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Internet of everything

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If you have not heard of Internet of Things (IoT), here is a definition offered by a large silicon valley company.

Cisco defines the Internet of Everything (IoE) as bringing together people, process, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before-turning information into actions that create new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented economic opportunity for businesses, individuals, and countries.”

This is indeed very exciting, but a recent NYTimes blog struck a cautionary note on the implications of this exponential proliferation of data and information, especially at a personal level. Scott Adams has captured this sentiment (lame use of these new capabilities) quite brilliantly in the panel of cartoons below.

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Written by asterix98

May 12, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Elevatoring anyone?

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Almost all of us encounter traffic lights, not one but multiple times, during our daily commutes to work or the store. You may have also encountered, on an expressway, a series of traffic lights, that seem to be perfectly synchronized. Sometimes, it may feel like a shuttle bus where you hit red on every light.  When they do not interrupt your flow, you just cruise along else you cuss at them like they had an evil personality. Unless you are an engineering professional, you are unlikely to have stopped to think about how traffic lights actually work. In reality, traffic lights are a small part of an elaborate field of study called traffic engineering.  The video below offers a glimpse into that world.

If this piqued your interest, you can also read more about traffic light science here :  Science Daily- Traffic Lights.  For the formulation of traffic light design as a engineering logic problem, follow this link 

A few days ago, WSJ carried an article  – The Ups and Downs of Making Elevators Go– on elevators, something we may never have thought of as another mode of transportation. It profiles the life of Teresa Christy , an OTIS Fellow [OTIS is the famous elevator company and Fellow is usually the highest technical distinction in an organization].  She has spent the better part of a quarter century optimizing “elevator traffic and scheduling”. It is a great read (be sure to read the comments too, sometimes goofy but informative). The article also deals with cultural preferences in elevator design.  A short interview with Christy is also posted on NPRs marketplace.org site.

The fascinating interplay of science, technology, and culture, in something as  “mundane” as elevator design gave me my cognitive high for the day.

Written by asterix98

December 6, 2012 at 7:05 am

an inspiring and entertaining talk

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A couple of nights ago I had the opportunity to listen to Dr.Michael Phelps from UCLA. He is the inventor of an imaging technique popularly known as PET (Positron Emission Tomography). Since its invention, it has been used 37 million times worldwide to help  detect tumors in vivo!

His early years were steeped in tragedy. He lost his two young siblings in a fire. His mother had 50% burns on her body. Due to the circumstances, he was given up for adoption to a neighbor. He was a boxer and a welterweight champion, till a coma suffered in a car accident put paid to his dreams of a boxing career. A friend coaxed him into attending college (“with the promise of women, sex, and booze….”).  Eventually, he obtained a PhD in Chemistry and started out a as faculty somewhere in Washington State. From here, he went on to describe the journey that lead to the invention (a key ingredient was passion …. with a little help from friends along the way). All this culminated in tremendous monetary success (he sold his company to Siemens for, I think, a couple of billion dollars).

He is a great speaker, peppering his talk with lots of well placed humor . He was speaking to an audience of wannabe entrepreneurs as well as seasoned entrepreneurs. His messaging was near perfect. In the space of 45 minutes, he told a beautiful story of tragedy, resilience, serendipity, entrepreneurship, innovation, success, humor, goodwill, passion, and friendships. This is a talk that will stay with me for a long time.

He ended the talk with this joke (not original) – I have reproduced it from this site

This Middle aged man was going through his mid-life crisis so he went out and bought him a new bright red Porsche. So he decided to take his new Porsche on a test drive down the interstate one day.He got up to about 85 mph and all of a sudden he saw this highway patrolman with his blue lights and siren blaring coming toward him. He decided he and his new Porsche would outrun the officer. So the man sped up to 95 mph,and then to 105 mph, but the patrolman was still coming.The man finally came to his senses and said to himself, “This is crazy, I could go to jail for this,” so he pulled over. The patrolman came to the car and told the man, “It has been a long week , it’s Friday and I am ready to go home.. If you can give me one excuse that I have never heard before , I will let you go.”

So the man told the officer, “Last night my wife ran off with a cop and when I seen you chasing me I thought you were trying to bring her back.”

The officer looked at the man and said, “Have a great weekend pal !”

Written by asterix98

May 19, 2012 at 5:33 pm

trends in data visualization

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No matter how much data you collect, it has zero value unless it is converted to useful information. Visualization then is a very important component of this transformation, especially for complex data. To see what I mean checkout these three beautiful examples:

The first is a wind map. It collates wind data, from the National Weather service, for every state in the continental United States, and presents them as a dynamic flow patterns. Awesome!

The second is the History of the World in 100 secs.

The third is from GapMinder . Hans Rosling is the mastermind behind this stuff.

Written by asterix98

April 8, 2012 at 4:22 am

auto analytics in the workplace

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I read an article titled – Employees, Measure Yourselves -in the Wall Street Journal. The article discusses, auto-analytics, a new set of technologies, that can monitor your activities and provide feedback. One class of auto-analytics software allows tracking of screen time. That is, how many windows you have open, how much time you spend on each one and so on. Supposedly the intent is to enable you to be more productive at the workplace. In other words, it is a slack-o-meter. It has a lot of creep factor built in. But as I was reading this article, I was thinking about Jonah Lehrer’s interview on Fresh Air. The topic was creativity.  The bottom line is: for innovation and creativity to do its magic, you have to allow yourself slack time, even daydream. So there is a bit of schizophrenia out there on this topic. More importantly, auto-analytics of this type is probably useful only to certain types of jobs where productivity is directly quantifiable.

The second type of auto-analytic technology uses cognitive mapping techniques. The idea is to facilitate the organization of your ideas over time so that you can potentially make associations that you may not have otherwise made, and have an “aha” moment. I can readily see the benefits of this technology (beacuse you could search for keywords and such which a paper based catalog would not allow). Your personal Watson?

To me, auto-analytics applied to health is the most interesting. Wellness programs are gaining in popularity among employers. After salaries, one of the biggest overheads for employers is health insurance. Employees in poor health, also cost them, in terms of lost productivity. So HR departments are going for Team Wellness Challenges, gym reimbursements, and the like to promote employee wellness. This is a great start. But I am very excited because we are working on some monitoring technologies and analytics that could change the way medicine is practiced today. Our first stop is women’s health in general and mothers to be, in particular. More on this when the time is appropriate.

Written by asterix98

April 5, 2012 at 4:16 am

Trends in the lifesciences

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If you are interested in healthcare or the lifesciences, this is a great time to get involved. Especially if you are a technologist. There are a number of reasons. The trajectory of healthcare costs is soaring and the trends are unsustainable. There are not enough doctors to handle the demand for care. Most affected is the aging population. After decades of stubbornly resisting the  rapid adoption of technological advances, the healthcare industry seems ready to embrace them. Witness the power of a tool like Watson from IBM. Cloud computing, big data, wireless sensors, wireless technology (near and far field), tablet computing combined with trends in bioengineering, molecular genetics, biomedical engineering and other disciplines is now enabling a very exciting interdisciplinary effort that is poised to revolutionize healthcare and lifesciences. (In the 90s, the genesis of cognitive neuroscience,  combined forces from computer science, neuroscience, psychology, physics, and other fields to make significant advances in the understanding of the human brain. I am proud to have been a part of it).

In an earlier blog, I wrote about one such effort at the Smolke lab at Stanford. A couple of days ago, I learned of this great  program at John Hopkins University. You can read more about CBID here. It brings together partners from the industry, biomedical engineering and medicine to deliver, pratical and immediately applicable innovations to healthcare both in the developed and developng world. One brilliant example of a product developed at CBID is a marker like pen filled with the ingredients required for detecting eclampsia (high blood pressure) in pregnant women. What is neat about this device is that it enables women in the underdeveloped world to be diagnosed at the cost of pennies. You simply mark a piece of paper with the device. The women pee on the paper and the litmus test indicates Yes or No. A clever part of this design : the cap of the marker is the same color as a positive result. Neat!

Other examples of innovation (not from CBID) include the Mobisanti portable ultrasound for your mobile phone!! Skin implants for Alzheimer’s patients to keep track of them and even guide them. Subvocal speech recognition (out of NASA) and this one is way out there : the Proteus raisin microchip. This is a biodegradable chip that can be swallowed. It sends out a signal to the doctor that you have taken the pill (something drastic like this is necessary because the medical adherence rate is about 21% !!).

We at iNDx Technologies are bringing together pathologists, physicians, molecular geneticists, and technologists, to deliver some innovative products for enabling integrated diagnostics for improving quality of care at reduced costs. Stay tuned!

Written by asterix98

February 26, 2012 at 1:50 am

Sixth Sense Technology

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Happy New Year!!

In an earlier post, I provided a link to a video highlighting some exciting research at CMU on new ways of interacting with our digital world.  On a recent trip to Canada, my uncle alerted me to another really exciting piece of technology research, this from MIT, pioneered by Pranav Mistry, within the auspices of Pattie Maes’ laboratory.  Take a look at the video below..

Imagine the possibilities if this technology can be realized commercially. I think it will be. In the not too distant future. Looking forward to getting my hands on it !

Written by asterix98

January 3, 2012 at 2:52 am

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