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Good Thinking

The LoftCube – designed to be airlifted in to the free space on top of buildings

September 28, 2006 If there’s a vacant block without a building on it, people notice – valuable real estate doesn’t stand vacant for long. But there’s plenty of prime real estate sitting vacant out there and the owners in most cases are completely unaware of it – it’s called the free space on the roof of many city buildings and there’s an industry fast growing up to cater for it. The Aisslinger-designed and built Loftcube is a 39 square metre penthouse designed to be helicoptered to the location of your choice – as long as it’s on a rooftop. Once it is airlifted into place, it can be fully functional inside 2-4 days according to the architects. Inside it’s completely customisable, and prices range from EUR89,000 (US$ 112,830) to EUR 144,000 (US$182,570) - see inside for details.  Read More

Reeingineering automotive toll processes for a cash-based economy

September 22, 2006 Every civilization on earth treats money slightly differently. When the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority (PRHTA) set out to create the country’s AutoExpreso toll collection system, it was seen to have some unique cultural problems to overcome as a high percentage of Puerto Ricans do not maintain bank accounts or credit cards. With the country’s cash-based culture, the system had to be conceptually re-engineered to look beyond the traditional credit card-based ETC architecture and business rules, and allow users to pay cash to refill their account. The eGo radio frequency identification (RFID)-based cashless toll collection system launched in early 2004, and in just two years, 400,000eGo tags have been issued, well ahead of the five-year goal of 300,000. This represents a more rapid adoption curve of ETC than experienced in many earlier systems throughout the United States.  Read More

The Programmable Liquid Container

September 22, 2006 Packaging that intelligently enhances its contents with increased consumer customisation and personalisation choices is on the way and Ipifini’s choice-enabled packaging could well change the way liquid products are manufactured and marketed across multiple segments. The Programmable Liquid Container employs buttons on the container's surface that release additives (flavours, colourants, fragrances) into the liquid. The additive buttons allow the consumer to choose variations of the liquid in the container at the point of consumption. For example, a programmable cola bottle with buttons for lemon, lime, vanilla, and cherry flavors as well as a caffeine button allows for 32 potential choices of soda. A programmable paint container with 20 pigment additive buttons allows the consumer to choose from one million paint colours. First cab off the rank in the Choice-Pack line of products under development is a prototype clear soda bottle available for US$250 plus shipping and handling for people interested in exploring licenses to its Programmable Liquid Container technology. After the soda bottle will come choice-enabled pouches, further developments of plastic and glass bottles, jars, boxes and cans promise the ability to mix your own perfume, flavoured coffee, juice, even paint. Prototypes even include perfume bottles where you can make your choice one dose at a time – A with a hint of B, C, D or E. Apart from allowing consumers to select their desired variation at the time of use, the technology simplifies manufacturing, distribution, promotion and sales by allowing a single container to replace a series of product varieties., and is relevant to many industries such as beverage, food, personal care, household, paint, perfume, pharmaceuticals, just to mention a few. Sensational image gallery with prototype pictures.  Read More

Xerox develop MicroText font - 1/100th of an inch high

September 15, 2006 Xerox Corporation scientists have developed a digital printing font so tiny that you need a magnifying glass to read it. The new MicroText Specialty Imaging Font, just 1/100th of an inch high, is designed to help make valuable documents with personal information such as birth certificates, personal identification papers, and checks even harder to forge. Microscopic words are already hidden in the design of credit cards, checks and currency as a deterrent to counterfeiting. For instance, the "dots" in the border next to Andrew Jackson's right shoulder on current US$20 bills are really the tiny words "The United States of America 20 USA 20 USA." Now Xerox's innovation carries microprinting to the next level because it can make important documents more secure by individualizing the tiny letters and numbers.  Read More

Incident Commander Simulation software for Emergency Personnel

September 7, 2006 Simulating one of the most demanding and mission critical roles available to a human being, Incident Commander is a PC-based simulation that provides a safe environment for first responders, emergency personnel and multi-agency personnel to train, plan, and prepare for emergency and crisis situations. Developed for the U.S. Department of Justice by BreakAway, Incident Commander can train up to 16 players simultaneously, with users assuming roles as either the commander or members of the operations team. The game simulates various crisis scenarios, including a natural disaster, a school hostage situation, and a terrorism incident and can be customised with the addition of new locations, buildings, structures, crisis events, and emergency agencies to more accurately portray local community situations. Screenshots of the software here.  Read More

The tie - the sartorial equivalent of an appendix - an entirely redundant bit of kit left ...

September 5, 2006 Apparently, the necktie that has played such a pivotal role in the male dress code for the last 400 years, is on the decline. Though it is not yet certain to become a museum piece, research shows the proportion of U.K. men in professional jobs who buy ties has dropped from 70% in 1996 to just 56% today. Having played many roles in society, the removal of ties is a modern trend accelerated by the dotcom boom of the nineties. Suits (sales people and those who interfaced with old businesses) wore ties, whereas t-shirts (AKA knowledge workers) did not. Along with a sentiment of independence and a new way of doing things was the recognition that the tie is “the sartorial equivalent of an appendix - an entirely redundant bit of kit left over from a much earlier phase of evolution. Just as it is several millennia since our digestive systems were required to deal with grass, it is at least a couple of centuries since men felt it necessary to protect their throats in the street from anyone making a lunge at the jugular with a sword.” Do yourself a favour and take five minutes to read Kathryn Hughes’ expertly crafted story on the decline of the tie.  Read More

South Korea takes top rank in global E-Government Survey

September 4, 2006 The findings of Brown University's sixth annual survey of on-line government have been released and South Korea has leapt to the top of 198 country table, displacing traditional frontrunners Taiwan, Singapore and the United States with a significantly better score. Australia, Hong Kong and China all dropped out of the top ten, with Korea, Japan and Spain the biggest climbers. The researchers evaluated government websites based on two dozen criteria, including disability access, the existence of publications and databases, the presence of privacy policies, security policies, contact information, and the number of online services.  Read More

ReadEzy takes the pain out of reading

August 28, 2006 More proof that successful new products don’t need software, a VC fund and a big business behind them. The ReadEzy, invented by Macquarie University (Australia) philosophy student David Wild is a bookholder that holds the book from behind, while the pages are loosely gripped at the front so they can be turned or flicked with one hand. The end result is a device that allows people to read without holding the book, or read multitask - take notes, eat, drink, knit or enjoy a bath without getting the pages wet. Wild produced 5,000 “ReadEzy” bookholding devices as a trial, and they were snapped up so quickly (primarily by students and the mobility impaired) that when he sold out within a month he’s now ramping up for mass distribution and seeking international distributors for the ReadEzy which retails for AUD$30 (USD$22.70 or EUR17.80) .  Read More

The Medici Business Game - designed to unleash remarkable ideas

August 18, 2006 There is no better group of people to come up with new ideas and concepts for your company than your own people – they know the constraints, the opportunities, the customers and they understand the game but it’s often hard to get everyone into the space where the ideas flow. The Medici Game is a new business game that takes participants on a three-hour journey into "the intersection”, described by the game's co-creator Frans Johansson, as “a creative place where thinking from different cultures and fields collide to create an explosion of remarkable ideas." Based on the concepts explored in the best-selling book, The Medici Effect: Breakthrough Insights at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts & Cultures (HBS Press, 2004) the game taps employee creativity and helps companies create the conditions for innovation, leading to new products and services, systems and procedures, and even new markets. The cost of the game is US$70 per person, which just might prove to be money well spent. During the game, participants are challenged to reverse their own assumptions, make unusual connections and reevaluate their daily habits. As a result, the experience helps break down the associative barriers and linear thinking that block creativity and innovation.  Read More

Virtual Ancient Egypt curriculum introduced into the classroom

August 17, 2006 Business simulation programs teach skills and offer experiences and understanding that traditional education cannot. In the short history of the genre, it has become patently obvious that the experiential learning on offer via simulation programs brings the textbook to life and that students get very involved to get to higher levels in the simulation. Knowledge Matters has been selling educational business simulation programs for eight years and has had enormous success with programs such as VB Management (VBM), a simulated distribution business where players locate and build a business, hire and supervise employees, deal with unions and strikes and collective bargaining, industrial accidents and lawsuits, performance warnings and pay raises and all the other day-to-day business realities. The latest upgrade adds a multiplayer capacity to the original version allowing teams to steal each other’s customers and employees while motivating cooperative thinking and team strategy … just like in real life. Now the company is taking its experience in educational simulation software and applying it to middle school history … starting with Ancient Egypt, where students will learn about all aspects of ancient Egypt including government, basic human needs, daily work activities, agriculture, trade, religion and they'll even get the task of building a pyramid, allocating resources into the bargain. And expect to see another module surrounding the settling of America some time in 2007 where students will be immersed through simulation, in the daily life and history of the early American settlements.  Read More

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