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Offer valid in U.S. and Canada (restrictions apply). Code expires 06/30/19. Licensed for consumer use only. Not for sale or resale. Must be 18 years or older to create Royole Lounge account. Terms and conditions for promotion apply; for full details, see www.royole.com/royole-lounge. Promotions and availability vary by market and titles are subject to change without prior notice. Promotion has no cash value and is not transferable. ‘$89 value’ referenced in the terms above is based on recommended retail pricing of 3D Blu-ray Discs™ as of 07/01/2017. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: © 2009 Sony Pictures Animation Inc. All Rights Reserved. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter: © 2016 Constantin Film Production GmbH. All Rights Reserved. Inferno: © 2016 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and LSC Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The Amazing Spider-Man 2: © 2014 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and LSC Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. | MARVEL and all related character names: © & ™ 2017 MARVEL Ghostbusters 2016: © 2016 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and Village Roadshow Films Global Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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VOICE ACTING ALL-STARS OPEN UP

By Anthony Elio

“Ehh, what’s up, doc?” “D’Oh!” “I am vengeance. I am the night. I am Batman!” It’s more than likely that you read the previous few phrases in a specific voice. All three were memorable lines spoken by Mel Blanc, Dan Castellaneta, and Kevin Conroy, three of the most influential voice actors in the business. The three are remembered for adding personality and timing to classic characters, all while creating an iconic and memorable voice. It’s this ability to use the voice as not only an essential part of animation, but an

®

All character images ©, , or TM their respective studios and are not individually identified. Character actors images courtsey of the actors.

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inseparable part of a character, that has fascinated me about the world of voice acting. However, as much as I’ve always been intrigued with voice acting as an art form, I’ve always felt like it’s still a mystery to the majority. While your top Hollywood actor will do voiceover work for the occasional Disney film, what about the people who base their entire acting careers off of their voice? With this in mind, I reached out to some of the best voice actors in the business to discuss where they got their start, what makes voice acting unique, misconceptions about the industry, and advice to up-and-comers with voice acting aspirations.


Jim Cummings THE VOICE OF: Winnie The Pooh, Dr. Robotnik from Sonic The Hedgehog, Darkwing Duck, Tazmanian Devil BEGINNING: I kind of always was. Just in the sense that I was in first grade and I’d be doing the dolphin noises or anything like that. I remember I’d get in trouble for it, but I thought to myself, “Well, if I can do it like this guy Mel Blanc on TV, maybe I won’t get in trouble anymore and I won’t have to stand in the corner.” UNIQUE: I always joke around and I’ll say, “Well, anyone can win an Oscar or an Emmy if they can use their face.” You have to be able to be surprised and, you know, all the emotions that are normally conveyed. Plus, you’re inspiring the animator to draw what he hears. And, if you think about it, you can’t really draw comedic timing, but, once you hear it, then you can. And from there, it inspires the animators and then you’re off to the races. MISCONCEPTIONS: I think sometimes people think, “So all you have to do is read, huh?” And I go, “Yep. That’s all you have to do. Just read it like it’s a phone book and that’s all you’re doing.” It takes a full-time commitment to even come close to a part-time career. Because everybody can read and everybody can speak and so they think therefore it’s a pretty easy thing to do. And it’s like, well, everybody can pick up the guitar and probably pluck the strings but you might not be Stevie Ray Vaughan or Jimi Hendrix. The idea is to make it look easy, but that doesn’t mean it is. ADVICE: Remember to be a sponge. Just be a sponge. Observe the mannerisms…if your mailman’s got a quirky sound, or your third grade teacher, or your neighbor, or fill in the blank. You can hold onto that.

Scott Menville THE VOICE OF: Robin from Teen Titans, Ma-Ti from Captain Planet, Shaggy from Scooby Doo, Jonny Quest BEGINNING: I got into the business professionally when I was 11 years old. My dad, the late Chuck Menville, was in the entertainment business. At that time he was a writer/story editor at Hanna-Barbera. He heard about auditions for a new animated series of The Little Rascals. I had just played Alfalfa in a school play and I had been in acting class since I was nine. My dad believed in my talent and asked if I could audition. The Little Rascals was my first professional voice-over job and first professional acting job. UNIQUE: One of my favorite things about voice acting is that you can play against type. I’ve played characters in voiceover that I would never get to play on-camera. I can play an old man on one gig and on the next gig be playing a 12-year-old boy. I’ve played aliens, robots, fat guys, and animals. I even booked a paid gig once as the mooing voice of a dying cow. On-camera they’d never cast a human to play a cow. But in VO, the sky’s the limit. MISCONCEPTIONS: A big misconception is some people assume that, because they can do a funny voice they can be a successful voice actor. The key word in “voice acting” is acting. If you can do a great SpongeBob impression, cool, but Tom Kenny can do it better, because he’s not just doing a silly voice, he’s acting the (square) pants off that role. Most of us have trained and studied and been at it a long time. ADVICE: The cliché that we so often hear is true, so I’ll repeat it: If you want to build a career, know that it is a marathon, not a sprint. FALL 2017 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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Tara Strong THE VOICE OF: Bubbles from Powerpuff Girls, Raven from Teen Titans, Timmy Turner from Fairly OddParents, Harley Quinn from various DC video games BEGINNING: Well, I knew when I was four or five years old that I wanted to be a singer, actress, dancer, and I always did funny voices and performing. I did the Music Man, and I also did an on-camera show with Mr. T, and then I did Hello Kitty. It was just another audition. So I actually didn’t know that was going to be my primary, but I grew up in Toronto and there were so many great opportunities to really build a nice resume there. I had over 20 animated series to my name before I moved. UNIQUE: Well, it is in the acting category, and I think people make the mistake that if they have a funny-sounding voice they can succeed, and it’s really not about having a unique voice, although that can sustain for a little bit. The people that really sustain long voiceover careers are primarily actors that have had acting training, and I always tell people when they’re getting started to take as many different kinds of classes as you can, so you can put them in your bag of tricks. MISCONCEPTIONS: It’s not just about having a crazy sounding voice. It’s really about being a good actor and being versatile and being able to manipulate your voice, and also creating a character. You, as a performer, have to imagine how this person functions in their world. ADVICE: I always tell people to take as many acting classes as they can and singing lessons, and, when they finally feel ready, get into an acting class for animation or for commercial, whatever they want to focus on, but a really reputable one. Get some studio time and time behind the microphone, so you’re not so nervous when you get into a studio. The truth is it’s a very small-knit industry. Not just anyone, even if they’re insanely talented, is going to get a shot. Everything in Hollywood is timing.

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Grey Griffin THE VOICE OF: Daphne Blake from Scooby Doo, Frankie from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Azula from The Last Airbender, Mandy from The Grim Adventures Of Billy and Mandy BEGINNING: I always wanted to be a stand up comedian and I did a few little shows doing stand up. I was really terrible, but I did really good impressions in my show. Pretty much my whole act was just impressions. I didn’t really have jokes and somebody was like, “Why don’t you go write some jokes? But in the meantime you should do some voice over because you do some great voices and stuff.” UNIQUE: You’re not boxed in, because, when I moved to LA…I kind of thought, "Voices, I’m going to try to do that." I just left theater school, but I was getting offered these boring parts of just girls my own age, and it just seemed so boring. I was playing the 20-yearold girl, and so when I started doing cartoons I was like, “Ah, this is what I trained for. This is all my theater training coming into play,” because in the theater you’re playing like the 90-year-old-woman, the dog, the little boy.

Greg Cipes THE VOICE OF: Beast Boy from Teen Titans, Michaelangelo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Iron Fist from Ultimate Spider-Man, Kevin Levin from Ben 10 BEGINNING: I first got into voice acting as a prank caller. I grew up with my brothers and sisters driving around in a camper across the United States. My father would let me get on the CB and mess with truck drivers. That’s why I first started to play with making funny voices to make people laugh. UNIQUE: Voice acting has everything to do with your soul. You have no place to hide. It’s just purely your voice, your inflections. Every breath, even your heartbeat is coming through on the mic. A lot of other art forms you can hide behind things but with this it’s just you and a very, very powerful microphone. You can also wear your pajamas to work. MISCONCEPTIONS: The biggest misconception is that it just takes a small team. Animation is a huge undertaking. Most animated TV shows have crews of hundreds and hundreds working nonstop on the project. Every person involved is very important. ADVICE: The greatest advice I can give to anyone wanting to do anything is do it because you love it and love it fully, wholeheartedly, with all your passion, all your energy, all your hope, and all your resources. Then and only then will you receive something that you’ve always wanted. But you will receive it in a way you never could’ve imagined every time. The bottom line is, if you do something long enough, you will eventually get good at it and somebody will pay for it as well. But do it because you love it or you are wasting your time in life. Richness comes from the soul.

MISCONCEPTIONS: The biggest misconception is that we do the voices after they animate it. I feel like Mrs. Doubtfire ruined it for everybody because he was a voiceover artist, Robin Williams, in that movie. In the beginning of the movie they show him looking at a cartoon and then doing all the voices to what he’s seeing. We do that sometimes, but it’s called ADR and you’re just replacing your dialogue. ADVICE: I used to always try to think of things to say, but the best advice I can give at this point is my friend Dee Bradley-Baker (voice actor for American Dad and Star Wars: The Clone Wars) made a website that has been like the best thing that has ever happened to me personally because I get to send everybody to the website when they ask me about how to get into voiceover. It’s called IWantToBeAVoiceActor.com and it’s great. I went there and I was like, “Yes, this is all the stuff.”

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Star Wars Battlefront II’s

Janina Gavankar Enjoys The Dark Side Janina Gavankar was a participant on the Level Up panel at D23 2017. The panel included Janina, actor John Boyega, and Steve Blank (Lucasfilm Story Group) discussing Star Wars: Battlefront II with YouTube stars Jacksepticeye and Strawburry17.

By John Gaudiosi

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Actress Janina Gavankar has been at the forefront of performance capture in the video game world, having worked on Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3 and now Electronic Arts’ Star Wars Battlefront II. The film and television star happens to be a huge gamer in her spare time, which makes these acting gigs in the virtual world even more enticing.

universe fit into your accomplishments in life?

Electronic Arts enlisted three developers to collaborate and bring the new Battlefront game to life, introducing a campaign storyline for the first time. At the center of this original Star Wars canon is a brand new elite stormtrooper commander, Iden Versio. Gamers will play through her journey and get a new perspective into the Empire following the Rebel victory at the end of Return of the Jedi.

I&T Today: What’s it like to be part of an official Star Wars canon with this game and comic book and novel?

Janina Gavankar: This is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I’m in Star Wars, and it’s not like I just got to be like a side character, which I would have been happy to do. But I got to be in the performance capture suit in London shooting everything, and I get to introduce a new integral character in this galaxy. It’s crazy.

Gavankar talks about this interactive journey into cutting-edge performance capture in this exclusive interview from Disney’s D23 in Anaheim, CA.

JG: The novel gives you all of the backstory of the dawn of Inferno Squad, and I have been lucky enough to forge a really wonderful friendship with the author of the book, Christie Golden. I got to talk to her about the backstory while I was working on the performance capture for the game, and it is complicated being an Imperial. I will say that. And you’re going to be able to get a real glimpse into what it takes to go on a mission with us in that group in that book.

Innovation & Tech Today: Having been a part of cool universes like True Blood and Far Cry, where does stepping into the Star Wars

I&T Today: How have you been able to shape the character of Iden during the performance capture process?

INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017

JG: This is one thing I did not expect to be a part of this experience. It is highly collaborative. I thought I was going to show up and they were going to say, “Stand here, say these lines,” and it was going to be a really rigid experience, albeit, exciting. But this was so collaborative. I had access to the writers Mitch [Dyer] and Walt [Williams] from day one. I am a very vocal person. I&T Today: Having worked in television and film, how have you seen video games evolve as an art form? JG: Video games are interactive movies. Let’s be honest. We are there. So, if you are not willing to do the work it takes to create a real story, people are going to call bullshit. That’s not happening with this group of people. As a gamer, I can tell you it’s not happening, and it’s going to be a great experience. And you can tell that there’s a lot of care and love that was put into this thing. I&T Today: Have you officially gone to the Dark Side? JG: The Dark Side or the correct side? [laughs] Come on over. It’s good over here. ■

Game images courtesy of Electronic Arts. Disney D23 image courtesy Disney/Image Group LA (via Flickr)


Build a Firewall Between Church and State When government and religion mix, both become corrupted. The most-trusted security hygiene for both is the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which Thomas Jefferson said builds “a wall of separation between Church & State.” It will require our best efforts to safeguard freedom of conscience, secular government, scientific progress, and civil and personal liberties. Help ensure reason will prevail. Support FFRF’s vital work to keep religion out of government, laws, public schools and social policy.

Join the FREEDOM FROM RELIGION FOUNDATION

DEFENDING FREETHOUGHT & THE WALL OF SEPARATION FOR 40 YEARS

FFRF is a national membership association for freethinkers (atheists, agnostics, skeptics) working to educate the public about nontheism, and to preserve the constitutional principle of separation between religion and government. FFRF’s legal department ends hundreds of entanglements between state and church every year, working to keep our government virus-free. FFRF is a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit with more than 29,000 members.

Join at ffrf.org/antivirus Or call 800-335-4021 for information and a free copy of Freethought Today, FFRF’s newspaper FFRF preserves privacy and will not sell, share, or divulge your contact information. Dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.


SILICON tech zone

ARIZONA

SW We look at the tech companies and organizations that are heating things up in what is quickly becoming the tech capital of the Southwest.

Home of the Grand Canyon, Arizona is known for its extreme heat and desert

climate. However, the temperature isn’t the only thing rising in the Copper State. The state’s tech community has been making

large strides over the past couple of years,

transforming Arizona into the perfect place for any app developer who doesn’t mind applying a liberal amount of sunblock.

For instance, between job growth forecast to double the average among cities in the

U.S. and a 188% increase in tech jobs over the past year, Phoenix looks to become known just as much for its tech community as its multitude of resorts.

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One major reason for Phoenix’s recent tech boom is the complete revamp of the city’s Warehouse District. Within two square miles of the area, 60 tech startups currently operate inside Galvanize’s technology campus. This is reflective of the city’s tech boom as, according to Mayor Greg Stanton, the amount of tech companies operating in the downtown area has almost quadrupled over a five-year period.

In addition to Phoenix, several other Arizona communities are experiencing a heat wave of new enterprise. Building off of its innovative history, Flagstaff has become the home of exciting breakthroughs in medical technology, while Sierra Vista tackles

cybersecurity through state-of-the-art

STEM programs. Not to be outdone, the

city of Mesa has drawn a lot of attention as a haven for aerospace and aviation

companies. Lastly, companies such as The Touchpoint Solution out of Scottsdale are

making headlines for their role in fostering a culture of entrepreneurship.

Thus, while located hundreds of miles away

from Silicon Valley, Arizona has successfully

created its own tech community by bringing

major talent to the desert. In this Tech Zone, we’re going to highlight the companies and communities that are proving that the Arizona tech scene is no mirage.


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W Photo Dreamstime.com


tech zone

ARIZONA

How Greater Phoenix Came to be The Connected Place Starting in the 1980s, major corporations such as Intel and Motorola established critical operations centers in Greater Phoenix, sparking the beginning of the first generation of hardware technology companies that saw the value of doing business there. What resulted was an industry base of legacy companies, such as Freescale (now NXP), ON Semiconductor, and Microchip, which allowed for new innovation and startup activity. This second generation of tech in Greater Phoenix saw the formation of homegrown companies like Infusionsoft and WebPT, which deliberately chose to start and scale their businesses in market and have seen tremendous growth and success over the years. National publications ranging from The New York Times to USA Today have reported on the influx of technology companies expanding to metro Phoenix, whether from Silicon Valley or New York City. However, this trend is not new. It is the result of decades of intentional efforts to build a landscape that allows these companies to thrive. In addition to the dedicated infrastructure and creation of pro-business policies, the communities in Greater Phoenix have worked to provide residents and visitors amenities and features that offer unique experiences. Bike share programs have popped up all over the region, the

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music scene is hotter than ever (with the new Lost Lake Festival coming this fall), and the craft beer, coffee, and dining scene is reflective of – if not better than – what you would expect to find in a major metro. Behind the scenes, another community was building too. An ecosystem for startups and entrepreneurs to collaborate, share helpful tips on funding, build business plans, or even get legal advice. The #yesPHX movement connected entrepreneurs and the ecosystem to provide a support group for companies to bounce ideas off one another, and encourage new companies as they exit. Taking a step further, the StartupAZ Foundation is paying it forward and dedicating equity in support of advancing high potential startups. All of this has provided a foundation for a third generation of tech companies – those expanding from other markets. In the last few years, metro Phoenix has seen expansions from up-andcoming tech companies such as Yelp, Apple, Weebly, Gainsight, and DoubleDutch. The draw to the market is more than a lower-cost option to expand operations; it’s a destination where both business and employees can thrive. However, there is an underswell of companies in Greater Phoenix drawing attention for their work in the Internet of Things (IoT) and sensorenabled technology. What has since culminated

By Chris Camacho

is the development of a new movement to highlight this growing activity. Through The Connected Place, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council has built a new industry identity campaign to broadcast the density of companies operating in the region – specifically autonomous vehicles, wearable devices, industry automation, and cybersecurity. As if coming full circle, the Intel campus in Chandler, Arizona is responsible for developing Intel’s latest technology, and is home to the Internet of Things Group. Companies such as Uber and Waymo are testing innovative technologies that will change the way we get from A to B. Researchers at Arizona State University are testing wearable devices for our troops to communicate with each other in combat. Ingenu has developed the technology for machines to talk with each other. Honeywell Communications has developed technology to keep your home safe. And all of this can be safeguarded thanks to cybersecurity companies like the Kudelski Group. Recently dubbed “The Connected Place,” Greater Phoenix does more than promote the exciting work happening in the market around IoT and sensors. It’s creating a reference point to identify this center of technological advancement, a place where companies are changing how we live and the way we do business. ■ Photos courtesy of GPEC


Entrepreneurship + Innovation at Arizona State University connects you to information, resources and people that can help you turn your ideas into reality. Whether you’re toying with a concept in your head or you’ve already built a team and launched a venture, E+I can help propel your entrepreneurial aspirations. Get connected today at entrepreneurship.asu.edu.

#1 in the U.S. for innovation ahead of #2 Stanford and #3 MIT –U.S. News & World Report, 2016 and 2017

A top U.S. university for technology transfer ahead of Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Duke –Milken Institute tech transfer rankings, 2016

A top worldwide university granted U.S. utility patents ahead of Duke, Yale, Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown and Dartmouth –National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association

asu.edu @ASU   @ Arizona State University #1innovation


tech zone

ARIZONA

Flagstaff, The City with an Innovative Past and Present By Gail Jackson While Flagstaff is known around the world as the gateway to the Grand Canyon, the city’s accomplishments stretch far beyond its connection to one of the Seven Wonders of the World. For more than a century, Flagstaff has been leading discoveries in science and technology that have turned its scenic community into a hub of innovation.

bioscience. Companies like TGen North focus on pathogen genomic research that includes pneumonia, sepsis, valley fever, influenza, and tuberculosis. Additionally, Senestech, Flagstaff ’s first publicly traded company, is changing the world with its humane approach to animal fertility control technology.

From the time Flagstaff scientists discovered Pluto in 1930, the landmark research occurring at Lowell Observatory put Flagstaff on the map as a leading center for advancements in astronomy and astrogeology. The city’s history of innovation reached a defining moment in the early 1960s, when Flagstaff became the headquarters for all field training and research and development associated with manned missions to the Moon. The world celebrated the U.S.’s achievements in space exploration on July 20, 1969, as Neil Armstrong took his first step on the Moon, and Flagstaff took its place in history as the astronomical think tank that made this historic event possible. This effort eventually evolved into what is now the Astrogeology unit of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). And today the USGS is very involved in the Mars landings that have taken place the past few years.

Another factor behind this city’s entrepreneurial success is the Flagstaff Business Accelerator operated by NACET, whose emerging companies include Poba Medical, which focuses on thermoplastic balloon design and development, device and pilot manufacturing, and the production of catheter devices. Another innovative company is Aneuvas, which has developed a neurovascular device aimed at treating aneurysms and will begin clinical trials soon.

As the hub of business and commerce for all of northern Arizona, Flagstaff is the driving force behind the region’s economy. “Flagstaff has rapidly growing, robust, and sophisticated bioscience and computing sectors,” says John Stigmon, president and CEO of ECONA. “These are becoming the major industry sectors for our region.” The city also supports a strong employment base in medical device manufacturing as the headquarters for industry leaders W.L. Gore & Associates Medical Products Division and Machine Solutions. There is also a strong research and development base in the field of

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Flagstaff is also home to Northern Arizona University (NAU) where students and faculty focus on translational research – specifically cyber security, chip design, software, and bioengineering in human and device interface. Over the past five years, NAU has added over 300,000 square feet of new research facility space. Today, modern day researchers, scientists, and explorers continue to build upon Flagstaff ’s early successes. From medical devices and digital products to healthcare and biosciences, the city has broadened fields of research and opened the doors for greater diversification of business and industry. And while its community has evolved over the years from a pioneer settlement to a metropolis of over 90,000 people in the region, the intention remains the same – to improve the lives of others through the groundbreaking discoveries that will continue to fuel its culture of inspired innovation for years to come. ■

While Flagstaff is known around the world as the gateway to the Grand Canyon, the city’s accomplishments stretch far beyond its connection to one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Photos courtesy of Flagstaff


INTRODUCING MESA, ARIZONA:

A SMART LOCATION FOR INTELLIGENT COMPANIES.

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Consider City of Mesa for your corporate expansion or relocation. Mesa is a global hub for aerospace, defense, medical device, semiconductor and cyber security companies, including some of the world’s biggest players in technology and innovation (Boeing, Apple, FUJIFILM, Bridgestone). Employers enjoy a large, skilled workforce, low operational costs, abundant land space and a close-knit, corporate friendly community. Mesa is a smart location for intelligent companies. Visit us online and tell us about your project. M E S A A Z T E C H N O L O G Y. C O M


tech zone

ARIZONA

Ethical Hacking 101: Cybersecurity in Sierra Vista U.S. Army Fort Huachuca

U.S. CyberPatriot

U.S. CyberPatriot

By integrating younger generations in STEM and cybersecurity education, Sierra Vista is establishing a strong base as a hub for cybersecurity.

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This year especially, cybersecurity has been a daunting threat, with a variety of worldwide attacks including WannaCry, which affected over 10,000 organizations in over 150 countries. Because of these constantly looming threats, cybersecurity is now a vital industry, causing many cities to elevate their digital defense. However, few cities are employing the strategy of Sierra Vista, which has supported anti-hacking efforts through education. With this initiative, the city has been able to not only attract top cybersecurity firms but also establish a sustainable STEM education system.

Excellence for Cyber Operations in August of 2016. The center’s curriculum is currently undergoing National Security Agency (NSA) accreditation, which, when received, will make the university one of the few institutions that are accredited by the NSA. Additionally, Cochise College has been teaching information security and cybersecurity for over a decade. The college works closely with UA Sierra Vista and will host one of its Internet of Things labs. Cochise also primes young minds for the industry with their annual cyber summer camps, training students in cybersecurity and the importance of ethical hacking.

By integrating younger generations in STEM and cybersecurity education, Sierra Vista is establishing a strong base as a hub for cybersecurity. The most prominent example of its dedication to education is at Buena High School. The school partners with CyberPatriot, a program created by the Air Force Association (AFA) to inspire students toward careers in cybersecurity and other STEM disciplines. In fact, Buena High School gained national attention in 2010 when they finished second in the CyberPatriot annual network defense competition. In addition to the program, the Sierra Vista education system also receives support from the Armed Forces. Every year, the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) Club sponsors a competition called Computer Challenge. Students of all ages (high school, middle school, and elementary school) compete in events like knowledge tests, word processing, and computer programming.

Finally, at the top of Sierra Vista’s cybersecurity industry lies Fort Huachuca. As the headquarters of the Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM), the fort is the key to maintaining and protecting the Army’s global network enterprise. It also hosts the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, teaching the doctrine, procedures, and skills for intelligence support to cyber operations in the Army and Department of Defense. Not only does Fort Huachuca help to protect the country’s network, it also helps boost local businesses. The fort hosts two primary testing centers, offering third-party testing to companies that would like to validate their technology. Huachuca also contracts with many local private companies, including General Dynamics, Mantech, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon. These and other tech companies set up shop in Sierra Vista to provide services that support this mission.

However, Sierra Vista’s focus on cybersecurity doesn’t stop with high schools. Its dedication continues on with local colleges. The University of Arizona, Sierra Vista established their Center of Academic

In their dedication to STEM education, Sierra Vista has created a solid base to bolster their cybersecurity industry. By raising the ethical hackers of tomorrow, the city has established itself as a cybersecurity hub for the present and future. ■


LUNCH BREAK

Learn more about why so many choose to live and do business in Flagstaff, Arizona. For more information: chooseflagstaff.com


tech zone

ARIZONA

Aerospace Companies Prepare for Landing in Mesa, AZ By Everin Draper

Boeing manufactures the AH-64 Apache Longbow attack helicopter at its Mesa facility where it employs more than 3,700 people. City of Mesa

Mesa, Arizona: Impressive landscapes, Major League Baseball spring training…aerospace engineering? Aerospace and aviation companies from all over the country are flocking to Mesa, ready to take advantage of what the city has to offer. In a state that hosts 1,200 aerospace companies with over 52,000 employees, Mesa stands out, as the best and brightest in the aerospace industry continue to expand their operations there.

One of the more exciting developments for Mesa was an announcement from Constant Aviation and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey that the company will be establishing a new operation at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport – a major economic win for Mesa, adding 200 jobs at an average wage of $60,000/year. Constant Aviation is a full-service maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) operation with a nationwide network. When the facility opens in late 2017, it will contain 74,486 square feet of space, with approximately 50,000 square feet of hangar space optimized for MRO. There are many factors that make a city prime for the aerospace industry. In Mesa’s case, the “Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and the City of Mesa [are] incredible partners to work with,” according to Lee Benson, former president and CEO of Able Aerospace Services. Additionally, aerospace companies are able to find all of the

personnel they need. This is largely due to Mesa’s abundance of STEM programs. “The Mesa Public Schools Cooperative Education Program and Arizona State University internship program are essential parts of GECO’s business,” GECO CEO and President Jennifer Graves said. While a healthy partnership with the city and a large employment pool may be obvious benefits, there are other aspects as well that make Mesa great for the industry. For example, Mesa has ideal and consistent weather conditions for test flights. And Arizona’s low cost of living, as well as its recreational appeal, make it easy to convince employees to make the move. Mesa has proved itself as one of the major aerospace and aviation hubs in the country as companies continue to move and expand there. As Governor Ducey said in regards to the industry, “Arizona’s excellent quality of life, friendly business climate, available pool of talented employees, and lean regulatory environment continue to make it the location of choice for key players in the aviation industry.” ■

City of Mesa

Able Aerospace Services

A notable contribution to Mesa’s aerospace industry is GECO Incorporated. Founded in 1995, GECO boasts a clientele that includes Boeing and the U.S. Army. The company’s recent expansion is focused specifically on software development for Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) controllers. Another expansion is planned for late 2017 that would triple the size of the current facility. The new facility will be used for engineering, design, and software and hardware development, in addition to manufacturing and assembly. These

expansions will add around 100 jobs in the coming years.

(Left) Able Aerospace Services’ (A Textron Company) component maintenance, repair, and overhaul facility for large commercial and military aircraft and helicopters is located in Mesa, Arizona. (Right) Cessna (A Textron Company) has a maintenance, repair, and overhaul facility for private and corporate aircraft at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona.

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EX UN T R CO AO M RD M I ON NA GR RY OU SK N IES D. . EYES ON THE SKIES. FEET ON THE GROUND. ENJOY IT ALL HERE. Sierra Vista is blazing a trail in the cyber field. Home to Fort Huachuca, a cyber-centric U.S. Army post, and boasting top-notch educational programs graduating cyber-ready employees, Sierra Vista is a gem in Arizona’s Sun Corridor. The year-round temperate climate and outdoor activities — plus excellent schools and medical services — make Sierra Vista a great place to call home. Explore the possibilities!

www. SierraVistaAZBusiness .gov | (520) 439-2212 | www. VisitSierraVista .com


tech zone

ARIZONA

Female Entrepreneurs Ride Arizona’s Tech Wave Arizona is no stranger to tech. Between Governor Ducey’s mandate that government run at the speed of business and Arizona Commerce Authority’s strong tech focus, the state is becoming the Silicon Valley of the Southwest. In fact, Apple’s recent operational expansion includes a $2 billion command center in Mesa, Arizona for iCloud backup and iTunes storage along with oversight for nearby Apple data centers. The Arizona Innovation Challenge supports start-up tech with six grants of $250,000 each along with events including a Venture Madness competition and Phoenix Startup Week. These initiatives have laid the foundation for Arizona tech companies to rise above statewide notoriety and gain national and international success. Scottsdale’s The TouchPoint Solution is one Arizona company that is riding the tech wave to the top. Recently, CEO Vicki Mayo was selected by Project Entrepreneur to be one of the top three female entrepreneurs in the country to participate in their accelerator program this past summer in New York City. This is the result of a decade of work in neuroscience by neuropsychologist and cofounder Amy Serin, which led to the creation of non-invasive neuroscience tech wearables called TouchPoints that can actually reduce stress in less than 30 seconds.

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“The TouchPoint Solution was created just over 18 months ago with one goal in mind: helping reduce stress in people’s lives,” said CoFounder and CEO Mayo. “To achieve that goal, we needed a strong tech climate and appreciation for the startup culture. I knew Arizona had the support and innovative thinkers we need to grow.” TouchPoints are non-invasive, wearable devices that use neuroscience technology to relieve stress and anxiety, heighten focus, reduce cravings, improve performance, manage anger, diminish sensory overload, and better enable sleep. They come in a set to be worn on various parts of the body, such as on hands or in socks or pockets. The TouchPoint Solution is one of many tech companies to plant their roots in Arizona, and is quickly proving to be an impressive asset to the local tech scene. Paramount to their success lies the desire to innovate. This quality elevates the impact of their products, establishing TouchPoints’ potential to shift the way we handle stress on a global scale. They join the ranks of other paradigm-shifting companies of the area, confirming once again that Arizona is becoming the new Silicon Valley. ■ Readers can learn more by visiting www.ilovetouchpoint.com

Touchpoint wearables can be easily worn on the wrist to monitor and lower stress, improve daily focus, and help you get a better night’s sleep.


connected life

Home Schooling By Louie Fox

It seems that everything is becoming “smart” these days. First it was phones. Now everything from cars to toilets is getting the “smart” treatment. One of the most recent trends is making the home itself smart. These days, creating a smart home means so much more than just making your daily routine easier. Making your home smart can also increase your return on investment by growing resale value. In other words, a home with a claw-footed bathtub isn’t worth as much as one with a smart tub that can check your blood pressure and give you stock options while you bathe. But how do you “educate” your new home? Well, there are plenty of ways to upgrade your house to the domicile of the future. Whether you’re starting with the blank slate of a brand new house or you’ve just purchased a fixer-upper, here are some steps you can take to bring your home to the 21st century.

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Dreamstime.com

The simple guide to turning a “dumb” home into a smart home in order to improve your day-to-day life and get a better return on investment.


Boost Your Bedroom Making your bedroom experience smarter and more efficient should definitely be on your radar. After all, you spend one third of your life sleeping, so you might as well make it as sophisticated as possible. Obviously, it’s important to start with the “bed” part of the bedroom. A great example of how you can make your snoozing smarter is by upgrading to the ReST Bed. Providing a customizable sleep experience by focusing on certain parts of the body, this kind of sleep tech has become popular for those in need of next-level restfulness. And, because of its adjustable firmness, many couples’ arguments can be avoided.

You can make your bedroom smarter immediately by combining a ReST bed with a ZEEQ Pillow and Kello smart alarm clock.

But your smart sleeping setup isn’t quite complete with any old pillow. Something like the ZEEQ smart pillow will definitely help you catch more Zs than your standard setup. Unless your regular pillow plays music, assists you with waking up, and monitors your sleep patterns with smart technology, that is. …Didn’t think so. Furthermore, while the classic alarm clock has perched on nightstands for decades, it’s definitely evolved over time. Smart alarm clocks such as the Kello not only buzz you awake in the morning, but help you soothe your way to sleep at night. As this device wakes you up with your favorite playlists and even “trains” you to sleep with its rhythmic lights, you’ll find yourself not needing a snooze button. Did you ever think that was possible?

FALL 2017 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

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Renovate the Restroom Let’s talk bathroom improvement. And no, unlike the bedroom, we didn’t research how much time you spend there in a lifetime. While it may seem like you can’t innovate classic bathroom appliances, the truth is that there have been massive smart developments in the past few years. It’s been said that the toilet has barely been built upon since its invention. However, the truth is there have been some incredible developments in the form of smart toilets over the years. If you’ve got a deathly fear of germs (or a deathly fear of having to clean the bowl), something like Ove Decor’s SmarToilet will be perfect for your bathroom. Because of its automatic flush and self-cleaning nozzle, an innovative appliance like the SmarToilet is ideal for both fans of cleanliness and, let’s be honest, people who just don’t want to spend their time cleaning a toilet. While it’s not always the best part of your routine, checking the bathroom scale can also be made much more intuitive with modern technology. With a smart scale such as the QardioBase, you’ll learn much more about your body than you would with your classic scale. With this smart scale housed in your bathroom, you can follow fitness goals, connect with an app on your mobile device, and even track pregnancy progress. Or discover your spouse is pregnant when you see them checking their pregnancy progress.

Kickstart Your Kitchen The kitchen is often referred to as “the most important room in a house.” So why not make it the smartest room in the house too? There are plenty of essential kitchen appliances that have gotten the “smart” treatment over the years. A perfect example of this is the June Intelligent Oven, helpful to amateur cook and master chef alike. Not only does the June heat up food at three times the speed, it can also sense the meal you’re preparing through a camera and offer cooking suggestions. And, even if you don’t end up learning much about cooking, the June Oven learns on its own, keeping itself updated consistently. Additionally, your refrigerator can be so much more than a 250-pound food-storing box you cover in magnets. A smart fridge such as the Samsung Family Hub makes the kitchen a multimedia playground. With the ability to do everything from manage your grocery list to play your content directly on your refrigerator, an appliance like the Family Hub will give you even more incentive to make that trip to the kitchen for a midnight snack. But, once the dreaded morning routine returns, you’ll want to treat yourself to a nice cup of smart-brewed coffee. A smart appliance such as the Nespresso Prodigio could do the impossible and improve those groggy mornings. Because you can control the machine with your

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(Top) Ove Decor’s SmarToilet and the QardioBase scale can bring your bathroom to the 21st century. (Bottom) Smart appliances such as the June Intelligent Oven, Samsung Family Hub, and Nespresso Prodigio will revolutionize your kitchen, no matter the meal.


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The LDCO850 includes the MTR3 3-button remote and the WWS850 multifunction Wi-Fi wall station.

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Your home’s Smartest Garage Door Operator Why spott™ and the LDCO850 from Linear PRO Access? • With spott, your garage door opens when you arrive home and closes when you leave — hands free • Up to ten authorized users • Set custom access and permissions for each user

• Scheduling of door and light operation, including timed, automatic closing • Compatible with Amazon Alexa™, Google Assistant™, and IFTTT™

Ask your local professional installer for spott™ and the LDCO850 garage door operator.

Amazon, Alexa and all related logos are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. App Store is a registered trademark of Apple Inc. Google, Google Assistant and Google Play are registered trademarks of Google Inc. IFTTT is a trademark and brand of IFTTT, Inc. Linear PRO Access and spott™ are registered trademarks of GTO Access Systems, Inc.

linearproaccess.com


connected life

smartphone, you won’t need to leave the breakfast table (or your bed) to prepare the caffeinated cup you so desperately need.

Liven Up the Living Room Your living room is a place for relaxation, but that doesn’t mean you should be relaxed when it comes to building it. With all the advancements made in smart technology over the past few years, you can make your post-work trip to the couch a futuristic relaxation experience. Let’s start with the most important living room fixture: the TV. Whether it’s a sporting event, blockbuster movie, or trashy reality TV show (no judgement here), you’ll definitely want something to rival the big screen experience. Having a smart television like the Sony 4K Ultra HD TV will let you stream anything you’d like with stunning visuals. However, it might result in your friends inviting themselves over whenever there’s a game on. And, when you need a break from your all-day TV marathon, you may want to just relax and listen to some music. But why wrestle with CDs and AUX chords when you can just utilize a smart speaker? Hands-free hubs such as Amazon’s Alexa have become a mainstay in many living rooms, allowing you to listen to music, podcasts, and check on weather and traffic directly from your couch. Now if it could only get you another drink from the kitchen…

Defend Your Doors While we’ve mainly been focusing on convenience, you definitely shouldn’t neglect how turning your home smart can improve security and help prevent break-ins. Devices that interact with your smartphone ensure that you can keep an eye on your home whether you’re at work, running errands, or saying you have errands to get away from work. Starting off with the entrance, a smart door lock can definitely help you feel more secure. Technologically advanced locks such as the August SmartLock can have you resting easy whether you’re inside the house or not. And, because you can control the lock from your smartphone, you need not worry about scrambling back to your front door every time you forget your keys. Finally, whether you use it as a work station, parking space, or general storage area, the garage is an important part of your home. One of the best ways to go about modernizing that part of the house is to upgrade your garage door opener. The MyQ garage door opener, available from Chamberlain, not only allows you to remotely control your garage door, but also adds an extra layer of security. Because it sends alarms to your phone whenever it’s opened or closed, you’ll be able to ease your worries during that well-needed vacation. ■

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(Top) The Sony 4K Ultra HD TV and Amazon Alexa can turn your living room into the ultimate entertainment area. (Bottom) Your home can be made safer and smarter by simply utilizing the August SmartLock and MyQ garage door opener.


A great looking lawn can be a lot of hard work. With a robotic lawn mower, the grass gets mowed automatically – around the clock without your supervision. Cuttings are small enough that you won’t need to rake, and the clippings add fertilization back to the soil. A Husqvarna Automower® is able to maintain small to large lawns in any weather, with rough terrain and slopes up to 35%. It can mow around obstacles and knows when it needs to be charged. With the convenient control panel, or your smartphone, the Automower® allows you to set it and forget it. This is effortless lawn mowing at its best. For more information and to find your local Husqvarna dealer, visit husqvarna.com

HUSQVarNa aUtomower® 315

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© 2017 Husqvarna AB. All rights reserved.

m o w t i m e f o r p l ay


connected life

CEO Jacob Mowbray Sets the Record Straight on IoT Security problem now is we have all these

autonomously protect us – instead of

disconnected devices, each an open

simple end-point solutions.

access point to the internet. They’re all direct connections to the web, and operate independently. That’s the inherent security issue with the IoT – that through these new open doors, practically anybody can gain access to your network. Currently, this is unavoidable, since most homes have a single Wi-Fi router/modem We spoke to Jacob Mowbray of YzOak, who has taken steps to correct a few notorious IoT headaches. His company’s innovative new smart home system addresses both security and connectivity.

solution and no machine learning-based

On the Problems of the IoT: The main

or other active network security. On Smart Homes and Safety: Security

On the Role of YzOak: YzOak is a new kind of hybrid system for machine learning, one that’s not purely cloudbased. Our system uses local ‘edge-computing,’ with powerful hardware to support it. Biggest Misconception About IoT/ Home Security: Some say the IoT is just some frivolous fad type thing, to have all these insecure, unuseful products in the home. A lot of that is because it’s so early.

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past has been the amount of content available, especially considering the Virtual Boy only had a paltry 22 games. Royole has fixed this problem with the Moon, a 3D mobile theater which allows you to watch different streaming services, connect to your game console, and even access a pre-loaded digital video service, Royole Lounge, where consumers can begin building their collection of content with three movies included with the Royole Moon device. Royole, which named rapper/entrepreneur Akon as their chief creative officer last year, has reimagined the headset entertainment experience. Designed for a comfortable fit even

A Heyday for Headsets Entertainment headsets haven’t had the greatest history. The 1990s saw numerous attempts to create a headset phenomenon, with the R-Zone and Cybermaxx failing to reach mainstream popularity. And who could forget Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, which suffered from unappealing graphics, poor game quality, and even a vision health scare. Well, that looks to change with Royole’s portable theater experience. One major issue with the entertainment headsets of the

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throughout hours of wear, the Moon headset looks to bring this tech to the next level with noise-cancelling headphones and two HD 1080p displays to allow for an ideal audio and visual experience. While the headset has taken quite some time to blossom into a proper entertainment hub, these newer offerings go to show how much technology can improve over time. Considering how far we’ve come from the primitive headsets of the past, the implementation of high-quality graphics and streaming media ensure that the future of entertainment fits comfortably on your head.

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How smart home technology is revamping the real estate industry In 1999, the TV movie Smart House portrayed a house filled with futuristic devices (many of which would now be considered normal), including an Amazon Alexa type of AI which controlled everything from the TV to the thermostat. Since then, this kind of technology has become much more accessible to the masses. In fact, according to a CNET and Coldwell Banker joint survey, in 2015, one in four U.S. citizens owned at least one smart home product and nearly half of those aged 18-34 used the technology. As connected tech has become a mainstay across the country, the real estate industry has been forced to adapt in order to understand how these new appliances affect the housing market. One of the biggest impacts this tech has had on the industry is in the resale value of homes. An integral factor to determining the market value of a house lies in its features and amenities. A property that has smart electronics installed will have a higher value than a

comparable one sans tech. According to the Consumer Electronics Association and the National Association of Home Builders, installing smart tech can boost final closing price by three to five percent. While sellers can easily take their gadgets with them when they move, the CNET-Coldwell survey found that 66 percent of homeowners would leave their connected technology behind if it meant their house would sell faster. That same survey found that 81 percent of current smart home device owners would be more willing to buy a home with smart appliances already in place. Considering that nearly half of millennials use smart tech, installing these gadgets may provide access to what the National Association of Realtors considers the largest group of potential homebuyers on the market. This technology doesn’t only benefit sellers by adding value to their houses, soon it may also help appraisers establish prices more efficiently. As smart home products become

more sophisticated, they will be able to tell realtors more about the house that they operate in. The Roomba vacuum can scan the layout of a room as well as identify types of flooring. Some smart thermostats, like The Nest by Google, are able to actually track where you are in your house to efficiently distribute heat. By tapping into data provided by various smart technologies, appraisers can better understand the ins and outs of a house. Smart vacuums can help establish the layout of the house, and identify flooring types and quality. Thermostats would be able to show how energy efficient the house is, as well as what rooms are used most often. As homes have gotten smarter, so has real estate. Smart tech makes homes run much smoother, while making users’ lives much easier. Now, this tech is branching out to real estate, making houses not only more convenient but more attractive to the market.

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Smart(er) Home THE NEXT STEPS TOWARD LIVING THE TRULY CONNECTED LIFE By Kearsten Howland

Connected products are here to stay, and their adoption is rapidly growing. But does having connected products truly make a connected home if none of them actually speak or connect to one another? According to a recent Nielsen study, almost half (49 percent) of users prefer to control all aspects of their home through a single device (hub), service, or app. “The smart home is poised for exponential growth as consumer interest and demand for connected devices continue to rise,” says Cameron Trice, CEO of Jasco, a leading smart tech company. “With nearly a decade of experience in the smart home industry, We’re optimistic about the future of smart home technology here at Jasco. We believe the key to success will be delivering an ecosystem of reliable, secure, and functional products that fit into the rhythm of people’s everyday lives and seamlessly interoperate with other smart home devices.” Virtual assistant devices like Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Apple HomePod (coming later this year) are a few major factors driving more smart home adoption than ever before, as voice command opens the door to a more convenient touch-free experience for controlling the home. The next step up would be to invest in a true home automation hub, which allows more devices to connect to a central hub for wireless use via a remote-control panel or smartphone, in addition to voice-control capabilities with an AI. Without a hub, many people find themselves buying one-off smart products that solve very specific home automation needs. They often end

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up with “app clutter” on their phones, along with a disappointment concerning the functionality of these types of one-off solutions. For example, having one app to control the lights, another to control the fan, and yet another to lock the door is not ideal and definitely not in line with the “smart” nomenclature.

“The smart home doesn’t feel very smart if you have to use a dozen different apps to control your home, rather than a truly automated experience that is personalized to your day-to-day life and routine.”

According to Trice, “Connected products like smart thermostats, smart bulbs, and smart locks have been helpful in introducing elements of a smart home, but we see the tipping point for mainstream adoption in the power of controlling everything from one focal point regardless of the device, function, or manufacturer.”

The smart home doesn’t feel very smart if you have to use a dozen different apps to control your home, rather than a truly automated experience that is personalized to your day-to-day life and routine. Having a hub (AKA the brain of the smart home) solves this problem by allowing different devices, from different manufacturers using different communication protocols, to seamlessly work together. For example, two popular hubs are the Samsung SmartThings and Wink, which allow you to control your Philips Hue LED bulbs, Jasco’s GE branded Smart Lighting Dimmers, Nest thermostat, and many other devices all from one place. The strongest connected home networks are based on a mesh network of products that

securely talk to each other. For example, Z-Wave and ZigBee developed wireless protocols to enable the mesh networking of connected devices. Unlike Wi-Fi Direct products, using a mesh network means the wireless light switch in your garage doesn’t have to be within range of your wireless hub – it just has to be within range of the nearest smart switch or device in order to relay its signal back to and from your hub. “Whether it’s working with leading home automation service providers, virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Home, or the next AI that takes the Internet of Things by storm, the key here is connectivity for as many items as possible to maximize convenience and consumer experiences with the smart home,” says Trice. “Connected home technologies are here to stay, and our focus will continue to be centered around convenience, interoperability, quality, and efficiency.” ■


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Home Pros Go High Tech Dreamstime.com

By Louie Fox Homes are smarter now than ever before. In the span of just a few years, smart tech has enabled a home to become an interactive hub, allowing you to control everything from your kitchen to your garage with nothing more than your smartphone. This new wave of connected tech has also created a new era: the dawn of the smart home professional.

while 48% of people install their smart technology alone, only 13% currently utilize a professional. And, even among those who use professionals, installers from a number of separate industries were chosen above dedicated smart home experts, with everyone from security professionals to electricians among the most popular.

The main reason for the creation of the smart home professional is the growth of smart home technology in general. A recent HomeAdvisor survey found that, while only 26% of people 55 or older have obtained a smart home product, 77% of people 18-34 have made the purchase. And, considering the amount of those millennial-aged tech users that will purchase homes in the future, working in the smart home business looks to be lucrative.

This begs the question: why hasn’t the smart home professional become a consistent resource for smart home transitions? Instead of having to go through professionals from so many different industries (including even handymen and air conditioning companies), it could be made much simpler with one person at the helm. While it seems like the profession should be widely utilized, there are a few factors still holding it back.

This is where the smart home professional should come in, assisting with the installation and making this new tech accessible. However, according to the same HomeAdvisor survey,

One of these factors is as simple as the naming of the profession itself. While the dedicated smart home professional does exist, they have been called names such as “custom installers”

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and “integrators,” and according to Smart Home Strategist Dan DiClerico, “it’s creating confusion; it’s adding confusion in this space.” Experts such as DiClerico are instead beginning to turn to the term “home tech pro,” as it better captures the versatility of the job. The other hurdle is simply assembling a workforce of home tech pros. According to DiClerico, “There’s the demand from consumers…pros who are out there who are interested in coming into the space…So now we just have to connect all those dots and get them trained and educated.” With the continually growing world of smart homes and the need for industry stability, home tech pros look to be an essential player in the future of home ownership. While there are still some elements holding it back, such as the need for a consistent title and the need for supply to meet demand, the golden age of home tech pros is coming soon. ■


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What’s Yours is (Data)mine By Andrew Janson

There’s a saying on the internet that goes “if you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product.” While this isn’t always true, it’s a good rule of thumb. Beyond that, it also captures one aspect of the internet that often seems to be overlooked – the value that now lies with all of the information that makes up a person’s life. In 2013, when Edward Snowden leaked thousands of classified NSA documents, there was a public outcry over the U.S. government’s intrusion on the privacy of the American people. What was for many an unbelievable betrayal at the time has long since become obvious in hindsight. How could the government not have been spying on us – if not in the name of national security

then as the collateral damage of surveillance systems in place to “keep us safe?” As a result, concern over personal privacy in this “post-Snowden era” appears to be at an all-time high. In a Pew Research Center survey conducted a little more than a year after Snowden’s leak, 91 percent of adults “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that consumers had lost control over how their personal information was collected and used by companies. Further, of the adults surveyed who used social media, 80 percent reported they were concerned about third parties (like advertisers or businesses) accessing the data they shared. This is the real crux of the issue: there is a definite (and growing) concern from consumers about how their personal information is being used. But, even with a collective desire to scrub private details from the web, Pandora’s Box has already been opened. Once money pits for social media companies, the servers storing personal information are now pots of gold – a collection of “big data” comprising an industry of the same name worth nearly $150 billion annually. In a piece published in The New York Times Magazine a few years ago, author Charles Duhigg spoke with Target market analyst Andrew Pole, who had developed an algorithm that used shopper data to

Photo Hundfred23/wikimedia

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Snowden: Hundfred23/wikimedia, Background Dreamstime.com, All others Pexels.com

determine when a woman was pregnant. Because pregnancy is such a big change in someone’s life, Pole explained, companies can gain new, long-time customers if they act quickly enough. The algorithm worked so well it could even predict a pregnancy before a woman knew herself. “If you use a credit card or a coupon, or fill out a survey, or mail in a refund, or call the customer help line, or open an e-mail we’ve sent you, or visit our website,” Pole told Duhigg, “[Target will] record it and link it to your Guest ID. We want to know everything we can.” “We want to know everything we can” may as well be the motto for nearly every internet giant, and that unique identifier, the “Guest ID,” is essentially Target’s version of the more traditional accounts most of us have online. It’s also a perfect example of what companies are doing with our information. Facebook and Google are two of datamining’s largest (and most obvious) offenders, and while Google isn’t technically a social media website (sorry, Google+), its ubiquity and reach mean it may as well be. Since the late 00s, each has gathered petabytes of information on the habits of their users and nonusers alike. Even those who never signed up for a Facebook account are likely being shown targeted ads by the company regardless


(without an ad blocker, anyway). Last year, the company, long viewed as one of the most notorious perpetrators of technically-legalbut-morally-questionable practices, announced that it would begin tracking and serving ads to anyone it could by using their browsing cookies and the embedded “Like” buttons found on many web pages. While this system can’t put together a complete profile with a name, address, and the like, it just goes to show that any data is good data when it comes to market analytics. As there often is, though, there’s another side to this story – one a little less Orwellian. As easy as it has been for corporations to buy and sell user data in pursuit of the almighty dollar, academic sciences have begun looking at social media data (photos in particular) from a different angle. Last year, three students from Cornell University were able to use Instagram photos – roughly 100 million of them – to parse the cultural kaleidoscope that is global fashion. Collected in five-day windows between June 2013 and June 2016, the team pared down the collection by filtering out photos with a face before letting their algorithm go hog wild, analyzing and

categorizing the remaining 15 million photos. When it was finished, the program revealed several trends in the styles and colors found in the photos over time. As one might expect, whites and blues were more common in summer, for example, and jackets were more common during the winter months. The interesting part of the results came when the researchers noticed a sudden spike in yellow shirts in Colombia and Brazil in the summer of 2014 – the same color as the jerseys of the countries’ fútbol teams at that year’s World Cup – which suggests that perhaps future generations studying our own may be able to pinpoint specific cultural events in history through the contents of our photos. Instagram has also been used in research of something a little more serious. In August 2016, Andrew Reece and Chris Danforth of Harvard University and the University of Vermont, respectively, analyzed roughly 40,000 photos from the Instagram accounts of their 170 subjects (70 of whom were clinically depressed) for visual properties like hue and color saturation. They used a machine-learning algorithm to discover relationships (if any) that existed between

these visual properties and the subjects’ behavior. What they found was that the depressed individuals were much more likely to post photos that were “bluer, grayer, darker” than their nondepressed counterparts. The analysis went further, though, and was actually able to predict depression both more accurately than standard in-person patient assessments, and sooner, before any initial diagnosis was made. If nothing else, this research demonstrates that, even including proper privacy measures, social media could be used for common good; in this case, improving the detection of depression, a condition that affects more than 25 million people in the U.S. alone each year. In the aftermath of the information revolution, datamining is as much a part of social media as sifting through pet and baby photos. But as the above examples prove, there are applications for it that extend beyond advertising. In any case, “social media” as we know it will continue adding to the growing catalogue of early 21st-century humanity that it has created. ■

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Currently on tour with Vsauce’s Michael Stevens, the Mythbuster talks the evolution of entertainment and the state of science education. By P.K. French

All images ourtesy of Adam Savage & Brain Candy

In the age of The Bachelor and Keeping up with the Kardashians, we should count our lucky stars that pop culture science isn’t a complete oxymoron. As one of the most recognizable science communicators out there, Mythbusters’ Adam Savage has a passion for making education as fun as possible. Also, like many people in the entertainment industry, Savage is giving his web presence the attention it deserves -- his YouTube channel “Tested” garnering approximately three million subscribers. It’s no wonder he decided to team up with YouTube science mogul Michael Stevens for a live national tour dubbed Brain Candy. In this exclusive interview, Savage tells us about his transition to online media and his love of education. Innovation & Tech Today: You recently teamed up with Vsauce’s Michael Stevens for a series of live performances. What is it like taking science on the road?

Adam Savage: I’ve discovered a genuine love for live performance. I love telling stories on television and on YouTube through MythBusters and through my website, Tested. com. Live performance is a fundamentally different experience and a really lovely one in terms of the immediate interaction with fans. In late 2015, [Mythbusters co-host] Jamie Hyneman decided he didn’t want to tour anymore. We had done about 200 cities in three different countries over the years. I called up Michael Stevens from Vsauce. He and I have been longtime mutual fans of each other. I really love working with Michael. I loved working with Jamie, and it’s a totally different ballgame to play with Michael on this level.

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He’s an excellent collaborator. He has a real theater and improv background, so we can really play off of each other…which means that every performance is different, because we’re trying different things. I&T Today: Like Stevens, you’ve adopted YouTube as a way to entertain and inform audiences using science. However, you have a solid background in conventional television. What has it been like to make that transition? AS: It’s been lovely. I started doing Mythbusters in 2003. I have watched the share of people watching television decrease over the 14 years we made the show. I have watched the online world explode in that same period of time…

YouTube content? Was there something you were immediately struck with? AS: On Mythbusters if we wanted to highlight a [live] build, we’re still holding to the television structure. We still have 42 minutes to tell a story, which means we have narrative beats that we have to hit. We have commercial breaks we have to tease for. We have parts of the story that we have to call forward and call back to. It means

probably was comprised of two- to three-and-ahalf minutes of screen time. But I can build a sword out of aluminum here in my shop, and we can make it a 35 minute video. I can sit and watch half a million people watch that video, and I also get direct feedback from them. That conversation is really useful. I love hearing the responses on an immediate level to what you’re doing, because on television you shoot something, you edit it, and it goes up (at

that even the longest build on Mythbusters

I think of online right now as an incubator and as a vanguard for the future because I don’t think television as we know it will exist in 20 years. What we’ll have is going to be something that looks very different, but there’s always going to be a need for content. That’s what Michael and I love to produce, whether it’s on television, or on YouTube, or on stage. I&T Today: What was the major difference when you first started to ramp up your

the very quickest) in three or four months after you’ve shot it. On YouTube, it’s three or four days. I&T Today: What would you say is your favorite experiment during this Brain Candy tour so far?

2017 has seen Savage team up with Vsauce’s Michael Stevens on the “Brain Candy” tour, with the duo combining education and entertainment.

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AS: We play around with the ability to visualize air using smoke, and this discussion culminates in a demonstration to the audience of how to think about air currents utilizing smoke in a way that makes the audience gasp every night. Applause is nice, but a gasp is something that is truly amazing from a performing standpoint. As David Mamet was famous for saying, you can blackmail an audience into a standing ovation, but you cannot blackmail them


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“When I hear an audience gasp, they’re making the same sounds I made the first time I saw the effect that we built on stage.”

into a gasp. When I hear an audience gasp, they’re making the same sounds I made the first time I saw the effect that we built on stage. That brings me right back to the origin of why I love doing what I do. Michael and I, we both made the same sound when we built this piece with smoke and air. To hear that come back from the audience is so deeply satisfying. It also feels a little like being a teacher. I have taught in the past. I taught advanced model making at the Academy of Art College. That “aha!” moment, giving the student that aha moment is absolutely an endorphin rush like no other. The stage show feels a bit like that. I&T Today: As one of this generation’s scientific role models, could you share some of yours growing up? AS: I was an early adopter of science fiction among my peers. People like Robert Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, and Harlan Ellison. I absorbed all of that stuff voraciously. I think that gave me my first taste of how many different ways there were to look at a subject. I was also blessed to have some truly great teachers in the public school system in Tarrytown, New York where I grew up. I had four or five teachers that really saw me and helped me see myself and find my curiosity. I’m really grateful for that, specifically for the Tarrytown Public School systems for bringing me and those teachers together. My freshman earth science teacher in high

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school, Dan Frare, found fascinating stories to tell you about physics and about earth science, so [he] told our classroom that the best way to think about a glacier was to picture it as a river on quaaludes. I still have not heard a better physical definition of a glacier in terms of understanding how it works and how it moves. [My teacher] found a way to tell that story. That hit me like a ton of bricks the moment he said it, and I was 14. It still fascinates me now, and that’s sort of a touchstone for me. It’s the kind of storytelling that Michael and I try to do on stage. I&T Today: Science education is under fire right now in the public school system. Do you have any thoughts about how to change the culture in that respect? What can we do to make that happen? AS: I’m not a certified educator. Whatever education I may have done is ancillary to the primary storytelling that I’ve been doing, and I’m grateful that so many people have found Mythbusters and the other stuff that I’ve done resonant and educational. I just want to say that as a caveat before I speak about the state of education. …There are hundreds of thousands of really brilliant people out there who are working hard every day to improve public education. By “improvement,” I think it’s pretty universally understood that equalized access for our whole population to a good education is absolutely

vital, not just for the individuals in our culture, but also for the culture itself. We are in a current situation where, in my personal field, poor people are considered a special interest by the majority of people in our government. They have sought to limit the resources available to the poor, whether it’s through welfare block grants or Medicare and Medicaid diminishment…When states are having trouble budgetarily, the first line items to go are things to do with education. That is a crying shame. …I would bring back theater, and I would bring back shop class, and I wouldn’t have makerspaces in just all the private schools. One of the beautiful things I see as I’ve been traveling around the world in the last couple of years is looking at makerspaces and trying to take lessons from what people are doing at work. What’s really impressive is the whole makerspace culture is so new. I find makerspaces in schools where the teachers are learning right alongside the students, and they’re expressing the fact that they’re learning right alongside the students. It’s really empowering for students. Too often education is structured for kids, such that the teacher is the one with the knowledge and the student is the ignorant one, and there’s information passing from one to the other. That’s not what happens in a good classroom. In a good classroom, a real exchange happens where the teacher learns from the students, and the students learn from the teacher. ■


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The Constantly Changing Menu of School Nutrition Summer is over, which means it’s time for kids to go from pool parties and family road trips to the classroom once more. This is tough news for many children, as it also means no more summer treats such as ice cream, popsicles, and snow cones. However, just because the amount of sugary sweets is reduced doesn’t exactly mean that a child is guaranteed to return to healthy, regimented meals once summertime comes to a close. While every parent wants their children to have quality, nutritious meals provided by the schools themselves, that’s not always the case. Throughout the past few years, we’ve seen numerous attempts to change the contents of students’ lunch trays. But have these lunchroom changes been for the better? One of the most defining aspects of Michelle Obama’s time as first lady was her attempts to fight obesity and improve school lunches for children. In 2010, Obama’s “Healthy, HungerFree Kids Act” launched, legislation that would reduce the amount of fat and sodium in school lunches while increasing healthy inclusion of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The move seemed poised to please parents and school administrators alike. After all, from 20092010, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that 12.5 million children and adolescents in the United States were obese, making Obama’s planned legislation an ideal

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response. This, along with the former first lady’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, symbolized her overall intentions towards inspiring healthy changes for America’s youth. However, that doesn’t mean that the 2010 legislation wasn’t without its detractors. Many criticized the changes for additional costs, with a projected cost of $3.2 billion across five years. Additionally, students disappointed in their newly changed (and sometimes unappetizing) lunches would post pictures of their meals with the hashtag #thanksmichelleobama. While many argued that those particular meals were more emblematic of the school administrations than the act itself, it became clear that not everyone was on board for the first lady’s fight for schoolage nutrition. This backlash can definitely be felt in recent changes to school lunch policies. Earlier this year, the Trump administration changed many of the existing rules from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, specifically what schools can serve their students. This includes scaling back limitations on salt, whole grains, and higher-fat milk. The main argument for the rule rollback, as Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said: “If kids aren’t eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren’t getting any nutrition – thus undermining the intent of the program.”

By Louie Fox

While these recent nutritional changes have been met with resistance of their own, there has been one recent non-nutritional attempt to improve the landscape of school cafeterias. The Anti-Lunch Shaming Act, presented in the House and Senate in May, would stop schools from punishing students with outstanding balances or insufficient funds for their lunch. This would disallow identifying marks such as handstamps for those children, along with doing away with giving those particular students extra chores, with the legislation’s supporter Tom Udall saying that it “stigmatize[s] our most vulnerable children.” While it remains to be seen how all these changes will affect the future of the American cafeteria, it’s becoming more and more obvious that the state of school lunches is in dire need of stability. Over 30 million students receive lunches from the school thanks to initiatives such as the National School Lunch Program. However, health continues to be an issue as well, with the CDC claiming that approximately one out of every five school-aged children suffers from obesity. With seven years of constant reinvention and debates still raging over what the next step will be, providing healthy, highquality food for children should be the ultimate priority for parents, politicians, and schools alike. ■


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I Can’t Believe It’s Not Peanut Butter Company Creates Solution to Peanut Allergies in Schools According to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), the prevalence of peanut and tree nut allergies in U.S. children more than tripled between 1997 and 2008. This increase has caused many schools to restrict or ban peanut butter (and peanut products). It may seem drastic to some, but it’s reasonable when one considers the potential severity of peanut allergies, which can be fatal – inhibiting and even halting breathing. Those who support peanut restrictions believe students should be able to attend school without running the risk of a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Although peanut restrictions ensure safety for

students, there’s no denying its inconvenience. PB&J sandwiches have become staples in many school lunches, and peanut butter is a source of protein for growing kids. Luckily, as peanuts are being phased out of schools, delicious replacements are moving in. For instance, the multiple-awardwinning spread WOWBUTTER uses non-GMO whole-toasted soy to produce a peanut-free spread that remarkably tastes just like peanut butter. The best part: kids love it, and the spread, in many ways, is nutritionally better than peanut butter containing complete protein and being a natural source of Omega-3. With this innovative solution, WOWBUTTER is helping schools that have implemented a peanut restriction transition into safer school lunches. They even have convenient school lunch identification stickers included with every jar found at retailers across the country. Additionally, the company is helping to educate U.S. citizens on the severity of peanut allergies and the importance of supporting the implementation of peanut restrictions in schools and other public institutions.


Preparing the Growing STEM Workforce Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) dominate conversations about the future of education. Educators and employers alike are looking to STEM-based initiatives to prepare a new generation for the workforce. Immersive learning environments are being developed to mimic realistic situations and new ways to practice skills. Hands-on training programs are using training aids to expose students to real-world training scenarios from the classroom. For example, National Aviation Academy (NAA), a school that trains aircraft maintenance technicians in Florida and Massachusetts, has incorporated Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D flight simulators to familiarize students with specific on-the-job processes. Simulations are used in conjunction with NAA’s

hands-on training and industry-based curriculum. STEM-based training aids are increasingly preparing the future workforce for the technology that awaits them – an important task as growth in STEM-focused employment outpaces that of non-STEM fields by nearly double. In aviation, a critical shortage of aviation maintenance professionals has developed. According to Boeing, approximately 648,000 new maintenance technicians will be needed by 2036. NAA focuses solely on aviation maintenance training in order to develop qualified workers capable of fulfilling the demands in aviation. STEM-focused initiatives bring unique benefits to training atmospheres, which can often fall short of preparing for the skills required once on the job. Increased access to STEM training tools will make the future workforce better prepared for the boundlessness of twenty-first century careers. For more information on NAA’s programming, placement rates, and statistics, readers can visit naa.edu or call (800) 659-2080.


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STEM to Space and Beyond By Nicole Riggs

Entering the Saturn V Hall at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, you’re immediately aware of the sheer size of the facility, as you realize that the entire rocket, all 363 feet of it, is on display above you. Here, the experts guiding you through the multitude of machinery, rockets, and space artifacts include former astronauts, aerospace engineers, and other key individuals who helped to make space travel possible. This includes retired Brigadier General Robert Stewart, or “Bob,” as he insists on being called. A combat pilot in Vietnam, a test pilot for the U.S. Army, and the first active duty member of the Army in space, Bob test-piloted the Manned Maneuvering Units (MMU), making him the first person to perform an untethered spacewalk. This is a small example of the comprehensive experience that awaits visitors. While the center provides an engaging and entertaining tourist stop, the real STEM jewel is Space Camp. Since 1982, more than 750,000 trainees have completed these programs, with alumni consisting of astronauts, engineers, scientists, and technologists. Astronaut Dr. Kate

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Rubins, Blue Origin Propulsion Development Engineer Dr. Michelle Christenson, Rover Driver and Lead Flight Director Mike Siebert, and Planetary Scientist Dr. Jennifer Heldmann are just a handful of these accomplished alumni who have participated. Trainees at Space Camp build collaborative relations with their fellow trainees by participating in project-based learning simulations, including space travel, docking with the International Space Station, and inhabiting Mars. “This hasn’t been done before,” says Pat Ammons, director of communications, referencing the programs’ unique ability to bring an immersive experience that focuses on collaboration and critical thinking. The programs available at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center are unique, offering students a once-in-a-lifetime experience to fully participate in a STEM-focused and interactive learning plan. Some examples of these are their robotics camp and aviation program, which takes influence from the military. In addition to children and adolescents, adults can also attend Space Camp,

whose program strives to increase STEM curriculum locally, nationally, and globally. These new principles apply to teacher training as well, as, according to Ammons, educators from around the globe participate in “the same types of programs that our students do…but we also have an entire curriculum that is built to help them with hands-on lessons that they can take back to their classrooms.” Several scholarships and grant programs are available for STEM instructors who wish to attend Space Academy for Educators. In addition to paid programs, Space Camp has several grants that will cover the cost of the program, and the Alabama legislature has created an incentive that provides full tuition and cost grants for some Alabama state educators. The work of this institution represents an important step toward encouraging an education that the American workforce desperately needs. Both the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and Space Camp will continue developing hands-on experiences for engaging and motivating future generations to blast off into STEM careers. ■


WHEN WE GREENBUILD, WE . . . Enhance Human Health and Wellbeing

Restore and Protect Water Sources

Build a Green Economy

. . . ARE ALL IN. EVERYONE. EVERY PROJECT. EVERYWHERE.

NOVEMBER 8–10, 2017 • BOSTON CONVENTION & EXHIBITION CENTER

Greenbuild is owned and produced by Informa Exhibitions and presented by the U.S. Green Building Council. Boston Society of Architects is the founder and presenter of ABX.


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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY PRESENTS

Presented by

The Reality of the Internet’s “Easiest” Jobs

By Anthony Elio The internet is a wonderful place, full of things to do, videos to watch, and those ads that play in a tab while you’re trying to jam out to some Whitesnake. Well, in addition to being a well of endless entertainment, the internet has also provided a living wage to a growing number of people. But how do

Be A Viral Sensation On YouTube From makeup tutorials to videos teaching you how to tie a tie, YouTube is an ever-growing library of information and entertainment. And many popular personalities such as “JonTron” Jon Jafari and the Angry Video Game Nerd have made a living through YouTube. However, it’s not as simple as recording your cat playing the piano and watching the cash flow in. You’ll need to keep your view count high while competing against the rest of the 300 hours of footage uploaded to YouTube every minute. And how much do you get for those hard-earned views? According to Business Insider, a YouTube creator will generally make $2,000 from every million views, and that’s before taxation and YouTube taking almost half. And here I thought the sneezing panda was living the high life in a Malibu mansion.

Online Paycheck: Less than $1,000 for every million views.

you actually make a living online? We’ve all stumbled across those ads that promote how “***Stay At Home Moms Earn $3,000 An Hour***.” And we’ve all felt extremely jealous when we see some article about a influencer” making hundreds of thousands of dollars through social media, enraging baby boomers and Gen Xers alike. But how easy is it to actually make a living completely online? Is it as simple as connecting to Wi-Fi and collecting your paycheck? Here is a comprehensive look at the extremely simple, not at all luck-based, and unbelievably approachable world of making all your money online.

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Podcast Your Way To Profit Podcasting has revolutionized talk radio, allowing anyone with a microphone and a wacky sidekick to host their very own audio show. Additionally, there are ways to make money podcasting, such as crowdfunding or utilizing sponsors. With the sponsorship model, you can make $18 for every 1,000 downloads if you’ve got a short 15-second ad to begin your episode. As an experienced podcaster whose parents listen to my show, it feels good to be 1/500 of the way towards an $18 profit.

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Online Paycheck: Approximately $18 for every 1,000 downloads.

If not now, when? If not you, who? Globally, groundwater resources dwarf surface water supplies. But because groundwater is hidden, it’s often misunderstood or left out of the discussion on sustainability. Yet, the fact is approximately 75% of community water systems — and nearly all of rural America — use groundwater-supplied water systems. Groundwater is vital to public health, the environment, and the economy. Learn more at NGWA.org/Sustainability and help us promote a sustainable groundwater supply today… and for future generations!

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Do Literally Anything On Fiverr

Tell People What You Think For Money If you’ve spent more than five minutes in an online comment section, Yelp page, or pretty much anywhere on the internet, you know people are pretty quick to give their opinion on the web. Well, while those suckers are giving away their opinion for free, you could be opining your way to a profit margin by taking online surveys. The surveys, which allow you to lie about everything from your lifestyle to work habits, generally pay anywhere from $.50-$5.00 each. So, as long as you don’t mind building your million dollar empire fifty cents at a time, you’re on your way to internet riches.

Online Paycheck: Approximately $.50 to $5.00

Can you do a smooth, silky voiceover? Can you write catchy headlines? Can you...do five pushups? Well, you can sell your services on Fiverr, a freelancing website where you can do anything imaginable for, you guessed it, five dollars. You can even get paid for writing articles, if you can fathom something so ridiculous. There is an astounding amount of things you can get on Fiverr, from advice on your fantasy football team, somebody to break up with your significant other for you, and someone to draw your face on a pizza. And to think my family discouraged me from the profitable pizza art business.

Online Paycheck: $5 for each project, whether it’s writing, editing, voiceover work, psychic readings, popping balloons, giving compliments, or wishing somebody Happy Thanksgiving while wearing a turkey hat.

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Bugging Out

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By P.K. French

CEO Rose Wang can’t help but grin as a scrum forms around her. It’s about 4PM, and the members of the audience who have lingered after the presentation are hungry – curious, too, as they snag some of the brightly colored chips from the bags arrayed on the table. They look like Doritos, and, as I try one myself, the taste isn’t too different, despite the key ingredients being worlds apart. The packaging is full of primaries – reds and yellows, a heavily stylized font. It has all the standard trappings of any supermarket snack brand. “Chirps,” the label reads. Wang’s is one of many companies exhibiting at the Sustainable Brands conference. Held in Detroit this year, the annual expo of green products boasts partnerships with a plethora of major corporations: Amazon, Target, Nestle, Proctor & Gamble, to name just a few. However, there’s also room for startups like Chirps to show off their wares, turning the conference into an acid test of trials, errors, and, ideally, trends. One of this year’s biggest buzzwords isn’t easy to say – nor, for some, to swallow. “Entomophagy,” or the human consumption of bugs, is starting to get some attention, especially in these circles, as livestock agriculture is viewed, more and more, as one of sustainability’s worst offenders. Last year, for instance, the journal Science published a study claiming that rises in total methane emissions since 2006 were likely attributable to agriculture, even more than the fossil fuel industry. There are about 1.5 billion

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Courtesy of Chirps

cattle in the world, after all, and the average cow emits 30 to 50 gallons of methane per day. And, when compared to CO2, methane is by far more virulent to the environment. For example, according to the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, methane’s increased heattrapping properties mean that it warms the planet 86 times as much as CO2. Combine numbers like these with the copious resources it takes to breed, feed, and slaughter the livestock needed to satisfy growing billions and you have a system whose projections are so bad they’re driving the West toward a foodsource not usually seen outside of a playground dare. “It takes approximately 2,000 gallons of water to make a pound of beef compared to one for a pound of crickets,” Wang tells me.

Chirps founders Rose Wang and Laura D’Asaro.

I take a seat next to the young bug food CEO. She’s lively, eloquent, the kind of person who’s good on camera. Earlier this year in fact, Wang appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank with her cofounder, the latter bursting out of a paper sign in a cartoonish cricket costume. As a contestant,

Mark Cuban is one of the most famous entomophagy investors.

ABC/Patrick Ecclesine

“Yet these you may eat among all the winged insects which walk on all fours: those which have above their feet jointed legs with which to jump on the earth. These of them you may eat…” Leviticus 11: 22-24

they were among the show’s oddities and longshots – joining the ranks of Bluetooth surgical implants, anti-flatulence underwear, and bacon-cooking alarm clocks. To be clear, it’s hard to imagine primetime corporate titans like Robert Herjavec, Barbara Corcoran, and Mark Cuban putting up for a company whose grand enterprise is convincing Americans to gobble insects by the pound. However, after grilling the contestants for several minutes and sampling one of the chips, the most well-known Shark, Cuban, looking over the bags and at one of the founders in her cricket costume, committed to an investment of $100,000. There have been several studies indicating that Cuban’s reception could be typical of other Westerners exposed to this unorthodox diet. For instance, researchers examining Australian and


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Various entomophagy delights, including Chirps chips, Anty Gin, and Chapul cricket protein.

Dutch responses in 2014 concluded that, with proper education (and by tasting the food itself), consumers could become more comfortable with the practice. And, as I watch people sampling Wang’s Chirps at the conference, I can see a similar response. People seem pleasantly surprised by the texture and flavor and several remark that they might eat bugs again if they have the chance. Cuban’s $100,000 investment wasn’t an anomaly either. Fellow entomophagy company Chapul also received $50,000 from Cuban in 2012. And, last year, bug protein bar company Exo was able to raise a whopping $4 million from various investors after a series of funding rounds. Numerous other startups are joining in too, all vying for early dominance in an industry that has the potential to change the American foodscape. Already, there are niches and offshoots forming, like Crik Nutrition (a cricketbased bodybuilding supplement) and Anty Gin (a gin distilled from ants). Indeed, though bizarre to the uninitiated, bug food is big business – with the potential to become bigger business if entomophagy becomes more mainstream for American and European consumers. Bugs are already a part of the regular diet for approximately two billion

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people worldwide. And the promise of a new cheap and sustainable protein source is a huge enticement. “Portable protein is a $55 billion market across snack bars, protein powder, and protein ingredients,” according to Exo investor Lauren Jupiter in a piece for Wired. “This total global market expands to $371 billion when considering the applications for crickets and cricket ingredients in pet food, nutraceuticals, livestock feed, and other industrial uses.” And, as a mass protein source, bugs are especially viable. Gram for gram, insects like crickets and caterpillars contain more protein than chicken and steak. They’re also packed with important micronutrients like copper, iron, and magnesium, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. Finally, and perhaps most obviously, farming crickets doesn’t require nearly the amount of space of farming cattle or pigs. As many have pointed out, with so much farmland at or over capacity, and with food scarcity becoming more of a problem, it seems downright foolish to ignore a major food source when the only real objection is “bugs are icky.” However, the challenge of marketing the Timon and Pumbaa diet to Americans shouldn’t be taken lightly. Although the rest of the world (and human beings in general) have been eating

insects for thousands of years, the practice is revolting to most Western consumers. There are just a few exceptions, including escargot and Casu Marzu cheese, a delicacy containing larvae, which also happens to cost $100/pound.


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Courtesy of Sustainable Brands

It goes without saying that diet is often just matter of taste, and tastes change. Right now, the lobster, a not too distant insect relative, is the paragon of cuisine – something you can expect to tack on an extra $5-$10 for if it’s added to your ravioli. But, according to Linda Greenlaw’s book The Lobster Chronicles, in the 1800s lobster was so reviled that it was considered to be cruel and unusual punishment to feed it to American prisoners more than once a week.

Photo Chobani

Advocates for Americans adopting the bug diet have been around for decades, but it’s only now that their message is beginning to catch on. And, as discussed earlier, the sheer amount of money being poured into the industry means that marketing initiatives are sure to follow. Though the conversation is still fairly academic at this point, with billions in backing, it may be only a matter of time before we see the first bug-infused fruit roll-ups appearing in a commercial on Nickelodeon.

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Furthermore, many ento-companies, aware of the inherent aversion to their product, are taking extra steps to appeal to the Western palate – emphasizing pleasing textures and de-emphasizing the presence of insects in the food. “The insect is hidden…Just knowing that there’s an insect in a chip is the first step, and that’s enough,” says Chirps’ CEO Rose Wang. Ironically though, as American culture begins to dip its toes into the bug diet, the opposite is

happening elsewhere, as cultures in Africa and Asia become more familiar with Western norms, marginalizing indigenous entomophagy practices. “I want to point out that it’s really important for us to start in America, because we’re the leaders of livestock consumption,” Wang continues. “China is going to beat us soon because they have so many people…And so this is where we need to start the consumption change, because that’s where it’s going – to a lot of the rest of the world.” By this point, it’s way past time for dinner. Shaking hands with Wang, I leave the conference room and make my way toward the mobbed buffet line. Tonight, it’s chicken. And I’m finding it hard not to be a little skeptical of what I’ve heard this evening. Eventually, I head to the plenary room, where all the big presentations are held and where the major industry players regularly make their appearances. Last night, it was Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO for the popular yogurt brand Chobani. This evening marks the event’s Innovation Open, a kind of startup challenge where one new brand is awarded free consultation from executives at Whirlpool and the Ford Motor Company. This year the winner is local: Michigan’s own Detroit Ento, a company which has set up a 3,000-square-foot production space in the city where it prepares crickets – what some have dubbed “the gateway bug” – for human consumption. ■


KEEPING THE WORLD BEAUTIFUL BY RECYCLING CONTACT LENSES PROPERLY

The first sponsored contact lens recycling program from Bausch + Lomb and TerraCycle ®

For the first time, used blister packs, top foil, and contact lenses are recyclable through a collaboration with TerraCycle ® . Find out how your practice should recycle. Talk to your Biotrue ® ONEday representative or visit BauschRecycles.com.

1 0 0 % R E C Y C L A B L E L E N S E S & PA C K A G I N G TerraCycle®, the TerraCycle Logo®, and Brigade® are all Trademarks of TerraCycle Inc. used under license, www.terracycle.com, Toll-free 866.967.6766. Biotrue is a trademark of Bausch & Lomb Incorporated or its affiliates. ©2016 Bausch & Lomb Incorporated. BOD.0244.USA.16


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The Emerging Threat of E-Waste By Louie Fox

Technology and sustainability generally mesh together well. Smartphones and tablets have reduced the need for paper and ride-sharing carpool apps can help reduce pollution-friendly traffic by 75%, according to an MIT study. However, there’s been a hidden sustainability issue that this golden age of technology has brought: the potentially dangerous dawn of e-waste. E-waste is considered any electric appliance, such as a smartphone or computer, that has been discarded into a landfill rather than recycled. And e-waste is filling landfills at an alarming rate. According to a United Nations University report, 41.8 million tons of e-waste was generated worldwide in 2014, expected to grow to 50 million by the year 2018. Sadly, recycling rates of e-waste have been low. Even back in 2012, only a little over 29 percent of tech was reused, according to a study cited by The Atlantic. These numbers make sense given the recent explosion of accessible technology. Seven years ago, the EPA estimated that around 350,000 mobile phones were thrown out on a daily basis. This was in 2010, when, according to Statista, slightly over 62 million U.S. citizens owned

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smartphones. Jump forward to 2017, where an estimated 224.3 million citizens currently use smartphones. Keep in mind this number is dwarfed by worldwide smartphone ownership of well over 2 billion. However, it’s not just the sheer amount of e-waste that poses a large sustainability threat. Much of the tech we use every day contains materials such as lead and zinc, which are considered toxic. This can be very damaging to the environment, as the materials may end up contaminating groundwater and soil. Many of these toxic materials have been associated with conditions such as lung cancer and neurological issues. Even worse, this harmful e-waste is often dumped off in developing countries in Africa and Asia. Sent under the guise of being used products, they are simply rid of illegally and unsustainably. One of the main reasons for e-waste generation is inherent in technological innovation, the constant need to upgrade. Software is consistently updated, and it takes only a few years for the current hardware model to become incompatible. The Wall Street Journal even calculated how long most Apple products stay compatible with the latest software since release,

with most recent hardware averaging four to five years. While this sounds passable at first, Apple also revealed last year that the standard lifespan of an iOS device is approximately three years, meaning it’s unlikely your iPhone or iPad will stay up-to-date throughout its lifespan. However, the issue is not going completely unnoticed. New York City passed a law in 2015 to reduce e-waste, joining states such as Illinois and Colorado that make it illegal to toss everything from televisions to laptops in the trash. Additionally, New York City’s pilot program for curbside e-waste pickup, launched in October of last year, picked up over 400,000 pounds of potentially harmful used tech in approximately six months. There are also a number of organizations that help recycle e-waste on a personal level, such as E-Cycle, Call2Recycle, and even retailers like Best Buy. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops have brought an unprecedented level of productivity and convenience to our lives, making them almost a necessity. However, it’s important to consider the environmental impact, both in the U.S. and abroad, that simply tossing your outdated smart device in the garbage can do. ■

Photo courtesy of Call2Recycle


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According to Bausch + Lomb, the end-to-end trail of waste generated annually in the U.S. from contact lens packaging could stretch between New York and Los Angeles 30 times. For this reason, Bausch + Lomb and TerraCycle teamed up to create their ONE by ONE program, where users can recycle their used contact lenses, blister packs, and foil.

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The inspiration for the program came when VP of Worldwide Environment, Health, Safety, and Sustainability Amy Butler and other members of the Bausch + Lomb team began “looking at ways of being able to give back to communities and enhance the environments in which [they] were doing manufacturing.” So far, more than 2,000 eye doctor’s offices have signed

The Sliced Bread of Solar

up to 60% less expensive and up to 25% more efficient than the solar industry standard for PV panels.

The advent of Solar cells by Bell Labs took place over 60 years ago, but much of how we produce solar cells for converting sunlight to energy has changed dramatically.

If we are to reverse global warming, making highly efficient solar cells economically feasible with creative tech is the innovation needed to usher in the Solar Age.

Fast forward to 2017, and the CEO of Rayton Solar Inc., Andrew Yakub, has devised a new method of manufacturing cells with a particle accelerator. It’s used to cut raw materials to manufacture highly efficient solar cells at a fraction of the cost of current competitors.

The Future of Recycling is in Sight

Today, Rayton Solar has built a team of shrewd engineers in the heart of Los Angeles’ Silicon Beach. A particle accelerator is a far cry from Snapchat or the normal techie dotcom startups common to the area, but it is part of Los Angeles’ renewable tech boom, which includes companies like Tesla and Hyperloop. Rayton is also using a new innovative way to fund their development: equity crowdfunding, which has only been around since 2015. They have built a community of support to fund innovation. Named the most successful Start Engine Campaign of 2017, Rayton Solar is continuing its research and development for next generation solar cells, and the numbers so far look very promising. Their cost-cutting manufacturing process allows them to produce panels that are

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More than 41 million people in the U.S. wear contact lenses, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. However, while disposable lenses are convenient, they may not be the best for the environment. In fact, even though contact lenses and the packaging they come in are made from either recyclable plastic and/or foil, they are too small for most standard recycling centers to process so they end up in landfills.

up and over 1,500 individuals have sent in their used contacts and packaging. The large participation in the program has resulted in “thousands of pounds of waste already being diverted from all of the landfills,” according to eyecare professional Gina Wesley, O.D. Since she signed up for the program, she’s “had a really good response with patients who have dropped off their lenses to be recycled.” People who want to participate need only print out a free shipping label from the Bausch + Lomb website, at www.bauschrecycles.com, to ship their used contacts for recycling. ■


T-Fal Optigrill+– Whether you’re cooking poultry, fish, or even fruits and vegetables, the T-Fal Optigrill+ utilizes dedicated cooking programs to ensure an unforgettable meal. Simple to use and clean, the Optigrill+ will make indoor grilling an essential part of your dinner plans. $150

Ozobot Bit – Combining creativity with playtime, the Ozobot Bit is the ideal STEM toy for your aspiring coder. With its ability to be controlled by markerdrawn paths or the Ozoblocky editor, Ozobot Bit makes programming fun and approachable. $60

PhoneSuit Journey All-inOne Charger – This charger keeps portability and versatility at the forefront. With cables for both MicroUSB and Lightning charging ports, the Journey packs enough juice in its thin frame to double the battery life of any smartphone. $60

Jam Xterior Max – The most durable offering from Jam Audio, the Xterior Max allows you to bring your music anywhere without fear of damage. Completely waterproof, dustproof, and drop-proof, feel free to take this bluetooth speaker on all your adventures. $120

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GE72MVR Apache Pro – Built with an exclusive SteelSeries RGB keyboard, Solid State Drive, and upgraded DYNAUDIO Tech Speakers, the Apache Pro boasts some impressive hardware. The 17" display also has a 120hz refresh rate with a 3ms response time, giving you the advantage of split second reaction. $1,799


Instax Square SQ10 – Balancing the best of old and new, the Fujifilm Instax SQUARE SQ10 used the latest hybrid technology to create digital and instant square film prints. With automatic exposure control, facial recognition, and auto-focus, the SQ10 has officially brought the traditional instant photo into the 21st century. $279

Unity Bike Desk – LifeSpan’s latest push centers on the bike desk line. The affordability, ease of use, power-free operation, and smaller footprint make the bikes generally more appealing to both customers and businesses alike. The units are almost entirely analog, however, which removes any element of “connected home” technology. $499

Comprehensive Rescue System – Whether you work in a high-rise building or on a construction site, it’s important to be ready for all types of emergencies. Thanks to this kit by Mobilize Rescue Systems, you can be. Containing extensive equipment and an innovative app with medical instructions, this kit enables anyone, regardless of training, to be prepared for emergencies $2,250

VEIU Doorbell – Introducing the

The Green Hinge System – This patented spring-loaded hinge adjusts your overhead garage door, providing a close, tight seal, saving energy, money, and reducing rattle. Plus, all commercial and residential systems are 100 percent U.S.A.-made and assembled with a lifetime warranty. $83 (Starting)

world’s smartest doorbell. The three-part system features a doorbell camera, a monitor, and an app. With this product, you’ll always be able to see who is at the door from your smart devices, helping to make your house more secure. $249

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Eva Humidifier Using ultrasonic technology to spread mist, the Eva humidifier by Stadler Form utilizes an external sensor for simple, intuitive control. With its specialized Adaptive Humidity technology, the Eva humidifier adjusts automatically to maintain a room’s comfort level. $200

Shoulderpod S2 - Ideal for getting the perfect shot anywhere you go, the Shoulderpod S2 is the ultimate multi-tool for mobile phone photography. The S2 is also very flexible, allowing you to use it as a tripod mount, individual stand, or handle for filming on the go. $40

IR-HDIR HDMI + IR “Signal Over Powerline” Extender – Let’s say you have a cable box in one room, and a TV in another. You could run cables from room to room, or you could use Infrared Resource’s HDMI over Powerline Extender. With this product, you can securely extend HDMI and infrared remote control signal up to 300 meters over the existing electrical wiring in your house. $449

Automower 450x – If you want a perfect lawn without the work, Automower is the machine for you. Quiet and fully automatic, it mows at your command. Powered by electricity, Automower offers a more environmentally friendly alternative, with clippings returned to the lawn to form fertilizer. It also gives off zero emissions and has a low energy consumption. $3,500

ChargeHub X7 - With a customizable design allowing you to charge multiple devices, the ChargeHub X7 is the ideal product to replenish your dwindling phone battery. Enabling seven different devices to charge at once, the X7 is great for dorm room and boardroom alike. $60 (7-Port)


MEEM Phone Charger – Backing up

iFetch Too – This toy is a big dog’s fetching dream. Launching a standard sized tennis ball 10, 25, or 40 feet all with the touch of a button, the iFetch Too also includes a “random” distance setting for even more fun. And with a built-in rechargeable battery, all you have to do is charge and go. $199.

the data on your phone, although important, can be inconvenient. Now, with the MEEM Phone Charger, you can automatically back up your phone’s data every time you charge. Keep your information safe with this 2-in-1 charger. $60

GS63VR Stealth Pro – If you’re in the market for a portable gaming laptop, this is the one. With the latest Intel 7th Gen processor as well as NVIDIA’s latest GeForce GTX 1060, the Stealth Pro is a slim, light laptop that packs enough power to run most of your games in HD quality. $1,549

GripTight ONE GP Magnetic Impulse – The Magnetic Impulse by Joby is the perfect phone camera kit. The modern magnetic tripod, secure grip, and Bluetooth remote camera control allow users to set up the perfect shot anywhere they go. Compatible with all smartphones, with or without cases. $60

Intova DUB Camera – Available in three colors, this go-anywhere camera is the perfect tool for all ages and activities, in or out of water. With two hours of rechargeable battery, 1080p video resolution, and an 8MP sensor, this camera can capture all your underwater action, whether you’re surfing or diving. $120

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GE Z-Wave Plus Smart Motion Switch by Jasco – Using motion detection, this energy-efficient sensor works with your home’s Z-Wave hub to wirelessly trigger scenes and send alerts. Three different modes offer the best lighting for different situations: occupancy, vacancy, and manual. Conveniently saving time and energy costs, this device can replace any existing light switch. $49

GL62M – The GL series laptops offer you a way to easily get your game on. Filled with MSI-exclusive technologies like the unique SteelSeries keyboard, Nahimic 2 sound, and Killer LAN, laptops like the GL62M ensure you’re fully prepared for online games and team battles around the world. Prices vary.

MyQ Home Bridge – Chamberlain’s new MyQ Home Bridge adds Apple HomeKit compatibility to MyQ-enabled garage door openers and accessories, allowing users to open, close, and monitor their opener via the Home app or Siri. $49

Aerix Black Talon – The Black Talon is the ultimate beginner’s racing drone. Equipped with the new Altitude Hold feature, users can focus on rotational and directional movement. It comes with everything you need to fly and record in 720p HD. $115

Smartenit In-Wall Socket ZBMSKT1 – In addition to enabling wireless control of any household or office appliance, the ZBMSKT1 smart socket updates you on energy consumption. When used with a smart home application, the device permits energy management of the connected device. The use of ZigBee makes the device integratable for most smart application platforms available today. $49

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Art&

The Captivating Creativity of Cuphead By Anthony Elio

The story of two brothers’ journey to create an unforgettable gaming experience, one hand-drawn frame at a time.

C

reating animation in the 1930s was no

the end of September. The game, which was first

this direction in mind, the concept for Cuphead

simple task. Each character’s

unveiled to the public in 2014, garnered plenty of

began to grow, with their small team, now known

dedicated movements needed to be

attention for its hand-drawn animation style,

as Studio MDHR, spending their weekends

drawn with every detail intact, and individual

which resembles that of 1930s cartoons such as

working on the game.

photographs had to be taken of each drawing,

Betty Boop and Felix The Cat. However, there’s

traced onto celluloid, and colored. 1937’s Snow

much more to the story than just an aesthetic

White and the Seven Dwarves required 250,000

choice.

individual celluloids, with months of work put into backgrounds before the two were combined, a process which needed to be done more than 500,000 times. Emulating this painstakingly upcoming video game Cuphead such a fascinating project.

platforming/shooting game planned for release at

INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017

Bull’s Pete Dreyer in an interview, “When each frame is custom, it means the art pipeline is much slower than ‘straight to digital’ art. It’s safe to say

work on the game. Years before they broke ground

creation of the art is about 50 percent slower than

game with a 1930s animated look. The game’s artistic inspiration came from the brothers’ childhood, when they would watch VHS tapes of

Named after its main character, Cuphead is a 2D

of extra work. As Chad Moldenhauer told Red

brothers Chad and Jared Moldenhauer began on the project, they had been inspired to make a

difficult animation style is what makes the

150

The story begins well before 2010, the year

However, this design choice also resulted in a lot

cartoons by creators such as Fleischer Studios, known for their bizarre and unique imagery. With

Images courtesy of Studio MDHR

digital, because there are so many steps involved.” That percent almost seems modest, as Moldenhauer also noted that the game will likely contain a total of 15,000 unique frames. The game’s showing at Microsoft’s E3 2014 Indie Game Showcase brought with it plenty of


hype, with its creative, colorful appearance

the project not living up to its expectations,

inspiring plenty of positive reception. But this

resulting in poor critical reviews and backlash

hype would soon grow into skepticism. Word

from supporters. Not only did this tarnish the

spread that the game would be only focused on

reputation of a hyped release, it has most likely

boss battles without much else, resulting in fans

resulted in the early demise of the franchise.

voicing their disappointment in the direction.

Clearly, the Moldenhauer brothers didn’t want

Interestingly enough, this early

to be in the same conversation as Mighty No. 9,

disappointment may have ended up improving

letting their passion project of seven years

the overall scope of Cuphead. After hearing from

become a missed opportunity.

the fans, the brothers realized they needed to

Cuphead is clearly a labor of love. After seven

step up their game. However, this wouldn’t be

years of design, delays, and risks, the

possible with their small roster. So, in keeping

Moldenhauer brothers are finally prepared to

with their passionate ambitions for the game, the Moldenhauer brothers left their jobs to work on Cuphead full-time. They remortgaged their houses and grew the team to create the experience they had dreamed of, a full Fleischerinspired adventure combining platforming, boss battles, and fascinating visuals. With the move to expand the team, it became clear that Studio MDHR most likely wanted to avoid the pitfalls of other similarly hyped games that didn’t end up impressing. A perfect example of this is the 2016 game Mighty No. 9, a project by Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune that raised over $4 million on Kickstarter. While the game looked to bring back the magic of the classic

show off their brainchild to the world. While time will tell whether or not Cuphead will live up to its lofty ambitions, it’s clear that the project isn’t just a quick cash-in or a silly gimmick. After all, keep in mind the design choice of the game likely (at the very least) doubled the amount of time they needed to spend. As Chad Moldenhauer told Time, the team was “worried when [they] set out with this style that there wouldn’t be a huge fan base, just that this had never been tried in games in the past… We’re just dumb enough that we wanted to do something we loved.” Dumb is one word for it. Determined is another. ■

Mega Man series, a number of delays, lack of

Cuphead will be released on September 29 for

focus, and miscommunication with fans led to

Xbox, Windows, and Steam. FALL 2017 | INNOVATION & TECH TODAY

151


CAPTURING

WEIRD AL goes indie

ANDY SERKIS

[continued from page 76]

[continued from page 72]

I&T Today: You’ve had such a multi-faceted career. Stage acting, performance capture, conventional acting, directing, voice acting. I was wondering, do you have a favorite mode of storytelling?

Images courtesy of Weird Al

AS: I don’t, actually. I get engaged with whatever project I’m working on at any given time. It is all about the script; it is all about storytelling. So I wouldn’t [say], “Oh, I’m going EPK.TV / starpix©2016 to do this live action film because it’s Dury in a film called Sex and Drugs and Rock a live action character.” The choice is and Roll. That was really, really a great and always based around, “Is this a great amazing character, this proto-punk guy. character? Is this something that speaks to me personally, or is the story important and I&T Today: What can people expect will [it] connect with the world in some from your adaptation of The Jungle Book way?” coming next year? I&T Today: You’ve played so many different characters. Do you have a character that you connected with the most? AS: Oddly enough, Caesar. I thoroughly enjoyed playing that character, because of the journey that he’s taken all the way through, being a chimpanzee…The multi-faceted aspects of this character, not just the embodying of a chimpanzee, but to take it right through, it is that whole evolution. To play that aspect, keeping it real, and believable, and emotionally connective, and also leading the audience through the series, really. Showing them the world through the apes’ eyes. I have a real affection for Caesar. Gollum, too. Gollum, because he started me off on this bizarre journey, and I wouldn’t be here without him, really. So I have quite an affection for that character, too. But I also loved the live-action roles. I loved playing Ian

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017

AS: Our version of Jungle Book is very much closer tonally to Rudyard Kipling’s original story. In the book, it is much more of a psychologically complex and savage world, in a way, Mowgli’s world. And it’s a Mowglicentric story, of a boy on the cusp of teenagehood, really. But also, appreciably, the difference with ours is that it’s a drama, really. There are spectacles, of course. The animals are performance captured, and it’s very much about the dramatic and emotional connection between Mowgli and the animals…The scenes take place in relative close-up, and they are quite powerful, emotional scenes. And that’s been a huge challenge, because it’s complex enough to translate the actor’s performance onto an ape’s face, because the physiognomy is fairly similar. It’s humanoid, whereas you’re translating the face of an actor onto a panther or a tiger. That’s a completely different challenge. ■

WA: Well, let me break that down. Consumptionwise, I think the biggest paradigm shift, to use an overused buzzword, was when Napster came on the scene. After Napster, the genie was sort of let out of the bottle. There became this overriding perception that music was free. The industry has been in free fall ever since the turn of the millennium. Production-wise, the biggest shift for me, personally, was the shift from analog to digital. Because I was there when that happened, when we went from the two-inch tape to recording everything on a hard drive. Again, there were some audiophiles that would say that, “Oh, no. You have to really record analog to get the warm sound.” I would rather just add that warmth with a plugin. Because I will never record vocals analog again if I can help it. It’s just so difficult to be a perfectionist… Like, “Oh, this syllable’s a little sharp. Let me see if I can get that one syllable right.” Oh no. I erased the whole line. There’s no undo button with analog. So, I really appreciate the opportunity to obsess over a vocal performance and nudge a waveform if it’s not exactly right. I try not to rely on it too much, because I want to make sure that there’s still some actual work and talent involved. But I’m not opposed to using technology to make a performance better. I&T Today: I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about AI and robots being used to write music right now. What do you see on the horizon for music and tech? WA: Well, I’ve got a robot writing all my stuff right now. I stopped personally writing about 2008. I think probably the next shake-up is the robots are going to try to unionize and get weekends off. I hope that never happens, because I really need them on the weekend. ■


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Genius at WAR

[continued from page 82]

nature, the competitiveness, and what were rumored to be issues of hygiene because of that. I still think that he operated on a very different plane from the other scientists I’ve portrayed, and Turing in particular. Personality-wise, he’s bombastic, he’s a salesman, he’s confident up front. He’d be as confident in front of a podium as he would be in his workshop. Entertaining and regaling with facts and amusing anecdotes and funny asides. You know he was a very public persona.

phenomenon was he didn’t want to be. He wasn’t interested in people fawning over him or getting adulation. He was happy to kind of do the work that meant something to him and move on. I don’t think he was waiting for anyone to build him a statue. I think he just was very focused on his work. It’s not something that he was frustrated by.

Whereas Alan Turing was a very awkward, retiring, quiet, and shy man by comparison. Often, people say “you play lots of scientists.” Yes, but I also play lots of different human beings, and they couldn’t be two more different human beings in my opinion.

MS: Well, I don’t know. You always strive to find out as much about the person as you can. I mean, Elvis was kind of different because I can actually watch Elvis and see Elvis. I couldn’t do that with Westinghouse, so it was more just creating the psychology of the character.

Alan was lean and trim, a very competent longdistance runner. And I think Edison would not be a competent long distance runner. He was energetic, but I don’t think it went too far in the direction of cardiovascular workouts.

I&T Today: Obviously, a lot has changed since George Westinghouse’s time. What do you think George Westinghouse would think of the U.S. today?

And the lure for this wasn’t just another scientist, but it was another extraordinary human being. It was tempting, had some aspects that I had never played before. I always try to look for work that gives me something new to think about.

As Westinghouse’s alternating current systems became more popular throughout the country, Edison’s company felt the pressure. So America’s most famous inventor resorted to scare tactics. He informed reporters that alternating currents were dangerous and staged public executions of various animals to prove it – purposefully electrifying numerous dogs, and even an elephant, to death.

I&T Today: It feels like George Westinghouse is outshined by Edison and Tesla in history books. Is there something you hope audiences learn about him from the film? Michael Shannon: Well, I think one of the main reasons Westinghouse wasn’t more of a historical

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017

I&T Today: You also played Elvis in last year’s Elvis & Nixon. How does playing a historical non-fiction character affect your acting process?

MS: Well, I think he might be kind of appalled. I think he was a very socially conscious person, and he was a very fair person. He didn’t take advantage of people. Thought it was important to treat people kindly and with respect. I don’t think he would appreciate the tone of a lot of what’s going on in America right now. I can’t say for sure.

Edison’s smear campaign of Westinghouse eventually resulted in the adoption of the electric chair as a means of execution. Edison even tried to brand death by electrocution as being “Westinghoused.” I&T Today: How has playing Edison compared to some of the fictional intellectuals you’ve played? Like Sherlock Holmes or Dr. Strange? Benedict Cumberbatch: The Wizard of Menlo Park and the Sorcerer Supreme. I think what’s extraordinary about what Edison did was this was magic we’re still living with. I’ve got two, very young, children. And to see the look in their eyes when lights go on and off for the first time, and they really take that in. It’s a very bold and frank reminder of what an extraordinary thing it is.

Doing this Promethean thing of lighting unlight with light, and creating daylight, and interrupting circadian rhythms, and bringing convenience to every part of our lives so we can evolve physically and intellectually, in a different way. These are incredibly real things, and to be part of storytelling or a storyteller trying to imagine and envision what that would be like to be at the forefront of that invention is terribly exciting. I&T Today: As you studied this historic rivalry, do you think there are comparisons to some more modern rivalries? Bill Gates vs. Steve Jobs, for instance? BC: Of course there are. How can there not be? I think there have been rivalries in all areas in industry. Of course now, a lot of these powerhouses in Silicon Valley, these men, captains of our modern tech industry, Noskin and Jeff Bergin, Gates and Steve Jobs. You know they’ve become as iconic as their products in many ways. And rightfully so. And I think the men and women who are captaining those areas of industry now always acknowledge their debt to people like Westinghouse, Edison, and of course, Tesla.

Despite Edison’s anti-AC propaganda, Westinghouse’s AC eventually became the industry standard. Edison would later admit that he was wrong to have not listened to Tesla. I&T Today: Do you have a particular invention, not necessarily by Edison or Westinghouse, that you think is especially important to where we are today? Michael Shannon: Oh, wow. There’s so many. Sometimes I think it’s gotten a little out of hand. I’d be curious to go back to a time where there wasn’t so much technology, honestly. A time like Westinghouse’s time. It wasn’t so pervasive... I&T Today: Who do you think would win a fight between George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison? MS: Oh, jeez. It’s hard to say. I think George was a pretty strong individual. He was in the war, you know, the Civil War. I don’t know if Edison ever fought in the Army or not…I would think twice, I guess, about trying to engage in some sort of physical brawl with George Westinghouse. ■

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coming next issue

Winter 2017

Top 50 Most Innovative Products 2017 – We wrap up

2017 by taking a look at the 50 products that blew us away this year.

Business Innovations –

In the next issue, we will take a closer look at the business leaders that are innovating in their fields of expertise. The winter issue will keep you up-todate with some of the latest business developments as we head into the new year.

Sustainability – The topic of

sustainability is an increasingly hot button issue. As sustainable practices become a higher priority to companies and municipalities, the conversation continues to evolve. Pick up our winter issue to learn more about the latest breakthroughs that allow us to manage our natural resources more responsibly.

Gaming+Entertainment –

Editor John Gaudiosi lets us in on all of the most recent developments from the world of television, film, and gaming. Look out for his recaps on what is trending in the entertainment industry and what to look for in 2018.

We’re heading to the East Coast for our winter Tech Zone, which will focus on the upwardly trending tech community of Maryland. Check it out to see how the Old Line State may soon be as well known for its burgeoning tech scene as its delicious seafood.

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017

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Tech Zone: Maryland –


The Lighter Side

Let’s Play The Robot Dating Game By Anthony Elio

ROMANCE WITH ROBOTS!

Okay, let’s talk about sex robots. Pleasure-giving machines are an increasingly hot topic. In fact, a recent survey in the U.S. revealed that two-thirds of men and one-third of women would be open to making robotic love, and New York Times-reviewed author David Levy predicts robot marriage will be accepted by the year 2050 for those of you who still think it’s too taboo to be seen kissing your Roomba in public. So, in the spirit of embracing the uncanny robot uprising, let’s meet some of the mechanical maidens you hopefully, for the sake of all that’s pure in the world, won’t bring home to meet your parents someday.

Harmony Meet Harmony, the busty silicone-based sex robot that’s brimming with unnatural sensuality and personality. When asked how she feels about the topic of intercourse, she responds with “Sex is one of the most fascinating things in the world. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with it.” Spoken like a true temptress. However, you’re going to have to wait until the end of the year to get your very own version of Harmony, just in time for your holiday wishlist. And, not to be forgotten, Harmony also comes special with 42 different nipple types! I doubt your Stretch Armstrong had that much customization. [Editor’s Note: This is real. Price: $5,000-$10,000]. ★★★★✩

Silicon Samantha With a brutally honest name telling you what her heart's made of, Silicon Samantha is much more than just a lifeless robot that you can defile the notion of love with. She’s also a personal companion. You see, unlike some of the other options on this list, you don’t have to be afraid to bring Samantha to your family’s Thanksgiving dinner, as she can easily switch between “sexy” and “family” mode. Surely nothing could possibly go wrong there. [Editor’s Note: This is real. Prices vary]. ★★★✩✩

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INNOVATION & TECH TODAY | FALL 2017

Roxxxy and Rocky Unlike other sex robot creators, True Companion gives you the option of choosing between Roxxxy and her biological brother (I guess) Rocky. Roxxxy, whose website claims is “The World’s First Sex Robot,” can be programmed with such pre-determined personalities as Wild Wendy, S&M Susan, and Please Go Out In The Real World And Meet Someone Pauline. Rocky features a slightly different style of customization, with the ability to add different colors of razor stubble (cost: $100), different colors of hair down there (cost: $100), and can be ordered directly to your door (cost: your self worth). [Editor’s Note: This is real. $9,995, not including “add-ons”]. ★★★★✩

PassionDolly Featuring a name clearly analyzed for hours by a boardroom, PassionDolly has been called “Ireland’s most realistic sex doll.” (Who else would love to see the panel of judges for that?) With your standard 32E bust, a fully metal skeleton, and cold, lifeless eyes staring back at you, PassionDolly finally gives you a reason to book that European trip. [Editor’s Note: This is real and purely a rental, costing about $95/hour or $47/half hour. We’re sorry. We’re so, so sorry.] ★✩✩✩✩


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Innovation & Tech Today - Fall 2017  

The advent of computer generated imagery has given us incredible sights and memorable characters. And no one embodies this technology quite...

Innovation & Tech Today - Fall 2017  

The advent of computer generated imagery has given us incredible sights and memorable characters. And no one embodies this technology quite...