Innovation Observer

The Innovation Observer –  February 2017

Biologists from California Institute of Technology and UC San Diego just made a huge breakthrough in cancer research. The crux of the treatment is the way it inhibits cancer cells’ cleanup mechanisms by targeting proteasome that acts as a sort of garbage disposal and inhibit it to fully destroy bad proteins, make it hard for cancerous cells to survive thus turning them into self-destruct.

The British tech giant Dyson (known for its appliances such as vacuum cleaners) has just invested some $412 million in a new IoT research facility in Singapore as a big piece of future where “everything is automatic”. Last year, it made a first foray into the Internet of Things, with an air purifier connected to an app, the ultimate “dream is much rather that everything is automatic, and sets itself for you to your preference,” Dyson said.

Two artificial intelligence systems built by Google are able to transform a heavily pixelated, low quality, image into a clear photo or a person or object. Scientists were able not only enhance picture’s resolution, but to add missing details in the process using PixelCNN. In a test on group of participants, 10% believed the artificially-created shot was taken by a camera rather than the true, low res image.

Google Neural Machine Translation (GNMT) seems to have created the first machine generated interlingua’, by itself, with no human direction. GNMT system, which uses deep learning to deliver more natural translations between languages was taught to translate English to Japanese and vice versa, English to Korean and also the reverse translation. The researchers discovered GNMT had taught itself to deliver ‘reasonable’ translations of Japanese to Korean – and vice versa – without using English as a bridge.

The Innovation Observer –  January 2017

Philip Morris wants to stop making cigarettes and move to smokeless cigarettes, announcing its first rollout in the UK market. Called IQOS, as a hybrid between analogs and electronic cigarettes. The new device uses real tobacco refills, but instead of burning it to produce hazardous smoke and tar, it heats it to produce tobacco-flavored vapor. The move could represent a major force that could disrupt the entire industry.

Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund ($160bn under management) to replace managers with artificial intelligence. The company is looking to automate their day-to-day decision making. The AI platform will ensure the elimination of human emotional volatility as they have several other automated applications looking to make three-quarters of all management decisions automated within five years.

Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance replaces 34 office workers with artificial intelligence. The AI system, based on IBM’s Watson Explorer, is being adopted by several agencies in Japan. The technology has the ability to read thousands of medical certificates, medical histories, and any surgical procedures before calculating payouts. The company believes AI can boost productivity by 30% and achieve ROI in less than 2 years.

As of January 1, 2017, all Dutch electric trains are powered by wind energy. The Dutch railways company NS is the world’s first railway company that gets 100% of its power from wind. Starting in 2017, NS Dutch trains are giving travelers – 600,000 daily – the opportunity to travel truly clean, with no CO2-emissions and expects the energy used per passenger per kilometer reduced by 35% by 2020 compared to 2005 levels.

ShiftIN_Innovation Observer_Jan 1 - 31 2017

The Innovation Observer –  December 2016

Bill Gates announced the creation of Breakthrough Energy Ventures, with a fund of more than $1Bn to invest in scientific breakthroughs to overcome challenges in electricity, buildings, manufacturing, transportation and food. The coalition is formed by Jeff Bezos, Marc Benioff, HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, Richard Branson, Hasso Plattner, Jack Ma, among other business leaders.

Amazon UK made the first full autonomous drone delivery, reaching their customer in just 13 minutes. Amazon revealed their plans to expand their experiment to hundreds of users.

Dubai Future Accelerators Program ends its first cycle with a success rate of 64%. Dubai has invested around $32M in 19 projects lead by private sector companies in education, health, infrastructure, transportation, technology, energy, and security. The second stage to be launched in 2017 will be joined up with 5 new government entities bringing the total number of participating organizations to 13.

Careem becomes the second ‘unicorn’ in the Arab World after raising $350 Million to reach a $1Bn valuation. The investment is lead by Saudi Telecom and Japanese Rakuten. Careem has expanded into 48 cities in KSA where women make up around 80% of its customer base contributing in average monthly growth rate of 30%.

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The Innovation Observer –  November 2016

Hyperloop One signed an agreement with the Road and Transports Authority of Dubai to test the feasibility of connecting Dubai with a number of cities. The Hyperloop could reduce travel time between Dubai and Abu Dhabi to less than 12 minutes, and to Riyadh to less than 48 mins.

Dubai Water and Electricity Authority plans to pilot a project that uses robots to remotely inspect the electricity and water distribution network. This technology makes no need for humans inspection. Dewa’s customer base has risen to 730K accounts in the past 3 years. The market of drones and robots used in utility grid infrastructure is projected to reach $9.6B in 2025.

Samsung Electronics is buying automotive electronics maker Harman International Industries for $8bn, its largest acquisition up to date. On a move to make a major entry into the Internet-connected cars industry, Gartner forecasts that by 2020, one in five cars will have a form of wireless connection.

Imperial College London scientists have developed a type of HIV test on a USB stick, which enables detection in average time of 20.8 minutes instead of the current test that takes up to 3 days and needs to be sent abroad. This device could revolutionize detection of the disease in countries with the highest numbers of HIV infections, where traditional testing form does not exist at all.

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The Innovation Observer –  October 2016

Foxconn has deployed 40,000 robots in order to replace 60,000 employees in one of its factories due to increase of labor costs and younger generation’s lack of interest in production line employment. This is perceived as a glimpse of a future shift in manufacturing practices from labour to mass production robots. Foxconn is the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer.

Otto truck, owned by UBER, has made the world’s first autonomous truck delivery through Colorado on a 120 miles stretch of highway. Otto’s system offers true ‘Level 4’ autonomy (the automate system can control the vehicle but human supervision is still required). The ultimate frontier in automation is just one level. away.

Dubai Police becomes the first Police worldwide to have implemented a robotic police officer. This represents the first pilot, towards a larger deployment in 2017, of interactive police patrolling robots.

Commonwealth Bank, Wells Fargo and Brighann Cotton, have become the first pioneers of using blockchain and smart contracts, in an international trade transaction, by moving a container (with all associated transactions on all sides exchanged digitally without human input, i.e. contracts, payments, etc.) of cotton from Houston (USA) to Qingdao (China). 90% of world trade is carried by sea.

The Innovation Observer –  September 2016

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The Innovation Observer –  August 2016

DP World, one of the world’s largest port operators, announced to have signed an MoU with Hyperloop One, with an initial focus on moving containers from ships docked at DP World’s flagship Jebel Ali Port through the Hyperloop tube to an inland container depot in Dubai 29 kilometers away.

Rolls-Royce has revealed plans for unmanned ship by 2020. The Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative which brings together university researchers, ship designers, and equipment manufacturers, has been testing the technology in Finland. 90% of the world’s cargo is carried by sea.

Dubai Future Foundation launched the Dubai Future Accelerator Program, an open innovation platform with challenges of DEWA, RTA, Dubai Police, Dubai Holding, DHA & KHDA. On its first cycle it received 2220 applications from companies of 73 countries.

Google announced that is about to launch a ride-sharing pilot program in San Francisco bay area using as backbone its Waze platform (which acquired in 2013). The service will enter into direct competition with Uber and Lyft in the USA

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The Innovation Observer – Week: July 16st to July 31th  2016

The Dubai ride-sharing app Careem is teaming up with a US company Next Future Transportation to launch the region’s first driverless pods for public transit. Pods can drive solo or attached to other pods on the road so that passengers can transfer on the fly, without stopping.

Facebook carried out the first full-scale test flight of Aquila, a high-altitude solar-powered unmanned aircraft designed to provide Internet access to remote regions for up to three months. The next steps for the company are to fly the aircraft even higher, faster, and longer.

Falcon 9 rocket returned safely to Earth, touching down at Landing Zone 1 after launching the Dragon spacecraft into low-Earth orbit. This is the second such landing at Cape Canaveral by a returning Falcon 9 rocket.

The landing of Solar Impulse 2 in Abu Dhabi, after a flight around the globe using zero conventional fuel and supported instead entirely by solar power, was a historic achievement not short of symbolic value, and it presages a future with a greater reliance on renewable energy resources.

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The Innovation Observer – Week: July 1st to July 15th  2016

Nintendo valuation skyrocketed 63.7% (US $ 11bn) in just 10 days. The introduction of an innovative mobile game based on augmented reality, Pokemon GO turned around the company and moved it from a hardware company into a truly digital one. In addition this represents the first major breakthrough of augmented reality technology.

The developer behind Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, Miral, announced a partnership with skyTran, a NASA Space Act Company, to launch a personal rapid transit (PRT) system within the island based on magnetic levitation technology.

Delivery robots will soon be hitting the streets of London, Dusseldorf, Hamburg and Bern. Starships Technologies announced they will roll out delivery bots at kitchens, delivery hubs, and supermarket, and will be distributing orders of Just Eat, Pronto, and Metro Group.

Tesla announced it is acquiring Solar City, a major installer of solar panels, which accounts for a third of the US solar energy market. Tesla’s move represents an attempt to expand its services across the value chain, from energy generation to storage.

The Innovation Observer – Week: April 16th to May 08th  2016

HH Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, made two major announcements: (1) Dubai Autonomous Transportation Strategy, which aims to accomplish 25% of all car trips to be driverless, as well as position Dubai as the world’s largest R&D lab for driverless transportation. (2) Additionally, he has an aspiration of having 25% of all buildings to be constructed in Dubai in 3D printing technology.

Linde, the industrial gases company, is getting into the transportation business by launching the world’s first car-sharing service using hydrogen cars: BeeZero in Munich.

Abu Dhabi’s Masdar and Spanish developer FRV have shattered all records for the cost of solar with Earth’s largest 800 MW Phase III solar power plant in Dubai when they submitted the lowest bid to DEWA to build, own, and operate the plant for 25 years, with its bid coming as low as $2.99 cents per kWh.

Ford, Google, Lyft, Uber, and Volvo joined forces in the USA to create a lobby group (The Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets). The coalition aims to influence regulations that will allow for rapid penetration of autonomous vehicle technology into the market.

The Innovation Observer – Week: April 1st – 15th 2016

Tesla Motors e launched its Model 3, achieving 130,000 pre-orders in the first 24 hours and 270,000 in 72 hours. When placed into perspective, it took Nissan 3 years to sell 300,000 Electric Vehicles.

Researchers at Queen’s University in Kingston have developed a bendable smartphone could presage the future of computing. The ReFlex is the world’s first full-colour, high-resolution, and wireless flexible smartphone that combines multi-touch technology with a bendable surface.

Du becomes the first Telco in the GCC that has announced trials of a Li-Fi, Ta new technology that could offer download speeds of around 1 gigabyte per second, by using LED light bulb.

BOOM Technology,  an aerospace startup based in Colorado, backed by Richard Branson, announced its plan to build a supersonic Concorde-like jet, to be delivered for Virgin Airlines, which has taken an option to buy 10 jets. The prototype is expected to be ready in 2017.

The Innovation Observer – Week: March – 16th to 31th 2016

Tesla Motors e launched its Model 3, achieving 130,000 pre-orders in the first 24 hours and 270,000 in 72 hours. When placed into perspective, it took Nissan 3 years to sell 300,000 Electric Vehicles.

Researchers at Queen’s University in Kingston have developed a bendable smartphone could presage the future of computing. The ReFlex is the world’s first full-colour, high-resolution, and wireless flexible smartphone that combines multi-touch technology with a bendable surface.

Du becomes the first Telco in the GCC that has announced trials of a Li-Fi, Ta new technology that could offer download speeds of around 1 gigabyte per second, by using LED light bulb.

BOOM Technology,  an aerospace startup based in Colorado, backed by Richard Branson, announced its plan to build a supersonic Concorde-like jet, to be delivered for Virgin Airlines, which has taken an option to buy 10 jets. The prototype is expected to be ready in 2017.

The Innovation Observer – Week: March – 1th to 15th 2016

Dubai Masdar has launched the world’s 1st research facility to grow both food and fuel, using desert lands irrigated by seawater. The research facility uses coastal seawater to raise fish and shrimp for food, of which nutrient-rich wastewater then fertilizes plants rich in oils that can be harvested for aviation biofuel production.

Boeing introduces new self-cleaning airplane bathroom. Using a frequency of far UV light that obliterates 99.99 percent of bacteria and viruses after every use. The new bathrooms could revolutionize airplane comfort.

GM buys self-driving car kit startup Cruise and plans to use tech to make driverless cars. The move is part of GM’s strategy to get a leadership position  in the driverless car industry as several of the major car manufacturers are now racing to implement this type of technology.

Researchers from HRL Laboratories claim to have developed a simulator which can feed information directly into a person’s brain and teach them new skills in a shorter amount of time. This represents a first small step into a technology that revolutionize new human learning.

ShiftIN_Innovation Observer_Mar 1st - 15th 2016

 

The Innovation Observer – Week: February – 19th to 29th 2016

Dubai Road and Transport Authority (RTA) installed 100 smart bus shelters equipped with free Wi-Fi and A/C, and smart stations to pay public & private services bills.

Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (Arpa-E) – a branch of the USA Department of Energy – says it has achieved the “holy grail” of energy. The projects incubated by them have yielded the largest storage capacity up-to-date, the technology promises to transform utility-scale storage and grid-scale batteries.

The University of Maryland has developed a satellite based image processing technology synchronized to an alert app, which detects illegal logging within hours after trees start falling. This could be a game changer to stop illegal deforestation.

Nissan’s Electric Vehicle Leaf has been reported to be the first EV to be easily hacked through using the car’s app, opening up the debate of potential threats associated with electric and smart vehicles.

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The Innovation Observer – Week: February – 1st to 14th 2016

Reports suggest that Amazon is looking to open physical stores in the near future. It is being rumored that more than 400 physical stores are in the pipeline. Recently Amazon opened its first bookstore in Seattle, USA.

Microsoft finished a 3 month experiment of having placed a data center in an ocean. According to Microsoft placing data centers in the sea will help to reduce large amounts of energy needed to cool them as well as to utilize ocean currents to power them.

HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, announced the creation of two new ministries, Tolerance and Happiness, becoming one of the world’s first countries implementing such a structure.

Luxembourg has announced its intention to start with asteroid mining. It would invest in space mining companies and establish a legal framework to assure those engaging in the activity can sustain their yields.

 

Innovation Observer

The Innovation Observer – Week: January – 16th to 31st 2016

Elon Musk’s SpaceX partnered with Aecom, one of the largest construction consultancies, to develop a one-mile test track of the Hyperloop transportation system. The system aims to transport people using levitating pods in a near vacuum tube at speeds of 600 miles per hour with minimum energy consumption.

For the first time, a machine has beaten a top human player on a ‘Go’ game. Go is exponentially more complex than chess, as there are thousand more ways a match can play out. The AI system by Google represents a breakthrough in AI capabilities.

Blue Origin becomes the first space exploration company to reuse a rocket, flying its New Shepard model into space after landing safely again back in West Texas. With this achievement Blue Origin has moved ahead of SpaceX.

Uber is preparing to go live with a full-scale meal delivery service across 10 cities in the US., an expansion that will pressure test the company’s ability to use his network to deliver goods.

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The Innovation Observer: Week: January 1st to 15th 2016

General Motors invests $500M USD on Lyft , becoming the single largest investment by an automaker into a ride-hailing company. As part of the investment, G.M. and Lyft will work on developing an on-demand network of self-driving cars.

Elon Musk, TESLA founder, has said that is “an open secret” that Apple is making a rival electric car. Several TESLA engineers have gone to work for Apple, and Apple has registered many automobile-related domains (i.e. apple.car / apple.auto).

Virtual Reality attracted major attention at the last CES, thanks to Facebook announcement of taking pre-orders for the Oculus, as well as the models displayed by Samsung, Google and HTC. 2016 is being mentioned as the year where VR will finally hit main stream.

IBM and Under Armour partnered to develop the “world’s first complete health and fitness insights app”, providing data analytics capabilities to the info generated by more than 160 million (current) users of Under Armour, and creating the world’s largest health and fitness insight.

ShiftIN_Innovation Observer January 1st to 15th 2016

The Innovation Observer – Week: December – 13th to 19th 2016

OpenAI initiative is launched by Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman, Amazon Web Services, Infosys, and other major donors, allocating $1 Billion endowment, creating the largest non-for-profit open initiative to give open access to Artificial Intelligence research. It addresses concerns “about future existential risks from advanced AI” and acting as a counterbalance to giants like Google and Facebook.

National Electric Vehicle Sweden (former SAAB) announced a $12 billion deal with Chinese leasing company Panda New Energy, to provide 150,000 sedan vehicles, a deal that will create one of the largest EV leasing companies in the world.

Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee (TDC) & Intel signed an agreement to support TDC’s Innovators Space, through providing access to Intel’s facilities as well as Intel mentors.

A team of Chinese students have modified E.coli, Shewanella and B Subtilit bacteria creating a microbial fuel cell. By feeding the bacteria with sugar, they can generate up to 80 hours of battery power.

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 The Innovation Observer – December – 6th to 12th 2015

Dubai Economic Council, announced the launch of Dubai Global Innovation Centre, a joint initiative with Royal Philips, to expedite Dubai’s transformation into the world capital of innovation.

Google reported to have developed a quantum computer, 100 million times faster than the averaging computer power on the market.

Magic Leap, a secretive augmented reality startup, without products in the market, becomes the world’s largest funded startup, with the promise to layer digital images on top of real world objects.

Air New Zeeland, introduces the first biometric check-in and bag drop at airports.

Uruguay makes dramatic shift to nearly 95% electricity coming from clean energy.

ShiftIN Innovation Observer Dec 6 to 12 2015