29
Aug

3ric Johanson And The Photonic Fence

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Tear Sheets

3ric Johanson from Intellectual Ventures and the Photonic Fence.  Photo by John Keatley.

Imagine rows and rows of boxes piled up to the ceiling at your local Costco.  The boxes are matte black with bold white writing and a robot looking face on the front with beady red eyes.  Maybe something like the Terminator, but more kid friendly.  Suburban moms in California and Arizona are lining up to be the first on the block to own a personal laser mosquito zapper.  Jacqueline from Rancho Cucamonga places her new mosquito zapper in the over-sized orange cart, next to her new cooler with a built in iPod dock, and the ten pound bag of chicken strips.  She can already imagine the warm summer nights by the pool, free of mosquitoes.  I envisioned the situation for these early adopters to unfold much like the Cornballer as seen on Arrested Development.  Kids running around the yard with laser burn marks all over their bodies, hair on fire.  You worried about your kids running with scissors?  Forget about it.  You’ve got a military robot with lasers in your back yard.

That was the scenario that popped into my head after hearing the words laser mosquito zapper, but as I found out more about the assignment, I discovered it was not the next ridiculous consumer item at your local big box store.  3ric Johanson and a team of really bright minds actually came up with this idea and made it into a reality with the goal of wiping out malaria.  With a mandate from Bill Gates to think differently about finding a solution to prevent malaria from spreading, the Photonic Fence was born.  The technical description of how it works is a little above my pay grade, but by recognizing the size, speed, sound, and speed and insect beats its wings, the Photonic Fence can differentiate between bees, flies, and even male or female mosquitoes.  Only female mosquitoes bite and carry the parasite causing malaria, so only the females need to be terminated.

3ric works at Intellectual Ventures, which is a research lab in Bellevue, Washington.  In addition to the Photonic Fence, they are working on some pretty amazing projects including a super-thermos to transport vaccines, and a system to weaken hurricanes.  While taking a tour of the lab with 3ric, he explained the reason Intellectual Ventures is so different from other labs is they are encouraged to experiment and push the boundaries of what is currently being done.  Failure is not something they are afraid of, and they have the luxury of pushing the boundaries because they have investors behind them.  Because this type of work is so expensive, however, other labs often don’t have investors willing to take on this kind of risk.

Make is a really cool magazine, and if you get excited about DIY projects, I would recommend subscribing.  You can also find out more about the Photonic Fence and Intellectual Ventures at this page.  I was really encouraged to see some of the top minds working on projects with the single goal of making the world a better place for people who don’t share many of the luxuries we so often take for granted.

I’ll leave you with a super slow-motion video of mosquitoes getting blasted by a laser.  Enjoy.

New Tech Toy I am most excited about right now.

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06
May

Brain Rules And John Medina

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Tear Sheets

Japanese edition of Brain Rules with author John Medina on the cover.  Photo by John Keatley.

Mina san konnichiwa.  Hot off the press, my portrait of Dr. John Medina was printed on the cover of the Japanese edition of Brain Rules.

“In Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina, a molecular biologist, shares his lifelong interest in how the brain sciences might influence the way we teach our children and the way we work.  In each chapter, he describes a brain rule—what scientists know for sure about how our brains work—and then offers transformative ideas for our daily lives.”

I photographed Dr. Medina’s author portrait and press pictures last year, just before the book was first released in the States.  Since then, the pictures have been published in Harvard Business Review, Seattle Metropolitan, and Response, to name a few.

When I got the assignment, my mind started racing with ideas and concepts that I could use for a brain scientist.  I had heard that John is a passionate and expressive person, but nothing prepared me for the amount of energy and intensity that John generates.  The slide show should give you a pretty good idea of what the shoot was like.  John sang a song, made up a science rap, and charged at me during the shoot.  Oh, and ate a plastic brain.  What more could a photographer ask for!?   One of my favorite images was an outtake that we shot at the end.  I had the idea of using a brain like that old light bulb hovering over a persons head when an idea goes off.  It was difficult to keep the brain from moving (I used string) but we eventually got it in place, and that ended up being the picture that was printed on the book jacket for the author portrait.

There is a ton of online content about Brain Rules if you are interested in finding out more.  I highly recommend reading the book, as well.  The English version that is…unless you can read Japanese.  It is written in a way that anyone can understand, and everything in the book is practical information that can be used in your daily life.

Brain Rules on Amazon.com

* If you are using a blog reader, you may need to visit my actual blog to see the slide show above.