OCT 3rd 2012 (recap): Greased Lightning!

A car can be sexy in the same way a person can be sexy — although the trait is a bit harder to define when you’re talking about sheet metal versus flesh. Part of a sexy car’s appeal is purely physical: proportions and curves, size and muscle. Humans have eyes, lips and hips; cars have headlights, grilles and fenders. But then there’s the truly intangible — the animal attraction that turns mere mortals into drooling buffoons. For this, a machine must be bold, distinctive and aggressively elegant. And there’s the sound, too — a car’s voice. A beautiful car you admire. A sexy one you desire.” – Marc Lachapelle

At SVII this month, we parted the curtains of Angelica’s Bell Theatre with an opening act by German “comedian”, Sven Beiker, also known as the Executive Director of CARS (Center for Automotive Research at Stanford):

Sven had started his illustrious career at BMW, stationed at a variety of locations including the BMW lab here in the Silicon Valley. The CARS institute currently deals with a lot of the electronics research, mechanical engineering, and even legal aspects of cars. Among the interesting tidbits that Sven shared are innovations in the area of secondary use for car parts (such as the battery), especially relevant in light of the relatively short 13-year lifespan cars have to their manufacturers; These folks seem to also be carving a space in the legal and governmental playgrounds as well. After an energetic Q&A, we lifted our glasses to Sven, as he waved goodbye to celebrate German reunification day.

Our intermission was provided by Jessie Chen and Roland Van der Veen – a swing dance showcase with a little bit of cheek and sass to the program’s namesake musical hit “Greased Lightning”:

Missed it? You can check out the original video here:

Next up was Peter Oliver of Switch Vehicles, located in Sebastapol (just across the Golden Gate Bridge):

From a background in software and hardware, Peter had decided to combine his passion for cars and his propensity to have fun into a new project involving electric power conversion. His aspiration? To make an automobile with a 100 mile range, that can carry 3 to 4 people, and cost only $15,000. And thus, “The Switch” was born.

The Switch is a three-wheel vehicle with 33% of the weight on each tire. (The decision to use 3 wheels was inspired by the desire to be classified by the FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) as a motorcycle.) Putting his business sense to work, Peter also realized that the hardware industry could give him an edge by allowing him to buy standard parts, and farm out more specialized components to contract manufacturers. The audience was dazzled by the Switch’s many possible configurations… and even superhero qualities, such as one version’s ability to carry 600 lbs of hay. In addition, the building of the Switch also leaves its mark as the crux of various training programs for high schools and prisons.

Finally, Brad Templeton, Google’s car consultant and board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation painted a vision of Robocars:

At first, he cited the many reasons why cars really should be automated and electronic. For example, humans are bad drivers and 34,000 people are killed in America and 1.2 million worldwide every year as a result, many useless hours are spent driving in traffic, 25% of CO2 emissions today are from cars, and 8 cents per mile is continuously being spent on accidents and even more on gas. He also demonstrated that 60% of the land area in LA is dedicated to cars from driveways to parking lots to highways. Brad suggested that if we had small electric robocars they could be called up whenever they are needed, they can also self park 3X tighter and in areas that are mostly out of sight. For this seemingly futuristic system to be implemented, the AI systems needed are not the omniscient ones of science fiction lure, but actually rather simple collision avoidance systems that are fairly attainable. Brad also showed a convincing video of a Google robocar picking up and driving a blind man to and from the store without any human intervention. The video was created by Google-hired Stanford students who had won the DARPA challenge for off road and urban driving, the day after Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the legal ability to have robocars on the road.

We ended the evening with a lively panel discussion moderated by Max Sims (our auto-savvy presenter from the Images Speak event):

…and discussed issues ranging from the business models around car and battery ownership, to the Minority Report scenario of being betrayed by your robocar. (And can a Jewish man have a robocar drive him to the temple on the Sabbath?)

All in all, our impressive cast of speakers presented compelling perspectives on how the Silicon Valley is innovating in the area of transportation, and in the spirit of SVII, each broke out of conventional thinking in his own unique ways.

Be sure to join us on our next adventure: Design for Experience! (Innovations in User Experience and Product Design)

Pre-registration Tickets ($20) on SALE now!

OCT 3rd 2012: Greased Lightning! – SV Innovations in Transportation

“Fly to work, fly home.. instantaneously?”

Transportation is one of the most pivotal and under-noticed underpinnings of our society. It has inspired science fiction and scientists alike, and shapes life everyday by determining where you can go, and when you can get there.  Much like the river Nile sitting at the crux of whether a civilization can flourish, advancements in vehicles and systems of transportation can oftentimes be the bottleneck for whether or not other innovations are embraced by the culture at any point in time.  

Did you know that all of the major German, Japanese and American automotive companies have research labs here in the Silicon Valley?  
And did you know that Stanford University has one of the most revered Automotive Research programs in the world?

Come hear and join in on the conversation with our three uniquely selected speakers, and see what the Silicon Valley is doing to change the world via innovations in transportation!
Sven Armin Beiker
As the director of the CARS program, Sven is dedicated to re-envisioning the automobile; His motivation is to bring academia and industry together to shape the automotive future. Since 2008 he has been taking care of the program’s strategic planning, resources management, and internal / external communications. Since Spring 2009 he has been lecturing the Stanford class “The Future of the Automobile” to educate students in interdisciplinary automotive thinking and to get students involved with the industry early on. Before joining Stanford University, Sven used to work at the BMW Group for more than 13 years. Between 1995 and 2008 he pursued responsibilities in technology scouting, innovation management, systems design, and series development. He primarily applied his expertise to chassis and powertrain projects, which also provided him with profound insights into the industry’s processes and best practices. In addition, he worked in three major automotive and technology locations: Germany, Silicon Valley, and Detroit.
Brad Templeton
CreatorRobocars.com
Brad Templeton is Canadian born software engineer and entrepreneur who first made an impact to the online world with his involvement in USENET. As one of the most widely read moderated newsgroups in existence, Brad originated rec.humor.funny over 20 years ago which attracted an estimated half a million readers each day. Brad Templeton also sits as a chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF has long defended free speech, privacy, innovation and consumer rights for the online world. Since his involvement, Brad has been a part of a series of victories the EFF has achieved. He currently is also on the board of BitTorrent, Inc. and is an active artist at Burning Man and photographer. He maintains a blog called Brad Ideas.
Peter Oliver
After doing electric car conversions for many years, Peter Oliver co-founded Switch Vehicles three years ago. At that time, their goal was to develop a vehicle that costs less than $15,000 and weighed less than 1350 pounds. They were successful in this mission, creating the Switch, a vehicle that can travel for 100 miles per charge. The street legal vehicles can reach up to 70 miles per hour and the three wheeled, wide body design makes for a very stable ride.  In their preproduction phase, Switch Vehicles have already sold 11 cars to schools and private citizens located as far away as Australia. The company’s new goal is to produce 100 vehicles a month and find up to 25 resellers.
Moderated by:
Max Sims
Principal, Technolution
Max Sims has been teaching 3d design at the Academy of Art in San Francisco since 1994. He worked for Alias servicing industrial design and animation clients and started his own entertainment design and design visualization firm, which boasts clients such as PDI, ILM, Pixar, frogdesign, Apple Industrial Design Group.  Max is the  lead author of Inside Maya 5, and has a passion for combining his diverse knowledge based from experience with clients in various fields of manufacturing, including car design, SW development, game design, visual effects and animation;  His goal is to add a deeper level of design understanding to his proven success as a leading technologist in order to advance the state of the arts. He also enjoy international business, having worked extensively for foreign firms, and advisory board positions with like-minded people. To Max, business, legal and financial models require as much creativity as a museum quality design.
SCHEDULE:
6:30 – Registration (Networking)
7:00 – Dinner Commences
7:15 – Program Begins
7:45 – Intermission (Dance Showcase)
8:00 – Panel Discussion
9:30 – Wrap-Up (Networking till close at 10:30)

12/7/11: Holiday Party with CAST Labs

SVII and CAST Labs joined forces for an end of the year celebration. The program featured live jazz, opera arias, a tango dance performance, and a dinner-debate. The theme of the evening – art, creativity and innovation, a collaborative exploration.

Here is an excellent blog post by Theral Timpson about the evening.
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8/3/2011: Innovations in Wellbeing – Live Food

SVII Society’s first ever live foods dinner was a smash hit! The party started during setup as helping hands danced the tables and chairs into place to the tune of Howard Lieberman and Micha’el Bedar improvised piano and flute duet. Jillian Love gave a practical demonstration of how to make a live foods pesto.

Zesty flavors of live foods pizza and delicate cherry ice cream delighted the palettes of the evenings participants, some of whom had never experienced live foods cuisine before. After speakers shared their personal journeys to becoming live foods advocates, the dialog broadened and touched upon many topics including healthcare reform,  epigenetics and the role of people’s psychology on their level of health.

 

Everyone who attended deserves a big Thank You from SVII – when it was time the return our ad hoc dining room back into an empty hall – never before have we seen such a helpful crowd. Many hands made light work!

Check out the awesome photos of the event taken by Jessie Chen

see also: New Oakland Diabetes Prevention and Reversing Project

original event description

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