Sunday, January 25, 2015

Scalable Innovation - Quiz (Session 3-3)

According to the PC Magazine (January 22, 2015),

BMW and Volkswagen on Thursday announced they are teaming up to create nearly 100 electric vehicle charging stations along heavily traveled roads on the East and West Coasts.
The companies are working with ChargePoint, the largest electric vehicle charging network, on the effort. The publicly available stations will be added to ChargePoint's existing network of more than 20,000 charging spots in North America, and can be accessed by anyone with a ChargePoint or ChargeNow Card, or with the ChargePoint mobile app.

Each station is expected to include up to two 50 kW direct current Fast chargers, or 24 kW direct current Combo Fast chargers compatible with BMW and Volkswagen electric vehicles, as well as many other models. When charging at a 50 kW station, the BMW i3 and the Volkswagen e-Golf can charge up to 80 percent in 20 minutes; at a 25 kW station it'll take 30 minutes.

Question 1: Does the data presented in the article imply the beginning of exponential growth of electric vehicle deployment in the US within the next 2-3 years? Why?

Question 2: Does the addition of 100 charging stations remove a key constraint to growth?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Scalable Innovation (BUS 134) - Quiz, Session 3-2

Gordon Moore, of the Moore's Law fame, writes about his experience of creating a breakthrough technology at Intel,
...at the time the first microprocessors were shipped, the total annual market for computers in the world was something like 10,000 units. The microprocessor would have been a commercial disaster if all we did was to replace those 10,000 units with cheaper processors.

I remember going to a conference and speaking before a group that was more involved in applications than devices and explaining to them that we had to ask big questions, like, ‘ How are we going to develop markets that can use 100,000 of these a month?’ (While one hundred thousand a month doesn’t seem like many now when compared to the tens of millions shipped currently, it sure did then.) Ted’s insight and the Fairchild experience with ICs helped us understand that this product had countless uses, but we also understood our efforts alone would build volume markets.

Question 1: Did Moore's questions imply linear, exponential, or logarithmic growth?
Question 2 (bonus): Name one or two Silicon Valley companies that use the Moore's approach to innovation.

tags: innovation, course, stanford

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Want to understand your own personality? Ask Facebook!

Stanford researchers have found that computers can judge personality traits more accurately than one's friends and colleagues.

The computer predictions were based on which articles, videos, artists and other items the person had liked on Facebook. The idea was to see how closely a computer prediction could match the subject's own scores on the five most basic personality dimensions: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

The researchers noted, "This is an emphatic demonstration of the ability of a person's psychological traits to be discovered by an analysis of data, not requiring any person-to-person interaction.

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/01/07/1418680112

The original idea of using Thumbs UP and Thumbs DOWN buttons in the digital world belongs to TiVo. Facebook took this idea — knowingly or unknowingly — and scaled it across the entire range of digital content, making every piece of communication "likeable."


In System Model terms, Like helps solve Detection and Control problems. We discuss it briefly in Scalable Innovation, Chapter 22, Seeing the Invisible. "Like" represents the Aboutness of an element. Once the Aboutness detected, the Control sub-system uses it to compose and channel content streams according to its policies.



Monday, January 19, 2015

The myopia epidemic among children, continued

Several years ago, I blogged about the myopia epidemic among children. The problem was caused by an increase in the time kids spent staring at their computer screens instead of playing outdoors. The change impacted their peripheral vision and, eventually, resulted in myopia.



I wonder whether the mobile revolution has increased myopia rates further. There several factors that point to it. First, compared with computer screens, smartphones and tablets are even smaller; therefore, they require less peripheral vision. Second, children carry their phones everywhere, increasing the overall screen time. Third, the new touchscreen interface, mobile apps and games make it easier for younger children to use phones and tablets. As a result, they start using technology at an earlier age, which should have a greater impact on their vision over time.

Based on the latest technology developments, we can easily predict that 3D virtual reality devices will also increase our collective screen time. Although it's a speculation on my part, I believe we should start looking for ways to solve the problem before it gets completely out of hand.

tags: health, trend, mobile, innovation, trade-off

Invention of the Day: anti-caries chewing gum and toothpaste

When we don't brush our teeth a plaque forms on the surface and, when untreated, causes tooth decay.

Last July, the United States Army got a US Patent 8,778,889 (Inventor Kai P. Leung) that covers a chewing gum or toothpaste that can prevent formation of the plaque and save the US military — and the rest of the world! — tons of pain and money. The patented technology uses KSL-W, a "member of a decapeptide family with demonstrated effectiveness to prevent biofilm formation on teeth, inhibit the growth of oral microorganisms, and reduce the development of plaque or dental caries."



Go Army!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Solving Detection problems with the System Model

Since the publication of Scalable Innovation, I've had many discussions about the System Model with readers and students. Intuitively, they think that the left-to-right dimension corresponds to Space-Time. That is, the Packaged Payload moves from the Source to the Tool via the Distribution.
Although this intuition is correct, it's not the only one we can use in the system model. Importantly, we can think about the second Time axis — the vertical one — that applies to a particular system element. In this case, the element becomes dynamic, e.g. changes over the time or moves in space.


In other words, the system model covers processes that involve repeated transactions and/or evolution of a particular physical element over time. For example, the Sources in the picture above represent the same physical Source at different points of time. This approach works really well for solving Detection problems because it allows us to identify an element based on its behavior. That is, we can extract Aboutness by controlling and/or interacting with the element.

Since this is not intuitively clear, I probably need to develop examples that explain this use of the System Model.

tags: model, system, detection, book

Friday, January 16, 2015

Scalable Innovation - a quiz (Session 2-2). Social Networking.

1. What trends can be identified in this Venture Beat article about Mark Zuckerberg's predictions?


2. Name major technology innovations that power the trends you've identified.

Examples of trend categories:

- Business
- Technology
- Science
- Finance
- Demographics
- Social
- Market
- Regulatory
etc...

Linking users and concepts - a Facebook patent

Facebook continues building up a strong patent portfolio for graph-based technologies. On January 6, 2015 the USPTO awarded the company US 8,930,378 patent on a social-like network between users and concepts. The patent is titled "Labeling samples in a similarity graph", inventors Pierre Moreels and Andrei Alexandrescu.

On the figure above, circles with Us in them mean users and circles with city names mean concepts. The dotted lines show a calculated confidence level that a particular concept is "linked" to a user who is not connected to it directly.
Since the concept can describe anything in the real as well as abstract world, Facebook patented a technology that figures out the user's connection to objects, places, and other stuff based on the user's social connections.

For completeness, here's Claim 1 (click to enlarge):
The claim looks very clever, but it's hard to believe that the idea has not been covered in the prior art. Detecting infringement of the patent would also be quite difficult because an accused piece of software would be embedded deep down in the guts of a server-based implementation.

tags: patent, facebook, graph, social, networking, internet, portfolio





Gut feeling no more - a new device to treat obesity

The WSJ reports on a new medical device approved by the FDA
The device, made by EnteroMedics Inc. of St. Paul, Minn., is the first of its kind to treat obesity by targeting nerves that link the stomach and the brain. The Maestro Rechargeable System would block electrical signals in the abdominal vagus nerve by dispatching high-frequency electrical pulses.

The device is one of a series of products called neuro-modulators that target nerves for a variety of conditions ranging from pain to Parkinson’s disease.

157 patients with the working device lost 8.5% more of their excess body weight than did the control group.

The technology to detect and manipulate the nervous system is getting better. Today, we can get computers to orchestrate bodily functions that we no longer can control, e.g. due to obesity, injury, or brain problems. As the interfaces between biological and computer signals improve, we will see more bio-apps that take advantage of the exponentially growing cloud capabilities.

tags: innovation, control, cloud, interfaces

Lunch Talk: Tools for Entrepreneurs - Making Something People Love

Renowned entrepreneur and Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, will inspire you to think of unique ways to connect with your customers, and to build a community of users who want your business to succeed. In this class you'll learn some key branding, marketing, and user experience principles, plus specific tactics and strategies that you can use to create a company people love.



Note emotional vs cognitive appeal of a new product/service in a new market.

tags: lunchtalk, innovation, entrepreneurship, internet, web, creativity, emotion

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Lunch Talk: (@Stanford) Drew Houston (Founder Dropbox) Finding Your Way as an Entrepreneur

Drew Houston is CEO and co-founder of Dropbox, and has led Dropbox's growth from a simple idea to a service relied upon by millions around the world. Drew leads all of Dropbox's activities, and is actively involved in its business and product decisions.


Before founding Dropbox, Drew attended MIT's Course 6 (Computer Science). He took a quick leave from school to form Accolade, an online SAT prep startup, and also worked as a software engineer for Bit9.

After graduating from MIT, Drew recognized that people needed a way to bring their files with them without sending email attachments or carrying USB drives. He began writing a solution to this problem in early 2007 before demo-ing an early version to Arash Ferdowsi in Boston. The two of them then began working on the project that would eventually become Dropbox.




Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Scalable Innovation (BUS 134) - a quiz (Session 2-1). Digital Media.

1. What trends can be identified in this NYT article: Amazon Signs Woody Allen to Write and Direct TV Series?


2. Name major technology innovations that power the trends you've identified.

Examples of trend categories:

- Business
- Technology
- Science
- Finance
- Demographics
- Social
- Market
- Regulatory
etc...




Popular media hypes up a trivial Apple 3-D gesture patent

Science fiction writer Michael Crichton once said about journalists' cluelessness on subjects that require special knowledge:
“Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”

The recent media coverage of US 8,933,876 awarded to Apple is a remarkable case of baloney reporting. For example, in a CNBC news segment Dan Costa, the Editor-in-Chief of PCMag.com says, he's surprised how broad the patent is. Obviously, Dan is clueless because in reality the patent claims only a vertical unlock gesture - a narrow set of functionality that is extremely easy to work around, e.g. by implementing it horizontally.

The Business Insider header says, "Apple Just Patented 'Minority Report'-Style Gesture Controls." This statement is a huge stretch of reality because Apple patented just a tiny extension of the technology already implemented in, e.g. Microsoft Kinect, Nintendo, and other devices.

As a rule, when you read something about patents in popular media consider yourself under the influence of the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect.

tags: patents, apple, media, information, error

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lunch Talk: ( @Stanford ) Turing, the Pioneer of the Information Age

(May 2, 2012) Following a three minute introduction by Steven Ericsson-Zenith, Jack Copeland discusses Alan Turing's impact on information technology. Turing is often considered to be one of the greatest minds in the 20th century, and Copeland looks at how many of Turing's ideas lie behind some of information technology's most fundamental theories.



tags: lunchtalk, innovation, innovation, information

Today I learned (TIL) a new word: Skeuomorph

Skeuomorph (n. from the Greek words skeuos and morph) - A design feature that is carried forth from the original version of a product in order to make people feel comfortable with the new device. For example, the click sound on a digital camera comes from an audio clip; however, the original sound was the actual shutter opening and closing.

The original iTunes logo featured the CD but the application actually provided a way for the users to get rid of their CDs. 

iPhone would be a typical skeuomorph too because it intentionally links a new category of mobile devices ("i"-device) with the familiar functionality of the phone. The name lowers psychological barriers to technology adoption by consumers



I'm reading Stefan Larsson's article about how the legal system deals with innovation in conflict situations: "Metaphors, law and digital phenomena: the Swedish Pirate Bay court case." Stefan extends the original meaning of skeuomorph from the world of physical objects into the realm of metaphors and legal concepts. He argues that
In line with conceptual metaphor theory, which states that abstract thinking is largely metaphorical, the article argues that this is true also for digital phenomena that, thus, are largely understood through metaphors and skeumorphs.
I find this N. Katherine Hayles quote particularly relevant to my invention work:
The new becomes more acceptable when it refers back to the earlier iteration that it is displacing, while the earlier iteration becomes more valuable when it is placed in a context where we can experience the new. A skeumorph simultaneously focuses on the past and future, while reinforcing and undermining both.
Usually, the baggage of old thinking embedded into a skeumorph constrains inventor's imagination, limiting the range of scenarios that can be achieved by a new technology. To get rid of skeuomorphs and associated with them mental entanglements, I try to use non-technical terms as much as possible ("pretend that you are explaining your new ida to a 10-year-old"). Another way to deal with the issue is to use the system model, which prompts abstract, analytical thinking.

tags: psychology, invention, science

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Lunch Talk: From Terrestrial Field Science to Deep-Space Human Exploration

Dr. Darlene Lim is a geobiologist and an expert in the development of concepts for human scientific exploration. She has spent over two decades leading field research around the world, including the Arctic, the Antarctic, and various underwater environments (where she has spent many hours piloting submersibles as a scientist and explorer). Darlene is also Founder of the Haven House Family Shelter "STEM Explorers' Speakers Series", which brings NASA and academic researchers to homeless children in the Bay Area.



tags: lunchtalk, science, biology, time, communications

Facebook anticipates user engagement - a new US patent

On January 6, 2015 US PTO awarded Facebook patent 8,929,615 "Feature-extraction-based image scoring" (inventors David Harry Garcia and Justin Mitchell).

The new patent covers a technology that extracts features from a photo and makes clever decisions how to use it on a social networking; the decisions are based on predicted user engagement. For example, if you like drinking women  smiling babies the system will be able to include more baby pictures (and ads) into your news feed.


To put the matter in perspective: few months ago a lot of media hoopla was generated about Amazon being able to anticipate where to ship user packages.  The new Facebook technology is much more interesting than that of Amazon because
a) it addresses the growing world of digital social media;
b) it enables anticipatory content distribution;
c) while Amazon can anticipate shipping to the right zipcode within a certain time interval, Facebook can "ship" the right content to the right user at the right time.

In short, Facebook anticipates more and with a greater precision.

Also relevant to this discussions are recent Facebook patents US 8,930,837 "Graphical user interface for map search" (inventors Brandon Marshall Walkin and  Zhen Fang) and US 8,930,243 "System, process and software arrangement for providing multidimensional recommendations/suggestions" (inventors Alexander Tuzhilin and Gediminas Adomavicius). The latter patent goes back to a 2001 invention!

From our system model perspective, the patents describe novel Control systems that take advantage of the Aboutness, extracted from the Packaged Payload.

tags: control, aboutness, detection, model, 



Friday, January 09, 2015

Touching a revolution: a breakthrough 18th century medical book in Leuven, Belgium

In Scalable Innovation we mention the genius of Giovanni Battista Morgagni (1682-1771), an Italian doctor who started a revolution in healthcare, by systematically cataloguing human diseases and matching them with autopsy results. According to Encyclopedia Britannica,
In his voluminous work On the Seats and Causes of Diseases as Investigated by Anatomy (1761), he compared the symptoms and observations in some 700 patients with the anatomical findings upon examining their bodies.
Today I had a chance to work with this remarkable 18th century book at the University Library in Leuven, Belgium.

The library staff brought the 2-volume book on special pillows; you can see one of them on the first picture above. Morgagni's printed work was designed to help practicing doctors and students of medicine; its first 100+ pages comprise several indices, so that the reader can identify a disease or a body part by symptoms, patient complaints, autopsy results, anatomic details, etc. (see the third picture above).

While touring the library, I discovered a Stanford connection too. In the 1920s, President Herbert Hoover ( the very first student of Stanford University) chaired the Commission for Relief in Belgium that sponsored restoration of the library after it was burned down by German troops during the World War I. The United States provided $500,000 for the project.

tags: history, innovation, medicine, healthcare, storage

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Facebook patents a tech to provide socially relevant ads - US 8,924,406

On December 30, 2014 the United States Patent Office awarded Facebook a patent titled "Ranking search results using social-networking information" US 8,924,406 ( Inventors: Christopher Lunt, Nicholas Galbreath, Jeffrey Winner).

The patent covers a technology that provides a new way to determine relevant ads and/or additional content shown to the user along the search results. According to the invention, a search engine takes into account the popularity of sponsored links associated with the results. The popularity is calculated based on clicks in the user's social network and a social relevancy threshold (degrees of separation).

From a business perspective, Facebook continues strengthening its challenge to the Google "relevant ads" model created in the early 2000s. Today, some of you may already see sponsored relevant links inserted in your Facebook stream or page. The patent would be a good illustration to the brief discussion "GOOGLE VERSUS FACEBOOK: THE BATTLE FOR THE CONTROL" Max and I outlined in Chapter 22 of our book Scalable Innovation.

Another interesting aspect of the patent: it shows the brave new "Me-centric" world of social networking (see Fig 1 above). From a technical and business perspective it indicates a large-scale transition from relational (excel-like rows and columns) representations of data to a graph-based one, with nodes and edges. The patent also provides a good working definition of a social network:
the social-networking system comprising a graph that comprises a plurality of nodes and edges connecting the nodes, each edge between two nodes representing a relationship between them and establishing a single degree of separation between them, wherein the first user corresponds to a first node of the graph.
tags: patent, facebook, innovation, invention, social, networking, search, control, internet

Friday, January 02, 2015

Scalable Innovation (BUS 134) - Quiz, Session 3-1

This quarter I'll be teaching Scalable Innovation (BUS 134) - a new course at Stanford University Continuing Studies. One of the key topics for the course is innovation timing. That is, timing is everything; therefore, in order not to be too early or too late with the idea, the innovator has to be able to at least find a strong, valid signal in the avalanche of noise about the future. Here's an exercise I'm considering for my students.

Read wikipedia about Electronic Sports and consider the chart below (click to enlarge):

Does "Electronic Sports" represent a major technology/market innovation event? Why? Does the curve above represent the beginning of a long-term growth or is it just another hype cycle? If Electronic Sports is the wave of the future, who are the existing industry players that are going to benefit from it the most? What new system elements and interfaces still need to be invented?

tags: innovation, s-curve, gaming, synthesis

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Invention of the Day: the Tea Bag

In our book, Scalable Innovation, Max Shtein and I introduce the concept of Packaged Payload, an element of the system that encapsulates an essential ingredient — mass, energy, information — that moves within the system. The Packaged Payload is critically important for the functioning of the system.

Paradoxically, most people don't see it in their everyday lives because engineers do a good job at hiding the functionality. For example, we can't see AC electricity because it's securely insulated within the wires. Also, we can't see data packages because they are transmitted over wireless connections. We can't see ocean shipping containers either because we buy products in retail, not in bulk.


Explaining the Packaged Payload to students and inventors can be a challenge; therefore, Max Shtein and I are always on the lookout for good examples. Today Max sent me several pictures — a Packaged Payload galore, as he called it — that make the concept easier to grasp. For example, in the picture above you can see chocolate milk and tea packaged in single-shot bags.


Remarkably, the tea bag was invented more than 100 years ago (US Patent 723, 287), but it got popular relatively recently when a new system of fast-food establishments, e.g. McDonald's restaurants, Starbucks Coffee shops, and others became a common place.

US Patent 723, 287, issued March, 1903.

The tea bag represents the Packaged Payload in a food distribution system. Similarly, many other food items are available for one-time use. All of them are standardized for mass production, delivery, and dispensation (see below).


Thank you, Max!

tags: packaged payload, distribution, system, example

Lunch Talk: Adopter's trade-off – expensive is better (Stanford Entrepreneurship)

http://ecorner.stanford.edu/authorMaterialInfo.html?mid=1937
Christine has been President of Humane Society Silicon Valley for the past 13 years.



Whether you're running a for-profit or non-profit enterprise, the price point is crucial - and cheaper is not always better. The less people pay, the less value that's attributed, discovered Christine Benninger, President of the Humane Society Silicon Valley, and her organization decided to raise the prices of animal adoption four-fold in the hopes that clients would feel they're getting a better product, and that they'd be more likely to keep it. Did customers take their business elsewhere? Hardly. Despite having the highest adoption prices in the county, the HSSV showed a ten percent increase in adoptions, with half as many returns.

tags: trade-off, lunchtalk

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Lunch Talk: Stanford Entrepreneurship Corner (Ben Horowitz)



Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Ben Horowitz shares which entrepreneurial skills truly matter, and why learning to manage well may be the most critical skill of all. Horowitz, a founding partner of Andreessen Horowitz, discusses the value of learning inside a large company, some of the exciting technology frontiers ahead, and the purpose and philosophy of his firm, in conversation with Stanford Engineering Professor Tom Byers.

Quote: The basis of a good company is to figure out something about the world that nobody else knows, and the secret becomes the company.


http://ecorner.stanford.edu/authorMaterialInfo.html?mid=3425

tags: lunchtalk, entrepreneurship, innovation

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Invention of the Day: Wine

In 2007, a team of Armenian and Irish archeologists discovered a 6,100-year-old winery in the Areni cave near a small Armenian village.



The discovery meant that people started producing wines in significant volumes thousands of years ago. More importantly, our ancient ancestors had specifically selected and cultivated grapes because of their high sugar content. That is, since grapes contain up to 20% glucose by volume, when fermented, they produce a large amount of alcohol (ethanol).



Although we know that even wild animals enjoy an occasional doze of alcohol feasting on fermented fruit, wine is different.


The significance of the invention of wine thousands of year ago becomes apparent when we compare it to the invention of large scale food production, e.g. grain cultivation, domestication of animals, irrigation, etc.

It [the invention of wine] completely defies the common wisdom "Necessity is the mother of invention." The proverb implies that people invent or solve problems when they are compelled to do so. But, unlike food, water,  and shelter, wine is not a necessity; one can survive without it. Moreover, certain cultures and religions explicitly forbid alcohol consumption.

Therefore, wine is not a necessary, but, rather, an opportunistic invention; something that makes life more fun (when taken in moderation). Here's how an ancient Greek poet Eubulus (4th century BCE) describes  the effects of wine:
Three bowls do I mix for the temperate: one to health, which they empty first; the second to love and pleasure; the third to sleep. When this bowl is drunk up, wise guests go home. The fourth bowl is ours no longer, but belongs to violence; the fifth to uproar; the sixth to drunken revel; the seventh to black eyes; the eighth is the policeman's; the ninth belongs to biliousness; and the tenth to madness and the hurling of furniture.
Wine is like modern computer games: you can live without it, but life would be less enjoyable.

As human inventors, we create necessities by coming up with novel ideas and making them useful to other humans on a large scale. Based on thousands of years of ever-improving and ever-increasing wine production, I would say that "Invention is the mother of necessity."

Friday, November 07, 2014

ArborLight startup wins 2014 Next Generation Luminaires (NGL) competition

Congratulations to my co-author Max Shtein! The startup he co-founded won a national competition for innovative energy efficient indoor lighting fixtures.


<blockquote>Arborlight is virtually inventing a new lighting product category: daylight emulation. We all love daylight. It makes us feel good, be more productive, have more energy, the list goes on and on. Yet, the reality for many is that to work, learn, shop and generally go about our daily business, we are forced to spend most of our time indoors with little or no access to daylight. The aim of Arborlight’s Solis is to remedy that situation. The Solis product allows you to create an indoor environment that simulates daylight in where it would be otherwise impossible, literally mimicking the sun. It’s Wi-Fi enabled, has the appearance of a traditional skylight, emulates daylight conditions, and autonomously adjusts color, intensity, and directionality throughout the day to match outdoor illumination. Essentially, it provides people with the ability to experience morning, high noon, and evening light conditions in a windowless space.</blockquote>


Thursday, November 06, 2014

The Internet of Things: malware threat to US energy infrastructure

Destructive "foreign" software is becoming a weapon of choice for covert international operations. For example, according to today's ABC report:


National Security sources told ABC News there is evidence that the malware was inserted by hackers believed to be sponsored by the Russian government, and is a very serious threat.

The hacked software is used to control complex industrial operations like oil and gas pipelines, power transmission grids, water distribution and filtration systems, wind turbines and even some nuclear plants. Shutting down or damaging any of these vital public utilities could severely impact hundreds of thousands of Americans.

In our book, Scalable Innovation, Chapter 3, we discuss in detail one of the system security inventions I made back in 2000, while at Philips Research. The invention, US Patent 7,092,861, aims to detect novel viruses that can target networked equipment in the home, office, or industrial cite (the patent is now owned by Facebook).


More than a decade ago, it was clear to us in the labs that the emerging Internet of Things creates new types of threats. Unless such threats are addressed through a broad, consistent industry and government efforts, our critical infrastructure will be highly vulnerable to vicious attacks that could dwarf in their destructive power the events of 9/11. Ideally, all existing industrial software has to be upgraded - a difficult, but essential task for the next two decades.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Invention of the Day: the Integrated Circuit

During the Nobel Prize week it's only appropriate to remember Nobel-worthy inventions that changed the world. Today it's almost impossible to imagine our lives without some kind of use of the Integrated Circuit (IC) because the technology has become a fundamental building block in modern computing, communications, data storage, power supply, sensor, and many other applications. (see the Wiki article linked above).

In 2000, Jack S. Kilby received 1/2 of the Nobel Prize in Physics for his 1958 invention of the IC. Here's a picture and diagram of his original invention:


When I read Kilby's Nobel Prize lecture, several of his passages strike me as remarkable because they show how difficult it is for contemporaries to recognize a great innovation:


Note that one of the core objections was that the new system doesn't use the best individual elements (resistors and transistors). Similarly, many years later — in the early 1990s — people doubted that video was ever going to be streamed over the Web because the Internet Protocol was poorly suited for synchronous data transmission. As innovators, we often have to remind people that the system is greater than a simple sum of its parts.

Kilby's speech also gives us a new perspective on the Moore's law. Here's what Kilby says:


Just one year later, Gordon Moore published his now famous article where he formulated his "law", stating that the density of elements in ICs would double every 18 months:

The chart from that article promised exponential performance riches to the "few adventurous companies" that were willing to bet on the new technology. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that tiny, unknown Silicon Valley startups, rather than large established companies, took full advantage of the opportunity and eventually created a new reality that we all live in today.

tags: invention, innovation, technology, market, 10X, cinderella

Saturday, September 27, 2014

(BN) Apple Seeks to Defeat Wi-Lan’s Patent Claims Before Trial

(Bloomberg ) Apple Inc. (AAPL) asked a federal judge to rule that its iPhones and iPads don't infringe two patents owned by Wi-Lan Inc. (WIN) ahead of a trial scheduled in November on the Canadian technology licensor's claims.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego didn't issue a decision at a hearing today on Apple's request. The judge told the companies' lawyers he will issue a ruling in two to three weeks.

Today's hearing comes almost a year after Wi-Lan lost a jury trial in Texas in which it sought $248 million in royalties from Apple for alleged infringement of another one of its patents. The companies have been in court in California, Florida and Texas for seven years over Wi-Lan's claims.

Apple, which this month unveiled its new, larger-screen iPhone models, has said in court filings that Wi-Lan has a history of asserting patents in bad faith and hasn't prevailed against Apple in any of the five lawsuits it has brought so far, the latest in June.

If Sabraw finds that Apple's products don't infringe the two Wi-Lan patents, the case will effectively end before it goes to trial. Apple said the patented technology pertains to prioritizing connections for allocating bandwidth and isn't relevant to its products because they don't have multiple connections that require prioritizing.

Wi-Lan Attorney

Dirk Thomas, an attorney for Wi-Lan, told the judge that Apple is deliberately misconstruing the specifics of the patents in order to avoid allegations of infringement.

"There is no requirement for multiple connections," Thomas said at today's hearing.

Ottawa-based Wi-Lan, which gets all its revenue from licenses for its patents, fell 23 percent the day after it lost the Texas verdict last year.

In that case, the judge in March threw out the jury's findings that two Wi-Lan patent claims weren't valid and declined to throw out the non-infringement verdict. Wi-Lan appealed in April.

The company said after that loss that it would explore "strategic alternatives" including a sale of the company.

The case is Wi-Lan USA Inc. v. Apple Inc., 13-cv-00798, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).