Something I Was Told and I Am Secretly Very Proud Of

Yesterday I had a meeting about an innovation project, and it’s not so much that I’m proud of that, but the person I had the meeting with characterized me only from my resumé as the following:

” Nerdy combined with Creativity”

And secretly I am very proud of being called that, because that is exactly what I usually do: I combine the more hard core technical (or nerdy, as you like), with more soft of which creativity is the most important.

And I’m proud that I’ve been able to bring that across in a simple way, and I hope that more people will see that. (And else I’ll just tell them.)


Decentralized Rest Heat Use

Some things are just such a simple but useful idea that you wonder why it didn’t happen before.

Such an example is the new eRadiator by a company called Nerdalize. This radiator is actually a big server, calculating all kinds of things for companies, thereby producing a lot of normally useless heat.

However, with the eRadiator this heat is used to heat up a home, thereby finally making good use of this heat. Energy company Eneco has started a real life test in five homes for this new technique, and I’m curious to see what will follow.

Still, I believe that it’s also a good idea to make these servers more energy efficient, but still it’s a really cool and immediately applicable idea.

Header image by Eneco


Next Level USB Charging

Last week Apple made  a somewhat surprising move: It introduced the new MacBook (that’s not the surprise) with only one USB 3.0 port (and one audio jack). Surprise! That’s all there is.

This move can be seen a quite surprising since Apple has been a long time fan of their own developed Thunderbolt technology. However, they seem to have accepted that it’s easier to use standards at this point, opposed to trying to be different all the time (remember the USB standard charger they signed up for?)

This move might mean that the new USB 3.0 type C will become the official standard for charging laptops in the coming years, thereby ultimately reducing the related problems with chargers, and eventually allowing you to charge directly from your USB wall plug (that is, until wireless charging really takes off).

Still, I sincerely hope that it will grow further and that in a few years many more computers will be able to charge via USB, making almost all portable devices chargeable via USB.


Flying on the Power of the Sun

Today one of the most awesome projects that has happened to the aviation industry has started. A plane run only on solar energy will try to fly around the world.

The entire plane is covered in solar cells, making it the first zero fuel plane to fly around the world (hopefully). At least the idea is very cool and this can show the potential for the use of solar energy in regular airplanes.

This doesn’t mean that normal planes should be designed just like this, but a hybrid version might be a very good opportunity, where part of the electrical power for the plane comes from the sun.

To follow the route of the plane yourself, take a look over at SolarImpulse.com, where the team posts all updates related to the plane, as well as realtime flight information.

I’m excited to see what this will bring to the rest of the aviation world.


The Next Generation Business

Businesses are evolving at an astonishing speed, making them either change or move out of business.

One of these changes that’s happening very fast lately, is the use of so called Intrapreneurs, entrepreneurs within a company. These people usually come up with the new ideas, bring innovations to the table and are usually involved in business development, although it might not be a real part of their job.

These changing businesses also lead to changing rules, and new ideas will have to find new ways to survive in the company. A very good example of this is given on the site of Forbes.

In this article Hakan Exner, Professor of Entrepreneurship, shares six tips on how to survive as an Intrapreneur in a company. Pretty interesting to read, and potentially very helpful for you.

Do you have any other tips on surviving as Intrapreneur? Share them in the comments section!


Should We Still Value Uber Like a Startup?

Once again Uber had another round of financing, this time raising $2.8 billion, giving Uber a total value of over $41 billion dollar. This sounds like an enormous amount of money, which it actually also is, but is a company which is most of all known for its taxi app really worth that much?

It is hard to put a real value on a truly innovative company like uber, as is also explained in this article on HBR. But this also raises another question: Should we value these companies the old way, or should we more look at them like start-ups, where we value the potential of the firm instead of its actual value.

The current value is more made up by the fact that Uber needed that money to grow and they paid in shares, instead of focussing on the perceived value of the total company.

Only by looking at it in this way the value of Uber can be explained, though the future will have to tell us if they can live up to this.

And I believe that other high-valued young companies should be treated the same, when looking at their value, since this is the most sensible way to explain these enormous valuations.


Mirror Marketing

Marketing can be done in a lot of ways. I’ve seen a lot of them over the past few years, but this one is one I rarely stumble across: A sticker on a mirror.

2015-02-12 10.55.48

To promote the sports day of Grontmij, they produced these stickers and put them on the mirrors in the bathrooms, where you see yourself in it while washing your hands (approximately that is, I’m too tall, so my head is cut in half by it…).

Still, I think that it’s nice way to grab attention for those things, though I believe that is one of of those marketing techniques that shouldn’t be used too often.


Innovations You Never Thought You Might Need

Innovation is all about coming up with new ideas and recombining old ideas, to create something new. However, not all innovations are as simple thought of, no matter how handy they are, like the ones who made it to this list.

I’m not saying that all of them are equally useful, but some of them are pretty genius, like the hour-glass traffic light.

What’s your favorite?


What’s Safer, AC or DC?

One of the discussion points for my thesis is the safety when using direct current to transport electricity. Especially when touching cables the risks should be bigger, so I was told.

Is this really true?

Lucky for us, I’m not the first one to have this question. Already in the 1940’s this debate was solved by the only right way. Yes, you thought correct, by testing it on humans.

Charles Dalziel was an American scientist, interested in everything that had to do with electricity, which included safety. To test the effects of electric shock on men, he used the 115 men to test the effects of DC and 167 men to test the effects of AC on the human body and wrote this article about it.

His interesting conclusions were that both systems lead to contraction of the muscles up to the point where the subject looses control, meaning not being able to let go of the conductor the subject is holding. The interesting point of this is that the current needed for this to happen is much lower for AC (between 6 and 24 mA, with an average of 16 mA), than for DC (300 mA on average).

However, a normal power plug kicks out at currents over 16A, meaning that you’ll not be able to retell the story when you stick your fingers in the plug in both cases.

Also, the risks for the heart are very different between the two systems. This is mainly since the alternating current will put the heart into fibrillation (uncontrolled contraction), whereas DC will just put the heart to a standstill, which apparently has a better survival rate (restart use a defibrillator, which uses, surprise surprise, a short DC shock to restart the heart).

Also in this case the current that’s needed to trigger a heart attack turned out to be lower for AC (2s 50mA) vs. DC (2s 150mA). However, when a current of 500mA is flowing through the body, the heart attack takes place after 0,2s for both systems

So, we can simply conclude from here that both systems are dangerous (so don’t try the experiment at home), but that the DC system shows to be hazardous only at a higher current compared to AC.

+1 for DC.

Header photo: Determination of the let-go current. Fig 10a, Dalziel, 1956

 


What I Learned From Writing A Business Plan

I’m nearing the end of the semester (my second to-last to be exact) which means that I have ended a series of courses again.

One of those is called Technology Entrepreneurship, and the main part of the course was writing a business plan for a (self chosen) business. My team focussed on the new enterprise ComboCab, a platform on which users can request a taxi ride with a driving school.

I don’t want to focus on the idea further, but I merely want to focus on the use of writing a complete business plan in general.

In my opinion, it is a good idea to first sit down and overthink some things, do some research and most of all talk to some clients. And then you should start doing something.

And by something, I do not mean write around 50 pages of text about how amazing it is and where the opportunity lies, but start the development of your product. Go out talk to clients. Adapt the idea. Talk to some more people. Do something useful.

In these 20 weeks I wrote a lot of text, made a corporate identity and talked to a few potential clients. But up to this point there’s still not much more than an idea.

So for next year I hope that the focus wil shift to a more entrepreneurial view. Cut the crap (and most of the text) and make sure that the teams wil focus more on running a business. It’s not about talking like an entrepreneur, but being an entrepreneur.

Still, I do see the value in thinking before doing, but entrepreneurship, in my opinion, is most of all about doing.