A Smart Car Window Displays View to Blind Passengers

gateway-arch-426492__340I live in a city filled with reminders of epic travelers from the historic journeys of Lewis and Clark to the cross country treks in automobiles along Route 66. There are still many icons around Saint Louis and across Missouri modern travelers can visit today.

From Missouri’s rolling hills and natural wonders explored by Lewis and Clark to the kitschy man-made attractions that helped make Route 66 a favorite for family road trips, the unique views make a Missouri road trip memorable.

For blind travelers, this is a part of the trip they miss. A new prototype smart car window aims to change the experience by enabling blind or partially-sighted people to visualize passing scenery through touch.

The smart car window named Feel the View takes pictures that are turned into high-contrast monochrome images. These images are then reproduced on the glass using special LEDs.

By touching the image, different shades of grey vibrate with a range of 255 intensities, allowing passengers to touch the scene and rebuild in their mind the landscape in front of them.

Feel the View was conceived and developed by Ford in Italy in collaboration with Aedo, a start-up that specializes in devices for the visually impaired.

“We seek to make people’s lives better and this was a fantastic opportunity to help blind passengers experience a great aspect of driving. The technology is advanced, but the concept is simple – and could turn mundane journeys into truly memorable ones,” explained Ford representative Mac Alù Saffi in a written statement.

See how Feel the View may give visually impaired travelers epic journeys in the future in this video:

Small Business Tip: Start-Up Transforms Algae into Black Gold

A San Francisco-based start-up, Solazyme Inc, has been selected to develop the world’s first 100 percent algae-derived fuel for use in jets and Navy ships.

blogLaunched in a garage in 2003, Solazyme is working to reduce the cost of green fuels. The Solazyme research team produces natural oils from algae through fermentation as a basis for renewable fuels. The oils and bio-materials are used as fuels or replacements for fossil-derived petroleum and a variety of other natural plant oils and compounds used in everything from cosmetics to foods.

Solazyme has completed a lot of the preliminary work on developing the green fuels and is now working on creating a large scale production process. The green fuel firm is now hunting for a partner to set up a factory for large scale production. Solazyme is working to get the cost of the fuel to a range of about $60 to $80 per barrel and have a production facility online by 2012.

More Recession Roadblocks for Start-Up Business

Layoffs and job cuts create many potential business owners with the skills to run a franchise. So, you might expect to see some new start-ups with familiar names as people buy a franchise.  Not in your area?  

It seems the current economic downturn is different for franchises than previous recessions because many potential franchise owners are running into roadblocks in getting the financing and lending they need.


In fact, the International Franchise Association is predicting a 1.2% dip in the number of U.S. franchises in 2009.  The expected drop is the first year-over-year decline for the U-S franchise industry in more than a decade.  While a small decrease, it comes at a time when new franchises should be soaring!  Business groups including the IFA believe the credit crunch is to blame as lenders aren’t backing start-up businesses.  In fact, the IFA believes franchisees will borrow 27 percent less this year in the United States.


You will find a number of free streaming videos, podcasts and articles both on start-up business and franchising on SBTV.com.  There is an entire channel dedicated to franchising at http://www.sbtv.com/Franchising

Veteran Entrepreneur Hosts Free Webinar on Business Plans

Geri Stengel has an extensive record of helping small business and non-profits. Stengel co-founded the Women’s Leadership Exchange, a social enterprise that helps women-led businesses take their companies to the next level. She headed marketing for Dow Jones Information Services and launched Physicians’ Online.  She also teaches entrepreneurship and social enterprise at the New School in New York.  Stengel is also the force behind a new online firm for non-profits and small business called Ventureneer.com.  Ventureneer.com, provides online education and peer support services for entrepreneurs and organizations looking for expertise, insight and a customized Web 2.0 learning environment for non-profits and small business.

Stengel will be hosting a free webinar on Thursday, August 6th 2009 examining business plans for the start-up enterprise.  To learn how to get involved in Ventureneer.com’s multi-disciplinary E-learning for entrepreneurs and nonprofits including free webinars click here.