TTI/Vanguard: Webinar tomorrow and much more!

We’ll be looking at energy, security, healthcare, communication, and other ways that The Game Has Changed—please register for the September meeting if you have not yet. Don't forget to also register for the virtual field trip to Stanley Black & Decker, Wednesday, Aug 19, 1:00–3:30 pm EDT, where we get an inside view at—yes—tools, but also the firm's business incubation, venture, internal innovation, and cybersecurity activities. Mark Maybury (Washington, D.C., Sep/Oct 2014) will be our host.

Speaking of changes - our Santa Monica office has closed after 25 years in California. Claudia, Joy, Lisa and Robin will continue to work from home. We’ll miss seeing each other every day - but we sure won’t miss the LA traffic.

And speaking of cities, we are busy evaluating venues for next year. And we’ve been considering a few options: one option is to host 2 conferences in Washington, DC and 2 conferences in the Bay Area, CA. Those are the two places where the majority of our clients reside and we’d like to remove as many barriers to attendance as possible. Another option is to travel to warm states where we have the likelihood of more outdoor events. And, of course, we’ll always have the livestream and video archive for any members who cannot or does not wish to travel. Have an opinion? Take our survey.

Moderna intends to charge 32USD to 37USD per dose for the eventual COVID-19 vaccine. The CEO notes this is “well below value” (which is true—the value of ending this global pandemic is … priceless). However, since the company received nearly $1 billion in government funding to develop the vaccine, how about they pay taxpayers back and then start charging us their “well below value” prices?

Here’s a rundown on the various vaccines in the works to combat COVID-19. (Dominic Suciu, Seattle, Mar 2019; Alicia Jackson, San Francisco, Dec 2015; Erica Ollmann Saphire, San Diego, Feb 2015)

Covid-19 is not the only healthcare problem to be solved. Early detection often dramatically improves the outcome of cancer patients. So we are rooting for a cancer-detecting non-invasive blood test which could eventually become part of routine medical exams.
Ericsson and Deutsche Telekom are pairing up to deploy 5G cellular across Germany  (Dipankar Raychaudhuri, Berkeley, Mar 2019). In the meantime, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project has put forth Release 16, which expands 5G beyond the cellular domain to also allow for a range of new services, including connected robots, factories, cars, and much more. As the article articulates, “When developing 5G standards, researchers and engineers saw no reason that wireless cellular couldn’t also be used to connect anything wireless.”

Perovskite (CaTiO3)-based solar cells not only generate electricity more efficiently than those rooted in silicon, but their fabrication also has a lower carbon footprint. According to Cornell researchers, an all-perovskite tandem solar cell wafer offers an energy payback on investment in just four months, plus they are more readily recycled at end of life. (Paul Anastas, St. Louis, Sep 2008)

A new memristor-based annealing system out of HP Labs uses an energy-efficient Hopfield neuromorphic architecture to solve combinatorial optimization problems quickly. (Stan Williams, Phoenix, 2008; Jennifer Hasler, Boston, Apr 2017)

Nature has created a finite set of 20 amino acids directly encoded in triplet codons in DNA. In a novel combination of “synthetic chemistry, synthetic biology, and metabolic engineering,” Rice University researchers have expanded the genetic code by engineering E. coli to code for a 21st, noncanonical amino acid, 5-hydroxyl-tryptophan, which is incorporated into a protein that fluoresces when the bacterium experiences metabolic stress. (Alicia Jackson, San Francisco, Dec 2015)

The history of emotional-support robots is replete with stories of assisting the elderly. But hospitalized children can benefit, too, especially now that they receive few human visitors. (Rodolphe Gelin, Brooklyn, Jul 2016)

People tend to spend their online time in self-selected information bubbles (Judith Estrin,Berkeley, Mar 2019; Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia, Boston, Apr 2017). Research from the University of Illinois shows that political journalists are no exception. Based on their Twitter use, such folks segregate into bubbles and therefore limit their breadth and perspective. This is a good reminder that we should all work to minimize our echo chambers and maximize our exposure to divergent viewpoints.

Do you agree with the title of this article—”Remote work isn’t working? Maybe your company is doing it wrong”? We frankly like remote working but are always keen to learn more. Fortunately, included are tips for scheduling work activities, evaluating employees, and retaining a sense of organizational community.

It’s back-to-school time—if, that is, you (or your family or friends) are choosing to send the kiddos back to in-person school. If so, the local school district might benefit from guidance from MIT spinout Dynamic Routing Ideas, which is applying queueing theory—Len Kleinrock’s forte (Los Angeles, Mar 2018)—to busing children to/from school given the new constraints of the COVID era.

For many families, remote work is about to collide (again) with remote learning. We are excited to see what researchers learn from what is essentially the world’s largest experiment in distance education.

Still, if an earthquake hits while a school bus is making its rounds (or any other time), a nascent Google service will leverage its vast installed base of Android phones (and their accelerometers) to detect earthquakes in real time (Alexandre Bayen, Los Angeles, Mar 2018; Deborah Estrin, Jersey City, Octc 2009). To be part of this distributed early-warning system (Masumi Yamada, Paris, Jul 2011), users will have to opt in, and each phone will only monitor shaking while plugged in and not in use. Initial rollout will be limited to California, with notifications coordinated through the ShakeAlert app.

Researchers at Growth Lab at Harvard’s Kennedy School’s Center for International Development have been studying the economic and knowledge transfer effects of the pandemic-induced pause in business travel, particularly international business travel. Their conclusion is anything but rosy. TTI/Vanguard wants to do its part to revitalize intellectual cross-pollination by convening in person once it is safe to do so.

Early in the pandemic, the outlook for tech startups was grim. This New York Times article reports that the dire projections were overstated in many sectors. In the weeks and months ahead, through our online conferences, virtual field trips, and dedicated forums, TTI/V will be bringing exciting startups to your attention.

“One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.”— Elbert Hubbard