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Featured Business Ideas

13 March 2007        ENTERTAINMENT

Goodbye, television. Hello, Joost

For years Microsoft and others have tried and failed to bring the Internet to TV screens. But the Joost™ is doing the opposite: moving TV to Internet.
Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis founders of Skype, the first big Internet-powered phone service, have been talking about the idea behind Joost™ for a long time. But to make it work, they needed the right combination of factors - widespread broadband and powerful computers in particular. In early 2006, the time was right. Gathering the world's best engineers, web gurus and media visionaries, they started work under the code name of The Venice Project™ - and now, after much fretting and polishing, that work is ready for public viewing.

Joost™ is a new way to watch TV, free of the schedules and restrictions that come with traditional television. Combining the best of TV with the best of the Internet, Joost™ gives more control and freedom than ever before - control over what users watch, and freedom to watch it whenever they like. Joost™ provides a platform for the best television content on the planet - a platform that will bring the biggest and best shows from the TV studios, as well as the specialist programs created by professionals and enthusiasts. It's all overlaid with a raft of nifty features that help users find the shows they love, watch and chat with friends, and even create their own TV channels. Joost™ uses secure peer-to-peer technology to stream programs to clients’ computers. Unlike other TV and video-based web applications, it does not require users to download any files to their computers or browse through complicated websites. All one needs is a standard multimedia computer and Joost™ software. The best think is that Joost™ is free. The revenues come from 1-3 min ads popping up each hour. The TV content comes from providers like Viacom and JumpTV. The test Beta version now offers fewer than 50 channels, but it will soon have hundreds. The fully polished software is planned to be released this summer.


24 February 2007        TEXTILES

Light-emitting textiles

Using items of clothing as mobile dynamic message and image board is ubiquities form of expression. When activated, the Light-emitting textiles developed by Philips Research’s Lumalive suddenly brings plain fabrics to life. It is sure to attract attention! The technology can create a magical lighting experience in anything made using fabric, from clothes and backpacks to furniture.
Behind the outer fabric, there is a layered system containing flexible arrays of red, blue and green light-emitting diodes (LEDs), only visible from the outside when the display panel is on. The Lumalive array of LEDs is housed in a flat plastic sheet, which is connected to a control driver containing rechargeable batteries and play list of pre-program images. SMS text can be sent to GMS receiver enabling a variety of messages. The whole system is water resistant and can be easily removed for laundering.

There are numerous potential applications activities such as:
- dynamic message and image board furniture, carpets and curtains for public places
- emergency workers and walking advertisements clothing
- high visibility backpacks
- high visibility children clothing and pet coats


18 January 2007        CONSULTING SERVICES

Global warming brings new business ideas and opportunities

During this winter everybody on the north hemisphere noticed that something is very wrong with the weather. In January trees and flowers start to blossom, birds that usually migrate to south to warmer climate begin nest building, ladybirds with ants crawl happily around and ski resorts in Europe offer hiking instead of skiing. It is all because of the unusually high temperature being more than 7ºC above average. The winter eventually arrived bringing fierce snowstorms in USA and hurricane-force winds in Europe.

The ever accelerating melting of glaciers proves that the Earth is gradually warming. There are many causes of the global warming like CO2 concentration, sun activity, Earth’s tilt, wobble and orbital eccentricity. The CO2 in the atmosphere is helping to trap the heat. There are at least two positive feedback loops that accelerate Earth temperature and CO2 rising and glacier melting.

1) Melting glaciers expose the dark Earth surface that absorbs more heat from the sunlight than white glaciers.
2) Frozen glaciers contain CO2 that gets released into the ocean and atmosphere when the glaciers melt.

Shall we blame natural fluctuations or human activity? Probably nobody will know the correct answer. One thing is sure; the human activity produces CO2 as well that helps to speed up the imbalances. The extent to which human activity influences CO2 changes with time because of the two loops. The loops are increasingly intensifying thus relatively decreasing the influence of human activity. It might mean that there is not much the humans can do to stop the global warming at this phase.

The global warming consequence was so far very kind to us humans because the ocean currents still work as they always used to. The currents bring rain or snow where otherwise drought would be. They cool down tropical areas and bring the heat for example to North America and North Europe. Everything is connected in the nature. The vast amount of fresh water discharged into the ocean as the ice melts threatens to shut down the Gulf Stream, which for example protects Northern Europe from a freezing climate like that of Labrador. The Gulf Steam is a part of the Ocean Conveyor Belt that works as a huge Earth thermostat. Shutting down the Gulf Streams changes Ocean Conveyor Belt and consequently global climate. The Gulf Stream has slowed and shut down several times in the past. Fossil evidence demonstrates that Earth’s climate can shift gears within a decade, establishing new and different patterns that can persist for decades to centuries. These climate shifts don’t have global effects but can generate a counterintuitive scenario: Even as the Earth as a whole continues to warm gradually, large regions may experience a precipitous and disruptive shift into colder climates. Last studies of the Gulf Stream already showed that the current is slowing down at increasing speed.

All human endeavour hinges on the vicissitudes of climate. Thus, the potential for abrupt climate change should prompt businesses to re-examine possible impacts on many climate-affected sectors. They include: agriculture; water resources; energy resources; forest and timber management; fisheries; coastal land management; transportation; insurance; recreation and tourism; disaster relief; and public health (associated with climate-related, vector-borne diseases such as malaria and cholera).

The climate changes are happening and many business people are already facing them. With rising temperatures the changes will accelerate and become more extreme. Due to a sheer complexity of the climate modelling it is not clear what regions will be effected and how. This kind of uncertainty makes future business planning complicated. It is going to be challenging and difficult but any difficulties always bring new opportunities. New consulting companies specialising in business risk forecast and management related to changing climate conditions are going to emerge. Those operating globally will reconsider the supply chain management and shifting customers’ demands. Those operating locally will have to find new suppliers and perhaps completely change the business. In some regions services or agriculture activities will not be appropriate anymore because of local climate change. In other regions huge demand for new services will have to be satisfied.

Those with vision, who foresee the coming changes, will have competitive advantage. Those still doubting, hesitating and waiting when things happen, would have to be satisfied with what is left.


08 December 2006        ENERGY

Visually appealing Vertical Axis Wind Turbine

In our newsletter from October 2006 we have described a small-scale windmill as a low-cost source of sustainable energy.

There is yet another player on this field called Quiet Revolution Ltd. They have revolutionized the windmill with their new quiet wind turbine, the QR5. It is one of the most visually appealing wind turbines available on the market, its small scale allows it to fit seamlessly into a urban environment, providing a renewable energy resource in places where space constraints previously made it impossible to hook up green power systems.

The elegant helical (twisted) Vertical Axis Wind Turbine design ensures a robust performance in the urban environment, where wind speeds are lower and wind directions change frequently. The triple-helix design is responsible for being more hushed than noisy conventional wind turbines, because the tip speed is slower, which in turn allows it to be situated closer to buildings and on towers.

At five metres high and three metres in diameter, it is compact and easy to integrate, and with just one moving part, maintenance can be limited to an annual inspection. Two other models, the QR2.5 (2.5m x 2.5m) and the QR12 (12m x 6m), are under construction as well.

Pre-launch clients include architects, developers and local councils, all of whom share a common vision of renewable energy with sophisticated design.
Visit the Quiet Revolution Ltd website to see the video footage of the running QR5.

Illustrative Payback Period:
Average Wind Speed 5.8m/s
Annual energy generated (kWh) 10,000
Price for energy offset 8p
Price for ROCs 4.7p
Inflation in energy prices 5%
Annual value generated £1,827
Wind turbine price incl. installation £30,000
Payback period 15 years

The QR5 windmill has some advantages over Horizontal Axis Wind Turbine design as far as concerns installations in metropolitan areas because it is more quiet and less sensitive to fast and frequently changing wind directions. Only one moving part makes the QR5 also more reliable requiring less maintenance.

The disadvantage is that Vertical Axis Wind Turbines are less efficient than Horizontal Axis Wind Turbine thus extracting less energy from the wind.
Perhaps the biggest drawback of QR5 is the long payback period, which is probably longer than QR5’s actual lifespan. The warranty is just 2 years.

Quiet Revolution Ltd has as well another trick up their sleeve in the form of their ground-breaking display turbines. These turbines rely on the theory of persistence of vision – our brains ability to fuse many fast, static images into a single moving image.
The wind turbine blade has embedded within an array of light-emitting elements – high powered LEDs for example. These are coupled to an embedded processor, which controls these multicoloured LEDs.

These wind turbines can display advertisements and generate additional revenue by selling the display space to advertisers. This could result in a much shorter financial payback for the turbines, which could speed their deployment.
The final optical effect and display advertisement quality will depend on the turbine rotation speed and thus on the actual wind speed.

The Quiet Revolution wind turbines present opportunities for distributors and resellers, as well as for installation and maintenance providers.


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