I’m just back from Chicago, where I was attending the Greenbuild Conference of the U.S. Green Building Council. Despite the weak economy, some 27,000 architects, builders, developers, and manufacturers gathered for this 9th annual conference.At Greenbuild, I moderated an interactive session looking at “hype vs. reality” with LED lighting. Indeed, there is a lot of hype out there (more on that below), but the bottom line is that there are some amazing products coming onto the market.By way of background, LED lighting (LED for “light-emitting diode”) is the future of electric lighting. These highly concentrated light sources rely on semiconductor materials to convert electric current directly into light, without heating up a metal filament, as occurs with incandescent lights, or passing an electric arc through mercury gas, as happens with fluorescent, metal halide, and high-pressure sodium lights.LED lighting has three primary advantages over other lighting sources:First, it’s much more efficient than incandescent lighting. We refer to lighting efficiency as “efficacy” and measure it in lumens of light output per watt of electricity consumed. Incandescent light bulbs have efficacies of 10-15 lumens per watt, while compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) come in at 50-70 lumens per watt (lpw) and tubular fluorescent lamps produce as much as 100 lpw. Most LED light sources today deliver 35-60 lpw, though a few exceed 80 lpw. Thus, even though it’s often touted as more efficient than fluorescent lighting, most LED lighting today actually has lower efficacy than the best tubular fluorescent lights.Second, LEDs avoid the mercury that used in fluorescent, metal halide, sodium, and mercury-vapor lamps. Mercury is a highly toxic heavy metal; when older fluorescent, metal halide, sodium, or mercury vapor lamps are discarded, there is risk that the mercury in them can escape into the environment — especially if municipal solid waste is incinerated.Third, well-engineered LED lights last a long time. They can last over 50,000 hours — 50 times as long as standard incandescent bulbs, five to ten times as long as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and two to four times as long as linear fluorescent lights.Challenges with LED lightingCreating high-quality white light with LEDs is pretty hard. The first LEDs produced red or green light — these are widely used as indicator lights on stereo equipment and other electronics. To produce white light, manufacturers either combine colored LEDs in carefully balanced mixes (you might remember from high school physics that white is a combination of other colors), or they use phosphor coatings that absorb the colored light and reradiate white light. (Fluorescent lights also rely on phosphor coatings; these absorb the ultraviolet light given off by the electric arc and then “fluoresce” white light.)In the session I moderated at Greenbuild, representatives from two of the leading companies in the LED lighting field talked about the state-of-the-art in LED lighting and the issue of hype vs. reality.The Silicon Valley company Xicato is now producing a modular LED light source that relies on “remote phosphors” to achieve remarkably high-quality light. These Xicato light modules have a “color rendering index” (CRI) as high as 98 (on a scale of 100) — virtually the same as the highest-quality halogen incandescent lamps. They also produce remarkably uniform white light. White LEDs often vary from yellowish to white, and that variability is much lower with the specifications Xicato uses. The company sells the LED modules to fixture manufacturers, which then produce finished light fixtures that use this light source rather than halogen MR-16 lamps.The other company represented in this conference session was Lunera, a manufacturer of a flat-panel LED light fixtures that can be installed in place of standard tubular fluorescent fixtures to provide general illumination. These fixtures are highly controllable, very uniform, and reasonably energy-efficient (though not as energy efficient as tubular fluorescents).One of the most difficult things about choosing LED lighting today is the fact that you can’t always trust manufacturer claims. Some manufacturers measure the efficacy of their lamps after they have just been turned on and before they heat up, yielding unrealistically high estimates of efficacy.Some manufacturers also do a poor job at dissipating heat from LEDs. If you don’t see aluminum fins on an LED light source, heat may build up shortening the life. I installed one reflector-type screw-in LED lamp several years ago that failed after less than two years — probably after no more than 1,000 hours of operation. This was likely due to heat build-up affecting the LEDs or the LED driver that delivers electricity to the LEDs.The best way to ensure that an LED light source is going to achieve the manufacturer’s claims about performance and durability is to look for evidence of independent testing. Some manufacturers have their products tested through the U.S. Department of Energy’s CALiPER program and can provide measured test results. Energy Star labels on LED lights also provide evidence that the lights have been independently tested, though there are not yet many products carrying the new Energy Star label for LEDs.Cost also remains an impediment with LED lighting. High-quality LED lights are pretty sophisticated, and you have to pay for that. Cheap LEDs, priced at less than about $20, may not perform well. Like computer chips used in computers, though, costs of LEDs are coming down — and will continue to do so. I fully expect that within ten years — maybe sooner — LED lighting will be cost-competitive with fluorescent lighting and provide better light quality. In addition to this Energy Solutions blog, Alex writes the weekly blog BuildingGreen Product of the Week, which profiles an interesting new green building product each week. You can sign up to receive notices of these blogs by e-mail — enter your e-mail address in the upper right corner of any blog page. Alex is founder of BuildingGreen, Inc. and executive editor of Environmental Building News. To keep up with his latest articles and musings, you can sign up for his Twitter feed.
Matt Asay Richard Stallman as CEO of Microsoft? I’d pay good money to see that.Translating Car Sales Into Software LicensingMore seriously, could an automobile executive master the nuances of massive software business? Sure. After all, the leading open-source software company, Red Hat, is currently helmed by a former airline executive, Jim Whitehurst. When Whitehurst replaced Matthew Szulik, I called it a terrible mistake, asking “Why bring in airline dead-weight to manage something as disruptive as Red Hat?”Well, I was wrong. Under Whitehurst’s leadership, Red Hat’s sales and stock price have grown consistently and considerably. Sure, it helps that Whitehurst is a bit of a geek, running Linux on his home computers even while he was still COO at Delta. But ultimately business is business.That said, arguably Microsoft needs to stop doing business as usual and place even more bets on cloud, and perhaps an outsider could help with this. Mulally has turnaround experience, and has helped to revamp Ford’s fortunes, navigating a serious financial downturn without resorting to federal bailout dollars.But is this really what Microsoft needs?At Microsoft, Business Is Not the Problem, Technology IsMicrosoft does need a turnaround, given that it’s a nonentity in some of the industry’s hottest markets. But it’s doubtful that such a turnaround can be inspired by a business executive. If it could, arguably Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer would have already done so. Ballmer is smart and exceptionally driven, but he has been unable to restore Microsoft’s dominance in key markets.As noted on ReadWrite, it’s a case of too much MBA, and not enough developer soul.I’m not sure Microsoft needs an über-geek at its helm, but I do think it needs someone with passion. Steve Jobs was by many accounts, including his own, not a great engineer. But what he lacked in programming know-how he more than made up for in product passion. It strikes me that this is the sort of person that Microsoft needs.Business Insider’s Jay Yarow thinks that “Mulally, with experience running big companies like Boeing and Ford, could corral Microsoft’s overflowing talents and aim them in the right place.” I’m less sanguine. I think it requires a certain type of person to be able to recognize and drive engineering excellence in others. Given the Fords that I’ve driven, I’m not sure Mulally is that person.Image courtesy of Reuters/Thomas Peter. Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now Of course, the fact that people are betting on Mulally is not the same as him actually moving to the front of the line. After all, how people are betting is largely influenced by what they read. For all we know, Swisher’s report is moving the needle for Mulally, even if her sources turn out to be misinformed.They’re likely more accurate than this online poll, however, conducted at NextMicrosoftCEO.com: Related Posts Tags:#Alan Mulally#ceo#Microsoft#Steve Ballmer IT + Project Management: A Love Affair The odds of Ford CEO Alan Mulally taking the executive reins at Microsoft are shortening, according to Irish bookmaker Paddy Power. Indeed, AllThingsDigital’s Kara Swisher cites “sources close to the situation” that Mulally has jumped to the top of a pack of potential candidates. But there are reasons to believe that Mulally is the exact wrong sort of candidate to revive Microsoft’s fading fortunes, given that he would lacks the technology passion that arguably goes wanting at the software giant.The Odds Shorten On Detroit Taking Over RedmondIn addition to Kara Swisher’s generally informed sources, it’s interesting to see betting agents falling in behind Mulally as well: Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of… read more
Witches and ghosts were not mere stage accessories in the Elizabethan plays, rather they defined the outcomes. As India play England in a five-match Test series, a bizarre development is taking place, with several England cricketers having requested a change of rooms, saying their five-star London hotel is haunted. Interestingly, this hotel was patronized by some literary giants.According to Daily Mail on Sunday, the players’ wives and girlfriends have refused to stay at the famous Langham Hotel during London Test matches this summer after complaints of mysterious goings-on at night.England’s Stuart Broad appeals unsuccessfully during the third day of the second Test match between England and India at Lord’s cricket ground in London, Saturday, July 19, 2014. AP Photo”During the Sri Lanka Test I had to move rooms,” Stuart Broad was quoted as saying by the British daily.”It was so hot in the room I just couldn’t sleep. All of a sudden the taps in the bathroom came on for no reason. I turned the lights on and the taps turned themselves off. Then when I turned the lights off again the taps came on. It was very weird.”It really freaked me out. I ended up asking to move rooms. Bealey (Broad’s girlfriend) was pretty spooked, too, and I know Moeen Ali’s other half won’t stay there because she’s so frightened of the ghosts,” the fast bowler added.Is this serious? Bill Murray and his team needed to help the English cricketers! http://t.co/RdgmtXK3eXadvertisementSalil Tripathi (@saliltripathi) July 20, 2014″I’ve slept okay during the current Test (against India) but the Sri Lanka Test (last month) was not great,” added Broad. “One night I woke up in the middle of the night, around 1.30 a.m. and I was convinced there was a presence in the room. It was the weirdest feeling.”Ben Stokes has had some problems sleeping as well. He’s on the third floor, which is where a lot of the issues are. I’m telling you, something weird is going on,” said the Englishman.London’s Langham Hotel that opened in 1865 is on the list of one of the most haunted hotels in the world and has been patronised by several literary greats, including Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle, IANS has added.Reportedly, Room 333 is believed to be the most haunted with the hotel’s own website stating: “In 1973 a BBC radio announcer James Alexander-Gordon awoke suddenly in the night to see a fluorescent ball which slowly took on the shape of a man wearing Victorian evening wear. The announcer asked the ghost what it wanted and it began to float towards him, with its legs cut off some two feet below the ground, arms outstretched, eyes staring emptily. At this point the announcer got up and fled.”Earlier, Australia all-rounder Shane Watson had to share a room with team-mate Brett Lee in 2005, because he was “scared of ghostly goings on at Lumley Castle Hotel near Durham”. read more
“These machines could call on behalf of political parties and make ever more convincing recommendations for voting,” Firth-Butterfield reasoned.”Will children be able to use these agents and receive calls from them?”Digital assistants making arrangements for people also raises the question of who is responsible for mistakes, such as a no-show or cancellation fee for an appointment set for the wrong time.At a time of heightened concerns about online privacy, there were also worries expressed about what kind of data digital assistants might collect and who gets access to it.”My sense is that humans in general don’t mind talking to machines so long as they know they are doing so,” read a post credited to Lauren Weinstein in a chat forum below the Duplex blog post.An array of comments at Twitter contended there was an ethical breach to not letting people know they were conversing with software.”If you’ve grown up watching ‘Star Trek TNG’ like me then you probably considered natural voice interactions with computers a thing of the future,” read a post by Andreas Schafer in the blog chat forum.”Well, looks like the future is here.” The new Google digital assistant converses so naturally it may seem like a real person. Citation: Human-sounding Google Assistant sparks ethics questions (2018, May 10) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-05-human-sounding-google-ethics.html An attendee works on a laptop before the start of the Google I/O 2018 Conference, the tech giant’s annual developer gathering Google pitched the enhanced assistant as a potential boon to busy people and small businesses which lack websites customers can use to make appointments. “Our vision for our assistant is to help you get things done,” Pichai told the approximately 7,000 developers at the Google I/O conference, along with an online audience watching his streamed presentation on Tuesday.Google will be testing the digital assistant improvement in the months ahead.Realistic robocallersThe Duplex demonstration was quickly followed by debate over whether people answering phones should be told when they are speaking to human-sounding software and how the technology might be abused in the form of more convincing “robocalls” by marketers or political campaigns. “Google Duplex is the most incredible, terrifying thing out of #IO18 so far,” tweeted Chris Messina, a product designer whose resume includes Google and bringing the idea of the hashtag to Twitter.Google Duplex is an important development and signals an urgent need to figure out proper governance of machines that can fool people into thinking they are human, according to Kay Firth-Butterfield, head of the AI and machine learning project at the World Economic Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Google CEO Sundar Pichai unveiled new technology that enables the tech giant’s digital assistant to sound like a real person, with pauses and “ums” Explore further Google pitches artificial intelligence to help unplug (Update) The unveiling of the natural-sounding robo-assistant by the tech giant this week wowed some observers, but left others fretting over the ethics of how the human-seeming software might be used.Google chief Sundar Pichai played a recording of the Google Assistant independently calling a hair salon and a restaurant to make bookings—interacting with staff who evidently didn’t realize they were dealing with artificial intelligence software, rather than a real customer.Tell the Google Assistant to book a table for four at 6:00 pm, it tends to the phone call in a human-sounding voice complete with “speech disfluencies” such as “ums” and “uhs.””This is what people often do when they are gathering their thoughts,” Google engineers Yaniv Leviathan and Yossi Matias said in a Duplex blog post.Google Assistant artificial intelligence enhanced with “Duplex” technology that let it engage like a real person on the phone was a surprise and, for some unsettling, star of the internet giant’s annual developers conference this week in its home town of Mountain View, California.The digital assistant was also programmed to understand when to respond quickly, such as after someone says “hello,” versus pausing as a person might before answering complex questions. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. © 2018 AFP read more