Microsoft releases awful viral product video, but has solid vision of augmenting creativity

January 14 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Culture   Year: 2016   Rating: 2

Bloggers agree that this might be the worst viral software product video ever to hit the web. But maybe that was Microsoft's plan - generate buzz with cheesy singing and acting to feature its new song-writing software program Song Smith

Augmenting Creativity

Microsoft is using its Research and Live Labs divisions to extend the applications of software beyond business environments.  Song Smith is not the end game.  It is the beginning of a new age of software that augments real-time creativity using complex algorithms and databases of things like sound, rhythm, color, texture, design, et al. Microsoft has also released Kodu a software program that teaches children how to visually program new games.

Forget about Microsoft's future operating systems.  What is their vision of software for learning and creativity as we enter a Post PC era of touch and voice interfaces, plus networked objects with sensors and microcontrollers?

Microsoft's founding vision was 'a PC on every desk'. 

Is their new vision 'software (or algorithms) driving every creative act'?

Shorter 'Coffee' shop version - Below
Song Smith on YouTube

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California moves forward on 'green infrastructure', invites startup Better Place to build out electric car fueling network

November 21 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Transportation   Year: 2016   Rating: 4

On November 20th California took a major step towards building out the state’s “green” infrastructure to support the electrification of the auto fleet towards vehicles powered by batteries, fuel cells and capacitors. State and local leaders gathered in San Francisco to announce a new public partnership with ‘mobility operator’ Better Place.

Better Place has big plans for California and has estimated that the network investment in the Bay Area alone will total $1 billion when the system is fully deployed.

We have featured several stories on Better Place and CEO Shai Agassi [Video Interview] to highlight the company’s vision for changing the business model for how cars are fueled. Better Place is moving quickly and has already negotiated infrastructure projects within Israel, Denmark, Australia, and Hawaii. Adding California to their list could be the tipping point. Not just for Better Place, but for how we think about fueling our vehicles with batteries, fuel cells and capacitors.

The simplest translation of Shai Agassi’s disruptive vision?
To expand adoption of electric vehicles we must lower barriers for consumers and rethink our notions of infrastructure in a way that goes beyond the model of paying at the corner gas station pump.

Consumers should buy the car, but not the energy storage device (battery, fuel cell or capacitor). Remove the cost and risk of owning energy storage systems that might be improved in the next six months or a year. Instead consumers would subscribe to an energy infrastructure provider who offers a ‘pay per mile’ (e.g. mobile phone minutes) plan.

Drivers could recharge at a local station, or (pay attention!!) pull up to a station to ‘swap out’ an old battery (or solid block of hydrogen, other fuel cartridge) for a new container. It is this ‘swap out’ model that holds the greatest disruptive potential.

How do we do it?

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Major breakthough in catalyst for cleaner 'green' petrochemical materials

November 17 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2016   Rating: 5 Hot

What happened?

A group of researchers from Boston College and MIT have created a new catalyst that could reduce the negative environmental impact of hydrocarbon or ‘petrochemical’ derived materials found in everyday products.

[Don’t run away! Big words, but simple concepts!]

The new catalyst is used in a very common and energy intensive process known as olefin metathesis. Just think of olefins as simple carbon and hydrogen packets (image of ethylene) that are used to make more complex chains that form the backbone of materials used in everything from cleaner fuels, soaps, bags, to pharmaceuticals. The process, ‘metathesis’, simply means transforming the order of AB + CD into AD +BC

How does a simple packet of hydrogen and carbon vary so much in different industry applications? In the most simple terms – the difference between a ‘good’ compound for people and the Earth, from a ‘bad’ compound is the use of additives (other elements) and the shape of the molecule chain (polymers). These variations make materials more or less reactive to things like light, water, and heat. It also makes it more or less soluble, biodegradable or toxic. The goal is to create compounds that break down into non-toxic elements that do not harm ecosystems. The more precise we are in building key polymer materials, the less harmful waste we produce.

Why is this important to the future? Another step towards ‘greener’ hydrocarbon materials
The BC/MIT catalyst will help to reduce the waste and hazardous by products of this massive industrial chemical reaction as we try to make chemistry more ‘green’ and environmentally friendly.

“In order for chemists to gain access to molecules that can enhance the quality of human life, we need reliable, highly efficient, selective and environmentally friendly chemical reactions,” said Amir Hoveyda, Professor and Chemistry Department chairman at BC. “Discovering catalysts that promote these transformations is one of the great challenges of modern chemistry.”

What to watch- Applied Engineering

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Meet Your Shape-Shifting, Singing Robotic Butler of the Future

June 18 2008 / by juldrich / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Business & Work   Year: 2016   Rating: 2

Jack Uldrich

Cross-posted from www.jumpthecurve.net

One of the fun things about being a futurist is trying to understand how the convergence of various emerging technologies might lead to the creation of radically different products in the future.

For instance, consider these two articles which, on their face, appear to have little in common with one another. The first article announced that four robotics companies in Japan are uniting in an effort to create a mainstream market for robots. (For fans of accelerating technological change, please note how they hope to increase by ten-fold the number of domestic robots employed in Japan by 2013). The second article discusses how researchers at the The Franhofer Institute in Europe are making impressive progress in having computers anticipate human needs.

Now, one of the largest markets for robots in Japan is to have them serve the country’s growing – and rapidly aging – population of senior citizens. (cont.)

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