June 2021 Meeting – Carbon Footprint Digital Assistant – Carby

Register for the June 10 meeting.

Join us as ITKAN continues its journey on artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science with a presentation by data science / machine learning award-winning practitioner Kevin Hartman. He will discuss and demonstrate Carby, an app that provides consumers quick access to information about the products we choose related to their impact on our environment simply by snapping a photo! Using the power of Ai, Carby will reveal the product’s carbon score and suggest lower impact alternatives if they exist.

The team that Kevin is part of recently won the World Innovation Day Hackathon, an international competition to demonstrate the creative use of technology to address our global challenges in achieving a more sustainable future. See the app and learn how the team plans to build Carby into a production-capable system that includes more Ai models and an automated data pipeline.

Thu, June 10, 2021
5:30 PM – 7:00 PM CDT


Kevin Hartman is a fastidious problem solver, an expressive communicator, and a career learner. He loves solving complex problems using technology and data, turning the result into something simple and effortless. His specialty is formulating high-impact solutions that leverage technology innovation. From this passion he became versed in the skills of Product Management, Software Engineering and Data Science, and has education in all three. He has inspired, influenced, and led the creation of hundreds of digital products; working from both inside and alongside teams of researchers, scientists, designers, engineers and enthusiasts.

Ai at Microsoft – Best in Business 2021!

Best of Business AI 2021 invites you to go behind the scenes with 10 leading global organizations using AI to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing their industries—and our world. These visionary organizations are powered by human innovators who combine strategic thinking and cutting-edge technology to create powerful results. https://businessai.microsoft.com/

April 2021 Meeting – Augmented Reality with BUNDLAR

Register for the April 8 meeting.

Imagine all the problems augmented reality (AR) could solve if a simple tool existed that allowed anybody to create AR experiences in minutes. Matt Wren, CTO of BUNDLAR, a web based platform that provides a no-code, drag and drop interface for authoring, editing, publishing and accessing AR, will discuss how novice users can learn to publish AR in as little as 30 minutes. While simple to use, the BUNDLAR platform provides a powerful set of features that make it easy to publish and access on-demand training, performance support, and instructional materials. This real time demonstration will cover how to publish an AR bundle using the BUNDLAR platform, a marketable skill that anybody can learn. Demand for augmented reality development is increasing as this technology is rapidly being adopted. Nearly every major technology company in the world has already committed to AR as an integral part of communication in the coming years.

Thu, April 8, 2021
5:30 PM – 7:00 PM CDT


Matt Wren is the Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of BUNDLAR, an augmented reality solutions company serving individuals, businesses and institutions. He has been a VR enthusiast for over twenty years, professionally developing VR & AR applications since 2016. Matt regularly speaks about immersive technology at events, providing thought leadership on content, strategy, innovation, and the business benefits of virtual and augmented reality. He is the previous Chicago Chapter President of the VR/AR Association. Matt is a technology adviser to Loyola University Chicago’s Ignite Lab for Entrepreneurship, an entrepreneurship advisor to Illinois Institute of Technology’s Kaplan Institute for Innovation, and a Designer/Developer member and mentor at 1871 (the World’s #1 Tech Incubator). Matt founded VRAR Chicago, whose “The Next Evolution” event series has been connecting and growing the XR community in Chicago since early 2017. In July of 2018, Matt led several local groups to host the first Chicago XR Summit, showcasing 25 Chicago based VR and AR companies to over 300 attendees.

Usability Tester Short-Term Needed Immediately!

The requirements are:

– participants must use digital streaming services (such as Netflix, Hulu etc.) and use a TV to access the services (this study is particularly connected to a specific service but the planner has asked that we wait to let participants know which one until we verify that they use that service)

– participants must watch TV at least three hours per week on average

– participants must have another member of their household who can use the Dscout app to take short videos of them accessing the service via their TV

– The time commitment is between February 26-March 8 and will total about 2-3 hours of time. Both the participant and the person using Dscout will be compensated via paypal at $75/hour. Use form below if interested!


HoloLens project enables collaboration among surgeons worldwide!

One day in mid-December, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bruno Gobbato walked into an operating room in Jaraguá do Sul, Brazil, put on a HoloLens 2 mixed-reality headset and prepared for surgery.

Joining him remotely were fellow surgeons Professor Thomas Gregory, who was tuning in from Paris, and Dr. John Erickson, who is based in New Jersey. Gobbato’s patient had a collarbone fracture that hadn’t healed properly, so Gobbato needed to reposition the bone and perform a shoulder arthroscopy, which involved inserting a small camera into the joint to try to determine what was causing the man’s shoulder pain.


ITKAN February 2021 Meeting | Machine Learning by Example | A night time city scape overlaid by blue light streaks | The ITKAN circuit tree logo in the lower left

February 2021 Meeting – Machine Learning by Example

Register for the February 11 meeting.

Join us as ITKAN kicks off the new year with a presentation by SPR’s Chief Architect, Pat Ryan. He will introduce the topic of Machine Learning and show some interactive examples of how to apply it. No programming skills are required.

  • General Overview
  • Autonomous driving with an 8-bit simulation of a car driving on a track. Imagine… Pong meets Tesla
  • Can we use data from the Titanic to predict if Jack or Rose would survive?
  • Using Machine Learning to categorize images. Can we train a model to tell the difference between a picture of a highway and a beach? Can we train a model to classify pictures of cats and dogs? What happens if we try to classify a highway picture for the Animals model? We will look at 2 data sets:
    1. Scenes from highway, forest, ocean dataset
    2. Animals from Cat, Dog, Pandas dataset
  • Use reinforcement learning to teach a system to find the winning square while avoiding the losing square. As the system plays the game, it starts to learn what moves will bring positive rewards and what moves will bring negative rewards. In the end the system almost never loses!
  • Facial recognition is a very controversial topic and technology. But how does it work? We will look the basic algorithm behind facial recognition to gain a better understanding of some of the details.

Thu, February 11, 2021
5:30 PM – 7:00 PM CDT


Pat Ryan: Pat Ryan likes to work on problems that matter. He applies software tools and techniques to the problems we have around us, with the goal of making the world a better place because of it. At SPR, Pat works closely with clients to understand their needs and craft solutions to help make them more successful. He also work directly with various engineering talents to pull together highly functioning teams. Pat is a player-manager. That means, he stays current with as many technologies as possible so he can understand and empathize when a team is struggling, and help them at a very concrete level. Pat continually builds his knowledge by reading technical books, attending classes, and coding something every day. Pat’s career has seen it all – from managing teams, to building a company from the ground up, to dreaming up software and devices that have gone on to solve client problems.

The Promise of Automonous Vehicles | An autonomous people mover on the street in front of a park | The ITKAN circuit tree logo in the bottom third

November 2020 Meeting – The Promise of Autonomous Vehicles

for the November 12 meeting.

Join us as ITKAN closes out the year by looking to the future with an exploration of the promise of Autonomous Vehicles! We’ve got two great speakers for the evening. 

Sheryl Gross-Glaser was the founding director of the National Center for Applied Transit Technology (N-CATT) and has expertise in the development of AV and its application to urban environments and public transit systems. Carol Tyson is the Government Affairs Liaison for the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) and former Director for Disability Policy with United Spinal Association. She is a respected voice nationally for equity and accessibility across all modes of developing transportation including AV. 

We’ll explore the following lanes in AV development, accessibility, and application…

  • Where we are with AVs with legislation, pilots, and operations.
  • What do we mean by accessibility for AVs? Differentiating the possible – but unlikely – from the impossible.
  • The work within the disability community and with OEMs, tech companies, government agencies and others to advocate for accessible AVs. 

Join us for this stimulating conversation on the future of transportation!

Thu, November 12, 2020
5:00 PM – 7:00 PM CDT


Autonomous Vehicles and Universal Design

Autonomous Vehicles Should Benefit People with Disabilities, But Progress Remains Slow

An MIT report estimates truly autonomous vehicles might not hit the streets for a decade. And when they do, it’s difficult to say whether they will fully accommodate all riders, including those with disabilities. Driverless car technology promises to remove barriers to personal transportation, but few self-driving operators have made headway on solutions for customers with mobility, vision, and hearing impairments, including seniors and those with chronic health conditions.

Some companies are further along than others. Alphabet’s Waymo is engaged with collaborators — including the Foundation for Senior Living in Phoenix and the Foundation for Blind Children — in an effort to ensure its vehicles remain accessible. Cruise has similarly partnered with the National Federation of the Blind, the American Council of the Blind,  Lighthouse for the Blind, and local communities to conduct usability studies and solicit feedback. Still, experts say there’s more to be done as the autonomous vehicle horizon extends well into the future.

“Autonomous vehicles hold incredible promise for people with disabilities to enjoy the enormous freedom that most adults have to live spontaneously and to be independent travelers,” Sheryl Gross-Glaser, director of the nonprofit Community Transportation Association of America, told VentureBeat. “But just as we need to enable someone with a walker or wheelchair to enter and exit a vehicle, we need redundant technologies that serve people with auditory or visual impairments and technologies and designs that assist people with cognitive disabilities. Those exist, and they should be used in designing autonomous vehicles so that all autonomous vehicles will be accessible.”

Left out

An estimated 25.5 million people in the U.S. have disabilities that make traveling outside the home difficult, and they make fewer trips on average than those without disabilities, regardless of age, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s 2017 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS). Seven out of 10 people surveyed in the NHTS said they reduce day-to-day travel because of their disabilities, and one-third of people who made zero trips said they stayed home because they’re severely disabled or housebound.

“For people like older adults, facing the prospect of losing the ability to drive due to aging-related illness is taking away freedom and hampering their independence. Some of the toughest conversations that I’ve seen families have is when they need to confront a parent or spouse about taking their keys away,” Foundation for Senior Living president Tom Egan told VentureBeat. “For many people who have dementia, they need door-to-door service, not a curb-to-curb service, and hence will need a caregiver or someone to get them into their home or destination without them becoming confused and wandering off.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, people with disabilities are more likely to encounter obstacles with nearly every mode of transportation. In a 2003 survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly 20% reported that their disability makes transportation difficult to use, with limited public transportation being the most frequent complaint.

Waymo One

Research has linked the resulting isolation to health problems and even early death. A 2014 survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 44% of those with disabilities experienced depression at least once in their lives, compared with 11% without a disability. “While depression is often a psychological disability in and of itself, it is important to think of it as a comorbidity,” the coauthors of a study from the Ruderman Family Foundation and Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) wrote. “People with a significant functional impairment may live with depression due to isolation as a direct result of a lack of mobility options.”

NHTS highlights accessibility features in private vehicles, including hand controls, wheelchair lifts, rear-view video, and blind spot detection. But in the same breath, the report notes that these technologies increase the cost of vehicles, potentially putting them beyond the reach of the 51.4% of people age 18 to 64 with “travel-limiting” disabilities in households with annual incomes under $25,000.

That’s assuming private autonomous car ownership is eventually popularized, which seems unlikely. Guidehouse Insights principal analyst Sam Abuelsamid estimated in an interview with the New York Times that self-driving technology would add $5,000 to $20,000 to a vehicle’s price. For that reason, autonomous ride-hailing fleets like Waymo One appear to be the prevailing near-term model. But despite their advantages from the perspective of economies of scale, Gross-Glaser sees little evidence that self-driving companies are treating accessibility as a priority.

“In transit, due to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), accessibility has become incorporated into vehicle design … But with little in the way of exceptions, I have not seen any commitments, promises, designs, or proposed legislation or regulations that would guarantee significant progress in autonomous vehicle accessibility,” Gross-Glaser said.

However, she points out that there has been progress in recent years.

Accessibility overtures

In 2018, Renault showcased the EZ-GO, an electric driverless ride-share vehicle with an oversized entry port that lifts up to reveal an extendable ramp for wheelchair access. And in May 2019, Volkswagon unveiled its Inclusive Mobility Initiative (IMI), through which the automaker is working directly with outside groups like the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, the National Federation for the Blind, and the National Association of the Deaf to ensure the company’s vehicles cater to people with disabilities. IMI’s recommendations have already informed the design of a concept autonomous van — the VW’s Sedric — with tall roofs and doors designed to accommodate wheelchairs.

Self-driving shuttle operators have made accessibility inroads, too, courtesy of collaborations with organizations like IBM and the CTA Foundation. In 2018, Local Motors launched a shuttle that can direct visually impaired passengers to empty seats using machine vision to identify open spots and audio cues for direction. Meanwhile, May Mobility developed a wheelchair-accessible prototype version of its autonomous vehicle with a mechanism for securing a passenger’s wheelchair during the course of a trip.

VW Sedric

“Autonomous vehicle shuttle companies have been, at least, adhering to the threshold for accessibility of ADA regulation. This is not perfect, but transit has shown itself willing to serve and advocate for people and communities who are transportation-vulnerable,” Gross-Glaser said.

Waymo has stopped short of some of the accessibility steps its rivals have taken. But the company designed the apps its customers use to hail rides with support for screen readers like TalkBack on Android and VoiceOver on iOS. Those apps also offer wayfinding features and ways riders can ask their vehicle to make a sound to help guide them. Within Waymo’s self-driving Chrysler Pacificas, Braille labels allow vision-impaired riders to start the ride, pull it over, and speak to an operator who can provide further assistance. And through every phase of the ride, deaf and hearing-impaired riders have access to on-screen visual information about what’s happening around the vehicle.

“We continue to learn about the unique needs of different riders, and what we learn will inform new features that will make the experience accessible to people who have historically had to rely on others to get around,” a Waymo spokesperson told VentureBeat. “This technology offers incredible promise for people with disabilities, which has been part of our mission from the beginning.”

Enduring challenges

Megan Strickfaden, an anthropologist at the University of Alberta, argues these efforts don’t go far enough. She’s the coauthor of a 2019 study that outlines steps autonomous vehicle operators must take to ensure they don’t exclude members of disabled populations, including those with low vision and hearing and with mobility challenges.

In the report, Strickfaden points out that even vehicles with wheelchair accessibility features, for example, could fall short of acceptable usability and safety baselines. Steep road inclines could destabilize wheelchair ramps, and bumps in the road might cause a wheelchair to tip or fall. Injuries and fatalities have resulted from improperly restrained wheelchairs, and travelers with vision and other impairments have much lower chances of evacuating vehicles during emergencies.

Strickfaden advocates for a standard, “universally designed” autonomous vehicle with a side entry ramp and user interfaces that can accommodate riders regardless of their physical abilities and skill levels. (In this context, “universally designed” refers to the paradigm envisioned by Ron Mace at North Carolina State University’s Center for Universal Design in which products are designed to be usable by all people without adaptation.) Strickfaden also recommends specific assistive technologies for eye tracking, gesture recognition, and voice control that could afford those with tactile, mobility, and hearing impairments a semblance of control without the need to make physical contact.

Beyond vehicle considerations, Strickfaden says robo-taxi operators should consider ways to address practical challenges around pickup and dropoff for those with disabilities. Some customers will need assistants to help load and unload groceries and other items, she notes, and vehicles should be preprogrammed to provide ample time to load and unload essential equipment, like walkers, service animals, and wheelchairs.

GM Cruise Origin

Above: The GM Cruise Origin, a concept car with room to accommodate a wheelchair.

Image Credit: Khari Johnson / VentureBeat

“Due to the freedom from driving that AVs allow for all of us, there is a unique opportunity in history to vastly improve the lives of millions of people with disabilities,” Gross-Glaser said. “I hope that everyone can support that because all of us will grow old, if we are fortunate to live long lives, and many of us will need, either permanently or temporarily, the assistance that accessibility affords.”

If autonomous cars were to be designed with inclusivity in mind, experts say the societal benefits could be enormous. Ruderman found that mitigating transportation obstacles would enable employment opportunities for 2 million people with disabilities while saving $19 billion annually from missed medical appointments. (Approximately 4.3 million people with a disability face significant transportation barriers when attempting to travel to their medical appointments, according to a National Academies of Sciences model updated by Ruderman and SAFE.) In something of a case in point, Detroit Medical Center Heart Hospital this month began offering self-driving shuttle service from Navya to two local Detroit senior living communities.

Another potential impact of inclusive transportation might be increased civic participation. A 2013 study by the Research Alliance for Accessible Voting suggest 3 million more people would have voted in the 2012 U.S. elections had those with disabilities voted at the same rate as those without.

“When autonomous vehicles are widely available, it is a game changer for a senior population and adults with special needs. Being able to request a ride in a self-driving car allows that senior to maintain their independence,” Egan said. “They are in control of requesting a ride and getting themselves to their destination. I believe this will make the decision to give up one’s own car an easier conversation for families around the country.”


Source: Autonomous vehicles should benefit those with disabilities, but progress remains slow | VentureBeat

ITKAN August 2020 Meeting | Human-Centric Economy of Things | A seated middle aged man speaking at a conference | The New Mobility Consulting logo in the lower left | The ITKAN circuit tree logo in the lower right

August 2020 Meeting: A Human-Centric Economy of Things

Register for the August 13 meeting.

Join us for a virtual ITKAN meetup on Thursday evening, August 13. Alexander Renz, Managing Partner at New Mobility Consulting, will discuss some of his current work to create a “Human-Centric Economy of Things” that leverages the Internet of Things and Distributed Ledger Technologies to put humans back in control, rather than make them subject to manipulation and misinformation. His vision is to harness the creativity and collective intelligence of all global citizens to achieve the world’s sustainable development goals.

Thu, August 13, 2020
5:00 PM – 7:00 PM CDT


A Human-Centric Economy of Things

The convergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) with Distributed ledger Technologies will create a Machine-to-Machine Economy in which devices will not only generate but share trusted data across symbiotic networks. Machines will become their own economic agents as part of frictionless marketplaces of goods and services that can operate without middlemen and orchestrate themselves around humans. Alex will explore why a Human-Centric Economy of Things represents a desirable future in view of data as the new oil, circular economies and sustainability goals.

Alexander Renz is passionate about leveraging exponential technologies to create a future of mobility and transportation that is sustainable and accessible for thriving communities, societies and economies.

Alex is a systems-of-systems thinker and has worked on the convergence of

mobility and transportation with energy, telecommunications and our broader smart city infrastructures. Ever since his work with Stuart Kauffman, the god-father of complexity science and former professor at the Santa Fe Institute, Alex has been fascinated with self-organizing, adaptive systems and agent-based models to understand complex system behavior. He also has been part of the Internet of Things (IoT) movement since its initial inception at the MIT Auto-ID Center in 2000. He believes in the power of decentralization and swarm intelligence.

He is a big proponent of self-sovereign identities and self-sovereign data give humans and machines control over digital identities and data. He is exploring data trusts and business models around symbiotic data sharing and data marketplaces. He is working on making machines their own economic agents that engage in data exchange and economic activity on behalf of their human masters. This includes frictionless, decentralized marketplaces for goods and services that put machines and humans back in control.

Alex believes that we can only solve the challenges ahead of us if we create a global movement inspired by desirable futures. His vision is to harness the creativity and collective intelligence of all global citizens to achieve the world’s sustainable development goals.

Some Past Speaking Engagements:

DLD logo

Handelsblatt | Auto Gipfel 2018 | @Volkswagen
Autonomy logo
Darwin's Circle logo
webit logo
TWIN logo