Friday, 19 October 2012

Singapore's $300 Million 'Superschool!' 

S$300m ‘super’ school campus debuts in Singapore
Claiming to be among the world’s “most advanced school ever built,” Stamford American International School at Upper Serangoon caters to children from ages 2 to 15.

Lots a Tooth? No Matter!

(I posted this last June, and thus far I've had over 330 hits on it. I don't know why it is so popular, other than the fact that a lot of people will soon once again be able to smile with confidence and chew and enjoy a stake! So here goes again!)

I thought this Mousey was chewing some gum, but turns out that green lump in its mouth is a fully-functional, bioengineered tooth, the result of "tooth regenerative therapy" research at Tokyo University .

Basically that little mouse (Jerry) lost a tooth and grew a new one in its place with the help of some scientists:
To create the new tooth, the researchers took epithelial cells and mesenchymal cells from a mouse embryo and cultivated them together in a collagen-based medium to create a tiny tooth bud. A mass of tissue that has the potential to develop into a tooth.
This mass of tissues was implanted in the spot where Jerry's old tooth used to be and after fifty days that mouse could nibble on cheese properly again. The new tooth grew to the same height as the surrounding ones, is just as hard, and has all the same blood vessels and nerves.
Researchers are hoping that this bioengineering process will one day make dentures and false teeth obsolete.

But when one considers the future of Bioethics in this context, the picture the late Rod Hull's 'Emu' says a lot:

I don't know about you, but the potential here gives me the creeps.

The world’s tallest building took five years to reach its 828-meter, 2,716-foot height, but a Chinese company wants to leave the Burj Khalifa in the dust. Broad Sustainable Building, which already built a hotel in two weeks, aims to erect the new

Sky City skyscraper within three months.

The 220-story building would be the tallest in the world by 10 meters, according to CNN, which first reported on the construction plans. It was designed by a Dubai architect, in an interesting twist. The company would use pre-fabrication methods to construct it in record time — 95 percent of the building will be built before the ribbon is cut at the ground-breaking ceremony.

Despite its gargantuan size, the building will supposedly use one-fifth the energy of a traditional edifice, because its 6-inch-thick walls and quadruple-glaze windows will provide better insulation. When it’s complete, 104 elevators will connect 220 floors and 1 million square meters (10.7 million square feet) of usable space. This will include the world’s tallest hotel, living space and potential office space.
If this seems overly ambitious, note that BSB has apparently done it before, albeit not on this scale. In December of last year, the company erected a 30-story hotel in 360 hours; watch a time-lapse video below.
Government agencies still have to approve BSB’s plans, but the Wangcheng district in Changsha, Hunan province, is already on board, CNN reports. We can’t wait to see the time lapse video of this one.
Sky City

Thursday, 18 October 2012

What if instead of having your television cluttered with interface elements while playing an FPS, you could have the HUD displayed directly on your eye? 

Bionic contact lenses are being developed to provide a virtual display that could have a variety of uses from assisting the visually impaired to the video game industry. The device will have the form of a conventional contact lens   with added  bionic technology. The lens will eventually have functional electronic circuits and infra-red lights to create a virtual display.

Engineers have, for the first time, combined a flexible, biologically safe contact lens with an imprinted electronic circuit and lights. The lens could give wearers a new look at the world by superimposing  computerised images onto their natural view.

Such virtual displays could be useful to drivers and pilots, who could obtain route, weather, or vehicle status information overlaid onto their vision. Video-game players could immerse themselves in a virtual world without restricting their range of motion.

The lens could even be paired with sensors that monitor a person's biological conditions -- cholesterol level or the presence of viruses and bacteria, and transmit the data wirelessly to a computer.

For example, miniature cameras with adaptive lenses could be incorporated, able to zoom in on something far away or to look at something very close. 

Providing, essentially, bionic vision. Developed using micro-fabrication and self-assembly techniques similar to those used to make semiconductor chips.

Should Innovation be a compulsory subject in school?

It’s funny really. Whenever I broach this question with school heads or school education strategists; and especially with on the ground teachers and parent guilds; the retort or initial question they ask is ‘What sort of Innovation?’ And often with a strained look on their face. 

I usually answer such innocent retorts with a provocation: ‘Innovation!’

Again, the torn look usually turns into a sarcastic smile, with another retort: ‘There’s loads of kinds of innovation going on. What kind?’

And I say again ‘Innovation!’

And this is me not trying to be awkward, but frank.

Basically Innovation is a discipline in its own right. Just as Science is. Just as English is. Just as ICT is. Just Mathematics is. But like any of these subject, it has core-disciplines which are structured and can be taught as a subject.

Take Biology at Junior high school level. It is very general describing the foundation principles. Now jump forward to senior high school and then the differentiated subjects emerges: Cellular Function and Structure, DNA/RNA, Homeostasis, Plant/Animal Characteristics, Genes and Successive Generations Heredity models, Ecosystems, Biological Evolution. A good basic content to make up a clear subject.

And so it is with Innovation. It has fundamental principles and it has advanced principles that can be taught at different levels and stages.

It is just that most teachers (and I mean most) don’t have a clue about what I am talking about. Because to most, the term Innovation is either some esoteric subject for men in white coats or a superficial issue that is applied in the likes of graphic or fashion design. But for most, it is not a subject in its own right and therefore cannot be taught.

And so ontology: that is, often people are so oblivious and blind to a subject or issue concerning them, that they are just totally unaware of how important it is! In other words: not only do they not know that they don’t know! It is that they don’t know that they don’t know that they don’t know!! A classic teleological system!

And that is the whole key to the problem of answering the question: ‘Should Innovation be a compulsory subject in schools?’

Get the adult public at-large to understand the foundation principles and its significance in today’s world, and the discipline of Innovation as school subject may just well get on the education and ministerial agenda.

In view of this, The Business Panel on Future EU Innovation Policy, part of the EU Innovation Policy Unit, said in their 2012 document: Reinventing Europe Through Innovation:

Europe is running the danger of becoming more risk-averse at exactly the moment when [the EU] needs to be more innovative, more experimental, more daring. Reinventing Europe means moving from a knowledge society to an innovation society....
....Current European innovation policy fails to change people’s mentality. NOT innovating is dangerous. This could include making the teaching of innovation compulsory…. Whether people dare to participate in innovation or not has a lot to do with culture and the way the social environment reacts. Will innovative behaviour be ridiculed or admired....’

So ‘Should Innovation be a compulsory subject in schools?’

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

What Dyson has Learnt!

Monday week ago I went down to a small market village called Malmesbury in rural Wiltshire, UK.

Five minutes north, along a country lane of a really quite quaint village, is the Head Quarters of Dyson.


It is quite an imposing industrial site (sight) really: Built like Fort Knox in the middle of the quintessential English countryside!  

In the car park by reception there is a Harrier Jump Jet on display and as you walk into reception, it is like going into the design museum of Dyson history.


The building is big, silver, stylish and designed as a Hyperinnovation Warehouse, purpose build to amplify and accelerate innovation.


There is an inner sanctum, guarded by frosted glass revolving doors and a top secret pass robot check-in! The secret enclave is called the NPI (New Product Innovation) Centre; where you can only get in if you have been employed by the company for many months.


I got the feeling that I was walking passed Willy Wonker’s Chocolate Factory! Well, at least Sir James Dyson’s original version of something truly unique and inspirational.

That night, I broke in to the Factory's Secret Inner Sanctum to have sneak look. But I was caught red-handed by the man himself: the Silver Knight James Dyson. So I asked him some questions:


What advice would you give to younger self? Not to take advice. People are too quick to say no to an idea but if you have faith, be persistent. Don't do market research -- it will either tell you what you already know, or put you off all together.

What is the most common mistake you see entrepreneurs make? Aspiring to be an entrepreneur. It shouldn't be a goal in itself and it seems they have got things the wrong way round. First you have to have an idea, develop it and then commercialise it.

What can you learn from the emerging talent? Young people aren't afraid to tackle great problems with gusto. Every year I am surprised by the breadth of entries of the James Dyson Award; it proves that design and engineering can improve life, often in simple ways. Last year's winner, Edward Linacre, created a device that extracts water from air using condensation. It's a simple idea, used to striking effect and it has the potential to save lives.

What -- in your career -- have you been most proud of? The Dyson Digital Motor. Our team of motor engineers has been developing digital motors for over ten years. Spinning five times faster than a Formula One engine, the Dyson digital motor offers masses of potential. Already powering efficient machines like the Dyson Airblade hand dryer but also opening up no end of possibilities for the future.

What has been your worst business decision to date? Failure is good; it's a sure way to understanding why something doesn't work. Some people see the Dyson washing machine as a failure, but it was excellent at washing clothes. Compromising on quality was not an option -- we used the same ball bearings as F1 engines and incorporated a sophisticated contra-rotating drum -- but we didn't make any money out of it. But people who have it now swear by it.

What transformative technology or market force did you not predict? I don't sit around making predictions. Dyson engineers go against the grain, developing technology that solves problems, hopefully proving a few predictions wrong in the process.

Which single device could you not live without? My Dyson security pass. I need it to go and work with the engineers daily. Intellectual property and its protection is our backbone. I would be turned around at the door of our Research, Design and Development without it.

And is Innovation easy? Piece of Chocolate!

'And with that, I then quickly leaped through the great glass frosted revolving doors, jump into the Harrier and made my way to the Slugworth factory. Arr, what mysterious secrets I had gained!'

(You never know it might make for a good book one day!)

Slugworth is Willy Wonker's Infamous Competitor. Q&As stolen from  interview, March 12, 2012.

Over the coming years leading up to 2020, 'Innovation' is going to go up-and-up the agenda for businesses, and further up in the mind-set of ordinary people. As Asia turns up the gas, the west will shrink in its dominance in world affairs. That only answer the west has is to innovate. But not only create and make the stuff people want, but make stuff that people aspire to and can't do with out. What to do?

Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire

Braden Kelley’s new book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire is different. And begins to give answers to my question above. The book divides the innovation process into three distinct categories:

Setting the Stage really does “set the stage” by identifying the different blockages (vision, strategy and goals) that need to be overcome before an organization can begin to successfully innovate. The author is able to make his point by using concise examples and case studies - easy for the reader to understand without being overwhelmed by extraneous data or long-winded content.

The Innovation Engine gets to the heart of innovation - identifying customer problems; evaluating ideas within the organization; and how to commercialize ideas. Again this section is full of pertinent examples and case studies.

The Organization which can sometimes be the biggest barrier to innovation, is complete with excellent and practical ideas to move innovation forward with the organization. Here, the author also does a good job of differentiating incremental innovation from disruptive innovation and identifying the barriers to success for both.

Perhaps the most valuable part of the book is the Epilogue and Appendix where valuable examples, methodologies and frameworks reside. In fact, I think the author should have integrated more of this information into the heart of the book, rather than subjugating it to a section where some readers may not take to time to read or appreciate.

Perhaps the best example that Kelley highlights in the book is that of Alfred Sloan’s lesser-known (but equally powerful) innovation while leading General Motors in the 1920s. While Sloan is known more for how GM divided the U.S. car market into segments by price range (which helped end Ford’s domination of the market), his innovation in car financing is equally as impressive. 

Here’s what Kelley has to say about the creation of GMAC:

' segmentation, the other innovation that GM unleashed on the automobile market was the General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC). In 1919, the first branch of GMAC was opened in New York City, along with branches in San Francisco, Toronto, Detroit and Chicago. 
          In 1920, GMAC expanded outside of North America with the opening of a branch in Great Britain. GMAC was formed to provide GM dealers with the financing they needed to maintain their vehicle inventories, as well as to give dealers the ability to finance retail customers’ new vehicle purchases easily and conveniently. 
        By 1928 GMAC had already financed four million new vehicle purchases. Meanwhile Henry Ford was opposed to making loans to customers, insisting debt would ultimately hurt the customer and the broader economy. In December 1927 Ford relented and started offering the same terms on the redesigned Model A.'

Course, by the time that Ford followed GM's lead in offering vehicle financing, Chevrolet alone was outselling Ford by a 3-1 margin - a far cry from just a few years earlier where Ford outsold Chevrolet by a 10-1 margin. It was an advantage for GM that nearly bankrupted Ford in the years ahead.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


I've done a lot of one-to-one and team coaching over the years. And my skills are all ways developing in this area.

Admittedly I am fortune, as I get to work with innately smart, creative people. 

But, I have over the many years asked myself what intelligence is?

For example, are the words: Smart, Bright, Intelligence, Clever, Acumen and Astuteness, completely indivisible?

From an application point of view (as in when being smart comes in handy) are there many kinds of intelligence?

According to Howard Gardner, there are 7 main types of intelligence, that are all valid, and more so at different combination of time and situations.

In particular, the work of Howard Gardner is of interest as I've developed psychometric tests, games and pursuits in team build programs based on his work.

Here's an snip from a paper linked below about his work:

'Howard Gardner initially formulated a list of seven intelligences. His listing was provisional. The first two have been typically valued in schools; the next three are usually associated with the arts; and the final two are what Howard Gardner called 'personal intelligences'.

Linguistic intelligence involves sensitivity to spoken and written language, the ability to learn languages, and the capacity to use language to accomplish certain goals. This intelligence includes the ability to effectively use language to express oneself rhetorically or poetically; and language as a means to remember information. Writers, poets, lawyers and speakers are among those that Howard Gardner sees as having high linguistic intelligence.
Logical-mathematical intelligence consists of the capacity to analyze problems logically, carry out mathematical operations, and investigate issues scientifically. In Howard Gardner's words, it entails the ability to detect patterns, reason deductively and think logically. This intelligence is most often associated with scientific and mathematical thinking.
Musical intelligence involves skill in the performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns. It encompasses the capacity to recognize and compose musical pitches, tones, and rhythms. According to Howard Gardner musical intelligence runs in an almost structural parallel to linguistic intelligence.
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence entails the potential of using one's whole body or parts of the body to solve problems. It is the ability to use mental abilities to coordinate bodily movements. Howard Gardner sees mental and physical activity as related.
Spatial intelligence involves the potential to recognize and use the patterns of wide space and more confined areas.
Interpersonal intelligence is concerned with the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of other people. It allows people to work effectively with others. Educators, salespeople, religious and political leaders and counsellors all need a well-developed interpersonal intelligence.
Intrapersonal intelligence entails the capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one's feelings, fears and motivations. In Howard Gardner's view it involves having an effective working model of ourselves, and to be able to use such information to regulate our lives.'

A question is: what Intels do you have, and what Intels can you integrate?

In the post below, I've come across a fun 'Brain Training' website, that's on free trail. Play it later. It's fun, yet challenging.

However, you can learn more about his work here.  Plus a site, that takes you further into his subject.

Happy Brainyacking!!

Can Training Your Brain Make You Smarter?

As most of you who know, I'm not that smart. It is just that I enjoy what I do for a living and that more often makes people excel. It helps one focus!

However, loss of mental focus - because of a monotonous task or a subject you just can't get your head around - can potentially have a detrimental impact on our professional, social, and personal well-being. 

As many people hit middle age, they often start to notice that their memory and mental clarity are not what they used to be. Even students under long term exam stress can degrade.


Neuroscientists are increasingly showing that there's actually a lot that can be done.  It turns that the brain needs exercise in much the same way our muscles do, and the right mental workouts can significantly improve our basic cognitive functions.  Thinking is essentially a process of making neural connections in the brain.  To a certain extent, our ability to excel in making the neural connections that drive intelligence is inherited.  However, because these connections are made through effort and practice, scientists says that intelligence can expand and fluctuate according to mental effort.

Now, a new Web-based company has taken it a step further and developed the first "brain training program" designed to actually help people improve and regain their mental sharpness.  Called Lumosity, it is designed by some of the leading experts in neuroscience and cognitive psychology from Stanford University.

Lumosity, is far more than an online place to exercise your mental skills.  That's because they have integrated these exercises into a Web-based program that allows you to systematically improve your memory and attention skills.  

The program keeps track of your progress and provides detailed feedback on your performance and improvement.  Most importantly, it constantly modifies and enhances the games you play to build on the strengths you are developing; much like an effective exercise routine requires you to increase resistance and vary your muscle use.

Does it work?

Apparently it does. In randomized, controlled clinical trials, Lumosity was shown to significantly improve basic cognitive functions. One study showed students improved their scores on math tests by 34 percent after using Lumosity for six weeks, significantly greater gains than those made by other students in the same class, who were not training with the Lumosity program.

The company says its users have reported clearer and quicker thinking, improved memory for names, numbers, directions, increased alertness and awareness, elevated mood, and better concentration at work or while driving.

While many of the games at Lumosity are free, a modest subscription fee is required to use the full program over the long term.

However, Lumosity is currently offering a free trial of their program to new users so that you can see how well it works before you decide to subscribe.  The trial is completely free (no credit card required) and the company believes the results will speak for themselves.
Click here to try for yourself.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Here's something for you Gadgets Addicts
a secret shopper free trail, tell and keep

Click wanted: Product Testers.
The End of the End of Life as we Know It: Regenerative Medicine  Breakthroughs

Regenerative medicine is the process of replacing or regenerating human cells, tissues or organs to restore or establish normal function. This field holds the promise of regenerating damaged tissues and organs in the body by replacing damaged tissue and/or by stimulating the body's own repair mechanisms to heal previously irreparable tissues or organs.
Regenerative medicine also empowers scientists to grow tissues and organs in the laboratory and safely implant them when the body cannot heal itself. Importantly, regenerative medicine has the potential to solve the problem of the shortage of organs available for donation compared to the number of patients that require life-saving organ transplantation. Depending on the source of cells, it can potentially solve the problem of organ transplant rejection if the organ's cells are derived from the patient's own tissue or cells.
Widely attributed to having first been coined by William Haseltine (founder of Human Genome Sciences), the term "Regenerative Medicine" was first found in a 1992 article on hospital administration by Leland Kaiser. Kaiser’s paper closes with a series of short paragraphs on future technologies that will impact hospitals. One such paragraph had ‘‘Regenerative Medicine’’ as a bold print title and went on to state, ‘‘A new branch of medicine will develop that attempts to change the course of chronic disease and in many instances will regenerate tired and failing organ systems.’’
Regenerative Medicine refers to a group of biomedical approaches to clinical therapies that may involve the use of stem cells. Examples include the injection of stem cells or progenitor cells (cell therapies); the induction of regeneration by biologically active molecules administered alone or as a secretion by infused cells (immunomodulation therapy); and transplantation of in vitro grown organs and tissues (Tissue engineering).

 A form of regenerative medicine that recently made it into clinical practice, is the use of heparan sulfate analogues on (chronic) wound healing. Heparan sulfate analogues replace degraded heparan sulfate at the wound site. They assist the damaged tissue to heal itself by repositioning growth factors and cytokines back into the damaged extracellular matrix. For example, in abdominal wall reconstruction (like inguinal hernia repair), biologic meshes are being used with some success.
Type 1 Diabetes
A clinical trial under way at the University of Florida is examining how an infusion of autologous cord blood stem cells into children with Type 1 diabetes will impact metabolic control over time, as compared to standard insulin treatments. Preliminary results demonstrate that an infusion of cord blood stem cell is safe and may provide some slowing of the loss of insulin production in children with type 1 diabetes.
The stem cells found in a newborn’s umbilical cord blood are holding great promise in cardiovascular repair. Researchers are noting several positive observations in pre-clinical animal studies. Thus far, in animal models of myocardial infarction, cord blood stem cells have shown the ability to selectively migrate to injured cardiac tissue, improve vascular function and blood flow at the site of injury, and improve overall heart function.
Central Nervous System
Research has demonstrated convincing evidence in animal models that cord blood stem cells injected intravenously have the ability to migrate to the area of brain injury, alleviating mobility related symptoms. Also, administration of human cord blood stem cells into animals with stroke was shown to significantly improve behavior by stimulating the creation of new blood vessels and neurons in the brain. This research also lends support for the pioneering clinical work at Duke University, focused on evaluating the impact of autologous cord blood infusions in children diagnosed with cerebral palsy and other forms of brain injury. This study is examining if an infusion of the child’s own cord blood stem cells facilitates repair of damaged brain tissue, including many with cerebral palsy. To date, more than 100 children have participated in the experimental treatment – many whose parents are reporting good progress. Another report published encouraging results in 2 toddlers with cerebral palsy where autologous cord blood infusion was combined with G-CSF.
As these clinical and pre-clinical studies demonstrate, cord blood stem cells will likely be an important resource as medicine advances toward harnessing the body’s own cells for treatment. The field of regenerative medicine can be expected to benefit greatly as additional cord blood stem cell applications are researched and more people have access to their own preserved cord blood. "Steenblock Research Institute, umbilical cord stem cell therapy".
On May 17, 2012, Osiris Therapeutics announced that Canadian health regulators approved Prochymal, a drug for acute graft-versus-host disease in children who have failed to respond to steroid treatment. Prochymal is the first stem cell drug to be approved anywhere in the world for a systemic disease. Graft-versus-host disease, a potentially fatal complication from bone marrow transplant, involves the newly implanted cells attacking the patient’s body.