Carbon Nanotubes Begin to Gain Commercial Traction, on Way to Over $500 Million Market in 2025

HR_8_14_16

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have been touted as a wonder material for over a decade, but have disappointed commercially, suffering from overcapacity and lack of adoption. Meanwhile, graphene has eclipsed CNTs, at least in hype. However, now CNTs are finding commercial success – albeit more as a replacement for carbon black than as a “wonder material.” Continue reading

BrightBox and GrowWise Initiatives Position Philips to Lead the Vertical Farming Industry

Lux Research recently spoke with Marjolein de Bruin, Manager of the BrightBox project in the Netherlands. BrightBox is a research initiative supported by Philips Lighting, the HAS University of Applied Sciences, Botany Agro R&D Services, and the Province of Limburg, NL. The project is a part of Philips’ umbrella “GrowWise” initiative, focused on advancing the vertical farming industry. Marjolein said that BrightBox’s goal is to be an open innovation research center offering infrastructure for applied research. Vertical farming companies, plant breeding companies, and multinationals can work with BrightBox through two main arms: research and production. Through the production arm, parties can conduct business case evaluations with BrightBox to determine whether entering the vertical farming industry would be financially viable. Through the research arm, parties can work with BrightBox to improve their farm’s efficiency and train staff. Continue reading

Does “Pokemon Go” Demonstrate the Winning MHealth Formula?

“Pokemon Go,” an augmented reality (AR) game developed by Niantic for mobile devices, has made a big splash in the news during the past few weeks. The game, which allows users to catch Pokemon in the virtual world as they travel the real world, has been praised for its ability to get users to be more active. The success of the game can be clearly seen in its large user base: As of a month following the release of the app, the game was downloaded by more than 75 million people worldwide. For comparison, Fitbit has 9.5 million active users. What is it about “Pokemon Go,” then, that enabled it to gain 7.5x more users than Fitbit in a fraction of the time? Continue reading

Does Tesla’s Proposed Acquisition of SolarCity Make Sense?

HRv5_7_31_16

Electric vehicle and battery manufacturer Tesla announced a bid to acquire solar leader SolarCity for $2.8 billion, and has clearly stated its motivation behind the deal: reduce the cost of solar plus storage through vertical integration and be more of an energy company than just an automotive one. The immediate benefits of the union are unclear, the strongest potential impact lies in long-term dominance in the incipient solar-plus-storage business. Continue reading

Current Regulations Put a Damper on 7-Eleven’s Drone Delivery Dreams

What They Said

Earlier this month, the drone-delivery company Flirtey (client registration required), in partnership with 7-Eleven, completed an order delivery to a customer’s home in Reno Nevada. 7-Eleven’s Chief Merchandising Officer, Jesus H. Delgado-Jenkins, stated that this “delivery marks the first time a retailer has worked with a drone delivery company to transport immediate consumables from store to home.” Delgado-Jenkins went on to claim that the convenience store chain will continue to grow its delivery options to assist customers who are on the go 24/7. Continue reading

EPA Misses Opportunity to Bring Biojet Fuel in the Spotlight

What They Said

Yesterday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it has determined under the Clean Air Act that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the commercial aviation industry cause climate change and are detrimental to human health and the environment. Moving forward, the EPA will adopt aircraft engine emission standards for the aviation industry, likely similar to the standards currently under discussion by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) (client registration required). Continue reading

In Search of Performance From Bio-Based Materials

HR_7_17_16

Bio-based materials and chemicals (BBMC) often suffer from a bad reputation, universally thought to be of poorer quality or more expensive than their traditional petroleum-based counterparts. While initial BBMC products like starch-based plastics were inferior substitutes that didn’t perform as well as incumbents, in recent years developers have been putting out materials with competitive, and even, superior price-performance characteristics. Continue reading

Why Apple’s New Energy Subsidiary Means Absolutely Nothing

Apple recently launched a subsidiary, Apple Energy, which filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as a supplier of power to wholesale markets across the U.S. for energy, capacity, and ancillary services.

Since the announcement, the media has been abuzz with speculation as to what Apple Energy might mean for utilities, power customers, and Apple, but ultimately, this development is hardly newsworthy. To cut through the hype, we clarify some misunderstandings to explain why Apple Energy should not raise any eyebrows in the energy community: Continue reading

Could AI Startup Geometric Intelligence Have Prevented Tesla’s Fatal Crash?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a stealthier field than most, but startup Geometric Intelligence is quiet even by those standards. So it was fortunate that we recently heard directly from the founder and CEO, Gary Marcus, and got a few more details. Gary’s background is not in computer science, but in cognitive psychology, such as how children acquire language and music skills. He studied under Stephen Pinker while both were at MIT, has written several books on the topic (including The Algebraic Mind: Integrating Connectionism and Cognitive Science, which gives some clues to his views on machine learning) and is running Geometric while on leave from his lab at New York University. Gary said that Geometric’s approach to machine learning is inspired by this kind of human learning, where we can intuit or guess at a pattern even though we have relatively few examples to follow. “Our first goal is to develop a drop in replacement for deep learning, which requires large datasets. Why is data efficiency important? Because in some fields, like human language, there is an effectively infinite amount of data to process, and it grows and evolves every day.” In other words, Geometric is trying to make machines that learn more efficiently from less data. Continue reading

Leaders and Laggards in the Race to Create the Utility of the Future

Highlighted Research | July 3, 2016

Electric utilities today are faced with unprecedented challenges, and their fundamental business model is at risk. The emergence of distributed generation (DG) has sparked a revolution in the power sector and poses an imminent threat to utilities, as customers generating their own power behind the utility’s meter erodes their primary revenue stream. Meanwhile, utilities are facing increasingly stringent renewables mandates, changing regulations, and an increasingly complex grid to manage – a perfect storm of challenges that demands a strong and rapid response. However, incumbent utilities have a rocky relationship with innovation, and attitudes range from denial, to obstructionism, to – in some cases – real creative adaptation. Continue reading