Interns wanted for Fall 2016!

SCALEitbridge

Would you like to help Danish companies and organizations prosper in the intersection between science, technology, and innovation? Innovation Center Denmark, Silicon Valley, is looking for four talented and energetic interns from August 1st 2016 to January 31st 2017. Are you up for the challenge?

We are looking for interns in the areas of Innovation, Research & Development, and Investment & Innovation that are eager to learn and develop professionally as well as personally in one of the most interesting and fast paced business eco systems in the world. The knowledge, skills, and interests that you bring with you, will impact the projects you are going to work with throughout your time at Innovation Center Denmark, in which you will receive ongoing evaluation and feedback.

Click here for more details on the positions

Who may apply? Interns at Innovation Center Denmark must be enrolled in a Master’s program at a Danish university.

How to apply? In your application, please indicate which internship you are applying for (Innovation, R&D, or I&I), why you think you will be a good fit for the team, and how this internship fits into your overall personal and professional goals. Also, indicate if you would like to be considered for one of the other teams. Finally, please enclose CV, references, and transcripts in your application.

The application deadline is March 6th, 2016.

 

The Future of Man-Machine Interaction

Most times we talk about how we use technology – but maybe we should rather consider how we interact with it?

Simon1_red

By Mathias Rigbolt, R&D Associate

CES is mostly about new technology, some of which is revolutionizing with the potential to dramatically alter how we conduct our lives, while a lot is just generic gadgets and everything in between. But CES is also a forum for asking questions about technology – where is it going, how will it shape the future and what will the consequences be for human existence?

We are surrounded by technology day and night, give lots of data to our apparatuses and get lots of information in return, so it’s not inconsequential how this exchange takes place.

We often think of technology as instruments that we control by the use of buttons. But in recent years, we’ve seen groundbreaking new applications that allow us to control and even interact as well as communicate with technology in new ways; just think of Apple’s Siri. Many have experienced walking past a person, who is presumably talking to herself, thinking that this person must be nuts. That is only until you realize that she is actually communicating with her smartphone.

Situations like this makes it relevant to ask questions about how we interact with technology – are we doing it in the smartest way, which kinds of interaction are most suited to which kinds of tasks, and what consequences can interaction with technology have for whole societies?

Those were just some of the questions that were raised at CNET’s Next Big Thing session at CES16 with the title “Is typing dead?”, where representatives from industry and researchers discussed the relation between man and machine.

Old technology in new wrapping

It is an interesting fact that the QWERTY layout for keybSkrivemaskineoards has existed for almost 150 years and is still found on our computer keyboards. It’s even found on the virtual keyboards in our smartphones even though more efficient layouts and keyboards have been developed. First of all, this says something about the term “path dependency” from the study of diffusion of innovations. The basic idea is that when we venture down a technological path, it becomes still more expensive to deviate from it and the incentives to do so diminish.

Despite this, it’s thought provoking that we still in year 2016 design our keyboards the same way as we did on typewriters. It is not because there has been a lack of innovation, it just hasn’t diffused and been adopted. The same goes for a lot of other technologies. The most important point is that our primary interface with technology is often a keyboard, no matter whether it’s physical or virtual.

But that’s changing with new forms of man-machine interaction.

Voice and gesture

One of the relatively new modes of interacting with technology is through voice and speech. We can now pose questions to our smartphones and in many cases we receive a sensible answer. Many car manufacturers have also built voice control into their cars and they’re working on linguistic richness, which for example will allow the car to adjust its language to a German driver driving through France. It is now also possible to give commands to our homes (a booming trend at CES by the way).

The technology is getting to a stage where it will be possible to communicate with our apparatuses using natural language. What this means is that we can communicate with technologies as we would with real people instead of adjusting our torrent of speech to the logic of the machine. This is just one step on the path towards meaningful communication with the technology that surrounds us.

A crucial feature of human communication is that we can decipher the intention behind the words being spoken by the ones we’re talking to – at least most of the time – “understand what I’m meaning, not what I’m saying”. Imagine the day when your car tells you: “That’s not what you really meant”. That is an area where both researchers and industry are working hard to propel us forward.

Another area that has developed rapidly within the last 10 years is gesture control. Among early examples, gaming consoles could be mentioned while newer applications can be found in cars, which for example allow you to take the phone with the flick of a hand and make it possible to turn down the volume of the music by circular movements with a finger. The full potential of this mode of interaction has most certainly not yet been released. Nonetheless the question arises whether this way of controlling technology is actually more efficient than a good old button?

Becoming the best version of ourselves?

The panelists at the CES session didn’t think that any of these technologies would necessarily replace the well-tested QWERTY keyboard in the near future. On the other hand, they agreed that interaction with technology in the future will be characterized by multi-modal systems where the different control- and interaction models play together in a well-orchestrated symphony. These interaction systems will be able to adjust to each individual with machine learning and allow a seamless experience as when some of the newest technologies like augmented reality are coupled with gaze and voice control.

To addCyborg to this seamlessness comes affective computing, which allows technology to adjust to our state of emotion or at least react to it. In this way we approach the ideal of a perfect digital personal assistant that knows us in and out and understands our intentions; maybe even before we say something, because the assistant has collected and analyzed all our vital and psychological stats.

A lot of important questions arise from the transition from instruction of machines to interaction with technology. One of them is whether the enhanced interaction possibilities of new technologies allow us to become better versions of ourselves? When your digital assistant can advise you how to conduct yourself in social situations to give the best possible impression, what are the consequences?

It seems obvious that when we change our modes of interaction with technology, it will change ourselves and the way in which we interact with each other. In this connection there is no doubt that our attention will become one of our most valuable assets in the future as one of the panelists proposed.

The question of technologies’ consequences for human interaction and sociability has been posed for centuries. Probably we shouldn’t think of technology in opposition to humanity but rather ponder whether we’re humanizing technology, technologizing humanity – or both?

Danish Ideas: Be My Eyes – a visionary startup

The Danish startup Be My Eyes has a lot of traction in Silicon Valley. We had a chance to talk with Christian Erfurt, CEO, about the story of Be My Eyes and what lies ahead.   

Be_My_Eyes_Logo

In January this year, a team of talented Danish entrepreneurs launched the app “Be My Eyes” for iOS devices. The app connects blind and visually impaired users with sighted people, who want to make a real difference in their everyday lives. At any moment, a blind or visually impaired person can request help through the app and is then connected to a helper in the same time zone, who can provide assistance via live video chat on an internet enabled device.

When asked how it all started, Christian Erfurt, CEO of Be My Eyes, puts it this way:

“The beginning of our story is actually quite straightforward. Hans Jörgen Wiberg, our inventor, participated in Startup Weekend Aarhus in late 2011, where I met him. After that weekend, development took off. It took twice as long and costed twice as much as planned, but timing-wise we were actually quite lucky since 3G and 4G networks, along with improved live video quality, gained momentum while we were in the development phase.”

Since launch, Be My Eyes has rocketed forward, and the company participated in Innovation Center Denmark’s 10th SCALEit program in March this year. First week after launch, the app was already featured on the world’s five biggest television stations. The interest has just kept growing since then and the company hasn’t had to spend anything on marketing with the app going viral.

Be My Eyes is now a network of eyes with more than 305,000 helpers and 23,000 blind or visually impaired, who have participated in over 107,000 sessions. This scale and impact has exceeded Christian Erfurt’s wildest imaginations:

“To get a grasp of the scale, I sometimes try to visualize how many people are on board by imagining soccer fields with our users on them. I am just really proud and grateful for the positive reactions to Be My Eyes. It has gone so fast and it’s crazy that we’re already in 140 countries.”

Lend Your Eyes to the Blind

Often blind people find themselves in situations, where they could really use a pair of helping eyes. Smart phones and their existing features sort part of this problem and have helped a lot of people with visual impairments, but the problem with the existing video peer to peer systems is that you have to call somebody. Be My Eyes solves this problem by bringing together a community of those who need help with those who are more than willing to provide it.

With Be My Eyes it doesn’t cost anything to help someone distinguish between a can of tomatoes and a can of coconut milk; something that can make a huge difference, if spaghetti Bolognese is on the menu.

Be My Eyes has also proven that the limits of the app are constantly being pushed by its users.

In one example, a blind woman went to her son’s first soccer match and if it hadn’t been for Be My Eyes and its eager community of helpers, she wouldn’t have experienced much of it. But the app put her in contact with a helper, who could see and comment the match.

Another example illustrates the value of Be My Eyes in helping visually impaired people orientate in complex situations. A blind man and his wife were driving in their car, when suddenly the car stops, and the wife exclaims “Accident!”. While she runs out of their car to lend assistance, her husband is left disoriented. Fortunately he was able to get a live overview of the situation by filming the events through the car’s sunroof with his smart phone and receiving updates through Be My Eyes.

These examples illustrate how a platform and its users can solve important problems in seemingly simple ways.

What’s Next?

Be My Eyes already has a lot of traction with it being the largest community of blind in the world. To leverage this position, the company has relocated to Silicon Valley and it speaks to the potential of Be My Eyes that the dedicated and skilled team behind it have been chosen for the prestigious Singularity University Accelerator.

“We have had our first weeks at the Singularity University Accelerator. It’s a great opportunity and we’re being pushed to go forward with full speed. The Accelerator had 400 applicants, but only seven were chosen, so we consider ourselves really privileged. It’s such an amazing program and the six other projects are great – we can learn a lot from them.” says Christian Erfurt.

The next step for Be My Eyes is scaling and doing some analysis:
“Our focus right now is to reach more users and make a difference for more people globally. We also have to try to understand the users we have and how they use the technology before we press the marketing button and start hitting the PR-drums.”

Word of advice

Christian Erfurt and his team have experienced a lot along the way and are full of great advice to Danish entrepreneurs considering taking the leap to Silicon Valley:

“The best piece of advice I can give to other startups is that they should pack their suitcases and participate in ICDK’s SCALEit program, which is a great way to network and get vouched into the system. SCALEit has been invaluable for us and made it a lot easier to get into places and establish contacts that would otherwise be out of reach. It is also highly recommendable to stay for a month afterwards to discern whether Silicon Valley is really the right thing for you and your business. But be warned, Silicon Valley is a really exciting place, and once you’ve been here, it’s quite probable that you’ll want to come back!”

Obviously, a lot has still to come for Be My Eyes and ICDK looks forward to following them on their exciting journey.

Interns Wanted for Spring 2016!

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Would you like to help Danish companies and organizations prosper in the intersection between science, technology, and innovation? Innovation Center Denmark, Silicon Valley, is looking for three talented and energetic interns from February 1st 2016 to July 31st 2016. Are you up for the challenge?

We are looking for interns in the areas of Innovation, Research & Development, and Investment & Innovation that are eager to learn and develop professionally as well as personally in one of the most interesting and fast paced business eco systems in the world. It is a requirement that you are currently enrolled in a Master’s program at a Danish university. The knowledge, skills, and interests that you bring with you, will impact the projects you are going to work with throughout your time at Innovation Center Denmark, in which you will receive ongoing evaluation and feedback.

Click here for more details on the positions

Who may apply?
Interns at Innovation Center Denmark must be enrolled in a Master’s program at a Danish university.

How to apply?
In your application, please indicate which internship you are applying for (Innovation, R&D, or I&I), why you think you will be a good fit for the team, and how this internship fits into your overall personal and professional goals. Also, indicate if you would like to be considered for one of the other teams. Finally, please enclose CV, references, and transcripts in your application.

The application deadline is September 27th 2015.

 

If you want to read more about the current interns and their backgrounds, click here!

New Infusion of Intern Energy at the Innovation Centre

From the left: Simon, Kasper, Mathias
From the left: Simon, Kasper, Mathias

Mathias Rigbolt, Research & Development

My name is Mathias and I look very much forward to the next five months as R&D intern at the Innovation Centre. The internship is part of my Master’s degree in Political Science at the University of Copenhagen, where my focus is on the intersection between politics, technology and science; a combination which is sometimes paraphrased as a triple-helix structure. Here in Silicon Valley I’m going to be right in the middle of that intersection, gaining invaluable experience with public-private collaboration. For Denmark to be a world leading knowledge economy, I believe that it is imperative that Danish organizations, research communities and businesses are present in the epicenter of innovation. While at ICDK, I will do my best to facilitate this presence and build bridges between Danish and US research while also generating valuable knowledge from the center of the storm.

I have always been deeply fascinated with the innovative and fast-paced culture of Silicon Valley. It is a dream come true to be here and try to maneuver and keep up the pace in the electrifying winds of disruptive technologies and groundbreaking research. Please feel free to contact me at matrig@um.dk.

Simon Lehnskov Lange, Innovation

My name is Simon and I am the new Innovation Intern here at the Innovation Centre. I see entrepreneurship, whether it is based on discovery or innovation, as one of the most efficient ways of making the world a better place. Having founded and run a small temp agency for a couple of years, I know how early startups bring both great engagement and challenges to their founders. Besides having taken my first chances with a business, I am currently finishing a M.Sc. in Photonics Engineering at the Technical University of Denmark. This builds on a B.Sc. in Physics and Nanotechnology from the same institution.

My motivation for joining the Innovation Centre is rooted in personal experiences: I have used 2.5 out the last 7 years traveling around the world to explore and understand some of our global, cultural diversity as well as life in the developing world. Over hunger and domestic violence in Africa, political indoctrination in South East Asia to corruption, drugs and armed street wars in Latin America, I have built up a profound wish that we will all find new ways to organize ourselves. Innovation clusters like Silicon Valley are key players in finding technologies that can enable this change, so I am super excited to get to work here. Please feel free to contact me at simlan@um.dk.

Kasper Clemmesen Hansen, Investment & Innovation

My name is Kasper and I am one third of the incoming team of interns at the Innovation Centre Denmark, Silicon Valley. Specifically, I’m the new Investment and Innovation Associate, which means that I am going to be active on both sides of the “building bridges” analogy. Thus, I will be helping Danish companies innovate and grow in Silicon Valley as well as promoting Denmark as a tremendous investment destination for American companies. The fundamental motivation for joining the Innovation Centre is to improve my grasp of how the theoretical realm that I have been taught in my current studies of M.Sc. in Finance and Strategic Management at Copenhagen Business School is connected to finance, investment, and strategy in practice. The internship is an ideal case study of this exact relationship.

Having spent a few weeks in Silicon Valley already, my impression is that, here, everyone is an entrepreneur. No matter whether you are a janitor or a financial accountant by day, we are all entrepreneurs by night. This willingness to risk everything is truly inspiring and I hope to bring this desire and optimism with me back to Denmark when the six months are over. In the meantime, always feel free to contact me at kachan@um.dk

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