Smart City Updates

Net City
The term 'smart city' can be rather vague in what it does or will do. In contrast, Net City clearly defines one of its primary goals is to be car-free. Located in Shenzhen, Net City is driven by Tencent and master planned by US-based architecture firm NBBJ. Starting with a clear goal focuses possibilities such as boulevards, side walk cafes and light electric or manual mobility. [Titbit: across the border in HK, Tesla Model 3 became the top selling car model, electric or otherwise, in August.] Jonathan Ward, the lead designer of Net City, will be speaking at E-Nation happening Oct 2020.

Peachtree Corners
Peachtree Corners is a city, a suburb in Atlanta, in Georgia with a population of around 40,000. The city founded Curiousity Labs to offer its compact self as a free test bed for autonomous vehicles (with driverless insurance thrown in), IoT, sensors, smart cameras and 5G. Ecosystem partners include Cisco, Bosch, TrafficCast and TheRay. Getting to smart city by being open for business.

IEEE Snart Cities
IEEE is hosting a smart cities virtual conference Sep 28 - Oct 1, 2020. Being IEEE organized, the conference will likely be scholarly & engineering focused. Nonetheless, a sample of topics gives a glimpse of the cutting edge:
  • The Role of Electrical Energy and Electrification in Smart Cities
  • Self-Reflection Algorithm for Autonomous Vehicles
  • Summon Unmanned Aerial Vehicles using Ant Colony Optimisation
  • Smart Buildings and Stochastic Electric Vehicles
  • Emotional Contagion Modelled Through The Empathy Quotient
  • Electrical Substations and Road Networks under Extreme Events
  • Digitally Advanced Water Networks
  • Application of UAVs in Smart Cities using Computer Vision

Learning For Its Own Sake

In our previous post, we cited Zena Hitz, Hiett Award recipient, for her advocacy of 'learning for its own sake'. This may mean learning broadly or more than is necessary. An example is Farrokh Bulsara (Freddie Mercury) who picked up music while studying in India and UK. Though his early music setting was India and his bio tells he was inspired by rock later, Farrokh's compositions have a distinct European chime as in Bohemian Rhapsody and Love of My Life. The latter double covered here by J.Fla and Claudia Bennett.

Pre-Nobel Prizes

The Nobel prizes are set to be announced Oct 5-12. Here's a sample of the winners of other honours thus far in 2020:

Breakthrough Prize info
  • Mathematics: Alex Eskin - Magic wand theorem
  • Life Sciences: Jeffrey Friedman - Biological basis of obesity
  • Physics: Shep Doeleman et al - Global network of radio telescopes

Wolf Prize info
  • Agriculture: Caroline Dean - Getting plants to flower
  • Art: Cindy Sherman - The art of self-portraiture
  • Maths: Yakov Eliashberg - Springs & planetary systems

Ig Nobel Prize info
  • Psychology: Miranda Giacomin et al - Narcissistic eyebrows
  • Physics: Ivan Maksymov et al - High frequency earthworms
  • Economics: Chris Watkins et al - The economics of kissing

Hiett Award (Humanities) info
  • Zena Hitz - Learning for its own sake (vs, say, just to get a job)
Marconi Prize (Communications) info
  • Andrea Goldsmith - Adapt wireless to ever changing variables
John von Neumann Prize (Applied Mathematics) info
  • Nick Trefethen - Numerical analysis (how computers do maths)
Turing Award (Computing Science) info
  • Edwin Catmull & Pat Hanrahan (Pixar) - Computer animation
IEEE Medal of Honor (Electronics) info
  • Chenming Hu - 3D transistor structure: kept Moore's Law going

Food Notes

Some food notes and the latest in foodtech.

  • West: Popular herbs are basil, marjoram, oregano, sage, rosemary and thyme. You can get a mix of all these from a McCormick shaker. Sprinkle on instant ramen for some extra goodness and taste.
  • East: Indian herbs are usually ground to spices and mixed into masala or curry powder, common ingredients are coriander, cumin, fennel, turmeric and chillies. For Chinese cuisine, three herbs to add depth to soups are red dates, longan and wolfberries.
  • Fresh: Fresh herbs like coriander leaves, mint, chives, shallots and red chillies are popular in South East Asia. These are added to dishes for extra colour, aroma and oomph (some of these short shelf life herbs are no longer as much used).

Fried Rice
  • There are many variants to fried rice, but in general, it refers to the CN version of the dish. Originally meant to be an upcycling of leftover rice, it was lightly fried, flavoured and accessorised.
  • Contemporary versions, from street food to upmarket offerings, are heavily fried and smoky (wok hei). As in many modern iterations of old school food, accessories dominate, for example in premium versions, the adding of seafood, XO sauce etc.
  • Jamie Oliver's version is closer to old school being a quick home whip-up. A sprinkle of water during frying is legit if the rice is too dry (eg after being in the fridge overnight). Give it a try, the proof of the pudding is in the eating (tip: use regular tofu, not silken ones).

FoodTech Startups
  • SmartSweets - Candy with fibre, natural flavour & colour
  • Gold&Green - Protein from oats (vs dhal and soya in the East)
  • Vurger - Crispy veggie chicken burger
  • BlakBear - High tech version of expiry dates
  • ReNature - Agroforestry: add forests to farms
  • Peas&Love - Rent plots of urban farm for €38 per month
  • NuCane - Healthier sugar that is milled not refined

Wearable Startups

A sample of wearable startups:

  • KeyBiz - Airport helmet with temperature scanners
  • ZEROi - Cap with bone conducting speakers & mic
  • SmartCap - Cap/hat/beanie liner that does bio-monitoring
  • KC N901 - Helmet with temp sensor, QR, plate & face reader
  • Forcite - Bike helmet with built-in camera, speakers, mic
  • Oculus - FB doubles down on VR: faster, lighter, higher res, -$

  • Snap - The eyewear is the camera
  • Vue - World's lightest, has audio & mic
  • Frames - Alexa (voice UI) for glasses
  • Moverio - Heads-up for drone pilots
  • Vuzix - Smartglasses for manufacturing ops
  • Beam - Smartvisor for sports
  • Focals - Waze+Yelp+Alexa (recently acquired by Google)

  • NYSW - Analog watch with digital features
  • SuperCharger - Self charging smartwatch
  • Androidly - Almost smartphone like
  • Gliglo - E-ink and six months battery life
  • Titan - Posh titanium, ceramic, sapphire
  • Matix - Uses thermo-electricity for power
  • Voixatch - Has detachable headphone & mic
  • Suunto - 70+ sports modes
  • Lexington - Oversized: SUV of watches
  • Skagen - Make calls from your wrist
  • CIGA - German design award 2020

Violin Selections

The violin is said to be the hardest musical instrument to learn and master. That said, here are two violin selections, one classical and meditative, the other contemporary and reflective: Double Violin Concerto performed by Akademia Filmu i Telewizj and Speechless covered by BY Ziaa. For the concerto, try listening with eyes closed.

BigTech Chugs On

While some industries are held back by bugzilla, big (and small) tech looks to be pushing ahead.

Big Tech
  • Apple-Google contact tracing starts in EU.
  • Google rolls out verified calls (who's calling and why).
  • YouTube rolls out Shorts (TikTok challenger)
  • Apple Watch packs an oximeter (bugzilla early warning).
  • Apple Watch features the U1 chip (like RFID but smarter).
  • Facebook goes back to its campus roots.
  • Long Term Stock Exchange opens for business.
  • Gymless gym: Peleton, Fitmess+ and yoga pants.

Digital Banks
Sample new digital banks 1
  • Kroo - Socialise your spending, don't hide it
  • Vivid - Stock and ETF linked bank accounts
  • Be Money - Digital bank for LGBT+
  • 220 - Private digital bank for the well-heeled
  • Tomorrow - Deposits fund green loans only
  • Onebanks - Branches for digital banks
  • PrizePool - Bank it like a prize pool

East & West

Some countries have distinctly different East and West portions. Examples are US, RU, CN, IN, ID and...MY. This post pertains to the East and West of MY.

The sape is a traditional lute of Borneo. Originally, it had 2 strings and 3 frets; one string for the rhythm, one for the melody. How to play music with only 3-6 notes (2 strings x 3 frets)? Quite possible, depending on how one defines music. Fast forward to modern times, watch as Florentini Delly performs Datun Julud ('hornbill dance') with a contemporary sape (6 strings. 2 used, 17 frets).

Alan Walker's vids are usually pro crafted to cast a foreboding, post-apocalyptic vibe. This fan shot version (when Alan Walker was in West MY a couple of years or so back), though the audio is a bit muffled, is a riotous nod to EDM and to a time BC (before corona).

Herbal Agriculture

Grill or Chill Borneo (Sep 17, 2020) info sample:
  • Dumo Herba - Herb-griculture 
  • Kertas Pisang - Banana leaf paper
  • Joyfull Dip - After black pepper, next is pineapple-chilli dip

Digital Marketing (Sep 17) info

Agrifood Innovation (Sep 22) info
  • Enhancing Nutrient Content in Plants - RP
  • Non-Traumatized Seeds - Fadeev Agro
  • Crops Suitable for Indoor Farming - RP

Facebook Accelerator Demo Day (Sep 24) info sample:
  • Assemblr - Business AR (visualisation, virtual tours, presentations)
  • Econmobi - Social selling (real influencers and chatbots)
  • Avana - Online (store, chatbot, messaging, whatsapp commerce)

Proton Tenaga

The Tesla Model 3 surpassed Nissan Leaf as the best selling EV worldwide in 2020. Hot on the heels of the Model 3 is not the Leaf but the Polestar 2, which overtook the sales of the Model 3 in Sweden and Norway in August. Check out the video above for a fast-paced comparison of the two EVs and a demo of the latest EV features. As an aside (for readers in MY), Polestar is distantly related to Proton. Perhaps a Proton Tenaga ('energy') is in the works?

Celebrity Electric Vehicles

World EV Day was held yesterday (Sep 9th, 2020), some updates:

Celebrity EVs
A selection of EV models and their celebrity early adopters [1 2]:

Battery 2030+
BATTERY 2030+ is an EU initiative to develop sustainable battery technologies. The first six projects selected under the initiative:
  • Big-Map - Unites the R&D of 34 institutions from 15 EU counties
  • Instabat - Fiber Bragg grating and luminescence probes
  • Sensibat - SOC/SOH/SOE/SOP estimation algorithms
  • Spartacus - Electrochem impedance measurement & temp sensors
  • Hidden - Self-healing thermotropic liquid crystalline electrolytes
  • Bat4ever - Si-Graphene anode, Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt cathode

Random Music

Jazz, one either gets it or doesn't. We firmly belong to the latter category but we still like the piano duet classic Heart and Soul from the genre's early days. More melodic and less random as in Katie Morrison's cover above. For more, check out the piano fest happening in Oct 2020 at Mid Valley (KL).

Hydrogen Mobility

Mobility Conference
MOVE is a virtual mobility conf happening 8-10 Sep, 2020. Topics include:
  • Wireless electric roads - Electreon
  • Leveraging urban aerial space for delivery - SwoopAero
  • Smart parking for smart mobility - ParkingBnb
  • Hydrogen fuel as an alternative - Arup
  • The world’s lightest bicycle - Carbo

Hydrogen Vehicles
Hydrogen versus electric vehicles:
  • Both are electric vehicles, the difference is the 'battery'
  • Standard EV: lithium battery, hydrogen EV: hydrogen 'battery'
  • A hydrogen 'battery' is pumped like petrol, not plugged & charged
  • Hydrogen allows longer ranges and grid independent power
  • Best extracted from water using renewable or nuclear power

EDM Remix

As the first chill of autumn and shorter days are upon us, what better way to warm up than an EDM (electronic dance music) animated remix.

MDEC is hosting a virtual animators conference (Kre8tif!) this coming Wed &Thu (Sep 9-10, 2020). Participating content buyers include from Warner, Netflix, Measat, ViacomCBS, Gaumont and Primeworks. The content portion, the conference, is free-to-attend, while the business portion, meetings with buyers and virtual booths, are ticketed at MYR 199 [approx USD 50].

Fried Rice | Blue Ribbon

Jamie's Fried Rice
Jamie Oliver's fried rice vid (above) attracted some social media attention that opined he didn't do justice to the dish. However, we think he did fine: a quick whip-up in a Western kitchen using ingredients available in the West. These include the use of 'chilli jam' (for a bit of zing) which is just sweet chilli sauce (in the East) and tofu (the video mentioned 'firm silken tofu', that's probably regular tofu as silken tofu will turn into mush on stir-frying).

The Blue Ribbon
An experienced, Western-trained chef can arrive at a dish like fried rice reasonably competently even if his or her methods and ingredients differ substantially from the old recipes. We tested the dish as shown and it was delicious. Western cooking has a rich repertoire of techniques which can be applied across genres. Le Cordon Bleu ('the blue ribbon'), under the auspices of Penjana (MY's economic stimulus package), is offering fully-funded culinary reskilling courses, including in the crafting of the following (apply here):
  • Thyme and Sundried Tomato Fougasse
  • Cheese Flammkuche, Florentine Barre
  • Lavender Sable Breton
  • Vanilla Eclair, Cream Choux Buns
  • Manguo Salsa et Gumbo
  • Fish Promfet Mousse
  • Stuffed Crepes with Salmon & Spinach

Lounge Music Vibe

Local authorities in many places have generally kept pubs and lounges shuttered as these venues are considered higher risk in terms of the 3Cs: crowded (people in close vicinity), confined (stuffy, less well ventilated) and congested (many patrons coming and going). In addition, at music lounges, patrons tend to converse loudly to be heard over the music, and this is an additional risk factor.

Despite being shuttered, young people have sought to defy the ban on such gatherings. Because to them, the need to socialise is greater than the perceived danger to themselves and to society. Hopefully, life will return to normal for them soon.

For readers who miss the vibe (pub, music lounge or street cafe), try playing the above two videos simultaneously. The first is a cover of Nothing Gonna Change My Love for You (no info on singer), the second is ambient white noise from a bar. Adjust the volumes of both videos to arrive at a balance that gives the music a lounge vibe (eg. try half volume on the song and full volume on the ambience).

Wearable Wallets

Lockdown Tech
For the great social distancing, technologies that are there-for-folks:
  • Internet: work from home
  • Zoom: virtual meets
  • YouTube: education, entertainment
  • Social media: community, news
  • Ecommerce: retail, food, groceries
  • E-banking: banking, payments
  • Messaging, email: communications

Digital Currency
Late to the party is digital currency. How could it help?
  • Micropayments: for micro gigs or products
  • Seamless cross-border: for small businesses
  • Progammable: monetary confidence in aid and stimulus
  • Ledgered: regulatory confidence in currency flows
  • Parallel: can co-exists with legacy cash
  • Green hygiene: Less need for physical cash

Wearable Wallets
Digital wallets pair nicely with digital currencies. Ideal characteristics:
  • Wearable like a watch (v more clumsy phone or scary skin chipping)
  • Can range from a chipped wristband to a full-featured smartwatch
  • Present uses (for watch): time, notifications, bio monitor
  • New uses: payments, id, access (vehicle, office, residence)
  • Finger gesture control eg. point index finger to transact
  • Thumb up to confirm (if required) or splay fingers to dismiss

Second Wave

The Second Wave
Bugzilla looks to be making a comeback as shown above (Argentina, added as a comparison, is still in its first wave). Experts think the second wave might be due to returning to norm too enthusiastically and too quickly. The above six countries are just a sample, other European countries are also reporting an uptick, as have non-European countries [1 2 3].

Possible Measures
On a positive note, health and medical pros are more experienced in dealing with bugzilla as compared to the first wave. But we mustn't let our guard down. Reasons being, dealing with these waves is like steering a large ship, when the numbers turn bad, it takes time and effort to turn matters around. Prevention is always the better cure. Also, another round of lockdowns will be expensive. And, with a quarter of 2020 still to go, who knows what else might get thrown into the ring. So, stay prudent, follow procedures, social distance, sanitise, mask up and stay safe.

Digital Workplace

Digital Workplace
Going virtual has become so much the new norm that DWG24 Live (Digital Workplace Group 24 Hours Live) is hosting digital tours of digital workplaces, Sep 30th to Oct 1st, 2020, at Lego, Oxfam, Velux, Stagecoach, Fidelity, Rolls-Royce and others. Why showcase the office? Public relations, brand equity, recruitment, sharing or just positive vibes could be among the reasons.

Oslo Innovation Week
Oslo, the 2019 European Green Capital, is hosting Oslo Innovation Week from Sep 21st - 25th, 2020. Online seminar topics include: Blue, Green and Red BioTech, Circular Cities, The Circular Electronics Initiative, The Black Elephant Approach To Risk, Wood Is The New Plastic, The Role of Skilled Immigrants and The New Hybrid Workplace.

Noonies Awards
The [slightly cheeky] Noonies aims to recognize the best and less-than-best products of the internet. 2019 awardees include Twitter (best tech news source) and Medium (bait and switch award). For 2020, there are 55 award categories including work-from-home innovation (nominees: WaterCooler, Mural etc) and most over-hyped technology (FB dating, meatless meat etc).

Autumn Tech Events

Facebook Connect
Gaming is way up during lockdowns. Games are currently mainly rendered in 2D (desktop, mobile), the nascent field being 3D (AR/VR, goggles, headsets). Explore the latest in alt reality at Facebook Connect happening Sep 16th, 2020. Sample topics:

Design Thinking
Design thinking attempts to arrive at solutions starting from design rather than tech. Design Thinking DTVX is going virtual this year with virtual field trips, awards, exhibitions, meet-and-greet and virtual booths. Happening Sep 9th to 11th, 2020, conference topics include:
  • Lean + Agile + Design - Optum
  • Design Thinking University - IDEO-U
  • The Case for Design Thinking Investment - EastWestBank

The Next Web
The Next Web's flagship event TNW 2020 kicks off Oct 1st, with a focus on the European tech scene. Topics include:
  • Saving The Ocean - RevOcean
  • How To Compete with Tech Giants - Blix
  • How To Make Your Brand Irresistible - Typeform