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Pharma Hacker Michael Laufer Introduces the EpiPencil

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Michael Laufer, creator of the EpiPencil

Allergy season just got much worse with the outrageous price hike of the EpiPen. What use to be an affordable remedy to a life-threatening situation is now the cause of outrage amongst consumers. The cost of the EpiPen has soared 400 percent since 2008, and today’s cost is an estimated $600 for a 2-pack. The manufacturer, Mylan, has been accused of price gouging and using their monopoly to exploit the need for this life-saving medication for profit. Since news broke about the exorbitant rise in price, allergy sufferers have been looking for alternate solutions for medication.

 

In an exclusive interview with Michael Laufer for Owner’s Magazine, he explained the importance of access to medicine for all. He is the man behind Four Thieves Vinegar, the team on a mission to provide ways for individuals to produce their own medicine. The group created the automated lab reactor, made from off-the-shelf parts that you can put together at home. It has an open lab structure, where people order and manufacture their own drugs. Michael hopes that it is a stepping stone for other ways that people can take charge of their own health. He asks the question, “What is it that makes us human? The body and mind.” He believes that people should be able to take care of their body and mind as they see fit. It gives a greater sense of freedom, especially when it comes to managing your own health.

Michael Laufer is a Mathematician, and a professor at Menlo College located in Silicon Valley. His students are proud to be close to something revolutionary, the EpiPencil, an inexpensive device that is used to self-inject epinephrine. The epinephrine itself will require a prescription from a doctor. However, with $30 in materials, which include an auto-injector, syringe, and hypodermic needle, it is fairly easy to DIY at home. Michael provided links and instructions for assembly, making it easier than ever to access life-saving medication at an affordable price.

EpiPencil

His fight for human rights began 10 years ago and has continued ever since. Michael Laufer made a visit to El Salvador and was shocked to learn that they ran out of birth control. It is a fairly simple drug, and he considered setting up shop to create it. That was how everything began. Michael Laufer hopes to release a beta stage automatic lab reactor within the year. The challenge is for people to look at it as the next big thing, like how we looked at computers years ago. He believes that the automatic lab reactor will provide individual freedoms in the future. It should bypass skill level and be controlled by a mechanism. It utilizes chemical pathways with wider margin for error.

Today, Michael Laufer is growing his team, looking for chemists and underwriters. Four Thieves Vinegar is growing slowly, breaking down barriers put up by big pharma. The EpiPencil is only the beginning of what’s to come. Michael Laufer’s fight for human rights will continue, helping people put their lives in their own hands.

Jie writes about influencers and startups in various industries. She is a designer turned techie, and when she is not writing, you can find her in her workshop working on her next big project.

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Keep Me Posted Web Series: Effects Of Technology

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In a society where people have gone mobile and family and friends are separated, it is encouraged to use the power of technology to stay in touch. In the new web series by Hillary Berkowitz Nussbaum, the Keep Me Posted web series is a story to explain the effects of texting and social media on our personal relationships, from the perspective of three separated friends. The series feature a strong and diverse female trio, along with an all-female team in the making of the production. The co-producers are inspiring millennials behind Pitch Her Productions, a non-profit production company committed to advancing women in film and media.

Technology has personalized it’s way into our lives in allowing us to connect through photos, videos, and text. The application of technology to create and maintain relationships between people have become its main source of usage. In 2015, 76% of adults online used some resource of social networking sites. In Keep Me Posted web series, the female friends use these devices in order to stay together. The web series connects with all of us, seeing that the relation is heavy in this story. We all use technology for some form of connection, the Keep Me Posted web series is focusing on that value. 

keep me posted web series

For women in film and media as well as modern consumers of technology, Hillary Berkowitz Nussbaum explains more about the Keep Me Posted web series:

What is Keep Me Posted?

Keep Me Posted is a three-part web series that takes a biting look at the impact of texting and social media on our closest friendships.

What is Keep Me Posted emphasizing?

The series highlights the gap between the frequency of our communication and the quality of it – even if we’re constantly talking to our closest friends, we’re not always connecting with them. Sometimes it’s easier to skirt around difficult subjects than to discuss them, and that can be damaging to a friendship.

Who is Keep Me Posted mainly targeted for?

The prominence of texting and social media definitely skew to a more Millennial audience, but the series’ other themes – familial expectations, depression, friendship growing pains – still resonate with those who didn’t grow up with smartphones.

What is Keep Me Posted goal and mission?

We want to tell a grounded, honest story in an entertaining way, and to spark some important conversations about depression, self-doubt, and communication. We also want to highlight the skill and dedication of our incredibly talented cast and crew!

Why a story on cell phones?

They’re everywhere! Originally, cell phones were just going to be part of the series – a way to accurately represent the way people in their mid-20s interact with each other. But as I developed the concept for the series, the phone’s kind of took over, and I ran with it. Nearly everyone I know has a story of a friendship damaged by texting or social media. Some stories are extreme, others superficial and silly, but all made me realize just how much those things influence the way we relate to each other.

Why choose the series to be a comedy?

Life’s little absurdities are inherently comedic, and this story is one that really lives in those small moments.

How does Keep Me Posted fit into society today?

It’s an honest look at the way we live now, the way we interact. We know that Facebook friends aren’t necessarily real friends, it’s no secret that celebrities and influencers carefully curate their online presence. But I haven’t seen much that touches on the way actual friends relate via texting and social media, and I wanted to explore that dynamic onscreen.

Who can relate to this story?

Anyone who’s ever used a smartphone! But seriously, I think most people can relate to the impulse to be a little bit extra-chipper in a text message, or to post a photo that makes a situation look better than it is. We all have things we’re struggling with, and it’s so easy to hide those struggles behind a screen.

Will this motivate or influence others? How?

I hope so! I want the series to remind everyone that even though we may want our social media presence to be impeccable, we still need to be honest and vulnerable with those closest to us. I hope it inspires people to speak up about whatever it is they’re struggling with. And I hope it motivates people to create their own work, to tell the stories that are important to them.

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Best Podcasts For Designers

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In the past few years podcasts have increasingly become an outlet for entertainment, news, sports, politics, music, etc. It seems like everyone is hosting or co-hosting a podcast these days about any topic imaginable. Though most people do a podcast purely from the standpoint of conveying some sort of message, some have parlayed podcasting into a full career in media. A podcast is simply a long form conversation or interview which essentially informs or entertains the listener in some way. They’re uncensored so most prefer this format as opposed to radio, which seems to be a fading medium. If you consider yourself a creative thinker, a designer, or developer in some form here’s some of the best podcasts you should check out!

 

Adventures in Design

Adventures in Design is a daily podcast hosted by two graphic designers, Mark Brickey and Billy Baumann. “Adventures” is an entertaining, yet informative gossip show, which incorporates relatable “Shop Talk”. Brickey and Baumann focus on people who have successfully fused design and happiness into their professional lives.

 

The Deeply Graphic Design Cast

If you’re looking for a graphic design podcast targeted to freelancers or agency designers, The Deeply Graphic Design Cast by Wes McDowell may be one of the best podcasts for you. Wes is a graphic and web designer from Los Angeles who is characterized as both a serial freelancer and agency designer. He is joined by co-hosts Mikelle Morrison, Nick Longo, Brandon Voss, Kristi Duce, and Sam Cox. Their show is described as the web and graphic design podcast that offers both practical and creative design advice you can use. The creative hosts tackle relatable design topics and answer listener questions every episode!

 

Unmistakable Creative

An iTunes Subscriber once described Unmistakable Creative by saying, “If TED Talks met Oprah, you’d have the Unmistakable Creative”. The show has fielded over 600 interviews with guests ranging from best selling authors & entrepreneurs to ex-cons. The show interestingly characterizes itself as a place for “wide eyed wanderers and starry eyes dreamers”. This is one of the best podcasts if you’re searching for diversity of guests and topics. It allows for a wide range of listeners who consider themselves free spirited, rebellious, and passionate humans.

 

Design Details

Simply put, Design Details is “a show about the people who design our favorite products”. Hosted by Bryn Jackson and Brian Lovin each hour long episode while lacking structure provides a casual conversation atmosphere. Their guests have featured a wide variety of different designers who specialize in UX, visual design, product design, game design, etc.

 

Developer Tea

Developer Tea is a unique podcast because of the length of each episode. This is a podcast that you can literally listen to in about ten minutes. On your lunch break, on your commute in traffic, or while washing dishes you can be informed about development and manage time simultaneously. The show is hosted by Jonathan Cutrell, a developer who and director of Technology at a company called “Whiteboard”, in Chattanooga, TN. Jonathan says that he wants to help designers “level up” and achieve their goals.

 

Let’s Make Mistakes

If you scour the reviews online, you will see conflicting opinions from the listeners of “Let’s Make Mistakes”. Another podcast that frequently lacks structure and often goes off on tangents, the hosts still discuss design in an effective manner. Though there may have been a few changes in the co-hosts Mike Monteiro is a main stay and fan favorite. An opinionated voice on the show provides a great balance to his two counterparts in whatever creative topic they decide to discuss in each episode.

 

Design Matters with Debbie Millman

In 2005, Debbie Millman created a radio show called “Design Matters”. Though it started as a small idea surrounded by a great vision, the show has progressed to be a staple in one of the best podcasts for community. Millman saw the show as a great way to interview some of the designers that she admires most and ask them everything that she ever wanted to know. Millman is not just a podcaster she also made history by being the first design podcast to distribute episodes free on iTunes. 200 episodes later, the show has gained awards, recognition, and critical acclaim and has grown exponentially since 2005.

 

Design Guy

If you’re looking for structured, condensed design principles explained to you, Design Guy podcast is the place to look. Even though the show is focused primarily on graphic design, the listener can still gain useful general design information from these “timeless principles”.

 

Boagworld

This particular web design podcast, Boagworld, is hosted by British UX designer Paul Boag, along with Marcus Lillington. If you are looking for an informative show that tackles all things web design, this may be one of the best podcasts for you. They have been joined by a diverse cast of guests over the show history, and always provide a unique take on the design field. If you’re looking to shake things up a bit, while gaining valuable information this is the podcast to check out.

 

The Creative Agency Podcast

For entrepreneurs/designers who are interested in owning or working in the creative/digital agency space you may have some questions that cannot be answered from a mere Google search. “Creative Agency” focuses on growing and managing a creative agency. Chris Bolton hosts and interviews a myriad of entrepreneurs on the best practices to staying afloat in the agency space. Check it Out!

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Scooterboard Founder Rose Wang Reached Kickstarter Funding In Less Than 48 Hours

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Rose Wang is the Founder and CEO of Scooterboard by InMotion, an electric vehicle that fuses the electric scooter with a skateboard. Her team in San Diego includes Dr. David Hall, PhD – Engineer and Jeffery Will – Experience Manager, and an international team in China. Rose Wang looked to Kickstarter for funding and reached their $25,000 goal in less than 48 hours. What’s great about this particular campaign is that the Scooterboard ships 45 days after the Kickstarter ends. Because of the work that Rose Wang and her team already put into Scooterboard, there will be no wait time for development and testing. 

Rose Wang designed the Scooterboard so that just about anyone can ride it. The Scooterboard has a three wheeled base and a handle, ensuring maximum control when cruising. While riding, the feeling is similar to snowboarding because of the axle at the base, allowing for smooth turns and a unique riding experience. Rose Wang loves the Scooterboard so much, she uses it daily. Her entrepreneurial journey has been an interesting one. From selling handmade paper dolls in daycare to creating an e-commerce store for Asian cosmetics, Rose Wang has dipped her toes in a little bit of everything. 

We had the opportunity to interview Rose Wang, as she revealed her roots as an entrepreneur and the process of how she developed Scooterboard. 

Rose Wang, what is your background?

I’m an immigrant from China. I moved to the US when I was in the 3rd grade. Growing up, I had all sorts of aspirations in different fields, be it in law or engineering or art, but one trait that persisted has been my entrepreneurial spirit.

When I first arrived in the US, my parents were pretty poor, and the area we lived in was underdeveloped. While I was in daycare, I loved to draw, and some of my peers loved my drawings. I came up with an idea to sell my drawings: I’d draw and color in my figures, cut them out and glue it on a popsicle stick, and sell it for 50 cents. My daycare loved it – my figures became their Barbies and Bratz, without the high price tag.

As a high schooler, I became interested in Asian cosmetics because American cosmetics were not targeting my skin tone and features. I remember people on cosmetics forums complaining about the shipping fee from buying abroad, so I decided to start my own online shop where I would buy the cosmetics in bulk and distribute it to the western Hemisphere (I had customers in the U.S., Canada, and Australia), saving my customers the costly shipping fees.

While I was in college at Dartmouth, I took a plant biology class because I went to a liberal arts college and I had to take a course in each discipline. What I took away from that class was the amazing ability of plants to alter our human makeup, for good and for bad. Namely, I learned about the astragalus root, which increases telomerase activity and prevents aging. Telomeres protect our DNA from mutation, and over time, they naturally become shorter, which causes DNA to be vulnerable to mutation and in turn leads to the downside of aging. After learning about this plant, I started a new venture with astragalus extracts in order to bring this cheap and sustainable anti-aging substance to the masses.

After graduating with an Economics degree, I proceeded into the “real world” as a technology consultant, where I learned to maintain client relationships and lead a team of over 20 people within my first year. After that year, I switched over to become a software engineer, and I learned about quality control methods and development lifecycle. Overall, I have a background in many things, and they have all prepared me to start and grow my current business with Scooterboard.

Can you describe your team?

My international team is hard-working and ambitious. Our engineers have nearly 10 years of experience in the industry, having made other electric rideables that others depend on for daily commute. As a team, we want to create new products unlike anything else in the market, and we’re agile enough to improve ourselves upon feedback. Criticism doesn’t bring us down – it fuels us to be better. We all share the vision of creating a business model that is built upon our community, and we hope that, through crowdfunding to launch our brand, we will establish a community that is willing to give us the feedback and engagement we need to move our company and products forward.

Who are some influencers that tried it out and what did they think?

Shonduras was our first influencer to try it out and he absolutely loved it. He told me his 2-year-old loves riding it with him and that it’s his new favorite!

Ben Schmanke of AuthenTech also loved the experience as well. He told us the cutting and carving is effortless and feels like skateboard/snowboarding, which is awesome because that’s the experience we were trying to design!

We’ve also gotten feedback from Sean Hollister of CNET and Sean O’Kane of The Verge, and they were pretty positively surprised by the quality and experience. (O’Kane hasn’t published his review yet though so hopefully that’ll be posted this upcoming week)

So far everyone who has tried it has loved it, and because it’s a unique experience that’s brand new to the market, it’s really something you need to try yourself to believe it.

What was the process of creating the Scooterboard like?

The process of creating the Scooterboard was quite tedious, as we were creating a new, high-quality one-of-a-kind rideable. We started out with developing the components, such as the battery, the control module, the deck, the handle. We knew we wanted to create a light deck with the battery underneath, so we made sure to test each component thoroughly to make sure it would do what we need it to do. For example, we placed a huge block on top of the deck and dropped it from a height to make sure that the deck would hold its shape and protect the battery. To test the handle, we placed a weight at the top, and placed it in a horizontal vibration system to make sure the handle wouldn’t bend, even with 24 hours of endless back-and-forth movement.

Once we’ve made sure the components would be reliable, we start to assemble. After we assembled the rideable, we start a phase we call Angel testing, which consists of testing all the basic functionalities. And this is actually where we stopped with the first iteration because it did not encapsulate the experience we wanted. After much debate and consideration, we decided to scrap that first iteration and start over, rethinking the design and functionalities we wanted to provide to our users.

After creating our latest iteration, we took it through component and Angel testing again, and once it passed Angel testing, we put it through Devil testing, where we tested for edge cases (trying different weights, inclines, temperatures) and even tried to break it (such as jumping off a vertical stage). Once we passed Devil testing, we sent it out for user testing. This is where we had real riders to try it out and give us feedback so we can learn how they will use the product and what they look for out of the experience, and we used their feedback to go back to the drawing board to brainstorm solutions. Once we come up with the solution, we go through the entire test cycle all over again. Testing throughout the process is extremely important for us because as we make changes, we need to continuously make sure the new component can be safely integrated with the rest of the product.

We anticipate more feedback as this product is released to the public, and we hope to use the market feedback from our community to continue improving the Scooterboard.

What inspired you to create Scooterboard?

The inspiration came from us challenging ourselves to the create something that solved the problems untackled in the current market. When electric skateboards came out in 2012, there was a disruption in the transportation industry. People who had relied on cars before could now use personal transportation to get around. However, the people that were able to access this new mode of transportation were few – even experienced skateboarders may have trouble feeling safe commuting around with an electric skateboard. That’s when our team took it upon ourselves to create a rideable that would cater to a greater audience.

I think most people can agree in that skateboarding is cool, but not everyone has the time or risk-taking capacity to learn it, let alone an electric skateboard going at 20mph, at the mercy of a Bluetooth connection. And perhaps current e-board companies are okay with that, because they can charge an exclusive group of people an exorbitant amount for a motorized skateboard. For us, it became a mission: to disrupt the industry by creating an unique and accessible vehicle that is easy to learn and more affordable. With Scooterboard, we want to make the e-board culture more inclusive so that more people can participate in the electric vehicle movement. We want to challenge the e-board industry to innovate with inclusion in mind so it’s not just a cliché. E-boarding is a fun and awesome experience that’s good for the environment – why wouldn’t we want get more people involved?

scooterboard

What were some characteristics you were looking for during the initial development?

During the initial development, we focused on creating a transporter vehicle that felt safe and modern, in line with the trend of other electric vehicles at the time but giving a new spin. What we came up with was a futuristic vehicle that relied on the pushing and pulling of the handle to accelerate and slow. It looked very cool, but the experience was not exciting. So we scrapped it and started anew, focusing on the skateboarding experience. We wanted to capture the carving of a skateboard, where the rider leans his or her body to guide the direction, so we came up with the pivoting front truck. We wanted to make sure the rider can maintain stability and balance, so we created the handlebar with a curve to ensure the hand holding onto the handle would be centered. We created the control module to allow the user to single-handedly control the acceleration, braking, and direction of the Scooterboard.

scooterboard

What makes a Scooterboard different from other motorized skateboards and scooters?

Scooterboard is a brand new category, as it is unlike any other rideables out there. There is no skateboard with a handle and there is no scooter that rides like Scooterboard. Scooterboard breaks down the boundaries between a skateboard and a scooter, hence the name Scooterboard.

Do you use the Scooterboard in your everyday life?

Yes I do. I don’t have one right now because we only have 10 prototypes total and we need to send them out to others for review and feedback, but once we get them back, I will go back to using it everyday.

Who do you think the Scooterboard customer is?

Because Scooterboard is aiming at breaking down barriers to a culture that had been mostly exclusive (in experience and in price), we hope that answer is: everyone! But of course, if we must be more targeted, I’d say it’s for students, young professionals, and people who want to have fun without risking their safety. It’s a virtuous cycle: As you ride the Scooterboard, you experience immediate improvements, which increases your confidence in yourself, which then reinforces your skills as you start to be more bold and take more risks in riding it.

When can we expect the official launch?

We will officially launch our website right after our crowdfunding campaign ends!

 

 

Photos and video provided by Rose Wang and Scooterboard by InMotion.

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