Since 1994, XPRIZE has designed and launched multi-million dollar prizes in the domain areas of Space, Oceans, Learning, Health, Energy, Environment, Transportation, Safety and Robotics. https://www.xprize.org/prizes
Some of these have been “completed” but in reality, the work on these important projects is ongoing, long after the XPRIZE has been awarded. Because they cover a broad range of interests, several past challenges are included here so you can select from these as well.
Recycling CO2 into Valuable Products
Three of the four companies I researched use slightly different technologies to convert CO2 from the air into carbon nanoparticles which are then used in construction, infrastructure, and manufacturing. The fourth company converts direct sunlight into polymers and chemical products for industrial operations.
C2CNT – Converts CO2 into hollow nanotube fibers.
Carbon Upcycling-NLT – converts CO2 emissions into nanoparticles
- (See 7th paragraph https://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2019/12/03/obsessed-with-efficiency-the-2020-forbes-30-under-30-in-energy/
CarbonCure – Uses CO2 to create nano mineral carbonate in concrete
Dimensional Energy – converts direct sunlight into polymers and chemical products for industrial operations
This article discusses a low-energy, low-cost technology developed by Stuart Licht, a chemistry professor from George Washington University and his research team, which is to convert carbon dioxide into a widely useful and high-value product carbon nanotubes. These lighter metal substitutes have significant performance including strength and conductivity, and are currently being used in Boeing Dreamliner, high-end sports car, Nano Electronics and other airline airframes, and energy is stored in electric vehicle batteries.
In this paper, a technology company developed a carbon capture technology to convert greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide into a kind of bioplastic material called air carbon. Air carbon is made by extracting carbon from greenhouse gases and using it to build sustainable materials instead of petroleum plastics. A more sustainable future, transforming some of our everyday products into high-performance products, capturing carbon and changing our impact on the world. I think this invention is very meaningful, because the production of this clean energy will not only reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but also replace petroleum products, which solves the problem of pollution caused by part of fossil energy at the root, which is of great significance to the future development of the world.
This article introduces another example of converting carbon dioxide into useful energy, which is methanol, but it is not easy to develop chemical processes on the scale of laboratory or pilot scale into industrial scale. Carbon dioxide is directly converted into methanol, even if large-scale hydrogen production by water electrolysis is no exception. However, if it is successful, compared with the traditional methanol production process, the process has certain economic and environmental benefits. As an important industrial energy, methanol is essential in many aspects of production. However, most of the methanol extraction methods are polluted. If we can realize the industrial clean production of carbon dioxide to methanol, it will be of great benefit to the further development of human society.
This article talked about how researchers at Standford and SLAC finding ways to convert CO2 into chemical feedstocks and fuels, turning potent greenhouse gas into valuable products. So they were working on developing technologies that use renewable energy to convert CO2 from industrial emissions into carbon-based products. This process requires a copper-based catalyst but it can produce numerous products, and it costs to separate the one you want. So they are still finding new catalysts that able to guide the reaction toward making only the desired product.
This article listed some companies that are turning CO2 into profits and try to reduce the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. There are a variety of ways that they can do to remove CO2 from the atmosphere but the problem is that it will cost a lot for those solutions. Also, they can turn CO2 into chemicals, fuel and energy, carbon materials and other promising products.
This article is about how much carbon dioxide is released from a company in Switzerland. And to prevent this huge amount of CO2 to be released in the atmosphere, scientists and entrepreneurs are working on technologies that they hope will improve on nature and make recycling carbon dioxide a profitable industry.
Anywhere is Possible
AI to Solve the World’s Challenges
The problem in today’s software development industry is that because AI is such a big umbrella term, it often gets misused or overused. Using artificial intelligence is not without its challenges, however. One of the biggest of these is – how do we keep the systems safe? Algorithms are based on data, so any change to that data will change the behavior and outcomes. AI is in a very good path right now. The challenge is creating an application that goes beyond just image recognition https://sdtimes.com/ai/current-state-ai/
The AI retention tool is part of a suite of IBM products that are designed to upend the traditional approach to human resources management. AI will change all jobs once it is in the workflow, and that is the most meaningful kind of AI. Yes, some jobs will be replaced, but that is a red herring https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/03/ibm-ai-can-predict-with-95-percent-accuracy-which-employees-will-quit.html
Machine learning & AI in Watson Studio IBM Watson Studio is a collaborative environment with AI tools that you and your team can use to collect and prepare training data, and to design, train, and deploy machine learning models. The AutoAI graphical tool in Watson Studio automatically analyzes your data and generates candidate model pipelines customized for your predictive modeling problem. https://dataplatform.cloud.ibm.com/docs/search/ai
3 Resources: https://www.jta.org/2019/02/25/israel/israeli-institute-invests-100-million-in-artificial-intelligence-to-solve-real-world-problems The Israeli government is now investing 100 million in hopes that AI can be used to solve real world problems. Their main concern is that AI could be used to solve some of the world’s problems. I believe that AI could be used in solving a lot of the world’s problems, however the problem is getting engineers to push the limits of AI can currently do. This article references that traditionally robots/AI have been made out of metal not anything soft. A scientist has been studying the octopus for years and it is through the soft matter that allows them to not have any bones and move throughout the ocean. AI in robots needs to have soft matter in order to maybe help out disabled people or people who are born with disabilities.
This article talks about solving world problems with AI. One of the most interesting ideas is the theory of machine learning in computers. This technology allows computers to learn without explicitly being coded. The machine would learn just like humans do. As the machines are exposed to new data they adapt and learn. This research that is being done can be used in all fields of work that use computers. Humans are flaw by nature, but if computers can analyze large amounts of data and make decisions with that data then this could potentially revolutionize the way we see the world.
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/02/5-global-problems-that-ai-could-help-us-solve/ For all the people who are environmentalists, this one is for you. There are companies that are using AI to preserve wildlife. They are creating these AI programs that will analyze data of wildlife and with the data see the best lands that need to be preserved, also the best places to create wildlife corridors. In recent months, especially in California, there have been citings of coyotes and mountain lions in residential neighborhoods. Wildlife experts are attributing this to the fact that humans are pushing wildlife habitats further and further out. AI could help this problem not only here in California but all over the world.
This article talks about helping problems that humanity is currently facing with the use of AI. One of the five problems mentioned in this article is the optimization of electrical grids. With the use of AI controlling such resources as an energy grid, it could allow for the world to be more efficient with the power use. Companies are testing AI with electrical grids as the use of such technology could help in auto adjusting energy loads, thus leading to be more energy efficient countries and maybe eventually the whole world. This experiment is being tested in the UK. I believe that using AI for problems like this can help the world by becoming more efficient and not mistakenly using our resources until they burn out.
This article stood out to me the most because if any problem that needs AI’s help would the medical problems. In this article many ways of AI use are mentioned to help anyone in the medical field and allow for safer medical procedures to be done. Right now a problem that is being faced is diagnosis. The traditional way of diagnosing a chronic illness or a disease is somewhat slow and sometimes very inaccurate. This article states that with the help of AI technology the turnaround time for diagnosing will be alot faster and more accurate than every before. Along with time being a problem, money is also an issue for many human beings who just simply can’t afford health insurance. With the use of AI the costs would be lowered as well. Using AI for medical is something im all for, being able to detect certain illnesses or diseases are beneficial to the patients. It would allow for faster treatment options and a higher chance of surviving a diagnosed illness. Also being affordable for all people would help end the problem of sick patients all around the world who can’t afford medical help.
According to asirt.org approximately 1.25 million people die in car crashes a year. It’s no doubt that accidents happen but with the use of AI we can reduce that margin of error behind the wheel and prevent major accidents in the future. Tesla is most recognized for their autonomous driving cars. Its no secret that its still in the works as there have been issues found with the sensors that help for self driving, but in the near future it will be fixed and many commuters will have self driving cars. Another benefit besides having less accidents on the roadways is that traffic will also be cut down. In the bay area traffic is ridiculous, mostly cause by accidents who end up slowing traffic because of a lane blockage or simply people stopping to stare. With the use of AI we get benefits with safety and time. This article also mentions that with self driving cars people will have more time to work or entertain themselves while on their commute, which can be seen as a Pro and a Con. Using AI while driving can also lead to a less stressful commute by not having to worry about not causing a major accident. I really see AI being used in all cars in the near future, with the intention of having a safer and more time efficient roadway.
This article discusses the benefits and risks we are introduced to when working with artificial intelligence. As we move forward in technology, the usage of artificial intelligence (AI) helps us humans speed up our process with certain projects that would have more room for error and take longer. We can program AI to help us predict patterns and advance our research. The downfall to all of this would be that if we keep programming AI to get stronger over time and to be able to predict more faster and quicker, would would be the use of humans? Without the need for emotions to cloud it’s judgement, AI will just think “logically” and not factor in what harm it could make to others. One of the main things that stood out in this article was the safety precautions big names in science was trying to bring to light/give warning to future developers. It was stated in the article “Because AI has the potential to become more intelligent than any human, we have no surefire way of predicting how it will behave.” AI is constantly learning; hence the name “artificial intelligence”, that we can not predict what it may learn and develop it’s way of thinking to adapt to its new environment.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/11/19/is-artificial-intelligence-dangerous-6-ai-risks-everyone-should-know-about/#7bb09c7f2404 Is there a reason for us to fear artificial intelligence as much as we admire it? This article raises the questions we all may be thinking and gives us some answers as to what we can work on to prepare ourselves. The saying goes “with great power comes great responsibility”, that could be said as well when it comes to our use of AI with out programs and technology we would incorporate it with. The article even goes to state “While most current applications are used to impact humankind positively, any powerful tool can be wielded for harmful purposes when it falls into the wrong hands.” With the use of giving artificial intelligences access to what it needs to perform its duties, with the lack of emotions and empathy, AI could eventually have the “state of mind” like a psycho killer if the program is put to a certain task and have no remorse.
https://www.accenture.com/us-en/services/digital/what-artificial-intelligence-really?c=acn_glb_artificialintelgoogle_11050550&n=psgs_1019&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIsvHP-N7X5wIVDyCtBh1FvAh4EAAYASAAEgK-VPD_BwE There are so many topics that is incorporated into AI to make it really be intelligent and amazing at what it does. Some of the main topics brought up is it being a machine that is constantly learning, have predictive analytics, have intelligent automation, and most of all have deep learning. Within this article, it tells you certain topics for you to have a better understanding and explain what it means to have AI and give you a better background as to how AI is developed. There are guides within this article that explains to the reader of how AI can help companies in the future and how AI will bring companies to the future of technology faster.
https://www.mantralabsglobal.com/blog/solve-real-world-complex-problems-using-ai/ There are technologies that we use to solve the real world problem with artificial intelligence. This page Explains which technology A.I uses to solve the problems. Data science, Natural language, Machine learning, computer vision, integration, and deep learning. With real-time problem solving skills the only thing you have to worry about are your goals as you can leave the assistance to a computer that can think on it’s own but for your benefit. Many intelligent brains working in Artificial Intelligence to make our life comfortable. If you could have someone looking over your day to day needs it’s rather easy to focus on more important things in life.
https://www.techatbloomberg.com/ai/ Journalism is harnessing AI, too, and will continue to benefit from it. Bloomberg uses Cyborg technology to help make quick sense of complex financial reports. The Associated Press employs the natural language abilities of Automated Insights to produce 3,700 earning reports stories per year — nearly four times more than in the recent past.
https://www.lexalytics.com/lexablog/ai-in-education-present-future-ethics AI in education is more than science fiction. One study found that 34 hours on Duolingo’s app are equivalent to a full university semester of language education. But educational AI and the broader category of educational technology (EdTech) go well beyond language learning.Textbooks are digitized with the help of AI, early-stage virtual tutors assist human instructors and facial analysis gauges the emotions of students to help determine who’s struggling or bored and better tailor the experience to their individual needs.
Rainforest Connection’s system provides real time audio monitoring of rain forest ecosystem. The data they collect has a number of incredible uses in protecting and preserving the environments the organization monitors. They can detect the sounds of illegal logging and deforestation, as well as sounds associated with poaching, protecting both the animals and their habitats with a single system. The recordings can and have also help scientists protect endangered species by monitoring their behavior through their vocalizations. This project records a huge amount of data that is then available for researchers to use in their work, all while providing real time alerts for when and where illegal deforestation and poaching happen.
GPS monitoring of logging sites prevent deforestation and improve infrastructure, making sustainable conservation possible. GPS and lidar allow for improved monitoring of the real impacts of logging over time, which provides data on the state of partially harvested areas of tropical forests. This data can tell scientists about rates of forest regeneration, and carbon density before and after logging. The key to preventing further deforestation is knowing what rainforests remain intact, and monitoring systems as described in this paper provide invaluable information about the state of impacted areas. Knowing what areas of forests are most affected by deforestation lets conservationists direct their efforts most effectively.
Terra-i is an AI designed and trained to monitor changes in the vegatation of Latin America. It knows the normal cycles and ranges of how vegetation behaves, and can alert in case of a major change that deviates from norms. Scientists can use this data in conjunction with other information such as where crops are grown and harvested and the natural distribution of plant life to accurately understand what is happening to the rainforest, and make the best possible decisions to preserve it.Terra-i can monitor a massive amount of land, such a large area that scientists can use the data collected to reliably assess patterns. This information can help conservationists figure out where illegal deforestation is occurring so they can put a stop to it.
This article touches on some of the threats that the rain forest faces such as the paper industry, power plants and other industries that are causing major issues like deforestation. It also goes over some solutions to slowing down deforestation to which can save millions of acres of the rain forest each year. Some things to get involved with are purchasing sustainable rain forest products, getting involved with government to help pass laws to help slow down deforestation and trying to make more people aware of what is going on. According to the article more than 50% of our rainforest is already lost and most of that is due to economical reasons. Once it is gone we aren’t going to be able to get it back. As technology begins to advanced it makes it easier for the average person to get involved. There internet and smartphones have opened a door of communication and awareness that just was not there in the past. There are new types on monitoring technology and tracking technology coming out every year that also will further help with the preservation of the rainforest. However, it all starts with awareness.
This article provides some examples of how technology is helping to stop deforestation. The biggest example cited here is that sharing information is being a lot easier around the world. With the internet and mobile phones it is much more possible to help spread awareness. Technology is also becoming a lot more affordable which yields the ability for more organizations to access tools like monitoring / data visualization software, and devices like tablets and smartphones to enable quicker and more efficient communication. There is also a link to a rainforest Technology report that introduces some technological tools that are helping to provide support as well as projects to help get involved with.
This article talks about how technology is a powerful way to help save the rain forest in terms of equipment and activism. Some examples are shown of “”remote sensing technology.” Which is being used to map forest function and biodiversity. This remote sensing technology is also helping to discover new species and uses RFID tags to help track animals. Near real-time deforestation detection systems are also helping to change the game. These monitoring systems can alert law enforcement to respond almost immediately and is credited with a very large percentage of slowdown of deforestation. However, technology can be just as damaging as it is helpful. The end of this article talks about the mining industry and how there are data centers from Peru to Madagascar that are consuming huge amounts of power and emitting a a scary amount of greenhouse gases. Technology isn’t going to be the only thing that saves the forest, it will come down to the person behind it.
The said goal of the challenge I chose is rainforest preservation. The work is still incomplete and the problem of protecting our forest is growing worse. Technology will help rainforest preservation by offering scientific discovery, monitoring and enforcement, and communication. With monitoring and enforcement This article goes on to discuss the case of Brazil’s deforestation of the Amazon, they were able to track what was happening in real time and this technology was credited to the decline of deforestation. This was successful because with the monitoring technology they knew exactly what was happening in real time and found a way to fight against it in the most efficient way. This is a prime example of how technology is able to offer something that helps fight deforestation and how further developing this technology will help in a great way.
Now it is common to have internet access and with the internet there is information to be spread. This article explains how technology is helping with communicating with these remote areas. With this technology mobile phones are being brought into use in previously isolated areas, and now thanks to this technology it’s possible to work with and collaborate with organizations from other countries to help make the problem easier to deal with. Without this ability to communicate working together would be hard. Because of scientific discovery front advanced remote sensing technology, scientists have been able to use this as a tool to discover other habitats that have remained unexplored by others in the past.
To prevent deforestation this article discusses the use of technology by GPS monitoring to keep an eye on logging sites. The data that is found and given can tell researchers about the amount of damage that is done. This data also gives researchers a gauge of the carbon density before and after logging. The efforts to prevent illegal logging is lead by activists using this GPS technology.
The goal of rainforest preservation is one that will be difficult to achieve, but there are many charities that are trying to do their part in order to help save the rainforests of the world from not only human interaction directly through deforestation/logging, but also indirectly through climate change caused by CO2 increases in the atmosphere, which leads to global warming. This charity, Rainforest Foundation US, is attempting to help keep the rainforests of central and south America safe from further damage, and work with indigenous peoples of the area in order to help preserve the forest while keeping in touch with the local peoples’ needs as well. Currently, their main ways of helping local communities to practice preservation is by by giving legal support to local environmental agencies, providing equipment to them, and building networks of indigenous experts on conservation that can work together.
Recent changes in image mapping technology is providing researchers with better tools to understanding the dense, hard-to-access areas of the rainforest, previously unreachable by humans and hard to map even with technology. With new advances in LIDAR technology, researchers are now able to see more details into biomass mapping, which then allows researchers to more accurately calculate the amount of carbon emissions a country produces. With this technology, it will be much easier to measure by the single tree how much carbon is being used by trees, and the general health of rainforests as well.
Here is an example of a current project that is trying to be funded in the area of rainforest preservation. In Ecuador, there is an area of the rainforest called the Choco forest, which is currently suffering the fastest deforestation rate out of anywhere in the country. This fundraiser is attempting to purchase more land of the rainforest in order to keep it under the protection of Canandé Reserve, and then it will be safe from industrial deforestation. This area is extremely important to the biodiversity of Ecuador. Less than 2% of the original vegetation of the area remains, and it is necessary to protect as much of the remaining land as possible, in order to protect native Ecuadorian plants and wildlife from extinction.
Transforming Personal Health
This contest was designed to find innovative and cheap ways to map and observe the ocean and its floor. This challenge was finished in May 2019 with 2 teams winning the prize. The main technologies used by all the teams were a combination of Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV), Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV), and remote operated vehicle (ROV). Although these are technologies that have been used underwater technologies for a while, they still have many ways they can be improved. This drive to discover our oceans is not only to improve autonomous and sonar/radar tech but to also give us a chance at exploring and learning more about our oceans.
The first team to win this challenge is Team KUROSHIO from Japan. Their proposal was to build an ASV that could be the hub for a group of AUVs. The ASV’s job would be to monitor everything about the AUVs such as depth, speed, etc. As the ASV records all this data, it would send it back to the team via satellite connection. This would also allow for the team to remote control any AUV or even the ASV at anytime they needed to, effectively turning them into ROVs. This strategy is really intuitive in my opinion as combining these technologies would mean saving costs, increasing surface area, and the use of multiple vehicles allows for more detailed observations. SOURCE: http://www.jamstec.go.jp/team-kuroshio/en/technology/
The second team that won was GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Alumni from New Hampshire. Their proposal was also to build an ASV but instead of being able to control multiple AUVs it would only harbor one. While the first team focused on creating a AUV hub out of an ASV, this team’s focus was on full autonomy. Instead of relying on messages being transmitted via satellite, they would program routes into the ASVs and AUVs where they would then deploy and map the ocean floor completely autonomously. And instead of using multiple AUVs, they would only use one, leading to a smaller and cheaper vehicle. The main feature the ASV they designed had was that the AUV that harbors on it has the ability to detach/attach back to the main ASV unit all by itself. While I think the first team’s idea was better due to the larger surface area it can cover, the second team has definitely offered a perfect solution to long-term mapping goals of our oceans. The second team’s idea would also be perfect for open ocean work as you wouldn’t have to worry about any type of satellite interference. SOURCE: https://www.gebco-nf.com/our-concept
The third team, while not a winning team, offered a very interesting way to explore the deep. The team’s name was Blue Devil Ocean Engineering located in North Carolina. Their proposal was to deploy heavy-lift drones to drop sonar pods in predetermined locations to map the ocean floor. As the sonar pods are dropped in the ocean, they would emit sonar pings at different depth levels. Once they hit the bottom it would float back up and then be picked up by the drone that dropped it. As the drone picks up the pod, it would upload the data to a cloud-based server. And after that the memory of the pod would be wiped so that it can move one to a new location and start over. I think this is very interesting because it dwarves all the other proposals in terms of cost savings. This would only require a drone that can handle ocean winds and a sensor while the winning ideas required water-based drones and vehicles that would require more maintenance and man-power to run. SOURCE: https://sites.duke.edu/dukeshellxprize/2018/10/08/our-entry/
These new advances in technology arguably won’t only help ocean mapping but it could also help to improve sonar/radar/lidar technology, AI systems, etc. However using this tech for ocean exploration is vital since we know more about space than our own oceans. The unfortunate part of this project, however, is that this contest is mainly sponsored by the Shell corporation and they use this contest to help find better tech to find oil and mineral reserves in the ocean. While this means this tech will be used for very polluting demands, it will still be cheaper and greener than anything that is already used by these companies and others like it.
If I were to build my own design for a contest like this I think I would still use the system that the winning teams used. While the tech being used for ocean exploration has been the same for decades, it still has much room for improvement. If I were in this contest, I would prefer a hub boat that would be manned by humans that could control a series of AUVs to patrol and scan the environment. In my opinion, this would be more expensive in the long run than the winning plans but it could mean faster repairs and updates to the devices in use. The only worry is all of these devices use remote sensing techniques such as radar, lidar, and sonar. Sonar uses the same techniques that animals like whales and dolphins use to communicate, meaning that the use of sonar systems tends to interrupt their way of communication. If we could find a way to either make sonar not as disruptive or to make radar and lidar more reliable than we could avoid the environmental damage done by sonar systems.
 The project that I chose is Adult Literacy: Transforming One Million Lives Through Literacy. The current status of this challenge is “awarded” meaning that it is complete and the various cash awards have been given to the winners. For this challenge and the groups that participated in it, the various teams created free apps that were downloaded by adults in the community surrounding each team. Technology is helping to meet this challenge because technology is what is helping with the low-literacy issue. Because low-literacy is being targeted using free apps that will be used by adults on their smart devices, technology is how the low-literacy rates will be targeted. The teams that won the challenge were divided into three tiers based on the number of downloads they got with tier one being the most downloads, tier two having the second most, and tier three having the least number of downloads. The winner of tier one was team World Education that won $150,000 for their contribution to adult literacy. The winner of tier two was team ProLiteracy who was awarded $100,000 for their contribution to adult literacy. The final tier, tier three, was won by team Adult Literacy Partners of Houston who was awarded $50,000 for their contribution to adult literacy.
 We All Can Read is a subscription service akin to having a full-time tutor 24 hours a day seven days a week just to help you read proficiently. This site provides a combination of video, audio, and text adding up to 720 lessons that must be completed in order to proceed. The user starts off by watching a video to explain the lesson, then they listen to audio that corresponds to the text they will be reading; they must proceed one lesson at a time through all 720 lessons while also completing 400 worksheets that are embedded in the curriculum and complete a quiz with 80% or higher every three lessons or so to move on. While this is something you can use on a computer, there is also an app that can be used, making a computer unnecessary if you do not have access to one. This is such a successful site/program/subscription service because it focuses on the phonics that are the foundation of literacy and targets it at adults rather than children. Phonics are typically no longer taught after the second grade, making many phonics options very childish, while this program is meant to teach adult learners phonics in a way that works for their more developed brains. There are many subscription options available, but no matter what option you choose you have the first 10 lessons free to you. This way you can test out the site and see if this is a good option for you, or if something else is going to be a better fit for you. Upon clicking the link above for We All Can Read you will see a letter written by Carole along with a picture of her and her account of what the program did for her. In short she loved it and it helped with her reading and spelling after not learning phonics as a child.
 SightPhonics is an online program that has been teaching adults learners how to read since 2000 and is available for the classroom as well as for your computer, tablet, or smart phone. SightPhonics is available in three separate forms so that you can use this in whatever way works best for you; these are actual books, DVD that can be used as audio as you follow along with the book, or online (which is what I will be detailing here). The online version teaches you by reading the instructions, sounds, and words aloud once they have been clicked on. There is also a feature that breaks down the words for you when you scroll over the word and then teaches you to put the sounds together to make the actual word. This program helps with spelling as well as reading by teaching you the various sounds in the words in a progression so that the sounds build on each other and you can then spell and read when see a word since you understand the sounds. This program was researched with the goal of teaching the most words and sounds possible in the least amount of time for people with busy schedules. This program uses letter sets and letter families to allow for quicker visual recognition. This program is fairly inexpensive with the price being only $85 for the entire year when you purchase the online option and comes with a six day money back guarantee if this ends up not being the program that works best for you. This is a successful service/program/subscription service because of the way that the material is presented; in small sections that build on each other to give a strong foundation. It was also created by a teacher who often worked with students and adults that were behind in their literacy and understands what needs to be taught to have it stick and work for these learners. Throughout the link above for SightPhonics you will see a variety of quotes/testimonials from different people describing their experience with the program. The first one you will come across is from a woman named Linda who uses the program to teach to her adult learners and has found it to work well with or without her instruction and to be helpful to her students.
  Both of the above links are for Gemm Learning which is an online resource for people of all ages and learning abilities. The first link is for the specific adult learners page where it describes how Fast ForWord online brain training software will help you learn to read with 3-5 sessions a week of just 30 minutes each. Fast ForWord is a clinical strength program that can be used from the comfort of your home and done at your own pace. You start by taking an assessment and then an individualized sequence of programs is designed to meet your needs where you are at. The second link above is for the actual Fast ForWord page. Fast ForWord was made using more than 240 research studies, more than three million students across four countries, and was developed by four world-renowned neuroscientists. Each program, there are 10 total, has between five and seven games that target one or more cognitive, language and/or reading skill. This program taps into the brains ability to change and grow; you are asked to make hundreds of decisions quickly creating new neural connection and learning abilities. The goal is to remove underlying impediments to allow for higher achievement. This is designed to work quickly and is often done in four to six months which is about half the time of what the other two programs I have listed above. This is such a successful program because of the drastic amount of research that has been done coupled with the skilled scientists that worked to make this program fit for all learners. Being able to take an assessment and then have an entire program tailored to you is another useful part of the program that lead to its success. If you follow the first link for Gemm Learning above, on the right of the page you will see a testimonial from a 58 year old woman named Gail that used this program and has improved her reading speed and comprehension.
I chose the project “Adult Literacy: Transforming One Million Lives Through Literacy.” The current state of this project is completed also known as the “awarded” phase. In this specific course people created free applications for cash prizes to help adults with literacy issues. The invention of smart phones really has increased the need for adults to be literate in this technological age. Having a smart phone is almost as necessary as having a home in this day and age. If we can break the barrier with a smart phone, to get these adults into learning, then that’s the path this contest is trying to take. The advantages of this can be seen in the workplace, with improved literacy rates improving labor productivity, and cutting billions of dollars in healthcare costs. By becoming literate adult learners will find more success in the workplace, and at home. Providing free access to tools to help these adults is the goal of this project.
This specific site goes into a broad spectrum of ways to improve literacy in our modern age. The first Idea they have is the “power of Gamification. What this entails, is an easier way to break the barrier to entry on literacy, by making learning more fun. Online games, online crosswords, and fun quizzes are all really easy ways to get into learning how to read. Word recognition is what makes these games work generally, and is what is incredibly important in teaching children. If an adult has not received this particular training this is an easy, less painful way for them to learn. Technology is helping adults find a way to learn outside of the education system, without the “embarrassment” of just not knowing how to do certain things.
This article provides us with some apps that have already been released that will help adult learners in general, not just illiterate people. The app I found most helpful was Learning Upgrade. Learning upgrade gives engaging lessons, that make learning a little more palatable for those who struggle to learn in school. This specific app was one of the Xprize winners for this project. It has a hard focus on English, reading, and math. The important part about the English section is the lessons in phonics, decoding, vocabulary and grammar. These are presented to you in a couple different ways, such as through song, games, or videos. This app is for a younger generation, but part of adult literacy is catching troubled learners early and helping them get what they need. You can repeat lessons all you want with this app so practice is easy and accessible. It would also probably help foreigner’s get more accustomed to learning English in a fun and engaging way especially when you lack the free time to go to school.
While this article isn’t totally about adult literacy in particular, it’s an example of ways companies are implementing learning for employees in the work force. The way this article/website has chosen to tell us to do this is with the app Centrical. This app is a way learning with technology is improving our daily lives. This specific idea of making learning fun seems to be a constant battle that technology is helping with in waves. The idea is that, to stay driven to learn more, setting certain goals and challenges for each employee is a way towards developing your work force. If we can find a way to implement this into workplaces with low literacy rates, we can help these people improve and grow their critical thinking, and also teach some folks how to read. This app is designed to be a part of an employees routine, with varying activities, just to make sure that people can maintain focus, while learning just a little each day. It doesn’t overwhelm merely enhances every day life and I think that’s how we’ll be able to improve adult literacy.
The project I chose is: “Global Learning: Empowering Children To Take Control of Their Own Learning”. The project is completed and is in the “Awarded” phase. For this project, various teams from the United States, India, and the United Kingdom were challenged to develop an “open source, scalable software” that will allow children living in developing to be able to teach themselves basic reading, writing, and math within 15 months. Technology is crucial to this challenge as software, accessible data, and hardware are all powerful tools that are able to aid children in learning on their own. Five finalists were chosen in September 2017 to field test their products with children in Tanzanian villages. Each of the finalists received $1 million, and the two finalists split the $10 million grand prize.
KitkitSchool is one of the two grand prize winners and is based in Berkeley, California. Kitkit developed a game-based learning application that allows children to be able to learn independently. The application offers a vast library of books and videos and 2,400 learning activities with 22 sessions covering math and reading. It is developed by the company Enuma, which also develops an application called Todo Math, an app for children in pre-K to second grade with over 700 math activities.
Onebillion is the second of the two grand prize winners and is based in London in the United Kingdom. Onebillion was able to develop solar-powered tablet, along with the Onecourse app that has learning activities for reading, writing and math, plus a library of over 300 stories. Onebillion claims to have reached over 100,000 children in countries such as Cambodia, Brazil, and several African countries through partnerships with organizations like the University of Oxford and the Cambodian Children’s Fund.
Chimple is one of the finalists of the competition that received $1 million based in India. Chimple’s learning platform helps children learn reading, writing and mathematics on a tablet through more than 60 explorative games and 70 different stories. Their belief is that modern technology has not yet been utilized for learning by children, and that children thrive when learning independently or with friends. Through Chimple, children are able to learn about reading and writing, science, math, coding, and more.
For this project I chose the topic of Global Learning. The point of this challenge was to empower children to take control of their own learning. Five teams from around the world competed for a chance to win $15 million. The final teams were CCI from the United States, Chimple from India, Kitkit from the United States, Onebillion from the United Kingdom and RoboTutor from the United States. Each of the final teams got $1 million dollars, while the top two finalists each received $5 million. Each team had to develop an open-source, scalable software that empowers children to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic within 15 months. This Global Learning XPRIZE looks to provide universal access to learning through open and accessible data, localizable software, durable and available hardware, and successful delivery to any context. Their final field test was in Swahili, where they were able to reach 3000 children across 170 villages in Tanzania. In the end two companies were tied for the final position and each received $5 million, Kitkit and Onebillion. Before the Global Learning XPRIZE field test in Tanzania, 74% of the participating children were reported as never attending school, 80% reported as never being read to at home and over 90% of participating children could not read a single world in Swahili. After 15 months of learning on tablets donated by google and using software from one of those 5 companies, those numbers were cut in half. These software programs give children the ability to learn like never before.
Kitkit school was started in Berley in 2012 and is a special projects team part of Enuma Inc. The goal of Enuma is to build technologically exceptional learning tools that help struggling learners become independent learners. The creator of Kitkit is a world class engineer and game designer whose inspiration was their son born with special needs. The company’s flagship product, Todo Math made its debut in 2014 and since then has sold over 6 million copies worldwide.
Onebillion is a company that develops software for children to become numerate and confident readers on their own, and in their own language. While onebillion strives to make their software the best they possibly can, they also make sure that their technology is accessible to anyone who wants to use it. In Malawi, 50,000 primary school students will be using the ‘onecourse’ software by the end of this year. Worldwide, 100,000 children are already using the onecourse numeracy material in 50 different languages. Onebillion believes in technology as a catalyst for scalable quality education, with the potential of changing the lives of children all over the world.
Robotutor is a software used by faculty experts at Carnegie Mellon University and elsewhere around the world. They are known for their world-leading expertise in reading and math tutors, speech recognition and synthesis, language technologies, cognitive psychology, machine learning, educational data mining, design, and human-computer interaction. Robotutor is being used for field testing all around the world in places like Tanzania, Jerusalem, and Pittsburgh.
Creating Water from Thin Air
I chose the topic: Water Abundance: Creating Water from Thin Air.
The current status of work on this challenge is advancing. There have been two different solutions brought to the forefront, but there is still major work being contributed to these new ideas. Technology will help meet the challenge by offering efforts and constantly labor replacing human efforts. The two solutions that have been offered are 1) A wind powered generator that collects moisture from the air, and 2) A storage container unit with a generator inside that collects the air, changes the temperature, and collects the condensation to produce water. These solutions have been successful so far, but funding and resources are still being gathered for production to increase.
There are two main groups that have advanced the technology and work done on this particular Grand Challenge, as well as won the XPrize for their solutions. They are:
JMCC WING (XPRIZE Winner) – the McCanney WING Generator Their efforts and the technology being used to solve this challenge are shown here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=12&v=7ozm1CoXzCg&feature=emb_title
The design is based on two existing technologies which both have been crowd funded and/or privately funded and built. The advent of the Water Abundance X-Prize caused the marriage of the two technologies that would not have been possible even a few years ago. The energy source is the McCanney WING Generator, a high torque low cost wind energy system which is used to power the JMCC WING, LLC existing commercial line of Atmospheric Water Generators (AWGs). Water extraction from the air requires large amounts of energy to operate no matter what the process. The Atmospheric Water Generators are simple and rugged. The compressors and fans can operate for years with little maintenance. The fans use 10 % of the energy with the other 90% to operate the compressors which cool the coils to extract the water. They require considerable power to operate but enter the efficient high torque McCanney WING Generator and now the energy can be derived for a low cost from the wind. The energy requirements from traditional energy sources such as the grid, 3 blade wind generators or solar make them too expensive to install and operate. To meet the XPrize stringent requirement of 2 cents per liter, a very efficient natural source of energy is required. This prompted the inclusion of the McCanney WING Generator as the low-cost source of energy. As the WING Generators scale to larger sizes, because they grow in 3 dimensions (not 2 dimensions as is the case with solar and traditional wind systems), and because they produce energy from low to very high wind speeds (they do not have to be shut down in high winds), the comparative cost per unit energy of the WING Generator system decreases exponentially with increasing size.
The Skysource/Skywater Alliance (XPRIZE Winner) – WEDEW https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=Gu49V0EaIoU&feature=emb_title
WEDEW runs on biomass gasification, which operates at less than 1/10th the cost of solar PV while occupying the area of a single panel. Biomass fuel is available in many parts of the world for little or no cost as the byproducts of agriculture, forestry, and natural disasters. Biomass gasification has competitive advantages when compared to alternative sources of power for atmospheric generation, possessing the convenient benefits of diesel gensets without the harmful effects. Climate Resilience – WEDEW helps communities plan for and respond to global climate change by providing reliable energy and water, which works no matter how volatile the environment becomes. Self-Reliance – WEDEW is a point-of-use system, meaning vulnerable communities are no longer beholden to infrastructure for their water and power. The sustainable exchange of biomass for water around WEDEW can become the cornerstone of local economies. Emergency Response – WEDEW contains everything needed for aid work in a secure, transportable container. It can provide on-demand water and power during emergency events in addition to refrigeration, cooling, and communication.
RAINMAKER – Solar and Wind Powered Generators/ Air-to-Water Units https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=10&v=kniBIYML4IA&feature=emb_logo
The core Air-to-Water unit uses a turbine that forces air through a heat exchanger, where the air is cooled and condensation takes place. A hybrid solution (solar/wind/grid) can be deployed to the same effect by driving a ventilation system. Lowering the temperature of air requires minimal energy. When the temperature falls below its dew point, water droplets will form. These droplets then collect in a water storage compartment. The water production of the Air-to-Water system depends on the environment. The actual amount of water that can be produced in a particular location will depend on the average wind speed, the ambient temperature, and the relative humidity. To make the system work under different conditions, the turbine can be adapted to the environment in which it will be used, such as adjusting the blade diameter and the height of the tower to maximize the efficiency of the unit. The turbine can also be combined with solar and/or traditional power to maximize water production. In each case, the Rainmaker engineers will optimize a solution for every customer. Rainmakers Air-to-Water units use renewable energy and are available in three sizes, producing 5,000, 10,000 or 20,000 liters of drinking water per day.
When one of the fundamental building blocks of life as we know it is rapidly becoming less accessible, a solution is not only necessary, it is mandatory.
Over 70% of the human body is made up one one thing, water. And though around 75% of our planet is covered in water, there are still individuals today that lack the ability to access clean, fresh water. It can sometimes be a struggle for us in first world countries to grasp this reality, however this is a problem that even in the wonderful United States of America, can creep up. Areas like flint Michigan, or Ridgecrest Louisiana have faulty instructor, contaminating their water, rendering it undrinkable. However the problem does not stop there, in certain disaster areas where nature lays waste to cities, families may find themselves stranded without drinkable water for extended periods of time.
So it is clear, no matter where you live, either under the sunny skies of the US, or in the Sahara desert, the need for water is very real. So how can we solve this problem? It’s not like we can just make water out of thing air? Or can we? A project hosted by XPRIZE has stretched this question to its very core, and said the answer is conclusively FALSE! That’s right, a team tackling the project has actually developed a way to extract water out of thin air, using entirely renewable energy. This, paired with it’s low cost of production, makes it the perfect tool for natural disaster areas for relief efforts, or to integrate into infrastructure around our country as cities original infrastructure becomes dated and out falls behind, taking us one step closer to relying entirely on renewable resources.
This project was inspired by the realization of just how many people worldwide are affected by insufficient water sources. Statistically, over 2 billion people, are drinking from sources contaminated by fecal mater, leading to an estimated 502,000 deaths annually. This tragic reality is a global nightmare, and something that had to be addressed. And so, the goal was set, develop a way to extract at minimum, 2,000 liters of water per day from the atmosphere using only renewable energy, and for the cost to exceed no more than two cents per liter. Once the XPRIZE was set, teams from around the worlds registered for the competition, 92 different reams from 27 different countries in total joined the competition to win a $1.5 million dollar grand prize developing a way to pull water out of thin air.
The winner of this group was a California based team, previously disqualified, however following another teams drop from the competition, the California based team by the name of the Skywater Alliance, raced back into the competition, and eventually into the lead. They gave everything they had to give to their development, even going as far as mortgaging their home in order to finance their project. They were eventually a smashing success, developing a biomass gasification system, which “captured the waste heat and the moisture contained in plant matter to create an augmented environment which made an ideal microclimate for maximum water production,” as stated in the XPRIZE article written after the conclusion of this challenge.
Skywater Alliance was able to do what is probably still considered impossible in the minds of many, and their efforts were thoroughly applauded. 2018 they were awarded a check for the sum of $1,5000,000 dollars, for their word on this project.