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Gift of $20M in rare manuscripts allows Penn to boost pages, pageviews, hire curator

University of Pennsylvania alum Larry Schoenberg has been collecting manuscripts for decades, and over the past twenty years has been sharing parts of his collection with scholars at his alma mater. This week, Penn Libraries announced the acquisition of 280 medieval and Renaissance manuscripts from Schoenberg, valued at $20 million, and part of the agreement is the creation of The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies.

Philadelphia is an international mecca for rare books, with world class collections at The Free Library of Philadelphia (the largest with over 2,000 manuscripts), The Library Company of Philadelphia, The Rosenbach Museum, and Bryn Mawr College. The Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries lists 35 members.

Back at Penn, the goal with the Schoenberg Collection is to digitize the whole thing so that anyone in the world can access these historic documents without having to come to Philadelphia. Right now, the online collection is scattered among several sites, and with the exception of the recently launched Penn in Hand, many of the manuscript indexing pages are difficult to navigate.

"What we've done is made a commitment to the Schoenbergs to recatalog all the manuscripts according to the library standard," says Joe Zucca, Director for Planning and Communication for Penn Libraries.

The goal is to have all items scanned by 2012 to meld with Schoenberg's philosophy of combining rare and unique material with digital technology. Meanwhile, says David McKnight, the Director of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the 6th floor of Penn's Van Pelt is now undergoing an estimated $18 million renovation of the 6th floor, the Special Collections Center, to serve as home for the new institute, which will include classrooms and a digital media lab. McKnight is actively looking to hire a curator for The Schoenberg Institute, and is optimistic that the library can fill the position by the beginning of the new academic year. McKnight says that in addition to digital access, the Institute and its holdings will also be open to the public.

Source: Joe Zucca, David McKnight, Penn Libraries
Writer: Sue Spolan

CHOP Idol: Seacrest creates multimedia center at Children's Hospital

Ryan Seacrest! Is awesome! The media mogul has chosen Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to build The Voice, a state of the art multimedia studio. The Voice, a freestanding broadcast center funded by The Ryan Seacrest Foundation, is being built in the main lobby of CHOP, in the Colket Atrium. It will be accessible from the hospital's 34th street entrance and will serve CHOP patients and their visitors and families as a much-needed distraction.

Elana Brewer, CHOP's Director of Child Life, Education and Creative Arts Therapy, explains the setup: "Within the actual physical studio, there is a space designed for a DJ, as well as tabletop space for up to five patients, family members, siblings, celebrity visitors or guests to interact with the DJ."

Off mic, there will be additional seating for children who want to come to the studio but may be less inclined to jump on the mic. Two video cameras will capture the action in the studio, and the entire audio and video feed will be available throughout the internal TV system in the hospital buildings. Due to legal and privacy issues, Brewer says The Voice broadcasts will be strictly in-house, aimed exclusively at patients, families, friends and staff.

The Voice is designed so that passers by in the lobby can peer in through the curved glass partition, and its location in the atrium means that rooms and balconies overlooking the vast open space will have a direct line of sight into the broadcast center.

Brewer explains that tween, teen and young adult patients are the target audience for participation. It's a bit of a forgotten age, because younger children use playrooms, but there's not a lot to keep the older set happily occupied. "It's a great distraction," says Brewer. "The chance to use a state of the art studio will have a normalizing effect, and will give patients a sense of control often lost in the hospital environment." Brewer looks to The Voice as a creative outlet and a great opportunity for socialization, which is especially important for the adolescent population. Kids who are unable to leave their rooms will still be able to participate through on-air trivia quizzes and giveaways.
Seacrest selected CHOP as the second children's hospital in the country to be outfitted with The Voice. The flagship is at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Pediatric Hospital. The Philadelphia location is scheduled to go live this summer.

Source: Elana Brewer, CHOP
Writer: Sue Spolan

Philly native and tech scribe Steven Levy gets close, still respects Google in the morning

Steven Levy is coming home to Philadelphia to talk about his new book, In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives. Levy, who grew up in West Oak Lane and wrote for Philadelphia's early alternative weeklies in the 1970s, is now a senior writer for Wired Magazine and former chief technology writer and senior editor for Newsweek. He will be a guest of the World Affairs Council this Thursday, April 14, as part of a speaker series that draws international talent to Philadelphia. The event begins with a reception at 6:15 p.m., and Levy will sit down with Philadelphia Daily News music and technology writer Jonathan Takiff at the Arden Theater Company starting at 7.

Levy was given unprecedented access to the inner workings of Google's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, also known as the Googleplex, where employees are treated to 3 meals a day, massages, haircuts and laundry service. Levy also traveled with young company managers on a world tour that provided an intimate view of cultural and technological thinking at the top.

While there are already several well regarded bestsellers on the business of Google, Levy says his perspective is a new one. "The honeymoon's over. No question about that. The halo has a few dents in it. It's an interesting time to be immersed in Google," says Levy, who sees the company having to come to grips with its immense power. "David has become Goliath. It's attractive and feisty when the little guy wants to do something audacious, but when the big guy wants to achieve the same things, it's a different story." Levy cites the company's longtime desire to digitize every book in the world, and how the initiative has sparked court battles, drawing opposition from unlikely corners, including Arlo Guthrie's lawyer.

Levy addresses the future of the massive company, which started out revolutionizing search but has expanded everywhere, even developing self driving cars. "Google has to do what no company in the technological arena has done," says Levy, who terms it the innovator's dilemma. "If some company leads and dominates by technological advance in one period, they are at a disadvantage to lead in the next period. They are so successful at what they do that they have a vested interest in maintaining their dominance. What's next will topple the current leader."

After all that intimacy, Levy still respects Google in the morning. "It's still an amazing company. As a company gets big, it changes. Google knew I'd come out writing about a few warts. By and large, I use the products myself." As far as Google's early creed of "Don't Be Evil," Levy says executives don't say it anymore, but it is still very much a part of the company's DNA.

Levy's Thursday evening talk will also address recent management shakeups at Google, as well as the company's influence on global political issues, such as the controversy in China.

Source: Steven Levy, Wired Magazine
Writer: Sue Spolan
Photo: Marion Ettlinger

Safeguard drops $25M on chip-enabled eyeglasses

Eyeglasses are about to change dramatically, thanks to a major investment by Safeguard Scientifics. The Wayne-based holding company, in an effort to expand its footprint in life sciences investments, announced that it has provided $25 million plus an additional $10 million in venture debt to PixelOptics, a medical technology company in Roanoke, Va., for its emPower! line of chip-enabled glasses aimed at bifocal and progressive lens wearers, of which there are a total of 100 million in the US alone. Safeguard's Senior Vice President and Managing Director in the Life Sciences Group, Gary Kurtzman MD, notes that investment in life sciences start ups is shrinking, and Safeguard is seeking new opportunities by getting into consumer-driven companies like PixelOptics.

Rather than divide eyeglasses so that the top section is corrective and the bottom section is for reading, emPower! glasses rely on a chip embedded in the frame which electronically transforms the focus of the entire lens from corrective to reading power at a touch. The chip is powered by a battery which lasts at least two years and requires recharging every three days.

Kurtzman says the new eyeglass technology has significant near term potential both as a product and for revenue, citing a low regulatory bar, a big market, and the fact that the product is ready to go to market. "We think it has all the features of an ideal investment," says Kurtzman of PixelOptics' new product, the result of 12 years of research.

Kurtzman, who is already wearing a pair of the glasses, is impressed that he can use the entire lens for either purpose. "There is a small liquid crystal embedded in the glass of the lens. If I need it, I turn it on and it's there." He reports that the glasses are the same weight as their conventional counterparts, and the company is initially rolling out 36 different frames, competitively priced, in a variety of shapes and colors. Kurtzman says emPower! frames will be available in the Philadelphia area within six months.

Source: Gary Kurtzman MD, Safeguard Scientifics
Writer: Sue Spolan

Wallquest's World: Wayne wallcoverings firm wins small biz award for exports, hiring up to 40

Wallquest has China covered. Dubai, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and India, too. The Wayne-based wallcoverings firm was just named Small Business Exporter of the Year by the Export-Import Bank, and received an award this week in Washington, DC. Wallquest's exports rose 76 percent to more than $17 million since 2008, thanks to robust sales overseas. Jack Collins is Vice President of the family-run company, which he runs along with his brother and father, who acquired Wallquest in 1985.

While the original customer base was domestic, big box retailers and toll free sales left no one to sell to in the United States, and Collins says Wallquest had to go overseas around 2005, now selling environmentally-friendly products in more than 50 foreign markets. With a good brand name in America, the company has had great success in emerging markets in Asia and the Middle East, and the trend is toward American design.

"You wouldn't think someone in Saudi Arabia or China would want American country style, but they do," says Collins, who explains that among affluent Chinese homeowners, a big wooden kitchen table is a sign of wealth, and American design dovetails with that table.

While Wallquest is a relatively small company, says Collins, its line is more extensive than competitors', with around 35 collections coming out this year.

"Our business used to be more seasonal, and now it's not because of our international clients. When the US market is strong in winter and spring, it's Chinese New Year, and in the summer, when the US market is down, the Chinese and Middle East markets are coming up."

Collins is grateful to both Ex-Im Bank and PNC Bank for playing an essential role in the company's global growth. Wallquest wallcoverings are made with water based inks and the highest quality printing technology in the main manufacturing facility in Wayne; recently, the company acquired and retooled two other factories in New York and New Jersey, bringing the total number of employees to 150. Later this year, Wallquest plans on opening another facility in King of Prussia, hiring an additional 30 to 40 employees.

Source: Jack Collins, Wallquest
Writer: Sue Spolan

Global reach, local team: Empathy Lab takes digital advertising from Conshy to NY, Paris

There's a powerful global interactive agency right here in your backyard. You've probably never heard of it, but that's by design. Empathy Lab, based in Conshohocken, is set to break $14 million in revenue this year with clients you've definitely heard of, including Sony, Nautica, Kipling, Saucony, Clarins, Lexmark, Comcast and Verizon. The digital agency, founded in 2005, employs around 70 people in its suburban Philadelphia headquarters, and unless you're in the know, you'd pass right by.

"We don't necessarily focus on the region as our target for clients," says Kevin Labick, CEO of Empathy, explaining Empathy's local low profile. "We made a decision to be world class in two areas: eCommerce, and media and entertainment as it pertains to the digital channel."

Empathy's target companies are in New York, Los Angeles, Paris and the Netherlands, with just a few in Philadelphia. Its secret to success is an intimate approach to customer needs and motivations.

"Everything we do revolves around understanding the customer's point of view," says Labick. "Almost every project we work on involves contextual inquiry. We go into people's homes and offices, and sit with them on the way to work in their cars, to understand how they use our clients' brands."

Labick cites research for David's Bridal eCommerce platform that involved peering over the shoulders of brides to be as they perused potential gowns on the web. With the growth of destination weddings, Empathy discovered that brides want to know what the bottom of the dress looks like so they can judge its performance on a sandy beach.

Another growth area for Empathy is digital media and entertainment. While many brick and mortar stores were closing down, Empathy positioned itself at the forefront of digital media delivery. One example is Sony's newly released My Daily Clip for Apple mobile devices. Empathy's strategic placement has paid off. While other agencies have struggled through the economic downturn, Empathy's growth is impressive: in 2009, company revenue was $8 million, in 2010, revenue jumped to $12 million, and this year's projections show more of the same.

Empathy's low profile is going to have to change, says Labick, whose staff spends the great majority of its time on client campaigns, not self-promotion. "We are growing and we need people. We don't want to open offices everywhere. We want people to be based here, and have lives here."

Labick attributes Empathy's success to deep partnerships within the industry, working closely with developers and software companies to deliver innovative channel solutions to clients. Earlier this year, SmartCEO Magazine selected Empathy as a Future 50 Company in recognition of its tremendous employee and revenue growth over the past three years.

Source: Kevin Labick, Empathy Lab
Writer: Sue Spolan

Philly solar conversion company among highlights of Cleantech Investment Forum

Clean technology is a big draw for potential investors. Several hundred people gathered at the Academy of Natural Sciences on March 31 for the 3rd Annual Mid-Atlantic Cleantech Investment Forum. Sponsored by Blank Rome Counselors at Law, the Academy and Cleantech Alliance Mid-Atlantic, investor panels discussing the future of renewable energy, clean water, recycling and waste disposal were followed by presentations from area entrepreneurs.

On hand were members of the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy Efficient Buildings. Williams J. Agate leads the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, developing and managing the Philadelphia Navy Yard, which is now in the process of creating a smart grid energy master plan.

The Fostering Cleantech Investment Panel included Kevin Brophy, of Meidlinger Partners, who talked about the future of clean water investment, and said that while innovation in the field came from the middle cap, the greatest opportunity for future investments is in the huge lower cap market. Also on the panel were Gary Golding, from Edison Ventures, who addressed rapidly improving awareness of water issues, Arun Kapoor of SJF Ventures, who mentioned 100 percent Pennsylvania wind provider Community Energy, and Josh Wolfe, the founding partner of Lux Capital. Wolfe described Lux as an early stage high risk venture fund valued at $100 million, and had a different take on the market than his fellow panelists, explaining that Lux focuses on companies that are long on human ingenuity and short on government rationality. Passing on biofuel, nuclear and natural gas investments, Lux is instead investing in nuclear waste management, calling it the energy industry's biggest unsolved problem.

The only presenting entrepreneur based in the immediate Philadelphia area is solar power conversion company Alencon Systems, Inc. Now in the research and development stage, Alencon addresses the problem of energy efficiency with large scale photovoltaic systems, which are currently created by aggregating multiple small systems. Alencon, which was borne of research at Rowan University, aims to simplify solar and wind power systems from distributed harvesting to centralized conversion. With a prototype already built and tested, Alencon slates projected sales of its streamlined systems at $45 million by 2014.

Source: 3rd Annual Mid-Atlantic Cleantech Investment Forum
Writer: Sue Spolan

Take your business paperwork Neat: Piles of growth for Philly company's scanning technology

You've walked past the kiosk on your way to a flight. You've paused at the entry in the SkyMall magazine. The Neat Company, based in Philadelphia, makes products to organize the avalanche of paperwork that accumulates if you travel for work or are a small business owner. Receipts, business cards, invoices, and other scraps can pile up into an unwieldy stack very quickly, and if you are out on the road, keeping track of these little white bits is not exactly a top priority. Neat makes two versions of its product, which combines a scanner with software to create a digital filing cabinet. NeatDesk and its traveling companion NeatReceipts scan paper, automatically classify and organize documents for easy reference and retrieval with included NeatWorks software.

"The world of paper is the last world to go digital," says Kevin Garton, Neat's Chief Marketing Officer. "Think of it like iTunes and the iPod, but for paperwork." Garton says that the Neat line of products is also useful on the home front, where parents can scan children's medical records as well as personal paperwork, and Neat makes tax time much easier for home and business users. Garton also points out that scanned documents are fully searchable.

Neat, which got initial funding from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, reports that it experienced 536 percent revenue growth in 2010. Neat began as a father and son business, after the pair got fed up with an expense reporting process that more closely resembled an arts and crafts project involving scissors, tape and more paper. Garton says that from that first kiosk at Philadelphia International Airport, Neat products are now available at major retailers nationwide both online and in-store, as well as on the Neat website. The expanding company will be moving its headquarters to 16th and Market Streets in April.

This week, Neat rolled out an upgrade for Mac users, and announced a contest to award ten people $1,000 each. Contestants enter by posting a comment on Neat's blog or Facebook page, by retweeting, or by mentioning the contest on a blog.

Source: Kevin Garton, The Neat Company
Writer: Sue Spolan

Adaptimmune brings tools in the fight against cancer, HIV/AIDS to Science Center

Imagine cancer treatment without debilitating chemotherapy and damaging radiation. Researchers in the field of fighting cancer and infectious diseases have recently come up with a way to remove, edit and replace patients' own cells to turn them into cancer and HIV super soldiers in the body. Adaptimmune LLC, one of University City Science Center's newest tenants, is the first company of its kind to develop a methodology for generating high affinity T cell receptors. Dr. Gwen Binder-Scholl, the Vice President of Operations at Adaptimmune, says that this powerful approach is a major departure from previous forms of cancer and infectious disease treatment, offering the advantage of much higher potency with far fewer side effects.

Traditional chemotherapy attacks any rapidly dividing cell in the body, knocking out cancerous tumors, but also killing cells that generate hair and mucous membranes. In this new treatment paradigm, T cells, which are the body's immune soldiers, are harvested from the patient, modified and placed in cell factories to grow, and then returned to the patient via vaccine. The whole process takes only three weeks from manufacture to release, according to Binder-Scholl, so that cancer and HIV can be treated fairly quickly.

"We are really the only company taking the next step towards commercialization of adoptive T cell therapy with high affinity TCRs," says Binder-Scholl, who has been working on T cell receptor research at the University of Pennsylvania's Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute for about three years at the June Laboratory under the guidance of professor Carl June, MD. Binder-Scholl explains that Adaptimmune, a subsidiary of a UK company, approached her to manage and carry forth U.S. clinical trials. While Adaptimmune already has a close relationship with Penn, its overseas leadership qualifies it for the SciCenter's Global Soft Landing Program.

This month, Adaptimmune is opening three new oncology indications: a trial for melanoma, which is very common, and trials for the less frequently occurring cancers synovial sarcoma and multiple myeloma. Depending on how the clinical trials go, Binder-Scholl expects to see data emerge within 12 months and hopes to get approval for the experimental treatment with the decade.

Source: Gwen Binder-Scholl, Adaptimmune LLC
Writer: Sue Spolan

Make room for the Aerotropolis: Drexel's Mobilities in Motion conference explores 'logistics' cities

Mobility. The word conjures up a multitude of meanings. The ability to move. Mobile devices. Passing through physical and virtual space. Remaining motionless. Social networks and location based apps. Handicapped access. Planes, trains, automobiles, and skateboards.
Drexel's Center for Mobilities Research and Policy, or mCenter, headed up by sociology professor Mimi Sheller, offers a new way to group ideas not previously considered connected under one umbrella. The mCenter is the first in the United States to study mobilities, drawing on the many disciplines of arts, design, social sciences, engineering, computer science, business, law, media, environmental studies and public health.

Tasked with studying movement as a social science, the one year old mCenter drew an international crowd to its conference, Mobilities in Motion: New Approaches to Emergent and Future Mobilities. Held March 21-23, presenters considered scales of mobility, migration, borders, mobile phones, and all kinds of ways to get around, from the skateboard as urban transportation, to air travel, to creating an avatar and traversing virtual environments. Participants from a dozen countries, including France, Japan, the UK, and Brazil, as well as from more local addresses in the United States, spoke on emerging concerns like surveillance and privacy, the continually accelerating cycle of mobile device obsolescence, ethics and social rights, borders, sustainability and more.

Sheller, who is also co-editor of the international journal Mobilities, said, "The event has been incredibly successful, even beyond my expectations. We had excellent keynote presentations and very high quality papers in all of the sessions. People felt a real sense of dynamic interaction and stimulating dialogue across different disciplines and research approaches."

One highlight was keynote speaker Rina Cutler, Philadelphia's Deputy Mayor for Transportation and Utilities, "who gave an incredibly lively and entertaining talk about major infrastructure projects in the city, including her plans for developing an 'aerotropolis' at Philadelphia Airport." The idea that an airport can become a major urban hub, sometimes extending to a radius of up to 60 miles, was coined by professor John Kasarda (not in attendance), whose new book, Aerotropolis, The Way We'll Live Next, describes the next phase of globalization. With the rapid rise of logistics, global business networks, overnight shipping and increased travel, the new metropolis will have a massive airport at its center, with the city designed around it. Kasarda writes that logistics cities are now growing in Seoul, Amsterdam, Dallas and Washington, DC.

Sheller said participants, who included many PhD students as well as professors, were treated to presentations by artists and went on walking tours and as well as a mural tour. Aharon Kellerman, professor emeritus at Haifa University, remarked, "The most striking dimension of the conference was the young age of most of the participants. This is an encouraging trend by itself, notably in North America."

Source: Mimi Sheller, mCenter
Writer: Sue Spolan

Philly Tech Week promises a printer-smashing good time

In the spirit of Philly's other well-known celebrations like Beer Week and Restaurant Week, one of the main goals for Philly Tech Week, happening April 25 to 30 in locations across the city, is to have fun. Organized by Technically Philly, the week is meant to connect the many different segments of the Philly technology community, from hackers to Comcast and everyone in between, according to TP co-founder Chris Wink.

At this point, there are about 35 events on the schedule, with more to come. WHYY will serve as headquarters. Wink says the media outlet will host a daily lunchtime speaker series throughout the week, as well as the final big event Friday night. Tech Week coincides with two other major citywide happenings: The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) and The Philadelphia Science Festival. As a result, says Wink, some gatherings will carry all three labels, such as Augmented Reality Check: Seeing The Future Now, looking at the intersection of art, technology and science, to be held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on April 26.

Another exciting Tech Week gathering is The Future of Music featuring musician and producer RJD2, coordinated by Tayyib Smith, owner of Little Giant Media, which publishes two.one.five magazine. Smith hopes to draw like minded people actively engaged in creating, promoting and distributing music to envision the role technology will play in the future of music. "I am an analog person who is fronting like I am digital," says Smith, who hopes to get as much out of the discussion as any of the other attendees.

Local firm Azavea, which builds geographic analysis software, happens to be rolling out several projects that same week, and plans to show off the brand new goods. "One is Philly Tree Map," says President and CEO Robert Cheetham, whose goal is to create a crowdsourced urban tree inventory. Two other Azavea projects, Open Data Philly and PhillyHistory.org, will be showcased during Tech Week.

For those who have ever fantasized about going ballistic on your devices, be sure to attend the Office Space Printer Smash, co-sponsored by Nonprofit Technology Resources and The Hacktory. As the title indicates, participants will be encouraged to turn unrecyclable printers into a pile of mangled plastic and metal.

Source: Christopher Wink, Technically Philly, Tayyib Smith, Little Giant Media, Robert Cheetham, Azavea
Writer: Sue Spolan

Optofluidics' technology combines fluids, light to develop better diagnostic tools

It's one minuscule step for molecules, one giant leap for mankind. Nanotechnology startup Optofluidics, Inc. has established offices at the University City Science Center's Port Business Incubator. The company aims to develop optical devices that keep biomolecules in place in their physiological state, says Optofluidic's Chief Technology Officer and co-founder, Bernardo Cordovez. "The product will be an instrument that houses and reads the chips that we make."

As the company name implies, Optofluidics uses the combination of fluids and light to detect, identify and manipulate biomolecules and nanomaterials. The idea of adding fluids to scientific optical devices is not a new one. Back in the 18th century, rotating pools of mercury were used to create smooth mirrors in reflecting telescopes. According to Cornell University's Erikson Lab, where Optofluidics co-founder David Erikson initiated research concepts for Optofluidics, new biosensing technologies follow advances in the identification of biomarkers associated with specific diseases and injuries. Two examples are the neurodegenerative diseases Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, which have eluded early detection. The kind of non-invasive nanotechnology that Optofluidics is developing, which will diagnose and detect biomarkers at very low levels, could enable diagnosis even before symptoms appear.

The National Science Foundation recently gave Optofluidics nearly $150,000 in a Small Business Innovation Research award. "The market opportunity is tremendous because most single molecule instrumentation is made for DNA, while nano-instrumentation for handling and studying proteins is still a bit behind," says Cordovez, who adds that Optofluidics' family of technologies has very strong commercial appeal.
Making the move to the Science Center was the easy part. Cordovez cites the University of Pennsylvania's strong biosciences department which will provide "a terrific future employee candidate pool." Philadelphia is slated to become a world leader in nanotechnology research, says Cordovez, with a planned world class nanofabrication center at Penn, scheduled for completion in the next few years.

Source: Bernard Cordovez, Optofluidics, Inc.
Writer: Sue Spolan

Kensington's Perfect Prototype creates new realities

A three dimensional rendering of a human heart is beating atop a card you hold in your hand. It's not reality, it's Augmented Reality, the latest method of bringing two dimensional images into a 3D world. Augmented Reality images exist only on the screen of a computer or mobile device, but with the addition of a live camera feed, viewing the virtual sculptures feels astoundingly real.

Perfect Prototype describes itself as an interactives company, "telling stories with innovative technology to create engaging, educational experiences for people," says Matthew Browning, company president. Located in the Crane Arts building, Perfect Prototype flies under local radar but is creating a national splash with projects for educational and corporate clients, such as a museum exhibit that lets you hold a virtual brain in your hands, a locomotive simulator that provides the virtual experience of operating a train, and a presentation to a corporate audience that integrates 3D animations. And if you are in the mood for some new fashioned hand to hand combat, Browning says Perfect Prototype has come up with a device that allows people across the country to arm-wrestle.

Browning, who is working overtime along with ten independent professionals to meet customer need, says clients range from museums such as Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, to corporations including Norfolk Southern and Hyundai, along with the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins.

Perfect Prototype is at the forefront of a rapidly growing technology that has implications across many sectors. Browning says of the technology that is still in its infancy, "There is so much untapped potential in Augmented Reality. It's a joy to push the limits and create new and innovative uses." And, he adds, with increased computing power on mobile and stationary devices, Perfect Protoype continues to give people a new experience, and a new way of looking at the world around them.

Source: Matthew Browning, Perfect Prototype
Writer: Sue Spolan

Brazil's largest oil company seeks status as household name in Philly, US

Brazil's largest oil and gas company, Petrobras, is looking to make some solid Philadelphia connections. Last Thursday, Petrobras, along with a consortium of sponsors including HSBC, Select Greater Philadelphia, the US Department of Commerce and the State of Delaware, hosted lunch at Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chao for local leaders in finance, transportation, economic development, drilling and trade. The Delaware Valley is home to major global logistics players like BDP International, a busy international port, and headquarters to financial institutions in Philadelphia and Wilmington.

For most in Greater Philadelphia, Petrobras is not yet a household name. Listed as the largest company in Latin America by market cap and revenue, PFC Energy ranked Petrobras at the end of 2010 as the third largest energy company in the world by market value. Thursday's luncheon was also timed to highlight President Obama's upcoming state visit to Brazil.

Speakers included Maria Izabel Ramos, Investor Relations Manager for Petrobras, who provided a company overview, as well as the Honorable Branko Terzic, Executive Director of the Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions, who took the podium to provide an overall look at the future of energy consumption. Terzic, who chaired a United Nations commission on Clean Energy, said that 40-50 percent of the world still relies on wood for fuel. That statistic is changing, with increasing incomes and increasing demand. "Seven hundred million people will enter the middle class in the next decade, primarily in India and China," said Terzic. "Fossil fuel, oil and gas will be their primary energy source."

Terzic pointed out that there are hard truths where global energy needs are concerned. While the use of electric cars is on the rise, he reminded the audience that fossil fuel powers 70 percent of the electric grid. In the total electric mix, only 1.6 percent now comes from renewable, clean resources like wind and solar, and we have a long way to go. With political uncertainty in the Middle East, Terzic said we can look to Brazil's Petrobras, for the dual benefits of a diversity of supply and a stable democracy.

Attendee Paul Ellenberg, Business Development Manager for global logistics company BDP International, said he now understands that "for the world to get away from bio fuels, it will take us at least 100 years." Petrobras is newly on Ellenberg's radar, and as far as next steps, he says, "BDP Projects will reach out to become their transportation vendor for equipment from around the world to Brazil."

Source: Branko Terzic, Deloitte, Maria Izabel Ramos, Petrobras, Paul Ellenberg, BDP International
Writer: Sue Spolan

FLYING BYTES: Microsoft in Malvern, Art in the Open and the Canal

Flying Bytes is a roundup of innovation nuggets from across the region:

The second annual Art in The Open exhibit has been announced for June 9-12, 2011. The citywide exhibit features a juried selection of artists who will create site specific work along the Schuylkill Banks, from Bartram's Garden in Southwest Philly, and as far north as the Fairmount Park Waterworks. The result is a giant outdoor studio, with art stations for the public to get into the creative process. AIO co-founder Mary Salvante reports that all 2011 artist applications have been received, and the 40 winners will be announced shortly.

The Manayunk Canal Towpath is about to get an art facelift. The Mural Arts Program, in association with the Manayunk Special Services District (MSSD) and the Manayunk Development Corporation, is calling for proposals to transform the disused canal into a temporary public art location with a focus on sustainability, incorporating water. The canal is the last surviving segment of a waterway that once ran as far as Schuylkill County, bringing coal from the mines into Philadelphia. The installation will coincide with this September's Manayunk Eco-Arts Festival. For more information, send email here.

This week Microsoft opened a new 17,500 square foot Technology Center in Malvern. In attendance at the opening ceremony were Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The Philadelphia area tech center is the tenth in the United States, and joins 21 similar technology centers globally. According to Microsoft, "the center is designed to help companies throughout the mid-Atlantic region improve their use of technology to grow their businesses, add jobs, and strengthen their local communities."

Digital Philadelphia and Code for America reports that our local team of fellows is working hard to get government data to citizens. Jeff Friedman says the Philly CfA team conducted over a hundred interviews in February, polling government and city workers, civic leaders including heads of non-profits, block captains, civic developers, and citizens. CfA Philly also held three Friday "hack" events to encourage local developers to engage with government data, an Open Data Forum with help from Young Involved Philadelphia, Technically Philly, and the City, and an open data camp where developers built out four functional mini-apps based on city data.

Source: Mary Salvante, AIO; Microsoft Technology Center, Jeff Friedman, CfA Philly
Writer: Sue Spolan
390 Emerging Technology Articles | Page: | Show All
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