Category Archives: Technology & Innovation

For all my techie friends — in the Einstein Alley groups, NJEN, the Keller Center, and the E-Quad — event notices, items from U.S. 1 Newspaper and the NYT

Where does Einstein Alley meet the White House?


Anybody for a “watch party” on August 4, the White House demo day? Instead of entrepreneurs pitching to funders, innovators will join President Obama “to demo their individual success stories and show why we need to give every American the opportunity to pursue their bold, game-changing ideas.”  If this is Einstein Alley, surely somebody here can host a watch party?

Also check out other Obama initiatives: Startup in a Day (image shown above) which aims “to simplify the process of getting a new venture off the ground, developing online tools that help entrepreneurs discover and apply — in less than a day — for local, state, and Federal permissions needed to start a business”

Or TechHire, “engaging with local governments and the private sector to help Americans get the skills they need for a technology-driven workplace.”

Or I Corps program, “university researchers and students learning to commercialize their breakthrough inventions.”

Or Startup America, a “$1 billion impact investment initiative that connected clean energy startups with experienced mentors, supported legislation that is making it easier for startups to raise capital, and much, much more.”

Sooooooo – invite me to your watch party, or if we can’t get together for a watch party, we can follow along from the comfort of our own cubicles. Or on the twitter feed at Maybe… possibly . . . . we’ll see an Einstein Alley-based business at Demo Day.

This is another one of those “uh DUH” moments for parents who know, instinctively, that it’s important to respond to their baby’s very whim.

Lauren Emberson, who joins the Princeton University faculty this fall, is proving that learning-induced expectations will change the brains of infants just five months old. 

But will all that attention from sleep weary moms and dads — will it produce optimists?

Smart Driving Cars: Kornhauser’s the One

If you ever need the best expert on the future of transportation, let’s say, re smart driving cars — Princeton has him. Alain Kornhauser, head of the transportation department at Princeton University and founder of a  company, ALK. Here he holds forth on how John and Alicia Nash could have been saved, not by seatbelts, but technology.

The fundamental problem was that the taxi was not equipped with available automated stability control, lane keeping and collision avoidance systems.  This was not an accident, it was a failed public safety policy that refuses to move beyond crash mitigation and its challenged “V2x” initiatives to embrace forthright automated crash avoidance. 
Moreover, there is a failed Taxi regulatory structure that doesn’t even hint that taxis should have electronic stability control, automated lane keeping and collision avoidance.  What is the purpose of taxi regulation, to keep “Ubers” out of business? 

The Daily Princetonian headline on his profile reads “Like a V8 engine on a roller skate.”

Environmental David vs Real Estate Goliath?


Do I have this straight? After decades of trying to develop the former Western Electric site on Carter Road, environmentalists and preservationists in Hopewell (known for their combativeness when it comes to defending rural turf) managed to fend off Berwind Property Group from building high-density housing.

The property, as described by, is
“the first corporate park ever created in the United States. Built during the Cold War by Western Electric, the 360-acre site included an underground nuclear bunker for the use of the President of the United States and a runway for the President’s plane in the event of a nuclear attack.” Part of this campus has already been developed as Technology Center of Princeton, with Sensors Unlimited its most recent occupant of the largest building, with Worldwater and Lexicon also on the campus. 

Jim Waltman, executive director of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, had a hand in the deal, which went down in April. Waltman speaks at the Princeton Regional Chamber breakfast on Wednesday, June 17, at 8 am (networking at 7:30) and that’s TOMORROW if you are reading this Tuesday night. Yes, I know, late notice. But you don’t pay extra to be a walk-in — $25 for chamber members and it’s a good breakfast. 

Waltman will surely introduce the new Platinum-Leed-certified environmental center, shown above and designed by Farewell Architects (though not so credited on the Stony Brook website.) But also ask Waltman about how they managed to “do the Carter Road deal.”  His more well-known battle was with Westerly Road Church (now Stone Hill Church) on its development of the Princeton Ridge. I’m guessing he’d answer questions about that too.

Listen, Then Prescribe.

Barile at hospital

Dr. David Barile’s aim is sky high — to effect a culture change in medical decision making. He speaks on Wednesday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m. at the Nassau Club, for the Princeton Regional Chamber. Barile, a foremost expert in palliative care, has a mobile platform, Goals of Care, to help align what patients need with what doctors prescribe. The platform is powered by a Princeton start-up, V  Read about it here. Sign up for the breakfast here — or just come. Networking at 7:30, breakfast at 8.

Somebody’s Cat? An Einstein Connection….

An emailed cartoon from the New Yorker enlightened me on an area of quantum physics I knew nothing about. I still know nothing about quantum physics, but now I know that theories about somebody’s cat had something to do with it.

Here is the link to the New Yorker cartoon. You might have to page through till you get to the one in the vet’s office, where the female vet tells a bespectacled man, “About your cat, I have good news and bad news.” The cat’s owner’s name, in the cartoon, is Mr. Schrodinger (with an umlaut, spelled Schroedinger in English).

Erwin Schroedinger

I could see nothing funny about the drawing or the comment. Finally I realized that the name was unusual, maybe it meant something. I googled it, and found pages and pages about a quantum physicist named Schroedinger who theorized that a cat could be both dead and alive at the same time. (Now I know why I don’t want to study quantum physics, but here is a link to where someone tries to explain it).

Turns out everyone else knew about this man’s cat. It was referenced in TV shows like the Big Bang and Doctor Who, and lionized in a schrodinger-cat_2641464bGoogle doodle. He even has his own Facebook page. This cat may even be featured  on the Top 20 list of Science Facts that English Majors Should Know.

Why do I bring it up on a blog that focuses on Princeton? The Einstein connection, a connection so important that it’s the subject of Einstein’s Dice and Schroedinger’s Cat, a forthcoming book by Paul Halpern, due out on April 15.

it’s all theoretical of course, or the SPCA would object.

John Springrose: “Prototype your imagination”

Sometimes a better chamberspeaker says what they said to a U.S. 1 reporter as published in the previous issue. Not so this time. Diccon Hyatt’s interview with John Springrose was way different from his talk at the Princeton Regional Chamber breakfast this morning. Springrose’s company (formerly inDimension3, now Philadelphia-based Koine) pioneers in 3D printers, more aptly named “rapid prototyping machines.

An IBM-er turned investment banker, Springrose  began with a “then and now” show of how innovation increases productivity, even though jobs are lost along the way. For instance, IBM’s first middle market computer, System 32, cost $40,000 and had only 5k of memory but in 1975 it could replace accounting functions. Checkers were replaced by self checkout and scans, tellers by ATMs, German auto workers by robots, and so on. “Innovation does lead to productivity,” he tells students, “and it forces us to think.” Be an innovator or run the risk of losing your job.

Examples of how a rapid prototyping machine can work: High school student gets an idea for jazzing up the wine drinking experience. Prints a prototype of a new wine holder, gets it manufactured in China, sells several hundred units on ebay for $40 each, total cost of each unit $1.89, accomplished this in less than a month. Product: a wine bottle holder that is lit from underneath, sending colors through a bottle of white wine. Cool. True story.

A plant “goes down” for lack of a part? A 3-D printer could make that part in a snap. A corporation could have a rapid prototype machine in the lobby and greet clients is greeted with a logo or miniature product from their company. Now that’s hospitality.

Three-D printers like toys can cost as little as $700 but, to be reliable, one should cost at least $5,000 for business use. Customers are mostly overseas. Springrose worries that the U.S. is getting left behind.

In addition to plastic, products can be in wood, metal — “anything that will melt.’ His industry today is where IBM’s System 32 computer was in 1975. “You give me the industry, I give you the use,” he offered.  “Prototype your imagination,” he challenges. “If you think about it, you can do it.”

As for the difference between the interview and the talk — the reporter dug into the not-so-successful early stage of Springrose’s company, when it was making cheap printers that were not reliable and got scathing online reviews. That’s why Springrose moved to the high end. More than 700 startups make 3 D printers but just three– including Koine — are working on business-quality tools.

Springrose has a very personal interest in the medical applications for his devices. He looks forward to the day when a rapid prototyping machine can print out a liver or a kidney. That’s because he has lived through a liver transplant. But printable organs won’t happen any time soon. Springrose came without a demo machine because — the day before, he demoed to doctors at Jefferson — and they broke the machine.

Photo: L to R, Grant Somerville (chamber program committee), John Springrose, Peter Crowley (chamber CEO).