Category Archives: Technology

Petoskey Robotics Team fundraising for Super Regionals


A sport for the mind. Robotics teams in Michigan have been experiencing significant growth, now boasting more than any other state in the nation.

One particular team comes from Petoskey Middle School, where the team is now experimenting with a different kind of technology. Continue reading

Unmanned research helicopter lands in CMU

Heumann and the the six-foot-long research helicopter

Heumann and the the six-foot-long research helicopter

It’s a bird, it’s a plane; no, it’s a helicopter. An unmanned helicopter has found its way to CMU this week and it’s not an ordinary type of helicopter.
Continue reading

MDOT to replace overpasses using new technique


Something that often frustrates Michigan drivers, other than the weather, is construction.

The state is hoping to reduce frustration, and delays with new bridge replacement technology. Continue reading

Theater raising money to go digital


Many multiplex theaters lure audiences in with things like surround sound and digital 3D versions of the latest offerings from Hollywood.

But a reality facing small town movie houses, in many cases, venerable old theaters, is that next year, they will have to be digital to keep the doors open.

Distributors will no longer be sending out movies in 35mm film.

The Rogers City Theater is one of those looking for a way to pay for the conversion. At a cost of around $100,000.

They’ve turned to the online source, Kickstarter, for a sixty day fundraising campaign.

Rachel Goodstein said two-thirds of the goal was pledged in the first thirty days, but none of the money will be realized unless they reach the final goal.

“A mountain climbers don’t look down, you know, uh, or as NASA would say, failure is not an option. If we’ve been able to raise sixty seven thousand in thirty days, raising twenty-nine in twenty-four days, is work, but, but the number of backers is…and with Kickstarter it’s all or nothing. We raise a hundred thousand we get that and anything over, we don’t, uh, you know, uh, we don’t.”

The deadline for the Kickstarter campaign is September 28th. As of this afternoon, the theater has pledges for over $73,000 from 284 backers.

In order to raise the estimated $100,000 dollars needed for the conversion, the theater is in the midst of a campaign utilizing the web site Kickstarter.

The deadline for the Kickstarter campaign is September 28th. As of this afternoon, the theater has pledges for over $73,000 from 284 backers.

States partner up in modernization of medicaid technology

Michigan and Illinois announced Friday “an interstate alliance” to allow Illinois to access Michigan’s Medicaid Management Information System as a shared service. 
Michigan currently has the system, but through the shared service, both states will see the cost savings.
Angela Minicuci is the spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Community Health.
“The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has strongly approached states and asked them to take on innovative projects such as this. That utilize modern technology approaches to program goals and needs. An so this is something that other states are very closely looking at but I think this partnership is very unique to Michigan and Illinois,” Minicuci said.
Minicuci said each state will save $10 million dollars with the partnership. 
Savings at the federal level will total $190 million dollars. 
Enrollment will begin in early 2014, full operational implementation is expected in 2016. 

Munson Healthcare to ‘daylight” Traverse City creek

Some northern Michigan hospitals are being recognized for advancing their technology.
Munson Healthcare in Traverse City and its affiliates; Mercy Hospital in Cadillac and Otsego Memorial hospital in Gaylord have been named among the “most wired” in the state by the American Hospital Association.
The recognition indicates the hospital is doing well at creating  robust systems to improve patient care. Ian Jones, a spokesman for Munson said technology is a  particularly important area these days, when everyone is plugged in.
“The proliferation of technology in the last 20-years, you know, people are connected via their smartphones, via their wireless at home and in the workplace. They want access to things in the way that’s most convenient to them. So part of this is convenience for patients. But also giving medical care providers access to the records that they need,” Jones said.
This is the third year in a row that Munson Healthcare has been recognized with a “most wired” award.

Northern Michigan pilot receives award

A longtime Northern Michigan pilot received an award for his excellent safety record this Saturday.
The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award was presented to Fred Rakunas at the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City.
The award recognizes pilots who have demonstrated professionalism, skill and aviation expertise by maintaining safe operations for over 50 years.
Rakunas is a retired Northwest Airlines 747 Captain and the former Michigan Aeronautics Commission Chairman.
He said he always had been been taught that safety comes first.
“Everything you do is just safety, safety, safety. You really don’t think about it; it’s just the way you’re kind of brought up in the system. People say, “You ever worry about the safety of your passengers?” I kind of joke a little bit and make light of it, “Well I’m at the front of that tube, so I’m always going to be at the front of that accident, and I’m not going to let that happen,” Rakunas said.
Rakunas said over the 30,000 hours he has flew, he never experienced an accident, but there were times where it took all his ability to land the aircraft safely.
He has been a pilot since 1952.

Research made easy with new RV Chippewa

There is a new vessel joining Northern and Central Michigan boaters this summer.
CMU’s new 32.5 foot “RV Chippewa” set sail last week
The ship will be used to deploy heavy equipment and for deep water research. 
Ian Davison is the Dean of the College of Science and Technology at CMU.  
“The vessel is going to used, well it’s already being used by faculty. We have four or five different projects that are using the boat this summer. And now we have the vessel and the capacity. People will be able to write grant proposals to use this and incorporate the expanded capacity into their working future,” Davison said.
Dean Davison said CMU is receiving grant proposals from other organizations to perform research using the vessel.

AAR Mobility System in Cadillac plans layoffs

A Cadillac-based manufacturing company is citing reductions in Department of Defense spending as a factor in its announcement that 130 employees will be laid off by the end of May. 
AAR Mobility Systems in Cadillac is a global supplier of rapid deployment equipment and mobile tactical shelters for the military. 
Their four main products are: Internal Airlift/Helicopter Slingable Container Units, Rapidly Deployable Mobile Tactical Shelter Systems, Air Cargo Pallets and Palletized Systems.
According to released statements, the layoffs are also due to the delay in its Defense Logistics Agency contract which in turn has resulted in a decrease of sale orders.
AAR Mobility Systems also was forced to downsize 282 employees in October 2010. 
Officials with the company refused comment for this story.  

MEDC offers grants to technology incubators

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is looking to fund start up technology companies, working with organizations called incubators, through eight-point-five million dollars in grant funding. 
The funding would be divided among qualifying recipients depending on size and need.
Paula Sorrell is the managing director of entrepreneurship and innovation for the MEDC.
She said qualifying incubators will help support job growth throughout the state. 
“They will typically say they’ll work with x amount of companies over the next four year years, they’ll say however long they’ll need funding for, how many jobs they hope to create and then they have the responsibility in return of reporting back to us for a period of five years after the funding ends.”   
Sorrell said one eligible incubator has been identified in Isabella County, and could receive up to half a million dollars if approved.
Other incubators throughout the state are being encouraged to apply.

CMU faculty gaining national recognition for invasive species research

Central Michigan University faculty are using a new method for early detection of invasive species.
The new technology is an easy-to-use and inexpensive method for searching ships, ports and other at-risk areas for invasive species like zebra or quagga mussels and Asian carp.
Experts say the early detection of invasive species is critical to combating their spread. 
Dr. Andrew Mahon is an assistant professor of Biology at CMU. He’s a leader in the use of the new technology.
“The laser-transmission spectroscopy is just the platform that is coupled with some standard genetic techniques that allows us to look for some target species; if we’re looking for zebra mussels or quagga mussels or any other invasive species that we’re concerned about.”
Dr. Mahon said the technology is paving the way for field-based identification of harmful species. 

Trivalent Group to give free technology to Michigan nonprofits

Headline: Trivalent Group will give out tens of thousands of dollars in free technology to Michigan nonprofits
As technology continues to change and impact the way businesses run, one Michigan technology firm has created a new initiative.  It’s providing tens of thousands of dollars in free technology to nonprofit organizations. 
Trivalent Group calls it the CompassionIT initiative. 
It provides at least 30,000 dollars in technology equipment or services to a nonprofit that needs assistance to grow. 
The way it works is this; a selection committee reviews applications and narrows them down to 5 finalists through a public vote.
Afterwards, one nonprofit is selected to win the top prize.
Dawn Simpson is the Vice President of Market Development.
“We are so excited to be able to provide this. We can’t wait to see who submits. We can’t wait to see who the winners are. We are just excited to be able to hopefully make a difference in a lot of people’s lives, doing what we do best and providing these services and providing whatever will help is a big benefit for us.”
Simpson said Trivalent staff will help all five finalists analyze their technology systems and create technology roadmaps. 
Nonprofits must submit their applications by October 31st. 

Charlevoix County first in nation to be certified “Connected” in broadband


In the race for the newest, latest, greatest in technology, Charlevoix County this week became a national leader.

Charlevoix county is the first municipality in the nation to be named a “connected” community for its work on broadband internet.

The recognition comes from the ‘Connected Nation’ initiative.

The county earned the ranking through its work developing a technology plan to expand broadband access and use,

Judy Palnau is with the Michigan Public Service Commission.

“I am told that Michigan is definitely in the leadership when it comes to this community approach to attracting broadband. There are some other states that have similar groups, but it seems like an awful lot of them are in Michigan. And Charlevoix county today has the designation first.”

Palnau said other Michigan communities, including Harbor Springs, Clare and Wexford counties are also working to improve community wide broadband.

Small adjustments can make a big difference on the visual demands students face in the classroom

According to the most recent American Optometric Association’s survey, 79 percent of parents are concerned that their child may be damaging their eyes due to technology use. 
The Michigan Optometric Association’s said, high-tech classrooms can greatly enhance learning, they can also pose a number of challenges to students’ vision. 
Continuous or prolonged use of technology can lead to computer vision syndrome, or CVS.  That includes eyestrain, headaches, fatigue, blurred vision, or head and neck pain.
Dr. Mark Swan is a professor at the Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University. He said that there’s nothing inherently harmful from new technologies devices. 
“People often times work harder at near than in other types of tasks. So especially for children it’s probably a good idea  that they get a good balance. That they spend some time outside running around, they spend some time using paper and pencil task kinda traditional school work activities and they spend some time on technology. But you shouldn’t do any one thing to the exclusion ofthe others.”
Dr.Swan said, by encouraging students to follow the 20-20-20 rule can help avoid CVS. Take a 20 second break every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away. 

Pure Michigan surges on Social Media

Whether you like it, tweet it, pin it or hashtag it, Pure Michigan is expanding its social media fan base including Instagram, Pinterest and Google+.
Pure Michigan continues to be one of the top-ranked state tourism agencies in the country.
And now recently It was recently named by Think Social Media as the second best social media presence among all state destinations in the nation. 
According to staff with Pure Michigan, social media is a great way for them to interact with travelers, share information and above all promote Michigan. 
Agency spokesperson Michelle Begnoche said in July our fans on Google+ were 54,000 in August it jumped to 94,000 fans… 
“It’s very easy to get a message to a lot of people. Especially if you can tap into those other networks. NASCAR got a huge fan following so we were able to plug into that and cross promote. So we’re constantly looking for ways to help. With our partners cross promote and other fan bases out there. Doing that we’re able to grow our followers.”
Begnoche said, “Everyone has a different preference on what social media platform they prefer and we wanna make sure we there.”

McLaren Northern Michigan recognized as Most Wired Hospital

A national health survey is recognizing one of Northern Michigan’s hospitals. 
McLaren Northern Michigan in Petoskey is named one of the nation’s “Most Wired.” A Most Wired hospital is one that utilizes information technology to improve efficiency.
The survey rated over fifteen-hundred hospitals in the country.
Mark Gray is the Chief Information Officer at McLaren Northern.
“It gives us a benchmark of how we really relate to and how we are doing with our information technology in comparison to our peers in the health care industry.”
Gray said using information technology helps protects patient data with having electronic medical records. 
He said McLaren Northern is working on becoming a paperless hospital, something at which only a few hospitals in the country have succeeded. 

Sault Ste Marie and LSSU partner to create entrepreneurial center

By Amanda Harrison
Sault Ste. Marie will begin work on a new city building May 2. The facility will offer support to entrepreneurs who are just getting started. 
Eric Becks is the president of Sault Ste. Marie Advanced Research and Technology Corp or SSMart. He said the city is combing an incubator, a building that offers work space and phone services for new businesses, with a manufacturing set up. 
“The idea with this whole thing is kind of like a learning laboratory for entrepreneurs. So if you come in and you’ve got a great idea but you know not everybody who has a great idea is an engineer for example so we would be able to put engineering faculty and engineering students to work with the client.”  
Becks said the building will offer most services a client would need to start a business, from patent attorneys to a robotics room.

Lawmakers concerned about prison budget cuts

Last month, the Michigan Department of Corrections eliminated perimeter guards from 27 prisons to trim the state budget.
Prison officials say the change is working well, but some lawmakers are still concerned…
Until recently, Michigan prisons had guards patrolling their perimeters 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
But that changed April 1, when perimeter guards were eliminated, saving over 12 million dollars per year.
Russ Marlan is a spokesman for the Department of Corrections. He said the perimeter guards have been replaced by technology…
“Yes, over the last several years we’ve installed cameras that can see virtually the entire perimeter at most of our prisons. We’ve electrified our fences, we have lights, motion sensors.”
Marlan said perimeter guards have also been replaced by periodic, random patrols from local and state law enforcement. He said wardens report being comfortable with their current staffing levels.
Some people, however, are still concerned about the elimination of perimeter guards.
State Representative Frank Foster is among them…
“I am more confident now that they’ve been able to lend the State Police to help out, but, you know, I want every protocol and procedure and every precaution deemed necessary to be implemented. And sometimes that’s not always cost effective. I understand that.”
Foster has been trying to legislatively restore funding for perimeter guards, however, those efforts have, so far, been unsuccessful. 

iPads for Autism

By Amy Robinson

A lot of schools tap into new technology to help students learn.

But for kids with autism, the latest must-have electronic gadget is proving to be almost a necessity of life.

Special ed programs are finding that iPads allow autistic kids, who often have problems talking, to finally be able to communicate.

The special ed preschool classroom at Sherwood Elementary school in Saginaw looks like any other preschool; bright, cherry signs around the room, those little tables and chairs that are just the right size for five year olds, and of course small children being herded by a teacher.

But in this classroom of mainly autistic boys, most of the kids don’t talk. That’s a classic feature of autism. Instead these kids are finding a way to reach out through technology.

“Make the O, ooo, make the fish go round, fish. Where is the fish? Fish. Why isn’t he moving? ooo. Oh, go to a different letter, he is stuck. Oh there he goes. Oh the fish is stuck today, hmm. O is your favorite letter isn’t it. There he goes, there he goes. Do you see Ms. Kelly? What did we make, O. What is next? P. P is next, that’s right, you’re going to make the letter P.”

Kelly Kiss has been teaching special needs kids for over a decade.

She introduced iPads last fall. She said this little device opens the world of communication to bright little boys who, due to a neurological disorder, had been shut out.

“He can’t make any sounds. He can’t talk at all. He was getting frustrated because he understands everything. He wants to tell us a million things, but he can’t. So our speech therapist downloaded an app called proloquo to go. And it has, you can make it individualized. It has his picture on it, he can tap on it, he can say his name. It allows him to communicate his wants and needs without getting frustrated.”

Kiss said there are so many apps that it’s easy to find one that feels almost custom made for each child. She said the tablet style computer is easier for her students to use than a desktop mouse.

Sherwood Elementary special ed owns two iPads now. Kiss said she’d like to have one for every student. She said these devices are so engaging, that it’s hard to pull kids away.

“They almost need an iPad that is only for the communication piece and then an iPad for the games. The kids will get on it and they will communicate and they’ll want to play angry birds or they want to play another. We’ve taken angry birds off of a lot of iPads because they want to play it so much.”

Kiss said students learn more than language skills with iPads. They also learn patience and sharing. She said the device is a great motivator. Kids that won’t respond to encouragement or privileges or food, will work to get time on the iPad.

Kara Mohr is the speech therapist. She’s found the same thing.

“I absolutely love it. It has been my most favorite therapy tool ever. Because, it is so engaging. That is what they love. They will do so much for me on the iPad. I mean they like the fun stuff too. But they are so easily engaged even with work too.”

Mohr said at a cost of about $500 each, she considers them cost effective as an educational too. And she said they’re sturdy in a roomful of preschoolers the iPads have been dropped and come up still working.

Amy Schlegel’s son Sam is one of the kids in this preschool class. She purchased an iPad for him last year with proceeds from a garage sale. She said the difference in his receptive language is huge.

“He had maybe, 10-20 words. He probably now has over 200, 300 words I would say. I use to keep track of them, and I just quit keeping track because I can’t keep up.”

It’s unclear just how many iPads are being used in special ed classrooms in Michigan. The teachers at Sherwood Elementary say they hope to write grants to purchase more.

They say a few hundred dollars is a small price to pay to open up a world of communication to a child.

Sex Offender Verification period begins

By Consuelo McAboy

Many people use the sex offender registry to check for convicted sex offenders in their neighborhoods. Now, the Michigan state police are using new technology to ensure more accurate results.

The Michigan Sex Offenders Registration Act requires all sex offenders to verify their address as often as every three months.

Recently, the office of the auditor general completed a follow up to a 2005 audit that made changes to the current act.

The changes include using better technology to automatically check an offender’s address against other public records to confirm that’s really where the offender lives.

Leo Mioduszewski is the Isabella County Sheriff. He says before the automated registry, checking addresses manually was the only option.

“We’ll have deputies in conjunction with the Michigan state police that will go out in the county and actually knock on doors to make sure that an individual is living at the address that they put down as far as their living address. It does take quite a bit of time between the deputies and the troopers to go throughout the county to check on the sex offenders but obviously if somebody lists down an address, we want to go there and make sure that they’re actually living there and not just putting down some other address for whatever reason”

Mioduszewski said purpose of the act is to provide families with an accurate list of sex offenders in their neighborhood.