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Science & Technology

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 jun 2020

COVID-19 has brought to the fore the issue of medical textiles as masks, gowns and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are necessary for safeguarding healthcare workers against virus infections. The use of mask specifically became more widespread among general public and the debate centered around the type of material of the fabric that can minimize spread of the virus from person to person and also be affordable. As the demand for PPEs rose the challenge for the scientific and manufacturing community has been to find a way to provide better protection while allowing for the safe reuse of these items. Team of researchers from University of Pittsburgh - Anthony J. Galante, Sajad Haghanifar, Eric G. Romanowski, Robert M. Q. Shanks, Paul W. Leu - has created a textile coating that can not only repel liquids like blood and saliva but can also prevent viruses from adhering to the surface. Their research titled, 'Superhemophobic and Antivirofouling Coating for Mechanically Durable and Wash-Stable Medical Textiles', was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. Lead author of the paper, Mr. Galante, who is the Ph.D. student in industrial engineering at Pitt, says, 'Recently there's been focus on blood-repellent surfaces, and we were interested in achieving this with mechanical durability.' The coating is unique as it is able to withstand ultrasonic washing, scrubbing and scraping. Prof. Leu, co-author and associate professor of industrial engineering, says, 'The durability is very important because there are other surface treatments out there, but they’re limited to disposable textiles. You can only use a gown or mask once before disposing of it. Given the PPE shortage, there is a need for coatings that can be applied to reusable medical textiles that can be properly washed and sanitized.' Prof. Romanowski, Research Director at Charles T. Campbell Microbiology Laboratory, says, 'As this fabric was already shown to repel blood, protein and bacteria, the logical next step was to determine whether it repels viruses. We chose human adenovirus types 4 and 7, as these are causes of acute respiratory disease as well as conjunctivitis (pink eye)...As it turned out, the adenoviruses were repelled in a similar way as proteins.' Prof. Shanks, Director of Basic Research in the Department of Ophthalmology at Pitt, says, 'Adenovirus can be inadvertently picked up in hospital waiting rooms and from contaminated surfaces in general. It is rapidly spread in schools and homes and has an enormous impact on quality of life - keeping kids out of school and parents out of work. This coating on waiting room furniture, for example, could be a major step towards reducing this problem.' The next step for the researchers will be to test the effectiveness against betacoronaviruses, like the one that causes COVID-19. Read on...

University of Pittsburgh News: Pitt Researchers Create Durable, Washable Textile Coating That Can Repel Viruses
Author: Maggie Pavlick


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 may 2020

A group of researchers led by Prof. Raul Gonzalez Lima and Prof. Marcelo Knorich Zuffo at the University of São Paulo's Engineering School (POLI-USP) in Brazil have developed a mechanical ventilator that costs only approximately 7% as much as a conventional ventilator. Prof. Lima says, 'Our ventilator is designed to be used in emergencies where there's a shortage of ICU (Intensive Care Unit) ventilators, which are more monitored, but it has all the functionality required by a severe patient. It also has the advantage of not depending on a compressed air line, as conventional ventilators do. It only needs an electric power outlet and piped oxygen from the hospital or even bottled O2.' In developing the ventilator, the researchers needed to analyze the range of oxygen flow rates and levels it could offer patients. For this purpose, they simulated the various breathing frequencies of human lungs using a gas analyzer and gas flow meter in a lab headed by Prof. Guenther Carlos Krieger Filho, also a professor at POLI-USP. Animal tests were conducted under the coordination of Denise Tabacchi Fantoni and Aline Ambrósio, both of whom are professors at School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science (FMVZ-USP). The tests were performed at Medical School's (FM-USP) anesthesiology laboratory (LIM08) under the supervision of Professor José Otávio Costa Auler Junior, in collaboration with Denise Aya Otsuki, a researcher in the lab. The first human trials involved four patients undergoing treatment at FM-USP's Heart Institute (INCOR). They were led by Auler Junior, with the collaboration of Filomena Regina Barbosa Gomes Galas, the supervisor at INCOR's surgical ICU, nurse Suely Pereira Zeferino, and physical therapist Alcino Costa Leme. The researchers are now preparing a clinical trial with a larger number of patients. This will be one of the last steps before production of the ventilator is approved by ANVISA, Brazil's national health surveillance authority. Read on...

News-Medical.Net: Brazilian researchers design low-cost mechanical ventilators
Author: Emily Henderson


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 may 2020

According to Wikipedia, 'Experiential marketing or engagement marketing is a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages them to participate in the evolution of a brand or a brand experience...Consumer engagement is when a brand and a consumer connect. Brad Nierenberg says that experiential marketing is the live, one-on-one interactions that allow consumers to create connections with brands.' With experiential marketing brands can develop more interest among consumers about their products and services. Covid-19 has brought new challenges to experiential marketing. 13 experts from Forbes Agency Council explain the current and future impact that experiential marketing is likely to have on the industry and how leaders can adapt to its effects - (1) Continuing To Build Relationships And Leadership (Serenity Thompson, A23 Advisors): 'To play well as experiential marketing, virtual events will include moderated group breakouts, gamified agendas and in-app click-to-share social content at a minimum.' (2) Emphasizing The Power of Shared Experience (Steve Wilson, Wilson Dow): 'When delivering a virtual experience, keep a people-first approach.' (3) Reinventing Experiences And Platforms (Lili Gil Valletta, CIEN+): 'Experiences matter; we just need to innovate in where and how they come to life.' (4) Connecting With Audiences During Social Distancing (Jon Waterman, Ad.net): 'Whether it be through VR, playing an interactive game, attending a virtual concert or a live streaming demo, experiential marketing will move towards brand engaging audiences for experiences online.' (5) Offering Consumer-Level Multisensory Experiences (Hamutal Schieber): 'Experiential marketing can benefit from emerging technologies to create personalized, multisensory experiences.' (6) Delivering Personalized Experiences To Wider Audiences (Nicolas Van Erum, Sid Lee): 'Brands will quickly pivot to digital efforts...with greater avenues to track, measure and attribute consumer behavior.' (7) Leveraging New Technologies With Social Spacing (Jackie Reau, Game Day Communications): 'Experiential marketers will need to consider how to use new technologies with social spacing to connect with consumers in an engaging manner.' (8) Growing The Number Of Virtual Conferences, Activations (Scott Harkey, OH Partners): 'As we navigate through this pandemic, brands are challenged to pivot to provide a utility, adopt new technologies and continue to provide value and insight to consumers.' (9) Helping Brands Stand Out From The Crowd (Anna Crowe, Crowe PR): It will be an important part of an integrated marketing strategy to communicate brand stories and grow awareness and loyalty.' (10) Creating A Community (Dmitrii Kustov): 'They (brands) now have the opportunity to find real connections with their audience.' (11) Providing Immersive Experiences Via Influencers (Danielle Wiley, Sway Group): 'Influencers who provide enjoyable, immersive experiences boost brand visibility, build audience connections and drive action.' (12) Leveraging Augmented And Virtual Reality (Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS): 'Every company is ready for it. Apple and Android support it.' (13) Bridging The Gap With Video Demos (Francine Carb, Markitects, Inc.): 'By promoting technical experts as the heroes, customers can gain valuable insights, and companies can more intimately represent their brand.' Read on...

Forbes: How Will Experiential Marketing Evolve? 13 Experts Share Their Views
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 apr 2020

In the digital era, it is imperative for nonprofit leaders to embrace technology and adapt to change effectively. Practicing concepts of 'change management' helps in the technological transformation. Aparna Kothary, director of technology operations at Global Citizen Year, had to implement new technology to help her nonprofit, which organizes gap year study-abroad programs for high school seniors, measure the impact of their work. She says, 'When you put a lot of work into building something, you think it's great and you want everybody else to think it's great, but approaching it with humility is so important...If our end goal is user adoption, it's our responsibility to train people in a way that that works for them.' Setting expectations for new technology adopters is also important. She adds, 'Instead of saying - Here's this shiny new tool we are going to use forever - maybe say - This is phase one of a three-year project, and every year w're going to improve a little bit more...' According to the second annual Nonprofit Trends Report produced by Salesforce, leadership must not only lead the adoption of new technologies but also help nurture a culture that is open to embracing new technology in the first place. But 45% of nonprofits state that they lack the flexibility and adaptiveness that the adoption of new technology demands. Prof. Alva H. Taylor of Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College says, 'Leadership has to understand it and know the importance of it, and also communicate (that importance) to everybody in their organization...might involve showing how the new tool is compatible with how they've done their work in the past, while 'really trumpeting the benefits' of adoption.' The Nonprofit Trends Report also shows that, on average, different departments have different rates of adoption of new technologies, and suggests that without full adoption of technology nonprofits may not get the maximum return on investment. Planning is essential along with leadership. 85% of the nonprofits surveyed in the report say that technology is key to the success of an organization like the one they work for, but only 23% say they have a long-term vision for the technology they plan on implementing. Sarah Angel-Johnson, CIO at the education nonprofit Year Up, says that it leads to 'rocks and pebbles' problem. She comments, 'Let's not talk about the technology or the architecture first. Let's talk about the human on the other side (experiencing a digital innovation). If you have a jar and you fill it with sand first, then pebbles and rocks, it won't all fit. But if you fill the jar first with rocks and the pebbles and then finally sand, it will all fit.' This means that leadership needs to establish priority projects and execute on them before pivoting to anything else. Developing nonprofit-wide strategy requires leadership buy-in and is necessary for long-term success. Jarrod Bell, CTO at Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, says, 'Painting what the vision was for technology at our organization, tying that to the mission, having that message come from our president and CEO, having that message resonated by our board...reverberate those messages as well, and then repeating it over, and over, and over again.' Rebeca Johnson, VP of constituent experience and digital transformation at the American Heart Association, says, 'Transformation is difficult, because transformation is change, and change is hard. But the world has changed and we have to change with it.' Read on...

Stanford Social Innovation Review: Being a Digital-First Leader
Author: Adrienne Day


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 jan 2020

According to recent ad industry reports large traditional advertising agencies are facing challenging times. Larry Light, CEO of Arcature (a brand consultancy), explains how the existing model of advertising that built the industry is undergoing transformation and how digital technology, changing human behavior, mobile phones etc is changing how brands communicate with customers. He says that if TV is watched in a mute then except for logos the ads of some big name restaurants are indistinguishable. 'This commonality in creativity is illustrated by the use of generic thinking,' he adds. He further explains the use of common phrases in various ad campaigns. He says, 'This kind of brand thinking is a reflection of the overuse of research testing over creativity. Asking consumers to be creative is a certain road to genericization of communication.' He quotes Ryan Reynolds, 'Ads are generally disposable pieces of content,' and comments, 'These advertising greats (David Ogilvy, Bill Bernbach, Mary Wells Lawrence and Phil Dusenberry) would be horrified to learn that advertising has been demoted to disposable, fleeting bits and bytes of single use creations. With the digital advances making short-term marketing spend easier to measure, the marketing focus has shifted away from long-term brand ideas...Advertising messages are now short-lived, disposable throw-aways, meant to capture someone's attention for a moment and then disappear in the ether.' He advocates, 'The primary role of marketing in general, and advertising in particular, is to create, reinforce and increase brand loyalty...Regardless of the small screen digitization of our world, a great advertising campaign can be a key driver for establishing and maintaining brand loyalty. Response to advertising is selective: experience with a brand strongly affects one's response to an ad and advertising can affect one's response to a brand experience. The most important effect of meaningful brand advertising is to build and reinforce brand reputation. Advertising helps to reinforce a customer's personal perceptions of the total brand experience...Brand loyalty is something that grows, slowly and incrementally. A brand can generate clicks and views but not necessarily build brand use or brand loyalty. However, if you are predisposed to a brand, you are more likely to be influenced by the brand messages.' Read on...

Forbes: Advertising As We Know It Is Dead
Author: Larry Light


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 jan 2020

Earlier web development was in silos with front-end and back-end design, development and management requiring different set of skills. But now full stack application development approach is more integrated and involves end-to-end development. This requires front-end developers to have broader set of skills and working knowledge of multiple technologies. Tarun Nagar, founder and CEO of Dev Technosys, suggests must-have skills for front-end developers in 2020 - (1) HTML, a language that communicates with the browser, and CSS, which is responsible for the styling of the page and the betterment of the user interface. Together they are essential component of front-end development. (2) Javascript, a client-side programming language, makes the webpage elements functional. For audio, video, animation and hat features, Javascript library and jQuery extensions are used for faster functions widely used by full-stack web development services. (3) JavaScript frameworks like Angular Js, ReactJS and Vue.js, make the JS code easier to use and make development faster. (4) CSS preprocessing is the advanced CSS version. It is a better version of the primary CSS classes, which enhances the website features. (5) Version Control Software or Git is the most popular software used for the large team of developers. The version control system helps in collaborating with the changes and making a better software development process. (6) Testing and debugging is an integral part of the development process. (7) Automated building software makes the front-end development easier. The performance is usually measured at the loading time. Functional User Interface, collective term for HTML, CSS and Javascript, is used wisely as best web development company practices. (8) Browser tools are the browser component, which helps in developing the browser-friendly pages. This helps the developers in increasing the UI quality give optimum website development services. (9) Responsive design ensures that web page UI is compatible with every screen size. (10) Command-Line Interface (CLI) is used to give functionality, unlike Graphical User Interface (GUI) which is used to build the page and perform the tasks in the front-end. (11) Good problem solving skills make the developer work effectively in a team and efficiently handle large projects. Read on...

Customer Think: 11 skills to become a Front-End developer in 2020
Author: Tarun Nagar


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 jan 2020

Food security problem is a global concern. Everyone should become a part of the solution. Technologies like drones, data analytics, blockchain etc can assist in solving some of the issues related to farming and agriculture. This is what Agriculture 4.0 is all about. It is a new age of food production that leverages digital technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) to cater more precisely to the needs of crops, farmers and consumers. The coming together of - farming communities, researchers and policy makers; farm equipment and machinery, biotechnology, computer and telecommunication companies - can bring agriculture to a new state of success. Multinational agriculture and biotech companies are competing in the race to achieve the technological breakthroughs and expand their businesses and profits. Advocates of Agriculture 4.0 believe that it will solve the food security problems of the future. While critics on the other hand caution that without proper regulation few big companies will attain huge monopolistic power in global agricultural decision-making that will adversely affect small producers. According to the 2018 report Agriculture 4.0 by World Government Summit, approximately 800 million people currently suffer from hunger and by 2050 we will have to produce 70% more food to feed the world. Juanita Rodríguez, Vice-Chancellor of Innovation at Ean University (Colombia), says, 'Even though it's still not widely known, this fourth revolution in agriculture has been agile and its benefits are beginning to show, helping farmers maximise crop yields and developing ways to stop the epidemic of waste that destroys 45% of our supply.' In Mexico, Mexican engineer Julio López and German economist Manuel Richter, have created a platform helping producers to manage their crops using drone and satellite technology. Mr. Richter says, 'There is a huge potential to make the work more efficient, reduce agro-inputs, improve water use, lower environmental impact and create more economic sustainability for the farmer.' Big data use and privacy are other areas that are part of Agriculture 4.0. In 2018, North American companies spent almost US$ 20 billion on third-party data, 17.5% more than in 2017. Silvia Ribeiro, Latin America director of the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC), says, 'Companies have a huge amount of data at their disposal. They can convert it into another business. What lies behind this is the generation of new profits.' Gabriel Cuéllar, an AI researcher, says, 'Data is the new oil. Companies today need data to make their systems more powerful.' Big data and analytics has positive side in agriculture and can assist farmers in effectively detecting pests, spotting failures in agricultural processes, or understanding market demands. The question with data is not only who is collecting it, but who can analyse it, and who wins or loses as a result. In the report 'The Unsustainable Agriculture 4.0 - Digitization and Corporate Power in the Food Chain', Pat Mooney of ETC explains his concerns on big data in agriculture. He believes that the concentration of power in agricultural data collection could result in a few companies controlling seed patenting data, pesticides, fertilisers and machinery, leaving little or no option for farmers and workers to choose what they buy. In recent times many multinationals have been drawn into controversy regarding Agriculture 4.0. According to Ms. Rodríguez, there is also a significant hacking risk associated with Internet of Things devices. Dennis Escudero from UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says, 'The profile of the farmer is changing. It is more digital. You have to understand the new tools. They don't threaten farmers, they empower them.' Read on...

Diálogo Chino: Agriculture 4.0 promises to transform food production
Authors: Emilio Godoy, Alejandra Cuéllar


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 jan 2020

Tackling climate change and protecting environment is critical for the better future of our planet. Current agricultural practices and economic policies that surround it have substantial impact on the natural environment. Prof. Benjamin Houlton, director of the John Muir Institute of the Environment at the University of Califoria at Davis and champion of the One Climate Initiative, says, 'Agriculture might just be the single most important industry on the planet for creating negative carbon emissions under current economic policy. Carbon farming is the key to help solve climate change. Farmers and ranchers can capture carbon and store it in the soil. They can create negative emissions, which means the amount of greenhouse gases that are going into the air from their industry is lower than the amount that they're drawing out of the air.' Prof. Houlton plans to further develop the carbon farm project through One Climate. He explains, 'The One Climate vision is about transforming society in a way that is sustainable, produces the jobs we need, trains the next generation of leaders and creates a climate-smart workforce. And one of the centerpieces of One Climate is creating the world's most innovative carbon farm.' Carbon farming involves using resources such as compost, biochar and pulverized rock, and using enhanced weathering - basically, accelerating Earth's natural processes - to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Explaining about biochar, Prof. Houlton says, 'We've teamed up with industry partners to use biochar, which is taking organic carbon like trees, vegetation and manure, and burning it slightly at a high temperature. It becomes more resistant to breakdown and helps with water and nutrient use, while also storing carbon for longer periods of time.' In California, biochar can reduce wildfires by removing trees that could be a fire risk and putting it into the soil. Similarly, compost deposits green waste or food waste into the soil to create a carbon sink. Read on...

UC Davis Magazine: How Can Agriculture Be a Part of the Climate Solution?
Author: Ashley Han


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 nov 2019

Team of researchers from Poland's Łódź University of Technology (ŁUT) led by Prof. Katarzyna Grabowska, the dean of the Faculty of Material Technologies and Textile Design, have developed a textile charger, which allows to charge phones, tablets, and other portable electronic devices using the power generated by their users' physical activity. Monika Malinowska-Olszowy, the vice dean of the faculty and member of the research team, says, 'The textile charger for mobile electronic devices is an inseparable part of the fabric or knitwear from which it is made, such as clothing...This invention replaces heavy, large batteries and power banks that often contain toxic substances. It is shock resistant and weatherproof. The main purpose of this technology is to ensure its users with uninterrupted access to electricity to sustain the operations of their mobile devices. As a result, this will exclude various problematic processes related to frequent charging of mobile phones or tablets.' ŁUT research has focused on the development of innovative textile inventions. Some of the latest examples include textile clothing for premature infants that is to protect them against dehydration and ensure thermal stability through special layered textile systems, and a prototype textronics solution that allows the integration of muscle-stimulating electrodes within various types of clothing, such as underwear, wristbands and socks, and use it to treat patients with various diseases that require such stimulation, among others. Read on...

Innovation In Textiles: Polish researchers develop textile mobile device charger
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 nov 2019

Philanthropy is a huge industry and technology is enabling it's transformation. It's contribution to the U.S. economy is significant. According to The 2019 Nonprofit Employment Report (2019), authored by Lester M. Salamon and Chelsea L. Newhouse of the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University, nonprofits account for roughly one in 10 jobs in the U.S. private workforce, with total employees numbering 12.3 million in 2016. Over the decade since 2007, nonprofit jobs grew almost four times faster than the for-profit ones. Madeline Duva, CEO of Fluxx, provides insights into technological transformation of philanthropy and the positive impact it has on overall growth of nonprofit sector. She says, ' The philanthropic space has begun to adopt new technologies in earnest in order to increase capacity, improve employee job satisfaction and accelerate long-lasting impact. This transformation is further helped by the tech industry entering the space both as a funder of nonprofits and provider of improved tool sets. The innovations that made Amazon a world leader in supply chain optimization are now being repurposed to help nonprofit organizations work more efficiently and collaboratively with their own data, ultimately driving more dollars and hours toward solving long-entrenched societal and systemic issues in the U.S. and beyond.' Philanthropy is on rise and tech industry and their employees are major contributors. According to 'Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018', researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI, in 2018 Americans gave nearly US$ 428 billion to charity, with US$ 76 billion of that coming from foundations and another US$ 20 billion coming from corporations. Tech industry's interest in philanthropy and nonprofit sector is seeing increase in specifically designed tech solutions. Ms. Duva explains, 'I've seen a steady increase (but slower industry adoption) in solutions that help foundations leverage data and efficiency and manage teams, all while scaling their work. Grantmakers (both public and private) and grantseekers (nonprofits and charities) have begun to streamline their operations through SaaS solutions, using data and workflow best practices to create more efficient processes and free up time and resources.' For tech companies seeking to work and design solutions for the philanthropic sector, she suggests - Prioritize flexibility and usability in your solutions; Understand that most nonprofits operate on extremely thin financial margins; Recognize the huge variance in the philanthropic space. One-size-fits-all approach doesn't work this space that covers and touches so many industries. Read on...

Forbes: Technology Improves Nonprofit Sector Growth
Author: Madeline Duva


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 oct 2019

Even though AI (artificial intelligence) and big data are enabling automation in marketing and customer interactions, enhancing consumer experience, saving cost and improving ROI, but customers still seem to prefer the great old human touch. According to the report by Calabrio titled 'Are You Listening? The Truth About What Customers Want in a Digital World', three out of four consumers in the US and UK are more loyal to businesses that give them the option to interact to human as opposed to only chatbots or digital channels. Morever, 37% even question the legitimacy of the company itself, if not given the option. Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group and author of 'Mean People Suck', explains how organizational empathy is the key to benefit from marketing automation along with becoming more human at the same time. He mentions limitations of AI, automation and martech - Complexity of implementation; Robotic customer service; Uncertainties in decision-making. He explains, 'When businesses use technology such as AI and automation to boost efficiencies, the outcomes will scale quickly. Managing the consequences calls for not just empathy, but alignment of "purpose" between the brand and its consumers. But while humans survive on meaning and a sense of fulfillment, machines thrive on clear instructions...By clarifying their strategic purpose, organizations can not only provide better customer experiences, but also increase brand loyalty, build a community, as well as foster a meaningful and productive work culture.' Kate O'Neill, author of 'Tech Humanist', says, 'Businesses that transform themselves digitally need to do so in a human-centric way and communicate their purpose to their customers.' Mentioning empathy as the missing link between AI and humans, Mr. Brenner says, 'Empathetic Marketing connects companies, brands, employees and customers in a harmonious, productive and win-win way. You might be forgiven for thinking that ROI and the bottom line is all that matters to companies. While authoring my first book 'The Content Formula', I stumbled on the counter-intuitive secret to selling: Don't talk about the stuff you sell. Then what should we talk about? I hear you asking. Show, don't talk. Show empathy towards your customers. Help, don't sell. Help them solve a problem.' Empathy is the only antidote for the phenomenon termed by Google's Noah Fenn as 'collective amnesia of marketers', where marketers begin to see 'people' as users, leads, personas, prospects, audience, cohorts or whatever label is the flavor of the day. Mr. Brenner suggests 'be human, do human' and in order to fix the brand-customer empathy gap, you need to ask (and honestly answer) yourself - Do you understand the core emotional motivators of your customers? Does your messaging resonate with these motivators?; Do you build a connection before you attempt a conversion?; Do you test your assumptions and biases for every marketing campaign?; Does your AI-driven revenue model incorporate the nuances of empathetic marketing? Read on...

Chief Marketer: The AI Paradox: Why More Automation Means We Need More Humanity
Author: Michael Brenner


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 oct 2019

Concrete is a preferred material, second-most used (about 22 billion ton annually), in the building and construction industry. But, it is also second-largest emitter of Carbon dioxide, as cement manufacturing accounts for 5-7% of annual emissions. According to Lucy Rodgers of BBC News, 'If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter in the world - behind China and the US.' In order to meet the requirements of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, annual cement emissions must fall by 16% by 2030. This situation brings concrete at the cusp of innovation, encouraging architects and scientists to experiment with concrete and help evolve its greener variants. Most innovations in this regard focus on reduction of cement in the concrete mix. MIT researchers developed an experimental method of manufacturing cement while eliminating CO2 emissions. Researchers at Lancaster University in the UK unveiled a novel approach of using nanoplatelets extracted from carrots and root vegetables to enhance concrete mixes. Dr. Sandra Manso-Blanco's approach of 'bioreceptive concrete' has structural concrete layered with materials to encourage the growth of CO2-absorbing moss and lichen. Another alternative mixture becoming mainstream in construction is GFRC (Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete). The material consists of a mortar made of concrete, sand, alkali-resistant glass fiber and water. Plasticity is one of the main qualities of GFRC, enabling the molding of thinner and thus lighter façade pieces. Another novel approach to concrete used by Zaha Hadid Architects is 3D-knitted shell. Termed as KnitCandela, it is inspired by Spanish-Mexican architect and engineer Felix Candela's inventive concrete shell structures. The knitted fabric for KnitCandela was developed at ETH Zurich. ETH Zurich has been at the forefront of a number of innovations concerning concrete. With the intention of maximizing available space and avoiding steep construction costs, researchers from ETH Zurich's Department of Architecture have devised a concrete floor slab that with a thickness of a mere 2 cm, remains load-bearing and simultaneously sustainable. The institute also showcased the potential of robotically 3D printed concrete. Read on...

ArchDaily: What is the Future of Concrete in Architecture?
Author: Niall Patrick Walsh


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 oct 2019

Personalization and customization of education is becoming a possibility with use of latest technologies. Traditional education systems with 'one-size-fits-all' approach are facing challenges and their ineffectiveness is becoming visible. Every learner has individual capabilities and traits, and educational delivery that caters to his specific needs would work best. Lasse Rouhiainen, author of 'Artificial Intelligence: 101 Things You Must Know Today About Our Future' and an international expert on artificial intelligence (AI) and disruptive technologies, explains that personalization is future of higher education and how correct implementation of AI and big data analytics will help in creating personalized learning experiences that can overcome some of the challenges that educational institutions face like disengaged students, high dropout rates, skills mismatch etc. He says, 'With a personalized learning experience, every student would enjoy a completely unique educational approach that's fully tailored to his or her individual abilities and needs. This could directly increase students' motivation and reduce their likelihood of dropping out. It could also offer professors a better understanding of each student's learning process, which could enable them to teach more effectively. Here's what this might look like: AI-based learning systems would be able to give professors useful information about their students' learning styles, abilities, and progress, and provide suggestions for how to customize their teaching methods to students' individual needs.' One of the key ingredient of this learning approach is the access to large amount of student data. Privacy is the challenge in this regard. But if student data could be collected and processed in a way that is ethical, secure, and transparent, it would allow AI to be used to effectively improve various areas of study. Use of chatbots and virtual assistants can assist in handling routine questions and tasks and will also provide data that represents students' concerns and requirements. This will benefit in designing education that responds to their needs. Moreover, as AI-enabled systems takeover routine tasks, teachers will have more quality time for students and engage them to pursue higher learning. Their role would be to guide, support, and mentor students, assist them to understand their learning, it's value, and it's application in the real world. To some extent chatbots can also be used to assist sudents to manage their mental well-being - to reduce stress and improve motivation to study. This will be beneficial, atleast for immediate relief, as many university health systems are struggling to handle large population of students in their on-campus mental health counseling programs. The outcome of education and learning is to finally prepare students for the world of work and be productive in whatever career they pursue. As the work environment is becoming more technology intensive and routine tasks are automated with AI-enabled systems and robots, it is essential for education systems to provide skills and train students to effectively adapt to such work environment and become successful. There is no substitute for humans. Technology is an enabler. Right mix of AI technology and human abilities can help evolve the education and learning systems for better outcomes. Read on...

Harvard Business Review: How AI and Data Could Personalize Higher Education
Author: Lasse Rouhiainen


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 sep 2019

Utilizing technology to connect with audience & customers is effective and efficient. But, bringing the human element with personalization & customization, and engaging with them to build long-term relationships is even better. Best organizations often try to do that. Gabe Cooper, tech entrepreneur and nonprofit consultant, have suggestions for nonprofit organizations to build personalized communication strategies and making full use of automation technologies available. He says, 'When it comes to marketing software, in particular, nonprofits have long tried to make square pegs fit in round holes, getting locked into software and marketing practices that are fundamentally designed for for-profit marketing or that are based on legacy fundraising practices. This has resulted in mass marketing efforts that make your donors feel like 'sales opportunities' rather than crucial stakeholders in your cause.' Fundraising is an important activity for nonprofits and considering that they lack resources, it becomes even more crucial to be done right. He says, 'In our modern world, impersonal fundraising is a wet blanket on generosity, and that's a problem when you consider that nearly three-quarters of people who give a single gift never give again. They simply don't feel appreciated. That's where personalization through marketing automation comes in. Personalization allows each and every donor feel as though you're talking directly to them...Great personalization provides every donor with the right message at the right time based on their individual passions, capacity and relationship to your organization. Personalization, in this way, creates extreme loyalty.' He advocates a 3 point approach to apply personalization in nonprofit fundraising efforts - Know; Automate; Amplify. (1) KNOW: Gather as much information about your donors as is possible. (2) AUTOMATE: Use marketing automation software to send tailored messages - at the right time - based on what you know about each donor. (3) AMPLIFY: Use data analytics to understand what the right 'ask' should be. He also provides other ways to personalize marketing efforts: Keep the new donor campaigns running to engage them, and make them repeat donors; Use persona segmentation and apply the personalized content to connect with them; Utilize personalization technology/marketing automation that is designed specifically fo nonprofits. Mr. Cooper concludes, 'Taking a more personalized approach to your nonprofit fundraising efforts can result in more donor engagement, higher average gifts, big increases in donor loyalty, and most importantly, you donors will feel that they're part of your cause.' Read on...

Business.com: Personalization Is the Engine That Drives Today's Givers
Author: Gabe Cooper


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 aug 2019

Technology innovations are often associated with taking up jobs from humans. Consider some experts predicting that Artificial Intelligence (AI) could take over 40% of jobs by 2035. But, there is a brighter side to it. The tasks that are taken away by AI are generally those that are repetitive and monotonous, requiring less human creativity. This would infact provide more opportunities for people to be innovative and creative, making their jobs more fulfilling. Charities too have to take advantage of AI to improve efficiencies and let their workforce focus on doing good better and impact lives. Rhodri Davies of Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), the author of Public Good by Private Means' and an expert on philanthropy and technology for giving, says, 'There are plenty of new jobs that will be actually created in the wake of the AI revolution.' Here are some of the charity jobs that artificial intelligence and machine learning can enhance - (1) Fundraiser: Chatbots can support in fundraising tasks. Organizations are already making use of online platforms to do so effectively and reach out to far-flung donors. (2) Support Services Assistant: Charity chatbots can help in guiding people towards the general information they require. This will help human staff to focus on more complex and sensitive queries. (3) Translator: AI-driven language translation can assist charity workers to communicate effectively with populations they serve and have language barrier with. (4) Conservation Scientist: Data science and machine learning is used in sustainability studies. AI can be used by wildlife and conservation charities to understand patterns such as habitat loss, climate change, water use, poaching etc. This will help better understand human impact on natural world and plan ahead. (5) Medical Researcher: AI and robotics are used in diagnostics and patient care. AI-driven data analysis helps spot patterns in behvior, symptoms and treatment effects. Thus providing effective treatment. Read on...

Charity Digital News: The charity jobs that could soon be enhanced by AI
Author: Chloe Green


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 aug 2019

Research study, 'Onboard Evolution of Understandable Swarm Behaviors', published in Advanced Intelligent Systems by researchers from University of Bristol (Simon Jones, Sabine Hauert) and University of the West of England (Alan F. Winfield, Matthew Studley), brings development of a new generation of swarming robots which can independently learn and evolve new behaviours in the wild a step closer. Researchers used artificial evolution to enable the robots to automatically learn swarm behaviours which are understandable to humans. This could create new robotic possibilities for environmental monitoring, disaster recovery, infrastructure maintenance, logistics and agriculture. This new approach uses a custom-made swarm of robots with high-processing power embedded within the swarm. In most recent approaches, artificial evolution has typically been run on a computer which is external to the swarm, with the best strategy then copied to the robots. Prof. Jones says, 'Human-understandable controllers allow us to analyse and verify automatic designs, to ensure safety for deployment in real-world applications.' Researchers took advantage of the recent advances in high-performance mobile computing, to build a swarm of robots inspired by those in nature. Their 'Teraflop Swarm' has the ability to run the computationally intensive automatic design process entirely within the swarm, freeing it from the constraint of off-line resources. Prof. Hauert says, 'This is the first step towards robot swarms that automatically discover suitable swarm strategies in the wild. The next step will be to get these robot swarms out of the lab and demonstrate our proposed approach in real-world applications.' Prof. Winfield says, 'In many modern AI systems, especially those that employ Deep Learning, it is almost impossible to understand why the system made a particular decision...An important advantage of the system described in this paper is that it is transparent: its decision making process is understandable by humans.' Read on...

Engineering.com: Robots Learn Swarm Behaviors, Aim to Escape the Lab
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jun 2019

Collecting the right customer data and then understanding it to create usable insights is the key to e-commerce analytics success. But, implementing an effective and efficient analytics strategy and selecting the best tools and solutions from among many that are available in the market is no easy task. Ateeq Ahmad, consultant and founder of Albany Analytics, provides a set of ideas and road map to build an e-commerce analytics solution that would finally be used for predictive analysis. Mr. Ahmad outlines the process flow as - (1) Setting up data collection within current data sources. (2) Merging all data sources into one platform and automate such a collection. (3) Analyzing patterns in these datasets to build reports and dashboards based on KPIs. (4) Based on past behavior of customers, create prescriptive and predictive analytics around key metrics and goals. Data that is collected should include transactional data, social interactions and offline customer data. At the stage of merging all data sources into one central repository there are two possible methodologies - build own data warehouse or buy it from market. Of course, there are trade-offs involved in this selection. The best option seems to be to go initially for an available data merging tool, as it is cost effective, and then once sufficient experience and ROI is obtained graduate to build it in-house. Analyzing data and translating it into valuable business speak that paves the way for data-driven decision making is an essential part of successful analytics implementation. To provide right and timely predictive analyses it is critical to have an analytics team with strong data science expertise. Read on...

Albany Analytics Blog: A Paradigm for Business Intelligence Evolution
Author: Ateeq Ahmad


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 jun 2019

Technology is enabling charitable and philanthropic organizations to perform better in many ways - (1) Donations have just become a click away with expanded reach through online financial payment systems. Moreover, online transactions provide anonymity to donors who prefer it. (2) Crowdfunding has become a great tool to gather funds from all kind of donors, big or small, for the causes that one suppports. Crowdfunding websites are convenient to use and make it easy to reach out to prospective donors. (3) Technology has brought transparency and accountability. Donors are now more aware about how their contributions are utilized. Moreover, financial management tools provide charity organizations ways to efficiently and effectively track their funds. (4) Social media has proven to be effective to spread a charitable cause and seek support. Read on...

CIO Applications: Technology Revamping Philanthropy
Author: NA

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