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TOP6 ideas to initiate a Creative Climate

Are you thinking about ways to transform your workplace into an environment more conducive to innovation? This article takes a closer look at six components of creative climates that have shown to be significant at facilitating creativity according to new research.

  CREATIVITY THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

Creativity: to ask the right questions

The power of asking the right questions. One of the most powerful ways of getting the best ideas from brainstorming and sparking creativity is to start with the right question. The opposite is also true – you can spin your wheels, and kill ideation by asking the wrong question.

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TOP20 to Boost Your Creativity

Creativity is all about finding new ways of solving problems and approaching situations. This isn’t a skill restricted to artists, musicians or writers; it is a useful skill for people from all walks of life. If you’ve ever wanted to boost your creativity, these tips can help.

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6 Ways to Unleash Creativity in Workplaces

The demand for creativity from employees is rising in this age of rapid technological advancement. This is evident when we see multinational companies like Google setting up something known as a the 20 percent program or policy where Google developers get to spend 20 percent of their working hours (a day at work) on side projects.

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6 Ways to Encourage Creation & Innovation

Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally recognised expert in education, leadership and innovation, has described creativity in an easy to understand and succinct way. He wrote that creativity is “the process of having original ideas that add value”.

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Why uncreative companies survive?

“Creativity? What’s that? I don’t want my people to be creative”, said the owner and CEO of a very successful company. About ten years later his company, an important financial services company, has grown very profitably and it is still doing very well.

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How to encourage creative thinking?

Almost every creative thinking tool or process encourages you to be creative with ideas. It seems logical, doesn’t it? If you want creative ideas, pump your creativity into generating them.

 AnalogiesInnovation

Is analogies helping companies to innovate?

When faced with something new, we usually look for similarities to the familiar. And the more commonalities we find, the more readily we accept the new.

 Mind-Changing Presentation

5 Minutes for Mind-Changing Presentation

Reading this blog article will take you only 5 minutes — 5 minutes to find out how to draft great presentations and to become a more effective and convincing presenter.

What Makes Samsung Such An Innovative Company?

Samsung TRIZ

There are critics of Samsung who argue that its success is mostly due to copying and then tweaking the innovations of others. There is a good deal of truth in this, especially around the early Galaxy designs.

But Samsung is a global leader in screen technology, TVs, batteries, and chip design. So in terms of innovation it is doing a lot right. But we know very little about how.

We know how its competitors innovate – we look at Google and see the 20% time, the big adjacencies, the search for disruption, the bold statements about the future of autos, for example.

We know that within Apple when a project gets to a critical stage, the company assigns three teams to its development, each of which competes against the other. We know the importance of design thinking, an attribute Google is learning about. And of customer experience.

What does Samsung do in comparison? How does it line up against these American masters or conversely are Google and Apple good enough to compete against Samsung?

There’s no doubt that patent circumvention is an aim when Samsung innovates. From its early forays into innovation, competing against Toshiba in washing and drying machines, Samsung has chased patents in areas where its competitors appear to have protection and has oriented its innovation efforts to find new patentable ideas in its competitors’ backyard.

Samsung has nurtured a close relationship with the Russian Academy of Science since then. There is a framework agreement between the two parties. And the Korean Government has its own agreement under which it funds Korean small businesses to develop projects on the back of Academy research. Samsung meanwhile appears to help the Academy to increase its patent count and to exploit its inventions.

The relationship with Russian science was the introduction of TRIZ, an innovation method that Samsung adopted from 2000 onwards but which only reached American companies from the mid-2000s onwards.

TRIZ is a methodology for systematic problem solving. Typical of its origins in Russia, it asks users to seek the contradictions in current technological conditions and customer needs and to imagine an ideal state that innovation should drive towards.

Samsung had early successes with TRIZ, saving over $100 million in its first few projects. It was also adopting Six Sigma at the time.

But it was TRIZ that became the bedrock of innovation at Samsung. And it was introduced at Samsung by Russian engineers whom Samsung had hired into its Seoul Labs in the early 2000s.

In 2003 TRIZ led to 50 new patents for Samsung and in 2004 one project alone, a DVD pick-up innovation, saved Samsung over $100 million. TRIZ is now an obligatory skill set if you want to advance within Samsung.

At the Samsung Advanced Institute for Technology, Hyo June Kim, who wrote The Theory of Inventive Problem Solving, a foundation text on TRIZ published in Korean, trained over 1,000 engineers across Samsung companies in 2004 alone.

At Samsung even the subsidiary CEO has to take TRIZ training. From looking at the various presentations I estimate that engineers get about 15 days of training plus 7 days specific project work. That’s quite an investment in method and people.

So the answer to why Samsung is so innovative – with at least two major product announcements this month – is that it is heavily invested in its people, it goes in search of special talent wherever it can find it, but specifically made astute moves into Russia early on; it targets its innovations towards specific competitors and patents that it wants to overhaul (as Apple did under Jobs); and it has an innovation culture based on extensive training, repeatable methodology and creative elite formation, backed by the highest levels of management.

IBM Watson, the beginning aware artificial?

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IBM’s Watson is a cognitive computing system, one that behaves like our brain, learning through experiences, finding correlations, and remembering — and learning from — the outcomes.

First hitting the spotlight when pitted against two of Jeopardy’s biggest all-time winners Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, IBM’s artificial intelligence machine names Watson threw these two off their throne in quick fashion – showing that artificial intelligence was a real thing and IBM has the technology.

Artificial intelligence is here now. This doesn’t mean that Cylons disguised as humans have infiltrated our societies, or that the processors behind one of the search engines have become sentient and are now making their own plans for world domination. But denying the presence of AI in our society not only takes away from the achievements of science and commerce, but also runs the risk of complacency in a world where more and more of our actions and intentions are being analyzed and influenced by intelligent machines. Not everyone agrees with this way of looking at the issue, though.

First, although Watson includes many forms of text search, it is first and foremost a system capable of responding appropriately in real-time to new inputs. It competed against humans to ring the buzzer first, and Watson couldn’t ring the buzzer until it was confident it had constructed the right sentence. And, in fact, the humans quite often beat Watson to the buzzer even when Watson was on the right track. Watson works by choosing candidate responses, then devoting its processors to several of them at the same time, exploring archived material for further evidence of the quality of the answer. Candidates can be discarded and new ones selected. IBM is currently applying this general question-answering approach to real-world domains like health care and retail.

This is very much how primate brains (like ours) work. Neuroscientists can recognize which brain cells monkeys use to represent different hypotheses about how to solve the current puzzle they are facing. Then, he can watch the different solutions compete for influence in the brain, until the animal finally acts when it is certain enough. If the puzzle has a short time limit, the animals will act for a lower threshold and will be less accurate. Just like us. And it wouldn’t be hard to reprogram Watson to do the same thing—to give its best answer at a fixed time rather than at a fixed level of certainty.

How about understanding? Watson does search text in various Internet sources (like Wikipedia) but didn’t during competition. It had to read the text in advance and remember it in a generalized way so that it could access what it had learned quickly by all different kinds of clues. Jeopardy! questions require understanding jokes and metaphors—what Hofstadter calls “analogical reasoning.” Being able to use the right word in the right context is the definition of understanding language, what linguists call semantics. If someone blind from birth said to you “I’ll look into it” or “See you later,” would you say they didn’t understand what they were saying?

If you’re looking for a thumb in the pie, IBM are now offering up part of Watson – their breakthrough natural language-based cognitive service called Watson Analytics. This analytic service is reported as a powerful predictive and visual analytic tool for businesses and can now be rented through a beta program.

There has already been 22,000 who’ve registered for the beta of this service, with IBM’s official explanation and release reading: “IBM Watson Analytics automates the once time-consuming tasks such as data preparation, predictive analysis, and visual storytelling for business professionals. Offered as a cloud-based freemium service, all business users can now access Watson Analytics from any desktop or mobile device”.

IBM was totally “as been” during the last twenty years (1994 – 2014),  going slowly towards the end of the company. But Watson, IBM could revolutionize the management of semantics which is currently lacking treatment ‘Analytics’ and take the lead on a niche again.

For the moment, it is really artificial intelligence but not more, as we can imagine with aware artificial…, for the moment. But it is probably the beginning. Aware artificial will be probably the next disruptive industrial revolution before the end of the 21 century…

Working together to enhance innovation

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Interoperability is increasingly seen as critical for business success, but what is it? Simply put, it is the ability to work together.
Interoperable organizations are those that can easily exchange information and subsequently make use of that information.
Interoperability allows organizations to work without barriers and without extra effort with other systems or organizations.

Individuals have already become highly interoperable, thanks to tools such as the social networks Facebook and Instagram, which both have hundreds of millions of users. These networks add value insofar as they promote communication and the exchange of information, making our lives feel more fulfilled. Without such tools, how would we keep in touch in a world where less time exists to socialize? Of course, connecting online shouldn’t be a substitute for face-to-face, but it does help us feel connected to something bigger than ourselves and to see other things happening around us more clearly.

In the business context, technologies that facilitate interoperability drive innovation. If businesses don’t innovate, they are doomed, even in the short term. Interoperability between enterprises is thus important, as it enhances collaboration and innovation.

Enterprise interoperability can be defined as a collaboration competence, occurring between business partners, and through which value is created. The oftentimes very close business relationships that result are supported by information technology, which acts as more than an enabler or a simple conduit, providing an efficient means whereby relationships can evolve to a higher level.Interoperability can focus on different aspects of these relationships, which organizations must leverage to the fullest in order to produce the innovation they need to survive:Communication—exchanging information.Coordination—aligning activities.
Cooperation—sharing.Collaboration—creating synergy.
Channeling—involving the Internet.
One should not only look to the Internet (channel interoperability) as a solution to organizational problems. We increasingly need to know how to share (cooperation interoperability) among individuals, teams, and organizations, as this fosters knowledge creation. We need to be aligned so as not to repeat activities that have already been performed, and not to forget to do other activities that cannot be left undone (coordination interoperability).

Collaborating in teams means that more can be accomplished. Teams are collections of individual talents, which need to be celebrated, but individual stars should not be seen as being more important than the team’s overall talent to produce innovation. The IDEO Design Thinking approach, building on teamwork and on the principle that “enlightened trial and error succeeds over the planning of the lone genius,” stresses the relevance of teamwork. Communicating effectively is a form of interoperability. Information needs to be exchanged and circulated if it is to be of value.

Companies are increasingly leveraging more interoperability types at their disposal, and this will lead to more forms of innovation.Innovation comes in several forms, such as products and services, processes, organizational structure, and marketing. Companies need to introduce as many forms of innovation as possible: New products and services increase sales, process innovations decrease costs, organizational innovations increase morale and motivation, and marketing innovations increase visibility.Interoperability may perhaps come more naturally to smaller entrepreneurial firms, which need to be innovative and to have alliances and partnerships in order to survive and gain market presence. Small entrepreneurial companies communicate based on trust, with an open attitude to the environment. However, larger firms like Apple and Samsung are also innovating, suggesting that they, too, are capable of being interoperable—even if mainly on an internal basis to avoid sharing knowledge and company secrets outside the firm.

In the decades ahead, accelerating technological innovation will lead to paradigm shifts in the economy, causing certain jobs to disappear. Continuous learning will be necessary to keep people competitive and employable. So individuals, much like companies, will also be leveraging as many interoperability types at their disposal as possible, in both their personal and professional networks, to stay ahead.
Never before will being connected mean so much. In a world where we are increasingly seen as personal brands of our capabilities and unique competencies, teamwork and the honest and earnest exchange of knowledge will be paramount to the success of the multiple teams in which we move. The world is increasingly mobile, and that actually means that the world is increasingly interoperable.

TOP10 ideas to increase passion in workplaces!

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Ever wonder why some run with passion at work, while others stick like Velcro to problems? When innovation opportunities stir, why do some dash forward with new talents, while others dash for cover? It could be as small as reorganizing work shifts for flexibility. Or it could be bold new acquisitions that link diverse cultures. Good news is, the human brain comes equipped to build and sustain innovative cultures. The kind of community people crave and productivity feeds on.

Yet passion’s at an all time low in today’s workplaces? Why? Consider mental equipment that typically goes hidden or unused at work:

1. To kindle new ideas takes circles of trust. Teams that consciously cultivate trust, open spaces for new ideas. The iPod’s inception, for instance, started with an innovative idea that Steve Jobs’ team kindled into revolutionized communication. Similarly, Fast Company’s awesome design moments unveiled original ideas that emerged from committed teams. Passionate communities, such as Apple and Fast Company, differ mentally from typical workplaces, just as brains of genius inventors vary from minds of complacent masses. How so? The brain’s hippocampus releases a shot of dopamine the brain chemical for kindling novelty.

2. To mimic innovative talent takes passionate people who speak up and feel heard. Believe it or not, we literally adopt another person’s talents by observing them. The innate process of mirror neurons creates innovative cultures through mimicking talents cultivated by others. Deep inside your brain cells are neurons that will fire in reaction to another’s beliefs as they roll into activity. See any new opportunities for building communities of passion where you work? How does it play out in an innovator’s actions, and in those who observe the results?

3. To build originality takes linking opposites together to generate novelty from both sides. Passion for novelty builds across racism and stomps out flame wars by taming the amygdala to harness brilliance. Luckily the human brain builds new neuron pathways for different kinds of thinkers when we engage many to prosper a wider community.

4. To introduce innovative technology takes game-changing guides. Innovation springs from workplaces that bubble over with pools just outside of prevailing thought where all participants can hook difficult facts or barriers onto solutions that others live. Just as one talented member of my group tweaked the technology, any of us can ensure that technology sparks rather than stops progress.

5. To end up with innovation takes starting with opposing or wide angled views. Passionate teams rarely wait for situations to improve. They refuel by engaging opposing views to discover original designs built from different angles. They come to problems equipped to lead in a multifaceted world. To benefit from multiple talents is to share a common vision, and then go for different offerings!

6. To develop and reward talent takes more than a few leaders. Leaders emerge when encouraged to ask – What if…? or Have you thought about …? Simple prompts from all corners go a long way toward talent growth. People bring multiple intelligences to work daily, and mindful leaders help to unwrap those gifts. As part of that process we often survey unique intelligences to help workplaces awaken new abilities that stand a chance to blossom across differences.

7. To build innovative cultures takes altering practices that stagnate workers. Here at the brain center – we pose two-footed questions to cultivate passion for solutions. Our approach integrates passionate solutions and improves existing practices when we question current barriers. With one foot we confront problems, and with the other we leap toward creative solutions. In and MBA course on innovative leadership, we challenge novice leaders with a two-footed question: What innovation will you propose that will gain followers and facilitate inventions?

8. To pull through downturns takes tone tools for tough times. Fervor for innovation gets lost in climates where tone toxins such as bullying or intimidation exist. Simply put, tone makes or breaks passion for innovation. Passion flees when stress, negativity or ego shoots down lofty ideas. Participants hang up their cleats and revert to bare routines. Luckily the brain comes with equipment to restore passion! Tone tactics tend to tug innovation and purpose back into play. Start by asking trusted peers what tone they hear in your words and then compare their responses to what your words meant to convey.

9. To avoid problems at meetings takes gathering possibilities ahead. It can be as simple as tossing out a good question, or as complex as launching a web discussion at work. Recently I started a simple back-and-forth on Twitter to toss around insights and brain facts about multi-tasking as it affects innovation. I expected to see how people view multi-tasking as it relates to their own innovation. Social networks added new colors and textures for an ASTD leadership session I facilitated, because people held up lived experiences to the rainbow for shared look.

10. To navigate past cynicism without yielding to pessimism takes running past skeptics. Have you noticed how stocks rise when people speak hope? While it seems trite to say hope lies beyond the sea of cynicism, it’s true that passion and purpose are fueled with serotonin, a hormone for well being. You spark curiosity by cultivating serotonin, while you fuel cynicism with dangerous cortisol chemicals of cynics. When passionate creators spark curiosity, imagination tends to kick into drive.

If you agree that we need more passion for original breakthroughs at work, you’ll likely also agree that passion starts with choice to be tested out-of-the-box. What do you think?

Leaders: surf on social networks to not get carried away by the wave!

LEADERS AND THE WAVE

Equity risk, marketing, legal or image… Rather than see his heckled by sounding social networking reputation, the manager can choose to engage proactively on social networks.

The leader is a media

The question is no longer whether lightning may fall, but where and how it will hit! Power reaction online for about a DG can affect, temporarily or long term, the market price of his company or brand perception .

Capitalizing on the transformational power of social media while mitigating its risks calls for a new type of leader. The dynamics of social media amplify the need for qualities that have long been a staple of effective leadership, such as strategic creativity, authentic communication, and the ability to deal with a corporation’s social and political dynamics and to design an agile and responsive organization.

Social media also adds new dimensions to these traits. For example, it requires the ability to create compelling, engaging multimedia content. Leaders need to excel at co-creation and collaboration—the currencies of the social-media world. Executives must understand the nature of different social-media tools and the unruly forces they can unleash.

Equally important, there’s an organizational dimension: leaders must cultivate a new, technologically linked social infrastructure that by design promotes constant interaction across physical and geographical boundaries, as well as self-organized discourse and exchange.

This interplay of leadership skills and related organizational-design principles organizational media literacy, which is defined along six dimensions that are interdependent:

1. The leader as producer

With video cameras achieving near ubiquity and film clips uploading in the blink of an eye to YouTube or other platforms, the tools for producing and sharing rich media are in everyone’s hands. More than a few executives have started to incorporate video streams into their blogs.

2. The leader as distributor

Business leaders have traditionally disseminated information along a controlled, linear chain that begins after the development of a formal meaning-creation process—think of how your company creates and distributes memos explaining new initiatives. While traditional distribution pathways won’t disappear, social media revolutionizes the standard information process by reversing it. Social communication makes distribution the starting point and then invites company audiences to cocreate and contextualize content to create new meaning. Messages are rebroadcast and repurposed at will by recipients who repost videos, retweet and comment on blogs, and use fragments of other people’s content to create their own mash-ups.

3. The leader as recipient

Social media has created an ocean of information. We are drowning in a never-ending flood of e-mails, tweets, Facebook updates, RSS feeds, and more that’s often hard to navigate.

As a first step, leaders must become proficient at using the software tools and settings that help users filter the important stuff from the unimportant. But playing in today’s turbulent environment requires more than just filtering skills.

In traditional corporate communications, consumption is a mostly passive act: you are pretty much left alone to make sense of messages and to assess their authenticity and credibility. In the social-media realm, information gets shared and commented on within seconds, and executives must decide when (and when not) to reply, what messages should be linked to their blogs, when to copy material and mash it up with their own, and what to share with their various communities. The creation of meaning becomes a collaborative process in which leaders have to play a thoughtful part, as this is the very place where acceptance of or resistance to messages will be built.

4. The leader as adviser and orchestrator

In most companies, social-media literacy is in its infancy. Excitement often runs high for the technology’s potential to span functional and divisional silos. But without guidance and coordination, and without the capabilities we discuss here, social-media enthusiasm can backfire and cause severe damage.

To harvest the potential of social media, leaders must play a proactive role in raising the media literacy of their immediate reports and stakeholders. Within this 360-degree span, executives should become trusted advisers, enabling and supporting their environment in the use of social tools, while ensuring that a culture of learning and reflection takes hold. As a new and media-savvy generation enters the workplace, smart leaders can accelerate organizational change by harnessing these digital natives’ expertise through “reverse mentoring” systems.

5. The leader as architect

Leaders who have steeped themselves in new media will testify that it requires them to navigate between potentially conflicting goals: they must strive to establish an organizational and technical infrastructure that encourages free exchange but also enforce controls that mitigate the risks of irresponsible use. This is a tough organizational-design challenge.

Most companies have a defined formal organization, with explicit vertical systems of accountability. But below the surface of org charts and process manuals we find an implicit, less manageable “informal organization,” which has always been important and now gets amplified through social media. The leader’s task is to marry vertical accountability with networked horizontal collaboration in a way that is not mutually destructive.

6. The leader as analyst

As companies start to digest the consequences of the Web 2.0 revolution, the next paradigm shift is already knocking on the door. The next generation of connectivity—the Internet of Things—will link together appliances, cars, and all kinds of objects. As a result, there will be about 50 billion connected devices by the year 2020.3 This transformation will open new opportunities, spawn new business models, and herald yet another major inflection point that leaders must manage.

It’s imperative to keep abreast of such emerging trends and innovations—not just their competitive and marketplace implications, but also what they mean for communications technologies, which are fundamental for creating an agile, responsive organization. Executives who monitor weak signals and experiment with new technologies and devices will be able to act more quickly and capture the advantages of early adoption.

MENA: environment for innovation & entrepreneurship

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Launching a sustainable business goes well beyond learning how to draft a business plan or fill out a financing application.

It involves a range of skills, both “hard” and “soft”, such as managing a start-up enterprise, motivating employees, assembling a cohesive team, tailoring a product to a well-defined market, adapting rapidly to fast-changing circumstances and consumer sentiment, and understanding how to convert an interesting technology into a viable business. These skills are not acquired, and nor can businesses succeed, in a vacuum. They need a business “ecosystem”, where potential entrepreneurs can learn the right skills and innovation is both encouraged and nurtured. For the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), this will require a change in the cultural attitude toward entrepreneurship.

Nascent ecosystem emerging in MENA

A nascent ecosystem has been emerging in MENA over the past five years. The few businesses that have achieved success in this evolving environment were private sector led, usually by members of the diaspora or those who had either studied or started a business abroad. These individuals come equipped with access to international networks and markets and they have clear incentives to see their ventures succeed. They invest their time as well as their money; key ingredients for a successful business ecosystem that need to be further encouraged. Governments need to know that strengthening innovation-led growth entails understanding and promoting investments in research and development (R&D), cultivating the necessary skills, putting in place a functional and effective business environment and the mechanisms to foster private and public collaboration.

Two initiatives from World Bank

The World Bank has launched two initiatives to support the fledgling ecosystem and help foster innovation and entrepreneurship in MENA. “Supporting the Ecosystem for Fostering a Dynamic Entrepreneurship” is funded by a Bank Development Grant Facility that supports regional partnerships for development. The program leverages a partnership between two leading regional incubators Oasis500 and Wamda to boost the support they already provide to pre and early start-ups across the region. In addition to expanding mentorship, skills development and access to investors, the incubators will also engage stakeholders (governments, universities, investors, other incubators) in each country as a means of expanding the partnership and broadening the transfer and exchange of critical knowledge and skills. Outreach is an important component and will include dissemination of success stories and “lessons learned.” To ensure they reach a diverse audience, a variety of media and platforms will be used, such as popular web sites, an Arabic Entrepreneurship Newsletter, comics, info graphics, cartoons and videos. Particular attention will be paid to rural areas and to groups who tend not to see themselves as entrepreneurs, such as women and youth. The Bank continues to seek funding and partnerships with other entities that have a track record of supporting entrepreneurship and building this capacity in the region.

The second initiative works at the policy level. The World Bank, the private sector, academia, think tanks, civil society experts and governments formed a community of practitioners to cultivate change through innovation and technology. “The How-to of Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship” (ITE) was launched last year in Prague. It is a practitioners’ exchange, networking and learning activity. Its goal is to help countries in the region advance policies that promote the various elements required for a thriving, innovative economy. It provides an opportunity for the exchange of operational lessons from other countries on the “how” of public support in this area.

WalmartLabs keeps getting smarter with Inkiru acquisition

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Inkiru has developed an active learning system that combines real-time predictive intelligence, big data analytics and a customizable decision engine to inform and streamline business decisions

Predictive intelligence bought by WalmartLabs

Inkiru‘s predictive analytics platform will enable us to further accelerate the big data capabilities that @WalmartLabs has propelled forward at scale…including site personalization, search, fraud prevention and marketing. Walmart’s data scientists will now be able to work with big data directly and create impact faster than ever before.

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Walmart Labs Inkiru – A Funny Name for Serious Analytics (SiliconANGLE)

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TECH in AMERICA (TiA)

By Derrick Harris (courtesy GigaOm)
Summary:WalmartLabs has acquired a predictive analytics startup called Inkiru to bolster its ability to create better customer experiences through data. The division of Walmart was created in 2011 on a foundation of big data.
Walmart, it seems, will not go gently into that good night when it comes to the company’s fight against e-commerce giant Amazon. It offered more evidence of its longevity on Monday, as WalmartLabs, the company’s division dedicated to developing new technologies for the web and mobile worlds, acquired a predictive analytics startup called Inkiru.

Inkiru, which has created software for real-time predictive analytics for things like customer targeting and credit risk, seems like a fine fit with the WalmartLabs mission. On mobile devices, for example, being able to deliver deals to customers at the right time and the right place is critical. Here’s how WalmartLabs characterized the fit in a press…

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Digital Promise: accelerating innovation in U.S. education

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The U.S. president message

President Barack Obama said “Digital Promise is a unique partnership that will bring everyone together – educators, entrepreneurs, and researchers – to use technology to help students learn and teachers teach. There’s no silver bullet when it comes to education, but technology can be a powerful tool, and Digital Promise will help us make the most of it.”

Their mission

Digital Promise is a nonprofit corporation authorized by Congress “to support a comprehensive research and development program to harness the increasing capacity of advanced information and digital technologies to improve all levels of learning and education, formal and informal, in order to provide Americans with the knowledge and skills needed to compete in the global economy.”

Their history

In 2008, Digital Promise was formally authorized as the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies through the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush. With an initial Board of Directors recommended in part by Members of Congress and appointed by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Digital Promise was formally launched by President Barack Obama in September 2011 with startup support from the U.S. Department of Education, Carnegie Corporation of New York, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Digital Promise League

The Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools is a unique national coalition of 32 school districts in 21 states that serve more than 2.7 million students. Through partnerships with start-ups, research institutions, and one another, League districts are committing to demonstrate, evaluate, and scale up innovations that deliver better results for students.

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Brain Computer Interface: what’s that?

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Control by thought

Using sensors, the brain can control computer programs. These man-machine interfaces are developed, and their operation reveals a huge potential.

Control games by thought, be able to walk in a virtual world just by imagining his movements make clear the blurred image of a screen just by focusing: it is no longer science fiction but the real science today. And perhaps these brain-computer (or BCI for “Brain Computer Interfaces”) interfaces become commonplace tomorrow.

How to control a computer by thought? For simplicity, it is necessary to capture the brain activity and translate it into computer program.

An electrode encased helmet charge capture electrical signals in the brain, as in the case of electroencephalography. Software will then translate these signals into computer commands. This is precisely what the Open Source software performs OpenVibe, developed by a team at INRIA, french research institute (France).

The accuracy of helmets clad electrode

This software can be downloaded free and ready to use, will specifically be responsible to acquire the signal, but also clean and classify before translating. “The fewer sensors have less signal quality will be good. Because there may be noise will interfere with the signal. Other electrical signals can indeed come face or the outside …” said Anatole Lecuyer, director of research at the Inria in charge of OpenVibe project. Helmets with few electrodes will be less accurate and their potential clamped.

This does not prevent some companies currently developing simple bands, barely visible as Google Glass, supposed to allow control by thought.

Learning software

Under the control of thought, another limitation may appear during the learning phase because the software requires calibration. It is comparable to that of voice recognition technology learning, requiring the user speaks before recognize and understand his voice. Here it is, for example, start making hand movements, so that the corresponding electrical signals in the brain can be recorded before being recognized.

Consequence: it is then possible to make the same movement of the hand, or … simply imagine. This is why some people may not exercise such control “imaginary activity” because they will not be able to “imagine” the movements correctly.

Like buttons on a controller of video game

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For others, an imagined movement may therefore correspond to a command. Thus, it is possible to combine one, two or all three orders of imaginary movements. As if it were a joystick buttons. The OpenVibe technology has also demonstrated several years ago that it was possible in a virtual world, to move in several directions only by thought, although exercise can be tiring in the long run.

OpenVibe team was also able to work with the video game industry to develop more games, and even a serious game. This “serious game” worked through a slightly different process: the more the player is focused on a fuzzy screen, the image of the screen became clear. “This game can therefore quite used to learn to focus and channel attention. What, for example, help children with hyperactivity or attention deficit disorder,” said Anatole Lécuyer.

In this serious game based on OpenVibe, when the player is focused, the image and sound of the video projected on the far right become sharper.

The medical sector is also one of the outlets OpenVibe project, in addition to the gaming industry. A sapling after Inria Mensia Technology , has already launched in medical applications enables the OpenVibe technology. The latter can indeed be used for therapeutic purposes but also for the well-being it provides or the brain training, to resolve tensions, sleep disorders, or learning to relax …

Today and tomorrow

OpenVibe code is available as open source. Therefore difficult to know the purpose, but it is now possible to find on the Internet helmets fifteen sensors for less than 200 euros. There are also games already available on the Web working with such helmets. Moreover, the principle of Open Source, open Open Vibe code has external contributions, which allows him especially today being enriched the necessary drivers for new helmets coming on the market.

And tomorrow? The technology will she one day mature enough, for example, replace a computer mouse? “We’re not there yet, the mouse movements on the screen are not accurate enough,” slice clearly Anatole Lecuyer, who admits that the scientific research and publications in this area are experiencing exponential growth in recent years.

More details

1. Openvibe software from INRIA: http://openvibe.inria.fr/

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