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Does 'Good Design' still matter today? | Curbed, 13 feb 2019
The Next Hot Design Style Is...Victorian | House Beautiful, 13 feb 2019
The Store Experience Design Debrief | PSFK, 13 feb 2019
The freshest writer on design was born 200 years ago | Fast Company, 13 feb 2019
U-Md. researchers develop smart fabric that automatically warms or cools you off | The Washington Post, 13 feb 2019
Vegan design products will become as popular as vegan food, say designers | Dezeen, 12 feb 2019
9 Beautiful Examples of When Historic and Modern Architecture Come Together | Architectural Digest, 12 feb 2019
"Adventurous architecture often gets thrown out the window" | Dezeen, 12 feb 2019
Top 5 Industrial Design Jobs for this week | Yanko Design, 11 feb 2019
Seven Key Aspects Of Web Design For Drawing In Customers | Forbes, 11 feb 2019
Engineering & Technology Design
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 jan 2019
Autonomous shopping concept intends to bring brick-and-mortar and internet shopping into a unified and integrated retail experience. The grab-and-go smart shopping carts promote cashier-free automatic check-out eliminating wait in lines. TechSpot's contributing writer, Cohen Coberly, says, 'While it seemed like brick-and-mortar retail would be all but killed off following the explosive rise of online shopping, what we're instead seeing throughout the US is not death, but evolution.' According to a 2018 survey by RIS News, 'The leading new shopping option wanted by consumers was "grab-and-go" technology (in which customers can self-checkout using their smartphones). 59% said they'd like to use this, and 9% had used it.' In a global survey of 2250 internet users conducted by iVend Retail and AYTM Market Research, 'Roughly 1/3rd of respondents said they would like to make automatic payments using digital shopping carts.' Caper is a smart shopping cart startup. Josh Constine, technology journalist and editor-at-large for TechCrunch, reports, 'The startup makes a shopping cart with a built-in barcode scanner and credit card swiper, but it's finalizing the technology to automatically scan items you drop in thanks to three image recognition cameras and a weight sensor. The company claims people already buy 18% more per visit after stores are equipped with its carts.' Linden Gao, co-founder and CEO of Caper, says, 'It doesn't make sense that you can order a cab with your phone or go book a hotel with your phone, but you can't use your phone to make a payment and leave the store. You still have to stand in line.' The current Caper cart involves scanning an item's barcode and then throwing it into the cart. Brittany Roston, senior editor and contributor at SlashGear, reports, 'The smarter version will eliminate the barcode part, making it possible to simply put the items in the cart while the built-in tech recognizes what they are.' Chris Albrecht, managing editor at The Spoon, also reports, 'The future iterations, already in the works, will remove the barcode and will use a combination of computer vision and built-in weight scales to determine purchases. The customer completes shopping, and pays on the built-in screen.' The concept of scanless carts involves deep learning and machine vision. Cameras are mounted in the cart. The screen on the cart gives the shopper different kinds of information - store map, item locator, promotions, deals etc. It recommends items based on contents already in the basket. Read on...
Next-level autonomous shopping carts are even smarter
Author: Nancy Cohen
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 jan 2019
Team of researchers from University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (Prof. Timothy F. Scott, Prof. Mark A. Burns, Martin P. De Beer, Harry L. Van Der Laan, Megan A. Cole, Riley J. Whelan) have developed a new approach to 3D printing that lifts complex shapes from a vat of liquid at up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D printing processes. 3D printing could by highly beneficial for small manufacturing jobs without the need for a costly mold. But the usual 3D printing approach of building up plastic filaments layer by layer hasn't been usable in that aspect. Prof. Scott says, 'Using conventional approaches, that's not really attainable unless you have hundreds of machines.' The U. of Michigan innovative 3D printing method solidifies the liquid resin using two lights to control where the resin hardens - and where it stays fluid. This enables solidification of the resin in more sophisticated patterns. The process can make a 3D bas-relief in a single shot rather than in a series of 1D lines or 2D cross-sections. The printing demonstrations from this approach include a lattice, a toy boat and a block M. Prof. Burns says, 'It's one of the first true 3D printers ever made.' By creating a relatively large region where no solidification occurs, thicker resins - potentially with strengthening powder additives - can be used to produce more durable objects. The method also bests the structural integrity of filament 3D printing, as those objects have weak points at the interfaces between layers. Prof. Scott adds, 'You can get much tougher, much more wear-resistant materials.' The research paper, 'Rapid, continuous additive manufacturing by volumetric polymerization inhibition patterning', is to be published in Science Advances. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 aug 2018
The possibility of eco-friendly biodegradable paper-based batteries is now made a reality by the scientists at Binghampton University (SUNY), Prof. Seokheun 'Sean' Choi from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and Prof. Omowunmi Sadik from the Chemistry Department. Their research titled 'Green Biobatteries: Hybrid Paper-Polymer Microbial Fuel Cells' was recently published in Advanced Sustainable Systems. Prof. Choi engineered the design of the paper-based battery, while Prof. Sadik was able to make the battery a self-sustaining biobattery. The biobattery uses a hybrid of paper and engineered polymers. The polymers - poly (amic) acid and poly (pyromellitic dianhydride-p-phenylenediamine) - were the key to giving the batteries biodegrading properties. Prof. Choi says, 'There's been a dramatic increase in electronic waste and this may be an excellent way to start reducing that. Our hybrid paper battery exhibited a much higher power-to-cost ratio than all previously reported paper-based microbial batteries. The polymer-paper structures are lightweight, low-cost and flexible. Power enhancement can be potentially achieved by simply folding or stacking the hybrid, flexible paper-polymer devices.' Read on...
SCIENTISTS CREATE BIODEGRADABLE, PAPER-BASED BIOBATTERIES
Author: Rachael Flores
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jul 2018
Team of 25 researchers from 7 institutes in Europe, USA and China (Linköping University, Sweden: Shula Chen, Xiao-Ke Liu, Liangqi Ouyang, Yingzhi Jin, Galia Pozina, Irina A. Buyanova, Weimin M. Chen, Olle Inganäs, Fengling Zhang, Feng Gao; Georgia Institute of Technology, USA: Zilong Zheng, Veaceslav Coropceanu, Jean-Luc Brédas; Chinese Academy of Sciences, China: Deping Qian, Huifeng Yao, Sunsun Li, Bowei Gao, Jianhui Hou; École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland: Wolfgang Tress; Imperial College, UK: Thomas R. Hopper, Artem A. Bakulin; The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong: Jing Liu, Shangshang Chen, He Yan; University of Cambridge, UK: Jiangbin Zhang) have come together to develop rules for designing high-efficiency organic solar cells. Their research, 'Design rules for minimizing voltage losses in high-efficiency organic solar cells', was published in Nature Materials. Lead researcher, Prof. Feng Gao of Linköping University, says, 'We have formulated some rational design rules to minimize energy losses in organic solar cells. Following these rules, we present a range of examples with low energy losses and high power conversion efficiencies.' The research provides two fundamental rules to minimize energy losses in organic solar cells - (1) Minimize the energy offset between donor and acceptor components. (2) Make sure that the low-gap component in the blend has a high photoluminescence yield. According to researchers, theoretically the limit for the fraction of the sun's energy that can be obtained in solar cells is around 33%, but laboratory experiments with silicon-based solar cells have achieved 25% at best. Prof. Olle Inganäs of Linköping University, 'But we now know that there is no difference - the theoretical limit is the same for solar cells manufactured from silicon, perovskites, or polymers.' Read on...
Design Rules for Building Efficient Organic Solar Cells
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 jul 2018
In a developing country like India low-income groups often lack access to proper healthcare. But, mobile technology can provide ways to enable these groups have knowledge and resources to drive preventative healthcare. Lead researchers, Aakash Ganju (co-founder of Avegen), Sumiti Saharan (Neuroscientist, Team Lead of Design & Research at Avegen), Alice Lin (Global Director of social innovation at Johnson & Johnson), Lily W. Lee (President of Almata, a division of Avegen), explain the research conducted by their team on the digital usage patterns of underserved groups in two urban areas of India, and iteratively tested user interface and content design. Researchers generated primary research insights from more than 250 new mothers and fathers living in low-income communities, and achieve understanding of the core barriers and digital needs of this population. Researchers suggest, 'Embedding health care into digital tools requires that providers overcome contextual barriers and undertake deliberate design processes. To succeed, providers must develop a nuanced understanding of the obstacles to consuming information digitally, as well as glean insights from technology, interface design, and behavioral science.' Following are some insights from the research - (1) Cost is no longer the biggest barrier: In the last year, a strong government regulatory authority has promoted competition and consumer benefits that have rapidly driven down both smartphone and data costs. (2) Infrastructure can overcome any remaining cost barriers: Only 5% of people living in less-connected and less-developed localities owned smartphones, compared to a significant 56% of individuals with similar incomes living in neighborhoods with good mobile network and infrastructure. (3) Digital experiences are not often built for low-income, urban populations: The most pervasive barrier to digital adoption in India today is a lack of knowledge about how to use digital interfaces. Language is also a barrier. India has an overall literacy rate of 74%. However, only about 10% of Indians can communicate in English - the language of the Internet. Local language content is scarce. There are gaping holes in the understanding of early-stage user requirements and pain points, from both the digital interface and content experience perspectives. (4) There is a lack of trust in health-related digital information: Low-income, underserved communities who have not been exposed to authentic digital content often have extreme distrust in digital information pertaining to health. Only 12% of families thought information from digital sources was reliable, compared to more than 90% finding information from doctors and mothers to be most, very, or somewhat reliable. According to researchers, to truly meet the needs of underserved consumers, providers must focus on the following areas - (1) High-quality content: To engage users on digital platforms, providers must use differentiated content that connects with a user's specific journey. The form, tone, and continuity of content matters. Video formats optimized for small, low-quality displays are most effective in driving engagement. When visual formats are not feasible, audio formats are the next best alternative. Understand the environments in which users consume health. Include local elements in the content, like referring to local clinics etc. (2) Behavior change: Engaging users is vital to directing changes in consumer health behavior. It's important to be deliberate about the design of the user journey. Offering incentives for content consumption, sharing, and specific health-related behaviors can help nudge users toward desired health-related behaviors. (3) Technology: Mobile apps need to be light and fast, have low memory and data requirements, and be able to run on slow and patchy networks. Display data consumption frequently, enhanced ability to view offline content and share content within community is important for engagement. (4) Design team structure: Multidisciplinary teams that bring together expertise in technology, design, business and sustainability, end-user thinking, and behavioral sciences tend to create the most effective designs. To design for the end user, providers must design with the end user, particularly for populations who are not digitally fluent. Teams should develop a thinking environment and processes that allow for hypothesis development, application design, testing, analytics, and retesting in rapid, parallel, iterative cycles. Read on...
Stanford Social Innovation Review:
Expanding Access to Health Care in India Through Strong Mobile Design
Authors: Aakash Ganju, Sumiti Saharan, Alice Lin Fabiano, Lily W. Lee
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 may 2018
Researchers at The University of British Columbia (Okanagan, Canada), Prof. Abbas Milani and graduate student Armin Rashidi, are working to solve the issue of wrinkling when it comes to making textile composites. Their research, 'A multi-step biaxial bias extension test for wrinkling/de-wrinkling characterization of woven fabrics: Towards optimum forming design guidelines', was recently published in Materials & Design Journal. According to Prof. Milani, wrinkling is one of the most common flaws in textile composites, which are widely used for prototypes, as well as mass production within prominent aerospace, energy, automotive and marine applications. Researchers have investigated several de-wrinkling methods and have discovered that they can improve their effectiveness by pulling the materials in two directions simultaneously during the manufacturing process. Mr. Rashidi says, 'The challenge was to avoid unwanted fibre misalignment or fibre rupture while capturing the out-of-plane wrinkles. Manufacturers who use these types of composites are looking for more information about their mechanical behaviour, especially under combined loading scenarios.' Prof. Milani, who is director of Materials and Manufacturing Research Institute at UBC Okanagan, says, 'Composite textiles are changing the way products are designed and built in advanced manufacturing sectors. As we continue to innovate in the area of composite textiles to include more polymer resin and fibre reinforcement options, this research will need to continue in order to provide the most up-to-date analysis for manufacturers in different application areas.' Read on...
UBC Okanagan News:
Researchers improve textile composite manufacturing
Author: Nathan Skolski
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 apr 2018
According to a report by The Times of India, engineers in India are now showing more interest in the automobile industry as compared to the usual IT industry, signalling a boom time for the more traditional manufacturing sector. Tightening of US visa rules, streamlining of staff by big IT companies and increasing importance of big data and artificial intelligence in automobile industry are some factors promoting this shift. NASSCOM says that IT sector will see single-digit growth for the third-consecutive year and jobless growth for the second year. Gopal Mahadevan, CFO of Ashok Leyland, says, 'Earlier mechanical engineers were going to the IT industry but now they're coming back. There appears a reverse brain drain happening and suddenly we're getting lots of applications from this segment, much more than in the last 3 years.' According to the Naukri Jobspeak data for March 2018, there has been significant hiring growth for the auto industry. The sector has witnessed a 33% growth in March 2018 compared to March 2017. Rajan Wadhera, President of Automotive Division at Mahindra & Mahindra, says, 'The IT allure is beginning to wear off as that segment has almost reached a saturation point. The pay growth is also not as good as it once was. So the attraction to join the auto industry is back.' Thammaiah B. N., MD of Kelly Services, says, 'Product specialists are in demand and their experience levels are in the tune of 8 to 10 years or higher. The auto industry itself has stepped up its hiring by 30% and IT has been a major contributor.' Read on...
The Economic Times:
Automobile industry is the new IT for India's engineers
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 oct 2017
India's future success will be defined on the basis of how its positive elements like demographic dividend, IT and software, manufacturing, agriculture, government initiatives (Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, Startup India) etc, gel together effectively and grow. Adding to all these, focus on research, design and innovation, will further propel creation and development of new and emerging technologies and concepts. Specifically, Indian auto industry does have R&D capabilities, but it is mostly driven by foreign collaborations and partnerships. Moreover, Indian operations of most foreign auto makers rely on their global development centers when it comes to technological innovations. But the dynamics of the industry are shifting, and companies are mobilizing resources and assets towards design and development also, in addition to manufacturing. The change is also visible in the electric vehicle segment with a strong policy focus. Recent conference organized by NASSCOM and Autocar Professional was directed towards discussing the design, R&D and technology based future of the industry. Sameer Yajnik, COO-APAC of Tata Technologies, says, 'Indian engineers, thus far, have brought together just a few parts of the jigsaw puzzle in terms of vehicle development, but this is set to be transformed. With EVs, ADAS, autonomous, connected cars, et al, there are a slew of technology-driven changes that need to be responded to and India is an excellent place.' Patrick Newbery, Chief Digital Officer of Global Logic, says, 'Design and engineering work best when coupled together, and the Indian start-up ecosystem has displayed a good show of that already...Amalgamating design and engineering, as well as with its ability to innovate and create as a response-stimulus to change, India holds a strong place in developing new future technologies, where even the US would be looking outside to outsource these innovative solutions. There is more likelihood of innovation coming out of such environment.' Current spend in automotive engineering and R&D of Europe is 35%, that of US is 25% and, India's is at 10%. This is expected to triple in next 3 years. Sanjeev Verma, CEO of Altran India, says, 'India holds a very important place in the whole jigsaw and especially can play a great role in designing passive safety and IoT systems...With the whole ecosystem springing up now, the next three to four years are going to be extremely transformational for the development vertical in the Indian automotive sector.' Commenting on design in India, Raman Vaidyanathan of Tech Mahindra says, 'Indian engineering is bound to be more frugal, compared to the rest of the world because of the country’s legacy in being cost conscious. This is very positive as it implies that a good quality product, designed and developed to a cost in India could be produced in the emerged markets, while the reverse is going to prove rather expensive.' The challenge of skilled human resources in design and engineering in India remains. NASSCOM has started a foundation course in integrated product development that has reached 1000 colleges since CY2015. Government, academica and industry has to come up with integrated strategies that need to be applied to upgrade the knowledge and skills of graduates coming out of technology institutes and ensure success of design, research and development in India. Read on...
Beyond Make in India - Design and develop in India now imperative
Authors: Sumantra B. Barooah, Mayank Dhingra
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 sep 2017
Team of architects at Ant Studio (India) - Monish Siripurapu, Abhishek Sonar, Atul Sekhar, Sudhanshu Kumar - have used computational technologies (CFD Analysis) and reinvented the traditional evaporative cooling technique to lower temperature of emissions from an electronics factory with less cost, energy consumption and impact on surrounding environment. Ancient Egyptians, Persians and later on Mughals in India utilized the evaporative cooling technique to overcome hot climate. According to a research study by Prof. Asif Ali of Aligarh Muslim University (India), published in International Transaction Journal of Engineering, Management, & Applied Sciences & Technologies (2013), 'The emperor's throne at the centre of Diwan-e-Khas is surrounded by two sets of openings four meters apart from each other. These openings were covered with grass mats with sprinkled water during summers...' The architects from Ant Studio stacked cylindrical terracotta cones, giving it a circular shape, and water was made to run over them. Hot air coming from the generators passed over the system lowering the temperature substantially. Further technical details of the system can be obtained from an ArchDaily.com article 'This Innovative Cooling Installation Fights Soaring Temperatures in New Delhi.' Monish Siripurapu, founder of Ant Studio, says, 'As an architect, I wanted to find a solution that is ecological and artistic, and at the same time evolves traditional craft methods...I believe this experiment worked quite well functionally. Findings from this attempt opened up a lot more possibilities where we can integrate this technique with forms that could redefine the way we look at cooling systems, a necessary yet ignored component of a building’s functionality. Every installation could be treated as an art piece...The circular profile can be changed into an artistic interpretation while the falling waters lend a comforting ambience. This, intermingled with the sensuous petrichor from the earthen cylinders allow for it to work in any environment with the slightest of breeze. Having said that, there are many factories throughout the country that face a similar issue and this is a solution that can be easily adopted and a widespread multiplication of this concept may even assist the local potters.' Read on...
Architects in India Use Natural Cooling to Take the Edge off Factory Emissions
Author: Vittoria Traverso
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 sep 2017
Education and learning has to keep pace with the happenings in industry, and equip students with the cutting-edge knowledge and skills, to assure their success in the highly competitive marketplace. Simon Biggs, Education Liaison Officer for Wales at Renishaw, explains how 3D printing is the new technology that is becoming mainstream part of the classrooms for engineering and mathematical learning. Mr. Biggs says, '3D printing is a well-established industrial technology for prototyping and manufacturing, particularly popular with the aerospace and defence sectors. Also known as additive manufacturing (AM), 3D printing is the process of making a solid 3D object from a digital computer aided design (CAD) file...3D printing is a rapid production method with minimal waste material. Its design flexibility means users can manufacture bespoke objects for a low cost...Understanding and using this growing technology can benefit children's learning, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects but also beyond these more traditional fields in music, design technology, history, geography and biology...Exciting and innovative projects are also a simple way to keep pupils engaged in STEM subjects, which is a vital step forward in addressing the STEM skills shortage.' Explaining the rise of 3D printers in schools and their use to develop new skills in students, he says, 'The increasing numbers of 3D printers in schools is not only due to the increasing recognition of 3D printing being a relevant and engaging educational tool, but also relates to the number and availability of low cost 3D printing machines...Advances in resources available for teachers and other education professionals are also making 3D printing more widely accessible...Using 3D printing as a production method enables students and pupils to move from the conception of an idea to producing a physical object with relative ease...Interrogating a physical object can make it easier for pupils to spot mistakes in designs. This allows them to gain valuable problem solving skills in a creative, hands-on way.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 jun 2017
Innovation Showcase (ISHOW) by American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is a hardware competition for socially minded projects. The purpose is to create awareness that hardware engineers too play a role in social innovation. K. Keith Roe, President of ASME, says, 'Our research showed a tremendous lack of support for hardware innovators seeking to enter global markets and make a societal impact.' Paul Scott, ASME ISHOW Director, says, 'From South America to West Africa to Southeast Asia, there are many talented folks that are changing paradigms with their work.' Currently, ASME ISHOW is held in US, Kenya and India. This year's American competition will be held on 22 June 2017. According to ISHOW website (thisishardware.org), 10 American finalists alongwith their projects are - (1) Hahna Alexander (SmartBoots: Self-charging work boots that collect status and location data and provide workforces in hazardous environments with actionable insights); (2) Jonathan Cedar (BioLite HomeStove: An ultra-clean cookstove that reduces smoke emissions by 90% and biomass fuel consumption by 50% compared to traditional open fire cooking, while also co-generating electricity from the flame to charge mobile phones and lights); (3) Matthew Chun (RevX: A transfemoral rotator that restores dignity to low-income amputees by enabling them to sit cross legged, dress themselves, get back to work, and more); (4) Shivang Dave (QuickSee: PlenOptika developed the QuickSee to disrupt the barriers to eyeglass prescriptions for billions of people worldwide so that they can get the eyeglasses they need); (5) Alexandra Grigore (Simprints: With a novel fingerprinting system, Simprints aims to create a world where lack of identity is never the reason why anyone is denied basic services in healthcare, education and finance); (6) Mary McCulloch (Voz Box: Millions of people, right now, are nonverbal. Current devices are too expensive and uncustomizable. The Voz Box is an innovative speech generation device that has customizable sensors and is affordable); (7) Erica Schwarz (Kaleyedos Imaging Device (KID): A revolutionary infant retinal imager that will empower neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) worldwide to decrease the incidence of visual impairment and blindness due to infant retinal disease); (8) Kenji Tabery (VeggieNest: Smart home gardening systems, and aims to address the growing market need for access to organic, affordable, and nutritious produce that enable global consumers to be food secure); (9) Team Sixth Sense (Team Sixth Sense: We have designed a system of sensor to attach to lower-limb prosthetics that works with NeoSensory's current technology to provide realtime vibrotactile feedback); (10) Quang Truong (EV 8 Cooler: Evaptainers creates low-cost mobile refrigerators that run on water. These are perfect for low income families who live off grid or cannot afford a conventional refrigerator). Read on...
10 engineers will showcase hardware's role in social innovation
Author: Nia Dickens
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 mar 2017
Norimasa Nishiyama of German Electron Synchrotron DESY, and international team of researchers from Germany and Japan (Ryo Ishikawa, Hiroaki Ohfuji, Hauke Marquardt, Alexander Kurnosov, Takashi Taniguchi, Byung-Nam Kim, Hidehiro Yoshida, Atsunobu Masuno, Jozef Bednarcik, Eleonora Kulik, Yuichi Ikuhara, Fumihiro Wakai, Tetsuo Irifune), have created a 2mm diameter disc of transparent silicon nitride, one of the hardest material known. The scientific report titled, 'Transparent Polycrystalline Cubic Silicon Nitride', was recently published in Nature. The transparent ceramic could be used for ultra-tough windows able to withstand extreme conditions. Windows that let users peer into engines and industrial reactors, or protect optical sensors from high pressures or heat are usually made of diamond, an expensive material that becomes unstable at 750°C. On the other hand, transparent silicon nitride ceramic can withstand temperatures upto 1400°C and is much cheaper. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 mar 2017
Team of researchers from IIT-Kharagpur, Prof. Sudip Misra, Prof. N. S. Raghuwanshi, Anandarup Mukherjee and Arijit Roy, has designed India's first indgenous drone, BHIM, that can create a Wi-Fi zone within a nearly 1 km radius when it flies overhead. It is specifically designed for emergency and conflict situations. It has a battery backup of 7 hours, can fly into a disaster zone and create a seamless communication network for those involved in the operation. The automated drone has an actual vision-based guidance with built-in intelligence that helps it identify if an area is crowded or not. It will then fly away and land in a safer place. According to Prof. Sudip Mishra, 'Such advanced built-in intelligence is not available in drones now. The design is completely in-house. The controlling and guiding algorithms of the drone have been developed in our lab.' Internet of Things (IoT) is an important component of the drone. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 12 mar 2017
Researchers from Hokkaido University (Japan) have created 'fiber-reinforced soft composites' or tough hydrogels combined with woven fiber fabric. The study, 'Energy-Dissipative Matrices Enable Synergistic Toughening in Fabric Reinforced Soft Composites' (Authors - Yiwan Huang, Daniel R. King, Taolin Sun, Takayuki Nonoyama, Takayuki Kurokawa, Tasuku Nakajima, Jian Ping Gong), was recently published in Advanced Functional Materials. Researchers combined hydrogels containing high levels of water with glass fiber fabric to create bendable, yet tough materials, employing the same method used to produce reinforced plastics. They found that a combination of polyampholyte (PA) gels, a type of hydrogel they developed earlier, and glass fiber fabric with a single fiber measuring around 10µm in diameter produced a strong, tensile material. The procedure to make the material is simply to immerse the fabric in PA precursor solutions for polymerization. The developed fiber-reinforced hydrogels are 25 times tougher than glass fiber fabric, and 100 times tougher than hydrogels. Moreover, the newly developed hydrogels are 5 times tougher compared to carbon steel. According to lead researcher, Prof. Jian Ping Gong, 'The fiber-reinforced hydrogels, with a 40 percent water level, are environmentally friendly. The material has multiple potential applications because of its reliability, durability and flexibility. For example, in addition to fashion and manufacturing uses, it could be used as artificial ligaments and tendons, which are subject to strong load-bearing tensions.' Read on...
Hokkaido University News:
New "tougher-than-metal" fiber-reinforced hydrogels
Authors: Jian Ping Gong, Naoki Namba
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 feb 2017
Society continues to face challenges to construct affordable, high-quality, innovative and future-focused built environments. Many building processes are sub-standard and obsolete, with sustainability concerns. Current research on integration of digital technologies within architectural and construction processes promises substantial contributions to sustainability and productivity. Research connections between diverse fields like architecture, structural design, computer science, materials science, control systems engineering, and robotics are required. Researchers during the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 2017 reveal latest developments in digital fabrication in architecture at 1:1 building scale. They explain successful integration of digital technologies in design, planning, and building processes to transform the building industry. (1) On Site Digital Fabrication for Architecture: Prof. Jonas Buchli, Agile and Dexterous Robotics at ETH Zurich (Switzerland), proposes a radical focus on domain specific robotic technology enabling the use of digital fabrication directly on construction sites and in large scale prefabrication. (2) The New Mathematics of Making: Prof. Jane Burry, Director of the Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory at RMIT University in Melbourne (Australia), explores how these opportunities (Digital computation; Linking of design attributes to extraneous factors; Mathematical design models etc) for automation, optimization, variation, mass-customisation, and quality control can be fully realised in the built environment within full scale construction. (3) Building Materials for 3D Printing: Prof. Ronald Rael, Architecture at University of California at Berkeley (USA), reveals the development of new materials that can overcome the challenges of scale and costs of 3D printing on 1:1 construction scale. He demonstrates that viable solutions for 3D printing in architecture involve a material supply from sustainable resources, culled from waste streams or consideration of the efficiency of a building product's digital materiality. Read on...
ETH Zurich Global News:
Digital Fabrication in Architecture - The Challenge to Transform the Building Industry
Author: Rahel Byland Skvarc
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 jan 2017
Team of researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA) (Markus Buehler, Zhao Qin, Gang Seob Jung, Min Jeong Kang), has designed one of the strongest lightweight materials known, by compressing and fusing flakes of graphene, a 2-dimensional form of carbon. The new material, a sponge-like configuration with just 5% the density of steel, can have a strength 10 times more. The findings, published in the journal 'Science Advances', show that critical factor of 3-D form is their unusual geometrical figure, suggesting that similar strong, lightweight materials can be made from other materials by creating similar geometric figures. 2-D materials have exceptional strength alongwith unique electrical proberties. But they are extraordinarily thin. Prof. Buehler says, 'They are not very useful for making 3-D materials that could be used in vehicles, buildings, or devices. What we've done is to realize the wish of translating these 2-D materials into 3-D structures.' Prof. Qin adds, 'Once we created these 3-D structures, we wanted to see what's the limit - what's the strongest possible material we can produce.' According to Prof. Buehler, 'You can replace the material itself with anything. The geometry is the dominant factor. It's something that has the potential to transfer to many things.' Prof. Huajian Gao of Brown University comments, 'This is an inspiring study on the mechanics of 3-D graphene assembly. The combination of computational modeling with 3-D-printing-based experiments used in this paper is a powerful new approach in engineering research. It is impressive to see the scaling laws initially derived from nanoscale simulations resurface in macroscale experiments under the help of 3-D printing. This study shows a promising direction of bringing the strength of 2-D materials and the power of material architecture design together.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 sep 2016
Researchers from Stanford University [Po-Chun Hsu, Alex Y. Song, Peter B. Catrysse, Chong Liu, Yucan Peng, Jin Xie, Shanhui Fan, Yi Cui] have developed a low-cost, plastic-based textile that, when woven into clothing, has the ability to keep the body cool more efficiently as compared to the natural or synthetic fabrics that are used today. The research was published in journal 'Science' titled, 'Radiative human body cooling by nanoporous polyethylene textile'. According to Prof. Yi Cui of Materials Science and Engineering, 'If you can cool the person rather than the building where they work or live, that will save energy.' The new material cools by letting perspiration evaporate through it, as fabrics normally do. But the other most innovative characteristic of the material's cooling mechanism is that it allows heat that the body emits as infrared radiation to pass through the plastic textile. Prof. Shanhui Fan of Electrical Engineering says, '40-60% of our body heat is dissipated as infrared radiation when we are sitting in an office. But until now there has been little or no research on designing the thermal radiation characteristics of textiles.' Researchers engineered the cooling material by blending nanotechnology photonics and chemistry to give polyethylene, the material used as kitchen wrap, a number of characteristics desirable in clothing material. It allows thermal radiation, air and water vapor to pass right through, and it is opaque to visible light. Prof. Cui says, 'If you want to make a textile, you have to be able to make huge volumes inexpensively.' According to Prof. Fan, 'This research opens up new avenues of inquiry to cool or heat things, passively, without the use of outside energy, by tuning materials to dissipate or trap infrared radiation.' Read on...
Stanford engineers develop a plastic clothing material that cools the skin
Author: Tom Abate
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 sep 2016
Multidisciplinary team of researchers lead by Prof. Amin Salehi-Khojin from University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) have engineered a process through a solar cell to mimic plants' ability to convert carbon dioxide into fuel, a way to decrease the amounts of harmful gas in the atmosphere and produce clean energy. According to Prof. Salehi-Khojin, 'The artificial leaf essentially recycles carbon dioxide. And it's powered entirely by the sun, mimicking the real photosynthesis process. Real leaves use the energy from the sun and convert carbon dioxide to sugar. In the artificial leaf that we built, we use the sun and we convert CO2 to (synthetic gas), which can be converted to any hydrocarbon, like gasoline.' Describing the process Prof. Salehi-Khojin said, 'The energy of the sun rearranges the chemical bonds of the carbon dioxide. So the sun's energy is being stored in the form of chemical bonds, which can be burned as fuel...Scientists around the world have been studying carbon reduction, as this type of reaction is called, for years.' Prof. Nathan Lewis of California Institute of Technology, who has been studying solar fuels and artificial photosynthesis for more than 40 years, says, 'UIC's development is only a small piece of an eventual solar fuel product that can be widely implemented. There's a lot of steps that need to occur to envision how these things would translate into a commercializable system, but it's a step for building a piece of a full system that may be useful.' Prof. Michael R. Wasielewski of Northwestern University comments, 'UIC's development could push renewable energy technology forward.' The research, 'Nanostructured transition metal dichalcogenide electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction in ionic liquid', was recently published in journal 'Science'. UIC News Center website (news.uic.edu) provides the following information about co-authors and collaborators of this research - Amin Salehi-Khojin, Mohammad Asadi, Kibum Kim, Aditya Venkata Addepalli, Pedram Abbasi, Poya Yasaei, Amirhossein Behranginia, Bijandra Kumar and Jeremiah Abiade of UIC's Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, who performed the electrochemical experiments and prepared the catalyst; Robert F. Klie and Patrick Phillips of UIC's Physics Department, who performed electron microscopy and spectroscopy experiments; Larry A. Curtiss, Cong Liu and Peter Zapol of Argonne National Laboratory, who did Density Functional Theory calculations; Richard Haasch of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who did ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy; José M. Cerrato of the University of New Mexico, who did elemental analysis. Read on...
UIC researchers develop artificial leaf that turns CO2 into fuel
Author: Ally Marotti
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 12 aug 2016
Team of multidisciplinary researchers from Case Western Reserve University (USA) [Victoria Webster; Roger Quinn; Hillel Chiel; Ozan Akkus; Umut Gurkan; Emma L. Hawley; Jill M. Patel; Katherine J. Chapin], have created a 'biohybrid' robot by combining sea slug materials with 3D printed parts, that can crawl like sea turtle. Scientists suggest that in future, swarms of biohybrid robots could be released for such tasks as locating the source of a toxic leak in a pond that would send animals fleeing. They could also be used to search the ocean floor for a black box flight data recorder, a potentially long process that may leave current robots stilled with dead batteries. According to Ms. Webster, PhD student and lead researcher, 'We're building a living machine - a biohybrid robot that's not completely organic - yet. For the searching tasks, we want the robots to be compliant, to interact with the environment. One of the problems with traditional robotics, especially on the small scale, is that actuators - the units that provide movement - tend to be rigid.' Researchers also explain that if completely organic robots prove workable a swarm released at sea or in a pond or a remote piece of land, won't be much of a worry if they can't be recovered. They're likely to be inexpensive and won't pollute the location with metals and battery chemicals but be eaten or degrade into compost. Read on...
think - CWRU Blog:
Researchers build a crawling robot from sea slug parts and a 3-D printed body
Author: Kevin Mayhood
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jul 2016
Packaging is an important component of product handling, logistics, advertising, marketing and selling. There are variety of materials that are currently in use for packaging. Environmental challenges arise due to the waste generated through discarded packagings. The packaging industry is exploring better materials that can reduce environmental footprint. In spite of scientific breakthroughs in developing new packaging materials, there are issues related to their performance and price, inhibiting their mass adoption and usage. Bryan Shova, packaging designer and industrial design director at Kaleidoscope, explains sustainability aspects of packaging. He says, 'I dream of the day when material science and manufacturing can deliver on the promise of zero environmental impact, high performance, premium finish and low costs.' He explains, 'The viability of true sustainability is a complex economic challenge, and the ugly truth is that few consumers, brand owners or municipalities are willing to pay the premium price for cutting-edge sustainable packaging solutions. True solutions will come through "systems thinking" that requires the material supplier, manufacturer, retailer, consumer and the municipality to share in the premium costs and labor required to design, collect and recycle packaged materials.' He provides 10 principles for designing sustainable packaging - (1) Start with commodity materials that are commonly recycled. (2) Design the package from a single material. (3) Focus on the product-to-package ratio. (4) Design for assembly at the point of manufacture. (5) Avoid gluing and laminations. (6) Design for distribution. (7) Eliminate secondary and tertiary packaging when possible. (8) Design for disassembly. (9) Clearly mark the materials on the packaging components. (10) Use Lifecycle Assessment. Read on...
10 ways to design sustainable packaging with intent
Author: Bryan Shova
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 may 2016
As the need for intensive and intermediate care increases, the hospitals must have spaces that can fulfil the requirement. The multi-organizational collaborative EVICURES project at Seinäjoki Central Hospital in Finland was undertaken to develop a new design model for future intensive and intermediate care needs. The result of research conducted by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland on evidence-based design (EBD) and user orientation were applied to design work. Currently, there are no ICUs with single patient rooms in Finland. According to Kari Saarinen, Project Manager of the EVICURES project and Chief Physician at ICU of Hospital District of South Ostrobothnia, 'The international trend is that the need for intermediate care in particular is increasing. More and more demanding methods are being used for treating patients, and the share of elderly patients is increasing.' Regarding the project, he adds, 'The operations will be more cost-efficient and of higher quality, when the equipment and nursing staff are concentrated into one place. We also expect the solution to have remarkable effects on patient healing.' The hospital staff, management, patients and their families, the hospital district, and other cooperation partners participated in the design work. Tiina Yli-Karhu, Design Coordinator at Hospital District of South Ostrobothnia, says, 'A user-oriented approach was an essential foundation for the whole project. This way we can all together make the major change about to happen easier, when the nursing staff is moving from facilities for multiple patients to working alone in single rooms.' Using the Human Thermal Model tool, VTT performed questionnaire studies and measurements to evaluate the individual thermal sensation and comfort of both the staff and patients, that were utilized in HVAC design. Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences used CAD methods to model a virtual space in accordance with the architectural drawing, which VTT utilised for improving user-friendliness. From this 3D model, VTT developed a Unity3D game for computer and tablet, allowing the staff to move around in the ICU facilities virtually and to experience realistic interactive care situations in the new working area in advance. Finland's first single-patient intensive and intermediate care and cardiac unit designed in accordance with this model will become operational in 2018. Read on...
VTT Research News:
A new treatment room design model for future hospitals
Author: Nykänen Esa
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 apr 2016
To build human-like machines that can demonstrate ingenuity and creativity, the race is on to develop next generation of advanced AI (Artifical Intelligence). AI is already tackling complex tasks like stock market predictions, research synthesis etc, and 'smart manufacturing' is becoming a reality where deep learning is paired with new robotics and digital manufacturing tools. Prof. Hod Lipson, director of Creative Machines Lab at Columbia University, has embarked upon exploring a higher level of AI and develop biology-inspired machines that can evolve, self-model, and self-reflect - where machines will generate new ideas, and then build them. To build self-aware robots is the ultimate goal. Prof. Lipson explains, 'Biology-inspired engineering is about learning from nature, and then using it to try to solve the hardest problems. It happens at all scales. It's not just copying nature at the surface level. It could be copying the learning at a deeper level, such as learning how nature uses materials or learning about the adaptation processes that evolution uses...We are looking at what I think is the ultimate challenge in artificial intelligence and robotics-creating machines that are creative; machines that can invent new things; machines that can come up with new ideas and then make those very things. Creativity is one of these last frontiers of AI. People still think that humans are superior to machines in their ability to create things, and we are looking at that challenge.' He is working on a new AI termed as 'divergent AI', that is exploratory and involves creating many new ideas from original idea, and is different from 'convergent AI' that involves taking data and distilling it into a decision. ON SELF-AWARENESS IN AI: He says, 'Creativity is a big challenge, but even greater than that is self-awareness. For a long time, in robotics and AI, we sometimes called it the "C" word-consciousness.' ON AI IN MANUFACTURING: He comments, 'When it comes to manufacturing, there are two angles. One is the simple automation, where we're seeing robots that can work side-by-side with humans...The other side of manufacturing, which is disrupted by AI, is the side of design. Manufacturing and design always go hand-in-hand...When AI creeps into the design world through these new types of creative AI, you suddenly expand what you can manufacture because the AI on the design side can take advantage of your manufacturing tools in new ways.' ON TWO COMPETING SCHOOLS OF THOUGHTS IN AI: He explains, 'There's the school of thought that is top-down, logic, programming, and search approach, and then there is the machine learning approach. The machine learning approach says, "Forget about programming robots, forget about programming AI, you just make it learn, and it will figure out everything on its own from data"...I think the machine learning approach has played out perfectly, and we're just at the beginning. It's going to accelerate.' Read on...
The Last Frontiers of AI - Can Scientists Design Creativity and Self-Awareness?
Author: Alison E. Berman
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 feb 2016
According to World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution has become the world's biggest environmental risk, linked to over 7 million deaths a year. A global team of scientists (Farid Touati, Claudio Legena, Alessio Galli, Damiano Crescini, Paolo Crescini, Adel Ben Mnaouer) from Canadian University Dubai, Qatar University, and the University of Brescia (Italy), have developed a technology, known as SENNO (Sensor Node), that enables high-efficiency air quality monitoring, to help promote a cleaner environment and reduce the health risks associated with poor atmospheric quality. The technology promises to make air quality monitoring cost-effective. The research paper, 'Environmentally Powered Multiparametric Wireless Sensor Node for Air Quality Diagnostic', was published in Sensors and Materials journal. Prof. Adel Ben Mnaouer of Canadian University Dubai (CUD), says, 'Sensor networks dedicated to atmospheric monitoring can provide an early warning of environmental hazards. However, remote systems need robust and reliable sensor nodes, which require high levels of power efficiency for autonomous, continuous and long-term use...Our technology harvests environmental energy...it optimises energy use by the sensory equipment, so as to function only for the time needed to achieve the operations of sensor warm-up, sampling, data processing and wireless data transmission, thereby creating an air quality monitoring system that measures pollutants in a sustainable and efficient way.' Read on...
The Gulf Today:
Dubai professor develops innovation to combat increasing air pollution
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 feb 2016
As digital get seamlessly interwoven into the fabric of life, it will not remain anything extraordinary. In future, advancements in digital technologies will converge to enhance physical experiences that involve our bodies, feelings, emotions, actions and reactions. Auro Trini Castelli, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at gyro, explains how the 'Physical Revolution' will be driven by the following five trends - (1) Sensors will be the new devices (Virtual Reality; Motion and Gesture Recognition Technologies; Haptic Technology). (2) Surfaces will be the new screens (Interactive digital screens on walls, floors, ceilings, walkways etc). (3) Smart cities will make us smart citizens (Interactive city systems and digital environments). (4) Only meaningful interactions will survive (Well-integrated interfaces that get activated when required; Focus on human experience). (5) The world will be printed (3D printing for mass customization; Laser cutting; Computer modeling). In this experiential world, architects, designers, engineers, technologists, marketers, advertisers etc have to increasingly think and create with focus on providing solutions that appeal to all five human senses. The success will depend on how invisibly the digital will become part of the physical and improves every aspect of human interactions and experiences. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 feb 2016
Make in India Week has now started in Mumbai and along with it India Design Forum (IDF) 2016 is developing strategies and advocating how a facilitating design environment and culture can be nurtured to enable growth of manufacturing. IDF is integrated into Make in India campaign's plan to demonstrate the potential of design, innovation and sustainability across India's manufacturing sector. Rajshree Pathy, founder of IDF, explains, 'Design is not merely about clothes, shoes, handbags and jewellery, as is commonly believed. Those are incidental. Design is, in fact, at the heart of the manufacturing process. It is not a 'thing', it is a way of thinking.' Satyendra Pakhale, an Amsterdam-based designer, citing Tata Nano's example says, 'It is a good example of Indian design, which combined engineering innovations with a careful consideration for the demands of the domestic market. In fact, one of India's most famous qualities - jugaad - is indicative of an innovative mindset.' According to Simran Lal, CEO of Good Earth, 'It's important that we bring rural design and India's rural design communities along on this journey.' Time is now ripe for India to upgrade to a design-driven manufacturing ecosystem, attract global investments, partner with global corporations and manufacture for the world, but without losing the focus on serving the needs of the large local market. Read on...
The Indian Express:
Make in India Week - Putting design at the heart of manufacturing
Author: Pooja Pillai
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 07 feb 2016
Team of researchers from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Prof. Dipanjan Pan (Bioengineering), postdoctoral researchers Manas Gartia and Santosh Misra, along with Dr. Leanne Labriola, an ophthalmologist at Carle Foundation Hospital, are collaborating to develop a portable sensor that can quickly and inexpensively detect whether the eye injury is mild or severe. The device measures the levels of vitamin C in the fluids that coat or leak from the eye. According to Prof. Pan, 'The sensor takes advantage of the fact that the ocular tear film - the viscous fluid that coats the eyeball - contains low levels of ascorbic acid, which is just vitamin C, while the interior of the eye contains much higher levels. So the concept is, if there is severe damage to the eye that penetrates deeply, the ascorbic acid will leak out in high concentration.' Dr. Labriola says, 'The new device will change the standard of care for evaluating eye traumas. This technology has the ability to impact a large number of patients, particularly in rural settings, where access to an ophthalmologist can be limited.' Researchers suggest accident sites and battlefields as other places where the device will be of great use as chances of eye injury are high there. Prof. Pan comments on the new engineering-based medical college coming up at UIUC, 'This is a perfect example of physicians and engineers working together to find solutions to current problems in healthcare.' The team is further collaborating with a U of I industrial design professor to build a housing for the sensor that will be portable and easy to use and have founded a startup to bring the device to market. Read on...
Illinois News Bureau:
Portable device can quickly determine the extent of an eye injury
Author: Diana Yates
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 jan 2016
Good designers often seek a balance between comfort and fashion while designing their clothes. They design to improve human lives. For most people jeans provide comfort and also fulfil their fashion quotient. Professor Elazer Edelman, a cardiologist and director of Harvard-MIT Biomedical Engineering Center, is going a step further and utilizing scientific approach to create 'FYT Jeans', that are designed for health and comfort. These jeans, developed in collaboration with designers from Portugal, are particularly suited for people who sit for long hours, like office workers. Initially the project was targeted for wheelchair dependent people, to provide them safe clothes. According to Prof. Edelman, 'There are a variety of modifications to the design around the knee...The zipper on the back is a very important and innovative design.' FYT Jeans don't bunch up behind the knee. He further adds, 'It's extra material, extra pressure. It's uncomfortable and it can actually be unsafe. It's everything from a little irritation to when people have diabetes or poor circulation, developing sores that never heal.' While explaining the future of healthy clothings, he says, 'You could certainly embed all kinds of sensors in them, and you could even give something, or embed something that was itself therapeutic.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 dec 2015
Although Business Intelligence (BI) and Big Data Analytics (BDA) are being successfully utilized for incremental innovation, but they are insufficient to provide breakthrough innovation, which is more challenging and requires uncovering latent needs, or even creating needs and meaning. Soren Petersen, author of the book 'Profit from Design', and Finn Birger Lie (Co-founder and Chairman of Northern Analytics AS), explains how combination of BDA and Small Data (SD) when integrated at the early stages of new product development process can create breakthrough innovation. The conventional design process includes steps that combine analysis and synthesis, prototyping, testing and learning to create unique and valuable insights. While more advanced design processes, like Design Thinking, include an element of design research or Design Science Research, to enable design teams gain better understanding of the current and future market, and technologies, leverage this knowledge, and then create roadmap that includes the concurrent building of new capabilities that assist them to design future offerings. Mr. Petersen says, 'Innovation is often ambiguous. The 'Market-Technology Risk Matrix' provides a useful mapping of new ventures and offerings according to their position in the market (Recognized Needs, Clarifying Needs and Realizing Needs) and their technology level (Current Technology, Applied New Technology and Development of New Technology). Different combinations of Big Data Analytics (BDA) and Small Data Analytics (SDA) may prove more productive, depending on where design identifies insights within the Market-Technology Risk Matrix.' With grounded research and vertical thinking, BDA can support incremental innovation, while through lateral thinking, SDA can utilize a combination of hypothesis and grounded research to support breakthrough innovation. Read on...
Creating Breakthrough Innovations Through Design With Big and Small Data Analysis
Authors: Soren Petersen, Finn Birger Lie
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 dec 2015
Healthcare systems in US are taking initiatives to achieve sustainable designs in their buildings. They are targeting high levels of energy efficiency as part of their new facility design. They are trying to balance both sustainability and bottom line and seek to positively impact their communities. They consider sustainability design as a continuously evolving process so that they can adjust, tweak, and redesign, and achieve higher standards. Alan Eber of Gundersen Health System, one of the industry's green leaders, says 'Our goal was to achieve 115 kBtu per square foot per year. The average for hospitals in our region is about 250 kBtu so it was well below half of what the average hospital uses.' Mr. Eber adds, 'One of the biggest design lessons on the project was the potential to reduce energy use with the geothermal heat pump. The system takes excess heat in the hospital and puts it back into the system so burning fossil fuels isn't required to heat the hospital, resulting in a huge energy savings.' Another health organization, Ascension Health, adopted new design standards and achieved an Energy Star rating of 97 for its new facility, through a combination of technologies such as energy recovery air handling units and a variable air volume turndown in non-critical spaces to minimize fan, cooling, and reheat energy. According to Gerry Kaiser of Ascension Health, 'We use a lifecycle approach to justify what might be a slight upfront premium to put in the kind of systems and equipment that it does. Once the hospital is open, it's very difficult to get money spent on upgrading equipment, whether it's five or 20 years old. We try to design our hospitals to last and to perform knowing that no one wants to spend money on the unglamorous things in the future.' Palomar Medical Center (PMC), for which the work started in 2002 and got completed in 2012, utilized the latest concepts, best practices and technologies available at that time. Building Information Management (BIM), Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and sustainable design were at the initial stages of their development. Thomas Chessum of CO Architects says, 'PMC took advantage of the technology of the time, such as passive shading systems, heat-load reduction, and daylighting, to reduce its energy consumption, since LED lighting was still cost-prohibitive and active building programs like chilled beam systems weren't yet mainstream.' PMC had two main directives in their design process - (1) Create an environment that promotes health and healing. (2) Reduce the impact on the natural environment in construction and operations. Healthcare systems around the world have to effectively merge sustainability into their design processes and collaboratively work with the architects, engineers, designers, and their stakeholders like health staff and patients, and community at large, to provide better health solutions with reduced ecological footprint. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 dec 2015
It has been observed in many cases that science fiction writers have talked about products that became reality later on. For example earbud headphones were first mentioned by Ray Bradbury in his classic novel 'Fahrenheit 451'. Emphasis on technological development and advancement is also part of economic agendas of many nations. Japan is one country that gives siginificant importance to merging technology with social and economic development. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his economic roadmap, often termed as 'Abenomics', puts technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), big data, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) at the core of his revitilization strategy. Japan leads the world with its strength in robotics by bringing out the first personal robot 'Pepper'. But the robot lacks the expected intelligence as it couldn't pass the Turing Test which is a benchmark in AI to determine how close the machine thinks like humans. Although Japan's strength in industrial robotics is visible but it lags the advancements in IoT, big data and AI. According to Prof. Mitsuru Ishizuka of Waseda University and University of Tokyo, 'Japan is considerably behind the United States in 'deep learning', a central technology in AI, although the country is working hard to catch up...These companies (Google, Facebook, IBM etc) can invest big money in AI and add the resulting new values to their services. In Japan, there are much smaller companies with specific AI technologies.' IBM developed Watson, an AI computer, and over the years it has evolved into multiple applications. The computer's core framework reflects human decision-making (observe, interpret, evaluate, decide) but its data crunching abilities are incomparable. William Saito, Japanese entrepreneur and professional cook, utilized Watson to prepare some unique recipes. Citing Watson's strengths in IoT, big data and AI, Mr. Saito comments, 'Combine Watson with a refrigerator, for instance. You go to your refrigerator and it gives you a recipe based on the food in the fridge prioritized by expiration date.' Japan's focus on creating cyborgs (humans with mechanical parts) is also understandable considering its ageing population and growing need for assisted living. Toyota is collaborating with Stanford and MIT on technologies with emphasis on creating automobiles that assist the driver for safer travel, contrary to the approaches of Google and Tesla Motors that are working on driverless cars. Mr. Saito believes that Japan has to come out of its 'Galápagos Syndrome' and strike a balance between logic and creative thinking and move from electro-mechanical robotics to thinking and self-learning machines. Prof. Masakazu Hirokawa, AI researcher at University of Tsukuba, expresses similar views on Japanese model that focuses more on technology that addresses social issues and is less about creating global solutions. He comments, 'We have the hardware to be able to do it, but the important thing is developing the software...I'm trying to create algorithms that help robots learn and predictively determine what and how humans want them to act through experience-based inferences.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 oct 2015
User experience is one of the most critical factor to be considered while designing a product or service. Great designs make customers feel good, enjoy and above all fully utilize the desired functionality of the product or service for their benefit. Scott Sundvor, co-founder of 6SensorLabs, explains that there are generally two schools of thought in the product design process - 'Design-First' approach, that promotes the process of initially designing look and feel of the product and then make engineering fit that design, and the other is 'Engineering-First' approach, in which the engineering aspects of the product are considered first while the industrial design works under constraints of the engineering specifications e.g. hardware, components etc. Apple generally applies the design-first approach and gives substantial importance to the aesthetics of the product, and of course without compromising on the engineering. Mr. Sundvor suggests that startups and companies with relevantly less funds as compared to Apple can find success by following the engineering-first approach. They should focus on the utility of the product i.e. providing better usability and functionality. Hardware startups that pursue crowdfunding to generate capital often sell products with a different initial industrial design while ship something else. This generally happends due to lack of convergence of engineering and hardware aspects with the industrial design. In other cases it might happen that original industrial design was not manufacturable or the cost to manufacture it was too high. Startups and companies on low budget can avoid such problems by focusing first on making the product work and then create aesthetic aspects of industrial design around it. Engineering team and industrial design firm should work together closely. Product leader should be created within the product/engineering team to coordinate collaboration between the two and should gather feedback from all sources including user's perspective and engineering constraints. The selection of the right industrial firm could be a challenge and should be done by doing thorough research based on budgetary constraints, product requirements and the design firm's capabilities. Once the selection is made product/engineering team should pitch their product vision and specifications to the industrial design firm. The design firm should be convinced regarding the long-term viability of the product. To raise funds after this would depend on the high-quality prototype design that comes through a partnership with the design firm. Startups should be prepared to spend right amount of money to create this prototype and if they don't have much funds they should consider giving equity to the design firm. This is the critical stage of product development and startups shouldn't shy away from pulling all the strings to get a good design firm to work on their product vision and specifications. Read on...
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