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Innovative Technology


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This is a talk I gave at Harvard for the National Collegiate Research Conference. It's more theoretical than my typical presentation but kind of fun - it looks at what makes innovation happen.

Published in: Technology
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Innovative Technology

  1. 1. Abby Fichtner @HackerChick Hacker in Residence, Harvard Innovation Lab Innovative Technology
  2. 2. @HackerChick This is a really exciting time for technology
  3. 3. @HackerChick New technologies like 3D Printing are opening up so many new possibilities…
  4. 4. @HackerChick Scientists are 3D Printing human organs
  5. 5. @HackerChick NASA is 3D Printing food for its astronauts
  6. 6. @HackerChick Urbee 2: 3D Printed the world’s most fuel efficient car They’re about to drive it across country on 10 gallons of fuel
  7. 7. @HackerChick Mobile computing combined with things like 3D printing that are making it easier to create physical objects is moving technology out of our computers and into the objects where we care about it
  8. 8. @HackerChick Umbrella that tells the weather
  9. 9. @HackerChick Bike that gives you directions & tracks your riding stats
  10. 10. @HackerChick Fork that monitors your eating to help you eat more healthily
  11. 11. @HackerChick …becomes really interesting once these objects can start talking to each other
  12. 12. @HackerChick
  13. 13. @HackerChick imagine your fork telling your bike you need to bike 10 extra miles because you ate a little extra at dinner
  14. 14. @HackerChick Look forward to more practical applications. For example: TetraScience allows researchers to remotely monitor & manage their lab experiments (it puts cameras, sensors & electric switches in your lab that you can access from anywhere)
  15. 15. @HackerChick Wearable Technology Consumer-facing wearables to date have had little appeal or utility, but things get exciting when we look at wearables driven by science & healthcare
  16. 16. @HackerChick Thync has created a headband that uses neurosignaling to shift your state of mind Can induce states of Energy or Focus or Calm
  17. 17. @HackerChick University of Delaware created a vibrating shoe for Parkinson’s patients that helps them walk faster while maintaining their balance
  18. 18. @HackerChick The more we look at innovations based on scientific research, the more interesting things get…
  19. 19. @HackerChick Next generation DNA Sequencing Cheaper, faster – no longer just for researchers becoming accessible to clinicians to diagnose patients
  20. 20. @HackerChick Cancer Immunotherapy Manipulating a patient’s immune system to treat the tumor, rather than chemotherapy
  21. 21. @HackerChick Embeddable Technology Wearables are neat, but imagine implanting microchips right into our bodies to monitor and/or modify us
  22. 22. @HackerChick Nanoengineers at the University of California have created a digital tattoo for diabetics that automatically monitors their glucose levels (no more pricking fingers with needles)
  23. 23. @HackerChick Microchips has created a digital contraceptive implant that embeds a microchip in you to provide up to 16 years of birth control
  24. 24. @HackerChick The FDA just approved an implantable weight loss device that uses electrical stimulation to fool the brain into thinking the stomach is full
  25. 25. @HackerChick New tools are allowing researchers to monitor activity patterns across brain circuits, which helps them better understand the brain so they can create NEW patterns…
  26. 26. @HackerChick This brain implant is allowing a paralyzed woman to control this robotic arm with her thoughts. Scientists monitored her brain while she THOUGHT about moving her hand and arm. They recorded what that activity looked like so when she does it now, it controls the robotic arm See video:
  27. 27. @HackerChick This 23 year old paralyzed his hand in an accident. Scientists at Neurobridge implanted a chip in his brain that allows him to now move this paralyzed hand with his thoughts See video:
  28. 28. @HackerChick EpiBone EpiBone is using a patient’s own stem cells to create replacement bones & tissue that can be used in place of prosthetics. Since they’re from patient’s stem cells, new limbs will continue to grow with the patient
  29. 29. @HackerChick
  30. 30. @HackerChick How does innovation happen? Some fascinating patterns of innovation in nature & beyond in this book…
  31. 31. @HackerChick The Adjacent Possible All innovation happens at the adjacent possible. Just BEYOND what’s possible today In nature, evolution is a tinkerer, not an engineer. It doesn’t take huge leaps out of thin air, it finds new uses for the parts it already has…
  32. 32. @HackerChick … we’re not just going to all wake up in the morning and suddenly we’ve got wings & can fly (sadly)
  33. 33. @HackerChick Research by Sara Saraswathy at University of Virginia shows entrepreneurs think differently. Normal people: Start with end goal, set plan to get there Entrepreneurs: Start with where they are today, experiment to see where they can take things What makes entrepreneurial entrepreneurs
  34. 34. @HackerChick Evolution didn’t start with goal of flight. It said what do I have today and what can I do with it? Wings (shape came from dinosaur wrist bones, which evolved for flexibility) & Feathers (which had evolved for temperature regulation)@HackerChick
  35. 35. @HackerChick The Adjacent Possible If you want to be more innovative: tinker & explore Find ways to break through the boundaries of what’s currently possible with what you already have
  36. 36. @HackerChick Liquid Networks Primordial soup was perfect environment for innovation: Allows & encourages all elements in system to come into contact in a random fashion
  37. 37. @HackerChick Liquid Networks Very different from how we think of innovation (lightbulb going off)
  38. 38. @HackerChick Liquid Networks But an idea is not a single, isolated thing that comes to us in a flash of light
  39. 39. @HackerChick Liquid Networks An idea is a network. it happens when a new network of neurons fires in sync with each other for 1st time
  40. 40. @HackerChick Designed by: Greatest driver of scientific & technological innovation over course of human history: Our increasing ability to connect & exchange ideas with other people
  41. 41. @HackerChick So much innovation today, it feels like we’re living in science fiction…
  42. 42. @HackerChick Robots to do our chores for us
  43. 43. @HackerChick Self-driving cars
  44. 44. @HackerChick Mind-controlled helicopters
  45. 45. @HackerChick Even things we think of as low-tech like reading the news…
  46. 46. @HackerChick Gannett is creating Virtual Reality Journalism where we’ll get the news, not by reading it, but by experiencing it
  47. 47. @HackerChick … or gardening (to de-stress after experiencing today’s news!)
  48. 48. @HackerChick Team out of MIT created a produce appliance to let you grow fruits & vegetables right in your kitchen
  49. 49. @HackerChick Top inventions by century 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 World’s Top Inventions Century If you imagine the chart of all innovation mapped against the chart of our increasing ability to connect with others & access information…
  50. 50. @HackerChick …it really makes you question the notion of the lone inventor
  51. 51. @HackerChick If you want to innovate: don’t just hunker down & try harder on your own Spend time in places that help you randomly come into connection with new ideas & people Ex: Harvard Innovation Lab provides single location for Harvard students across ALL it’s disciplines students working on health/sciences next to social entrepreneurs next to technologists…
  52. 52. @HackerChick The Slow Hunch The most important ideas incubate within us for months, years, decades
  53. 53. @HackerChick If you want to be more innovative: keep learning, keep connecting, keep tinkering
  54. 54. @HackerChick Serendipity Serendipity is the power of accidental connection In nature, evolution occurs through serendipity & natural selection
  55. 55. @HackerChick In life, serendipity occurs when we meet someone with a new piece of the puzzle To be more innovative: connect with more (& different types of) people
  56. 56. @HackerChick Serendipity occurs when we stumble onto some new piece of information Learn a lot, about a lot of different things
  57. 57. @HackerChick Embrace the web’s randomness
  58. 58. @HackerChick The smartest people have _____ brains Steven Thatcher, a brain researcher at the University of South Florida, did a study comparing children’s brain waves with their IQ scores a) Organized b) Disorganized
  59. 59. @HackerChick The smartest people have _____ brains a) Organized b) Disorganized Found children with the more chaotic, disorganized brains had the higher IQs
  60. 60. @HackerChick Same reason we sometimes figure out problems in our sleep In dreams (and disorganized minds), the brain makes random, unlikely connections between all of the ideas/memories/experiences just outside our consciousness
  61. 61. @HackerChick If you want to be more innovative: break free from day to day patterns & habits
  62. 62. @HackerChick “A shockingly large number of transformative ideas in science can be attributed to contaminated lab environments.” Error Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From
  63. 63. @HackerChick out of9 new products fail 10 We see the benefit of errors in startups, where so many fail…
  64. 64. @HackerChick Single Biggest Predictor of Failure? Don Sull, The Upside of Turbulence
  65. 65. @HackerChick Single Biggest Predictor of Failure? Don Sull, The Upside of Turbulence Sticking to Initial Business Plan
  66. 66. @HackerChick The best entrepreneurs take a scientific approach to innovation. They conduct experiments to prove or disprove their hypotheses When an experiment proves them wrong, error forces them to rethink
  67. 67. @HackerChick Error … thus, error is a USEFUL part of innovation. It helps us learn & think differently, guides us down new paths we hadn’t considered
  68. 68. @HackerChick I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. - Thomas Edison
  69. 69. @HackerChick Lessons from the Patterns of Innovation To wrap up….
  70. 70. @HackerChick Innovation is about being an Explorer. You can’t discover new places if you don’t let yourself go anywhere you haven’t yet charted out
  71. 71. @HackerChick It’s not about having perfect plans (how can you plan for something you don’t yet know?) It’s about allowing our plans to emerge over time to be shaped by what we learn from our errors
  72. 72. @HackerChick If you want to change the world…
  73. 73. @HackerChick … get comfortable with being uncomfortable because that’s where the magic happens.
  74. 74. @HackerChick Lessons from the Patterns of Innovation And take heed of the lessons from the patterns of innovation…
  75. 75. @HackerChick Adjacent Possible: tinker! Lessons from the Patterns of Innovation Innovation isn’t about making a huge leap that’s disconnected from anything we know today It’s about taking what we have & finding new ways to take it to the next level
  76. 76. @HackerChick Adjacent Possible: tinker! Lessons from the Patterns of Innovation Ideas aren’t isolated flashes of insight that come out of nowhere They’re what happens when we combine what we already know with some new piece of information The best way to encourage them is by creating “primordial soup” like environments that promote connecting new ideas in random ways Liquid Networks: make new connections
  77. 77. @HackerChick Adjacent Possible: tinker! Lessons from the Patterns of Innovation Great ideas don’t happen overnight Keep learning, keep connecting, keep tinkering Liquid Networks: make new connections The Slow Hunch: keep at it
  78. 78. @HackerChick Adjacent Possible: tinker! Lessons from the Patterns of Innovation Innovation favors chaos Allow yourself to do things outside of the norm Liquid Networks: make new connections The Slow Hunch: keep at it Serendipity: embrace chaos
  79. 79. @HackerChick Adjacent Possible: tinker! Lessons from the Patterns of Innovation Remember that errors are what guide us down the path to success And so celebrate them when they occur, it means you’re getting closer Liquid Networks: make new connections The Slow Hunch: keep at it Serendipity: embrace chaos Error: celebrate learning
  80. 80. Abby Fichtner Harvard Innovation Lab: Thanks!