Motion Sensor Lights

This is a short post to follow up on a video we made showing how to add a motion sensor to a strip of LEDs so they will automatically turn on for you. Since the video, I have mounted the components under the shelf and found that the system works quite well.

The stairs into the lab are an approvement 14 feet away from the sensor. I have the sensor set to the maximum sensitivity setting and the LED strip turns on as soon as I walk down the stairs. These lights also turn on prior to the motion lights I have on the ceiling which were purchased.

The hardest part of the installation was laying on my back so I could work under the shelf. If I was going to install these again I would turn the shelf over so I could have looked down on the shelf and done a better job. Since I had already installed the shelf I did not feel the need to pull them out to install the lights, but hindsight is always 20/20. Another factor is that I installed this sensor in my lab and I was not overly concerned about making the wiring look nice. You can not see the wires when you stand in front of the shelf, and that was really all I cared about.

As I said, the install is not much of a “looker”, but it gets the job done.

The circuit is not complex and consists of the following parts:

Voltage regulator – LM2596
Relay – Keyes_Relay
Motion sensor – HC-SR501
Arduino – Nano
Power supply – 12v

The Arduino code is simple, but we posted on GitHub if you would like to look at it.

I hope this helps someone out there.

– Michael

RFID Implants 101

Maybe you have heard about an implantable radio frequency identification (RFID) chip but you are not sure what it is. In that case, you came to the right place. In this post, I will look at what RFID is and what the different types of implants are and what they can be used for.

what is RFID?
RFID is a general term used to talk about devices that can be accessed wirelessly (using radio frequency) to read the contents of a tag. RFID can be chopped into different sub-categories. We will look at the following three in this post.

Low Frequency (LF) between 125-134 kHz
High Frequency (HF) at 13.56 MHz
Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) between 856-960 MHz

Each sub-category of RFID has different advantages and disadvantages that you would want to look into depending on your needs. For this post, I will be focusing on LF and HF, since this is the most common types of implantable chips.

What we normally refer to as an “RFID tag” is in the LF part of the spectrum around 125 kHz. A Near Field Communication (NFC) tag operates in the HF part of the spectrum at 13.56 MHz.

What makes up an RFID System?
An RFID system is comprised of two main parts, a reader and a tag. A common example is a wall-mounted unit you might see at your office when you enter the building. Most organizations in the United States utilize the HID access card system and provide a small white plastic card to their employees. The card is scanned by the reader when the employee wants to use the door.

The typical range for an LF or HF tag is less than three feet. In practice, I have observed a range of a few inches. The implantable RFID tags that are on the market today are LF and HF tags and have an even shorter range.

It is worth noting that UHF tags can have a read distance of up to 328 feet (100 meters). To accomplish the longer read distances, the tag is typically larger and is powered by a battery. To the best of my research ability, I am not able to locate an implantable UHF tag.

What is an RFID Implant?
An RFID implant is typically housed in a small glass capsule that can be implanted under the skin using a syringe. Depending on the chip you select, they can range in size between 11-13 mm long and 2 mm in diameter.

I personally have obtained my RFID implants from Dangerous Things and Cyberise. Both sites sell RFID implant kits that come with the chip already in a sterilized injection, gloves, and other items needed during the procedure.

It has been my experience that it takes a few days for the implant to be usable. This is due to the irritation of the tissue caused by the needle during the implant process. That should give you some indication of how sensitive these chips are if a small amount of irritation to the surrounding tissue can cause the implant to not function correctly.

Why get an implant?
Getting an implant is definitely a personal decision. I purchased my first implant along with a friend who was interested in the process. Since my first implant in 2016, I have recieved three more for a total of four chips. Each chip serves a different purpose.

The first implant is used to replace my HID door access card to my office so I do not need to carry around a badge all day. The others are NFC chips. As we talked about earlier, NFC is a sub-set of RFID. One NFC is a Vivo key which can be used as an online authentication token. The other two NFC chips are for the storage of data. Each chip can old 1,868 Bytes. When I purchased the NFC storage chips in 2018/2019 they were the larges capacity chips on the market. I think it will be some time before we are able to carry large amounts of data on a chip implanted in our hands.


Augmented Reality in Vehicles


Having the ability to obtain and process important information while driving a vehicle is critical to safety. Most vehicles today are equipped with a global positioning system (GPS) to help make navigation easier. Technology such as a heads-up display (HUD) can display the GPS data on the windshield so that the driver can keep their eyes on the road.

This paper explores the innovation of expanding on current technology to build an augmented reality (AR) system to help improve driver and pedestrian safety in and around the roadways. Research has already been performed to combine many different technologies to make driving safer, but there are still accidents the cost of human lives every year. The goal of this innovation is to provide crucial information to the driver as it is needed so that the number of accidents can be reduced.


Systems that utilized deep learning, or machine learning, are already in use to recognize and process information quicker than humans (Abdi & Meddeb, 2018). Despite the advancements, over the last several years in computing power, we are still a way off from a fully autonomous vehicle. The deep learning techniques could be used in an AR system to help relay critical information to a driver (Abdi & Meddeb, 2018). Sensors such as ultrasonic and night vision could be used to relay information to the driver iv an AR system, so they are aware of unseen issues ahead. Providing crucial information to the driver when conditions are not ideal can help avoid accidents while on the road.

Improving visibility is the first step in making vehicles safer. Systems such as automatic braking have already been invented and are in use in cars today. AR systems could be used to help predict if somebody was going to step into the roadway or anticipate if a car was going to make a lane change or stop suddenly. The idea is not to create a fully autonomous vehicle, but rather have the computer systems provide critical information to the driver so they are able to make the decision.

One of the main decisions that need to be made when driving revolves around navigation and the majority of drivers today use a GPS to help make those decisions. An AR system could enhance the navigation experience for drivers. Drivers would be able to see information such as which exit to take overplayed on the roadway giving the driver clear indication on how to navigate. This would help also reduce the risk of accidents due to inattentive driving while looking at a GPS or a map.

However, there are risks to utilizing an AR system. Accidents have happened while people have been using AR in the past. While playing Pokémon Go, a young man fell onto an electric railroad track and obtained serious injury throughout his body (Kate Gemma, Kai Yuen, & Khan, 2018). Ultimately he required amputation of one of his legs due to the injury (Kate Gemma et al., 2018). Other causes of injury have also been reported over the years. Cases such as this demonstrate that technology can be distracting when it is not used properly. An AR vehicle system would need to be thoroughly tested to make sure it would not be considered distracting to the driver.


The overall goal of having an AR system in a vehicle is to improve safety for the occupants of the vehicle and pedestrians alike. By providing the driver with real-time information about the surrounding conditions, such as a pedestrian walking into the roadway, the driver would have more time to react and avoid the accident. A secondary goal of the AR system is to aid in navigation. Navigating an unfamiliar city can be hazardous to the driver and the people around them. An AR system could be used to overlay the correct directions over the real-world streets the driver is able to see out of the windshield.

Supporting forces

One supporting force is the current state of the liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) display technology. In the past few years, LCoS panels have achieved a resolution of 4K2K, and research is underway for 8K4K resolution panels (Huang, Engle, Chen, & Wu, 2018). The panels also have a sub-millisecond response time for intensity modulation (Huang et al., 2018). By increasing the resolution of the panels, an AR system would appear more realistic and aid in user adoption.

Along with the LCoS panels, technology has increased around the various types of sensors that can be added to vehicles. New types of visual sensors have been developed that can be used to aid an AR system in correctly detecting obstacles (Abdi & Meddeb, 2018). The idea of merging technology with the human driver is being referred to as “cooperative driving” (Abdi & Meddeb, 2018). Having a cooperative driving system can be seen as a pathway to fully-autonomies driving vehicles.

Challenging forces

One challenging force would be user acceptance of an AR system within a vehicle. Older drivers could easily read and interpret information for a standard vehicle dashboard but demonstrated difficulty when needing to read a dashboard and follow navigation directions (Kim & Dey, 2016). Younger drivers did not exhibit the same difficulty when asked to perform similar tasks (Kim & Dey, 2016). However, the majority of the safely advantages will come from older drivers utilizing an AR system to help avoid accidents.


Like most research dealing with new technology, there are a lot of unanswered questions. To help answer these questions, experts in both the technology and phycology of humans should be consulted to understand better the feasibility of an AR system being adopted. After examining different types of methods, it was determined to use the Delphi method would be suitable to gain insight from various experts (Haughey, nd). The Delphi method is used to gather the thoughts on a question of different experts anonymously (Haughey, nd). These thoughts are collected, combined, and then share back with the group of experts (Haughey, nd). This process is repeated until a consensus is reached by the various experts to answer the proposed question (Haughey, nd).

The Delphi method was selected because it can be used over an extended period of time and does not require the experts to be in the same physical space. Without a time constraint, experts have the ability to research and think about their answers to the proposed question. By not requiring people to be in the same physical location, experts from around would be able to participate in the process. These factors should increase the accuracy of the predictions made by experts.


A short summary video can be found here.


Abdi, L., & Meddeb, A. (2018). Driver information system: A combination of augmented reality, deep learning and vehicular Ad-hoc networks. Multimedia Tools and Applications, 77(12), 14673-14703. doi:10.1007/s11042-017-5054-6

Haughey, D. (nd). DELPHI TECHNIQUE A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE. Retrieved from

Huang, Y., Engle, L., Chen, R., & Wu, S.-T. (2018). Liquid-Crystal-on-Silicon for Augmented Reality Displays. Applied Sciences, 8(12). doi:

Kate Gemma, R., Kai Yuen, W., & Khan, M. (2018). Augmented reality game-related injury. BMJ Case Reports, 11(1). doi:10.1136/bcr-2017-224012

Kim, S., & Dey, A. K. (2016). Augmenting human senses to improve the user experience in cars: applying augmented reality and haptics approaches to reduce cognitive distances. Multimedia Tools and Applications, 75(16), 9587-9607. doi:10.1007/s11042-015-2712-4

Innovations, good & bad

Being successful in business is always a good thing, but what happens when plans do not work out as you intend? In this post, we will look at a startup company that had a bit of bad luck and see what we can learn from their mistakes. We will also examine an innovation that has already started to change the way we play and see how companies are working to integrate it into our daily lives.

When Plans Go Wrong

Humans are known to be shortsighted and make mistakes that look obvious in retrospect (Hutchinson, 2012). Since humans run organizations, there are many reasons they may be unsuccessful. Eran Hammer-Lahav had an idea to create a micro-blogging service named Nouncer back in 2006 (Hammer, 2008). In a post, Hammer (2008) himself recounts some of the main issues as to why the Nouncer product failed. Amongst the financial difficulties and problems developing a team, Hammer was late getting Nouncer to market (Hammer, 2008).

Services such as Twitter were launched and became successful while Nouncer was still being developed (Hammer, 2008). Hammer shifted his approach from a customer-facing application to developing more of the backend and infrastructure systems (Hammer, 2008). Hammer (2008) talks about creating the JabAbout application for Facebook which he considered a distraction from the Nouncer project. Although the JabAbout project did not cause the downfall of Nouncer, Hammer (2008) discusses the need to stay focused on your goal and not get distracted by side projects.

Impact Example

Examples of innovations that have had an impact on our life’s in recent years are virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Using VR has become a bit more commonplace today with a multitude of applications and video games using the technology. However, the innovation of AR has not been fully integrated into society. Games such as Ingress and Pokemon Go have already shown the masses how AR can be used through a mobile application (Clark, 2019). Companies like North are working to create glasses that will utilize AR for productivity (Ochanji, 2020).

AR can have a significant impact on how we interact with our technology throughout our daily routines. Utilizing AR glasses that will keep us informed about our schedule and the weather (Ochanji, 2020) would help keep us organized, but would also have impacts that need to be considered. Things such as how to interact with the world around us and other humans could be impacted, in both a positive and negative way. Much like VR, if AR consumes all the user’s senses at once, they could become isolated from others. This could be seen as a negative impact when using technology.

On the other side, companies are working to utilize AR in areas such as tourism to help enhance the end-user experience (Kečkeš & Tomičić, 2017). Forces such as technology requirements play a key role in how quickly AR is being adopted (Kečkeš & Tomičić, 2017). Even when the correct technology becomes plentiful, people will still need to be convinced to use AR. Like most technology, newer generations are quick to adopt it but are equally quick to dismiss it if they do not find it useful. Products like Focal from North are working to overcome that issue by seamlessly integrating the technology into our daily lives (Ochanji, 2020).

In summary, games like Pokemon Go has shown us the potential of AR and how it can be used on mobile devices for entertainment (Clark, 2019). Now companies like North are working hard to integrate AR into our daily lives for productivity purposes (Ochanji, 2020). Innovations are important to the future and will help shape the way we live and play. As long as startup companies learn from the mistakes made by Hammer and others, innovations should continue to change the world.


Clark, P. (2019). ‘Pokemon Go’ Creator on Augmented Reality’s Massive Potential. Retrieved from

Hammer, E. (2008). The Last AnNounce(r)ment. Retrieved from

Hutchinson, A. (2012) Monitor Group: A Failure of Scenario Planning. Retrieved from

Kečkeš, A. L., & Tomičić, I. (2017). Augmented Reality in Tourism – Research and Applications Overview. Interdisciplinary Description of Complex Systems, 15(2), 157-168. doi:10.7906/indecs.15.2.5

Ochanji, S. (2020). Next Versions of North Focals Look Even More Like Normal Glasses. Retieved from


The creating of innovation is not always planed. Normally, one does not simply get out of bed in the morning and exclaim, “I will be great today.” Like other things, innovations can happen by accident. Over the years, there have been many innovations that were achieved through some type of accident. In this post, we will look at how an error, exaptation, and serendipitous event could lead to innovation.

One way is by trial and error. Errors are simply a mistake or output from the trial that is not expected. Not all errors are bad. Some errors can lead down a different path that you might not have been thinking before you made a mistake. A good example of an error is when Mr. Goodyear accidentally dropped a vat of his liquid rubber onto a hot stove causing it to become a hard leather-like material (Orf, 2013).

Another way an innovation may come about is through exaptation. Exaptation is using older ideas or parts in a new implementation of the product (Tam, 2018). Many of the evolutionary adaptations can be attributed to exaptation (Tam, 2018). Technology also follows a similar evolutionary process when it comes to using tried and true ideas in new technology to come up with a new product.

We should also look at how serendipity can play a role in innovations. A serendipitous event can be thought of as a “happy accident” or making a discovery of something you were not trying to discover (Scofield, 2011). A good example of this is how Play-Doh came to be. Play-Doh was first invented as a cleaning product for wallpaper until it was found to be a more enjoyable children’s toy (Biddle, 2012).

An innovation that has always caught my eye was how the microwave oven came about. A scientist by the name of Percy Spencer was working for the Raytheon Corporation in 1945 (Cooper, 2015). While working in a lab with a radar device, Spencer observed that a chocolate bar in his pocket was being melted (Cooper, 2015). It would not be accurate to say that Spencer created an error, but rather had a serendipitous event, or a “happy accident.” Spencer, when on to conduct various experiments, even placing popcorn kernels inside a paper bag to see if they would pop correctly (Cooper, 2015).

In summary, it is important to keep in mind that not all mistakes are bad. As we have seen throughout this post, having an accident during an experiment could lead to a new type of innovation. It is important to keep an open mind when examining the results. You never know what new and improved innovation you might have just discovered.


Biddle, S. (2012). The 10 Most (accidental) inventions of all time. Gizmodo. Retrieved from

Cooper, K. (2015). Microlessons: Toward a History of Information-Age Cuisine. Technology and Culture, 56(3), 579-609.

Orf, D. (2013). 10 Awesome Accidental Discoveries. Popular Mechanics. Retrieved from

Scofield, D. (2011). Serendipitous Innovation. Forbes. Retrieved from

Tam, M. (2018). Patterns of Innovation: How Exaptation Can Lead to Creative Breakthroughs. Medium. Retrieved from