Friday, March 23, 2018

3D Printing Evolved

   3D printing was once known as the future product of the printing industry. The ability of printing an actual tangible object with nothing but a computer and measurements out of the comfort of your house or workshop sounded like a great achievement in the engineering of printing. Now the technology is convened by hobbyist and designers, not many people use it to the full potential due to slow speeds and restriction of materials and of course overall cost. Now the new age of printing has come out in the open, the ability to increase speeds of the process, reduce the overall cost, and move from plastic materials to durable materials for manufacturing use like steel, with 3D mental printing.

 Old 3D printing method and machine sticky use plastic material to make parts and figures. They are fragile and not always the best option with also taking a normal amount of time to constrict based on the overall size. This is why they are attractive for hobbyist and designers.  With new 3D mental printing they ability to print is not limited to a fragile plastic material, but we now have the luxury to use materials such as steel, and make then in half the time. Not only will these steel parts be stronger than their plastic competition but twice as strong as other metal manufacture parts.
Also, the new 3D printing will allow for faster pace manufacturing. This would indeed help out businesses and offer many positives for any type of company. For example, if you are creating a small part for a car this would allow the company freedom to rapidly produce the product if it wasn’t already in their inventory therefore making faster turnover for them and quicker and more reliable service for the customer.

    Manufacturers now a day’s stock up on parts and materials in their inventory while this new printing would give them the opportunity to make this trend to be a thing of their past. Companies would be able to rapidly create the parts you need on a fast time clock, and have no need to constantly hold inventory, while just holding raw materials. This raw material is easy and safer to store, it has no threat to being injured. From a business standpoint companies would be able to save money on storage cost and time at the same time by creating a way of manufacturing for the customer’s specific needs and schedule. Companies like Ford would have to spend less money overseas in car manufacturing and be able to create their own parts cheaper while cutting out importation fees. The only down side I see, would be the loss of jobs in the manufacturing process, but there could be many new opportunities that arise from the use of the 3D printing. As of now they are limited to creating small parts but have the capability to use this technology on a bigger more manufacturing type of scale.   

“You'll Want to Keep an Eye on These 10 Breakthrough Technologies This Year.” MIT Technology Review, MIT Technology Review, 23 Feb. 2018,

Uber Electric Bicycles

            Uber has been attempting a new form of getting a ride, one that includes being your own driver. This new form of Uber has nothing to do with cars, however. Uber has began a pilot program in San Francisco in which users can go on the app to find designated bicycles to ride. The program is called “Uber Bike by JUMP.” 250 bicycles have been placed at designated public bike zones. If someone wishes to use one of the bikes, they simply go on the app, pay $2 per half hour, and go on their way. When they have reached their destination, the driver is supposed to find the nearest designated public bike zone and leave the bike there for the next customer. How do customers get charged? Users receive a pin code to unlock the bicycle and then can ride it.
            While this sounds like a great idea, it only works when the users participate the way Uber wants them too. In order for the app to work properly, the bicycles must be left in a proper zone. However, bike sharing is a major industry in China, and it does not always go according to plan. People tend to leave bikes in random locations, making it more difficult for the following customer to use. I believe this happens because the bikes are not owned by anybody. For example, if I were to ride my bike around town, I would take proper care of it. I would make sure it was locked up and in good condition. If there were any physical issues, I would take care of it. In this case, riders do not own the bikes they are riding, and could care less if the bike is not left in good care or is not in the right area. If Uber tried this strategy with cars, I believe the same issues would arise. The reason why Uber cars work so well is because the owner of the car is driving and maintains the condition of the vehicle. Another issue that arises is that since the riders do not own the bicycles, someone needs to be responsible for them. Left in the wrong places, the bike sharing companies then become responsible to find the bikes.
            I believe that Uber can succeed in the bike sharing industry as other companies have. They simply need to iron out the way the system works. If this catches on everywhere, there will be less traffic jams as less people are on the roads. It will help the environment as well, because the bikes are electric. For this to work, the responsibility falls on us, the consumer, to follow along with how the system works. Cities should not have to tell the bike companies to clean up their mess. People not putting the bikes in the zones is similar to a child playing with a friend’s toy and not putting it away. I will stay updated on Uber’s success in this industry.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Another type of robot has been created -- the Robot Carpenter

Nowadays, we are seeing many news headlines saying, “The robot _______ is coming.” This time, “the robot carpenters are coming.” Entrepreneurs/innovators use artificial intelligence to create many different uses for robots. AutoSaw was recently invented by researchers at MIT.  AutoSaw allows robot carpenters to create custom furniture and carpentry projects. It uses a pair of youBots to measure the wood and place the wood on the path to saw it and a modified Roomba cuts precise measurements and uses a jigsaw attachment to cut more complicated designs. Like every new technology, there are pros and cons to this.
            This new technology can be very beneficial to carpenters who use a saw every day and are risking injury to their hands, mainly their thumbs. The AutoSaw uses a computer-aided design (CAD) system, which tells the robot exactly what the user wanted, and then it will get to work. This could save thousands of carpenters from cutting off their fingers. This will minimize injury, as well as allow the carpenters to focus on other more complicated tasks. It is also opening many more opportunities to people when they are furniture shopping. Many of us college students go to places like Ikea to buy our furniture, but the pieces don’t always fit into our weird dorm room spaces. Instead, this AutoSaw will be able to make us whatever we want and in the exact measurements that we need it to fit. This is like a dorm room dream come true.  We can get shelves that precisely fit under our beds or in our closets. It’s so annoying when something is ½ inch too big for a spot. Robots are already creating mass productions in many other areas, so I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually the AutoSaw did the same thing. But for as of right now, the AutoSaw is mainly for carpenters, to help them reduce the risk of injuring/losing their fingers.
            However, there are some cons. Like almost every new technology when it first comes out, it is expensive. In the article it says it could cost around 30K. That’s a lot of money for a self-employed carpenter. But, if you compare it to the cost of reattaching your finger, then it is a lot less expensive. This could also cause some carpenters to lose their jobs, which a lot of new robots have been doing. The easier and more basic jobs will most likely be taken away by the AutoSaw, so those entry-level people will have to find another job or have to be trained to do the more complicated and harder tasks.  But usually you learn by doing the easier tasks first, so this may take away the path to learning good carpentry skills.
            Below is a video showing how the AutoSaw works. It’s interesting to see how the robots do their job.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Amazon creates a wristband that can track workers

Amazon won a pair of patents for a wristband system that keeps track of warehouse workers to ensure they are putting their hands in the right places. The wristbands could emit ultrasonic sound pulses or radio transmissions to let a receiver system know where the workers’ hands are positioned, relative to a selection of inventory bins. The workers receive alerts on the wristband when an order needs processing and guides them to the correct warehouse shelves.

This wristband could improve workers productivity and efficiency by removing the use of handheld scanners employees use to check the inventory and fulfill orders. By moving this equipment to the worker’s wrist, his or her hand will be free to pick up packages and he or she will be able to look around the warehouse without having to look back at a computer screen for information. Amazon is known for automating as much of their operations process as possible which has been seen with their Kiva robots and Amazon go stores. All of this automation reduces the time it takes to process and deliver an order, but implementing the wristband could cross the fine line between trying to help workers become more efficient and invading their privacy.

The wristband raises a major concern: the new layer of added surveillance that would come with implementing this type of technology could invade the worker’s privacy. Something as simple as a wristband could track how much time a person spends sitting down, moving around, and even track how long their bathroom breaks are. This added level of surveillance can make workers feel like robots programmed to complete tasks a certain way, making them feel like they just go through the motions of their job without knowing why. Micromanaging workers through wristbands can generate tension between management and the workers creating a negative work environment. Workers feel constant pressure in the workplace already and with the new wristbands, the pressure will be intensified, potentially leading them to exhaustion and causing their performance to be less satisfactory than before the technology was implemented. In the worse case scenario, workers could feel like they are not free to speak their minds because of the fear that the wristband can do more than management says, like listen into conversations and monitor their bathroom breaks.

Amazon’s automation of their operations process could be causing workers to feel burdened by the idea of being replaced by machines at any moment and losing their source of income. Even though automating processes may increase efficiency and reduce costs, there are certain things that humans still have to do. The creation of this wristband suggests companies feel the need to automate humans too, making them feel more like robots than humans. Maybe replacing humans with artificial intelligence is the next step in automating operations processes, but hopefully that is far-off in the future.

The image below illustrates how the wristband can track a workers hand position in relation to the inventory bins.
Image source:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

No title included

The Cyber Security Intrusions That Should Scare You Most
By Andrew Ramirez

What if I were to tell you that you could lose your house, water, or power for weeks if the critical infrastructure in your town was hit by a cyber-attack?
In recent news the United States government is establishing a new office of Cyber security, Energy Security, and Emergency Response through the US Department of Energy. You may be asking yourself well what does infrastructure have to deal with cyber security? You may not have heard, but in 2016 a dam in Rye Brooke, N.Y. was hacked into by Iranian hackers acting for the Iran Revolutionary Guard, a subset of the Iran military. This is  big deal in the grand scheme of things although the dam only had the power to really only flood a few basements, and a baseball Park. Activist across the globe are now capable of crippling critical infrastructure such as dams, power grids, etc causing extreme damage for little to no cost, while half way across the globe. This is very appealing to cyber actors, because the attacks on infrastructure render thousands  of individuals without power, water, or other basic necessities that support  foundation of our daily lives. In 2015 we witnessed the first major infrastructure attack on an electrical power grid when almost 200,000 Ukrainians were left without power for hours. There is no doubt that with the increase in successful attacks and frequency of attacks that this problem is much larger than most people perceive. It is no longer the case that just companies are hacked for their valuable information, instead these attack have become malicious in their intent to harm individuals, and can have militarized capabilities just as the dam in Rye Brooke was attacked Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps.
            In my opinion this was a very strategic move by the government. There is no doubt that the threat of cyber-attacks will play a major role in any future war. I am pleased that they are taking notice of an especially critical part of the daily lives of American citizens. Imagine if the Hoover Dam was had been hit by an attack, the immense release of the water would have tsunami like effects on the surrounding area, not only crippling the power structure supplied by the water, but also devastation the environment. It was even seen that hackers could alter the water treatment, flow, and chemical input in a water treatment plant. Many organization and agencies do not currently even have cyber security protocols in place, creating an opportunity to silently strike  with deadly results before the intrusion is even detected. For example, the Department of Transportation has no protocol which could lead to extreme consequences. The threat of cyber security attacks should no longer just share consumers of companies, but has now reached a level in which voters should take keen awareness to in future elections.