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Beyond GPS: your phone in 2015

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Attention smartphone users: the recent launch of the first two satellites for Europe’s Galileo global navigation satellite system (GNSS) could make things a lot more interesting in about four years.

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Galileo global navigation satellite system (credit: ESA)

Galileo will deliver real-time positioning accuracy down to one meter range, compared to 10 meters for GPS, the European Space Agency (ESA) states, and it plans to give non-European users access.

Meanwhile, Apple’s new iPhone 4S has a chip that will be able to access Glonass (the Russian version of GPS), Engadget reports. Other manufacturers, including Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics and Texas Instruments, will also support Glonass — and Galileo as soon as it is operational — with new chipsets and software able to receive and integrate all three main GNSS systems.

And just to make it more interesting, China is developing of its own GPS equivalent, named Compass.

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Family Pioneers Genome Research

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What's the Latest Development?

A family of four in California is aiding genetic research by sequencing the genomes of each family member. Father and daughter John and Anne West were sequencing their own genomes from the family's home in Silicon Valley when a team of researchers from Stanford became interested in their project. "By examining the entire family's genome, the researchers were able to better investigate 'the interaction among genes and the development of disease,' said Frederick Dewey, the lead author of the new paper."

What's the Big Idea?

Researching the West family is part of the scientists' quest to extract truly useful information from the genome, a person's complete genetic code. To date, while prices for privately sequencing one's genome have fallen dramatically, crucial medical information gathered from the data has been slow to emerge. "For one thing, 'at this point, we are still not sure exactly what most genes predict about disease,' said Lynn Jorde of the University of Utah School of Medicine, a co-author of the earlier family paper."  

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Best Steve Jobs Quotes

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Our first family business was selling computers with a retail front in Farmington, CT. My father and I bought a franchise called MicroAge(like Computerland). PCs were considered the commerce king and Apple was considered to be the hobby machine or for kids.

It took two decades to upturn that myth…in a way no one expected.

Today, Mr. Jobs has played a leadership role not just at Apple, but for just about everyone who has contributed to or participated in today’s connected economy. It’s not that he was smarter or more clever than many others. What he is very good at is always to bring out the best in some really talented people.

Best wishes to you Mr. Jobs and your family. Here are some of the best quotes below.


On Technology

“It takes these very simple-minded instructions—‘Go fetch a number, add it to this number, put the result there, perceive if it’s greater than this other number’––but executes them at a rate of, let’s say, 1,000,000 per second. At 1,000,000 per second, the results appear to be magic.” [Playboy, Feb. 1, 1985]


“The problem is I’m older now, I’m 40 years old, and this stuff doesn’t change the world. It really doesn’t.

“I’m sorry, it’s true. Having children really changes your view on these things. We’re born, we live for a brief instant, and we die. It’s been happening for a long time. Technology is not changing it much — if at all.

“These technologies can make life easier, can let us touch people we might not otherwise. You may have a child with a birth defect and be able to get in touch with other parents and support groups, get medical information, the latest experimental drugs. These things can profoundly influence life. I’m not downplaying that.

“But it’s a disservice to constantly put things in this radical new light — that it’s going to change everything. Things don’t have to change the world to be important.” [Wired, February 1996]


“I think it’s brought the world a lot closer together, and will continue to do that. There are downsides to everything; there are unintended consequences to everything. The most corrosive piece of technology that I’ve ever seen is called television — but then, again, television, at its best, is magnificent.” [Rolling Stone, Dec. 3, 2003]

On Design

“We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.

When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.” [Playboy, Feb. 1, 1985]


“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works. The design of the Mac wasn’t what it looked like, although that was part of it. Primarily, it was how it worked. To design something really well, you have to get it. You have to really grok what it’s all about. It takes a passionate commitment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don’t take the time to do that.

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.

“Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have. [Wired, February 1996]


“For something this complicated, it’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” [BusinessWeek, May 25, 1998, in a profile that also included the following gem: "Steve clearly has done an incredible job," says former Apple Chief Financial Officer Joseph Graziano. "But the $64,000 question is: Will Apple ever resume growth?"]


“This is what customers pay us for–to sweat all these details so it’s easy and pleasant for them to use our computers. We’re supposed to be really good at this. That doesn’t mean we don’t listen to customers, but it’s hard for them to tell you what they want when they’ve never seen anything remotely like it. Take desktop video editing. I never got one request from someone who wanted to edit movies on his computer. Yet now that people see it, they say, ‘Oh my God, that’s great!’” [Fortune, January 24 2000]


“Look at the design of a lot of consumer products — they’re really complicated surfaces. We tried to make something much more holistic and simple. When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions. Most people just don’t put in the time or energy to get there. We believe that customers are smart, and want objects which are well thought through.” [MSNBC and Newsweek interview, Oct. 14, 2006]

On His Products

“I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard on something, but working on Macintosh was the neatest experience of my life. Almost everyone who worked on it will say that. None of us wanted to release it at the end. It was as though we knew that once it was out of our hands, it wouldn’t be ours anymore. When we finally presented it at the shareholders’ meeting, everyone in the auditorium gave it a five-minute ovation. What was incredible to me was that I could see the Mac team in the first few rows. It was as though none of us could believe we’d actually finished it. Everyone started crying.” [Playboy, Feb. 1, 1985]


“We made the buttons on the screen look so good you’ll want to lick them.” [On Mac OS X, Fortune, Jan. 24, 2000]


“It will go down in history as a turning point for the music industry. This is landmark stuff. I can’t overestimate it!” [On the iTunes Music Store, Fortune, May 12, 2003]

On Business

“You know, my main reaction to this money thing is that it’s humorous, all the attention to it, because it’s hardly the most insightful or valuable thing that’s happened to me.” [Playboy, Feb. 1, 1985]


“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.” [The Wall Street Journal, May 25, 1993]


“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” [Fortune, Nov. 9, 1998]


“The cure for Apple is not cost-cutting. The cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament.” [Apple Confidential: The Real Story of Apple Computer Inc., May 1999]

On System and Process

The system is that there is no system. That doesn’t mean we don’t have process. Apple is a very disciplined company, and we have great processes. But that’s not what it’s about. Process makes you more efficient.

“But innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.

“And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important. [BusinessWeek, Oct. 12, 2004]

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How P&G uses Innovation to underpin its marketing?

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P&G is certainly a marketing powerhouse. It just announced that it would raise its already record-setting global ad spending by another $700 million to total $9.3 billion by next summer. If ever there were a full-employment act for marketers, P&G would be its patron saint.

What's it got to tell the world that's so important?

Enter innovation. New products that address new needs, and old products that address old ones in new ways. P&G has been innovating since the early 20th century, like when its researchers set out to replace the flaky performance of laundry detergent and discovered synthetic surfactants. Named Tide, the company kept improving its formulation every year after introducing it in 1946, and invented a new social marketing medium -- "soap operas" on TV -- to promote it, wrapping its marketing with guilty-pleasure characters and weekly cliffhanger endings. The stuff was dumb. It made the Old Spice YouTube campaigns look like Kurosawa. Read more

Source: Advertising Age  By: Jonathan Salem Baskin

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Using Ink Jet Technology to "Print" Organs and Tissues

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Just recently, researches have successfully “printed” a living blood vessel using a fluid containing a brew of blood-vessel cells and muscle cells. This is an ingenious application of 3D printers — remarkable devices that can create three-dimensional objects by applying multiple layers of a liquid construction material.  

Printing organs and tissues may sound like science fiction. But, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) laboratory is using modified ink-jet technology to do just that. They have utilized inkjet printing technology to build heart, bone, and blood vessel tissues.

Living tissues are composed of multiple cell types arranged in a very specific order in three-dimensional space. Maintaining this structure is important to ensure that engineered tissue and organs have normal function. 

Inkjet printing technology offers a possible solution to this complex problem because it allows us to precisely arrange multiple cell types and other tissue components into pre-determined sites with high precision. Multiple cells types are placed in the wells of a sterilized ink cartridge and the printer is programmed to arrange these cells in a specific order. 

Printed blood vessels could have tremendous applications in surgery. For instance, a patient awaiting bypass surgery could have blood vessels printed in the days leading up to the procedure — with the vessels made from a small sampling of his or her own cells. The ultimate vision is to print complete organs — even new hearts — as an alternative to transplants. 

For military applications, WFIRM will develop an adapted ink-jet printer to provide on-site "printing" of skin for soldiers with life-threatening burns. Skin cells will be placed in the print cartridge, along with a material to support them, and will be printed directly on the wound. 

Source: Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM)

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Cool Innovation: Toyota's New Steering Wheel Knows If You're Having A Heart Attack

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Toyota to Integrate ECG Sensors Into Steering Wheels

Toyota ECG steering wheel Hypochondriacs, rejoice. Toyota is reportedly working on a steering wheel with an electrocardiogram (ECG) built in. In the future, your car will be able to tell you if you have arrhythmia--or even if you're having a heart attack.

With a built-in ECG, the new wheel could stop the cars of people under distress, and also serve as a mini-checkup every time you turn the keys.

Hypochondriacs, rejoice. Toyota is reportedly working on a steering wheel with an electrocardiogram (ECG) built in. In the future, your car will be able to tell you if you have arrhythmia--or even if you're having a heart attack.

The setup is simple: Contact sensors embedded in the steering wheel detect abnormal heart rhythms via the driver's hands. Toyota recently showed off a Prius outfitted with the steering wheel to a group of reporters at one of its Japan facilities, according to Medgadget. The ECG info was shown on the in-car navigation screen--meaning that one day, you could casually check your heart rate along with the weather and local news.

Toyota isn't the only automaker that wants to put health-related technology in its vehicles. Ford is also working on a car seat with a built-in heart rate monitor, which can measure the human heartbeat through clothing without any need for skin contact. more

Source: FastCompany

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MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGH: Human organ constructed and implanted

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Many patients don’t survive the waiting list for a donor organ.


Recently, medical community announced that a patient received a trachea (“windpipe”) that was created with the patient’s own stem cells. (Stem cells are a versatile type of cell that can transform into many types of cells.

The trachea was constructed with an artificial “skeleton” of a spongy material which was then immersed in a solution of stem cells. The cells grew into the sponge material, creating a living organ in less than two weeks. The resulting trachea was then implanted into the patient (who was suffering from tracheal cancer). The patient’s body accepted new-formed organ as if it was the original trachea.

In theory, the same process could be used to create other, more complex organs: glands, liver, lungs, heart, etc.  

This is lot like when the NASA space program started in 1960s with small experiments of unmanned flights. We are very early in the stages of ‘manufacturing human organs’ as an industry. But based on this breakthrough, it is very likely within next 25 years, that our children easily will have access to such constructed organs as easy as knee surgery today.

For more information and additional photos, take a look at a recent article at CNN

Source: CNN

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Old Clothing Glued Together, To Form Mega-Stylish Chairs

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And they’re actually sturdy!

Far too many people toss their outdated clothes or, worse, send them to Salvation Army assuming, wrongly, that someone else wants to snatch up a pair of 1987 Z. Cavariccis. Tobias Juretzek ain't one of them. He takes his old shirts, jeans, and other garments and turns them into something actually useful: furniture.

Juretzek, a German designer, throws together disused clothes to create stylish little chairs that could almost pass for something you'd find around the dining-room table, if not for the occasional exposed zipper (ouch!).

Source:  Fast Co.Design

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Facebook announces video calling, powered by Skype

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Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg today announced video calling, powered by Skype for its 750 million plus users. The video functionality has been built it right into Facebook Chat, so all your conversations start from the same place. To call your friend, just click the video call button at the top of your chat window (though there is a one-time setup you will have to go through first).

Facebook has just announced a major new feature that it’s launching in tandem with Skype: video calling.

It’s a feature that’s been rumored for quite a while, and it’s one that Facebook is putting a lot of weight behind. Now, whenever you browse to a friend’s profile, you’ll see a new button nestled between the ‘Message’ and ‘Poke’ buttons that says ‘Call’. Click that, the other user will see a popup asking if they want to accept a call, and you’ll be immediately connected (you’ll need to install a small plugin the first time you use the service).

Facebook Video calling

Facebook Video calling

You’ll also see video calling integrated into Facebook’s Chat product. Really, you can’t miss it — Facebook is launching a new chat sidebar today that’s hard to miss (by default it takes the entire right side of the screen), and the first time you click on any user you’ll see a prompt asking if you’d like to make your first video call.

Source: Facebook, ZDNet

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Bionic glasses for poor vision - Artificial sight

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Interactive bionic vision

Computer aided visual prosthetics hope to restore vision in blind and poorly sighted individuals.

It has recently become possible to improve or restore sight for some people who are visually impaired or blind.

One technique is for surgeons to implant a tiny electrical chip into the eye to provide a stronger signal into the retinal cells. We're developing another technique that uses computer vision to simplify the visual scene so as to improve the ability of visually impaired people to recognise things around them.

Artificial Sight

This exhibit has interactive simulations that allow visitors to experience what the world looks like through each of these techniques and to explore the hardware that make up the next generation of visual prosthetics.

Here’s an interview with Dr Stephen Hicks from the University of Oxford about his exhibit Artificial sight: Interactive bionic vision.

 Source: The Royal Society

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