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Liv Sala

Tooteko – a tactile conversation with art for the blind

By sdg 10, sdg 9, technology

Tooteko is a thesis project turned reality. Serena Ruffato, CEO, explains how their device works: making art accessible to the blind and visually impaired by integrating tactile exploration with audio data. Deborah Tramentozzi shares her experience of a Canova statue with me.

Cristina: We’re in Rome in a space that is now a restaurant, but was once the studio of Antonio Canova. We’re here to tell you about a technological application that’s also an important human experience. Serena, how does the application you created work?

Serena Ruffato: This technology combines audio and touch to allow everyone, even the blind, to experience works of art. It uses this ring, an NFC sensor reader, to recognize the sensors we place on the art work and transmits audio information to a smartphone.

Cristina: Altering the art means that you work with copies.

Serena Ruffato: Absolutely, we take the original piece, select it, scan it, reproduce it with 3D printing and then apply our sensors.

Cristina: Deborah, tell us how you’re equipped to live this experience and what it tells you.

Deborah Tramentozzi: I’m wearing this ring, which has an antenna inside it. This antenna communicates with a tag that is placed here on the statue, which I will now touch with a finger. The moment I put it on the tag, the ring emits a vibration and communicates with the smartphone. Which will start an audio guide. Now I’ll show you how it works. This technology, by connecting the two senses that I use best – touch and hearing – allows me to have a vision, I like to call it that, of the work of art without any filters. I come from an artistic environment, so I have always experienced guided tours through the filter of another person, who gave me an idea allowing me to interpret the work of art. This way, it’s me and my personality who get an idea of ​​the work of art and I can literally see just how each of you would. I think this is a great gift because giving the blind the independence and freedom to choose to enter a museum, something that is second nature to everyone, for me is truly a frontier that I thought would be impossible. Can I ask you to close your eyes, and I’ll start the next tag and touch the statue with you?

Cristina: Absolutely, thank you. It’s exciting, because it also allows me to enter into a kind of empathic resonance with Deborah’s experience. We hope that this project will allow as many people as possible to experience art in this new way. Occhio al futuro

On air November 17, 2018

A trip to the future with Cristina Pozzi

By sdg 16, sdg 17, sdg 8, sdg 9, technology

Does your head spin when you think about the future of work, society and family? I went on a short trip with Cristina Pozzi, author of 2050 Guida (fu)turistica per viaggiatori nel tempo [2050 (Fu)Turistic guide for time travelers]. Cristina is also the founder of  Impactscool, which brings training courses to Italian schools and universities, preparing for the big changes taking place.

Cristina: What are the changes that await us in the coming years? Cristina you’re a social entrepreneur and writer and you traveled into the future. What did you see?

Cristina Pozzi: The future I saw in 2050 is one where the environment in which we live changes because, alas, due to climate change, our planet will be subject to many changes, but also the same concept of family could be questioned, mutate, evolve, due to the evolution of genetics. For example, children could have three parents born by using the genetic material of all three, it has already been done in England.

Cristina: How are we going to increase our cognitive skills?

Cristina Pozzi: We can do it in many ways, both from a chemical point of view with medicines that are being studied to increase our attention and also with so-called neurotechnologies – we can have implants or helmets to wear that increase our creativity.

Cristina: And what if they are not within everyone’s reach because of the cost?

Cristina Pozzi: Only a few could benefit. We probably don’t want to see a society where only a few people can be smarter, more successful at work or have access to certain treatments to stay healthy. For those who cannot afford it, there may be scenarios where you can even get access to a technology in exchange for advertising, perhaps continuous, so you can always use it for “free”.

Cristina: What about sharing your DNA data?

Cristina Pozzi: That could also become a source of income, one of the many jobs that we might have because most likely we will no longer have just one job but many at the same time.

Cristina: And many jobs we know today will disappear. Which ones do you think will remain or become strategic?

Cristina Pozzi: Definitely finding ourselves immersed in a reality that’s changing fast and that we struggle to understand, perhaps also due to the presence of robots around us in many situations, the role of psychologists who can help us manage this transition, will be essential.

Cristina: Do you think there is a correct path to make this journey towards the future?

Cristina Pozzi: For now, no. The advice I always give is learn to be curious and learn to learn.

Cristina: So, by combining our natural talents and our intellect, heart, creativity and willpower. Occhio al futuro!

On air September 9, 2018

Airlite – the air purifying paint

By ecology, sdg 11, sdg 12, sdg 13, sdg 3, sdg 9

Airlite developed a paint that purifies the air and can be used both indoors and outdoors. It neutralizes odors, bacteria and prevents mold, it repels dust and dirt and reduces air pollution.

Cristina: Don’t we all feel better when the air is light? Today we’re featuring a technology that allows us to breathe better. Hello Massimo, tell us more.

Massimo Bernardoni: It’s a paint that contains various technologies. It purifies the air, eliminates bacteria and molds from surfaces, it works over time and eliminates odors. Through nanotechnology our paint transforms pollutants into salts. Through other processes it gets rid of bacteria, mold and it keeps walls clean and smog free.

Cristina: Does it prevent the black streaks over radiators?

Massimo Bernardoni: Yes those too, no more dark corners.

Cristina: Is it all mineral-based? Any petrochemicals?

Massimo Bernardoni: We do not have any petroleum based ingredients, only mineral-based, and when applied it doesn’t smell.

Antonio Cianci: Outdoors, with this technology, painting a 150 meter stretch of roadside, both left and right, is equivalent to planting a forest as big as a soccer field. 12 meters of a painted surface with our technology, reduce the pollution produced by a car in one day.

Cristina: Does it also absorb particulates?

Antonio Cianci: In an indirect way. Particulate matter is generated by nitrogen oxides through photochemical synthesis, we lower its levels and reduce it significantly.

Cristina: It also reduces energy consumption. How?

Antonio Cianci: We have the amazing ability to reflect the warm component of sunlight, therefore painting the wall with this product can reduce the surface temperature up to 30 degrees. This way less heat passes through therefore reducing the need for conditioning the room.

Cristina: So it creates a protective but permeable coat?

Antonio Cianci: Yes, the paint is permeable, it allows the passage of all the components without causing stagnation, such as those bubbles we sometimes find on our walls, which trap mold. Our paint creates a natural conditioning system.

Cristina: How many colors are available?

Antonio Cianci: 180. I must say that architecturally the performance is beautiful, suited also for high-end finishes. And it cleans the air.

Cristina: This is what happens when two brilliant Italians come together. Occhio al futuro

On air May 5, 2018

Holey, 3D printed orthopedics

By sdg 3, technology

3D printing is changing orthopedics.

Statistically one in two Italians, over the course of their lives, suffers a bone fracture. Many of you know how cumbersome a cast can be. Today, with 3D printing, there are alternatives to the traditional plaster we’re accustomed to.

Holey, a Lazio Innova spin-off, developed a solution that can produce custom-made 3D printable orthopedic braces that can replace traditional casts or standard-size commercial braces.

A three-dimensional scanner captures patient measurements if the affected area and a software automatically creates the virtual model, which will then be fabricated using the printer.

The benefits of having a custom brace can be significant, Holey CEO and co-founder Gabriel Scozzarro explains, “we reduce the risk of complications from a medical point of view, such as skin irritations or compartment syndrome. The brace exerts a uniform pressure on the whole limb, avoiding non-homogeneous pressure applied for long periods which blocks the normal flow of blood. The braces are non-invasive, very lightweight and completely water resistant as they are made from a plastic material, so not only can you continue all daily activities as if nothing had happened, you can even shower and swim.”

The scan is almost immediate, taking only 30 seconds, afterwards the printing process takes two hours, while the time needed for a plaster cast is about one hour. The technology for 3D printing is constantly improving, soon Holey’s process will be just as fast. Meanwhile, the price is already competitive with the traditional method, a wrist brace costing about 10 euros and a cast between 8-12 euros.

Quakebots, seismic monitoring

By sdg 11, sdg 9, technology

How IoT and cloud technology can change the way we monitor earthquakes

Italy is the most earthquake prone country in Europe, lying close to the line where the Eurasian and African plates meet and constantly grate against each other creating seismic and volcanic tension. According to the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (Ingv), the earthquakes counted in 2017 alone along the Italian peninsula were over 44,000. An average of 120 per day, five per hour. That is: an earthquake every twelve minutes. Most of these are micro-earthquakes, shocks that are rarely felt by the general population.

How does all this seismic activity affect our homes, buildings and infrastructures? Understanding these vulnerabilities and taking steps to help prevent major damage is essential and could potentially save lives.

Quakebots is a seismic monitoring system that uses IoT and cloud technology to record how buildings react to seismic stress. Through the use of AI, they create classification maps that can help understand which buildings may be most vulnerable.

Sensors, called nodes, are installed inside buildings on a load-bearing wall and from that moment start using the wifi network to communicate information to the cloud system. All systems work on the network, so data coming from a system is used to create value for other buildings. The data can then be used by engineers and architects for the different phases of seismic retrofitting. “In Italy we have 7 million buildings in areas with high to medium seismic risk that were built before the 70s” explains Quakebots Founder & CTO Gianni Alessandroni.

Earthquakes are not the only contributing factor – anthropic activity, the vibrations caused by traffic, railways, subways, or even remodeling inside the buildings themselves. The system is able to record all these vibrations and give information about the stress that the building undergoes.

Alessandroni explains how his involvement in the aftermath of the earthquake in l’Aquila (2009) helped shape the idea that became Quakebots. “At the time, I was in charge of the support service for the regional emergency services hotline in Abruzzo. On the day of the earthquake at 6 am, we were told that the hospital had to be evacuated. We took everything we had in the office – servers, workstations – and we went up to L’Aquila and within a few hours we rebuilt a dispatch center, allowing emergency services to continue uninterrupted. I saw the damage, what happened and in the wave of emotions I asked myself if those buildings had previously given any signs of the devastation to come.”

Currently they have almost a hundred buildings being monitored 24/7 in various regions of Italy, including Calabria and Umbria, and their network of Quakebot Nodes is growing. They’ve even received funding from the European Commission SME Instruments Horizon 2020 and won a grant from the Microsoft Bizspark+ program.

MDOTM, quantitative finance

By technology

How italian fintech startup MDOTM got noticed by Google for Entrepeneurs, twice.

When you think of quantitative finance does it conjure images of walls filled with computer screens and machines churning out big data?

Making the right investment choices and protecting your savings is a challenge. Data processing and algorithms (pre-set computer procedures to solve problems) are emerging in the financial sector, increasingly reliable and useful.

MDOTM, an Italian fintech start-up based out of Talent Garden Milan, began their journey during university, developing an initial algorithm to manage their savings and studying a quantitative model able to pinpoint the best market investments. Contrarily to most other fintech start-ups, they do not target end-customers, but provide research through a platform for professional and institutional clientele, such as banks or management companies.

Now, a team of 6, with degrees in finance, computer science and physics, they’ve been selected twice by Google for Entrepenuers for acceleration programs (the only European fintech company to be chosen). The first time was for BlackBox Connect, focused on business acceleration and networking and then machine learning and AI at Zurich ImpactHub.

CEO Federico Mazzorin explains “The quantitative finance model consists of a mathematical model that systematically makes decisions. We analyze market anomalies in large numbers, so a quantitative analysis gives you a big advantage, because these anomalies on the single stock are very weak, but on large numbers they allow you to have a good consistency. We develop fully automatic models which the manager takes and integrates into their decision-making process, applying all risk profiles and based on the needs of their clients. Among our customers there are management companies with assets under management ranging from 1 billion to 100 billion euros, for an average of about 8 billion euros of managed capital.”

Caracol, design and 3D printing

By sdg 9, technology

How 3D printing and artisanal traditions walk hand in hand into the future

Every innovation has many consequences and exploring new design horizons also means bringing together different technologies. In this case, robotics and 3D printing, or additive manufacturing.

The symbol of Caracol Design Studio is a snail, which has a shell with a complex and layered structure. A good metaphor for the idea of what lies behind systemic design.

The impact of 3D printing can be felt in many manufacturing supply chains. For example, they’re working on the design of a customized ergonomic chair. Paolo Cassis, one of Caracol’s founders, explains that they would start by scanning your body and back and using the data, elaborate it digitally to produce a chair, with millimeter accuracy, via the robot and the 3D printer. For a cost of a few hundred euros.

Another example of efficiency with this manufacturing process is the creation of a simple clamp, which affects the performance of a robotic arm. Caracol printed a clamp which is much lighter than the piece traditionally made of metal. Their clamp, installed on the robot, has allowed companies to save money as the the robotic arm is lighter and can achieve the same results as larger, more expensive robots.

This doesn’t mean that they don’t value the way things used to be done, in fact, they believe that the value of tradition should be carried forward even in an innovative field like 3D printing, precisely because a beneficial collaboration between tradition and innovation can be an engine of the progress of design.

Peace is the way – Interview with Deepak Chopra

By features

Deepak Chopra is injecting peace into the world through his 21 day guided meditations. How effective are they? A new cycle has just started in Italy, where I live.

I went to the source and asked Mr. Chopra, the mastermind of many tools that are spreading consciousness, to explain how neuroscience is proving the health benefits of meditation.

As you delve deeper into how our brain and body work, how do you measure the value/positive effects of meditation?

We evaluate the benefits in the mind and the body in terms of the growth of our wellbeing. For example, we can now see the metabolic markers and hormones associated with the decrease in inflammation in the body through meditation. We can also measure the increase of the enzyme telomerase which preserves the length of telomeres sustaining healthy cell life throughout our bodies.

What are the golden rules to harness the benefits of meditation?

The basis to gaining the full benefits of meditation is to not force or push the mind, by concentrating on thoughts or resisting thoughts. Meditation is an opportunity for the mind to be present and aware of its own nature. For a successful meditation experience we only need to follow the practice with complete ease.

How did your critical mass grow over the years with the meditations you offer?

The participation in the 21 day meditation experience has grown quickly in the last few years. To date, over 4 million people around the globe have participated in the meditations, learning about it online, through social media, or word of mouth.

Which are the areas of the world that respond the most? That you have most participation from?

Presently the areas of the world most responsive to the 21 day meditation challenge are North America, but there is growing participation in all the English-speaking populations of the world, Western Europe, India, Australia, and New Zealand.

Interview with Severn Suzuki

By ecology, features, sdg 13, sdg 15

If you were to address the world leaders today, your speech in 1992 would seem like it was written yesterday. How does that make you feel?

It is quite shocking to see that speech and realize that the issues we face today are not new. Indeed, there is only the line about our human family ‘five billion people strong’ that dates it. I constantly wonder why we haven’t been able to turn the tide. At the time I was twelve years old, and I believed that if we could just get the political leaders to listen, they would use their power to change the course of our world!  Of course I was idealistic.  I believed that if they were reminded of their own children, they would make better decisions.

How do you keep a positive attitude?

If you open your mind and heart to the problems that our global ecosystems face, as well as our fellow humans on the other side of the globe, it is easy to get depressed.  I have realized that it is extremely important not to let this happen. Equally as important as fighting against injustice and the damage we are doing to future generations, is living the vision – trying to support, uphold, promote and celebrate the society that we aspire to.  If we believe in a beautiful world, we must try and live that world in any ways that we can. Finding the joy is the true challenge.  And that quest is inspiring and invigorating.  It means taking time to grow, prepare and enjoy good food, it means building community in a multitude of ways.  What is good for one’s quality of life is good for the environment. I am inspired by the strength of others.  At my desk, I have a quote from the Dalai Lama, Never Give Up.  I am reminded of the great challenges and injustices and violence the Tibetan people have faced, and have to appreciate all that I have, and all I can do.  We are as powerful as we believe we are.

Where do you see tangible change happening?

Tangible change happens at the local level.  This is where we can act and see results.  The global is made up of the local. We need our governments (municipal to federal) to support the change that we can see in the backyards of our local communities.  They can do this by setting standards for energy, facilitating better transit, and giving incentives for positive environmental actions.  It is not fair that it is so difficult to do the right thing; at the moment our society is set up so that the easiest, cheapest means of executing our lives are also terribly destructive to the earth and to other peoples.

Of the many projects you’ve been and are involved in, which is the one that is helping you reach your goals most efficiently?

Excellent question.  All of the projects and campaigns have taught me so much.  I have met incredible, inspiring people, and am always learning.  It has been a privilege to work with the Sloth Club in Japan.  They are a beautiful group of visionaries who’s mission is to “slow down Japan.”  They believe deeply in the values of the Slow Food movement that started in Italy, but they bring the elements of ‘slow’ to the rest of our lives. They believe that we are moving too fast, and in doing so we are destroying the Earth, and ourselves.   When I have gone to Japan the speaking tours they have arranged for me have been incredible; they are amazing mobilizers and so efficient at getting out the message. Currently I am working with a group of peers across Canada on the ‘We Canada’ campaign to get our country’s leaders to show some real leadership at the Rio 2012 Earth Summit next year.  They are full of inspiration and energy, and are impressing me so much with their networking know how and social media savvy.  We have incredible tools for communicating and networking at our disposal, we just have to realize the power we have.

Clearly change is bottom up – and the social unrest in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, are a proof of how the world is desperately seeking change. The great challenge, for those countries, for all of us, is to seek out and elect leaders capable of setting a new course. There is a lot of hope, but do you think there are people who will be able to take the helm and steer humanity in the right direction?

Youth are over 50% of the globe’s population.  Think about that.  There is huge potential for revolution in that fact alone. But youth aren’t getting political in our country – while youth elected Barack Obama in the US, they aren’t getting out to vote since then, or in Canada.  We have to get youth to realize their power at the voting booths. In the 19 years since the Earth summit in 1992, I have been an activist, television host, writer, and gotten an education.  But the most powerful thing that I have done remains the speech I gave when I was 12.  Why?  I think it has to do with what the world did and still desperately needs: we need youth to speak truth to power.  Youth, those with everything to loose, have a powerful message of conscience to deliver to those living as if the future doesn’t matter.  We need them to stand up and challenge our leaders on intergenerational injustice. Climate Change is a huge sentence for today’s youth that was created by past and current generations.  In our history, humans acted with the future in mind, so that our species would survive.  We have thrown that essential survival technique away, at the cost of our children.

You’re a speaker, a writer, you’re on the web on on the radio, on tv – according to your experience, which is the most effective media to promote change?

It’s very hard to gauge when you’re having an effect on society’s consciousness.  It is a strange, amorphous work, to try and ‘change the way that people think and act’.  I think of the media as tools to speak to people, and there is so much media out there today.  But I think what is really life-changing is for people to go and have an experience.  If people get out there and witness a problem, or go visit a beautiful natural space that is under threat, then they are more likely to be moved to act.  We all have to get outside more.  If we know nature, we will fight for it.

An ecologically-sound lifestyle is simple; the solutions, which translate into a sequel of low-impact choices, are foreign to so many people, and that puts us advocates in the position of having to repeat the obvious, deliver a sexy message, find ways to get people out of their patterns. How do you face this challenge? Who are your role models?

On magazine covers and books we hear of ‘easy ways to be green.’  But the transition towards ecologically sound lifestyle is not yet made easy for individuals, even when it makes sense for health, for community, and for quality of life.  To get our society to start promoting and fostering ecological living is not simple, or easy.  That is a major challenge for communicators – to get our society to start facilitating transitions for people.  That means we need our governments to set environmental standards (like for pollution, or energy or water use) and give incentives to people to do the right thing.  Thomas Friedman is a role model.  His recent book ‘Hot, Flat and Crowded’ is amazing for challenging and inspiring information on our current challenge.

There is a touching message on your facebook fan page by an Italian 12 year old who says that she thought the environmental issues she hears about today were recent, then she saw your video….now you’re a mother too. So am I – all things considered, do you have faith that our offspring will inherit a planet worth living in?

I am a mother of a 1 year old child.  I have to believe my son will inherit a world worth living in.  I learned from my mother – we can get angry, we can get sad, but we can never give up hope.  The world is a beautiful place, and it is because of that beauty that we must fight against its destruction.  I think we must draw upon our emotional power, as children, as mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, as grandmothers and grandfathers, and realize our connection to the global challenges we face.  And then, we must stand up for justice.

Do you interpret Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in Indonesia, the tsunami that hit Japan, along with other “natural disasters” as a wake up call from nature?

When Hurricane Katrina hit the US, I thought, “Ah, now the west must wake up to Climate Change.”  One would think that even the slim possibility that we might have contributed to such a calamity would have given pause to any American.  However, the ‘wake up call’ did not deeply change their Climate policy.  It makes me wonder what it takes to ‘wake up’ society.  Many people speak of ‘climate justice’, or ‘environmental racism’, alluding to the fact that it is the poor of our society who bear the worst of the social impacts of environmental degradation. Is our society that blatantly injust?  Thinking about this gives me the chills and threatens my faith that people innately seek justice for all. The wreckage the tsunamis caused serve as reminders to us all of the raw power of the natural world; deserving respect.

As a biologist, and ethno-biologist, which is the most concerning data that you have to support the urgent need for global action?

Being on the land and ocean with native elders, it was sobering to learn that their childhood food sources were contaminated today.  In several areas we have visited the food specimens were not fit to eat, due to contamination.  That was something I didn’t expect in my research, and makes me very sad.  I think that there is so much important information in traditional knowledge.  In most cases ecosystems didn’t have baseline data taken before development, and so scientists don’t even know what ecosystems were like in their natural state.  Elders’ memories offer insight to a natural baseline.

How do you and your family feel about nuclear energy?

I have always thought of nuclear energy as a deal with the devil.

How do you calculate your ecological footprint?

There are several websites where you can do this online; an important exercise when trying to figure out what you can do in your life to live more ecologically!

Where do you live?

I live on the archipelago of Haida Gwaii – ‘Islands of the People’.  It’s off the north west coast of Canada.

You’re about to come to Europe – what for?

I’m going to visit my sister!  She is studying in England.  And we are taking the opportunity to introduce my son to my English relatives.

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on language revitalization of the Haida language.  Only a handful of elders speak it now.  It is the language of my husband, and now, my son, and we want to see it survive.  This is what I am focusing on with elders in my home of Haida Gwaii. I am also working on a campaign to promote awareness and real action by our Canadian government at Rio 2012 .  The Canadian government is currently leaving a terribly environmental legacy – I am ashamed.  It is called “We Canada”  – I am a spokesperson for the Canadian network ‘Girls in Action’ to promote positive opportunities and self esteem for young women; and am a Director of the board of the David Suzuki Foundation. And, my most important work: I am raising a strong, healthy little boy!