Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
Security and resilience

The squid is an intriguing marine animal. Squid are strong swimmers and certain species can “fly” for short distances out of the water.

And now scientists are developing camouflage systems inspired by squids’ color-changing skin. If successful, the result could be military clothing that can change its coloration to match the environment. But, there was a limitation which wouldn’t allow soldiers to avoid detection by infrared cameras at night.  Researchers from the University of California at Irvine are developing a stick-on covering that could let them do so.

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The new material utilizes the same protein that squids use to change color (Photo: Shutterstock)

Squids are able to rapidly change color thanks to cells in their skin known as iridocytes. These contain platelets that are made of a protein called reflectin. By adjusting the thickness and spacing of these platelets, the animals are able to change the manner in which their skin reflects light.

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While it’s still being perfected, the hope is that one day soldiers will carry rolls of the inexpensive stickers with them while on maneuvers. They could just apply them as needed, then peel them off and discard them afterwards.

More and more research is looking at what happens in nature to find ways to advance technology. Do you have any thoughts inspired by something in our environment that can improve the way we live or save lives?

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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.

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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?

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The concept is a rolling classroom; its purpose is to bring hands-on tech education to classrooms and build interest in students for science and math as fun subjects.

Where there’s a spark, there’s a flame – and the blaze is growing!!  This Stanford University (California, USA) rolling classroom is reaching both students and teachers alike…

Read about their beginnings and their continuing journey here:



And if you’re inspired by their success, maybe this is a project you and your fellow students will want to take on at your university!  Click the pic for a guide…



Where will you roll?

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May 1st, 2015

How would you like to ‘glide unseen’ into an area?  While Harry Potter and countless other fictional characters have used cloaks of invisibility to achieve that trick, we more mundane beings have limited powers to make ourselves non-intrusive.  And some folks are better at it than others…my laugh is so recognizable, it’s been the subject of much commentary over the years.  But, if I could clamp down on my tendency to be mirthful, maybe I have a shot at not standing out in the crowd?

Read about tech that’s making at least part of you unrecognizable…  Developed by AVG in the Czech Republic,

New glasses make you

invisible to facial recognition technology

Invisibilty glasses

AVG’s invisibility glasses. (Credit: AVG)

“The glasses, they explained, could help prevent smartphone users from snapping and uploading unwanted and potentially embarrassing photos of you. They can also prevent your likeness from being captured and featured in Google StreetView or other big-data projects.

Sorta’ makes you feel like a super-hero, doesn’t it?  What potential good (or harm) do you see resulting from this technology?  Is there an improvement or offshoot that you can envision?  AVG is a worldwide company – take a look at their job opps across the globe here:  Careers at AVG

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April 3rd, 2015

Population growth and over-reliance on resources that have ‘given us all they’ve got’ has caused overcrowding and problems the world over that have created shortages of many kinds – lack of materials, poor nutrition, healthcare & medicine being unavailable – you name it!  Here is a story concerning the Asian sector of the globe about the need for better methods that will serve to help people and the environment!

Asian countries urged


to plan for sustainable




Urbanization drives Asia’s position as an economic powerhouse, but for this growth to be sustainable, careful planning is being urged to create more resilient cities that are not only resource-efficient, but also promote quality of life.”


Shell brought around 300 leading thinkers together for its 2015 Powering Progress Together Asia forum in Manila, Philippines, on February 26 to discuss how each sector of society can help cities become more resilient and liveable in the face of rapid urbanisation and resource pressures.  Click the pic to visit the site and learn about the forum!

Crowded street

Here are a couple of sites for the companies mentioned in the article posted on that you should visit if you are interested in getting involved with Smarter Planet Planning for better urban life around the world:

Xyntéo: “Xyntéo’s mission is to reinvent growth.”

The Manila Observatory: “At the turn of the 21st century, the Observatory finds itself at the nexus of global concerns for environment and development.”

Shell Corporation: “At Shell, we use human ingenuity, innovation and technology to unlock the energy our customers need to power their lives in the years ahead, while aiming to limit our impact on the environment.”

Is there work that you’re doing along these lines?  Will you propose the next great system or technology that pushes urbanization to the new levels needed to keep our planet humming along?  There’s much to do – be a part of it!

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