Successful Endeavours - Electronics Designs That Work!

Innovation


Connect Expo

the Connect Expo is on each year around late March in Melbourne at the Exhibition and Convention Centre. I had gone to previous events but this was our first time as an exhibitor.

Connect Expo - Successful Endeavours

Connect Expo – Successful Endeavours

This was by far the best Connect Expo I have been to. The mix of software vendors, web platform vendors, component suppliers and specialist IT vendors was excellent and there was also a specific section for eHealth. We set up our own IoT Platform demonstration with a QR code you could scan with a phone and take you to a webpage showing real time (less than 5 second delay) updates to the status of a device on the stand. A simple demo of the Internet of Things in action.

We will definitely be going again next year.

A really good trend I noticed was several Software Testing companies represented in the mix. Testing to confirm software is working correctly is a very important part of delivering a high quality product and it was good to see this coming through at the industry level.

We also shared the stand with Minnovation who do data science and analytics so it was also good to see how rapidly that area is expanding.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2017 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Making Music is Creative

Making music is a creative process. At every level. There is not only composing and playing, but there is the instruments themselves and also how we record and play back music. Technology and creativity abound at every level.

I’m a musician. That is how I ended up in Electronics Engineering. I even wrote a blog piece about how Music Electronics was where my passion for creating new electronics devices all began.

Miller Puckette

I learned something new this week about music creation. I use Ableton Live as my sequencer and it incorporates a product from Cycling 74 called MaxMax was created by Miller Puckette quite a while ago. So I see another soul keen to push the boundaries of what is possible and was fascinated to read his history. Everything from Teaching Music at UCSD to creating music software like Max in 1988, its successor starting around 1996 which is Pure Data, or Pd as it is usually abbreviated, and which was set up to be an open source project so others could contribute and it wasn’t locked down by commercial constraints like Max is.

Miller Puckette - musician and music technology creator

Miller Puckette

I was also pleased to hear that Miller Puckette continues to perform music. This is something I also enjoy.

The only way to understand what is possible with tools like Pd is to see it in action. Enjoy.

Did you notice that the player on the left is moving his hands on a cloth covered platform. This is being tracked by a camera and the hand movements are used to trigger notes and other controllers and effects. You can reach him at Jaime E Oliver and the cellist accompanying him is Michael Nicholas.

PdCon

And if you found that interesting, then check out the concert video from PdCon16~ . That’s right, Pd has its own conference.

The first video has Miller Puckette as a contributor.

And the last one also has Miller Puckette as part of a duo. This is all very avant-garde yet the degree of expression possible is amazing.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2017 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Design Led Innovation

Traditional Product Development comes up with the product idea, does the development, gets it into production and then tries to find customers to sell it to.

Design Led Innovation tries to turn that process around so the actual needs of the customer or user become part of both the product definition and the business model development. If you haven’t already heard of it, check out the Business Model Canvas.

I get the opportunity to present on topics like Innovation to Business Groups and even MBA programs and one of the interesting statistics I use is that the number one area for Innovation in the world today is the Business Model.

How Does Design Led Innovation Work?

So how does this all work?

Design Led Innovation

Design Led Innovation Process

In Design Led Innovation, the expected outcome is that when you engage with your customer, and begin to understand their needs, then you can start to offer them something that has much higher value for them and allows you to get a better price for offering that much higher value. The outcome is the classic win:win that great business is meant to deliver. And it is a key factor in not getting caught in the classic commodity service price war with the client’s purchasing officer driving the process.

It is also a continuous process. One description is that it is like “rebuilding the plane while it is in flight”.

Sounds scary, but the results seem to show it is well worth doing.

Design Led Innovation session at SEBN

At a recent SEBN breakfast session we heard from Tricomposite about their  experience of using Design Led Innovation to revolutionise their business and not only service their existing customers better, but offer them products they didn’t even know they wanted and create a much better value offering for them than they had ever considered before. And this has opened up potential market offerings to other customers who they would never have considered they could work with.

Here are the themes they explored in finding this offering:

  • focus on designers, not buyers
  • test is time pressure leads to design mistakes
  • test is rapid full-sized final material prototypes were valuable
  • test if there was room for service level agreements
  • test if there was room for collaborative design

And the answer to 4 of these was a resounding yes. Only the service level agreement test failed. Basically, customers expect service as a given. But the rest has opened up a complete rethink of their business. In fact, they shared that it was their existing perspective on their business that proved to be their biggest limiting factor.

Business Model Canvas

Rethinking the Business Model is a key component of Design Led Innovation. But not as an end in itself. Only after understanding your customer’s real needs can you determine how to make it easier to do business with them.

I recommend getting the Business Model Canvas book and taking advantage of the free downloads at Strategyzer. Here is a example of one of their tools.

Business Model Canvas Example

Business Model Canvas Example

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Digital Tomorrow is Today

The most recent Casey Cardinia Business Group breakfast heard from Chris Riddell, futurist. This is a summary of what he said.

Chris Riddell - Futurist

Chris Riddell – Futurist

The future is already here. The digital revolution has happened. So what about tomorrow?

This is the question Chris posed to the room at the start of his presentation.

Chris asserts that the technological revolution has already happened. Now it is Velocity that counts. So what does Velocity mean?
In Software Development, Velocity refers to the rate with which you are completing a project. If Velocity is too low, you will not finish on time. Ideally Velocity is above the original planned value and you will deliver ahead of schedule. At the very least, this allows you time to test comprehensively. Projects running late often compromise on test in order to save time. This tactic usually adds time in the long run.

His first example was OTTO. This is a start-up of ex Google employees who are developing self-driving track technology that can be retrofitted to existing trucks. So you don’t need to design a new vehicle, you can add their system to your existing fleet. They have early adopted product in the market (delivering beer via self-driving trucks) and hope to be fully market ready in 9 months. And uber bought OTTO. This rapid time to market is an example of the increasing Velocity available today.

OTTO self-driving truck

OTTO self-driving truck

A local example we are working with is Maintabase. This is a Melbourne based start-up that came to us 2 months ago with some “off the shelf” hardware to try and configure it as a demonstration of their asset management concept where you can monitor machine cycle and operating time automatically and identify when maintenance points will be reached. Like OTTO, this can be retrofitted to any existing machine. They were trying to use “off the shelf hardware” for good reason; low development cost. However the hardware was difficult to configure and use, not very flexible, and ultimately not what they wanted in a final product. It was never going to do what they needed and was only ever an interim measure. So we created the product they need and they are launching it at Future Assembly in the IoT Category. See Future Assembly – IoT – Maintabase for more details. So idea to launch in 8 weeks!

Maintabase

Maintabase

And then there is Tesla who have reinvented the modern passenger automobile and already offer autonomous cars.

Tesla

Tesla

And now a medical example. 23 and Me will send you a DNA kit. You provide a saliva sample in the test tube they provide. They then send you a detailed report describing your genetic ancestry, what health issues you will expect have in the future and even what kind of children you will have with your partner (you need 2 samples for that). This was banned in the USA due to concerns about how to regulate it so they moved to Europe and launched there. Now they are also able to operate in the USA. 5 years ago a service like this would have been prohibitively expensive. Now it is a very affordable tool to allow you to manage your life better.

23 and Me - Welcome to You

23 and Me – Welcome to You

We also see the huge burst of activity in Wearables that allow you to quantify things like quality of sleep, activity level and a whole range of health and other indicators. The Quantified Self requires measurement and these devices do a good deal of that already.

Lean Digital Start-Up

Computing technology is also changing so rapidly that you can do a hugely scalable start-up in a shed. This is technology going full circle. HP started in a shed. So did Google and Apple. The shed may become the new business launch model.

This allows a new class of business opportunities lumped under the banner of the Lean Start-Up. I’ve added “Digital” to the mix because there is a lot of emphasis now on being able to scale quickly. So we have the Lean Digital Start-Up. So low investment, low risk, potentially huge upside, potentially scalable. The failure rate of Lean Digital Start-Ups is unfortunately also huge. About 25 times the failure rate of conventional businesses. The risk due to failure is much lower and they can pivot rapidly. This is Agile applied to the Business Model.

Old world businesses are like huge plantations and have a specific focus and everything is about optimising that focal point. By comparison, the new business paradigm is like hacking your way through a rain forest looking for a breakthrough plant or animal that holds the cure to something incurable. The latter is a much more chaotic process and results are unpredictable.
Access to technology means that even mobile phone calls and SMS are old hat and is all about video, high speed data sharing and experience.

The Future – What Next?

BMW have just celebrated 100 years in business. That is a great achievement. If you go back 50 years, it was all about the product, the technology, the reliability. Today it is all about the experience. And they are talking about selling transportation services rather than vehicles in 10 years time.

Super Fluidity is now the norm. You can transfer data almost instantly to anywhere in the world. Today you can design a product , send the file somewhere else on the planet and have it 3D printed . You can now 3D print food. Oreos can be custom designed by you and then made for you and shipped to your address.

Why is Google self driving cars happening? Google do search and other data stuff. The answer from Google is that a driver-less car is a mechanical problem that needs an information solution. And Google are an information solution company.

Why is Lego still in business? It is a plastic block. Easy to copy and many have done it. Yet today they are the most influential toy company in the world. Everything is about the user. You can design your own kit, select the blocks, buy it and have it delivered to your door. You can build it on screen, have it 3D rendered and sent to your device to show or share with your friends.

Apple have enough cash on their books to pay out Greece’s national debt 3 times over and still run their business for a year even with no sales. And they did it by making their product easy to use and putting a full ecosystem together to support the user.

Air bnb, uber, Spotify and many other companies are leveraging great user experiences and offering great value.

We are headed into an era of no screens, augmented reality and where the world is your screen and data is your overlay.

Pretty exciting times lay ahead as we catch up with the capability the Digital Revolution already lays before us.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

DSLR or Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera

Ignoring the play on words, the light camera is a major breakthrough in the use of multiple optical viewpoint cameras to create synthetic images that can be taken with something the size of a smart phone and rivals DSLR Camera photographs.

And spoiler alert, I’m getting one as soon as I can. Read on to find out why.

I enjoy photography and appreciate the balance between the size and convenience of my phone camera and the control and quality of image possible in my DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera.

Lets look at how a DSLR camera works. This image is by en:User:Cburnett – Own work with Inkscape based on Image:Slr-cross-section.png, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link.

Single Lens Reflex Camera Cross Section

SLR Camera Cross Section

The photographer can see the subject before taking an image by the mirror. When taking an image the mirror will swing up and light will go to the sensor instead.

  1. Camera lens
  2. Reflex mirror
  3. Focal-plane shutter
  4. Image sensor
  5. Matte focusing screen
  6. Condenser lens
  7. Pentaprism/pentamirror
  8. Viewfinder eyepiece

For a Film SLR camera the sensor is the film. For the DSLR Camera the sensor is a digital image sensor CCD or Charge Coupled Device. These cameras use precision ground lenses and are capable of high levels of control and image quality. They also don’t fit in your pocket unless you have a very large one.

Below is a high quality rendering of a DLSR Camera provided by David McSweeney of Guru Camera. Much appreciated David. Click  on the picture to get a full size version.

DSLR Digital Camera Section

DSLR Digital Camera Section

The Light Camera

Light - a new camera concept

Light – a new camera concept

I am very grateful to Dr Rajiv Laroia who co-founded Light. Not only has he developed a breakthrough concept in portable digital photography, but he has been very open about how he went about it and how it works. This is an excellent example of the new Collaboration landscape we now work in. He took his idea to experts to validate it rather than hiding it and hoping no-one would steal it.

IEEE Spectrum have a very detailed article Inside the Development of Light which outlines the whole journey. There are several stand out points here:

  • he solved a problem he had – it represented a practical need he understood
  • he got expert advice early
  • it required a significant shift from the best of breed technology in place now
  • he knows his first version is just that
  • there is a long term product strategy in place
  • he is teaching the world how to do it so that he has first mover advantage rather than a monopoly

The last point is interesting for me. The days of monopolies are coming to an end. The days where a Brand could overcome deficiencies in an offering aren’t yet over but they are fading. Today you can source reviews from peers and industry forums and a Brand can’t as easily dominate a market just by reputation or marketing blurb. The products have to be as good as the Brand claims they are.

Dr Rajiv Laroia - cofounder of Light

Dr Rajiv Laroia – co-founder of Light

So back to Light. Dr Rajiv Laroia has started something we will all benefit from. The concept is brilliant and the results and funding are in place to make is commercially successful.

Will we see it in a smart phone soon?  I can see cut down versions of this concept being deployable in the very near future. The processing power is the challenge in a low power hand held device that is also doing cellular communications. So battery life versus quick availability of the finished pictures is the trade-off right now.

Is it doable in the long run? Absolutely!

Light in Action

Here are some videos covering the development journey, the first commercial version and the use of the camera.

 



Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Mechanisms

Mechanisms are important in many aspects of modern life. They adjust the focus on your smart phone camera, put the wheels down when a plane is coming in to land, allows automobiles, trains, trucks and ships to move and even allow probes to roam about on the surface of Mars.

So I was very surprised to learn that a newly developed rotary gear mechanism, or transmission,  is the first major new gear design since 1957!

Abacus Gears

Lets cut straight to the chase and I’ll then back fill details later on.

Abacus Gear Mechanism

Abacus Gear Mechanism

The Abacus Gear Mechanism uses a series of rolling elements that move through a series of shaped channels that changes the rolling radius as the mechanism rotates. The results is a gear ratio between the inner driving hub and the out rotating hub. Sound complicated?

I guess this is why it has taken over 60 years to come up with the revolution. However there are some serious pluses. The contact points are all pure rolling elements unlike conventional gear teeth where some sliding motion (causing to wear) is involved. This should lead to improved gear life. It also has no backlash. This is ideal for robotics where backlash (the loss of motion when changing rotational direction on a gear due to clearances) is a big problem for keeping a precise knowledge of the position of the object under motion (a pickup arm for instance). And the rolling elements and the channels they roll in can be adjusted in shape. So although the first version, named “Abacus” because the shape of the rolling elements resembled the beads on an Abacus, had one shape of rolling element, the invention is not limited to that and the elements could be spheres.

And all of the above leads to another major benefit. It is significantly more efficient than the Harmonic Drive which was invented in 1957 and is the leading contended for robotics gears today.

There is a detailed article including a video on IEEE Spectrum at Abacus – First New Rotary Transmission in 50 Years.

The Harmonic Drive

Here is an animation of the Harmonic Drive.

Harmonic Drive

Harmonic Drive in motion

This is pretty cool as a drive concept and also has no backlash.

Mechanical Gear Fundamentals

If you to know a little more about gears and the wide variety of uses they are put to, check out this video.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Schools Today

The modern school as we know it was designed to provide workers for the expanding paradigm of the Industrial Revolution. That is, the first Industrial Revolution. We are now up to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as Industry 4.0. So how well are we doing 3 Industrial Revolutions later?

Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0

First of all, lets look at the positives. Basic education has been an overwhelming success. A foundation level of literacy, numeracy and essential mathematics skills has served us really well for several generations. And it will continue to though the need for it is reducing because so much of our modern world does a lot of this for us. This is of course the developed world. We still have a third of the planet living in abject poverty and that is a challenge in itself. But the baseline education we all get at primary school works for the vast majority of people. I know there are exceptions who have both physical and intellectual challenges but it works on the whole.

So where is the issue?

Applied Learning

The real issue is when we start to get past basic education, the foundation we all benefit from, and start to move into Applied Learning or Interest Based Learning. Someone who is going to be a brilliant dancer might not benefit so much for advanced mathematics training. So we already allow for this in course selection. By VCE and the like there is a lot of selection going on. The same at University.

The issue comes back to what we are preparing students for. Funding policy drives a lot of decisions. You can’t keep a school open if the subjects you teach or how you teach them are not aligned with the funding model. You may not even get a sick bed or enough toilets (yes I know of one example of this)! And at present. we don’t seem to have governments with a strong view to to doing anything in schools except exclude faith and culture based learning and enforce the idea that alternative sexual orientations are preferred. At least this is how it looks to the community. And all this means we are not equipping students for the Jobs of the Future or the Industries of Tomorrow (or even today in many cases).

I present to Secondary Schools and Universities including MBA programs and recently to a Primary School. Schools matter. So it is time to start fixing a broken system. And it isn’t teachers and principals I am talking about here, it is funding policy.

Universities are funded based on peer reviewed papers and student numbers by class type. There is no requirement for either to be industry relevant. This has been the case for a while and we now find ourselves where this funding policy leads:

  • Australia has the lowest rate of publicly funded research commercialisation in the world
  • Australia has the lowest rate of academia to Industry engagement in the world

Put differently, the currently funding put into public research and academia structures is failing completely. The model is broken. And I’ve heard this repeatedly for the past half a decade so it isn’t just me.

Some other indicators that this is the case.

According to figures published by CEDA, The Committee for Economic Development of Australia40% of currents jobs will disappear is a decade.

Digital Readiness

Yet Digital Literacy in Australia continues to decline as the rest of the world gets ready for the next round of jobs and value creation while we fall behind. Everyone agrees that this is the wave of the future. But no action. The last policy discussion was in 2008!

Some references:

The latter has this graph of our current ranking in Digital Competitiveness (we used to be known as the country of early adopters).

Australian Digital Competitiveness

Australian Digital Competitiveness

I hope you notice that the most competitive economies in the world are also the most digital ready! Check out the Global Competitiveness Report summarised on Wikipedia to see the relativities. This is also why the current destruction of the capability of the NBN, or National Broadband Network, looks like economic sabotage when you consider how it is going to limit jobs growth potential and further stifle Digital Readiness.

It isn’t like this problem is new or not understood. It seems the current policy split is between:

  • if it costs money you can’t have it because we can’t afford it
  • protecting the borders is more important than ensuring there is something worth protecting inside them
  • lets redesign our social fabric because we can

Yes I know I have shown them in extreme profile, but this is where these ideas ultimately end up. And none of them are in the interest of Australia’s long term future. I don’t think being Digital Ready for the Future is restricted to a single gender, ethnic group or demographic nor mandated or precluded by your faith background or sexual orientation or any of a large number of other factors.

Tomorrows jobs will be created by the workers, not companies“. Ray Keefe 2016.

You will see a similar quote below for primary schools. But this is the new paradigm. It is already here. This isn’t tomorrow. This is now. What is a Lean Digital Startup? It is creating your own job!

So this has been a long post already but there is one more element I want to share. And this is an initiative which I am hoping will be able to make a difference.

Tech Schools

No this is not a nostalgic return to the past, just using the same name for a very new approach.

I am pleased to announce that the Casey Tech School Strategic Charter was signed last week. I am one of 2 Industry Representatives involved in the process. Hopefully this will grow significantly once the foundations have been firmly established. And this same process is happening in other regions of Victoria.

So if they are reusing the name, what are they now using it for?

The Casey Tech School will use funding from the Victorian State Government to establish an advanced learning center to augment existing schools. This will include Digital Ready learning opportunities and will support student interest learning and not just a fixed curriculum. The details of how to get this high leverage education facility interfaced with existing school activities is still to be worked out. But the core idea is that if there isn’t enough money for every school to do this independently, then spend one lot of money and let every school take advantage of it.

Here are a couple of photos of the event.

Casey Tech School Charter Signed

Casey Tech School Charter Signed

 

Successful Endeavours Support the Casey Tech School

Successful Endeavours Support the Casey Tech School

And this isn’t the only interesting school initiative going on right now.

Primary Schools Step Up

As an example of where primary school teaching is going, I was recently involved in a Mini-Mart run by Dandenong Primary School. The Grade 5 students did a survey of the grade 3 and 4 students to determine goods they could design, build and sell to them. There were rules covering design elements, what constituted a sufficient offering and even things like Warranty. Then they made the goods, set up stalls, and in a series of waves tried selling to the same grade 3 and 4 students they had surveyed.

Brilliant.

And in between waves, they got advice on OH&S, selling and influencing techniques  from a teacher who could have been presenting to an MBA program. I had to wait another 40 years after my Primary School experience before I got training in business skills as good as this.  Needless to say, I was very impressed and it made me wonder why we aren’t doing this across the board.

Mini-market moguls

Dandenong Primary School’s Grade 5 and 6 students have explored the process of creating, producing and marketing their own products.
The students hosted a mini-market as part of their school studies, surveying students from Grade 3 and 4 to see what products would sell and then competing to see who could sell the most.

“These children are going to have to invent their own jobs…”

The result was an impressive array of fun and appealing items from bookmarks and fridge magnets to squishy balls and multi coloured slime.

The event was supported by four local employers who judged each team on their product design and quality, stall design and customer service.

Ray Keefe from Successful Endeavours was joined by Anthony Di Battista from Hilton Manufacturing, Marcus Barber from Looking Up Feeling Good and Chelsie Dickson from Cirque Design.

“These children are going to have to invent their own jobs so it’s great they’re thinking about this very important challenge now,” Mr Keefe said.

Dandenong Primary School looks set to produce some impressive entrepreneurs of the future if the
success of this project is anything to go by.

Community News – The City – November 2016

 

Jobs of the Future

Jobs of the Future

And if you want a really interesting view of what this could be like 10 years from now, I recommend readings Rainbow’s End by Vernor Vinge. Enjoy. Its not just the education component, its the whole idea that jobs just wont exist any more!

Rainbows End - Vernor Vinge

Rainbows End – Vernor Vinge

Rainbow End : Fair use

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

CEDA and Australia’s Innovation Challenge

CEDA, or the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, run regular industry sessions to discuss topics of national economic importance. The latest was a lunchtime session covering the benefits of Innovation and also some of the challenges we need to overcome to take advantage of Innovation in Australia.

Committee for Economic Development of Australia

Committee for Economic Development of Australia

Here are videos of the panel discussion which raise a lot of excellent points. They are split into 2 due to their length.

 

Below I cover my take on some of the areas covered both before and during the panel discussion.

Innovation in Job Hunting

Job hunting, or seeking, is a 2 way problem. Potential employees want a good job and potential employers want good employees. Should be simple, right?

Doug Blue of SEEK shared some changes in the jobs market. SEEK used to just place job advertisements on a Web site. Now they have moved to employment fulfillment with up to 70% of job placements being through their services. This is typical of the shift in value creation that is happening all over the world.
A recent survey in Australia shows that 76% of people do not like their current job.

Innovation in Governance

Glenys Beauchamp PSM, of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, shared statistics and perspectives on the local economy. This is a summary of what was a very comprehensive and competent presentation.

Glenys Beauchamp

Glenys Beauchamp

The OECD statistics show that up to 50% of new jobs are due to Innovation. So this is an important topic for national growth. And to add more weight to the argument, 60% of productivity gains are due to Innovation.

Australia’s GDP growth has remained flat since 2011 and if this continues then our standard of living will start to fall.

Innovative businesses grow faster, have a more diverse range of market offerings, and create more jobs in them and around them than businesses which are not Innovation focused.

Drivers for Innovation:

  • High proportion of tertiary qualified young adults
  • High standard of research capability

And a few challenges:

  • Low rates of disruptive Innovation
  • Reducing investment for Innovation
  • Low levels of venture and early stage investment
  • Lowest level of Collaboration with universities and publicly funded research organisations in the OECD
  • Low Collaboration in general

The Australian Government is looking at all options to improve this including funding schemes not based on grants, big science infrastructure, tax incentives, entrepreneurs programs and simplifying engagement between business and publicly funded organisations.

Innovation Panel

Lunch was followed by a panel session. The panel was:

  • Glenys Beauchamp PSM – Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
  • Geoff Culbert – GE Australia, NZ, Papua New Guinea
  • Andrew Smith – Shell Australia
  • Andy Vessey – AGL

This is a summary of the discussion.

Innovation can’t just be about improving core business output, it also has to have spread and it has to be able to cross organisational and industry boundaries.

One big challenge is moving to a net zero emissions while increasing energy availability. So clean energy generation is a key and Australia is well placed to be exploring that.

Consumers of tomorrow will be making informed choices so those businesses that don’t educate and inform their customers will lose them to businesses that do. Many traditional businesses and industries are ripe for digital disruption.

GE see software as key to their digital industrial product range. IoT, or the Internet of Things,  is key to the adding of more value.

Shell are looking sideways at every industry they can to identify technologies they can harness in their industry. And they find Australia has many excellent researchers and businesses that can be tapped for solutions to problems that they don’t yet have a satisfactory answer for.

There is a role for Government to get the macro economic conditions right to encourage businesses to act through appropriate incentives. But Government also needs to change its own behaviour to be able to be a part of the future rather than living in a bureaucratic past.

Australia was outraged that we came 10th in the medals tally at the Olympic Games yet there is no outrage about our abysmally low Collaboration and business ratings! How do we get the bigger conversation going at the citizen level?

It is about investment level and investment focus. We value sporting success so we invest. To do better we have to either invest more or invest smarter. It is the same with Innovation and Collaboration. The real issue is where will the funding come from, and exactly how will it be applied. No-one seems to be addressing the lack of funding in a serious way.

Intellectual Property is no longer the main game, nor is data. It is the insights you get from data that is more important. GE have made their IoT operating system, Predix, open source because it is the leverage you get from it that is valuable, not just owning it. And it could also allow others to design devices that can readily fit into the GE ecosystem.

Innovation Summary

For me, the key points that keep coming up are:

  • Low Collaboration is holding us back. And this is a cultural issue. So no amount of money can fix that. We have to address the culture itself.
  • Everyone agrees a lot more money is needed and should be invested. No-one agrees to offer it.
  • Business models are still the biggest area for Innovation and we should keep pushing the boundaries on business models

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Innovation In Australia

I had the opportunity to take part in an Innovation session run at Trajan Scientific and Medical. This covered both the Innovation philosophy they operate under and also included a site tour and explanation of the practical aspects of building highly collaborative relationships.

Trajan Scientific and Medical

Trajan Scientific and Medical

Disruptive trends

Autodesk presented a session on trends at work today:

  • How we make things is changing
  • How users buy is also changing
  • Everyone has access to the power to compare products online
  • Kickstarter has Democratised funding
  • 3D printing allows us to make mechanical products in one hit without tooling
  • You can lease a micro-factory for a day or buy a 3D printer for a fraction of the cost of 5 years ago
  • Personalised products – such as talking a picture of you ear and getting custom ear bud made at a very affordable price
  • Rolls Royce now sell engines as a service
  • IoT now means we can instrument everything so it allows improvements in everything. This includes productivity, service, response and learning from actual product use
    So now anyone can become a product designer and manufacturer
  • The 4th industrial revolution is not just for large organisations but individuals can also now become niche product entrepreneurs
  • It also allows reshoring of products that went to Asia and can now come back
  • Autodesk are now moving to a subscription model with cloud services so you can buy a 1 month subscription if that is all you need
  • You can now make products at the point of need rather than mass produce in one spot and ship around the world
  • And designers from around the world can now contribute to projects and the manufacture can now happen anywhere
autodesk

autodesk

Trajan

Andrew Gooley presented a session on Trajan’s approach to innovation and collaboration.

Andrew Gooley of Trajan

Andrew Gooley of Trajan

Trajan stands for science interfacing with society. They have focused on making scientific based components for products and particularly boron and silicate glass items for laboratories, patient samples and individual users needs. They have multiple plants around the world. It is not the product that defines them but the collaboration process. Trajan was a Roman Emperor and introduced many desirable social innovations.

Trajan now see collaboration as the core commercialisation competence they have and is the primary competitive advantage they have. An example is the way they have worked with the University of Adelaide photonics department to use their facility, run it as a commercial entity, use it for their own manufacture and also improve it using the technology they have already developed for their own manufacturing facilities around the world.

An example is collecting and analysing patient samples in the home. Then extending that to third world countries and remote communities to improve their health outcomes. Or reducing premature births by facilitating in home health monitoring to identify conditions that lead to that and providing timely dietary feedback.

Their primary collaboration relationship building technique is to fire bullets before you fire cannons. So try something small to even determine if it can work at all. Not every university or other private company are capable of collaboration.

Their other strength is the ability to run their manufacturing so that they can build to order today. Industry 4.0

I was personally impressed during the tour and came away feeling excited about the possibilities for Australian companies to compete on a global basis if we go about it the right way.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

We Won Best Networking Implementation

You might have read our post on being finalists at the PACE Zenith Awards 2016. Tonight we won the Best Networking Implementation award for 2016. Our Congratulations also go to IND Technology. Their Early Fault Detection product was the design we won this award for.

PACE Zenith Winners 2016

PACE Zenith Winners 2016

If you are wondering what the product does, it measures electromagnetic radiation from the electricity distribution grid using custom designed antennas, does DSP math on it, determines if a fault condition such as Partial Discharge is present, and sends an alert if it detects that. It does this at 250MSPS every second and uploads the summary results to a web service. Using PPS GPS synchronisation you can determine the distance to the fault from each EFD Device. Scatter a few of these around the network and you have the most cost effective Early Fault Detection system you can get. It is also a classic high bandwidth IoT project.

OK, enough engineer speak. Here is a summary from the night.

The MC was Merv Hughes who brought a lot of humour to the night through his novel pronunciation of technical terms.

The Keynote Address was given by Dr. David Nayagam who walked us through the The Bionic Eye project and the difference it was going to make to people experiencing blindness that didn;t have underlying receptor damage.

And we had an extraordinary interlude of entertainment by the Unusualist, Raymond Crowe.

PACE Zenith Awards 2015

PACE Zenith Awards 2016

2016 PACE Zenith Awards Winners

Here are all the winners by category:

  • Safety system innovation – Robotic Automation, for Multi-product Robotic Automation
  • Manufacturing Control – Sage Automation, for Integrated Process Control
  • Automation Innovation – Robotic Automation, for Multi-product Robotic Automation
  • Transport Control – Encroaching. For POW’R-LOCK
  • Mining and Minerals Process Control – Scott Automation & Robotics, for ROBOFUEL
  • Water and Wastewater Control – SMC, for Ethercat Network for Treatment of Wastewater
  • Machine Builder – Automation Innovation
  • Oil and Gas Innovation – Yokogawar Australia, Julimar Development Project
  • Power and Energy Management – Alliance Automation, Oxley Creek Rehabilitation Project
  • Best PLC. HMI and Sensor Product – Bestech Australia, Beanair Wireless Sensor Network
  • Best Network Implementation – Successful Endeavours, IND Technology Early Fault Detection System
  • Young Achiever of the Year – Kayla Saggers
  • Lifetime Achievement – Peter Maasepp
  • Project of the Year – Yokogawa, Julimar Development Project

Our congratulations go to all the participants.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

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