The Tricks Pixar Used To Make Coco’s Super Slick Skeletons

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Pixar’s new movie Coco is heartwarming, gorgeous, and—based on its $71 million opening weekend in the US—very popular. But it wouldn’t be any of those things without its skeletons. Like the toys, monsters, and robots Pixar has dreamed up before, the bags of bones are awfully charismatic. Unlike those creations, their phalanges took a little more finagling to get right.

Coco, out now, is the story of a kid named Miguel who discovers his family history on Dia de los Muertos, Mexico’s celebration honoring ancestors on their after-life journey. While doing that, though, he finds himself as the only living boy in the City of the Dead. Nearly all his other costars are skeletons—bony characters whose awkward movements presented so many technical issues to Pixar’s animation teams the company had to overhaul its software.

“We knew going in we just didn’t have the technical ability to even put clothing on skeletons because of our simulator,” explains cloth and tailoring lead Emron Grover. (Yes, “cloth and tailoring lead” is a real job. Blame your guidance counselor if you’re just finding this out now.) The problem is that the simulator just didn’t know how to make clothes lay on characters made entirely out of thin objects like bones. “We spent three years revamping our collisions system so that we could be able to have robust collisions” between the skeletons and what they were wearing, Grover says, adding that the new system kept the characters’ bony nature prominent even under fabric.

“We tightened all the clothing,” he explains. “We cinched it around the spines and tightened it around the rib cages so you could really feel the ribs underneath.”

Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Clothes

One of Pixar’s long-standing rules is that everything on screen must be true to the materials they’re made out of. That meant Coco‘s cast was much lighter on its feet than most. A skeleton is only 20 percent of a body’s weight and much lower density, so they walk far more fancy free than their flesh-and-bone counterparts. But while keeping them light was fairly easy, giving them expressions was less so.

“Hard bone on the face was challenging,” says supervising animator Gini Santos. “A lot of our expressions are done by pulling the sides of the mouth or scowling the brows, and we weren’t going to have any of that.” Instead, the animators broke the rules by giving the skeletons eyeballs, eyelids, and sockets that mimicked eyebrows. They also fused the jaw-bone mandible, replacing it with “skeleton lips,” allowing for angular but shapeable mouths without gums or tongues.

Working with skeletons also provided unique opportunities because of their very different body language—and their ability to fall apart without it looking weird. “They use this magic invisible life force to keep the bones together, but it was very loose,” explains Grover. “They could separate bones extremely far to the point where the skeleton could completely fall apart and then all come back together magically.”

While that makes for dramatic moments in the movie, it caused headaches during its creation. “The problem with that is when you’re wearing a pair of pants and let’s say the femur and tibia/fibula separate,” hypothesizes Grover. “The cloth will tend to pinch in between, and then when you bring those bones back together it will all snag up because of excess material around the joint.” To prevent this, the team digitally wrapped joints with really stretchy invisible material. That way when the bones separated, the pants would touch that cloth and not fall into the gaps.

Continue onto WIRED to read the complete article.

Alcatraz East Awards Graffiti Artists

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Graffiti Artist

It’s not often that graffiti artists get recognized and awarded for their artistic talents. But on June 2, 2018 that’s exactly what Alcatraz East Crime Museum did, holding a graffiti art contest giving the winners the opportunity to have their work on display at the museum for thousands of visitors to see. This first graffiti contest held by the museum featured seven pre-selected artists who also competed for cash prizes.

“We are excited with how our first outdoor event and first art contest went off,” says Rachael Penman, director of artifacts & exhibits at Alcatraz East. “It was a fun way to bring awareness to the public and give artists an opportunity to display their work in a museum setting.”

The top spots went to: 
1st place: Steve Hall of Maryville, TN
2nd place: Casey McKinney of Louisville, KY
3rd place: William Love of Nashville, TN

In addition to the local area, artists from Kentucky, South Carolina, and Georgia also competed. The contest guidelines restricted the artistic themes to be suitable for a general public audience, and in line with the museum’s law enforcement and crime history topics. Winners of the contest will have their panels displayed in the museum later this summer, and received cash prizes of $750 for first place, $350 for second place, and $200 for third place.

2nd place: Casey McKinney of Louisville, KY

The judges’ panel included local law enforcement representatives Sevier County Sheriff Ron “Hoss” Seals and Pigeon Forge Chief of Police Richard Catlett, as well as artist Kelly Sullivan from Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, and Rhonda Marsh, owner of Southern Draw Tattoo Studio in Pigeon Forge.

“This has been such a magical experience for me and I hope to see more events like this in the future,” shared William Love, one of the graffiti artist winners.”

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the national cost associated with removing graffiti from vandalized properties is at least $8 billion per year, between clean up and the lowering of property values. To combat this costly problem, many cities have introduced organized graffiti art projects to revitalize areas and provide official recognition to artists. Museum visitors will be able to see the graffiti exhibit to learn more about the topic and admire the artistic work on display.

“Based on the success of this year’s contest, we are planning to stage the event again next year,” added Penman. “We will start accepting artist applications on our website in January 2019.”

The Alcatraz East Crime Museum is located at the entrance to The Island, at 2757 Parkway in Pigeon Forge. They are located near the Margaritaville Hotel and Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen. The museum offers a wide array of crime information, including notorious crimes and criminals, historic artifacts, interactive exhibits, crime scene investigation, crime detection and fighting, and information on how help avoid being a victim of crime. There are also many activities that are kid friendly. Currently, the OJ Simpson white chase Bronco is on display at the museum, along with Ted Bundy’s VW Beetle.

3rd place: William Love of Nashville, TN

General admission tickets are $14.95 for children, $24.95 for adults. Group ticket sales are available. The museum will be open 365 days per year, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the last ticket sold 60 minutes before closing. For more information and to purchase tickets, log online: www.alcatrazeast.com.

About Alcatraz East
Alcatraz East is the most arresting crime museum in the United States. Guests of all ages can encounter a unique journey into the history of American crime, crime solving, and our justice system. Through interactive exhibits and original artifacts, Alcatraz East is an entertaining and educational experience for all ages – so much fun it’s a crime! This family attraction is located at the entrance of The Island, located at 2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN. For more information, visit www.alcatrazeast.com

How One Company Landed on Celebrity Radar, Going from Unknown to the A-List

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Harrison Ford-iWALK2.0

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – (June 6, 2018) – If you are a business fortunate enough to have your product used by a celebrity or athlete, there is a good chance it will boost your bottom line. One of the quickest ways to take your business to the next level is to get an A-list endorsement. However, not everyone knows how to go about getting their product in the hands of a celebrity or athlete, and better yet, how to get them to actually be seen using it. The good news is that with some persistence and patience, you can reap the rewards of having celebrities use your product.

“We knew the power that having celebrities use our product would have, so we set out on a mission to help make it happen,” explains Brad Hunter, the innovator of iWALK2.0 and the chief executive officer of the company, iWALKFree, Inc.  “We sought out those celebrities and pro-athletes we felt could benefit from our product, and then we offered it to them. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement.”

The iWALK2.0 is a hands-free crutch that is used instead of conventional crutches or knee scooters.  Essentially a high tech pirate leg, it recruits the user’s leg, instead of their hands and arms.  In addition, to the hands-free benefit, the iWALK2.0 allows for easier and more comfortable movement. Where crutches can be irritating and limit mobility this novel product frees up users to resume normal day to day activities.

Underscoring these benefits was crucial to celebrities taking notice of the iWALK2.0. Among the A-listers who have used the product are Kelly Slater (World Championship surfer), Nick Bonino (NHL Stanley Cup champion), Harrison Ford (Actor), Tyron Woodley (UFC World Champion), Ronald Forbes (Olympic hurdler), Tanner Pearson (NHL player), Romeo Pullum (NFL player), Marcus Mariota (NFL player) and Mike Waufle (NFL coach.) In addition to individual players, there are numerous professional teams that keep the iWALK2.0 in their training rooms, including 28 teams in the NFL alone.

For the average business, it may seem daunting to get their products into the hands of celebrities and pro-athletes, and for them to actually use it. But there are many businesses benefiting from such exposure, giving hope to those who would like to get in on the action. Here are 6 tips to help get your product into the hands of celebrities and athletes, helping to take your business to the next level:

  • Target your market.Not every celebrity is going to be a good fit
    Nick Bonino Stanley Cup
    Nick Bonino Stanley Cup

    for your product. Narrow down which ones you think will be. By narrowing it down to those it makes sense to reach out to, your chances of success will likely increase.

  • Get their contact information.Getting their contact information may seem difficult, but if you search around you should find it online. You may need to go through their PR agent, but you will still be able to get your products to the celebrity through that route.
  • Make it stand out.Once you know where to send or take the product to, do something to make it stand out. Send it via FedEx, wrap it nicely, and always include a handwritten note.
  • Highlight the results or benefits.Be sure to include something that lets them know what the benefits of using the product are, if it’s something that will help them. If it’s a fashion product or one that doesn’t necessarily have benefits, but is just for fun, highlight the fun aspects of it and what’s unique about it. Let them know the inspiration behind the product, that you support a particular charity or cause, or any other fun or interesting detail. Most of all, you must genuinely believe that using your product will significantly benefit the celebrity as much or more than the publicity will benefit you.
  • Be polite, yet persistent.The last thing you want to do is become annoying, because that will likely get your product booted quickly. Be persistent, but always remain nice. You will want especially be nice to the person you need to go through to get to the celebrity, as they are the gatekeeper, and the gate will probably not open without their assistance.
  • Be ready for the influx of business.If you are successful with your quest, you will likely get a big boost in business. Be ready for it, so that you don’t miss out on those sales by not being able to fulfill the orders.

“A lot of positive can come from getting that celebrity endorsement, making it worth the effort to get the product in their hands,” adds Hunter.  “It’s rewarding when you consider what the return on investment can be, and has been for many businesses.”

Brad Hunter-CEO, Innovator of iWALK2.0
Brad Hunter-CEO, Innovator of iWALK2.0

The iWALK2.0 is hands-free, pain-free alternative to using crutches and leg scooters.  It’s easy to learn to use, intuitive, and safe. From the knee up, the leg is doing the same walking motion that comes naturally to it. The device is essentially a temporary lower leg, which gives people their independence and mobility back as they recover from an injury. The device is pain-free, and makes it possible for people to engage in many of their normal routine activities, such as walking the dog, grocery shopping, and walking up or downstairs.

Clinical research, the results of which are on the company website, shows that patients using the iWALK2.0 heal faster, and have a higher sense of satisfaction and a higher rate of compliance. The iWALK2.0 sells for $149 and is available online and through select retailers. Some insurance companies may cover the cost of the device. The device can be used with a cast or boot, and comes with a limited warranty. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at: iwalk-free.com. To see a video of the iWALK2.0 in action, visit: iWalkFree.

About iWALKFree

The iWALK2.0 is a hands-free knee crutch, made by iWALKFree, Inc.  It’s a mobility device used instead of traditional crutches and knee scooters. It offers more comfort and independence, with the hands and arms remaining free. The device offers people a functional and independent lifestyle as they are recovering from many common lower leg injuries. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at iwalk-free.com.

 

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North Face is cutting waste by selling refurbished old coats

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To try to create more of a circular economy in the fashion industry, the outdoor gear company is launching a new line called Renewed, made up of old garments cleaned up so well that they’re like new.

If you buy a jacket from a just-launched pilot collection from The North Face, someone else might have already climbed a mountain or run a marathon in it. Called The North Face Renewed, the products are sourced from returns or defective items, cleaned and repaired to the quality of a new piece of clothing, and then sold online at a discount, as part of the company’s move toward a more circular business model.

“It just represents a really important next step in the evolution of our overall business,” says Tim Bantle, a general manager and vice president of lifestyle brands at The North Face. The company recognizes the apparel industry’s waste problem: 85% of textiles end up in a landfill. Even though the company makes products that are designed to last longer than average–items come with a lifetime guarantee, and the company offers repairs–it still had an opportunity to curb waste. Patagonia sells refurbished clothing through a similar online store.

During the new collection’s pilot phase, lasting from June through September, products will come from The North Face’s internal stock, including products that might have been returned under the company’s guarantee. A partner called The Renewal Workshop will professionally clean and restore items so they can be sold online.

Bantle argues that it especially makes sense to prolong the life of complex products like outdoor gear. “Oftentimes, when we think about designing an outerwear product, it really is more like designing a car than it is like designing a T-shirt in terms of the complexity of engineering and the kind of care that goes into the design and development of the product and testing,” he says. “When you’re building the quality of products that we are, but you’re only assuming one life for that, you’re really short-changing all of the work that you’re doing in terms of the design and development process.”

It’s already possible, of course, to find used North Face products on eBay or other resale sites. But the products in the new collection will be restored to like-new quality. The company thinks that it might begin to shift how their customers shop. “How many customers do we have today that might be full-price customers, that might actually buy Renewed product in the future instead?” says Bantle. Other customers, who might not have been able to afford the brand’s high prices in the past, might start buying the products for the first time.

Continue onto FastCompany to read the complete article.

Finally a good use for drones—hands-free umbrellas

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Umbrellas are so annoying with their whole requiring hands things. On the plus side, there’s a very small chance that an umbrella will accidentally cut your head off. That can all change with the new drone umbrella, which hovers its rapidly spinning propellers over your head while keeping your precious hair dry and your face in the shade. Maybe it can offer haircuts, too?

The new Free Parasol developed by Asahi Power Service promises to be keep you in the shade and out of the rain, hands-free, reports Sora News 24. While the drone-umbrella is currently only in prototype form, according to the Free Parasol website, the company is hard at work on creating its own flying umbrella. Due to all the regulations surrounding flying drones in public places, Asahi Power Service will reportedly first start selling the drones to private ventures, like golf courses. They hope to have it flying over golf courses, rainy day sidewalks, and beaches by 2019 for the low, low cast of $275 (30,000 yen) plus whatever insurance you’ll have to buy for flying a drone six feet off the ground.

Continue onto FastCompany to read the complete article.

The Secrets to Success: Incredible career insights from some of the world’s leading creatives

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Boniface-Mwangi

Learning from experienced artists, designers and photographers to understand how they achieve their goals should be part of every creative’s journey. We have to seek inspiration and ideas from those we admire if we’re ever going to get ahead.

These are the people who have already enjoyed lots of success and continue to be creative today – some who started their first business at aged eight years old while others are well past the typical retirement age. I guess when you choose creativity as a life-long passion, you never really stop working. Why would you, if you’re doing something you love?

So how have these established creatives managed to “make it”? What have been the secrets to their success? And what can we learn from them? We’ve rounded up some of the most inspiring and motivational talks and interviews to share incredible insights from some of the industry’s best.

1. Success, failure and the drive to keep creating – Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert

Author Elizabeth Gilbert was once an “unpublished diner waitress”, devastated by rejection letters. And yet, in the wake of the success of her best-selling book Eat, Pray, Love, she found herself identifying strongly with her former self. With beautiful insight, Gilbert reflects on why success can be as disorienting as failure and offers a simple, though hard, way to carry on, regardless of outcomes.

2. How to build your creative confidence – David Kelley

David Kelley

Creativity is not a domain of only a chosen few, according to David Kelley – founder of IDEO. And it shouldn’t be something that’s divided between “creatives” versus “practical” people. Telling stories from his legendary design career and his own life, he offers ways to build confidence to create.

3. Stop searching for your passion – Terri Trespicio

Branding strategist Terri Trespicio says there’s a lot of weight behind the age-old question, what are you passionate about? We’re constantly told these five words hold the key to a successful career and life purpose. Terri ponders, what if it’s the wrong question altogether? This inspiring talk turns the ubiquitous “find your passion” message on its ear.

4. Discoveries in Colour: The art of Carlos Cruz-Diez

Carlos Cruz-Diez

Carlos Cruz-Diez is a world-renowned artist and one of the greatest living figures in kinetic and op art. He creates interactive, immersive works that invite viewers to reconsider how they perceive the world – and at 94 years old, he continues to evolve as an artist, employing the newest digital technology in his Paris atelier, where he works with his children, his grandchildren, and a team of craftspeople who help bring his ideas to life. Watch the film below to understand how he has become one of the most influential modern thinkers in the realm of colour.

5. Maya Penn: Meet a young entrepreneur, cartoonist and activist

Maya Penn

Maya Penn started her first company when she was just eight years old, and thinks deeply about how to be responsible both to her customers and to the planet. She shares her story, and some animations, and some designs, and some infectious energy, in this charming talk. Hopefully, it will inspire you to launch your own business, find a different career path or start a fun side project.

6. A journey through the mind of an artist – Dustin Yellin

Dustin Yellin

Dustin Yellin makes mesmerising artwork that tells complex, myth-inspired stories. How did he develop his style? In this disarming talk, he shares the journey of an artist, starting from age eight, and his idiosyncratic way of thinking and seeing. Follow the path that leads him up to his latest major work, and be inspired by his journey so far.

7. The day I stood up alone – Boniface Mwangi

Boniface Mwangi

Photographer Boniface Mwangi wanted to protest against corruption in his home country of Kenya. So he made a plan: he and some friends would stand up and heckle during a public mass meeting. But when the moment came… he stood alone. What happened next, he says, showed him who he truly was. As he says, “There are two most powerful days in your life. The day you are born, and the day you discover why.” Be warned, there are graphic images in the following talk.

8. The art of creativity – Taika Waititi

Taika Waititi

Taika Waititi is a visual artist, actor, writer and film director hailing from New Zealand. His short film Two Cars, One Night was nominated for an Academy Award in 2005. Taika’s second feature, Boy, appeared at the Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals in 2010 and, more recently, his Hunt for the Wilderpeople enjoyed huge global success. In this classic TED Talk, he discusses how creativity has helped him to express his ideas and led him to where he is today.

“From the art & design magazine, Creative Boom.”

The iGen iEverything Train is Coming, but Are You Ready?

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iGen

Technology is being consumed at an ever increasing rate causing executives, managers, and process improvement experts on the factory floor to re-define the methods of training and dissemination that have become obsolete.

Critical skills and tribal knowledge are being lost as boomers retire and training plans for new employees fall short of preparing workers for the sophistication of the new manufacturing environment.

Move over millennials, here comes the IGen! Born between 1995 and 2005 this group of tech savvy natives is the next cohort and are just now entering the workforce. IGen, or Gen Z as they are often referred, have grown up in a world of social media where Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter reign supreme. These kids are a force to be reckoned with and require access to information in ways that are familiar, immediate, and actionable. Our success depends on them because as the IGen goes, so goes the manufacturing industry, the nation, and the world.

Alliance Resource Group, in partnership with Sify Technologies has pulled together experts from manufacturing, academia and automated methodologies to develop a solution that addresses the manufacturing challenge of this next generation and identifies the key components of a successful framework including content management, dissemination methodology, scalability, and integration with current learning management systems. These components constitute a micro-learning strategy that facilitates current and future state requirements.

Alliance Resource Group (ARG), is a service disabled veteran owned business located in Newport Beach California. With a foundation in resource management, recruiting, and consulting, ARG provides services to small and medium size companies throughout the United States.

View the ARG White Paper here! Better be prepared for total process transformation if you want to remain competitive.

This kit for making medical tests can be put together like Legos

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Ampli’s reusable blocks let scientists quickly and cheaply create diagnostic tests–and they could be especially helpful in the developing world.

Right now, if a technician working in a lab in rural Angola needs to run a test to see if a patient is infected with Zika or Ebola, they’ll likely use a paper test imported from somewhere else–and if that test doesn’t work for the local population, or if it’s too expensive to buy, there may be no other option. But a new Lego-like kit is designed to make it possible for technicians anywhere to make, and tweak, diagnostics themselves.

The tiny kit called Ampli, uses modular blocks that can be connected in different patterns to replicate the function that would typically be built into a manufactured test for pregnancy, glucose, or an infection or other disease. Pregnancy tests made by a medical device company, for example, use an antibody added to a paper strip that reacts to a hormone that women produce when pregnant, and that reaction causes the paper to change color. The new blocks can create the same test without the complexity of embedding elements in paper ahead of time. It can also perform tests that are typically done with test tubes in a lab, such as a test that carefully mixes three chemicals to see if someone has taken medicine for TB. With the kit, no lab is needed, and the test costs $1.

One type of block is designed to collect a sample of blood or urine from a patient. Another type has a tiny channel for samples to flow through; a third type has turns that make multiple reactions possible. After arranging the blocks, someone working in a lab can sandwich a tiny sheet of paper in the kit, run the test with their sample and chemicals they have in the lab (the paper will turn different colors depending on the result), and then sterilize the blocks to reuse them again.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

Female CEO Takes on Tech Industry with Edge Music Network

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Elizabeth Vargas

Diversity in STEAM Magazine (DISM) recently had the pleasure to speak with Elizabeth Vargas, founder and CEO of Edge Music Network.

DISM: Let’s start with the obvious question first: What’s your take on the lack of female leaders in the tech space?

EV: I could give a dozen reasons and even more excuses for our gender’s absence in the C-suite—not only in tech but in nearly every industry—but I won’t. The truth is that no one cares about why you haven’t succeeded; they’re only interested in how you’ve succeeded. That’s where I want to go. I want to focus on the future, and prove that with vision, hustle and commitment that you can break through and achieve your dreams. That’s how I think I can help young and mature female entrepreneurs achieve their goals and dreams.

DISM: Okay. Let’s go there… tell us your story.

EV: As a child, I always loved music and theory but wasn’t allowed to watch TV until I was 13. My dad was a preacher and I think he thought that delaying my exposure would protect me from the outside world. So, it’s kind of funny that, of all programs, I got hooked on MTV. I remember thinking I would own it one day! That was my big dream– which eventually evolved into what is now Edge Music Network.

DISM: A lot must have happened between “one day” and now…

EV: In between, I gravitated to all things music, first studying jazz vocals at the Cornish College of the Arts and then creating the Vargas Girls Jazz Cabaret in Seattle–where we played in nightclubs. My experience in the music industry paved the way for Edge Music Network to acquire the content libraries of some of the largest music publishers in the world.

DISM: Has there been anyone who has helped you along the way to achieve your big dream?

EV: I get asked that question often. People assume since I’m a successful female CEO and entrepreneur, I have a powerful man or group backing me. It was the exact opposite. I had everyone around me including those closest to me telling me to quit while I was ahead and it couldn’t be done and to give up on a regular basis. But I can tell you, everything I’ve achieved has been of my own sheer will, passion and desire to work hard– beginning with the Vargas Girls. I had a day job testing software, which came naturally to me. Being tech-savvy helped me launch our first website and later, my own digital channels like YouTube live video, where I live-streamed and interviewed bands and rock legends—all while keeping focus on becoming the next MTV. The only thing that changed for me was the platform. Television wasn’t the only game in town.

DISM: Speaking of the only game in town, explain Edge Music Network and how it diverges from other music video platforms like Spotify and Vevo.

EV: Edge Music Network (EMN) globally streams premium music video content from top-tier distribution partners and independent artists. But it’s more than a free platform for fans to watch their favorite music videos and entertainment programming. EMN offers fans access—from phones, tablets, computers and TVs—to the music and artists they love while providing artists and record labels with the royalties they deserve. We’ve completely flipped the compensation structure of platforms like Spotify and Vevo that give artists 10 percent or less of the profit share. We ensure a 90/10 split in the artists’ favor. On top of that, because EMN believes in the transformative power of music, we dedicate 10 percent of ad revenue to charitable causes such as those that feed the hungry, house the homeless and help victims of natural disasters.

DISM: Sounds like you found a straight path to your dream. Was it really so simple?

EV: It has been anything but simple. I spent years learning how to navigate application development, digital rights agreements, content licensing and distribution and how to acquire the content libraries of some of the largest music publishers in the world to bring EMN to life. But it’s the decades of relationship-building with my partners, advisors, record labels and artists that serve as the foundation of EMN.

DISM: What’s your advice for women today who want to pursue a career or start-up in tech?

EV: Today, every business is tied to technology, whether you work behind a desk, with your hands, your voice or your heart. So, to say there are few women in tech will eventually become a thing of the past. What may remain unchanged is the lack of female LEADERS in tech and that’s a personal choice. It’s up to each one of us to find our passion, find a mentor, find a way to achieve our goals, whatever the odds or the required education. Learn it. Do it. Fail. Get back up and do it again. And again. And that’s never easy. But it’s certainly fulfilling.

About Elizabeth Vargas:
Elizabeth Vargas is the founder and CEO of Edge Music Network, a music video streaming service providing live and on-demand content through a video syndication platform. After studying jazz vocal and music theory at Cornish College of the Arts and attending Bellevue University to study international business and media technology, Vargas combined her passions and pursued a career in the music industry. Over several years, Vargas was able to learn the ins and outs of application development, which allowed her to effectively lead the development and engineering of EMN’s platform. She has decades of experience architecting and brokering digital rights agreements between content creators and publishers to ensure equitable revenue share and royalty distribution and has worked with industry leaders to fight for fair compensation structures to keep the music alive—all of which paved the way for Edge Music Network. With deep working knowledge in content licensing and distribution, application development, as well as strong industry partnerships, Vargas acquired the content libraries of some of the largest music publishers in the world to bring to life the Edge Music Network app that gives artists the royalties and respect they deserve while giving fans access to the music they love—anytime, anywhere, from any device.

With philanthropy at the core of Edge Music Network, Vargas has built one of the most technologically advanced platforms to bring people together with the power of music while providing support to charitable organizations that feed the hungry, aid victims of natural disasters and support homeless veterans. For more information, visit edgemusic.com. Download the app at Apple ITunes Store and Google Play.

Imagine a city lit by glowing trees instead of streetlights

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Could genetically engineered trees that have been crossed with bioluminescent algae be the emissions-free lighting source of the future?

If you happened to be in San Diego last week and stood on the beach at night, you might have seen the ocean glowing an electric shade of blue as bioluminescent algae bloomed, a relatively rare natural phenomenon. In a lab in Denmark, researchers are trying to isolate the genes that makes the microalgae glow for another purpose: potential natural streetlights.

If the genes could be tweaked and added to trees, they say, it could be possible for trees to stand in for standard street lighting. “We could try to change some of that lighting from conventional, electricity-consuming lights to a more natural way of creating light,” says Kristian Ejlsted, CEO of Allumen, a new startup based near Copenhagen.

Ejlsted began researching bioluminescent algae as a student at the Technical University of Denmark, and his startup now sells kits with the algae that teachers can use to help visually explain photosynthesis, respiration, and other natural processes in science classes. Another product, for home use, will be a little like a lava lamp, with algae living in a saltwater-nutrient mixture, taking up sunshine during the day, and glowing at night. But Ejlsted is most interested in the larger potential for the genes that make the algae glow.

The tens of thousands of streetlights in large cities can make up, in some cases, the largest piece of city’s energy bills. Over the last decade, cities have increasingly switched from older technology to LED lights; in Los Angeles, for example, where the city began switching its 200,000-plus streetlight to LEDs in 2013, it cut energy use for the lights by more than 63%, saving nearly $10 million a year on energy and maintenance bills. But the lights are still a major source of emissions.

“In Denmark, almost all streetlights are now being replaced by LED lights,” Ejlsted says. “That’s a huge deal right now, and it’s going to save a lot of energy. But the fact is that they’re still using electricity–they’re using a little bit less, but it’s still electricity, and it still comes from burning fossil fuels. The real advantage of changing to a biological system is that the algae, for example, or the plant, they only need CO2 and sunlight and some water.”

The company is not the first to explore the idea of glowing plants and trees. One Kickstarter project, the Glowing Plant, raised nearly half a million dollars, but later told backers they’d failed in their quest to genetically engineer small plants that could glow. A team of researchers at MIT embedded nanoparticles with an enzyme from fireflies into plants, creating a faint glow. In France, biologist Pierre Calleja is experimenting with prototypes of lamps filled with glowing microalgae. Designer Daan Roosegaarde has also experimented with the idea of glowing trees.

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These Medical Delivery Drones Could Soon Be Supplying U.S. Hospitals

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drone flying

After successfully developing a program that flies blood to hospitals in Rwanda, the medical drone company is nearing FAA approval to help cut down the time it takes to get supplies to health centers in rural America.

If a health clinic in rural Rwanda needs blood for an emergency transfusion, doctors can text or call a distribution center, and around half an hour later a drone will show up with plasma and platelets. The system, which is the first of its kind in the world, has been in place for the last 18 months. This year, the startup behind it, Zipline, will likely begin testing its drones in the United States.

In the coming weeks, the FAA is expected to approve several drone pilot projects run by state and local governments, which will take drones a step closer to mainstream use. As states partner with companies like Zipline, they’ll gather data on a variety of types of flight that are currently only allowed under special waivers, that allow for drone flights that violate current rules, like that a drone can’t fly beyond a pilot’s line of sight or be flown over people.

Medical delivery drones could be particularly helpful in rural America, where dozens of hospitals have closed since 2010 and hundreds of others are at risk of closing. Nearly half of rural providers already have a negative operating margin. As rural residents–who tend to be sicker than the rest of the country–have to rely on the smaller clinics that remain, drones could ensure that those clinics have access to necessary supplies. Blood products spoil quickly, and outside major hospitals, it’s common not to have the right blood on hand for a procedure. Using the drones would be faster, cheaper, and more reliable than delivering the supplies in a van or car.

“There’s a lot that [the U.S.] can be doing better,” says Keller Rinaudo, CEO of Zipline. “And that’s what we think is ultimately the promise of future logistics and automated logistics. It’s not delivering tennis shoes or pizza to someone’s backyard. It’s providing universal access to healthcare when people need it the most.”

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