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Archive for August, 2018

Similar to the way we wrap our bodies in blankets for comfort, The Clam Pillow allows us to do the same for our heads, helping us to fall asleep quickly and peacefully.  To find out more about this incredible new invention I chatted recently with Clam Pillow’s founder, Todd Stecker, in order to learn more about what inspired him to create this unique product.

1. How did you come up with the idea for the Clam Pillow? Do you have trouble sleeping yourself?

First of all, thank you for taking the time to allow me to answers these questions. Being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, I have always had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. My mind continues to race even though my body is tired. The best night sleep for me is when I can dull out my senses such as sight and hearing. But I found the best solution was just to use a second pillow over my head because not only does it solve those two issues, but the feeling of being enclosed helps me shut down my thoughts and provides a feeling of being secure. Unfortunately pillows are designed to go under your head so they do not provide the best experience. Hence, The Clam Pillow was born. It truly is the first pillow designed to arc over your head and be that top pillow.

2. From when you first came up with the idea for the Clam Pillow to launching the Kickstarter campaign what has been the most challenging part of this process for you? Was it actually creating the product or the patent process? Something else?

Any product you decide to create always sounds like the best idea in your head. It’s like that common phrase “saying it and doing it are two different things”. I would say getting your concept and design into a final production ready working prototype is definitely the hardest part. You spent so much time working on a design and then to get a prototype which does not meet your expectations is really disappointing. You learn that there are limitations to the manufacturing process, materials you use, functionality you envision, and of course price point. They all have to intertwine before you have a product you can be proud to sell.

3. You mentioned on Kickstarter that you want to set up a designated fund to research whether the Clam Pillow can help people with autism. What made you want to go that route?

This is very important to me. As I mentioned previously, it is common to have sleep deprivation when you have Attention Deficit Disorder. However the chances of having a sleeping disorder when diagnosed with Autism are around 85%. In both of these diagnosis the reasoning is similar, our brain chemistry works a little differently and our minds continue to overthink even though our body is tired. I have several close friends who have been impacted by Autism, and from my observance I notice that covering or enclosing themselves helps them focus and dial down. You may have observed or seen on TV that many Autistic individuals wear hooded sweatshirts, the philosophy is the same here, it gives them that sense of security. The Clam Pillow provides that same sensation and functionality when you are sleeping. I truly believe this product can help these individuals. That is why a portion of proceeds will be dedicated to trials and research to test this theory.

4. After you complete the Kickstarter campaign what’s next for you and Clam Pillow? Will we see you on Shark Tank one day?!

The Kickstarter campaign is exactly what is sounds like. It is the first major step in both acquiring an initial audience and providing a sense of assurance that the market is there for you do get your product produced. Once we hit our goal, we then use our final design to create our final market ready prototype. Once that checks out, we are a green light to order the product in mass quantities to ship to our Kickstarter backers. The end goal of all this is to get product available for purchase through our website and then retail stores.

Shark Tank is certainly a dream. Not only to partner with great investors, but the exposure of being on that show is enormous all on its own. Maybe one day it will happen, and if it does, I will make sure I am ready.

5. What other innovations excite you? What do you think the Next Big Thing will be?!

New products and innovations are coming out faster than we can talk about them. The ability to create ideas into reality has never been as promising as it is now. We are transforming industries from conglomerates who make everything, to small companies who perfect and specialize in only a few things. I think that in itself is what excites me.

The next big thing, that’s a tough one. Technology will always be the next big thing, its just a matter of finding that perfect balance of useful features, beautiful design, and seamless easy integration with our everyday lives. If I had to place a bet, I would say augmented interactive technology is the way of the future.

 

If you would like to learn more about the Clam Pillow or donate towards its creation please visit their Kickstarter page.

Is the Clam Pillow the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Didn’t know who the smelly kid was growing up?  It was probably you.  Not sure who the smelly kid is in your workplace?  There’s now a device that can help with that, letting you know if you’re in danger of alienating your co-workers or if you’ve been unintentionally warding off potential mates this whole time with the noxious fumes emanating from your personal space.

As Engadget explains, “All you have to do with the Tanita ES-100 is turn it on, flip out the sensor and point it to a part of your body you’re concerned is exuding too much musk. It measures particulate matter and after 10 seconds, will display how intense your odor is on a 0-10 scale (0, you don’t smell; 10, you don’t have friends). Level 5 and above means it’s time for ‘smell care,’ though it might be more effective if it just told you to take a dang shower.

The stench scale goes both ways: if you’ve applied too much deodorant or cologne, the pocket-sized ES-100 will let you know if you should tone down the aftershave a little. The replaceable sensor is good for 2,000 uses, or about a year.”

Considering how easy it is for us to get used to smells in our environment, most of us may not even realize just how much we smell at any given time.  Or just how much our dogs or apartments smell.  Keeping a device around that could keep us informed could go a long way towards improving our personal hygiene.  Not to mention our social status.

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Is a body odor detector the Greatest Idea Ever?

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#1,366 – BioLEC

It’s not every day that you hear about an entire new field of science being created.  Especially not one with the ability to revolutionize society by creating a whole new source of clean energy.  And yet that’s exactly what is happening thanks to researchers who are trying to recreate the process of photosynthesis in a laboratory setting.

As Futurism explains, “That field of science is called Bioinspired Light-Escalated Chemistry (BioLEC). Its goal: figure out how to use the energy of two photons, the tiniest quantifiable units of light, to power chemical reactions.

It sounds simple on paper — in fact, plants do it all the time as part of photosynthesis. But BioLEC is a lot more complicated than shining a flashlight on a test tube. Scientists have been working on it for a long time, but thus far, recreating this sort of chemistry in a lab has proven impossible. Now, though, researchers have a special instrument that might give them the power to do the kinds of reactions that comes naturally to plants, but in the controlled setting of the lab.”

So, what exactly is this special instrument and what can it do?!?!

As Futurism describes:

“Scholes and his team, though, have a secret weapon: the Laser Electron Accelerator Facility (LEAF). Located at Brookhaven National Laboratory, which is partnering with Princeton, LEAF is one of two facilities in the country capable of a technique called pulse radiolysis that might just break those carbon bonds — and that new field of chemistry — wide open.

Pulse radiolysis is basically using a magnifying lens to concentrate sunlight and burn ants. Except instead of sunlight, it’s an extremely powerful beam of electrons, and instead of ants, it’s molecules too small to see with the naked eye. LEAF sends powerful, extremely short-lived bursts of electrons through the molecules being studied. These electron beams collide with and energize the molecules, which triggers chemical reactions that break and form new, powerful bonds between the atoms in that molecule.”

This research could truly be transformative and it couldn’t come at a better time, on the heel of news that the Trump Administration is rolling back Obama era coal emission standards, a decision that will further ruin the planet, if it’s not already damaged beyond repair.  Which is why this research is so important.  We’ve entered the stretch drive now.  It’s the fourth quarter with less than two minutes to go.  The seconds are slowly ticking away on humanity.  It’s Hail Mary time.  The time to pull out all the stops.  To try everything, no matter how difficult it may be.  No matter how seemingly impossible.  Creating photosynthesis in a lab and a whole new branch of science fits the bill for sure.  Now the only question is whether or not it will work.  For our sake let’s hope so.

 

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Is BioLEC the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Donating blood is very important as hospitals aim to keep enough of each blood type on hand in case it’s needed during an emergency.  Logistically the blood transfusion process would be a whole lot easier though if doctors didn’t have to worry about blood types.  If universal blood was all that they had to deal with.  Thankfully, that may be exactly what the future has in store for us thanks to the discovery of a new enzyme that could convert Type A and Type B blood into Type O in a quick and easy way.

As Futurism explains, “Blood types are different because of the sugars on the surface of the red blood cells the body creates. Type A has one type of sugar and Type B has another; Type AB has both sugars. Type O doesn’t have any sugars.

If a person receives a blood transfusion of a blood type that’s not their own, their immune system will attack and kill the donated blood cells. For example, a person with Type A blood could never receive a Type B donation because their system would simply reject the new blood because the sugars aren’t quite right.

Because Type O blood doesn’t carry any sugars, anyone can receive it — it’s the universally accepted blood type and, therefore, highly desirable.”

The problem is having enough of it on hand to meet every need.  If you could somehow convert any blood type into Type O though you wouldn’t have to worry about that problem.  You’d always have enough useful blood to work with.  And thanks to the discovery of a useful enzyme that was residing in our guts this whole time that may now be possible.

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Is an enzyme that converts A and B blood types into Type 0 the Greatest Idea Ever?

 

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Here’s a quick look at everything that caught my eye this past week:

Smart Streets

I’ve long clamored for smart streets.  For street lights that change color to let you pass when there’s no one else around, instead of slaving away blindly on a set-timer.  For smart parking spots that you let you know when they are free.  For smart addresses that call out to you when you are lost.  And now, thanks to Google and the city of Toronto, I may have finally got my wish.  That’s because Google’s Sidewalk Labs is working on developing technology that could lay the foundation for the city of the future thanks to modular sidewalks, capable of re-arranging their configuration to best suit the latest needs of the city’s inhabitants.

As Wired puts it, “Contrary to today’s concrete-based, fixed way of doing things, the idea here is that these chunks of public space can be reconfigured or lit up differently at different times, thereby reordering the streets with a firm nudge or a flick of a light switch. What is during the morning rush hour a bus-only corridor might transform into a kids’ play space during the day. Monday’s commuter-carrying cycling lane might be Sunday’s farmer’s market. Streets should be ever-changing, flexible spaces, goes the argument—not the permanent province of fast-moving, sometimes inconsiderate, often dangerous cars.”

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Cool New Photo Editing Tool

Researchers from MIT have invented a new photo editing tool, capable of replacing the entire background in any image.

According to The Next Web, “The editor separates the objects and background in an image into different segments, which allows for easy selection. Unlike the magnetic lasso or magic lasso tools in most photo editing software, this doesn’t rely on user input for context, you don’t have to trace around an object or zoom in and catch the fine details. The AI just works.”

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Breakthrough Corn Discovery

A newly discovered type of corn could revolutionize the food industry, significantly reducing the effort required to grow it.

As USA Today puts it, “the potential improvements in water and air quality – not to mention financial savings – are staggering. In fact, the lead researcher acknowledged he and his colleagues spent a decade studying the corn before going public this month because the conclusions were ‘almost outrageous.’

And, like so much research in its early stages, there are still a lot of ‘ifs.’

But scientists at University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of California-Davis and Mars Inc. (yes, the candy maker) have determined that farmers in Oaxaca, Mexico, have been growing corn that creates its own fertilizer for centuries, if not millennia.”trand

If this strand of corn does in fact produce its own fertilizer it could change the way we grow food around the world.

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Are any of these the Greatest Idea Ever?

 

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Some people claim that they can’t remember their dreams.  Or that nothing exciting ever happens.  I am not one of those people.

I often have very vivid dreams where I am being chased or racing against time to reach a forbidden area.  Last night, in the latest Hollywood blockbuster that I was starring in, I found myself as a nature photographer, flying through the air over the Himalayas to take a picture of the highest peak on Earth, a picture that no one else had ever been lucky enough to get.  As great as this dream was, it would have been even better if I could have taken control of my actions in it.  If I could have steered where I was flying so that I could have turned around and explored the rest of the planet.  A phenomenon known as lucid dreaming.

Unfortunately, not everyone is capable of controlling their dreams and those that can often spend years trying to master the techniques that will allegedly allow them to do so.  But what if there was an easier way? What if it was possible for everyone to suddenly gain the ability to lucid dream?  How great would that be?

Well, as it turns out, it may actually be possible after all, thanks to a new drug born out of Alzheimer’s research by psychiatrist Benjamin Baird at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

According to I Fucking Love Science, “In past research, Baird’s team discovered that lucid dreams tend to occur during periods of increased physical activation during REM sleep, leading them to theorize that boosting REM nervous system activity could help people switch normal dreaming into lucid dreaming. And since REM sleep appears to be affected by the signaling of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, they sought to test whether drugs that ramp up acetylcholine signaling – by inhibiting the enzyme that breaks the molecule down – might do the trick.”

I feel that such a drug, if its ever commercialized, could revolutionize society.  Just think about all of the people who suffer from nightmares and night terrors.  Just think about how different their lives would be if they could take control of their dreams, instead of being a prisoner inside of them.

Or just think about how much better all our psyches would be if we could take the lead on exploring the deepest recesses of our sub-conscious instead of just being helpless bystanders while our mind tries to sort out our feelings on its own.  Perhaps instead of trying to analyze our dreams for hidden meanings we’d already know where to find the answers.  Perhaps we’d be able to unlock the secrets of the Universe or at least better understand the world and our own place in it.

Suffice it to say, a lucid dreaming drug could be one of the best things to ever happen to mankind.  Allowing us to take control of our bodies.  Allowing us to turn dreaming from a necessary part of life into the best part of life.

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Is a lucid dreaming drug the Greatest Idea Ever?

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#1,362 – Amphibio

Before Lost, before Game of Thrones, before Westworld, there was another TV show that ruled the day.  A TV show that was either underrated or underwhelming depending on your point of view.  And truth be told, it was probably a little bit of both.  But that won’t stop me from holding SeaQuest DSV near and dear to my heart until the day I die.

Admittedly, some of the storylines were a little bit wonky.  Like the entire season spent on an alien planet.  And I didn’t always love the casting.  Michael Ironside was atrocious.  But that didn’t detract from the overall greatness that the show possessed.  Still to this day there are several episodes that have stuck around in my subconscious, floating around in the deep recesses of my mind like Darwin on an underwater recovery mission.

Sadly, we don’t have talking dolphins or underwater cities yet but we may soon have one piece of technology that would seem right at home in the fictional world that Roy Schneider and Jonathan Brandis once inhabited: a way to breathe underwater for hours at a time.

This amazing new device is known as Amphibio and it comes to us from Jun Kamei, a student at the Royal College of Art in London.  Or at least a prototype does.

According to I Fucking Love Science, “Kamei’s nifty little device uses a specially designed porous, hydrophobic material that replenishes oxygen in the water and releases carbon dioxide. It is inspired by water-diving insects that create their own little scuba diving set by creating a protective bubble of air around their body thanks to their water repellent skin.

The technology is easily 3D-printable too, which will be great for when we need them en masse. These ‘gills’ could replace heavy and cumbersome scuba equipment, making it more akin to free diving but for longer. This could have immediate applications for underwater rescue scenarios – the 12 boys rescued by divers from a flooded cave in Thailand, for example, where it took weeks to work out how to get the boys and the vital breathing equipment through those narrow tunnels.”

Or for a climate changed induced future where we’re all living in underwater cities.  A future, once imagined by SeaQuest DSV, that now seems rather more like destiny than fiction.  Now if only we could do something about that talking Dolphin tech.

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Is Amphibio the Greatest Idea Ever?

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