Amsterdam Drones

The Amsterdam Drone Week happens over three days from today (Dec 1-3, 2020), with a focus on U-space (the drone portion of the sky, vid). Topics include (abbreviated titles speakers list):
  • Governance of The Sky - LFV
  • Unmanned Air Traffic Management - Airbus UTM
  • Amsterdam as a Drone Lab - AmsterdamSmartCity
  • Navigation beyond GPS: EGNOS & GALILEO - Everis
  • Computer Vision: Eyes for Drones - UVA
  • Building The UAM Ecosystem in Europe - Lilium
  • European Network of U-Space Demonstrators - EuroControl
  • Drone Detection: 3D Digital Perimeter Wall - DutchPolice
  • Drone Use Cases: Ports and Airports - AirHub

Latest Drone Startups

EV Summit

EV Summit
EV Summit 2020 (Dec 15-16) brings together key players in energy, e-mobility & charging infrastructure, with a special segment on Women in EV. Speakers:
  • Ribble - Bicycle with hidden electric power (2020 ebike of the year)
  • Energica - Performance electric motorcycle
  • Volta - Mid-sized electric delivery truck
  • GoodEnergy - 18% solar 20% biogen 57% wind 5% hydro mix
  • EnelX - Distributed energy, microgrids, smart city, EV charging
  • OctopusEV - EV leasing for personal and business
  • ChargePoint - Charging stations and network
  • NewMotion - Charging for business, home and on-the-go

EV Roadmap
Boston published its ZEV (zero emissions vehicle) roadmap recently. It serves to guide policy for the transition to e-mobility. Such as (from the roadmap and other sources):
  • Timeline to get to e-mobility (2025, 2030, 2035 etc)
  • Steps needed to facilitate the switch (charging infra etc)
  • Phasing out legacy vehicles (sales or road limits or carbon tax)
  • Replacing revenue from petrol taxes (if there is a need to)
  • Getting the grid ready to handle big jump in power demand
  • Steps to also promote public transport, cycling and walking
  • New vehicle standards (recycling, should EVs be silent etc)
  • Firefighting and safety measures for lithium and hydrogen

Once Upon A Time

Winter in the Northern Hemisphere nominally starts on Tues (Dec 1st, 2020). If spring is when one plans and looks ahead for the year, winter is about hanging on and surviving the winter blizzard. Hold on tight and hope to see you all again in spring.

The movie theme Once Upon A Time In The West is unique for its wordless vocals. Performed here by a younger Patricia Janeckova at a pageant (some minor crackle in the audio), and by Lina Dambrauskaite and Romanas Matulis at a Christmas concert.

Mobile Phone Trends

Not much news from Android? Apple simply rehashes more powerful cameras and processors? GSMA MWC not happening till late June 2021 (usually held in Feb)? Fret not, the alt boffins have been working on convergence:

Purism Librem info
  • Designed to be both a phone and a computer
  • Just plug phone to a screen and keyboard and use it as a computer
  • Runs on PureOS: open source and fully auditable
  • Swapable modem, wifi card and battery
  • Hardware on/off switches for cameras, mic, GPS etc

F(x)tec Pro info
  • Designed to be both a phone and a computer
  • Comes with integrated, folding keyboard
  • Option to run LineageOS, Sailfish or Android
  • Dual SIM: one for work, one for play
  • Supports both Android and Linux desktop apps

Pine Phone info
  • Designed to be both a phone and a computer
  • Replaceable batteries (compatible with Samsung J7 batteries)
  • Runs on Plasma Mobile (or boot 17 different OSes from the SD)
  • Hardware on/off switches for cameras, mic, WiFi, Bluetooth
  • Designed for affordability: priced at approx USD 200

Chat Pay

The ewallet space seems to be revving up a notch. After PayPal's foray into crypto, Google Pay is next with an update [1 2 3]:
  • User interface modeled on chat where financial entities and shops are friends and messages are transactions. For example, from a pizzeria to you: 'pizza delivery received? pay 20 bucks?' and you answer: 'yes' to transact payment.
  • The app can scan a user's Gmail and photo gallery, with permission, to incorporate electronic and paper receipts into expenditure analysis.
  • Hard to search through and organize your huge pile of transactions and receipts? The app will apply semantic search tech meaning, say, when you look for food transactions, the search knows to retrieve pizza, burger, hotdog, bagel etc.
  • The app will offer checking (ie current) and savings accounts from 11 banking partners, starting with Citi and SFCU in 2021.
  • Beyond an ewallet, the app doubles as a banking app offering account opening and, cross account consolidated analysis.
  • It also features promos and discounts from businesses. [Like a real wallet, an ewallet should be filled with cash not promo vouchers, but who knows, it might work well in practice.]
  • Google says ewallet data won't be used for targeting ads or sold to third parties. [Google being a tech giant watched over like a hawk by US and EU authorities would perhaps be more careful with data, than, say, a random startup.]
  • Google Pay competes with Venmo (PayPal's ewallet), Cash (Square's ewallet). Apple PayMint and others.

Online Chess

The Queen's Gambit
The Queen's Gambit refers to an opening move in chess where a pawn is offered as a bait. In the mini-series, the heroine, fictional women's chess pioneer Beth Harmon, is said to lightly resemble Bobby Fischer and Lisa Lane. In real life, the defining women's chess pioneer could well be Susan Polgar whose own story is as dramatic as the screen character.

Online Chess
You can try out The Queen's Gambit or just simply play chess against a robot online here. Here's to social board games: chess, checkers, go, scrabble, monopoly or even mahjong (sans the gambling). Great for exercising mind, conversation and digit dexterity.

Engine Accelerator

Venture capital funding has become the highest-performing asset class for university endowments, with 13.4% in returns , bringing in more than private equity and U.S. equities. MIT's The Engine is an example: it backs long-term, long-shot, tough tech. Sample portfolio:
  • Sync - Use nature (vs brute force computing) to solve problems
  • ISEE - Why can AI beat chess grandmasters but not drive a car?
  • Syzygy - Chemical manufacturing that uses light instead of heat
  • Cambridge - The rise of gallium-nitride over silicon in electronics
  • FormEnergy - Cheaper, longer lasting batteries that use sulphur
  • RiseRobotics - Use electricity (vs hydraulics) in heavy machinery
  • Commonweath - Compact (vs present gigantic) fusion reactor
  • BostonMetal - Agile steel making that uses electricity (vs coke)
  • C2Sense - Give products a unique, non-counterfeit-able smell
  • Quaise - Harvest the thermal energy deep within the earth's crust

Price Tag

English is a useful language to learn as a second or third language. It is the de facto international common language. Knowledge of English allows access to a wide body of works: written and spoken, modern and classical, direct and translated. It also aids in communicating with others internationally, in picking up nuances. Watch as students of Dharma Kusuma ('the flower of conduct'), a school located in Cianjur, a town south of Jakarta, cover Price Tag.

Speaking of translation, one of the curators for this year's George Town Literary Festival is Pauline Fan, who translated the works of Bertolt Brecht ('food first, then ethics'), Immanuel Kant ('the busier we are, the more acutely we feel that we live'), Rainer Maria Rilke ('the purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things') and Paul Celan ('read all the time, the understanding will come by itself') from German to Malay. Happening Nov 26-29, 2020 online.

CES 2021

CES 2021 is going all digital Jan 11-14, 2021. Keynote speakers announced thus far: Lisa Su (AMD), Mary Barra (GM) and Hans Vestburg (Verizon). Registration opens Dec 1st, 2020. Some recent CES highlights:
  • HivePolis - Robotic bees that help real bees find nectar and safety
  • Olympics - Finger ring payment system for athletes
  • Qwake - Use AR to help firefighters peer through smoke & darkness
  • Gaming - Alternative to Zoom for office meetings
  • Sunleavs - Neighbourhood based energy platform
  • Doosan - Hydrogen fuel cell for drones (4x flying time vs batteries)
  • Inivation - Fast computer vision (for scanning moving barcodes etc)

Tandoori Chai

Tandoori Chai
Though diminishing in numbers, select cities have retained a vibrant street food culture. Watch as street vendors in India dish out Momo (steamed dumplings), Omelet (omelette French toast style) and Tandoori Chai (smoky milk tea).

Street Vending
Some locales are considering reviving street food vending as an economic aid and stimulus. Some random thoughts:
  • Different stalls can occupy the same spot for breakie, lunch, dinner
  • Stalls must operate and not left idle during their allocated time slot
  • This helps promote serious vendors and better cuisine
  • Vendors should offer new or better cuisine, not the same old
  • Minimum licensing to confirm stall, operator and location
  • Chairs and tables may be provided by the vendor if space allows
  • Safety standards eg no handling of cooked food with bare hands
  • Bonus if electronic payment is mandated or encouraged
  • Beware of syndicates or middlemen taking over prime spots
  • Opportunity for impromptu street food alleys at idle spaces

Lean Launch

Lean In
Lean In (MY) is hosting a series of talks (19 Nov - 10 Dec, 2020) designed to help women reboot their career, gear up for success and start putting their best foot forward professionally. Sample topics:

JomLaunch (MY), an indie launchpad for experimental and early stage projects, has picked 20 startups for launch at its Nov 23-28, 2020 event. A sample:
  • FlyBots - Drone surveying, inspections and search & rescue
  • OpenHub - Open source startup tracking (co, peeps, raise, events)
  • MoveRobotic - Robot leasing and services
  • NurflixTV - Culturally attuned subscription-based vid streaming
  • KLSE Journal - Cloud-based stock trading platform

ScaleUp (MY) has picked 20 startups for its second cohort. Sample:
  • Fefifo - Start a farm like you would rent an office
  • TanaLink - Farm personnel and assets tracking system
  • VirtualX - Virtual reality property tours vid
  • HireSeniors - Hire experienced old-timers
  • Hatio - Ecommerce dashboard that is like a space launch centre

Bugzilla At The Gates

Greater KL (KL, Putrajaya, Klang, N9 etc) as of this evening (Tue, 10 Nov 2020) occupies the top 7 spots in new bugzilla cases according to MoH figures. Do consider working from home , ordering delivery or takeaway, or home cooking if you can. Mask-up, sanitize, distance and de-risk according to procedures and on your own initiative, given the no-lockdown norm.

Speaking of work-from-home, there is also now work-from-hotel [1 2] with hotels offering day use of their rooms as 'coworking spaces'. Great for instances where the home is too rowdy for that important Zoom meeting or if you need to focus (but be careful of hotel or any public WiFi security wise and recirculating aircons). Speaking about new found use of spaces, check out The Future of Physical Spaces happening tomorrow (Nov 11) with speakers from BumbleBee, Butlr and UrbanMetry.

Electric Locomotion

Electric Locomotion
  • Electric vehicles are trending in the news; in Sep 2020, sales of EVs in Norway registered a 80% market share.
  • Present EVs aren't the first electric land transport vehicles. Diesel-electric locomotives (1st video) have been running since the 1950s.
  • Diesel-electric locomotives have diesel engines that use electric traction as the transmission instead of gears, clutches or hydraulics.
  • When a long, extremely heavy train has to start from zero to go uphill, clutches could burn, hydraulics boil, or complex gears would be needed. Electric transmission is the solution.
  • There are no batteries, the diesel engine drives an alternator that powers the electric motors that spin the wheels.
  • Later advances would see the diesel engine replaced by overhead electric cables or a third electric rail as seen in metro, light, bullet, high speed rail systems, and trams (2nd video).

  • The diesel electric locomotive is an example of an internal combustion engine driving electric motors or charging a battery. In effect, an onboard charger instead of a plug-in charger.
  • As in the case of LS3 (3rd video), a project to test the viability of a robotic horse in military applications as a mule to carry equipment.
  • After the tests, the project did not proceed but the maker Boston Dynamics carried on to recraft the robo-horse into a robo-dog. The robo-dog is currently set to be employed as a site inspector and is being deployed in Chernobyl as a radiation surveyor.

  • Earlier today (Mon, Nov 9, 2020) , a webinar (MY) on four legged robots was conducted by Addie Irawan from UMP. Catch the replay here (note: audio is off by default).
  • For more on rail systems, check out Asia Pacific Rail (SG) happening tomorrow to Thu (Nov 10-12, 2020). Do note the event and topics are intended for industry insiders.

IoE: Internet of Energy

Asean Super 8
Catch up on IoE at Super 8, (Nov 17-18, 2020) a virtual exhibition and webinars for the built environment (civil, mechanical, electrical engineering) with speakers from TNBXElectrifyAsiaPowerLedger and PetronasNewEnergy.

Internet of Energy
IoE encompasses connected energy devices. Possible use-cases:
  • Prepaid electricity (pay-as-you use, ideal for rental premises)
  • Usage analysis (breakdown for stove, fridge, aircon, gadgets)
  • Reverse tariffs (use your solar and battery systems for side profit)
  • EV charging infrastructure (location, billing, bookings)
  • Budgeting (switch from aircon to fans when budget exceeded)
  • Industrial efficiency (data collection, usage optimisation)
  • Signature analysis (spot power pilferage, crypto-mining etc)

Sample IoE Startups 1 2
  • 2GG - In-house metering of electricity
  • Leap - Earn by reducing usage when the grid is maxed out
  • GridSentry - Detect unusual usage pattern (leak, fire, intrusion)
  • Evolve - Get wholesale electricity (cheaper but prices vary more)
  • Verve - Early detection of malfunctioning devices via signatures
  • 75F - Pandemic fighting IoT that detects and mitigates stale air
  • VirualPeaker - Match demand with variable renewable power

Sense & Startups

If the CPU is 'thought' and robotics limbs, sensing would be eyes and ears. SenseTech (that has gained prominence via autonomous driving) includes lidar, cameras, radar and ultrasonic. A brief comparison [1 2]:

  • Pros: high resolution, can see colour, low cost
  • Cons: blinded by sunlight, can't see in the dark
  • Pros: Good ranging, can see through fog, rain, snow
  • Cons: Low resolution, fuzzy, can't see edges
  • Pros: Accurate 3D mapping
  • Cons: Costly (millions of laser samplings), can't see through fog
  • Pros: Good at very short ranges, long used for parking
  • Cons: Can't see far, absorbed by soft objects

ComeUp 2020
COMEUP is a global startup festival that is held online to provide insights into the global startup ecosystem and to connect with high growth potential startups. A sample of participating startups (the last 3 are in SenseTech):
  • Eccov - EV design house spun off from Hyundai Motors
  • Tando - Indoor drones for security, inspections and operations
  • IoT - Instrument of Things: make everything a musical instrument
  • Li|Best - Flexible battery (to go with flexible screens etc)
  • RoboEatz - 1000 recipes x 24 hours x 7 days, 1 dish per minute
  • Worms - Vibration sensor (for raindrops, footsteps etc)
  • BitSensing - Use radar for surveillance (virtual fence)
  • Flexound - Make sound feel-able (kinetic sound)

Origin Innovation Awards
Technode (a tech news portal) has announced the finalists for its ORIGIN Innovation Awards. Sample:
  • OneCharge - Solution for EV charging at high-rise residences
  • CloudTheatre - The movie theatre recreated in the cloud
  • Sesamilk - Milk from sesame seeds: aromatic, creamy, delicious
  • KampungMarketer - Reskill rural folks to offer digital services
  • Kumu - Social media that is TikTok + FB + Alibaba

FoodTech Picks

Horizon Ventures
Li Ka-shing was in the news recently for his academic endowments that helped fund the work of two 2020 Nobel prize winners: Jennifer Doudna (Chemistry) and Michael Houghton (Medicine). Li Ka-shing's venture capital arm, Horizon Ventures, known for picking prominent startups such as Zoom, Impossible and Spotify, made some recent investments in FoodTech:

Future Food-Tech
Sample startups from Future Food-Tech Summit happening Dec 2020:
  • ParagonPure - Fresh, natural flavours (vs chemical cocktails)
  • VeganCowboys - Cheese from fungus (vs imbued by the same)
  • Sten - Safe, biogradable food packaging (vs plastics)
  • LiveGreen - Modern ingredients from ancient Ayurveda

FoodBytes! Pitch
Sample startups from Rabbobank's virtual FoodBytes! Pitch competition:
  • Wize - Tea from coffee leaves [best of both beverages?]
  • Willa's - Delicious, smooth, creamy oat milk
  • Wheyward - Velvety, vodka-gin-rum-like spirit from whey
  • Pleese - Bean & potato-based cheese good enough for eateries


Deepvali is happening in a couple of weeks. Our festive videos for this year are related to dance. The post title blends Deepavali (Sanskrit: 'lighted lamps') and Despacito (Spanish: 'slowly') to conjure an imagery of 'rows of gently lit lamps'. Wishing readers (who celebrate the occasion) Happy Deepavali.

Bharatanatyam is a traditional dance of Tamil Nadu. The name is a portmanteau of bhava (emotion), raga (melody), tala (rhythm) and natyam (dance). Watch as Divyanka Gupta deconstructs Bharatanatyam by removing the intricate expressions (of the hands, face, eyes etc) to showcase an inner movement art which has an aesthetic of its own, to the tune of Despacito.

Kathak is a traditional dance of travelling storytellers of Northern India. The name itself is Sanskrit for 'story'. Like Bharatnayam, stories and even epics can be told through dance alone, without words, by the use of gestures and expressions, and by movement, beats, tempo and music. Watch as Vishaka Saraf and friends Vaishali and Snigdha, perform Kathak to the music of Kajra Mohabbat Wala ('the application of the eyeliner of love').

Want to learn traditional dance? Register for Ask Dance Company's outreach programme Forging Traditions Beyond Borders, an e-learning facility for traditional dances. For this year, the sponsored dance classes are for Terinai Mengadap and Zapin Perak. Supported by the Sime Darby Foundation, students who complete the course will be awarded an e-certificate from MoE. Other dance forms offered at the company include Bharatnatyam.

November Events

A sample of forthcoming events:

Gain visibility, get feedback and canvas for sales or funding for your startup by launching , exhibiting or participating at JomLaunch happening online 23-28 Nov 2020 @ MY. Or if you interested in the direction of MY economics, check out Budget 2021 on Nov 4.

EPIC SlingShot
HK is holding a similar launch event EPIC in the form of elevator pitches, investor matching and a conference, happening 6-13 Nov. Further out, SG is hosting startup rumble Slingshot Dec 7-11, plus conferences & masterclasses.

Korean Origin
Hyundai and Kia are inviting Smart Factory, Sales & Marketing and Logistics startups to its SG accelerator. Application closes 30 Oct. MY (Penang) is hosting an Origin conference with speakers including from Pfizer, Green Monday, MyMizu, BlueChilli iKala and GushCloud, happening Nov 18.

Web Summit
Web Summit is running Dec 2-4. Speakers include Eric Yuan (Zoom), Ursula von der Leyen (EU), Mike Schroepfer (FB) and Anne Wojcicki (23andMe). Ticket price is €149 ($175), last year it was €850 ($990).

Esther Duflo

Leadership Energy
The headline speaker for this year's Leadership Energy Summit (16-19 Nov 2020) is Esther Duflo, Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at MIT, and a 2019 Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics for her work in fighting poverty. An example of such work is finding poor learning in Kenyan students was not caused by the lack of books, big class sizes or even the lack of breakfast. Instead, these measures make a difference:
  • Remedial tutoring for weaker students
  • Putting teachers on short term contracts
  • Incentives to combat teacher absenteeism

Discovery Pass
In addition to an all access pass priced at approx USD 300 (previous years were around USD 700), this year, LESA is offering a complimentary discovery pass. The discovery pass entitles the holder to attend 2 of the 8 keynote sessions, and 4 of the 8 masterclasses by ASB faculty:

To The Moon

To The Moon
'To The Moon' is a crypto term for a sustained rise in the price of a crypto-currency. Working to literally get to the moon is the topic of this post.

Lunar Day
NASA is running a challenge (US only, video) to find ways how a lunar station could store and distribute power. Unlike the Earth where a day is 12 hours long (say, 7am to 7pm), a lunar day is 2 weeks in duration. A solar energy system will need to store for 2 weeks and discharge for 2 weeks.

Lunar Station
ESA (European Space Agency) recently concluded a school-level Tinkercad design competition for a lunar station. In addition to long days and nights, such a station will be subjected to blistering day-time temperatures (120° C, above boiling point) and cryogenic nights (-130° C, coldest Siberia is -68° C, coldest Antarctica is -90° C), space vacuum and meteorite strikes. The winning entry from a Czech team proposes a domed station insulated by moon soil with underground facilities.

2021 Lunar Missions info
  • Capstone - Orbiter technology demonstrator US
  • RocketLab - Gravity assist demonstrator US
  • MissionOne - Landers and rovers demonstrator US
  • Spacebit - Lunar caves explorer UK
  • Nova-C - Commercial payload services US
  • Lunar 25 - Explore natural resources RU
  • Artemis 1 - Lunar flyby test US EU
  • Chandrayaan 3 - Second landing attempt IN
  • ALINA - Private lander and rover DE
  • Colmena - Send 9 microrobots MX
  • SLIM - Landing and roving JP 2022
  • KPLO - Orbiter technology demonstrator KR 2022
  • XL-1 - Lunar lander, commercial payloads US 2022