Category Archives: innovation

iLab opening soon at UH Manoa

  IMG_7017 What was once the headquarters for the Information Technology Services group on the University of Hawaii, Manoa campus, Building 37 is soon to become the iLab. Inspired by Stanford University's D.School, the iLab will be a hub for innovation and design thinking on campus. Back in July 2015, this video was produced to provide a virtual tour of what the iLab would look like. The iLab is still under construction so what you see here will change over the next few weeks. I was fortunate to get a quick tour of the facility this past week. When completed, there are plans to hold classes, build a maker space equipped with 3D printers and provide a space for interdisciplinary innovation. The intent is to also include commercial business collaborations to help solve real world problems. In conjunction with the iLab, a design thinking course is going through curriculum approval for the UH Manoa campus. Design thinking isn't something new to Hawaii. Back in 2011, local R&D company Oceanit spearheaded the adoption of design thinking concepts in Hawaii's Department of Education. This spread from the DOE to government departments, UH departments, commercial businesses and even the non-profit sector. This however is the first time an actual credited course in design thinking will be offered at UH. A tentative date of January 20, 2016 is the target for the grand opening of the iLab. The closer we get to the date, the more I am hearing people talk about it. We've scheduled an upcoming interview with the course developer and a professor from the College of Engineering to talk about the iLab and how it will be used. Tune into Bytemarks Cafe on Hawaii Public Radio on Dec 23rd to catch that conversation.  

LAVA: Laboratory for Advanced Visualization Applications

IMG_6290Take your shoes off before entering the Laboratory for Advanced Visualization Applications (LAVA). Jason Leigh's environment for visualizing big data is like going into his home, or more accurately his CyberCANOE. You wouldn't wear shoes in there either. Coincidentally, CANOE is a back-ronym for Collaboration Analysis Navigation & Observation Environment. The first thing you will notice as you enter LAVA is the 18-panel flat screen monitors which make up the CyberCANOE. You can think of this as your huge computer monitor. Imagine collaborating on your Mac or PC and you and your team being able to drag and drop windows from your desktop to the CyberCANOE. The software that enables this is called SAGE2 (Scalable Amplified Group Environment). SAGE2 is an open-source middleware that provides multiple users with a common operating environment to access, display, and share an assortment of data intensive information. IMG_6281The intent is to enable teams to collaborate together or remotely by sharing large volumes of information on high resolution screens. The world of big data is greatly enhanced by the ability to visualize unique qualities of that data. For example if you could take the Twitter firehose, perform a word analysis by geolocation, you could then visualize the sentiment of a political debate across the country. That is just one example, there are applications in fluid dynamics, climate interactions, space debris mapping, etc. not to mention virtual reality environments. LAVA is open for both the academic and business community to use. Their open house was on Friday October 30, 2015 and work is underway to establish CyberCANOEs in other locations like the University of Hawaii - West Oahu. Also work is being done to bring the next generation CAVE-2 to Hawaii. Check out more photos on Flickr.  

Damaged batteries delay @SolarImpulse journey until 2016

IMG_4775 The historic flight of the Solar Impulse 2 from Nagoya, Japan to Hawaii will be the last flight of 2015. The around the world journey was to continue on from Hawaii to Phoenix, Arizona, but when the team announced that damaged batteries were going to delay the mission, the window to complete the flight around the world quickly closed. Initially it was thought that just a few batteries needed to be replaced. After analysis of the entire system, the team decided to replace all the batteries. With these batteries not being immediately available, the installation would push into August. As the days get shorter, the optimal charging and cooling cycle for the batteries will change. Also the end of summer is the peak hurricane season as numerous storms form in the eastern Pacific. This along with the hospitality shown to the Solar Impulse team by officials in Hawaii resulted in the decision to stay in Hawaii through the winter. The plan is to resume the around the world flight in April or May 2016. The Solar Impulse 2 aircraft will remain in the Univ of Hawaii hangar at Kalaeloa Airport. Work now will involve securing the plane and repairing the systems in preparation for the flight next year. The majority of the crew will return to their families until 2016. Our full interview with Andre Borschberg, CEO and pilot of Solar Impulse and Gregory Blatt, "Pilot on the ground" and Managing Director will air at 5pm (Wed, 7/15/15) during the regularly scheduled time on Hawaii Public Radio. Our guests talk candidly about the mission and the tough decisions made along the way. If you listen to their story, it is hard not to appreciate the complexity of this journey and the fortitude and dedication required by the team to manage through all situations. If you missed it at air time, you can listen (after 5pm) to the podcast here. You can read the press announcement here.

Hydroptere docked at Kewalo Basin Harbor

IMG_4640 The 60-foot trimaran hydrofoil Hydroptere made the transPacific crossing from Los Angeles, leaving on June 22, 2015 with the intent to break the transPacific speed record. Their ulterior motive was to meet up with the arrival of the solar powered plane, Solar Impulse. Designed to catch the wind and skim over the water, Hydroptere reached record speeds of more that 60mph. Due to the lack of winds and a detour to avoid a large debris patch the Hydroptere took nearly 11 days to arrive in Hawaii, far behind the record time of 4 days, 19 hours, set back in 2005. Nevertheless, the timing was perfect as the two clean tech pioneers Bertand Piccard (Solar Impulse) and Alain Thebault (Hydroptere), got to rendezvous in Honolulu. The Solar Impulse, piloted by Andre Borshberg arrived early Friday morning, July 3, 2015. Hydroptere also arrived on July 3rd. The trimaran is currently docked at Kewalo Basin Harbor where I was able to snapped these photos and periscoped this walk around. It's great to see these two high tech marvels at the same time in Honolulu.

Interview with @solarimpulse pilots @andreborschberg & @bertrandpiccard

Just minutes after landing Solar Impulse 2 at Kalaeloa Airport this morning, pilots Andre Borschberg and Bertand Piccard gave this first English language interview to reporters. The plane made a flawless landing after being in the air for just under 118 hours in a non-stop flight from Nagoya, Japan. Using nothing but solar power, Solar Impulse broke the world records of distance and duration for solar aviation, as well as the world record for the longest solo flight ever.
Solar Impulse
Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg

Hawaii Innovation Alliance: A voice for tech in Hawaii?

Hawaii Innovation Alliance Back in the 2012 legislative session, several poorly crafted Internet bills galvanized the local tech community to discuss how to respond. What resulted was a townhall meeting and a the formation of Facebook group for the Hawaii Innovation Alliance (HIA). It had all the good intentions to formally organize and provide a voice for Hawaii's technology community. Previous organizations like the Hawaii Technology Trade Association and the Hawaii Science and Technology Council had already come and gone, leaving a huge void for this nascent economic sector. (Note, these links for HTTA and HiSciTech are only stubs as their original website have been long discontinued.) Three years later, the HIA continues to survive primarily as a Facebook group, with online discussions motivated by key individuals like Jared Kuroiwa, Peter Kay, Derek Gabriel, Ryan Hew and others. Interestingly, the group has not met face-to-face to discuss plans to organize, although many of the individuals know each other -- until now.
Jared Kuroiwa, Jason Axelson, Sen. Glenn Wakai, Spencer Toyama, Burt Lum (l-r)
The question whether there is a voice for tech in Hawaii still remains. It came up repeatedly during a Hawaii Venture Capital Association lunch in January 2015. It was also a topic of conversation at the f2f gathering of the HIA. Jared Kuroiwa along with Robbie Melton, help moderated the discussion and summarized the following conclusions in the Facebook Group:
  1. Investigate having a "technology group" within the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii (or other organization).
  2. Look at if there are enough people wanting to form our own organization/501cX (pledge vote coming up).
  3. HIA will still track bills and will have a site set up to make it easier for people to find things.
  4. HIA will continue to work with other tech organizations to form a unified position. If you are a leader (or member) of other tech groups, please feel free to share.
Derek Gabriel made a strong case for #1. Consulting with Len Higashi (HTDC) and with strong support from Sen. Glenn Wakai, the idea of joining an existing business association like the Chamber made a lot of sense. The organizational structure already exists and credibility established. The Chamber already has an Economic Development and Innovation Committee. Companies and individuals only need to spend the money, somewhere between $150 - $300 to join. With case #2, Ryan Hew continues to be willing to provide the services, gratis I might add, to form a 501cX organization for the HIA. He has graciously offered this from day one and continues to do so. The challenge here, and probably the main reason it has not happened since that first meeting in Feb 2012 is that once the organization has filed the paperwork, the hard and laborious work begins. Maintaining a 501cX requires a dedication to administrative work that very few have the time or resource to commit to. So as much as an independent HIA as a 501cX is appealing, until someone steps up to work the day to day details, HIA will most likely continue as a Facebook group. With item #3, Jason Axelson volunteered to set up a wiki for the group. One complaint expressed was that information about the original charter for HIA was hard to find. It is scattered between the Facebook group and the website One good thing over the years is the Charter has remained consistent:
The Hawaii Innovation Alliance (HIA) aims to create a more unified voice representing the islands' innovation community (technology, startups, entrepreneurs, new and social media, etc.) to foster innovation, educate lawmakers, and advocate appropriate policy.
Finally, it may not be a bad thing to have HIA continue as loose gathering of individuals, dialoging on Facebook. The tech/innovation community speaks through many organizations, like the Chamber of Commerce, High Tech Development Corp., Hawaii Venture Capital Association, Hawaii Business Roundtable and Enterprise Honolulu. Having one more formal organization may not be the most productive. What is productive is building an informed community well versed in the issues. HIA may not 100% of the time agree on which bills to support, but its individual participants can still submit testimony and that voice according to Sen Wakai is still a very valuable one.

@FlyWireCameras on The Geek Beat

Geek Beat- Flywire Cameras While visiting the Capitol on Opening Day, I saw Rep. Angus McKelvey with his GoPro strapped to his head recording his conversations with visitors. It was cool, but that GoPro was quite noticeable on his forehead. I wondered what local company FlyWire Cameras had as an alternative. One thing lead to another and we had a opportunity to showcase FlyWire on our Geek Beat segment on Hawaii News Now's Sunrise. In setting up the segment I thought it would be fun to initially wear the FlyWire and then hand it off to Dan Cooke to wear. In the handoff, the cameraman zoomed into the camera, eyewear and the DVR unit giving us a chance to talk about it. Dan then puts it on to conduct the interview. Here is the FPV of the segment. You can watch the Hawaii News Now segment here and compare. It's interesting to watch from the point of view of the interviewer. You get the behind the scenes view from inside the scene itself. If you want to find out more about FlyWire Cameras please visit their website and their Youtube channel. Ryan also did an excellent piece about FlyWire and the experience on his blog. The company just completed their demo day pitch at 500 Startups today, Friday, Jan 30, 2015 in the Bay Area. We wish them the best of luck. I would not be surprised if investors start throwing money their way. Oh and finally, I got an email from Rep. McKelvey today saying he bought himself a FlyWire!
I went ahead and bought a Flywire camera to use because better picture and sound (and because you recommended it).


In preparation for a piece on gadgets for emergency preparedness on Hawaii News Now, I rolled down the hill to the Pearl City Industrial Park for a visit with Mike Bond and his shop Ti2Design. We had him on the radio show the week prior talking about Kickstarter and he mentioned one big unknown he eliminated was to do his own manufacturing in-house. It is quite impressive what this shop can produce. He showed me some custom gears he was making for Hawaiian Electric and a grenade launcher, part of a brief foray into the Dept of Defense's world of non-lethal weapons. Mike admitted that his true love is making his own designs, items that include the Ti2 Pen, Sentinel, the Torq bottle opener and the Ti2 Para-Biner. The slideshow features various milling machines, a water cutter, polishers and drills. The most impressive is this turnmill used to produce the Sentinel Cache. This video gives you a sense of what is involved. One Sentinel gets created in about 30 minutes. His next project is another variation on the Ti2 Pen. There's a lot if ideas brewing in head and I am also hoping Mike participates in the upcoming Honolulu Mini Maker Faire.

Code for America Summit 2012

This video is of Jen Pahlka, Founder and Executive Director of Code for America delivering the keynote address at the CfA Summit. It brings to light the movement we are a part of to help create a smarter government through civic engagement. I've talked before about the confluence of events that brought me to this point and to witness the intersection of all the people at the Summit is quite amazing. Personally, I will be sorting through all the information presented at the conference for some time to come. There were the personal contacts, civic accelerators, CfA Brigade members, videos to watch, links to explore and the myriad of ideas swirling around in my head. This CfA Summit experience is an incredible view into a movement that is happen across the country. In the video Jen talks about living in the intersection, on the boundaries of one environment to the next. This civic movement is the intersection between the monolithic, bureaucratic government and the lean, agile, civic hacker community. Technologies that brought us smartphones, the Internet and app development are scratching the surface of government, and assuming willing participants within government, we are seeing news ways of engaging and collaborating. Watch Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter's speech as a mayor who gets it.  And as David Eaves, MC for the CfA Summit would say:
Code for America is not really about hacking code—it’s about hacking culture.
I'm not sure how much Honolulu appreciates this but with the help of CfA and the dynamic duo of Gordon Bruce and Forest Frizzell, we did a lot to hack the culture of the City & County of Honolulu. We did CityCamp Honolulu, Civic Hackathon, Geeks on DaBus, Honolulu Answers and now Hon*Celerator. We also brought design thinking into City government. Now the challenge is to keep the momentum going, regardless of who the next Mayor is. Have a great October and before we get into the frenzy of elections, enjoy the videos, photos and links from the CfA Summit.  

Stanford Design Thinking Bootcamp

Stanford Design Thinking Bootcamp At the conclusion of this past week's Stanford Univ. Design Thinking Bootcamp at the Sheraton Waikiki, the energy and excitement was palpable. People felt they not only had a tool they would take back to their organizations but there was a groundswell of support that they could tap. The Design Thinking initiative in Hawaii started in September 2010 when Oceanit brought Larry Shubert from Zip Innovations here for a one day workshop. Larry was formerly a principal with IDEO and leveraged the concepts that came out of there and the Stanford After all, they are related through David Kelley who is the founder of IDEO and head of the The September workshop was energizing and it would have been disappointing had that initial momentum been lost over time. In parallel but on a somewhat different track the University of Hawaii created the Innovation Council and held a Symposium on Innovation in January 2011. At the conclusion of the Symposium the Council submitted their recommendations on innovation. They included:
  1. Identify Research as an Industry in Hawaii
  2. Establish HiTEx (Hawaii Innovation Technology Exchange)
  3. Identify Key Areas for Commercialization Opportunities
  4. Integrate Entrepreneurship into the Curriculum
It would seem Design Thinking is related to if not tightly coupled with recommendation 4, to Integrate Entrepreneurship into the Curriculum of the University. In April 2011, organizers, Oceanit, HTDV and the Inovi Group started to conduct the Design Thinking Wallet Challenge. The Wallet Challenge was a half-day introduction to the process of Design Thinking. Sessions were conducted for Dept. of Education teachers on Oahu and Maui, private schools including Iolani and Punahou and tech companies participating in TechEnterprise 2011. The Wallet Challenge workshops were a lead in to the Design Thinking Bootcamp that just concluded last week. It is encouraging to see the dots connecting. There are discussions taking place to have a follow up Design Thinking workshop in the summer of 2012. But between now and then there are opportunities to practice what was taught in the Bootcamp. Let's see what flowers bloom from the seeds just planted.