“Technology is the Enabler… but Design is the Engager”

 

… and not only the engager, design leads our decisions, it could even make decisions for us…

 

We wake up in the morning and we feel we make decisions. We wake up in the morning and we open the closet and we feel that we decide what to wear. And we open the refrigerator and we feel that we decide what to eat. What this is actually saying is that much of these decisions are not residing within us. They are residing in the person who is designing that form.[…] We have such a feeling that we are in control, and we are making the decision, that it’s very hard to even accept the idea that we actually have an illusion of making a decision, rather than an actual decision.

Now, you might say, “These are decisions we don’t care about.” […] But, in fact, it’s not because it’s easy. It’s not because it’s trivial. It’s not because we don’t care. It’s the opposite. It’s because we care. It’s difficult and it’s complex. And it’s so complex that we don’t know what to do. And because we have no idea what to do we just pick whatever it was that was chosen for us.


Dan Ariely: Are we in control of our own decisions?

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The digital economy

Interesting article in The Economist about how innovation and technological progress transform the job demand, “Coming to an office near you“. It argues that innovation and progress lead to a deep transformation of the job market. People should move on and adapt themselves to the new world (which is not always so easy)

INNOVATION, the elixir of progress, has always cost people their jobs. In the Industrial Revolution artisan weavers were swept aside by the mechanical loom. Over the past 30 years the digital revolution has displaced many of the mid-skill jobs that underpinned 20th-century middle-class life. Typists, ticket agents, bank tellers and many production-line jobs have been dispensed with, just as the weavers were.

Even worse, this transformations bring inequalities that governments should fix and transform the education system seems to be the right thing to do (Of course, this a long term strategy).

Anger about rising inequality is bound to grow, but politicians will find it hard to address the problem. Shunning progress would be as futile now as the Luddites’ protests against mechanised looms were in the 1810s, because any country that tried to stop would be left behind by competitors eager to embrace new technolog. […] The main way in which governments can help their people through this dislocation is through education systems. One of the reasons for the improvement in workers’ fortunes in the latter part of the Industrial Revolution was because schools were built to educate them—a dramatic change at the time. Now those schools themselves need to be changed, to foster the creativity that humans will need to set them apart from computers. There should be less rote-learning and more critical thinking. Technology itself will help, whether through MOOCs (massive open online courses) or even video games that simulate the skills needed for work. […] Yet however well people are taught, their abilities will remain unequal, and in a world which is increasingly polarised economically, many will find their job prospects dimmed and wages squeezed. The best way of helping them is not, as many on the left seem to think, to push up minimum wages. Jacking up the floor too far would accelerate the shift from human workers to computers. Better to top up low wages with public money so that anyone who works has a reasonable income, through a bold expansion of the tax credits that countries such as America and Britain use.

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Tweets&Links[Jun-Dec 2013]

I’m opening a new gym called “Resolutions”. It will have exercise equipment for the first two weeks, and then turn into a bar.
Source

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Vietnam y Camboya

Desde agosto tengo pendiente actualizar el blog comentando el viaje a Vietnam y Camboya y no quería terminar el año sin hacerlo. Como siempre 20 días no son suficientes para conocer un país, y mucho menos dos, y muchísimo menos dos países con con tanto que ver y que hacer como en estos dos, pero por lo menos sirve entender algunas cosas, descubrir paisajes espectaculares y ponerse al día con la historia. Vietnam es un país realmente sorprendente, lleno de gente encantadora, playas espectaculares, paisajes increíbles, ruido, calles en movimiento, comida en cualquier sitio, motos, motos y más motos, historia y cultura.

La diferencia entre el norte y el sur de Vietnam siempre estuvo presente. Norte y sur pertenecieron tradicionalmente a imperios diferentes y la Segunda Guerra Mundial solo hizo acrecentar esa separación. Hoy en día esa diferencia se nota tanto en la gente como en las ciudades. El sur tiene fama de organizado y serio Da Nang y Ho Chi Minh City son buenos ejemplos. Al norte Hanoi, y su Old Quartier caótico y lleno de “energía” como le gusta poner a las guías de viaje es un ejemplo de la diferencia Norte-Sur.

De las cosas más sorprendentes de Vietnam es el buen despertar que tiene la gente, a partir de las 6am los parques, las calles y hasta las aceras se llenan de gente de todas las edades, abuelos, madres, niños…haciendo cualquier tipo de deporte, los más clásicos apuestan por el Taichi pero el badminton y el baile (a ritmo de “La Macarena” visto con estos ojos!) también tienen sus adeptos. En general cualquier deporte. Otra curiosidad, a la gente joven (especialmente las chicas) no les gusta que les de el sol, pese a la humedad y el calor suelen ir tapados hasta arriba, con mascarilla y manga larga.

Al norte de Vietnam, cerca de la frontera con China, está la región de Sapa famosa por sus paisajes de arrozales en terrazas yen donde habitan bastante grupos étnicos, al este está el emblema del turismo en Vietnam, la bahía de HaLong, y muy cerca de allí Tam Coc conocida como “la bahía de Ha Long en la tierra”…siguiendo camino hacia el sur dos ciudades que merecen muchísimo la pena: Hue:

Huế es una ciudad situada en el centro de Vietnam, en la provincia de Thừa Thiên-Huế. Tiene aproximadamente 287.000 habitantes. Fue la capital del país asiático hasta 1945. Es muy conocida por su patrimonio arquitectónico, cuyo Conjunto de Monumentos de Huế fue declarado Patrimonio de la Humanidad por la Unesco en el año 1993.

Antigua capital imperial donde la extensión y el estilo de su ciudad imperial eran similares a la Ciudad Prohibida de Pekin. En la actualidad es una ciudad llena de vida, recorrida por el río Sông Hương o río Perfume.

No lejos de Hue está la ciudad de Hoi An, uno de los primeros puertos comerciales de Vietnam que fue perdiendo poder poco a poco a lo largo del tiempo y en parte gracias conserva parte de su encanto.

Hoi An (Hội An) es una pequeña ciudad en la costa del mar de la China Meridional, en Vietnam central. Se encuentra en la provincia de Quang Nam y cuenta con aproximadamente 88.000 habitantes.

En el siglo I, la ciudad disponía del mayor puerto del sureste asiáticos. Se la conocía como Lam Ap Pho (Ciudad de Champa).

El antiguo puerto de los Champa en la desembocadura de río Thu Bon fue un importante centro de comercio durante los siglos XVI y XVII, en los que chinos de varias provincias, así como japoneses, holandeses e indios se asentaron en ella. Durante este período del comercio con China, la población se llamaba Hai Pho (Poblado costero). En su origen Hai Pho era una ciudad dividida; el asentamiento nipón se encontraba al otro lado del puente japonés. El puente es una estructura cubierta construida por los japoneses y es el único puente que se conoce que está unido por un lado a una pagoda budista.

Esta zona de Vietnam además de tener muy buenas playas era parte del antiguo imperio Champa, que también dejó su huella.

Desde aqui el aeropuerto de Danang tiene bastantes conexiones y vuelos y se puede llegar muy fácil a Siam Reap en donde están los famosos templos de Angkor, la joya de la corona del Imperio Jemer que llegó a tener influencia en casi todo el sudeste asiático. Desde Siam Reap a Nom Pen el viaje por las llanuras camboyanas es bastante espectacular.

Este mini-resumen no llega para contar nada de nada, de estos lugares, y como una imagen vale más que mil palabras aquí dejo el álbum de fotos de flickr que cuentan muchas más cosas que yo.

Datos de interés:
HanoiKids, son estudiantes universitarios de Hanoi que hacen de guías turísticos de forma gratuita para practicar inglés (creo que otros idiomas también). A cambio hay que pagar los transportes, comida, etc… MUY RECOMENDABLE

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Reverse innovation in mHealth. Innovating in emerging countries to impact in the global market.

Recently, doctors in Austria implanted into a patient the first pacemaker which does not require surgery. Medtronic says it is the smallest pacemaker in the world. The device is 24 millimeters long and 0.75 cubic centimeters in volume—a tenth the size of a conventional pacemaker. Earlier this year, another device manufacturer, St. Jude Medical, bought a startup called Nanostim that makes another tiny pacemaker, and St. Jude is offering it to patients in Europe. This device is 41 millimeters long and one cubic centimeter in volume. The main advantage of the reduced dimesions of this pacemaker is that doctors can implant it into the heart through blood vessels, via an incision in the thigh. They use steerable, flexible tubes called catheters to push the pacemakers through a large vein.

Moreover the novel features of this pacemaker extend beyond its innovative implantation. The mini-pacemaker’s telemetry might facilitate a development in the future that would allow healthcare professionals to control the device and monitor patients using a standard programmer via smartphones, thereby providing individual treatment to patients in the most rural of areas. –

Why did Medtronic start working on this?. This post at the Harvard Business Review addresses the topic very well. It explains how Medtronic started working on this tiny pacemaker to fit the requirements of emerging markets such as India. Eventually, they come up with an innovative product for the global market.

Sixty-nine percent of deaths in the developing world are due to chronic disease, yet only 2.3% of international aid is allocated to chronic disease. In the United States, hospitalization of chronic disease patients accounts for the majority of health care costs. But innovation in managing chronic disease is happening faster in emerging markets such as India as a result of the scarcity of physicians.

At this point, few specialists are actually trained to monitor this device, or other Medtronic devices. In addition, the fragmentation of India’s healthcare system means that clinical outcomes aren’t monitored and evaluated in a standardized way. This increases the potential for device failure, and personal-injury lawsuits — a serious concern for Medtronic in a market with millions of customers. Medtronic recently paid $268 million to settle cases stemming from fracture-prone cables used to connect hearts to defibrillators, which earlier recalls could have avoided.

But Medtronic anticipated these institutional voids in the healthcare regulatory system. To preempt poor clinical-outcome monitoring, Medtronic placed passive remote sensors in the stent and pacemaker that transmit signals via any mobile handset to a cloud computing infrastructure — “patient care in the cloud.” The technology is being adapted for remote monitoring and adjustment of other products, including neuromodulators for Parkinson’s patients, and glucose modules.

At this point, few specialists are actually trained to monitor this device, or other Medtronic devices. In addition, the fragmentation of India’s healthcare system means that clinical outcomes aren’t monitored and evaluated in a standardized way. This increases the potential for device failure, and personal-injury lawsuits — a serious concern for Medtronic in a market with millions of customers. Medtronic recently paid $268 million to settle cases stemming from fracture-prone cables used to connect hearts to defibrillators, which earlier recalls could have avoided.

Actually, this process is known from some time ago as reverse innovation :

The process of reverse innovation begins by focusing on needs and requirements for low-cost products in countries like India and China. Once products are developed for these markets, they are then sold elsewhere – even in the West – at low prices which creates new markets and uses for these innovations.

We can see it as another consequence of globalization, medical device innovators have been embracing the notion of making products simpler, stripping out costs to make devices affordable for those who have very little income, and adapting devices to make them invaluable for healthcare professionals who don’t have the state-of-the-art facilities of a Western hospital. For sure, we will continue to see this process in the coming years.

Stephen Oesterle, Medtronic’s Vice President for Medicine and Technology, announced the development of the mini-pacemaker at the 2010 TEDMED

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Avoa

Google Play

Avoa es una app que trata de hacer los smartphones más accesibles, especialmente para las personas mayores.
Avoa utiliza tags NFC para lanzar diferentes servicios. Estos servicios pueden ser facilmente personalizables por los usuarios. En esta primera vresión los servicios disponibles son: teléfono (Skype, Viber y el teléfono normal), videollamada (Skype) y mensajería (email y SMS)

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The goal of this app is to make the use of smartphones easier for the elderly and to enhance their communication capacities.

Avoa uses standard NFC tags to launch different services. These tags can be easily customized by the user.
In this first version the available services are: phone (Skype, Viber and the regular phone), video call (Skype) and messaging (email and SMS).

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