designing a superior solution

Paul Steinberg

SVP of technology, Motorola Solutions


When first responders call for backup, they don’t use a smartphone, and for good reason. They need knobs they can turn using muscle memory and radio connections that work when cell towers go down. Motorola’s new APX Next, launched in October 2019 and available to public safety workers, is a hybrid of a classic, tactile walkie-talkie and a touchscreen Android device with a voice-operated virtual assistant. Paul Steinberg began working on APX Next three years ago, shortly after he led Motorola’s prescient investment in natural language processing. To get the details right, such as the location for the button that activates voice commands, Steinberg’s team didn’t just interview first responders; they went on ride-alongs with cops and trained with incoming firefighters. “When you go into a building that’s full of smoke and can’t see the hand in front of your face, you get the idea of what [a high-stress situation] really means,” he says.

Roland Edel

Chief technology officer, Siemens Mobility Division

The idea of converting the famous German autobahn into an electrified highway has been percolating at industrial manufacturing company Siemens since the 1940s, “but I put it back on the agenda,” says engineer Roland Edel. Even so, board members told him they’d never see his plan, dubbed the eHighway, realised within their lifetimes. But after tests in Berlin, Sweden, and L.A., the company successfully opened a 5-kilometre stretch of eHighway in Germany in May 2019. Siemens’s system converts energy from overhead contact lines to current in the motors of specially outfitted freight trucks, allowing them to run without fossil fuels. These trucks are custom-built by Volkswagen-owned Scania and fitted with links, called pantographs, behind the driver’s cabin that collect power when in contact with the overhead line. Over the past year, the eHighway has withstood winter storms and auto fires and has proved so promising that the German government is currently considering signing off on another 4,000 kilometres, which would make up one-third of the country’s entire highway system and convert 60% of its trucking to be fossil-fuel-free. “If Germany decides on this, I’m pretty sure it will have a domino effect in Europe,” Edel says.

Clementine Jacoby

 CEO, Recidiviz

While working as a product manager at Google Maps three years ago, Clementine Jacoby began considering how analytics tools common in the private sector could be used for another purpose: helping state criminal justice agencies reduce incarceration. Jacoby had grown up with family members in and out of the criminal justice system, and saw how difficult it was for them to escape it. Last year, she founded nonprofit Recidiviz to uncover data-driven insights about the best ways for prison officials to quickly and safely get people out of jail, and for parole officers to prevent recidivism. After a prison opts into using Recidiviz—-as more than 80 have done—the platform pulls data from its existing internal systems and transforms it into digestible, shareable data visualisations that can be used to inform institutional policies, such as how parolees’ trajectories change when officers help them find stable housing (and how individual parole officers’ efforts in this regard compare to each other). “You can suddenly use behavioural science and good design to shift their incentives,” Jacoby says. After the coronavirus led to the early release of many prisoners to prevent spread, Recidiviz began collecting data about the impact. “A year from now, it will be the most interesting data set that we’ve ever seen in criminal justice,” Jacoby says.

Philip Ehrhorn, Anne Marieke Eveleens, Saskia Studer & Francis Zoet

Co-founders, Great Bubble Barrier

Over drinks one night in Amsterdam, a group of friends—Anne Marieke Eveleens, Saskia Studer, and Francis Zoet—started talking about the problem of plastic pollution when they noticed bubbles rising in a glass of beer. Could a stream of bubbles catch plastic flowing through canals and rivers before it got to the ocean? After beginning work on the project, they were contacted by an engineering student in Berlin named Philip Ehrhorn, who saw online that they were pursuing the same concept. Together, they built a device called the Great Bubble Barrier, which they installed in an Amsterdam canal last November. It pumps air through a tube to make bubbles that push plastic into a collection area without disrupting boat traffic or wildlife. During a test, the system caught 86% of plastic waste. It’s merely one part of “the whole chain of things we have to change,” says Ehrhorn, head of technical development. GBB is now working on a system that can be packaged, shipped, and set up any-where in the world.

Michael Hansen

CEO, Cengage

“There are virtually no markets in the world where course materials are as expensive as they are in the United States,” says Cengage CEO Michael Hansen. To address this, he launched a pioneering subscription model for textbook financing in the fall of 2018 that allows students to pay $179.99 a year for access to all of the texts in the company’s 22,000-book catalog. The format is made possible by Cengage’s history as a textbook publisher; Hansen took its deep education catalog online without ever having to pay for rights to new material. By March 2020, Cengage Unlimited had reached 2.6 million subscribers. The company estimates that the service is present at every higher education institution in the country, has a bigger slice of the college textbook market than McGraw-Hill, and has so far saved students $200 million.

Matanya Horowitz

CEO, AMP Robotics

Matanya Horowitz’s company, AMP Robotics, uses computer vision and machine learning at recycling centres to identify and sort materials twice as fast as humans, extracting a greater value from the recycling stream. More than 50 of its systems have been installed in recycling centres worldwide. AMP Robotics’s technology makes it possible to identify and recycle specific items, such as Starbucks’s recyclable paper coffee cups. “Because we have this robot that doesn’t get tired or lose its focus, we’re able to sort these additional materials at basically no marginal cost to facilities,” says Horowitz, explaining that humans work alongside the robots to help remove larger contaminants that the machines can’t handle (such as pieces of wood). In the past year, the system has learned to recognise more than three dozen new material categories and thousands of new form factors.











The Biology

Eye movement is controlled by cranial nerves that are impeded by brain swelling after an injury.








The Device

The desktop-size EyeBox has a video screen set 153/4 inches away from a patient’s chin and forehead, and uses proprietary software to track eye movement as the patient watches a 220-second video.


Test Results

The EyeBox test yields a numeric score, derived from the analysis of more than 100,000 data points collected during the exam. It not only diagnoses a concussion but can also suggest precisely where in the brain the injury has occurred.

Uzma Samadani & Rosina Samadani

CEO; founder, Oculogica

Last year, the FDA granted authorization for commercial use of the first tool that provides an objective diagnosis of concussions. Called EyeBox, it was developed by sisters Uzma and Rosina Samadani. Uzma was the chief of neurosurgery at Manhattan Veterans Administration Hospital when her research suggested a connection between brain injuries and restricted eye movement. What if, she wondered, computer-aided eye tracking could diagnose brain trauma? “If you can measure something, you can treat it,” she says. She founded Oculogica, and Rosina, who has a PhD in biomed-ical engineering, signed on to run it. By the end of 2019, some two dozen EyeBoxes were in use at medical centers, sports clinics, and other facilities. In January, the American Medical Association opened the door for insurers to cover EyeBox diagnoses, paving the way for expanded adoption.

Stacey Sigmon

Associate professor of psychiatry; director, Centre on Rural Addiction, University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine

The rates of opioid drug abuse are similar in rural and urban areas, but overdoses and deaths are more frequent in less populated regions, where access to treatment lags.
Stacey Sigmon, a director of Vermont’s largest outpatient opioid treatment clinic, has developed a program that improves outcomes. A key factor is ensuring that patients can get a regular, monitored dose of buprenorphine, which is similar to methadone but has fewer barriers for prescribing (methadone for treating addiction is available only in liquid form and through designated clinics, while buprenorphine pills can be prescribed in primary care offices). Each month, patients receive an automated medication dispenser that unlocks a dose at scheduled intervals. Participants get daily check-ins through a voice-response phone system, and can be called in for surprise “spot checks.” In a two-year pilot, the protocol reduced injection drug use and symptoms of anxiety and depression compared to controls, and 99% of patients stuck with their medication regimen. Last September, Sigmon was awarded a $6.6 million HRSA grant to open the Centre on Rural Addiction, which will train healthcare providers in rural Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont to treat opioid addiction. “We need more people to get certified to prescribe,” Sigmon says.
“Some providers are reluctant—they’re concerned about the reliability of patients following through.” As more doctors fold telemedicine into their services in the wake of the COVID–19 pandemic, “technology–assisted drug treatment holds immense promise beyond the rural population.”


Your name

Your e-mail

Name receiver

E-mail address receiver

Your message






Sign up



Your name

Your e-mail address

Name receiver

E-mail address receiver

Your message