Innovation & Tech

318 articles

5 IoT Applications Retailers Are Using Today

From RFID to the smart store, retailers are taking advantage of the Internet of Things.

At its most basic, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of connected physical objects embedded with sensors. IoT allows these devices to communicate, analyze and share data about the physical world around us via networks and cloud-based software platforms. In the case of retail, the “things” can include RFID inventory tracking chips, traditional in-store […]

A Tech-Fueled Approach to Collective Problem Solving

The optimal use of collective intelligence enables bottom-up decisions.

There are more people learning foreign languages on the Duolingo platform than there are people learning foreign languages in the whole U.S. public school system. Designed by Carnegie Mellon professor Luis von Ahn, DuoLingo has reduced the time it takes to achieve basic mastery of a foreign language to 34 hours, earning it 200 million active users […]

The Right Way for an Established Firm to Partner with a Startup

One of the great ironies of digital transformation is that disproportionate impact can so quickly emerge from seemingly tiny steps.

For innovation-hungry legacy firms, partnering with a startup can be appealing. Relatively small sums of time and money can quickly yield generous returns. These partnerships can go beyond good results and energize organizations that have become too comfortable or complacent with everyday routines. In return, the startups typically get valuable references or valued customers. “Startnership” […]

Reimagining the Future of Making

The world now has bigger problems to solve, which will require more human-machine collaboration and creativity.

Humanity inevitably needs, desires and demands more. At the same time, it must also confront the reality of less – fewer natural resources, less space and fewer skilled construction and manufacturing workers than the world needs. But while resources and skilled labor are in short supply, the global population is increasing (to nearly 10 billion people […]

7 Key Challenges for the Future of ASEAN – and How to Solve Them

Home to a growing market of more than 600 million consumers, with 125,000 new internet users every day, ASEAN is brimming with opportunity.

The ASEAN region, made up of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, boasted a combined GDP of roughly $2.77 trillion as of last year, with predictions for enviable GDP growth rates of around 5.3 percent per year through 2019. Here are seven challenges the bloc faces in promoting […]

5 Trends Driving the Sustainable Fashion Revolution

We need bottom-up actions and solutions developed with a next-generation mentality.

Recent trends and events continue to call for a fashion revolution. We need to move the fashion industry away from the take-make-dispose consumption of clothes that are often produced in inhumane conditions and affect the environment in more damaging ways than most people realize. This issue has been described in previous World Economic Forum blog […]

Contextual Engagement: Moving from Brains to Hearts (and Wallets)

How the LEAP approach – listening, empathizing, analyzing and propelling – can build relevant communication with customers.

My favorite marketing book, one I read every few years, was authored in 1999. No, that date is not a typo. It was 1999. The internet was entering its “tweens,” the first downloadable content for mobile phone (ringtones) had just made its debut and the dominant marketing activity was “spray and pray” – direct mailing […]

What Is a Blockchain Token?

Tokens could outsource their ownership accounting systems, attaching them to preexisting blockchain ledgers.

People are just becoming acquainted with the idea of digital money in the form of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, where transactions are recorded on a secure distributed database called a blockchain. And now along comes a new concept: the blockchain-based token, which I’ve been following as a blockchain researcher and teacher of courses about cryptocurrency and blockchain tokens. […]

Blockchain Will Make Carbon Visible for Everybody

While carbon reporting remains a significant hurdle for organizations, one nascent technology offers a possible solution.

To understand, and report on, an organization’s carbon footprint is a complex undertaking — to say the least. First, you must determine what drives your carbon footprint. For most multi-site organizations, these influences are vast, including both direct impacts from company-owned facilities and indirect impacts from suppliers and distributors. Then you must run a scenario […]

Back to the Future: Flying Cars Are Becoming a Reality

Flying taxis, supersonic flight and Hyperloop, among other innovations, have the transportation world buzzing.

In 2011, Peter Thiel confronted his Silicon Valley peers with this observation: “We were promised flying cars, but instead we got 140-character tweets.” Thiel wanted to know when the long-awaited innovations of the future were going to see the light of day. It seems that the future has made its comeback this past year. All […]

3 Reasons Marketing Disruption Will Work for Your Brand

Big data, machine learning and cloud computing are disrupting decades-old marketing practices.

Technology is changing everything – from manufacturing and construction to design and engineering – and it’s changing everything at what feels like a rapidly increasing pace. If you’re a professional in one of those industries, you know this all too well. From the tools to design, build and make things to the demands of customers, today’s […]

Electric Vehicles Are Changing the World, and They’re Just Getting Started

The electrification of transportation is one of the big stories of 2018 – and beyond.

Global interest in climate change – its effects on the environment and society more broadly – is at an all-time high. Countries around the world are increasingly acknowledging the shift that’s needed from a fossil fuel-driven economy to one that is sustainable, green and attempts to mitigate climate change. Transportation is one area where this […]

Making Data Work for Women

The private sector can leverage its influence and reach to highlight the unmet needs for women across supply chains.

As Melinda Gates put it in a speech at the 2016 Women Deliver conference: “We can’t close the gender gap without first closing the data gap.” Throughout history, women have often been uncounted and therefore invisible, and increasingly, the international community is taking notice. Organizations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the OECD, UN Women, Women Deliver and the World Bank, have […]

Cancer as an Information Science Challenge

The first step in making cancer a manageable condition is translating biological information into usable data.

As a former trauma coordinator for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, I know what it’s like to be on the front lines of patient care. It was perhaps most personal when my cousin was diagnosed with bone cancer. As a patient in the hospital in which I worked, I watched as doctors tried everything they knew […]

3D-Printed Parts Put Through Their Paces

This company is finding new, fast ways to spot hidden flaws in 3D-printed parts – with technology seamlessly embedded in assembly lines.

The land that is now the state of Ohio spent millions of years beneath a sea teeming with prehistoric aquatic life, making it fertile ground for today’s fossil hunters. One particularly rich area is a limestone and shale hillock just outside Cincinnati called Trammel Fossil Park. Every day, amateur archaeologists equipped with hammers and buckets […]

Can We Unlock the Power of the Innovation System for Good?

How innovators, investors, managers and policymakers can come together to make change.

Can business save the Earth? The answer depends on a broad system of forces – forces that generate new inventions, successfully commercialize new products out of these inventions, provide capital to support commercialization and scaling and provide value to a wide number of customers. Each of these forces is driven by the idiosyncratic ingenuity and […]

5 Technologies that Will Forever Change Global Trade

Public and private stakeholders must work together to establish a technology framework that unleashes global trade's potential.

International trade has dominated the global headlines recently. Much of the discussions have been focused on the threat of a trade war, the tit-for-tat tariffs and the health of the global trade order. While extremely important, these conversations are missing a brighter side of international trade – how innovative technologies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution […]

Wanted: AI Leaders

Leaders who can inspire people to design a better future for all of us should be front and center in the AI evolution.

News and predictions about artificial intelligence (AI) are everywhere. Technology forecasts span the gamut from AI ushering in world peace to machines triggering the demise of humanity.  Amid these predictions, the terms automation and autonomy are used interchangeably. Governments and businesses alike are funding AI projects that resemble the plots of Hollywood science fiction films. And the […]

That’s One Smart Flowerpot

This entrepreneur is harnessing the power of plants to address a chronically overlooked health hazard.

If necessity is the mother of invention, then it’s fitting that eco-entrepreneurs like Paolo Ganis would partner with Mother Nature herself to create environmentally friendly products. Paolo and his Italian company, Laboratori Fabrici, are helping consumers fight dangerous indoor air pollution using nature’s greatest defense against toxins – plants. Paolo and his team created Clairy, […]

How Tech Is Driving a Fourth Wave of Environmentalism

Sustainability is not just some nice-to-have byproduct of innovation – it's the goal.

In any era, the hard work of environmental progress requires the best available tools. Today those tools include technological innovations that are giving corporations and NGOs alike new capabilities and supercharging the partnerships between them. Sensors, data analytics, machine learning and blockchain are just some of the breakthroughs driving business growth as well as environmental […]

Rethinking the Fire Extinguisher

An entrepreneur's quest to build fire extinguishers that are functional — and beautiful.

In France, most homeowners don’t own a fire extinguisher, and if they do, they stow it away in a cabinet or closet. The safety item that should be perhaps most accessible is often the most difficult to find. French fire safety expert Rodolphe Gimenez wants to change that. “Fires are the second cause of mortality […]

Graduation Advice You Wish You’d Gotten, from 25 TED Speakers

Whether you put on your cap and gown last week — or last century — these honest answers can give you some insight and guidance.

“If you don’t know what you want to do with the rest of your life, you’re not a failure. Give yourself time and get yourself experience to figure things out.” — Angela Duckworth (TED Talk: Grit — the power of passion and persistence) “Although I think I already knew this back when I graduated from […]

Foreign Aid Enters a New Age of Accountability

Bringing trust and transparency to the world of foreign donations presents a strong case for blockchain technology.

“I don’t know why you’d bother giving money to help people overseas. It’s just wasted and taken by corrupt dictators.” I must have heard this comment (masquerading as a question) hundreds of times as I’ve spoken to audiences about the opportunities and challenges of ending extreme poverty by 2030. As a co-founder of Global Citizen, […]

Getting in the Family Business

A business owner with entrepreneurship in his blood puts a modern twist on his family’s craft.

Small business owner Mike Smith is passionate about the power of solar. The co-founder of Smith & Sons started his general contracting business with his father in the 1980s, when the two began rehabbing homes in low-income neighborhoods on the banks of the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C. His company now provides off-grid clean energy […]

3 Trends Shaping Startups in the Middle East

The start-up environment in the Middle East is positioning the region as an economic force for years to come.

The Middle East is facing rising geopolitical tensions, the world’s highest youth unemployment and a shift away from oil-based economies. In this context, the success of its startups could well determine the whole region’s success. Already, the Middle East’s only unicorn, a ride-hailing app called Careem, has created more than 500,000 jobs. It is now […]

Augmented Reality Is Helping Factory Workers Become More Productive

It's time for an augmented reality check.

Jimmie Beacham is no gamer, but that didn’t stop him from hanging an Xbox console from a ceiling at work. As chief engineer for advanced manufacturing at GE Healthcare, Beacham, 44, is in charge of a futuristic laboratory in Waukesha, Wisconsin, experimenting with new ways to make things. He and his team are using the […]

Relentless Service

Getting ahead in three different industries takes hustle. Just ask Ryan Alovis, founder and CEO of The Stella Group. But that’s okay, Ryan was born to hustle. Check out Ryan’s tips for outhustling the competition.

Long before Ryan Alovis sold his first business, MagazineDiscountCenter.com, to Time Inc. at the age of 33, he had already risen to success in the nightlife industry in New York City. What started as Ryan’s college side gig turned into a full-time enterprise that employed hundreds of other party promoters. His entrepreneurial roots run deep. […]

Imagine It, Make It

In this Q&A, Joel Johnson, inventor, innovator and co-founder of BoXZY, discusses the power of expanding the maker movement.

Small business owners Joel and Justin Johnson want you to build more stuff. The Pittsburgh-based brothers have formed their business on a simple premise: Just about anyone can make virtually anything from almost anywhere. BoXZY is a cube-shaped machine with rapidly changing parts: a CNC mill, 3D printer and laser engraver. Think of it as […]

From Time-Based to Task-Based Work

How will the evolving nature of work change our conception of time?

Not long ago in parts of Madagascar people measured time in units of rice cooking – how long it took to cook a pot of rice (about half an hour) or how long it took to fry a locust (a moment). Native people in Southern Nigeria used the saying: A man died in less than the time […]

Is Wearable Tech the Future of Safety Management?

What makes wearables so effective is their ability to help safety managers efficiently find the zebra in the herd of horses.

The Internet of Things has significantly enhanced the efficiency and safety of our day-to-day lives over the past several years. With the click of an icon, connected devices let us see who is in our house, control the thermostat, give our dogs a treat, monitor the afternoon commute, count our steps, gauge our sleep quality […]