Who is RoboNation?

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written by: Gina Abbas

TechFarms has been working closely with RoboNation for several years now, but not everyone has heard of them and knows what they do. Here’s some background.

­­­Though interest in STEM careers in the U.S. has increased from dismal numbers in the ’90s, it is still a sorely overlooked career path. The trouble, in part, starts with the lack of focus STEM education receives in middle school. Studies show that the subjects and extracurriculars offered and encouraged during middle school are critical in a child’s chosen career path — and in the U.S., STEM doesn’t appear to be as highly encouraged as in other nations. In 2016, for example, China and India led the U.S. in STEM graduates with 4.7 million and 2.6 million respectively, while the U.S. had only 568,000.1

Enter RoboNation, a non-profit organization focused on stimulating interest among students of all ages in science, technology, engineering and math in hopes of convincing more of them to pursue STEM career paths. According to RoboNation, 80 percent of jobs require math and science skills, a number that proves the importance of piquing an interest in STEM from an early age.

But how does RoboNation redirect kids away from popular pastimes like video games in favor of math and science?

Well, they don’t exactly.

RoboNation believes they can mold a child’s fascination with video games into something exponentially more productive — hands-on robotics skills. By harnessing a child’s inherent imagination with robotics, RoboNation not only enhances their existing education, but provides them with a foundation for a future in STEM.

Formerly known as AUVSI Foundation Inc. (the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International), RoboNation says it aims to create “an open community of tech gurus, pacesetters, inventors and visionaries laying the groundwork to be on the cutting-edge of the technology and engineering world.” This dedication led to the start of a series of educational programs and robotics competitions that give students an outlet outside of the classroom to apply their STEM smarts.

Among the most popular of these programs is SeaPerch, a global outreach program and competition that teaches K-12 students robotics, engineering, science and math in the form of building an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV). The competition began as a project in a children’s book over 10 years ago, but has far surpassed its original concept and become a beloved event with international participation.

Other RoboNation programs include SeaGlide and RoboTour, which is a one-day free event for students in grades 5-12 to attend AUVSI’s XPONENTIAL conference – the world’s largest community of leaders in drones, intelligent robotics and unmanned systems.

Along with these educational programs, RoboNation also conducts numerous international competitions by land, air and sea:

  • Land: Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC)
  • Air: Student Unmanned Air Systems (SUAS) and International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC)
  • Maritime: RoboBoat, RoboSub, Maritime RobotX, and the SeaPerch Challenge

These programs and competitions not only capture students’ interest, but are already opening doors in future STEM careers; participation has often been rewarded with internships and employment opportunities for students while still in school.

The influence RoboNation has had on young minds around the world will undoubtedly have a lasting effect on the way STEM is viewed by not only children, but parents who might not understand the importance of how STEM careers will shape our future. As RoboNation’s ecosystem continues to grow, we can be hopeful that the lives they are changing through STEM will translate into a greater STEM ecosystem for our country, made up of the rising numbers of students choosing these careers.

 

1 “The Countries With The Most STEM Graduates”, Forbes

Inside the World of 3D Printing

3d printer build Eiffel Tower Model

Written by: Gina Abbas

In a world where instant gratification and technology have taken over, it’s no surprise that 3D printers have seen a surge in sales. 3D printing is no longer a concept of the future; these machines are now mass-produced and a basic model can be purchased for $200 or less. To some, this is still a thing of disbelief: the idea that a gear or an action figure or even a circuit board can be mimicked or designed and printed all from one machine certainly seems like a faraway concept; one that is still reserved solely for commercial labs or research.

But the future is here. And at TechFarms, we are living it.

The true birth of 3D printing first began in 1981, when a Japanese scientist applied for a patent, but was denied after failing to file the patent requirements before the deadline. At that time, the concept was known as rapid prototyping, and would not be widely referred to as 3D printing until around 1986. It was then that the first successful patent was secured by an American inventor named Chuck Hull and in 1987, his first 3D printing machine was developed.

TechFarms tenant, Sean Hoffman, has been evaluating our newest printer – the Ultimaker 3 Extended addition which features dual print heads that allow simultaneous printing of two different types of materials. Sean and other tenants have been printing a wide variety of items using various filaments and have been impressed with the results.

“The basic idea is that you’re printing things in 3 dimensions instead of 2,” he answered when asked how he would describe 3D printing to a novice. “Regular printers print on a flat sheet of paper. 3D printers would print that sheet of paper from plastic, but add sides.”

So how does 3D printing actually work?

According to Sean, it’s rather simple.

“First, you start with a 3D model, which serves as the “blueprint” for the design. Next, you feed the model to the software, which uses “Slicing” to convert the model into something the printer can read. The printer then uses melted plastic to build the object.”

“Slicing is basically the industry term for the way the software takes the object you want to create and vertically “slices” it into thin sheets so the printer can understand how to print it one layer at a time. The printer itself cannot understand what to do until the object is sliced by the software. Most 3D printers come with their own software, but there are other free programs out there that work just the same, if not even better.”

While TechFarms’ 3D printers can only print using plastic, more advanced machines exist, though they are far more expensive. Some can print with metals and even have bigger print beds, making them capable of printing much larger objects.

Though 3D printing has become a household concept, the potential for what it could be used for is growing. Some companies hope to be able to expand the ability to print custom parts for outdated technology held onto by consumers (laptops, cameras, cars), while others are working to use this technology to successfully print human organs. Over the next several years, it is expected that rapid prototyping will continue to rapidly change the world we live in today.

Sources:

3D Insider: A Detailed History of 3D Printing

Sean Hoffman, Software Developer

Meet Branch Networks, A TechFarms Tenant

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by: TechFarms, LLC

TechFarms tenant, Branch Networks, is an Internet provider that specializes in delivering fiber-powered Internet service to large businesses, condos, and hotels that want their employees and guests to have the fastest Wi-Fi service available. The company’s founder, Nicholas Casassa, says guests arriving at local condos and hotels often arrive with multiple smartphones, laptops, and tablets only to find that their Wi-Fi connections are too slow. Streaming video from YouTube and Netflix can quickly overwhelm the bandwidth available from cable Internet connections, whereas a fiber connection can provide virtually unlimited bandwidth. In today’s connected world, unhappy customers complaining on social media is not something that any business wants.

Previously to starting Branch, Nicholas helped deploy a wide area wireless Internet network stretching over 220 miles from Panama City to Pensacola. The network at one point served over 23,000 subscribers making it one of the largest wireless networks in the nation.   

What’s in the name “Branch Networks”? Nicholas wanted to convey the company’s goal to be more than just a high-speed Internet provider. The company’s plans are to “branch out” into other communication segments such as video surveillance and the rapidly expanding Internet of Things (IoT) market which encompasses a range of new opportunities in home automation, access control, and remote video monitoring. 

Remote monitoring of high-resolution video cameras requires several megabits of bandwidth at each camera location and is a perfect match for Branch’s highly reliable fiber connections that have symmetrical upload and download speeds. Branch is currently installing high-definition cameras, high-density Wi-Fi systems, and 150Mbps fiber connections for businesses that want to remotely monitor their surveillance cameras, run point of sale software, and other bandwidth intensive applications.  

Nicholas says that one of the biggest challenges he and other IT entrepreneurs face is on the business development side, namely, trying to find time for sales and marketing efforts while deploying and managing customer’s networks. Nevertheless, the company is enjoying steady growth from referrals as more businesses discover the benefits of fiber.  

For more information about Branch Networks, visit http://www.branch-networks.com/ 

NWFL SeaPerch Challenge 2018

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What started out as a project in a children’s book over ten years ago has
transformed into an international event beloved by students and teachers
around the world. This initiative is fondly known as SeaPerch, and was initially
developed as a method of growing the Ocean Engineering Program at MIT.
After realizing the potential this program could have as a learning opportunity
for more than just college students and teachers, SeaPerch sought and
received funding from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and expanded into a
global outreach program within K-12 schools, teaching them robotics,
engineering, science, and math (STEM), all while building an underwater
Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV).

With a desire to help expand the SeaPerch program both in Northwest Florida
and nationwide, in 2015 TechFarms partnered with the AUVSI Foundation
(Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International) to become the only
ONR-sponsored SeaPerch Authorized Engineering Center in the US.
TechFarms maintains a fleet of SeaPerch ROVs that are demonstrated at
nationwide tradeshows for teachers.

Each year in conjunction with local Navy personnel, TechFarms assists with the
construction of underwater obstacle courses for the annual Northwest Florida
Regional SeaPerch Challenge held at Gulf Coast State College. The event is
attended by hundreds of students who gather around the college’s indoor pool
and operate their self-built underwater robots through challenging obstacle
courses. This years’ competition will be held on March 9th at Gulf Coast State
College. Winning teams qualify to participate in the International SeaPerch
Challenge to be held this year on June 2nd at the University of Massachusetts
Dartmouth.

 

TechFarms Tenant Invents LED LightSuits, Performs in Shows All Over the World

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by: TechFarms, LLC

In late 2012, innovator and entrepreneur Jeff Elkins became obsessed with the emerging hydro sport known as Flyboarding. The sport uses the thrust generated by a personal water craft, or Jet Ski, to propel the rider to heights approaching 50’ above the water. Not content to fly just during daylight hours, Jeff envisioned nighttime flights illuminated by high-powered LEDs attached to his clothing.

Shortly thereafter, Jeff began collaborating with Dr. Steve Dunnivant at Gulf Coast State College’s Advanced Technology Center in Panama City. Dr. Dunnivant provided early support for Jeff’s idea and suggested that he take his invention to TechFarms where he could get access to facilities, equipment, and additional mentoring.

Soon after arriving at TechFarms, Jeff expanded his LED suit concept by adding electronics that would enable remote control of the LED lights on his suit by means of a wireless connection to a DMX lighting panel. Using the panel, technicians could remotely control the colors and sequencing of the LEDs for all performers and, when set to music, the results were truly stunning.

The suits are fabricated using a Lycra-spandex material and each suit is equipped with a radio that wirelessly connects to the DMX panel and memory card which contains the programs for the LED lights. The biggest technical challenge, however, was figuring out how to make the LED suits durable, waterproof, and impervious to saltwater. Once the suits were perfected, hydro sport entertainment shows worldwide begin hiring Jeff and his team to perform spectacular nighttime shows. When the team, originally known as Elkins Entertainment, added water-powered jetpacks with ultra high powered LEDs to the shows, the audience as well as the demand for nighttime performances skyrocketed. The team has been invited to perform in dozens of venues at locations not just throughout the US, but around the world, including Istanbul, St. Martin, Dubai, Sharja, Tokyo, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, and France.

In 2016, Jeff and his business partner, Ben Merrell, renamed the company Liquid Motion Lights and soon after landed a lucrative contract with SeaWorld in San Diego. For years, engineers at SeaWorld envisioned nighttime performances, but were never able to build waterproof suits – a skill that Jeff had perfected over the years. Liquid Motion Lights was hired by SeaWorld to build waterproof LED suits for all the performers in their new show entitled “Cirque Electrique”. The show debuted in the summer of 2017 and was an enormous success. To date, the company’s LED suits have been used in over 200 nighttime performances worldwide. Jeff and his team continue to innovate at TechFarms and several new exciting inventions will be unveiled in the coming months. Stay tuned!

Valentine’s Tech Gift Ideas 2018

People may run out of the ideas of what to give to their loved ones (who are techy and tech savvy). Selecting gifts for valentines wouldn’t have to be such a bore because we have selected cool, fun, practical, and unique gifts for you this Valentine’s! Check these out.

1. Long Distance Touch Lamp ($75.00 – 150.00)

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Light up a loved one’s life—across town or across the country—with two or more of these in-sync lamps. When you turn one on with a simple touch of your hand, its mate emits the same ambient glow, no matter where it is and who is on the other end: Parent or grandparent, niece or nephew, or long-distance significant other. Each person sets up their lamp via Wi-Fi, then reaches out and touches the lamp whenever they want to let their loved one know they’re thinking of them. No need to choose a color: with every touch, the lamp cycles through a rainbow of them, one at a time. Designed by John Harrison and Vanessa Whalen.

2. The HB Ring ($599-$2,990)

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HB Ring lets you see and feel the real-time heartbeat of your loved one, directly on your ring. It works really simple; lets you see the real-time heartbeat of your loved one on your ring, always saves the last recorded heartbeat of your loved one, and shows it when real-time heartbeat is not available, and randomly shows you the real-time heartbeat of your loved one, pleasantly surprising you during the day. You can also download the app, connect the your ring, and pair it with your loved one. The ring also comes with a beautiful charger box.

3. Smartphone Magnifier ($30)

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Coming to a theater near you: viral YouTube videos, your Instagram feed, and cat gifs galore. This portable magnifier is about to blow up your phone—or at least what you see on the screen. Just slip your device into the fully assembled, retro-styled cardboard TV and enjoy your mobile movies double the size of your display. Keep it in your bag for impromptu screenings during your next camping trip, sleepover, or long car ride. Designed in London.

4. Silver USB Cuff links  ($100)

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Remembering that all-important memory card/flash stick/USB drive can be a real challenge, but with these clever cufflinks the modern man can dress for success by keeping these genius tech-ccessories on hand. Whether he’s carrying a spreadsheet for a business meeting or a slideshow for a family reunion, he’ll always keep his go-to tool up (or rather, on!) his sleeve when he dons these sleek, functional cufflinks – hidden inside each cufflink is a 8 GB USB flash drive. The rhodium-plated base metal is topped with a chic, silver finish.

5. Phone Charging Bracelet ($149)

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Your nephew flew across five states to visit, and boy is he cute. Moments you want to capture: 987. The charge in your phone battery: 0. Luckily, you’re wearing your Phone Charging Bracelet. With its lightweight, minimalist styling and polished metallic shine, it’s so cool you forgot it was a tool.

You juiced up its rechargeable lithium battery two months ago, and the hidden LED indicators say it’s still charged. Slip off the bangle, insert the hidden Lightning Connector into your iPhone, and charge it up to 50% (depending on the model) in just 40 minutes. After you’ve distracted him awhile with candy (his parents don’t need to know), it’s time to record that joyful sugar high before he crashes. Designed in New York City.

 

Source: Uncommongoods, TheTouch

 

 

Top 8 Coolest Tech Ideas at CES 2018

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by: Gina Abbas

The Consumer Electronics Show is a global event that was founded and has been hosted by the Consumer Technology Association for the last 50 years. Technology companies from all over the world travel to take part in this four day gathering where they can showcase their latest innovations. More than 3,900 companies participate and there are more than 170,000 attendees from 150 countries. Product and market categories include:

  • Gaming
  • Automotive
  • Health & Wellness
  • Home & Family
  • Internet of Things
  • Product Design & Manufacturing
  • Robotics & Machine Intelligence
  • Sports
  • Startups

This year, the show began on January 9th in Las Vegas and had over 1.2 thousand speakers. Notable companies that participated include Ford, Google, Samsung, LG, & ADT. Read below for TechFarms’ top eight picks of the coolest ideas and gadgets unveiled at CES 2018.

8. Google Assistant Added to Android Auto

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Google announced that they have plans to make its assistant available to Android users inside their cars. Previously, people have been able to command Google Assistant to only do a voice search through Android Auto. Now, Assistant for Android Auto will be able to control your smart home, play music, get directions, send and receive texts.

7. Pet Robots

Sony Corp's entertainment robot "aibo" is pictured at a news conference in Tokyo

Though not completely new to the market, pet robots are a fascinating addition to the toy tech industry and are have the potential to be a huge market due to the lack of maintenance required when compared to animals. Several were put on display this year, including one from Sony that costs $1,700. Sony’s pet robot dog, Aibo, was first introduced in the 1990’s, but has since been revamped into a remarkable piece of technology. Notable features include OLED eyes, personality development, facial recognition, and tricks. Aibo even remembers the person who pets it the most and interacts with that person above others.

6. 5G Networks 

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“5G” is the “Fifth Generation” of wireless broadband technology and was announced and discussed by the major wireless companies. 5G cellular technology is expected to be m 10 to 100 times faster than 4G, improve security, and cut responsiveness delays. Samsung executive, Tim Baxter, compared 5G to “putting fiber optic cabling into your pocket”. While 5G was discussed at length by major technology and mobile companies, the hardware isn’t quite complete to support it and we may not see 5G networks launch until 2019.

5. Samsung’s 146-inch TV

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Samsung is calling it “The Wall”. The world’s first consumer Modular MicroLED 146-inch TV, was the standout product at Samsung’s annual “First Look” exhibit. It is a self emitting TV with micrometer LEDs that serve as their own source of light. This technology eliminates color filters and backlighting and outperforms others of its level in definition. The modular design lets consumers choose the shape and size of their TV, with the most impressive being the incredible wall size display.

4. Toyota Minibus

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Named the “e-Palette”, this pod like minibus was the highlight of Toyota’s exhibit at this years CES, with plans to release them at the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2020. It is fully electric and autonomous and completely customizable; ideas range from delivery vehicles, to food trucks, to mobile shops, to group ride-sharing vehicles. Companies that have already expressed interest in the concept car include Amazon, Mazda, Pizza Hut, and Uber.

3. Air Taxi

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Although these have been tested by another big name company in Dubai, this air taxi concept from Bell Helicopter may actually be brought to fruition. Uber plans to partner with NASA in order to to launch its “air taxi” service in Los Angeles in 2020. This autonomous taxi will hold up to four passengers and will be available on demand with a plethora of impressive features, including wifi, artificial intelligence, built in video calling, and wireless charging. Bell stated that its new design will not only shorten travel time, but also let them better utilize that time that is normally spent behind the wheel.

2. Self-Propelled Suitcase Robot

Inside The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show

Thought up by a company called Forward-X, this innovative product seeks to simplify traveling by having your suitcase follow you around. The camera on the front of the device tracks your movements and is able to follow behind you at a maximum speed of 7mph. The wristband that accompanies it allows you to be alerted if the bag cannot sense you in order to prevent loss or theft.

1. Laser Printer That Etches Onto Just About Anything

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Startup company, Glowforge, debuted this product in 2015, but announced at this year CES that they would finally be releasing its own line of materials that are specifically formulated for its printer. The company raised almost $30 million dollars during a record breaking crowd-funding campaign and has seen success ever since its launch. Thousands of pre-ordered machines have already been delivered and consumers have given it glowing reviews, noting its ease of use and lack of learning curve. The printer itself users lasers to create products out of materials such as wood, leather, acrylic, paper, and fabric. The proofgrade materials line solves the problem of finding the specific materials needed to print and allows for perfect, automatic settings each time you use it.

EntreCon 2017 in Pensacola Kicked Off

TechFarms is bringing the latest updates inside the conference to all businesses, EntreCon right to you. We will update the photos daily throughout the events.

November 14, 2017 :Day 1

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Quint Studer opens EntreCon 2017
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Mark Faulkner, gave a speech on ‘Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture’. He is the President & CEO of Baptist Health Care, an $800 million health care system with 6,500 employees.  Over 20 years ago, Baptist Health Care launched its journey to excellence through a focused enhancement of its culture.
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Mort O’Sullivan, III, Managing Member of the Gulf Coast Division Warren Averett CPAs & Advisors with Kelly Massey Director Florida SBDC at UWF on “8 out of 10 Businesses Fail – Avoiding the Small Businesses Graveyard”

 

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“Yippee, Another Day in Paradise! Driving Negativity Out Of The Workplace” – Liz Jazwiec, Keynote Speaker and Author, President of Liz Jaz

 

November 15, 2017 :Day 2

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The crowd at EntreCon
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Brad Israel shared “The Servant Leader Way” at EntreCon 2017
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Bert Thornton, CEO emeritus of Waffle House, and Rachael Gillette, director of professional development and training for Studer Community Institute
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Breakout sessions at EntreCon 

 

TechFarms To Launch First Monthly Newsletter

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by: Gina Abbas, TechFarms, LLC

TechFarms, LLC, a Technology Incubator, Makerspace and Co-working space based in Panama City Beach, readies to release its first monthly newsletter. The initial edition is scheduled to hit inboxes just before the first of November. Content is set to include the latest news within TechFarms, upcoming events, and current technology and entrepreneurial headlines.

To be added to the monthly mailing list, please sign up using the dedicated contact form pinned to all TechFarms website pages.

Alibaba to Invest $15B Into Artificial Intelligence, Other Futuristic Tech

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by: , USA TODAY

Alibaba announced Wednesday it will invest $15 billion over the next three years into “cutting-edge technology” including quantum computing and artificial intelligence.

The DAMO Academy will oversea the launch of research labs worldwide and recruit scientists and researchers to join.

The Chinese e-commerce giant will open seven labs including ones in San Mateo, Calif., and Bellevue, Wash., as well as Beijing, Moscow and Tel Aviv.

The academy will focus on topics such as Internet of things, network security, machine learning, and natural language processing.

“We aim to discover breakthrough technologies that will enable greater efficiency, network security and ecosystem synergy for end-users and businesses everywhere,” said Alibaba chief technology officer Jeff Zhang in a statement.

The academy will create an advisory board featuring educators and researchers to decide where to focus its research.

Artificial intelligence is a hot market for tech, with many companies using it to power services such as digital voice assistants like Siri or Alexa.

Among the biggest champions of AI is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who said last summer the technology could create safer cars or ways to better detect diseases.

However, many critics — notably Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk — have raised concerns about AI’s potential threat to humanity. Musk is calling for governments to institute regulations before the use of AI becomes more common.

The investment is part of Alibaba’s broader plan to serve 2 billion customers and create 100 million jobs in 20 years, the company said.

Earlier this year, Alibaba introduced a program to help small businesses based in the U.S. sell their goods to its 443 million customers in China.