Thursday, March 27, 2008

What to Do This Weekend With Your Kids, Woz, Bob Metcalfe, and Blue Man Group

On Friday or Saturday, take them to the FIRST regional robotics competition in Boston. (Other regionals around the country are listed here.)

If you haven't seen a FIRST robotics competition (created originally by MIT prof Woodie Flowers and inventor Dean Kamen), it'll blow your mind...and perhaps cause your offspring to become obsessed.

From the press release:

    BOSTON– March 26, 2008 – Over 1,000 area high school students will be competing in Boston’s largest robotics competition this week. The Boston FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition will take place at Boston University’s Agganis Arena Friday through Saturday, March 28-29, 2008. The event is free and open to the public.

    Blue Man Group, the multimedia entertainment phenomenon, will perform during the opening ceremony for the competition’s final matches: Saturday, March 29, 2008 at 12:45PM. This special live appearance will showcase Blue Man Group’s signature music and excitement.

    Over fifty teams spent six weeks designing and building robots to accomplish specific tasks outlined in this year’s game, “FIRST Overdrive.” The teams will compete for honors that recognize robot design excellence, competitive play, sportsmanship and high-impact partnerships between schools, businesses and communities.

    The Boston FIRST Regional ( brings together student teams from across the region in an atmosphere that is described as “rock concert meets the Super Bowl mixed with science and technology.”

    Students competing in the competition will be able to interact with a number of the nation’s leading technology pioneers. This year’s judges include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, iRobot co-founder Colin Angle and Ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe of Polaris Ventures.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Mass TLC Awards

I'm still getting used to calling the Massachusetts Software Council by its new(ish) name, the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council.

On Thursday, they announced the winners of their 2007 Technology Leadership Awards at the Copley Plaza Hotel. Full list is below.

That other technology association, the Massachusetts High Tech Council, is marking its 30th anniversary on Tuesday with a dinner at - where else? - the Newton Marriott. The keynote speaker is Dean Kamen -- a New Hampshire entrepreneur and inventor who at least lived in Massachusetts for a few years, while attending WPI.


Mass TLC 2007 Awards


Enterprise Applications
Open Pages

Reva Systems


Innovation (co-winners)

User/Implementer (co-winners)
Barrett Distribution Centers
Jordan’s Furniture


CEO of the Year
Doug Levin, Black Duck Software

CIO of the Year
John Halamka, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical

CTO of the Year
Kenneth Kuenzel, Covergence

CXO of the Year
Tom Murphy, Bit9

Emerging Executive of the Year
Keith Kocho, Extend Media

Mover and Shaker of the Year (co-winners)
David Weinberger, Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School
Linda Plano, Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center (MTTC)

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Robot demos and panels at WPI, next week

From Worcester Polytechnic Institute:

    As of fall 2007, WPI is offering the nation's first bachelor's degree program in robotics engineering. The new major grows out of an increasing demand for robots and robotics systems to meet national needs in areas such as defense and security, elder care, automation of household tasks, customized manufacturing, and interactive entertainment, and also responds to the escalating interest in robots among young people. This major, which crosses academic boundaries, is designed to prepare a new breed of engineer with the skills and imagination to develop intelligent machines that go beyond today's reality.

To mark the launch of the program, they're holding a one-day symposium this coming Tuesday, which features speakers like Dean Kamen of DEKA and Helen Greiner or iRobot. They'll also have robot demos -- and the registration price is cheap: $20.

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sunday's Globe column: Dean Kamen is out to reinvent the prosthetic arm

Today's Globe column focuses on the next-gen prosthetic arm being developed by DEKA Research and Development, Dean Kamen's skunkworks, up in Manchester, NH. It's being funded by DARPA, the nice folks who brought you the Internet.

From the piece:

    When Kamen, one of America's best-known inventors, first spoke with officers at the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, they told him they were looking for a research and development group that could build a prototype of a new prosthetic arm. Kamen was expecting to hear a list of technical specifications, such as how much the arm would need to lift and how many moving joints it would require. Instead, Kamen says, the Pentagon officials told him they wanted to create an arm that could "pick up a raisin or a grape from a table, know the difference without looking at it, and be able to manipulate it into the person's mouth without breaking it or dropping it."

Here's the video, which includes Kamen's perspective on the project, as well as a lot of demo footage.

DEKA also is working on another DARPA project, which we didn't talk about when I was there in late September: a project called PowerSwim, the goal of which is to increase the speed and efficiency of human swimmers (ummm, Navy SEALs, perhaps?) by about 50 percent. More on that here and here.

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