3D Printed Bones Change Medical Field

One of the promises of 3D printing technology is for the customized creation of body parts. Making custom part replacement for important organs would be a bold action and a big breakthrough. However, for now, internal organs are still out of the question. What has been happening lately are a few instances of bone replacements.

During the 20th century, the use of prosthetic devices has gained ground, and has included artificial hips, knees, and others.

Bone is a prime candidate for 3D printing as the materials currently available have almost the same qualities as bone. It is also possible to create a 3D model of the bone based on patient scans and x-rays. There are other considerations besides just making the implant or replacement.

Dr. Gaurav Gupta, assistant professor of neurosurgery at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, has conducted the successful implant of a portion of the skull. The patient was Christopher Cahill of New Brunswick, NJ. Gupta operated on Cahill to reduce a life-threatening swelling on the frontal lobe. Unfortunately, a portion of the skull could no longer be used due to infection. This was replaced by a 3D printed plastic portion created with the use of CT scans.

The procedure also required additional skin to cover the implant. This was created with the help of Dr. Tushar Patel, a partner at The Plastic Surgery Center located in Shrewsbury. Dr. Patel is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, who inserted the excess skin as a tissue expander in Cahill’s surgery.

3D Printed Skulls Change the Medical Landscape

In choosing to use a 3D printed device, Dr. Gupta turned to DeputSyntheses CMS for the cranial skull implant. The material chosen was made from polyetheretherketone (PEEK), which was biologically compatible with skull material, it also was strong and stable. Earlier operations of this kind used metal mesh to replace the portion of skull, however that was not as strong nor as precise as 3D printed PEEK.

The operation shows the promise of 3D printing in replacing bone. One advantage of 3D printing is that a variety of materials can be used. Potentially, different materials could be used for different purposes, organs or body parts. For instance, skin cells or stem cells could be grown and printed layer by layer to replace human skin.

The Cahill case is not the only 3D printing solution currently underway. In China a 3D printed prosthetic was placed onto a woman’s neck to replace 5 spinal vertebrae. This was the first time that vertebrae were replaced by 3D printed parts.

However, 3d printing body parts should not be viewed as a silver bullet or a magical new substance. It requires a lot of customization to make it work. No single solution will work for everyone. 3D printing solutions must be done on a case-to-case basis. A one-part technology, one-part technique will not work in all situations, solutions need to be tailored for each patient.

The potential for 3D printing is enormous. The process itself is only now coming into the mainstream. Dr. Gupta notes that mankind’s evolution has taken thousands of years, but during the 20th century, the use of prosthetic devices has gained ground, and has included artificial hips, knees, and others. He also noted that the merging of human tissue with devices can make life more comfortable and allows people to live longer.

3D printing offers new frontiers for surgeons in a variety of fields. Clearly this technology is on the cusp and will soon be far more widespread, with bold impact throughout the world.

Originally Published at: https://www.boldbusiness.com/health-longevity/3d-printed-bones/


Where Cars Fly, So Do Questions

Flying cars are no longer just stars of science fiction. Movies, “Back to the Future” and “Bladerunner” both featured flying cars as normal means of transportation. The most famous of all though was regularly seen in the Jetsons cartoon TV show, where each episode opened with father George Jetson landing his rover on the family’s personal carpad.

Besides the space and personnel issues of running each carfield, there is also the problem of air traffic control

The flying car that is currently under development may not look like the flying cars of movies. One thing is certain though: judging by the current pace of development, flying vehicles are coming sooner than expected. They are also bringing a whole new set of logistical and infrastructure issues no one has addressed publicly.

The flying “vehicles” that can handle passengers that are closest to production stage today are all based on a the helicopter as a model. Their developers are pursuing an electric motor, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) model. As the name suggests, these vehicles wouldn’t need a runway, but they also couldn’t navigate a street, so they will never be considered flying cars.

The true flying cars under development will need a runway. Not all of them are meant to take off like an airplane, there are a few that turn to gyrocopters. However, even gyrocopters need enough space to roll into flight.

Driveways to Runways

Picture the mechanics involved in a takeoff and landing. A regular car drives to the runway, transforms into a plane, and then takes off like a plane. When landing, the vehicle has to land on a runway suitable for a plane (of sufficient length and width), where it would roll to a landing, transform and then be driven off like a regular ground vehicle on wheels.

Runways could be privately owned but they would be expensive. Most people would have to make do with a public runway. That means there would need to be a traffic control system of some type (human or machine) and rules to govern its operation.

Besides the space and personnel issues of running each carfield, there is also the problem of air traffic control. Current air traffic controllers are already overworked with the volume of regular air traffic. They cannot take the additional burden of watching over flying cars.

Once in the air, where will these vehicles fly? There are commercial “lanes” of traffic that pilots use to safely keep their large and easily seen vehicles from collisions. Thankfully, by the time flying car technology has evolved enough to get the vehicle airborne, the artificial intelligence units inside them should be advanced enough to handle piloting in whatever invisible lane at whatever invisible altitude is assigned to cars.

But who and how will we regulate the rogues who decide that being on time for their 9am meeting is more important than you being on time for yours? We’ve talked before about building a “Rules of the Sky” for drones, but now we’re adding a human to the equation. Will we require human drivers to pass flight school and maintain a certain minimum flight time the same as we do for pilots?

Possible Problems on Noise Pollution

Another big concern of any vehicle flying low over residential areas is the noise. Battery operation is nearly silent, so engine noise is not likely to be high, but these vehicles will generate noise with their propellers, potentially a lot of noise.

Even if they are regulated to the same standards as light airplanes, they will be landing in non-traditional areas (neighborhoods) that are not apt to be tolerant of aircraft “existing allowable noise levels.” Judging by the amount of dissension over current helicopter noise levels in some major cities, there will undoubtedly be public outcry for lower noise levels through regulation or other pressure on flying car developers.

There are at least five different companies worldwide working on flying cars (not VTOLs). At least four of them already have prototypes. One company assures flying cars buyers that they do not need a license to fly because their vehicle is designated as a light plane due to the use of a parachute for a wing. Another says you can be licensed as a Sport Pilot to drive and fly their model in just 20 hours.

Today, the flying car is stuck somewhere between being a bold idea and a bold action. It is no longer a question of if, but when will these vehicles take to the road and the air. When they do, there will be a lot of them vying for space and attention at the same time. That means we have very little runway left for asking, and answering, down-to-earth questions like the ones above.

Originally Published at: https://www.boldbusiness.com/transportation/flying-car-questions/

Bezos Wants to Ditch the Fridge

Amazon is making a bold move in the food delivery industry. Their latest acquisition is a food technology which allows food to be sterilized quickly using pressurized water and microwave heating. The food retains its flavor and nutrients and can be kept on the shelf for up to a year. The bold technology would be a perfect fit for Amazon’s food delivery model. The food can be prepared and on the shelves, and delivered to customers even without the need for refrigeration.

Industry insiders agree that this can be a potential disruptive technology and change the way food is handled, sold, as well as delivered.

The technology was originally developed for the US military by researchers from the Washington State University. It was brought to market by 915 Labs after a successful venture fund-raising. It is called the microwave assisted thermal sterilization or MATS.

The MATS technology was an offshoot of research efforts by the US Army’s Natick laboratories. It was meant to improve the food quality, as well as lengthen the shelf life of soldier rations. Washington State University received the research funding for the MATS project, more than a decade ago.

Food Chain Safety picked up the technology before going through some financial problems in 2013. 915 Labs was founded in 2014, and acquired what remained of Food Chain Safety. 915 Labs has since licensed the technology and patents from Washington State University, and has now asked approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for marketing MATS. In addition, 915 Labs has also been selling MATS machines to the Australian government and various Asian food companies.

Amazon Purchases Tech for Food Storage

Amazon first got interested in MATS at the SIAL Paris food trade show, after which they asked 915 Labs to their headquarters in Seattle. Early this year, Amazon sent representatives to meet with Juming Tang, the chair of the Washington State University biological systems engineering department, and who was instrumental in developing the technology.

In March, Amazon joined other companies based in Seattle, as well as the university, for the Industrial Microwave Alliance’s inaugural meeting. The Alliance’s mission is to help accelerate the transfer of technology for microwave-based food safety.

There are mixed reactions to the Amazon acquisition of this technology. For one, Amazon Prime shopping club caters to the high-income market. It is important to note that the technology presents a cheaper alternative to other long-storage food solutions.

Packaged food may not fit their customers’ needs. It is important to remember that along with the acquisition of the MATS technology, Amazon has also been hiring people to deliver meals to homes. This may not be the direction which the company is going to take in the long term.

This new and bold food processing system will significantly increase food shelf life. It can also turn out to be a good complement to Amazon’s $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods. This may likewise be good for the grocery business. As an innovative technology, Amazon might be able to leverage it into a useful advantage. It does not pose to help those who want fresh eggs, vegetables or salads.

Industry insiders agree that this can be a potential disruptive technology and change the way food is handled, sold, as well as delivered. If for this bold reason alone, then it would be interesting to watch what direction Amazon takes with MATS.

Originally Published at: https://www.boldbusiness.com/food-nutrition/food-sterilization-technology/

25 Most Techy Cities in the World

By 2050, more people will live in cities than are currently alive. More than 6.5 billion (out of a total 9.7 billion) will be dependent on the infrastructure of their cities. For these cities to flourish they have to rely on state-of-the-art technology, as well as provide opportunities for their citizens to develop new technologies.

Berlin has one of the fastest-growing ecosystems in the world. In 2015, the city received the biggest venture capital investment of any European city.

Business Insider recently consulted with 2thinknow to come up with a list of the top 85 cities in terms of tech advancement. The Melbourne-based data innovation agency is considered to be the leading innovator in authoritative city data. Using their proprietary Innovation Cities Program and Index and the City Benchmarking Data, along with 10 technological advancement factors, they ranked and sorted the cities to determine what the future of cities and megacities will look like.

Here’s a look at the top 25 of those cities:

1. San Francisco, California

The city takes pride in its rich business ecosystem and a wide array of talent that makes it a magnet for start-ups. The city has a never-ending tale of success stories, which include Apple, Google, Facebook, HP, Intel, Airbnb, Uber, and Twitter. It is the epicenter of everything tech and the supply chain of innovation, making it the gold standard for tech cities.

Famously linked to Silicon Valley, just to the south, the area accounts for a third of all the venture capital investment in the entire United States. It was in this hub that silicon-based integrated circuit, the microprocessors, the microcomputer, and other key technologies were developed. Silicon Valley is the home to 39 businesses in the Fortune 1000, and thousands more promising start-up companies.

2. New York, New York

New York City represents the next wave of technology disruption and the well-established traditional economies. The city is projected to be the next nerve center of the next business revolution, which will move beyond the early tech innovations such as faster, smaller chips, and virtually connecting people and information.

New York City is the undisputed global leader in finance and advertising, fashion, and the arts, and is now heavily turning to technology disruption. About 7,000 tech companies currently call New York City home, providing more than 100,000 jobs.

New York City, unlike Silicon Valley, has embraced the marriage of technology and consumer goods. As technology disruption moves in the direction of traditional industries, the city is in a position of advantage.

3. London, England

London’s tech industry, although not as high-profile as that of Silicon Valley, is gathering strength and depth. Widely regarded as an also run a decade ago, current British entrepreneurs have built an increasingly promising homegrown tech industry. The city has become good at applying and developing technology in retail and in banking, including standalone start-up tech businesses.

The growth of the tech industry in the UK, with London’s crucial role in the growth, resulted in the growth of digital technology sector by 46%, employing about 200,000 people. Digital technology accounts for 3.5% of all London jobs and contributes 5% of gross value-added products. UK’s capital has more than 40,000 digital tech firms, spread over Westminster, Tower Hamlets, the City of London, and Camden.

4. Los Angeles, California

The tech scene in Los Angeles has been shining brightly, not only because of the glitter of Hollywood but also because of the city’s emerging role in the increasingly connected and innovation-fueled world.

More than a decade ago, Hollywood was the main attraction of the metropolis, lacking any semblance of a technology scene. But the nurturing of MySpace, e-Harmony, and the former Applied Semantics that is now Google AdSense made Los Angeles the third leading entrepreneurial hub, giving rise to tech talent and start-up communities. LA is now home to Tinder, Scopely, Hyperloop, The Honest Company, and SpaceX.

Los Angeles now ranks first in gaming, e-commerce, and online media, made possible by an access to engineering talent, content investors, and Hollywood influencers. LA saw more than $900 million in investment poured into consumer start-ups and social media in 2015. It is now taking over smartphone screens and TV entertainment with such companies as Hulu and Snapchat.

Los Angeles boasts of great schools, such as UCLA, USC, and Caltech that produce more engineers than any other city in the country, producing the talent behind influential companies such as Saleforce, Box, Eat24, Tinder, Uber, Applied Semantics, and The Honest Company. The army of talents is complemented by prolific investors, which include Troy Carter, Peter Pham, Matt Mazzeo, Ashton Kutcher, Paige Craig, and much more.

5. Seoul, South Korea

Seoul is referred to as the city of the future, projected to be the next global hub for tech start-ups. South Korea has been ranked first among all countries in patent activity, research & development capability, tech density, and productivity. Seoul has filed more patents than any other city in the world. The city has developed widely used technologies, such as LTE for the smartphones.

South Korea, especially Seoul, is the leader in broadband speed, which is currently at 50 Mbps. Seoul’s penetration of world broadband is at an all-time high at 97%. Young technologists fuel the start-up scene, led by social media innovators and game developers.

6. Taipei, Taiwan

The tech hardware industry is the pillar of Taiwan’s economy. Taipei is the world’s leader in industrial design. For many years, the city delved into hardware rather than software. Taipei is the home of some of the world’s largest PC manufacturers such as Asus, Acer, Gigabyte, and MSI. It is also home to the smartphone manufacturer HTC. Dozens of Apple component makers are located in the Taiwanese capital. The city also has a large number of venture capitalists.

The city used to be an indispensable part of the world’s high-tech supply chain although it is currently facing stiff competition from China that has pushed into the same tech area that sustained the Taiwanese economy for years.

7. Boston, Massachusetts

Although many entrepreneurs turn their eyes to such tech hubs as the Silicon Valley or Austin, Texas, the city of Boston continues to grow as a tech mecca on the eastern seaboard of the US. Boston possesses a unique tech DNA that nurtures early-stage start-ups to technology giants.

The famous universities in the area, such as MIT, Harvard, Tufts, and others have produced exciting technologies, mostly in the fields of robotics and biotech. Companies like Amazon and Facebook set up their R&D offices in the city to take advantage of the available pool of talent. Venture capital firms, such as Atlas Venture, Battery Ventures, Matric Venture Partners, and Bessemer Venture Partners are pouring investment into university start-ups and innovation labs that flourish in the city.

8. Singapore

The Southeast Asian city-state is fast turning into the Silicon Valley of the region, continuously attracting tech workers and investors. The city has featured for the past several years a continuous infrastructure construction, driven by the startups and high-tech giants. Singapore has given a massive push to make the city-state a wired up city as part of the “Smart Nation” program, with start-ups in the region busy building up gizmos and apps for businesses and homes.

Singapore is taking robotics seriously, projecting to make it a US$82 billion industry in the next few years. Robots have been widely employed in the tech industry and in the manufacturing sector. The government is scaling up the robotics program to develop and deploy new technologies to benefit healthcare, logistics, construction, and manufacturing.

9. Toronto, Canada

Toronto is Canada’s center for technology research and development. It is Canada’s largest, most innovative, and most dynamic hub of technology-focused businesses. The city’s technology sector is comprised of companies that manufacture computer and related equipment, semiconductor and electronic components, software, navigational and measuring equipment, and electronic and precision equipment.

The city teems with start-ups and innovative infrastructure that came out of places like the Cisco Innovation Center. About a third of the IT firms in Canada call Toronto home, accounting for about $42 billion in annual revenue.

Most of Toronto’s startups have less than 50 employees each, as they are mostly young companies that are projected to make their impact in the coming years.

10. Chicago, Illinois

The Windy City has for years been projected as the next Silicon Valley because of the large number of tech startups in a place that allows a more reasonable cost of living and operating a business. Chicago’s tech hub status is becoming more real with the help of tech incubators that spurred the growth of local training programs. For the past few years, Chicago led the nation in corporate relocations, making the city a real hub for technology where both companies and their employees thrive.

Chicago is home to large companies in diverse sectors, such as United Airlines and Boeing. The city boasts of a bevy of tech talents produced by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that produces hundreds of computer scientists and engineers each year.

11. allas-Fort Worth, Texas

The Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas is home to several global brands in the tech sector composed of about 3,000 tech companies and nearly 230,000 high-tech workers. The area has become one of the leading high-tech business regions in the country, just behind Silicon Valley of California.

Key high-tech players strengthened the infrastructure of the North Texas tech community, boosting the local economy and providing employment opportunities. AT&T moved its headquarters to Dallas while Texas Instruments built a new wafer fabrication unit in Richardson. Oracle and Cisco expanded their operations in the region while adding new jobs.

The area is rich in diverse high-tech companies, which include the likes of Rockwell Collins, Ericsson, Genband, Avaya, and Verizon Wireless. The area that used to be dominated by telecom giants is now home to diverse industries that operate in various sectors.

12. Tokyo, Japan

For several decades, the innovative products and prominent consumer brands of electronics in Japan were the envy of the whole world. Unfortunately, the giant Japanese brands have lost much of their luster to foreign competitors, mainly due to the Japanese reluctance to make aggressive moves in today’s high-tech industries.

Despite losing its prime position in the tech industry, Tokyo, Japan remains a leading player in the electronics industry. It is a leading city in the fields of technology, machinery, and scientific and medical research. Japan has the third highest budget in the world for research and development. Japanese scientists have received the largest number of science Nobel prizes in the region.

Tokyo is home to world-renowned tech companies that include Sony, Canon, NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, Casio, and much more.

13. Stockholm, Sweden

The King, makers of the world-famous iPhone game Candy Crush, Mojang, creator of Minecraft, as well thousands of startups call the Swedish capital home. Stockholm became famous worldwide because of the city’s games, apps, and digital services.

Stockholm’s tech sector became a magnet for more than €109 million investment in 2009, tripling that to €335 today, with more than 22,000 tech companies based in the city, six of them valued in the billions. Some of Stockholm’s tech companies have become “unicorns.”

Stockholm has fully embraced the environmental and digital revolutions. The city takes pride in hosting the most billion-dollar startups in Europe. Stockholm is now second among the world’s fastest growing markets for venture capital investments.

14. Vancouver, Canada

Since 2008, Vancouver’s tech sector has been the engine of growth for the province of British Columbia. The tech sector has grown at twice the rate of the overall economy of the province. The city was recognized in 2014 as “Silicon Valley North” because of the proliferation of a strong start-up culture.

Vancouver’s tech sector is composed of more than 600 companies that bring in more than $2 billion in annual revenues. The city is a magnet to up-and-coming engineers and established tech executives because of the city’s low corporate taxes.

15. Amsterdam, the Netherlands

The capital of the Netherlands is Europe’s thriving tech and information and communications technology (ICT) hub. Amsterdam is home to innovative companies, as well as to an open and creative tech scene. One of the world’s largest data transport hubs – the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX) is located in the city. The city plays host also to a number of tech conferences, accelerators and incubator programs that strengthen the city’s position as a start-up hub.

The city looks forward to becoming a city of electric and smart vehicles by imposing a ban on gas and diesel-powered vehicles by 2025.

Amsterdam is a European powerhouse in terms of financial technology, startup culture, and energy efficiency.

16. Beijing, China

Beijing’s new economy sector consists of several innovative industries that include new-energy vehicles and creative industries that contributed US$362.3 billion in 2016, accounting for a 6.7% increase from the previous year. Beijing’s high-tech zones, including the tech hub Zhongguancun in the Haidian District, is driving force behind the economic growth.

A lot of tech companies have joined the trend towards Internet business models that included the time-honored established brands of Beijing businesses. Economic growth in the city has been fueled by the success of such companies as Baidu, the Chinese Google; Alibaba, which is the world’s largest e-commerce company; China’s Facebook, Tencent; Didi, China’s version of Uber; and smartphone makers Huawei and Xiaomi.

17. Shanghai, China

Shanghai is the biggest city in China and one of the world’s top financial hubs. Shanghai is projected in the next four years to rival California’s Silicon Valley. The city’s Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park houses thousands of tech companies that employ more than 100,000 tech workers.

Like other high-tech cities in the country, Shanghai excels in venture capital and patents, due to the top priority the Chinese gave to manufacturing and their eagerness to protect their intellectual property.

Shanghai spearheads China’s move from manufacturing to become an innovation powerhouse, with focus on digitally advanced consumer goods and its large mobile users’ community.

Shanghai is home to the headquarters of Tencent, ZTE, and Huawei.

18. Montreal, Canada

The largest of Quebec’s cities, Montreal is gaining a reputation as a city where technology is valued. The city is home to Ubisoft Montreal, a world leader in game development studios. The province of Quebec is a leading video game producer in the country.

Montreal hosts the VR headset manufacturer Vrvana, and the OMSignal and Hexoskin companies that manufacture clothes that measure the biometric signals of the people that wear them.

The tech sector of the city includes such promising companies as Crew, formerly known as Oomph, Busbud, and PPL Connect.

19. Bangalore, India

The former site of lush farmlands, Bangalore is now home to many international and domestic technology companies that have been churning out millions of job opportunities for the young Indian tech population. Bangalore’s ascent in the tech world began when an electronic city was created outside the city. With all the limitations of high taxes and government-controlled licensing, a tech start-up Infosys emerged in the 1980s about the same time IBM introduced the personal computer.

In 1983, Infosys and another future tech giant, Wipro, moved to the city and India’s IT industry started to grow based on the success of the two companies. The city was introduced to Global IT forays with the opening of Texas Instruments’ facility in 1984. Bangalore today is home to several international companies that take advantage of the population’s ability to speak the English language.

20. Shenzhen, China

Shenzhen is a modern metropolis in the southeastern part of China. The city has risen in recent years to become a global epicenter of high tech innovations in automotive and telecommunication industries. The city is the world’s leader in the manufacture of drones and aims to lead in robotics. A home to several technology giants, Shenzhen is also a recognized breeding ground of start-ups.

Shenzhen has been referred to as the new Silicon Valley or the “world’s factory.” The city is now a staging ground for startups, independent innovators, and high-tech companies from all over the globe. ZTE, Tencent, and Huawei all have their beginning in Shenzhen.

21. Berlin, Germany

Berlin has one of the fastest-growing ecosystems in the world. In 2015, the city received the biggest venture capital investment of any European city. Berlin’s startups such as SoundCloud and Delivery Hero have become global giants. Many European start-ups across the ocean run their European operations in Berlin.

Berlin has suddenly emerged as one of the top European tech hubs. The city has a significantly lower cost of living than other tech hubs such as London and the Silicon Valley. Some of the tech companies that call Berlin home include the social game developer Wooga, Research Gate, the networking website for scientists, and Zoobe, the phone app developer.

22. Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong and Shenzhen signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop Lok Ma Chau Loop Innovation and Technology Park located at the border between Hong Kong and Shenzhen. The joint venture will boost Hong Kong’s technology sector that specializes in the commercialization and application of innovative systems and products, including industrial engineering. Several high-profile global technology companies are active in Hong Kong, including Texas Instruments, Nvidia, IBM, Samsung, Sierra Wireless, Siemens, Hitachi, Philips, Macronix, and Huawei.

Hong Kong has also emerged as a major hub for the IT and telecommunications, resulting in the emergence of companies that deal with software and hardware design.

23. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen could be Europe’s smallest capital city, with a population of only 560,000 but has been looking to become a hot spot for green technology and living, aiming to be fully carbon neutral in 2025.

Copenhagen makes up for the lack of a strong venture capital culture, with a strong industrial design sector that focuses on smart manufacturing. A large number of companies in the Danish capital have been focusing on the exploitation of new technologies. One area where the city leads in innovation is in the manufacture of hearing aids. GN Resound teamed up with Apple in creating a ‘made for iPhone’ hearing aid that will directly connect to the iPhone through the use of a technology that is similar to Bluetooth.

24. Barcelona, Spain

The financial crisis of 2008 played a major role in starting a new revolution – the startup revolution – in Spain, centered in Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of the Catalonia region. Barcelona is a shining example to the whole world of what the city of the future will look like – wired. Walk around the city and you will notice curved plastic shields in every lamppost. Those are computer systems that measure pollution, traffic, and noise, even the number of selfies taken in the streets below. Digital chips are plugged into garbage containers while sensors are rammed into the asphalt in the parking spaces.

The city is becoming the world’s model of what cities will look like in the future.

25. Washington, DC

The US capital is transforming from a government town into a tech hub, increasing tech-related jobs by 50% over the last decade. For many years, the tech sector in the city did not grow because tech companies in the area mostly sold their wares to the government. But things are changing. In 2013, Forbes named Washington, DC as a leading tech hot spot in the country.

The city is now home to more than 1,000 tech start-ups, making the nation’s capital comparable with the West Coast’s giant technology hubs. The city government launched a five-year economic plan that will create the largest tech hub on the East Coast. The city will waive corporate income taxes for the first five years of business operations, provides reimbursements for new hires, and relocation credits.

Originally Published at: https://www.boldbusiness.com/human-achievement-education/top-25-tech-cities/

Energy Gets Regulatory Sandbox in Singapore

The tiny island nation of Singapore is set to form a regulatory sandbox where energy technologies and new business can be tested and refined before being launched to the public.

iSwitch, said having a sandbox will allow companies such as theirs to test bold ideas in commercial setting, but still within a controlled environment.

The bold idea was proposed by the Energy Market Authority (EMA) in the hopes of creating a “safe and conducive space” much like what was proposed and adapted in the United Kingdom. In February 2017, the UK’s Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) started a regulatory sandbox to test future developments in the energy sector.

Singapore’s EMA hopes to follow suit and says that while they cannot guarantee error or failure-free systems, the sandbox can provide a safe environment to test these innovations. The move comes at the heels of bold technological changes being developed and rolled out.

Renewable technology and energy storage methods are being created and has created new business models previously unheard of in Singapore. The EMA said the sandbox will also allow then to provide much needed support and regulatory frameworks to different companies.

Sandbox, Boon to Energy Industry

The proposed sandbox has been welcomed by players in various industries. Even though the EMA said it will not be shelling out money for proposals which will be tested in the sandbox, it also won’t impose new charges or fees.

According to reports, the proposals which will be tested in the sandbox cover those that have been newly-introduced to the market. Or, they could be innovations to how technology is currently being used. One caveat though, the proposals should benefit consumers in the gas and electricity industries.

Retailers, for their part, welcomed the proposal and said the regulatory sandbox would be a good way to protect intellectual properties which new businesses have developed.

Singapore’s Red Dot Power, headed by its chairman Vijay Sirse, called the proposal for the sandbox a “proactive one”. His company is working to integrate innovative solutions for battery storage, demand response, as well as e-mobility. Being able to achieve this will significantly lower the cost of the service to customers; however, there’s still no policy framework until now.

Sirse hopes that the creation of the sandbox will be able to fill in the gaps. Another independent retailer, iSwitch, said having a sandbox will allow companies such as theirs to test bold ideas in commercial setting, but still within a controlled environment.

iSwitch’s general manager of wholesale and trading Andrew Koscharsky explained that being tested in a controlled environment would mean that products won’t affect a broader market in case the idea doesn’t work.

The company is working on new payment methods as well as carbon products before Singapore fully implements its carbon tax law in 2019.

According to Rob Khoo, the managing director of a solar quotation comparison and crowdfunding platform called SolarPVExchange, the proposed sandbox will also be beneficial to condominium owners who are looking at converting to solar panels. These owners won’t be able to install solar panels unless they have permission from the condominium’s managing body, which stands as the master tenant.

Khoo explained that they have had to turn down a lot of potential clients because of this. In an attempt to solve the problem, the company installed a meter at each of the units – right where solar energy is generated. They’ve also devised a solution to vary the resistance in the building’s electrical network so the solar energy goes to the intended unit.

The sandbox is a bold idea which stands to benefit small and big players in the emerging energy market. Other countries can benefit from a similar testing ground.

Originally Published at: https://www.boldbusiness.com/law-society/singapore-energy-regulatory-sandbox/

Trump Transportation Department Clears Way for Driverless Cars

The Department of Transportation just released guidelines on autonomous vehicles. This is the Trump Administration’s first formal statement regarding autonomous vehicles. The new guidelines help to standardize and create a framework that will allow autonomous vehicle technology to move forward and for the United States to continue to hold a leadership role in the industry. This is a bold action that will have sweeping effects on the economy.

She [Chao] also recommended that safety and performance rules and regulations are to be maintained and managed by federal agencies…

A Vision for Safety 2.0, was presented by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao at an event at the University of Michigan. She said that the benefits include the avoidance of car crashes, reducing commute times through the use of automated vehicles, access to open roads for the elderly and those with disabilities, and an expected decrease in highway fatalities and injuries.

Driverless Car Rules Rationale

Automobile automation will change the way vehicles interact on the roadways in many ways, and require a variety of infrastructure upgrades. These will include infrastructure investments to complement the improvements of on-car automation features. With a smart highway incorporating a dedicated lane for the automated vehicles, it is possible to pack more of them together running at the same speed and safely transporting more people and goods.

So far, automated vehicles incorporate technologies which have existed for years, but have been incorporated only in high-end cars or in trucks and buses. These include advanced cruise control, assisted braking technologies, radar to detect possible car collisions, and rear cameras.

The aim of a fully automated vehicle is to enable the transport of a person in a safe manner without the need for human intervention. It is expected that these automated features will lessen the number of vehicle failures and accidents. With fewer vehicle failures and accidents, there would be fewer injuries and fatalities from road travel.

The elderly and those with disabilities are also expected to benefit from automated vehicles. At present, they have been disenfranchised and have a hard time commuting because they cannot drive a car. With a self-driving car, they will have the same freedom of movement which able-bodied drivers have.

Driverless Car Framework for Vehicle and Road Safety

The automated vehicle booklet followed the approval by the US House of Representatives of the HR 3388 otherwise known as the Safety Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research in Vehicle Evolution (SELF DRIVE) Act. This is meant to hasten the development of automated vehicles. It permits up to 25,000 automated vehicles on the road during the first year, rising to 100,000 vehicles every year. The only requirement is for car manufacturers to provide letters of safety assessments of their automated systems.

There are several major differences from the 2016 policy guidelines and the current revisions. The 2016 guidelines had a proposal which would allow regulators to check vehicles with safety assessments. Some companies objected to the strict safety testing which would have added a separate layer of authority. This would have given authorities the right to approve or reject a self-driving system before it could be tested or sold. The original idea behind this regulation would have been the thorough testing of the systems according to set standards which have yet to be set.

There are some in the industry who believe this layer of testing would detract from the aims of a self-driving vehicle. It would also add years to testing and assessment in coming up with the standards, as well as the testing itself. In addition, such tests would add additional costs to the production of the vehicle. At present, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) does not have that authority for both regular vehicles and self-driving cars.

The safety assessments will no longer be under the NHTSA, but will be part of the requirements for the car manufacturers. Automated car makers will have to submit a safety assessment letter for submission to regulators. The letter will document the approach to safety taken by the manufacturers.

This is same method currently used when it comes to vehicle safety for regular manually driven cars, but without the letter of assessment. Car companies do their own testing and assessment prior to using a new technology. Additional features are added as the demand for more safety is seen from real-life data.

It should be noted that the use of a pre-assessment prior to sales would not be able to predict all conditions for safe travel.

Driverless Technology Guidelines

The revised guidelines continue to highlight vital vehicle design and safety considerations. These include items which automakers must take into consideration for their automated driving systems.

Another significant difference is in the way the guidelines addresses automation. The revised guidelines refer to levels 3 to 5 as set by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The different SAE Automation levels are international standard definitions and rangeing from level 0 to 5:

  • Level 0: No Automation. There is zero autonomy and the driver performs all driving tasks.
  • Level 1: Driver Assistance. Vehicle is driven by driver but with some driving assist technology features included in the vehicle design.
  • Level 2: Partial Automation. Vehicle has manual and automated features, including steering and acceleration. The driver must remain in control of the driving task and monitor the roads and conditions at all times.
  • Level 3: Conditional Automation. The driver is still a necessity, but environment monitoring is mainly an automated task. The driver has to be ready to take control of the vehicle at all times with notice from the vehicle.
  • Level 4: High Automation. The driver has the option to control the vehicle. All the driving task is performed by the vehicle under certain driving conditions.
  • Level 5: Full Automation. The driver has the option to drive the vehicle. The vehicle is designed to be capable of performing all driving conditions under all environments and conditions.

The new policy was released at an event at Mcity, a mock town used by the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor to test self-driving vehicles. Transportation Secretary Elain Chao presented the guidelines to industry and the press. She also recommended that safety and performance rules and regulations are to be maintained and managed by federal agencies, while the states will handle traditional vehicle issues and procedures including licensing, insurance and liability.

It is coincidental that the guidelines came out almost at the same time that findings about the 2016 Tesla crash which involved an autopiloted car were released. Initial findings show that the autopilot software was at least partly responsible for the accident. This is one of the concerns of authorities regarding autopiloted vehicles and makes a case for the pre-assessment of the automated vehicle prior to its sales. The contrarian view is that the cause has not yet been determined, and that it is impossible to list all the possible occurrences which can lead to a failure in software. The automotive industry has always introduced innovation after a feature has been shown to be important or relevant. There should be a need first before the item could be included in the vehicle or software design. This is especially true with software where design features are added after the software has been used in the real world. As with all software, only actual use would show errors or bugs which the designers may have left out because these were unimaginable at the time of the design.

The guidelines were eagerly awaited by manufacturers and industry analysts, as they will have an impact on how soon automated driving vehicles will be available to the public. With the clarification that these guidelines will only be for Automation Level 3 and above, as well as identifying that there will be no pre-assessment prior to sales, it is expected that car manufacturers expect automated cars on the road sooner rather than later.

The US, and the rest of the world for that matter, are anxious for the roll out of driverless cars. The technology is ready and car manufacturers have more than embraced this new breed of vehicles. The administration has taken a bold action in clearing the way for the continued speedy development of driverless technology in the United States.

Originally Published at: https://www.boldbusiness.com/transportation/trump-driverless-cars/

FDA Offers Pre-Certification for Digital Health Technologies

Government is full of regulations for private companies to comply with. These regulations are meant to sift through all the companies which want to do business with the government. Among other things, there are accreditation procedures, which private companies have to follow and/or comply with. This is good for the government as it can expect private firms to deliver on time and within the budget.

The FDA wants to employ an approach of continually updating and upgrading their procedures, which will help improve innovation.

However, one problem with certification is that it takes longer to get certified than it does to comply with requests for a proposal. This can be a disadvantage for those companies who want to compete for government projects, but do not have any experience in government contracting. It can also demotivate new startups from going after government contracts. These companies have to go through accreditation procedures, as well as separate accreditation and certifications for their products and devices.

The FDA has acknowledged this issue with certification, and the need to have streamlined procedures in order to take advantage of advances in technology. Recently, the agency has launched a pilot program for pre-certification specific for innovations in digital health. This would affect tech companies of all types and sizes. It is a bold action that should help unleash new technology that can offer better health care at reduced cost.

Named the Digital Health Innovation Action Plan, the pre-certification program is aimed at a more relaxed set of regulatory requirements for digital health companies who have a proven track record for designing, developing and testing quality health care products. The aim of the program is to shorten the time needed for these companies to take their products to market. It would also result in lesser development costs, savings for the company and ultimately, the public.

FDA Program to Open Competition for Digital Tech

This program is open for software and hardware developers who have proven themselves to be reliable in manufacturing digital devices which are safe, effective and of high quality. It is also necessary that the tech companies have taken appropriate patient safeguards with their products and devices.

The pilot program will only have nine participating companies of various sizes and expertise. The FDA will be evaluating participants beginning in August. The digital tech product companies will be selected according to a specific set of criteria. The company must be currently developing a medical health product. The company must also have a track record in developing and testing their tech products, standing policies and procedures for maintaining the quality of the organizational processes, along with the necessary Key Performance Indicators.

Once accepted into the pilot program, the companies are also expected to provide information and data to confirm that the KPIs are being met, demonstrating a culture of excellence within the organization. The company also has to provide the FDA with actual post-market data, meet with the FDA for monitoring and consultation; along with the availability of onsite-visits, and provide information about the company’s quality assurance and management systems.

The FDA acknowledges that the traditional approach to certifying health products does not fit the current model for novel digital health devices. The FDA wants to employ an approach of continually updating and upgrading their procedures, which will help improve innovation. The framework for such a procedure does not yet exist. Any new regulatory procedure for digital health products should accommodate the distinctive nature of digital health technology as it keeps evolving.

Originally Published at: http://www.boldbusiness.com/law-society/fda-offers-pre-certification-digital-health-technologies/