Using creative capacities is like meditation: George Kembel

George Kembel says his current mission is to raise a global fund to unleash the creative potential of every human being on the planet.  Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint

Mumbai: An internet entrepreneur and investor-turned-educator, George Kembel co-founded the at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California in the early 2000s. The school’s start-up design programme has had a remarkably global impact in terms of its intellectual, pedagogical and tangible reach. While most design programmes admit students with an art or design background, the Stanford’s gospel is more secular. Its courses are offered to students from any of Stanford’s graduate schools, including those of management, medicine and education, as well as to executive education students.

Kembel’s current mission is to look beyond the Stanford campus. With Silicon Valley-style evangelism, he aspires to put together “a global fund to unlock creativity, to fundamentally transform how we educate our children, how we lead our organizations, and how we tackle some of the most significant challenges of our time”.

Speaking on the sidelines of the SingularityU India Summit, a conference on exponential technologies held in Mumbai recently, in association with ideas-and-conversation platform INK, Kembel shared his views on why design thinking promises a brighter future for all of us. Edited excerpts from an interview:

What is design thinking to you?

It is an invitation to a broader group of people to tap into their creativity, not just the people who thought they were creative. Somehow, I think, culturally, we’ve over-associated creativity with the arts. That’s a huge and important part of creativity. But for us everything is a creative act. Hiring is a creative act, designing a business model is a creative act, designing better ways for farmers to irrigate their land is a creative act, as is figuring out a fourth-grade curriculum, or a hospital space. Every one of those things has constraints, has humans involved, has technical issues, has business issues, and if you are trying to make things better, or create new value, you have to find unexpected ways for it.


This Podium Works like a Touch Screen Computer

touch screen podiumImagine showcasing your product demo on a drafting table that works like your iPad. Imagine hooking a projector to this table for large screen presentations on the nearest wall.

Now imagine all you need is your laptop to bring these features, and many more, to life.

Creators of the IKKUT touch screen podium have been working to make all of this a reality. Simply install the driver for your computer’s operating system, connect the single USB port and you’re ready to go, the company’s Kickstarter page promoting a campaign raising money for the device insists.

The campaign, started by Azkenmedia, a Spanish based company trying to make this presentation tool a reality, is currently nearing its end.

Here’s a video that showcases the IKKUT:

The IKKUT touch screen podium features a steel structure casing for the touchscreen which is position adjustable from 0 to 90 degrees, made of 6mm tempered security glass, and features true multi-touch with response times of only 7 to 13 milliseconds.

The infrared capacitive touch screen itself measures 40 inches and could be made available in a two or six point multi-touch display. The steel structure supporting the display measures 56.7 in. x 23.6 in. and would come coated in a matte black powder paint.

So why such a massive touch screen? On the main website for the prototype, project director Fernando Elola explains:

“Human touch is a must, an internal response to interact with other human beings.”

In a world where people are surrounded by touch screens on phones, tablets, computers and even watches, why not include a large screen which can allow you to showcase something in a new and intuitive way?

For example, a developer could create a phone app, then showcase it on a screen large enough for an entire room to see.

Though there are obvious possibilities for business applications, the IKKUT touch screen podium could be used for education in schools, museums or exhibitions, TV studios, or even at home for personal entertainment like movie projection or party games.

IKKUT is able to project using nearly any rear projection system, and comes with a special tray to attach your laptop and the projector unit.

The team that created IKKUT touch screen podium was planning on a fifty unit production run. Unfortunately, with only 10 backers and only $3,203 of their $105,000 goal raised so far, the device may not see the light of day just yet.

So the IKKUT ends up not only being an interesting prototype because of its business applications, but also an example of what can go wrong in a Kickstarter campaign.

The Kickstarter page for the project includes a note from Elola, informing potential and existing backers that the campaign is reaching its end without sufficient money to make the device a reality.

Elola says problems included:

  • Lack of precampaign promotion.
  • High cost of the project, though Elola insists that cost is justified.
  • A video that is too slow in the beginning and doesn’t explain enough about what the device can do.
  • No defined target audience for the product.

The campaign ends July 30, 2014 and seems unlikely to reach its goal. But Elola insists it has been a positive learning experience in any case.


OnePlus 2 Smartphone, Like Predecessor, is Available by Invite Only

OnePlus, the obscure smartphone company, is trying to trump the industry leaders once again with the sequel to its popular and exclusive debut device. The company has finally unveiled the OnePlus 2, which offers close to top-of-the-line specs at a mid-range smartphone price.

Like its predecessor, the OnePlus 2 will be available for purchase only with an invite.

Invites can be obtained from friends who have already purchased the phone or by participating in various contests and promotions. Though hopefully the company will avoid their past marketing mistakes like the “ladies first” campaign.

The OnePlus One did eventually become available to everyone a year after its release so it’s possible down the line the 2 will be as well. But for now the company has said they plan to keep the invitation system for the OnePlus 2 for the foreseeable future.

The specs for the OnePlus 2 look good, showing a fairly powerful phone for not a bad price.

There are two versions that will be available. The less expensive model offers 16GB of storage and 3GB RAM, coming with a price tag of $329. You can also pay more for 64GB of storage and 4GB RAM costing $389.

Both versions run the company’s Oxygen operating system, based on Android 5.1. The OnePlus 2 also boasts a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with 1.8GHz Octa-core CPU.

And not usually seen in a smartphone, the OnePlus 2 includes a dedicated Adreno GPU.

The phone has a 5.5-inch LCD display and can capture 4K video. It has a 13-megapixel back facing sensor and 5-megapixel front facing camera.

When it comes to specs though, the company would rather customers didn’t focus on them. OnePlus says in its blog announcement:

“I see a lot of people excited about the specs of the OnePlus 2. That’s great, but a focus on specs will make you lose sense of what’s really important: the holistic product experience. A great product should make its users forget about specs.”

OnePlus 2 is carrier-unlocked, so you will have to check with your preferred carrier for connectivity. The phone does offer dual SIM capabilities, so you can connect to two different networks if you want.

The invite system for the OnePlus 2 is now live. If you are interested in getting your own invite you can find out more about it on the company’s invite page. OnePlus will also be hosting a number of pop-up events around the world on July 31. You can attend one near your to get a chance to demo the phone and possibly even score an invite.

Image: OnePlus


New Samsung Gear VR Looks Like Something Out of Sci-Fi

samsung gear vr

Samsung’s Gear VR headset, compatible with both the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, is now available for pre-order on Best Buy’s website.

By attaching one of the two mobile devices to the front of the headset, a user can be immersed into a dramatic panoramic virtual reality to experience not just games but also video and images too.

The revamped Gear VR is priced at $249.99, about $50 more than the original Gear VR.

The headset ships on May 8 from Best Buy’s site, as well as Samsung’s online store, and will be available in retail stores on May 15.

Observers are praising the new model as an improvement.

Engadget notes:

“While the Gear VR didn’t impress us as much as HTC’s Vive virtual reality headset, it’s still an improvement over its predecessor, with a lighter frame and higher amount of pixels per inch (due to the S6’s slightly sharper screen). It’s not exactly a reason to pick up a Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge yet, but that could change over the next year as Samsung adds more VR content.”

Betanews adds:

“If you are the owner of a Galaxy S6 or S6 edge, however, you are in luck; Samsung today announces a refreshed Gear VR for you, with the “Innovator Edition” moniker.”

Max Cohen, head of mobile at Oculus VR, the virtual reality company now owned by Facebook, told the site:

“Expanding Oculus virtual reality to the innovative Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge is a huge step towards helping tech enthusiasts get involved in this new revolution. The beautiful screen really makes VR worlds pop, whether you’re playing a game like a new, full version of Herobound, watching streaming movies in Oculus Cinema, or seeing amazing vistas in high-quality photos and videos that convince your brain into thinking you’re there.”

The new Gear VR for the Galaxy S6 and the S6 Edge is about 15 percent smaller than the Note 4 VR.

Engadget reports Samsung has also redesigned the Gear VR for better overall weight distribution. as well as adding more padding to the rear strap of the device making the headset much more comfortable for the wearer.

One criticism from some who have tested the new device is that it has a smaller field of vision compared the original.


More in: Gadgets, Samsung1 Comment ▼