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Boeing 787 Wildcard


 Tom Cogan is DN's 2007 Engineer of the Year
Watch the 787 Dreamliner's chief project engineer accept DN's 2007 Engineer of the Year award.
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Steven Schaffer is Purchasing Magazine's Supply Chain Manager of the Year
Boeing has taken the concept of supplier collaboration to new heights in development of the 787 Dreamliner. The trust that underlies that collaboration is helping the company and its suppliers cope with some pesky parts shortages. Driving the collaboration is Steven Schaffer, Purchasing Magazine's Supply Chain Manager of the Year. Read More

Boeing 787 Resources

Peruse these additional Boeing 787 resources for the latest news and developments leading up to the new aircraft's first flight.

787 Dreamliner News Releases (Boeing.com)
Browse through Boeing's press releases for more information on developments in the 787 Dreamliner production and delivery process. Read More

Boeing Feels the Squeeze in Airline Coach Seats (SmarterTravel.com)
In designing the 787 Dreamliner, Boeing initially figured airlines would install eight wider coach seats in each row, only to find most airlines are ordering planes with nine narrow seats per row. Read More

Boeing's Big Supply Chain Wager (Managing Automation)
The success of Boeing's groundbreaking 787 Dreamliner hinges on a new business model and a multi-tier, collaborative global supply chain network. Will these massive process changes hold the new aircraft back or allow it to soar? Read More

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner Production Process (The Online Newshour)
Watch the new development technology for the 787 Dreamliner in action. Watch the Video

I Saw The 1st 787 on The Assembly Line Yesterday (Airliners.net)
Read about an exciting tour of Boeing's 787 assembly area. The first fuselage and tail fin were on display. Read More

Boeing 787 Rises from Spools of Thread (Seattle Times)
Bobbins of black carbon fiber combine with epoxy ribbon to form the wings, fuselage and tail of the 787. Read More

Boeing 787 Composites Unite Engineers, Buyers, Part Suppliers (Purchasing Magazine)
Boeing is working to expand the use of carbon-fiber composites and develop the best fabricators of the material. Read More

Gas Guzzlers Might Find New Life in Other Incarnations

Gas Guzzlers Might Find New Life in Other Incarnations

Has anyone else noticed a disturbing escalation in the number of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and large trucks being offered for sale-by-owner? A drive through my neighborhood last weekend, yielded a six count of such vehicles sitting in driveways, like this GMC.
AOL’s Money and Finance section posted an interesting article, “Dealers see SUV glut as drivers trade in gas guzzlers” that highlights a new trend emerging in the used car market. According to the article, dealers are not accepting vehicles with low fuel efficiency for trade-in anymore because these vehicles cannot be turned around for sale with gas prices at record highs.

With demand for large vehicles slumping and their resale price plummeting, I wonder if some creative reuse for all these vehicles will become practical at a particular price point.

Here is one thought that might be viable today. Kelly Blue Book on-line lists a 2005 GMC Yukon Sport Utility 4D in fair condition in my corner of the world at $15,880 (MSRP for a new Yukon is about $40,000). This vehicle’s power plant generates nominally about 285 hp (212.3 kW). By comparison, Northern Tool and Equipment sells 200 kW Triton Industrial Diesel Generators for $45,000. Certainly the Yukon lacks the power electronics and conditioning hardware to be a turnkey power generator. However, the price difference of $29,120 is staggering. I suspect the vehicle could be stripped, converted into a stationary generator, and sold at a profit. Superfluous components such as seats, stereo systems, and tires could be sold off separately to supplement revenue.

This blogger predicts we will soon see a cottage industry in converting SUVs and large vehicles into inexpensive backup generators to provide a supplemental revenue stream for garages and car dealerships that can no longer sell these gas guzzlers for their primary purpose.

Who knows what other creative re-uses people will devise for SUVs.

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Stopping Flu in Its Tracks

When doctors or researchers are analyzing diseases, like flu, speed is critical. Veredus Labs. Pte Ltd. has created a molecular diagnostic test that can detect infection within two hours, providing infection information that traditionally would take days to determine. The portable lab-on-chip application just completed evaluation trials at the National University Hospital of Singapore. STMicroelectronics provides the disposable system-on-chip device, which includes processors and the peripherals needed to accurately process and analyze minute patient samples of human blood, serum or respiratory swabs. Since chips are tossed after each use, the risk of cross-contamination is dramatically reduced.

Medical's 'Mini' Revolution

Increasingly, the world of medicine is taking the “minimalist“ route, developing technologies designed to sharply reduce patient discomfort and trauma in applications ranging from diagnostics to surgery.

This “mini” revolution in medical embraces innovative tests that identify diseases faster, reducing anxiety in patients and accelerating treatment. It also includes design of more compact, even microscopic-size instruments and procedures for surgery, which speeds recovery times for patients.

Such developments, according to MarketResearch.com, will fuel the global market for minimally invasive devices and instruments from an estimated $12 billion in 2005 to $18.5 billion by 2011. And this doesn't include commercialization of new devices that will embody new nanomaterials.

Many of these advances, as seen in the following examples, depend on close partnerships between engineers and medical professionals. Their work targets diseases as mundane as the common cold and as deadly as cancer and heart disease.

LAB IN A SHOEBOX

Equipment used to conduct genetic tests for detecting disease typically costs $70,000 or more. Researchers at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, have designed a “lab-on-a-chip device” about the size of a shoebox with components costing just $1,000.

Determined to provide a user-friendly, readily accessible alternative to costly lab tests, Molecular Biologist Linda Pilarski and Electrical Engineer Christopher Backhouse teamed up on a portable microfluidic instrument so inexpensive it may eventually be given away. Target applications: “point-of-care” settings, such as doctor's offices, hospitals, schools, rapid response laboratories and even airports where incoming passengers could be screened for malaria, TB and other contagious diseases.

“The device is highly automated, so it doesn't require a highly skilled operator,” says Pilarski, a researcher at the university's Cross Cancer Institute and Dept. of Oncology. “Chris and I are passionate about getting this low-cost technology into commercial use to help patients.”

Measuring just 8 x 10 x 12 inches, the device performs biochemical reactions and analytical separations for genetic work within tri-layered glass-PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane) microchips. The microchip itself consists of integrated pneumatically activated valves and pumps for fluid handling, a thin-film resistive element that acts as both a heater and temperature sensor and channels for capillary electrophoresis (CE) — the process of separating ionic species by their charge and frictional forces.

Among other key components in the test platform: high-voltage circuitry for CE; an optical assembly for fluorescent detection, consisting of a laser diode and a charged couple device (CCD) camera; circuitry for thermal control; and minipumps to generate vacuum/pressure for the on-chip, diaphragm-based pumps and valves. The CCD detector images a substantially larger area than the CE channel itself, allowing multi-channel imaging with a change in software.

Backhouse says a prime goal of his Applied Miniaturization lab is to use design innovation to sharply reduce the costs of medical devices. In the case of the microchip platform, he systematically eliminated features that were not needed for the application or substituted economical components, such as the CCD camera, for expensive, high-precision optics. Over the next five years, he sees the medical field as ripe for application of the kind of“Moore's Law thinking” that has made computers and other electronic devices cheaper and more accessible.

Like so many medical innovations today, this “microchip” reader stems from a close partnership between an engineer and a medical specialist. “My research is heavily involved in tests that monitor cancer in patients during their therapy, but a lot of what I do is quite complex, very expensive and requires highly skilled technologists,” says Pilarski. “Then I met Chris Backhouse, who was looking for application areas that needed his miniaturization technology. Together, we were able to accomplish something that neither of us could have done on our own.”

Pilarski sees the device, developed initially for detecting cancers, viruses and malaria, as a useful new tool in the growing trend toward personalized medicine. By allowing more patients to be tested faster, she explains, the device will lead to faster diagnosis and treatment. An Edmonton business development firm called i-LOC will soon begin initial trials at the University of Alberta Hospital, aimed at refining the device's technology. That will be followed by a second round of trials at multiple sites, with the goal of government agency approval and commercialization by early 2010, according to i-LOC CEO Randy Yatscoff. The ultimate goal, Yatscoff says, will be to offer the device at no charge to point-of-treatment sites. Revenues will come from sale of disposable microfluidic chips, expected to be priced in the $20 to $50 range.

PAYOFFS FROM MULTIPLEXING

While Alberta researchers work to get their micro-lab design to market, a world leader in biological testing — Texas-based Luminex — is leveraging a proven test platform to detect multiple diseases from a single sample, once again leading to faster treatment for patients.

Early this year, the FDA cleared for marketing a new Luminex test called the xTAG Respiratory Viral Panel (RVP), which can identify 12 specific viruses, including strains of influenza and pneumonia, from just one swab sample taken from the patient's nasal cavity, throat or sinuses.

The xTAG RVP, developed by Luminex Molecular Diagnostics working with infectious disease specialists at St. Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, features bead-based microarrays capable of combining any set of 100 single DNA tests and performing them simultaneously in a single reaction. This “Universal Array” technology operates on the Luminex xMAP bioassay detection platform, which uses lasers to read color-coded microspheres that attach to specific nucleic acid sequences.

Jeremy Bridge-Cook, vice president of Molecular Diagnostics for Luminex, says this “multiplexing” capability in the xTAG RVP test not only saves time and cuts costs, versus doing a series of tests on patients, but it also substantially increases the chances of pinpointing a diagnosis. “Too often, with previous methods, you don't end up finding out what is causing a respiratory infection,” says Bridge-Cook. “In many cases, one test will be performed, and if it's negative, the conclusion is: 'we don't know what it is.'”

Why the urgency for fast, accurate diagnosis? The Centers for Disease Control states viral infections represent the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., with associated annual health care costs of $10 billion. In just one of many examples in recent years, inadequate screening led to the deaths of nine infants from respiratory illness in a neonatal intensive care unit before the virus was stopped.

Bridge-Cook says the RVP application is just the beginning, with other disease classes targeted for his company's multiplexing approach. He also sees multiplexing as a valuable tool in personalized medicine, which often requires testing for biomarkers to determine customized drug regimens for individuals. In addition, Luminex is working to expand its capability to spot more pathogens simultaneously with a new platform called FlexMap 3D, which could reach the market in 2009. The new device will be able to analyze 500 bead sets in a single microplate well, versus just 100 for xMAP. Plans call for taking this new technology to the FDA for approval in conjunction with a new assay for multiple pathogens.

SAFETY NET FOR THE HEART

Heart failure — the inability to efficiently pump blood to vital organs — is the leading cause of hospital admissions in the U.S., according to the American Heart Assn. Each year, more than 300,000 Americans die from the disease, despite the use of biventricular pacemakers and various drug regimens, such as beta-blockers.

Some patients with advanced heart failure may be candidates for implants, known as ventricular assist devices (VADs), which aid the natural heart in pumping blood. However, VAD procedures are both invasive and expensive — $75,000 to $100,000 — and are still often used only temporarily until a donor heart is available for transplant.

Paracor Medical, a California company, is targeting heart failure patients whose disease has not yet progressed to advanced stages with a less invasive technology it calls the HeartNet ventricular support system. Made of nitinol, a nickel titanium alloy, the expandable, mesh-like device is wrapped around the ventricles of the failing heart, in effect creating a gentle squeeze that reduces the work the heart must perform. It is also designed to halt or even reverse the progressive enlargement of the ventricles, which further weakens the heart.

The operation takes about 90 minutes and is performed on a beating heart, so by-pass equipment is not needed. And rather than an open-chest procedure, the surgeon makes only a small incision in the rib cage, through which he inserts an introducer sheath containing the HeartNet delivery system.

Peter Martin, Paracor's chief technology officer, says HeartNet is now undergoing phase III clinical trials that will eventually involve 272 patients at 30 sites around the country. After six months, patients receiving the device will be evaluated on such criteria as quality of life, peak oxygen consumption and distance traveled during a six-minute walk.

A January 2008 paper in the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, co-authored by several surgeons using the device in trials, reported six-month data on 51 patients. Their conclusion: the device provided a functional and clinical benefit, including a trend toward reverse remodeling (the process of returning the heart to more normal dimensions).

In a report from one hospital that has worked with the device in early trials — Pittsburgh's Allegheny General Hospital — cardiovascular surgeon Stephen Bailey noted: “The HeartNet device offers an intriguing, less-invasive option for patients with severe heart failure. It has the potential to halt and reverse progressive deterioration in heart function, thereby avoiding the need for more invasive end stage therapies, such as left ventricular assist devices and heart transplantation.”

Beyond its initial application as a support device, HeartNet might also serve as a platform for other therapies. “We have trials in Europe that feature the use of HeartNet with integrated defibrillation electrodes,” says Martin. “In addition, we've talked about using our harness for ventricular pacing by linking it to an implanted pulse generator, as well as using it in sensing and in drug delivery.”

VIRTUAL COLONOSCOPY COMES OF AGE

This year, more than 56,000 Americans will die from colon cancer and nearly 150,000 new cases will be diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society. Yet, the majority of people over 50 still balk at the costs and discomfort of undergoing a colonoscopy, the proven “gold standard” for detecting polyps that can become cancerous. In this procedure, which requires the patient be sedated, a gastroenterologist inserts a long, flexible tube into the rectum. A tiny video camera at the tip of this instrument allows the doctor to inspect the inside of the colon for abnormalities.

Now, new evidence from major clinical trials shows a less invasive technique, “virtual colonoscopy” (VC), may be just as effective, while costing less than a third of the $3,000 typically charged for doctor and hospital services with traditional optical colonoscopies. In the VC approach, no sedation is needed. A small amount of air is introduced into the colon and X-rays delivered through a CT scanner take cross sectional views of the abdomen. Within minutes, computer software from such companies as Viatronix reconstructs the images into a 3-D model of the colon for analysis by the physician.

Last fall, researchers at the University of Wisconsin Medical School reported in the New England Journal of Medicine the results of a study of about 6,300 patients — about half of whom underwent virtual colonoscopies, while the other half had the traditional test. The result: about the same number of advanced polyps were found in each group, leading one of the researchers to pronounce that the VC technique “is ready for prime time.”

Companies involved in developing VC technology say the results of the Wisconsin study, as well as findings from a 15-site federally funded study, could soon pave the way for widespread insurance coverage of the procedure for cancer screening. Now, VC is used only on a limited basis for diagnostics in patients unable to undergo conventional colonoscopies because of bleeding or other problems. Federal legislation was also introduced last December to have virtual colonoscopies covered by Medicare.

“Virtual colonoscopy has advanced over the last year from the realm of people asking whether it really works to the point where it has been shown to be just as effective as optical colonoscopy,” says Maha Sallam, founder of New Hampshire-based iCAD. Her company's CT Colon product, based on pattern recognition technology, automatically analyzes CT images of the colon from the VC procedure and pinpoints abnormal areas of density or mass that need closer examination for potential polyps.

In January, iCAD announced an agreement with ACR Image Metrix, a subsidiary of the American College of Radiology, to conduct clinical studies of the CT Colon product to pave the way for FDA approval. “It is clear from the low compliance levels that we need more options in colon cancer screening,” says Dr. Bruce Hillman, director of Scientific Affairs for ACR Image Metrix.

SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL

Elsewhere, researchers are pioneering development of new microsurgical devices, as well as new nanomaterials targeted for medical applications.

At UCLA, for example, a team headed by mechanical engineering professor Chang-Jin Kim has developed a microhand, which functions very much like a Venus flytrap, collapsing around an object. Just 1-mm wide, the device features four silicon “fingers,” together with polymer “muscles” that manipulate the fingers by increasing or decreasing air pressure. Working with the UCLA researchers, Intelligent Optical Systems, Torrance, CA, is developing a larger version of the hand, about 5-mm wide, which could be used for such applications as removing objects from a child's esophagus.

In Virginia, Luna Innovation, an R&D company, has formed a partnership with Intuitive Surgical, developer of the da Vinci robotic surgery system, to explore the integration of Luna's fiber-optic shape sensors in minimally invasive surgery.

This technology uses a fiber-optic sensing technique called Optical Frequency Domain Reflectometry (OFDR). In this technique, a laser spectrally interrogates fiber Bragg sensors along a fiber with thousands of sensors at very high spatial resolution. The reflected light from these elements is then detected, demodulated and analyzed. Using advanced algorithms, the strain differential as seen by the fiber-optic sensors calculates the bends at every discrete element along the length. Because of the sensor density, the data from each individual sensing element can be integrated to reconstruct the total shape of the fiber.

In minimally invasive operations, surgeons pass an endoscope and miniature instruments through cannulae and then use a special viewer to monitor the operating field inside the body. If instruments were to be equipped with Luna's shape-sensing technology, researchers believe, surgeons would get a more precise feel for the location of these surgical devices inside the patient's body.

Among other breakthroughs in this widespread trend toward medical miniaturization, Luna also has developed a new nanomaterial called Trimetasphere, a potential new contrast agent for medical imaging. Composed of a fullerene sphere of 80 carbon atoms enclosing three metal atoms and one nitrogen atom, the material could improve the signal-to-noise ratio of magnetic resonance imaging, allowing MRI to be used in applications where the only available option is radiation, which can cause cancer.

“Trimetasphere is a platform technology that could produce many new contrast agents and expand the use of MRI to improve the management of diseases where it is not currently used,” says Robert Len, president of Luna's nanoWorks division.

That, in essence, is the heart of the medical field's “mini revolution” — new designs and discoveries that are dramatically changing treatment modes and improving outcomes for patients.

Dual Cores Enable HDTV Recording

Dual-core micros are expanding their reach into the consumer world, helping in the transition to high-definition TV and digital movies. Silicon Imaging deployed Intel's Core2 Duo in its SI-2K high-definition video camera. A control system developed by MEN Micro Inc. lets Silicon Imaging trim its price by 40 percent over competitors while also permitting upgrades because of its modular architecture. The professional-grade camera, with a base price of $17,500, shoots raw footage directly to disk at either 1,920 x 1,080p high definition or 2,048 x 1,152 cinema resolutions. That makes it easier to edit on the fly even in remote areas, reducing the number of takes. It acquires data at 100 Mbytes/sec and plays it at 1 Gbyte/sec.

Military Beams Over New Non-Lethal Ray Gun

In the 1950s, movies featured space aliens firing ray guns at planet Earth. Wielding lethal hand-held ray guns, martians invaded our cities, but this was all science fiction. That was then. This is now.

The Army's new Active Denial System (ADS) is essentially a ray gun that zaps its target with intense heat, moving potential threats out of the way without injury or lasting effects, according to Marine Corps. Col. Kirk Hymes, director of the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate. “This does not incapacitate them,” he says. “This pushes them back and out of the way. One thing we are trying to get across is that this technology is not a microwave with the ability of cooking somebody from the inside out.”

The weapon shows how sensitive the military has become to killing non-combatants and innocent bystanders. While the non-lethal ADS is backed up by myriad ways to kill, it does the job without inviting the intractable hatred when innocent members of a family are killed.

“I'm an artilleryman. My training is to be lethal,” says Col. Hymes. “But our intent (with the ADS) is to escalate beyond shouting, but short of shooting.”

The ADS technology, featured on the TV news program “60 Minutes” several weeks ago, was 15 years in the making, says Diana Loree, a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at the Air Force's Research Lab. Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque. “It took several years to find the safe, but effective parameters. You work at different frequencies and powers,” she says. “You're basically stepping back and forth advancing safety and effectiveness.”

The challenge was finding the correct frequency to create a “repel effect,” according to Stephanie Miller, a technology adviser at the Air Force Research Lab. at Brooks City-Base in San Antonio where the initial research was done.

“We had an idea and designed experiments to determine whether or not we could make our idea a reality on a small scale. We conducted some initial experiments on what might be appropriate parameters for a larger system. We turned our information over to Diana, who worked on what would make a useful tactical weapon,” she says.

The beam's energy heats water molecules in the skin, causing them to vibrate. The heated molecules interact with the skin's top 1/64th of an inch. “The nerves are about that level and you move out of the way very quickly,” says Miller, adding that precise figures on how much energy to make this happen are classified.

“The difference is to (balance) repelling and energy without causing an injury like a blister or eye irritation. It's all about heat. We've done a lot of research. There's no cancer, reproductive problems or birth defects. That's why it took so long to get here,” says Miller.

At the heart of the ADS is a 100 kW ultra-high radio frequency transmitter at whose core sits a gyrotron to turn electricity into a 95 GHz radio frequency beam. For comparison's sake, an FM radio transmitter customarily operates at 50 kW. The gyrotron's ability to focus heat has made it useful in a variety of high-energy physics applications.

The ADS gyrotron is made by CPI Inc. of Palo Alto, CA. Raytheon is the technology integrator and while the unit costs $10 million to build, the price should go down if it heads into volume production at some point. What's more, the technology could be leveraged in other form factors.

“It could be smaller, lighter and cheaper to build. Could it be like the “Star Trek Phaser” that freezes somebody? I would not put any limitation on any scientists in this great country of ours,” says Col. Hymes.

Loree is a bit more realistic. “We know we could make it smaller by 25 percent in volume and weight and still keep the same range and main characteristics. As the war fighters begin to use it, they will figure out what they need. The hand-held size with the battery and all is not in the near future. It's hard to go from Humvee size down to a hand-held.”

The ADS fires off 4 sec bursts which travel at the speed of light. Inside the cavity of the gyrotron, electricity interacts with a magnetic field to create the radio beam at the correct (and presumably harmless) frequency. The transmitter is 50 percent efficient, Loree adds. By that, she means half the electricity fed into the gyrotron gets focused into the beam and the other half get dissipated as heat by a closed loop de-ionized water cooling system. “For every two watts, I get one watt for the RF beam,” she says.

The aiming device is nothing more than a series of bore-sighted cameras that peep through three holes in the mechanism's offset fed cassegrain antenna so the operator can look directly down the center of the beam to the target. Infrared capability can be applied for night use.

“It's very simple to operate. The operator's display has a cross hair on it so he can zoom in on the target. Then he's looking down the middle the beam,” Loree says. The ADS has a specified range of 500m, longer than small arms fire and well “within in the comfort zone” of someone tossing a Molotov cocktail, says Col. Hymes. “It's like firing an (invisible) bullet.”

Two units are currently being tested: one mounted on a hybrid Humvee and another in an armored container. While the Air Force has the lead development, it's up to Col. Hymes to make sure the technology is available to all branches of the military.

“It used to be we had uniformed combatants going against uniformed combatants. Now our war fighters find themselves in peacekeeping missions, humanitarian relief and insurgencies. They need tools to accomplish their mission,” he says. “That bullet in a counter insurgency can be very cost effective if it hits the right target. If it hits the wrong target, it creates more enemies.”

He envisions the Navy using it to ward onlookers and threats away from ships. Or when a crowd rushes a helicopter flying in foodstuffs, an ADS can keep the crowd from getting disorderly.

"We have instances where helicopters had a hard time landing to deliver foodstuffs. Hunger is a pretty motivating factor and if I was senior member of my tribe or clan and I've watched my family die from hunger, I'll do what it takes to get those foodstuffs. How do you non-lethally get them to stand in an orderly fashion so the food can be delivered safely and proportionally and protect those who aren't in a rush? If you can target individuals to stay back, leave the area or form an orderly line, it only takes a couple of individuals to be targeted and it says there's something going on here," says Col. Hymes.

The next step is to test the ADS in an applicable setting like Iraq where sandstorms are frequent and many in the population are hostile to American war fighters. The technology is proven, but now must show itself to be maintainable and durable. The demonstrator will get a full trial starting this summer in Iraq.

"We're very close. Now it has to hold up in a challenging environment," says Col. Hymes.

Lighting Science and Tech Lighting Team for Green LEDs

Lighting Science and Tech Lighting Team for Green LEDs

Lighting Science Group Corp., an LED lighting producer, and Tech Lighting, a company that produces light fixtures for architects and interior designers, have launched a full line of LED-based lighting products. Lighting Science will integrate its LED technology into Tech Lightings' fixtures for both residential and commercial use. Tech Lighting teamed with Lighting Science in order to add LEDs to its product mix. "We partnered with Lighting Science because we felt they could lead us to an LED lighting system that meets our stringent requirements," says Steve Harriott, president of Encompass Lighting Group, the parent company of Tech Lighting.

LEDs are growing in popularity due to their low energy consumption. LEDs consume up to 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent lights and 50 percent less than fluorescent lighting.

Rearden Commerce Launches Green Personal Assistant

Rearden Commerce Launches Green Personal Assistant

Rearden Commerce has produced a green-focused personal assistant that provides business travelers and organizations with a "Total Green Travel Experience" when booking travel and related services. The assistant's functions include a "Carbon Calculator," hybrid car services and Web and audio conferencing. The tool is designed to help users save time and make green travel choices. The Carbon Calculator shows users "Did You Know" factoids on the amount of emissions produced by the flight they're booking. The assistant then offers the user a convenient and eco-friendly option of booking an audio or Web conference as an alternative. If the user clicks on the link and takes advantage of the alternative, the calculator shows the number of pounds of carbon dioxide that have been saved from entering the atmosphere.