How mHealth, 3-D Printing & Robots Will Change The World For People With Special Needs

Exceptional Parent Magazine provides practical advice, emotional support, and up-to-date educational information for families of children and adults with disabilities and special healthcare needs. One of my readers follows EP and introduced me to Vanessa Ira, Managing Editor. Vanessa told me about EP’s Annual Resource Guide for their readers, and asked if I would write an article for it. I happily agreed. Just click on the image above or here to see the full article, “How mHealth, 3-D Printing & Robots Will Change The World For People With Special Needs“.

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Regenerative Medicine for Human Organs


A number of articles appear here about regenerative medicine. The reason I think the topic is so important is 115,000 people are waiting for a lifesaving transplant. Another person is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes. Twenty-two people die each day because the organ they need was not donated in time. A single organ, eye, and tissue donor can save and heal up to 75 lives. The argument to be a donor is compelling, but only 52% of us have registered to become one.The Apple Health app provides a simple registration form you can submit directly from the iPhone app to the National Donate Life Registry. If you sign up, first responders will have access to the decision to be a donor right from the iPhone emergency screen. It took just seconds to register from my iPhone. Perhaps organs from someone my age would not be useful, but it costs nothing to sign up, and you never know.

I believe the ultimate solution to the shortage of donated organs is regenerative medicine using 3-D printing and pluripotent stem cells. There have been many breakthroughs. Scientists have successfully produced human kidney tissue within a living organism which is able to filter blood and produce urine, a first for medical science. The study signifies a significant milestone in the development of treatment for kidney disease. Researchers have also created human heart and liver tissue.

The latest breakthrough came from Russia. The Russians developed a magnetic bioprinter, and transported it to the International Space Station. Printing in a zero-gravity environment in space enables printed organs and tissues to mature at faster rates. The Russian scientists were able to print a mouse thyroid. The bioprinted thyroid is an important breakthrough for printing living tissues and microorganisms beyond the stratosphere. The thyroid will be implanted in a mouse back on Earth.

I find this research remarkable. It will take more time, but it seems clear the day of people dying because of a lack of a replacement organ will come to an end. Read more about regenerative medicine in Health Attitude: Unraveling and Solving the Complexities of Healthcare.

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Estonian e-everything

The Republic of Estonia is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered on the north by the Gulf of Finland, on the west by the Baltic Sea, on the south by Latvia, and on the east by Russia. Some years ago, I was on a Baltic cruise which made a stop in Tallinn, the capital and largest city of Estonia. I was quite impressed with the ancient narrow streets lined with cars from BMW, Maserati, Mercedes, and Porsche. I later learned Tallinn was a high tech center of innovation. Skype was created by Estonian software developers.

Estonia has a vision to empower all of its citizens by making the government highly efficient with all of its services accessible electronically. In 2005, it introduced what it calls ‘i-Voting’, or internet voting. All citizens have an electronic ID card to assure their identity. They are now given at birth. For eligible voters, they can cast their ballots from any internet-connected computer from anywhere in the world. (Wouldn’t it be nice if our millions of military and overseas citizens could do that?) During a designated pre-voting period, the voter logs onto the system using their ID and casts a ballot. The voter’s identity is removed from the ballot before it reaches the electoral officials for counting to ensure anonymity. An argument against Internet voting is the possibility of coercion. Estonia has a simple and elegant solution to this problem. They allow voters to vote as many times as they want up until the voting period ends. The last vote counts and any prior vote is canceled.

I am quite impressed with Estonia’s digital leadership. They have conducted national elections using the Internet for more than a decade with no security or privacy problems. Strong leadership and vision from the President of the country helped make this possible, but an important factor is Estonia’s digital ID card for all citizens. The chip card enables Estonians to sign contracts, start businesses, retrieve health records, and vote. The country has recently extended its digital leadership outside of its borders.

Estonia has created a new digital nation for global citizens called an e-Residency. Estonia is the first country to offer an e-Residency, a government-issued digital ID available to anyone in the world who can fully authenticate themself. E-Residency offers the ability to easily start and run a global business in a trusted EU environment. An e-Resident anywhere in the world can register an EU based company entirely online. He or she can then access business banking, and online payment providers to accept payments from customers and clients worldwide. They can also digitally sign contracts and other documents.

Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia, said,

Even though there are only a little over a million of us, thanks to Estonia’s capabilities, we can make ten million payments, perform ten million requests and sign ten million contracts in just ten minutes. Even ten times larger states cannot beat us. But the good news is that it is possible to join our exclusive club of digitally empowered citizens.

I decided to take her up on the idea, and applied for an e-Residency in 2017. After submitting passport and other identifying information online, I received approval. I then visited the Estonian Embassy in New York, presented my passport, and got finger-printed. I was handed my e-Residency chip card. A subsequent email from the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board confirmed they had “granted e-Residency to JOHN RUSSELL PATRICK”. See my chip card above.

You may be wondering what in the world I am going to do with my e-Residency. Not sure just yet. I may create an EU sister company to Attitude LLC. Not sure what that company would do. Anyway, I feel good I am walking the talk. We really should have national digital IDs in America. This would simplify e-commerce and healthcare records, and enable most of the 100 million people who did not vote in 2016 because they could not get to the polls to use Internet voting. There is a path to create a national digital ID, but that will have to wait until another posting.

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Tesla Miles Per Gallon

Thanks to my friend Dan in California for posing a question about my Tesla Supercharger story last week. He asked, “So how do youn calculate mpg when there is no G?” Good question. The following is from the window sticker of my Model S.

The government calls it MPGe, with the e standing for equivalent. I don’t know how they calculated the 102 mpg, but I will share with you how I would calculate it. Somewhere along the line, probably in engineering school 50 years ago, I learned a technique called Dimensional Analysis. It has been a handy tool for me all these years. The purpose of the tool is to convert one unit of measure to another. The method is simple. You multiply fractional representations together. Below is what I scratched out on a piece of paper.

When you multiply miles per kWh times kWh per $ times $ per gallon, you get miles per gallon. Voila. Now lets add some numbers. The first fraction is miles per kWh. The Model S has a range of 335 miles with a full charge, which is 100 kWh, so that fraction is 3.35. The second fraction reflects the cost of one kWh. The cost varies greatly from state to state. The Choose Energy website shows the average price by state. It ranges from $.093 per kWh in Louisiana to $.223 per kWh in Rhode Island. (I excluded Hawaii and Alaska as they are off the charts). The third fraction reflects the cost per gallon of premium gasoline. This cost, as shown on the AAA website, varies greatly also, from $2.37 in Missouri to $3.64 in California.

Now, just multiply the three factors together to get the miles per gallon equivalent. For the high side, lets use Louisiana electricity and California gasoline. The result is 132 miles per gallon. At the other extreme, lets use Rhode Island electricity and Missouri gasoline. The result is 36 miles per gallon. Reality is somewhere in between. If half of the electricity you use for charging is from a free Tesla Supercharger, the results easily go above 200 miles per gallon.

Thanks, Dan!

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No Room at the Tesla Inn

For the first time in 3 1/2 years, I encountered “No Room at the Inn” for Tesla Superchargers. I stopped at the Danbury Fair Mall in Danbury, CT to get my glasses repaired, have a sandwich, visit the four PokéStops, and catch some wild Pokémon. Tesla recently installed ten Supercharger stalls at the Mall, and today was the first time I saw all of them occupied at once. I did not need a charge, but why not have “filled it up” if possible.

With the anticipated flood of new Tesla Model 3s on the road, Superchargers will become very busy. As a result, the company has adopted a new “Fair Use” policy which will exclude Supercharger use for taxis, ridesourcing such as Uber or Lyft, commercial delivery, government purposes, or other commercial ventures. The purpose of the free (for now, for many) worldwide Supercharger network is to facilitate long distance personal travel, a significant advantage Tesla has over other EVs at this stage. For local use, it is expected owners will normally charge at their home or business location overnight.

Another part of Tesla’s evolving policy addresses people who abuse the Supercharger parking. For example, a CT resident might decide to drive to the Mall, plug in, and spend the following few hours shopping when they may need only a half-hour or less to charge. Meanwhile others may have no access to charging because the “Inn is full”. The new Tesla policy will implement a charge once your car is charged. You will be notified on your smartphone if half or more of the total stalls are occupied and your charge has completed. After reasonable notice, you will be charged a fee per minute while your car is fully charged and occupying (hogging) a stall.

Overall, the charging cost can be a bit confusing. There are special credits, deals, and promotions out there. My first Tesla Model S had lifetime free charging. At the end of my three-year lease, I got a second Model S on another three-year lease. In return for acquiring another new Tesla, I was given lifetime free charging once again. All things considered for everyone, charging is not expensive. When the cost is converted to what gasoline would cost, the Tesla gets the equivalent of more than 100 miles per gallon.

While enjoying the fact your car is not burning fossil fuel, you can also enjoy the fact the Mall itself is quite energy efficient. One day when I was catching Pokemon, near the back of the Mall, I discovered there are a number of tractor trailer sized BloomEnergy Servers. They are not really servers, that is just PR, they are fuel cells. The cells are made from oxide (sand) which is heated to 1,800 degrees. Fuel (probably natural gas) flows into the fuel cells and a chemical reaction causes electricity to be created without any combustion. The by-product of the process is water. Danbury Fair Mall’s fuel cells produce 750,000 kW of clean, reliable energy while reducing the carbon emissions of the facility by nearly 3 million pounds each year and meeting more than a third of the Mall’s energy needs.

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