Two Cool Breakthrough Technologies for 2016

February 16th, 2016

2 Cool Breakthrough Technologies for 2016

Two Cool Breatthrough Technologies for 2016

Light bulbs as wireless hotspots — and 100x faster? Electromagnetic waves that make objects disappear? This stuff is intense. Game-changing. And it’s HERE.

Technological innovation never sleeps. Even the youngest members of today’s workforce can remember a time when cell phones didn’t connect to the Internet or music was played off cassettes and CDs rather than streamed. In 2016, more game-changing tech is on the horizon — including these two new breakthrough technologies that offer opportunities that are, well, just plain cool.

Wi-Fi Too Slow? Turn on the Light

Today, businesses and homes alike are bristling with Wi-Fi routers, allowing devices to connect to the Internet without the use of Ethernet cables — a feat that was unthinkable 15 years ago and only started to be used widely 10 years ago.

In just a short time, however, we may all be tossing our routers into the same junk pile that collected our coils of CAT5e cable a few years back. That’s because a startup in Estonia has discovered a way to transmit wireless connectivity via light bulbs — at speeds that make today’s best connections look like yesterday’s 14.4 modem.

The company, Velmenni, uses a technology it calls “Li-Fi” to transmit data via light bulbs. In tests, connectivity speeds reached 1 gigabit per second (Gbps), or about 100 times faster than current Wi-Fi technology. In laboratory simulations, speeds as high as 224 Gbps have been predicted. Researchers are hoping that additional testing will help bring these predictions from science fiction to science fact.

Li-Fi works by modulating the intensity of LED light bulbs so that they can be used both to transmit data and to produce visible light. The modulation is too fast to be detected by human eyes, so the light bulb appears to be emitting steady light when in fact it is emitting both visible light and a data stream.

The idea for “Li-Fi,” using light bulbs as wireless routers, was floated by German physicist Harald Haas during a TED Talk in 2011. Research into the technology had begun as early as 2008, with Haas participating in some of the experiments. Recently, Haas’s group announced a partnership with a French company that will release the first wave of Li-Fi technology by the third quarter of 2016.

Invisibility Cloaks: Not Just for Wizards Anymore

Children and adults alike envied Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak, a garment that allows the wearer to move about undetected, when it first appeared in the beloved children’s series. In 2016, however, invisibility will no longer require a trip to Hogwarts. Researchers at the University of California — San Diego (UCSD) have created a cloaking technology that manipulates electromagnetic waves, such as visible light, to make the object beneath appear invisible.

Although several research teams are currently working on cloaking technology, the UCSD team has set itself apart by developing an ultra-light, metal-free cloak that uses relatively abundant and inexpensive materials. The “dielectric metasurface cloak” includes ceramic cylinders embedded in a Teflon substrate.

Because the material can work with only a narrow range of wavelengths at any one time, an object hidden beneath it can currently stay “hidden” only from one viewing attempt at a time. For instance, a cloak that is configured to manipulate radar waves, making the item invisible to radar, would leave the object visible to the naked eye, because it would not be configured to manipulate visible light waves. Nevertheless, the UCSD team is currently in talks with the U.S. armed forces about the potential military applications of the technology.

Since the design also requires less of the cloaking material to hide objects, it also expands the number of ways in which the material can be used. Although the armed forces are currently considering it for the hiding of small objects like unmanned drones, the possibilities — including our very own Invisibility Cloaks — are endless.

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February 16th, 2016

Rubber Balls Make Great Leaders

Well, maybe they don’t — but they do have one essential characteristic in common. Find out what it is, and how it can make you a remarkable manager (and a happier one, to boot!).

Rubber Balls Make Great Leaders

Quote of the Month

January 18th, 2016

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Should You Grab that Cuppa?

January 18th, 2016

Should You Skip Your Morning Joe?

For so many of us, a morning cup of coffee is not just a ritual — it’s a necessity. We treat coffee like water, a vital source of energy to power us through a hectic day. We’ve all heard the warnings about our beloved pick-me-up beverage: dependency, withdrawal, afternoon caffeine crashes, insomnia, indigestion, and even dehydration.

Is drinking it a good idea? Well, it depends on your personality type.

There is a new warning for coffee drinkers from Cambridge psychologist and author Brian Little. In his book Me, Myself, and Us, the Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being, Little suggests that there is another layer to The Great Coffee Debate. Little hypothesizes that there is no absolute when it comes to the “goodness” or the “badness” of coffee. Instead, he writes, the positive and negative effects of coffee are determined by personality type.

Introverts May Want to Rethink Their Premeeting Latte

Little’s research has led him to the conclusion that introverts and extroverts have distinctly different reactions to caffeine. He writes:

After ingesting about two cups of coffee, extraverts[sic] carry out tasks more efficiently, whereas introverts perform less well. This deficit is magnified if the task they are engaging in is quantitative and if it is done under time pressure.

For an introvert, an innocent couple cups of coffee before a meeting may prove challenging, particularly if the purpose of the meeting is a rapid-fire discussion of budget projections, data analysis, or similar quantitative concerns. In the same meeting, an extraverted colleague is likely to benefit from a caffeine kick.

New York Magazine Science of Us interviewed Little upon the release of his book. In that Q&A session, he explained that his conclusions are based upon Hans Eysenck’s theory of extroversion and research by William Revelle of Northwestern University.

According to Eysenck’s theory:

  • Introverts are naturally more aware of their environment than extroverts.
  • Introverts naturally operate above the optimal level of alertness.

So, Little suggests that caffeine can actually impede performance for these individuals, especially in stressful situations where the introvert already feels overwhelmed.

That’s not to say that introverts should avoid coffee altogether. When it comes to caffeine, timing may be everything. Little suggests that introverts may respond better to an early-afternoon cup of Joe rather than a morning cup, but he cautions that introverts should avoid caffeine before stepping into an important meeting.

The Science of Timing a Caffeinated Pick-Me-Up

Little is not the first scientist to suggest that timing matters when it comes to consuming caffeine. Our circadian rhythms — the natural cycle of hormones that tell our body when it’s time to power up for the day and power down for the night — may have an impact on our response to caffeine.

According to Steven Miller, Ph.D, cortisol significantly influences the ways in which caffeine affects the body. Cortisol is the hormone that helps the body feel awake and alert. The production of cortisol peaks in the morning and then lessens throughout the day. Consuming caffeine when it’s not needed means the body will build up a tolerance to caffeine, and the “buzz” it gives will diminish over time.

The takeaway?

You don’t have to eliminate coffee from your daily routine, you just might want to push it back to mid-morning or mid-afternoon in order to truly achieve a pick-me-up.

Coffee-loving introverts who just can’t imagine cutting out their morning cup of coffee should consider switching their morning beverage to uncaffeinated tea, decaf coffee, or even hot chocolate. Consuming a decaf hot beverage in the morning can help ease the transition — allowing for the morning ritual of a hot drink, without the potential negative effects of coffee.

And if you’re a true extrovert? Enjoy your morning cup of coffee, as it may just help you get ahead in the long run.

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Leadership Tip of the Month: Overcome the Midday Slump

January 18th, 2016

 

Leadership Tip of the Month: Overcome Your Midday Slump

Consistently doing your best work requires focus — which is hard to sustain for 8+ hours. Here are three tips for staying energized throughout the workday:

  1. Match your tasks to your natural performance peaks. Find out your highest periods of focus during the day and organize your to-do list around your peaks and valleys.
  2. Move more. Physical activity (a brisk walk or even stretching) boosts alertness and energy levels. The brief break also allows you to refocus your attention.
  3. Don’t rely on caffeine. Coffee doesn’t give you more energy; it masks the effects of low energy levels. Use it strategically.

 

Fact of the Month: High-Value Activities? Most employees are in the dark.

January 18th, 2016

According to a Harris Interactive / Franklin Covey survey of over 23,000 people, 80 percent of employees don’t understand which behaviors, actions or activities generate the most value — or contribute to their employer’s success.

 

Fact of the Month: High-Value Activities? Most Employees are in the Dark

 

The Simple Skill That Will Boost Your Influence at the Office

June 17th, 2014
Blog Link of the Month:
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Each Chicago manufacturing job leads to 2 more: study

May 21st, 2013
By  Meribah Knight  May 21, 2013

It’s called a multiplier effect: when one job generates another job that is  dependent on that job, and so on. In the Chicago area, each new manufacturing  job creates another 2.2 jobs in the region, on average, according to a new study  by the University of Illinois at Chicago.

the most robust areas for job multiplicity are in the manufacturing of  petroleum and coal products and in pharmaceuticals, each generating 8.3 and 5.7  jobs, respectively, in the region, according to the report from UIC’s Center for  Urban Economic Development.

The study found that chemical manufacturing generates 3.8 jobs, and beverage  and tobacco products create 3.6 jobs. Textile manufacturing jobs came in last,  generating only 0.5 additional jobs, the study found.

“Most of these industries are powerful job creators,” said study co-author  Howard Wial, executive director at the Center for Urban Economic Development and  a Brookings Institution fellow. He worked on the report with Elizabeth Scott, an  economic development planner in the Center for Urban Economic Development.

To find the overall multiplier, the study added each new manufacturing  factory job with jobs in supply industries, and then jobs in service industries  that each manufacturing employee patronizes. The study, which begin measuring  the impact with only factory jobs — it does not include research and development  or administrative positions at manufacturing companies — analyzed seven counties  in Illinois: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will.

The Chicago region’s overall average of a 2.2 job multiplier for the  manufacturing industry is on par with other metropolitan regions, Mr. Wial said.  On a national scale, the multiplier for a manufacturing job is 4.6, higher  because of a larger geographic scope for supply chains and induced spending.

Manufacturing tends to have a higher multiplier than other industries because  of its sturdy wages and long supply chains, Mr. Wial said.

The finding that petroleum and coal — realized mainly as the region’s oil  refining industry — generated the most impact in the Chicago area was  unexpected, Mr. Wial said. He said it was surprising to find that the region’s  oil and coal industry had such a lengthy supply chain, making even more of an  impact than automotive or machinery sectors.

The report found that Chicago’s two largest manufacturing industries, food  and fabricated metal, create 2.6 and 2 additional jobs, respectively.

“When a new job in an industry leads to the creation of even one other job in  the region, that’s a very good return,” Mr. Wial said. “That’s why policymakers  still prize manufacturing for its potential to create jobs, despite growing  automation.”

In other words: Even while manufacturing jobs dwindle as human capital is  replaced with robots and automated machinery, a higher output will still result  in more jobs, Mr. Wial said.

“Industries with higher productivity typically pay higher wages, leading to  more induced jobs,” he said.

And the region’s recent  growth in the manufacturing sector can only mean good things for  putting the multiplier into action.

“Until recently, offshoring, consumer spending on imported goods and the  growing use of out-of-region suppliers reduced manufacturing’s impact on job  growth in the Chicago area,” Mr. Wial said. “The recent rebound of manufacturing  employment may change the situation.”

 

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

May 6th, 2013

You must have long term goals to keep you from being frustrated by short term failures.

Charles C. Noble

Are you covered?

April 23rd, 2013
 It’s April–and your employees are already planning their next vacations. Are you planning for their absence? Give us a call and we can help you arrange adequate coverage during staff vacations to keep your business running smoothly.