Author Archive

More Than Just Extra Credit

Hello MAT 120!

I hope everyone’s semester is ending on a great note, and I thank you again for reading the blog throughout this semester. I hope you gained more than just the occasional extra credit points from the blog. After reading the blogs, I hope you learned that when we speak of technology we are not strictly speaking of the latest smartphone or computer programming.   Technology has integrated its way into every industry in some way, shape, or form. Whether you like it or not you will need technology to preform your job effectively someday!

As a Business Information Systems major, I am privileged to be at the center stage of where industries and technologies meet in a variety of environments. Over the summer, I interned in an IT department at  McDonald’s headquarters, I currently assist with launching exciting new systems for Illinois State in the Business Intelligence and Technologies Solutions unit on campus, and I have accepted a full-time position as an IT analyst for Caterpillar starting in June.

While quick service restaurants,  higher education, and construction do not have a lot in common, they all need talented individuals willing to solve complex problems. I highly encourage you to at least check out some of the aspects of IT that are relevant to the career you are pursuing and I guarantee you will discover amazing things!

In closing, thank you again for reading this semester. I highly encourage each and every one of you to stay in contact with me and I have included my e-mail address below.

Have a great rest of your semester!

Paul Timmermann
BIS Club, President
pltimme@gmail.com

April 25, 2012 at 7:59 pm Leave a comment

Where’s My Autonomous Car?

Hello MAT 120!

I can’t believe we are nearing the end of the semester, and I thank you for checking out the blog! This week I wanted to discuss a topic I am sure we have all heard about at some point in time: the autonomous car.

The recent video about Google’s autonomous car driving Steve Mahan around town posted below has been viral lately. Steve Mahan has lost 95% of his vision, but Google’s autonomous car allows him to “drive” to complete all of his errands.

This video makes it pretty clear that Google’s autonomous car project is fairly successful at this point, so why don’t we see autonomous car’s everywhere? A recent interview conducted by Wired Magazine with many autonomous car experts provided some insights to this very question.

Wired asked the panel of experts, first what needs to happen in order for consumers to see more autonomous cars on the road. Sven Beiker, co-director, Center for Automotive Research, Stanford University explained that the day where we give complete control to cars is still at least a decade away. Beiker points out that even airplanes with “autopilot” still have two experts in the cockpit review all of the gauges and flight schedules the entire flight.

Stefan Liske, an auto industry consultant at PCH discussed how the technology within the autonomous cars will lead to vast efficiency in heavily traveled areas such as Los Angles. Autonomous vehicles drive at an efficiency which can drastically reduce pollution and commute times, but As Liske points out cities must develop roads and infrastructure that supports autonomous vehicles. Liske points out the development costs of preparing cities for autonomous vehicles as a major factor in the consumer adoption of the new technology.

With this idea in mind some communities are starting their development plans to support the future influx of autonomous cars. One such place in Babcock Ranch Florida, which has created a road map for an extremely futuristic community. Visit their website to learn more about their three phase project to include autonomous cars as the main for of transportation through the community. http://www.babcockranchflorida.com/autonomous_vehicles.asp.

Wired later asked the panel what are the risks involved with giving the autonomous car full control and received a mixed bag of answers. Donald Norman, consultant and author of The Design of Future Things, points out that when an airplane’s autopilot fails pilots often have a couple of minutes to correct the issue as the plane will not immediately crash. Pilots are also trained experts who are experienced in that specific type of situation. In contrast, in the world of autonomous vehicles if an object we to suddenly appear in front of an autonomous car the untrained driver would have very little time to react, which is a major risk.

Beiker also discusses how the drivers are very used to the ability to speed and break minor traffic laws. The world of autonomous vehicles would prevent this from happening. It will take sometime for drivers to adapt to this new safe driving style.

Overall, significant progress has been made in the world of autonomous cars and many of the features that are involved in a successful drive in a Google Prius are found in many new cars today: lane departure alert, auto parking, adaptive cruise control and all semi-autonomous features. I personally foresee that we will slowly adapt to these autonomous features and one day will be driving autonomous cars without even knowing it!

I hope you enjoyed the article!

Best,

Paul

April 5, 2012 at 1:19 am Leave a comment

Robot Environmentalism

Welcome back!

I hope everyone had a great spring break. I can’t believe how fast this semester has flown by, but I thank each and every one of you for keeping up with the blog.

This week I wanted to share with everyone a very interesting use of robots by Vijay Kumar highlighted on Mashable. He is the deputy dean of the University of Pennsylvania and has invented a revolutionary palm size robot. Kumar calls the robot the quadrotor. In a recent demo at TED Talks, Kumar explained how the robots can act independently to solve complex problems (see the video below). The tiny robots span approximately 8 inches across and can fit in the palm of your hand. The uses of the autonomous robots is unlimited, but Kumar and his colleges have determined that the most effective use includes scanning disaster zones and protecting deforestation in Brazil.

http://ted.com/talks/view/id/1376

Currently, many drone robots fly over the rainforest to protect against drug trafficking, but these drones must be controlled by humans. Kumar’s creation has the ability to operate independent from human operation.vThe robots are also extremely agile and this has been a recent focus for Kumar. As the vision was to use the robot in areas with a ever changing environment, mobility is crucial to their success. The rotor blades on the robot allow them to either hover or travel vertically if all of the blades rotate at the same speed. In contrast, the robot can make very quick maneuvers if the blades move at different speeds. Currently, the robot is capable of changing its blade speed 600 times per second which allows it to be very adaptable to any environment.

Another interesting feature of the robots is their ability to work as a team. This is no central communication method for the robots. In fact, they do not communicate in anyway when performing a particular task. Each robot is provided a general idea of how to complete a task, but has the ability to learn how to work with other robots to complete the task. Kumar’s team was inspired by how ants work together to move food when creating this feature.

To protect the rainforest these robots can easily move around jungle canopy and notify central authorities of deforestation. Farmers and loggers have certain restrictions on destroying the forest on their property, but the vast size of the rainforest in Brazil makes this difficult to monitor. If effectively implemented these robots can independently act of an eye in the sky. While Kumar’s current vision is to monitor the rainforest a similar concept could greatly increase monitoring of any potentially hazardous area without the need for additional personnel.

Thanks for reading and do not forget to take the quiz.

Best,

Paul

March 22, 2012 at 8:53 am Leave a comment

Augmented Reality Becoming Reality

Hi MAT 120!

Thanks for continuing to read our blog and learning about some of the most exciting news happening right now in technology. Today I wanted to share some recent information I found about new developments in the augmented reality sector.

So, what is augmented reality?

Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

-Wikipedia

When we discuss augmented reality, we talking about bringing together technology and reality. Many experts have continuously worked on this effort to make human-computer interaction a more natural and intuitive experience.

One of the best examples of truly augmented reality is the SixthSense technology debuted at a TEDTalk. I highly encourage watching this video featuring Pranav Mistry, the mastermind behind the technology, explain his journey of joining the computing world with reality. The SixthSense technology requires users to wear colored fingertip caps, a small projector, a small camera, as well as a miniature computer system. Combining all of these technologies provides users with greatly increased knowledge at any given location.

TEDTalk Spoiler Warning: Some of the great abilities you will see in the video include the ability to simply look at a book and projector displays reviews about the book on the actual book. Another great example is the ability to play interactive video games on a piece of paper! SixthSense is still in the early stages of development, but it will be exciting to see where the augmented reality technology will go.

TED Talks Video

Finally, I cannot end a discussion about augmented reality without discussing Google’s recent announcement of Google Glasses. Google has built glasses that allow those who wear the glasses to complete tasks such as check their e-mail and see the weather forecast. According to sources that are developing the top secret product at Google X, Google’s top secret product development center, the most important feature involves location based interaction.

Google Glasses will augment reality by displaying information to wearers about current landmarks their are viewing among a plethora of other powerful features.

Learn more about Google Glasses on the New York Times.

Augmented reality is still making its way to consumers, but it provides power to consumers to use computing power to make faster and better decisions at any given location.

I hope you enjoyed reading, and do not forget to take the quiz!

Best regards,

Paul

March 1, 2012 at 8:37 am Leave a comment

Exchanging Data with Near-Field Communications

Hello Math 120! I hope everyone’s semester is going swimmingly. I found a great article on CIO.com and could not wait share it with everyone.

The article was titled “6 Cool Uses of Near-Field Communication”, but before I share some of the great insights from this article I wanted to explain a little about Near-Field Communication (NFC) in general.

Anyone that claims the radio is dead is far from right and NFC is a perfect example why radio technology is here to stay! NFC is a language that smart phones and other electronic devices can use to “speak” with each other via radio waves. The whole process is facilitated by bringing two NFC devices close together (less that one foot apart). Once the connection is established data exchanges and transactions can occur between the devices. The most exciting aspects of NFC are the the transaction that can be completed with unpowered devices called tags. These tags opened a plethora of opportunities for many industries to store and exchange information.

Now back to the article, CIO.com shared their top six most exciting uses and I would like to share the ones I found most interesting with you.

NFC Patient Tags

In the health care industry, a NFC technology called PatientID+. This initiative greatly reduces the pain and agony of having to provide extensive details about your entire medical history. Instead, this information is simply stored on an NFC enabled phone or on a NFC tag that an individual could simply wear. A legitimate concern relates to the sensitive medical information that you are “broadcasting” to everyone within one foot of you. This is why PatientID+ requires the receiver of the information to enter a PIN number to access the data, which is something only the patient should know.

This next one will hit home for anyone that has used the public transportation system. In Los Angles and Minneapolis public buses are now accepting NFC payments. Rather than having to keep track of transport tickets, bus riders now simply use an NFC enabled phone to provide the information to the bus service. This benefits the bus service as well as it greatly decreases many manual processes.

NFC with Parking Meters

One of my favorite applications of NFC relates to parking. Keeping enough quarters in the car and remembering how much time I have left in the meter can easily lead to many parking fines.An NFC technology called PayByPhone allows parking meters users to simply send money from their debit or credit card to the meter. Perhaps the most useful aspect of the technology is the text message later sent alerting the parking meter users of there soon to be expired meter.

Overall, NFC technology seems to be completely changing the way various entities communicate with one other. In seconds, large amounts of data can be exchange to provide information on everything from how much money to put into the parking meter to an extensive medical history. I hope that this area continues to grow as it will continue to shape our future.

Don’t forget the quiz!

For more information check out CIO.com: Near-Field Communications

Best regards,

Paul

February 15, 2012 at 11:54 pm Leave a comment

Surgery with Sound

Hi MAT 120 students! My name is Paul Timmermann and I hope to share some great knowledge with you this semester. Before I tell you about this great new technology in the medical field, I wanted to tell you a little about myself. I am a senior Business Information Systems major here at Illinois State University. I currently work as a business analyst at the Business Intelligence and Technology Solutions unit in Julian Hall, which is a hidden gem here at ISU. Overall, my advise to everyone this semester is take advantage of every learning opportunity you get (especially the ISU Tech Blog), as you never know when it will be useful later in life.

At a recent TED Talk, Yoav Medan, Chief Systems Architect at InSightec Ltd., explained his research in a non-invasive surgical technique . Dr. Medan uses a technique that involves ultrasound waves to target a particular area of a patient’s body. In his talk, Dr. Medan explains the idea of using ultrasound to perform surgery is not a novelty idea. In fact, research began on ultrasonic surgery in the early 1900s. The challenge faced by researchers in the field has been the lack of ability to understand exactly what the ultrasound waves were affecting. The contemporary version of ultrasonic surgery involves a combination of ultrasound and MRI. This new method is called MRI-guided focused ultrasound. The MRI provides a real time view of the patients targeted area to ensure the surgeon is targeting the correct area. Overall, this great new technology allows doctors to perform surgery on patients with the client of a mouse and without ever making an incision in the patients body.

An illustration of focused ultrasonic waves used to treat uterine fibriods.

As Dr. Medan explains, the applications for this method are limitless. During his talk he tells stories of using the treatment to help cure everything from Parkinson’s disease to disabling pains. I think the greatest aspect of this surgery is the instantaneous results. The patient receiving the ultrasonic treatment noticed immediate relief and did not have any issues with recovery.

Unfortunately, due to regulations this still experimental process has not been applied to all potential areas of use. Dr. Medan seemed hopeful of its applications to various cancers, specifically prostate and breast cancer. Like many new technologies, adoption and stakeholder buy-in is still an issue even with a fairly success technology.

Dr. Medan has pursued a career in technology for quite sometime, prior to his research in MRI-guided focused ultrasound he spent 17 years in research and management at the IBM Research Division. As a future technology professional, I am thoroughly inspired by an individual like Dr. Medan as he has utilized the experience he gained from IBM and other technical experiences to eventually develop a project that could potentially improve the quality of life of thousands of people.

Below I have embedded the TED Talk video, and I highly encourage you to check it out.

http://www.ted.com/talks/yoav_medan_ultrasound_surgery_healing_without_cuts.html

If you would like to learn more about the MRI-guided focused ultrasound visit: http://www.insightec.com/

To read Yoav Medan’s full TED profile visit: http://www.ted.com/speakers/yoav_medan.html

I hope you enjoyed this article! Don’t forget the quiz!

Best regards,

Paul

February 1, 2012 at 11:00 pm Leave a comment

Thank You

Thank you everyone for your comments and continued reading the entire semester. I hope you learned a thing or two, and at least consider a career in technology. This is a bit backwards, but now as the semester is coming to an end I wanted to quickly tell a little about my experience in the exciting field of technology.

I am a Business Information Systems major inside of the College of Business here at ISU. As a BIS major, I learn how we can use technology to solve complex business problems. Almost every company is looking to invest time and resources into technology, but they need help to decide when, where, and how! It’s an exciting field in which I have already have had two employment/internship opportunities!

I highly encourage everyone to at least consider a career in technology, and please feel free to contact me about anything.

Good luck on finals!

Best regards,

Paul

pltimme@ilstu.edu

December 5, 2011 at 4:48 pm Leave a comment

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