Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
June 8th, 2015

We’ve all seen news stories about the atrocities being committed on defenseless animals in the wild.  There is a program that has been “launched” using drones to thwart poachers that seek to illegally obtain the tusks of the elephant and horns of the rhino.

blog elephants

Elephants in Kenya, near the Tanzania border in 2014. AOPA file photo.

Air Shepherd, an initiative backed by the Lindbergh Foundation, is a not-for-profit that aims to preserve the environment through the use of technology.

The Air Shepherd system uses unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with infrared cameras and GPS.  These are designed to tackle after dark-poaching between the hours of 6:30 and 8:30 pm, a period which sees the poachers make their move after surveying animal positions during daylight.  Once the curtain of darkness is lowered, the hunters move in and kill the animals, quickly making off with their horns and tusks.

The pilot phase in southern Africa over the last two years saw more than 350 missions and logged 1,000 hours of flying time over a region where as many as 19 rhinos were normally poached each month.  During the testing period, not a single rhino was killed in an area where the drones were operating.

Please read more detail about this life-saving technology here.

What a great use of drone and “big data” technology!  Do you have any expertise that could literally save some of our planet’s inhabitants?

Bookmark and Share
May 29th, 2015

While most of the press received about this topic is cynical (to say the least) and downright rude in some cases, as a person who loves history and inventions that have been marketed and discarded and now re-discovered, I find this absolutely captivating!  You may fall into the camp of “creeped-out” listeners; but, think about the innovative use of technology here and you might be less freaked and more fascinated…  For preservationists, this is a breakthrough — and who knows what else we may hear and learn?

Read about Thomas Edison’s talking doll sound technology from the 1800′s which made use of pre-recorded voices.  The recordings, are now being heard once more.  The tech responsible, called Irene (Image, Reconstruct, Erase Noise, Etc.) is the brainchild of particle physicist Carl Haber and engineer Earl Cornell.  According to the National Park Service, “The IRENE-3D system creates a digital model of the surface of a phonograph record. With the digital model, image analysis methods are used to reproduce the audio stored on the record.”

Edison doll

The dolls, which were an instant commercial failure, were invented by Thomas Edison and feature some of the first recordings ever made. Now, scientists have found a way to bring these ghostly recordings back to life.

And there’s a lot more being said on the subject…

by NEDCC.ORG            by The New York Times          by PBS.ORG

by The Daily Mail in the UK          by QZ.COM

Take your pick from the reports above – they each give a slightly different perspective and detail on Edison’s invention.  For anyone who is interested in sound and its properties, this will be a real eye-opener.  What other gems from history might be waiting to be given new life?  And will you be at the helm of their resuscitation?



Bookmark and Share

Say the word ‘robot’ and it conjures up a variety of images – some of them are scary, some noisy, some fantastical, some mundane.  Your individual experience influences how your mental image of any given object forms itself.  We’ve been making some incredible leaps in the use of robots or ‘robotics’ over the last decade or so.

Now – imagine your life if your reliance on robots was the only way forward for you…   Henry Evans is the inspiration and instigator of R4H (Robots for Humanity). Henry suffered a tragic stroke when he was 40 years old, rendering him speechless (mute) and quadriplegic. Through robotic technology, Henry continues to find ways to explore and interact with the world.

I, myself, am an avid museum-goer (I minored in Art History during the course of my education).  Hence, I was fascinated by this WONDERFUL usage of robots to give that opportunity to someone who can not be onsite physically.  The robots even give the ‘home-bound’ visitor the chance to interact with people who ARE at the museum.  It certainly is far superior to a still photograph or poster on the wall depicting a particular artwork or sculpture…

 Robots Give Virtual Tours of the de Young Museum


Robot allows those who can’t visit to take

virtual tour of Seattle Art Museum


Here’s an interview with Henry Evans from 2013 (credit San Jose Mercury News):  Q&A with Henry Evans, mute quadriplegic and robotics pioneer

While physically limited, Henry’s bright mind has lifted him far beyond his bed.  What other activities might robots give us a chance at which have been out of reach until now??  Your move!

Bookmark and Share

Many of us have heard about Watson since it competed on Jeopardy! in February 2011.  Since that time, Watson has been busy assisting the medical and financial industries.  Most recently, Watson has had success in the culinary world.  The latest announcement attributed to Watson is the newly published Watson cookbook – Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson which includes 65 recipes.

In contrast to a search engine that simply sifts through existing data to serve up a list of already published recipes, Chef Watson is not programmed to come up with a defined answer to a defined question – it understands, learns, and considers not just the data behind recipes and flavor compounds, but also human perception to design highly creative recipe ideas.

Using the app, users can create novel recipes by selecting ingredients, dish type and dish styles, as well as any ingredients to exclude in the final recipe. Once the user has entered in their choices, the app will generate a list of never before seen recipe suggestions.

YouTube Preview Image

And, there is an app to help you with your dinner menu planning.  What one-of-a-kind dish can you and Watson cook up?


Bookmark and Share
April 16th, 2015

DIY electronics are all the rage these days.  A new kit called MESH (Make, Experience, Share) is intended to make coming up with your own clever projects easier than ever.  From customized alarm clocks to trash cans that thank you for recycling, it’s claimed to open up a host of possibilities for amateur inventors.

MESH is a creative DIY platform that lets you make your own “smart projects” in just minutes.  No coding required!  Simply drag and drop.

Do you have any processes that you’d like to build a solution for?  Maybe MESH is something useful for the project you are working on.

There is a wealth of information about this new kit here.  Sets are available to order for $119 and above. Delivery of the first kits is estimated for May. View the video below for a guide to some of MESH’s key features.

YouTube Preview Image

Bookmark and Share

Subscribe to this category Subscribe to Computing

ChatClick here to chat!+