Monday, March 22, 2010

Tech . . . Tech . . . Tech

(Yeah, that title dates me, doesn't it? Nothing says senile like referencing an obscure Jim Brown movie that has nothing to do with the ostensible topic. Yet here we go, maundering on . . . )

I spent part of last week at the World's Best Technology expo in Arlington, TX. Each morning I woke up to the sound of screaming . . . from the roller coaster at the amusement park across the street. I never got out of the hotel/convention center, though the roller coaster looked pretty inviting.

Inside the convention center were lots of little booths with hopeful inventors and/or entrepreneurs, pitching their products to all who came by in hopes of finding a Venture Capital Angel, or at least someone from the DOD with a mandate to turn all inventions into new ways of whacking Jihadis.

One thing I learned is that most entrepreneurs should hire pitchmen to do their actual pitches. When you sit down to do your pitch, and it begins with, "The first thing you need to know is Ohm's Law," then you really need to hire someone else to do your talking for you.

I didn't get to scope out everything, but I saw some impressive technologies sitting on their haunches ready to spring. I was particularly impressed by the folks who were mobilizing their strategies around technology that simply wasn't there a few years ago.

hypios, Inc. is a company operating out of Paris (presumably not the one in Texas) that uses social media to crowdsource problem-solving. Say a company has a problem, and is willing to pay for a solution. They post a reward through hypios, which sends out the problem through its social network of problem solvers. The problem can be attacked individually or through a team or through general brainstorming, and if it's solved, the money is divided between the solvers, with hypios taking a 20% cut.

I told them I'd literally written the book on this topic in This Is Not a Game, but they claimed ignorance of this revolutionary tome.

(Unfortunately the problem has to be one with a deadline and a well-defined solution, so it's no fair asking them "Is there a God?" or "How do we achieve world peace?")

Another technology discussed in TINAG is embodied in the Pixie Engine, from human network labs. Pixie allows realtime mapping of people and objects during disasters by chaining together cellphone signals, independently of whether there's a cell tower within range. So if, say, you have an earthquake, and someone with a Pixie is buried under rubble, the Pixie will you where this person is, and how far down to dig.

Pixie can also be used as a social networking tool, as if we don't have far too many of those already.

whichbox is an all-in-one media platform, "an online content publishing platform for publishers and media companies. Delivered as a Software as a Service (SaaS), whichbox™ provides a revolutionary relevancy driven and content focused, all-media, online publishing platform and service. whichbox™ was built from the ground up to be an affordable, turnkey all-in-one platform for online publishers and media companies to create, publish and monetize all-media web content using our “organic storytelling™” model . . . The whichbox™ Platform brings together proprietary all-media content creation tools (combining video, audio, text, images, how-to's etc. into ONE piece of content). The “one-to-many” CMS can publish content to one or many websites with a mouse-click. Powerful next-generation social networking features empower end users with the same content publishing tools as publishers . . . From a central content management “dashboard,” WhichBox Media’s new generation Content Management System (CMS) manages a single or multiple domains from a single platform."

(Hope™ you™ got™ all™ that™, folks™.)

pronucleotein (and can I just state that I'm getting really bored by this fashion of companies eschewing capital letters) has developed a handheld box that detects contamination in food. Just point and click, and you know whether or not your food source is contaminated with salmonella. Or Camphylobacter. Or nerve gas. (Can somebody from the DOD, or maybe my local school cafeteria, just give them money already?)

Theravasc (at last a company with a capital! [if not capital]) is a uniquely backward-looking technology company. They comb through the many drugs that are no longer in use--- and are no longer under patent--- and "repurpose" them for new applications. Since the FDA has already got the safety studies on file, the new/old drugs can be rolled out in jig time. How cool is this?

The single most impressive technology was one that I can't find in my notes--- apparently I lost their literature, or maybe they were not savvy enough to bring any literature--- was embodied the gent who had his display up only during Tuesday's cocktail party, and who is not therefore on WBT's official schedule, which means I can't look him up.

He had developed a new means for ion/deuterium fission, which would--- if it works--- solve the energy crisis practically overnight. (Insert as many exclamation points here as you like.)

The collision of ions and deuterium ions has been tried before, but the beams weren't coherent enough, and an insufficient amount of energy was produced. Our guy claims to have hacked the beam problem.

The twin accelerator rings, one for the ions and the other for the deuterium ions, would be modular, so that you could just stack them on top of each other to produce a bigger energy plant. And if one ring needed servicing, you could just move it out of the stack and slap another one in.

Practically limitless fusion energy without nuclear waste, plutonium, or uranium. Nifty. Necessary. Possibly too good to be true.

We had a physicist with us, so we shoved Yoji at the guy, and Yoji came back saying, "I hope he's right." At least there wasn't anything obviously wrong with the scheme.

Someone from the DOE needs to look him up, whoever he is, and write a check. (Who was that masked nuclear physicist?)

There were dozens of other nifty projects, not all of which I got a chance to see myself. Some handed out flashlights, key rings, and chocolate.

And one giveaway was a world-changing technology, at least for me. US Department of Defense caffeinated chewing gum, complete with camouflage wrapper. Can I just say that this is an idea whose time has come?

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8 Comments:

Blogger john_appel said...

Regarding the fusion presenter - is this the technology described here in #7? http://nextbigfuture.com/2009/05/nuclear-fusion-and-new-nuclear-fission.html

10:03 PM  
Blogger dubjay said...

Oddly enough, considering the comprehensive survey in the article, this isn't the one.

10:26 PM  
Blogger john_appel said...

I didn't think so - it didn't match your description but seemed the closest. Sounds like a pretty fascinating event over all in any case.

9:24 AM  
Blogger dubjay said...

It would be irony indeed if the solution to the energy problem got lost because the presenter wasn't a good enough pitchman?

1:46 PM  
Blogger john_appel said...

Any chance the organizers of the event have some information on him? I know at the conferences my wife attends, people who "present" at what the academicians call "poster sessions" have to at least register.

7:59 AM  
Anonymous Dru said...

"ions and deuterium ions"

Ions of WHAT and deuterium ions?
Details, man!

Or else it's just TNG and the writers going "tech tech tech"

2:08 PM  
Blogger dubjay said...

If I have money to give the guy, I would go to greater efforts to look him up. But since I don't, I'm unlikely to.

3:51 PM  
Blogger halojones-fan said...

I'm not so sure that Theravasc is going to be as successful as they hope; the FDA's attitude is that if you didn't do a study specifically for the application in question, then it doesn't matter how many megabytes of data you have. The best you can do is use it as supporting evidence for an entirely new study (done to modern, improved, hyper-conservative safety standards.)

9:19 PM  

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