August 2015

August saw me settle into my new role
as Associate Editor for Venture Findings, the journal of the Coller Institute of Venture at Tel Aviv University. If you can call working in such a high-pressure environment “settled”; there are ups and downs, but with a new journal issue in the works it was definitely hectic – and fun. Anyway, the main task, of negotiating ten researchers worldwide to submit quality articles that cover different aspects of Deep Innovation, has been achieved in full – whew!...

One thing is better than expected – traveling the congested 65 km to Tel Aviv twice a week turned out to be very nice, since the bus service is very good – and the buses have WiFi. Between work and listening to audiobooks it is far more relaxing than the driving mode I had always used until now...

Nanoscale wonder
One of the articles in the issue I’m compiling is about Nanotechnology, and it gave me cause to visit the Center for Nanoscience in Tel Aviv U and get up to date on what’s brewing in this rapidly growing field. If you still thought these boffins are writing IBM in atoms and the like, that was ages ago… today nanotech is delivering amazing, totally new technologies with very real practical uses in our day to day life.

For example, take StoreDot. This Israeli company demonstrated a cellphone battery that can charge from empty to full in 60 seconds… and it’s working on an electric car battery that will take five minutes to fill up. Its key technology is based on organic molecules that were first observed in 2003 by a biochemist looking at the processes causing Alzheimer’s disease: these peptide molecules from the diseased brain showed high capacitance, a fact that drew the attention of  some academics in EE space and some industry folks. They subsequently managed to combine the peptide molecules to create crystals only two nanometers long – NanoDots that StoreDot uses not only to improve batteries but also to create more vibrant flat screen displays.

This serendipitous cross-disciplinary coming together of medicine, electro-optics and electronic engineering to create entirely new products is a classic instance of how Deep Innovation works in Nanotechnology – and this is just one example. Another is Cine’al, a startup that uses nano-particles to transform jellyfish – a major ecological problem these days – into superabsorbent, fully biodegradable diapers, medical sponges and paper towels. And there’s much more…
Productivity Tip of the Month:
Rewrite the Subject line of a divergent email thread!
It happens often that an email thread veers away from its original topic – sometimes to deal with so totally removed matters that its title becomes meaningless and misleading.
Tip: If that happens, follow the old UseNet conventions and change the subject before you reply, keeping the original with Was:, Like this:

            Subject: Recommended router supplier [was: network problem]

While you're at it, do remove any recipients that are no longer relevant!
More tips »
New Adobe Survey: E-mail is here to stay (again)…
Every year someone publishes an article stating that email is about to be replaced by some other medium; and every year someone runs a study and shows that this is not going to happen for a long time yet. You can read my take on why that is the case in this blog post.

Anyway, looks like it’s time for another round, and so we have a new survey by Adobe (reported by Reuters), which proves yet again that email is here to stay. It also shares some shocking numbers, like “The workers questioned in the poll estimated they spend 6.3 hours a day checking emails, with 3.2 hours devoted to work emails and 3.1 hours to personal messages”; and “Nearly 80 percent said they look at emails before going into the office and 30 percent said they checked their inbox while still in bed in the morning”. Yikes!...

Maybe next year email will at last disappear? Nahhh…
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From the Blog
Wearable Devices: Cool Tech or Big Brother?
Wearable sensing technology has long been around – first in Science Fiction, and then in various futuristic concept demos. But the arrival of the Apple Watch this year made it much closer to ubiquitous reality. The little marvel measures your heart rate and movements; though useful for fitness training, these measures can already be used to characterize what a worker is doing – and, once you throw in location sensors, where they’re doing it.

In principle, this sort of capability, which will no doubt evolve rapidly, could be a blessing. On the other hand, there are disturbing possibilities that can affect privacy and employee motivation...
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