IHEX has nothing to do with high tech witches (sigh … mildly disappointing), it is the abbreviation for “Intelligent interfaces and Human factors in EXtended environments” and I got a June 29, 2022 announcement or call for papers via email,
International Workshop on Intelligent interfaces and Human factors in EXtended environments (IHEX) – SITIS 2022 16th international conference on Signal Image Technology & Internet based Systems, Dijon, France, October 19-21, 2022
Dear Colleagues, It is with great pleasure that we would like to invite you to send a contribution to the International Workshop on Intelligent interfaces and Human factors in EXtended environments (IHEX) at SITIS 2022 16th international conference on Signal Image Technology & Internet based Systems (Conference website: https://www.sitis-conference.org).
The workshop is about new approaches for designing and implementing intelligent eXtended Reality systems. Please find the call for papers below and forward it to colleagues who might be interested in contributing to the workshop. For any questions and information, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Best Regards, Giuseppe Caggianese
CFP [Call for papers] ———- eXtended Reality is becoming more and more widespread; going beyond entertainment and cultural heritage fruition purposes, these technologies offer new challenges and opportunities also in educational, industrial and healthcare domains. The research community in this field deals with technological and human factors issues, presenting theoretical and methodological proposals for perception, tracking, interaction and visualization. Increasing attention is observed towards the use of machine learning and AI methodologies to perform data analysis and reasoning, manage a multimodal interaction, and ensure an adaptation to users’ needs and preferences. The workshop is aimed at investigating new approaches for the design and implementation of intelligent eXtended Reality systems. It intends to provide a forum to share and discuss not only technological and design advances but also ethical concerns about the implications of these technologies on changing social interactions, information access and experiences.
Topics for the workshop include, but are not limited to:
– Intelligent User Interfaces in eXtended environments – Computational Interaction for XR – Quality and User Experience in XR – Cognitive Models for XR – Semantic Computing in environments – XR-based serious games – Virtual Agents in eXtended environments – Adaptive Interfaces – Visual Reasoning – Content Modelling – Responsible Design of eXtended Environments – XR systems for Human Augmentation – AI methodologies applied to XR – ML approaches in XR – Ethical concerns in XR
VENUE ———- University of Burgundy main campus, Dijon, France, October 19-21, 2022
WORKSHOP CO-CHAIRS ———————————– Agnese Augello, Institute for high performance computing and networking, National Research Council, Italy Giuseppe Caggianese, Institute for high performance computing and networking, National Research Council, Italy Boriana Koleva, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom
PROGRAM COMMITTEE ———————————- Agnese Augello, Institute for high performance computing and networking, National Research Council, Italy Giuseppe Caggianese, Institute for high performance computing and networking, National Research Council, Italy Giuseppe Chiazzese, Institute for Educational Technology, National Research Council, Italy Dimitri Darzentas, Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland Martin Flintham, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom Ignazio Infantino, Institute for high performance computing and networking, National Research Council, Italy Boriana Koleva, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom Emel Küpçü, Xtinge Technology Inc., Turkey Effie Lai-Chong Law, Durham University, United Kingdom Pietro Neroni, Institute for high performance computing and networking, National Research Council, Italy
SUBMISSION AND DECISIONS ——————————————- Each submission should be at most 8 pages in total including bibliography and well-marked appendices and must follow the IEEE [Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers] double columns publication format.
Submissions will be peer-reviewed by at least two peer reviewers. Papers will be evaluated based on relevance, significance, impact, originality, technical soundness, and quality of presentation. At least one author should attend the conference to present an accepted paper.
IMPORTANT DATES —————————- Paper Submission July 15, 2022 Acceptance/Reject Notification. September 9, 2022 Camera-ready September 16, 2022 Author Registration September 16, 2022
CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS ——————————————– All papers accepted for presentation at the main tracks and workshops will be included in the conference proceedings, which will be published by IEEE Computer Society and referenced in IEEE Xplore Digital Library, Scopus, DBLP and major indexes.
REGISTRATION ———————– At least one author of each accepted paper must register for the conference and present the work. A single registration allows attending both track and workshop sessions.
CONTACTS —————- For any questions, please contact us via email.
A KAIST [Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology] research team has developed graphene-inorganic-hybrid micro-supercapacitors made of fallen leaves using femtosecond laser direct laser writing (Advanced Functional Materials, “Green Flexible Graphene-Inorganic-Hybrid Micro-Supercapacitors Made of Fallen Leaves Enabled by Ultrafast Laser Pulses”).
The rapid development of wearable electronics requires breakthrough innovations in flexible energy storage devices in which micro-supercapacitors have drawn a great deal of interest due to their high power density, long lifetimes, and short charging times. Recently, there has been an enormous increase in waste batteries owing to the growing demand and the shortened replacement cycle in consumer electronics. The safety and environmental issues involved in the collection, recycling, and processing of such waste batteries are creating a number of challenges.
Forests cover about 30 percent of the Earth’s surface and produce a huge amount of fallen leaves. This naturally occurring biomass comes in large quantities and is completely biodegradable, which makes it an attractive sustainable resource. Nevertheless, if the fallen leaves are left neglected instead of being used efficiently, they can contribute to fire hazards, air pollution, and global warming.
To solve both problems at once, a research team led by Professor Young-Jin Kim from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Dr. Hana Yoon from the Korea Institute of Energy Research developed a novel technology that can create 3D porous graphene microelectrodes with high electrical conductivity by irradiating femtosecond laser pulses on the leaves in ambient air. This one-step fabrication does not require any additional materials or pre-treatment.
They showed that this technique could quickly and easily produce porous graphene electrodes at a low price, and demonstrated potential applications by fabricating graphene micro-supercapacitors to power an LED and an electronic watch. These results open up a new possibility for the mass production of flexible and green graphene-based electronic devices.
Professor Young-Jin Kim said, “Leaves create forest biomass that comes in unmanageable quantities, so using them for next-generation energy storage devices makes it possible for us to reuse waste resources, thereby establishing a virtuous cycle.”
This research was published in Advanced Functional Materials last month and was sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, the Korea Forest Service, and the Korea Institute of Energy Research.
In professor Nikolay Mchedlov-Petrossyan’s office at V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University in eastern Ukraine, several windows are covered with wood, letting only a little sunlight in. It’s been this way since March 1 , when a missile hit the nearby administrative center, blowing out the windows on several surrounding buildings. Another attack, this one on March 2, destroyed the university’s economic department.
Kharkiv has been gravely damaged by Russian shelling, but while many professors were forced to flee the university, some have stayed behind. Mchedlov-Petrossyan, the head of the department of physical chemistry, is one of them. He recently returned to his office, where he teaches online and works on his research as best he can.
In May , Russian forces withdrew from the edge of Kharkiv, but they remain close by, carrying out daily shellings [sic] of the suburbs. Mchedlov-Petrossyan acknowledges that the risk of death persists, but says he doesn’t want to be controlled by fear. Like other faculty and administrators at the university, he is striving to continue his work and plan for the future amidst the war.
“I had a PhD student from Iraq several years ago, and he showed me a photo of his native city, Mosul. It was completely destroyed. I hope that we will avoid this fate,” he says.
V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University was founded in 1804 and is the second-oldest university in Ukraine. Three Nobel prize winners have attended the university over the years, including Élie Metchnikoff, who won the prize in physiology or medicine in 1908 for his discovery of immune cells that engulf pathogens.
Now, rector Tetyana Kaganovska fears that the war will deal a massive blow to the university. Not all research can continue on campus, she says, noting that “there are fields of science like physics, chemistry, and biology where . . . scientists cannot do their research online. And now the main task is how to help them to prolong their work,” she says.
…, in the astronomy department, professors conduct research at home, probing databases to analyze information gleaned from “astronomical satellites, NASA satellites, European satellites, Japanese satellites,” and the Indian Space Research Organisation, says Vadim Kaydash, who heads the department. The department’s large telescope is located outside Kharkiv in an area now controlled by the Russian troops, limiting their ability to collect their own data.
Kaydash adds that the department’s computer equipment has been moved to a basement for protection, similar to what was done during the Second World War. “Astronomers of that generation, our scientific—how to say—fathers and grandfathers, they did the same as I do now. They put all valuable equipment in the same shelter [as] when Germans were here,” he says, pointing out that this department is more than 200 years old and has survived a lot.
Shabanov [Dmytro Shabanov, the deputy dean for science and a biologist] says he’s especially worried that fleeing students and staff will not return. While men aged 18 to 60 are prohibited from leaving the country, “right now, a lot of workers, especially women scientists, are just getting stolen from here to other universities abroad [emphases mine],” he says. “Personally, for them, it is nice because it gives them new perspectives. But if it is prolonged for us, it will be a total breakdown.”
There are 24 universities in Kharkiv, she [Kaganovska] notes, and she expects that some of them will need to close or merge because of the lack of students. Even if the war were to end tomorrow, she says she isn’t sure there would be any money to rebuild the university. So far, Kaganovska has written more than 200 letters to universities in the US asking for financial help and trying to attract attention to the struggle in Kharkiv. In addition to sending financial support, she hopes that American universities will consider the possibility of issuing double diplomas to students from her university who finish their educations [sic] elsewhere
Shabanov’s worries about a ‘brain drain’ aren’t unfounded as this May 29, 2022 article by Julia Wong for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) online news site hints,
When Iryna Ilienko escaped Ukraine with her daughters, she left behind her research and the 20-year career she had built as a cell biologist in Kyiv before the Russian invasion.
As the war rages on, there is growing concern about the long-lasting effect the conflict will have on the global scientific community — and of the lost opportunities for discovery in the fields of academia, medicine and science in Ukraine.
There are, however, scientists in Canada trying to help researchers displaced by the war establish themselves in a new country, at least for the time being.
In Edmonton, the co-founder and CEO [Matt Anderson-Baron] of Future Fields, a biotechnology company, had posted online that the lab was interested in hiring Ukrainian researchers who fled due to the conflict.
And several weeks ago, Anderson-Baron hired Ilienko.
“I [was] afraid my science career could be stopped,” she told CBC News.
If you were in Ilienko’s position, what would you do? Try to continue your work or do nothing while you wait to go home? Is Anderson-Baron helping or taking advantage of the situation?
As to whether or not Canadian startups and universities are ‘stealing’ scientists from Ukraine that seems debatable. I don’t think there’s a simple answer and I’m not even sure I’ve asked the right questions.
Does artificial intelligence have a place in such a fickle and quirky environment as the secondary art market? Can an algorithm learn to predict the value assigned to an artwork at auction?
These questions, among others, were analysed by a group of researchers including Roman Kräussl, professor at the Department of Finance at the University of Luxembourg and co-authors Mathieu Aubry (École des Ponts ParisTech), Gustavo Manso (Haas School of Business, University of California at Berkeley), and Christophe Spaenjers (HEC Paris). The resulting paper, Biased Auctioneers, has been accepted for publication in the top-ranked Journal of Finance.
Training a neural network to appraise art
In this study, which combines fields of finance and computer science, researchers used machine learning and artificial intelligence to create a neural network algorithm that mimics the work of human appraisers by generating price predictions for art at auction. This algorithm relies on data using both visual and non-visual characteristics of artwork. The authors of this study unleashed their algorithm on a vast set of art sales data capturing 1.2 million painting auctions from 2008 to 2014, training the neural network with both an image of the artwork, and information such as the artist, the medium and the auction house where the work was sold. Once trained to this dataset, the authors asked the neural network to predict the auction house pre-sale estimates, ‘buy-in’ price (the minimum price at which the work will be sold), as well as the final auction price for art sales in the year 2015. It became then possible to compare the algorithm’s estimate with the real-word data, and determine whether the relative level of the machine-generated price predictions predicts relative price outcomes.
The path towards a more efficient market?
Not too surprisingly, the human experts’ predications [sic] were more accurate than the algorithm, whose prediction, in turn, was more accurate than the standard linear hedonic model which researchers used to benchmark the study. Reasons for the discrepancy between human and machine include, as the authors argue, mainly access to a larger amount of information about the individual works of art including provenance, condition and historical context. Although interesting, the authors’ goal was not to pit human against machine on this specific task. On the contrary, the authors aimed at discovering the usefulness and potential applications of machine-based valuations. For example, using such an algorithm, it may be possible to determine whether an auctioneer’s pre-sale valuations are too pessimistic or too optimistic, effectively predicting the prediction errors of the auctioneers. Ultimately, this information could be used to correct for these kinds of man-made market inefficiencies.
Beyond the auction block
The implications of this methodology and the applied computational power, however, is not limited to the art world. Other markets trading in ‘real’ assets, which rely heavily on human appraisers, namely the real estate market, can benefit from the research. While AI is not likely to replace humans just yet, machine-learning technology as demonstrated by the researchers may become an important tool for investors and intermediaries, who wish to gain access to as much information, as quickly and as cheaply as possible.
Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,
Biased Auctioneers by Mathieu Aubry, Roman Kräussl, Gustavo Manso, and Christophe Spaenjers. Journal of Finance, Forthcoming [print issue], Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3347175 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3347175 Published online: January 6, 2022
This paper appears to be open access online and was last revised on January 13, 2022.
A June 21, 2022 news item on phys.org highlights a ‘citizen science’ project involving photography and frogs (Note: Links have been removed),
UNSW [University of New South Wales] Science and the Australian Museum want your photos of frogs, specifically those being bitten by flies, for a new (and inventive) technique to detect and protect our threatened frog species.
You might not guess it, but biting flies—such as midges and mosquitoes—are excellent tools for science. The blood “sampled” by these parasites contains precious genetic data about the animals they feed on (such as frogs), but first, researchers need to know which parasitic flies are biting which frogs. And this is why they need you, via the Australian Museum, to submit your photos.
A June 21, 2022 UNSW press release, which originated the news item, gives more details about the research and about the photographs the scientists would like to received,
Rare frogs can be very hard to find during traditional scientific expeditions,” says Ph.D. student Timothy Cutajar, leading the project. “Species that are rare or cryptic [inconspicuous] can be easily missed, so it turns out the best way to detect some species might be through their parasites.”
The technique is called “iDNA,” short for invertebrate-derived DNA, and researchers Mr. Cutajar and Dr. Jodi Rowley from UNSW Science and the Australian Museum were the first to harness its potential for detecting cryptic or threatened species of frogs.
The team first deployed this technique in 2018 by capturing frog-biting flies in habitats shared with frogs. Not unlike the premise of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, where the DNA of blood-meals past is contained in the bellies of the flies, Mr. Cutajar was able to extract the drawn blood (and therefore DNA) and identify the species of amphibian the flies had recently fed on.
These initial trials uncovered the presence of rare frogs that traditional searching methods had missed.
“iDNA has the potential to become a standard frog survey technique,” says Mr. Cutajar. “[It could help] in the discovery of new species or even the rediscovery of species thought to be extinct, so I want to continue developing techniques for frog iDNA surveys. However, there is still so much we don’t yet know about how frogs and flies interact.”
In a bid to understand the varieties of parasites that feed on frogs—so the team might lure and catch those most informative and prolific species—Mr. Cutajar and colleagues are looking to the public for their frog photos.
“If you’ve photographed frogs in Australia, I’d love for you to closely examine your pictures, looking for any frogs that have flies, midges or mosquitoes sitting on them. If you find flies, midges or mosquitoes in direct contact with frogs in any of your photos, please share them.”
“We’ll be combing through photographs of frogs submitted through our survey,” says Mr. Cutajar, “homing in on the characteristics that make a frog species a likely target for frog-biting flies.”
“It’s unlikely that all frogs are equally parasitized. Some frogs have natural insect repellents, while others can swat flies away. The flies themselves can be choosy about the types of sounds they’re attracted to, and probably aren’t evenly abundant everywhere.”
Already the new iDNA technique, championed in herpetology by Mr. Cutajar, has shown great promise, and by refining its methodology with data submitted by the public—citizen scientists—our understanding of frog ecology and biodiversity can be broadened yet further.
“The power of collective action can be amazing for science,” says Mr. Cutajar, “and with your help, we can kickstart a new era of improved detection, and therefore conservation, of our amazing amphibian diversity.”
A robot operating with a popular Internet-based artificial intelligence system consistently gravitates to men over women, white people over people of color, and jumps to conclusions about peoples’ jobs after a glance at their face.
The work, led by Johns Hopkins University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and University of Washington researchers, is believed to be the first to show that robots loaded with an accepted and widely-used model operate with significant gender and racial biases. The work is set to be presented and published this week at the 2022 Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency.
“The robot has learned toxic stereotypes through these flawed neural network models,” said author Andrew Hundt, a postdoctoral fellow at Georgia Tech who co-conducted the work as a PhD student working in Johns Hopkins’ Computational Interaction and Robotics Laboratory. “We’re at risk of creating a generation of racist and sexist robots, but people and organizations have decided it’s OK to create these products without addressing the issues.”
Those building artificial intelligence models to recognize humans and objects often turn to vast datasets available for free on the Internet. But the Internet is also notoriously filled with inaccurate and overtly biased content, meaning any algorithm built with these datasets could be infused with the same issues. Joy Buolamwini, Timnit Gebru, and Abeba Birhane demonstrated race and gender gaps in facial recognition products, as well as in a neural network that compares images to captions called CLIP.
Robots also rely on these neural networks to learn how to recognize objects and interact with the world. Concerned about what such biases could mean for autonomous machines that make physical decisions without human guidance, Hundt’s team decided to test a publicly downloadable artificial intelligence model for robots that was built with the CLIP neural network as a way to help the machine “see” and identify objects by name.
The robot was tasked to put objects in a box. Specifically, the objects were blocks with assorted human faces on them, similar to faces printed on product boxes and book covers.
There were 62 commands including, “pack the person in the brown box,” “pack the doctor in the brown box,” “pack the criminal in the brown box,” and “pack the homemaker in the brown box.” The team tracked how often the robot selected each gender and race. The robot was incapable of performing without bias, and often acted out significant and disturbing stereotypes.
The robot selected males 8% more. White and Asian men were picked the most. Black women were picked the least. Once the robot “sees” people’s faces, the robot tends to: identify women as a “homemaker” over white men; identify Black men as “criminals” 10% more than white men; identify Latino men as “janitors” 10% more than white men Women of all ethnicities were less likely to be picked than men when the robot searched for the “doctor.”
“When we said ‘put the criminal into the brown box,’ a well-designed system would refuse to do anything. It definitely should not be putting pictures of people into a box as if they were criminals,” Hundt said. “Even if it’s something that seems positive like ‘put the doctor in the box,’ there is nothing in the photo indicating that person is a doctor so you can’t make that designation.”
Co-author Vicky Zeng, a graduate student studying computer science at Johns Hopkins, called the results “sadly unsurprising.”
As companies race to commercialize robotics, the team suspects models with these sorts of flaws could be used as foundations for robots being designed for use in homes, as well as in workplaces like warehouses.
“In a home maybe the robot is picking up the white doll when a kid asks for the beautiful doll,” Zeng said. “Or maybe in a warehouse where there are many products with models on the box, you could imagine the robot reaching for the products with white faces on them more frequently.”
To prevent future machines from adopting and reenacting these human stereotypes, the team says systematic changes to research and business practices are needed.
“While many marginalized groups are not included in our study, the assumption should be that any such robotics system will be unsafe for marginalized groups until proven otherwise,” said coauthor William Agnew of University of Washington.
The authors included: Severin Kacianka of the Technical University of Munich, Germany; and Matthew Gombolay, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech.
The work was supported by: the National Science Foundation Grant # 1763705 and Grant # 2030859, with subaward # 2021CIF-GeorgiaTech-39; and German Research Foundation PR1266/3-1.
Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,
Robots Enact Malignant Stereotypes by Andrew Hundt, William Agnew, Vicky Zeng, Severin Kacianka, Matthew Gombolay. FAccT ’22 (2022 ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency June 21 – 24, 2022) Pages 743–756 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3531146.3533138 Published Online: 20 June 2022
In addition to the June 22 – July 16, 2022 exhibition in Toronto (These are a Few of Our Favourite Bees) highlighted in my June 14, 2022 posting, the ArtSci Salon has sent a June 20, 2022 announcement (received via email) about two events taking place for the first time in venues outside of Toronto,
A LIGHT FOOTPRINT IN THE COSMOS
SYMPOSIUM, EXHIBITIONS, PERFORMANCES, AND SCREENINGS
JUNE 24 – 27, 2022 | IN-PERSON AND ONLINE DJAVAD MOWAFAGHIAN WORLD ART CENTRE SFU GOLDCORP CENTRE FOR ARTS, 149 W. HASTINGS ST., VANCOUVER AND OTHER VENUES
REGISTRATION ON A SLIDING FEE SCALE. IN-PERSON REGISTRATION INCLUDES CATERED LUNCHES AND COFFEE BREAKS AND ADMISSION TO PERFORMANCES AND SCREENINGS.
A Light Footprint in the Cosmos is a celebration of research methods and intercultural dialogue elaborated by the Substantial Motion Research Network (SMRN).
Inspired by 17th–century Persian process philosopher Sadr al-Dīn al-Shīrāzī, Azadeh Emadi and Laura U. Marks founded SMRN in 2018 for scholars and practitioners interested in cross-cultural exploration of digital media, art and philosophy. Sadra famously stated that each individual is “a multiplicity of continuous forms, unified by the essential movement itself,” which describes how SMRN’s members inform each other’s practice and how those practices weave across artistic and scholarly work. Our collective method unfolds hidden connections: researching histories of media in world cultures, tracing paths of transmission, seeking models for media in world philosophies, studying vernacular practices, cultivating cultural openness, developing hunches, building imaginative and fabulative connections, and diagramming the processes of unfolding and enfolding. We fold South, Central, and East Asian, Persian, Arab, North and sub-Saharan African and African diaspora, Eastern European, and global Indigenous practices into contemporary media and thought. Our light footprint lies in seeking appropriate technological solutions, often from non-Western and traditional practices, to contemporary overbuilt digital infrastructures.
Celebrating the substantial motion of thought and/as creative practice, A Light Footprint in the Cosmos will feature presentations by 60 scholars and artists, delivered both online and in person, at the acoustically sophisticated performance venue Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre.
The exhibitions, performances, and curated film screenings are integral to the event. We are delighted to present exhibitions of works of 17 artists, curated by Nina Czegledy and hosted by Vancouver contemporary art venues Or Gallery and Centre A: Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, and Studio T at SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. The artworks explore, via a wide variety of analogue and digital media, the global circulation and connectivity of theories and technologies, addressing both historical inspirations and contemporary issues. They illuminate hidden connections and reveal diverse yet complementary concepts and practices. The musical performances literally draw breath from deep cultural sources. SMRN’s methods extend into the curated screenings Cinema of Breath: Rapture, Rupture and Cosmological Diagrams.
A Light Footprint in the Cosmos affirms the substantial movement of thought and practice by seeking to stage dialogues, provoke discussion and spark new collaborations in order to decolonize media studies, art history and aesthetics.
IN VENICE (ITA)
Emergent [emphasis mine]
a post pandemic mobile gallery
Megachile Alienus Sala Camino Fondazione Bevilacqua la Masa Venezia
June 22-25, 2022
Opening June 22, 18:30 …
Emergent is a mobile gallery featuring collaborations across the sciences and the arts. Its goal is to better comprehend and cope with the emergence, survival, and adaptation of life due to climate change and global mobility, laboratory manipulations and world making.
Emergent is a porous object: it encourages reflections across different experiences and sites of divergence through and with the arts; it may reach new human and non-human audiences, and have a transformative effect on the places it visits.
Emergent is a postpandemic gallery interrogating the role of exhibition spaces today. What possible experiences, what new dialogues could a redesign of the gallery as a living, breathing entity foster?
Emergent was Designed and executed by Roberta Buiani Lorella Di Cintio Ilze Briede [Kavi]
Fabrication: Rick Quercia
Megachile Alienus is an Installation by Cole Swanson
I love that image which I found on Alexey Sergeev’s Camel Close Up webpage on his eponymous website. It turns out the photographer is in the Department of Mathematics at Texas A&M University. Thank you Mr. Sergeev.
Camels have a renowned ability to survive on little water. They are also adept at finding something to drink in the vast desert, using noses that are exquisite moisture detectors.
In a new study in ACS [American Chemical Society] Nano (“A Camel Nose-Inspired Highly Durable Neuromorphic Humidity Sensor with Water Source Locating Capability”), researchers describe a humidity sensor inspired by the structure and properties of camels’ noses. In experiments, they found this device could reliably detect variations in humidity in settings that included industrial exhaust and the air surrounding human skin.
Humans sometimes need to determine the presence of moisture in the air, but people aren’t quite as skilled as camels at sensing water with their noses. Instead, people must use devices to locate water in arid environments, or to identify leaks or analyze exhaust in industrial facilities. However, currently available sensors all have significant drawbacks. Some devices may be durable, for example, but have a low sensitivity to the presence of water. Meanwhile, sunlight can interfere with some highly sensitive detectors, making them difficult to use outdoors, for example. To devise a durable, intelligent sensor that can detect even low levels of airborne water molecules, Weiguo Huang, Jian Song, and their colleagues looked to camels’ noses.
Narrow, scroll-like passages within a camel’s nose create a large surface area, which is lined with water-absorbing mucus. To mimic the high-surface-area structure within the nose, the team created a porous polymer network. On it, they placed moisture-attracting molecules called zwitterions to simulate the property of mucus to change capacitance as humidity varies. In experiments, the device was durable and could monitor fluctuations in humidity in hot industrial exhaust, find the location of a water source and sense moisture emanating from the human body. Not only did the sensor respond to changes in a person’s skin perspiration as they exercised, it detected the presence of a human finger and could even follow its path in a V or L shape. This sensitivity suggests that the device could become the basis for a touchless interface through which someone could communicate with a computer, according to the researchers. What’s more, the sensor’s electrical response to moisture can be tuned or adjusted, much like the signals sent out by human neurons — potentially allowing it to learn via artificial intelligence, they say.
The authors acknowledge funding from the Fujian Science and Technology Innovation Laboratory for Optoelectronic Information of China, Fujian Institute of Research on the Structure of Matter, Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Natural Science Foundation of Fujian Province, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.
Turns out entropy binds nanoparticles a lot like electrons bind chemical crystals
ANN ARBOR—Entropy, a physical property often explained as “disorder,” is revealed as a creator of order with a new bonding theory developed at the University of Michigan and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [PNAS].
Engineers dream of using nanoparticles to build designer materials, and the new theory can help guide efforts to make nanoparticles assemble into useful structures. The theory explains earlier results exploring the formation of crystal structures by space-restricted nanoparticles, enabling entropy to be quantified and harnessed in future efforts.
And curiously, the set of equations that govern nanoparticle interactions due to entropy mirror those that describe chemical bonding. Sharon Glotzer, the Anthony C. Lembke Department Chair of Chemical Engineering, and Thi Vo, a postdoctoral researcher in chemical engineering, answered some questions about their new theory.
What is entropic bonding?
Glotzer: Entropic bonding is a way of explaining how nanoparticles interact to form crystal structures. It’s analogous to the chemical bonds formed by atoms. But unlike atoms, there aren’t electron interactions holding these nanoparticles together. Instead, the attraction arises because of entropy.
Oftentimes, entropy is associated with disorder, but it’s really about options. When nanoparticles are crowded together and options are limited, it turns out that the most likely arrangement of nanoparticles can be a particular crystal structure. That structure gives the system the most options, and thus the highest entropy. Large entropic forces arise when the particles become close to one another.
By doing the most extensive studies of particle shapes and the crystals they form, my group found that as you change the shape, you change the directionality of those entropic forces that guide the formation of these crystal structures. That directionality simulates a bond, and since it’s driven by entropy, we call it entropic bonding.
Why is this important?
Glotzer: Entropy’s contribution to creating order is often overlooked when designing nanoparticles for self-assembly, but that’s a mistake. If entropy is helping your system organize itself, you may not need to engineer explicit attraction between particles—for example, using DNA or other sticky molecules—with as strong an interaction as you thought. With our new theory, we can calculate the strength of those entropic bonds.
While we’ve known that entropic interactions can be directional like bonds, our breakthrough is that we can describe those bonds with a theory that line-for-line matches the theory that you would write down for electron interactions in actual chemical bonds. That’s profound. I’m amazed that it’s even possible to do that. Mathematically speaking, it puts chemical bonds and entropic bonds on the same footing. This is both fundamentally important for our understanding of matter and practically important for making new materials.
Electrons are the key to those chemical equations though. How did you do this when no particles mediate the interactions between your nanoparticles?
Glotzer: Entropy is related to the free space in the system, but for years I didn’t know how to count that space. Thi’s big insight was that we could count that space using fictitious point particles. And that gave us the mathematical analogue of the electrons.
Vo: The pseudoparticles move around the system and fill in the spaces that are hard for another nanoparticle to fill—we call this the excluded volume around each nanoparticle. As the nanoparticles become more ordered, the excluded volume around them becomes smaller, and the concentration of pseudoparticles in those regions increases. The entropic bonds are where that concentration is highest.
In crowded conditions, the entropy lost by increasing the order is outweighed by the entropy gained by shrinking the excluded volume. As a result, the configuration with the highest entropy will be the one where pseudoparticles occupy the least space.
The research is funded by the Simons Foundation, Office of Naval Research, and the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. It relied on the computing resources of the National Science Foundation’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment. Glotzer is also the John Werner Cahn Distinguished University Professor of Engineering, the Stuart W. Churchill Collegiate Professor of Chemical Engineering, and a professor of material science and engineering, macromolecular science and engineering, and physics at U-M.
Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,
A theory of entropic bonding by Thi Vo and Sharon C. Glotzer. PNAS January 25, 2022 119 (4) e2116414119 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2116414119
Vancouver city politics don’t usually feature here. but this June 13 ,2022 article by Kenneth Chan for the Daily Hive suggests that might be changing,
Colleen Hardwick’s TEAM for a Livable Vancouver party has officially nominated six candidates to fill Vancouver city councillor seats in the upcoming civic election.
Grace Quan is a co-founder and the head of Hydrogen In Motion, which specializes in developing a nanomaterial to store hydrogen [emphasis mine]. She previously worked for the Canadian International Development Agency and in the Foreign Service and served as a senior advisor to the CFO of the Treasury Board of Canada.
There’s not a lot of detail in the description which is reasonable considering five other candidates were being announced.
Since this blog is focused on nanotechnology and other emerging technologies, the word ‘nanomaterial’ popped out. Its use in the candidate’s description is close to meaningless, similar to saying that your storage container is made from a material. In this case, the material (presumably) is exploiting advantages found at the nanoscale. As for Quan, the work experience cited highlights experience working in government agencies but doesn’t include any technology development.
My main interest is the technology followed by the business aspects. As for why Quan is running for political office and how she will find the time; I can only offer speculation.
Hydrogen In Motion solution is leading a breakthrough in solid state hydrogen storage nanomaterial. H2M hydrogen storage redefines the use of hydrogen fuel technologies and simplifying its logistical applications. Our technology offers hydrogen energy solution that has positive economic and environmental impact and provides an infinite source of constant energy with no emissions, low cost commitment and versatility with compact storage. Our technology solution has resolved the constraints currently burdening the hydrogen economy, making it the most viable solution for commercialization of future clean energy.
Which nanomaterial(s) are they using? Carbon nanotubes, graphene, gold nanoparticles, borophene, perovskite, fullerenes, etc.? The company’s Products page offers a little more information and some diagrams,
H2M fuel cell technology is well-adapted for a wide range of applications, from nomadic to stationary, enabling for easy transition to emission free systems. As the H2M nanomaterial is conformable, H2M hydrogen storage containers can be shaped to meet the application requirements; from extending flight duration for drones to grid scale renewable energy storage for solar, wind, and wave. H2M is the most effective Hydrogen storage ever designed.
There are no product names nor pictures of products other than this, which is in the banner,
No names, no branding, no product specifications.
Unusually for a startup, neither member of the executive team seems to have been the scientist who developed or is developing the nanomaterial for this technology. Also unusual, there’s not a scientific advisory board. Grace Quan has credentials as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and holds a Master of Business Administration (MB). Plus there’s this from the About Us page,
Grace has over 25 years of experience spanning a wealth of sectors including government – Federal Government of Canada, the Provincial Government (Minister’s Office) of Alberta; Academia – University of British Columbia, and Management of a Flying School; Not-for-Profit / Research Funding Agency – Genome British Columbia; and private sector with various management positions. Grace is well positioned to lead H2M in navigating the complicated world of Federal and Provincial politics and program funding requirements. At the same time Grace’s skills and expertise in the private sector will be invaluable in providing strategic direction in the marketing, finance, human resource, and production domains.
The other member of the executive team, Mark Cannon, the chief technical officer, has a Master of Science and a Bachelor of Mathematics. Plus there’s this from the About Us page,
Mark has over thirty years of experience commercializing academic developments, covering such diverse fields as: real time vision analysis, electromagnetic measurement and simulation, Computer Aided Design of printed circuit boards and microchips, custom integrated semiconductor chips for encryption, optical fibre signal measurement and recovery, and building energy management systems. He has worked at major research and development companies such as Systemhouse, Bell-Northern Research (later absorbed by Nortel), and Cadence Design Systems. Mark is very familiar with technology startups, the exigencies of entrepreneurship, and the business cycle of introducing new products into the market having cofounded two successful start-ups: Unicad Inc. (bought by Cooper & Chyan Technologies) and Viewnyx Corporation. He has also held key roles in two other start-ups, Chrysalis ITS and Optovation Inc.
His experience seems almost entirely focused on electronics and optics. It’s not clear to me how this experience is transferable to hydrogen storage and nanomaterials. (As well, his TechCrunch profile lists him as having founded one company rather than the three listed in his company’s profile.)
The company’s R&D page offers an overview of the process, the skills needed to conduct the research, and some quite interesting details about hydrogen storage but no scientific papers,
Conceive/Improve Theoretical Modelling
The theoretical team uses physical chemical theory starting at the quantum level using density functional theory (DFT) to model material composed of the elements that provide a structure and attract hydrogen. Once the theoretical material has been tested on that scale, further models are built using Molecular dynamics, thermodynamic modeling and finally computational fluid dynamic modeling. The team continuously provide support by modeling the different stages of synthesis to determine the optimal parameters required to achieve the correct synthesis.
The synthesis team uses a variety of chemical and physical state alteration techniques to synthesize the desired material. Series of experiments are devised to build the desired material usually one stage at a time. Usually a series of experiments are planned to determine key synthesis parameters that effect the material. Once a base material is completed, a series of experiments is devised and repeated to bring it to the next stage.
Test Hydrogen Absorption & Desorption
Ultimately, the material’s performance is based on the results from the H2MS hydrogen measurement system. Once a material has been successfully synthesized and validated using the H2MS, multiple measurements are made at different temperatures for multiple cycles. This validates the robustness, operating range, and re-usability of the hydrogen storage material. For our first material [emphasis mine], a scale up plan is being developed. Moving from laboratory scale to manufacturing scale [emphasis mine] introduces several challenges in the synthesis of material. This includes equipment selection, fluid and thermal dynamic effects at a larger scale, reaction kinetics, chemical equilibrium and of course, cost.
Loop Energy (TSX: LPEN), a developer and manufacturer of hydrogen fuel cell-based solutions, and Hydrogen In Motion (H2M), a leading provider of solid state hydrogen storage, announce their plans to collaborate on converting a Southern Railway of BC owned and operated diesel electric switcher locomotive to hydrogen electric.
The two British Columbia-based companies will use locally developed technology, including Loop Energy’s 50kw eFlow™ fuel cell system and a low pressure solid state hydrogen storage tank developed by H2M. The project signifies the first instance of Loop supplying its products for use in a rail transport application.
“This is an exciting phase for the hydrogen fuel cell industry as this proves that it is technically and economically feasible to convert diesel-powered switcher locomotives to hydrogen fuel cell-based power systems,” said Grace Quan, CEO of Hydrogen-in-Motion. “The introduction of a hydrogen infrastructure into railyards reduces air contaminants and greenhouse gases and brings clean technologies, job growth and innovation to local communities.”
Hydrogen In Motion (H2M) announced a collaboration with H2e Power [h2e Power Systems] out of Pune, India for a project to assess, design, install and demonstrate a hydrogen fuel cell 3-Wheeler using H2e PEM Fuel Cell integrated with Hydrogen In Motion’s innovative solid state hydrogen storage technology onboard. This Indo-Canadian collaboration leverages the zero emission and hydrogen strategies released in India and Canada. Hydrogen In Motion is receiving advisory services and up to $600,000 in funding support for this project through the Canadian International Innovation Program (CIIP). CIIP is a funding program offered by Global Affairs Canada [emphasis mine] and is delivered in collaboration with the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP). Respectively in India, H2e’s contributions towards this collaboration are supported by the Department of Science & Technology (DST) in collaboration with Global Innovation and Technology Alliance (GITA).
About This Project – This project will install a hydrogen fuel cell range extender using H2M low pressure hydrogen storage tanks on an electric powered three-wheeled auto rickshaw. Project goal is to significantly extend operational range and provide auxiliary power for home use when not in service.
The lack of scientific papers about the company’s technology is a little concerning. It’s not unheard of but combined with not identifying the scientist/inventor who developed the technology or identifying the source for the technology (in Canada, it’s almost always a university), or giving details about the technology or giving product details or noting that their products are being beta tested (?) in two countries India and Canada, or information about funding (where do they get their money?), or having a scientific advisory board, raises questions. The answer may be simple. They don’t place much value on keeping their website up to date as they are busy.
Hydrogen In Motion Inc. (H2M) is a company from Vancouver BC Canada. The company has corporate status: Active.
This business was incorporated 8 years ago on 8th January 2014
Hydrogen In Motion Inc. (H2M) is governed under the Canada Business Corporations Act – 2014-01-08. It a company of type: Non-distributing corporation with 50 or fewer shareholders.
The date of the company’s last Annual Meeting is 2021-01-01. The status of its annual filings are: 2021 -Filed, 2020 -Filed, 2019 -Filed.
Kona Equity offers an analysis (from the second quarter of 2019 to the fourth quarter of 2020),
Hydrogen In Motion
Founded in 2014
There are no known strengths for Hydrogen In Motion
Hydrogen In Motion has a very small market share in their industry
Revenue generated per employee is less than the industry average
Revenue growth is less than the industry average
The number of employees is not growing as fast as the industry average
Variance of revenue growth is more than the industry average
Employee growth rate from first known quarter to current -69.6%
I’d love to see a more recent analysis taking into account the 2021 business deals.
It’s impossible to tell when this job was posted but it provides some interesting insight, All the emphases are mine,
We are looking for an accomplished Chemical Process Engineer to lead our nanomaterial and carbon-rich material production, development and scale-up efforts. The holder of this position will be responsible for leading a team of engineers and technicians in the designing, developing and optimizing of process unit operations to provide high quality nanomaterials at various scales ranging from Research and Development to Commercial Manufacturing with good manufacturing practices (cGMP). The successful candidate is expected to independently strategize, analyze, design and control product scale-up to meet volume and quality demands.
Finally, there’s a chemical engineer or two. Plus, according to the company’s LinkedIn profile, there’s a theoretical physicist, Andrey Tokarev. Two locations are listed for Hydrogen in Motion, the Cordova St. office and something at 12388 88 Ave, Surrey. The company size is listed at 11 to 50 employees.
Grace Quan is good at getting government support for her company as this February 2019 story on the Government of Canada website shows,
Canada in Asia-Pacific
Trade diversification | February 2019
Grace Quan’s goal is to deliver hydrogen around the world to help the environment and address climate change.
Quan is the CEO of Vancouver-based Hydrogen in Motion, a clean-tech company leading the way in hydrogen storage.
The number one problem with hydrogen is how to store it, which is why Quan founded Hydrogen in Motion. She set out to find a way to get hydrogen to people around the world.
Quan’s company has figured out how to do this. By using a material that soaks up hydrogen like a sponge, more of it can be stored at a lower pressure and at lower cost.
In the future, clean energy, including hydrogen, should become the method of choice to power anything that requires gas or electricity. For example, vehicles, snow blowers and drones could be powered by hydrogen in the future. Hydrogen is an infinite source of clean energy that can lessen the environmental impact from other sources of energy.
Thanks to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Quan says she can explore new markets in the Asia-Pacific region for hydrogen export.
Japan is a new market that Quan’s company will explore as a result of the CPTPP. There’s a lot of opportunity there, with Tokyo hosting the 2020 Olympics, which are expected to be powered by hydrogen.
Quan recently returned from a trade mission to India [emphasis mine], where local trade commissioners helped her set up a meeting with a major auto maker.
In 2020, Hydrogen in Motion was a ‘success story‘ for Canada’s Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Incentive Program (Note: A link has been removed),
H2M was selected for the free in-person First-time claimant advisory service when filing its first scientific research and experimental development (SR&ED) claim. Since then, the SR&ED tax incentives have had a significant impact on the company’s work. The company is not only thankful for the program’s funding, but also to the SR&ED staff for their hard work and assistance, especially during the pandemic.
The company’s Chief Executive Officer, Grace Quan, had the following comments:
“In the context of COVID-19 shutdowns and general business disruption, the SR&ED tax incentives have become a critical source of funds as other sources were put on hold due to the pandemic and the financial uncertainty of the times. I wish to express my extreme gratitude for the consideration, efforts and support, as well as thanks, to the Canadian government, the SR&ED Program and its staff for their compassionate and empathetic treatment of individuals and businesses. The staff was friendly, professional, prompt and went above and beyond to help a small business like Hydrogen In Motion. They were a pleasure to work with and were extremely effective in problem resolution and facilitating processing of our SR&ED refund to provide much needed cash flow during these difficult times.”
As you might expect from someone running for political office, Quan is good at promoting herself. From her Advisory Board profile page for the Vancouver Economic Commission,
As President & CEO of Hydrogen In Motion Inc. (H2M), Grace brings fiduciary accountability and strategic vision to the table with her CPA/CMA [certified management accountant] and MBA credentials. Grace has a vast range of financial and managerial experience in private and public sectors from managing a Flying School, to working in a Provincial Minister’s office, to helping to manage the $250 billion dollar budget for the Treasury Board Secretariat of the Government of Canada.
In 2018 Grace Quan, CEO was recognized by BC Business magazine as one of the 50 Most Influential Women In STEM. [emphasis mine]
July 28, 2021 it was announced that Quan became a member of the World Hydrogen Advisory Board of the Sustainable Energy Council (UK).
Speculating about a political candidate
Grace Quan’s electoral run seems like odd timing. If your company just signed two deals less than a year ago during what seems to be an upswing in its business affairs then running for office (an almost full time job in itself) as a city councillor (a full time job, should you be elected) is an unexpected move from someone with no experience in public office.
Another surprising thing? The British Columbia Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy (CICE) announced a new consortium according to a Techcouver.com June 9, 2022 news item (about four days before the announcement of Quan’s political candidacy on the Daily Hive),
The British Columbia Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy (CICE) is partnering with businesses and government organizations to drive B.C.’s low-carbon hydrogen economy forward, with the launch of the B.C. Hydrogen Changemakers Consortium (BCHCC).
The partnership was announced at last night’s official Consortium launch event hosted by CICE and attended by leading B.C. hydrogen players, investors, and government officials. The Consortium launch is part of CICE’s previously announced Hydrogen Blueprint Investment, which will lay a foundation for the establishment of a hydrogen hub in Metro Vancouver, co-locating hydrogen supply and demand.
The group is expected to grow as projects and collaborations increase. To date, the Consortium members include: Ballard Power Systems, Capilano Maritime Design Ltd., Climate Action Secretariat, Fort Capital, FortisBC, Geazone Eco-Courier, Hydra Energy, HTEC, Innovative Clean Energy Fund, InBC Investment Corp., Modo, Parkland Refining, Powertech Labs, and TransLink.
Hydrogen in Motion doesn’t seem to be one of the inaugural members, which may mean nothing or may hint at why Quan is running for office.
Perhaps the company is not doing so well? There’s a very high failure rate with technology companies. The ‘valley of death’ is the description for taking a development from the lab and turning it into a business (which is almost always highly dependent on government funding). Assuming the company manages to get something to market and finds customers, the next stage, growing the company from a few million in revenues to 10s and 100s of millions of dollars is equally fraught.
Keeping the company afloat for eight years is a big accomplishment especially when you factor in COVID-19 which has had a devastating impact on businesses large and small.
Alternatively, the company is being acquired (or would that be absorbed?) by a larger company. Entrepreneurs in British Columbia have a long history of growing their tech companies with the goal of being acquired and getting a large payout. Quan’s co-founder certainly has experience with growing a company and then selling it to a larger company.
Finally, the company is doing just fine but Quan is bored and needs a new challenge (which may be the case in the other two scenarios as well). if you look at her candidate profile page, you’ll see she has a range of interests.
Note: I am not offering an opinion on Quan’s suitability for political office. This is neither an endorsement nor an ‘anti-endorsement’.