Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience

The University of Michigan Ann Arbor is taking driving to roads hitherto untraveled!  They’re testing vehicles in a ‘fake city’ constructed on their campus under the auspices of the Mobility Transformation Center, a partnership with industry and government to lay the foundations for a commercially viable ecosystem of connected and automated mobility.  Read the story straight from the school:

U-M’s cityscape will test driverless vehicles

UMich Mobility

Photo Credit © The Regents of the University of Michigan, Mobility Transformation Center

Called M City, the one-of-a-kind facility will include a network of roads with up to five lanes, intersections, roundabouts, roadway markings, traffic signs and signals, sidewalks, bus facilities, benches, simulated buildings, streetlights, parked cars, pedestrians and obstacles like construction barriers.


The story is getting play from the UK tabloids as well…   The Fake City Helping Create Tomorrow’s Cars

While it might seem like an image out of a Hollywood movie clip, the advances that are made on this “stage set” are hoping to lead to the implementation of a connected and automated mobility system on the streets of southeastern Michigan by 2021.

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February 23rd, 2015

…or could use a change of pace, we may be on the verge of getting more accurate forecasts.  Ever hear of Radio Occultation?  I hadn’t, until I read this article – this is very cool stuff… Radio occultation (RO) is a remote sensing technique used for measuring the physical properties of a planetary atmosphere.  If you’re atmospherically inclined, this is the story for you!

Beginning this year, a Silicon Valley startup called Spire is set to launch a network of small satellites aimed at improving and modernizing weather forecasting on a few key fronts.

New Satellite Network Launching This Year

Aims to Improve Weather Forecasting

Radio Occultation

Radio occultation analysis of signal delay by the tamdem FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC used as atmospheric sounding.
[Photo Credit: Wikipedia]

 According to Dr. R. A. Anthes et al., 2008, in The COSMIC/FORMOSAT-3 Mission: Early Results   published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (Volume 89, Issue 3):  “The radio occultation (RO) technique, which makes use of radio signals transmitted by the global positioning system (GPS) satellites, has emerged as a powerful and relatively inexpensive approach for sounding the global atmosphere with high precision, accuracy, and vertical resolution in all weather and over both land and ocean.”

Maybe the day is coming when you’ll actually be able to dress with confidence that you’re attired appropriately for the weather?

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February 13th, 2015

As we become more and more globally connected daily, the need for clear communication grows by leaps and bounds.  Dialects, accents, ‘slang’, and just plain old grammar rules can get in the way of comprehension – and missing the point of a communique can lead to dire consequences!

At IBM, Natural Language Processing (NLP) is one of the big areas of tech getting a lot of focus.  And there’s a push to ‘internationalize’ the Watson system for global usage.  Read about one application here:

IBM Watson: Watson’s Learning Japanese

 “The fact that humans and Watson are good at different things makes them good partners. The more languages Watson understands, the greater its utility will be in various endeavors and disciplines.”


Don’t think this is an area that matters?  This article from the Huffington Post gives a lot of information about why and how language is central to our moving forward in all phases of business and education:

Technology to the Endangered Language Rescue?


Whether you spend more of your time communicating by keyboard or phone, it’s essential to be clear in the message you provide to your audience.  Language is at the core of human interaction – written or verbal; what do you have to say?

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February 11th, 2015

There are few who live in the developed world who don’t have a list as long as their arm of the many passwords they use at work and home to conduct their daily business and routines.  That may all change – sooner that you think…  A groundswell of support is underway for BIOMETRIC PASSWORDS!  (You can learn more about biometrics by clicking the link.)


photo credit:

Here are a few articles that have recently hit the news in which you find supporting arguments and possible pitfalls of adopting this type of system to identify the user of a particular app or piece of equipment – - -

From the US Military: DARPA wants behavior-based biometrics to replace passwords

From the UK:  Young people ‘ready to ditch passwords for biometric security’

From PCWorld Magazine: Intel and McAfee plan to kill PC passwords with new biometric authentication

And an alternate view from ComputerWorld: Will we embrace biometrics to replace passwords?

One interesting comment from the ComputerWorld opinion piece “Privacy policies constantly change . . . and usually the user loses out. Whoever stores our biometrics had better secure it well as surely the NSA would love to hoover it all up and store it for eternity.”

Data security is changing daily; maybe any future aliens who land on our planet will no longer be seeking the person in charge or leader, but instead will be stating, “Take me to your READER”.  Of course, their retinal scan would have to be pre-programmed into the system to gain access…hmmmmm, sci-fi, anyone??

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January 27th, 2015

There’s a saying that the only things that are certain in life are death and TAXES.  For the vast majority of humans, the process of filing your personal or business taxes is something that is feared, dreaded, hated, avoided – you get the picture…

While e-filing has been in place in many countries for some time, here’s a story from BizTech Africa that highlights a less developed part of the ICT globe.  While it may not be news where you reside, this change is monumental for Gabon.  Technology makes its way across the planet at different paces, and can bring about events with impacts that ripple across continents.

Gabon businesses to pay tax online


Gabon map

The initiative, named et@x ( is aimed at helping Gabon catch up with other African countries and establishing Gabon’s reputation as providing high quality services for their business sector.

Are YOU part of an electronic revolution that hasn’t reached beyond your university?  How will you bring it to market and where?  You may be the life-changer that the world is waiting for!

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