TED Fellows 2014: Fifth Anniversary Talks
Five fledgling projects from the annual event, held this year in Vancouver
Earlier this week, we had the privilege to witness the fifth anniversary of the TED Fellows program, one that traditionally kicks off the week of TED with a boom. While last year brought the greater creative community to Long Beach, this year Vancouver, BC hosts the celebrated conference. As the more raw, work-in-progress side of TED, the Fellows program introduces 21 new individuals this year with a range of focuses from molecular biology animation and photography meant to change cultures to affordable 3D-printed prosthetics. While all of the speakers brought something worthwhile to the table, the following are five projects from new and Senior Fellows that were both presented and launched this week, ready for you to dig in.
In an effort to protect Africa's remaining wilderness from degradation, logging and mining, digital bushman Steve Boyes has spurred many conservation initiatives, carried out countless campaigns and even planted one million trees with local communities. Now, in an effort to chart the vastly undocumented Okavango delta (an 18,000 square kilometer wetland wilderness in northern Botswana), Boyes is now navigating the waterways by traditional dugout canoes. Because Boyes travels with his brother and wife, the modest expedition team uses satellites daily to transmit important data to the project's site. As the data lands online, an open API allows anyone willing to remix, analyze and visualize the information to help spread the word.
Led by a goal to help alleviate unnecessary suffering across the population as quickly as possible, American software developer Ernie Gray recently created Aunt Bertha, a zipcode-driven search platform that instantly informs users of social services—both private and governmental—in their area. Gray hopes to address the issue of the general population's lack of knowledge regarding to what government or charitable services they qualify for. The attractive, encouraging user interface makes for seamless interaction, meaning more successful connections in real time—on both ends.
Recognizing the power of drones and remote control quad-copters in gaining a new visual perspective on the world around us, Swiss-based aerial robotics engineer Sergei Lupashin has developed the Fotokite, a widely accessibly flying robot for such instances. To cleverly sidestep complicated government rules and regulations (the Federal Aviation Administration says tethered vehicles don't count as drones), Lupashin's Fotokite is secured with a retractable leash of sorts, making it easier to control and guide. With an attached camera that always orients to the user, Fotokite hopes to become an important tool for journalists, firefighters and the like to deploy under dangerous circumstances.
A leader in connected, open-source hardware movement, Ayah Bdeir is the founder and CEO of littleBits, and earlier this week, during her TED presentation, announced a new WiFi-enabled bit. The introduction of such technology opens a whole range of new opportunities for the buildable devices by connecting the project at hand to the internet. While more information is still on its way, we're sure the connectivity will continue to push Bdeir's goal of putting electronics into the hands of everyone.
Ecologist, network scientist and data storyteller, Eric Berlow recently launched Vibrant Data, a scientific tool use to draw, explore and understand complex networks. For example, Berlow and the collective's fellow scientists, artists and technologists have mapped genes linked to known disorders and diseases in the past. And to further prove the importance of data visualization tool, Berlow created a map showing the interrelationships of all TED Fellows—328 Fellows from 83 countries across 15 disciplines.
Images courtesy of TED
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