Searching for innovation

Innovation is about finding a better way of doing something. Like many of the new development buzzwords (which many of them are over-used on many business documents), the concept of innovation originates from the world of business. It refers to the generation of new products through the process of creative entrepreneurship, putting it into production, and diffusing it more widely through increased sales. Innovation can be viewed as t he application of better solutions that meet new requirements, in-articulated needs, or existing market needs. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments and society. The term innovation can be defined as something original and, as a consequence, new, that “breaks into” the market or society.

Innoveracy: Misunderstanding Innovation article points out that  there is a form of ignorance which seems to be universal: the inability to understand the concept and role of innovation. The way this is exhibited is in the misuse of the term and the inability to discern the difference between novelty, creation, invention and innovation. The result is a failure to understand the causes of success and failure in business and hence the conditions that lead to economic growth. The definition of innovation is easy to find but it seems to be hard to understand.  Here is a simple taxonomy of related activities that put innovation in context:

  • Novelty: Something new
  • Creation: Something new and valuable
  • Invention: Something new, having potential value through utility
  • Innovation: Something new and uniquely useful

The taxonomy is illustrated with the following diagram.

The differences are also evident in the mechanisms that exist to protect the works: Novelties are usually not protectable, Creations are protected by copyright or trademark, Inventions can be protected for a limited time through patents (or kept secret) and Innovations can be protected through market competition but are not defensible through legal means.

Innovation is a lot of talked about nowdays as essential to businesses to do. Is innovation essential for development work? article tells that innovation has become central to the way development organisations go about their work. In November 2011, Bill Gates told the G20 that innovation was the key to development. Donors increasingly stress innovation as a key condition for funding, and many civil society organisations emphasise that innovation is central to the work they do.

Some innovation ideas are pretty simple, and some are much more complicated and even sound crazy when heard first. The is place for crazy sounding ideas: venture capitalists are gravely concerned that the tech startups they’re investing in just aren’t crazy enough:


Not all development problems require new solutions, sometimes you just need to use old things in a slightly new way. Development innovations may involve devising technology (such as a nanotech water treatment kit), creating a new approach (such as microfinance), finding a better way of delivering public services (such as one-stop egovernment service centres), identifying ways of working with communities (such as participation), or generating a management technique (such as organisation learning).

Theorists of innovation identify innovation itself as a brief moment of creativity, to be followed by the main routine work of producing and selling the innovation. When it comes to development, things are more complicated. Innovation needs to be viewed as tool, not master. Innovation is a process, not a one time event. Genuine innovation is valuable but rare.

There are many views on the innovation and innvation process. I try to collect together there some views I have found on-line. Hopefully they help you more than confuze. Managing complexity and reducing risk article has this drawing which I think pretty well describes innovation as done in product development:

8 essential practices of successful innovation from The Innovator’s Way shows essential practices in innovation process. Those practices are all integrated into a non-sequential, coherent whole and style in the person of the innovator.

In the IT work there is lots of work where a little thinking can be a source of innovation. Automating IT processes can be a huge time saver or it can fail depending on situation. XKCD comic strip Automation as illustrates this:

XKCD Automation

System integration is a critical element in project design article has an interesting project cost influence graphic. The recommendation is to involve a system integrator early in project design to help ensure high-quality projects that satisfy project requirements. Of course this article tries to market system integration services, but has also valid points to consider.

Core Contributor Loop (CTTDC) from Art Journal blog posting Blog Is The New Black tries to link inventing an idea to theory of entrepreneurship. It is essential to tune the engine by making improvements in product, marketing, code, design and operations.






  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    What Keeps Electronics and Electrical Engineers Up at Night?
    Topics run the gamut from education and human resources issues to concerns around pricing and products.

    10. Outsourcing Issues
    9. Concerns about Job Security
    8. Dealing with Reductions in Staff
    7. Age Discrimination
    6. Price/Performance Issues
    5. Concerns about the General Health of the Economy
    4. Product Quality Issues
    3. Product Reliability Issues
    2. Looming Project Deadlines
    1. Staying Current with New and Emerging Technologies

    The biggest concern for EEs in the job market today? How to stay ahead of the curve with the fast-paced development of new and emerging technologies. With the advent of machine learning, artificial intelligence, new materials, augmented reality, and deep learning, we’ve entered a whole new world of production and innovation. Then there’s the IoT revolution, 3D printing, and industrial automation. It’s all enough to make your head spin. The good news: staying informed and educated will provide the EE with the knowledge base to view these new and emerging technologies as opportunities instead of anxieties.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tony Romm / Recode: announces $50M fund to study “changing nature of work” and train job seekers in US and Europe in partnership with other organizations is launching a $50 million effort to prepare job seekers for the ‘future of work’

    The company’s philanthropic arm will study changes in the economy wrought by companies like, well, Google.

    Google announced on Wednesday a new $50 million initiative to study and prepare “for the changing nature of work,” beginning with investments in the U.S. and Europe to help train job seekers and improve the working conditions for those already employed.

    The commitment comes by way of, the search giant’s philanthropic organization. Its president, Jacquelline Fuller, unveiled the campaign in a blog post this morning, stressing the goal is to “make sure that as many people as possible can make the most of the new jobs, industries and opportunities that are emerging — some of which we couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago.”

    In other words, is studying the economic effects precipitated in no small part by its own parent company, Alphabet.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    10 Must-Have Skills for All Engineers
    Master these technical and soft skills to ensure continued professional success.

    Computer science fundamentals.
    Data modeling.
    Probability and statistics.
    System design.

    Leadership and management.
    Commitment and desire to learn.
    Critical thinking and problem-solving.
    Attention to detail.
    Giving and receiving feedback.

    There are several other soft skills engineers should have, such as interpersonal and collaborative skills, creativity, and flexibility. The important thing, however, is the ability to realize that a single person cannot design an engineering marvel. It takes a team. And it takes a special skill to work effectively with people of greater or less talent. All other soft skills are part of this overriding one.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    12 Important Insights from the Minds of Engineers

    UBM Americas’ 2017 Mind of The Engineer survey provides a look at how engineers feel about a variety of topics including job satisfaction, workplace concerns, and even which superhero they most identify with.

    What’s on engineers’ minds? How do they perceive themselves today compared with general public? And how do they feel about their industry?

    In partnership with Readex Research, the Advanced Manufacturing Group of UBM Americas, the parent company of Design News, conducted a survey of 29,542 individuals who identified their primary job function as engineering.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Man’s endeavor to live beyond planet Earth

    NASA Earth-Independent activities build on what they learn on the International Space Station (ISS) and in deep space that will help enable human missions to the Moon, Mars vicinity, possibly to low-Mars orbit or one of the Martian moons, and eventually the Martian surface. Future Mars missions will represent a collaborative effort between NASA and its partners—a global achievement that marks a transition in humanity’s expansion as man goes to Mars to seek the potential for sustainable life beyond Earth.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Avoiding The Engineer-Saviour Trap

    Walking Into The Trap…

    I’d say that far too many (certainly software) engineers are guilty of this on a daily basis. I’ve seen many carefully designed (or thrown together…) UIs – graphical, commandline and function-based, where what the user actually wants to achieve has not been considered in the slightest. Far too rarely does the engineer ask “what do you want to _do_” and provide steps to do this, rather than provide functions to do ‘everything’ and leave the user to muddle their way through a minefield

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Woodie Flowers: Nobody Ever Perfects a Design

    In Part 2 of this series, Prof. Woodie Flowers talks about the importance of first working on your own because working as part of a team is much harder.

    In Part 1 of this series, MIT professor Emeritus Woodie Flowers explained what happened when he overhauled a traditional engineering course, turning it into one that encouraged curiosity and problem solving. In Part 2, Flowers explains the benefits and challenges of working in groups and why designs can always be improved.

    EE Times: We always hear about how engineers are part of teams, sometimes working on a small part of a large project. Sometimes, though, engineers work on their own. Why is that important?
    Woodie FlowersFlowers: In addition to solving a technical problem, the students in my course had the experience of working alone. I think that’s a prerequisite to learning how to be a member of a team. The team stuff is so complicated by comparison. If you’re lucky, you get to learn about yourself as a designer first. Then you’re better able to work with a team.

    EE Times: What happens when students have to work in a team in the senior design project?
    Flowers: The MIT senior design project is a team too big, a time too short, a budget too small, and a problem too big. Each team has 20 students, 13 weeks, and $6,500 to go from a vague notion to an alpha prototype product and a business plan. It’s done that way because most teamwork exercises and project management tools are purely academic. In those cases, one or two people can do all the work and others can just go along. The senior project is too big for that.

    The MIT senior project presentation day is second only to graduation in attendance at MIT. It fills the auditorium within 20 minutes of when tickets are available online. When you know that thousands of people will see your presentation, you have to learn how to use 20 people in a team. That’s not easy with a bunch of students who have been policing their own trademark and suddenly must learn to trust others.

    EE Times: Do you think that engineering students don’t necessarily trust their colleagues?
    Flowers: It may not be lack of trust, but a more alien experience than just doing what you’re supposed to do yourself. You have to adapt to other people’s schedules and meet their expectations. It’s a two-way street.

    For the senior project teams, we have a web-based peer evaluation system.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    I’m a Reading Fool
    Posted Aug 02, 2017 at 3:07 am
    The real problem is that there are so many books to read, but not enough time to read them all.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    InstantCAD Promises Faster Iterative Design

    The design process for any product is necessarily an iterative one. Often, a prototype is modelled or built, and changes are made to overcome problems and improve the design. This can be a tedious process, and it’s one that MIT’s CSAIL has sought to speed up with InstantCAD.

    The basic idea is integrating analysis tools as a plugin within already existing CAD software. A design can be created, and then parametrically modified, while the analysis updates on screen in a near-live fashion. Imagine modelling a spanner, and then dragging sliders to change things like length and width while watching the stress concentrations change in real time. The tool appears to primarily be using some sort of finite element analysis, though the paper also shows examples of analyzing fluid flows as well.

    The software is impressive, however there are caveats. Like any computer analysis, serious verification work must be undertaken to ensure its validity.

    Reshaping computer-aided design
    CSAIL’s InstantCAD allows manufacturers to simulate, optimize CAD designs in real-time.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Christopher M. Schroeder / MIT Technology Review:
    A look at how Middle Eastern startups are overcoming cultural and other barriers to tap into a growing local taste for tech, from bitcoin to digital publishing

    A Different Story from the Middle East: Entrepreneurs Building an Arab Tech Economy

    Middle Eastern startups are overcoming cultural and other barriers to tap into a growing local taste for technology, from Bitcoin wallets to digital publishing.

    At the end of March, it was announced that the largest e-commerce company in the Middle East and North Africa,, would be acquired by Amazon for nearly $600 million. This was unusual: when Amazon enters a new geographic market, it typically does so by launching its existing platform and investing a lot of money to grow it. Instead, Amazon—apparently impressed by’s management team, its technology, and its ability to navigate a complicated region—decided on a different strategy.

    A week after the announcement, at the Step Conference in Dubai, one of the most popular startup gatherings in the region, it felt as if lightning had struck. Over 2,000 aspiring entrepreneurs filled the arena, standing room only, for a panel with founder ­Ronaldo ­Mouchawar.

    A few months earlier, Careem—the region’s fast-growing ride-sharing company—had been valued by venture capitalists at over $1 billion.

    One young aspiring entrepreneur taking copious notes on her laptop told me, “I can do this. I will do this.”

    Bankruptcies and visas

    The UAE’s government has recently made legal changes to encourage entrepreneurship. In 2016, the government enacted its first bankruptcy law. The freedom to fail, learn from failure, and quickly start the next enterprise has been crucial to the Silicon Valley blueprint, but in some parts of the Middle East, cultural traditions around debt and obligations to others had made failure a criminal act: executives could literally serve prison time. And during a time when some in America are fighting any expansion of H1-B visa programs, which allow foreigners to work in the country in specialized occupations, the UAE just announced a new visa offering residency to the best technologists from anywhere on earth.

    The Dubai government is embracing technology too. By the end of 2020, all government documentation and interactions will be available on blockchain, a decentralized record-keeping technology that verifies and records transactions securely. By 2019, as part of a strategy to improve efficiency and construction safety while reducing costs, 2 percent of all new construction will have to use 3-D-printed components in order to receive building permits, a number set to increase each year until it reaches 25 percent by 2030. The UAE even has its own space program; it plans to expand satellite efforts and launch the first Mars probe in the Arab world.

    “There is nothing like Dubai in the Middle East—nothing really like it anywhere.”

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Brexit Is Quietly Strangling Science
    A Nobel Prize winning physicist considers taking his research elsewhere, while applications from foreign researchers have plummeted.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    6 Superhero Technologies Made Real
    What does it take to bring our favorite gadgets and gizmos over from the realm of fiction? Some unreal fans, that’s what.

    Life imitates art far more than art imitates life. Oscar Wilde said that way back in his 1889 essay “The Decay of Lying,” and it still holds true today. No better example exists than how technology has been influenced by art, film, culture, and even comics.

    “Star Trek” gave us mobile phones, inspiring Martin Cooper at Motorola. It also influenced John Carmack of id Software to make the holodeck real through 3D game engines. In fact, Carmack is at at Oculus Rift right now still trying to make it real. Elon Musk, of Tesla and SpaceX fame, even admits to being influenced by comic books.

    Consider ankle tracking devices, the system to raise ships from the bottom of the ocean, submarines, rockets, atomic power, tasers, Apple’s Quicktime, and countless other examples…they were all inspired by science fiction and comic books. Whether it’s the zeitgeist of the day or just people wanting cool things they see to be real, it’s happening all the time.

    And the phenomenon is everywhere. Here are six fictional superhero technologies made real by unreal fans.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Is Design Innovation Slowing?

    The answer appears to be a resounding no, but innovation isn’t necessarily happening in the same places as in the past.

    Paul Teich, principal analyst for Tirias Research, gave a provocative talk at the recent DAC conference entitled, “Is Integration Leaving Less Room for Design Innovation?” The answer isn’t as simple as the question might suggest.

    “Integration used to be a driver for increasing the functionality of silicon,” Teich said. “Increasingly, it will be used to incorporate more features of an entire system on top of the hardware system.”

    Teich talked about IP becoming complicated. He explained that the processes needed to produce optimal memory, or radio, or logic are becoming different enough that we are moving from system on chip (SoC) to system in package (SiP). “For SoCs, where you are integrating everything on the same die, access to IP is important. For SiPs what is important are partnerships and packaging technology. What we are seeing is a lot of innovation on the packaging front and a lot of folks trying partnerships so they have access to somebody else’s state-of-the-art known good die. Trying to integrate everything onto one die every time you turn the crank doing a system design is a losing proposition in terms of design engineering resources.”

    After discussing some high-profile SiP products, he then looked at higher levels of systems and services built on top of hardware. “As we look at where the innovation is going, I don’t think it is going as much toward integrating onto a system on chip design as it is toward packaging individual chips, venting the heat, and making sure that you get a clean radio signal out of it. Everyone designing for the Internet of Things (IoT) has to remember that the ‘I’ in IoT means the product is not standalone. When you are making decisions about what to put in the product, you have some local decisions and you have the cloud behind you that provides access to a deeper context. Your competitive arena is that everyone is going back to the cloud to do data collection, analytics and draw some kind of pattern-level conclusion about the data you are gathering from your IoT sensor.”

    So what does the rest of the industry think about this and where do they see innovation happening? Semiconductor Engineering talked with people from all aspects of hardware and systems design—and found a number of different places where innovation is still alive and well.

    Service products
    It is certainly true that the media concentrates on new markets and revenue streams, particularly those associated with the cloud. Services have become the money maker rather than products. But from a chip level, each of these markets requires customized or semi-customized hardware and software. And while integration is a key part of that, this is hardly cookie-cutter design.

    System choices
    The system is what many people see as the horizontal platform, but even here there are huge choices to be made that have very wide ranging impacts. “An industry executive shared with me a recent study that showed that the best power efficiency and performance comes from a system with centralized processing and no processing at the edge,” said Graham Bell, Vice President of Marketing for Uniquify, Inc.. “Local processing at the edge requires its own software stack. By eliminating the software stacks at the edge and pulling all the input directly to the central processor, a more efficient closed system is possible. This approach is more application-specific, and therefore more customized for innovation to be realized.”

    New avenues of innovation
    While Moore’s Law may be slowing down, this is unlikely to stop advancement and innovation in chip design. The threat of that slowdown initiated innovation in other areas such as packaging. “It is possible that the next evolution of system design will be in the area of substrate-based multi-chip systems, where some chips will be 10/7nm and others will remain at 26/16nm,” said Tom Wong, director of marketing, design IP at Cadence. “We have already seen mass adoption of POP (package-on-package) and low-cost 2.5D interposer as dictated by the form factor, performance and low-power needs of the smartphone. And in the datacenter and enterprise space, we see the adoption of very high-end 2.5D interposer technology, as well as 3D packaging in high-performance memory subsystems for networking applications.”

    Innovation within the chip
    There is plenty of room for innovation and differentiation within chips. “The SoC architecture, hardware/software partitioning, design methodology and packaging all offer avenues for innovation,” said Ravi Thummarukudy, CEO for Mobiveil. “Performance, Power and cost also provide great differentiation.”

    Innovation within blocks
    There is room for innovation at the block level, too. “IP is at the bottom rung of that value chain, so I see more and more opportunities for innovation at the IP level as a result,” said Savage. “In addition, IP companies are offering services to their customers to customize IP to allow them to add some differentiation. Often this customization is driven by their customers (the systems companies).”

    Even the most basic blocks are changing. “It is all about memory,” contends Lanza. “This is the fundamental unit. Connecting memories and their contents, quickly. That is the way our brains work and this needs to happen in computers. Memory technology is moving faster than any other technology.”

    Tools, methodologies and flows
    The tools necessary for innovation are also changing. “While still highly dependent on ‘chips,’ our industry is rapidly moving past the ‘chip centric’ era, where EDA was king, to a new era of system-centric design,” said Bob Smith, Executive Director of the ESD Alliance. “Expect to see more startups address the automation of system design by leveraging the increasing popularity of IP as the building blocks.”

    Technology plays two roles. New markets are created from existing technology foundations, and those platforms evolve over time. The hardware industry may not know what is being enabled. That was the case with the PC, the smart phone, and more recently with a communications infrastructure that connects sensor nodes that some call the IoT. The semiconductor industry created these platforms, even though new applications are sparse.

    The second opportunity technology brings is that once a market has shown itself to exist and be robust enough, technology optimizes it to make it smaller, cheaper, and lower power. It feeds on the success of the market.

    “There is a virtuous cycle between both of them,” said Wingard. “Sometimes the technology is truly enabling. The economics or the use model just doesn’t work until you get certain combinations of technology together and sufficiently optimized to enable the market.”

    Added Wong: “In today’s complex systems, innovation can occur in the system, in software, in architecture, in hardware acceleration, or in packaging.”

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Smart Speed Bumps Slow Only Speeding Cars

    Like it or not speed bumps are an essential part of our road infrastructure especially in built-up places like near schools [Business Insider UK] reports non-Newtonian liquid filled speed bumps are being tested in Spain, Israel and Germany.

    Traditional speed bumps do have their drawbacks; damage to the underside of low vehicles is common. While they should be uniform in dimensions, in practice they can vary significantly, making driving over unfamiliar bumps a bit unpredictable. This is all set to change with non-Newtonian bumps which are soft to drive over at slow speeds but for speeding drivers they harden up and act more like traditional bumps.

    This speed bump is filled with liquid that hardens if you go too fast

    A Spanish company has designed a speed bump that won’t hinder slow drivers but will still stop motorists driving too fast.

    The speed bump is filled with a non-Newtonian liquid which changes viscosity when pressure is applied at high velocity.

    They’ve been installed in Villanueva de Tapia, Spain and there has also been interest from Israel and Germany.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Pragmatic Approach to Your Digital Transformation Journey

    From the Amazon juggernaut to the now legendary story of Uber, examples of digital disruption reshaping markets and industries abound. In fact, in their 2017 State of Digital Disruption study, the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation (DBT Center) says that in just two years digital disruption has gone from a peripheral concern to top-of-mind. The DBT Center’s latest study finds that among the 636 business leaders polled across 44 countries and 14 industries, 75 percent believe that digital disruption will have a major or transformative impact on their industry. This is in sharp contrast to the 26 percent that felt that way when last surveyed in 2015.

    With a security strategy and architecture in place, you are now ready to take on the next key stages in your digital journey.

    1. Hyper-connectivity: Driving new patterns of rich connections between people, process, data, and things.

    2. Data integration: Embedding data-driven insights and decisions directly into the workflows and applications that drive business.

    3. Machine learning: Automating insight from business and operational data to intelligently scale key initiatives.

    As with most new and challenging endeavors, you need to define a pragmatic approach to mastering hyper-connectivity, data integration, and machine learning.

    Just as novice runners don’t start with a marathon – they begin with a 5K and work up from there – the same is true as you embark on digital transformation. With a strong cybersecurity foundation in place, the most successful journeys begin with initiatives that involve strategic, but limited, connectivity and data integration. As digital value is realized, you build on success, incrementally expanding connectivity and integration and layering in machine learning.

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    What’s next in medical devices, and what does it mean for optics?

    Some of the biggest trends in medical device this year are promising for optical component manufacturers:

    1. Wearables—particularly in glucose monitoring, “sleep tech” and exercise trackers. This sector will see 2x the revenue growth of the overall device market, and made up $13.2B in 2016.

    2. Continuing pace of M&A activity. Consolidation can leave the future of your existing programs in question, but it can also open up new inroads into new product lines and divisions.

    3. Increased R&D. As medical device product launch speed increases, the demand for R&D may cause startups and larger corporations who’ve streamlined their R&D infrastructure to seek collaborative partnerships. Medical device R&D is projected to make up 7% of revenue on average in the near term.

    4. Robots, drones, AI, and AR/VR. Though adoption lags behind other industries, cost pressure, regulatory clearance, and current areas of focus like behavioral health may align to bring these technologies into use in the near term. Drones, or UAVs, show promise for delivery of healthcare goods to consumers and for emergency and disaster response.

    5. Hospital consolidation and significant clinic growth. Distributed infrastructure should drive volume demand in the “value” segment, with more versatility and smaller footprints. Optics opportunity: Improved optical assemblies will reduce size and cost of medical devices.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Siemens Preaches Gospel of Manufacturing ‘Digitalization’
    Automation giant’s software platform aims to unite design, engineering, manufacturing.

    Siemens AG continued its push this month to unite the design and manufacturing realms into a single data model, announcing it will soon add two more key software tools.

    The automation giant said that in September it will unveil an application called Manage MyMachines for its MindSphere operating system, along with a separate software solution called Sinumerik Edge for analyzing data from machining processes. The products will serve as two more elements in Siemens’ effort to create an end-to-end software portfolio for companies seeking to “digitalize” their operations. By doing so, Siemens hopes to further close the loop between design and manufacturing, enabling manufacturers to more readily identify whether products are manufacturable before they reach the factory floor.

    “Up to now, not everyone has had the ability to close that loop,” Sal Spada, research director for discrete automation at ARC Advisory Group , told Design News . “That’s a big part of their initiative – closing the loop from design down to the manufacturing processes. It’s the digitalization thread.”

    The Manage MyMachines product is the first application for Siemens’ MindSphere, an open IoT operating system that allows machine data to be sent to the cloud. Manage MyMachines would give operators an overview of the machine data, enabling them to optimize their production. Similarly, Sinumerik Edge would allow operators to process machine data, but to do so at the machine, without sending it to the cloud. Siemens announced the two new products at a press event in Chicago last week.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Accelerating the speed of innovation

    Being first to market with a new product or feature is a critical differentiator in many industries. Being first often means capturing greater market share or establishing leadership and dominance in a new market. It also leads to faster return on investment and greater overall profitability.

    From a design standpoint, the difference between being the innovation leader and having a late-to-market “me-too” product might be just a matter of a few weeks. The more a development team can reduce its design cycle, the greater its chance of taking the lead in the market.

    Innovation, however, takes time. Development teams need to be able to explore new ideas and test different options. This is often an iterative process — the team implements a design, tests it, improves it and then begins the cycle again. The faster a team can iterate, the faster it can complete a design that is ready for market.

    Time-to-market, then, is impacted significantly by how quickly a development team can iterate designs. A team that can iterate a design cycle in a few hours can innovative several times faster than a team that takes a week per cycle. The ability to iterate faster gives OEMs greater flexibility.

    Accelerating the speed of innovation for your own development team begins by identifying unnecessary delays in your design process. For example, working with a new technology often comes with a learning curve.

    Slow shipping is another major source of delay for design cycles. The longer it takes to source and then ship a component, the more your iterative process will be delayed.

    Given the high cost in terms of time-to-market, shipping delays simply don’t make sense.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Does the world need polymaths?

    Two hundred years ago, it was still possible for one person to be a leader in several different fields of inquiry. Today that is no longer the case. So is there a role in today’s world for the polymath – someone who knows a lot about a lot of things?

    “The winner of the 1964 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, which British X-Ray crystallographer was instrumental in…”

    The belief that researchers need to specialise goes back at least two centuries.

    Before then, there were some polymaths who made original contributions in multiple areas.

    One polymath/Renaissance Man was Thomas Young (1773-1829), the subject of a biography by Andrew Robinson entitled The Last Man Who Knew Everything. Young was a physician and physicist, whose achievements were breathtaking. He established the wave theory of light, undertook pioneering work in optics and studied 400 languages, helped decode the hieroglyphs on the Rosetta Stone – and much, much more. And to confound any notion that he was a sort of 19th Century uber-geek, he was also an accomplished dancer and gymnast.

    So is there still a useful role for today’s clever-clog – besides ringer in the pub quiz team?

    Stefan Collini says that in many Western societies “there is a populist hostility to expertise in public life”. It may be that polymaths, with their broader gaze, have an important role in communicating specialist fields. What’s more, with ever narrowing specialism there is a need for generalists to synthesise information, to make connections between the discipline silos.

    Diamond is one of Stephen Fry’s favourite polymaths. Fry – actor, comedian, writer and general egghead – is himself on the polymathic spectrum. He says he shares a personality trait with other polymaths – inquisitiveness. “If you know a lot, it’s because you’re curious,” he says. “You have this impulse to know and, therefore, things stick to you. You put on, as it were, epistemological weight. I have always been fantastically greedy to know things.”

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Training As A Strategic Weapon
    For leading-edge designs, success can depend on how a team is trained.

    When you’re operating in this kind of environment, repeatability helps – the reuse of a memory subsystem, for example. However, one cannot count on repeatability as a single strategy for risk reduction. Rather, one must leverage past lessons learned in a way that allows extrapolation to new problem-solving. For example, leveraging SerDes design knowledge to build new chip-to-chip interfaces. This combination of baseline reuse and extrapolated problem-solving creates a very new environment to address HOW to design.

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The digital economy is measuring misaligned

    The US Federal Reserve Board of Governors, David.M.Byrne , and Professor of Economics, Dan Sichel, write that the slowdown in productivity is more confusing than people think.

    Byrne and Sichel explain the recent slowdown in productivity growth in developed economies by misusing the productivity of the digital economy.

    According to them, new innovations are developing much faster than what can be deduced from the official productivity gauge.

    “The ongoing benefits of innovation make the decline in productivity more confusing in the digital economy” (on-going gains in digital economy make the productivity slowdown even more puzzling).

    “At the same time, we believe that continuous technological development can be the basis for accelerating future productivity growth,” they write.

    According to two, the most difficult challenge to digitization is not to determine nominal, but real GDP. The impact of inflation has been removed from real GDP so it better reflects the development of the national economy.

    They point to research evidence that official measurement methods have shown high tech prices to slow down slowly.

    “But ever-expanding research material suggests that, in the ICT sector, prices actually fall far faster.”

    “In order to explain the slowdown in labor productivity growth, the volume of measurement errors in productivity growth should have increased or the number of wrong-sized sectors should have risen,” they write.

    “Measuring errors have a dramatic impact on how the productivity generated by a combination of factors is divided into different sectors and sectors.”

    “With such a growth in the industry, products and services can be produced more by the same amount of effort. If costs remain stable, product prices should fall over time.”


  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Millennials & Boomers Align Well In the Engineering Workplace
    With the right mix of staff members of all ages, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

    Recently, I wrote an article, “ Blending Generations ”, on how to create a culture where Millennials and Boomers “play nicely” in the sandbox. Now I’d like to share the results of a recent survey regarding what engineers and designers of different ages have learned from working with their older or younger peers. The results are good news for those willing to build the right culture in their team.

    According to the survey, 71% of the millennials valued the learning they acquired from working with their boomer peers.

    The survey also shows the positive impact of boomers working with millennials. Indeed, 63% indicated that their energy and enthusiasm was boosted by working with younger staff members. Having millennials as part of a team provides a shot of adrenaline.

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Finnish teachers do not like coding

    Finnish teachers’ attitudes to teaching digital skills are worse than in China. In particular, attitudes towards the teaching of coding skills are significantly more negative than China, it is clear from a new comparative study.

    The joint research project carried out by the University of Pori studied the differences between the attitudes of elementary school teachers to the teaching of future IT and working life skills between Finland and China, especially with regard to coding.

    There were hardly any differences in the programming skills of Finnish and Chinese teachers – in both countries teachers’ programming skills were on average fairly low. In addition, some of the teachers expressed the coding as being a completely strange area.

    “This is the challenge of the Finnish school system, which must be reacted quickly”, says Multisilta .

    According to the study, Chinese teachers are more positive about technology turnout and experienced IT skills to benefit students both in teaching and later in working life. In addition, the attitudes of Chinese teachers to teaching prospective students as part of primary school education are more positive than Finnish teachers.


  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Competing on Speed: Bringing Intelligence into the Customer Experience

    Combined, these trends are the basis for creating revolutionary products that learn what their customers want before they know themselves.

    Energize The Core: Focus on what matters
    Sustainable growth requires investment in core products to keep them relevant and refreshed, as well as in R&D to develop the next generation of products and services that will replace the core.

    Digital Services Supercycle: Generate predictable growth from platforms
    The digital economy is being built on platforms. The imperative is to keep pace with rapidly evolving platforms and to attract and empower a new generation of digital developers to build your products.

    AI Stimulus: Optimal is the new functional
    Artificial intelligence will soon be at the core of just about every product and service. The critical question leaders must ask is: “What is the problem we are trying to solve with AI?”

    Frictionless Design: Effortless and surprising experiences
    Friction is why customers change brands. Good design eliminates friction, opening possibilities for more natural interactions. Designing for security is critical for building trust and reducing friction.

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Is Design Innovation Slowing?

    The answer appears to be a resounding no, but innovation isn’t necessarily happening in the same places as in the past.

    “Integration used to be a driver for increasing the functionality of silicon,” Teich said. “Increasingly, it will be used to incorporate more features of an entire system on top of the hardware system.”

    Teich talked about IP becoming complicated. He explained that the processes needed to produce optimal memory, or radio, or logic are becoming different enough that we are moving from system on chip (SoC) to system in package (SiP). “For SoCs, where you are integrating everything on the same die, access to IP is important. For SiPs what is important are partnerships and packaging technology. What we are seeing is a lot of innovation on the packaging front and a lot of folks trying partnerships so they have access to somebody else’s state-of-the-art known good die. Trying to integrate everything onto one die every time you turn the crank doing a system design is a losing proposition in terms of design engineering resources.”

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Startup Campus Beckons Int’l Inventors
    Inside look at world’s largest incubator Station F

    From Shenzhen to New York and Silicon Valley, technology incubators are popping up, providing affordable space for dreamers and entrepreneurs to build and nurture startups.

    Among these nurseries, Station F — which opened in Paris earlier this month as the world’s largest startup campus — might be the epitome, in terms of size, amenities, perks, and a built-in ecosystem compatible with innovation.

    A brainchild of French billionaire Xavier Niel, Station F, converted from an abandoned train depot, is designed to house 1,000 startups. The re-architected building, about 34,000 square meters, maintains the original concrete structure, offering an airy, modern, and open work space.

    But what makes this place unique is the entrepreneurs — both French and non-French — in residence. They come from diverse backgrounds, bringing their ideas and startups focused on a variety of technology/business disciplines aimed at different market segments.

    A desk at Station F costs 195 euros a month (comparable to the rent for a garage in Sunnyvale in 1970). Entrepreneurs, however, move in not for cheap office space but for Station F’s prestige. The joint is selective. To get a coveted full-time desk space, applicants with early-stage startups must be vetted by Station F’s highly choosy and technology-savvy selection board.

    Station F is still in its first month, with 500 startups already installed. Another 500 applicants are scheduled to fill all the openings by year’s end.

    Crème de la crème
    Those who work under Station F’s Founders Program know that they are the select few (200) among 2,300 startups who applied.

    “We have no idea how they selected us, but we know Station F’s selection board has been looking for diversities in technologies, industry/market segments, and various business development phased [that] each startup is in.”

    Entrepreneurs help other entrepreneurs
    One of the Station F’s oft-quoted mantras is that “90% of entrepreneurs’ problems are solved by other entrepreneurs.”

    The incubator strongly believes that founders need to be surrounded by people who have battled the same problems.

    Although not installed yet, Station F will also have a makers’ space. Sponsored by Leroy Merlin, a French home improvement retailer, Station F members will have access to 3D printers, laser cutters, and other workshops, making it easier to prototype products.

    VCs on site
    There are several VCs on-site at Station F. They include Daphni, an early-to-late-stage VC fund; Ventech, a VC fund investing in Europe and China; and Kima Ventures, which calls itself “the most active business angel in the world.” Niel is one of the founders who launched Kima Ventures.

    Does this mean easier access to money?

    Not necessarily, said Toledano. “But it’s helpful to have someone to bounce our ideas off of.” Pistre said that having VCs “only a hundred meters away from my desk makes the process of meeting VCs a lot easier.

    Social responsibilities
    It’s rare to hear anyone in the U.S. mention the social responsibilities of incubators or accelerators. After all, startups are a tough business and everyone has to fight for survival.

    But Station F rolled out at its inauguration at the end of June what it calls the “Fighters Program,” whose mission is to make entrepreneurship more accessible to people from underprivileged backgrounds.

    Unexpected surprises at Station F?
    While Station F offers space for meeting rooms created from modified shipping containers, it expects most activity to happen in open space. Each entrepreneur’s desk is installed in an open office floor with no walls.

    Toledano said, “Everything at Station F is designed and driven by mobility culture.” He and his partner were used to working on desktop PCs, but that wouldn’t be convenient in the open office floor, he explained. “That’s something we’ve needed to adjust to. We had to change the state of our minds.”

    You can have a brainstorm meeting with your colleague in a shipping container furnished with bean bags or meet with your potential clients and partners in a meeting room with a table and chair.

    A desk — for which an entrepreneur pays 195 euros per month — is placed in an open office floor plan.

    Nobody wants to get stuck behind his desk all the time. Station F offers a brightly colored creativity room.

    Station F is divided into three zones: Share zone, Create zone, and Chill zone. Share zone is where meetings and events take place. Makers’ space is to be added here soon.

    Create zone is where entrepreneurs’ desks are placed, while Chill zone is where restaurants are expected to open later this year.

    The grand plan is to put everything that entrepreneurs need under one roof at Station F. That includes a post office.

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Will We Know the Next Big Thing Before It Arrives?

    Few can predict the next big thing that will transform lives. We’ve already had radio, television, phone, and now cellphones. What’s next and will you see it coming?

    There’s almost nothing written about more than how our lives will change by coming technological shifts. Endless opinions express that the time is right for products to completely alter our world and that we ought to prepare for them before we get left behind.

    Technologies such as electric vehicles (EVs) and autonomous vehicles are in vogue and getting this treatment. Autonomous cars are near or far away, depending on who you ask. The “Uber” market, which allows smartphone access for ride/taxi service as the first leg of all services, is changing lives. Then there’s the much-hyped Internet of Things (IoT), which promises incredible growth for machine-to-machine (M2M) data gathering and execution.

    Technology revolutions +
    How do you keep up with just these technology revolutions, not to mention many others as well? If you’re charged in your company with making investments for future products, which ones do you believe in and to what degree are you willing to spend resources (expenses)? These thoughts are at the forefront of every manager and engineering executive as they allocate resources.

    Is there a good answer to the question? There is, but unfortunately, it will only be clear in hindsight. Each of us can list many reasons why a change is coming and how it is inevitable. But is it really possible to define ahead of time what the next “big thing” is?

    Normal advances in technology are certainly almost-daily planning exercises: semiconductor line widths will shrink, processing power will jump, chip sizes will get smaller, and data communications speeds will grow. These are plannable because they are typically current methods, though sometimes new technologies are needed to make them happen (think 5G). They assume that better technology will gradually improve performance.

    Arguably unplannable
    Does this mean that these plans should be abandoned? Not at all. Normal business plans continue an existing business

    The task of finding the next big thing goes to an investing group, either in-house or a related venture arm that isn’t burdened with the present business. They are free to use their investing skills with ample backgrounds in technology, business, and finance. A pseudo- or real-venture capital group looking for that special thing that can be bought at an early stage or at least give insight to new markets through an investment in this new thing.

    Will it work?
    It will spend resources, it will give more of a view different from the internal thinking, and it will satisfy management and the Board of Directors. It is necessary, but not sufficient. Is there a better way? No one has found the answer as yet.

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Analysis vs. Analytics: Past vs. Future

    What’s the difference between analysis and analytics? One looks at the past while the other tries to predict the future.

    The distinction between analysis and analytics is often blurred and more often misunderstood. Indeed, engineers may think that analytics is for marketers, while engineers do analysis. While there’s some truth to that, engineers can perform analytics that can help with manufacturing and reliability.

    With the continuing shift toward the collection of massive amounts of data and more powerful tools to extract hidden insights, it can be worthwhile to revisit the definitive and separate contributions of “analysis” versus “analytics.” As we look ahead toward new advanced analytical capabilities, such as predictive and prescriptive analytics, solidifying these fundamental terms can be a good starting point in understanding what is possible.

    Data analysis: What happened?

    Data analytics: Why did it happen and what will happen next?

    Advanced analytics: How do we fix it?

    What about individual product quality?
    Analytics are now at a juncture where the questions being asked were not previously considered because there wasn’t the prospect of finding an answer. Big-data analytics are now able to examine enormous data sets, detect hidden patterns, and identify “needle-in-the-haystack” correlations that can provide an unprecedented knowledge base that gives answers to previously unanswerable questions.

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How many MIT grads does it take to hook up a light bulb?

    like stuff like this since so many of my pals went to MIT, including Professors Lee and Lundberg, not to mention half of the folks at Analog Devices. My mentor Bob Pease also went to MIT. Rob noted that our first instinct when faced with a problem should be to get more information. He pointed out, “I had a couple of questions I would have returned with. What is the battery voltage and current sourcing capability? What are the operational characteristics of the bulb, including voltage and current? The “a wire” thing had me concerned as well. Why not two wires? But seriously, MIT grads can’t work this out?”

    However, even at a distance, most of us could see what appeared to be 115V bulbs and a 1.5V battery, except for the last example, which had an appropriate bulb. Again, the film only showed students who didn’t succeed, with one exception.

    “I remember something from one of Robert Heinlein’s novels, ‘The Lives of Lazarus Long.’ The quote is, ‘A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.’” I guess we could add “Wire a light bulb” to that list.

    An un-degreed mechanical engineer buddy who prefers to remain anonymous summed things pretty well. He explained, “Yeah, I have seen this over the years in my working life. I see mechanical engineers that are otherwise quite sharp, but act shocked upon finding out a round end mill can’t make a square-cornered pocket. I show them a lovely 3D animation of the tool cutting in a computer simulation. They exclaim, ‘Oh, I see, got it, no problem!’ Then the next week, I get a solid model with radii on the bottom edges of a pocket, while still leaving the vertical ones sharp. Sigh. Then again, I might come off looking just as bad if one of those grads quizzed me about doing a bubble sort or what matrix algebra is.”

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Women in Tech: Profiles in Persistence
    Making visible the invisible women in tech

    EE Times will shine a spotlight on “women in tech” in our special edition, illustrating the technical achievements, leadership and integrity demonstrated by female engineers and scientists.

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Michal Lev-Ram / Fortune:
    John Deere announces it has agreed to buy Silicon Valley startup Blue River, which develops agriculture tech that relies on machine learning, for $305M

    John Deere Is Paying $305 Million for This Silicon Valley Company

    John Deere has long been known for its iconic green tractors, combines, balers, and other farming equipment. But in recent years, the Illinois-based agriculture giant has pushed into new, more high-tech and software-based businesses.

    Late Wednesday, the company announced a bold step in that direction: It is shelling out $305 million for Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Blue River Technology, a developer of crop-spraying equipment that relies on machine learning.

    “We’ve been working together for about a year and a half, just to make sure that our strategies aligned,” John May, president of agricultural solutions and CIO at Deere, told Fortune.

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How many MIT grads does it take to hook up a light bulb?

    Home> Community > Blogs > PowerSource
    How many MIT grads does it take to hook up a light bulb?
    Paul Rako -August 30, 2017

    Save Follow
    My friend Rob sent out a funny video showing how MIT grads can’t hook up a flashlight:

    I like stuff like this since so many of my pals went to MIT, including Professors Lee and Lundberg, not to mention half of the folks at Analog Devices. My mentor Bob Pease also went to MIT. Rob noted that our first instinct when faced with a problem should be to get more information. He pointed out, “I had a couple of questions I would have returned with. What is the battery voltage and current sourcing capability? What are the operational characteristics of the bulb, including voltage and current? The “a wire” thing had me concerned as well. Why not two wires? But seriously, MIT grads can’t work this out?”

    Audio guru Stephen Williams wrote back, “To give an honest opinion I need more info on why the video was made. Seems like it was made to ‘prove’ a presupposed point. That is, its propaganda. Yes, an engineering graduate should have some rudimentary grasp of 3rd-grade science.

  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Future is (Almost) Here; Are We Ready?
    Posted Sep 12, 2017 at 2:03 am
    What does the future hold? What technological wonders might we be experiencing in the next 5, 10, 20, and 50 years?

  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Can An Individual Still Resist The Spread of Technology?

    When cellphones first appeared, they gave people one more means of communication, which they could accept or reject. But before long, most of us began to feel naked and panicky anytime we left home without one. To do without a cellphone — and soon, if not already, a smartphone — means estranging oneself from normal society. We went from “you can have a portable communication device” to “you must have a portable communication device” practically overnight… Today most people are expected to be instantly reachable at all times. These devices have gone from servants to masters…

    The column argues “the iPhone X proves the Unabomber was right,” citing this passage from the 1996 manifesto of the anti-technology terrorist. “Once a technical innovation has been introduced, people usually become dependent on it, so that they can never again do without it, unless it is replaced by some still more advanced innovation. Not only do people become dependent as individuals on a new item of technology, but, even more, the system as a whole becomes dependent on it.”

    Column: The iPhone X proves the Unabomber was right

    Ted Kaczynski’s campaign to kill and maim chosen victims with explosives was horrific in the extreme and beyond forgiveness. But his 35,000-word manifesto, published in 1995, provided a glimpse of the future we inhabit, and his foresight is a bit unsettling.

    “The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race,” it begins. Among the ills he attributes to advances in technology are that they promise to improve our lives but end up imposing burdens we would not have chosen.

    He cites the automobile, which offered every person the freedom to travel farther and faster than before. But as cars became more numerous, they became a necessity, requiring great expense, bigger roads and more regulations. Cities were designed for the convenience of drivers, not pedestrians. For most people, driving is no longer optional.

    Smartphones have followed the same pattern.

    To do without a cellphone — and soon, if not already, a smartphone — means estranging oneself from normal society. We went from “you can have a portable communication device” to “you must have a portable communication device” practically overnight.

  35. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Interest Is Growing, But STEM Is Nothing New for Girl Scouts

    New badges and journeys are created to increase girls’ interest and enthusiasm in a male-dominated field.

    If you have never been in Girl Scouts of the USA, you may think the Scouts work on badges like cooking and sewing, or other gender-stereotyped activities. However, the Girl Scouts recently added some new badges and journeys that are expanding its STEM program. That’s right, not starting a STEM program, but expanding. Machine Design recently spoke with Hannah Gilbert, the STEM Program Coordinator of the Girls Scouts River Valleys in Minnesota

  36. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Home> Community > Blogs > Rowe’s and Columns
    Speak up, your job depends on it–your-job-depends-on-it

    “You have no voice unless you bet your job,” said Scott McMorrow, CTO of Samtec’s Signal Integrity Group at his plenary address at EDICON 2017. His point: Engineers often know the truth about how well (or not-so-well) a product works, but don’t often speak up because they want peace and tranquility. “Engineers are introverted,” said McMorrow, “sales and marketing people are extroverted, they love power.” Thus, products with significant problems often to go market too early.

    Always one to speak his mind — and often with profanity, as he told the audience — McMorrow urged engineers to be disruptive, which is often difficult in billion-dollar corporations because they are so PR conscious and they are concerned about the current quarter. So, they don’t innovate the way startups and small companies do. “Billion-dollar companies are where innovation goes to die,” he said, “they think inside the box.”

    “Coke hasn’t innovated since the original product, which was disruptive,” he said. “Companies get large and become boring.”

    Billion-dollar companies are where innovation goes to die. — Scott McMorrow

    “HP was once disruptive too,” he added. “Today, it’s just another corporation.” I’ll attest to that, for HP today just makes “me too” products (I own a few). He did cite innovations such as the Internet, the PC, the iPhone, Tesla, and Uber. The IBM PC was developed outside the IBM chain of command. After hearing about the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, I might argue that the iPhone too has entered the incremental stage and is no longer disruptive.

    “We are all temporary employees,” McMorrow continued, “you’re just one layoff away from losing your job.” I’ll attest to that, too, having seen many competent people lose their jobs, both in industry and in publishing. People used to believe that they could work for one company for their entire careers, but not anymore.

  37. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Nellie Bowles / New York Times:
    Backlash against the push for gender equality in tech grows among some men who see it as “a witch hunt” — After revelations of harassment and bias in Silicon Valley, a backlash is growing against the women in tech movement. “It’s a witch hunt,” they say.

    Push for Gender Equality in Tech? Some Men Say It’s Gone Too Far

    After revelations of harassment and bias in Silicon Valley,
    a backlash is growing against the women in tech movement.

    Their complaints flow on Reddit forums, on video game message boards, on private Facebook pages and across Twitter. They argue for everything from male separatism to an end to gender diversity efforts.

    Silicon Valley has for years accommodated a fringe element of men who say women are ruining the tech world.

    Now, as the nation’s technology capital — long identified as one of the more hostile work environments for women — reels from a series of high-profile sexual harassment and discrimination scandals, these conversations are gaining broader traction.

  38. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The skills needed in working life over the next ten years

    Technology use 89%
    The ability to adapt to change 78%
    Continuous development of your professional skills 75%
    Ability to work in different cultures 74%
    Ability to market your own skills 73%
    Creative thinking and want to seek new solutions 72%
    Expertise 62%
    Self-guidance 59%
    Teamwork skills 55%
    Relationships 53%
    Pressure resistance 5 2%
    Requirement of Continuous Accessibility 48%
    Long-term / good concentration 38%
    Physical condition 2 3%
    Handicrafts 19%


  39. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Chicago School Official: US IT Jobs Offshored Because ‘We Weren’t Making Our Own’ Coders

    “People still talk about it’s all offshored, it’s all in India and you know, there are some things that are there but they don’t even realize some of the reasons that they went there in the first place is because we weren’t making our own.”

    [Trailer] CS4All: Integrating Equity, Empowerment, and Opportunities

  40. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Why don’t European girls like science or technology?

    “They say science is quite hard. But I say if you put your mind to it, it’s quite easy.”

    Like most young women her age, she loves these subjects, which is great for her future career – companies are embracing technology to bring their working practices into the 21st century, and they need digitally-skilled staff to help them with that.

    However, ground-breaking research by Microsoft has revealed that most girls’ positive views may change within just a few years.

    More than half (57%) of the young European women that Microsoft surveyed said that having a teacher who encouraged them to pursue STEM would make it more likely for them to follow that career path.

    As one 11-year-old from France put it: “A good teacher gives life to the subject.”

  41. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tony Romm / Recode:
    Trump unveils STEM and coding education push, with $200M grant target from Department of Education and support from tech firms

    Alayna Treene / Axios:
    Internet Association says Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce each contributed $50M to Trump’s education initiative focused on STEM and coding — The Internet Association announced Tuesday that its member companies, including Google, Facebook and Amazon …

  42. Tomi Engdahl says:

    MoD brainbox repo opens up IP treasure chest for world+dog
    Easy Access to some small-but-snazzy UK military ideas

    British military boffins are letting world+dog use bright ideas they devised for, among other things, compact antennas, military bouncy castles and a dog-training programme.

    The Defence and Science Technology Laboratory holds the Ministry of Defence’s IP portfolio. The agency announced earlier this week that it is extending its “easy access IP portfolio”.

    This includes radio antenna tech, biomedical innovations, armour and even a “system for training sniffer dogs while avoiding trainer-induced bias,” all being made available under the Easy Access IP scheme, as detailed on the DSTL website.

  43. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Alex Webb / Bloomberg:
    Apple has quietly built a global network of small research and development labs that doubles as an employee poaching operation — Apple has opened offices close to companies with top expertise — In recent years, Apple Inc. has quietly put together a global network of small research and development labs …

    Apple’s Global Web of R&D Labs Doubles as Poaching Operation
    Apple has opened offices close to companies with top expertise

    In recent years, Apple Inc. has quietly put together a global network of small research and development labs, from the French Alps to New Zealand.

    Nothing unusual about that for a company that spends $11 billion a year on R&D. Look a little closer, however, and you’ll notice that many of these labs are located near companies with a strong record in mapping, augmented reality and other areas Apple is pushing into. In several cases, these companies lost employees to Apple not long after the iPhone maker came to town. Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment.

  44. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Jemima Kiss / The Guardian:
    Interview with Sundar Pichai on his early life in India, the pace of technological change, Google’s tax issues, taking down terrorist content, and diversity

    Weekend magazine technology special
    Google CEO Sundar Pichai: ‘I don’t know whether humans want change that fast’

    From artificial intelligence to cheap smartphones, Google is on the frontline of technological development. But is it growing too big and moving too fast? A rare interview with Google’s boss

  45. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Dear Silicon Valley: America’s fallen out of love with you

    In case you haven’t noticed, though, you’ve changed from hero to villain. You’re too expensive and exclusive for the rest of the world: The garages that gave us Hewlett-Packard and Google now cost millions of dollars. You’ve moved from icon to joke — the show that bears your name is a cringe-worthy, true-to-life satire.

    You’re churning out companies that are raising hundreds of millions of dollars, and going bankrupt in literal satires of themselves: a $700 million blood-testing company that never had any actual results; a $120 million juicer with packets that can actually be squeezed by hand.

  46. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Where Does IBM Research Get Ideas? Open Mikes and Interns

    “We’re still doing a lot of basic research,” it’s not just development. That’s what Jeff Welser, lab director of IBM Research-Almaden told me on a recent visit.

    Given that IBM’s Watson technology was initially a system designed to play the TV game show Jeopardy, but is now a general-purpose machine learning system thought to be the fastest-growing part of IBM’s business, it’s not surprising that the company is hoping another wild seed will bear profitable fruit. But where do these seeds come from?

    Welser told me that research projects often originate from open mike sessions, held once a year. These are serious events and, at the same time, entertainment along the lines of Shark Tank meets American Idol.

  47. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Steve Lohr / New York Times:
    New office designs coming to companies like Microsoft include “isolation rooms”, soundproof phone booths, and even lounges where technology is forbidden

    Don’t Get Too Comfortable at That Desk

    First there were individual offices. Then cubicles and open floor plans. Now, there is a “palette of places.”

    New office designs are coming to a workplace near you, with layouts meant to cater to the variety of tasks required of modern white-collar workers. Put another way, it means people don’t sit in just one place.

    It’s partly a backlash against the one-size-fits-all mind-set, not to mention the corporate penny-pinching, embodied in the move toward pure open floor plans that packed more workers into less and less space. That idea was supposed to drive collaboration, but many experts agree it often went too far, with row upon row of desks and workbench-style seating more likely to generate ennui than efficiency.

    “When used as a generic answer for work space design, it’s terrible,” said David Lathrop, a researcher at Steelcase, a big office furniture maker.

    The new model is largely open, but not entirely. Under the revised thinking, breaking down walls to bring people together is good, but so are “team spaces” and standing tables, comfortable couches and movable walls.

    Privacy is also good, particularly for tasks that require intense concentration, the thinking goes. That doesn’t mean a return to the glory days of private offices, but it does mean workers have more space and more places to seek solitude than in the neo-Dickensian workbench settings. The new designs often include “isolation rooms,” soundproof phone booths, and even lounges where technology is forbidden.

  48. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Steven Levy / Wired:
    Tim O’Reilly talks about his new book, WTF: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us, and how tech is a positive force despite current issues

    Algorithms Have Already Gone Rogue

    For more than two decades, Tim O’Reilly has been the conscience of the tech industry. Originally a publisher of technical manuals, he was among the first to perceive both the societal and commercial value of the internet—and as he transformed his business, he drew upon his education in the classics to apply a moral yardstick to what was happening in tech. He has been a champion of open-source, open-government, and, well, just about everything else that begins with “open.”

    His new book WTF: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us seizes on this singular moment in history, in which just about everything makes us say “WTF?”, invoking a word that isn’t “future.” Ever the optimist, O’Reilly celebrates technology’s ability to create magic—but he doesn’t shirk from its dangerous consequences.

    Not that rolling it back is an option.

    For example, because of GPS and mapping apps, Uber and Lyft drivers don’t need a lot of training.

    Agreed. But when the curtain rolls back we see that those superpowers have consequences: Those algorithms have bias built in.

    That’s absolutely right. But I’m optimistic because we’re having a conversation about biased algorithms. We had plenty of bias before but we couldn’t see it.

    How do you roll back that particular AI?

    I try to show [earlier cases of] how humans tried to manage their algorithms, by talking about [how Google improved] search quality. Google had some pretty bad patches where the spammers really had the upper hand, and they addressed it.

    And that can be done to fix capitalism’s rogue AI?

    Somebody planted the idea that shareholder value was the right algorithm, the right thing to be optimizing for. But this wasn’t the way companies acted before. We can plant a different idea. That’s what this political process is about.

    Let’s finish by talking about AI. You seem a firm believer that it will be a boon.

    AI itself will certainly not take away jobs. I recently saw a wonderful slide from Joanna Bryson, a professor from the University of Bath. It referred to human prehistory and the text said, “12 thousand years of AI,” because everything in technology is artificial intelligence. What we now call AI is just the next stage of us weaving our intelligence together into a greater whole. If you think about the internet as weaving all of us together, transmitting ideas, in some sense an AI might be the equivalent of a multi-cellular being and we’re its microbiome, as opposed to the idea that an AI will be like the golem or the Frankenstein.

  49. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Paul Lewis / The Guardian:
    Former Facebook, Google, Twitter employees on how they fear the unintended and negative consequences of the attention economy-driven tech they helped develop — Paul Lewis reports on the Silicon Valley refuseniks who worry the race for human attention has created a world of perpetual distraction that could ultimately end in disaster

    Weekend magazine technology special
    ‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia

    Google, Twitter and Facebook workers who helped make technology so addictive are disconnecting themselves from the internet. Paul Lewis reports on the Silicon Valley refuseniks alarmed by a race for human attention

    It is very common for humans to develop things with the best of intentions that have unintended, negative consequences
    Justin Rosenstein, creator of the ‘like’ button

  50. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Leti Service Pins European IC Innovation to Emulator Access

    WEISBADEN, Germany — European technology development has always been a strong factor in the economies of the region, where the ability to create high-margin goods is vital to competitiveness. In the area of IC and system-on-chip (SoC) design and development, cooperative innovation is driving European industry forward.

    One new avenue for cooperative development is an arrangement between CEA-Leti (Grenoble, France), the storied French research institute, and Mentor, a Siemens business, to let small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and startups access the Mentor Veloce emulator that was installed at Leti in 2013. Use of the high-capacity, high-speed, multi-application tool for emulation of SoC designs will enable regional organizations to develop complex digital circuits more efficiently by enabling early-stage design debug, along with upstream validation, according to Leti. Allowing startups to use such tools will foment advances by speeding the design cycle and proliferating emulation-based verification methodology among a wider population of developers.


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