TEDxDetroit Offers Tech, Inspiration

Call it the start of Brainiac Week in Detroit.

Hundreds of people packed the Detroit Opera House Tuesday for the sixth annual TEDxDetroit, a series of 15-minute presentations on a variety of topics connected to the acronym Technology, Entertainment and Design.

And later this week, it’s Meeting of the Minds, the high-powered
conference of technology, transportation and more, designed to help Detroit thrive in the 21st Century.

TEDxDetroit featured a diverse, eclectic group of speakers, ranging
in age from 12 to 65, talking about their efforts to boost business and culture in Detroit and beyond. The crowd — whose average age was a lot closer to 12 than 65 — cheered enthusiastically at everything from a radiation physicist who uses 3D printing in his work with cancer patients, Indrin Chetty of Henry Ford Health System, to executives with Detroit-area software companies like Plex and Altair, to dance, to music.

Dr. Joyce Lee, a pediatrician at the University of Michigan Hospitals, talked about how she and her son, who has severe food allergies, developed a simple, effective video providing instructions for using an epi-pen, replacing a virtually incomprehensible two-page instruction sheet. (There’s a website on the effort at ihavefoodallergies.tumblr.com.)

Jason Hall, whose Detroit Bike City “Slow Roll” see-the-city-by-bicycle group was part of earlier TEDx events, also made an appearance — including showing the Apple commercial about the effort.

Pashon Murray talked about Detroit Dirt, the company she founded to take the city’s food waste and turn it into compost, better known as soil.

Kicking off the event was Steven Goldner, whose CureLauncher links patients in need with clinical trials of new medicines — and whose career started with the commercialization of methadone, which helps heroin addicts kick the habit.

Anne Marie Sastry of the battery firm Sakti3 talked about how batteries have turned us all into superheroes, able to communicate around the world at the blink of an eye. Oh, and by the way, she’s working on batteries so much better than current ones they’ll lead to easy storage of renewable energy, electric cars everyone can afford, electric aircraft, better robots, and who knows what else.

Detroit’s legacy industry in cars was also a strong presence, from the auto displays to talks on the future of manufacturing, which is tied in to wireless technologies and software.

And there was a touching memorial to Detroit poet David Blair, who died in 2011, whose stirring poem to the city, “Detroit (While I Was Away),” was presented at the first TEDxDetroit in 2009.

Outside the Detroit Opera House were exhibits and experiments from companies and artists as diverse as Cadillac, i3 Detroit, the Michigan Science Center, UpTo, Robot Garage, Mango Languages, Windmill Pointe Brewery, Atomic Object, FoodLab Detroit, Ford, Altair Engineering and more.

The entire event was livestreamed and a replay is available at http://www.tedxdetroit.com.

Michigan Roads: Where The Rubber Meets The… Rubber?

HOUGHTON — Since the 1960s, Sun Belt states have built their roads using asphalt mixed with crumb rubber made from ground-up scrap tires. This rubberized asphalt not only provides a market for old tires, it is also quieter and longer lasting than conventional asphalt pavement. But will it work in a four-season climate? Especially in places where winter comes early and stays late?

To find out, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has awarded several grants to study rubberized asphalt, including two totaling $1.2 million to Michigan Technological University. One will fund a study aimed at reducing emissions and odor. The other will test a new technology that could, among other things, lower energy costs and make life easier for road crews.

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Advanced Photonix Gets Turkish Reseller For Terahertz Gear

ANN ARBOR — Advanced Photonix Inc. (NYSE: API) says it has a new value-added reseller agreement for its T-Gauge industrial terahertz gauging system with Seltek Ltd., a Turkish manufacturer of measurement and process control systems for continuous web production industries.

The T-Gauge measurement system can be used for online or offline measurements for quality assurance and process control of web-based and converting industries.

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DTE, Washington Firm Team Up On Smart City Demo

DETROIT — DTE Energy is collaborating wtih Liberty Lake, Wash.-based Itron Inc. (NASDAQ: ITRI) on a smart cities demonstration project in Detroit.

The demonstration, featuring innovative smart resource management technologies, will be showcased during the Meeting of the Minds conference in Detroit, Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.

Located at DTE Energy’s headquarters, the demonstration highlights the important role smart technologies play in managing energy.

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Diesel Boost For Ram Trucks

AUBURN HILLS — Chrysler Group LLC says it’s doubling diesel production of its Ram 1500 light truck to 20 percent of the truck’s total volume — double the automaker’s initial production plan — based on strong consumer demand.

The company says that when the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel opened for orders earlier this year, Ram Truck received more than 8,000 requests within three days, which quickly filled the initial allocation for the exclusive powertrain.

The 2015 Ram 1500 with the 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel packs 240 hp, 420 foot-pounds of tourque and gets 28 mpg. It also boasts 9,200 pounds of towing capacity, as well as high-tech touches like an eight-speed automatic transmission, a thermal management system, and active aerodynamics like grille shutters and an air suspension that lowers the truck at highway speeds.

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MSU’s Robot Fish ‘Grace’ Gets New Mission In Great Lakes

EAST LANSING — Grace, Michigan State University’s gliding robotic fish is getting a new mission in the Great Lakes.

The robot, developed by researchers in MSU’s College of Engineering, was designed to cruise lakes and rivers collecting data on water quality, temperature and other important environmental factors.

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Consumers Reports Progress In Protecting Grid From Animals

JACKSON — Consumers Energy reported Monday that power outages caused last year by squirrels, raccoons and other curious animals getting into substation equipment have dropped by more than 50 percent as construction work continues across the state to keep animals out and the lights on.

In 2013, there were 26 distribution substation outages caused by animals, down from 47 in 2012.

The Jackson-bsaed utility says it put more stringent standards for animal control equipment in place in late 2012, and the effort is paying off.

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Diplomat Launches IPO

FLINT — Diplomat Pharmacy Inc., formerly known as Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy, Monday launched an initial public offering of 13,333,333 shares of its common stock.

Diplomat is selling 10,000,000 shares of new common stock and current shareholders of Diplomat are selling 3,333,333 shares of common stock.

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Ford Spending $25M On LEDs; Payback In Less Than 4 Years

DEARBORN — Ford Motor Co. has announced it is spending more than $25 million on 25,000 LED lighting fixtures for its manufacturing plants around the world — a move the automaker says will save $7 million a year in energy costs and improve lighting quality.

The fixtures are to be installed over the next few years, and will cut Ford’s energy use by 56 million kilowatt-hours a year — enough energy to power more than 6,000 average homes.

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Consumers Energy Picks 19 Michigan Homes to Produce Solar Power

JACKSON — Consumers Energy says it continues to support the development of renewable energy in Michigan, working with 19 homeowners to produce electricity from solar panels in the next year.

Said Tim Sparks, Consumers Energy’s vice president for energy supply operations: “Since 2010, we have signed more than 200 contracts with owners of homes and businesses to help us generate electricity from this renewable source.”

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