Innovation Nation: Project Loon

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There’s nothing worse for most people  in today’s world than a spotty wi-fi connection. It interrupts your work, your play–even some applications you don’t even realize you rely on can be impacted by a faulty wireless connection. But, many people forget that, as annoying as .1kpbs per second downloads are, there are large swathes of the world with little to no access to the internet at all. These areas tend to be low-income, rural, and forgotten by mainstream society. With information access being redefined as a human right, the gap between those with internet access and those without has served to reinforce power imbalances as old as society, creating an ever-widening gap between the haves and have-nots.

Enter Project Loon.

Google, ever determined to usher us into the future of our collective imaginations, has begun an initiative to bring internet access to the most remote areas of the world. This project could mean that billions of people in regions like India could gain internet access for the first time. It isn’t hard to imagine a future where all of our internet operates on satellite systems as opposed to the underground and undersea wiring system we have used since the ‘net was born.

The “Loon” in Project Loon is short for ‘balloon’, referring to the weather-balloon-like apparatus used to keep the transmitters in the air. They are deployed to 20km over the Earth, in that ambiguous area between space and the atmosphere. Perhaps in the future, this technology will be upgraded to full-on satellites as opposed to the balloon-sattelite-hybrid seen here.

What do you think of this new technology? What will the internet look like when its population suddenly swells by, potentially, billions of new users? How will this change the economic landscape of the net? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Innovation Nation: The Pilot


One of the most frustrating experiences in life can be trying to communicate with someone who does not speak your language. If you neither of you are familiar with the other’s language, it can quickly become a frustrating exercise in futility.

The universal translator has been a staple of science fiction since the mid-1900s, first appearing in the 1945 novella “First Contact”. While it has, for many years, been regarded as a nearly impossible device by linguists, it seems we are on the cusp of having this technology for ourselves. Meet The Pilot.

The Pilot has the capability to translate French, Italian, and Spanish into English in real time. Just hook it up to your phone’s companion app and select the language you’re listening to, and in theory, you will receive a real time translation. The project raised $1.8 million on Indiegogo, and will be available, in theory, in the coming months.

It seems too good to be true, but only time will tell whether or not it is truly viable. If it does work, we can all rest assured that soon no traveler will go anywhere without them.

Interested in getting one the minute it comes out? You can sign up at for updates and a coupon when the device is released.

What language would you most want to see on The Pilot? Let us know in the comments.

Industry Update: Proxy Power

Quick– what’s your phone’s battery percentage?

For most, it is almost certainly less than 100%. From texting to streaming video to managing our health, the average American uses their phone for 4.7 hours a day, nearly a third of our waking hours. And don’t assume that’s all teenagers skewing the data–adults between the ages of 25 and 54 are the leading users of their smartphones to check social media. Combine all this with the fact that even the best phone batteries only last about 15 hours when you’re barely using them, and you can see why almost everyone has a charger hooked up at their desk.

But what you had a way to ensure your phone never lost its charge? What if you could take it a step further–what if you could ensure nothing ever lost a charge again? No plugs or wires required?

If that sounds like science fiction to you, you’re not alone–the technology isn’t quite there yet. But the math and science exist to support it–we just need to catch up. So how does it work?

Envision a world where batteries never die, where electric cars can run forever, and your smartphone can stream all 6 seasons of Parks and Recreation in a row, no charger needed. No more expensive replacement cables when your cat chews through yet another charger. No more tangled cables, no more unplugging and replugging in the TV every time you want to rearrange the furniture–in the not so distant future, it’s possible that all power cables will finally be unplugged.

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Innovation Nation: Star Wars Edition

Long long ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

We were all taken in by the Star Wars franchise, whether we’re hardcore Original Trilogy Fans who saw it 15 times in theaters, or we came in late to the party. Whichever you are, no one can deny that Star Wars was a defining factor in the childhoods of millions.

Which is why it’s SUPER cool when creative adults, still taken with it, use their skills to make something AWESOME:

An entirely 3D printed Storm Trooper costume??? It’s more likely than you’d think!

Fans aren’t the only ones getting into the 3D printing craze– even reports that the new movie, The Force Awakens, relies heavily on 3D printing technology!

“[M]any of the costumes wouldn’t have been possible without 3D printing, at least not in practical terms,” according to’s Sandra Helsel. Read the whole article here!

Got the design skills to 3D model Star Wars parts? You could have your very own set of Darth Vader armor. Don’t have the skills but want some anyway? Check out some premade Star Wars CAD models here, ready for printing. (The database has some nice Star Trek models, too, for the Trekkies out there!)

Let us know what you think in the comments–we’d love to hear from you. But one thing is for sure: 3D printing has brought us one step closer to the future we see in our media.


Innovation Nation: The 3D Printing…Pen??

3D Printing has been on the market for a long time now, though we are still discovering the potential this technology holds. There are still things holding it back from mass public use–the technology is still somewhat limited to people who can create 3D models. The printers are expensive. These are just some of the things holding us back.

Enter the 3D Printing Pen.

The first major commercially available 3D Printing Pen is the 3Doodler, launched through a Kickstarter campaign in 2013. The project received over $2 million by the end of its campaign. Clearly, this is a technology people want.

People have even gone so far as to create fashion designs with the 3Doodler. Try doing that on a printer.

Recently, Lix Pen released their answer to the 3Doodler, touting their 3D-pen as the smallest on the market. It can be used for anything from making jewelry to complex designs and even vases. It is featured in the video above!

So, what do you think of the 3D pen? Just a fad? Or do you think it has the ability to change our landscape the way 3D Printing has? Let us know in the comments.